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Instructional Unit Samples - Reading, Writing, and Communicating
I am very proud to present the teacher-authored instructional unit samples in Reading, Writing, and Communicating. Each of these units represents the work of a team of Colorado educators to translate one curriculum overview sample into a full instructional unit with learning experiences, teacher and student resources, assessment ideas, and differentiation options. To learn more about the unit development process and the unique aspects of the Reading, Writing and Communicating units, please consider watching one or more of the instructional unit webinars.
Each of the units posted here was authored by a team of Colorado educators. As examples, they are intended to provide support (or conversation/creation starting points) for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students.
You can also view the complete list of Reading, Writing and Communicating curriculum overview samples and use the instructional unit template to begin constructing your own Colorado Academic Standards-based units.
Reading, Writing, Communicating Content Specialist
12th Grade Unit Title: Responding to Diversity (Gunnison Watershed School District)
Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will explore the diversity of literature within three literary movements: Romanticism, Post-Colonialism, and Modernism. Students will analyze how the movements reveal diverse themes, cultural contexts, style, and purposes in world literature which will allow students to develop new perspectives toward literature and literary movements. The culminating project will be an essay and oral presentation asking students to connect past literature and literary movements to modern texts.
11th Grade Unit Title: The Power of Story (Mapleton School District)
Unit Description: Throughout this 4-6 week unit, students explore bias, both in their personal lives and within the literature they study. Students will analyze how personal beliefs and biases influence the way they interact with texts they read and which they produce. The unit culminates with a personal portfolio project that includes a personal narrative, literary analysis, reflections, and an argument piece in which the students will make recommendations concerning a literature curriculum.
10th Grade Unit Title: E Pluribus Unum, Multiple Voices - Heroism (Bayfield School District)
Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit focuses on how cultural experiences, societal influences, and adversity impact individuals in those cultures. Through collaborative inquiry and sharing thoughts and opinions, students may examine diverse texts that explore human responses to adverse situations and shape the definition of "hero” in those cultures. Students may demonstrate their understanding of how cultural and societal influences shape and define characters by writing a narrative piece in which they synthesize the ideas and language of the characters they have studied.
10th Grade Unit Title: E Pluribus Unum, Single Voice - Identity (Bayfield School District)
Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit focuses on how cultural experiences, societal influences, and adversity impact individuals in those cultures. Through collaborative inquiry and sharing thoughts and opinions, students may examine diverse texts by a single author that explore “identity” in those cultures. Students may demonstrate their understanding of how cultural and societal influences shape and define identity by writing their own narrative piece.
9th Grade Unit Title: Exploring Diverse Perspectives (Garfield Re-2 School District)
Unit Description: In this 4 to 6 week unit, Students may explore different voices via comparing and contrasting those perspectives in supplementary texts with those expressed in an anchor text (for example, Master Harold…and the Boys by Athol Fugard). Initially, Students may complete a research project so that they can practice research skills and gain a better understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that give rise to the different perspectives voiced in the anchor text. Then, the Teacher may introduce supplementary texts (speeches, essays, poems, songs, artwork) that reflect the same theme/concept as the anchor text. Class discussions and small group work will allow students opportunities to compare/contrast how authors use language to reveal perspectives, cultural background, historical context, and biases. This unit will culminate in a student-driven multi-genre project that demonstrates the students’ understanding of how perspective is informed by individual biases and historical/cultural contexts and how authors make choices in order to voice their perspectives/achieve a purpose in accordance with their audiences.
9th Grade Unit Title: Posing Questions and Solving Problems (Garfield Re-2 School District)
Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit will focus on having students develop an academic problem-solution research essay using MLA style. This process will be initiated with the development of an inquiry question that stems from issues and themes that have been (or will be) discussed throughout the course of the year. This inquiry question will be developed from a student’s perspective on an issue that has been discussed during the course. Once the inquiry question is established, students will work in small groups to strengthen their question, begin the research process to find evidence to support their belief, and to receive feedback throughout the writing process. The final written product will be a problem-solution essay.
9th Grade Unit Title: Recognizing Patterns in Stories (Lake County School District)
Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will explore multiple themes that recur in literature while considering patterns in stories and the idea of character transformation. Three specific themes will be studied by using an anchor text for each theme supplemented with additional literary and non-fiction texts. The learning experiences include a series of formative assessments which asks students to make connections within and between texts. The summative assessment will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of a specific theme, patterns in literature, and character transformation by crafting their own personal narrative. The ability to analyze a text is another important aspect of this unit and will be assessed through critiques of a peer’s personal narrative.
9th Grade Unit Title: Seeking Justice (Garfield Re-2 School District)
Unit Description: This four week unit immerses students in analyzing argumentative texts exploring issues under the broader topic of social justice. Students will learn the language of argument (claim, counterclaim, evidence, warrant) and strategies for analyzing and deconstructing arguments. Teachers may use formal and academic argument texts as well as speeches, advertisements, propaganda, visuals, etc. Teachers may also use pieces of literature – poetry, music, novels – that explore themes in justice / social justice. The unit culminates with students adopting the role of members on a newspaper editorial board and critiquing the effectiveness and quality of two arguments on a topic of student choice under the broader topic of “social justice.”
9th Grade Unit Title: Uncovering Context (Lake County School District)
Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will read an extended anchor text (e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird) exploring various themes: race, gender, age, etc. As they progress through the unit, students will read a variety of texts on the issues raised. The nonfiction / informational texts range from news reports, research, and infographics to opinion pieces, murals and art work, poems, and short stories. Students will analyze this rich variety of texts so they can understand that writers use different modes, genres, and techniques to express their perspectives on given issues. Class discussions will allow students to explore how different contexts impact our perspectives and how we write about issues or themes in the world around us. The unit will culminate with students writing a multi-genre text expressing their own perspective on an issue of inequity relevant to them.. (This unit is also effective scaffolding for the unit that follows in which students will present an argument on justice.)
Unit Title: A World Without Borders (Garfield Re-2 School District)
Unit Description: In this 9-week unit, students will examine themes of diversity, tolerance, and intolerance from a global perspective. Students will explore a variety of texts (informational and literary) to develop an understanding of current cultural and historical events that reveal struggles in tolerance. With that understanding, students will conduct a research project about tolerance and diversity in a global society. The students will use the research to write a paper and give a presentation covering their topic. The unit culminates in a presentation similar to TED Talks.
Unit Title: The American Dream (Wray School District)
Unit Description: In this 9-week unit, students will examine the concept of the American dream. Students will read a variety of texts (informational and literary) to develop an understanding of how the concept of “the American dream” has changed and/or endured over time. The texts read will span many decades – from our country’s foundational documents up to contemporary times -- and classroom discussions will explore how text qualities such as perspective, language use, and imagery shape our perceptions and understanding. The students will synthesize the texts presented in this unit to develop a personal definition of the American dream. The unit culminates in a multi-genre project that expresses this definition of the American dream.
Unit Title: Trials and Tribulations (Wray School District)
Unit Description: In this nine week unit, students will explore literature that addresses the concept of “adversity” and how authors develop that concept in literary and nonfictions texts. Students will read a variety of short stories, personal narratives, memoirs, and other nonfiction pieces to see how people – real and imagined – meet the challenges in their lives. The unit culminates with students writing their own narrative that reveals adversity.
Unit Title: Facebook of Face-to-Face (Wray School District)
Unit Description: In this 9 week unit, students will explore the complexities of social media, hone their research and presentation skills so that they can effectively debate an issue, and write an effective argument. Students will study social media as a genre of text with its own conventions, style, norms, and purposes. The unit will conclude with students participating in a debate and writing an argumentative essay in which they argue for the value of social media (Facebook or Face-to-Face?) in communicating with others.
Unit Title: Everything's an Argument (Wray School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on understanding how authors use claims, evidence, and persuasive devices so that the students can then use these techniques within their own research, writing, and speaking. By critically analyzing arguments and persuasive presentations for validity, accuracy, and clarity, students will become more effective consumers of information. During the unit, students will analyze professional texts and culminate the unit by developing their own persuasive presentations in which they advocate for implementing a Service Learning Project of their choice.
Unit Title: Take a Stand (Plainview School District and Pritchett School District)
Unit Description: In this 6-8 week unit, students will research and explore a variety of controversial topics and, through collaboration during the research process, begin to understand how biases and assumptions influence people’s perspectives. Students will work in collaborative groups throughout the research process and participate in discussions and debates to demonstrate their understanding of how bias and assumptions influence our perspectives on issues and, therefore, influence our arguments. The unit will culminate with teams of students participating in debates or mock trials in which they are argue whether a policy, a rule, or a practice is the right thing to do – a “just” or “unjust” action. Think: “Fracking on Trial” or “Hormones in Beef Cattle on Trial.”
Unit Title: Body Systems Dance (Greeley-Evans School District 6)
Unit Description: This unit is integrated with Dance, Physical Education and Science. It allows the educator and students to learn about and explore human body systems (e.g., Circulatory, Digestive, Muscular, etc.) through movement elements. Students will work in small groups to create movement that will symbolize the movements of selected body systems. The unit will culminate in a school wide field day where stations of student groups will explain and perform the workings of a human body system to participants.
Unit Title: Can't We Just Get Along? (Ignacio School District)
Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will explore conflict and resolution through fiction and nonfiction readings. Students will analyze stories to be able to distinguish between internal and external conflicts. Students will then develop their understanding of how different points of view may add to a conflict or help resolve it. Students will write a well-developed written piece demonstrating their understanding of internal and external conflict as well as the resolution of a conflict.
Integrated Unit Title: Building Diverse Relationships (Center Consolidated School District 26JT)
Unit Description: This unit allows students to study how various personal and interpersonal factors influence individual’s choices that may result in lack of respect for or intolerance of differences. Additionally, as short term and long term consequences from bullying are accessed, students will have opportunities to recognize the power and importance of positive communication and acceptance of others. Reading strategies, elements of narrative text and characterization will be integrated throughout the learning experiences to support the development of skills such as pro-social behavior, inclusion and healthy relationships. The unit concludes with students reading a short story about bullying. They will then annotate the story for bullying consequences and positive pro-social behaviors to finally create a news story sharing alternatives to bullying.
Integrated Unit Title: Conflicts and Resolutions (East Grand School District)
Unit Description: This unit looks at conflict through the lenses of diverse perspectives (e.g. media, family, community, society, etc.) in order to identify how conflict affects mental and emotional health. Students will utilize narrative and informational texts to identify various conflicts. This unit culminates with students working with peers to create a 5th Grade School Newspaper. The newspaper will encompass all aspects of a “real” newspaper (e.g. comic strips, editorials, sports and news articles) illustrating various conflicts and types of writing.
Unit Title: In My Opinion (Mapleton School District)
Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit explores the personal and collective values that shape perspectives and opinions on relevant topics. Students will examine appeals to values in a variety of persuasive texts and analyze the language, strategies, and structures of these texts. After researching a topic of their choice, students will produce and present an opinion piece that appeals to -- or perhaps even challenges -- their audience’s values. The unit culminates with students writing an opinion piece conveying their opinion and values.
Integrated Unit Title: Relationships Matter! (East Grand School District)
Unit Description: This unit allows students to develop knowledge, skills, and relationships in relation to cultures, values, traditions, and beliefs so students can develop positive support systems. Students will recognize that often times, conflict and stress stem from diverse cultures, values, traditions, and beliefs. This unit culminates with a performance assessment of a narrative story. Students will incorporate elements of support systems, healthy relationships addressing diverse cultures, values, traditions, and beliefs as well as incorporating orthography and morphology to create a story. The goal of this unit is to give students the skills of forming healthy relationships, support systems, and conflict resolution regarding diversities.
Unit Title: What Would Happen If...? (Garfield RE-2 School District)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will study how cause and effect relationships are present in different types of texts in order to understand the relationships between concepts, ideas, and actions. Students will use cause and effect vocabulary to explain causal relationships. In addition, students will study texts that explore and explain the cause and effect issues of animal relocation (moose, lynx and wolves), and use discussion and writing to demonstrate their understanding of these relationships. This unit culminates in students producing either a text that explains cause-effect relationships or in a problem-solution persuasive piece.
Integrated Unit Title: How About We All Communicate? (Center Consolidated School District 26JT)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will study perspectives and point of view in order understand conflict, both personal and literary, so they can use it for decision making, interpersonal communication, and creating healthy boundaries. Additionally, students will study how cause and effect relationships are present in different types of texts in order to understand the relationships between concepts, ideas, and actions. Students will use cause and effect vocabulary to explain causal relationships. The unit culminates with students working with a team of peers to create a news segment that will inform the student body about effective strategies for problem solving with others.
Unit Title: Our World (Norwood School District and West End School District)
Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will study an innovator or invention of their choice. Through this process, students will read and analyze informational texts, including primary source documents such as inventors’ notebooks, to develop reading skills and to build knowledge on the topic of innovators and innovations. After reading and writing about innovators, students will produce an innovator’s notebook in which they explain their own innovation in an informational text which includes diagrams, drawings, and written text.
Integrated Unit Title: Imagining Musical Stories (Poudre School District)
Unit Description: This unit is an integrated of Reading, Writing, and Communicating and Music. It allows the educator and students to learn about and explore imagination through reading, writing, and communicating and music. Students will work in small groups to create musical stories that will symbolize the both their culture and imagination. The unit will culminate in a sharing of their stories in their classrooms.
Integrated Unit Title: Communication At Its Best! (Center Consolidated School District 26JT)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop strategies to build healthy relationships that create respect and empathy toward others. A focus will be on enhancing skills such as positive communication, distinguishing between teasing and bullying, reading grade-level text with purpose and understanding and reading grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression. The unit concludes with students sorting qualities of teasing and bullying into a t-chart and creating a storyboard with a bullying scenario and resolution.
Unit Title: Transformations Around Me (Plainview School District)
Unit Description: This unit centers around the attributes of physical communities and the adaptations that people make in order to be successful in particular environments. During the 6-8 weeks of the unit, students will examine their own physical community. They will respond to text and images and construct short written pieces for different purposes/audiences (including letters to pen pals, newspaper “articles,” etc.) documenting changes that occur and adaptations people make across seasons. The learning experiences build to a performance assessment that asks students to write (and create videos) about an adaptation, in the form of a favorite activity, they make in a particular season.
Integrated Unit Title: Communication Builds Relationships (East Grand School District)
Unit Description: This unit looks at the five main emotions and appropriate and inappropriate emotional responses through the lens of character’s decisions and how they affect relationships. Through examination of verbal and nonverbal communication skills using a fiction and/or nonfiction story and/or video students can identify and express their beliefs verbally or nonverbally. This unit culminates with students creating an “Emotion” book that incorporates identifying emotions with appropriate and/or inappropriate responses and how those responses affect relationships.
Unit Title: Reading Our World (Weld County School District)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will compare how informational texts differ from fictional texts and explore several different informational texts to understand that these texts allow us understand the world around us. Students will read informational texts on a specific topic (in this unit, on animals). Students will use their knowledge of foundational reading and writing skills to comprehend informational texts. Students will produce their own informational texts about their chosen topic to demonstrate their knowledge of these text types.