To be truly educated, a student must also make connections across the disciplines, discover ways to integrate the separate subjects, and ultimately relate what they learn to life. (Boyer, 1995)
Rather than learning an hour of Math, an hour of Literacy, an hour of Science or Social Studies, and an hour of Music, why not integrate them all together and make meaning of them all...all of the time?
At the heart of the Soundview education, and driven by the International Baccalaureate, is something called transdisciplinary learning and teaching. We believe that there is knowledge, concepts, skills, attitudes, and actions that transcend subject area boundaries. Therefore, we take the single subjects and forge them into a curriculum that is coherent, relevant, engaging, and challenging for our students. Yes, the importance of the traditional subject areas is still acknowledged. But something of equal (and perhaps more) importance is the need to acquire skills in context, and to explore content that is relevant to students and beyond the isolated subject areas.
Here is a current example! While studying chemistry in the Intermediate Pod, we might as well learn the necessary math skills that go along with understanding the basics of matter and pure elements.
Students were introduced to the periodic table of elements and engaged in activities that allowed for some shared understandings. We realized that elements have different densities. But, what is density and how do we find it?
Through a hula-hoop activity and some basic understanding of space, children created a definition for density and the equation for finding it, together as a class. Then, we practice measuring mass and volume of both solids and pure elements.
With solids, students practiced using rulers to record measurements and calculate the volume of an object. Then they used bucket scales to record the mass.
With pure elements, they learned how to read graduated cylinders and measure volume by displacement. After recording the measurement, students were able to compare the densities of aluminum, copper, zinc, and tin.