What is Cross-Curricular Instruction?

Cross-curricular instruction is a great way for teachers to incorporate different disciplines in education into one. It can also be referred to as Interdisciplinary Learning. The different school subjects are just a small puzzle piece of the larger puzzle. They can all go together as one to make up the big puzzle in education.

For instance, what students learn in math can be applied to English, social studies, and science in some capacity, and if not all the subjects, at least some. In order to implement this type of instruction effectively, teachers need to plan and collaborate steadily. Therefore, the overall quality of lessons can be chosen carefully and modified as needed. Cross-curricular planning fosters a great deal of equal responsibility.

Benefits of Cross-Curricular Instruction

As mentioned, teachers are brought together to plan and brainstorm with cross-curricular instruction. Through planning together, teachers and staff members can develop a deeper appreciation of what they each bring to the table as far as expertise and experiences. Additionally, through conversing and establishing one another’s expertise and skills, teachers are more likely to create richer lessons for high-quality instruction across the board.

Not only does this model provide collaboration among teachers, but it does among students as well. Positive social interactions can lead to deeper conversations and the acquisition of new knowledge. Additionally, the idea of teamwork creates opportunities for new discoveries and ideas. Through maintaining positive mindsets and open-mindedness, students can learn to be flexible. As students discover that learning is an ongoing process, they may begin to use what they have already learned to navigate the new difficulties of what they are currently learning. They will come to realize that everything can relate.

Thus, cross-curricular instruction offers many great advantages to students. It fosters teamwork, new discoveries, more motivation, and more knowledge of the learning process. A greater appreciation of the learning process leads students to become life-long learners. For any educator, this is most certainly the goal in mind.

I, myself, am a life-long learner. I have always tried to instill this in my students from the very beginning of the school year. Back when I was a student, it took me a while to see the connections between subject areas to truly say I have learned something new. I then began to feel more comfortable applying my learning to new situations and experiences. Different branches of learning came together, and I was able to see the true importance of the learning process and what it meant for me as a learner.

Strategies for Planning Integrated Curriculum

There are many strategies that can be employed with integrated curriculum. One strategy is for teachers to select a theme for students to learn around. This allows for students to have the opportunity to seek out information they already know and work to learn more, thus leading them to make connections among their learning and new acquisition of knowledge.

Another strategy is for teachers to choose a key concept to guide instruction. Once they establish a theme that is fitting, they can choose tasks within a key concept that encourage students to seek out information, think critically, solve problems, research, and make connections among their learning. This key concept should be directly about the theme but also allow students to transfer what they explore and learn to their own lives. Applying knowledge is an integral part of the learning process, and in this stage, it needs to be a main goal set to be accomplished.

Once themes are determined, the goal is to select tasks that encourage students to investigate, wonder, problem-solve, and ask questions. Key concepts for a theme should provide a clear focus for all instruction and learning. The key concept guides all activities and lessons. It is expected that, by the end of the theme, all students will begin to internalize, build upon, and transfer this key concept to their own lives.

Next, teachers need to identify skills and strategies that need to be taught. Rather than considering a product or result of a lesson, this strategy of identifying skills and strategies that students need allows teachers to plan accordingly to reach mastery of the key concepts. It is certainly not to discount the importance of products and assessments, as they are equally as important. However, teachers can more clearly and concisely plan activities and lessons that will introduce, teach, and enhance key concepts to students. Through this, it creates further opportunities for students to think, navigate, and explore. Then, as the result, they can make connections as a part of cross-curricular instruction.

To go along with the planning aspect of cross-curricular instruction, another strategy that can be utilized by teachers is to ensure that they are choosing appropriate resources. They should take into consideration the scope of planning, templates, material selection, and more.

Teachers need to be reflective of their practice. Teaching is a profession that continuously opens opportunities to identify ways to improve and grow. Teachers need to monitor what students are achieving and gaining and evaluate progress. Through doing so, they can establish what the next steps are in their planning and processes. Of course, if they notice the methods are not working among students, they need to make the necessary modifications, back track, and make another attempt towards student progress and mastery.


“Integrated Instruction”. March 2015. OEL Resource. http://www.p12.nysed.gov/earlylearning/documents/OELResource_IntegratedInstruction.pdf

*Updated February, 2021