Can you imagine a student working on a Geography project that is also assessed by their French teacher? Or how about having to work on a Italian project that is also marked by a Business teacher?
The IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) at Merici College offers just such an opportunity. Students are provided with the chance to connect and collaborate across subjects through what is known as an interdisciplinary unit (IDU). The purpose of this is to allow students to investigate complex problems through different lenses whilst referring to knowledge gained in different disciplines.
At the end of Term 3 this year the Year 9s completed a mini unit that integrated the History, Civics and Citizenship, Geography and Business subject areas of Individuals and Societies with Language Acquisition. By combining these subjects together, the aim of the unit was to bring about a deeper understanding of how places and people are connected and how with a greater appreciation of culture and context our interactions can be shaped as travellers not just as tourists.
The unit took place over a two week period having been planned by all teachers from each discipline involved. The unit was taught from each teacher’s disciplinary perspective and students were able to build on knowledge and understanding gained across the numerous subject areas. At the completion of the unit, students were asked to create a travel guide webpage about their language of study and their knowledge in subjects within individuals and societies.
An important element of interdisciplinary learning is having students reflect on their experience. Students must evaluate the connections across subject areas, identifying the contributions made from the knowledge and understanding gained from each subject. One student reflected on her learning experience identifying what she learned in the process:
“Incorporating 15 French sentences into the webpage challenged me to expand my vocabulary and knowledge to sentences I would use if travelling to France. I learnt phrases that were authentic and useful in everyday life which weren’t necessarily included in textbook and class work.” - Anna Nussio, Yr 9
Another reflecting on the statement of inquiry:
“The statement of inquiry provides the opportunity to understand countries and interact with places like travellers. It develops our ability to connect with others and also absorb cultures outside our own.. A tourist only sightseers, a traveller talks and interacts with locals. It brings a deeper connection with the history, people and the specific country when visiting.” - Caryss Evans, Yr 9
The objective of interdisciplinary learning in the MYP is to help students develop important, transferable skills which will be applicable to their future learning experiences.
Examples of student work are pictured below.
Full presentation: What is Interdisciplinary learning?