Towards a Transdiciplinary Curriculum


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Towards a Transdiciplinary Curriculum

  1. 1. Getting to Our Best Ideas: Towards Transdisciplinary Curriculum in the Middle School Mark Silberberg - @silberbergmarkSarah Barlow & Sara-Momii Roberts &
  2. 2. “What is the worst consequence ofyour best idea?” - Chris Lehmann• For the purpose of this exercise “best” idea is moving towards a more integrated curriculum.• Write down your response to the question (anonymously or you can sign).• Put your card on the table and take a card put down by one of your colleagues.• On the back of the card, write a response that turns the worst consequence into an opportunity in support of the "best" idea (i.e., see obstacles as opportunities).
  3. 3. Are You Out of Sync WithYour Values? -from Edgar Schein
  4. 4. Are You Out of Sync With Your Values?When all three levels are in alignment, you have a powerful organizational culture. “What we say is how we behave and the stuff around us supports the cultural experience.”
  5. 5. Some espoused values at LREI: Inquiry . . .• a recursive questioning process• a tool to unpack meaning• opens us to the wonder inspired by the world around us• an incubator for our innate ability to be curious and to seek connections• as structure to help us to live in the uncomfortable space where we dont know the answer• as vehicle for transforming culture
  6. 6. Where we want to be . . .• More teacher conversation/co-planning• Co-teaching interdisciplinary units• Teaching around "affinities and passions"• Learning with students• Working on really rich problems.• Seeing kids for longer blocks of time.• More authentic; more like the real world• Content serving problems/projects/skills• Inquiry driving authentic learning
  7. 7. Where kids want to be . . .• Investigating topics of personal interest independently• Investigating topics of personal interest in a group with others who are interested in the same topic• More “making" things and more connections across classes• More independent work time; more time for working on projects• A broader audience to share my work with• Deciding what homework I need to do to improve my learning
  8. 8. From disciplines as silos to lenses
  9. 9. our social justiceinquirywork
  10. 10. 5th Grade:Examine ancient civilizations through the lensof archaeological inquiry.
  11. 11. What is civilization/culture?
  12. 12. Contemporary connection:Social justice implications of modernfood production.
  13. 13. 6th Grade:Exploration of Europe and Middle Eastin the Middle Ages
  14. 14. Religion as lens for inquiryCulture/civilization as dynamic process
  15. 15. Contemporary connection:How does an understanding of historicsocial justice issues inform our understanding of thepresent condition?
  16. 16. 7th Grade:Examines pre-colonial US history throughdrafting of the Constitution
  17. 17. Cultures in contact:Native Americans, Africans, EuropeansHistory as narrative - whose story is represented?
  18. 18. Contemporary connection:Utopia vs.dystopia - How are the ideals expressed in theCharters of Freedom reflected in our current Americansociety?
  19. 19. 8th Grade:Exploration of Civil War though Civil Rights Eraaround the theme of "Choosing to Participate."
  20. 20. Power and politics as lens for inquiryWho has power and how is power contested?
  21. 21. Our thematic exploration of individuals who had"chosen to participate" raised a compellingproblem for us . . .
  22. 22. We had not created a meaningful context forstudents to "choose to participate"
  23. 23. A starting place . . .
  24. 24. Students learn letter writing, phone calling,email and interview skills that they use toidentify partner organizations
  25. 25. Some of our partners . . .• New York Immigration Coalition • Housing Works• Mercy Corps Action Center • Invisible Children• Geoffrey Canada, • Ishmael Beah Foundation• Promise Academy, Harlem • “It Gets Better" Project Children’s Zone • GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and• UN Conference on the Straight Education Network) Millennium Goals • The Innocence Project• NYC Million Trees • CAPP (Child Abuse Prevention• Patricia McCormick Program)• SPARK • GEMS (Girls Education and• Common Ground Mentoring Services)• Office of Disarmament Affairs • Global Kids at the United Nations • Food Bank of New York
  26. 26. Groups create web sites on our Elgg socialmedia site to document their work
  27. 27. They blog about their site visits, interviews andtheir developing understanding of the issues.Peers and partners comment on their posts.
  28. 28. They join in with and initiate actions tosupport their partner organizations
  29. 29. They create PSA in their art class
  30. 30. They plan workshops to teach 5th-7thgraders about their issue for our annualSocial Justice Teach-In
  31. 31. And in the end . . .
  32. 32. Narrowing the distance between theclassroom and world beyond . . .
  33. 33. Our Obstacles and Opportunities• Where does the project demonstrate integration of various disciplines?• Where are there gaps? How can we better integrate with other disciplines?• Where have turned obstacles into opportunities?• Whats been tricky? Whats been great? Where has this been pushed?• Privilege piece• Logistics piece• Time/Schedule piece for fieldwork and joint planning with other teachers• “Do the kids really care?” piece and/or what do they gain?
  34. 34. from “Unstuck”, SYP Partners
  35. 35. Getting to Our Best Ideas: Towards Transdisciplinary Curriculum in the Middle School Mark Silberberg - @silberbergmarkSarah Barlow & Sara-Momii Roberts &