Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

An integrated curriculum that simultaneously builds students' social, emotional, and academic understanding also tends to enhance their learning and acquisition of life skills, a case study from the Aspen Institute's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development finds. The report, Putting It All Together (12 pages, PDF), found that integrating the development of social skills and competencies into academic instruction, rather than providing standalone programs, is a win-win. For example, at Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., where the curriculum includes a focus on the mastery of academic work and character building, students score better on standardized tests than other schools in the district. And with a growing body of research showing that approaches that simultaneously build social and academic skills are aligned with the way children's brains take in and process information, teachers, schools, and districts increasingly are embracing integrated curricula. Successful implementation, however, requires teachers feeling ownership of, and having time to plan and collaborate on, a curriculum that embeds social and emotional skills in academically rigorous lessons; and on districts making an integrated curriculum a priority for all schools while providing professional learning opportunities for teachers.