A universal theme is an organizing concept that brings focus to learning across subject areas. When teaching with universal themes or concepts, students are given a theme and are required to examine those ideas closely and determine how they relate to the theme. For example, the universal theme Relationships can be connected to writing, mathematics,science and social studies. We see relationships in math in fractions, decimals, and percents; in science in chemical reactions; in writing the relationship between word choice and the impact on the reader; in history relationships are everywhere.
Review the definitions with your students and challenge them to select a theme for the school year, for a unit of study and you'll be surprised at the higher level thinking that occurs.