When we write anything, it’s important to seek a bit of understanding before we begin drafting. For instance, it makes sense to read some quality fiction before we try our hand at composing it. If we’re eager to craft a powerful poem, we might learn a lot by studying the work of the poets who came before us. If we want to craft a quality argument? Analyzing the work of others would probably serve us well.
And so it is with unit design. My previous posts have spoken to the pre-design phase of this process and the benefits of investing time and energy in the establishment of vision and the definition of standards that should be attended to in addition to the CCLS. As we’ve continued deepening our understanding of high quality learning experiences, we’ve investigated the work of varied experts who came before us and the perspectives and processes they’ve shared relevant to unit design. We’ve also begun exploring the following instructional shifts, which underpin the standards themselves and influence unit design with the CCLS in significant ways.
Designing ELA units of instruction with the Common Core compels us to:
- Balance the study of literature with the study of expository text
- Use reading to build knowledge in content area classrooms
- Engage learners in the shared reading of grade level appropriate text
- Ask questions that require learners to return to the text in order to shape responses
- Write from sources
- Build academic vocabulary
Each of the links above will direct you to video clips intended to provide clarity around what each shift means. David Coleman also models what these shifts might look like in the classroom here.
In the coming days, I’ll share more about what we’re discovering as we unpack these shifts and begin aligning our units and instructional practices to them.