Units in Development

Six teams of teachers worked together, starting in July 2013, to develop initial units. Each common unit includes a Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) instructional module that challenges students with a range of related reading materials.

 Click on each Unit in Development for further information.

Middle School Science: Genetics
  • The unit: Students understand how genes determine the characteristics of an organism and how humans can select for specific biological traits. Students consider the ethics of genetic testing for conditions such as embryonic defects, allowing them to participate in the global conversation regarding ethical decisions in science.
  • The task: For the summative performance assessment, students examine a piece of legislation related to genetically modified foods, analyze the potential impacts of the legislation on different companies, and construct a position paper to their Congressional representatives indicating whether the legislation should be passed or vetoed.

Middle School US History: Colonial Regions
  • The unit: “Colonial Regions” blends the study of colonial America with the topic of regionalism to allow students to consider how economic, religious, cultural, and political differences influence population trends. The unit also explores why people choose to live in certain geographical areas. The unit will also include a “colonial fair,” in which students will work in groups to present significant information about one colony and something that represents that colony, whether it’s a food, a cash crop, or a style of dress.
  • The task: Students write an essay discussing how similarities and differences between the colonies created both unity and division among the colonists. In addition, some of the teachers intend the hold the colonial fair as a culminating activity for the unit.

Middle School English Language Arts: Argument
  • The unit: This unit teaches students that multiple perspectives help develop an informed understanding of an issue or idea. Students learn how to argue a claim by supporting it with logical reasoning, evidence, and explanation from reading and research of credible standards. Students explore an anchor text, The Children’s Bill of Rights, released by the United Nations in 1996, and question whether it is viable in today’s society.
  • The task: For the summative assessment, students—having considered such issues as children’s voting rights and access to the internet—argue on behalf of a right they feel children should have. They also distinguish their points of view from others by acknowledging and addressing the opposing view to their argument.

High School Science: Biochemistry
  • The unit: In this unit, students explore how biomolecules are the driving force in life and how the biomolecules in food affect performance. Students experience an innovative urinalysis lab focusing on some of the clinical tests used to determine levels of biomolecules—specifically fats, proteins, and carbohydrates—in urine. To do this, students use synthetic urine samples to conduct tests and diagnose a fictional patient’s disorder.
  • The Task: The LDC task for the Biochemistry unit requires students to conduct research on diseases and disorders caused either by deficiencies or excess fats, proteins, or carbohydrates in the body. Students read descriptions of patients’ symptoms and determine which biomolecule is the cause of the disorder, which they describe in their final essay.

High School US History: Costs of Progress
  • The unit: Students often have trouble understanding that industrialization, urbanization, and increased immigration, all significant developments during the late 19th century, are interrelated. In this unit, students develop a deeper understanding of how those topics relate and how they connect to our lives today.
  • The task: The unit’s final LDC assessment essay asks students to consider both the benefits and challenges of the rapid growth of the United States in the late 19th century. Students also analyze political cartoons of the day, debate whether major industrialists were “robber barons” or “captains of industry,” and examine immigrants’ experiences.

High School English Language Arts: Word Choice
  • The unit: Everyone carries and communicates perceptions based on their life experiences. In this unit, students explore how authors intentionally use word choice to craft messages relating to societal conflict and other social commentaries.  Students also study how word choice allows authors to develop complex, dynamic characters and examine concepts such as connotation and denotation in works by authors such as Pat Mora.
  • The task: Students write an essay on Reginald Rose’s 12 Angry Men, exploring the impact the author’s word choice has on the characterizations of the jurors.

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