Why Use Thematic Units?June 11th, 2012 | Posted by in Uncategorized
You might have noticed that most (all, as of the time I am writing this) of the resources on my website are thematic unit plans. This isn’t a coincidence. After several years of teaching with thematic units, I am convinced that they are the best way to organize instruction in the elementary classroom…and I will tell you why.
The kids love it. And kids learn more when they are having fun.
I’ll give you some more concrete reasons in a second, but first, let me quickly explain what thematic units are in case you don’t already know.
Thematic units include lessons and activities related to a common topic. These lessons and activities cover multiple disciplines and areas of curriculum. For example, you might teach a thematic unit on penguins (penguins are really hot right now!) To organize a unit, you build a collection of activities all related to penguins covering several areas of curriculum: reading comprehension, writing skills, arithmetic, geometry, art, science, socials, etc.
Organizing things this way seems to make more sense for the kids. Instead of jumping around from one topic to another and keeping curriculum areas intentionally separate, kids to get to learn in a more organic, authentic way, with more continuity.
We all like lists, right? So here’s a list of ten reasons to use thematic units.
- Show connections
- Make things more relevant
- Demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of learning
- Increase student interest in learning and time engaged
- Expand teacher assessment strategies
- Utilize collaborative and cooperative learning
- Are just more fun!
Really, truly, the bottom line is that the kids enjoy thematic units. When they are having fun, we are having fun. And when we are having fun, they are probably having fun. And when they are having fun….you get it.
But seriously now, real life isn’t segmented into distinct categories of skills of knowledge. Things overlap. Using thematic units is one way of making the school learning environment a little more authentic and real for kids.