Daily Schedule

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Themes and Projects

Summers-Knoll uses themes and projects as ways 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 opportunities 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 2017/18 themes for the year listed on your right. You will notice that each theme lasts between 3-4 months of the calendar year – however, these themes typically are revisited naturally throughout the year as well.

Our first theme school year is Identity. I decided to make this a four-month theme as there are always a couple weeks of getting settled and learning the routines of the classroom, plus December is such a natural time to share our cultures and traditions. I didn't want to short-change this important topic - it really is one of the cornerstones of Summers-Knoll! All the teachers are very excited about this first theme as it will give us plenty of opportunities to get to know each other deeply, and establish lifelong relationships.




We will begin our big project – our “Identity Wall” – the first week of school as children come prepared to share their interviews they conducted with relatives over the summer. We look forward to hearing about what life was like “back in the day”, plus seeing any older photographs they may have to share. In the next few months, children will be writing biographical poems, drawing self-portraits, writing memoirs, working on a group “tree of genetic traits”, mapping out where their ancestors came from, and much more. This deeply rich and ambitious project will stretch the children to do more than they thought possible, perhaps – but will be highly engaging and ultimately satisfying.


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

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