Unit Archive

A bookshelf for units we no longer teach in our schools, but which may still be useful to teachers using our curriculum.

1st Grade English Language Arts

The Seven Continents

Students read informational texts about the seven continents, and what makes each of them unique, while working to understand text features and develop skills in writing about informational texts.

2nd Grade English Language Arts

Properties of Matter

Students engage in multiple scientific practices and explore the properties of matter through hands-on, teacher-created labs and activities as they begin to critically analyze the world around them.

I Survived

Students build their reading and writing skills and examine what it means to be courageous and resilient in a time of crisis through reading I Survived Hurricane Katrina, 2005.

3rd Grade English Language Arts

Exploring Ancient Civilizations: Rome

Students explore the rise and fall of the ancient Roman Empire and Roman civilization, its various leaders, routines, and rituals, while practicing multiple informational reading strategies.

Roald Dahl

Students explore how two humorous works of Roald Dahl contain deeper messages about courage, friendship and stepping in to save others. 


Students explore machines and how simple and complex machines can allow us do work with less force or effort, through a selection of non-fiction texts and hands-on engineering projects.

Mildred Taylor and Langston Hughes

Students explore the concepts of friendship, courage, and how racist behaviors can influence an entire community by reading two core texts by Mildred Taylor and a collection of poems by Langston Hughes.


Students explore the world of poetry by reading, discussing and writing about a selection of carefully chosen poems, realizing that poetry can inspire, motivate, and help them see things in a new way.

Forces and Motion

Students learn about the relationship between force and motion and the meaning of gravity, friction, magnetism, potential and kinetic energy while participating in teacher-created labs and activities.

Exploring World Religions

Students build a deeper appreciation and respect for world religions in the aim of better understanding the differences and similarities among the religions and cultures of their classmates.

4th Grade English Language Arts

Life Sciences: Structures of Plants and Animals

Students explore the internal and external structures of plants and animals that support survival, growth, behavior, and reproduction, evaluating how body systems help animals (including humans) survive.

The Earth and its Changes

Students examine the different factors that influence change—physical, geographical, societal, and political—, what causes these changes, and ways to reduce the risks associated with the changing earth.

5th Grade English Language Arts

Adapting to Survive: Short Stories and Poems

Students explore the attributes necessary for survival and the importance of physical and mental strength by reading excerpts from Julie of the Wolves, Endangered, Hatchet, and a variety of poems.

Life Science: Ecosystems

Students read a selection of informational texts in order to explore the interconnectivity among organisms and energy within an ecosystem, and develop models to represent energy transfer.

Sí Se Puede: The Migrant Workers' Movement

While learning about the California migrant farm workers' fight for justice led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, students learn to make connections and think about cause and effect.

6th Grade English

Declaring Identity: Being Jazz

Students explore the topic of "coming of age" through the memoir of Jazz Jennings, a transgender teen whose story has led to significant social change and the growing acceptance of transgender youth.

The Lightning Thief & Greek Mythology

In The Lightning Thief and D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, students analyze the purpose of mythology in ancient Greece and explore the theme of hubris. This unit launches the year-long discussion on heroism.


Students are exposed to poetry as an art form full of aesthetic qualities, rhythmic elements and poignant themes, and consider how the genre differs from prose in structure, form, purpose, and language.

7th Grade English

When I Was Puerto Rican: A Memoir

Students read Esmeralda Santiago's memoir about her childhood in Puerto Rico and her subsequent move to New York, exploring themes of cultural identity, social mobility and the American Dream.

American Poetry

Through an analysis of figurative language, imagery and historical context, students will explore questions of race, immigration, poverty and self-realization in a plethora of American poetry.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Students grapple with themes of race, culture and class in the immigrant experience. Through deep analysis of texts, seventh graders explore a variety of perspectives as they wrestle with the authenticity of the American Dream.

Death of a Salesman

Students read Arthur Miller's classic play Death of a Salesman, which offers a scathing critique of the American Dream and of the competitive, materialistic American culture of the 1940s.

Short Stories: The American Dreamers

Through a series of short stories and articles on the experiences of Muslims, the Scots-Irish, Central Americans and more, students examine the obstacles immigrants face in adjusting to a new culture.

8th Grade English

Making Change: Speeches, Essays, and Articles

Students explore human nature through the stories of teenagers challenging the status quo and making real change in the world.

The Warmth of Other Suns

Students continue to examine the Great Migration, the massive relocation that cause more than six million African-Americans to move out of the South between 1915 and 1970, in The Warmth of Other Suns.

Seeking Justice: To Kill a Mockingbird

Students explore human nature through the story of a young white girl facing the harsh realities of racial injustice in the Jim Crow south.

Twelve Angry Men

Students grapple with the prejudice and flaws in the American justice system by reading the play Twelve Angry Men, and analyze how objective facts can be colored by personal attitudes and experiences.


Students read August Wilson's play Fences, in which Troy Maxson paves the way for his children to have opportunities under conditions he was never free to experience as an African American migrant from the South.

9th Grade English

Visibility & Invisibility in Short Texts

Students explore the factors, people, things, and characteristics that make people more or less visible in the eyes of others through their reading of short stories, poems, essays, and letters.

Purple Hibiscus

As students read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus, which tells the story of a young Nigerian girl and her family, they investigate the topics of identity, oppression, love and tradition.

Comedy, Taming, and Desirability in The Taming of the Shrew

Through their reading of Shakespeare's play and supplemental texts, students examine the thematic idea of desirability and its relationship to societal messages generated by contemporary phobias and ideologies.

Coming of Age and Patriarchy in Dominicana

Students examine what it means to come of age and be disenfranchised as a female undocumented immigrant in a community plagued by machismo culture.

Romeo and Juliet

Students hone their literary analysis and writing skills as they read Shakespeare's iconic Romeo and Juliet in the original Early Modern English.

The Bluest Eye

Students explore thematic topics, symbols and motifs in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, and discuss the impact of racial stereotypes on the identity development of young black women and men.

Short Stories

Students read three masterful works of fiction by Sherman Alexie, Karen Russell and Alice Walker, and practice skills, habits, and routines that will be used regularly in the high school classroom.

Power, Alienation, and The American Dream in Of Mice and Men and The Central Park Five

Students explore the American Dream and the complexity of power and its relationship to otherness through their reading of Steinbeck’s novella and excerpts of The Central Park Five and When They See Us

Lord of the Flies

Students read and discuss William Golding's classic novel Lord of the Flies along with several non-fiction articles and poems, debating the question of the fundamental goodness/evil of human beings.

Humor, Love, and Systemic Oppression in Born A Crime

Students explore how Trevor Noah leverages elements of fiction such as characterization, figurative language, humor, and symbolism to develop his complex argument about systemic oppression and its impact on identity development.

10th Grade English


Students read Antigone, their first exposure to the genre of Greek tragedy, and explore the conflict between loyalty to family and to country that is relevant throughout time.

Fahrenheit 451

Students read Fahrenheit 451, their first exposure to the genre of science fiction at the high school level, and discuss the author's messages about humanity, censorship, and technology.


Reading Sula, often called the first black feminist novel in the United States, students explore themes of friendship, gender, and race.

The Catcher in the Rye

Reading the novel The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, students trace the themes of fear, innocence and corruption as they follow the narrator through a pivotal three days in his unraveling teenage life.

The Crucible

In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, which explores the consequences of the McCarthyism scare of the 1950s, students explore the central topics of history, community, herd mentality and truth.


Students read Macbeth, analyzing and discussing universal themes of power, greed, and morality, while tackling Shakespearian language.

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