Online Class: Unit Studies 101

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Course Description

This is a two-part class, the purpose of which is to provide you with the tools necessary to develop your own unit studies course for either homeschool or classroom purposes. Part 1 walks you through the process of building your own unit study course in general terms. Part 2 applies the concepts discussed previously to the topic of baseball and gives you a variety of suggestions for creating a unit study that covers all the major subject areas.

During this course, you will learn the purpose of a unit study, how to pick a suitable topic, how to find resources to support it, how to apply your chosen topic across subject areas, and how to research and plan a unit study. These are strategies you can use to build a unit study using any topic you like. To help you apply these concepts more specifically, Part 2 uses all the principles learned in Part I to build a unit study on baseball. You will learn how to turn the sport of baseball into a way to teach U.S. History, race relations in the U.S., Economics, Comparative Social Studies, Art, Science, Music, Math, and Language Arts. You will also learn some helpful strategies for developing a capstone activity: the Field Trip.
What is a unit study?

A unit study is a way to give students a big-picture view of a single topic, like baseball, and show how this single topic involves elements of all the different subjects they are learning in school (or homeschool). Baseball, for example, can be used as a point of entry to teach science (the physics of the sport), math (baseball statistics), history (history of the game and how the evolution of the sport reflects changes in American society), art (sports photography and baseball art), Language Arts (baseball songs and poems), and a range of other subjects.

Why should I consider doing a unit study?

First of all, unit studies are fun. This is a different approach to teaching, so it helps students and teachers break out of some of their habits and try something fresh. Also, since you are designing the curriculum, you can choose a topic of interest to the student. You don't have to study 18th-century vegetables if this is not appealing to the child. You can turn just about any topic into a unit study--even pop culture icons and famous singers--whatever the student likes, as long as you find a way to use it as a way to teach the major school subjects. Keeping the topic student-centered makes the subject matter more interesting and instantly more applicable to real-life.

Unit studies help students see the big picture. One of the biggest hurdles adults have to overcome as they move through their careers is being able to see how different pieces all fit together as a whole. In a big corporation, for example, a manager from sales would be very aware of the factors that impact sales growth, but he might not understand how external economics impact production costs. From the first days of school, children are taught to break things down and look at one piece at a time, but the world is not made up of single pieces--it is made up of complex systems. A unit studies approach to learning can help students see the connections between seemingly unrelated things, a skill that will help them no matter what occupation they decide to pursue.

Unit studies also help students stay engaged. Gifted or creative students are often bored with traditional curricula. The boredom can cause them to disengage from their studies, or to see school as a chore rather than pursuing their studies with a true love of learning. Keeping gifted and creative students involved sometimes requires a little more imagination.

3)     What are the advantages of doing a unit study?

Both teacher and student will learn from the experience. If you research and develop your own unit study course, you will learn things about the given topic that you never knew, even if you thought you knew the topic well, because you will be examining it from a different perspective.

You and the student will both be thinking from a systems perspective rather than an assembly-line, single-task perspective, which should liven up the school experience for both of you.


Unit studies also offer the opportunity to cater to the student's individual learning style. Although there is significant debate about the importance of learning styles (which we will discuss further in the next section), many people believe that adapting lesson plans to individual styles of learning can make the learning process a lot more efficient and enjoyable for students. Unit studies give you ample opportunities to customize lessons to your student's individual style.

Since you select the topic, you have total control over what you and the student will be researching and learning about. As opposed to packaged curricula, which try to guess at broad-spectrum interests that are generally appealing to children in a certain age group, you can customize the topic to exactly what interests the child. If your student has a fascination with motorcycles, you can capitalize on that interest and create a unit study around that topic. You can also customize it exactly to their level, so if they are strong in math, you can push the math portion of the study further. If they need extra work in spelling, you can place more emphasis on that segment. You have the power to determine exactly what the student will study, based on his needs and interests.

Meet state requirements

Unit studies can cover all the state-required standards without having to adhere to stale formulas.

Break up the routine

Not only do you get to mix up your educational formulas, you also get to do a field trip as a capstone project.

4)     What is the commitment involved?

Developing a unit studies course will take more time than buying an off-the-shelf curriculum and using it without adaptation. It may or may not save you money--depending on how many extras you decide to add on. For example, for the field trip to cap off a baseball unit study, you could take your children to a neighborhood Youth Baseball game free of charge, or you could take them to a major league baseball game in a neighboring city, where you may opt to spend the night in a hotel. Clearly, option two will be more expensive than buying an off-the-shelf curriculum, but that choice is totally up to you.

How much time the course takes to develop will depend on a few factors: your level of familiarity with conducting research, your comfort level with designing curricula, your creativity, how detailed you allow the project to become, and the age/grade level of the student. As students advance, their curricula will need much more detail; however, they will also be mature enough to take on a lot of the legwork themselves so that you can simply ask the questions, and they can research the answers. In general, assuming you are working on other things at the same time, a unit study might take anywhere from a week to two weeks or more to develop. Once you become proficient with it and understand how to do it, you will streamline the process and it will become much faster.

Length of the unit study

How long your unit study takes depends on the depth of the chosen topic and the attention span and interest level of the student. A topic as broad as Medieval England could take an entire school year to complete, because there are so many facets to this one topic. Something more focused, like sea turtles, would only take a few weeks. Also, an older child with a longer attention span and a deep interest in the subject could pursue it much further than a young child whose interests change often and who become bored easily.

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  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
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  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.5 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(497 votes)

Lesson 1: How to Develop Your Own Unit Study

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to identify the purpose of a unit study. Additional lesson topics: The Unit Study Approach 41 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2: How to Choose a Unit Study for Your Child

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to pick a topic for a unit study and find resources to support the unit study. Additional lesson topics: High School Homeschool Unit Studies 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3: Subject Areas

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to relate the unit study to the subject areas, including Social Studies, Art, Science, and Music. 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Subject Areas
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4: Compiling Resources

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to pull together all of the resources to make a successful unit. Additional lesson topics: How to Plan A Unit Study 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Resources
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5: Sample Unit Studies Course--Baseball

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to make baseball into a vehicle for Social Studies lessons. 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6 Unit Study: Relating Baseball to Art

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to relate baseball to art. Additional lesson topics: Baseball Activities and Lesson Plans 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7: Unit Study: Relating Baseball to Science

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to relate baseball to science. 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8 Unit Study: Relating Baseball to Music

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to relate baseball to music. 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9 Unit Study: Relating Baseball to Math

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to relate baseball to math. Additional lesson topics: Math Baseball 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10: Relating Baseball to Language Arts

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to relate baseball to Language Arts 40 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 Exam

Lesson 11: The Field Trip

At the conclusion of this lesson, the learner will be able to get maximum educational advantage out of a capstone unit studies activity--The Field Trip. 15 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Your Field Trip; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course)
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Summarize how to develop your own unit study.
  • Describe how to choose a unit study for your child.
  • Describe subject areas.
  • Describe compiling resources.
  • Describe sample unit studies course--baseball.
  • Describe relating baseball to art.
  • Describe relating baseball to science.
  • Describe relating baseball to music.
  • Describe relating baseball to math.
  • Describe relating baseball to language arts.
  • Describe the field trip.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

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Course Title: Unit Studies 101
Course Number: 7550419
Lessons Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars (497 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.4 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $75.00 U.S. dollars

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