I’ve written twice now about developing IDUs but thought I would simplify my 3-day model here. I want to emphasise that there is no right or wrong way to deliver an IDU. The IB does not give a minimum or maximum length requirement, and different schools do things in different ways according to their individual contexts. Some IDUs are completed in a day, and some stretch on for weeks.
The model I suggest would be delivered over 3 days in a collapsed timetable and is based on the inquiry cycle, which itself is aligned with the interdisciplinary learning objectives. The cycle is reproduced below from the IB’s Fostering interdisciplinary teaching and learning in the MYP (2014).
Day 1: Inquiry (Disciplinary Grounding)
This would be the most teacher-led (but not teacher-centred) part of the IDU, where subject teachers provide disciplinary grounding and the subject-specific knowledge needed for students to synthesise their learning and take action.
Day 2: Action (Synthesizing)
Day 2 would be an opportunity for students, either individually or in collaborative groups, to synthesise their understanding of the two (or more) disciplines and work towards developing a solution in response to a real-world problem (authentic assessment).
*Note: The subject reports for the ID eAssessment have previously made reference to a need for teachers to provide students with opportunities to synthesise before the summative assessment. Formative assessment plays a crucial element in developing students’ interdisciplinary understanding, so a relevant synthesis task could be set as homework between Day 1 and Day 2 or completed in the classroom early on Day 2.
Day 3: Action/Reflection (Communicating and Reflecting)
Day 3 would be an opportunity for students to communicate their interdisciplinary understandings. These could take the form of presentations or mini-exhibitions. Students would then have the opportunity to reflect (again, either individually or collaborative). This part of the process could take place at the end of Day 3 or extend into time outside of class. As I noted in the slides I included in Fostering an interdisciplinary learning culture, many of the same tools or platforms could be used be used for students to communicate and reflect.
I have previously shared my thoughts on why some teachers are still resistant to or reluctant to engage with IDUs, and one of those reasons is the time they take. With this model, students might lose out on a maximum of 3 lessons in any given subject over the course of a whole year (depending on a school’s timetable), but they would gain approximately 12-15 hours of interdisciplinary learning within a condensed timeframe. There are several ways to structure units, which I have outlined in my presentation slides. Writing the units will take some initial heavy lifting, but once the framework and units are in place, that work should pay in dividends over the years to come.