Our principal tools:
SmallerLogoDesigning full units of instruction
If you are interested in designing full units that are grounded in an anchoring event, then you will want to look at three tools we have for planning unit-length experiences for students. First you’ll want to read the primer for “Planning for student engagement in big science ideas.” This is the first of our four sets of core practices. And, as with the three enactment practices below, this planning practice has a tool that helps you with the initial design. And, just as with the enactment primers there is a section that explains the research supporting this set of practices.

Designing lessons that use the 4 sets of core practices

Three of our four core sets of practices are about the enactment of lessons. If you are interested in learning to use the core (we hope you are), then we highly recommend reading the primer for each set of practices. This primer is a guide that explains the purpose of each practice, the sequence of how you’d engage with learners and their ideas, and suggested discourse moves. At the end of each primer is an explanation of where these practices came from in the research. If you are ever in a conversation with someone who wants to know “What is the research that backs this up?” just have them read the relevant primer. It’s all there.

Each of the three core sets of practices also comes with a tool that you can use to design your own lesson. So, to be clear, each practice has an introductory primer and then a tool.


Tools that are helpful additions to the principal tools:

Card-sorting activity for unit planning

One of the activities you’ll have to do in “Planning for engagement with big ideas” is unpack the curriculum topics you have to address. Unpacking topics like “earthquakes,” “solubility,” or “cellular respiration” begins with identifying all the big and not-so-big ideas mentioned in the curriculum. It means seeing how they relate to one another, then figuring out which ideas are at the heart of really understanding the topic. We have a basic practice we use to do this, it’s called the Card sort. This activity is best done, of course with colleagues.

Explanation-to-activity tool for unit planning

One of the final steps in the “Planning for engagement with big ideas” practice is to identify an anchoring event, develop an explanation for it, and then use that explanation to develop a sequence of activities, readings, and investigations for your students. The explanation-to-activity tool will help you organize this work.

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