NYA Curriculum Units of Study

Brian kissmanWhat is a Unit of Study?

A Unit of Study is a multi-week plan of instruction and learning, which makes explicit and intentional what students are to know, understand, and be able to do in a particular subject area with a focus on specific topics.

New York Academy is building customized Units of Study to implement our Curriculum across all subject areas.

For example, a Unit of Study for reading comprehension might be focused on character analysis. The following is an example of the Units of Study New York Academy are implementing:

Making Meaning through Characters

Unit Overview

When we read a story (fiction), we enter a new world. We meet characters, learn about times and places, become aware of challenges and conflicts, and see those challenges and conflicts being overcome. Each story is different, and each imaginary world is unique. But each story also has shared elements, no matter when or where it occurs. There are the main characters and secondary characters. There is a setting and sometimes multiple settings. There is a central conflict, and that conflict is most often resolved, which is the resolution. And, there is a plot, the sequence of events through which the story is told – the story mountain. Every story has these elements in common. When we learn to think about the story through its elements, we are able to make meaning.

The Unit focuses on “making meaning through characters.” By definition, a character is a person, imaginary being, or animal in a story; and again, within a story, there are main characters, and there may be secondary characters.

The Learning Points, Cognitive Processes, Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions, and School-Wide Learning Results below are the foundations through which students engage in learning through authentic reading, conversation, writing, and presenting.

This Unit, at the discretion of the teacher, may extend 3 to 6 weeks, depending on how many days each Learning Point requires; and this can differ from one class to the next.

A pacing guide maps out the Unit of Study.

Learning Points

The 8 Learning Points (LP’s) of this unit may be given one to three days each at the discretion of the teacher by planning and making adjustments per the data and insights gained by the teacher prior to and across the unit of study.

  1. Readers think about the character’s desires and struggles.
  2. Readers walk in the shoes of the character, entering the imaginary world of the story.
  3. Readers come to know characters by their actions, choices, relationships, and by the objects that are important to them. And, they notice when a character is acting out of character.
  4. Readers examine ways others interact with the main character, and they notice patterns of behavior.
  5. Readers think about how the secondary characters in a story have meaningful roles, through which they learn about the main character.
  6. Readers determine a character’s personality traits and anticipate the character’s response to events.
  7. Readers think about how characters change the events of the story.
  8. Readers differentiate between a static character (no change over the course of the story) and a dynamic character (changes over the course of the story).

Cognitive Processes & Critical Thinking

The cognitive processes below are combined with the Unit of Study’s Learning Points to explicitly and intentionally develop critical thinking skills. Typically one to two cognitive processes are combined with a learning point lesson.

  1. Activate & Connect Background Knowledge
  2. Visualize
  3. Generate Questions
  4. Maker Inferences
  5. Gain Perspective & Empathy
  6. Compare & Contrast
  7. Cause & Effect
  8. Conclude and Predict
  9. Analyze and Synthesize
  10. Determine Importance
  11. Monitor Comprehension

Higher Order Reasoning

Enduring Understandings & Essential Questions

An Enduring Understandings is a big idea that is transferable and applied to solve problems beyond the classroom and in the real world.

An Essential Questions is not answerable with finality in a lesson or brief explanation; it stimulates thought and is open to interpretation..

  • Characters’ desires and struggles reveal the author’s purpose and message.
  • Why do we think about the main characters?

School-Wide Learning Results

School-Wide Learning Results are lifelong learning outcomes that connect values, content, and skills.

  • Ethical Individual
  • Global Citizen

Formative Assessments

Graphic Organizers and rubrics are used to gain insights to each student’s progress to individualize and personalize instruction and learning (i.e., differentiation).

  • Summary / Retell
  • Character Analysis
  • Character Traits
  • Cognitive Processes/Critical Thinking
  • Traits of Conversation
  • Traits of Presentation

Learning Activity & Engagement

Students engage in the authentic act of reading and writing and thinking to make meaning through the following learning routines and strategies:

  • Readings and Writers Workshop Protocols and Routines
  • Book Club Conversations
  • Presentations
  • Metacognition Reflections – Oral and Written

Instructional Resources & Links

Teachers and students use the following resources to engage in the authentic act of thinking and doing:

  • Literacy Mats
  • Anchor Charts
  • Leveled Book Library
  • Reading and Writing Journals
  • Graphic Organizers and Rubrics
  • Mentor Texts: Bully by Patricia Pollacco; Lincoln’s Way by Patricia Pollacco


For each Unit of Study, we determine the our curriculum standards (AERO) to be covered. This guides us in crafting our Learning Points for the Unit.

New York Academy Units of Study maintain high expectations for academic achievement and assure continuity of authentic learning and instruction from one grade level to the next.


Mr. Brian

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