Education Research Proposal Paper on Integrated Unit of Study

Integrated Unit of Study

Introduction

            The task of coming up with plans on how to implement integrated learning for children in science and mathematics was an eye opening experience. It made me become more aware of my environment and discover a passion for seeking meanings in nature that I had lost long ago. This paper is a reflection of the feelings and insights I got during the carrying out of this task. The strengths and weaknesses I realized about myself help in making me realize the ways in which I could improve my teaching strategies. They some assisted in making me aware of the shortcomings that I may have had in my skills as an instructor of children. The more I learned the better I became because I am currently working on rectifying my weaknesses. The strengths I noticed made me feel good about my abilities and have motivated me to become more interested in my profession. I am now more passionate about teach math and science to young students, as I have learned the various approaches that may be used to present complicated content and concepts to them in an understandable manner.

            The difficulties faced were in way helpful in making me realize the strengths and weaknesses that i possess. These difficulties did help in making me put myself in the shoes of the learners by having to adjust my perception. Adjusting my perception led to my discovery of how the students were likely to receive the content taught by the instructor on math and science. The content of these two subjects is considered to be complicated, and the combination of them both as an integrated unit would be expected to double the challenges to both the instructor and the learner. The insight received from the various texts recommended for this task helped in alleviating the feared complications. The difficulties therefore were reduced to just the lack of resources to be used in coming up with the plan and the choosing of a relevant topic for the integrated unit study.   

Strengths and weaknesses

            One of the areas in which I recognized as strength is in coming up with ideas and tricks of presenting to the students what I required of them in terms of checking the behavior of the earth and the sky for patterns. It was possible for me to gauge the level of observation that the student had applied and put it in writing as part of the rubric for the unit (Maat & Zakaria, 2010). Planning the lessons also came naturally to me, thanks to the experience I have had as an instructor. These strengths as mentioned earlier, boosted my confidence in coming up with the teaching plan for the integrated unit of math and science. I also felt more at ease to experiment with the different techniques of content delivery and evaluation that were at my disposal, thanks to the research done in this project.  

            The weakness I experienced was in deciding what was to be the essential question in the topic chosen. Still, coming up with the key question to that essential question was a hurdle. The problem was not lack of ideas, but the fact that the sciences and mathematics have so many facets from which questions can be formulated. Once the essential question was chosen, I discovered that it covered a very broad spectrum that it was difficult to narrow down to the key questions (Maat & Zakaria, 2010). I also faced the problem of having to decide on questions that would not be too complicated for the students. I am still not sure whether the questions I chose will be well received by the students. The recognition of this weakness made me aware of the indecision problem I get whenever I get faced with many options having almost equal merits.

            Furthermore, I faced the problem of having to tailor the topic in a way that was devoid of my personal bias. There are mathematical and scientific fields that are interesting to me, and I am fully aware that I would be drawn to them. What would be interesting to me would not necessarily be interesting to the students. I had to somehow find a common ground between my interests and the diverse interests of the students so as not to alienate them. The choosing of the topic had to be done after doing good research. I at first thought that this would be a topic too complex for the students, as I viewed it from my point of view where I would concentrate on the technical issues of some segment of technology. The realization that these young students spend each and every day utilizing inventions made it easier to settle on it. The effectiveness of this topic is yet to be determined and will be after the assessment of the students is done.     

Difficulties Faced

            It was problematic to come up with relevant resources to be used in coming up with this plan of integrated unit of study. This is because most of the texts and publications available only touched on the subject matter sparingly. To connect the weak links in the information gathered, I had to rely on my imagination and creativity (Carrick Mollenkamp, 2004). My weakness of not being decisive in the essential question selection also made that task very difficult to undertake.

            Using similar standards to gauge the work of each student in terms of the observations they made on the earth and sky was also difficult. This is because I felt that the students differed in how they perceived their environment and in the ways they could express themselves (Carrick Mollenkamp, 2004). Trying to put these differences in perspective and the differing oral abilities into consideration was very challenging. I had to differentiate between laziness and learning problems in their performance and this required having an intimate understanding of the character of each of the student. That too, was a difficult undertaking.

            Additionally, there was a conflict within me about integrating two technical discplines into one and trying to teach their concepts as a package. It felt odd, as I have the belief that such subjects should instead be broken down into multiple subjects so that the students would not be subjected to too much learning of a composite subject. Even with the knowledge that math and science have a lot in common, it still felt odd to make them both one unit. Embarking on that and doing it did eventually quell my fears, though I must admit that I took this activity as more of an experiment as opposed to serious undertaking. The various texts that have come up on the integration of these subjects as a single unit were an encouragement, as were the examples given on how the instructors were able to teach science in a language understandable to the students and similar to the one used to teach arts to these students without diluting the content of these disciplines.

Possible changes in delivering of unit

            Possible changes in the deliverance of this unit would are likely to occur in case the topic chosen is too complicated for the students. As the instructor the methods that I am planning to use in delivering this unit to the students will be at my discretion. I have already stated a plan on how the integrated unit of study will be made to the student and its diligent implementation will be dependent on thebest case scenario happening. If the students respond well to the teaching method applied and the topic chosen, then there will be no need to effect any changes in the implementation plan. If they happen not to be as responsive, then the first step to be taken will be to determine what aspect of the plan confuses them. After finding out whether the teaching methods or the topic chosen are the ones responsible, then measures are taken to ensure that the causative factor is changed. Afterwards, the effectiveness of the change will be evaluated.

            The students being taught will have different academic abilities, making them respond the same way of teaching differently. This forces the instructor to have to tweak the teaching methodology to accommodate all the students. This will be done in addition to the standard set for the teaching method. The materials used, meaning the sources of knowledge made available to the students will have to evaluated from time to time in order to ensure that they are up to date and have content that is beneficial academically to the students. In the event of the books used not satisfying the requirements, it will require the sources to be replaced by more credible one. Some students might require having more attention from the instructor in order to understand the concepts being taught in science and math. This will require the instructor to come up with ways of making sure that these students are catered for. This has to be done without giving an impression of favoritism to the rest of the class. It is known that experiencing  phenomenon leaves a deeper impact as opposed to just knowing about it passively. This integrated unit of study will utilize both theory and practicals. The weaker students may be required to dwell more on active learning compared to the rest.

            So much has been invested in coming up with a teaching plan for the integrated unit study, that contemplation of possible changes is uncomfortable. However, do plan or project gets implemented to the letter, and that is why it is imperative that such a consideration be made. The possible changes described here are the ones that seem possible within my scope of thought. They might be others that have escaped my attention, and I will keep an eye out for them as the integrated unit teaching plan gets implemented. The changes that might occur to the plan will not be that costly in terms of the time taken in the implementation of the course. The only cost incurred might that of frustration in the even that some of the components of the plan fail work. This is something that I am as an instructor, prepared for. On the other hand, the plan might sail through smoothly not requiring any changes, and that is definitely the best case scenario. The satisfaction will not lie in having the plan implemented in its raw form, but in having the plan assisting the students to learn and internalize scientific concepts and how they influence their everyday lives.     

Feeling about integration of children’s literature in math and science instruction

            Integratingchildren literature into math and science instruction was a welcome idea, as it would make these subjects more interesting and understandable to the students. Using the technical terms used in these two subjects in advanced texts makes them very hardand uninteresting to the children. The examples given should also reflect the environment that the students can relate to as well as the scope that they can comprehend (Nuthall, 1999). This would make them feel that these subjects are doable and fathomable unlike the common practice of students avoiding these subjects in favor of the arts which they find somewhat familiar. The tangible development of the nation is to a great extent dependent on the population embracing the sciences and mathematics. This is because they drive inventions and subsequently, the productivity of the economy. Other forms of education usually drive the abstract nature of the economy such as finance. As such, i feel that the integration of the literature for children in these disciplines is a good call whose benefits are to last for a long time.

            Despite having been an instructor for a significant period of time, it has never occurred to me to properly analyze the integration of math and science and the possible implications it has on learning process of the students. This experience has made me to have a look at methods I have been using in my profession with as renewed perspective. I have been able to recognize the different ways in which I have been blundering in communication of scientific concepts to the students. I have been trying to draw the students into the scientific world instead of drawing the science into their everyday lives. Doing the latter has demanded of me to have an extra burden of analyzing the different ways in which the mathematical and scientific methods apply or influence the lives of the students. Afterwards, the task has been to find the texts that project the findings made in an appropriate manner. This has been a very hard undertaking, as it seems like most mathematician and scientific authors have written texts with the adult student in mind. In the end, I just think that I might have to write my own text to assist those that will come after me.

Conclusion

Doing this project has been an eye opening experience that will result in the improvement of my instructional skills. This process made it possible for me to recognize my strengths and weakness when it came to planning for the implementation of integrated unit of study for the young students. A notable strength noted was the ability to come up with creative methods of communicating content to the students while the major weakness was sorting out from the many possibility and coming up with a topic for study in science and math. The difficulties faced were in a way linked to the weaknesses experienced, while the dynamic nature of the education system and the student environment necessitated changes in the original plan. The prevailing feeling about the integration of children literature in math and science is one of satisfaction.

References

Maat, S. M. B., &Zakaria, E. (2010). An exploration of mathematics teachers’ reflection on their teaching practices. Asian Social Science, 6(5), 147-152.

Nuthall, G. (1999). The way students learn: Acquiring knowledge from an integrated science and social studies unit. The Elementary School Journal, 99(4), 303-341.

Carrick Mollenkamp and, A. D. (2004, Sep 14). Computer glitches stall wachovia brokers; breakdowns began last week as brokerage integrated systems with former prudential unit. Wall Street Journal.