Finding time to talk to other subject specialists to forge cross-curricular links can be hard, but well worth it.
I had a good general chat with the head of music, showing her our history curriculum and seeing if anything leapt out at her. Among other things she told me about Thomas Tallis, a Tudor musician who was a gifted choral composer, and a Catholic, which as you may well know was a bit of a tough gig under certain Tudor monarchs.
But how to use it in a history lesson? I knew NOTHING about music and certainly didn’t have the confidence to learn. I bit the bullet and gave it a whirl anyway, finding copyright free recordings of Tallis’s works to play to the students from across the various Tudor reigns to see if they could guess the monarch by the music.
I’m not going to lie, it went over the top of most of the kid’s heads (and mine too if I’m honest). But I don’t really remember that. I remember the reaction of one boy who sat in the second row and slightly to the left. He was a diligent and hardworking student, but it was clear he didn’t love history. He sat up in that lesson – he was clearly a gifted musician and I’d never seen his hand shoot up so much to contribute or ask questions. Spending ten minutes crossing the curricular border had certainly worked in his case.
It spurred me on to talk to other subjects about links I could make. There was more music to be used in other topics. When studying the Indigenous people of North America, rather than setting homework of ‘design a tipi!’, the Design Technology department was able to help me structure the design process better. Teaching Pompeii became a bit more scientific when Geography could recommend diagrams to use, and English gave me some excellent extracts from Oliver Twist to support the Industrial Revolution and Jack the Ripper.
Were I to do these cross curricular exercises now, I’d certainly head to CLA’s Education Platform first. Here books your school owns are unlocked for all teachers at the institution, not just the one doing the unlocking, and so combing the books of other departments for useful extracts is made much easier. It’s a great way to open some doors to your subject for students who excel in or enjoy others.