Thematics units for an Alternative Curriculum.

By definition, it should be simple to create and set up an alternative curriculum, a course of study that is different from the national or provincial. Now try sitting down, taking all the resources that are provided in the regular course and creating a course of study. One that is going to be engaging, appealing, and most importantly one that still moves students forward, ensuring that they grow and learn, yeah not so easy.

I have been  working in Special Education  for, lets say a few years now, and I will admit that it has become a little easier, but that it still causes me some anxiety.  You meet the kids that first day, take a week to gauge where they are academically, behaviorally, socially and emotionally, and then spend the next few weekends putting together a plan that attempts to meet the needs of all your students. If you feel overwhelmed at times, your are normal, remember that most curriculum’s and courses of study are put together by a large room full of individuals who are trying to teach the masses. Not to a select group of individuals, who have unique and differing issues aside from learning.

Most often my first approach at the alternative curriculum is to focus only on two core areas,  which are math and language. The reasons,  obviously language skills are essential in all other subject areas, and math is the other most commonly used subject. Secondly I build or use thematic units, which involves taking a single concept, for example animals in the arctic and building and working out from that.

Here is a quick example:

I usually run through about eight or nine thematic units in a school year. This is only one method in which I design and implement an alternative curriculum. The most important element that determines which method I use is . . . my students. My curriculum, pacing, set-up, organization and implementation depends on the abilities and personalities of my students. I fit my plan to my students not my students to my plan.

I hope that this has given, you the reader,  some ideas when looking at creating your own alternative setting and also given you an idea as to how I approach my classroom and my students. I would love to say that there is one approach or that my approach or chosen curriculum works every time, but that would be giving you false information. I often reflect on the progress of my chosen method, and often make changes and transitions during the school year.


5 thoughts on “Thematics units for an Alternative Curriculum.

  1. Great post! I think we all need to take time to so this for all of our kids! Thanks for showing me the way you work through it! Very helpful!!

    • Thank you alford for taking the time to go through the post. I am just trying to show everyone what I try in my class and what works, sometimes. I know that we all think at times that in education we are on an island, but i believe in sharing and helping, not only my students but my peers. You are welcome and I look forward to your opinion on future posts.

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  3. Hi,
    I used to plan around a central theme too. Now our school picks a ‘big idea’ per term. Each class or group can individualize the big idea & define what it means to them. The big idea helps students connect to more global issues & daily events. It was extremely beneficial with our spec Ed students. I encourage you to go beyond a theme & try a big idea that is relevant to the world issues. For example Hope was a big idea we used & we looked at stories that displayed Hope (Ruby Bridges) and we had a hope for Haiti coin drive. Other big ideas are Take a Stand , The Power of One (Craig Keilberger, Terry Fox) & caring. Students Become familiar with a big idea concept, understand it & then provide some action.

    • Thank you for the suggestion. I often try to go to the bigger issues, however at present I am limited to the understandings of the students I teach. Hope would be a great idea and I look forward to trying it. My only concern at the moment is the back ground of my students. They have difficulty understanding and even recognizing their feelings, so an abstract concept such as hope is something I will have to work towards. Most of my students are apprehensions from families that are dangerous and detrimental to the survival of my students. So my current objectives are teaching things like safety, being able to speak out, finding help, and survival. I will try the concepts of the Power of One and the one of Caring, I think those may be concepts that are easier. Thank you for the suggestions. I also thank you for taking the time to look through the post and comment. It is appreciated.

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