Connects to Students
By selecting a theme that your students are familiar with, you can teach the material while drawing connections between the information that you are teaching and the student's previous understanding of that information. For instance, using a pop-culture-based reading list allows you to focus on the specific analytical elements---such as theme, stages of a story and plot---from a point of view where your students are already very familiar with the story. The advantage is the added focus on those analytical elements, resulting from your student's heightened familiarity with the work.
Community of Learners
Students play a role in establishing and continuing the theme, giving them a role in the educational community that you're creating in your classroom. Let the students play a role in determining how their class will approach the theme. This reduces the stress on teachers, who no longer have to shoulder all the burden for putting together lesson plans, and lets students feel like they are creating their own learning environment. For instance, in your English class, you decide to use a monster theme for a semester and prepare a list of books with "Dracula," "Frankenstein" and a few gothic short stories. You can
let your students decide which books they want to learn about, giving them a real place in the decision.
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