Good teachers know that good teaching is inter-disciplinary. They know that in the world outside of school, people to not act in silos and they know that the most memorable curriculum is relatable, grounded in authentic experiences and applications, and therefor is also interdisciplinary. So why do schools struggle with interdisciplinary units?
The main hurdles I see are:
Hopefully this blog post will give you some ideas to take away these struggles.
Here are some top tips:
Some examples of IDUs I have been involved with:
1. Math and Design - A robotics unit where we looked at the importance of accuracy in our code, and then students wrote an essay, containing their code too, about accuracy and robotics, and the benefits or problems robotics might cause to society in the future. Students also looked at the implications of human error/manipulation to lead to robots causing us big problems! This was in a small school, with one teacher per subject, so we had a lot of classes together!
2. Individuals and Societies and Design - American civil rights 50 years ago and now. This was the year before the next chapter, when design was still 'Technology'. Here we looked largely at how technology had changed how was take part in the political process, with a large focus on social media and protest. in I & S they mostly explored civil rights 50 years ago, and in Design we looked at civil rights now. We talked about slactivism, online petitions, police body cams, lie ins V die ins and more. We also had students debate if technology has made us more or less involved with the political protest. Students made a website sharing their thoughts, as well as protest banners. This was in a small school with one teacher per subject, but we didn't teach together - we just collaborated together and had the shared summative assessment.
3. All subjects (I & S and ?). Human migration. In my last school we piloted a human migration IDU. One day students would rotate through the different subjects, and have a short master class. I worked with the math teacher and we created a digital break out (escape room) telling the story of human migration, through a Google Form, where they could not progress to the next page without getting a cryptic, mathematical question write. Other activities included looking at non-translatable words (lang and lit), using physicality to show the human journey (theatre), book art to show the human migration (visual art), creating board games (design) and more. For the second day, students chose a subject they wanted to work with. They spent the day creating pieces, and in the afternoon, we had 'The Museum of Human Migration') with all their products, as well as performances, in our auditorium.
4. Music and Design - Emotions! In design we look at how and why designer use stock footage. We also explore how companies use emotions for branding, and we focus on Coca Cola using happiness. Students then create a video using only stock footage to show one emotion. In music they compose an accompanying soundtrack. (Read about unit here) We staggered how we did this unit, with design going first, so that when music started they already had they silent videos!
5. I & S, Theatre and Language and Literature (including mother tongue) - Civil and Human Rights. This was an off-time table three day IDU. Day one we took students to the civil and human rights centre. Day two they rotated through different workshops. Int he afternoon of day two and day three they created their performance and then third day afternoon they performed! We were inspired by Pecha Kuchas, so students had to create a slideshow to perform in front of. They had ten slides, each showing for 15 seconds. Read the unit over view here. Day one here, day two here and day three here (including student performances and assessment)
6. Language & Literature and Design - Human impact on the environment. Students look at different ways humans impact the environment negatively. They debated the difference between propaganda and persuasion, then discussed creatives roles in promoting global issues. A lot of front loading happened in design, so Language and Literature only had to spend a few weeks on their part of the unit. In design we made a model to raise awareness of human impact on the environment. In their language classes they wrote accompanying Op Ed pieces. We exhibited their work in the library. Read more about it here.
7. Math and Design - Geometry. We did a unit about how using 3D modelling can help students show their understanding of geometry. Students used a lot of minecraft for this! We also debated the accuracy of models, and if the images on the screen were really 3D or not! Students made videos to share their understanding.
8. Design, Individual and Society and Language and Literature - Gothic London! We did a great unit all about the gothic in London! This included a walking tour of Highgate Cemetery! Students made gothic apps, which included interactive maps of London, a stop motion animation, a gothic choose your own adventure story and more! This was a heavy unit with a lot of content, but so much fun! This was done with Grade 6s!
Lastly...to give you some inspiration... I've put togethera spreadsheet with ideas for every subject combination (two subjects only). This will be an amazing spreadsheet if more people comment and share ideas! The more I add the better it will be. Also you might look at some of the ideas and think they are awful and that some are good - and that is totally fine.Link here.
My Grade 7s are five weeks into their First Lego League robotics unit. The theme this year is 'City Shaper' and students are looking for problems in their city that they can solve through design. We have laid a lot of the ground work, through watching different videos, including 'Sustainable Development City' and 'EPCOT' (from 10 minutes 20 seconds). We've also discussed if Stuttgart is stressful or not, as it was voted the least stressful city in the world. We also had an excellent guest speak, UX designer Elinor Samuelsson, who focusses on improving mental health through design. She worked on the Kokon, a relaxation pod for offices, and is now working on a happiness project, for Helsingborg, Sweden, which is part of the cities larger innovation project.
Today teams had to brainstorm lots of problems in our city, then finally each team selected the problem they are going to focus on. You can use this brainstorming technique for any scenario. I love it because they go big first, coming up with as man ideas as possible, then they find connections, then they narrow it down! It's also fun and get's students out of their seats!
1. CLASS DISCUSSION: As a class we discuss the theme first [Here was talked about city problems & Solutions - everything from e-bikes to the amount of people who smoke in public in Germany]
2. CARDS: Each table was given a stack of cards. Each individual student wrote as many problems as they could. One problem on each card.
3. SORTING, CONNECTING: When they had their cards filled, as a class, we worked on sorting them and making connections [themes that emerged including entertainment, art, green spaces and pollution]
4. ELABORATING: One student, who has been taking the lead on making the connections shared out with the class the themed that emerged and how the cards were organised. He also read out loud some of the cards
5. JUSTIFYING: Each student choose the one problem they cared most about, then answered some questions in their process journal.
6. SHARING: In their teams, each student had one minute to share out the problem they picked and why. Their team mates were encouraged to ask 'what makes you say that?" whenever their teammate could provide more details
7. SELECTING: The groups had time to focus on the problem they want to focus on.
8. HIGHLIGHTING: Students wrote a newspaper headline about their problem. They could write it either about the problem right now, or they could write a future headline!
Below you can see some of their ideas. I also added a picture of the hole puncher I use to make these.
This fits in with one of my favourite AtL skill indicators! Thinking - Creative Thinking - "Use brainstorming and visual diagrams to generate new ideas and inquiries"