Updated: May 16
"What does it look like when a team of teachers plans for an interdisciplinary project?" "How can we have interdisciplinary project-based learning in high school when we don't share students?" "So when do you actually do project-based learning during the day?"
I love these questions. These questions mean that teachers have moved from a theoretical planning stage to something more practical. They are getting close to figuring out how they might implement the experience that they're planning for their students!
To continue to expand the thinking around best practices in PBL, I'd like to humbly offer a couple of narratives to add to the body of work that supports the thoughtful integration of high-quality project-based learning. Let's look at the questions that launched this voyage. I asked some friends to help me by describing a day in the life of their projects.
"What does it look like when a team of teachers plans for an interdisciplinary project?"
To explore how teachers might integrate an interdisciplinary project into their schedule, we're going to consider this example from a team of middle school teachers. (Please note that this process can be adapted for departmentalized intermediate grades)
About the teachers
These teachers share students and have a weekly common planning time. On a day during this project, the Language Arts, Science, and Math classes are actively using the project as a vehicle for their content.
Groups of students will investigate different forms of energy, forms of conservation, electrical systems, and create a proposal for ways to make their home, a building in the community, or our school more energy efficient. They should have a cost summary, a 3-D or Google Sketch-Up model, and a written proposal. They will present their recommendations to the class, the chief district engineer, and (when applicable) business owners, parents, and local government members.
How can we be more energy efficient?
Now that we have the background of this project, let's take a look at what might be happening on a day in the life of this project for each teacher in the team.
PBL on a Given Day:
Science - Groups are sharing their initial ideas with the district engineering department to get feedback on the validity of their plans.