Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 6, Standard 4

Our Interdisciplinary Learning story


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

  1. Should the teachers involved have a non-contact at the same time for planning purposes?
  2. Should teachers have a non-contact when one of the group is teaching the class so that they have the option of team teaching?
  3. Should learners apply to be involved or select the class as an option?
  4. Can we make this happen for 2018 or do we need more time to plan?
  5. Could Design Thinking be part of our process?
  6. How will we assess learning outcomes?
  7. Will we plan forwards to the outcomes or backward from the outcomes?
  8. Will we make the key competencies much more of an explicit focus within this class
  9. What taxonomy will we use to guide our levels of differentiation?
  10. 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.

Reading and Viewing links

Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 11, Criterion 3, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Criterion 9, Standard 1, Standard 3, Standard 4, Teacher Registration

Year 9 Priority Learner Progress

Have I seen any improvement in the learning/behaviour of my PLs so far this year?

I have 9 priority learners in my year 9 English class, there were 11 but 2 have been moved to a different class. They comprise of a mixture of Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha learners whose curriculum level ability range from level 2 to 4. I have definitely seen an improvement in the behaviour of this group this year. One of my learners was very disrespectful at the beginning of the year and now we have a positive relationship. They are all completing their learning and four out of nine have passed their first common assessment test. Four did not submit the test and one failed.

Explain the possible reasons for this. What did I do that worked/didn’t work?

I am happy that four learners passed their assessment and I attribute this to the task they were given which was well scaffolded and easy to understand. I have also developed positive relationships with these learners and have given regular feedback/feedforward on their learning. Using Google Classroom has been effective as it means that I can check on what learners are doing by looking at their document in the Classroom folder in Google Drive.

I am disappointed that so many learners did not submit their assessment even though they had completed some of it and I had seen it. I sent a letter home to these learners and did receive some supportive replies from parents who said that their child would complete the assessment and send it to me but only one of these did this. The learner that did submit their learning achieved well.

Where to next?

I have been doing some reading about how to help Maori/Pasifika learners to achieve and, as these strategies will work for all learners, I will apply some of these principles. I will focus on teaching until my learners understand as I sometimes can get impatient and not do this.