I was reflecting on Friday after work about the day just gone and what we had tried to do with classes. At the time, I hadn't realised just how much some of the learning was linking with other parts of the curriculum and just how much interdisciplinary learning was taking place. Here is a quick summary of some of the lessons to exemplify that.
S1: The class were feeding back on a microclimate investigation we had conducted the previous period. We had used the school grounds to find the perfect site for a solar cooker to be used ( difficult in Scotland, I know) and I thought it would be a nice extension of the exercise to actually give the students the opportunity to make their own solar cookers using the instructions at the RGS website ( which isn't working properly tonight or I'd have included the link). I was surprised and delighted to find out that several students had already started or, in some cases, actually finished making these. We will try these when the weather is suitable. After discussing this with the PT of Physics, it seems this sits between an S1 topic looking at renewable energy and an S2 topic examining infrared radiation, so we made that link in class too. From this microclimate starting point, we discussed comparison of climate at a larger scale and used climate graph construction to take this a step further. Within the two lessons, we have included health and well being (fieldwork and personal responsibility while working with others), science, numeracy and geography!
S2: This period was all about volcanoes as the messy picture below shows! I had asked the class to do a little homework as preparation for the lesson, borrowing Bill Boyd's 50 word mini epic idea ( Bill can be found at http://www.literacyadviser.wordpress.com ). This was all about summarising why some volcanoes are more explosive than others. The students had to include the words effusive, explosive, eruption and a named example of both an effusive volcanic eruption and an explosive one. They had to do this in exactly 50 words, no more and no less. This proved really useful as it meant students had to effectively summarise the often quite technical sources that they were finding when they searched the Internet. By limiting what could be written, it made copy and paste almost impossible without it sounding ridiculous and meant students also had to look for different ways to express something. It also meant that students who wanted to take an easy way out by writing very little still had to find 50 words! The discussion we had before the main learning activity proved that students had a good grasp of what I had asked them to learn about and was invaluable in the next part of the lesson which included the well known Mentos experiment which allowed me to bring viscosity and dissolved gases into the discussion without it being totally alien to what the students already knew. Literacy and Chemistry covered!
In other lessons, we dealt with more numeracy themes ( using development indicators with S3 to compare countries) and citizenship issues ( using the Rwandan genocide as a backdrop to forced migration with Higher). It was quite a hectic day in and out of the classroom but, looking back, actually provides us with evidence of how we are working as a department which links up learning in a positive way.