Looking at it from the perspective of a first grade student, let's break this information down into mangaeable bits and go from there. For this reason, let's use an old stand-by of primary teachers: a graphic organizer.
What I Knew Already
What I Learned
Ovando & Combs (2012) describe thematic teaching as a way to teach a larger concept throughout each content area.
Use of thematic units helps students link their prior knowledge to new learning, making the learning become a part of their long-term memory.
Thematic units should be developed by planning backwards, where the student needs to be and how to get them there (Ovando and Combs, 2012).
The use of thematic units is especially helpful for ELL students as it allows them to encounter new vocabulary through multiple exposures and modalities.
Using thematic units will help increase students’ vocabulary as well as solidify learning through multiple exposures and modalities.
Role of Culture in Math and Science: How students approach new learning tasks, culture is interwoven into their application and performance.
Students approach learning new tasks in many different ways.
There are developmental universals that all students come to new learning tasks with. Understanding cross-cultural influences on learning helps teachers better understand the influence of culture in the content areas. Just as there is a Universal Grammar, the evidence suggests that humans are also hardwired with the language of mathematics (Ovando and Combs, 2012). Counting systems may be different, but all humans share a common cognitive heritage, and are able to pick up on concrete and abstract math and science tasks. It seems the big difference is how students EXPRESS their mathematical and content knowledge: different cultures have different representations and expressions.
Use more ethnoscience and ethnomathematics in the classroom: teach traditionally fact-based subjects within a multicultural context, within a larger framework of the thematic unit.
Approaches to Teaching Social Studies:
Crititcal Thinking Approach, Social Science Approach, and Transmission Approach
(Historically, the transmission approach has been the most widely used.)
Teaching Social Studies within the larger framework of the thematic unit made sense: students were exposed to different cultures and different ways of thinking.
Allow for multiple perspectives to be read, seen, and heard in Social Studies.
Use of “powerful social studies teaching”: meaningful, integrated throughout the curriculum, challenging, and active.
Critical Thinking Approach allows for students to really think on the higher ends of Bloom’s Taxonomy: to evaluate different sources, justify opinions, explain their reasoning. The Critical Thinking Approach seems to tie in closely with the new Common Core standards!
The Transmission Approach, historically, has been used to prepare students to be responsible citizens. Mainly through the use of textbooks, students are the “receivers of knowledge” as it is “transmitted” by the teacher.
Social Science Approach teaches students social studies through the use of each different aspect of the social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology, history, geography. Most often, these 3 approaches are used in conjunction within a classroom.
Critical Thinking Approach ties in most closely with what teachers are achieving through the Common Core: close reads and critical thinking activities make for powerful social studies teaching: students are challenged, active learners as they think critically about topics that are meaningful to them.