What are some examples of interdisciplinary projects?
Two exemplary integrated and interdisciplinary projects created and tested by Health House teachers are:
- Nutrition: This project focuses on the changes in American nutrition that have taken place since 1930. More foods are available to more people, yet starvation and malnourishment abound. Technological advances, social views and politics have changed how food is processed, preserved and distributed. (Available as a pdf file.)
- Tuberculosis: Once considered conquered, tuberculosis has recently appeared in increasing numbers of people. Bacteria that are resistant to currently drugs cause some of these new cases. This project focuses on the preparation of a communication product aimed at a young audience. The goal is to educate this age group about the risks of tuberculosis, the benefits of testing and follow through on appropriate treatment. (Available as a pdf file.)
During our years together, we learned many things about making curriculum connections and project design. Key findings include:
- Even if the curriculum is not integrated or coordinated, when teachers communicate students benefit.
- When teachers are clear and flexible about when particular content and skills are taught, coordinating curriculum and making connections is relatively easy.
- With practice, project based curricula do not require more teacher preparation or work.
- Planning and teaching interdisciplinary project based curricula are often outside the experience of many teachers and students. The start up time can be very time consuming.
- Coordination and integration are possible when each teacher can see the learning objectives of other teachers.
- Students need direction to learn background and acquire skills before plunging headlong into creating their product.
- When students were given time to gather and analyze relevant information during the first few weeks, projects flowed more smoothly.
- With practice, students discover for themselves that it is much easier to answer a question if that question is clearly stated.