“You probably aren’t going to realize it now, but you are going to have a greater impact on the kids now at the middle school level, then you would at the high school level,” the supervisor of the Secondary English department told me.
“Yeah. Okay. I doubt it,” I said to myself.
Who was I to listen to the supervisor of the ENGLISH department!? I’M NOT EVEN AN ENGLISH TEACHER!
My first year in the district came and went and I enjoyed every minute of it. Here I am, completing my second year, and I now see what the supervisor was talking about.
Why now am I seeing the changes in my students that I have hoped to see? Simply, it is because of the brain.
The brain is a very powerful organ that controls a person’s thoughts, emotions, and actions. The study of the brain is known as neurology, however, cognitive science is defined as “the interdisciplinary study of cognition. Cognition includes mental states and processes such as thinking, reasoning, remembering, language understanding and generation, visual and auditory perception, learning, consciousness, emotions, etc.” (Rapaport, 1996, p. 1). Within cognitive science are five mental representations that assist in the process of knowledge transfer within the brain. The five mental representations are: logic, rules, concepts, analogies/cases, and images. All mental representations can have a direct impact on the teaching and learning for individuals.
The study of mental representations is crucial to understanding teaching and learning because learning is focused around how the mental representations work and affect learning. As educators, it is important for us to teach logic, rules, concepts, analogies/cases, and images, in order to better understand the content and the world around us. Without a strong understanding in the mental representations, students will not be able to see their education come full circle.
However, I am a strong believer that the key to education is through interdisciplinary learning. If students are able to connect their content in one subject to another, and so on, the connection made will be that much greater.
One of the main parts of the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum is Textiles. Generally, the study of Textiles includes mathematics (measuring), however, as Perkins believes, learning is more effective when it incorporates the various content areas. One of the projects that I implemented in my classroom in the Fall was called “Patchwork of Kindness”. This project used the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum and integrated Social Studies (history of quilting), Mathematics (measuring, creating patterns), and Language Arts (creating their own quilt story) . Students were able to get help from those three content area teachers in addition to the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher. Through this instructional strategy, students not only learned many different things to make the project more interesting, however, learning was also more effective because students saw how learning can connect, especially in the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom.
I have found with the implementation of the Common Core Standards, interdisciplinary learning is the key to success, however how do we as educators design lessons and unit with those goals in mind? Watch the video below to find the answers:
This class has made me more aware of my own teaching and learning style and how I can apply it to my work with my students. It is important for me to put my students as my top priority at all times and by keeping my students’ needs at the front of my mind at all times, my teaching and learning becomes that much more effective.
Edutopia. (2012). Educator elena aguilar on how to teach interdisciplinary projects. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_cEcZeNxTY