Out of my silo; first go at a cross-curricular project.

Today is the Friday before Spring Break and as such, is full of expectation and promise; spring signals hope, growth and renewed energies.

To that end, I am excited by a cross-curricular project that has begun at my school. Inspired by a project (pictured below) I saw at Science Leadership Academy in January, our Art teacher, Mark Sadlowski, language teacher, Charity Franczak, and I have been working collaboratively to hatch a common project respectively for our Art 9, French 9, and Biology 12 classes.

Grade 9 Identity Project - Masks with characteristics written in Spanish.
Grade 9 Identity Project – Masks with characteristics written in Spanish.

The project is simple: students in teams of 6 (2 from each class) will build an anatomically correct organ that is harbouring a secret and has a story to tell.

The Biology 12 students select a body organ of interest (from those we will be studying in our overview of the human body). The biology students (working in pairs), then partner with Art 9 students (also working in pairs) to determine the best way to build the organ. Concurrently, the French 9’s (also working in pairs, so a final team of 6 students) will join in to write stories in French that convey the secret that the selected organ is harbouring.

Charity had the great idea of adding the theme of secrets, so each organ has the added depth to facilitate the story and add some intrigue. The secret can be reflected in the physical model and in the organ’s story (example a heart could have a faulty valve or the stomach knowledge of its owner having bulimia). Charity has been working with her class on building human body vocabulary. My class has been working to select an organ and is doing a first organ project in the creation of a Facebook page for their organ to create background knowledge and some connection to the organ. This is the first time my biology students will have exposure to body organs before we begin the study of the body systems, so I am intrigued to see how this unfolds for them.

We decided to use this SLA rubric for the project, pictured below (it is already created and has all aspects we wanted).


At the outset of the project, I was consumed with doubt: What if students don’t like the project? What if we teachers couldn’t find common ground?; What if the project takes too long?; How do we make time for our students to meet?; What if our visions clash and contradict?

And quite frankly I still have doubts; I have never done a project like this before, I am uncertain if it will prove valuable for students and if they will be able to produce a final finished product to show.

But somewhere along the line it dawned on me that it did not really matter… if the outcome was a little less than perfect or if our visions were slightly at odds…what mattered was, here we were, talking, sharing, collaborating, out of our silos…we had already won.

4 thoughts on “Out of my silo; first go at a cross-curricular project.

  1. Awesome work! Sounds like a super cool project.

    I always refer to Seth Godin’s thought that taking big risks is the only safe place to be now. I am sure you will learn so much from this project.

    Really look forward to the follow up post after it is completed.

    Keep rocking it!

    • Hi Jake,
      You made a comment to me awhile back that really stuck with me (when I was having a rough week) about being where the change is and having skills for the changes that are coming. Anyway I am starting to think you have something there 🙂 Thanks for being a cheerleader for change, albeit from a distance, it does make a difference 🙂

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