English teachers face a monumental problem when they plan their instructional year. The educational system hands them a literature book, a grammar book and/or writing text, and possibly a curriculum guide. They may also be provided with extra workbooks and supplemental materials. As a result, teachers are buried under an avalanche of possibilities, overwhelmed with suggestions, notations, and information. Planning from this endless list of possibilities offers a challenge unlike other curriculums since there is no single textbook with logically sequential chapters to follow. It is truly a difficult task.
Attempting to deal with this confusion, teachers use a variety of methods. Some follow curriculum guides provided by textbook publishers or school districts. Most, however, develop their own plan by mixing pieces of vocabulary with works of literature combined with grammar instruction.
Some plan a week in advance; others plan weeks at a time, saying, "We'll do Chapter 6 in the grammar text this week. Next, we'll do a short story. Then we'll write for a while." And, of course, there are the mood planners who base their choices upon whatever strikes them that day.
However, regardless of the length of planning time, most use the "sprinkle" theory of planning by covering each day a little literature, a little grammar, a little writing, or a little film analysis.
Students are not to be blamed if they perceive no order or rationale to what is taught and lose interest along the way. Teachers, not surprisingly, may see the middle months of the school year as stretching ahead endlessly with snow days the only excitement to look forward to. While the year will mercifully end, the teacher never feels a sense of control and accomplishment.
Unit based planning ends this dreariness. Teachers who use unit based planning find the year moves with a rhythm and pace that is satisfying to both students and staff. A sense of organization and control pervades the instructional day. Teachers end the year feeling a sense of accomplishment and with a belief that future improvement is possible and exciting.

The reason unit based planning works better than "sprinkle" planning is that human nature seeks a pattern to existence. It looks for a beginning, a middle, and an end. English teachers understand this when they assign the standard five paragraph essay. That is why students who write papers that move from one idea to another without obvious plan or organization are seriously penalized when the grade is determined.
Unit planning is more successful because other methods fail to meet the human need for change, movement, and purpose. In addition, adjustments from year to year are harder to make with no controlling feature on which to base change.
This handbook is designed to make the transition to unit based planning easy and successful. It is unit based, not text based. Using this book as a guide, you will select material from your own texts that fits your needs .
Using this handbook, you will learn how to construct a thematic unit. You will learn how to sort through your jumble of material in order to integrate seamlessly the pieces into a cohesive instructional package. You will learn how to organize your material into a manageable component. And you will be provided material to use as a foundation for your units. The purpose is to show you how to build units you will love.
For those of you already doing unit planning, but faced with designing a new unit, this handbook will be useful in shortening the time needed to prepare materials because it provides the foundation information you need.
In addition, the handbook is written with the thought that a teacher will return to a similar teaching position, so planning is designed to be incremental based upon the previous years experience. Unit planning will give you control over this years teaching as well as your teaching in years to come.
To do all this, you will use a "cut and paste' method of planning. You will pull the best of the content material from whatever textbooks you are using now or have used in the past. You will rearrange chapters and even pages in each textbook to match the sequence you believe is most effective. You will add material gleaned from a variety of sources. You will filter for yourself all the material available, choosing to design units that are interesting, responsive to each class, and reflective of your own personality. All this will be possible whether you teach using a mastery model, cooperative learning, or some other method.
The purpose of this handbook is two-fold. It offers insight into unit based planning while it combines in a single source the foundation information needed to produce those units. It is the first resource you will turn to before beginning any unit. The material included is information gleaned from fifteen years of English teaching. It is what I consider before I begin any unit, even those I have taught many times. It acts as a refresher for those units with which I am familiar; it is a foundation source for those which I have not taught. It isn't written with students in mind; instead it is written for you, the classroom English teacher so that you will have in one comprehensive document all the information you need to deal with the diversity of knowledge required of secondary English teachers.

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