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A Trans-disciplinary experience: the Human Body

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Shu Ren trans-disciplinary environment emphasizes the intersection between disciplines, engaging our students to see how content knowledge connects across subjects and can be applied with relevance and meaning.

For the first week of their Unit of Inquiry on the Human Body the subjects of Science, Math, Chinese, English naturally integrate into a memorable learning experience with significant real world applications.  

Students were first introduced to the concept of anatomy in English, which will drive many of their inquiries on the human body. In the beginning of the week, we studied the anatomy of the bone by creating a 3-D model that contained the periosteum, compact bone, spongy bone, and bone marrow. They then engaged in the “Chalk Talk” visual thinking routine to learn more about the function of each part of the bone. At the end of the week, students learned about the 6 synovial joints and sculpted a joint of their choice out of clay. This hands on activity allowed them to explore the different functions of each joint.


In Chinese, we started exploring the circulatory system by looking at pictures, models and listening to heartbeats with a stethoscope. The students wrote down what they already know and what they want to know more about the circulatory system. After that, the class moved on to looking at the form and function of the circulatory system. Students dissected a pig heart to better understand the form. We also watched videos of how red blood cells transport oxygen and nutrients to the body to explore the function of the circulatory system. The class has started learning the main terms related to the circulatory system, for example: heart 心脏,blood vessel 血管, blood血 and red blood cell红血球.


In Math, extending on what we learned in previous lessons, this week, we moved on to problems involving two by one digit multiplication. The students recorded the number of heartbeat in one minute and then calculate how many times their heart beat in five minutes. The class also learned the concepts of capacity and volume as well as Litter and Milliliter by watching a video and measuring “blood.” They also explored the form and function of measuring tape, as they measured different body parts and learned how to read ¼, ½, and ¾ inch.

Our strong emphasis on trans-disciplinary learning is balanced by teaching the content and skills of subject based learning but then extending and challenging our students to make the connections across subjects into a meaningful experience.