In the fall of 2012, the International Reading Association’s Literacy Research Panel (LRP) issued a call for a new kind of interdisciplinary unit, one that would “promote highly engaging research-based classroom practices and rich student learning.” Each was to be written by a team that included at least one classroom teacher and one researcher. In addition, the units were to be crafted specifically to support Common Core implementation.
It was a tall order, yet within days of issuing the call, submissions started to roll in. The high quality of the proposed units impressed the LRP, who put each of them through a rigorous peer-review process.
After all was said and done, 11 units were accepted for publication, and seven author teams were invited to present their work at IRA’s 2013 Annual Conference. An additional handful of teams will be presenting at this year’s conference in New Orleans, as part of a poster session titled “Evidence-based Practices for Education” (two of which will deliver data on enactments of units over the past year).
The project resulted in a new line of resources—IRA Bridges: Instructional Units for the Engaging Classroom.
These easy-to-implement units include assessments for each week’s teaching and learning activities, as well as an idea for a culminating project. Connections to the CCSS are provided as well, including web links to each individual standard the lesson addresses.
Basically, if you’re a classroom teacher who wants to know what the CCSS should look like in your classroom, then these are the curricular units for you.
Every quarter, IRA will aim to publish at least one unit in each of the following grade spans: K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12. Submissions for new units are accepted quarterly as well; the deadline for the next round is March 15. (For more information, see the official call for submissions.)
Here’s an overview of the first four IRA Bridges units:
TITLE: Exploring Frogs and Toads: Integrating Math, Science, and Language for K–2
AUTHORS: Kathleen Burrell, Traci Wagner, and Lisa Moriarty
ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY: Science unit that applies language and math skills to the high-interest subject of amphibians.
TITLE: Money Makes the World Go Around: Interdisciplinary Unit for Grades 3–5
AUTHORS: Kim Beal, Diane Bottomley, and Peggy Rice
ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY: Economics unit for developing a deep understanding of content knowledge through close reading of fiction, informational text, and poetry.
TITLE: Courage: Facing Adversity—An Interdisciplinary Unit for Grades 6–8
AUTHORS: Sharryn Larsen Walker, Lacey Goble, Kyle Hutchinson, Katie Wilson, and Naomi Zornes
ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY: Medieval times, technology, bullying, and bravery are explored through Rodman Philbrick’s novel FREAK THE MIGHTY and digital media projects.
FREE SAMPLE UNIT!
TITLE: Understanding Power and Fear: School Integration in the South (1954–1964) [for Grades 9–12]
AUTHORS: Cristina Nagel and Mary Hoch
ONE-SENTENCE SUMMARY: Thought-provoking unit connecting literature and history through high-quality expository texts.
IRA Members may access these units through the Members-Only section of Reading.org. Not a member? If you want IRA Bridges, you’ll have to join; unlike E-ssentials, IRA’s line of e-publications that delivers practical ideas for teaching literacy in today’s classroom, the IRA Bridges instructional units are an exclusive member benefit not available for purchase.
Lara Deloza is the content strategist and senior writer at the International Reading Association.