As a single subject teacher, working collaboratively with classroom teachers and helping to lend support to their units of inquiry can be a very rewarding experience. Not only does it provide the foundation for authentic learning, but also allows students to know and understand the value of learning from a cross-curricular perspective.
I am fortunate to be able to experience this collaboration with an excellent grade 3 teaching team consisting of Marina Gijzen (you can see Marina’s teacher blog here http://marinagijzen.com), John Rinker, new to NIS this year having just come from Yangon International School in Burma (you can see John’s teacher blog here http://johnrinker.edublogs.org/) and Georgina Perry, also new to NIS this year.
NIS has made specific changes to how teams collaborate by setting up weekly meetings in which the single subject teachers can sit in on planning sessions. This past Thursday was our first meeting of the year and we were able to discuss and plan how PE would be integrated into their Body Systems unit. Often times the central idea for a unit of inquiry is unwrapped by the classroom teachers first, but in this case, I was going to be able to have a first go at it with the grade 3 classes.
There was some healthy discussion as to whether or not unwrapping the unit’s central idea first in PE was the best thing to do, but it was decided that doing so would make for an enriching learning experience for the kids. Added to this was the fact that the students brought the knowledge from our discussion in PE back into the classroom and were prepared to deepen their understanding of the central idea through continued discussion with their class teachers.
I posted the central idea ‘We need to care for our body systems to be healthy’ on a piece of large chart paper and John’s class was first to begin the unwrapping. Any ideas that John’s class came up with were written using GREEN marker. The central idea stayed posted and when Georgina’s class came to the gym they added to the discussion with their own ideas which were written in RED. Marina’s class was last to have a look at the central idea, but, in my opinion, benefitted the most, as there was a lot of information already at their disposal to prompt an in- depth discussion about body systems. Through this discussion, they were able to also add some of their ideas to the unwrapping (written in BLUE). The grade 3 Body Systems unit of inquiry is off to a great start at Nanjing International School.
Below are some pictures that show how the unwrapping of the central idea progressed.