Earlier this spring, teachers at Woodward North collaborated on a cross-curricular project during the 2nd grade's Helen Keller unit to help teach the children about empathy. Check out our interview of the teachers and the video project they put together about the unit below.
Beyond the Gate: Can you give us a little bit of background on the project your PLC team was assigned?
Woodward North Teachers: We really had very little in the way of a set direction with the assignment- just a cross-curricular focus. We just needed to make sure we had a SMART ( specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) goal for our project as we decided on a specific direction.
BTG: Why did the Helen Keller project stand out to you as a good match for cross-curricular teaching?
WNT: Second grade was the only grade we all taught. They have a Helen Keller unit of study in their curriculum already. We were looking to enhance the curriculum rather than add to their coursework. We certainly did not want to add to the work of the homeroom teachers. A study on Helen Keller promised many opportunities in every field we represented: Art, PE, Music, Technology (S.T.E.A.M.)
BTG: Did you get the sense that approaching the project in such an immersive way helped the children develop empathy?
WNT: Most definitely. They complained about not being able to see, they did not like the earplugs, and this created student-lead conversations about the difference between losing your hearing and never having it at all. They struggled to think what it would be like to live without hearing or having sight.
BTG: What other benefits do you think the students took from the cross-curricular approach?
WNT: The students were excited that other teachers knew they were studying Helen Keller and were proud to share the information they had learned in their classrooms.
BTG: Given what you saw with how this worked with the Helen Keller project, does it make you want to develop additional cross-curricular opportunities in future student units/projects?
WNT: We are definitely open to other cross-curricular projects. Collaborating with other teachers brings the study to life for the students and creates a new bond between teachers. It helps ideas flow and come about which would have never happened without the input of the people collaborating.
Check out video of their project: