Case study: Cross-curricular units at year 9 and 10

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Thames High School is in their third year of implementing cross-curricular units at year 9 and 10. Over the last three years they have developed and refined their local curriculum to contain a mixture of core subject time, cross-curricular kete and high interest projects.


Cross-curricular kete units are taught collaboratively by two teachers from two different learning areas. Both teachers are with the class, which is a double class of up to 45 students and the timetable has double lessons (90mins). Depending on the topic sometimes one learning area is leading the lesson and at other times the second learning area is leading. Mostly the students are working together with both teachers, but sometimes they are working independently in multiple areas depending on how they are progressing with their project. For example, some students might still be planning for a technology activity, while others may have started the activity. Each unit is a term long.


The two teachers plan together a unit of work that has an output. For example:

  • Connecting mathematics and digital technologies – students develop a computer game.
  • Connecting mathematics and English – students write a book.
  • Connecting mathematics and art – students create an Escher style artwork.
  • Connecting mathematics and technology – students create a product for sale.

Both subjects work together, with mathematics providing key knowledge and understandings to support the project development.

The teachers use a planning template (see image below) to create an overview of the unit, they discuss the learning journey and how the two learning areas will work together towards the end project and decide what achieved, merit and excellence will look like in the finished product/project from both learning area perspectives. Examples of completed planning templates (PDF, 600KB).

Figure 1: Planning template used

A high level overview of the unit is sketched out to develop the flow from one learning area to the other, considering things such as when resources are available, e.g. gym, cooking room, technology equipment, and what other things are happening in the school across the term e.g. athletic sports, public holidays, TODs. The detail of the unit is then completed, including all required resources, and links to online materials, as required.

Cross-curricular units of work that include mathematics

Available on nzmaths:

Brief descriptions of other combinations that have worked well:

  • Digital technology and mathematics (curriculum level 5, angle properties and bearings) – Does 1 degree make a difference?, using angles and bearings to design a computer game.
  • Social studies and mathematics (curriculum level 4-5, transformations, constructions, geometric properties) – OMG, a study of different religions and analysis of the symbols used by the different religions. 
  • English and statistics (curriculum level 4 or 5, designing questionnaires and collecting data to inform a topic of choice) – What is dear to you? (year 9 topic); Twit…ering (year 10 topic), both used statistics to collect information to inform the topic they were to write about in English.
  • Physical education and statistics (curriculum level 4, summary and bivariate situations) – Mythbusters, using statistics to see what attributes might relate to a particular sporting activity.
  • Technology and mathematics (curriculum level 5, nets and measurement) – Laser cut this, students developed a product for sale that was made from wood.
  • English and mathematics (curriculum level 5, spreadsheets and a range of number skills) – How much did it cost to raise me? Researching to find out the cost of raising a child, including looking at saving and spending options to inform a speech in English.
  • Technology and mathematics (curriculum level 5, nets, area and volume) – Gingerbread Architecture, students design and create gingerbread houses and products for sale including packaging for their products.