Cross Curricular Teaching
Cross-curricular studies during the third, fourth and fifth Forms are designed to create a more meaningful learning experience for our students. Interdisciplinary teaching at Salisbury School gives students a powerful opportunity to apply knowledge, principles and values to more than one academic subject simultaneously. Teachers from history, English and art collaborate in a stimulating environment to create a theme common to each subject. This theme becomes a framework with goals and outcomes that specify what students are expected to learn as a result of the experience and lessons that are part of the study.
Cross-curricular studies support two important goals we have for our students: the ability to apply knowledge effectively in a variety of contexts, and to engage in higher level reasoning skills. Through interdisciplinary quests, the students are able to see the interconnectedness of things they may otherwise learn through fragmented and isolated skill instruction. For instance, a student can formulate a deeper understanding of Civil War history by interpreting literature on the experience written by a poet of that time. For the student whose strength is in the English class, Civil War history suddenly comes alive. History students become more engaged as the subject is explored through many facets of the human experience. Cross-curricular teaching increases our student's motivation for learning because they see the value of what they are learning and become more actively engaged.
In each form, the literary period studied is in sync with where students are in their history class. In addition, the following project has been pursued by students and teachers:
Third Form: The Odyssey Challenge
Third form English students are challenged each winter to become like the Muse addressed in Homer's first book of The Odyssey as they told "of that ingenious hero who traveled far and wide after he sacked the famous town of Troy."
Students spend January and February studying the Robert Fagles' translation of The Odyssey. Working in conjunction with members of the art department and their classroom English teachers, the boys prepare projects which they present before heading off for spring vacation. While there is class time set aside for the students to work on their projects and prepare their presentations, most of the work is done during the students’ free time.
The projects fall into four broad categories (two-dimensional, three-dimensional, dramatic, and technical) and are intended to not only reflect each student's awareness and understanding of a particular portion of The Odyssey, but also demonstrate his creative interpretation of that portion. Some exceptional projects have been:
- The creation of a working chess board using the characters from The Odyssey as the pieces
- "Cyclops Rap" written and composed using Garage Band and then performed
- "Odysseus's Ship" crafted using skills learned in boat building class
Fifth Form: Civil War History and Poetry
U.S. History instructors collaborate with American Literature teachers in designing this syllabus. The students write a paper focusing on the historical context of the Civil War and its interpretation from the point of view of writers such as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman and Sidney Lanier who lived in the South or North at the time and, in some instances, fought in the War.
By the time a student enters his sixth form year, the opportunity is to take electives of his choosing. Therefore, most interdisciplinary projects occur in the earlier years. However, by the sixth form, students are able to apply knowledge in a variety of contexts and engage in higher order thinking skills in their elective classes.