Connecting Curriculum

Providing students integrated experiences can make STEM natural!

Photo of SUSAN SAIED
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I was a self contained classroom teacher.  Even so I often separated my content with very little connections.

When I began to use the workshop model I began to ask myself What if I had centers or workstations that used math concepts to practice writing,  had science ideas, etc.   After our mini lesson and practice, students would circulate centers.  At first they asked ," Are we still in math?".  This really fueled my desire for them to see learning as a whole rather than in parts.  The result was my students were more engaged and stopped asking me " Are we still...." but questions about what they were learning and what they could be learning!

This is what I believe to be exciting about STEM.  So How Might We create learning that is that...a whole experience.  I am excited about this journey and the possibilities for all of us as learners-teachers and our students. 

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Photo of Erin Quinn

I'm struggling to find where I fit in this! I absolutely believe in the power of interdisciplinary learning because of the connections that make learning stronger and more meaningful.

I also, however, recognize the importance of disciplinary ways of knowing. Check out category #2 called "Design is informed by disciplinary knowledge" on the rubric under Principle 1, Teachers are Designers of Learning, on the Teaching Effectiveness Framework: http://www.galileo.org/cea-2009-wdydist-teaching.pdf. This framework is based on 300 pieces of research into what makes effective teaching.

I think where I've come to is that interdisciplinary learning is the most ideal, but that the disciplines that are being connected are natural fits rather than forced connections.

An example might be the contrast between these two tasks:
Students invent a new animal and build it during their study of ecosystems.
Students research an ecosystem and build a model of the system to convince others to support a conservation campaign.

The second example much more closely aligns with the discipline of conservation biology. But it's still a hands-on building-type task.

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