Now that you can see all the themes you’ll be working with, you can organize them in a way that is supportive and cumulative. This example shows nine themes for the year (themes are underlined and in bold type) for a fifth grade class. Starting with the basic elements and matter, the rock cycle, and the land, leads to the development of landforms which are later eroded by weather and the water cycle forming soil. Combining these five themes will significantly strengthen student understanding as they see how one theme leads to the next to create a more coherent whole.
The second unit, plant and animal systems, will focus on items used by the native people of the United States. The ecosystems studied will be those common to native American cultures specified in the framework.
The ground work has been established to explore how the native people of several regions of the United States interacted within the ecosystems previously studied.
Exploration will look at the major explorers from several European countries, their interactions with each other, the native people, and the American lands. Geography and mapping skills fit well in here.
The Colonial Era will look at the early settlers, the development of colonies, and how this impacted the native cultures.
The unit, “Becoming,” will focus on the issues involved with becoming a nation, and the establishment of the Constitution. This is a good time for learning the states and their capitals.
Westward Expansion will conclude the history themes.
The Scientific Process standard allows students to identify, and solve a problem using the scientific method. One of my schools had an annual “Egg Launch” where students designed a product that would protect an egg dropped from the roof of the school. I’ll think of some problem related to the previous themes that will satisfy this standard.
Space will conclude the science studies, and is a fun theme for the end of the year.
The science and social studies themes have been organized in a way that allows them to build upon each other. For eight themes (I’m not counting the scientific process) there will be about 4 weeks for each theme, giving sufficient time for the students to explore each unit in-depth. Throughout the year the students will work on a large wall mural, changing it to reflect the changes studied during each theme. It will be a background for mini museums created as the class travels through time and it will help to make the changes that happen over time more concrete.
This post was originally published on March 2, 2010 on another website.