Daily Schedule

Monday, August 17, 2009

Why Themes?

Summers-Knoll uses school-wide monthly themes as a way to integrate content areas in a way that makes sense to children. We hope to foster process learning and active involvement for ALL students with diverse learning styles. Thematic units involve activities designed to cross several areas of curriculum, and build on students’ prior knowledge and interests. Plus, it is a way for us to build relationships between all of the classrooms, as there are usually one or two opportunities each month to gather meaningfully in larger groups.

Other benefits:

Learning in-depth factual information
Becoming physically involved with learning
Learning process skills
Learning "how to learn"
Integrating learning in a holistic way
Promoting group cohesiveness
Addressing individual needs
Motivating children and teachers
(Kostelnik, M.J., Soderman, A. K., & Whiren, A. P., 2004)

You can see the 2009/10 themes for the year listed on your left. You will notice that there is a good distribution between social studies, science and literature. As stated above, however, we do cross-curricular activities within a theme.

Our first theme of the 2009/2010 school year is North Africa. We will be learning about the countries of Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia.

Last year, I did a passport project with my kids when we studied South America. It was so successful that I decided to do it again. Each child will get a passport and will be challenged to learn facts, draw flags, find the capital city, etc. of the five North African countries mentioned above. Each time a page (country) is completed, children will collect a stamp on that page. Learning is meant to be mostly self-directed, and a variety of materials will be available – atlases, information books, maps, the internet, and so forth.

We will also do teacher-directed activities, such as cooking and crafts. I’ve ordered a North Africa folk music CD for our listening enjoyment, and am researching great folk tales from the region. We will play Mancala as a way to work in math and logic.

If you have any questions about using a thematic approach to teaching, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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