Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Infused Teaching

It is funny to think that the school year just barely ended, yet I feel that new learning and past experiences are beginning to fuse together as I am to a simmering stage already.  I honestly did not expect to be in this place until the beginning of August, but here I am:  ready and willing. 

As I approached our week learning how to infuse art into our daily teaching and learning, I was giddy about the prospect of new information.  Now I am giddy about the connections that are occuring.  Ann and I had a big AH-HA moment yesterday, during our training, when we were in a session that was covering a variety of teaching models:

Discipline-Based Teaching = Subjects/classroom disciplines are taught separately
Thematic Integration = Two or more subjects using the same theme at the same time
Multi-Disciplinary = Two or more subjects joined together for relative concepts
Infused Teaching = A concept shared by multiple disciplines, with the concept meaning also being shared

A light bulb went off for us in this moment.  All year we had felt "out of the box" so to speak for a variety of reasons.  A lot had to deal with our lack of ability to explain why we were doing some of the "different" things we were, with a lack of a better term.  But here it was, bold and bright in front of us:  INFUSED TEACHING.  We were literally infusing concepts throughout the disciplines everyday, to where it became a natural process for us.  However, at the time we struggled with the words to explain this.  We many times labeled it INTEGRATION and sometimes would throw the word "true" in front of it, like it made it clearer.  But really we were not using a theme across subject blocks of time.  Our subject blocked times had almost discipated.  There were too many cross-overs among subjects and relationships occuring for our Literacy Block, Math Block, Science Block, Art Block, etc. to stand in solitude any longer.  But Infused Teaching is exactly what was occuring...

In the fall of 2011, we began with an overarching concept of "structures".  We then used this concept, that was shared by all disciplines, to show students how connected our subjects were.  Since this concept had the same meaning within all content areas we began infusing them (I just wish we were aware of the term back then to use!!).  So we focused on the structure of a book, to the structure of math, to the structure of our learning evironments, to the structure of our brain, to the structure of art (the elements), etc. We were looking for the parts of the whole in everything we did.  Another example was discovering that learning the concept of "variables" in science would allow us to apply variables in everything we did: making it down the hallway, being safe at recess, having a engaging lesson, solving a math equation, enjoying a good book, etc.  We continued helping our students see concepts through this lens all year long.

This fluid learning process has become a way of life for us.  As we generate our overarching concepts for this next school year, Infused Teaching is a term that will allow us to explain our philosophy and style a little bit more clearly.  And as we continue through this week of professional growth, ideas on how to infuse concepts within the Arts are swimming around in our minds...


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