Walking In My Shoes
At St. Thomas School, teachers often work together on key courses and projects through thematic interdisciplinary collaboration. The value of this approach in interdisciplinary education is one of the key factors cited by recent brain research studies in deepening and retaining information for students, especially young adolescents. At every grade level, multiple collaborations – between teachers at the same grade level, teachers between grade levels, or large collaborative groups across the school – serve our students and faculty in enriching curriculum and deepening understanding of connecting themes.
Our Fifth Grade students take this interdisciplinary educational journey into global themes of identity and culture through the “Walking in My Shoes” curriculum. Working with these themes in Art, Library, Language Arts, Technology, Spanish, and Music, students explore global migration and cultures through the lens of their own family heritage. In each specific subject area, that subject’s priority core knowledge and skills are accomplished within the overarching framework of the thematic concepts shared across all the different subjects and classes.
This approach is the key to the success of the “Walking in My Shoes” curriculum. Students explore the overarching themes of personal and cultural identity through the cultural similarities and differences of their own families. Identifying a family “artifact” that has traveled down through the generations, in Art class students create multiple artworks reflecting this heritage, including a unique family crest, self-portrait, and family heritage book. In Language Arts, students write poetry and stories about their family’s background, in Library they hone their research and annotation skills using the theme of global migration, and in Spanish they write about themselves using these themes. In Music, students create original pieces using cultural musical motifs, and in Technology students create a video tribute to one family member with spoken narratives and photos.
The interdisciplinary WIMS collaborative themes are relevant to our dynamic ever-changing world, allowing students to investigate connections between their own emerging identities, the valuable stories and traditions of their families, and the historical truths that define our collective understanding of the past. Through the “Walking in My Shoes” experience, our Fifth Grade students learn more about the past. And we all know that by understanding the past, we can grow wisely into the future!