EXPERT’S GUIDE TO THE UNIT PLAN

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ELEMENT DESCRIPTION

Getting Started:

  • The unit plan is a snapshot that allows a teacher to view the lessons within a unit to ensure they are standards based lessons that make connections through interdisciplinary activities and meet the needs of all learners.
  • By looking at each section, a person can determine what is needed to implement each lesson and the strategies that will be used to fulfill a spiraling curriculum.
  • The unit plan is a tool to analyze the lessons included in order to determine that students will be exposed to a variety of assessments and teaching strategies. In addition, students will develop higher order thinking skills, and improve each of their multiple intelligences.
Title:
  • A title is a descriptive heading for the unit.
Content Area:
  • Main subject area to be taught (with integration, other subjects may be included, but do not need to be listed here since they will be listed on the individual lesson). The unit should be appropriate for your licensure area.
Grade:
  • Grade level of students
Duration:
  • Amount of time required for the entire unit. It should be appropriately long for the grade level.
  • It may be helpful to develop a timeline that includes items for consideration. For example,
    1 month before: Set up field trip and ask for parent volunteers to accompany the students on the field trip
    • 2 weeks before: Begin search for videos
    • Schedule sessions in Computer Lab  
    Discuss with Media Services/Library about pulling books, magazines, etc.
  • In order to meet the objectives of each lesson in the unit, time must be an important consideration.
Standards/Benchmarks:
  • The teacher needs to know what measures of performance (standards) are to be expected in addition to what type of lesson is to be presented, procedures to be followed, and what students are expected to do. State content standards for students should be included here. Example of a standard for mathematics: Standard 5 – Students use a variety of tools and techniques to measure, apply the results in problem-solving situations, and communicate the reasoning used in solving these problems.
  • A well-developed unit will contain a variety of standards. For example, a unit on the Revolutionary War should include Language Arts, Math, and Science activities and perhaps other subjects as well. Therefore, the standards section will have the standards met listed for each of these subjects.
  • A benchmark represents a certain reference point (sub-standard) on an assessment scale. Benchmarks will be listed in each individual lesson.
Objectives:
  • Objectives are specific, measurable statements aligned with state standards that describe desired student behavior at the end of a unit.
  • Before the unit is prepared, the teacher should have a clear idea of learner outcomes (objectives) to be addressed in the lessons. Ask the question, “What specifically should the student be able to know, do, and care about as a result of the lesson?
  • After each objective, be sure to give the thinking skill level according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. For example, Define each of the themes of geography (Knowledge), or Identify examples of each theme of geography (Comprehension).
  • Only the main objectives for the unit are listed. However, lessons within the unit may have others that are specific to the lesson.
Resources and Materials:
  • Resources and materials will be listed in each individual lesson; they will not be listed in the unit plan. However, teachers should understand that it is important to view the resources and materials required in all lessons in a unit so they are prepared.
Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions: Enduring Understandings:
  • Enduring understandings refer to the important ideas that you want the students to retain upon completion of the unit of instruction. They refer to the big ideas that you want students to remember after they have forgotten the details. They answer the question “Why is this topic worth studying?” Example: The effectiveness of a disease prevention strategy can be evaluated by comparing rates of disease in people who were and were not exposed to the strategy. Factors such as costs and other strategies must also be considered.

Essential Questions:

  • These will be addressed in each individual lesson of the unit.
Prerequisite Knowledge:
  • Teachers have the challenge of meeting the needs of a diverse group of students. Therefore, it is important to assess students to determine their skills and knowledge.
  • Prerequisite knowledge refers to the knowledge and skills a student must have to successfully participate in the unit. For example, a student must have graphing skills before participating in a unit that has activities that require graphing, or knowledge of longitude and latitude before a geography lesson.
  • In this section, you will list the knowledge and skills a student needs in order to participate. How will you accommodate those without the prerequisite knowledge while maintaining the interest of those who do?
  • This information will be a building block for the pre-assessment. Therefore, your pre-assessment will address both knowledge and skills required during the unit.
Assessment:
  • An assessment is the process of collecting and interpreting information about student achievement.
  • Assessments must be aligned with state standards, specific, and measurable to provide a teacher with documental information.
  • Every unit should contain a variety of assessments, aligned with standards, in order to determine student readiness and/or achievement before, during, and after the unit.
  • The information from assessments allows the teacher to determine the success of students and/or the need for modifications, re-teaching, or one-on-one collaboration.
  • The pre-assessment measures students’ knowledge and skills before teaching takes place. The final assessment measures what students have learned after the unit has been completed.
  • Assessments and data collection should occur several times throughout the unit. These assessments can be in the form of quizzes, worksheets, projects, labs, or teacher observations to name a few. These are examples of formative assessments.
  • A final assessment should be developed with consideration of standards, enduring understandings, and essential questions. Final assessments can be in the form of tests, performance based or authentic activities. These are examples of summative assessments.
  • The development of assessment tools should be considered as well. For example, Rubrics are a tool that can help both the student and a teacher.
Data Collection:
  • With the enactment of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and requirements of Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP), teachers must now have adequate documentation to show student achievement.
  • A well-developed grading system can provide a teacher with the needed documentation for student achievement as well as a tool for curriculum analysis.
    • The Table of Specifications found in the Summarize/Evaluate/Reflect section can be an excellent tool for data      collection analysis.
Daily Lessons and Activities:
  • Included in the end of the unit plan will be all daily lesson plans.
  • Titles of each lesson should be listed in this section.
  • Within a unit there should be a variety of instructional strategies used to teach the lessons, from teacher input to independent practice. Below are different ways to teach the lesson, including but not limited to, the following:
    • Cooperative Learning
    • Role Play
    • Inquiry-Based (question /answer, scientific process)
    • Problem-Solving
    • Group Discussion
    • Case Studies
    • Primary Sources
    • Nine Essential Strategies
  • The Lesson Plan Summary sheet found in the Summarize/Evaluate/Reflect section can be an excellent tool to evaluate the unit.
    • Have you met all the required standards and benchmarks?
    • Does your unit include activities that align with all the intelligences?
    • Have you developed activities that ensure higher level thinking skills?
    • Have you used a variety of instructional activities?
Differentiation:
  • To differentiate instruction is to recognize students’ varying background knowledge, readiness, language, preferences in learning, interests, and to react responsively. Differentiated instruction is a process to approach teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. You can differentiate content, process or product. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is, and assisting in the learning process.
  • Not all lessons may require a modification. Planning ahead will allow for good design of materials or presentations with a view to universal design so minimal adaptations are needed or so the learner can modify as needed.
  • A list of differentiation strategies should be included in this section so a teacher has ample time to make changes in worksheets, assessments, or product expectations. For example, the multiple-choice questions can be limited to two answers or extra time allotted for writing assignments.
  • Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) should be reviewed and added to this section to ensure that the teacher is meeting the students’ needs and/or goals.
Independent Practice: (Homework and Practice)
  • Independent practice such as homework will not be listed in the unit plan since it is included in each individual lesson.
  • Homework and practice are used to measure learning. If students do not appear to have grasped the material, re-teaching may be necessary. In order for the teacher to make adjustments for future lessons or revise the current lesson, feedback is necessary. Waiting until the final test is not appropriate.
  • The amount of homework given to a student is sometimes mandated by a school district. In addition, there is research-based information on the amount of homework that is recommended at each grade level.
Summarize/Evaluate/Reflect:
  • In order to determine the gains in academic performance of students, a teacher must evaluate the unit. For example, was the unit developed with a variety of teaching strategies, learning modalities and assessments?
  • The following evaluation tools can be used to analyze the development and effectiveness of a unit.
    • Table of Specifications
    • Lesson Plan Summary