Teachers are Artist
Integrate: To combine (one thing) with another so that they become a whole.
Combine, merge, unite, blend
(Painting created during our Disrupting the Norm conference session.)
Integration. When you look up the word integrate, the term is defined as to bring together, incorporate (parts) into a whole; to unite or combine.
When I think of these words, my mind begins to imagine an artist. Artists are masters of mixing, combining, and blending together different colors, materials, and textures to create their masterpieces. They are meticulous and purposeful with their use of colors and materials. Every brush stroke has a purpose and intention.
Now you may be wondering what artists have to do with teaching? In our opinion, a lot. We believe that teachers are artists. They bend, mold, and create not with clay and paintbrushes, but with content, students, materials, and resources. Teachers create masterpieces called learning every single day! Teachers are creative and imaginative people who have been stifled and put into a box for too long. We are wanting to bring back teachers’ creativity, fun, and excitement through multi-level and multi-subject integration, showing them that with integration their masterpieces of learning will be amplified tenfold.
It is important to remember that integrating content can take many forms. Many times when others hear of integration within the realm of education they automatically think of technology or a component of the arts. But integration can be and is so much more than that! Integrating content in education can and should include technology and arts, but also science, social studies, math, reading, writing, and grammar. It is integrating the hard and soft (interpersonal) skills students need to be successful in the classroom and in life, such as collaboration, problem solving, analyzing information, communicating with others, and using their creativity to do something amazing.
Another important thing to note about integrating content in the classroom is that it has to be purposeful. Integrating content is not pulling a non-fiction book for a read aloud and calling that integrating science or social studies. Just as an artist has a purpose for every brush stroke and color choice, so does content integration. It takes thought, effort, and planning to ensure that content integration is being purposefully and effectively, but the time spent planning and ensuring that is being done, will be time well spent and time that will be used more effectively while delivering instruction.
Now, you may be wondering how is that even possible? Well… that is what we are here to help you with. We want you to see the power of full purposeful integration in the classroom. We want you and your students to experience the excitement, the engagement, the fun, and the effectiveness of purposeful multi-subject integration in the classroom.
If you have read this through so far, that last paragraph may have you scratching your head and rocking your world possibly a little bit. Questions are probably flooding your head. Thoughts of “That can’t be done” are surfacing in the back of your mind. You might even be thinking about putting this book down. But we are here to encourage you and to show you that it can be done. We are not here to walk along a path that has already been created for us. We are here to disrupt the norm in education. We are here to make our own path. We are here creating our own pathways because we have students who live in a world completely different from what we grew up in and in a world that is ever changing, and ever so quickly. We are here to disrupt the norm in education that we have all grown so accustomed to.
Are you ready to start on your own path for your students and for yourself? Are you wanting a change? Are you ready for some disruption?
Do you feel ready to get started but are wanting some more coaching and support along the way? Don’t hesitate to get a hold of us at email@example.com or follow us on any of our social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, @IntegratEDk12.
Also, for more individualized and in depth learning on multi-subject integration in the classroom, Check out our IntegratED cohort starting August 2022! LIMITED spots will be available!
* Disrupt: To Radically Change *
The last two weeks you have been working hard. You have been working on your mindset and getting that bar raised off the ground. You did it! Now you’re in mid-lift and it is time to push the bar to its maximum height! It is time to disrupt what you thought was possible to create a new norm and a new expectation for yourself! Let’s elevate that bar to its highest point!
This week we are digging into the third level of our IntegratED Framework; Level 3: Disrupting the Norm. This level is what we strive for in our instruction and what we believe will showcase integration at its pinnacle. This level received its name “Disrupting the Norm” for a very distinct purpose. As we were developing the framework and the levels for our framework, this was the level that we started with. This is the level that we wanted to strive for and that we want other educators to strive for. When you define the word disrupt, one definition that is given is ‘to radically change’. If that doesn't fit our mantra we don’t know what else does!
This level is disrupting, radically changing (education), because it is here that we are breaking all ‘norms’ that we have grown accustomed to knowing, performing to, and accepting in the world of education. It is in this level that “reading block”, “writing block”, “science block”, “math block”, “social studies block”, no longer matter and/or exist. It is here that all subjects are taught and engaged in through the IntegratED Workshop. It is at this level in which students are engaging in multiple subjects, standards, intelligences, and skills at a time. It is at this level in which students are flowing between different subjects throughout the day. It is in this level in which we see behaviors lessen, inquiry heightens and scores rise.
Science, Reading, Writing, Math, and Technology in this Unit
It is at this level in which teachers are truly becoming a guide to their students’ learning. It is at this level in which students are highly engaged, motivated, excited, and truly engrossed in their learning. This is the level that we feel teachers can truly let their creativity, flexibility, and fun shine in their lessons and/or unit. Our whole goal of the IntegratED framework is to provide a guide for teachers to help condense what is constantly being put on our ever-filling plate spinning act, while at the same time trying to bring back a teacher’s love of teaching and a student’s love of learning through creativity and learning experiences. This level is the epitome of how we feel we can help make that happen. Now, we will tell you that in this level of “Disrupting the Norm” planning and forethought are required. Work will need to be put into creating a unit at this level and magnitude. But we can also tell you that the outcomes, involvement, understanding, growth and experiences that accompany the planning for this level will surpass your expectations and excite you as an educator.
“If you do nothing it feels safe, but everything stays the same. If you do nothing, there is less to experience, less to love, and less to learn.”
To help you get started in your IntegratED teaching, we want you to have a resource that we use to help us plan…the IntegratED planner! Click on this link and it will take you to a free sample of our IntegratED planner that you can download and use right away to help you get started!
Also, for more individualized and in depth learning on multi-subject integration in the classroom, be on the lookout for the upcoming IntegratED cohort starting August 2022! LIMITED spots will be available!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog on Purposeful Integration!
Raising the Bar
You’re in the gym, you’ve grabbed the bar, and now it’s time to start raising that bar!
This week, we are ‘raising the bar’ into the second level of our IntegratED framework. In this second level of the IntegratED framework, we are Challenging the Norm. We are beginning to exercise our “muscles” that may not have been exercised recently. The muscles of creativity, flexibility, fun, and excitement! This level is wanting to grow you as an educator, showing you the possibilities and success you can have when integrating content in the classroom.
When thinking of this level, we think of how your mindset is already changing. You have already committed to wanting to make a change for yourself and your students and have stepped up to the bar. Now you are challenging yourself and your students to do things that may be outside your comfort zone, pushing yourself and your students just a bit further. You may also begin to challenge other educators' mindsets on what should be considered “normal” in education. At this level, there are so many opportunities for educators and students to grow in exponential ways.
In our classroom, this level is often seen as “partially holistic”. Clear as mud, right? We use this level to have almost every subject area integrated within our day, with usually one subject as an outlier, a subject that doesn’t seem to fit naturally or authentically with the others. Oftentimes it is the subject of math that becomes the outlier, but not always.
We use the biggest uninterrupted amount of time for this level, creating what we call our “IntegratED Learning Workshop”. Within this workshop students are still working on multiple subject areas and standards, but doing it in a way that is engaging and more time effective. We are also creating classroom experiences that our students can draw from to maximize their learning presently and for in the future that falls within our IntegratED Workshop time.
Similar to the Confronting the Norm level, here in this second level we have a technology and arts component. The difference is in the Challenging the Norm level we encourage both a technology AND an arts component, not an “either or” situation. You may be thinking, “That’s a lot! Both technology and an arts component along with all those subjects!?” Yes. That is exactly what we are saying. We promise you that it works and it is not as difficult to plan/create as you may think. With multiple subjects being taught around a common thread, the technology pieces and art pieces usually flow quite naturally. You may even come up with multiple throughout the unit/lesson! And remember, the arts doesn't just mean drawing a picture. It could include song, dance, drama, storytelling, and movement.
To help you get started on “raising the bar” in your IntegratED teaching, we want you to have a resource that we use to help us plan…the IntegratED planner! Click on this button and it will take you to a free sample of our IntegratED planner that you can download and use right away to help you get started!
Now, do you feel ready to get started but are wanting some more coaching and support along the way? Don’t hesitate to get a hold of us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more individualized and in depth learning on multi-subject integration in the classroom, be on the lookout for the upcoming IntegratED cohort starting August 2022! Limited spots will be available!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog on Disrupting the Norm: Level 3!
Stepping Up to the Bar
It’s January 2 and you are determined to keep and meet your New Year’s resolution. That resolution… Go to the gym. When you get there, your friend recommends weights. It’s a great workout that will keep you healthy and gain strength. There’s just one problem. You don’t have much experience in lifting weights. So as you begin this journey becoming a new healthier better version of yourself there are two things happening. You are confronting this new challenge as well as learning more about this new skill and the possibilities that lie ahead.
In this level of integration we are bringing you face to face with the possibilities of what “could be” in your classroom. Just as you would approach the bar to begin to lift it above your head, we ask you to approach this level much the same. With an open mindset, the excitement to try, and the driving passion for a much needed change.
“Confronting: to bring or meet face to face.”
The confrontation that we are referring to comes from the normalization of education “should” look like and what we have all grown accustomed to. Confronting the norm is an interracial part of the framework. It may be lower in the framework in terms of how much you are integrating into your instruction. However, it is vital that this level of integration is included in the framework because of the disruption of one's mindset and the growth of expanding one’s understanding of what could be possible in instruction.
Thinking of this level and its purpose in our framework, reminds me of a teacher in our building that we work with. She is an incredible athlete. And even recently, amidst injuries, she still trained and grew as an athlete, not only physically but also mentally. She has encouraged so many in our building and across our community to become better versions of themselves, coaching and encouraging everyone along the way. One thing she teaches , no matter your level of athleticism, is that your mindset, the why and how you approach workouts and nutrition, is where you will either succeed or fail in reaching your goals. When it comes to teaching and education, it is much the same way. Your mindset can very well determine the success you may or may not have with your students.
Our first level of integration is taking 2 core subjects and integrating, or combining them together. We often say do one subject that you absolutely love or feel most comfortable teaching, paired with one that isn’t as strong. If you start with a strength, it encourages and motivates you to keep going! We take 2 core subjects and look at the standards for each. Now, at this stage you may or may not have already looked at bundling priority standards. If not, here is your time. Look for common threads in the standards that would feel natural to put together.
Then, after looking at the standards and what you might be able to achieve with two core subjects, find the theme that you could create a learning experience on or with. These learning experiences are designed to create an experience in which students can stick information, memories, and learning to. We will be talking more in depth on learning experiences in upcoming blogs!
Last but not least, in this confronting the norm level we want educators to think of a technology or arts component that they could integrate with their unit/lesson. Virtual reality field trips, augmented reality apps, book creation, or video creation, are just a few ideas to help you get started with the technology piece. If you need more ideas, go check out our past blog posts on learning and creation apps!
The art component can be so many things. Ranging from song, movement, drama, drawing, painting, etc. With art, the possibilities are endless. Sometimes the art can also be a part of the learning experience!
Now if you are looking at the first level and are thinking, “Well, that doesn’t seem so hard.” Awesome!!! Then this is a perfect spot for you to start! If you look at this level and think, “That seems like a lot…” Perfect! This is still the perfect level for you to start. This is the point where you get to decide if you are wanting to step up to the bar to start making a change in your teaching, your classroom, and in education! Teacher friends…Grab that bar and let’s go!
Do you feel ready to get started but are wanting some extra coaching and support along the way? Don’t hesitate to get a hold of us! Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter @Integratedk12 or email us at email@example.com
For more individualized and in depth learning on multi-subject integration in the classroom, be on the lookout for the upcoming IntegratED cohort starting August 2022! Limited spots will be available!
Stay tuned for next week’s blog on Challenging the Norm: Level 2!
Our IntegratED Framework
The last semester of the school year has always been my favorite time. My second graders are starting to put together all they have been learning and are becoming more independent. It is also a time to really dig into our IntegratED units!
If you have wanted to try our IntegratED Framework but are not sure where or when to start we recommend the later part of the year. It seems that fourth quarter’s standards always line up nicely when planning an IntegratED unit, making it a great time of the year to give it a try! And it is the time of the year when something new and different is needed to help kids be engaged and motivated. A perfect time to start an IntegratED workshop! Integration will take some extra planning in the beginning but is always worth it when you start the IntegratED Workshop in your class. Whether you are a beginner or a master integrator, we hope this article brings you inspiration to ‘give it a go’ before this school year comes to a close.
“If you do nothing it feels safe, but everything stays the same. If you do nothing, there is less to experience, less to love, and less to learn.” -Yamada
Educators are realizing that something needs to change but we are not sure how. This is where our IntegratED Framework comes into play. Our IntegratED Framework isn’t another curriculum. We have designed a framework that teachers can implement with their favorite resources and district and school expectations, WITHOUT following a written script. We want teachers to have the freedom to be creative in their classrooms. We want teachers to teach not for or to a test, but for growing students’ knowledge and experiences. We have challenged the education system and started to disrupt the norm in the way we are teaching and planning.
This framework will guide teachers in bringing back the love of learning into their classrooms by giving educators the freedom and creativity of using what they already have and creating learning experiences for their students to remember. Our goal and focus is on changing the norm of our entire instructional day to create a more holistic approach to student learning.
Our classrooms today have less behaviors, more student involvement, and the love of learning because we have implemented our IntegratED Framework in our instruction. When we first began this process in our own classrooms we realized we were integrating at different levels throughout the school year. We began to realize that we would often move through different levels of integration depending on time of the year, our ability to bundle our priority and supporting standards purposefully, district expectations and assessments, and our knowledge of what we knew students needed instructionally and what they could handle socially and emotionally.
Throughout this month we will be featuring each level independently to give you a better idea how each one works in our classroom. We will try to provide you with ideas to take to your classroom and try before the end of the school year.
So, now where do you begin? Well my advice is to take a core subject you LOVE to teach and add another core subject that makes sense to put together. A lot of time our integrated units start with a science or social studies concept. Then we start to look for priority reading or writing concepts/skills that need to be taught. These standards might be based on district recommendations or requirements or you may have the freedom to choose. We then add supporting standards that help support those priority standards (spiraling throughout the year). After the work is done with standards and deciding on the end goals (assessments), the fun begins.
After the work of bundling standards, looking at end goals, and deciding on what assessments to use, we start to plan different but very purposeful classroom experiences that drive our units. This is where teacher creativity plays such a big part in our framework.
Unfortunately, we are not able to teach you all of the things in one blog post, otherwise this blog would become a book. However, there is a way you can learn more!!! :)
In August, we will be starting an IntegratED cohort that will take you step-by-step through our IntegratED framework, provide you with free resources, collaboration with a community of teachers, learning from amazing guest speakers, and so much more. Be sure to watch for more information about the cohort!
Watch for our next week's blog on Confronting the Norm, level one of our IntegratED Framework.
Are you ready now and need help getting started for the fourth quarter? Send us an email and we would be glad to help.
As some of you might know, Megan and I have been in one -to- one classrooms for the last 6 years. What that means is that we have iPads in our classroom for every student. Now, since the pandemic this has become a much more common practice. One big concept that we stress to our students is that technology is just not for games, because for many of our younger students that is all they know technology/tablets to be used for. We teach them that technology is a tool that allows us to learn so much about our world and allows us to create what was once not possible. Technology is a powerful learning tool when used the correct way.
Throughout our years of experience with being one-to-one classrooms, we have come across many different apps and resources; some great, some not so great. In light of so many of us using technology to teach our students now, we thought we’d share with you some of our favorite learning apps for our students! We have so many apps/resources that we love. We like to categorize them in different ways. We have our “creative/creation” apps, learning apps, and teacher resources/planning apps. We have recently posted a blog about our favorite creation apps for students, linked below. Now it is time to share with you a few of our favorite student learning apps!
This week we asked our IntegratED family to take time to shout out other teachers who have brought and spread love to them, students, and others. We have received some amazing stories about other teachers this week and we would love to share some of them with you.
Matt Carl: He is dedicated to helping all of our skills students. He also is a great boss with a huge heart. - Sam Fulton
Stacey Dickson: She conquers anything and everything that is put in front of her! She has always believed in me and has never, ever given up on me! She is an inspiration to many and deserves so much! -Heidi Nannemann
Missy Zipperian: Miss is a giving, caring and selfless teacher who makes her students a priority! Missy meets her students where they are “at” academically and is so encouraging and empowering. Missy makes lasting relationships with students and families. She has taught students of all ages and abilities. 3-5 graders, GATE and now currently at the tech facilitator at TBHS - Amanda Bailey
Hallie Kaufmann: She is so patient and caring to her students even when she is giving them a consequence. She truly has their best interests at heart. - Tami Bondurant
What is love… a 2nd grader's perspective
This week our students wrote and published a book called Love is. We used a version of the template from A Cupcake for the Teacher
To start this lesson we used the read aloud book Love is…a children’s picture book about love.
Here is what some of them had to say...
Love is when my dad and mom take me to a soccer tournament.
Spreading Love in the Classroom
I don’t know about anyone else, but January felt like a hard month. Usually coming back from Christmas break students and teachers are rejuvenated, excited, and ready to tackle the rest of the year. However, this year we personally have not felt that. Teachers and students alike came back tired. Anyone who has worked with children (or adults for that matter) in any capacity for any amount of time knows exactly what happens when people get tired…they get crabby!
A component of our IntegratED Framework is integrating learning opportunities for students to work on social/emotional skills, as well as academics. Since January was such a difficult month with attitudes, behaviors, and low morale. Students seemed to be hyper focused on what everyone else was doing wrong in some way. Megan and I decided that we should integrate something into our teaching that would help the students focus more on the positive aspects of one another.
Last year we did a technology activity that stemmed from those sweet little heart candies, the ones that say “hug me” and “miss you”. We knew this group might not do as well with the technology piece because we haven’t spent much time on google slides with them yet so we went searching. We found a super cute activity that mimics our digital idea. We found it on TPT from Rainbow Sky Creations a Valentines Kindness Bundle.
Together we created a kindness anchor chart. Students brainstormed different words that they might use to describe someone. As a class, we talked about how we know each person differently and that each heart they write for their peers should reflect their unique relationship with them. Then, we shared some ideas with each other and the students started to notice how good it felt to hear someone else speak kindly of them.
The focus on these social/emotional skills and building positive relationships with one another didn’t come with an attached standard. The area in which these students needed help with wasn’t a specific standard that we needed to cover for any state tests. However, our students needed guidance to find joy and spread kindness. Our world right now is filled with so much negativity. We need to show students how to be a light to others and how kindness can make change.
If you are interested in our digital kindness activity check out this blog called " Incorporating Technology and Kindness".
In college, as I (Kara) was learning and preparing to become an educator, during the summer I was a camp counselor. I counseled junior campers (3rd grade - 6th grade, junior high campers, and senior high campers. I LOVED being a camp counselor. I loved the hussle, the relationships I built with campers and other staffers, planning activities, you name it, I loved it. Looking back, it definitely was the right job for me becoming a teacher!
The reason I bring up this experience is because I learned something very valuable at a very young age and at an early stage of my career…. Read the dang book!
You may be wondering how camp counseling and read-alouds go hand in hand? Well, one thing I did as a counselor is every night before lights out, or even after with a flashlight, I would read aloud. EVEN TO MY SENIOR HIGH KIDS! I read aloud every single night, no matter the age level I had in my cabin. And do you know what, every age level loved it and would end up asking me to read more than one a night by the end of the week.
This experience showed me then and reminds me now, that kids need to hear us read those dang books! NO MATTER THE AGE! Whether they are a kindergarten experiencing school for the first time, or a sixth grader finding his/her own way in the world, or a junior in highschool making decisions for their future, they are all still KIDS. They are all still looking for the fun, the adventure, the escape a read aloud can bring.
As teachers we often get so rushed by the events of our day that we so easily push that read-aloud aside, especially the older our students get. I want you to take a second and think, how often do you read aloud to your students? How often do they hear you or another teacher read to them? Studies have proven the benefits of students being read aloud to, but somehow it can feel difficult to squeeze into our day.
I encourage you now, pick up that book and read it to your students! Make time for it in your daily routines. Read-alouds are powerful tools in the classroom and at home.
Some of Our Favorite Read Aloud Books
We Really Love Books!
Maybe by: Kobi Yamada
Not a Box by: Antoinette Portis
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
You are Special by Max Lucado
The Old Women Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant
The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
Say Hello by Jack and Michael Foreman
Memory Jars by: Vera Brosgol
A book is a gift you can open again and again."
The last two years have brought a whole new meaning to the phrase “teacher tired.” Last year we were teaching face to face with our kiddos. We wore masks, used dividers, and kept 6 feet apart the best we could. It seemed like every week we had a staff meeting, the rules were ever changing in order to follow the guidelines. I don’t need to get into all of the other things that played into last year to make it work because if you know…you know. You are either doing it right now or you have experienced this way of teaching already.
Now we are teaching what seems to be “back to normal”, but really, it's not. We are still in learning recovery mode with our students. We are trying our best to be there for our students emotionally, socially, and academically. We want to create a safe place for them to learn and give them a person to trust but we are also looking for the same things in our own workplace. We are tired. We are tired because we want what is best for our students. We are tired because we have had to relearn ways to teach our students again and again in such a short amount of time. We are tired because with all that seems to go against us, we still care… so much.
Even through it all, we are still in the classroom working everyday trying to give the best to our students. How can we keep the energy up? How can we keep the momentum going in a positive direction? We have created a list of some ideas to help you feel less teacher tired and more excited to be in your classroom. This is not to say that these ideas are a fix all. Not in the least. But we are here to tell you that these ideas will at least help you create momentum, create some positive energy and joy in your teaching and classroom. We still have days, but we are here to encourage you, cheer you on, and help in any way we can!
IntegratED Workshop: We are always saying we have too much on our plates and we do not have the time. This is true more than ever right now. With our workshop model we are helping teachers get back some of that time, meeting multiple standards, and enjoying our time in the classroom.
Recharge: I don’t know about any other educators, but I always feel guilty taking a day unless I am so sick I can’t function. It is easier to be at school than to make sub plans and be gone. But I am here to say that it is OK to take a day to recharge! There is a saying, “If you are better you will do better.” Take time to write those plans and take a day for yourself. Rest, recharge, rejuvenate.
We spend time every day recharging our phones but often go months without recharging ourselves.”
Stand with each other: I have seen so many posts talking about how schools wouldn’t run without teachers and that it's not stainable. Here’s the thing. If we work together and do what we know how to do best…teach. We can sustain and create a learning environment for our students and we can love.
Your Circle: One thing that has been a huge impact in my career, both positive and negative, is who I surround myself with at work and in my personal life. It is important that at work you are surrounding yourself with those who are encouraging you and supporting you. Negative talk and thoughts spread like wildfire and can be so harmful to one’s mindset and attitude. Who do you have in your circle?
Laughter is the best medicine: In our classrooms every morning we do Joke of the Day. Some of these jokes are terrible but hilarious. One morning our janitor stopped me in the hallway and said that one of our students tells him our joke of the day everyday at lunch. A smile can change someone's day. Imagine what laughter can do?
Do something you love: I have been so busy with all that comes with teaching right now I wasn’t making time for things that I enjoy doing. I decided this year to start reading books again…for fun! I take time at the end of the day to enjoy reading what I want to. What would you choose to do? Even if it's only for 20 minutes. Try to find something that brings you joy that is not school related.
Megan and Kara are educational leaders, professional development experts, and current classroom teachers who are improving the way instruction is being delivered in the standard classroom.