Anatomy of a Unit Share

My first year of teaching I followed the Kindergarten “theme-of-the-week” structure for teaching teeny kids and a seat-of-my-pants structure for non-teeny kids. I was new to planning for different ages of students after several years as an upper grade classroom teacher. Each week was mostly fine until about Thursday with Kindergarten when I heard, “We already read that!”

Great.

As much as we tell kids that it’s okay to read something over again, it’s not really that much fun to read aloud to a group of students who a) don’t remember the book b) hated the book or c) loved the book so much they want to talk about the ending before you get there.

So I started a haphazard preemptive strike–the “Unit Share.” My Unit Share is a one page flyer advertising my unit to teachers. It includes the objectives, a description of my plan, a schedule for each lesson and a list of resources I’m planning to use. The year I did the first one (2 years ago) I think I did one set for teachers. After that it seemed like too much work. It kind of is.

But with my grid of 54 units planned out in advance, the Unit Share is now the step between my long-range nebulous plans and actual lesson plans. It sounds simple. It is not. I’m very slow to share a unit because up until this point, I usually haven’t planned the unit farther than what was written in my list of units.

As I write a Unit Share I’m referring directly to my state objectives, searching my catalog and the public library’s catalog for books, searching for resources through google, and trying to get my sequence for the unit planned out. I’m also considering my students, differentiation strategies, and aspects of the unit I can use to hook teachers.

For me the Unit Share is my way of planning the entire unit. Even though I may only include the bare bones, my brain is remembering all of the details. When I write my lesson plans I already have objective numbers, learning targets, resources, etc. all planned out. It makes the writing of lesson plans much faster.
The Unit Share I wrote this month for 4th grade is posted at Google Docs. Hopefully it’s not as tragic as my pirate unit was last year!
Mentioning a Unit Share type resource probably makes most people think of the benefits for teachers, but I write them mostly for myself. Not that there aren’t benefits for teachers. It opens lines of communication, strengthens my image as a ‘real teacher’ (which I honestly don’t have many problems with, but I know some do), and provides those contact points that open up collaboration.

They’re hard work, but it’s worth one weekend a month to pull it off. Besides, that’s how I’m catching up on the last season of Lost. I think I’m the only one on the planet who doesn’t know what happened on that island!

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