Should your school consider interdisciplinary collaboration?

Students spend all day learning different subjects at nearly hour-long increments. But how do topics like math and science, literature and history relate? Schools may benefit from designated time for interdisciplinary learning. Read on to learn whether this idea is right for your kids' school.

What is interdisciplinary learning? 
It is rare that one subject will require only specifically topic-related skills to learn. For example, a math problem may involve calculating how to build something, or trying to figure out how many fish live in a nearby lake. Students can greatly benefit from learning about multiple subjects at once, particularly through hands-on learning. Spending a day or two every quarter combining topics can prove helpful for students to understand complicated topics. Plus, seeing real-world examples of how their knowledge is helpful can make them more motivated to learn.

How can my school get started?
First, ask your children's teachers if they want to start an integrated learning day. They can then discuss the idea among themselves and bring it up to the school board or administration. Educators can work together to establish age-appropriate learning that crosses between subjects. Some schools may even include a career day in this plan. Most jobs today require general skills like problem solving and critical thinking, which are learned through all subjects. A nurse, for example, uses math and science as well as language skills. Politicians may be required to know more about history and literature. These crossovers are important to note as helping students learn integrated subjects and topics now will better prepare them for their professional futures.

Pick a theme
Edutopia suggested that teachers consider picking a theme to work their interdisciplinary day around, such as the value of water. Educators planned their days around the causes and effects of California's drought, how much water LA county needs, what students can do about the drought and how acidic water affects humans. A timely topic that is in the news may be a great way to tie in real life examples with in-class learning. The theme can inform the major overriding lessons of the day and lead into more focused reflections and discussions. 

Discuss the days goals
What are the reasons behind creating an interdisciplinary day? Does the math teacher think her students would be more interested in algebra if they could see their equations with the help of art projects? Perhaps the biology teacher would like to do a mixed history/science course to discuss evolution and its part in politics over the course of US history. Establishing goals ahead of the big day will allow teachers to measure the success of the event and better prepare for future endeavors. 

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