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How to create engaging cross-curricular lessons

Admin - Mar 11 2016

What is Cross-Curricular Learning?
Cross-curricular learning is also known as inter-disciplinary learning. It is a learning technique where two or more subjects can be taught together. For example, students may learn science through storytelling. Teachers may teach students useful scientific facts through songs and play. Biology can also be integrated into to physical education where learners will learn the various body parts during physical exercise. Topics such as sound in physics may be taught alongside music. Painting in art may well be integrated into geography since topics like the earth's physical features are well expressed in the drawing. There are many benefits associated with cross-curricular learning.

2. How Can a Teacher Develop Cross-Curricular Contents That Are Engaging?
Creating engaging content is crucial for any teacher in a classroom setting. There are numerous activities that a teacher can engage the student in during Cross-cultural learning. These activities should center on actively constructing meaning to the learner. In light of this, students should be involved in projects which enable them to either cooperatively or independently solve real life problems. The teacher may also involve the learners in responding to authentic literature through holding discussions with other students and the teacher. Forming cross-curricular teams are necessary for teachers who are considering cross-curricular teaching approach. Instructors need to form collaboration among the various departments. Elementary teachers can work with teachers from higher levels to find shared content that can be taught jointly.

There are three ways in which teachers can form collaborations to create engaging cross-curricular lessons. They may decide to follow aligned collaboration, cooperative collaboration or conceptual collaboration.

Aligned collaboration

Aligned collaboration means that a teacher in a certain subject area will hop in and start moving in the same direction as the other teachers. A good example is when a history teacher will align with the English department and agree that document based questions will be used to account for credit in English as well as credit in history. The two teachers will then agree on how topics in English and history will be taught concurrently. This way, learners will be able to understand better everyday events happening in both subjects. They can use what they learn in history as prerequisite knowledge in English.

Cooperative collaboration

Teachers can agree to move in unison while teaching particular topics which have similar content. A good example is a mathematics teacher teaching the topic on “volume mass and density” at the same time as the physics and chemistry teacher.  The teachers can agree to help each other in teaching these topics. They can do this jointly or separately. The physics teacher will use mathematical procedures that students have recently learnt in their mathematics class to solve physics calculations. On the other hand, the math teacher can borrow models from the physics teacher to use while demonstrating the relationship between volume, mass, and density. This borrowing of models enables the learner to have a better understanding of the subject and also allows them to apply immediately the knowledge they have acquired in another topic. As a result, students will be highly motivated and will be more actively involved in the learning process.

Conceptual collaboration  

Conceptual collaboration requires a single teacher to handle in-depth knowledge in two subject areas. Since this will prove challenging, the alternative is to team-teach. A good example is when a history teacher collaborates with a science teacher in teaching a topic such as “The Renaissance Era”. In history, students will learn about the historical period in which the great Renaissance took place and will learn to appreciate the significance of the happenings at this historic time. They will learn about the events that characterized the Renaissance and why they're important today.  In science, students will focus on the scientific inventions that took place during this time and the innovations that followed.

They will learn about the contribution of the Renaissance inventions to the modern advances in science and technology. Basically, in both subjects, students will appreciate how science shapes history and how history affects science.

Activities in cross-curricular learning

Cross-curricular learning can also be designed to include field trips, as well as acting or role play. A good example is when physical education is taught together with physics or mathematics. A topic of interest may be motion. During the lessons on motion for both math and physics, students can be allowed to move freely in the field. They can hop, walk or run and measure the time they use to cover a certain distance. They can then use these statistics to calculate speed, acceleration, and deceleration.   

While covering the topic on ecosystems in Biology and climate in Geography, learners can take a walk in the park or take a hike. During this time, learners will not only be involved in physical education but can also learn about environmental programs provided by their local authorities.

It is also possible for teachers to create content that cuts across most of the subject areas. For example, students can work together to create public service announcements or media commercials. The activity is fun, motivating and very rewarding. It will put their reading and writing skills to test; it will provide an opportunity to learn media literacy and will sharpen their creativity skills as well as improving oral communication. Depending on the commercial they make, students may also learn something to do with health or business.

What Are the Benefits of Cross-Curricular Learning?
The main advantage of cross-curricular teaching is that it provides the learner with the unique opportunity of creating a link between the various bodies of knowledge? This link is extremely useful to the student since classroom experience in the real world is never applied in isolation but rather in an integrated way.
Teachers can integrate curriculum expectations from various subject areas within a short span of time. Cross-curricular learning provides a unique way of achieving broader curriculum goals while creating room for creativity innovation. Learners area also able to use knowledge obtained in one subject area as a knowledge base for another subject.

Cross-curricular learning provides the learner with the opportunity of transferring skills such as comprehension of other topics. Reading meaningful content from any subject area will help the student both master comprehension skills as well as get a deeper knowledge of the subject matter. Cross-curricular learning also promotes critical thinking across all disciplines.

Motivation is well cultivated for when cross-curricular learning is implemented in the classroom. As opposed to learning particular skills in isolation, cross-curricular learning exposes students to an interdisciplinary approach. This approach helps learners to derive meaning and use the skills they learn in real life scenarios. As a result, students are more motivated and consequently increase their level of engagement in the learning process.

Increased interaction between the teacher and the students as well as with members of the community is also an important feature of cross-curricular learning. This interaction makes the learning process more natural and more efficient.


As observed, engaging cross-curricular learning can best be developed and implemented when teachers collaborate and build bridges across the various departments in schools. The primary task is to help learners understand one subject in the context of another and use this knowledge to solve real-world problems. Students put acquired knowledge to immediate use, and this makes the process of learning fun and interesting for students and their teachers. As a result, learners become motivated and are therefore more engaged in learning.

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