Thematic

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early childhood

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  • 1. Planning an Integrated Thematic Curriculum Unit Using Universal Design for Learning Universal Design of Early Education: Moving All Children Forward (Conn-Powers, Cross, Traub, & Hutter-Pishgahi) Who am I in the Lives of Children? (Feeney, Christensen, & Moravcik) Prepared by Dr. Carla Piper
  • 2. Thematic Planning
    • Organize curriculum around a theme
      • Umbrella overarching interest area
      • Integrates different developmental and subject areas
    • Contributes to child’s growing awareness and understanding
    • Provides opportunities for child to learn by doing and have direct experiences with the world
    • Helps children understand that learning is connected to life.
  • 3. Children’s Experiences
    • Reflect on and recreate experiences through :
    • Dramatic play
    • Block building
    • Discussions
    • Art
    • Music
    • Movement
    • Measuring
    • Graphing and Mapping
    • Children develop skills through:
    • Sensing
    • Moving
    • Thinking
    • Problem solving
    • Communicating
    • Creating
    • Working
    • Playing with others
  • 4. Select a Topic
    • Look at a child’s life for the theme:
    • Environment
    • Family
    • Culture
    • Community
    • Geographical locale
    Sense of uniqueness Pride in their families Understanding Community
  • 5. Appropriate Themes
    • Primary Question: Can I give children direct experience of this topic?
    • Should reflect children’s interests, abilities and issues of concern
    • Should involve concepts and skills at the right level of challenge for the age group
    • Topic should be complex and interesting enough to be explored at some depth
    • Plan to focus on topic for several weeks to several months
  • 6. Criteria for Theme Selection
    • The topic can be taught through direct experience.
    • Children can explore it with their senses.
    • Concept is developmentally appropriate for young children.
    • Concept can be organized to move from:
      • Simple to complex
      • Concrete to abstract
    • Interesting, meaningful, and worth knowing about.
    • Helps children acquire understanding and appreciation of themselves, others, and the world in which they live.
  • 7. More Criteria for Theme Selection
    • Many things can be experienced and learned
    • Generates a variety of activities and learning in all areas of development and in a broad range of subject areas.
    • Harmonizes with program philosophy and goals and is interesting to the staff.
    • Realistic in terms of resources (funds, materials, people, places that are available)
    • Allows for and encourages family input and participation.
    • Consistent with family and community values.
  • 8. “ Major Understanding” of the Theme
    • The important ideas you wish children to acquire
    • Brainstorm the purpose and goals
    • Gather the resources and materials
    • Create a mind map or curriculum web
    • Ask the children:
      • What do you want to know?
      • What would you like to learn?
  • 9. Mind Map Creative Movement Field Trips Dramatic Play Blocks Family Activities Games Songs and Rhymes Books and Poems Art Activities Cooking THEME
  • 10. K-W-L Chart K What do you KNOW? W What do you WANT to know? L What did you LEARN? Brainstorm!
  • 11. Outline for an Integrated Thematic Plan
    • Theme: the topic or focus
    • Children: age and characteristics
    • Rationale: Why?
    • Goals: 3-6 broad statements of desired ends
      • Attitudes
      • Skills
      • Abilities
      • Experiences
    • Major Understandings: 4-6 important ideas you want children to construct
    • Resources: Books, articles, etc.
  • 12. Sunburst Graphic Curriculum Plan Family Involvement Activities Learning Trips Literature Extensions Story Books Fingerplays and Poems Sensory Exploration Dramatic Play Blocks Language Charts Discussions Mapping and Graphing Science Workjobs and Games Child-Authored Books Language Games
  • 13. Ideas for Enriching the Environment Art Area Library Reading Corner Blocks Manipulative Toys Dramatic Play Writing Center Puzzles Hollow Box Discovery Table Light Table Sensory Table Open Area
  • 14. Curriculum Focus on Food Cooking Songs, Creative Movement, and Drama Art Reference Books and Cookbooks Big Idea #4 Food can be prepared in many different ways. Big Idea #3 People like some foods and dislike some foods. Big Idea #2 Food comes from different places and we eat in different places. Big Idea #1 Everyone needs food to live, grow, and stay healthy. Animals need food too.
  • 15. Environmental Additions and Trips
    • List of materials to add to each learning center
      • Support awareness of theme
      • Help develop the ‘big ideas’
    • Include ideas for:
      • Blocks, manipulative toys, puzzles, games
      • Dramatic play, art, writing center, library, science area
      • Outdoor areas
      • Learning trips
  • 16. How Will You Include ALL Children in your Thematic Unit?
    • How will you make special needs children feel welcomed as a full and equal member as you teach this thematic unit?
    • How will access and engage special needs children in all learning opportunities in this unit?
    • How will you help special needs children learn and participate according to their individual strengths and interests?
    • How will ALL students demonstrate his or her learning in ways that reflect their individual strengths?
  • 17. Adapt your Thematic Unit by Applying Principles of Universal Design for Learning
    • Use principles of universal design for learning to teach children with disabilities:
    • Mobility
    • Communication
    • Information Acquisition and Information Processing
    • Use principles of universal design for learning to teach diverse learners:
    • Learning disabilities such as dyslexia
    • English language barriers
    • Emotional or behavioral problems
    • Lack of interest or engagement
    • Sensory and physical disabilities
  • 18. Adapt the Physical Environment
    • Ask yourself:
    • How can the space be arranged to accommodate everyone?
    • How will children be seated to accommodate different motor abilities and activity levels so that everyone can move about or attend as needed?
    • What materials are needed to allow for the range of motor abilities?
    The Universal Design of Early Education: Moving Forward for All Children
  • 19. Adapt the Physical Environment
    • Possibilities:
    • Expand the group meeting area so that all children can be present and focus their attention on the activities.
    • Provide varied seating options so each child may lie on the floor, sit on a mat or chair, or use specialized seating.
    • Use other materials of different sizes, textures, and shapes to help each child actively manipulate the objects for learning.
    The Universal Design of Early Education: Moving Forward for All Children
  • 20. Room Layout Pretend And Learn Construction Center Writing Center Discovery Center Computer Center Math And Manipulatives Library Art Center ABC Center Listening Center Entry Traffic Flow
  • 21. Ensure Health and Safety for ALL Children
    • Ask yourself:
    • How should the physical space be arranged to ensure that all children can safely move around?
    • Is the flooring safe for all children to move about and be seated?
    • Do the planned activities accommodate all individual energy levels and health conditions?
    The Universal Design of Early Education: Moving Forward for All Children
  • 22. Ensure Health and Safety for ALL Children
    • Possibilities:
    • Provide clear, wide paths throughout the classroom so each child may safely and easily reach the meeting area.
    • Ensure safe floor covering for safe passage for any child, including for example a child who is in a hurry, has visual impairments, or uses a wheeled stander.
    • Consider each child’s energy level and health conditions in planning activities.
    The Universal Design of Early Education: Moving Forward for All Children
  • 23. Establish Inclusive Social-Emotional Environment
    • Ask yourself:
    • What strategies will ensure that all children are included, eliminating any barriers that might segregate or stigmatize a child?
    • How will I communicate necessary rules and expectations for behavior so that all children can understand?
    • How can I support children in interacting with, learning from, and helping one another?
  • 24. Establish Inclusive Social-Emotional Environment
    • Possibilities:
    • Invite and encourage all children to join in, using multiple means of communication (e.g., speaking English and/or children’s home language, signing, displaying symbols).
    • Give simple directions using multiple means (e.g., verbally, signed, in print, modeled) so each child may see, hear, and understand any rules and expectations.
    • Use books, songs, and communication that involve and represent all children, regardless of cultural predominance or linguistic and skill levels.
  • 25. Activities
    • Introduction
      • How will you introduce the study to children?
      • What activities will you do to build awareness of the topic?
      • What kinds of activities can ALL children participate in?
    • Activities to build understanding
      • Activities that encourage exploration
      • Activities that build skill
      • Activities that develop understanding
      • Activities that engage ALL children
    • Culmination Activities
      • Activities help children express and generalize what they have learned
      • Activities to bring closure to the unit
      • Activities to celebrate inclusion
  • 26. Adapt your Teaching Environment to Include ALL Children
    • Ask yourself:
    • What goals do I have for the activity so that all children are engaged and learning?
    • What different ways do I need to present information so that everyone understands and is engaged?
    • What kinds of support or encouragement will be needed to engage and ensure learning among all children?
  • 27. Adapt your Teaching Environment to Include ALL Children
    • Possibilities:
    • Vary your expectations for participation and performance
    • Example: If children are listening to a story and are asked to recall events
      • some may attend to and repeat back key words
      • others may recall the names of characters by pointing to pictures or using signs and gestures
      • even others may predict what will happen next using complete sentences in English
  • 28. Teaching Environment
    • Present content in multiple formats
      • verbal, print, video, or concrete objects
      • repeating key words/phrases in children’s home language
      • using simple sentences with gestures
    • Use physical cues to focus children’s attention
      • pointing to the picture in the book
      • giving verbal prompts to help children begin a response
      • offering language models for children to imitate
      • encouraging children to keep thinking and trying
  • 29. Assessment
    • How do you document children’s learning?
    • How do you know if children understand the big ideas of your unit?
    • Documentation
      • Observation notes
      • Photography or video
      • Collection of student work samples
      • A class book, newsletter, scrapbook
      • Social event where student work is shared
  • 30. Adapt Individual Assessments
    • Ask yourself:
    • What are some different ways to assess what all children are learning from the activity?
    • What are some different ways children can demonstrate their engagement and learning?
  • 31. Adapt Individual Assessments
    • Possibilities
    • Request information or action in various ways
      • complex questions
      • simple phrases
      • emphasis and repetition of key words or phrases
  • 32. Individual Assessment and Program Evaluation
    • Identify the multiple ways children can show what they learn during activities
    • Examples:
      • the child waits for another child to respond to a teacher’s request
      • to handle a show-and-tell object being passed around
      • to choose the song demonstrates turn taking
    • Some children may respond to the request using complete and accurate sentences spoken in English, while others may need to point, sign, or use words in their home language.
    • Others may point to the object or event in the book in response to simple questions.
  • 33. How Can you Involve Families?
    • Ask yourself:
    • What information will I share with families about this activity, and what forms of communication will I use?
    • What reading levels and languages should I keep in mind?
    • What opportunities for involvement can I provide that accommodate varied work demands and time constraints?
  • 34. How Can you Involve Families?
    • Possibilities:
    • Share information with families through a newsletter written at an appropriate level
    • Have key phrases translated into families’ home languages, and include photographs of children engaged in an activity.
    • Provide multiple opportunities for families to be involved
    • Bilingual parents might be willing to translate the information for monolingual families
    • Families could support their child’s involvement by asking specific questions about the activity and/or the book read to the group.