A lesson needs to be considered within the context of the overall unit.


20-90 minutes

  • Identify the unit goals, record them in your plan, and explain the rationale for any departures from your curriculum
  • Outline the unit plan and explain how it relates to your standards
Three teachers discussing materials


Identify the Unit Goals

Can you articulate what you want students to understand by the end of your unit?

In the previous phase, you selected a topic and studied it in the standards, your own curriculum, and research


Use what you learned to outline the Goals of the Unit (#5) in the Teaching-Learning Plan.

If you decide to modify the unit goals found in your curriculum, explain why. The Unit Goals should answer the question:

  • What do we want students to understand by the end of the unit?  

Record your unit goals in your team notes as well as in the Goals of the Unit (#5) in the Teaching-Learning Plan. Think of these as the working goals of your unit. You can revise them as you develop your unit plan, but for now they provide a good place to start. Many teams find it challenging, but very valuable, to articulate unit goals.


Lay Out the Unit Plan

What progression of tasks is the best one to help your students arrive at the unit’s goals?

The unit plan shows the progression of learning experiences that will enable students to reach the unit goals. Discuss and map out with your team:

  • What sequence of experiences will allow students reach the unit goals?
  • What task(s) will students do in each lesson of the unit, and what will they learn from each lesson?

Revisit the unit plan in your curriculum, and consider it in light of what you learned from reading standards and research. In a perfect world, the unit plan in your curriculum will take students from where they are now to the big new understandings expected in the standards, bringing to life what is known about student learning of the topic. If you’re not in that perfect world, figure out how to modify your unit plan so it will best enable students to reach the unit goals you outlined.


Outline your Unit Plan (#6) in the Teaching-Learning Plan. The unit plan is usually a brief list of the lessons in the unit that specifies the main task and goal of each lesson. See the resource tile below for a sample unit plan. Be sure to explain any modifications you make so that readers will be able to understand the reason for your redesign of the unit.


Finally, consider the Relationship of the Unit to the Standards (#7) of the Teaching-Learning Plan. Show how the unit relates to the Standards.  What standards does your unit address? What prior standards provide a foundation for the unit, and how does the unit provide the foundation for future standards?

This overview (#7) in the Teaching-Learning Plan allows lesson observers to grasp how your unit fits with the standards and how your team developed the topic for student understanding.


Example of Unit Goals and Unit Plan