Bring Back Cross-Curricular Teaching

We’ve all been there.

8am: Math

9am: Language Arts/English

10am: Social Studies

11pm: Lunch

11:30am: PE

12:30pm: Computers

1:30pm: Music

2:30pm: Science

Does this look vaguely familiar?  This is  how I remember my Junior High school schedule looking like from day to day.  In elementary classrooms, it can almost be worse because children spend even more time on math and language arts and less time on social studies and science.

We’ve even been reduced to placing children at a desk or table with a worksheet to complete, instead of having meaningful, real-world, hands-on activities.

Bored Child

(Check out this article on Worksheets vs. Play-Based Curriculum.)

That being said, along with including more hands-on activities in the curriculum, we need to teach in a more holistic environment.  When is the last time you put down your morning coffee so you could move on to math time?  When is the last time you pulled out your favorite science textbook for an afternoon science lesson?  I bet you don’t because all of these topics are around us on a daily basis.  We process information all at the same time.

Cross-curricular learning is deep learning.  “But in order to get beyond the current eye-dropper doses of knowledge sampling in school curriculum, it requires that teachers and administrators understand and accept a few things:

  1. Deep learning engages the whole student. (and teacher)- heart, mind, body, and soul.
  2. It requires enthusiastic partners. – students, parents, and community.
  3. It requires intensive preparation.  – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/deeper-learning-ted-talks-heather-wolpert-gawron 
  4. Assessment must mirror learning. – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/making-assessment-relevant-students-teachers-shawn-cornally
  5. Collaboration is necessary. – http://www.edutopia.org/blog/deeper-learning-collaboration-key-rebecca-alber

**Taken from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/cross-curricular-teaching-deeper-learning-ben-johnson

Salisbury School in Salisbury, CT has implemented a cross-curricular approach to their teaching strategies as well.  “Cross-curricular studies support two important goals we have for our students: the ability to apply knowledge effectively in a variety of contexts, and to engage in higher level reasoning skills. Through interdisciplinary quests, the students are able to see the interconnectedness of things they may otherwise learn through fragmented and isolated skill instruction.”  Check out more here.

Unfortunately, this shift isn’t going to happen overnight.  It is going to take teachers, parents and even students speaking out and supporting a deep learning approach to education.

What do you think?  How would you rather learn about a topic?  Read a book or passage and answer some questions on a worksheet or take on a project that brings the topic to life?

Project Learning

 

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