How To Cover All of Your Standards with Thematic Teaching

The thematic teaching approach is one a tried and true appraoch to teaching. It transforms how lessons are taught, how students learn, and how teachers and students feel about being in the classroom. Specifically, lesson planning involves integrating curriculum around a single theme.

Due to this, students are learning the content on a deeper level. Lastly, there is less rushing around when using the thematic teaching approach. The traditional schedule no longer has to be carefully followed when subjects are integrated together. If you are creating your new schedule, here’s how to cover all of your standards with thematic teaching! 

Review of the Thematic Teaching Approach

When teaching a thematic curriculum, keep in mind it is centered around one single theme or topic. Therefore, it is necessary to identify a variety of learning standards among many subject areas. For example, examine whether you want students to use technology, different types of literature, or working together. Next, work on developing activities that bring student interests to mind. As a reminder, plan activities for the wide range of learners in the classroom. Since thematic teaching can take place over the course of several weeks or months, it is important to have activities that fit all students. 

Importance of a Yearlong Plan

The first step in covering all of your standards when teaching a thematic curriculum involves a year-long plan. Now, this may sound stressful, but this is just a framework. In other words, it is an outline of the themes to teach and then the different standards that fall under that theme. Also, the plan will include the approximate length of time to spend on each theme. By doing this, the year will go so much smoother! There will be no rushing to fit in standards or trying to create activities after realizing certain standards were not covered. By making this plan, you will have such strong pacing for your year. 

Tips for a Yearlong Plan

It is understandable that making a year-long plan may sound like a daunting task. However, switching to a thematic teaching curriculum is so rewarding for teachers and students. Thus, the time spent upfront will be well worth it. In order to make a year-long plan, there are a few tricks to follow.

First, separate standards by grading period.

If you chunk your standards, you will ensure students have any prior knowledge needed. Furthermore, it will help create a smooth transition between lessons.

Second, know it is okay to double dip difficult standards.

Some standards require more time to learn than others. For example, adding mixed numbers with unlike denominators typically takes much longer to teach than adding decimals. Hence, the tough standards can actually be placed in two thematic units. Additionally, you can even have difficult standards in two or more sections of your plan in order to increase concept mastery and keep the content fresh in students’ minds. 

Third, create “I Can’ statements that align with your thematic plan while lesson planning.

By doing this, students know the expectations on what they should be doing. Lastly, being organized is a huge help. Each unit will require various organizers in order to keep all materials handy. For example, different bins can contain different focus areas, such as a writing bin and a math manipulative bin. Additionally, organizers create a quick way to always have the units prepared for the next year. 

As with any great changes, time and commitment are needed. The thematic teaching approach transforms the classroom into a calm, deep learning environment. By taking the time to plan and schedule out the year, there will be no rushing around or panicking that certain standards have not been taught. With this approach, students are going to truly examine the standards on a much deeper level.