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Unit Study Approach

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The unit study model is a brain-compatible, multidisciplinary, interest-directed approach to education. As a teaching tool, the thematic unit encourages the in-depth study of a topic over several days, weeks, or months. In the traditional model of education academic subjects are studied separately. A unit study blends several academic subjects with a common thematic thread.

The unit study approach is believed to provide a more natural structure onto which knowledge and understanding can be built. Children are assisted in viewing a topic globally rather than presented with unrelated facts. Curiosity, independent thinking and a life-long love of learning are fostered. The topic is revisited and reinforced over the entire period of the unit study. This approach is believed to provide more effective learning, improved comprehension, and better retention.

An in-depth unit study is likely to include many types of learning activities and utilize a wide variety of resources. It allows a diverse group of students to learn together while addressing individual needs. Each student's age, abilities, learning style, and developmental level can be accommodated with challenging, individualized assignments.

A topic for study may be chosen and developed by students and/or teachers. The study unit might be self-contained or used to enrich and expand materials presented in a textbook or workbook. Teachers may create their own unit or choose to purchase a commercially developed one. The internet is a good source for unit study ideas. Topic choices may be generated by such sources as literature selections, the calendar year (seasons, holidays, significant dates, etc.), current events (Olympics, elections, an earthquake, new technology, etc.), upcoming events (planting a vegetable garden, camping at the ocean, visit from friends from a different country or state, etc.), or a child's interest (dinosaurs, bugs, sports, fashion, etc.).

Suggested learning activities in an unit study related to the topic of "Elections" might include: reading and writing about the candidates (language arts); learning about statistics, percentages, and polling results (mathematics); researching and discussing the various states, the election process, past elections (social studies); researching the candidates' stands on an environmental issue related to the election or the changes in technology used in counting votes (science); debating issues; volunteering at a campaign headquarters; a field trip to the state capital; attending a local city council meeting; creating campaign posters, songs, campaign slogans, commercials, or political cartoons; internet and/or library research; discuss various movies (such as MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, THE CANDIDATE, THE WAR ROOM), media coverage of political conventions, etc.