Do you use thematic units for instruction?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
Do you use thematic units for instruction?

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The use of thematic units is a veritable staple in a teacher's grab bag of tricks so it is not surprising that three quarter of teachers report that they use them. With all the work required for lesson preparation and grading of student's work, anything that saves a little time and energy is a welcome thing. By selecting a topic and running with it, teachers can get a lot more bang for their buck. This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the benefits of using thematic units for instruction are concerned.

Students benefit immensely from following a subject for a longer period of time. Jumping from subject to subject is not only difficult for the teacher due to the work involved, but confusing to the student. Allowing students to explore topics in a more in depth manner teaches them research skills, a variety of data presentations techniques and gives them the opportunity to explore topics that they may find interesting.

Who doesn't remember doing a unit on dinosaurs in elementary school? Dioramas, poster boards, and book reports were part of many of our early educational experiences. Today, some of these may have been replaced with internet research and power point presentations but the idea is still the same. These types of studies stay with you for life. When you become a parent you often get to experience the same units again, through your children's eyes, with all new and updated information.

How about the solar system? Many of us remember learning about the planets but who would have guessed that Pluto wasn't really a planet, but a dwarf planet. It's a great conversation starter for teachers and students to see the various ways that things have changed, and what new information we have garnered since the teacher was in school.

Many of the thematic units that teachers use are based on fundamental topics that serve the student well throughout the remainder of their lives. Exploring the subject in-depth means more of the subject matter sticks with the student. Learning a little bit about a large number of topics means it's easier to forget the odd snippet here and there. The fact that many of us still remember some of the information we learned about dinosaurs and the solar system proves that the use of thematic unit for instruction is beneficial.