Background Information on Unit Planning

Background Information on Unit Planning




The goal of this 3-5 day unit is to guide students in a close reading of ___________________________.

(genre and title of piece)


By reading and rereading the passage closely combined with classroom discussion about it, students will _______________________________________________________.  

(objective connected to the genre- not the content)


Example: Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details. (Grades 5 - 8)

Example: Identify the main topic and retell key details of the text. (Grades 5 - 8)

Example: Determine two or more central ideas and analyze their development over the course of the text. Provide an objective summary of the text.


Note: Use grade level Common Core Reading Standards for Informational Text will be used to generate vocabulary questions, discussion questions, and writing tasks.





  • Students will silently read the whole passage, first independently, and the following along with the text as the teacher reads the whole passage aloud. The teacher will then lead students through a set of concise, text-dependent questions that compel students to reread specific paragraphs/sections and discover the structure and meaning of _____________________. (title and genre of piece)


  • Do not prepare students ahead of time. This should be a cold-read!


  • Text-dependent questions can be answered only by careful scrutiny of the text and specifically by referring to evidence from the text itself to support the response. They do not require information or evidence from outside the text. (No background knowledge)


  • Questions should demand close attention to the text to answer fully. An effective set of questions might begin with relatively simple questions requiring attention to specific words, details, and arguments and then move on to explore the impact of those specifics on the text as a whole. Good questions will often linger over specific phrases or sentences to ensure careful comprehension.




  • Most of the meanings of words in this selection can be discovered from careful reading of the context in which they appear.


  • This practice is both called for by the standards and is vital. Teachers must be prepared to reinforce it constantly by modeling and holding students accountable for looking in the context for meaning as well.


  • Vocabulary should help students acquire knowledge of general academic vocabulary because these are the words that will help them access a wide range of complex texts.


See attached list of general academic words, which are often referred to as Tier Two words.





  • Students will discuss the passage in depth with their teacher and their classmates, performing activities that result in a close reading of the text.


  • Scaffolds enable all students to experience the complexity of the text, rather than avoid it. The scaffolding should not preempt or replace the text by translating its contents for students or telling students what they are going to learn about in advance of reading the text; that is, the scaffolding should not become an alternate, simpler source of information that diminishes the need for students to read the text itself carefully. Effective scaffolding aligned with the standards should result in the reading encountering the text on its own terms, with instructions providing helpful directions that focus the student on the text. Follow-up support should guide the reader when encountering places in the text where he or she might struggle.


  • The goal is foster student confidence when encountering complex text and to reinforce the skills they have acquired regarding how to build and extend their understanding of a text.


  • Speaking and listening prompts and questions should offer opportunities for students to share preparation, evidence and research. Student should be given opportunity to respond to and challenge their peers with relevant follow-up questions and evidence.





  • Writing about text is an effective way to elicit active engagement, so reading materials should provide effective ongoing prompts for students to analyze texts in writing.


  • Students need to show that they can analyze and synthesize sources, and in addition, present careful analysis, well-depended claims and clear information through their writing.


  • Students will paraphrase parts of the text and write __________________. (ex. "explanation of text using one of three prompts", "an essay detailing one example and the lesson in the story")


  • Students should conduct a short research project to enable students to repeat the research process in each unit and develop the expertise needed to conduct research independently.