Creating Thematic Units for Upper Level Learners

Recently, I have loved reading on social media about how people have organized their classrooms, decorated their boards and what they are doing in their classrooms.  What I noticed in these threads is there is a lot of discussion about lower level instruction and a lot of frustration about higher level courses and what to do. Back in June I wrote about using traditions around the world with students.  In that post I created and shared a lesson plan to use with students and since then I have been thinking about why instruction has to be so dry, dull and uninspiring in the upper level ASL classes. Read on to find a FREE lesson.

Our focus as teachers should be to give our students an opportunity to learn language in a meaningful way. What I mean by that is why are we stuck in a dull textbook when we can give our students the ability to communicate in real world situations and current events? After all, if you ask students what they want from the class, most will say to communicate better.

I have spent many hours over the summer thinking about topics that are missing from our curriculum and began creating thematic units of study specifically for upper level learners that focus completely on communication. Some topics I have been researching include Poetry and Literature, Charitable Organizations and Holidays and Celebrations.  So far my students have been receptive of the lessons and I am ecstatic to share my ideas with you.


Thematic Units

  • Increases student interests
  • Helps students understand connections
  • Expands assessment strategies
  • Keeps students engaged
  • Uses authentic sources
  • Draws on connections from the real world and life experiences

When creating thematic units, there are some components to keep in mind.  Here are some guidelines.

  1. Theme: Select the theme of the unit based on Common core standards and proficiency level appropriateness that holds student interests and connects to student experience.
  2. Objectives: Identify the objectives and student learner outcomes (SLOs) that you would like students to master during the course of the unit.
  3. Authentic Materials: Determine the materials you will use throughout the unit and check to see if there are authentic sources available on the theme you choose to work with.
  4. Discussion Questions – Create a variety of discussion questions to help students think about the theme of the unit and to allow them to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions about the theme.
  5. Activities – Develop the activities that you will use for your thematic unit.  Then create an Integrated Performance Assessment that can show what students can do.

Here is one FREE lesson from a unit on holidays and celebrations I have created.  Take a look, see if you like it and get the entire unit here if you are interested in expanding your lessons.

How about you?  Will you try creating a thematic unit?


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