A Guide for Developing Interdisciplinary Thematic Units / Edition 4

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Offers a step-by-step approach to using ITUs to help pupils acquire the knowledge and develop the problem-solving skills required for today's changing–and challenging–times. Addresses the content, technology, diversity, and classroom management of ITUs. Material on curriculum standards, scoring guides, and the relationship between the interdisciplinary thematic unit approach and professional education tests. Extensive coverage of the role of pupil input into ITUs. For future educators.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780131755017
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 12/29/2006
  • Series: Pearson Custom Education Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 640,228
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia L. Roberts joined the faculty of the School of Education at California State University, Sacramento where she taught courses in children's literature, reading, and language arts, and served as coordinator of a Teacher Education Center in Elementary Education and as an Associate Chair and Chair of the Department of Teacher Education. In addition, Dr. Roberts is the author and co-author of more than 20 teacher resource books and texts, including A Guide to Developing Interdisciplinary Thematic Units, 4th Edition (with R.D. Kellough). She writes for journals and is a member of the National Council of Research on the Teaching of English and other professional groups. Her current research centers on teaching curriculum content with chilren's literature and family values found in fiction for children. Dr. Roberts, an invited bigoraphee in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World is a recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award for the University of the Pacific and the California State University's Award for Merit for Teaching. The Award of Merit is given for a superior teaching record and outstanding service to the institution and to the community. Additional recognitions include listings in International Who's Who of Intellectuals, Who's Who in American Education, Two Thousand Notable American Women, The Director of Distinguished Americans, International Directory of Distinguished Leadership, and The International Who's Who of Contemporary Achievement.

Richard D. Kellough is author and co-author of more than 40 textbooks, including A Resource Guide for Teaching K-12, Teaching Young Adolescents: A Guide to Methods and Resources, Secondary School Teaching: A Guide to Methods and Resources, and Your First Year of Teaching, as well as numerous journal articles. A member of several prominent organizations, Dr. Kellough has been elected to the Phi Sigma Society, the Botanical Society of America, the American Bryological Society, and was the recipient of the Outstanding Biology Teacher Recognition Award from the National Biology Teachers Association, State of California. His many recognitions include being named a National Science Foundation Research Fellow at the University of California, Davis, as well as listings in the International Authors and Writers Who's Who, Leaders in the Eco Education Men of Achievement (Volume 1), Dictionary of International Biography, and Leaders in Education.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction to Integrated Curriculum and Interdisciplinary Thematic Units

Chapter 2: Initiating an Interdisciplinary Thematic Unit

Chapter 3: Developing Objectives

Chapter 4: Assessing Student Learning

Chapter 5: Completing Your ITU: Finalizing Activities, Lessons and Units

Appendix A: Hints for Short-Answer Response Questions; Praxis Prep

Appendix B: Resources: Teacher Planning Guides and Children’s Literature Titles


Name Index

Subject Index with Target Topics for Teacher Tests

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In the future, perhaps no single task will be more important than that of the challenge of improving our approaches as educators to facilitate student learning. Focusing on one element of this task, we are becoming increasingly aware of the role of an interdisciplinary thematic unit for quality learning. In keeping with this awareness, the purpose of this guide is to provide a practical approach for (1) university and college students who are preparing to become competent school teachers and (2) credentialed teachers who are interested in developing interdisciplinary thematic units. The focus is on one concise approach; therefore, this guide should serve as a supplement to what you learn (or have learned) in a general methods course.

In addition, this guide is suitable for administrators as well as those who work with students in school libraries, youth groups, or home schooling situations. For any interested educator, the content and interactive exercises are intended to provide guidance for developing interdisciplinary thematic units.


We believe the interdisciplinary thematic unit (ITU) is an instructional strategy that will help define a new expression of our professionalism. Certainly, developing and presenting an ITU in the classroom can be challenging to the teacher--this approach often tests one's dedication and ingenuity. The ITU as an expression of our professionalism reflects the view that such a unit can provide the most meaningful way to prepare students for the everyday requirements of the 21st century. This includes living life on a worldwide information superhighway and moving in a fast cyber-lane.

In these initial years ofthe 21st century, we believe that

  • Life on the information superhighway will encompass students' interpretation of their own learning through both assigned studies and self-selected independent inquiries.
  • Integrated instructional experiences will equalize educational opportunities for all students.
  • Emphasis will be increased on students determining meaning from the interrelationships found in the content areas of various fields of study
  • Education will consist mainly of inquiry-oriented processes that require students to ask questions and to develop their thinking skills through various approaches to research and the use of diverse resources.
  • Action-oriented students will focus on pertinent questions and issues (concepts, generalizations, principles, theories) with not only local, regional, and state significance but also global importance.

We are confident that the interdisciplinary thematic approach can be useful in classrooms, although only if questioning is given the same priority that Albert Einstein gave it when he reflected in writing on has own learning (see Chapter 4).

If we are to improve our educational approaches significantly in the years ahead, then all of us must join in making that effort. Strong action will be necessary at all educational levels. Presenting interdisciplinary thematic units in the classroom can be part of that action. Further, private citizens and volunteer groups must join in partnerships to support the effort, including businesses and industries; labor and farm organizations; and scientific, health, and educational institutions. Quantitatively, every part of our society has a responsibility. Qualitatively, it is important that the improvement of our educational approaches be seen as a national and international concern.


This step-by-step guide, with many examples, strives to be user-friendly and educationally helpful. It is one of the few books available to successfully integrate interdisciplinary content, technology, diversity, and classroom management. It is intended for a teacher interested in offering, assessing, and evaluating an integrated curriculum through the inclusion of interdisciplinary thematic units of instruction. Its focus is designed for pre-credentialed teacher preparation at the college and university level, for inservice seminars and workshops at the district level, and for independent use by credentialed teachers. In the organization of the guide's five chapters, you will find helpful guidelines for initiating an ITU, interactive exercises for developing objectives and learning activities, highly informative materials on assessment, and sample units and planning masters useful for making transparencies for the overhead projector to aid in discussions, introduction of material, and reviews.

As a pre- or post-credentialed teacher, the following features will be of interest to you. This guide

  • Discusses curriculum standards in strong integrated coverage through the chapters. Standards with websites are introduced in Chapter 1, the discussion on standards is continued in Chapter 2, and the topic of preparing instructional objectives in Chapter 3 includes links to curriculum standards. There is more discussion of standards within the context of assessment in Chapter 4, and standards, along with goals and objectives, are also included in the three sample ITUs in Chapter 5.
  • Has perforated pages to provide you with easy removal of self-check exercises and other material.Has key terms in bold in text to reflect glossary entries.
  • Presents advantages and limitations on ITUs and has examples of objectives.
  • Provides examples of various ways an ITU can be created and evaluated, because teaching and learning styles vary.
  • Provides examples of performance assessment, including scoring guides.
  • Has flexible lesson plan concepts and step-by-step easy-to-follow instructions for developing an ITU.
  • Has a format for sample lesson plans and for evaluating lesson plans that helps assess how well a thematic unit is written.
  • Integrates interdisciplinary content, technology, diversity, and class management in ITU planning and features unique margin notes that emphasize this integration with a code of D (diversity), T (technology), and M (management).
  • Has an evaluation tool at the end of the book.
  • Has planning masters in the Appendix for making transparencies for the overhead projector. For example, a teacher-student interaction planning master allows teachers to identify which areas of student behavior they need to be more aware of as the lesson/unit progresses.
  • Has a glossary and indexes of children's literature, names, and subject headings to give further reference material/ sources.

Each chapter also has

  • Meaningful, interactive exercises.
  • An end-of-chapter feature titled Facts on Praxis and Other Teacher Tests that contains information about ways this guide may be helpful when studying for professional educational tests.
  • A feature titled If a Colleague, Community Member, or Parent Asks You About . . . at the end of each chapter that offers questions for discussion to increase your understanding of selected subject matter.
  • Features titled Chapter Notes and For Further Reading at the end of each chapter.
  • Useful checklists, scoring guides, and self-check exercises.
  • Motivational statements through Albert Einstein's words that provide insight into this inquiring scientist's thoughts. The brief statements are found at the beginning of each chapter and are recorded in his personal documents in The Importance of Albert Einstein (Lucent Books, 1994) by Clarice Swisher.

Chapter 1 gives you an explanation of the integrated curriculum and its potential advantages and limitations. It explains the concept of the interdisciplinary thematic unit and the foundation theories that support its development and implementation. Yott will get an overview of the development of themes, recommendations related to curriculum standards, and the scope and sequence of an ITU in Chapter 2. In Chapter 3 you are provided with guidelines and interactive exercises to help you in developing objectives. The assessment component of student learning is addressed in Chapter 4. After instruction in Chapter 5 on the development of your lessons and types of learning activities for the ITU, you are asked to complete the development of your own ITU. In addition, Chapter 5 has three complete (or nearly complete--due to limited space in this book) sample ITUs for your review.


Chapters 1 through 5 were rewritten for this edition. The main reason for the changes was the request by nearly every reviewer for more content about curriculum standards, scoring guides, and the ITU approach and its relationship to professional educational tests--in a text that could not increase in the number of pages.

This third edition differs from the previous one in the following ways:

  • Focus on standards. As mentioned previously, standards with websites are introduced in Chapter 1, a review of the history of standards and further discussion of standards is continued in Chapter 2, and standards are connected to preparing instructional objectives in Chapter 3. Additionally, selected standards are discussed in the context of assessment in Chapter 4 and linked to the ITUs with selected examples in Chapter 5.
  • New features. One new feature titled If a Colleague, Community Member, or Parent Asks You About... contains questions and/or activities for group discussions, oral responses, and individual inquiries; it appears at the end of each chapter. New sidebars contain updated content related to tests for teacher licensing; the sidebars are titled Facts on Praxis and Other Teacher Tests and are found at the ends of the chapters.
  • Websites. Recent addresses of Internet websites for curriculum standards and professional organizations are included.
  • Updates. Updates of further reading selections are found at the end of every chapter. Updated assessment material in Chapter 4 includes more on scoring guides, portfolios, and assessment items.
  • Expansion. Information about and examples of the role of student input in ITUs are expanded, along with ITUs, as vignettes in highlighted boxes at the beginning of each chapter.
  • Reflection and selection. Further, revised interactive exercises were designed to help an educator assess and reflect continually on his or her progress in understanding this approach to developing an interdisciplinary thematic unit. Because it is unlikely that all exercises would be appropriate for a particular teaching situation, class members, peers, and the instructor can select the exercises to be done.

In summary, A Guide for Developing Interdisciplinary Thematic Units, Third Edition, is intended as a beginning point for caring educators who find themselves challenged by students who face a world with many complex concerns. These students are in need of problem-solving skills that may best be developed through the most meaningful kinds of learning--such as can be offered through the use of ITUs in an integrated curriculum. Although even the most dedicated and responsible educators cannot determine the future of the students in their charge, they can become positive role models as professionals who offer and support interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Furthermore, teachers can enhance their curricula by accepting the students' input and placing carefully planned activities into units that will guide the students toward developing the problem-solving skills and knowledge needed not only in today's changing times but also in the years ahead.


The following related ancillaries are available to the instructors who adopt this text. To request information about any of the following, contact your Prentice Hall representative or visit the Merrill/Prentice Hall website at prenhall.com. If you are unable to contact your local representative, please call faculty services at 1-800-526-0485 for information.

  • A companion website for information about ITUs in Chapter 6 of a related text, A Resource Guide for Elementary School Teaching: Planning for Competence, Fifth Edition by R. D. Kellough and P L. Roberts, is available. Please visit the website at prenhall.com/kellough.

When we checked the web addresses mentioned in this text, they were correct. However, in recent months, some websites may have found their top level domains suddenly connected to advertisements for unsavory sites that are unrelated to education, if any owners failed to renew claims to the names. We have found this particularly disconcerting in the past and in this text have included mainly the sites of professional organizations in the hope that the addresses will remain educational ones and furnish you with information related to your teaching.

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