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Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning

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Mary Plona

on 22 July 2013

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Transcript of Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning


Our Definition
Teaching about broad topics that connect multiple subjects together

Encourages critical thinking and applying knowledge to the real world

Students learn by making connections to the different subjects/topics

Why is it important to use Interdisciplinary Teaching in the middle childhood environment?
Why is it beneficial for Teachers and Students to use Interdisciplinary Learning?
Grow as a teacher
Learn more about a topic of interest but limited expertise
Build broader perspectives
So, what's the catch?

Quality teachers: willing to create and implement an effective lesson
Personality differences, teaching styles, etc
Comfort/willingness to change their course

*Significant time (curriculum development, planning sessions, reflection)
Finding matching time with co-worker

Gaining support from administration, team, etc
Can be costly
What can we add?
Do the benefits outweigh
the time and effort?

Ingredients for Effective Interdisciplinary Learning
Promotes "ongoing conversations"
Critical thinking replaces memorization
See importance/relevance
interconnectedness of knowledge
Given tools and confidence to figure out issues on their own
Isolation vs. belonging
Interdisciplinary Learning in Action!
Let's put these
ideas to work!
Knowledgeable and passionate about their discipline
A shared vision
Respect and curiosity
Openness and flexibility
Curriculum: built on “middle school models of cooperative learning, discovery-based activities, and integrated curricula”

Consistent meetings for planning, reflecting
Establish mutual goals and purposes for the course
Decide on content and activities
Revise expectations as needed
Maintain consistency (grading, topics, content, etc)

Team teachers
Financial support
General and Special Ed.
Middle School Teams
Different subjects
Same subjects
Graffiti Wall
Part 1:
What topics interest you?

Part 2:
Get into groups of 4
Try to have all content areas
List ideas of how you can include a lesson in your content area to this topic idea
Mary Plona
Matt Sforza
Jill Bohme

Huge commitment
Opener: Brainstorm Activity
Essential Question:

What does it take to implement IL?
How do I build my curriculum and assessments for IL?
Examples: IL in action!
Closing: Essential Question Continuum

You are constantly working with other teachers!
Where do you stand?
Essential Question:
What does it take to implement interdisciplinary learning?
How do I build my curriculum and assessments for interdisciplinary learning?

Interdisciplinary Learning in action!
Show me some examples!
Gives students a sense of belonging!
sense of belonging (Anderman article)
builds relationships with each student
Evaluating insights
Integrating insights
into comprehensive
understanding of issue
Modifying insights
Four elements for creating an Interdisciplinary lesson
Identify perspectives and knowledge in relevant interdisciplinary fields
When working with other teachers, be aware of relevant approaches of other team members and their disciplines
Seek out diversity of perspectives to develop more comprehensive understanding
Assume every disciplinary perspective has at least a kernel of truth
Recognize all sides of an argument, avoiding overstatement and overconfidence
Assume whatever you’re attempting has probably been tried before, at least in part
Seek commonalities not compromises, i.e., win-win situations
Embrace contradiction
Think dualistically and inclusively
Integrate as you go (instead of waiting for all discipline’s insights)
Value intellectual flexibility and playfulness
Persuade your audience with evidence not claims
Be responsive to all perspectives but dominated by none of them
Assessments for an
Interdisciplinary Lesson
Interdisciplinary Assessment
Perceived time commitment on part of faculty
Faculty negative attitudes toward assessment
Perceived or actual increase in faculty workload
Difficulties to assess process rather than content
Adequate project management
Adequate resources
Adequate time provided
Faculty input in determining assessment measures
Create incentive for faculty interdisciplinary research
Interdisciplinary Teaching? It Only Takes Talent, Time, and Treasure.
Middle school in Florida to do unit on the Caribbean
Teachers divided into teams based on content areas
decide what is taught
Teacher's beliefs and experiences influence instruction
Used novel "The Cay" as foundation text
Focused on:
understanding cross-age relationships
accepting interracial interactions
sensitivity towards those with disability
An Interdisciplinary Approach
Language Arts
Guest speaker to teach Braille
Learned Caribbean dialects
Researched slave communication systems
Written journal reflections
Draw and interpret scene from "The Cay"
Journal with two weekly entries
Decimal to metric conversions (distance between islands)
Fraction manipulation in Caribbean recipes
Created murals of geometric designs from "The Cay"
Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division based on Caribbean content
Ocean floor

Ocean and wind currents
Salt vs. freshwater

Speed of vessels based on wind speed
Students demonstrating wind and water affects on Caribbean islands.

Built rafts with resources described in "The Cay"
Model to demonstrate tectonic theory vs. volcanic activity
Social Studies
Worked in teams to research main Caribbean islands
Guest speakers from each island researched
Presentations on assigned islands
Papier-mache maps made to scale of each island including topography, cities, historical sites, etc.
Gardner, S. A., & Southerland, S. A. (November 01, 1997). Interdisciplinary teaching? It only takes talent, time, and treasure. English Journal, 86)
Students will be able to define interdisciplinary learning.

Students will recognize the positive and negative aspects to interdisciplinary learning

Students will be able to create a lesson plan topic incorporating interdisciplinary learning

Students will be able to make an informed decision on how interdisciplinary teaching fits into their future curriculum and teaching style

Augsburg, T., Bekken B., Hovland L, et. al, (2013). Insights on interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Michigan State University (1-38).
Insights on Interdisciplinary Teaching and Learning, White Paper
Kirkwood, T. (1999). Integrating an interdisciplinary unit in middle school: A school-university partnership. Clearing House, 72(3), 160.
Integrating an Interdisciplinary Unit in Middle School: A School-University Partnership.
Math: Proportions for money conversion, miles to km

Science/Math: Using the potential and kinetic energy of a plane to figure out how fast it is traveling and what time the plane will land.

Social studies: culture of the country

English/LA: read a book by an author of that country

Social studies: geography

Science: weather patterns

English/LA with SS: poem on the history

Essential Question
Do the benefits outweigh the
time and effort?

Write out words that you associate with Interdisciplinary Learning
Example of
Interdisciplinary Unit
Here is an example of an interdisciplinary unit on "blood"

Take a minute while watching this video and think about good things they did and some ways they could improve the lesson.
Drawing insights from
diverse perspectives into complex issues
Devil's advocate activity
Clicker based responses
Peer evaluation
Concept Maps
Written critique of
bad arguments
Model UN/Debates/Role Playing
Interdisciplinary Learning Assessment Process
1. Establish learning objectives
2. Choose an assessment
3. Choose an evaluation method
4. Conduct the evaluation of student work
5. Rethink the lesson based upon the assessment results
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