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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Our Curricular Approach - Why Themes?

Summers-Knoll uses school-wide themes as a way to integrate content areas in a way that makes sense to children. We have been tweaking this over the years, hoping to make the process really come alive and to give themes the time to make them deeper and more meaningful. This year, we are starting the first three of six rotating large ideas - identity, systems, and innovation. As usual, we end the year reflecting on all we have learned. 

Identity is a wonderful and natural place to start the year, as it involves self-examination, getting-to-know-you activities, setting goals, and (of course) recognizing that we are all alike and different. We will celebrate our commonalities, and glory in the ways we are unique. 

The big ideas I hope to explore in the next several months are:

* How do people "see" themselves?
* What shapes identity?
* Is identity constant, or does it change?

This is also a natural time to introduce the TRIBES curriculum, which you will learn about soon in a future post.

I hope it is clear that 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 several opportunities throughout the year 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)

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