Community and Cultural Resources Integration Model

By: Professor Jim Nichols

The Nichols Community and Cultural Resources Curriculum Integration Model is an attempt to organize a curriculum area which is often chaotic. School districts waste many thousands of dollars and instructional hours on activities that have little or no value as a learning experience. This writer was unable through his research to locate any model that claimed to structure this educational area.

The model divides community and cultural resources into three types: External, Multimedia and Internal. External is considered a synonym for field or class trip, which this writer has divided into Receptive or Interactive. The former includes primarily passive visits to museums, zoos, theaters, facilities (buildings, monuments), or lectures where students primarily listen but do not participate. The latter includes children's or science museums such as the Liberty Science Center; collections or laboratory trips designed to collect specimens from streams or forests, for example; community service, e.g., visiting a nursing home or doing a library research project at a facility outside of the school setting.

Internal involves material or people brought from outside the school to supplement the curriculum. Materials can include classroom museum exhibits; i.e.; a coin or stamp collection, artwork, outside reference materials borrowed from a library or museum, or contributions of costumes, instruments, ethnic food, equipment or other items for special events, such as a "Multicultural Day." This category also includes people. These can be celebrities. "Famous People," a nationally recognized program at Palisades Park High School, had well over one hundred famous actors, television personalities, athletes, physicians and others speak to our students. Family members such as grandparents are also wonderful resources for providing first-hand information regarding local history, their country of origin, or their war experiences. Community representatives are also effective sources. These can be elected officials, firemen or policemen. One of the most remarkable classes I have ever observed was one in which World War II Veterans spoke about their war experiences from a local VFW.

The third type is electronic or Multimedia. The Internet now enables us to go on virtual field trips to practically anywhere. For example, in doing research for this paper, I came across a live webcam of the Statue of Liberty on a website. Using my computer, I literally participated in a tour with the live visitors. Websites provide live and taped video feeds, photos and study guides for an ever-growing number of exciting places, many too far or too expensive to visit in person. E-mail or chatrooms with outside people, videotapes and audiotapes can enable interesting comments and cultural resources without student or teacher having to leave the classroom. As part of a technology grant I wrote for a New Jersey school district, students participated via email and chatrooms with a variety of inventors and industrialists from around the world. The Ellis Island website has video and audio interviews of actual immigrants who entered this country at the turn of the nineteenth century. On a more personal level, several of my students brought in video or audiotapes of interviews with their grandparents or community representatives who were physically unable to come to the classroom as part of their unit plans.

All three types, Internal, External, and Multimedia enrich a classroom curriculum dramatically, if integrated properly into the curriculum.

About the Author:

Professor Jim Nichols

Chairman, Nyack College Dept of Ed

Nyack, NY 10960

Email: [email protected]

© Professor Jim Nichols, All rights reserved.