The Dos and Don’ts of Teaching with Thematic Units

I’ve written before about a bunch of the reasons I love teaching with thematic units. When I pick units, plan,and teach, there are a few Dos and Don’ts I personally follow.

Some of them I think are inspired from the criticism I’ve heard of other teachers who were sick and tired of being bound to the same old units. Some of them are just the practical day to day discoveries I have made along the way.

Let’s start with the positives!

DO:

*consider high interest themes

*change your theme for an upcoming week if a particular interest comes up

*search for a way or two to incorporate the theme across subject areas (could you,  for example, write a word problem about the theme using the skill that you’re focusing on in math?)

*Think of narrative, opinion, and informational prompts and texts pertaining to the unit ahead of time

*Add to units over time to build upon the theme

*Cross check standards to be sure you’re covering what’s required over time

*Still focus on the district focus for curriculum during reading, writing, and math time.

*Meet district and state standards THROUGH the use of the unit

*Keep a running list of books that you like to use for the unit

DON’T

*Try to insert thematic unit materials in addition to the regular curriculum (This isn’t extra)

*Forgo district goals/ curriculum in order to incorporate thematic unit

*Do an activity just because it has to do with the theme

*Try to gather all themed centers and activities the first year of implementing

 

If you’re considering using thematic units, even sometimes,remember that your job as the teacher (and the most fun part of your job) is to use discretion. If it’s not fun and engaging for your students or is too much for you, just scale back. Scale back your implementation. Choose just topics your students are interested in and run with those themes!

Here are some of my thematic resources.

What are some of your favorite thematic units?

 

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