Saturday, April 26, 2008

Thematic Units

Well I have recently applied for a job teaching how to create thematic units for preservice teachers. So I have been think extensively about the units that I have already written as well as units that I may write in the future. I current gig wraps up in July and I will be a free agent. I hope not for long since I would like to teach others about writing thematic units.

Thematic units for those of you who don't know are lessons that are based around a theme. These can be all encompassing meaning that in one theme all subject areas are taught using the theme as the jumping point and connective tissue. Or they can be as simple as a reading unit all based around one theme for example friendship or journeys. Mostly I like to integrate science or social studies into reading.

So I've been looking through the old units that I have done trying to figure out if, God willing, I get an interview. What to bring to this interview to show the depth of the units I have written as well as the variety in grade levels. But some units I know for sure that I will include are a dinosaur unit that included all subject areas and was written as a summer school curriculum. We had students that participated from finishing grade one to finishing grade six. In the unit, students read a book or books on their reading level, they completed science projects and writing topics together as well as created art. It was the first unit I ever wrote that encompassed such a wide range of students and was highly successful.

I also have a unit on Ancient Greece that I had students make a 3-D museum using PowerPoint. The projects that the students produced as well as the information they learned was amazing. Yet it is hard to show these projects in an interview. So unfortunately it will probably get the chop.

Some of my favorite thematic units I have ever done were not ones that I tediously planned but ones that developed out of discussion in class. For example, a health unit that I used to do while teaching on the reservation blossomed after talking with a student about the sheep's heart after they had butchered for some family event. It developed into a great unit in which we studied both Navajo culture, health systems and novel unit. Another great unit that I developed under similar circumstances was a unit about dying wool and the chemical reactions that occur. In this unit, the students studied geography, geology, plants as well as a variety of chemistry concepts and Navajo culture. The students read children's books and then created reader's theater plays for younger students to watch.

I have it seems units upon units that are in the brainstorming stage or things that turned into a unit but have never been put together in some sort of logical format for someone else to view or even use. So in all of my spare time.... I will write more of these units to share with others or for myself when I return to the classroom whether it be as an elementary/middle school teacher or a teacher of preservice teachers. If you have ideas or thought for units that haven't been made or there just doesn't seem as if you can find much information on it. Send me a note maybe that will be my next project.

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