I met today with all the ninth grade teachers at Frisch to discuss the idea of integrating the grade's curriculum under the topic of identity. The theme works well in many of the classes because it's broad enough to include many ideas, and many of the teachers are already dealing with identity in their courses. The idea is to integrate across the curriculum in both Judaic and secular studies. For example:
English -- all novels we do are coming-of-age stories
Science -- Biology -- who we are as human beings
History -- world history from ancient times to the Middle Ages -- who we are historically. History already integrates Jewish history with history
Foreign Language -- for example, Spanish does units on identifying different groups of Spanish-speaking peoples and what their impact is on society today
Hebrew Language -- poems and literature on identity; our identity as religious Zionist Jews
Nach -- next year, we'll be doing Ezra, Nechemia, Hagai, Zecharia and Malachi -- developing leadership qualities in exile and in Israel, particularly when Jews are returning to the land to settle it. Dealing with assimilation.
Torah -- next year, we'll be doing Bamidbar -- developing positive and negative leadership qualities as seen through Pinchas and Korach
Talmud -- next year, we'll be doing Bava Kama -- the ethics of responsibility -- developing an identity that requires one to be civil and caring when dealing with fellow human beings
Art -- collage on identity based on familiarity with the work of postmodern feminist Barbara Kruger
Health -- how to have healthy self-esteem
Some of these are tentative ideas, but the goal is to create a more solid and relevant curriculum for the students and to have teachers dialogue with each other. Another goal of the program is to utilize more technology, so we've set up a wiki to hold all the information on identity together and to enable teachers and students to see what's going on with the theme throughout the year in all the classes. Thanks to this site for the wiki idea!