Term 2: Stepping it up to a Interdisciplinary Approach
The next step for English and Social Studies was to develop a teaching and learning program that ran seamlessly over the two subjects. This meant that instead of 4hrs of English and 4hrs of Social Studies a week, students would have 8hrs of learning. This Year 10 class is very much a mixed ability class.
Faith (English) and myself (Social Studies) met and discussed what skills and learning objects were important to our subjects. For me, I was interested in students working on their collaboration skills, goal setting, reflection and managing their learning. In Social Studies the focus was on concept of:
"Identity, Culture, and Organisation – Students learn about society and communities and how they function. They also learn about the diverse cultures and identities of people within those communities and about the effects of these on the participation of groups and individuals."(TKI)
The Achievement Objectives at the focus were:
- Understand how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies.
- Understand how people define and seek human rights.
To help us with our planning we used a Word document and the 'shared' function within it. Both of us being able to share what was important for our specific subject areas.
The task: Create a documentary on how 'Hagley College is a tolerant/accepting community'. Take a specific aspect (student choice) such as: Accepting people for they are, sexuality...
Time-frame: 3 weeks in class activity and a further 2 weeks out of class.
SS focus: research and understanding of the specific topic, human rights, understanding of tolerance, what we can do to support, range of opinions...
English: techniques used in film making, creation of a visual text, sound, editing...
Week 1: Planning the documentary, who to interview, where, topics, storyboard
Week 2: Production - out and about gathering footage,
Week 3: Putting it together
Week 5: Viewing of docos with invited guests.
How did it go?
We had documentaries on the following: Bulling, LGBTQ+, Acceptance, and homophobia. Students interviewed, students, teachers, guidance staff, and senior leaders. The documentaries ranged in content. Students did all the filming on cellphones which did affect some sound quality. This was overcome by some students using subtitles. Students had to teach themselves how to use editing software. Some groups used Adobe Premier Pro, others used an app on their phone or Microsoft photos app.
Students were given checklists and had to reflect and set goals for the next lesson to help keep them on track. This was done in Social Studies through OneNote. At the end of this task students completed an evaluation through Microsoft Forms. The aim to reflect on the development of their skills such as collaboration and to capture their understanding of key learning ideas. Last Friday we had the viewing of the docos. This was a key part of the process. Students had gone through a variety of emotions through the process but after viewing it in class they all enjoyed it and thought it a worthwhile experience. A number of students had really gone out of their comfort zone by appearing on camera or just having to collaborate.
Their overall feeling about their school community is that it is a very tolerant one, where students can accept themselves and others, and like anything there is still room to improve.
Student reflections on the integration of Social Studies and English:
- we had way more time to get stuff done so we weren't really stressing
- it gives you more time to work on something really big and meaning full and gives 2 different teachers with different looks on things to help with your work
- that there is more time to work on it more things to learn from two different sides/ topics
- Is that I have more time to understand and learn the topic other than having less time and not knowing much about the topic
- It did make me relax so I can continue with the work I did in the last class
- More time and being able to focus on different things in each class.
- We had more time and weren't confused about what were were going to do in that class.
- you get more time and it feels less stressful, because you aren't worrying about 2 things (2 different subjects)
Time is used very differently when integrating subjects. Students managed with more curriculum time, could go deeper and produce a product to a high standard in a shorter amount of time. It was relevant to them and their world, it was current and resulted in a presentation of their work. It was also beneficial for their well-being with an number of students commenting on feeling less stressed. Students used inquiry and created a product they were proud of. The learning that took place around collaboration was brilliant. Students became a lot more aware of their role within the learning taking place. As far as teacher planning, the time needed to be put in prior to the task and then a check-in each week to make sure we were heading in the same direction. I created a rubric for Social Studies to evaluate their learning and a reflection. It was important to start with the curriculum document, skills and then work on the task to scaffold it appropriately. We used technology readily available such as student cellphones and Office 365 tools. It was a great experience all around.
Next step is looking at an integrated learning task in term 3 with Social Studies, Science and Health on sustainability. With more than 2 subjects involved I have set up a Microsoft Team to help with planning.
If your school is a Microsoft school I recommend joining the Microsoft Educator Community This site is invaluable when learning how to make the most out of Microsoft tools, resources and seeing what other teachers around the world are doing.