A Subject Integrated Classroom

Hello! I hope everyone’s been enjoying their summer. I know we just wrapped up the ED100 module summaries that covered almost every aspect of the educational system but I recently noticed an interesting article on EdSource that I would like to share with you. The article explains how a California district is attempting to redesign how students are given a STEM education. It’s a very interesting concept and I encourage you to visit the hyperlink above if you’re interested in learning more about it. 

The California district is Tracy, a small suburb a couple hours east of San Francisco. The teachers of this district have identified an issue that they believe is dampening the effectiveness of the way students are educated. They claim that there is simply not enough time in a day to teach each subject individually. As per tradition, classes generally have designated periods of time dedicated to a specific subject such as language arts, reading, science, and math. Teachers find that this block scheduling of subjects is not the most effective use of classroom time. Luckily for the public education system, they think they have a remedy. 

A team of teachers from the Tracy Unified School District have been tirelessly working this summer to create a new classroom style that involves the integration of multiple subjects into a single coherent lesson plan. The idea is still in its early stages of development so we will have to wait a little longer until we know specific details regarding the components of each lesson plan and how the integration of subjects will manifest. However, this solution goes beyond conquering the issue of inefficiency. In fact, a classroom modeled in this way will solve another huge challenge that has been troubling California schools for quite awhile.

Because the subjects have been integrated, students wouldn’t be given the option of opting out of specific subjects. More or less, there would be no picking which classes to take and which to avoid. Students will be forced to learn difficult concepts like coding or other STEM-related subjects that historically have been avoided, especially by women and students of color. Coding classes have become dominated by males and high income students, according to Bill Slotnik, executive director of the Community Training and Assistance Center. He believes that embedding difficult science lessons into the overall curriculum will increase the diversity of those exposed to these lessons. Teachers hope that this will also increase the amount of students who become interested in enrolling in AP or IB classes.   

If this system can be implemented successfully, there will most likely be an increase in the diversity of STEM fields which historically haven’t been too diverse. Teachers of the Tracy Unified School District believe this can increase the region’s STEM pipeline that will serve to attract more high-tech businesses to Tracy. The school system has brought in the city's mayor, Lawrence Livermore Labs, science departments from the University of the Pacific, and more than 30 employers from STEM-related businesses to assist in the redesigning of the curriculum. 

Us here at Project SCIFI have been working to give underserved student populations the ability to experience the awesome world of STEM. We stand by this initiative and hope that the district is able to implement a new curriculum that extends interest in the sciences to a greater number of students. If you haven’t already, be sure to give us a follow on social media so you can stay updated about the latest SCIFI news including our 12-for-12 initiative. Thanks for reading!

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