IDEA: Kath Murdoch strategies for integrated learning

What is integrated learning?

** If you are interested in activities and strategies to use during inquiries, please also see: Making thinking visibleThinking routines 1Thinking routines 2 and Thinking routines 3.

You can see more from Kath Murdoch on the post: IDEA: Kath Murdoch and Inquiry Learning


An integrated curriculum is a way to teach students that attempts to break down barriers between subjects and make learning more meaningful to students. There are various planning models and approaches for integrated curriculums.

An advantage being the value of helping students to make connections within and across learning areas. Other advantages for teachers and learners using an integrated curriculum are: reflection, challenge, catering for variety, management, meeting outcomes in context, making sense, provision of student control, encouragement, meaningful structure, enablement of transference of learning, up-skilling, making explicit links and an enrichment of learning.

Kath Murdoch’s inquiry-based Framework for a sequence of activities and some strategies that you can plan to utilise when you teach your inquiry:


* tuning in

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Tuning in:

  • Brainstorming
  • Bundling (when brainstormed words e.g. on a topic, are bundled together (those that belong together) onto strips of paper making categories and each is given a title/label.)
  • Chatterboxes
  • Cover puzzles
  • Finish the sentence
  • Graffiti board (the key word, phrase or question is put in the middle of a large sheet of paper; students are free to write or draw any ideas that are sparked by the words displayed.)
  • Mind mapping
  • Mystery boxes (object to do with topic is placed secretly in a box and students have to ask yes/no answer questions to reveal its identity.)
  • Paired interviews (children interview each other about their understandings of a topic)
  • Pass the ball (like hot potato)
  • People bingo
  • Picture priorities
  • Possible sentences
  • Post-a-question
  • Question of the day
  • Rocket writing (chn write everything they know in a very short time)
  • Silent jigsaw
  • Something from home
  • Startling statements
  • The question game
  • Think, pair, share
  • Think, wink, decide
  • Topic wheels
  • Visualisation and prediction
  • Visual representation (labelled diagrams, comic strips, plasticine models, collages, 3D models, maps/floor plans, flow diagrams, cut-away/X-ray pictures)
  • Word associations and definitions

* finding out

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Finding out:

  • Animals and plants in the classroom
  • Ask an expert
  • CD-ROMs
  • Excursions
  • Experiments
  • Film, video and television
  • Interviews and surveys
  • Letter writing
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Paintings, photographs, drawings and other visual images
  • Picture books and novels
  • Phone calls
  • Shared book experience
  • Structured observations
  • The internet

* sorting out

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Sorting out:

Through dance and drama

  • Free movement
  • Freeze frame
  • Mime
  • The conscience game
  • Puppet plays
  • Role-play
  • Talk shows
  • Simulations

Through media and visual arts

  • Collage
  • Dioramas
  • Models
  • Visual artwork (paint, crayon, charcoal, pencils, pastels, chalk)
  • Diagrams (X-ray, comic strips, flow charts, cut-aways, maps, before-and-after)
  • Using fabrics (quilts, patchwork, wall hangings, puppets, table cloths, dolls and other figures)
  • Making videos
  • Multimedia presentations
  • Mobiles
  • Radio plays
  • Thaumatropes

Through mathematics

  • Classifying
  • Fact finding
  • Graphs (pictographs, pie graphs, line graphs, bar graphs, 3D graphs, dot graphs, stem plots)
  • Maths projects
  • Maps
  • Problem-solving
  • Scale models and drawings
  • Timelines
  • Venn diagrams

Through music

  • Chants
  • Raps
  • Round the campfire
  • Soundscapes
  • Composition
  • Musical stories

Through english

  • Writing using a range of text types (personal descriptions, technical descriptions, scientific reports, explanations, instructions, manuals, recipes, directions, reviews, diaries, personal recounts, stories, fables, fairy tales, poems, letters, advertisement, chants, scripts, banners)
  • Build a story
  • Compare and contrast
  • Data charts
  • DRTA (Directed thinking and reading activities)
  • Oral presentations
  • Told us… made us wonder
  • Written conversation
  • Wall stories and charts
  • Read and retell
  • Three-level guide
  • Poetry
  • Bookmaking
  • Puzzle cards
  • Readers theatre

* going further

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Going further:

  • Individual projects
  • Contracts
  • Cooperative group tasks
  • Expert groupsSeven at once: multiple intelligence work station
  • Other independent activities for going further

* making connections

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Making connections:

  • Board games
  • Bloom’s box
  • Concept maps
  • Connectit
  • Content-based cloze
  • Consensus 1-3-6
  • Cross-impact grid
  • Crossword puzzles
  • Diamond display
  • De Bono’s 6 thinking hats
  • Effects wheels
  • In my club
  • Laying it on the line
  • Learning maps
  • Similes and metaphors
  • PMI: plus-minus-interesting
  • Putting you in the picture
  • Question ball
  • Question me an answer
  • Statements of generalisation
  • Two trues and a false
  • Time capsules
  • What am I?

* taking action

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Taking action:

  • Advertising campaigns
  • Annotated exhibitions
  • Arts in the local community
  • Designing self-guided walks
  • Develop an action plan for the school
  • From here to there
  • Global links
  • Hear all about it
  • Letter writing
  • Meet the press
  • Personal pledge
  • Read all about it
  • More strategies for action (fund raising, publishing, signs, sponsoring, auditing, stunted representative council)



“It’s not just what you plan – it’s the way that you teach it!” 


Other strategies for sharing, discussion and reflection:

Sharing and discussion

  • Carousel sharing
  • Class meetings
  • Concentric circles
  • Conversation counters
  • Cumulative listening
  • Discussion dissection
  • Focused reporting
  • Jigsaw sharing
  • Talking stick
  • Print walk
  • Watch this space

Reflection and self-assessment

  • Class diary
  • Group work pie chart
  • Learning logs
  • Photojournals
  • Reflection roundabouts
  • Self-assessment

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