Maine's Interdisciplinary Instruction Definition and Elements


Interdisciplinary instruction is the braiding of knowledge and methods from multiple content areas, which utilizes a combination of approaches to examine an authentic/real-world theme, issue, question, or topic. Braiding retains the integrity of each content area while enhancing the strength of learning.

colored gears with a human silhouette in front of the gears

Introduction to Interdisciplinary Instruction

Interdisciplinary instruction may be planned and provided by one teacher addressing multiple content areas or multiple teachers providing a cohesive unit of study that braids the learning across content areas. Specific or deep content instruction may be provided prior to or within the context of the interdisciplinary unit to facilitate application of learning and demonstration of learning transfer.

  • Braiding is an intentional interdisciplinary unit design strategy used to support a synthesizing thought process.
  • Braiding occurs when learners integrate the understandings and practices of more than one discipline or content area into a more comprehensive perspective (when answering a question, solving a problem, or addressing a topic that is too broad or complex to be dealt with adequately by a single discipline or content area).
5 colored strings are braided together
Elements for Developing Interdisciplinary Instructional Opportunities
  • Instruction is student-centered and modeled on authentic connections and applications.
  • The intentional focus on application and inquiry make interdisciplinary connections explicit and purposeful.
  • Content area instruction may not always be specifically framed or embedded in its own discipline (e.g., math learning may occur in a science context).
  • Learning activities are focused on student experiences rather than distinctly moving from one discipline to another.
  • When content-specific instruction is necessary, both conceptual and procedural, it is explicitly connected to the learning framework and goals.
  • Conceptual understanding within disciplines is prioritized to better support the transfer of knowledge and skills between and within the content areas.
  • The braiding of content areas allows central ideas to form.
  • If you remove a content area, you take out a necessary element of the whole.