Sunday, September 18, 2016

Cross-curricular Learning

Cross-curricular or interdisciplinary learning can offer so many rich educational experiences for students and teachers. Creating meaningful cross-curricular projects, field trips and learning opportunities is one of the priorities at my campus this year. Our teachers have already worked together to plan an interdisciplinary field trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

As an example and an inspirational starting point, I like to refer to the "Grail Diary" that Sean Connery's character Dr. Henry Jones Sr. kept in Indian Jones and The Last Crusade. You can find out more about this wonderful object at the wiki here. And here are a few pages from the diary:

What makes this diary so beautiful, and useful in the film, is how the author combines disciplines to study his subject. He works from different fields to achieve a deeper understanding and to discover new meaning, fields including: art, history, science, literature, architecture, religion, philosophy, chemistry, painting, sculpture, languages, iconography, geography, and geology. He also uses various methods to record his findings, including: drawing, writing, transferring images, collage, map-making, note-taking, quotation and references. The result is a cross-curricular masterpiece.

Another inspirational example of a cross-curricular product- Leonardo da Vinci's sketchbooks:

I saw some other great examples at the Aga Khan Museum this summer:

What I love about these artifacts (and what I think would be a fantastic classroom project) is how they are all handmade, in-depth studies of a subject drawing on multiple disciplines to achieve a more complete understanding and to create a beautiful and informative product. This is something that students can get excited about. It would also be more interesting for teachers to mark!

Class Project Idea: For a summative project, students create a object in the spirit of the "Grail Diary" or a "Da Vinci Sketchbook" - that spans 3 or more subjects. The students can research their chosen subject through the lens of each discipline, and then compile the information into a comprehensive mini-book that demonstrates their cross-curricular learning. The book can be marked by each of the three teachers based on subject-specific criteria for their class, while appreciating the diversity of products and the depth of knowledge that results through this kind of learning and where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

- Patrick

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