Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PROS and CONS of Thematic Teaching

As a kid, my sister and I were home schooled by my very talented and creative mother. Her style was always thematic and we utilized a fabulous curriculum Learning Adventures that integrated all subjects around the theme of HISTORY. 

Top this with the fact that my father is a high school history teacher mother was a high school home economics, English teacher and a current high school ESL teacher and you can understand why I A) LOVE history B) Teach by nature very thematically integrated. 

In 2010, I landed my ultimate dream job - teaching fifth grade language arts and social studies for those who don't know, that means Early American History, you know, Indians and the Revolution! It obviously fits right into my upbringing and teaching style which ROCKS! 

This brings me to my post: PROS and CONS of Thematic Teaching. A lot of educator groups have discouraged thematic teaching because of a multitude of reasons, and some of you probably still will even after my attempted persuasive post, however, when looking at my list possibly biased *wink* I feel very strongly that it is more positive in my classroom than negative. 
  1. Students can apply skills from one subject to another subject 
  2. Helps students see relationships between concepts 
  3. Increases student interest and time engaged in learning 
  4. Draws connections from the real world 
  5. Gives students LOTS of research practice 
  6. Makes for well rounded students 
  7. Expands assessments options 
  8. Allows for the integration of literacy within all subjects 
  9. Student learning centered - not just teacher 
  10. Saves time - multiple standards and subjects are taught together
  11. Creates a community of learning - common goal/focus  
  12. Integrates technology smoothly and consistently in the classroom 
  13. Creates a love of research
  14. Classroom culture of questions, wonderings, exploration 
  15. Allows for "back burner" subjects social studies and science to become the very fabric of classroom learning
  1. Subjects lose their identity (math time, science time, etc.) 
  2. Some students could lose interest in the theme - less motivation to participate 
  3. Student missing a day misses a major connection
  4. Finding enough resources for research 
  5. Research takes A LOT of class time 
  6. MORE WORK for the teacher - no pre-made basal program
  7. Missing out on content outside of the theme (not standard based content but just life experience content) 
Because the theme fabric I chose is Early American History, my units are based off of the different historical sections. Here are pictures and few ideas for how to integrate thematically using social studies. 
Native Americans 
*Read and Write Myths/Legends 
*Create Native American Art 
*Hands on Artifact learning and inquiry 
*Map the different environmental regions and study their habitats 
*Compare and Contrast tribes/environments/adaptations 
*Study Narrative Fiction and Traditional Literature 
Europeans Explorers 
*Research Explorers 
*Compare and Contrast Eastern and Western beliefs 
*Study Poetry 
Triangular/Slave Trade 
*Analyze different points of view (Africa, European, Native American) 
*Study Economics 
*Infer slaves responses through diary entries 
*Write persuasively about slavery 
*Study Mysteries 
13 Colonies 
*Create a colonial magazine using text structure paragraphs 

*Research a colony or colonial region 
*Study what life was like (Clothing, childhood, jobs, religion, etc.) 
*Create Tea paper
*Research colonial clothing and dress up!  
*Simulate a colonial town 
*Compare and contrast the colonies and/or regions 
*Study Historical Fiction 
Road to the Revolution 
 *Causes and Effects of the Revolution 
*Summarize major events (Boston Tea Party, Boston Massacre, etc.) 
*Analyze different points of view (Patriots vs. Loyalist) 
*Write persuasively as a patriot or loyalist
*Tea Bag science experiments 
*Battle statistics math graphing 
*Text Structure study 
*Simulate King George Taxing the Colonists 
*Memorize famous revolutionary quotes/Beginning of the Declaration
*Study biographies 
*Research an important Revolutionary War character 
United States Government  
*Simulate how a bill becomes a law 
*Candy bar elections 
*Memorize the preamble to the Constitution 
*Write persuasively about a public issue 
*Study Non-Fiction/Informational 
*Research the different branches of government
*Create a mobile 
*Use hand motions to learn different types of government  
*Look at and research current events 

Do any of you teach thematically? Do you have any tricks that you use to help you organize and plan your units?
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