Here’s a quick post of some work we’ve been doing over the last couple of weeks. Now that the foundations of MYP: Next Chapter are bedded in, with teachers using the guides, working well with the assessment criteria and coming up with some interesting inquiries, it’s time to tackle interdisciplinary units (IDU’s).
Although the school had some (nominally) IDU’s before, these tended towards more thematic connections; the publication of the IB’s”Fostering interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the MYP“ guide demands a higher level of sophistication and planning, as well as the use of a separate set of assessment criteria. In the interim period before MYP:NC, we disconnected a few IDU’s to focus on strengthening disciplinary practices, so that when we re-connected, they would be stronger and more authentic to those involved. As a result, more teachers are asking for ways to connect, some of the IDU ideas are evolving and becoming more adventurous and a keen group of teachers have attended (or are about to attend) IDU workshops.
The challenge as coordinator? How to manage and encourage this, whilst ensuring the energy remains in the connections without being diminished by the perceived added burden of a new planner, criteria and restrictions. My solution (for now) is to take on the formal documentation of the new IDU’s and build some support resources, so that the teachers can get on with it. In this prototyping year for the new IDU’s there will be plenty to test and evaluate. One of the key differences in this approach compared to our normal unit planning is that I manage the IDU ATLAS planners: while teachers discuss and plan together, I observe, question and clarify and record the results into the planner. The planner itself won’t be ‘complete’ until at least the second cycle through as we reflect and tinker, but at least we get to test the unit in ‘beta mode’ and see how it grows.
I’ve tried to capture the flow of the IDU in this poster, the purpose being a visual supplement to the IDU guide that will help us through the process clearly. As usual, it’s made in GoogleDrawings, so that I can embed, refine and include links where needed. I’d love to read your feedback in the comments below or on Twitter.
Postscript: A Workflow for Managing IDU Reflections
Collecting reliable and useful IDU assessment information and data can be a beast, but here’s a system we tried, with some success. Still a work in progress, though.
It’s based on capturing key questions in google forms, so that teachers can sort and view easily and work together on assessment. It also uses AutoCrat to share the students’ own data back to them as a GoogleDoc, to be used on their blogs.
It took some setting up, but in our experiment of assessing the IDU, it worked well enough and reduced the burden of reflection on students (after a really cool, active project).
Footnote: The Evidence for Interdisciplinary Learning
As part of putting this together, I got sucked into the rabbit-hole of references and evidence. Aside from being enjoyable and challenging, IDU’s can help students’ reflective skills, put learning into authentic contexts and help us address those oh-so-tricky-to-teach transfer skills. If you’re interested, here is a hyperlinked version of the references section from “Fostering interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the MYP“. It might save you some time.
[Links added by Stephen]
Beane, JA. 1995. “Introduction: What is a coherent curriculum?” In JA Beane (ed) Toward A Coherent Curriculum. Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Pp 1–14.
Boix-Mansilla, V. 2010. MYP guide to interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Cardiff, UK. IB Publishing.
Boix-Mansilla, V and Gardner, H. 2007. “From teaching globalization to nurturing global consciousness”. In M Suárez-Orozco (ed),Learning in the Global Era: International Perspectives on Globalization and Education. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, USA. University of California Press. Pp 47–66.
Boix-Mansilla, V, Miller, WC and Gardner, H. 2000. “On disciplinary lenses and interdisciplinary work.” In S Wineburg and P Grossman (eds), Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Challenges to Implementation. New York, New York, USA. Teachers College Press. Pp 17–38.
Choi, BCK and Pak, A. 2006. “Multidisciplinarity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in health research, services, education and policy: 1. Definitions, objectives, and evidence of effectiveness”. Clinical and Investigative Medicine. Vol 29, number 6. Pp 351–364.
Daly, K, Brown, G and McGowan, C. 2012. Curriculum integration in the IB Middle Years Programme: Literature Review. Cardiff, UK. IB Publishing.
Erickson, L. 2006. Concept- Based Curriculum and Instruction for the Thinking Classroom. Thousand Oaks, California, USA. Corwin Press. [IB Position Paper summary here]
International Baccalaureate. 2010. The Primary Years Programme as a model of transdisciplinary learning. Cardiff, UK. IB Publishing.
Rényi J. 2000. “Hunting the quark: Interdisciplinary curriculum in public schools”. In S Wineburg and P Grossman (eds), Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Challenges to Implementation. New York, New York, USA. Teachers College Press. Pp 40–53.
Wineburg, S. and Grossman, P (eds). 2000. Interdisciplinary Curriculum: Challenges to Implementation. New York, New York, USA. Teachers College Press.
- Harvard Graduate School, Project Zero: Interdisciplinary Studies Project
- University of Melbourne: Guide to successful interdisciplinary projects (pdf)
- AP Central (CollegeBoard): Toolkit for Interdisciplinary Learning, Teaching & Assessment
- Teaching for Transfer, Perkins & Salomon, ASCD Ed. Leadership (1989)
- Teaching Transfer Skills, Learner.org course materials