Series New Tech Network Deeper Learning: Collaborative Teaching for Interdisciplinary Learning

Collaborative Teaching for Interdisciplinary Learning

Lesson Objective: Work together to plan and co-teach a class
All Grades / All Subjects / Professional Learning


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How do students benefit from cross-disciplinary connections?
  2. How do teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections?
  3. What do you notice about the collaborative planning process?


  • Private message to Travis Mikel

Travis Mikel

Students learn that in the real world of development usually at some level, collaboration from all areas of a project requires knowledgeable content views. The class brings in expert content knowledgeable teachers.  Society is a group of individuals working together with diversity. The conclusions interact to benefit all or the majority of individuals in a working society. The teachers act as a model of learning interrelationships and with different strategies. The interrelationships demonstrate team work. Interdisciplinary classes helps the educator to continue learning, sharing, and viewing new ideas of teaching. Teachers are able to assist more students during allotted class time.  All individuals continue to learn throughout life.  The interdisciplinary class teaches students to work as a team, bring in new views, and work within diverse environments. 

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  • Private message to Carolyn Havard

They can learn from both teachers and subjects at the same time. Terms for each subject are different and can help the students learn more.

The teachers learn from each other off of ideas and see how each of their ideas can work. 

They each take turns in leading and assisting one another. They can go back and forth from one another as well.

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  • Private message to Shirley Barfield

1.How do students benefit from cross-disciplinary connections? Cross-disciplinary connections give students the opportunity to view one subject that could be political and economical at the same time. This will also help them to understand that one problem could relate to another. They will also learn how to deal with real-life problems. 

2. How do teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections? Having a co-teacher would be great; because the job would be lighter. The effect of two-teacher that are knowledgeable of the subject would be great for the student. Another important thing is that they would see two adults respecting each other and communicating.

3. What do you notice about collaborating planning process. This process is a continuous effort for both teachers. They have to want to make a difference in students' lives. They also have to give collective feedback.

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  • Private message to Tina McDaniel

1. How do students benefit from cross-disciplinary connection?     By having two teachers, each having differnt perspectives, students can get a wider view of the topic they are learning. Students learn that many topics they may choose actually relates to more than one discipline, not just Social Studies or Science, both both of them. By co-teaching and working together in teams in the classroom, students are learning  that using teamwork can also be used in solving real world problems. 

2. How do teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections?    By having a co-teacher, a teacher has the opportunity to bounce of ideas about certain ideas, or to get their viewpoint on certain topics. They work together, each teaching their specific discipline and helping the students, this enables them to help more students than if there was just one teacher. Also, because there are two teachers who share the responsibility of teaching the class, it somewhat eases the load for each teacher.

3.  What do you notice about the collaborative planning process?  Because they are both teaching they get together  a few tmes a week to create an agenda. They discuss when and how to asssess and make sure their students are understanding the assignment  and what there expectations are. They decide together, who takes the lead on each part of the lesson. They both want the amound of time each has to lead the lesson is balanced between the  Social Students view and the Sciene view. They both agree that the most important way to work as a team is to be respectful, have plenty of communication, and openness.

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  • Private message to Bertha Mustafa
  1. How do students benefit from cross-disciplinary connections? Studenst benefit from cross-disciplinary teaching in many ways: they learn that one concept can be related in differentes areas and  that there is an interdisciplinary relation in knowledge. Also, students learn how to handle a problem in real life with different point of view. They learn from the teachers' example and collaboration to work in team.
  2. How do teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections? The teachers benefit from the cross -disciplinary  connection with enrichment in the knwoledge that they are offering to their students. It occurs when the share the information about same subject from their perspectives. Also they learn to work in teams too.
  3. What do you notice about the collaborative planning process? I noticed that there is a lot of respect, communication and teamwork. 
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  • Private message to Travis Mikel

Bertha, I agree with you. Diversity is important in looking at the total picture and drawing final conclusions.  Being able to expose their learning from multiple teachers will help them learn how to interact within society.  I also believe teachers can act as models to learning strategies. 

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  • Collaborative Teaching for Interdisciplinary Learning Transcript

    Teacher: Good morning, everybody. We’re gonna start out with some teamwork time.

    Teacher: As you come up

    Collaborative Teaching for Interdisciplinary Learning Transcript

    Teacher: Good morning, everybody. We’re gonna start out with some teamwork time.

    Teacher: As you come up with websites, just take a moment and share those with us to make sure that that’s gonna give you information that’s relevant for the project.

    Teacher: After that, you’re gonna create a research plan.

    Leah and I co-teach. I’m the social studies part of the brain, and Leah’s the science part of the brain.

    Teacher: We’re accountable to one another.

    Teacher: The reality is we both know these subjects pretty well.

    Just remember post all your work in your team Google folder, and just so everyone has access to it.

    Teacher: Can I add a couple points, Mr. Morel 00:40?

    Teacher: Sure.

    Teacher: When you did your benchmark one and you identified the cause and effects for each of the environmental and social issues, that information remains relevant.

    One thing that really excites me about co-teaching is that we find that the real world is not siloed into disciplines. You take a problem like climate change. Can you call that a scientific problem? Do you call that a social or political or economic problem? The answer’s all of the above.

    Teacher: Now, it’s just a matter of putting deadlines to those benchmarks.

    Teacher: While co-teaching isn’t always the easiest thing to do, it really models for the students the way we need to tackle problems in the real world, and so we have to make sure we understand each other’s language.

    What’s the first step in your teamwork time?

    Student: Choose deadlines for all the benchmarks.

    Teacher: Good.

    Teacher: Nice.

    Teacher: I think we had one conversation earlier in the year about what a theory is. A theory in social studies and a theory in science are totally different. For me a theory is law. Having those cross-disciplinary conversations I think really enriches what we’re able to offer the students. It’s simplistic, but two minds are really better than one.

    Mr. Morel and I will each be working with half of the teams, and we’ll help to identify…

    One strategy we use that’s helpful for the students is to take the teams—we have usually between eight and ten teams—and divide them between the two of us. During that formative assessment period when we’re going around meeting with the students, they know who their key mentor is.

    Teacher: What do you know about that currently?

    Student: About our topic?

    Teacher: Right. How to answer that bullet point related to your topic.

    Teacher: I would look up another source because this tells you about its existence but not its impact.

    Student: Say what it is. Give an example.

    Teacher: We tend to keep tabs on and have more of a detailed analysis of what that particular team is doing just cuz it’s smaller in number.

    Tomorrow when you have your meeting, that’s one thing you’ll be looking for for accountability is making sure that everyone had that posted and complete.

    In terms of their content, one of the most helpful ways I’ve found to formatively assess what they’re doing is to get right on that Google Doc with them.

    Planning is key. I mean we meet two to three times a week for common planning time.

    I think that real-time formative assessment is key cuz then if they don’t get that feedback right away, they’re walking down the wrong road.

    Teacher: Right.

    Teacher: During that time, we create our agendas for the class and we decide who’s the lead for different activities and who’s the support.

    Why don’t I take the lead on helping them develop the need to know?

    Teacher: Okay.

    Teacher: Do you wanna take the lead on—

    Teacher: Developing the workshop?

    Teacher: - the workshop?

    Teacher: Absolutely.

    Teacher: Okay.

    Teacher: It’s balanced.

    Teacher: Exactly.

    Teacher: Honestly, I think it comes down to a few basic things, and that’s respect and openness. I think if—

    Teacher: Mm-hmm, and communication [laughs].

    Teacher: And communication.

    Encourage the kids to show their passion. What is convincing versus not convincing look like?

    Teacher: Exactly.

    I think that just having another brain there to say, “Well, why? Why do you wanna choose that article and not this article?” slows you down enough to apply your full intelligence to your profession.

    That’s a content you’ll need to know, so I would look at what you’ve already done for your benchmark one on your topic. Put all that information as know and then figure out what your gaps are in your research. I can help you with websites.

    Teacher: What could be a cause for environmental racism and what are the effects of it? Excellent.

    Teacher: One thing I appreciate about this faculty is that we’re all expected to be flexible and innovate. If Tom has an idea and I don’t necessarily think it’s a great idea, my job is to be willing to give that a try.

    I’m not so excited about the politicians.

    Teacher: That sounds great.

    Teacher: I might suggest modifications, but we have an experimental mindset.

    Maybe we can build in some scaffolding around modeling.

    Teacher: The other day I was saying to Leah—Leah was trying to convince me of something. I said, “You know, Leah, I just don’t get it. Convince me.”

    Teacher: Did I convince you [laughter]?

    Teacher: On that point, I don’t remember. I don’t know if we resolved that one.

    Teacher: I think it’ll remain a challenge for them to come up with something strategic and doable within the timeframe.

    Teacher: The biggest role we take is helping coach them to make sure it is manageable.

    Teacher: We try things. We learn. We modify. That sort of spirited inquiry, having that between us, has been helpful too.

    Teacher: Part of the reason why it appears we’re on the same page is because we’ve gotten to this point through that process.

    [End of Audio]


Tom (Thomas) Morrill
Leah Penniman


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