I know I’ve seen posts on this topic up somewhere, but I wanted to add in my 2 cents on the subject.
First of all, I LOVE thematic teaching.It makes planning so much easier, when you have a bit of inspiration for which lessons you may choose to do. Also themes can be fun, and appropriate laughter has been proven to improve student learning. (If you are interested you can read an article from The American Psychological Association about it here).
When I first started teaching I work for an amazing principal, Dr. Cathy Evans-Truitt, who was always telling up to “teach smarter, not harder”. It has been my teaching motto ever since. Teaching smarter, not harder means doubling up on concepts you can teach at the same time. For example, If you choose your read alouds to align with concepts taught in your Science or Social Studies curriculum, you are killing 2 birds with one stone. You can also double up on math, and science by having students run an experiment which requires that they record and analyze their data using grade level appropriate math skills.
I used to teach my students library research skills, by telling them if they bring me a book on the topic of the week, we could add an extra “story time” at the end of the day. During that extra story time I just read the book, no stopping to be teacherly, we read to enjoy. My students loved it, and the school librarians took to asking me what next week’s theme would be ignored to have some books laid out for my kiddos.
When planning I generally choose a month long umbrella theme, and then 2-4 themes to connect below it. For example, when I taught kindergarten my March Themes were like this:
March: Magical March
Week 1:Weather (Signs of Spring Focus)
Week 2: St. Patrick’s Day
Week 3: Fairy Tales
Week 4: Fairy Tales
The month long theme kept everything tied together, and allowed for some things like centers students visited only once a week, to remain the same throughout the month, and still tie back to the weekly themes.
If you are interested in trying to teach a theme week I highly encourage you to do so. You will have fun I promise, and having fun leads to lots of smiling. Smiling has been shown to reduce stress and improve social and emotional intelligence.
My thematic planner looks like this:
It is not my lesson plans, but just my collection of ideas for a theme study. That is why not every box is filled in all the time, and why I may list more things to do in a space then we could really cover in a week. Since I look these over when planning every year I always fill these in in pencil so I can add new ideas and erase off ideas that didn’t go so well. I keep all my monthly reproducible sheets in a monthly binder and these pages go right in front. That way when I go to plan each year I have a quick cure for writers block.
I am wondering if I am seriously being too old fashioned here. Do any of you still do thematic planning? If so how do you keep it organized? I would love to hear your ideas too. 🙂
If you would like to use my planner for thematic units, Grab it for free by clicking on the picture. The first file is a document format so it may not match up well unless you have the noteworthy font. The second file is a PDF form so you can change the topics/center titles to match your needs.
|Adobe .pdf Format|
Also, If you interested in my Oh Leprechaun Fluency Center (It is programmable to practice many different skills), or MyPot of gold Creativity. You can find them at my TpT store.