At Shishuvan, integrated learning forms a vital part of the school’s pedagogy. Around nine years ago I joined Shishuvan. Even then, encouraging hands-on activities and project-based learning was a part of Shishuvan’s methodology. On a sunny afternoon as we sat in the staff room, a meeting was called by the leadership team and we were oriented towards the concept of integrated learning. Frankly, I was absolutely confused and wondered if I would ever be able to think in that direction. Today, it’s so ingrained that some of us at Shishuvan have been able to break the barriers of subjects and are able to look at any concept/event/phenomenon from a multi-disciplinary approach.
As a teacher, I strongly recommend this approach. It offers a multi-faceted learning of concepts to the students. It challenges teachers to go beyond their scope of knowledge about the topic. Whenever I create links and explore any topic, I feel that I have learned much more than what I knew before. Over a period, teaching the same topic may become monotonous but this approach gets us to work with a team and new ideas keep coming which once again excites the teacher to take on the activities.
Sitting together and brainstorming on how to link concepts is a pre-requisite to make this approach effective. Looking into the curriculum of the class, previous knowledge of the students and an awareness of contemporary issues/developments is definitely the key to planning the topics to be covered.
Geography is not a subject that can be effectively taught in the classroom. From a subject known for rote memorization, it is becoming a subject which is now being explored in many ways. Adding a multi-disciplinary approach will further ensure that students have a deep understanding of geographical concepts and also find the learning meaningful and interesting. One such topic is ‘Rocks’. Let us see how to make this topic really interesting and comprehensive.
Typically, the learning objectives in the topic of rocks in geography include the following: students should know what rocks are, understand their uses and how different types of rocks are formed. Understanding about rocks also provides a base to study the topic of formation of soil and the concept of weathering.
Before beginning, the teacher can give an assignment to the students as homework. Students can be asked to list the objects in their house/neighbourhood/on their way to school/in school where stones or rocks have been used. The students can then be divided into groups and each member of the group shares the information. They then generate a common list. Each group is given a chance to read out five objects at a time and all those who have listed the same can put a cross mark against that so that they do not repeat the same. The list can be then displayed. The teacher can also add some important uses if they have been missed out.
Apart from showing videos on the formation of each type of rock, you can make models showing the formation of igneous and sedimentary rocks. Demonstrate the eruption of volcano and how lava flows. There are many websites which give information about the material and procedure for demonstrating this. Some of the sites that can be visited are:
The discussion about how igneous rocks are formed by cooling of lava released during an eruption of a volcano can be done after the demonstration.
A model of landforms made using clay soil can be made to show how surface runoff always carries sediments along with it. A beaker with water can be taken and every day for a week, the students can put a handful of soil collected randomly from their surroundings. This beaker should be placed in a sunny spot. They can analyse how the particles settle. Over a week, once water starts evaporating, they will be able to see how the sediments start forming layers. This can continue till the water evaporates leaving just the sediments in the beaker. This will give a thorough understanding of the concept of sedimentary rocks.
The author teaches Geography at Shishuvan High school, Mumbai. She can be reached at email@example.com.