Thematic planning can be a challenge as well as a great creative
outlet. I enjoy curriculum development so much that I
sometimes feel I am mentally planning ideas as I sleep.
Once you start you will find this addictive.. as is
coffee. So, grab a cup of coffee and relax as you review
this web page.
THEMATIC PLANNING AND
Themes and units should be based on concepts. A unit on "bears",
"circus" etc. is not driven by concepts. However,
units on "how animals live", "immigration",
"communities" are concepts that provide a foundation for units.
Thematic units are powerful in building and maintaining the interest of
students. Reading activities can be leveled but all are reading
and learning about the same topic An advantage to using thematic units is the teacher's
ability to expand the ideas and content. Contrary to teaching from a file
cabinet that is used year-to-year, thematic units of study never stagnate.
As a beginning, select one unit and build. Begin with concepts, objectives,
materials, and a time element. Ask students what they like or about their
interests. I am more of a constructivist in this approach and encourage
students to make interest lists. Their responses will vary with each new class. Additionally,
students should be allowed evaluate their learning and the unit content. Use
this information to "tweek" the unit in deciding where
modifications and revisions in the mini-lessons or
materials are needed. Layering curriculum, concepts, and
learning enables students to learn in a developmentally
appropriate way. Through diverse activities and
experiences, differentiation is provided as a natural approach
rather than in momentary group time. Students develop deeper
understandings, a sense of ownership in learning, and are able
to explore new concepts as activities reach all learning
WHERE TO BEGIN
Pooh looked at his
two paws. He knew that one of them was right, and he knew that when you
had decided which one of them was the right, then the other one was the left,
but he never could remember how to begin.
Length of the unit.. a week, two weeks, four weeks, etc. How much time do
you have for the implementation of the unit?
Content areas to be integrated. (if social studies, what concepts are you
using that you need to coordinate with the literature, science, etc.)
Curriculum expectations of your school district.. Checklist of skills and
concepts integrated into the unit as introduced, maintained, mastered, etc. What
are your standards of learning? (Virginia SOLS). Correlate
standards to mini-lessons, unit planning, and objectives.
Availability of materials, both those provided by the district and supplemental
materials you may have to purchase or find.
5. Centers -
what activities will be used to reinforce the skills at centers. How to
Computer software that will integrate into the unit. How are you going to
use technology in the classroom.
Songs, poems, music. - finding the resources that can be used for morning
meetings, poetry journals, circle time, phonemic awareness. Review
materials that include specific themes but also the phonemic skills you want to
use in the unit.
8. Art and projects - to extend the unit. Will there be an art center
each day, each week, or at the end of the unit a project? What type of
hands-on experiences will you provide?
9. Space - how will you work with your big ideas in a tiny space?
10. Students needs - diverse learning styles, language (oral language in
their home language and school language).
11. Scheduling your unit activities... working with special classes, pull
out classes, and absent students.
12. Guided Reading - What books and book levels do you
want to integrate into this unit? List nonfiction and
fiction books. Include poetry, rhymes, songs, and other
language learning opportunities. Created guided reading
"scripts" for the books in this unit for volunteers to
follow. What word work activities can be included in daily
group activities? This is a huge chunk of your planning
and development time. What is wonderful is that it grows
until your basement is full of stuff!!!!!!!
13. Technology connections - what activities will include
technology? Web quests?
14. Evaluation of unit and students. What is the criteria? How can
all students achieve a feeling of success and be successful, responsible
The Primary Nook offers several integrated themes for the early childhood
classroom. The selections can be found at the main menu.
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