The idea of choosing a relevant theme for an integrated curriculum unit may seem simple or easy on the surface, but can play an instrumental role in the unit’s outcome. If the theme has no relevance towards the students, then student interest and effort may diminish resulting in undesirable growth and development in the subject matter. Drake and Burns (2004) state that one way to increase the relevance to students is to select a theme with local contexts (p. 81). For instance, if a lesson examines the economic effects of the Oregon Trail on the tribes of the Pacific Northwest; finding tribes of who resided in your local neighborhood or students may have Native American heritage that could be examined. Either approach gives relevance towards a lesson on economic effects of the Oregon Trail. It is important that a themed unit has intrinsic value – this can be achieved when the theme is important to our present lives. Another approach to ensuring relevance is by having students involved in the decision making process (p. 81). It is amazing the type of themes students can come up with. Students are constantly trying to make sense of the world around them and wanting to learn more. The interests of our student should not go unnoticed and we should be fostering these thoughts. Allowing students to select an acceptable theme for a unit will add significant relevance.
Quality themes will deepen the level of learning by using information and skills to promote moral well-being, literacy, and problem solving (Scheuerman, 2014). When themes add relevance towards students, the deepening will be even greater. The importance of selecting a theme that each and every one of our students can relate to is significant and should not be overlooked.
Drake, S.M., & Burns, R.C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Scheuerman, R. (2014, February 12). EDU 6363 Course Lecture – Session 6: Unit Themes and Language Arts Methods (II).