I have used themed teaching in the past with my AP classes. I am currently taking the UCLA AP Physics class, and I have to make a year’s worth of lesson plans (not detailed – just general) I am seriously considering using either: NASA or Solar Design (P 94 NASA Space Settlement Contest: http://www.nsta.org or P 110: National High School Student Solar Design Contest: http://www.prsea.org ) as themes. With the Space Settlement contest, we could work through the year, applying each topic to a space settlement. With the Solar Design, they could apply physics to a solar house. I’m leaning more towards the Space Settlement. Any advice?
In repsone to Tracy Jenson- I have also used themed teaching but I do not do it now all the time. I feel that sometimes it closes you in. I do like your idea of NASA and the National High School Student Contest. Maybe spreading it out over the year will keep your students engaged and intrested in the topic. I feel this is not really themed teaching but more of a hands on approach to their learning.
Stacey L:Themed teaching may be easier with a class like high school physics - where everything can be related to what we do! The year I taught with a Toy theme - we did weekly labs with lab reports. Each lab had to include a paragraph on how the fundamental theory could be applied to a toy.
I think you are well on your way to having a successful year. Your students are going to learn so much! I just wish we could theme teach all the time.
After reading Academic Competitions for Gifted Students, I can see that there are many ideas and resources that I can use to enchance students learning. Many ideas and lessons that I teach in my class I can now expand. For example, on page 39 Ann Arlys Bowler Poetry Contest. I can send out students work and take it a step further during our poetry units. There are many resources that I will use next year while teaching.
I agree Stacey and I liked the website you mentioned. I used that in another question as well. Theme teaching adds a touch to areas of the curriculum that might otherwise not be so interesting. Sending students work to have reviewed by another group of teachers will be helpful and exciting for the students!
I have never used competitions for my GT students, but now that I have a list of competitions, I would encourage my GT students to participate in some of them like Weekly reader's What's your story? pg 144 and Future Problem Solving Program pg. 76
You will find that your students will enjoy the competitions. My class always likes to compete on teams to review and learn.
I am big on competitions. I think they motivate students learning. I use competitions in my class to review for up coming test. It really motivates students to study so they can be active participants in the game and not get up to their turn and not know answers.This book has been very helpful in guiding me to some contest that my students can enter like the Creative Writing Essay Contest on p. 50 and Kids are Authors on p. 82. I am focusing on writing because that will be a huge focus for me next year in trying to get students to write because they enjoy it not because they have to for a test.
In reply to ratliffb, I agree about using “in class” competitions to help students review concepts in preparation for tests. I have done that with various grade levels quite successfully. Just imagine how a national or global competition might inspire students to study!
ElanorM:One of my physics students participated, and won in Chemistry for a science competition.He had been trying to start a Chemistry Club. The numbers greatly increased as he walked around the school with his medals!Competitions do encourage them to work harder than they would for me!
While we academicians talk about differentiated learning, I had not really thought about the idea of one student participating in a competition, yet not another. That is, not until we began discussing some of the specific competitions, such as Invent America! on p75-76 and Letters About Literature Competition on p87, both of which reminded me of specific students who would love the concepts. I'm thinking that it may be a good idea to provide information on specific competitions to my students, and require them to commit to at least one. This would give them choice, but also the needed experience of competing, hopefully on a national or global level.
This book aty first was hard to get into but as I continues with the questions I began thinking of many ways I could explore these competitions for my new students, some of whom I already know. I loved all the writing/poetry sites and would have to see the students writing before I decided which ones would be appropriate.pg. 86 League of American Poetspg. 52 Cricket League Contestpg. 149 the Young Playwrights Festival has really sparked my interest due to the students i hvae that are drama oriented.
Honestly, after reading this book it has really opened my eyes to all the different subjects and types of competitions there are for some many unique learners. There is something for everyone! I know it has made me become more alert in knowing how to set some of these up in my own classroom and gives me a place to refer students who want to compete on a larger scale.