As you reflect on our unit design process, what advice would you offer others who might be considering developing units?
Amanda Kadlec, 1st Grade Teacher (@OBroom2)
1. Keep the theme of the unit broad to better tie in all content areas.
2. Take time to understand the Common Core Standards and what is expected of student achievement.
3. Think of real world connections and applications to embed in each unit.
4. When implementing the unit in the classroom, remember that it is always a work in progress. You should adapt the lesson to make it even better the next time you teach it.
5. Upon completing your unit it is helpful to make a unit framework with lesson skills and activities to assist in daily planning.
Hope Tokarczyk, 3rd Grade Teacher (@Mrs.Tokarczyk)
- Work collaboratively with your team of teachers and coaches.
- Use all of the resources that are available to you and ask for help when needed.
- Remember that your units are a "work in progress" and can always be revised.
- Refer back to what you want the students to be able to do.
- Have discussions with colleagues throughout the writing process to compare units and offer advice.
- Stay positive and be proud of all of your hard work!
Ben Hartman, 5th Grade Teacher (@bhartmanwd7)
Its not a procedure as much as it is a process. Procedures have a beginning and a definite end. Processes begin, follow a course -- sometimes undefined-- and continue. Viewing curriculum writing as an open ended process empowers teachers to build units with the knowledge that they will (and must prepare to) review, revise, and rebuild. Working backward from a desired result to the start of the unit provides a plan. This isn't gospel, its a plan. Plans change. You need to as well.
After teaching the unit (and sometimes during) teachers need to review what is working well (teaching strategies, instructional materials) and what isn't. Then revise, if not immediately, very soon after you've taught the lesson. 9 months from now, when you're teaching that unit again, a sticky note to "not do it this way next year" won't mean as much as a fresh resource (lesson, video, experiment) that you've already secured and prepared. Finally, rebuild. Rebuilding your unit provides you the autonomy to adapt lesson sequencing, pace, and reteaching opportunities.
Megan Geary, 8th Grade Language Arts (Gearywdjh)
First, do not be overwhelmed with the amount of work. If it is broken down into parts, it is more manageable. When you break down the process into chunks, you will get more accomplished. Second, look at what you already do in your classroom. You do not have to recreate everything. You might need to get rid of some things that you teach or tweak it, but some things will definitely fit into your units. After you do this, you can see what standards or skills are not currently addressed and come up with assessments and lesson plans that are missing in the unit. It may seem like a lot of work, but once it is done, your lesson planning will be easier. You have a map of where you are going, and you know what standards you are addressing when you are teaching. Knowing this makes it easier to communicate the learning objectives and outcomes to your students.
Lauren Hasse, 8th Grade Language Arts (@misshasse)
In my opinion, one of the biggest things that should first be considered are the overall unit themes. A lot of thought over an extended period of time is necessary in order to be reflective. Things that are important to consider: What tie-ins can be made across core subjects? What themes are presented across the curriculum? Is this a theme that both my students and myself would be interested in for years to come? Will it allow me the flexibility of changing text or topic based upon my students and the global community? For instance, if Social Justice was one of my themes I could plan on using one time period but since this year we have pen pals from China, I might want to use the same assessments but focus on an issue of social justice in their country.
Text is also an important factor to consider. When creating units, it is important to keep quality texts in mind but to leave room for new texts to be inserted. Take the time to delve into unexplored texts!
Asma Akhras, Instructional Coach (@aa_ic)
1. Time to read, understand, and reflect on grade level Common Core standards.
2. Understand the unit format. (i.e. UbD unit structure).
3. Collaborate with teams to develop thematic UbD units that integrate and weave the standards throughout.
4. Have in mind the Essential Understanding and work backwards to attain the big picture.
5. Have resources and create effective learning activities that enrich the unit.
6. Recognize the units are a work in progress and not an "end all, be all" unit.
7. Reflect to determine what worked and what did not work in the unit.
9. Know when you need support and where to find the support is crucial.
10. Have a healthy school culture to ensure support for successes and failures.