Connecting the dots matters
At CHCA, learning never relies on just one text or resource because life requires us to examine topics from multiple angles and look at the bigger picture. Therefore, we use thematic units to structure student learning. A thematic unit is an idea, theme, or process that connects all areas of learning to a larger context or principle. Along the way, essential questions are posed that bypass rote memorization and cause students to think critically about the subject at hand.
Our instructors use the Understanding by Design™ (UbD) curriculum design model to create these thematic units. These overarching themes are designed to be meaningful enough to incorporate relevant theological integration as well. UbD principles require teachers to identify goals for learning and provide assessments that allow students to demonstrate their understanding, defined as the ability to transfer learning into new situations and apply information in novel ways. The sequence of instruction is then mapped out, incorporating a variety of resources, experiences in which students engage, vocabulary to drive understanding, and any other skills or knowledge necessary to meet the goals for learning.
With UbD as the framework, and thematic units providing well-structured learning, students don’t just recall facts, they reach true understanding that’s manifested in demonstration, empathy, explanation, interpretation, perspective, and self-knowledge. It's about teaching students how to think, versus what to think!