Children with a teacher

What is a Thematic Unit?

The Thematic Units show how a number of subject strands can contribute to the understanding of a central theme. They provide a number of learning, teaching and assessment activities to help teachers address the key elements and statements of the revised curriculum. The individual subject contributions to each theme complement each other and encourage pupils to make connections between Areas of Learning. They signpost opportunities to develop pupils’ skills and capabilities and incorporate Assessment for Learning principles.

How to get the most from the Thematic Units

As a school…
The Thematic Units aim to develop a more collaborative approach to teaching and learning. It may be useful to discuss the following when thinking about using the Thematic Units:

What might be the positive, negative and interesting outcomes of this approach in your school:

  • From the point of view of teachers.
  • From the point of view of pupils.

How else might you think about adopting a more collaborative approach?

In your department…
Discussion points to develop further the Thematic Units:

  • What do you like/dislike about the unit(s) for your subject?
  • Which of the learning activities do you find most interesting/useful?
  • What do you see that is new and would like to try?
  • In what other contexts could you use the strategies and activities described?
  • Are the key questions useful or appropriate?
  • How could you use these units to develop your own thinking and planning?

What they are trying to do...
The units aim to:

  • demonstrate how the statements of requirement in the subjects might be interpreted and developed;
  • suggest learning and teaching activities that enable the explicit development of skills and capabilities and elements of assessment for learning;
  • encourage connections across areas of learning by using the Key Elements as the organising principles or drivers;
  • make suggestions as to how the themes could be developed beyond the classroom;
  • challenge and encourage teachers to further develop their own ideas and activities.

What they are not...
The units are not intended to be prescriptive and are not the only way to approach the revised curriculum. They do not have to be followed rigidly. Indeed, in many cases there is simply too much material for the suggested four to six week timeframe. Instead, teachers can choose from the wide range of learning, teaching and assessment activities in the units and adapt them as appropriate for their classes.

Active Learning and Teaching Methods
Throughout the unit, a number of active learning and teaching methods are referenced. These methods are marked with an asterisk and you can find out more about these in the Active Learning and Teaching Methods handbook which is included in the Curriculum Support and Implementation box. You can also download this document from the link below.

Download Active Learning and Teaching Methods