In last week’s article, I asked whether or not the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme provided schools with a working model of a transdisciplinary framework, and the conclusion drawn was no, it did not – there is no plan of action. We are all talking about a unicorn that everyone believes in, but no one has seen. And that right there explains why so many educators struggle to figure out how to implement the IB programme – because although in a general sense people understand what it means to make “connections” between subject areas, no one really knows for sure how to go about doing this, and all the individual planners being designed worldwide won’t help unless you have an over-arching educational framework tying the transdisciplinary vision together, such as the example below.
In the above Transdisciplinary Framework that we have designed, there are two distinct sections – The Team Transdisciplinary Planner on the left-hand side containing individual subject planners arranged in the form of a 9-frame (this number could vary depending on how many subject areas your school has), and the individual Teacher Planners depicted by the grey boxes on the right-hand side. Simply put, the concept behind the above framework is that the information on the left-hand side is used to inform the individual planners on the right-hand side. How would this work in practical terms? To begin with, your teams would run their unit planning meetings normally, but instead of brainstorming in a haphazard way, each teacher would be required to fill out their own individual box within the Team Transdisciplinary Planner (9-frame) with required information. Each planner within the 9-frame would necessitate that teachers not only think about their lessons, but also about how they plan to link them to every other subject as depicted by the white connectors in the above Team Transdisciplinary Planner. This forces the team to act as one cohesive unit and serves to ensure seamless transitions between subject areas for students. Once the information is documented during the meeting within the Team Transdisciplinary Planner (9-frame), then it becomes the point of reference for individual teachers when planning their lessons, because as illustrated by the rainbow of rectangles within each one of their planners, the first thing a teacher will need to do is indicate how they will be connecting to all other subject areas during the upcoming week. Here is a diagram depicting what this would look like for the Performing Arts teacher:
As you can see, the Performing Arts teacher’s first step is to look at the Team Transdisciplinary Planner and copy relevant information into their personal Teacher Planner. Step 2 requires the Performing Arts teacher to continue planning their unit based on the possible links noted, thus ensuring cross-connections are being made between subject Standards, Learning Experiences etc. The arrows go both ways to demonstrate that during weekly team meetings, the Performing Arts teacher can note reflections and inquiries that transpired during their lessons within their box in the Team Transdisciplinary Planner, which will ultimately influence the direction all other subject areas go in. Therefore, what you end up with is a living, breathing set of documents that are based on real-time learnings happening across all subject areas, and that are tied together as tightly as possible. And this is how you implement an inquiry-based program that centers around the concept of a transdisciplinary framework – which is the goal of IB, is it not?
Now of course it can be noted that this Transdisciplinary Framework has been laid out in a very general sense, and is tailored to the PYP (Primary Years Programme). As we all know, it’s not that easy because no two teachers will be approaching their personal planning in the same manner – specialists see multiple classes within a day, mainstream teachers plan multiple lessons for the same class, and ESL/Learning Support staff must look at their objectives from the point of supporting learners during their lessons. In our upcoming articles, detailed suggestions for how to design both the personalized planners within a team transdisciplinary planner (9-frame) and each teacher’s individualized planner will be made, alongside tips for running effective team meetings. To learn more, see:
How to Run Your IB Planning Meetings Like a Boss Using a Transdisciplinary Framework
The Transdisciplinary Planners
* Article below will be coming soon!
Tips for Creating Transdisciplinary Rubrics
Interested in a customized version of the Transdisciplinary Framework for your IB school? Based on your needs, we can adapt this framework and its accompanying planners so that it’s a perfect fit your school. Contact us, we look forward helping you achieve your unique vision!