ETAP 530: Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum
Spring, 2011
Guidelines for the Collaborative Unit Plan













Individual Reflection

Submission Guidelines



For this assignment, which will be the culminating project for the course, you will work with your study group to develop a unit plan for a middle or high school class in which writing and reading are used to support content-area learning in your content area. The specific focus of the unit (i.e., the subject matter), the nature of the assigned writing and reading in the unit, the planned activities, the intended grade level, and the length of time for the unit are all up to you and your group. Your unit plan will include a description of the unit, a timetable for planned assignments and activities, sample materials, and a detailed rationale in which you explain and justify each component of your unit in terms of your goals as content-area teachers and your understanding of adolescent literacy development.


Your unit plan should include the following five main components:

  1. a general overview of the unit that describes the subject matter, main activities, and assignments

  2. a statement of your objectives for the unit

  3. a timetable/outline for the unit

  4. a sample lesson plan for a representative or central activity in the unit

  5. a rationale in which you explain your reasons for the unit's specific activities and assignments in light of your objectives and in terms of your own evolving philosophy of teaching writing.

Also, include any supplemental materials that you think are necessary for a reader to understand your unit plan. For example, include the assignment prompts for any major writing tasks you plan to give your students; you might also include rubrics for evaluation or essential handouts for in-class activities.

In addition, each student will submit an individual reflection on the unit plan project (see below).

Ultimately, your unit plan should be a reflection of what you have learned about how writing and reading can effectively be incorporated into content-area instruction. It should also reflect your understanding of adolescent literacy and how you can support the literacy development of your students within your content area.

Here are general guidelines for each section of your unit plan:

Overview of Unit. Your overview of your unit should provide a reader with a clear description of the unitís focus as well as its main activities, assignments, and goals. It should also include important information about the grade level for which you intend your unit plan, the specific course if appropriate (e.g. Senior Regents English; College Writing), etc. Imagine this overview as a kind of detailed summary of the unit that you might present to your department supervisor or curriculum coordinator.

Objectives. This section of your unit plan should be a straightforward list or description of the major and minor objectives of your unit. You can organize these objectives in any way that seems appropriate, and you can make them as broad or as specific as you think is necessary. For example, one goal of the unit may be to encourage students to understand writing as a process of inquiry, which would be a general goal; at the same time, you might have a much more specific goal of introducing students to specific content-area information or concepts (e.g., in a social studies class, to help students better understand the influence of Native American culture in the early years of the U.S.; or in a math class, to help students understand algebraic equations).

Whatever you include in this list of objectives should be discussed in your rationale; in other words, your rationale should link the specific activities and assignments in your unit to the objectives on this list.

Timetable/Outline of Unit. Include a description, outline, calendar, or chart that indicates how you will spend time in the unit. For example, you might break up your unit into specific days and list the major activities or assignments for each day. Or if your unit will span several weeks, you might break it down by weekly activities, providing a general idea of what will happen during each week. This section of your unit plan should convey a clear sense of how students will spend time during the unit and how long you expect the unit to take.

Sample Lesson Plan. For your sample lesson plan, choose a lesson that includes activities that are important to the unit as a whole or a lesson that characterizes the focus of the unit. Use whatever format for your sample lesson plan that you feel comfortable with. But be sure it is complete enough to convey a good idea of what that lesson will involve. For example, if the lesson includes three main activities, the lesson plan should describe those activities sufficiently and explain what you expect students to do for each activity, how much time you will devote to each activity, and how you might assess the activities (if appropriate). Include a brief statement of your goals and objectives for the lesson and a description of any materials you will need for it.

Rationale. This is the heart of your unit plan. In it you will explain your reasons for the specific components of the unit (the assignments, activities, etc.). Your rationale should address all the main components of your unit and provide a clear sense not only of how those components fulfill your stated objectives but also of how they reflect your beliefs about the uses of literacy to support content-area learning and the literacy development of adolescent students.

In your rationale, you should make reference to any course readings, activities, assignments, or other documents that seem relevant as you discuss your ideas about writing pedagogy. Draw on your case study and summary-response papers where appropriate. Keep in mind that your unit plan should illustrate the principles of reflective practice and incorporate research-based instruction. Your rationale should clearly explain how reflective practice and research-based practice are evident in your unit.

In addition to the sections of your unit plan described above, your unit plan should address the following issues in some fashion:

Assessment: Be sure to describe and explain how you will assess your students' work in your unit. Your assessments should include content-area learning as well as literacy learning.

Difference: In what ways will you take into account your students' diversity in this unit and/or address issues of diversity or difference in literacy development? How does your unit reflect your views about difference or diversity when it comes to literacy instruction? In what ways will you account for special needs, if at all?

Technology/Media: How will you use instructional technologies in this unit? What purposes will they serve in terms of your unit objectives? How does your use of technology in this unit reflect your views about literacy and technology?

Grammar and Convention: How will you address issues of language conventions, style, usage, etc. in this unit? How does your treatment of these issues reflect your sense of their role in writing?

Individual Reflection

Upon completion of the unit plan, each student will submit an individual written reflection on the project. In this reflection, you should offer your own thoughts about what you learned as a result of your group's inquiry into its assigned scenario. You should also offer an evaluation of your group's work and your role and participation in that work. This written reflection should be 500-750 words in length.

Submission Guidelines

  • Length. There is no hard-and-fast length requirement for this assignment, because the length will be determined by the nature of the unit you are developing and the extent to which you develop your ideas in your rationale. The rule of thumb is this: your unit plan should be long enough to fulfill the requirements listed on this page and to do justice to the complexity of the three main questions about writing and writing instruction that we have addressed in this course. However, donít write a curriculum guide. Include only what is necessary.

  • Format. Please organize and format your unit plan so that it is clear, coherent, and easy to navigate. Submit your unit plan as a MS Word document by posting it as an attachment to your BLS study group forum. Be sure to number your pages clearly and use correct APA or MLA format for citing your sources.

  • Deadlines.

    A complete draft of your unit plan is due in class on Thursday, April 14th.

    A revised draft of your unit plan is due in class on Thursday, April 28th.

    The final version of your unit plan as well as individual reflections are due on Friday, May 6th.


This assignment is worth 25 (out of 100) points. Your unit plan will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • Thoroughness. Your unit plan should include each of the sections described above and provide sufficient information and material in each section to meet the goals of the assignment. In particular, the rationale should address all major components of the unit and connect them to the stated objectives.

  • Substance. Your unit plan should reflect an understanding of the role of literacy in facilitating student learning. It should show evidence that your group carefully considered some of the complexities of literacy and adolescent literacy development in your efforts to design an effective unit that fosters genuine content-area learning. Your rationale should include appropriate references to course readings and related research.

  • Quality of the Writing. Your unit plan should be well-organized and clearly written. It should conform generally to the conventions of academic writing and be generally free of error. It should include a correctly formatted bibliography.

  • Quality of the Individual Written Reflection. Your individual written reflection on your group's work should be thoughtful, well-written, and clear and should offer a careful and honest assessment of your group's work and your own role in that work. It should discuss what you learned as a result of your participation in this project.

Please note that because each student will submit an individual written reflection as a required part of this assignment, grades for all group members may not be the same for this assignment.