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?


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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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  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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The students benefit from cross-disciplinary connections because they start acclimating to how interdisciplinary teamwork can help them expand more their knowledge on how two disciplines can relate and have similarities. Also, they start creating a conscience of how everything is related and how one thing can affect another in another discipline. 

Teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections because they make the students have more engagement during the lesson and also provide two types of expertise that the students can go to as a resource for questions or clarifications. The teachers also benefit because they learn the similarities across disciplines that they can use during other lessons when the other teacher is not present, this way students can make associations. 

I noticed about the collaborative planning process it was very interactive and the teachers were more of a resource for the students instead of leading the lesson for the students. The planning process might require a lot of work because you are mixing two disciplines and you want to make sure the students are not confused in the lesson but once the lesson is in action it involves less interaction with the students. 

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  1. How do students benefit from cross-disciplinary connections?

The students benefits with the cross disciplinary connections is seeing how different concepts relate in two different areas of study.  They learn that issues in one area can cross over to another area with a new set of rules or problems. 

2. How do teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections?

The teachers benefit from this connection because they are able to learn different perspectives on one issue.  They are able to hear various views and ideas on how to plan and teach their students.

3. What do you notice about the collaborative planning process?

The instructors are able to organize the flow of their classroom and view different teaching styles.  They are also able to use their strengths and rely on the other teacher on areas they are not as strong in.

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  1. How do students benefit from cross-disciplinary connections? The students benefitted from the cross-disciplinary connections by learning from both teachers, understanding the real world about collaboration, and its benefits to their learning.
  2. How do teachers benefit from cross-disciplinary connections? The teachers benefitted from cross-disciplinary connections because the teachers are providing two different topics at the same time. This process helps the students to acquire more knowledge from two different perspectives.
  3. What do you notice about the collaborative planning process? Planning is the key to any developing project. I noticed that both collaborate with an open mind, excellent communication, and willingness to adjust to any suggestion.  
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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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