Week 31: Professional Context – Crossing Boundaries

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Ross Spiral Curriculum

The subject of interdisciplinary teaching has been around for years. At University we were encouraged to plan and teach ‘Thematic Units’, and I had thought that I had a handle on this concept, trying to be as thematic as possible with all my planning. That is until I watched the Ross Spiral Curriculum video (2015). I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the interaction between experts, teachers and students from a broad range of subject backgrounds work together towards a common goal. The enthusiasm the staff had for teaching and the students for learning was awesome, and the fact that students of all ages could fully articulate their learning was amazing. I now feel a little embarrassed at my efforts to date, and would love to further develop my interdisciplinary skills so as to benefit student learning.

I think I need to start by looking at whether our students are developing authentic solutions for real world problems, and do the students actually have a chance to implement their solutions, not just present to their peers or the teacher.

My interdisciplinary connection map

Upon reflection of who I interact with, and who I would like to, I developed this coggle of my interdisciplinary connections.



The area in this mind map I would like to further develop is utilising the knowledge and strengths of my online community. I teach in a Digital Technology classroom, and as such need to keep up to date with the latest trends and offerings. I believe by doing this the students benefit by being exposed to cutting edge concepts, helping them prepare for their future.


  • The ability to tap into new experts
  • Working with like minded professionals
  • Direct contact with the innovators
  • Increased practical and pedological knowledge without going to courses


  • The time it takes to create and maintain a network
  • Is the latest trend the best, this has sometimes been proved to not be the case
  • The ARCLog (2015) model for interdisciplinary collaboration mentions 3 aspects to be effective, being online means the workplace aspect is missing so it may be harder to be effective

By working in an interdisciplinary way we are enabling our students to see the world as it really is, not as compartmental blocks. By giving real world problems to create authentic solutions for we are ensuring the next generation are going to solve the big problems we have now, poverty, pollution, global warming, to name a few.

ACRLog. (2015). A Conceptual Model for Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Retrieved from http://acrlog.org/2015/05/14/a-conceptual-model-for-interdisciplinary-collaboration

Ross Institute. (2015, July 5). Ross Spiral Curriculum: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Science. . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHZhkB0FJik



9 thoughts on “Week 31: Professional Context – Crossing Boundaries

  1. Kia ora
    Thanks for sharing your blog, it was interesting and well written. I too was struck by how clearly the students at Ross could articulate their learning in regards to the interdisciplinary nature of their studies. It reminded me to be explicit in teaching students the reason behind our teaching and learning, as well as the concepts or contexts we are teaching.
    I liked how your connections map went beyond the classroom, into personal and digital connections. Well done.


  2. Hi David.
    I have enjoyed reading your blog as well and was interested to see where your interdisciplinary connections went; a lot further than mine. I teach year 8s in a secondary school so my connections are within the school bur inter curriculum. Secondary teaching is very compartmentalised but as we have seen in the Ross video it can be done. Your online connections could include connections with other schools, whether for your own teaching practice or classroom programme.


    1. Hi Sharyn, I didn’t think of other school connections, thanks. It was after watching the videos that I realised the spread of my connections, and I also harked back to the Community of Learning posts. Wouldn’t it be great if the national schooling system trialled the Ross approach?
      Thanks for reading.


  3. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about interdisciplinary collaboration. What I noticed about Ross School is the students felt that they were a meaningful member of that learning community, which had a positive effect on their attitude. Only positive impacts can be made on students who value themselves as learners. I too felt like there is more that I could be doing as an educator. Perhaps the ministry could send all current teaching staff to Ross School for professional development instead of increasing the price of teacher registration fees.


    1. Hi Luz, Wouldn’t that be great – free PD trip! I think the authentic projects the students were working on helped heaps with motivation and their ability to articulate their learning.
      Thanks for reading.


  4. Kia ora David, thanks for sharing your blog. I also gained a lot of insight into my own interdisciplinary practice from the Ross Spiral video. Teaching a year 7 class, I have the luxury of being able to integrate my subjects as much as I like, to an extent. I too thought I was doing a relatively good job of this, though I was aware I wasn’t utilizing outside agencies or our wider community. Reflecting on the Ross Spiral made me really consider how much my kids could be missing out on by me not utisiling these connections – it is now a goal!


    1. Hi Kim, Yes I think as a Yr7/8 teacher you get into he habit of thinking you are being interdisciplinary, but as you state we could fully utilise outside experts to make the students learning more authentic.
      Thanks for reading.


  5. Hi David, everybody’s commenting so I better too 🙂
    Nice coggle – I give credit to MindLab for the whole idea of being connected to professionals via internet! Who would’ve thought, Google Plus of all places!
    It would be interesting if students at our school would be able to take that level of engagement held at the Ross place – but in order to do that, probably will need to develop student agency first.
    I also wonder if our students would benefit from connecting with people from outside the school – especially via the internet. Although our school is culturally different from others, it’ll be interesting to see what we can learn from other teachers around us through Community of Learning PD in the holidays as a way of ‘interconnectedness’!


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