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Activating prior knowledge is one way that English Language Learners (ELLs) make connections to learn a second language.

However, connecting concepts across subject areas also enhances second language acquisition, helps retain information, and builds academic literacy.

This is most easily done through thematic units where a topic is introduced and related vocabulary and concepts are presented in a multidisciplinary fashion.

One example of a thematic unit is Food. Teachers can show the how the food is grown or cooked (Science), the measurements of the ingredients (Math), the history and culture behind the food (Social Studies), and following directions of a recipe or reading fictional texts that include characters eating or growing the same foods (Language Arts). 

The units in Get Ready! are good examples of how lessons can be are arranged thematically. Throughout the units, students are introduced to vocabulary and content across various subject areas, including science, math, social studies, and elective classes.

ELLs see how some words are used in more than one discipline and how a concept can relate to more than subject.

These interdisciplinary lessons are standards based and relate to real world experiences that help students prepare for their role in a global society.

The directions also include common academic language that students will see in their different classes, facilitating their understanding of what an assignment is asking them to complete.

As students progress through the unit, they may make more connections to vocabulary and concepts they are already familiar with, which will lead them to acquiring new knowledge that they can carry with them from class to class.  

Read also: Poetry in the Classroom

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