I came across James Beane and Barbara Brodhagen's Negotiated, Integrated Curriculum Model when listening to Alfie Kohn's 2009 lecture for PACE University.
I have quickly summarized the ten steps Beane and Brodhagen provide that I plan on following to negotiate an integrated curriculum with my students:
1 Have students individually brainstorm a list of questions about themselves. I post this question on our class Ning as a discussion forum topic.
2 In small groups, students will share their questions about themselves and group common questions into potential categories and subcategories.
3 Students brainstorm a list of questions they have about their world.
4 In small groups, students will share their questions about the world and group common questions into potential categories and subcategories.
5 In small groups, with adult support, students consider ways to connect their 'self' questions with their 'world' questions. The words used to connect these ideas become possible themes.
6 In small groups, students share their ideas of themes for study. Themes are placed into categories and subcategories to remove repetition and overlap.
7 Students vote on themes and most popular themes are identified as themes to be studied through out the year.
8 A small committee of students examine all the questions and place them with their corresponding theme.
9 Students create activities to accompany each theme.
10 Unit planning is done by the teacher based on the students' input and the mandated curriculum.
11 If some of the mandated curriculum does not fit with the student input, then this is brought to the student's attention to be discussed.
I see an integrated and negotiated curriculum to be at the heart of a democratic classroom that puts student engagement as a priority.
A Reason to Teach