Thematic instruction is the development of instructional units based on a central theme (e.g., pyramids, quilts, etc.). All areas of the curricula are connected to the chosen theme. When using this approach to instruction, it is important to help learners see the "big picture" or examine the big ideas embedded in the curriculum.
To implement thematic instruction, it is important to choose a flexible enough theme to address the standards of various content areas. It is also critical for the teacher(s) to demonstrate clear connections among disciplines so that students acquire an integrated knowledge base.
When using thematic units with English language learners, it is extremely important that the four major language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) be integrated into each unit. That is, students must be engaged in each of the language skills at some point in the unit when focusing on the various content areas. Another important component is the inclusion of technology as a way to enhance the learner's experience.
More on thematic instruction and samples of classroom units can be found at: