# Integrated Teaching {Bringing Happiness to Venn Diagrams}

by on May 5, 2012

Today’s guest post comes from an English teacher in China, Amy Young. Amy shares about how an unlikely pairing of subjects and ideals became a memorable classroom experience. You can read more about Amy’s teaching and life experience living in Beijing at her blog, Messy Middle.  You can, and should!, follow Amy on twitter at: @Amyinbj.  {Interested in guest posting?  See our guidelines here.}

***************

Like the average reader of this blog, I believe in integrated teaching and learning. Can you find biology in an English class? Absolutely you can! Turns out even after all these years of teaching I’m not as integrated in my thinking or lessons as I thought.

A couple of weeks ago I walked into my 3rd period Senior One (10th grade) oral English class in Beijing, China, and was greeted with cries “teach us math!” Not going to happen (even though I’d taught math in the US); but then I had one of those inspiring moments we all long to have, where things just come together. We were working on a unit about money. On a whim I wrote “happiness” and “money” on the board and asked them to make a mathematical equation showing the relationship between them. I made a pathetic sample I’m not going to show you because, well, I look like a simpleton. As I walked around the room there was a buzz in the air. “Miss Amy, can we use functions?” Can you?! I randomly chose four students to write their equations on the board, but others wanted to as well. They blew me away. Here are some the finished products:

I wish I could remember the explanation! Or these two:

I love that it culminates in a venn diagram! Even I can grasp that one.

There were graphs, exponents, sets, functions, greater than, less than, infinity, and diagrams as they depicted deep and significant things in relating money and happiness. This is what integrated teaching looks and feels like. In that class, I learned more than they did.. .

1. My definition of “Chinese Creativity” is far too narrow. Over the years I’ve been asking them to be creative in ways I know how to be creative without linking it more often into some of their strengths.

2. I’ve been asking the wrong question. Instead of asking what my students don’t know and filling in gaps, I also need to ask what they already know and incorporate it more.

3. My teaching categories are too rigid. So much for priding myself on being integrated! I would not have put money, math, happiness, and oral English in same lesson because they didn’t seem to go together.

But, apparently, to a classroom full of Chinese students, they most certainly did.

- Amy Young, orignally posted in part at Messy Middle

Where might your definition of student creativity be too narrow, thus hindering lesson integration? Could you try a similiar activity in one of your classrooms this week?

• Tomarsha

How creative!  I love that kind of teaching!!  Marsha

• lauraparkerblog

I know , right? I loved this idea and the ideas that came out of it!

• http://amylsullivan.blogspot.com/ Amy Sullivan

Amy Young at the Teachers’ Lounge? What a great idea. Glad to have you bringing your love of words and kids together to inspire us here!

It’s funny. When I saw a couple of these pics on your blog, I thought I should tell you to do a little something, something for here. I guess that was already in the works.

Can’t agree more with #1.

Oh, and love to have an international teacher here. Super fun.

• http://messymiddle.com/ Amy @ themessymiddle

Thanks for the shout out Amy!

Previous post:

Next post: