Interdisciplinary Unit Planning: Secondary Art, Sci, SS

Interweaving subjects to create an interdisciplinary Unit:


Moving beyond a fragmented and isolated approach in lesson planning towards an interdisciplinary approach to unit planning with connections to social realities, this blog post takes you step-by-step through one approach to designing an interdisciplinary unit

The approach outlined here by Nashwa Kedhr, FoE graduate student, utilizes an interesting ‘search curriculum’ tool housed on the Ministry of BC’s Curriculum website:

Using this tool, one can search for the big ideas, content and competencies for multiple selected subjects and grade levels in order to explore possibilities and curriculum alignment for a theme. By ‘clicking’ on ‘further elaborations’, suggested topics or questions are available.

The example (below) examines the following big ideas from Grade 10 Curriculum:

  • Social Studies “historical and contemporary injustices challenge the narrative and identity of Canada”
  • Science “energy is conserved, and its transformation can affect living things and the environment”
  • Visual Arts “traditions, perspectives, worldviews and stories are shared through aesthetic experiences.”
  • Click image to view.


    By looking further into the content for the three disciplines, more clear ideas for the unit are revealed.

    Click image to view.


    Initial lesson ideas came up in relation to residential schools (social studies), First Nations applications (science) and Bentwood Box (art education).

    In order to design the specific lessons, the curricular competencies from the three subject areas are explored to look for skills and instructional strategies that would be suitable to plan for the content.

    Using the Coquitlam SD 43 School district planning template, a clear elaboration of the big ideas, content and curricular competencies are all shown in one table.
    Coquitlam SD 43 School district template

    Click image to view part one of the template.


    Click image to view part two of the template.


    Lesson Planning

    Stemming from the big ideas and curricular content, ideas for three lessons emerged.

    Social Studies Lesson

    With a focus on stories of residential schools, students explore archival, primary source artefacts (letters and reports) and stories of different individuals involved at the time of residential schools. Students then analyze the influence of an individual’s actions in terms of resistance, agency and discrimination.
    Social Studies Lesson
    Useful resource on residential schools could be found on the Teach BC website:

    Science Lesson

    In relation to depletion of natural resources, students explore the concept of harvesting in light of First Peoples knowledge and practices. Students develop experiments that compare the impact of various harvesting methods on the growth of a particular plant.
    Science Lesson
    An interesting resource on First Nations ways of harvesting is:

    Kimmerer, R. (2018). Mishkos Kenomagwen, the Lessons of Grass: Restoring Reciprocity with the Good Green Earth. In M. Nelson & D. Shilling (Eds.), Traditional Ecological Knowledge: Learning from Indigenous Practices for Environmental Sustainability (New Directions in Sustainability and Society, pp. 27-56). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108552998.004

    Art Lesson

    Students explore a Bentwood box, constructed by Coast Salish artist Luke Marston that is carved from red cedar to represent First Nations, Inuit and Metis cultures. During Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) events people placed personal items into the box to symbolize their journey toward healing. Students are introduced to the artist, his context and intentions. They also explore the Museum app CMHR. Finally they dissect the art piece and engage in group activities.visually represent weaving together


    Acknowledgement: post author, Nashwa Khedr ; editor, Yvonne Dawydiak

    Interdisciplinarity, collaboration, hands-on learning – that’s the spirit of Create, Make, Innovate! We want to promote enthusiasm for sharing and learning across age groups and across subject disciplines.

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