Students often have difficulty managing language, connecting concepts, and staying focused on the goals of a content unit. As a first step toward increasing student success, teachers can break units or chapters into manageable language and concepts and teach each piece step-by-step, further micro-uniting these components as needed throughout the instructional process.
Sharing the unit plan with students in the form of a unit preview, chapter breakdown, or overview is an initial step toward successful micro-uniting. In this way, teachers can frontload vocabulary, cue students’ existing knowledge, pose essential questions, make connections between past and future concepts and units, and clarify performance expectations. Students can see what they will be expected to learn and do.
As the structure of the class’s units becomes familiar, teachers can involve students in creating unit previews to activate their metacognitive skills. With guidance, students can practice predicting what they will be expected to learn, and generate options for how they should be assessed on their knowledge and skills. As their ability to develop previews increases, teachers can enrich the process by guiding them to create companion documents throughout the unit that can be used as a unit review. Students can be taught to elaborate on key ideas, answer essential questions, and articulate their understanding of the connections among the unit’s concepts. Students’ active engagement in creating these documents contributes to their comprehension and memory of the content, and helps structure their study for various forms of assessments.
Find the text of the teaching principles, including “Micro-Unit and Structure Tasks,” here.
See the attached strategies for examples of a language arts unit preview, a mathematics chapter breakdown/syllabus, and a science chapter overview/pre-reading activity.
Mathematics: Chapter Breakdown
This chapter breakdown includes concepts, modes of delivery, resources, questions, and assignments.Download
English/ Language-Arts: Unit Preview
This preview, to be done with students, helps them see the components of the coming unit.Download
Science: Pre-reading / Chapter Overview
This activity helps students use their textbook as a starting place for the unit that will be covered.Download
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