When I was at TCEA last week, a teacher approached me after one of my sessions to ask if I had ever written about my experience planning interdisciplinary projects. I realized that I had not written specifically about the process of planning a project with teachers who taught other subject areas. So, I wanted to share the framework that my teaching team (English, history, and science) used when planning large scale interdisciplinary projects.
Once we had agreed on these eight aspects of the project–unifying theme or question, objectives, standards, structure, products, rubrics, division of labor, and timeline, we were able to dive into the details.
We moved through a checklist of items that we wanted to consider as a team before beginning a big interdisciplinary project. We talked about building student agency into the various parts of the project to increase student engagement and motivation. We discussed strategies for collecting formative assessment data to ensure we knew what support students needed from us as they worked. We agreed on a regular conferencing strategy and schedule to ensure that one of us was making time to check in with students each week during the project to discuss their progress. Finally, we discussed strategies for connecting students with an authentic audience to ensure they were motivated to do their best work. Sometimes projects were presented in front of a panel of experts, parents, and peers. Other times we hosted an exhibition and invited community members.
Technology can simplify the planning process for teams of teachers. We complemented our in-person planning sessions with asynchronous work online using Google’s shared drive feature. Instead of sharing individual documents, our shared drive provided us with a virtual storage bucket for our resources that we all had access to at any time.
I would suggest teams of teachers create a shared drive then create a folder in that shared drive for each large-scale project.
Below is a planning template that teaching teams can copy into their shared drive and use to begin the planning process for an interdisciplinary project.
I hope this framework, checklist, and planning document help other teams of teachers to successfully collaborate on interdisciplinary projects! If you work with other teachers to plan projects and have tips, suggestions, or resources you would like to share, please take a moment to post a comment!