According to Funderstanding:
Thematic instruction is the organization of a curriculum around macro "themes." Thematic instruction integrates basic disciplines like reading, math, and science with the exploration of a broad subject, such as communities, rain forests, river basins, the use of energy, and so on.
Ten Key Reasons to Use Thematic Units
- Encourages the effective use of technology and, in particular, computers.
- Makes the curriculum compact.
- Demonstrates the interdisciplinary nature of learning.
- Encourages student interest in learning and increases time engaged.
- Expands your assessment strategies (as a teacher).
- Makes use of collaborative and cooperative learning.
- Makes the learner focus on the mastery of objectives.
- Integrates computer skills (for example, word processing) into creative activities.
- Models for students the resources used in research.
- Moderates the safe access of the internet for students.
The following Thematic Unit Model is based on those found in Chapter 13, "Literature and the Curriculum: A Thematic Approach," of Legacies: Using Children's Literature in the Classroom by Liz Rothlein and Anita Meyer Meinbach. HarperCollins College Publishers, 1996.
Component Parts of this Thematic Unit
- Theme. Select an appropriate theme reflecting text topics (curriculum), student interests, experiences, issues, or problems.
- Grade Level Appropriateness
- Focus. Develop a one-sentence focus statement that summarizes the direction and intent of the unit.
- Objectives. Identify three or four specific objectives you wish students to master by the completion of the unit. These can be tied to state and county objectives and competencies.
- Materials and Resources. It is advantageous to determine all the necessary materials and resources after the unit has been written. The way, you avoid limiting yourself to a few familiar items.
- Printed Resources. newspapers, pamphlets, notices, travel guides, junk mail, journals, diaries, letters, maps, advertisements, brochures, flyers, encyclopedias, dictionaries, magazines, booklets, professional journals.
- Computer and CD-ROM Resources. Educational software, reference works, educational games and simulations related to curriculum, and CD-ROM adaptations of literature.
- Internet Resources.
- Audio/Visual Resources. videos, films, filmstrips, movies, slide programs, or overhead transparencies. Records, audio tapes, books and tapes, and CD's.
- Community Resources.
- guest speakers
- field trips
- Instructional Television Resources
- Literature Resources
- Non Fiction
- General Activities. Develop activities you wish to use throughout the unit. For the most part, these activities will be broad-based, covering the range of curricular areas and reflecting elements of a literature-based program.
- Discussion Questions. Include a variety of open-ended questions that help students think about the topic in varied and divergent ways.
- Literature Selections. See Materials and Resources above. Select books related to the topic of each thematic unit. For literature selection you may wish to develop a pre-reading activity, a variety of cross-curricular learning activities, and open-ended discussion questions. Select books from a variety of genres.
- Culminating Activity. The culminating activity is a project or activity that engages students in meaningful summarization of their discoveries and leads to new ideas, understandings, and connections.
- Evaluation. Devise appropriate means of evaluating student progress throughout the unit. Avoid relying on formal pencil and paper tests; select criteria to measure growth. Use conferences, logs, and student journal writing as well.
- Related Works of Literature. Select books that relate to the theme and make these available for independent reading and reading aloud.
Thematic Units Sites
Thematic Unit lesson Plan Sites
- AtoZ Teacher Stuff Thematic Unit Index - Listed by subject and grade level.
- Lesson Planz Thematic Units - A good reference list with a brief summary of each link.
- Free Thematic Units
- Thematic Units Collection
- Gingerbread Man Theme Unit
- Thematic Units for Teachers
- Primary Thematic Units (Ireland): Years 3 & 4
- What is a Thematic Unit? Ten Key Reasons to Use Thematic Units
- K-3 Theme Units
- Thematic Units, Rich Topics and Themed Learning
- Thematic Units and eWorkbooks
- Grades K - 2 Thematic Units
- The Best Thematic Units
- Election Day Theme Unit
- Thematic Units
- Integrated Teaching Units
- The Teacher's Guide - Thematic Units and more