Last year I wrote about mapping out your year with an enduring idea and unit themes. This year, I thought I’d help you out (and myself) by creating a Thematic Brainstorm Form to help you with the steps in the planning process. This isn’t your lesson plan, this is merely to get the ideas going.
Once you clarify the purpose of your theme (concepts and developmental objectives, etc.) it’s easier to stay focused on what types of learning activities you are looking for (as opposed to filling your unit full of “cute” activities). As you fill in the boxes with learning activities, it’s easy to step back and see which area is lacking and then you can have a more purposeful search through your resources. (I confess, the “Books” section is far too small for a really great unit- I’m hoping you’ll fill the entire back of the sheet with wonderful books to incorporate into book activities, story times, and reading areas.)
If you like, there is room in the left margin for punching holes and keeping your brainstorm form in your lesson planning binder. As you use this form more frequently you will find that you naturally begin planning your lessons with more purpose, looking for activities that fill in objectives and round out your experiences.
Recognize. Emphasize. Maximize.
This form is also helpful for what I call the “Recognize, Emphasize, Maximize Method“. Quite simply, when you take the time to recognize what it is you are trying to teach with an activity, you are more prepared to emphasize those objectives as you work and play within a unit. You are able to take advantage of natural learning experiences because you are aware of what to look for. As you emphasize these objectives, you maximize the learning outcomes. By following this method, you can ensure that the activities you use are “Not Just Cute”.
Top photo by iprole.