Differentiation in action: The Integrated Curriculum Model. Diferenciación en Acción: el Integrated Curriculum Model - PDF

Differentiation in action: The Integrated Curriculum Model Diferenciación en Acción: el Integrated Curriculum Model DOI: / X-RE Joyce VanTassel-Baska College of William and Mary,

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Differentiation in action: The Integrated Curriculum Model Diferenciación en Acción: el Integrated Curriculum Model DOI: / X-RE Joyce VanTassel-Baska College of William and Mary, Virginia Abstract This article presents an overview of the Integrated Curriculum Model and demonstrates its application to differentiated curriculum in each of the core subject areas. The article also highlights the theoretical backdrop and the research evidence of effectiveness of the model with gifted learners and other special populations of learners in the subject areas of science, language arts, and social studies. The ICM demonstrates the power of using a clear design approach, linked to subject-based standards, coupled with strong elements of differentiation for the gifted, as a formula for successful curriculum. All of the variables that comprise the ICM are described as critical considerations in meeting the needs of gifted learners in each area of learning and at each developmental level. Implementation of the model is also explored in respect to who benefits the most from units of study organized around the ICM and the types of assessment employed. Key words: Curriculum, differentiation, acceleration, higher level thinking, concept development, twice exceptional learners, students from poverty, constructivism, instruction, performance-based assessment Resumen Este artículo presenta una visión general del Modelo Integrado del Currículum (ICM) y demuestra su aplicación al currículum diferenciado en cada una de las materias principales. El artículo también subraya el contexto teórico y las evidencias de investigación relativas a la efectividad del modelo con estudiantes 225 de altas capacidades y otras poblaciones especiales de estudiantes en ciencias, artes del lenguaje y estudios sociales. El ICM demuestra el poder de la utilización una aproximación basada en un diseño limpio como una fórmula para un currículum exitoso. Todas las variables incluidas en el ICM están descritas como consideraciones críticas orientadas a satisfacer las necesidades de los estudiantes con altas capacidades en cada área del aprendizaje y en cada nivel de desarrollo. La implementación del modelo también se explora en relación a quién se beneficia en mayor medida de las unidades de estudio organizadas en torno al ICM y los tipos de evaluación utilizados. Palabras Clave: Currículum, diferenciación, aceleración, pensamiento de alto nivel, desarrollo de concepto, estudiantes doblemente excepcionales, estudiantes pobres, constructivismo, instrucción, evaluación basada en los resultados. Differentiation for the gifted student in curriculum, instruction, and assessment requires attention to the adaptation and modification of the core curriculum in important respects. It requires a clear sense of what needs to be changed in the core, based on the characteristics and needs of these learners. It also requires a sense of the ways in which curriculum design can be tailored at each level of analysis, from goals and outcomes to activities, strategies, materials and assessment levels of the process. The Integrated Curriculum Model is one approach found to be helpful in executing the process of differentiation in each subject area, integrating the content, process and product dimensions to make them more balanced in the learning process that students experience. An account of the model, its evidence of effectiveness, and key descriptors follows. In the final analysis, curriculum for the gifted must respond to student characteristics and needs through providing inquiry-based learning that motivates and inspires. Overview of the ICM Model The Integrated Curriculum Model (ICM) was first proposed in 1986, based on a review of the research literature on what worked with gifted learners, and further expounded upon in subsequent publications (VanTassel-Baska, 1986, 1998, 2011). The model is comprised of three interrelated dimensions that are responsive to different aspects of the gifted learner: 226 1. Emphasizing advanced content knowledge that frames disciplines of study. Honoring the talent search concept, this facet of the model ensures that careful diagnostic-prescriptive approaches are employed to enhance the challenge level of the curriculum base (Stanley & Brody, 2000). Curricula based on the model would represent advanced learning in any given discipline. It is best achieved through the use of advanced materials in each subject area under study and by altering the scope and sequence of curriculum to compress when standards may be addressed and satisfied on an earlier timetable. 2. Providing higher order thinking and processing. This facet of the model promotes student opportunities for manipulating information at complex levels by employing generic thinking models like Paul s Elements of Reasoning (Paul & Elder, 2001) and more disciplinespecific models like Sher s Nature of the Scientific Process (Sher, 1993). This facet of the ICM also promotes the utilization of information in generative ways, through project work and/or fruitful discussions. It is best accomplished through the systematic use of higher-level thinking and problem-solving models that provide a heuristic for student production in research projects of interest. 3. Organizing learning experiences around major issues, themes, and ideas that define understanding of a discipline and provide connections across disciplines. This facet of the ICM scaffolds curricula for gifted learners around the important aspects of a discipline and emphasizes these aspects in a systemic way (Ward, 1981). Thus, themes and ideas are selected based on careful research of the primary area of study to determine the most worthy and important ideas for curriculum development, a theme consistent with reform curriculum specifications in key areas (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990; Perkins, 1992). The goal of such an approach is to ensure deep understanding of disciplines and their concepts, rather than misconceptions. Thus the concepts employed have meaning in each discipline as well as across disciplines. This aspect of the model then acts as a bridge for curriculum developers to use in creating as much interdisciplinarity as needed in order to enhance a unit of study. 227 These three relatively distinct curriculum dimensions, taken together, have proven successful with gifted populations at various stages of development and in various domain-specific areas. Taken together, these research-based approaches formed the basis of the Integrated Curriculum Model (VanTassel-Baska, 1986; VanTassel- Baska 1998; VanTassel-Baska & Little, 2011; VanTassel-Baska & Stambaugh, 2006). Figure I portrays the interrelated dimensions of the ICM model just described. FIGURE I. Dimensions of the ICM Model. The Integrated Curriculum Model (ICM) curricular approach, in the design and implementation process of working with learners in schools, is united. Too often gifted learners end up with a curriculum diet that is composed of dabs of acceleration, dabs of project work, and dabs of higher level thinking opportunities. The ICM organizes these features into one package, thus allowing gifted learners and others to experience a more integrated pattern of learning. This integrated approach also reflects recent research on learning. Studies have documented that better transfer of learning occurs when higher order thinking skills are embedded in subject matter (Minstrell & Kraus, 2005; National Research Council, 2000; Perkins & Salomon, 1989), and teaching concepts in a discipline is a better 228 way to produce long-term learning than teaching facts and rules (Marzano, 1992). Our understanding of creativity also has shifted toward the need for strong subject matter knowledge as a prerequisite (Amabile, 1996). Because the ICM is organized around the subject matter standards, it uses the content core as a basis for modification and integration. Recent reviews of curricular interventions for the gifted have found the content modification features exemplified in the ICM have the greatest prevailing effect on an accelerative approach ( Johnsen, 2000; VanTassel- Baska & Brown, 2007)). The fusion of these approaches is central to the development of a coherent curriculum that is responsive to diverse needs of talented students while also providing rich challenges to all for optimal learning. Theoretical Underpinnings The theoretical support for the Integrated Curriculum Model comes primarily from learning theory and development. One source is the work of Vgotsky (1978). One aspect critical to the model is the zone of proximal development where learners must be exposed to material slightly above their tested level in order to feel challenged by the learning experience. This idea was expanded on by Csikszentmihalyi (1991) in his concept of flow where gifted learners demonstrated a broader and deeper capacity to engage learning than did typical students (Csikszentmihalyi, Rathunde, & Whalen, 1993). A second aspect of this theory of learning is the view of interactionism, whereby the learner increases learning depth by interacting with others in the environment to enhance understanding of concepts and ideas. Ideas are validated and understood through the articulation of tentative connections made based on a stimulus such as a literary artifact, a film, a piece of music, or a problem. Learning increases as interactions provide the scaffolding necessary to structure thinking about the stimulus (Vygotsky, 1978). A theory of constructivism whereby learners construct knowledge for themselves is also central to the instructional emphases within the application of the ICM. This theory is central to the tenets of the teaching and learning models found in the ICM curriculum and a central thesis to the model itself as students must be in charge of their own learning in 229 respect to each dimension of the model, whether it be content acceleration, project-based learning opportunities such as PBL, or discussion-laden experiences in which concepts, issues, and themes are explored. Another theoretical influence on the model was the work of Mortimer Adler and his Paedaeia Proposal (1984) that posited the importance of rich content representing the best products of world civilization coupled with the relevant cognitive skills to study them, appropriately linked to the intellectual ideas that spawned the work of the disciplines and philosophy. His worldview of curriculum was highly influential in thinking about the role of academic rationalism in a curriculum for the gifted, even as cognitive science was the predominant force in the larger environment. Finally, the theory of multiculturalism espoused by James Banks (1994a, 1994b, 2001) and more recently by Donna Ford (2005; Ford & Harris, 1999) speaks to the aspect of the ICM concerned with students making a better world through deliberate social action, whether through the resolutions brought to policy makers as a result of PBL work or the studies of technology use in researching issues or the concerns for censorship in the history of great literature. Moreover, this theoretical orientation also provides a major emphasis on the works of minority authors both in this country and abroad as well as an attempt to acknowledge multiple perspectives in student understanding of any content area, especially history. Application Current work in the ICM model for the gifted has continued to focus on a merger with the curriculum reform principles advocating world-class standards in all traditional curricular areas (VanTassel-Baska & Little, 2011). The major shift in thinking regarding this orientation is from one that looks only at the optimal match between characteristics of the learner and the curriculum to a model based on performance in various domains, thereby letting the level of functioning determine who is ready for more advanced work in an area rather than a predictive measure. Thus, differentiation for any population is grounded in differential standards of performance at a given period of time. Standards are constant; time is the 230 variable. Such an approach holds promise for gifted students in that the level and pace of curriculum can be adapted to their needs, and the existing state standards call for the kind of focus that curriculum makers for gifted students have long advocated higher-level thinking, interdisciplinary approaches, and an emphasis on student-centered learning. Gifted students need high but realizable expectations for learning at each stage of development. Other students can benefit also from working to attain such standards. By the same token, gifted students can also benefit from a developmental and personal perspective on fostering their abilities at a close-up level, an emphasis requiring organizational models such as tutorials, mentorships, and small clusters to support it. What types of students are best served using the ICM? The ICM model was designed for students who have strong intellectual abilities and/or strong academic aptitudes in the areas in which curriculum units have been designed. In the last several years, however, the research on effectiveness that has been conducted suggests that more students benefit from the curriculum beyond the population for whom it was intended (e.g., Swanson, 2006). Our collection of research on the units of study which used the ICM as the organizing framework have increasingly shown that the benefits of the units for all students is significant and important educationally in respect to achievement and motivation. Because the units are content-based, students who are strong in only one area can benefit greatly from experiencing them. So, for example, strong readers can grow from exposure to the language arts units even if they are not identified as gifted since the readings in the unit can be used with strong readers and the other differentiation features of the units serve to enrich their understandings in key ways. Because the units employ opportunities for open-ended learning, higher-level opportunities to learn, and the use of multicultural literature, they work very well with promising learners from low-income backgrounds and children of color. Moreover, the consistent use of instructional scaffolds becomes a critical aspect in elevating the level of learning for these groups. 231 In the final analysis, the model has been useful in designing curriculum that can be used with all learners although the gains have suggested the greatest growth has occurred for promising learners, high level readers, and students who are gifted in relevant subject areas of the curriculum. Research on the Effectiveness of the Integrated Curriculum Model Studies have been conducted over the past decade to discern the learning gains of gifted learners, promising learners from low-income and minority backgrounds, and typical learners exposed to the units of study based on the model. Both quasi-experimental and experimental designs have been employed to demonstrate differences among ability-similar groups of learners using curriculum based on the model compared to those who have not been exposed to such curriculum. An overview of these studies and their results in language arts, science and social studies follow. The Integrated Curriculum Model (ICM) has been tested substantially in the areas of science and language arts in particular, using quasiexperimental research designs that compared pretest-posttest performance of students participating in the Center for Gifted Education units in these areas with the performance of similar students who were not taught using the units. The presentation of claims for student learning in each area follows, demonstrating specifically the results related to the specific curriculum, as well as supporting the notion of ongoing datacollection efforts to maintain high-quality curriculum development and implementation. In each content area, details and results of earlier studies are presented first, followed by discussion of more recent studies. Science curriculum effectiveness data The Center for Gifted Education s problem-based science curricular units for high-ability learners in grades 2 8 have been rigorously evaluated to ensure both effectiveness in promoting student learning gains and acceptance by teachers. Not only have the units and accompanying training materials undergone four major revisions in the course of their development but also the next-to-last edition of the units was field-tested 232 across multiple school districts. The goals of the program across all of the units have consistently been threefold: (a) to develop student understanding of the concept of systems, (b) to develop specific content learning that is unit dependent, and (c) to develop scientific research processes. More specific learning outcomes have been delineated under each of these broad overarching goals, in keeping with the intent of the National Science Standards and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy that call for substantive content linked to high-level scientific processes and the understanding of meaningful scientific concepts (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990; National Research Council, 1996). Evidence of effectiveness for Project Clarion Although the PBL units discussed above address all three major goals in the science curriculum framework (i.e., the concept of systems and change, specific content learning, and scientific reasoning), the PBL curriculum studies focused explicitly on student application of scientific research and integrating students understanding of science content and inquiry, reasoning, and problem-based reasoning skills. In the more recent units developed under Project Clarion, we addressed the development of curiosity in science, critical and creative thinking, as well as emphasizing concept development in systems and change and the scientific research process. The PBL was part of the ICM units, not the lead feature.. Goals and student outcomes are aligned to the National Science Education Standards. Each lesson includes instructions that detail the purpose, time needed, suggestions on how to implement the lesson, and ways to conclude and extend the lessons. Language arts curriculum effectiveness data The Center for Gifted Education s language arts curricular units have also been evaluated for effectiveness in terms of teaching literary analysis and interpretation and persuasive writing as language arts manifestations of higher level thinking (VanTassel-Baska, Zuo, Avery, & Little, 2002). As such, the research findings contribute to our understanding of the 233 importance of embedding higher order skills into content, and builds on prior understanding of effective research-based strategies for teaching writing (e.g., Burkhalter, 1995). Specifically, they suggest that gifted learners who deliberately receive instruction in literary analysis and interpretation and persuasive writing demonstrate significant and important growth when compared to equally able students not receiving such instruction. Each unit of study has 4-5 lessons that focus on the development of these skills, using short literary selections to buttress discussion and interpretation. Writing prompts are derived from the readings. After six weeks of classroom instruction, differential gains have consistently been recorded across units, teachers, and school types. Evidence of effectiveness from Project Athena Based on the growing research evidence on the use of The College of William and Mary s language arts units with gifted learners, the team at William and Mary began a three-year longitudinal study of using the curriculum in Title 1 schools and inclusive classrooms with all learners (VanTassel-Baska, Bracken, Feng, & Brown, 2009). The results of this five-year Javits project demonstrated the power of usi
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