Hey there! Today I’m blogging about something related to one of my very favorite teaching topics – integrated/thematic units! When I was in the classroom, creating integrated units was one of my very favorite things to do. I love tying science and social studies learning into literacy instruction (and math-, when possible). When my kids are reading, writing, and learning about a topic or theme throughout the school day, they learn so much more vocabulary and gain so much more knowledge than if we are reading random texts during the literacy block and studying a topic only during science and social studies time.
But moving on from my love affair with integrated units…one of the most important parts (in my opinion) of an integrated unit is the final project! In a good final project, kids show what they’ve learned. But in a great final project, kids share what they’ve learned with a real audience and for a real purpose!
Some of the end-of-unit projects I’ve done include:
– Making posters with healthy eating tips and placing them in the school hallways (from my food and farm unit)
– Making books about a topic of study and reading them to younger students or their parents
– Creating a class book about a topic and placing it in the classroom or school library
– Writing letters to the principal or someone in the community to share information and suggestions about how to solve a problem
– Having students participate in a community service project (from my giving project unit)
– Helping students create a class video about a topic, for sharing with parents or other students in the school
Sometimes I’ve found that these projects don’t always make a great assessment for the unit – because they don’t thoroughly assess students’ understanding of the topics covered in the unit. In these cases, I have students complete a quiz or other small project in addition to the more “meaningful” final project for a real audience and a real purpose. This allows me to get an accurate picture of students’ learning while still providing a meaningful end-of-unit activity.
One of the best parts of developing a meaningful end-of-unit activity is that you can talk about it throughout the entire unit! When I introduce a unit, I mention what we will be doing at the end in a way that gets the kids excited and looking forward to the project. This also helps with motivation during the unit (“Why are we learning ____?” “So that we can _____ when we do our final project!”
Do you create projects or assessments for your students that have a real audience and a real purpose? Share your ideas below!