Episode 50 3 ways to integrate your curriculum – live

Episode 50 was celebrated via live stream on Facebook discussing 3 ways to integrate your curriculum, covering multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches. Dan shares stories of how he has applied these approaches at his own school and at home with his son.

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Video show

Show notes

There are 3 approaches to integrating curriculum:

  • Multidisciplinary (a common theme)
  • Interdisciplinary (organising the curriculum around common learnings across subjects, chunking them together)
  • Transdisciplinary (organising the curriculum around the students’ questions with students applying skills from various subjects in a real-life context)

Multidisciplinary

Bringing multiple subjects together with a common theme. I did this with a focus on Dragons with a homeschool group of around 30 children.

  • Dinosaurs, lizards and dragons
  • Dragons in cultures around the world
  • Modern dragons – Komodo and flying lizards, dragonflies etc
  • Plant dragons – snapdragons, dragon fruit, etc
  • Other – Dragon boats, knights and dragons etc
  • The kids drew dragons, played dragon games, researched dragons in their culture and shared what they found with the group.

I did this together with another parent, Jane.

  • We came up with activities and looked through the outcomes
  • We connected outcomes with certain activities based on our dragon theme
  • We planned a dragon project and put together a final showcase at the end inviting family members and hiring out a local cinema to show a docu-movie with the children in it
  • We asked other parents to share their expertise and pulled on local experts, we did a trip to the dinosaur museum in Canberra, did some martial arts at Emerald Dragon Kung Fu in Penrith and had a whole lot of fun.

Interdisciplinary

We do this a lot at SEDA. As a senior school with a 1 teacher to 1 classroom model, it opened this up for us. 

We decided to do it in the early years of the school, to remove repetition, promote engagement, and save us time to focus on other aspects of the curriculum. Some examples include: 

  • “Induction Unit” that addresses the 3 units on WHS as well as using technology from 3 different subjects. Here students are inducted like staff into the school. We cover handbooks, policies, WHS meetings, risk assessments, as well as the beginnings of contacting businesses to organise work placement 
  • Our students learn first aid for VET and PDHPE by doing the course, learning emergency responses and first aid bringing together 2 subjects around the skills of first aid. 

We did this by: 

  • Sitting down for a few weeks, brought together similar and relating outcomes and designed the unit based on this. 
  • Making sure we met curriculum requirements while covering the skill in greater depth with less repetition. 
  • Focus on the curriculum first, the outcomes and goals, then the unit design 

Transdisciplinary 

My son wanted to bake. So we did some research together, watched videos, found recipes etc. We then worked alongside each other to bake. And this is what we did: 

  • I worked on his reading, by getting him to read the recipe I wrote out by hand. 
  • He got everything out, including all the cup sizes, spoons etc that we needed 
  • I explained what a half and a third was and he explained them to me as well as what a quarter was. 
  • He had to add up 2 halves and a quarter to get a cup and a quarter of flour learning to add fractions 
  • We discussed texture, separation of materials, aeration, and how mixing the right things and cooking it changes its properties 

I did this by: 

This was done on the fly… but also more purposefully. He asked to bake again and again and so each time we helped to develop multiple skills that were needed for his goal or learning to bake 

We adjusted what we were doing in order to incorporate his ideas, his interest etc and brought the curriculum into what was happening through explicit instruction, research, trial and error and general discussion. 

This is much harder to do at a school, but it is possible. Inquiry-based learning and Project-based learning are 2 approaches that steer you in this direction, especially if you wean the students towards a free inquiry unit. You could include it though towards the end of a year. Once you know the students well, and can help them create their own unit and you help to match outcomes to it and guide them towards sub-goals that relate to the curriculum goals.

Resources

Leave a comment below and tell me how you have integrated your curriculum or what your plans are to give one of these 3 methods a go.

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