Interdisciplinary Unit Planning Dr. Mark Warner Teacher Development Augusta State University
The Grocery Store Topic/SkillSubject/Discipline Kiwi Fruit _______________ Comparing Prices _______________ Low Fat Content _______________ Ingredients _______________ Music _______________ Displays _______________ Magazine _______________ Estimating Total Cost _______________ Paper vs. Plastic _______________
What is the relationship between the way we are taught in school and the way we function outside of school? • In school we are usually taught in an isolated, fragmented approach that is often not relevant to our lives. • Outside of school we make decisions, solve problems, and deal with issues that concern us in a more holistic manner. • Outside of school our time is not divided into discipline-based blocks that have little in common with each other.
Why Interdisciplinary Units? If we move away from the subject centered approach to curriculum organization, will the disciplines of knowledge be abandoned or lost in the shuffle? As teachers facilitate interdisciplinary units within a curriculum framework, two things happen: (1) children are encouraged to integrate learning experiences into their schemes of meaning to deepen their understanding of themselves and their world; (2) children are engaged in seeking, acquiring, and using knowledge in the context of problems, interests, issues, and concerns at hand.
What is an Interdisciplinary Unit? • Organize concepts and skills into meaningful structures for teaching and learning • Connecting tools that facilitate student learning, communication, experience, and understanding • Extend learning time and provide opportunities for real life applications • Combine procedural and declarative knowledge to create meaningful, authentic activities; and develop student thinking and problem solving skills
How do they work? • Units are thematic • Tie concepts and skills together around larger, central themes • Themes provide learners with connections and relationships which give meaning to the concepts and skills being taught
Selecting a Theme • Don’t confuse themes with topics • Topics, such as chocolate, do not invite genuine inquiry • Themes are broader and involve real problems and tasks. For example: • Making Choices • Facing Adversity • Coming of Age
Identifying Essential Questions • What are the questions that will guide the inquiry and frame the learning for the unit? • Questions identify issues • Example question: How is pollution affecting the quality of our lives? • Example issues: personal responsibility, the economy, legislation • Issues generate more questions: What is the individual’s responsibility for a society’s well being?
Identifying Standards • Standards guide the learning and keep you on track • Standards and issues keep the learning focused and purposeful • Caveat---Don’t force a theme into a content area and create meaningless activities that only superficially address the content standards and the concepts in your curriculum.
Designing Culminating Activities • Design performance based projects that students will complete at unit’s end • Define these early to help design daily tasks that will flow into culminating ones. • Develop rubrics for tasks
Creating Assignments and Assessments • Design tasks that include student choices • Use a variety of assessments that evaluate both the process and products of learning • Create opportunities for students to evaluate their own work and the work of their peers.
NCSS Ten Thematic Strands • Culture • Time, Continuity, and Change • People, Places, and Environments • Individual Development and Identity • Individuals, Groups, and Institutions • Power, Governance, and Authority • Production, Distribution, and Consumption • Science, Technology, and Society • Global Connections • Civic Ideals and Practices