Unit Preparation Guide

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The TDOE unit prep protocol provides step-by-step guidance for building a deep understanding of each unit utilizing your high-quality knowledge building instructional materials. This protocol contains guiding questions and action steps to prepare for each unit individually or in a larger grade-level setting. This protocol can be used with any high-quality ELA instructional materials. 

Step 0: Prework

Before coming to your unit preparation meeting, be sure you complete the following so you are fully prepared to engage in unit study.

  • Read each text from a learner’s approach.
  • Annotate the texts for challenging sentences, language, or vocabulary.

Step 1: What will students learn during this unit?   

Guiding Questions


What are the 1-3 most important “Big Ideas” (new knowledge) students will come to understand as a result of engaging in this unit?  


What “Essential Question” will guide the knowledge gained from this unit?  

Note: an “Essential Question” should not include the answer. Non- example: Why are the 5 senses important? This already tells students that the 5 senses are important. A stronger essential question is “How do we use our 5 senses?”


Step 2: How will students demonstrate their learning in this unit?

Guiding Questions


What is the culminating task at the end of the unit (in its current form)?


How are students asked to demonstrate their understanding of the “Big Ideas” for the unit in culminating speaking or writing tasks?

  • Consider students need to know (build knowledge around) from the unit texts?) Is it clearly defined in the current culminating task?
  • What do students need to be able to do? (Targeted reading, writing, and/or speaking & listening standards). Does the task clearly expect students to use TN standards to demonstrate new learning?
  • Does the task need to be modified to ensure “the knows and dos” are clear?

Rewrite the task explaining “the knows and dos” and how the students will use “the dos” to demonstrate the new learning they have built through the unit.


Write an exemplar student response for the task.


If exemplar is provided, annotate the exemplar for feedback and improvements.







Step 3: What are all of “the Knows and Dos” students will need to master

Guiding Question: What will my students to learn in this unit to demonstrate progress towards the new knowledge learned and grade level standards to show their new learning?

Review your notes and your exemplar from unit culminating task.

Create a T-Chart of the knowledge and understandings for the task in one column and the skills required in the other column.


What does the task require students to KNOW?










What does the task require students to DO?


Which three knows and dos will be most challenging?









What scaffolds may be necessary to support learners with these challenging expectations?


Step 4: How will the daily learning experiences in this unit build student understanding and skill?

Guiding Questions


Identify the lessons that will focus on the challenging “knows and dos” listed above?


How will the daily tasks show that students are on/off track for the culminating task “knows and dos?” (Do you need to modify the daily tasks to measure on track/off track for the culminating task?


Which planned components (questions, checks for understanding) in the materials will support student success if students are not on track through the daily tasks?


What will you need to reinforce or add to ensure vulnerable students will need to be successful (at the lesson level?