ILA Bridges: Instructional Units for the Engaging Classroom

Call for Submissions

International Literacy Association Literacy Research Panel
Designs for Engagement: Criteria for Instructional Units
Updated October 2014


ILA Bridges: Instructional Units for the Engaging Classroom are now available as a members-only resource. Click here to see a FREE sample unit.



In an effort to promote highly engaging research-based classroom practices and rich student learning, the Literacy Research Panel of the International Literacy Association issues a call to teachers to join us in developing curricular units/modules that will accomplish these important goals.

Widespread implementation of the Common Core State Standards has provided a window of opportunity for teachers in the U.S. to reassert their authority and responsibility in ensuring that our students are involved in the highly rigorous, highly engaging learning that will prepare them for entry into postsecondary experiences in our colleges and workplaces. What follows is a framework—a design tool—that will allow all of those who participate to use a common language and set of pedagogical tools in the modules they develop. The goal is to create these modules and make them available to teachers around the country to enhance the quality and engagement of the classroom experiences they provide for their students. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to build a new set of curricular units that represent the best that our profession has to offer to students and their families.


The aim of these units is to foster a high volume of deep reading about compelling themes. Research supports the design criteria as tools to extend the amount and quality of students' engaged reading. In the short term, the unit should assure that students perform a high volume of reading and writing. In the long term, students should be enabled to become engaged readers and writers who are capable of using a variety of strategies to unlock and produce complex texts.

Author Teams

Each module should be written by a team of educators that includes expertise in literacy classroom teaching and literacy research. Interdisciplinary collaborations are encouraged in the case of units aimed at the elementary level, but strong disciplinary-based units are preferred at the secondary (middle and high school) level. Relevant aspects of the track records of the team members should be included in the application, along with a statement on the team's balance of professional, practical, theoretical, and research expertise. ILA will publish each accepted unit on, with full attribution to the team who developed it.


Each unit should be directed to one of the following grade frames: K–2, 3–5, 6–8, or 9–12. Reviewers will aim to publish at least one unit in each of these grade levels. At the elementary level, the unit should be designed for four to eight weeks of instruction in 60-to-120-minute periods of Reading/Language Arts. The unit may also integrate science, social studies, math, foreign languages, or other content domains. At the secondary (middle and high school) levels, the unit should be specific to a discipline or a sub-discipline (e.g., composition, physics, economics, French).

Units intended specifically for second language learners or students with special needs are encouraged.

Each submission should address the following:

Common Core State Standards
Does the module address several (at least four) of the Common Core State Standards? Cite each standard the unit addresses. Please include the full text of each standard cited.

Thematic Understanding
For an elementary school-level unit, one or more subject matter disciplines should be integrated with reading/writing activities. For middle and high school-level units, reading and writing activities should be integrated into subject-matter domains.

Units should aim to identify a significant number of texts, including print and digital materials, from a wide variety of genres. Annotated bibliographies or reading lists are encouraged.

The modules should provide a basis for students to relate personally to each reading, but also seek to expand learners' knowledge and experience.

Include in each module a section that describes how the unit will enable students to select texts, tasks for reading or writing, subtopics of content, and how teachers will support and scaffold opportunities for choice.

Module authors should identify texts and reading tasks that will be at a suitable level of difficulty and challenge for students. Beyond the primary grades, the units should take into consideration students' basic skill and literal comprehension development as the project expands their reasoning and thinking with text.

Units should provide instruction to support students' acquisition of reading skills and strategies.

  • K–2: Provide instruction on early literacy such as phonemic awareness, phonics, word recognition, fluency, sentence comprehension and story understanding.
  • Grades 3–5: State supports for word recognition, fluency, vocabulary comprehension, and strategies for reading to gain knowledge.
  • Grades 6–8/Grades 9–12: Include details on problem framing, close reading, necessary knowledge elicitation/building, summary within texts, synthesizing across texts, and communicating understandings.

Culminating Product
Each module should provide a project or activity that enables students to integrate their reading, writing, knowledge, and multimedia resources into a message, self-expression, or artifact that is aimed at an authentic audience.

Identify several (4–12) student performances (writings, summaries, maps, debates, read alouds, culminating products, other) that can be used for evaluation. Clearly state the criteria used for each, and include examples of applicable rubrics.

We are accepting submissions during this quarter until March 15, 2015. There is a high demand for units that emphasize project-based learning, as well as units geared toward secondary students. Exemplary units may be selected for a poster session at a future ILA Annual Conference. You will receive feedback on the acceptability of your submission for inclusion in the ILA Instructional Unit Resource Bank. Your submission will be evaluated based on the design criteria as outlined above. You will need to obtain permission to use any photos or previously published materials in your unit prior to submitting it for review. If you do not obtain this permission ahead of time, and your unit is accepted, it will not be published until the proper permissions secured. Please include letters of permission with your submission (not included in the 25-page limit).

The unit design should be formatted to include the following sections in this order: (1) Goals/Description; (2) CCSS/Evaluations Unit Overview Matrix (see sample unit) ; (3) Texts; (4) Teaching and Learning Activities, with subsections identifying (a) theme, relevance, choice, and challenge, and (b) Common Core State Standards and Learning Goals Achieved identified for each week; (5) Culminating Project; and (6) a complete description of the author team responsible for the unit.

The unit proposal should include a one-page overview of research supporting the unit (not included in the 25-page limit). The research statement should include at least 6-10 references showing empirical evidence for the elements of the unit. The statement should contain 1-2 paragraphs showing the links of the research to teaching practices of the unit.

The length of the unit should not exceed 25 double-spaced typed pages and using 12-font or larger, including any appendixes. References are not included in the page count. Manuscripts that exceed this length will be returned for revision. Send your materials electronically as one document (preferably as a Word document) to You may be required to make edits prior to ILA posting your unit.

Reviewer's Guidelines for Judging the Instructional Units

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