At Whangaparaoa College, a few of us have been chatting about the possibility of trialing interdisciplinary learning in 2018. For a while, I have been pondering how we could make this happen without too much disruption to the timetable. After a fruitful lunchtime conversation with my friend and colleague, Debbie Culliford, the light went on! Our year 9 and 10 classes all travel together so what would be needed was a group of teachers of one class who would meet and plan a theme or project and how they would teach it to the class.
A few days later, Tim Rea, the head of the Social Science faculty, came into my class and asked whether I would be interested in making it happen in 2018. We chatted and agreed that it would be good for teachers of the four core subjects to be a part of the pilot. Unfortunately, our Maths HOL was not keen at first because in the past the Maths curriculum had not been covered sufficiently. I totally understood where he was coming from but was disappointed. However, he later came on board to try it for a term after another discussion. Dawn, our DP, then organised a meeting between the core subject Heads of Learning.
Before the meeting we started a shared brainstorming document of the following ideas:
General interdisciplinary learning ideas:
- Choose a class and trial for a term/year.
- Choose a common theme/project/problem to learn about each term.
- Maths, Science, Social Science, and English.
- The trial class would have a project/problem or theme that they would complete learning in each subject area about.
- Communication with the community is essential.
Why should we do this?
- To make learning engaging and relevant.
- Learners will understand the ‘bigger picture’ and be able to connect to real life projects.
- Opportunity for teacher collaboration.
How can we make this happen?
- Survey our learners to see if there is interest.
- Choose teachers of a year 9 class to be involved.
- Teachers meet and plan a term together.
- Create resources and share on Team Drive (set one up for this trial).
- Identify feasibility asap so that planning time can occur in term 4.
Questions to consider
- Should the teachers involved have a non-contact at the same time for planning purposes?
- Should teachers have a non-contact when one of the group is teaching the class so that they have the option of team teaching?
- Should learners apply to be involved or select the class as an option?
- Can we make this happen for 2018 or do we need more time to plan?
- Could Design Thinking be part of our process?
- How will we assess learning outcomes?
- Will we plan forwards to the outcomes or backward from the outcomes?
- Will we make the key competencies much more of an explicit focus within this class
- What taxonomy will we use to guide our levels of differentiation?
- How might we serve our community?
At the meeting, we chatted about how we could make this happen and agreed that the simplest way would be to choose a year 9 class for 2018 and select interested teachers to teach this class. We left the meeting agreeing to find a keen member of each of our departments to take part.
At our next Curriculum Meeting, Tim Rea and I presented our ideas to all the HOLs and asked for their thoughts. Everyone was surprisingly very positive, especially the Year 7 & 8 HOLs who teach in this style most of the time. This means that if our trial in 2018 is successful, we may be able to roll it out to more curriculum areas and classes.
The next steps are to choose the teachers to teach the class, ensure that they have time to meet and plan, and then timetable the class. We also need to discuss the questions above and make some decisions regarding assessment.
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