EL Education.

Meet the Modules: Orienting to a Unit

How can the Unit Overview be used to begin planning engaging instruction for your students?

"The secret of getting ahead is getting started." —Mark Twain, writer

By now you have explored the documents that orient you to both the year and the modules as a whole. This page will "drill down" further, and address the scope and sequence of the three units in a given module.

The units help the teacher really begin to consider how the implementation of the modules will look and sound in the classroom. In particular, the Unit Overview document helps teachers begin long-term planning and determine how each unit, and lessons within units, emphasize key ideas, build toward assessments, and flow together over the course of several weeks. On this page, we'll look at the Unit Overview closely.

Each module comprises eight weeks of instruction, divided into three units. Each unit has its own purpose within the module—for example, Unit 1 builds background knowledge—but the structure of all three units essentially remains the same. 

This page will provide a guided tour through a typical Unit Overview, including how to access it, what it contains, and how to use it to begin planning instruction for students.

Learning Targets

  1. I can find and download the Unit Overviews within a module. 
  2. I can describe the structure of a single unit within a larger module. 
  3. I can use the Unit Overview to begin planning my upcoming unit.

Facilitation Moves for Instructional Leaders

Click here to access resources to support the use of this PLP in a group setting. If you are completing this PLP on your own, proceed with the activities below. 



Other Topics in This Pack

Need help?

Not sure how to use this site? We've made a demo to walk you through the structure and features.

Watch: Orienting to a Unit and Locating Unit Overview Documents

Orienting to A Unit

Watch the screencast below for a brief orientation to the structure of a unit. Bear in mind that this structure remains the same across units, modules, and grade levels. 

Locating Overview Documents

Watch the screencast below for a brief tutorial on how to locate unit-level documents on our Common Core Success website. 

Independent Practice 

Locate a Unit Overview

Take a moment to visit the Common Core Success website to locate, choose, and download one unit overview from Module 1/1A for a grade level that best represents your current responsibilities as an educator or school leader.  You may return to the video above for additional support navigating the site. You will use these files in the next section of this PLP, so keep the files open once you locate them. 

Note! While we are focusing on a single unit overview in this PLP, it is very important to read all three Unit Overviews in a module side by side before a module is taught to see how they fit together and support another. 

Questions to Guide Exploration

You will now have an opportunity to explore the Module 1/1A unit overview for your chosen grade level.

Remember that there is one Unit Overview per unit, for a total of three Unit Overviews per module. We are working here with a single unit overview, but bear in mind the importance of reading all three unit overviews in a module to understand how they work together to create the arc of the module. 

Follow the questions below, or click here for a note-catcher to download and print. 

  1. What Common Core State Standards are at the heart of the unit?
  2. When are the Common Core State Standards assessed, and how? 
  3. What are the central texts for this unit? 
  4. What writing tasks will your students complete in each unit, and which of those are performance tasks
  5. Chunk the unit into two halves: lessons leading up to the mid-unit assessment, and lessons leading up to the end of the unit assessment. How would you describe the logic, or sequence, of each half-unit
  6. What role does independent reading play in this unit?

Check Your Understanding

Are you unsure if you are on the right track with your responses to the questions above? Click here for a sample note-catcher. 


Read the learning targets below and self-assess your current progress using this rubric. Choose the number you feel best represents where you are right now. If you're working in a group, share that number with your colleagues. 

Learning Targets

  1. I can find and download the Unit Overviews within a module.
  2. I can describe the structure of a single unit within a larger module. 
  3. I can use the Unit Overview to begin planning my upcoming unit.

Click here to view a list of implementation questions to guide your thinking. 


  1. What steps do you need to take to prepare to teach and further your understanding of this unit?


  1. How will you support teachers as they deepen their knowledge of units and begin the planning process?