The brain works best when connections are made from one area to another. Children need the arts, the sciences, the humanities, and these areas need to be linked.
At STS our students experience many interdisciplinary moments, reflecting the brain’s need for connection. Teachers collaborate with each other creating powerful projects and important interdisciplinary experiences. Teachers from different subject areas can work closely together to give students enriched experiences of a topic, skill, or concept.
Capturing this idea of building networks of connections, 4th Grade through 8th Grade years have overarching themes that are interwoven through different subject areas as well as reflect developmental stages of student. Our 4th Graders, for example, have the theme of explorers, as they become rapidly aware of the wider world around them and develop an expanding interest in new frontiers, people, and ideas. The 7th Grade curriculum is connected by the theme of the Revolutionary, based on the Hero’s Journey, reflecting the students’ quest for meaning in their lives and the desire to test out and challenge assumptions of the adult world.
There are some signature projects that emerge from the interdisciplinary approach such as the 3rd and 4th Grade Field Guides. These carefully constructed field guides on local birds involve the worlds of Science, Art, Technology, and Language Arts. There are some interdisciplinary events such as Walking in My Shoes at 5th Grade where students explore their own family stories of immigration in the quest to build self-identity, linking Art, Library, Technology, Language Arts, and sometimes even Spanish and PE. Field trips such as the 6th Grade Washington, D.C. trip or the international trip to Peru in 8th Grade can often provide fertile ground for rich interdisciplinary work.
This interdisciplinary approach is a critical part of every student’s STS journey. It reflects the brain at work here at STS!
Sample Project - 3rd and 4th Grade Field Guide
How is the natural environment in our neighborhood representative of the larger biosphere we live in? Studying the local birds and the native plants of the Pacific Northwest gives students opportunities to develop identification and research skills, observational drawing techniques and art historical understanding, and technological synthesis of this information. Interdisciplinary education helps students deepen their connections to what they learn through connected themes across their curriculum, resulting in the creation of these wonderful field guides remain with them throughout their lives.