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ReflectionsRelevant themes

Relevant themes

When planning for units of learning, I find that finding a relevant theme and the disciplines that form it gives you the best start in planning and preparation.

For a class that I would know for the first time, I would start with nature themes. This way, I was able to direct the students into meaningful environmental and sustainable topics in today’s subjects by having access to nature’s primary sources.

As I got to know my classes better, I chose multiculturalism for the class that had both EAL students and students with additional educational needs. The theme is inclusive, and the students proved to be very empathetic with each other and the outer world.

I think one of the most effective ways to come up with a relevant theme is to talk with the other teachers where the students are and plan for a cross-disciplinary theme. This is a fantastic way to retain learning and understand it better through art’s visual power.

I got in touch with the CSPE teacher and planned for the Sustainable Development Goal theme. I also got in touch with the technology teacher for the STEAM theme. Simple chats with teachers in the staff room to see where your students are in other classes can open loads of possibilities. Talking with the English teacher, for example, I found out that the 1st year students that I was teaching loved to read Star by… When I asked the students to reflect on what they liked or didn’t like about the book, unusually, almost all of them said they didn’t like the cover. I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to do a book cover design and reach that learning continuum across disciplines.

Pilot themes

I also discovered that sometimes, when you are unsure of a theme, plan it for the short term and then extend it if it works. With the STEAM theme, I had loads of factors to depend on for cross-disciplinary work that didn’t fall right. Not only because I couldn’t align the agendas at the same time with the technology teacher, but I wasn’t aware that the students were having all-sports tournaments in that period, which shook my planning for group activities. I still think the theme has great potential, but maybe for a higher-year class.

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