Our conversation this week on #saskedchat shared our understandings and current practices incorporating cross-curricular outcomes and indicators. Within ten minutes I pulled myself up short and remembered that my context was not identical to those of the others in the discussion. Parenthetically, that is one of the virtues of participating in these sorts of conversations. Each of us is reminded that our lived experience with students and the curriculum is different.
I initially entered the conversation from my current perspective as an elementary classroom teacher. Creating integrated an integrated unit when you teach virtually all disciplines to your students is remarkably easy. Consuming and then producing representations of learning involves multiple disciplines. The student in the picture is working on his Canadian Heritage Fair Project. The outcomes effortlessly bridge language arts, science, social studies, and arts education. I can assess him in all these subjects.
Ten minutes into repeating the obvious to my fellow #saskedchat participants I was reminded that I was also chatting with departmentalized high school teachers. I was forced to rethink the questions. In their context, cross-curricular learning, at least learning representations destined for assessment, necessitates team teaching and collaborative meetings. Many of my colleague’s remarks revolved around the roadblocks to collaboration. Shared vision, time, and rubrics, are examples offered.
I have frequently characterized teaching as akin to being a short order cook, rather than a chef, or cook book author. We expedite results in an economical manner, with the minimum of superfluous exposition. Unless you are documenting something for your graduate class, thesis, or district assessment, the word is KISS. Frankly, I think an administrator in a supervision cycle with a master teacher should be attending to this quality in the teacher’s work flow. It is, I think, a hallmark of a master teacher.
This relates to the problems high school teachers face implementing cross-curricular ideas. My approach would be to create a unit, identify outcomes from other courses, and then shop around the staff room seeking colleagues interested in assessing my students publications for their own narrow interests. If they can offer a modification to my plan that helps them integrate their outcomes, all the better. Formal meetings between three to five teachers seem unnecessary to me.
Time for my Sunday night pizza!