ERIC Number: ED365951
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-May
Reference Count: N/A
Learning for Life through Universal Themes. Literacy Improvement Series for Elementary Educators.
Stevens, Alba D.
As the integration of language and literature across the curriculum builds, educators have come to believe worthwhile literature is embedded in universal themes (such as making decisions, facing challenges, and working together) that are common to the human condition. These themes transcend subject areas by providing natural frameworks for unifying the curriculum. Universal themes are powerful catalysts for lifelong learning because they address what is at the core of humanity. A class of fourth graders demonstrated that the active involvement, collaboration, and personal investment in their own learning arising out of a discussion of the universal theme of perseverance is possible for students of all ages and abilities. Six traits are characteristic of universal themes and are helpful in considering possible themes for study: concept, catalyst, connection, content, context, and curriculum. An important criterion for developing meaningful thematic instruction is to select themes that go beyond narrow topics. Selecting appropriate universal themes to develop involves: considering concepts children need to learn; finding natural connections to chose a theme; and searching for universal themes embedded in literature already being used. Planning a universal theme unit is a developmental process similar to the reading and writing process and comprises three stages: discovering and "themestorming"; making decisions about major learning processes to incorporate; and experiencing the process of teaching and learning. (RS)
Descriptors: Adolescent Literature, Childrens Literature, Elementary Secondary Education, Integrated Activities, Learning Processes, Lifelong Learning, Thematic Approach, Units of Study
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, Marketing Dept., 101 S.W. Main Street, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204 ($3.65).
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Northwest Regional Educational Lab., Portland, OR. Literacy, Language, and Communication Program.