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Understanding By Design

Language Arts Understanding by Design Lesson Plans

Language Arts Understanding by Design lesson plans from Trinity University.

Collection Contents

Powerful Poetry

by Lani deGuia

UbD lesson plan covering poetry for 1st grade.Wight, Jennifer K. and Sanchez, Letty R., "Powerful Poetry" (2014). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 286.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/286Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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UbD lesson plan for teaching persuasive writing for 2nd grade.Voris, Samantha S. and Wilson, Stephanie, "Convince Me! A Persuasive Writing Unit for 2nd Grade" (2014). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 267.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/267Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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UbD lesson plan on self-identification when readingUlrich, Renee E., "Among The Hidden- Studying The Concept of Self and Connecting To What You Read" (2014). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 277.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/277Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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by Adele BarnettThis unit was designed for a class of struggling readers and writers with the short term goal of preparing them for the reading and expository essay portions of the STAAR End of Course exam. It could easily be adapted (by differentiated texts or levels of scaffolding) for either middle school or more advanced courses in high school. The longer term goal, beyond the EOC, is to help build their confidence and skill as readers and writers. This unit has them write in the expository mode while making connections to their own lives and experiences. Because of their previous writing experiences in school, students tend to enter high school most comfortable with the narrative mode of writing, and often struggle with the more formal genres such as expository writing. This unit uses that prior knowledge as a bridge to the types of writing that often prove more challenging. The overarching goal of this unit is to have students learn to write an effective expository essay that will allow them to be successful on the EOC exam, while learning more about themselves and their classmates.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Amy BarnettThis unit is designed to be one of the first grammar units for Latin I students. Students will be introduced to one of the most foundational differences between English grammar and Latin grammar, and they will build off these understandings in future grammar units. Students will examine subjects and direct objects in English as well as in Latin, and eventually create a short story in Latin with sentences that include subjects and direct objects. Additionally, they will come up with an analogy for the relationship between subjects and direct objects and apply it to the sentences they have written.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Mollie CasonThis unit is intended to be taught at the beginning of the year as both an introduction to the writing process and as an opportunity to create a safe and welcoming classroom environment. In their performance task, students will examine the larger concept of identity and attempt to define their own identity by reflecting on past experiences in the form of a personal narrative. The unit walks them through the process of writing by creating a bank of brainstorming ideas, reading model texts as examples, and allowing time for editing and revision with peers. Students will establish a common writing vocabulary and be able to recognize the importance of choosing an appropriate text structure for a specific genre.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Anna ClarkInformational text impacts our lives every day. In order to take advantage of the knowledge these texts offer, we must know how to read and analyze the information they contain. During this unit, the students will learn the elements of informational text, apply their knowledge by reading and analyzing a variety of writings, and demonstrate what they have learned through the composition of informational texts of their own. They will learn just how important informational text is and has been to their lives and how they can use it to communicate knowledge.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Christie CusterThis unit integrates research and persuasive letter writing skills. Students also apply knowledge of the 7 Habits learned using the Leader in Me curriculum. This unit can also be adapted to use if students are not familiar with the 7 Habits curriculum. The leadership concepts are universal. Through teacher modeling of research about Clara Barton, students learn the research process. Next, students examine real-life examples of persuasive letters and discuss strategies authors use to persuade someone to believe one way or the other. From the information gathered, the class writes a letter trying to persuade a committee to choose Clara Barton as leader of the year. For the performance assessment students research a historical figure, create a museum display that shows why that character is a leader then write a persuasive letter to the 7 Habits committee explaining why that character should be chosen as leader of the year. By the end of this unit students will understand the research process and how to write an effective persuasive letter. Students will also apply what they have learned about leadership in the 7 Habits curriculum.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Mary Mac Elliot and Melissa ExleyThe submitted unit is the second in a series covering the Ante-bellum period. This unit focuses on the accumulation of knowledge of the economic and political issues of the time with a narrowed focus/extension of the social aspect (Romanticism). Students will be exposed to art, poetry, and short stories and how they embody the Romantic ideas. This unit also focuses on plot development and analyzing literature with the use of plot diagrams and the SOAPSTONE model.The end result of this unit is to have students write a short story that occurs in one of the three regions of Ante-bellum America and includes an economic, a social, and a political issue/event of the period. The short story must also contain all of the components of the genre.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kristina FordIn the wake of the new state test (EOC/STAAR), students are being commanded not only to write three coherent essays in four hours, but also to employ effective syntax, diction, grammar, and punctuation in their writing. It’s a brilliant ideal that, in reality, more than half of ninth grade students across the state are struggling to meet. The question that surfaces, then, is why are so many students unable to write effectively? And, how can teachers help these struggling students gain the confidence and skills to write well? Most teachers know that in order for students to become good writers, they also need to be good readers. But to become both a good writer and reader, students must understand the basic foundations of the English language: grammar. Grammar—from the basic parts of speech, syntax, diction, to tenses— advances writing, speech, and reading comprehension. It is the building blocks of language, just as DNA is the building block of life; without understanding grammar, we will struggle to understand and correctly employ the English language. Unfortunately, grammar remains a component of English Language Arts curriculum that has been divested and neglected, perhaps because its importance and relevancy has been overlooked and devalued for too many years. But as teachers, we can change that by beginning to weave grammar back into the curriculum. And this grammar unit attempts to do just that.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Lauren HickeyThis unit focuses on persuasive elements and writing. Students are tasked with reading higher level material and identifying the rhetorical elements that make up an argument. The unit asks students to consider multiple ethical issues and analyze the rhetorical devices used to portray the author’s argument. This unit is highly focused on writing and application of skill-sets. There are multiple activities that encourage students to apply their knowledge of Logos, Ethos, Pathos into creating and designing sales pitches, public service announcements, editorials, etc. The final assessment is a cooperative learning opportunity, in which students create and design a Google website with multiple components that focus on persuading an audience on an ethical issue chosen by the students.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Southern Gothic

by Lani deGuia

By Morgan KernCurriculum unit on the southern gothic literary movement.
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By Lauren LeeThis unit primarily seeks to explore the theme of Lawrence and Lee’s play Inherit the Wind, which Lawrence defined as “the dignity of the individual mind, and that mind’s lifelong battle against limitation and censorship”. The authors based their text around the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, but ambiguity in date and location suggest this play is, moreover, an allegory of events which subvert truth in favor of belief. In so exploring Lawrence and Lee’s theme, this unit connects a driven high school freshmen to contemporary and historical happenings that suppress fact and overvalue opinion, regardless of whether such beliefs are rooted in logic. Additionally, it addresses the common core standards of vocabulary acquisition, specifically inferring meaning in context, and the rhetorical term ethos; internet literacy; effective summary and analysis writing; literary devices such as plot, theme, setting, character; as well as how author choice affects meaning.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Pourquoi Stories

by Lani deGuia

By Dan MalleteThis unit is based on Pourquoi Stories, which are stories of origin or stories that tell how or why something came to be. These stories are a form of the literary narrative. This unit is meant for students to explore the structure of stories and also what stories show the reader about different cultures. Specifically, this unit addresses the introductory hook, plot diagramming, the four basic conflicts in narrative and character development. This unit highlights these literary ideas by embracing the following multiple intelligences: spatial, linguistic, logical/mathematical, kinesthetic and naturalistic.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Persuasive Essay

by Lani deGuia

By Katie Mason
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By Elizabeth Muire“Romeo and Juliet is About You” is a unit written for the opening work of the spring semester of freshman English, shortly before the STAAR exam. The unit focuses on teaching students to relate to difficult texts and thereby make them more accessible, as well as exploring relationships and their effect on values, choices, and lives. The students will write expository and literary essays, as well as hold Socratic seminars and make use of a number of discussion protocols, to get comfortable with the big ideas of Romeo and Juliet, and the conventions of drama. The culminating project of the unit is a student choice tic-tac-toe board, where each square focuses on plot, theme, or the essential question, and the methods by which the students show their knowledge run the spectrum of student interests, including art, music, and writing.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Amy TaffetTo prepare our eighth grade students for their interdisciplinary eighth grade trip to Taos, New Mexico, students read Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop, which narrates the adventures of two priests, Father Latour and Father Valliant, who attempt to evangelize the peoples of New Mexico. To enrich this cross-curricular experience, our initial goal is that the students develop an appreciation for Cather’s novel. Not only will they have the opportunity to visit the church, homes, and missions of Cather’s characters in Taos while learning about this period in history, science, and religion classes, but also students will be able to witness individuals who risked their lives to share their faith. This will invite students to grapple with the idea of faith and their daily expression of their beliefs as they prepare for Confirmation.In addition to developing an appreciation for the characters, historical period, and themes in Cather’s novel, students will learn to annotate and analyze a text. In class, students will close read and annotate the text for the author’s mechanical tools (what is said—elements of a story) and stylistic tools (how it is said—the author’s writing style). Students will acquire the essential skill of annotating a text to help them unpack Cather’s purpose in writing.To bring Cather’s nineteenth-century characters to life, our eighth graders will collaborate in small groups to create a larger-than-life social media page “Páginas de Caras” (a spinoff of a “Facebook” page) about one main character from Death Comes for the Archbishop. Students will create conversations between their character and other characters, form a timeline of the character’s experiences, post statements about their opinions and themes, and gather photographs from Taos that the character might have taken (if a camera existed at the time). Students will compile and apply their “evidence” from their annotation and expedition to construct a compelling social media page to bring the character to life in the twenty-first century.In short, students will acquire the tools to unpack a challenging text and think about the characters and themes within a familiar frame-of-reference, the social media page. The juxtaposition between contemporary technology and Cather’s nineteenth century narrative will encourage students to think critically about past and present forms of communication and self-expression.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Amy ThomsonThis is an approximately four week unit intended for junior AP Language students with daily forty five minute class periods. It is based on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is paired with non-fiction pieces “Shooting an Elephant,” “On Morality,” “Live Free and Starve,” and “The Ways We Lie,” as well as student chosen current events articles in keeping with the goals of The College Board’s AP English Language and Composition course. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was part of a summer reading assignment, so the students should have read it previously during the summer and completed assignments based on it before the unit begins. This unit will be the first one of the year, after about a week of assignments focused on getting to know the students and teambuilding. Due to the fact that the main work, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, has already been read, this unit focuses on helping students acquire meaning from it, and on helping them lay the foundation for AP Language curriculum with introductions to rhetoric and argument, class discussion techniques such as On the Fence and Fishbowl, and AP argument timed writing essay practice. After collecting the summer reading assignments, we begin by reviewing literary terms, Freytag’s Pyramid, and annotating skills as a warm-up for the unit. Then students are introduced to new information such as rhetoric, argument, and rhetorical appeals in order to build a foundation for understanding. Students also have class discussion and dialogues designed to help unpack the texts, connect their reading to the essential questions and writer’s craft, and become better at close reading and analysis. Afterwards I introduce On the Fence and Fishbowl discussion techniques, which will be meaning and analysis tools we continue to use in every unit this year. I also introduce timed writing strategies, and the students do their first timed writing practice of the year, which is scaffolded as it is based off of a class walk-through. The students then use that timed writing as a basis for revision and editing with teacher feedback, which gives them practice and helps them expand and enhance their original responses. To end the unit students apply the essential questions to their own lives by creating a pentangle that represents their personal virtues, and finally transfer their knowledge and meaning through an independent AP timed writing essay and final draft. After this unit is completed, students should come away with understandings about how fear, honor, virtue, and morality can affect us, as well as increased knowledge and skills in class discussion, timed writing, and crafting AP style essays.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Valerie ViedThis unit examines short non-fiction texts centered on cultural awareness and understanding. Through analyzing model texts students will deduce organizational structures for expository writing and strategies used for effective communication. Through a variety of close reading activities, students will collect a bank of tools to incorporate into their own writing for small open ended writing assignments during the unit and the summative assessment at the end of the unit.The performance task includes an artistic representation of culture and an expository explaining the significance of the images and symbols chosen. Students will learn to introduce an idea and logically explain the background, cultural significance, and impact on their lives and personal identities.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By J Kat AylesworthThis unit was designed to be the second unit of the school year which means that the students will have had ample practice with the structure of a paragraph and the overall structure of a paper but will need a lot of work on organizing ideas, building writing stamina, and analyzing textual evidence.This unit places heavy emphasis on analyzing not only the text but the concept of games and game play in the real world and the rules which govern our society.Students will polish their skills of writing a formal essay while learning about human interaction and manipulation through Orson Scott Card’s famous sci-fi novel, Ender’s Game.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Lindsey BakerFor this unit, students will write a personal narrative using the writing process. This is one of the main curricular elements of seventh grade writing. This unit is designed to teach many foundational writing skills students may or may not have acquired in previous years of schooling. There are several times within the unit that students will be sharing work and ideas with their peers. Therefore, this unit gives students personal validation and builds a positive classroom writing community. By the conclusion of this unit, students should have the ability to independently compose a personal narrative that contains: proper grammar, structure, clear ideas, and reflection. A secondary goal is that students gain a deeper understanding of themselves, as personal narratives are essays that reflect one’s unique experiences.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Jeanine CapitaniThis is a unit meant to be done near the beginning of the school year after reviewing the writing process and discuss writing requirements for the year. Beginning with sharing the teacher’s autobiography gives the students a background on their teacher and helps them identify with the teacher. Writing a personal autobiography will allow students to share parts of their lives with their peers and to gain a better understanding of their own history and their goals for the future.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Anna ClarkThe Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter is an historical fiction Young Adult novel about a teenage boy, True Son, who was captured by American Indians as a young child, grew up as an adopted member of the tribe, and is then forcibly returned to his white family at age fifteen. The central theme of the book is True Son’s conflict with his identity and the questions of who his true family is and where his allegiance should lie.During this unit, students will complete most of the reading assignments outside of class. Spread throughout different stages of the reading, the lessons taught during each class focus on developing an understanding of the ways elements of fiction contribute to both the reading and writing experience, the influence of personal perspective, and the many elements of life that contribute to the formation of identity. This unit is designed to be taught toward the end of the first semester of sixth grade, when content like plot, the writing process, and basic essay structure have already been taught. With these basics already intact, students delve into the deeper questions of character and point of view development and synthesize their knowledge at the of the unit into a persuasive essay on identity supported by textual evidence and followed by an oral debate.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Eloisa FloresThis unit is designed for the beginning of fourth grade as an introduction to poetry, which the students will revisit throughout the year. The unit focuses on familiarizing students with the structural elements of poetry (e.g., rhyme, meter, stanzas, line breaks) as well as using the writing process to write original poems that convey sensory details using the conventions of poetry. Students will also analyze and interpret poems, using evidence to support their claims. Students will understand that people write poetry to express their thoughts and emotions in a creative, unique way.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By M. Melendy JacobieIn the free-response section of the AP World History Exam, all students are asked to answer three constructed-response questions. This unit is set at the beginning of the course to address the first form of question, a document-based question, and to serve as a way for the teacher and students to build their classroom community. Students will explore how evidence can be used to understand a person or time period while learning the components of a DBQ essay before any world history content is taught. Students will create a set of ten documents that show how they became the person they are today and write their first Document-Based Question (DBQ) Essay in response to the prompt: Analyze the factors that shaped the life of your partner in the period from 1996/7 to the present, using documents that another student has collected to represent their life in the Creating a Personal DBQ project.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Melissa Manny JimenezIs any story ever truly original? This unit illustrates how even contemporary writers allude to and reinterpret the stories of the past in order to tell new stories that are socially relevant, but still universal in scope. Specifically in The Hunger Games, archetypes and mythology play a prominent role. Students will learn how to identify character, situation, and symbolic archetypes in myths, film, and visual art. Through the process of observing these texts, students will not only construct an understanding of the relationship between literature and culture, but also look for patterns to interpret unfamiliar texts. In the performance assessment, students will identify archetypes in The Hunger Games and make intentional choices about how to represent them in their own movie versions of the popular book.Please note that this unit is designed to prepare students in the International Baccalaureate program for future units of study in world cultures and classical mythology. While this unit does not go into depth with the stages of a hero’s journey or the Greek gods and goddesses, an examination of these and the Theseus myth in The Hunger Games would be an interesting future unit of study.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Karen MorrisonThis unit integrates writing, media/technology and economics via collaboration differentiation. The goal is to publish a niche newspaper solely focused on going green. The unit opens with an analysis of the power of persuasion by exposure and examples. Students will then be learning researching skills necessary as they read books & navigate through websites about how to be environmentally friendly. The research and essays written will become the articles in the newspaper, the foundation. Students will be invited to learn a basic understanding of the parts of a newspaper, applying for a job and how to persuade for positions based on strengths and skills. Staff meetings will be conducted and then the classroom will transform into a living and breathing newspaper company. Students will have different jobs, goals, activities all based on skill and choice. The teacher, as Director, manages and facilitates the production of the newspaper. The staff has a unified mission. Wages will be given daily based on productivity and work accomplished.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Amy R. ThomsonThis is an approximately four week unit intended for senior AP Literature students with daily forty five minute class periods. It is based on the novels My Antonia by Willa Cather, and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.These novels were both summer reading assignments, so the students should have read them previously during the summer and completed assignments based on them before the unit begins. This unit will be the first one of the year, after about a week of assignments focused on getting to know the students and teambuilding.Due to the fact that the novels have already been read, this unit goals focus on helping students acquire meaning from them, and on helping them lay the foundation for AP Literature curriculum with timed writings, Socratic Seminar, and open ended AP essay practice.The first two weeks are spent on My Antonia. After collecting and reviewing the summer reading questions, we begin on class dialogues designed to help students unpack the text, connect their reading to themes, and become better at close reading and analysis. Afterwards I introduce Levels of Questioning and Socratic Seminar, which will be meaning and analysis tools we continue to use in every unit this year. Next I introduce timed writing strategies, and the students do their first timed writing practice of the year, which is scaffolded as it is based off of previous class dialogue. The students then use that timed writing as a basis for revision and editing with peer and teacher feedback, which gives them practice and helps them expand and enhance their original responses.The second two weeks are spent on Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We begin by comparing and contrasting the two summer reading novels with Pride and Prejudice, which is a novel they have read in a previous year. In this we focus on structure (form) and purpose (function) of the novel, which will help them in their analysis of this and future text. We continue with more reading dialogues and activities, and then a scaffolded revision of their Summer Reading Essay over Adventures of Huckleberry Finn where they receive feedback from the teacher. We finish with a second Socratic Seminar, and a final independent Timed Writing Essay where they show their transfer of thematic textual analysis and AP timed writing skills.After this unit is completed, students should come away with understandings about how the past, our surroundings, and society can affect us, as well as increased knowledge and skill in Socratic Seminar skills, timed writing, and crafting AP style essays.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Dystopian Literature

by Lani deGuia

By Valerie ViedIn this unit students examine three dystopian short stories, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin, and one dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This unit is scheduled as the first unit of the year to peak interest in authentic learning and real-world problems, and get students thinking critically from the first day of school. In preparation for the STAAR exam, the writing focus for the unit is expository. Students will practice the various expository organizational structures (description, sequence, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and problem and solution) throughout the unit. In addition, students will examine literary elements such as tone, mood, diction, syntax, plot, character, imagery, setting, style, theme, symbolism, allusion, and figures of speech. The three short stories were assigned as a summer reading assignment, and Fahrenheit 451 will be read primarily in class with a variety of activities and writing in each lesson. The performance assessment is made of two parts: a creative project and an expository essay.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kat AylesworthThis unit was designed to be the second unit of the school year which means that the students will have had ample practice on writing body paragraphs but will need a lot of work on organizing ideas, building writing stamina, and formatting a complete paper. This unit places a heavy emphasis on finding and using textual evidence to support wider claims. It is the first step in the process and will serve as a foundation for the rest of the year.Students will learn these skills while coming to an understanding about group dynamics and the place of the individual within a larger community through the context of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.Many of the ideas on how to teach the writing process as it pertains to the standard analytical essay comes from Michael Degen’s Crafting Expository Argument: Practical Approaches to the Writing Process for Students and Teachers.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Erika Barker and Veronica Peña-MontalvoA six week unit designed to teach play structure and understanding, culminating in a scene adaptation to a different era with the addition of a musical number. Students will learn how to effectively identify Aristotle’s Six Elements of a Play as well as practice a variety of character analysis techniques. They will also understand how language is a reflection of an era and can be used to ‘set the scene’. While this unit has been designed around Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, it is our goal that it be used with any play from any time period.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Framing Poetry

by Lani deGuia

By Sherry BrownThis is an elective, semester-long creative writing class. In developing a poetry unit, I wanted to provide examples of highly structured forms of poetry and have the students practice using those forms. Through the focus on the essential questions and discussions about the use of structure, I want the students to come to an understanding that structure serves purpose, and that the meaning of a poem is derived from structure, as well as content. In a well-written poem, structure and content work together as a cohesive whole to effectively communicate meaning and emotion.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Day of the Dead

by Lani deGuia

By Jeanine CapitaniThis is a 15-day language arts unit dedicated to understanding the Mexican holiday, El Día de los Muertos, celebrated on November 1 and 2. The students will learn the significance of the Day of the Dead and how it is celebrated as well as learning important vocabulary. The students will do a writing project including an interview of a deceased relative or family friend, a cumulative paragraph explaining the importance of Day of the Dead, and a reflective paragraph. The students will also complete different art projects related to Day of the Dead. At the end, the students will have their own Day of the Dead celebration in class in honor of their relatives and family friends.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Tina Harper and Monica GonzalezHelping students tap into the power of grammar as a tool to empower their writing is the central goal of this unit. Students often see grammar as a list of rules and regulations that must be followed to avoid losing points on an assignment. It is our goal to help them see grammar as an avenue to communicate effectively and gain credibility from their audience.Furthermore, students often struggle when transitioning from middle school to high schools. This unit is written to be taught and modified by an eighth grade and ninth grade English teacher. Because we teach at an independent school, the majority of our students will experience this unit both in 8th grade English and in 9th grade English (with modification). By designing and teaching the same unit together, students experience consistency in skill development. Additionally, teachers may discuss the concepts students master and the concepts students need further practice with throughout and after the unit.In this unit students will study the power of grammar as it is structured to reflect education, social power, and purpose. Additionally, they will study the parts of the sentence and how writers modify or add to sentences to add clarity, meaning, style and sophistication.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Mollie KnappThe goal of this unit is for students to understand cause and effect relationships and how analyzing these relationships can lead to better problem-solving.In their performance assessment, students will research the causes and effects related to a teen issue topic of their choice. Students will then incorporate their research into a cause and effect essay. In addition to their research, students will give advice on what steps their readers can take to make good decisions when faced with this topic. For example, if a student were writing an essay about the effects of owning a pet, he/she would probably advise readers to make sure they have sufficient amounts of time and money to devote to the animal before making the commitment.Students take part in various learning activities as they build up to their performance assessment, including practicing the use of proactive response, which is taken from Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Lauren LeeIn this college preparatory English class, I expose students to formative texts of the Western world. One such text is Oedipus Rex, the only text from classical Greek literature students read in their English coursework unless they choose to take the elective course on its mythology. We will, therefore, explore this play with the goal of introducing students to this formative literary world, both by reading the play itself and also by studying several prominent myths of Greek antiquity. Additionally, students will obtain knowledge of some of the tenets of and contributors to Greek theater, including a study of its staging and setting as well as Sophocles’ contribution to its development. Using their understanding of literary terminology, including, most prominently, motif, they will analyze the play using several reading and discussion formats as well as activities. Ultimately, in addition to these factual understandings, students will explore the nature of knowledge—knowledge of self, of others, of the world—and how people respond to and interact with the realities with which they’re confronted.Please note that the brilliance of my colleagues and inspiring work in the field, including the work of Jeff Wilhelm’s Action Strategies for Deepening Comprehension, inspired many of the activities and strategies found in this unit .These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Ellen MitchellIn this unit, students use the media literacy inquiry process of analyzing advertisements for educational and real life purposes. By the end of the unit, student should be able to recognize and identify how media messages use specific techniques to target audiences to gain profit or power. Media literacy is used to build critical analysis skills and develop conscious consumers of products and ideas. This unit falls in the middle of the seventh grade year after students have practiced media literacy through studies of propaganda, news analysis, and rhetorical analysis of famous speeches. Throughout the unit, students will analyze print advertisements, commercials, and public service announcements using the 5 key concepts and questions of media literacy as a means of developing an awareness of the influence of media on their own decision making. For the performance task, students will analyze a major media campaign and create an alternate advertisement that fits into the campaign through the use of similar technical elements, but targets an opposite audience than previously targeted in the real ad campaign. Students will explain their analysis of the existing campaign as well as their technical process in a frame of media literacy concepts and rhetorical analysis. Media Literacy resources for teachers can be found at this free website: www.medialit.orgThese works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Finding the Right Fit

by Lani deGuia

By Norton ReihnerThis unit focuses on applying for admission to institutions most appealing to their needs as a student and future professional.
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By Garrett Scott and Anne BlakeThis unit will help students to understand the different components of persuasion through the use of a variety of learning activities. The students will participate in three scaffolded performance tasks that will require them to work alone, in partners and in a group setting. Students will be able to independently use and evaluate persuasive techniques in media. By the end of the unit each student will have created and composed a persuasive letter, a multimedia print ad, and a public service announcement.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Garrett Scott and Anne BlakeThis unit will help students to understand the different components of persuasion through the use of a variety of learning activities. The students will participate in three scaffolded performance tasks that will require them to work alone, in partners and in a group setting. Students will be able to independently use and evaluate persuasive techniques in media. By the end of the unit each student will have created and composed a persuasive letter, a multimedia print ad, and a public service announcement.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Debating the Truth

by Lani deGuia

By Lisa ShayStudents will spend six weeks discovering the value of opposing viewpoints on different current event topics. Students will learn to conduct a debate following the Middle School Public Debate Program model. Students will first research a variety of topics in teams of three, finding both the pros and cons of the topic. Students must be able to form arguments, find fallacies in both research and arguments refute and eventually debate their peers. The unit guides students through the debate process allowing for practice on each of the process stages. As the performance assessment pieces, students will conduct a debate using knowledge gained from the unit, in order to compete against a team of peers on the same topic.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Elemental Fiction

by Lani deGuia

By Amy Restivo ThomsonThis is an approximately a seven week fiction unit intended for 9th grade regular English with daily fifty minute classes. It is partially based on the Glencoe Literature Texas Treasures Course 4 textbook.The new STAAR exam begins next school year, and my students will be in the first class to take the exam. So, I wanted to create a unit that would help them practice the writing they would have on the exam without being writing exercises straight from the textbook.In this unit I integrate reading, analyzing, and writing short stories with learning and analyzing literary terms and elements in the hope that they will reinforce each other and bolster student skill and understanding. The unit begins with learning Fretag’s Pyramid as a tool to analyze plot structure, and moves into reading and analyzing fictional short stories. I use some stories from our text that are required, but have also included some outside of the text to show different authors, perspectives, and themes.After studying several stories and literary terms and elements from the perspective of the reader, students continue to make their own meaning by writing an expository essay analyzing The Cask of Amontillado. This also serves as a first practice in expository writing, which is one genre of writing they will encounter on the STAAR test.Once that first major piece of writing is completed, they continue studying short stories, but from the perspective of a writer. This helps them acquire knowledge and create meaning that they will need for their final performance task of writing their own short story which incorporates literary terms and elements. This is the second type of writing they will encounter on the STAAR exam.After this unit is done, students should come away with understandings about the value of short stories and literary elements as well as increased knowledge and skill in crafting literary and expository writing.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Amy AndersonExploring the Romantic Movement and its influence on our culture today, this unit focuses on identifying and explaining how the characteristics of a literary genre are reflected in a work of art or piece of literature. Students will refine their explication skills and learn to make connections between literature, art and music.The unit culminates in a differentiated multimedia project, which allows students to show what they know about Romanticism and its connections to our lives today.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kara Brown and Jean YangThe goal of this unit is for students to write their own personal narrative. Students will understand that writing a personal narrative is not only applicable to the classroom. They will understand the value of reflecting on past experiences and use that knowledge in the future.They will take an essay through all five steps of the writing process (pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing). Throughout the unit, students will be introduced to and apply new strategies to their own writing to help with pre-writing, revising and editing. These strategies will improve their writing, and students will be able to see the value in using them. Students will also practice their command of standard conventions of the English language.The long-term goal is for students to be able to complete an essay on their own and finish with a polished piece of writing. At the end of this unit, students will also have a better idea as to how to create a “good” piece of writing versus just hoping to “be lucky.”These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Sherry BrownStudents will develop a project around a social or environmental issue which is important to them. In groups, students will research their topic and write a précis with a works cited page. In groups, they will then develop and present a multimedia presentation on their topic. The presentation will present the points from their précis, include music, photos, and videos, and incorporate elements from art, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. They must also engage in primary source research or a community action component. Finally, the students individually will write a personal reflection and connection paper. Through this process, the students will address the essential questions: “Why should we explore and grapple with social and environmental issues?” and “How can I be a force for positive and substantive change?”These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Devon Erlich As we approach the Shakespearean tragedy, we are going to not only study the dramatic terms utilized, but also the ways in which characters are persuaded. The essential question, “What makes a person persuasive?” will lead us through the reading of Julius Caesar when looking at the actions of all of the characters. We will discuss their use of ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade others, and we will also look at each character’s understanding of his audience. While we will study and practice persuasive techniques in advertising, writing, and speech, we will also focus on the audience’s perception of the persuader through the question, “When should we follow the guidance of others and when should we follow our own conscience?” As young adults, it is important for students to consider the process of decision-making and the weight of decisions. Hopefully, the students will come away from this unit with an appreciation for Shakespeare and an understanding of Julius Caesar. However, they should also be able to use the persuasive techniques used throughout the play in the classroom and in their own lives. Finally, as effective persuaders, the students should also be more conscious decision makers.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Monica Gonzalez and Tina Harper Middle school students struggle with the internalization that choices have consequences. Adolescence is a time in their life when, perhaps for the first time, their choices have lasting ramifications. At the same time, students are acutely aware that life is full of contradiction; certain events in life are indeed beyond their control. The choices they make in these situations may determine their direction into adulthood.The purpose of this unit is to allow students to examine the consequences of choices made in a world that is controlled by adults. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet serves as the vehicle toward understanding the consequences of choices. At the heart of tragedy is the real world lesson that choices made by characters seal their fate. Through purposeful analysis of characterization and the elements of tragedy, students will experience how theatre exposes that the individual still has choice.Student analysis of language and sentence construction within Romeo and Juliet will also help students to understand the effects of word choice and sentence construction. Shakespeare used grammar to illuminate the personality of characters, to provide rhythm, and to engage his audience. Students will have the opportunity to both practice and utilize sentence manipulation and word choice to exhibit their understanding of the role grammar plays in the author’s ability to effectively communicate his message.The unit culminates in student creation and performance of an original piece of work incorporating the elements of tragedy. The final product will also incorporate the manipulation of sentence structure and word choice in the revisions process to allow students the opportunity to reveal a unique message through his/her own perspective. Through the writing and performance process, students will communicate the central message, “In the space between an action and reaction you have choice.” - Steven CoveyThese works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Lauren Lee This unit is designed to begin the school year with a study of culture as well as anxieties that permeate cultures and perpetuate fear and conflict. Ultimately, students should reach the greater understanding that fears produced by a group mentality are oftentimes a result of the people in power enabling that mentality. These fears further separate those in power and the people they control, and frequently result in that culture committing acts they might otherwise find morally deplorable but nonetheless condone out of group think.Within the context of these greater understandings, students will work on summary-response writing skills, understanding drama through study of vocabulary as well as dramatic performances, and also understanding and analyzing a variety of texts including Miller’s play and M. Night Shymalan’s The Village.Many of the strategies and ideas this unit employs were inspired or created by my colleagues, Kendra Ackerman and Kristin Leclaire.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Lauren LeeThis unit, written for a primarily senior college preparatory English Literature class, uses several short stories from James Joyce’s Dubliners to focus on the thematic idea of loss, grief, and coping to build on students’ understanding of research, creative writing, discussion, reading, making connections, and literary terms. At the unit’s conclusion, students will demonstrate their mastery of these skills and understandings in a Wikispace in which they conduct first-person research on a culture, as Joyce did, and emulate some of his creative writing skills to develop vignettes about that culture working independently or in groups. Some activities that will lead up to this culminating assessment include scored discussion, prompted annotations, exploration of the text’s thematic ideas in outside sources, group work, and Blogging. Although this seventeen-day unit focuses on 9 stories from the collection including “The Sisters”, “An Encounter”, “Araby”, “Eveline”, “The Boarding House”, “A Little Cloud”, “Counterparts”, “A Painful Case”, and “The Dead”, one could extend this unit by teaching more of Joyce’s stories or the text in its entirety.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Megan Nitcholas and Audrey TanThis unit is designed as a beginning of the year unit in 1st grade writing. Students will have had very limited exposure to writing.Students will be introduced to the writing workshop format and develop their confidence as beginning writers. Students will discover the power of writing as a tool for communication. Throughout the unit students will practice becoming independent writers. They will learn how to generate personally relevant topics. Through mini-lessons, students will learn that writing is an ongoing process and that their writing is continually evolving.The unit will conclude with students demonstrating their learning through creating a beginning writing piece that will be made into a class book. Students will celebrate their progress as a writer and collectively create a writing workshop contract that will be referred back to throughout the rest of the school year.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Alice RasmussenThis is a 6 week unit over the books The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Students were to choose one of these books for their summer reading, and this unit asks students to re-read (or read for the first time) their book at a closer, deeper level. Students will be assigned to smaller reading/discussion groups for the unit. They will read together and at home, complete close reading assignments in class, ask thought-provoking discussion questions, and record their thoughts and reflections in an online blog. At the end of the unit, students will publish their own story that they worked on throughout the unit using the steps of the writing process.Even though students will only be reading one of the books, the themes and character struggles are linked in a way that will make managing class discussions about big ideas easy. Students will be able to talk about their ideas in a universal way.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Patricia Rogers and Sarah Berce Through the study of To Kill a Mockingbird, students will understand the importance of empathy in human relations, the effect of point of view in a story, and the power of words and actions in an argument. As students read, they will discover the theme that “to fully understand others, we must wall in their shoes.” They will explore how perspective and point of view shape a story and the reader’s understanding of that story. Modeling the rhetorical devices Atticus uses in his closing argument, the unit’s culminating activity will be for students to defend themselves in an apology from an unsympathetic character’s point of view. Students will write their apology and perform it in front of the class to assess their understanding of empathy, rhetoric, and point of view and perspective. Students will also write a thematic literary analysis paper to demonstrate their understanding of theme and the relationship between the book and the issues that still face our society today. Students, through the understandings/big ideas, daily activities, and culminating activities, will come to see To Kill a Mockingbird as an authentic American classic in which to learn and grow from as a community today.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Getting to Know Me

by Lani deGuia

By Carrie SusongThis unit is written for a fourth grade English Language Arts class at a bilingual school in Honduras. It is designed to be taught at the beginning of the school year, within the first 3-4 weeks. Since the unit focuses on classroom-community building and basic grammar, it could be adapted for a primary grade class of native English speakers or for a level 1 class of foreign language learners. Suggestions and resources for differentiation are mentioned for several lessons.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Jennifer WrayThis unit arose out of students reading passively and not responding to their texts. In order to inspire a response in students, these picture books set in the WWII era are particularly powerful and typically evoke passionate responses. The unit focuses on understanding different perspectives in history and an author’s purpose for writing. The other main focus is teaching students how to have a personal response to a text. Authors of these books specifically wrote their stories to learn from the past and create peace for the future. Therefore, the performance task at the end invites the students to use the books as inspiration for their own project that could benefit their own world. It is an avenue for students to respond to text in a positive way as well as empowering them as children with powerful ideas that can make a difference!These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Amy AndersonStudents will explore the connections between the writing process, art and memory. Through the lens of photography and art, they will refine and publish a “moment in time” personal narrative. This unit was created for the beginning of the school year, and serves the dual purpose of reviewing the writing process and helping students create meaningful connections with each other. Learning culminates as students produce and present a literary magazine celebrating their work.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Sarah BerceThis unit is designed to help students think critically about the world. Students, especially with the increasing role of technology in our world, are exposed to persuasive messages in various capacities everyday. The class will read, analyze, and respond to several real world sources including persuasive speeches, position papers, advertisements, commercials, political campaigns, newspaper articles, and pictures. Through these sources and accompanying activities, students will discover the effects of advertising and the means to effectively persuade. After reading, exploring, and analyzing various sources, students will work creatively to design a shoe and an accompanying advertisement campaign. Then, they will critically respond to sources through a persuasive research paper in which they develop their own position on the effects of advertising. Students will come to understand that rhetoric acts as a universal and timeless tool to persuade and share arguments through various media. In addition, they will discover that rhetorical strategies and devices effectively, but sometimes deceptively, strengthen the impact of an argument on the intended audience.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Catherine BrackettThrough the study of Thank You, Mr. Falker, Firetalking, The Thinking Quilt, Thundercake, Ginger and Petunia, My Ol’ Man, and The Limonade Club, this unit will allow students to grow as writers by studying an Patricia Polacco. The students will also learn to apply lessons addressed in literature to their own lives. Most importantly, the students will learn how their words and actions can either build a person up or tear them down. In the end, they will be asked to apply what they have learned to create a story or play that will help a bullying situation in a younger grade.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Carol Cagnoni The following unit is based upon the 7th grade reading TEKS and College and Career Readiness Standards for TEXAS. In this unit, students will explore a variety of genres. Through group discussion, lectures, and self-discovery, students will be able to better understand how to choose a book in a genre that interests them. The unit ends with students reading a self-selected book based on criteria tailored to them. Finally, after reading a book, the students will create a brochure advertising the book they completed as well as share their opinion with their peers.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kara Dougherty The goal of this unit is for students to write their own reflexive piece of writinga memoir. While students have had previous exposure to this in the past, their focus should be more on narrowing down their topic to the important facts and use vivid descriptions and sensory details to create imagery in their writing. We will read published examples of reflexive writing from both essay collections and the literature book, Elements of Literature: First Course published by Holt in order to analyse and understand how other writers make their literature interesting to the reader. We will also explore strategies to guide us through the pre-writing process. Students will look in-depth at different ways of pre-writing in order to generate ideas and drafts for their memoirs. We will also complete multiple revising and editing activities in order to show students how to enhance and refine their writing.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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A Lesson Before Dying

by Lani deGuia

By Devon Erlich Students will focus on the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines which outlines the emotional and intellectual journey of a wrongfully convicted black man and his teacher before the convicted’s execution in a Cajun community in the 1940’s. The themes presented in the book will raise questions for the students such as What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be educated? And Is justice always just? They will explore the idea that many issues surrounding justice, racism, and human responsibility are just as prevalent today as for the characters presented in the novel. Not only will students investigate major themes in the novel, but they will also focus on literary elements. The class will question the author’s motivation for writing the novel and for choosing certain characters and settings; they will discuss how author’s stylistic choices help develop the theme or conflict in a story. The unit will culminate in a cooperative learning project that asks the students an essential question raised by the novel, do we control our future or do forces outside of our control determine our destiny?These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Devon ErlichIn this unit students will read five narratives (both fiction and nonfiction) that have a common theme of sacrifice. The readings will provide them with the opportunity to uncover the understandings that sacrifices occur on a daily basis in our world, in our lives, and in our literature. Additionally, the students will have the opportunity to understand that authors write narratives with a message in mind, and effectively conveying this message requires a purposeful use of literary elements, organization, and diction. As the unit progresses, students will be able to answer the question, “What is a narrative?” And “How do literary elements contribute to the unity of the effect?” Not only will they study the skills of writing a narrative, but they will consider our thematic question, “How do people come to understand or know sacrifice?” The unit will contain multiple versions of assessment but will conclude with an assignment where students must create, revise, and edit a narrative piece for our classroom anthology. Initially, the students will write a narrative which includes the idea of sacrifice in some way. After they have written their narrative, the students will undergo an individual and peer process where they evaluate and revise their narrative based on their knowledge they have gained throughout the unit. The final draft of the narrative will contain purposeful use of literary elements, and they will be able to identify how each element adds depth and meaning to their writing.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Exploring Media

by Lani deGuia

By Kathleen FenskeIn this unit, students will explore media and will focus on how media has different forms based on its purposes, how it can persuade viewers or readers using a variety of elements and tools, and how it reflects a society's values. Students will begin the unit by delving into it with the following questions: What is media? Why do we use different forms of media? Newspapers? Magazine? Internet? Television? Radio? How do effective advertisements hook the consumers? How do we "read" media? Should we believe everything we see and hear? Does media reflect a society or does it shape how a society views itself? What can we learn from media? Through these questions, students will be forced to look at media with a critical eye and become discerning viewers and readers. Through use of media via television, internet, and magazines, students will analyze media as it is used for advertisements. They will analyze advertisements as a class, in cooperative learning groups, and by themselves. Students will also explore the types of media and the terms associated with media. The culminating assessment for students will be to create a commercial advertising candy. Each student will create a piece of candy and will write a proposal for a commercial. Then the students will present their proposals to their cooperative learning groups where the group will decide which commercial to use. Students will have a couple of days to work on their drafts of their commercials and to practice performing it. At the end of the week, students will perform their commercials for the class. As a class, students will vote on the most innovative and creative commercial. Students will finish their projects by completing a group-assessment as well as a self-assessment.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kathleen FenskeIn this unit, students will view nonfiction and fiction as a commentary on an author’s personal life and on society, particularly the life of a migrant worker. Students will also begin to view writing as a process and as a reflection of self. Students will begin the unit by delving into the following questions: How does literature reflect a culture or time period? What can we learn from the past? To what extent can fiction reveal truth? Should a story teach you something? Why write? Why share personal experiences in writing? What makes writing worth reading? Through these questions, students will look at literature and their own writing with a critical eye. While interacting with fiction and nonfiction (Esperanza Rising, “The Circuit,” “The Harvest (Historical context),” “Communication Facts: Special Populations: Migrant Workers in the U.S.-2008 Edition,” Voices from the Fields: Children of Migrant Farmworkers Tell Their Stories, and Barefoot Heart: Stories of a Migrant Child), this unit also has an emphasis on writing and having the students as writers connect to their own stories. Students will complete a personal narrative, an argument essay/timed writing essay, and a research-based creative story. The culminating assessment for students will be, in groups, to conduct research on migrant workers and create a PowerPoint presentation or webpage detailing the information they find. This research will lead into the students’ individual projects. Using their research on migrant workers and the stories they have read, students will write an additional chapter to “The Circuit.”These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Sarah A. GamboaThis unit focuses on what success and adversity are. Students will explore what success means to them. Essential questions for this unit are: What is success; Why are some people successful; and How can I be successful? Students will understand that: success is not inherent and must be achieved; certain habits help people become high achievers; and success can be achieved despite adversity. We will read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to focus on different forms of success and adversity. In the end, students will create an exhibit about success including a biographical piece and their plans for the future. They will also write about the success and challenges of one character from the book. Lastly, students will create a personal plan for the next 1, 5, and 10 years.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Media Forms in Use

by Lani deGuia

By Salena Gonzales Advanced Contemporary Literacy is a new course at NEISD where each grade level's curriculum is designed around a different focus for the year to meet the needs of students who require or desire a challenge and change of pace from the traditional reading class. In seventh grade, the focus is Media Literacy, the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and create media in a variety of forms-from print to video to the Internet. Media Literacy is essential to today's adolescents because, according the the Center for Media Literacy, it "builds an understanding of the role of media in society as well as essential skills of inquiry and self-expression necessary for citizens of a democracy." This unit is designed to introduce students to the concept of media literacy as well as the methods the course uses to allow for inquiry and self-expression, mainly through Socratic Circles and Shared Inquiry in less formal group work. The course should meet the needs of Gift and Talented students who require choice and peer interaction, which is offered in daily group work and the final assessment, where students have the option of producing a presentation that reflects on how their pastimes and hobbies exemplify their Multiple Intelligence, and how their uniqueness can contribute to a successful classroom setting. Students will have the opportunity to express who they are and in the media form of their choice. They will understand the benefits of working together and how to conduct themselves while working in groups to create understanding of topics in media that do not always have a specific answer. To lead up to the assessment piece, students will learn what to expect from the rest of the year as the daily lessons are a sampling of more in depth lessons to come.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Carolys GordilloBased on the 6+1 traits of Writing, the Idea Trait is the first element that students explore to brainstorm unique ideas to write about and improve details in writing. This 4 week unit focuses on ideas and content, the first trait which helps students develop their writing skills. Students will write a personal narrative about an ordinary activity that occurred during their summer vacation with a fun twist. The picture book Ted will be shared and will be discussed to get students thinking of how their ordinary activities during summer could become extraordinary if they had an imaginary friend. Over the course of the unit, students will use a variety of tools that will help them write a descriptive and original story.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By  Lori Ingersoll This unit will focus on both the history and significance of debate as a communication tool utilized to resolve conflict and discover truth. By addressing the prevalence of controversy in everyday life, students will consider the various actions that individuals and groups employ in an effort to advocate change and call for justice. As these actions are examined, students will focus on the role of communication in controversial issues, both past and present. (i.e. civil rights, human rights, connections to personal life) With the foundational knowledge of communication as a key element to resolve conflict and discover truth, the focus will then shift to the role of debate specifically as a tool to provide citizens with necessary information to make well-informed decisions by concentrating on forms of debate in society, particularly debate as a competitive event. Special emphasis will be placed on the evolution of communication and debate as our society changes. Students will conclude the unit with a performance task that will ask them to engage in a modern day competitive form of debate (public forum) to discuss resolutions that will press students to advocate or oppose the importance of debate in school, in history and in society.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Melissa Manny Since reading Shakespeare for the first time often causes students to doubt themselves or quit from frustration, the purpose of this unit is to support students throughout the reading process so that they learn to appreciate drama as a means for better understanding themselves, rather than letting it defeat them from the beginning. Through an examination of character motivations, in addition to the language and dramatic conventions Shakespeare uses to bring their stories to life on stage, students will experience theatre as a mirror that reflects their own struggles and desires back to them. The relationship between the audience’s reaction to a play and the reader’s interpretation of a literary work will be developed to emphasize the interactive nature of theatre –which has more to do with the reading process than students may think. By the end of the unit, students will demonstrate mastery of genre, plot, literary elements and devices, dramatic conventions, and factors that influence the development of language over time. As they re-write a selection from Shakespeare’s original text into contemporary English to reflect their understanding of a character’s decisions, motivations and speech, students will put the knowledge and skills constructed throughout the unit to the test. The final performance will utilize strategies for oral and visual communication in order to fully engage the playwrights, actors and audience members in the creative process of interpreting and making meaning. When the curtain falls, students will have experienced drama in its most essential form –actors and audience engaged with a story that is universal.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Karen MorrisonIn this unit, students will be doing a chapter book study using the novel, Sarah Plain and Tall. At the end of the unit, the students will deeply understand that there are always things to miss no matter where you are, a sense of belonging happens when someone accepts where they are, and that we carry symbols and artifacts that represent the people and places that matter the most to us. Students will be engaged using the 6 Reading Comprehension Strategies: Phonics/Decoding, Predict/Infer, Monitor/Clarify, Question, Summarize, Evaluate. Other skills such as analytical thinking, predicting outcomes and connecting text to self through writing will also be focused on in this unit. Students will understand the close relationship between location and lifestyle, the profound connection between symbols and memories, and how comparisons are a natural way to connect different moments in time. As for a culminating activity at the end of this unit, the students are presented with the challenge that they are forced to move to a new home, and can only take 3 things with them. In a presentation each student will defend why their 3 artifacts symbolize their home.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kathryn MorrowIn this unit, students will practice essential reading strategies while reading the novel Old Yeller by Fred Gibson. They will enhance their awareness and use of skills such as using context clues, identifying the main idea and the author’s purpose, making predictions and inferences, summarizing, and checking for understanding. Students will understand that good readers use specific skills and strategies to help them better comprehend a text, and they will be able to identify and describe some of those strategies. After participating in a number of learning activities, students will be able to answer the questions, “How do reading strategies help me become a better reader?” and “What can I do when I do not understand what I am reading?” In addition to developing students’ life-long reading skills, this unit is designed to review reading strategies prior to the fourth grade TAKS reading assessment. To that end, students will complete a multiple-choice assessment at the close of this unit with questions that emulate those on the TAKS test. In addition, they will work in groups to complete one of two performance assessments. For the first task, students will design a presentation to teach their peers about one of the reading strategies investigated in this unit. The presentations will be videotaped to be shared among other fourth grade classes. The second task will require the students to create a book that teaches future fourth grade classes how to be a good reader through use of the strategies they have learned. *Note – The novel Old Yeller was chosen because of its connection to the fourth grade social studies curriculum, but any novel can be used in its place.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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Getting the Message

by Lani deGuia

By Vanessa SanchezThis unit will serve as an introduction to Advanced Contemporary Literacy in the seventh grade. ACL is centered on the forms of media and media’s purpose, message, and construction. Through the use of real world examples, students will begin to gain an understanding of media, what it represents and how they can interpret it beyond the surface.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Vanessa SanchezStudents will focus on the impact an individual can have on a community. The unit will then move on to a study of individuals who have affected their communities and the affect a community has on the behavior and understanding of an individual. Students will also read and discuss the novel Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman as a connection to the focus of the unit. Students will use their knowledge of community and individual influence to make a difference within their own community and reflect on the experience.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Audrey TanThis unit is designed as a mid-year unit for 1st grade language arts. Students will have had some exposure to story elements and will have written a few stories independently. The unit is designed around fairy tales. In this unit, students will explore the features that define fairy tales. They will learn how to recognize fairy tales. Students will understand that fairy tales are fantasy. The students will listen, compare, and analyze the characters of fairy tales. Throughout the unit students will develop their idea of happiness. Their understanding will deepen through exposure and discussions. Students will also connect to the characters and think about their own happiness. Students will broaden their understanding of happiness by comparing fairy tales to real life. Students will be asked at the end of the unit to rewrite a traditional fairy tale. Students will choose one of three fairytales and change events and characters. Students will use the features of fairy tales in the writing along with their understanding of happiness to demonstrate their learning. Their goal is with their new understanding of fairytales and happiness, they will be able to create a more realistic fairy tale, true to themselves.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Audrey TanThis unit is designed as a mid-year unit for 1st grade language arts. Students will have had some exposure to story elements and will have written a few stories independently. The unit is designed around the Tacky the Penguin books written by Helen Lester. In this unit, students will explore problems and solutions in stories. Students will understand how conflict and resolution engage and entertain readers. The students will listen, compare, and analyze the problems and solutions in three different books. They will realize the power of choice that an author possesses when developing a story. Throughout the unit students will develop their idea of problems and solutions. Their understanding will deepen through exposure and discussion of problems and solutions. Students will also connect problems and solutions in texts to problems and solutions in their own personal lives. To conclude the unit, students will be asked to write a problem and solution story. Students will create problems and solutions. They will then choose one each as their central conflict and resolution. They will also be asked to explain their choices. Students will be assessed using a rubric on three categories: problem and solution, story development, and entertainment value. The goal is with their new knowledge of problems and solutions, students will be able to create an engaging story around a central imaginative problem and solution.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Annie Houston Winter This 3 week unit is designed to help students discover that poetry is meaningful and relevant to their lives. This unit will focus on using good word choice to create powerful images in their writing. Students will also gain the understanding that poetry is meant to be read aloud as they prepare for a class performance. Students will discover that they are poets as they write in their poetry notebooks and prepare a piece of poetry for publication in a class anthology.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Elizabeth CambrayIn this unit, the students will learn to identify word patterns in texts and understand that word patterns can help them recognize, decode, and comprehend unknown words in an unfamiliar text. In order to reach these goals, the students will complete various word pattern activities, read and explore a variety of poetry, and then participate in a Poetry Slam.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Kara Dougherty In this unit students will study poetry and its relationship to prose. Students will gain an appreciation of poetry as an art form because they will understand that poetry surrounds us in our everyday life. It is not an outdated form of communication, but, rather, a form of communication which is present everywhere in our lives such as in song, nursery rhymes, advertisements, and brand names. The students will explore different types of poems and the specific rules for each type. In exploring poetry, students will learn to extract meaning not just from the words of the poem but also through its use of poetic devices. An exploration of the most common poetic devices will provide students with a working vocabulary to better analyze both poetry and prose. The students will also learn the importance of the format of a poem. The white space, line length, shape, and absence of grammar can all impact the meaning of the poem for the individual reader. In the end, it is my hope that students will feel more comfortable reading poetry for pleasure because they are now familiar with the format and all those aspects of poetry that make it “too hard to read.” In exploring the variety of poets, it is my hope that each student can find at least one whom he/she can identify with and understand.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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What is Poetry?

by Lani deGuia

By Kathleen FenskeThis unit focuses on the definition of poetry, its elements, and the types of poetry. The unit explores 4 essential questions: What is poetry? What is the difference between poetry and prose? How do you read a poem? What makes a poem great? Since poetry is an abstract term for most students, students will explore how poetry is different from prose. They will come to understand that it is written with a specific structure and that each aspect of a poem has a purpose. Students will read, analyze, and write poetry. They will begin the unit by responding to the essential questions to assess prior knowledge of poetry and its elements. Students will learn to appreciate poetry by listening and interacting with various poems. They will illustrate the meanings of poems, interact with other students in cooperative learning groups to compare and contrast poems, and work on their own analysis of a poem of their choice. Students will also analyze and delve into poetry on a daily basis through response journals. They will also utilize computers and the Library as resources during this unit. The culminating assessment for students will consist of creating a poetry book. Students will write 6 poems (acrostic, haiku, cinquain, diamante, biopoem, and narrative) using the rules that apply to each type of poetry. The poems will focus on the students as individuals and the changes that have occurred in their lives throughout the year. They will type and create illustrations for each poem. Students will then decorate, put their poetry books together, and share with the class. Once this is done, students will post their poems on poetry.com (publish), and it is the student’s choice whether or not to have them rated. They will complete a self-assessment as well as peer-assessments of their poetry books.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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By Lauren GaffneyHeroes reflect the cultural values and emotional state of the time period in which they lived/ were created.These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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This unit focuses on (as the title suggests) exploring cause and effect through change. Students will explore different personal, local, and global changes; what causes those changes, and what effects those change have on them, those around them, and the world. They will also understand that, while change is not avoidable, we empower ourselves by deciding how to react and respond to those changes. Students will read a fictional narrative in which they can relate to the main character: the story is about her first day at a US school. They will also read fictional and non-fiction letters to the editor, and a non-fiction, informative text. They will do a different assessment for each level of change, with a culminating assessment in which they are asked to choose something, virtually anything, that they want to change. They will have to show why they want that change to happen, what they will do to cause it, and what its effects will be. The assessment rubrics and handouts are attached at the end of the document, as well as a few of the worksheets that will be used throughout the unit. As an extension to the unit, students may have an opportunity to volunteer and see how empowering it is to create change.Repository CitationGamboa, Sarah, "Exploring Cause and Effect through Change" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 35.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/35Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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We should evaluate of both sides of a story (or situation) before choosing which is better or worse. Fact and opinion are both vital to choosing preference. The choices we make have significant effects on our lives. (cause and effect) Fables are genre of short fiction stories with inferred morals to learn from.Repository CitationGonzales, Salena, "Compare and Contrast Your Way to Better Judgment" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 47.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/47Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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In this unit students will read a variety of informative and literary nonfiction texts focusing on the tragedy and discovery of the Titanic. The readings will provide them with the opportunity to uncover the understandings that discovery is the illumination of information, discovery leads us to understand the truth, and discovering types and features of nonfiction makes us more effective readers. Through discussion with their classmates and creation of several graphic organizers, students will answer the question “what is discovery and what is it not?” As students read the nonfiction books 882 ½ Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic and Exploring the Titanic accompanied by various newspaper articles, biographies, autobiographies and essays, they will explore the questions “how does discovery affect our understanding?” and “to what extent is reading nonfiction different from reading fiction and to what extent is it the same?” The unit will conclude with a project in which students will apply what they have learned to create an informational and a literary nonfiction text. The texts will be intended for a time capsule to help people in the future discover the people and place of the student’s middle school in the current year.Repository CitationGrant, Allison, "Discovery Through Nonfiction" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 69.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/69Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Students and ninth-graders especially are in search of something to use to make sense of the world. I start the year with the students establishing goals for themselves both academically and personally. Then, we move into a unit that overviews the uses of genre. This unit on the hero’s journey is to extend their ideas of the novel and what it can do as a work of fiction using Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. Like Santiago, the novel’s main character, the students journey to understanding by reading the story. Understanding: The novel genre can be used for different purposes; it can be both a mirror by which you can understand yourself as well as a window through which you can learn about the world. Essential Question: What can you learn from a novel? The hero’s journey in this unit is only an introduction to the richness of Joseph Campbell’s ideas of a hero story structure common to all cultures, which will be picked up again later in the year with The Oddyssey. Understanding: The hero’s journey is a process with essential steps leading to a goal (i.e. a realization, a product, a treasure, an understanding, etc.). Essential Question: What is a process? In order to be successful in any journey but especially the hero’s, one must observe and reflect on what one has learned; this unit strives to further develop the students’ skills of observation and reflection. These tools also address the year-long question in my class of “How do people make sense of the world and of themselves?” Understanding: Observation and self-reflection are essential tools for the hero’s journey, for reading, and for life. Essential Question: What can you learn from observation and self-reflection? This unit culminates in a performance task that asks the students to address the understandings of the unit by persuading their peers who have not read The Alchemist to follow or not to follow their personal legends using a variety of media.Repository CitationMorgan, Kristen, "Hero’s Journey, The Alchemist" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 54.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/54Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Fahrenheit 451

by Lani deGuia

This unit is designed for the beginning of the school year in an English I Pre-AP classroom. It assumes that students have completed their summer reading of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Overarching themes for the year are “Why do people read?” and “Why do people write?” Thus, students will begin to explore one of the reasons we read and write fiction: insight about human experience. More specifically related to the themes of Fahrenheit 451, students will see the importance of reading, writing, and enriching our brains as a species. By reading the novel, students will see an example of a society without books and the implications and consequences thereof. Students will also understand that a society’s rules affect the development of its citizens and that there are both good and bad ways to protest. Hopefully, by completing this unit, students will further their appreciation for learning and enrichment, and also discover appropriate ways to have a voice in society. At the end of the unit, students will be assessed on their understanding by creating a letter, song, or short story to protest and hypothetical situation provided for them. The hope is that they will use their understandings from the unit in order to formulate an appropriate, logical, and powerful argument for a sensible outcome.Repository CitationRasmussen, Alice, "Fahrenheit 451" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 59.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/59Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Discovering Our World

by Lani deGuia

In this unit for 6th graders, students will bridge their understanding between reading for information and reading solely for entertainment. Students will develop an understanding of the connection between discovery and reading as well as understanding that they are discoverers in their own right. Students will construct a fact book that includes information from various sources on the areas we have covered as well as constructing an analysis and explanation of their decisions. The assessments will provide students the framework to adjust perceptions and utilization of resources to match the purpose of their actions. In the end, students will understand that reading is a vital key to learning, even through fiction, and that discoveries are made by various people every day. Students will develop a dedication for reading for a purpose and form a lasting connection to discoveries in the world that have affected their lives.Repository CitationSanchez, Vanessa, "Discovering Our World" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 74.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/74Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Susong, Carrie, "Tell Me a Story! Tales from Africa & other Cultures" (2008). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 45.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/45Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Cambray, Elizabeth, "What is a good reader?" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 15.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/15Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Making sense of the world and its complexities looms a difficult task for students in the ninth grade. This unit focuses on the understanding that one way to do so is to categorize information and ideas. The discipline-specific part of the unit will utilize the idea of genre as a category for organization, an essential understanding for the study of any text. The unit is done at the start of the year so that for the rest of the year, students have their ideas of genre to help them make sense of texts read. It would be preceded by an introduction to learning styles and multiple intelligences and followed by a unit on what effects an author can produce by following or breaking the rules and conventions of a genre. The students will explore examples of prose and poetry, fiction and non-fiction, as well as selected examples of each that they will study more in-depth later in the year. An understanding of genre will aid the students in understanding that different forms are used for different audiences and purposes and that knowing the genre of the text they are reading can help them make sense of it and inform their approach to it. In the performance task, the students demonstrate an understanding of the structures, audiences, and purposes of a magazine in the genre of their choice and a business letter. They will create a magazine that serves a particular audience using a particular genre of their choice. They may use a continuum of audiences that we will have established as a class to help guide them.Repository CitationDylla, Kristen, "Genre (And the category is...)" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 11.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/11Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Cultural Justice

by Lani deGuia

This unit focuses on cultural justice and how the type of justice implemented depends on the culture. The unit focuses on the 3 essential questions: What is justice? Is there truly justice for all? And is one culture's system of justice better than another? Along with these three questions, the unit also focuses on the 4 types of justice: revenge, retribution, rehabilitation, and restoration. This unit begins with reading Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson, a story about a boy, Cole, who is sent to live alone on an island instead of being sent to jail for committing a crime. This fiction novel depicts the Native American form of justice, Circle Justice, which as a restorative form of justice seeks to heal everyone involved in the crime committed. Along with this fiction novel, students will read nonfiction stories and newspaper articles about China's justice system and the United States' justice system. In this unit, students will compare these 3 systems of justice in attempts to answer the 3 essential questions. The unit concludes with 2 projects. The first project is a group project where the class will be divided into 3 groups. Each group will be presented with the same case and will research the 3 justice systems (Native American Circle Justice, China, and the United States). After researching each justice system, the groups will decide how each justice system would resolve the case and will decide what is the best solution. Each group will then present their work to the class. The second project is an individual project, where each student will find a current newspaper article on a legal case. Each student will then write a case study on what type of justice is being implemented and will make a prediction of the possible outcome of the case.Repository CitationFenske, Kathleen, "Cultural Justice" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 32.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/32Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Great Gatsby

by Lani deGuia

This unit focuses on exploring The Great Gatsby and how the time period and culture in which the novel is written plays a vital part in the author s overall message in the novel. One of the key understandings to this unit is how good literature makes a statement on culture, but great literature is timeless and universal and provides a lens to view our own lives and society. Through an examination of the 1920s culture, the students will be able to understand Fitzgerald s message about the 1920s. They will further examine this through a group project where they will take The Great Gatsby and compare it with Fitzgerald s short stories. Since the stories were written as precursors to The Great Gatsby and as failed attempts to write The Great Gatsby, the groups will examine the differences in plot, characters, and setting along with how each uses themes and imagery to portray Fitzgerald s message about the 1920s. The groups will compare the message of each story to each other and create a poster that depicts their results. In order to show how these messages can reflect today s society, each student will choose a central theme in The Great Gatsby and show/tell how it is present in today s society. The student can choose between a variety of mediums and must include a one-page explanation of the project. Along with exploring the author s message through literature, the students will also explore the major themes in The Great Gatsby. They will explore the themes of identity and reality versus illusion. They will begin to think about these themes through the chalk talk questions (How can it be possible to not know oneself? How is one s life affected either by the process of self-discovery or by the failure to try to understand oneself? Why do some people have difficulty distinguishing between what is reality and what is illusion?) and the discussion about The Great Gatsby.Repository CitationFenske, Kathleen, "Great Gatsby" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 31.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/31Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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The Houston Academy of International Studies is a public charter school that opened in HISD in fall 2006. As the freshman English teacher for HAIS, I wrote this unit during summer 2006, before many rules, routines and procedures for the school were hammered down. This unit is planned for the fall semester and aims to help students explore the concepts of literary and social voice while using their own voices authentically to shape our new school. As an opportunity to exercise voice, students participate in a semester-long school-improvement project for HAIS. Throughout our study of literary and social voice, students keep a journal of their experiences at our new school, then turn those experiences into realistic ideas for change and improvement of their high school. They are assessed by their use of communication methods covered in class, like advertising, letter writing, journalism and public speaking. The goal of the assessment is to give students a legitimate opportunity for change and provide them with the skills they need to enact that change. While our school situation is unique because we are brand new, this assessment can adapt to a longer-established school environment. The topics of this unit social change, civil disobedience, and individual voice make for extremely flexible text choices. I plan to read Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street during this unit, but I did not integrate the reading with these lessons yet. I offer examples and suggestions for other texts, but teachers should feel free to substitute them with any of the myriad texts available on the subject of social justice and change or containing unique voice like Cisneros.Repository CitationFugit, Faith, "Reading, writing and voice" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 19.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/19Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Survival Stories

by Lani deGuia

In this unit students will read historical fiction and nonfiction texts focusing on the tragedy of the Titanic. The readings will provide them with the opportunity to uncover the understandings that the genre of a text not only determines its purpose but also informs our approach to reading and that survivors make adjustments or adaptations in their lives in order to overcome significant challenges or difficulties. As students read the historical fiction book Voyage on the Great Titanic accompanied by various newspaper articles and nonfiction sources on the sinking of the ship, they will answer the question why does genre matter? Through the story of Margaret Ann Brady, students will explore the questions what makes a person a survivor? and to what extent does our ability to change or adapt affect our chances of becoming a survivor? The unit will conclude with two projects in which students will apply what they have learned. For the first project, students will choose a book to read outside of class from a pre-selected group. After they have read the book, they will create both nonfiction and historical fiction texts to apply their understanding of what it means to be a survivor to another fictional character. The second project will require the students to see themselves as survivors and to reflect back upon their surviving the transition from elementary to middle school in order to help future sixth graders survive the transition successfully.Repository CitationGrant, Allison, "Survival Stories" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 23.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/23Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Family

by Lani deGuia

In this unit, students will explore the different forms and meaning family can take. Throughout, there will be an emphasis put on a fluid definition of family. From the traditional mother-father-children to friends who are like brothers to a woman caring for her aging boss, this unit will use age-appropriate literature to guide an exploration of what family can look like. In turn, there will also be opportunities for exploration of how families choose to represent and define themselves. Additionally, there will be study of the importance of point of view. A story and a situationcan change dramatically depending on whose eyes are seeing it. Students will be given opportunities to turn the established and familiar around, looking at it from an unconventional or new point of view. One of the performance assessments will give the students an opportunity to interview various aged people about family, which will allow the students to see how opinions and definitions of family can grow, expand, and shrink as people age.Repository CitationNichols, Amy, "Family" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 9.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/9Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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The study of writing and reading is all too often carried out separately. Students learn how to read and write in isolation; such learning proves to be limited. This unit aims to integrate these two studies into one. Students will study authors and the strategies they employ when writing. These strategies will then be applied in their own writing. Such strategies include developing characters and ideas, organizing ideas using the plot components, and cultivating writing through tone and mood.Repository CitationPatel, Nilima, "Obstacles: The study of life's hurdles through reading and writing personal narratives" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 17.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/17Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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In this unit, students will gain a greater understanding of conflict and its implications on life. The reading of short stories, biographies, and newspaper articles will guide the students in exploring the understandings that conflict brings about change, conflict is a catalyst of fiction, and that conflicts in literature can be applicable to our own lives. Performance task #1 invites students to delve into a newspaper article identifying the essential component of every story, (Does every story have a conflict?) conflict. The purpose is to locate the conflict and arrive at the conclusion that conflict is the determining factor of the opinions cast on its effect. Students will then learn that conflict does not always have to be bad and that it can be a venue in which we can learn. This will specifically be highlighted in the performance task #2, where students create a peer mediation role play. The purpose of this assessment is to think of a real world conflict, one that is personal to their lives, and to develop a plan of action that solves the conflict in a beneficial way. Thus, allowing them to see that conflicts, which at first appear to be negative, can be turned around for the betterment of those involved.Repository CitationPhillips, Erin, "Conflicts in Literature" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 16.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/16Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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Who Am I?

by Lani deGuia

In this three week unit students will gain a better understanding of themselves and how their life experiences and environment have shaped them. Students will also understand that by gaining self-knowledge they are better able to set goals for their future. In order to better understand themselves, students will first examine others lives and obstacles that these individuals have overcome to achieve some level of success. Through this examination students will be able to discover that the past doesn t have to decide their future. They will gain an insight into how certain individuals have triumphed despite difficulties and have used these obstacles as spring boards to success. Through reading these life stories, students will be able to identify the positive attributes that motivate humans to persevere through difficult times. A greater understanding of oneself can be a productive tool for making decisions both now and in the future. In the performance assessment of this unit, students will use what they have learned about themselves and others in order to create a Road Map to Me . This road map is a reflective piece as well as a means of predicting what they think their future will hold. Also, students will be asked to describe the steps necessary for their predicted future to become a reality.Repository CitationShay, Lisa and Shaw, Judy, "Who am I?" (2006). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 10.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/10Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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The Giver

by Lani deGuia

Students will explore the implications of a society where personal freedom is eliminated for the benefit of all. Through the use of provocative questions, studies in contemporary issues in their school and nation, and reading of The Giver students will come to terms with their own understanding of this essential question: How much should a government be able to control your individual rights for the benefit of the society? Other essential questions include: Could something intended for the good of society really be bad? What makes an ideal society?Repository CitationGarza, Melissa, "The Giver" (2005). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 3.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/3Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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The goals of this unit are threefold: first, instilling in students a sense of purpose for writing. Too often, students do not understand why it is important to write, and more acutely, they do not understand why it is important for them to write. Secondly, this unit aims to teach students specific strategies to implement when writing that will serve to engage the audience. There are three strategies that develop students writing in very concrete, understandable ways. Lastly, students will recognize the benefit of collaborating with peers when writing. While writing is primarily an individual exercise, this unit will challenge the misconception that writing is entirely an individual exercise. Students will write an advice narrative for incoming students, telling of their own experiences in surviving the first few weeks of middle school. The class will discuss what makes good advice good and what experiences they have been through will be helpful to the incoming students. Students will then learn specific strategies to develop this type of writing in a way that engages their audience. As students take their narratives through the writing process, their peers will provide helpful and constructive feedback. Finally, after deciding the criteria for a good narrative, the students will decide which narratives meet those criteria. These narratives will be compiled into a survival guide book.Repository CitationPatel, Nilima, "Survival Guide: Writing a Personal Narrative" (2005). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 8.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/8Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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In this unit students will be reading about a variety of injustices that exist both locally and around the world. Students will be uncovering the understanding that justice is not always a black and white issue and often has more than one perspective it can be seen from. Students will also see examples of individuals who have fought against injustice. Students will practice using their reading skills on both fiction and non-fiction pieces on this topic. Students will also participate in shared inquiry discussion and a debate wrestling with the ideas of justice. In the culminating performance task, students choose an injustice that exists in their city to fight against. Students first research their local injustice and then create and implement an action plan appropriate to their chosen issue. For example, if students chose to fight the injustice of homelessness in San Antonio, then they could create a school-wide awareness campaign and clothing drive. They could find creative ways to encourage other students to bring in clothes and/or food and then donate their contributions to a local homeless shelter.Repository CitationSutherland, Lisa, "We Can Make A Difference" (2005). Understanding by Design: Complete Collection. Paper 7.http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/educ_understandings/7Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
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