Literature Frameworks — A Plan for Integration
by Sharron L. McElmeel

The literature framework presented here is an example of a thematic approach to curriculum integration. By using the topics as building blocks for workshop activities in the classroom, the blocks may be combined in a variety of ways to support a multitude of themes or curricular units. Creative uses of resources allow for activities and resources to be used in different ways at different grade levels. For example, a book to accompany a post office unit might be read aloud to preschoolers, but in the primary grades the book might be used for independent reading. A book read for background for grades 3–4 might become a model for writing in grades 5–6. Given a framework for a particular topic, educators will be able to build and tailor relevant units to their district's adopted content standards and to meet the specific needs of their students. Educational standards are being developed nationally. Various state departments of education and local districts are adapting those standards to their own states and communities. Charles Hill and other educators at the Putnam Valley Central Schools in Putnam Valley, New York, have developed a portal site Developing Educational Standards: Overview. This portal has hot links to a myriad of informational sites, arranged by state and by subject areas, various U.S. government sites, and sites from other nations. The educational standard information relevant to your specific location can be accessed and used to integrate the various topics and variations possible through the use of the information and resources in Literature Frameworks and with the suggestions shared during this month's online discussions.

Another Web portal is National & State Standards. The site is mounted by MediaSeek, a company that builds products based on data on education standards and instructional products. MediaSeek has created a "Correlation Status of National Standards" chart, which visually indicates applicable state standards to the following areas: science, mathematics, English language, social studies, technology, and other topics.

The topics included in any developed frameworks or list of resources and activities cannot be taken literally and used step-by-step within a classroom. Topics and the identified resources simply provide the background and the potential for making connections in the classroom. One does not have to be involved in a study of apples in a curricular sense to make use of some of the suggestions connected with "apple-related" resources. Those who are focusing on folk characters or tall tale characters — including John Chapman, also known as Johnny Appleseed — will be able to use "apple" suggestions for collaborative reading titles. For units dealing with healthful eating readers will find value in the resources listed for learning about types of apples. Some of the suggestions for an apple topic might stimulate an adaptation of an activity, for example the suggestion to create a class "Apple Recipe Cookbook" might be extended to include "Family Heritage Recipes." The "Family Heritage Recipes" activity might more closely fit with a "family unit" in a primary classroom or with a history of community focus in the intermediate grades. Many suggestions for connecting to other books of literature and extension activities can be shared. Educators will be able to help young learners to connect specific titles with activities or a collaborative reading list, or further resources for exploration of a topic.

The purpose of integration is simply to help young learners to make connections and to effectively utilize the time spent on content. Books read during a literature period might well serve a content purpose for a social studies unit. Web sites visited might provide valuable background information for the piece of literature or contribute to the body of content important for the social studies unit. While others cannot often specify the exact manner in which a resource or activity suggestion could be used effectively in a specific classroom, the resources in any list or framework can contribute greatly to the planning process by stimulating ideas and by providing citations to materials that might be used in a curricular unit.