I teach history in chronological order, why do I need the themes?
Using themes in teaching history does not mean that you must give up a chronological approach. Themes add a dimension to history that is vital if students are to make sense of it.
Having a handful of big ideas in mind at the beginning of the year adds purpose to the selection of the details that a teacher will present. If we decided to emphasize the idea or theme--- The development of the United States and its role in world affairs is a result of many experiences with conflict and cooperation --- then we will select instructional material which illustrates this idea.
Emphasizing a limited number of ideas with students with a variety of examples adds depth to a students developing understanding of history.
We believe that without such guiding themes the selection of historical information is serendipitous. A close examination of popular textbooks will reveal that national publishers are also trying to pull history together more meaningfully by providing themes that emphasize throughout the text. We hope that you will closely examine the relationship between the themes and the example events we have identified to illustrate them. We believe that they will provide a framework that will be a powerful aid to promoting historical understanding in your students.