The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer two research questions: 1) What characteristics of an integrated curriculum make it an effective teaching technique in the primary classroom?; and 2) How do students and teachers view integrated curriculum within the primary classroom? What are their attitudes, their likes, their dislikes? My research includes the work of Heidi Hayes Jacobs (1989 and 1991) and Bette S. Bergeron (1996), both advocates of integrated curriculum in the classroom. Integrated curriculum has the ability to incorporate the real world with that of the school world, which, according to Jacobs and Bergeron, results in higher student interest, as well as an increased ability to develop a better understanding of what is learned. This study took place at a suburban K-5 elementary school located in the Pacific Northwest. The participants were second graders from the classroom where I student taught. Information was gathered through a variety of methodological approaches including classroom observations, taped interviews with teachers, written surveys, and student work. In order to protect the participants' rights to privacy and anonymity, I have provided pseudonyms for all participants in this study. After collecting and organizing extensive field notes, interviews, and survey responses, I noticed the majority of the students had learned and retained a large amount of information through an integrated curriculum. Students not only enjoyed the units offered, but also showed substantial growth in their knowledge of each subject. Integrated units also encouraged independent study, as well as the development and strengthening of Howard Gardner's seven intelligences. My research found that an integrated curriculum in the primary classroom was indeed effective in various ways which are explained in the analysis of this paper.
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