Integrated Learning

The integrated approach to learning facilitates not only the acquisition of strong basic skills but also deep conceptual understandings and is, thus, rigorous in the best sense of the word. Our curriculum uses essential themes and questions to create a framework for learning. Essential themes are big ideas, and the essential questions, which are generated from the themes, have no easy answers.

Living Our Core Values

Our school-wide essential themes and questions honor our core values, including the pursuit of insight, empathy, inclusivity, and equity. They are addressed in classrooms in every division in age-appropriate ways.

The school-wide themes were chosen to help students become self-aware, culturally competent people who are equipped to become responsible, active citizens in their local, national, and global communities. 

School-Wide Themes + Questions

List of 3 items.

  • Community

    1. What is a community? How do we create a community?
    2. How do my actions impact the communities I am part of?
    3. What are my rights and responsibilities as a member of various communities (local, national, and global)?
    4. What language and behaviors support an inclusive and equitable community that values empathy and respect?
    5. How do people speak up with courage and respect when they or someone else has been hurt or wronged by bias, injustice, or systematic practices?
  • Diversity

    1. How am I the same and different from you?
    2. How do my actions affect others?
    3. What makes you, you? How can I get to know others better?
    4. What language and knowledge do I need to respectfully describe how people are similar and different?
    5. How does examining diversity in social, political, and historical contexts add to my ability to take positive action in my community and in the world? 
  • Identity

    1. What makes me, me? How do my various identities change over time?
    2. Who do I want to be? What personal attributes will help me be my best self?
    3. How do the connections I have with other people shape who I am?
    4. How do my identities and experiences influence my choices and actions?
    5. How do I develop personal courage and maintain my identity in society?

A Framework for Learning

Over time, these themes help students construct a conceptual framework upon which they can fasten their growing knowledge.
 
Several times a year, students engage in special, integrated units of study. These units focus on the essential theme and require students to draw on knowledge and skills from more than one discipline. Students are asked to examine ideas, actions, and the world around them from multiple perspectives and express their growing knowledge in multiple ways. 

Grade-Level Themes + Questions

List of 10 items.

  • PP = Connections

    • How do people connect?
    • What kinds of things connect? How do they connect?
    • What is the same and what is different?
    • How does what we observe help us make connections? How does our thinking about what we see, hear, feel and/or do help us make connections?
    • How does looking for connections help in solving problems?
  • K = Patterns

    • What is a pattern?
    • What patterns can we see in the world around us?
    • How can patterns help us learn?
    • How do patterns help us make predictions?
    • How do people use patterns in their everyday lives?
  • 1 = Relationships

    • How do our actions affect our relationships with others in both positive and negative ways?
    • What is the relationship between living things and their environment?
    • What do living things need to survive and thrive in their environment?
    • How do we build relationships with people who are similar and different from ourselves? How do we celebrate individuality?
    • What kinds of relationships help build a community?
  • 2 = Structures

    • What kinds of structures exist in and influence communities?
    • How are concrete structures and abstract structures similar and different?
    • How do structures promote continuity and facilitate change?
    • How do structures help us to adapt to different needs, demands, climates, and environments?
    • How do social structures influence identity?
  • 3 = Change

    • What is change?
    • What causes change?
    • What does change cause?
    • What is a change agent?
    • How can you be a change agent?
  • 4 = Perspectives

    • What are the factors that shape a person’s perspectives?
    • How do people’s perspectives impact their actions?
    • How and why do perspectives change over time?
    • How do our perspectives affect the decisions we make?
    • In what ways do we acknowledge the importance of multiple perspectives, both in the past and the present?
  • 5 = Decisions

    • What are the different ways that people approach decision-making?
    • How does an individual’s identity affect decision-making?
    • How do the systems in place in a community affect decision-making?
    • What are the short-term and long-term effects of decisions we make?
    • How can we assess the outcome of decisions made for us and by us?
    • When and how should we change decisions?
  • 6 = Culture and Climate

    • What is culture and how is it reflected in mathematics, science, and technology?
    • What aspects of culture shape a community or an environment? How does one culture affect another?
    • How are our global climate and culture changing?
    • What factors are responsible for a changing climate? How do we analyze these factors?
    • How does a changing climate affect cultures around the world?
    • What can cultures around the world do to minimize humans’ negative impact on the earth?
    • What should be the goals and outcomes of climate policies and practices?
  • 7 = Rights, Responsibilities, and Power

    • What are people’s responsibilities and rights as members of various communities (local, national, global)? How have people’s responsibilities and rights in these communities changed over time?
    • What are our responsibilities to ourselves in relation to social, emotional, and physical health and well-being?
    • What is power?
    • What makes something—an object, a system, a performance or presentation, a piece of writing, a solution, a person, or a government—more powerful?
    • What diminishes power?
    • How can power be harnessed to create change? How can the actions or role of one person or one part affect the whole?
  • 8 = Leadership, Agency, and Efficacy

    • How does perspective impact leadership, agency, and efficacy?
    • What is a leader? What makes an effective leader? What makes a morally responsible leader?
    • What does it mean for a person to exercise agency?
    • What leads to efficacy in any pursuit?
    • How does the dominant culture affect others? How does it affect others’ leadership, agency, and efficacy?