An effective way to spot links between curriculum areas is a staff meeting arranged as a cross-curricular speed dating event lasting for as little as one hour. The ideas generated can then be fed into curriculum review discussions or even be used to schedule whole-year off-timetable curriculum-crossover projects like a Year 8 Renaissance Day or a World War Two IB Induction Event. Here is the timetable I set up when arranging one of these events at the International School of Toulouse several years ago:

Sample timetable from the International School of Toulouse

Sample timetable from the International School of Toulouse

How to do it

Start by arranging the room with two chairs on either side of each desk. Divide the staff into groups of six teachers, with no single group containing two members from the same department.

Each group can then be arranged into three pairs around three desks, and then simply rotate clockwise one place in a “musical chairs” format over five “rounds” lasting 10 minutes each.

Each of these 10-minute sessions should be structured as follows:

  • 5 minutes: Each pair of teachers aims to identify at least one key topic, and one key skill, that overlap between their subjects.
  • 3 minutes: Each pair of teachers writes down their findings (even better, record them in a Google Form).
  • 2 minutes: Each teacher moves clockwise around their table of six people to face their new partner.

The process can then be repeated over five rounds. The results generated in the Google Spreadsheet provides a rich mine of inspiration to be shared with all staff and for curriculum development purposes (sample extract provided below):


Taking it Further: Outcomes that resulted at the International School of Toulouse

Example 1: Year 8 Renaissance Day

At the International School of Toulouse, Year 8 students (aged 13-14) are taken off-timetable during the summer term for what we call “Renaissance Day”. The event is popular with both teachers and students. It promotes cross-curricular awareness, gets students working effectively as teams, develops analytical ability and improves presentational skills.

Example 2: IB Induction Project: “Was World War Two a period of progress and development?”

In the first week back after the summer holidays:

  • Students in Year 12 will be placed into teams and will come off timetable to take part in a “themed event” involving all 6 of the IB subject groups.
  • Teachers involved in the event will provide a one-hour lesson investigating the positive and negative legacies of World War Two in relation to their particular subject specialism.
  • Co-ordinators involved in the event will then help each team of students tie these various lessons together in an overall thesis which forms the basis of
    • A group presentation, which is judged by senior teachers and
    • An individual essay marked according to a strict rubric, the results of which are recorded in the student reporting system as a baseline assessment.
    • Students will also be given multimedia resources to help them prepare their essay.

Example 3: Field Trips on the Cheap: Educational Scavenger Hunts in your Area!

“Scavenger Hunts” are superb ‘team building’ exercises for older students – for example at the beginning of the IB / A-Level course, where they additionally provide a healthy dose of local knowledge that they are unlikely to be familiar with. They also have tremendous potential for cross-curricular links – and cost nothing to set up, regardless of the area in which you live.