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Sunday, December 8

Why Thematic Teaching is Awesome


What is a Thematic Unit?

What on Earth is a thematic unit? Um only something I like to call the bomb dot com! Thematic units are units focusing on a centralized theme and integrating standards across content areas. Here’s the awesome sauce part, thematic teaching allows you to easily increase student engagement! Ready to learn how thematic units ramp up student engagement, create easy celebrations, and have fun themes? Keep reading!


How to Plan a Thematic Unit

The first thing you need to do is check your standards. For my pizza themed unit I started by looking at the Next Generation Science Standards. I knew my next unit needed to focus on forms of energy. I focused on this standard and its elements. Solar power was a part I really wanted to focus on, thus I started building my unit. Now, I was ready to start looking for my theme. As all good party planners know, you gotta have a theme to have a kick butt party. Now, I’m not a party planner, but I do try to be a kick butt teacher. I hopped onto Pinterest and searched for solar power projects for kids. I stumbled across the perfect project, solar powered pizza ovens. How cool! I now had the Holy Grail theme for kids, PIZZA! Want to build these in your classroom this year (trust me you do). Check out the link I used, here.

Now, that I had my science standards and my theme, it was time to get interdisciplinary. I started looking at upcoming math and writing standards. In writing we were about to start poetry. So, why not write poetry about pizza! In math, many of the upcoming fourth grade standards were focused on fractions and decimals. Thinking thematically, I decided that I could easily incorporate those standards through the use of some Project Based Learning. 

You can check out the Design Your Own Pizza Restaurant PBL unit I use by clicking HERE.

So, let’s check, science standards, math standards, and writing standards all with a pizza theme. Ding ding ding, we have a thematic unit!

How Thematic Units Make Learning Celebrations Easy

I like to end my units with learning celebrations. I like to show students that their hard work is worth celebrating. Classroom celebrations also increase student engagement, which y'all know is my jam. So, how does thematic teaching make learning celebrations easier? Well, you already have the theme/ backbone for your celebration! 

For example, my thematic unit focused on pizza. I already planned on having my students build solar powered pizza ovens as a final project for their energy science standard. So, it was simple, decorate the classroom like a pizzeria! I was able to quickly make a sign and lay out the ingredients. For added decoration, I hung the students Pizza Poetry (their final writing for the unit) on the wall! My kiddos loved this experience and having an overlapping theme helped keep them engaged and wanting to learn more across all subject areas. 

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