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Education - Interdisciplinary Learning

Putting theory into practice

To study any unit within the social studies or science fields, without considering the related literature/media and applications of mathematics greatly shortchanges the study for students.

              from Erickson, H. Lynn. Concept-based curriculum and instruction: Teaching beyond the facts. p 77.

 The video below summarizes some of Erickson's work about 'topics versus concepts.'

Concepts and concept development

Getting the Big Idea: Concept-based Teaching and Learning - a succinct four page summary of concept-based planning

Concept Development: A Hilda Taba Teaching Strategy - Check out the first two chapters of  this book that discusses Hilda Taba's model and shows a lesson that moves students from facts to generalizations, as the first phase of concept development. 

Lesson examples

Patterns of Change  - A unit developed by  the Centre for Gifted Education of the College and William and Mary. All of their language arts and social students units  provide concrete examples of the use of big concepts.The Patterns of Change unit has students think about cyclical patterns of change in the world, and its appendix has a helpful addition called "The Concept of Change: Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Meaning"  (p 319-330).

Significant themes (a quote from: Teaching and Learning Elementary Social Studies by A. K. Ellis, 2010, pp.263-270)

The search for significant common themes is at the heart of integrated studies.  Once established, themes become the rallying point of the curriculum, the place to go when you want to be sure that the pursuit is meaningful and excellent.  Themes provide a means for the various contributing disciplines to be different, showcasing their unique properties yet at the same time carrying out a similar conceptual purpose...

Each theme, in order to qualify, must meet several important tests:

1. Is the theme truly conceptual--that is, is it representative of ideas that transcend place and time?

2. Does the theme lend itself to all three knowledge modes-- that is, knowledge received, knowledge discovered, and knowledge constructed?

3. Is the theme fundamentally worth pursuing in each of the separate content areas--that is, social studies, science, arts, humanities, mathematics?

4. Does the theme have the potential to enrich the curriculum and therefore the lives of students and teachers?

...By applying this fourfold test, we can reduce the list to manageable, meaningful proportions...The following themes, however, will do for purposes of illustration. Cause and Effect   /   Commonality and Diversity   /   Systems and Patterns   /   Cycles and Change   /   Scale and Symmetry  /  Interaction and Relationships   /   Time and Space   /   Equilibrium and Disequilibrium


Pinterest - Doucette Library - POWERFUL QUESTIONS


Also, check out our Lesson Planning Research Guide, for other links to lesson/unit plan examples.

Lesson examples

When searching the Library Catalogue, use the keywords or subject headings: interdisciplinary approach, integrated curriculum, thematic approach, active learning, disciplinary literacy, thematic units, project based learning, problem based learning, real-world problems.