Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Creating a Year-Long Theme: Top Ten Reasons

A year-long theme is one of my favorite things to set up when getting ready for the new school year. Here are my top ten reasons why I use a theme for my classroom.

10.  It's fun. It creates a spark of fun in the classroom and I like starting with a fresh idea and decor each year.

9. It creates memories for the students. They remember the different themes as they have passed through the classroom. They continue to talk about it. I hear previous students, when checking out the current year's theme, talk about last year's theme..."Oh remember when we had a circus theme? I loved the circus tent. It was so fun!"

8. It inspires others. Teaching with a theme inspires others to push the limits and create a spark in their spaces too.

7. It's a creativity spark. Just like when teaching writing, I tell my students to start with a tiny seed idea and not a watermelon idea, a theme helps to narrow the scope of my curriculum. It gives me direction and a jumping off point. Then I start to get all my creative juices flowing. And I find the perfect ideas to bring my theme to life.

6. Old students will spread the word that your classroom is the place to be. Word of mouth is the best testimony of what is going on in your classroom. I've found students, current, previous, and future ones to be excited when they step into the classroom and find out the theme for the year. Also previous students like to peek into our class to catch a glimpse of what our theme is for the year. 

5. It promotes a sense of community within the class. Students are enjoying a common experience that is unique to our classroom. They are proud of the way it looks and the excitement it envokes. I hear them talking about it. 

4. You can spend more time in class on one topic because you can cover many standards on the curriculum with integrated learning, which leaves more time to go in depth. Win!

3. It makes planning for the year more effiecent. Lessons from various subjects can go together.

2. Integrating curriculum is best practice. And teaching with a theme makes it very easy to tie things together. Students have a chance to go more in-depth into the topics you are teaching because they are learning about them. not just once, but several times throughout the day. Otherwise, they are learning seven or so different subjects throughtout the day and each one is related only to itself. 

1. The students get seriously excited about it. And afterall, isn't that what it's all about? If I can have my students walk into my classroom, take one look and be excited about the learning that will happen here, I have just won a huge battle. Then I work hard to keep them excited throughout the year, but that's another story for another time.

To me, these are all very good reasons why I continue to push myself to create themes that will add excitement into my classroom. There is nothing better than students excited to learn and for me, this is the first step toward that goal.

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