Recently, the 5th grade art and high school band students joined forces to work collaboratively on rhythm and beat. Students built instruments in art and then were taught by the high school students how to effectively use them, follow a rhythm, and make music! This kind of cross-curricular teaching can be extremely beneficial and allows for a change-of-pace in classrooms, but it requires two teachers who are willing to be open and honest with goals and expectations for the experience. Luckily, Ms. Emerson & Ms. Ott were two perfect people for me to experience it with. Here are some of our biggest takeaways!
Start with the End in Mind
Think about what you want the students to gain from this experience! What should they learn? Yes...standards are always important. It's necessary for both teachers to be honest about what they'd like to accomplish and what they think their students would benefit from (and can handle). As Ms. Emerson & Ms. Ott said in our final reflection, "find something you're both passionate about and that can enhance what you're already working towards."
Compromise & Bring Your Own Expertise to the Table
Every teacher has their own unique set of skills and an expertise they can bring to the table to enhance a classroom. What's great about collaborative teaching is knowing you have TWO sets to work with. One thing they enjoyed was the ability to facilitate different parts of the activity and not "reinvent the wheel" as we sometimes do in teaching. Setting expectations ahead of time for what parts of activities each person will facilitate and how the other person will play a role in these activities is extremely important to getting things to run smoothly. When planning, it's important to compromise & find ways to support each other in the process to best serve your students!
Thinking about Trying It? Just Do It!
No, it's not a Nike ad! When I asked Ms. Emerson what advice she would give to people who are thinking about trying it, she said "Do It!" Here are just a few of the benefits we saw from our experience:
-Allowed students to engage with their current curriculum in a different way, making new meaning, and understanding things in different ways.
-Exposed students to a new environment which forced them to step outside of their comfort zone!
-Creatively tied together two curricular areas and helped students to see connections between classes. Always something we are looking to try and do!
-Exposed students to band (middle school level) and exposed students to teaching (high school level).
-Able to cultivate a mentor/mentee type relationship even though it was a short amount of time.
-Students saw two teachers working together to achieve a common goal, trying something different, and expanding their own thinking! Real-world skills that we hope they absorbed and take away!
If you are thinking about trying something or want to know more, feel free to pick the brains of Ms. Ott, Ms. Emerson, or Mrs. Thornton. We'd love to find other ways to collaborate with teachers throughout the district!
Check out the Padlet for others who may be looking for that next partnership!
Check out this great resource for various cross-curricular approaches.