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Thematic Unit of Study

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Thematic Unit of Study
Mary Lynn Hartz
Grand Canyon University
EED 364
October 24, 2011

Thematic Unit of Study
The school where I chose to do the Science practicum was Hazleton Elementary/Middle School. Mrs. Christine Molosky teaches 6th grade Science and Social Studies for the past 12 years. Mrs. Molosky is very knowledgeable and has had much experience in teaching both subjects. Mrs. Molosky challenges the students to think independently and to come to know the world through its marvel and its ancestors. The classes in the school are crowded and full of diversity, therefore not only was I able to observe the higher level classes but I was fortunate to observe the lower classes which consisted of Learning Support and ESL students. The science class was very enlightening and attention-grabbing to say the least because Mrs. Molosky had to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of the different levels.
Every 2-3 weeks the teacher replaces one subject with the other depending on the depth of the information within the chapter and the rate at which the students grasp the material. At this time Mrs. Molosky was teaching a unit in Science called “The Solar System and Beyond”. During my observing of this unit of instruction, I was able to compile the information needed to respond to the questions within the module. The following is the information:
Were other content areas such as reading, writing, math and technology integrated into the science lesson by the teacher? Yes, the teacher did integrate the content area of Reading by using compare and contrast, sequence, categorizing and classifying information, and drawing conclusions. The subject area of Math was applied through teaching how to calculate the distance in astronomical units in the Solar System. Astronomical units are the standard unit for distance from the Earth to the Sun, in other words approximately 150 million km. In addition, the teacher then discussed a writing assignment that would be completed by the students at the end of the unit. The assignment which was given to the students was for them to research a planet, write a report and provide an illustration or model of the planet.
Was technology incorporated into the lesson? Yes, the lesson required the students to utilize websites in order to discover and retrieve the necessary information on the planets to complete the assignment. The teacher demonstrated to the class via the projector to present photographs of the NASA Space Center the students were given a detailed explanation as to what NASA is, where it is and what purpose they serve in providing the necessary information about Earth and so on. The students also viewed various images of the planets which were taken by one of NASA’s space craft while in orbit.
Were any supplies/handouts utilized by the teacher? The teacher did provide the students with science worksheets; the students applied readings skills while drawing conclusions from the information which was covered within the unit.
Did the teacher use science standards? Yes, the teacher used the science standard 347.D as well as the anchor of S8.D.3.1. The types of assessments which were used by the teacher were questions asked during the course of study and at the close of the unit to identify the material that was collected and recalled as it was taught to them. At the end of the unit the class reviewed through a question and answer session.
Did the curriculum provide differentiated instruction and was it evident? As mentioned previously, the school is crowded and each classroom is very diverse, therefore, the teachers are required to adapt and modify the curriculum to meet the needs of the students in the class. Mrs. Molosky did a great job at adapting and modifying the curriculum to meet the needs of the Learning Support and ESL students. For instance in order to meet the needs of the students in one of the lower classes, Mrs. Molosky adapted the review questions by providing multiple choice answers and modified the written assignment for the students by having the students write 5 facts and draw a picture of the planet. At the end of the unit the lower classes performed a hands-on activity with the use of pictures to assist in the comprehension of the material. This was very beneficial for the ESL and learning support students.
This unit was successful because the teacher was able to keep the interest of the students and motivate them to take an active part in and respond accordingly to the information. One aspect the students found to be very intriguing was the visual aids utilized by the teacher to enhance their learning and understanding of the Solar System. Within this time frame the teacher was able to carry out many activities to go along with the unit.
Given the opportunity, I would use this approach in to be implemented in the classroom or to be part of a lesson plan. It was apparent to me that the teacher was able to engage the students to actively participate in the lesson. The lesson itself was very interesting and the teacher was able to keep the lesson moving smoothly thus keeping the interest of the students. The use of visuals provided many benefits and this aspect will help in any classroom. Another aspect which was helpful was the question and answer portion. The students and or the teacher were able to ask questions to induce discussion and peek everyone’s curiosity. Mrs. Molosky’s has an excellent teaching style and has the ability to reach all of the students.
The lesson itself does not for any changes for the reason that it works for the teacher and the students. The teacher was able to touch on all the essential information from the unit in a clear and concise approach. Some possible changes which could be made would be to construct a model of the Solar System in class as the unit progresses and at the completion of the unit the model would be finished too. Also to have the students explore vocabulary as it relates to the unit about solar system to be familiar with the pronunciation and possible meanings. Lastly, the students could create paper model of the sun and planets of our solar system.
In today’s classrooms, there are a variety of ways to teach lessons and a wide range of endless resources to implement into a classroom to make it successful. Teachers and students alike have many tools to discover information thus making teaching and learning exciting. The variety of resources and tools which exist will allow me to challenge the students despite the learning levels and allow me to swiftly adapt subject material to meet the needs of each diverse group of students.

Personal Communication/Observation
Christine Molosky, 6th grade Science Teacher. Hazleton Elementary/Middle School. Conducted from October 11-18th, 2011.
*Solar System Exploration. Retrieved October 17, 2011, from…...

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