What are the benefits of taking an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.

You are beginning a 12-week exploration of an exemplar of interdisciplinary teaching and learning: the Project Approach. Depending on your experience, it may be a learning journey into new educational territory or a return opportunity to expand and/or refine your ability to plan and organize meaningful and engaging projects with preschool children.

As you may know or will learn as you delve into the reading for this module, Dr. Lilian Katz, professor emerita at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an international leader in early childhood education, is an expert on the Project Approach. For more than 20 years she has guided teachers of young children in the most effective use of the Project Approach. She continues to offer perspective on the value of the Project Approach and factors that contribute to successful and worthwhile projects.

To prepare for the Discussion, read the quotes, below, from Dr. Katz’s blog on the Illinois Projects in Practice (IllinoisPIP) website, http://illinoispip.org/katz.html, which is devoted to the Project Approach:

One of the many values of the Project Approach for young children is that it involves teachers in educating children’s interests—alerting them to actual elements in their own real environments that are worth learning about, that are worth understanding more deeply and accurately, and that help them appreciate how many others contribute to their well-being.

—Lilian Katz, IllinoisPIP blog, November 10, 2010

Extensive work with teachers implementing the Project Approach indicates clearly that the quality of the children’s experiences and the quality of what is accomplished are strongly related to the topic under investigation. Among the guiding principles of selecting topics for projects with young children is that the children can make direct observations and have firsthand interactions with many aspects of the topic.

—Lilian Katz, IllinoisPIP blog, October 14, 2009

Read about at least one of the projects listed on either of these sites:

PIP Projects


Project Examples


Then, drawing on your current knowledge of child development and any experience you have working with preschool-age children, consider the following questions:

What are the benefits of taking an interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, i.e., the Project Approach (rather than focusing teaching and learning only on one content area at a time), when working with young children and children of all ages?

What excites you about the project you read about and the Project Approach in general?

With these thoughts in mind:

By Wednesday of Week 1:

Post the following:

A summary of your responses to the above questions. Be sure to include the title of the project(s) about which you read and cite the website to validate your thinking.

Use examples from the readings to support your thinking and illustrate the ways your understanding has expanded and/or deepened. Be sure to cite your sources.

By Sunday of Week 1:

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

Respond to at least two of your colleagues’ postings in any of the following ways:

Build on something your colleague said.

Explain why and how you see things differently.

Ask a probing or clarifying question.

Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.

Offer and support an opinion.

Validate an idea with your own experience.

Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Ask for evidence that supports the posting.

Learning Resources

Required Resources


Be sure to complete this module’s Discussion before reviewing the Learning Resources.

Each of the resources below is highly recommended. You may also read other articles and/or view other video segments to broaden and deepen your thinking and help you complete the assignment for this module.

Read at least three of the articles below:

Article: Katz, L. G. (1994). The Project Approach. Retrieved from http://ecap.crc.illinois.edu/eecearchive/digests/1994/lk-pro94.html

(This is a seminal article by early childhood and Project Approach expert, Dr. Lilian Katz.)

Article: Hartman, J. A., & Eckerty, C. (1995). Projects in the early years. Childhood Education, 71(3), 141.

(This is also a seminal article on the Project Approach.)

Access this article from the ProQuest database in the Walden Library.

Article: Maple, T. L. (2005). Beyond community helpers: The Project Approach in the early childhood social studies curriculum. Childhood Education, 81(3), 133–138. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/pqcentral/docview/210396091/13AF4E5D8D65BFB41C9/1?accountid=14872

Access this article from the ProQuest database in the Walden Library.

Article: Sloane, M. W. (2004). Tailoring your teaching with the Project Approach. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 40(4), 175–179. Retrieved from the ProQuest database in the Walden Library.

Article: Katz, L. G., & Chard, S. C. (1998). Issues in selecting topics for projects. Retrieved from http://ecap.crc.illinois.edu/eecearchive/digests/1998/katzpr98.html

Read at least two of the articles/resources below:

Website: Project Based Learning

http://www.pbl-online.org/ (Click “Learn What Defines Project-Based Learning”)

Buck Institute for Education: PBL Handbook

http://www.bie.org/store/item/pbl_handbook (Read “Defining Standards-Focused PBL” on page 4 of the “Introduction to Project Based Learning” chapter.)

Note: In order to access the “Introduction to Project Based Learning” chapter, you will need to sign up as a member (membership is free).

Website: The Project Approach


Website: The Project Approach: Systematic Instruction and the Project Approach


Website: Edutopia: Sylvia Chard: Project Learning