After looking at the needs analysis data, I used the information to design a unit which would be engaging and meaningful to the sixth-grade students. I used the book Letters to the First Lady from the International Children’s Digital Library as the main resource for the unit. The theme of the unit is called “I am a catalyst for change”, which refers to change that can be invoked by an individual. A thematic unit attempts to recreate natural curiosity by allowing students to explore a topic in depth (Clementi & Terrill, 2013). The unit focuses on how the students can make an impact in the world and more specifically in their country. One way students are able to make a change is to write letters to a public official, requesting or expressing an opinion. Students should gain knowledge and understandings from this unit, in order to apply it in their lives (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). By using a thematic unit, students develop understandings about how they can make a difference in the world. As well as understanding about how writing letters is a way to bridge communications regardless of age, status, and geographical distance. Thematic units shift the focus from “language for the sake of language” (p. 763 Kindle) to the use of language for a meaningful purpose (Clementi & Terrill, 2013).
Similarly to Stephen, I designed the unit to follow a content-based instructional approach (CBI). Tedick and Cammarata (2010) remind us that in order to have successful language learning, the material should be presented in a meaningful context. The decision to focus on letter writing as part of the overall goal, incorporated the content aspect in the unit. Even though most foreign language courses are largely language-driven (Tedick & Cammarata, 2010), there should be a balance with content as well. The goals for the course reflect an understanding of this concept. There are a combination of content and language goals developed for the unit, as well as content and language objectives designed at the lesson level. An integrated approach to language learning, should not overlook the importance of both of these factors (Snow, Met, & Genesee, 1989). Instead it should reflect how both of these components are working together to achieve language learning.
Clementi, D., & Terrill, L. (2013). The keys to planning for learning: Effective curriculum, unit, and lesson design. Alexandria, VA: ACTFL.
Snow, M. A., Met, M., & Genesee, F. (1989). A conceptual framework for the integration of language and content instruction. TESOL Quarterly, 23(2), 201– 217.
Tedick, D. J., & Cammarata, L. (2010). Implementing content-based instruction: The CoBaLTT framework and resource center. In J. Davis (Ed.), World language teacher education (pp. 243–273). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. Columbus, OH: Pearson Education, Lt.