Cross-Curricular Teaching

For teachers and administration staff within public education, it’s never been clearer that when it comes to how we teach, some elements are lacking and cross-curricular teaching is needed.

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Cross-curricular teaching in the classroom

This can be, in part, attributed to the current style and form of teaching, especially when it comes to our curriculum. With isolated learning and instruction very much the modern method of education, students are left without the cross-curriculum learning skills they need to do more and succeed.

So, what can we do to transform teaching from an isolated bubble into a communal force?

Deeper learning is the key. By consolidating and combining the efforts of teachers and their specialties, offering students a broader range of knowledge has never been more practical, or more natural.

Deep learning offers more to students by not reducing their knowledge down to individual silos. It allows children to learn as a whole, rather than learning in a fragmented format that overall won’t benefit them in the long term. With the support of excellent teachers and insightful education staff, providing profound learning experiences to your students should be a top priority.

Cross-curricular teaching important information:
  • Problems with cross curricular teaching
  • Cross curricular planning examples
  • Cross curricular projects
  • Cross curricular teaching how does it work
  • Cross curricular literacy
  • Assessment in cross curricular teaching
  • Cross curricular initiatives

Cross-curricular teaching requirements

Teachers and educators who commit to offering their students better access to the ‘well’ of knowledge through deep learning are the keys to helping children unlock their full potential.

For students to reach that stage, though, teachers and educators have to start at step one; understanding the requirements of deep learning, and accepting the changes required to alter their teaching style.

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Requirements and changes needed to alter education include:

  1. Understanding the level of commitment required by the student for deep learning, with engagement from the soul, heart, mind and body.
  2. Commitment to involving and leading other teachers, parents and the greater community when it comes to encouraging deep learning. This support can make all the difference when it comes to the implementation of collaboration.
  3. An intensive preparation period to ensure both your students and other educators are prepared for the challenge of introducing deep learning. See Heather Wolpert-Gawron’s guide for her personal trials and experience of improving her curriculum through TED talks.
  4. Incorporating assessment that mirrors learning, including the alteration of grade books to logbooks as suggested by Shawn Cornally. These should focus on overall learning mastery as opposed to completion of individual assignments.
  5. High priority for collaboration. According to Rebecca Alber, it’s vital that students aren’t simply left to their own devices in a new curriculum – instead, students should be educated on how they can work in collaboration to both improve skills and gain knowledge.

If all of the above is to happen sustainably within an education environment, it must be the efforts of more than one individual. Teachers and administrators should pool their resources, as well as their talents and time, to ensure the success of deep learning, and to improve coherence and connection between areas of content.

Cross-curricular teams

The first thing to consider when working towards more collaboration in teaching is to examine and prevent the existing departmentalizing that happens day-to-day. When teachers stop isolating their knowledge and begin teaching in a broader context, students are offered the chance to learn more, and better.

As such, education staff must make the leap first, initiating collaboration with other departments. In elementary school settings, this could be as simple as working alongside other teachers of different grade levels. Opening subjects for joint teaching, such as science and math, can also be a valuable place to start.

Generally, there are a trio of distinct phases of collaboration between teachers, working towards deeper learning:
  • Aligned
  • Cooperative
  • Conceptual

Aligned collaboration

Collaboration has to start somewhere. Alignment is the first step to achieving a more harmonious learning environment, by placing your teaching along the same vein as fellow educators. An example of this would be the social studies and English departments working together to agree that Document Based Questions, or DBQs, can be utilized as credit for both subjects.

This further opens the door for more integrated planning, such as ensuring study topics are concurrent with literary timelines. This provides something unique and with more depth to students beyond individual topics or subject matter.

Cooperative collaboration

Once you’ve achieved aligned collaboration with your fellow educators, the next step is to take that alignment and synchronize it to something more cooperative. An example of this would be a pair of science and math teachers combining their knowledge to teach a subject cooperatively, either as individuals or together. With such interconnected topics, this cooperation can be easily achieved.

Whether it’s obtaining models for math from a science-based teacher, or working through math calculations in a scientific setting, combining the two subjects and making them more interconnected can help students to develop a greater understanding of their subject matter beyond the rules of the specific topic they are learning.

Conceptual collaboration

Once cooperation has been achieved, conceptual collaboration is the final step to achieving cross-curricular learning in schools. For this type of partnership, every teacher must have a high level of knowledge in more than just their immediate content area. It’s impossible, or highly unlikely, that a teacher can be an expert in every subject; and that’s why collaboration is a must to both combine skills, and improve overall knowledge of your ‘team’.

An excellent example of conceptual collaboration is when an arts-based teacher works alongside a science teacher to provide insight into light and pigments, combining artistic knowledge with scientific information on wavelengths or even electromagnetic spectrum’s. There are plenty of opportunities to work in conceptual collaboration with other teachers. You just need to know where to start, and how to transform your knowledge into functional and practical teaching methods.

As discussed above, promoting deep learning is a case of encouraging educators of all different disciplines to work together. This could be aiding students in their understanding of math through science, coordinating departments for scientific discoveries and historical literature or through many other methods. Understanding that each subject is not its own ‘bubble’ can, in itself, improve deep learning within the school system.

Combining the energies of multiple professional teachers provides a clearer path for students, and more significant opportunities for education – a plus for everyone involved.

What about students?

For the vast majority of students, the concept of deep learning is an alien one. With much of the education system set up in its individual wells or silos, going from shallow, individual pools of knowledge to deep waters can be a drastic difference. This is especially true when many students are left with lower learning expectations as they graduate from elementary to middle and then to high school, with subjects only becoming more segregated with each passing year.

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Cross-curricular education broadens student development

With the support and collaboration of teachers, encouraging students to broaden and develop their knowledge is easier than you might think. With every educator on-board, there won’t be room for silos of information or separated subjects – and as such, students will soon adapt to the new way of thinking, as demonstrated by teachers.

By working as a unit rather than individuals, teachers can provide their students with a renewed thirst for information and knowledge. To facilitate this reintroduction, teachers and educators must provide both a rich, full and overall relevant font of knowledge, information and skill-building. This knowledge must then be applied to students in order to help them develop their own thirst for knowledge, rather than simply falling into the pattern of teaching without encouraging deeper understanding.

Deep learning is more than just an educational technique. It can help set children up for a better educational start in life, encouraging them to use their brains in more agile and compelling ways. Not only can deep learning help children understand their subjects, but it can also help ignite their passion for learning in ways that isolated subjects cannot. For any educator, cross-curricular teaching should be your ultimate goal to provide your students with the learning skills and knowledge they need to do more, go further and succeed.

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