Revisiting Curriculum Integration: A Fresh Look at an Old Idea
Key words: elementary-level social studies, integrated curricula, integrating social studies and core subjects, interdisciplinary teaching
Social studies as a content area struggles to attain a place of prominence in the elementary curriculum. Reading and math continue to reign supreme in elementary classrooms. Despite the fact that the historic national goal of education in the United States has been to educate youth for the purpose of democratic citizenship, social studies, whose primary purpose is education for citizenship, is often relegated to a place of minor importance in the elementary curriculum. Many teachers report that they simply do not have time to teach social studies. Their argument is indeed a credible one. Marzano (2003) calculates that there is an average of 200 standards and 3,093 benchmarks in fourteen different content areas that teachers are expected to teach in a school year. He further estimates that teachers need approximately 15,465 hours to address the content articulated in the standards adequately. The problem is, according to Marzano, thai, at the most, teachers have only 9,042 hours of actual instructional time in a typical school year. Obviously, it is not feasible to expect teachers to address all the mandated standards in the course of a school year.
In addition to the inadequacy of time teachers have to address the multitude of content standards, the emphasis, especially in the primary grades, is on the teaching of reading. The mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its accompanying assessments (which do not include social studies) have further promoted reading and math at the expense of social studies. (Science and art educators argue the same point, but for the purposes of this article, I limit my remarks to social studies.) Teachers devote most of their teaching to those areas for which they are held most accountable-especially reading.
Although it is true that learning to read should maintain a place of prominence in the early grades, teachers should consider the reasons children need to learn to read in the first place. What is the ultimate goal for children learning to read? Tt is difficult to answer that question without broaching the subject of citizenship. To wit, it is important for students to become good readers because we want them to become productive members of society; we want the next generation to be able to sustain our country’s place of international prominence; we want our students to appreciate the problems that past generations have overcome; we want them to be tolerant of other religions and cultures while being firmly grounded in their own. There is no argument to the premise that elementary teachers need to ensure that their students learn how to read. However, it is imperative that in the process of teaching reading, teachers do not sacrifice teaching their students the foundations of citizenship, which is the purpose of social studies education.
People still become teachers because they want to make a difference in the lives of children (Public Agenda 2000). That much has not changed. The realities of today’s elementary classrooms, however, are such that teachers are pressured to devote most of their time and energy on areas that are tested and to avoid considering what is being lost by the narrowing of the curriculum- the appreciation of things worthwhile, the values to which those things are relative, the desire to apply learning, and the ability to extract meaning from future experiences (Dewey 1938/1997, 49).
As with reading, no one denies the importance of teaching children the foundations of democracy and the importance of citizenship education. A dichotomy of beliefs exists, however, concerning the actual implementation of social studies curricula. In a study conducted by the Council for Basic Education (2004), principals report a decrease in instructional time for social studies, civics, and geography in grades K-5 since 2000. This trend is especially pronounced in high-minority schools. On the other hand, principals of secondary schools report increased instructional time and professional development opportunities for social studies, civics, and geography in grades 6-12 regardless of the percentage of minority populations in the schools surveyed. (They note a sense of urgency at the secondary level since September 11, 2001, to teach students about the world.) The trend is for students, especially minority children, to have little exposure to social studies content in grades K-5, then to be expected to learn elementary social studies content through higher level concepts starting in sixth grade. Seventh-grade teachers are finding it necessary, for instance, to explain to students the difference between a globe and a map and the existence of the three branches of U.S. government- basics that should be taught by third or fourth grade-as well as to teach the higher level concepts that middle school social studies standards mandate. Students in one of my undergraduate social studies methods courses reported that they had to teach third- and fourth-grade students in their internship classes that Phoenix is a city, that Arizona is a state, and that the governor’s name is not Abraham Lincoln.
The problem for elementary teachers is how to continue to stress the areas of the curriculum for which they will be held most accountable (reading and math) without sacrificing social studies. One solution that continually is posed is to integrate social studies content with those areas that the teachers are already teaching-an integrated or interdisciplinary curriculum. In the rest of this article, I examine the viability of integrating the curriculum as it applies to elementary social studies.
Models of Integration
An integrated curriculum is by no means a modern or novel method of teaching. The progressive movement, founded by John Dewey and Francis Parker in the 189Os and early 190Os, established the idea of an integrated curriculum as a vital part of effective pedagogy. In the mid-twentieth century, Hilda Taba established the spiral curriculum in which social studies concepts are introduced and elaborated on throughout elementary and middle school (Farris 2004). Farris reports that later in the century, Bruner expanded on the spiral curriculum method and that in the 1970s and 1980s, Banks emphasized the need for multicultural education in social studies and throughout the elementary curriculum. Furthermore, in the latter part of the century, Beane (1995) reasserted Dewey’s call for the curriculum to be more applicable to the lived experiences of students. By now, early in the twenty-first century, combining subjects to meet objectives across the curriculum is firmly entrenched as an instructional method.
There is considerable debate, however, about what an integrated curriculum looks like. Indeed, there is even disagreement concerning a clear definition of integrated curriculum (Czerniak, Weber, and Sandmann 1999). Parker (2005) sums up the varying definitions of an interdisciplinary or integrated curriculum by describing it as
a curriculum approach that purposefully draws together knowledge, perspectives, and methods of inquiry from more than one discipline to develop a more powerful understanding of a central idea, issue, person, or event. The purpose is not to eliminate the individual disciplines but to use them in combination. (452-53)
Various models of integration contain descriptions of the actual practice that Parker defines. The models could be aligned on a continuum on which one side of the continuum is made up of what Fogarty (1991) calls the Immersed and Networked Models, in which students direct the integration process. Wraga (1993) describes the Open or True Core, which is similar to Fogarty’s models in that students and teachers select the subject matter in the context of problems that the class determines should be addressed. At that end of the continuum, the content and instruction is student determined.
Further along the continuum of integration, Wraga describes the Prestructured Core. In that model, the problems addressed are predetermined, based on the personal and social needs of students. Students’ lives and experiences, not the subject matter, are the focal point of the curriculum.
In the middle of the continuum is the model Wraga (1993) calls Broad Fields, which is similar to Fogarty’s (1991) Webbed Model. In that curricular conceptualization, the focus is on unity or synthesis across subject areas. Teachers might develop a unit based on a theme, such as inventions or conflicts.
The Fusion design of curriculum integration merges related subjects into a new subject. Two or more subject areas are merged in such a way that they form a new unified idea (Parker 2005). Parker asserts that the Fusion model attempts to create generalizations in children’s minds, such as “the decisions of human beings influence the survival of other living things” (455). Subjects are brought together so that students can internalize a complex idea.
The final design on the curriculum integration continuum is the Correlation (Wraga 1993) or Sequenced (Fogarty 1991) Model. In that design, teachers arrange concepts so that similar learning activities relate to one \another. The subject divisions are retained, but relationships are developed among them. An example of that design is a sixth- or seventh-grade team of teachers who teach oceanography in science class and continents and oceans in social studies while reading Island of the Blue Dolphins in language arts.
Apart from the continuum model, Parker (2005) identifies two approaches to integration: fusion and infusion. Infusion design is similar to the Broad Fields and Correlation models in that two or more subject areas are brought together to form a meaningful curriculum. However, in that model, aspects of one subject area are inserted or infused into a second to help the learner gain deeper understanding of the second. Therefore, one subject area is the helper of another. One or more objectives from various subject areas are achieved as a result of the infusion of one topic into another. This broad method of curriculum integration is the most frequently used method at the elementary level. Teachers at the elementary level generally teach all or most of the subject areas to the same group of children and have many opportunities to see relationships between and among all the topics and content areas that they teach.
Research Concerning the Effectiveness of Integration
Because integrated curricula have been part of our schools for a long time, there are ongoing debates among educators and numerous publications concerning the effectiveness of an integrated curriculum. On one side are advocates of integration, who point to studies that contend that integration leads to higher student achievement. On the other side are advocates of the traditional discipline-centered approach to curriculum, who are armed with their own studies pointing out that teaching the disciplines discretely is the most effective method. In the EightYear Study conducted by the Progressive Education Association in the 1930s, researchers found that graduates of various experimental schools that used integrated methods in elementary through secondary grades performed better than their college peers from traditional content-centered programs (Wraga 1993). Although those conducting the EightYear Study concluded that there is no particular program of study that is the best preparation for college, they pointed out that an integrated curriculum is a viable and often desirable means for preparing students for college. Vars (1991) points out that since the Eight- Year Study was published in 1942, there have been more than eighty normative or comparative studies on the effectiveness of integrative programs. He notes that, in virtually every instance, students who were involved in various integrative and interdisciplinary programs performed as well as or better on standardized achievement tests than their peers who were enrolled in more traditional, separate- subject programs of study.
Schug and Cross (1998) counter Vars’s conclusion that empirical research supports integrated curricula. They point out that in the post-Sputnik era of the 1960s, along with studies conducted in the 1970s and 1980s, the weight of empirical evidence measuring student achievement was in support of direct instruction in separate disciplines over integrated methods.
From other studies, however, researchers concluded that students benefit from integrated or interdisciplinary methods. Student engagement rates are heightened during thematic instruction (Yorks and Folio 1993), integrating arts into the regular curriculum has a positive effect on student attitudes and selfconcept (Schubert and Melnick 1997), teachers of elementary and secondary students report that their students have more positive attitudes toward learning and experience significant advantages when teachers employed integrated methods (McBee 2000), and integration advances the rigor and relevance of classroom learning by making the curriculum more meaningful to students’ lives (Hargreaves and Moore 2000).
In still other studies, researchers argue for or against integration. The effectiveness of integration, as well as of the separate-subject approach, relies on the expertise and knowledge of the teacher. I agree with Beane (1995) that the argument for curriculum integration and against the more traditional separatesubject curriculum is a false dichotomy. Knowledge of the various disciplines is fundamental to effective interdisciplinary teaching. Therefore, teaching content separately should not be abandoned in favor of integration, nor should integration be set aside in efforts to teach subjects discretely. A balance between the two strategies is necessary because both are effective means of increasing student achievement.
The bottom line on the research concerning the efficacy of an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum is that when skilled, knowledgeable teachers employ integrated methods, student achievement is equal to, or better than, that of students who are taught in the traditional separate-subject approach. Therefore, integrating the curriculum is a powerful and useful pedagogical tool when it is employed with much preparation and thought. It is clear from the research that student achievement hinges on the teacher’s ability to integrate content across disciplines effectively in meaningful ways. For integration to be effective, teachers must have adequate knowledge about the content areas they are integrating, and they must have adequate training in integrative techniques. Furthermore, even though integration has proven to be effective in engaging students and increasing their achievement on standardized tests and other measures of achievement, there are some caveats that teachers and curriculum developers must consider.
Although there is disagreement about the implementation of interdisciplinary approaches to instruction, there is no debate that curriculum integration is a difficult and demanding endeavor (Hargreaves and Moore 2000). Both advocates and dissenters of integration agree that integration for integration’s sake is ill advised. Choosing to teach a topic simply because it is easily integrated with other subjects trivializes learning. It is important to remember that integration is a method of teaching and not a goal for learning. Teachers should consider integration as another pedagogical tool and not as an end in itself (Parker 2005). It is with embarrassment that I note the numerous times that I (both as an elementary teacher and as a social studies methods professor) have encountered elementary teachers who have had their students perform such meaningless activities as memorizing states or counties in alphabetical order or who add words and phrases such as “constitution” and “Emancipation Proclamation” to the weekly spelling list in attempts to integrate the curriculum. The connection between language arts and social studies content in those activities is tenuous to say the least.
Teachers must avoid certain problems related to integration; among them are the following:
* Distorting the social studies content in the name of integration (Brophy and Alleman 1991). For instance, Brophy and Alleman describe a lesson in which students are asked to sequence the steps in building a log cabin. The problem is that three of the five steps seem to have been arbitrarily imposed instead of being historically correct. Although the authors were successful in including a sequencing activity (a social studies and math skill) in the unit, the result was an activity that detracted from meaningful social studies.
* Having students engage in exercises that are strange, difficult, or even impossible (Brophy and Alleman 1991). I once read a lesson plan in which students were to do an interpretive dance or to pantomime a portion of the Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident”). Having elementary students perform the Declaration of Independence in such a manner consumes the valuable classroom time allocated for social studies and does not advance the goals of social studies education in a meaningful way.
* Asking students to do things they are not prepared to do or are developmentally incapable of doing. I once observed a new kindergarten teacher who was attempting to have her students form the letters that spell EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION. The five-year- olds in her class were unprepared to write such a phrase and even less able to understand the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation.
* Watering down the content in order to integrate by including bits of information from numerous content areas without proper depth in any of the disciplines. I once read a unit on the Revolutionary War that attempted to integrate science and social studies. The unit included lessons on electricity because of Ben Franklin’s influence in both areas. The result was an instructional unit that lacked depth in both science and social studies. (Science and social studies can be effectively integrated, but the teacher must be knowledgeable in both areas and be able to make clear and meaningful connections between the subjects.) Another example of an ineffective unit plan is one on another culture that includes a little art, a little history, a little geography, a little science, a little math, and a little literature but does not go into sufficient detail in any area to give the students anything other than superficial knowledge of that culture.
* Having students participate in activities that lack educational value in any content area and busy-work exercises. Such activities emphasize doing rather than learning, and examples include alphabetizing states and capitals, adding together the heights of mountains in various mountain ranges, carving presidents’ faces onto pumpkins, round-robin reading of social studies textbooks, or repetitively writing social studies vocabulary words. The activities may keep students busy and be tenuously related to social st\udies and other content areas, but they do not further the goals of either social studies education or the other disciplines.
Ideas for Effective Integration
Integration is not always the best strategy for furthering the goals of social studies education; some information is best taught separately. For example, introducing skills such as how to find latitude and longitude is best taught as a separate entity rather than an embedded skill in other content areas. As Parker (2005, 453) states, “Knowing how and when to separate topics to clarify them and knowing, on the other hand, when to integrate them is a major achievement of skillful teaching.”
Although it is true that there are times when teaching the subjects separately is more appropriate than integrating them, it is also true that when teachers are knowledgeable about content areas and integrate them effectively, students’ achievement increases. Therefore, it is vital that teachers learn how and when to integrate and to use this valuable strategy whenever possible. I believe that effective integration is one way that social studies can be revived in the elementary curriculum. To achieve that, I offer the following guiding principles for integrating the curriculum:
* The activities should be educationally significant in all the merged content areas. The lessons should meet the curricular objectives in all integrated areas and further the overall goals of social studies education. In this age of standards, the benchmark is whether the activities address state standards in the disciplines.
* The lessons should not distort the integrity of the social studies content (Alleman and Brophy 1993). The students should emerge from the lessons with a clear and in-depth understanding of the social studies subject matter.
* The lessons and activities should be developmentally appropriate for the learners. Teachers need to be cognizant of what their students are capable of understanding and then challenge them with new material.
* The activities should include authentic applications of skills from other content areas (Alleman and Brophy 1993) and in areas of affect and cognition (Beane 1992). Students should be able to apply the learning in other disciplines and recognize the value and relevance of the lessons to their own lives.
Integrated Lesson Plans
In the appendix, I present two examples of lesson plans that meet the criteria for effective integration of content. The lesson plans are excerpted from lesson plans developed by the Arizona Geographic Alliance. The first lesson, I Am a Rock, I Am an Island: Describing Land/arms and Bodies of Water, is included in the Arizona GeoLiteracy Program. GeoLiteracy is a CD that includes more than eighty kindergarten through eighth-grade lesson plans that integrate social studies, particularly geography, with language arts. The lessons were written by teachers from Arizona and address Arizona standards in language arts and social studies. The second lesson, Can You Hear Me Now? How a Country’s Wealth Influences Communication, is included in the Arizona GeoMath Program. That program, like GeoLiteracy, was written by Arizona teachers for kindergarten through eighth grade and meets Arizona standards for social studies, particularly geography and math.
I Am a Rock, I Am an Island: Describing Landforms and Bodies of Water is a lesson for first graders. The author, Julie Letofsky, is a nationally board-certified first-grade teacher in Tempe, Arizona. In the lesson, students identify basic landforms and bodies of water, use their bodies to demonstrate what the feature looks like, write riddles (using proper mechanics) about a landform or body of water, and are assessed on the geography and language arts content. The lesson plan itself has more detailed instructions and extensions and includes supplemental materials (worksheets, answer keys, and so forth), which are not included in this article but are available from the Arizona Geographic Alliance (http:// www.alliance.la.asu.edu/ azga, or e-mail gbekiss@ aol.com or cathy.davis @ asu.edu).
Can You Hear Me Now? How a Country’s Wealth Influences Communication is a lesson for grades six through eight. Denise Dora, who is a middle school math teacher in Tempe, Arizona, wrote the lesson. In the lesson, students make and solve problems using scatter plots created by using data from a variety of countries. The data help students explore the relationships between different countries and learn how citizens get information by using popular culture items such as television, cell phones, and the Internet.
Elementary teachers report being overwhelmed by pressures to have their students achieve on standardized assessments and complain that there is not enough time in the day to teach reading and math, the areas for which they are held most accountable, and also teach social studies. Their points concerning the time constraints are valid. Moreover, there is another issue constraining the teaching of social studies at the elementary level: Many teachers do not feel comfortable teaching the subject. Many teachers lack confidence in their knowledge of social studies content and feel unprepared to teach it. When that lack is added to the pressures being applied by state and federal mandates, it is no wonder that teachers teach social studies only when they have adequately addressed reading and math standards. Therein lie the problems with elementary social studies: There is no time to teach it and it is not seen as a priority.
In the aftermath of such tragedies as September 11 and natural disasters like the tsunami in Southeast Asia and during contentious election years, social studies becomes more prominent in the curriculum. Its importance and necessity in the lives of students become pronounced in times of social, environmental, global, or political upheaval. In addition, today’s students have access to more information and are exposed to more media outlets than ever before. It falls to the teachers, not just parents or churches or the government, to help students make sense of the information to which they are so readily exposed.
The problem of how to reconcile elementary teachers’ discomfort with social studies and the pressure they feel to teach only those areas that are tested with the practical application of social studies education remains, however. The answer may lie with the effective integration of social studies into content areas like reading and math and meeting the state-mandated standards in each area. By using the rich fund of knowledge about effective integration to guide their preparation, teachers can present elementary-level integrated social studies lessons that are engaging and powerful and meet state and federal mandates without taking classroom time away from other subject areas.
When teachers are knowledgeable about content areas and integrate them effectively, students’ achievement increases. Effective integration is one way to revive elementary social studies.
Alleman, J., and J. Brophy. 1993. Is curriculum integration a boon or a threat to social studies? Social Education 57 (6): 287- 91.
Beane, J. 1992. Integrated curriculum in the middle school. ERIC, ED 351095.
_____. 1995. Curriculum integration and the disciplines of knowledge. Phi Delta Kappan 76:616-22.
Brophy, J., and J. Alleman. 1991. A caveat: Curriculum integration isn’t always a good idea. Educational Leadership 49:66.
Council for Basic Education. 2004. Academic atrophy: The condition of the liberal arts in America’s public schools. Washington, DC: Council for Basic Education.
Czerniak, C. M., W. B. Weber, and A. Sandmann. 1999. A literature review of science and mathematics integration. School Science and Mathematics 99 (8): 421-30.
Dewey, J. 1938/1997. Experience and education. New York: Touchstone.
Farris, P. J. 2004. Elementary & middle school social studies: An interdisciplinary, multicultural approach. New York: McGraw Hill.
Fogarty, R. 1991. Ten ways to integrate curriculum. Educational Leadership 49 (2): 61-65.
Hargreaves, A., and S. Moore. 2000. Curriculum integration and classroom relevance: A study of teachers’ practice. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision 15 (2): 89-112.
Marzano, R. J. 2003. What works in schools: Translating research into action. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
McBee, R. H. 2000. Why teachers integrate. The Education Forum 63 (3): 254-60.
Parker, W. C. 2005. Social studies in elementary education. 12th ed. Columbus, OH. Pearson Merrill, Prentice-Hall.
Public Agenda. 2000. A sense of calling: Who teaches and why. New York: Public Agenda.
Schubert, M. B., and S. A. Melnick. 1997. The arts in curriculum integration. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Eastern Educational Research Association, Hilton Head, SC, February 26. ERIC, ED 424151.
Schug, M. C., and B. Cross. 1998. The dark side of curriculum integration in social studies. The Social Studies 89 (2): 54-56.
Vars, G. F. 1991. Integrated curriculum in historical perspective. Educational Leadership 49 (2): 14-15.
Wraga, W. O. 1993. The interdisciplinary imperative for citizenship education. Theory and research in social education 21 (3): 201-31.
Yorks, P. M., and E. J. Folio. 1993. Engagement rates during thematic and traditional instruction. ERIC, ED 363412.
ELIZABETH R. HINDE is an assistant professor of elementary education in the College of Teacher Education and Leadership at Arizona State University in Glendale.
Lesson 1: I am a Rock, I am an island: Describing Land/arms and Bodies of Water by Julie Letofsky (suitable for grade 1 )
Overview. Young children need to develop their knowledge of Earth’s physical features. With a full understanding of basic landforms and bodies of water, they are prepared for further geography study. This lesson integrates body movements with drawing and writing while it builds on \the children’s growing linguistic abilities.
Materials: forty-five slips of paper-five slips for each term: mountain, hill, plateau, plain, river valley, island, lake, ocean, river; writing paper
Objective: The students are to identify common landforms and bodies of water from descriptions of distinguishing features and write a riddle about a landform or body of water.
Procedures: The lesson requires two class periods of thirty to forty-five minutes each.
1. Brainstorm with students about the different landforms and bodies of water with which they are familiar. (As children share their responses, sketch or show a picture of the feature. Accept all reasonable responses.)
2. Have students use their bodies to demonstrate what the features look like. The teacher should name a feature, and the students show what it looks like. Possible body movement examples are listed below:
MOUNTAIN-A child stands up high on his or her toes and reaches hands up to form a peak.
MOUNTAIN RANGE-Several children are connected in the same position as a mountain to form a mountain range.
HILL-A child rounds his or her back and stretches over to touch both hands to the ground.
PLATEAU-Two children face each other and clasp outstretched arms to form a flat-topped hill.
RIVER VALLEY-Two children sit facing each other, knees up and feet meeting, to form a v-shaped valley.
OCEAN-The children make wave-like motions with arms. The whole class links hands and makes wave-like motions.
ISLAND-One child stands in the middle, several other children surround the child with hands connected to form a body of water.
3. Play a riddle game to describe the geographic features. For instance, “I am a landform. I can be in a river or in an ocean. I am fully surrounded by water. What am I?” The riddle should have three descriptive sentences and one question. (The teacher writes the riddle on chart paper or the chalkboard and makes two or three errors in capitalization and punctuation for students to correct.)
4. Have the students write two riddles, one for a landform and onefor a body of water. Assist beginning writers by recording their riddles as they dictate.
5. Now use the students’ riddles to play a riddle game. Have students individually read their riddles while the rest of the class shows the riddle answer with a body movement.
6. Have the students return to their seats and write the name of or sketch the feature as the teacher reads a riddle.
Assessment: Students need to identify seven of nine physical features from descriptions of distinguishing features of landforms and bodies of water.
Lesson 2: Can You Hear Me Now? How a Country’s Wealth Influences Communication by Denise Dorn (appropriate for grades 6-8) Note: For the complete lesson plan, go to http://alliance.la.asu.edu/azga/ and click on Outreach and Events, GeoMath Project, Grade 6-8 sample.
Overview: More than ever, changes in technology help people gain better access to information. Using scatter plots, students investigate how the wealth of a country influences the ability of its people to obtain access to communication from electronic sources (TV, cell phones, Internet).
Materials: World map overhead, pencils, rulers, raw spaghetti, countries-of-the-world wall map or atlas, data table [not included here]
Objectives: The student will be able to
* Locate the following countries on a world map: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Botswana, Canada, China, Cte d’Ivoire, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kuwait, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, United States, and Uzbekistan.
* Construct scatter plots to show the relationship between the wealth in a country and its access to communication and information technologies.
* Identify and make predictions from trend lines for each scatter plot generated
1. Using an overhead projection of the world map, tell students they will be looking at data from twenty-one countries.
2. Have the students locate and label the twenty-one countries on a world map.
3. Using information obtained from the Internet (i.e., the CIA Factbook) or other sources, students should list information concerning economic wealth, physical characteristics, and cultural characteristics for each country.
4. Talk with students about the rise and spread of electronic information and how access to communication is a two-way street with economic activity. Explain that to compete in a global world, countries need modern communication.
5. Distribute the data table: Does wealth of a country affect its ability to get information? GNP means Gross National Product or the total value of goods and services produced in a country in a year. For each country, the GNP per person was calculated by dividing the GNP by the population. The Persons per TV, Persons per Cell Phone, and Persons per Internet Connection were all calculated by dividing the population by the total number of each of these items in the country.
6. Tell students they will be making scatter plots of this data. They will be comparing Gross National Product per Person and the Number of Persons per TV, Number of Persons per Cell Phone, and Number of Persons per Internet Connection. Tell students to round the GNP per Person data to the nearest $500.
7. As students graph the data, have them label each point with the name of the country (abbreviations or numbers are fine).
8. Students will draw a best fit or trend line for each graph. Students can use a piece of raw spaghetti or a clear ruler to estimate the position of the trend line. Remember, trend lines are estimations, so lines may vary. Accept a wide range of possible lines. The important thing is that students see a negative trend (that less money means that more people have trouble getting access to a TV, a cell phone, or an Internet connection).
Assessment: Math Assessment-Student scatter plots can be graded for graphing all twenty-one points in the approximately correct position. The important thing is that students create a negative trending scatter of points. In grading, remember that trend lines are estimations, so lines will probably vary. Accept a wide range of possible lines (and some students may even draw a curve).
Geography Assessment-Students can be tested on correctly identifying the location of the twenty-one countries used in the lesson.
Copyright HELDREF PUBLICATIONS May/Jun 2005