Option D: Unit Plan

The purpose of this assignment is to help you think about the careful generation of content, process, and motivation across a series of lessons. It is an opportunity for you to develop and to reflect on your own decision-making related to the promotion of critical thinking, reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. This document lays out the assigned expectations for an English Language Arts unit of instruction. Determine which text(s) you would like to use as an anchor for your unit. Then prepare a cohesive plan that covers, at minimum, three weeks of instruction. Feel free to add interdependent or supplemental fiction/nonfiction (for example, complementary novels, poems, articles, stories, websites, films, etc.). Include all of the aspects of this assignment as they are listed in the following pages. As you develop your materials, support your unit with the following reliable resources:

  • Jim Burke, The English Teacher’s Companion, 3rd ed. (2008)
  • Sheridan D. Blau, The Literature Workshop: Teaching Texts and Their Readers (2003)
  • Anne Ruggles Gere and Peter Shaheen, eds., Making American Literatures in High School and College (2001)
  • Reliable Web Resources from any or all of the following sites:

You may also include and cite other reliable websites and library databases. When you use others’ ideas as your inspiration, make sure that you clearly indicate the source. (Use an informational footnote if the source is not obvious from other context.) I prefer that you do not draw from commercial teaching websites (dot coms). Check with me if you need help determining a website’s reliability.

Unit Plan, Part One: Introductory Essay [1400+ words]


Briefly introduce your content and establish the educational context for the series of lessons. Think about the school environment for which you have planned this unit of instruction. Describe your imagined class of students: introduce their grade level and explain where this unit fits into the rest of your course’s year-long curriculum.

 Introduction to Content

Because this unit is a practical sample of what you might teach in your future classroom, imagine your audience as a group of potential employers (a hiring committee of administrators and teachers, for example—the ultimate readers of your portfolio of teaching samples). These readers may or may not be familiar with the literary text (or texts) that you are planning to investigate over the course of your unit of instruction. At the beginning of your essay, therefore, establish your unit’s major focus and briefly describe the literary text(s). Introduce most broadly what this plan will encourage students to explore in terms of reading and writing and why this exploration is relevant.

Teaching Objectives

Launching from what you have already introduced, describe your pedagogical goals for this series of lessons. Be obvious here. Exactly what secondary English content will your students learn as a result of this unit? What are the big ideas and themes that your students will explore? What do you want your students to learn as a result of their exploration? How have you purposely integrated reading, writing, speaking/listening, and language within this plan?

Pedagogical Rationale

Establish the reasoning behind your series of lessons. Imagine defending your work to another teacher or an administrator. Why are your objectives important? Why is your plan relevant? Give specific examples, and use pedagogical resources like those listed above to back up your claims. (I expect an extended discussion of your academic reasoning.)

Student Motivation

Using practical examples and accessible language, how will you explain your rationale to your students and to their parents? How will you establish relevance for teenagers? How will you respond to that favorite student question/complaint: Why-do-we-have-to-learn-this-stuff?!


Consider how you will be assessing student success over the course of your unit. Think about formal and informal evaluative methods and the reasons behind your various assignments. How will you hold students accountable? How will you evaluate the work you plan to assign? In other words, how will you know if your students have learned what you have prepared?

Unit Plan, Part Two: Week-by-Week Calendar (3 weeks)

Create a three-week calendar with brief objectives and a detailed list activities for each day in your unit using the model table that I have provided (if you choose this option, you can find the template on BlackBoard). The idea is to create a calendar that thoroughly lays out your plan over a series of weeks.

Unit Plan, Part Three: List of Works Cited

(with an optional list of works consulted) Include a formal list of works cited that contains each source that you have used in this unit of instruction. Don’t forget to include an entry for each literary text and for every other source that you cite in your plan. Recommended Sequencing On this assignment sheet, I have listed the various parts of this assignment with your reading audience in mind—in other words, in the order that a reader would require for maximum intelligibility. However, in terms of creating your materials, that formal order will not work. Here is what I might try if I were you:

  1. Draft your week-by-week calendar (Part 2) before you attempt to develop any of the other parts of the unit plan. Preparing a calendar is like making a puzzle, and it can take a lot of time to see how all the pieces will fit together.
  2. Write a quick draft of your introductory essay (Part 1).
  3. When you have a complete draft of these three parts, continue making connections between the parts and fleshing out your ideas while editing and re-editing your work.
  4. Don’t forget Part 3. Your list of works cited is a crucial component of your unit plan. Make sure you keep track of your sources and leave time for creating an accurate list. Every single source that you mention in the entire document should be accounted for on your list of works cited.

Grading Rubric

Read the rubric below for additional information about how I will grade your Unit Plan.

Criteria Percentage Model Work
Meets Assignment Requirements 10% Meets all assignment expectations, including a detailed essay that addresses all content described above, a well-formulated unit plan, and a works consulted/cited page
Bibliography 10% Carefully and consistently cites all sources in MLA style, including pedagogical methods, unit planning idea sites, and unit materials
Language Usage 10% Demonstrates professional use of language (grammar, usage, and style)
Unit Plan 30% Offers appropriate strategies for teaching and learning on a well-planned, daily basis
Introductory Essay 30% Develop a clear set of content ideas within an imagined secondary English classroom environment. Considers appropriate assignments, assessment, and evaluation techniques.
Organization 10% Unit Plan and Essay and clearly labeled and organized


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