Interdisciplinary Learning at its Best 
Today's Topic: Interdisciplinary Learning Interdisciplinary learning develops awareness and understanding of the connections and differences across subject areas and disciplines. Research shows that this type of instruction has many benefits:
  • Teacher collaboration
  • Student engagement
  • Higher level thinking
  • Content mastery
  • Real-world application
  • Non-fragmented learning

While many schools try to infuse interdisciplinary instruction into the curriculum, one barrier they face is the daily schedule. In most schools, the day is divided into periods during which students are exposed to one subject at a time. Each teacher has a specific responsibility to cover the material that is mandated by the state standards. Many teachers try to broaden the scope of their lessons and may even do some co-teaching. For example, if the subject is Ancient Egypt, the teacher may include a bit of history, literature, and the arts. This approach provides some relief for the problem of fragmented learning, but doesn’t really give students the chance to explore a subject in depth.

What is Leicester Doing?

To get around this barrier, Leicester Middle School has become very creative. This year, Friends of Leicester Middle School applied for a grant from the Osterman Family Foundation to finance The Innovation Hub at LMS. The Innovation Hub is an after-school enrichment program consisting of four activities: the Movie Club, the MakerSpace, the Audio/Visual Club, and the Robotics Club. The overall goal of the Innovation Hub is to provide opportunities for youth to learn and grow in creative areas that will prepare them for their future endeavors. By taking part in one or more of these activities, students are able to explore what interests them in much greater depth than they have time for in the classroom. And, they get to experience authentic learning at its best.

This year, one of the best examples of Interdisciplinary learning was an original film created and produced by the LMS Movie Club. The film, entitled Leicester Academy of Magic: The Book of Times to Come, is based on the popular Harry Potter series. It took hundreds of hours by many staff members and students to complete this project. Approximately 50% of the school community participated in it under the supervision of Ms. Minton and Mr. DePace. High school junior, Devyn Butkiewicus, spent countless hours filming, editing, and creating special effects. Ms. Dusty’s Art Club created artwork and set design for the film. Ms. Looney’s Band and Chorus recorded the soundtrack for the film. And through the community’s generosity, the crew was able to film at notable locations including Leicester Congregational Church, the Castle Restaurant, the historic Swan Tavern, the Leicester Town Common, and St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer.

The film project was a great success due to the commitment of everyone, especially Mr. DePace and Ms. Minton. They dream big and make their dreams become reality. Other key success factors are: Students and staff members WANTED to participate, even on their own time. The activities were extremely engaging and fun. Students were able to forge strong relationships with their teachers and other students, which might not have occurred without this project. The administration and staff were very supportive, providing flexibility during and after the school day to help make activities run smoothly. The community pitched in to volunteer when needed.

They say it takes a village, and the LMS community came together to provide a unique interdisciplinary learning opportunity for its students. They took on a complicated project that showcased students’ abilities and interests in the areas of art, drama, music, and technology. Anyone in attendance at the movie premiere will tell you that it was fabulous. Kudos for everyone who made it happen!

References Hayes Jacobs, H. (2019). The Growing Need for Interdisciplinary Curriculum Content. [online] Available at: [Accessed 14 Jun. 2019].

MacDonald, H. (2004). Why Teach with an Interdisciplinary Approach?. [online] Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching. Available at: [Accessed 14 Jun. 2019].

Posted by colbyl On 14 June, 2019 at 7:54 PM  

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