Breaking down the silos aka Crossing Boundaries

I honestly do not think I could fully complete my map. In fact, there are so many more connections that I can think of as I write this but I’ve started and, this is a journey of growth.

 

New Mind Map

I look at this map and I think about all the potential that we are missing while we still teach in our silos. The first interdisciplinary connection that I would love to focus on is my fellow teachers.

As I teach across two subjects I can see how combining courses would allow for deeper understanding. The potential to create more vibrant and authentic learning environments excites me. As Mathison and Freeman mention “aintegrated approach transcends disciplinary-bound knowledge in the exploration of a more unified and realistic view of knowledge.” This integrated approach is something that I find is missing from most high schools. Students are disengaged and shuffled from one subject to the next without seeing how all the subjects work together. 

Ideally, I would like to build an interdisciplinary connection with some of my fellow teachers and, eventually, with outside professionals. Below is a quick example that I have been dreaming about.

Creating a course that students can opt into that leads to authentic learning but still covers core curriculum. An example could be creating a game design course. This could involve:

  • English, Music, Maths, History, Fabric Technology, Metal, DVC, Drama, and Computing. (And possibly more.)
  • Students would have to learn about script writing, coding, history (World and economic) and so on.
  • Creating characters would fall under English, DVC, Art etc.
  • The final outcome could be a demo game design that could be presented to game design companies.

Ideally the joint planning, decision-making, and goal-setting would take place with the students as well as the teachers as giving students agency in designing their course would help build on engagement. There would have to be regular meetings among the teachers involved and we would have to have common goals to move toward which could include credits and time management etc.

  • Weekly or fortnightly meetings
  • Goal setting with students and teachers
  • Planning meetings
  • Students have teacher facilitators.
coneptualmodel-1024x791

ACRLog’s conceptual model for successful interdisciplinary collaboration

If we look at ACRLog’s model there is only one area that is difficult to change and that is the workplace conditions as most high schools are not set up for interdisciplinary teaching. (Silo effect). Also, you would need to have buy in from teachers, students and senior management. Ideally, you’d want to work with people who share similar qualities and attitudes but also challenge you, as the teacher, to look beyond the initial potential.

 

So – having an optimal workspace is the main concern but that can be worked around. Another thing that I feel would be beneficial is having students in charge of certain aspects and using teachers as facilitators.

The benefits of creating interdisciplinary collaboration far outweigh any concerns – especially if it leads to authentic learning. I know that there are still some kinks to iron out in this plan but it is a first step. There is so much potential and it does not need to be a game design. It could be student lead courses and they choose the teachers they wish to work with.

Ultimately, interdisciplinary collaboration would benefit students and teachers alike … so, I’m ready…

 

 


References

ACRLog. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pdf:

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2 thoughts on “Breaking down the silos aka Crossing Boundaries

  1. Kia ora Jamie, I like your reflections and especially your ideas about how learning could be integrated across a range of disciplines by using ‘Gaming’. A couple of years ago, I was sole teacher of our year 8-13 students and, found it really easy because I could work with a topic relevant to students and know how this would cover all of the disciplines we needed to cover, as well as where varying assessments could fall out of learning. This year, I work with three other teachers and we all teach differing subjects – it is suddenly a much bigger challenge to know how and what I am doing links with how and what others are doing. I think, this weeks reading and blogs are a welcome challenge to re-look at practice and how this might be improved.
    Hope you are enjoying your trip to LA – happy holidays!

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  2. I liked your connections map it made me think about my own teaching and connections, thankyou so much for sharing it. And your comment about how it could contain so much more – that is how I felt creating mine. And concentrating on our fellow teachers – I think this is something we should all do more!

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