Multidisciplinary or Multi-subject Curriculum

The multidisciplinary or multi-subject curriculum is intended to correlate two or more subjects in relation to some organizing theme, concept, topic, or issue. Planning for such a curriculum usually begins with identification of a topic or theme, followed by the question, "what can various subject areas contribute to the study of the theme?" In this way two concerns are addressed. First, as subjects are connected in the context of the theme or topic, they may seem less fragmented to students. Second, by opening a topic to consideration through the lenses of two or more subject areas, it may be better and more completely understood. Like the separate subject approach, the multidisciplinary or multi-subject approach continues the purpose of encountering and mastering content from various subjects. Moreover, though a central theme or topic is used to correlate them, the separate subjects retain their identity and, typically, their separate time slots in the school schedule. The multidisciplinary or multi-subject approach has roots in the correlated curriculum advocated by the Herbaria’s in the late 19th century and has also been referred to as "curriculum correlation" and "parallel disciplines."
Allow students to expand their areas of knowledge and apply different disciplines in their careers.
Allow students to choose courses that are of interest and helpful for their stages of personal and professional development.
Allow students to have a broader perspective and to be more adaptable in an ever-changing world.
Students will learn to think critically about their areas of study and to integrate areas of learning.
Students will demonstrate effective research skills.
Students will develop effective communication skills.
Multidisciplinary  Curriculum
A school’s goals should be simple: that each student master a limited number of essential skills and areas of knowledge. While these skills and areas will, to varying degrees, reflect the traditional academic disciplines, the program’s design should be shaped by the intellectual and imaginative powers and competencies that the students need, rather than by subjects as conventionally defined. An interdisciplinary curriculum combines several school subjects into one active project or is organized to cut across subject-matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful association. It focuses on broad areas of study since that is how children encounter subjects in the real world—combined in one activity. In the interdisciplinary curriculum, the planned learning experiences not only provide the learners with a unified view of commonly held knowledge (by learning models, systems, and structures) but also motivate and develop learners’ power to perceive new relationships and thus to create new models, systems, and structures. Interdisciplinary curriculum involves using the knowledge view and curricular approach that consciously applies methodology and language from more than one discipline to examine a central theme, issue, problem, topic, or experience.
Transforming: Student thinking and work reflects an understanding of relationships and ideas across disciplines.
Students explore multiple disciplines through the use of project-based learning or other student-centered learning approaches. Students examine multiple disciplines for common skills, concepts, and ideas. Students apply the habits of mind for reading, writing, and thinking across the disciplines. Students make connections, pose questions, explore solutions as a means to engage in real-world scenarios and application transfer, and apply knowledge to different contexts and scenarios.
Curriculum strands and themes are the organizing principles around which the curriculum is built. They are broad—for example, Human Societies—and integrate content from multiple areas (academics, the arts, vocational programs), and are built around essential questions.
Students see teachers working in different subject areas, teaching in different classroom space and making similar points across subject areas.  Students use multiple materials and resources, including professional experts and networks, not just textbooks.
Students work in flexible, cooperative groupings to solve problems and analyze texts, demonstrating understanding of a task or concept through multiple perspectives. Teachers have the common planning time necessary to work together to co-plan or co-teach the units, or both.

Developing: Teacher work reflects a focus on creating interdisciplinary curriculum.
Curriculum is developed in which Thematic units are used as organizing principles.
Teacher works as ‘coach’ facilitating active student learning.
Staff have some common planning time or other professional development time to work together to develop integrated curricula.
The linkage of similar topics, concepts or skills from two or more subject areas taught collaboratively with another teacher.
Teacher as generalist with the ability to teach interdisciplinary material alone, although they may plan with other teachers.
Teachers are developing cross-curriculum sub objectives within a given curriculum guide.
Teachers are developing model lessons that include cross-curricular activities and assessments.
Teachers are developing enrichment or enhancement activities with a cross-curricular focus including. suggestions for cross-curricular “contacts” following each objective.
Interdisciplinary curriculum uses essential questions to guide exploration across disciplines.
Teachers are developing assessment activities that are cross-curricular in nature.

Early: Planning has extended from leadership to teachers.
Staff development has occurred or been planned to develop integrated curricula.
Staff have some common planning time or other professional development time to work together to develop integrated curricula.
Teachers choose themes/concepts that have opportunities for collaboration and deeper exploration across curriculum areas. Lessons and assignments begin to focus on understanding the interconnectedness of ideas across academic disciplines, rather than fact memorization.
Teachers cover similar topics in their concurrent lessons, but the material and projects are not integrated.
A theme is more like a series of activities rather than a way to facilitate student learning and understanding of conceptual connections.
The content from one subject area is used to augment or supplement the learning experience in another subject area.
Civil Rights History and Photography Curriculum. This project-based curriculum combines the study of history with a mixed-media photography project "insert themselves" into the Civil Rights Movement while conducting an in-depth exploration of the era. Colors and Algebra Curriculum. This project provides students with an opportunity to create a unique representation of their own understanding of algebra through the use of color mixing and painting on canvas. It uses colored manipulatives to motivate students at Life Learning Academy to become successful, "hands on," learners in an algebra class. Organic Opportunities Curriculum. This curriculum uses Life Learning Academy's organic garden to teach gardening, entrepreneurship, nutrition, culinary arts, math and construction. This curriculum was designed through a collaboration of four teachers and includes significant opportunities for project-based learning and community service.
  • improves higher order thinking skills
  • gives the learner a more unified sense of process and content
  • improves the learner’s mastery of content
  • teaches the student to adopt multiple points of view on issues
  • gives them ownership of their own studies
                      improves their motivation to learn