Sunday, 16 October 2016

Connect 4... or 5...

As a primary school teacher at a small school (less than 130 students), it can be challenging to make interdisciplinary connections.  To gain access to specialist services ie RTLBs, speech language therapists, health professionals etc, can be very challenging.  Other than other teaching staff at school, my largest connections would be teachers from different settings that use Twitter to discuss different educational subjects.

Potential interdisciplinary connections will be with specialist services, RTLBs (Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour), and members of our newly formed Community of Learning (CoL).  These potential connections rely on who my students will be in 2017 and how the CoL ends up working.

I believe that it is important for educators to understand how all areas of our education system works in order to give our students the best chance of reaching their potential.  It's also important that teachers from different disciplines, or have different curriculum strengths, work together.

There are many benefits of working across disciplines.  Mathison and Freeman (1997) state that

"Interdisciplinary, integrate, and integrative studies represent an opportunity
to: have more meaningful relations with students; teach cognitive skills
associated with 'real life'...; motivate students; increase student achievement;
promote positive attitudes towards subject matter; create more curricular
flexibility' diminish scheduling problems; and integrate new and rapidly
changing information with increased time efficiency" (pp 22-23)

By integrating curriculum areas/subjects, teachers are able to make better use of class time.  Teacher will be able to remove the division between subjects and address content in more depth.  Students are able to use the time to understand important ideas and concepts, and make connections between subjects.  Teachers are also able to personalise instructions for students.  There is the ability to produce multiple responses to the context, therefore allowing teachers to assess the understanding in a variety of ways. This also allows the teacher to build upon students' prior knowledge.  Through integration, students also have the chance to master skills and concepts through authentic tasks that they likely to come across in their lives outside of school (Barton and Smith, 2000 p.54).

Below is a video of Grant Lichtman discussing the innovative learning integration being used at Hobsonville Point Secondary School in Auckland.  This video shows how this secondary school is taking down the division of subjects at a high school level.



To ensure our students are prepared to leave the education system and join the workforce, we as educators need to make sure that they have all of the necessary skills to succeed.  


References

Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. The Reading Teacher, 54(1), 54-63.1.

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf