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Theme based learning 
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MES-Fanatic!

Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:54 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Kanagawa, Japan
Post Theme based learning
i am from a science/math teaching background and like to incorporate some of this in class. i mainly do this in my junior high classes, where instead of just teaching them english words and sentences, i actually teach them something about science that may interest them and we can use a variety of english words/sentence structures to learn general things. people who teach at immersion schools, where they teach specific subjects do this kind of thing, but i was just wondering how many english english teachers like to make their classes more general and instead of focusing on 1 or 2 english sentence structures, allow the kids to use as many structures as they know or can learn in that class to try and talk about a particular theme.......i dont think i explained it very well, but here's an example of the most popular lesson ive done in just a normal english class.

i taught my kids about "farts". it's a topic that all kids find interesting and the use of many english sentence structures are limitless, plus you get to teach them some facts on life. things that can be used while teaching farts=
1. foods- what food do you like? what foods do you think make you fart more/make more smelly farts? Do you like these foods?
2. numbers- how often does the average person fart a day? how often do you think you fart a day?
3. internal body parts and bacteria- where do farts come from? why do farts make a noise? why do farts smell?
4. manners- do you think farting is rude?
5. occupations- can you make money from farting? is farting a job? (you will be interested to know that some dude was actually a professional farter and earnt money through performing).
6. noises- what kinds of noises do farts make? ie sounds like..,..
7. space- if you farted in space would you move?
8. general- can you die if you fart too much? do you fart in your sleep?
of course you can use many more sentence structures.

in australia, they actually did a research assignment for kids about this.....i didnt get my kids to do this, but it sounds interesting......what you do is count how many farts you did on a normal day (day 1). on day 2 you eat a food that makes you fart (ie baked beans) and you count to see how many farts you did on this day (day 2). you then compare the 2 days. kids also had to say what type of fart they did- ie silent but deadly, the thunderer, squeaker, machine gun and squirter- and also had to compare these over the 2 days.


Mon Mar 05, 2007 10:36 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
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I'm not sure I'll do the fart lesson, but I have tried a few intergrated lessons and have flirted with idea of doing more. Generally, the projects in the V-Key Pals section are just that.

The students can create a restaurant and discuss all that surrounds that. Or create a narrative in the Mt. Diamonte Project. With the Mt. D. project they pretty much have to use everything they've learned and then some. It seems to be rather popular. Same goes for the create a superhero project.

I'm also from a science background. A year or so ago I looked up some simple science projects to do in class. There are a lot out there that are easy and interesting. They'll also spark up a lot of conversation. I haven't done any yet because I just haven't had time, but now that you reminded me I think I might try a couple this week.

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Mon Mar 05, 2007 11:03 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:03 am
Posts: 71
Location: Athens, Greece
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If I'm not mistaken Henry Widdowson wrote about the beneficial effect of theme teaching on the communicative ability of students. It is easier to learn to speak when you have something to talk about.
THe books I do at school are old and really uninspired. However, the book I have to do with the 12 year olds is sort of theme centered. There is a unit on pollution which I use to get the students to use the passive voice without explaining the grammar. "What is the environment made of?" "What is the environment polluted with?" "What can be recycled?" etc then get them to talk about the consequences of pollution on buildings, fauna, flora, mankind etc.
Another unit is centered on mysteries: ghosts, UFOs, monsters, Bermuda tiangle, Nazca desert lines, circle crops etc I provide pictures and articles from the net. They learn to express opinions: I think/ I reckon/ I bet/ I believe ghosts exist/ don't exist , In my opinion etc.
There is a unit on the Food pyramid. SInce the book is ancient, a new food pyramid has emerged in the meantime and we compare the two and draw conclusions while talking about what used to be at the base of the old pyramid and at the top etc.Then we talk about the beneficial effect of different types of food, there is a lot of literature on the therapeutic effect of different types of food, so different types of diseases can be mentioned, and since many diseases have names of Greek origin that makes them feel important too and knowledgeable.
I totally agree that theme teaching helps students speak, helps them internalise the grammar and become fluent.


Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:13 am
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Joined: Thu Dec 07, 2006 4:13 am
Posts: 36
Location: Sweden
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What I started doing for some time ago, I talk to other teachers and ask them what subjects they take up on the lessons: geography, cukluture, history etc and then try to do the subject in English or Polisg (as I teach it too) students are actually very active as they know all this from their lessons. I use the information gap as I didn't go to school in Sweden so lots of the info is new to me. They love when I open my eyes wide and say "really?" That is a good fun but the only thing that worries me is that they keep asking why we do that instead of learning English (happened just once ;) )


Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:54 am
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Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:03 am
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Location: Athens, Greece
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I think you should take that question as a compliment and not worry about it.


Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:34 pm
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