Course Design Summary

This course is based on the Understanding by Design system for creating lesson plans and instruction according to the desired outcomes for the course (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Understanding by Design is a system for goals-based instruction that facilitates lesson planning according to the intended outcomes for the student population. For the purposes of this course, the Understanding by Design system has been adapted to facilitate communities of inquiry style learning.

This course is intended to teach to the current 9th grade secondary English standard as provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (2012), which is a common standard in several other statewide systems as well. The course is based on group evaluation and discussion of modern culture, which provides an engaging social atmosphere and motivation to learn the required skills, in a communities of inquiry setting. Communities of inquiry that are facilitated through instructor social and cognitive engagement tend to become epistemically-engaged self-regulating learning groups where the social dimension in the classroom is included and considered a part of instructor presence and student learning (Shea & Bidjerano, 2010).

In order to facilitate a community of inquiry setting, a substrate must be created for the learning group process, positive rapport established and shared values discovered through an awareness of social presence.

Competencies in English can come from a critical awareness of others' writing, modern culture can provide the substrate which students may need to learn and process the required standards. The goal of utilizing modern culture and mass media texts as a part of a course on English is to facilitate the development of critical analysis skills required by the English course standards. Additionally, mass media tends to mainstream stereotypes and social values present within the prevailing culture, and evaluating modern culture begins a study of the origins of stereotypes and communally held values about society and social groups (Holtzman, 2000). As media is evaluated and a critical awareness of the quality of the media and the values contained within the media is raised, a perception forms which allows the consumer to juxtapose the values disseminated in mass media with the individual's own values or compared with existing social group values, the video about violence in the media located on the media resources tab discusses much of the evidence to that end (Hixson, 2012). Dave Grossman (2009), discusses the escalation of violence and violent attitudes present in mass media and modern culture, and as an individual who had worked as an educator at West Point he recommends a critical evaluation of and re-sensitization to the antisocial values and metaphors that may be present in modern culture.

The goal of this preparatory English class is to provide secondary students with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the listed standard, and also to be capable of critically evaluating modern culture and media texts. The course is designed to give students some advance preparation for college writing ENG-101 by requiring an assignment that is created as an academic essay which can be peer-reviewed and adheres to academic standards.

The assessment system created for the course allows the instructor to customize the formative feedback instrument and administer it as many times as necessary to measure student confidence in either the weekly requirements or to measure the overall confidence in the five academic standards set for the course.

The cross-cultural analysis part of the course is designed to allow students to think critically about cultural viewpoints present in the creation of literature and media texts, as well as to provide a source of challenge in the final phase of the course, a description of differences in cross-cultural communications can be found in this communications guide for social change leaders (Hixson, 2014).

In the context of motivation Bernard Weiner (2010), articulates the attribution theory of motivation in a way that demonstrates people will tend to work toward goals which they find valuable and attainable, so long as they feel they are capable of attaining the goals and effective in the motivational context. The communities of inquiry setting is designed to engage students in learning which they find valuable by also providing a high degree of both independent and group autonomy as students who are developing the learning goals and selecting the assignments for the course, students who work together may be able to share skills and reduce the risk of failure by socially creating an epistemology for learning the course material, and the process may foster more intrinsic learning motivation.

What follows is a complete lesson plan and template for the teaching of a college English preparedness course.


English Prep Course Templates

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Stage 1 – Desired Results (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2012)

Content Standards

· Determine central ideas or

themes of a text and analyze

their development; summarize

the key supporting details and


· Assess how point of view or

purpose shapes the content and

style of a text.

· Delineate and evaluate the

argument and specific claims in

a text, including the validity of

the reasoning as well as the

relevance and sufficiency of the


· Write informative/

explanatory texts to examine

and convey complex ideas,

concepts, and information

clearly and accurately through

the effective selection,

organization, and analysis of


a) Introduce a topic; organize

complex ideas, concepts,

and information to make

important connections and

distinctions; include

formatting (e.g., headings),

graphics (e.g., figures,

tables), and multimedia

· Analyze a particular point of

view or cultural experience

reflected in a work of literature

from outside the United States,

drawing on a wide reading of

world literature.

Unpacked Standards:

Students are required to use textual evidence that is convincing and complete to support their ideas. Citing from the text may include a formal citation or a verbal reference. Analysis should include inferred and literal meanings. Students in grade 9 should be introduced to the skill of determining the difference between strong evidence and insufficient or unreliable details.

Students should understand how much evidence is needed to support a claim. These skills should build as students continue to cite evidence both formally and informally.

Students should be able to distinguish between text that provides strong support and text that is not related, uncertain, or insufficient as evidence. Their analysis should offer insights that show they can derive understanding from details that are directly stated as well as from those that are implied.

After determining the figurative and connotative meanings of words, students need to consider the significant influence of the author’s word choice as a whole on the text’s tone or overall understanding. Students are asked to consider how an author crafts the structure of a text to produce a particular effect. Standard RL6 specifies world literature and requires students to examine a particular point of view or cultural experience found in that body of literature. It is important that this is introduced in grade 9 and studied more in-depth at grade 10 – using more complex literature and developing a deeper understanding of global perspectives.

· Selecting includes:

o Using relevant and sufficient facts, definitions, details, and quotes

o Using sources that are appropriate to task, audience, and purpose

o Choosing precise words and domain-specific vocabulary

· Organizing includes:

o introducing a topic

o arranging ideas, concepts, and information to show interrelationships

o formatting effectively

o developing a topic

o organizing graphics

o providing multimedia when useful

o using transitions to link together the major sections of the text

o Writing a concluding statement that supports the information presented

o Choosing a formal style and objective tone

· Analyzing includes:

o Deciding what organization is most effective for purpose, audience, and task.

o Determining how many facts, definitions, details, quotations and other information are needed

Unpacked Standards, English Prep

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Understanding By Design Course Template

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Learning Plan

Learning Activities:

The goal of the course is to bring a community of inquiry together among students around modern culture. The students will select which media texts to work on, organize their structure for evaluating the media texts, compare the viewpoints within the texts to their own, summarize and evaluate a media text, and then compare the products of the class cross-culturally to self-reflect on the mores and memes which may have been different about the text when measured across cultures.

Students will

  • Familiarize themselves with each other, form a working group and establish rapport.
  • Establish the cultural viewpoint of the group.
  • Familiarize themselves with different media texts whether periodicals, music, TV, movies, or games.
  • Establish the viewpoint of a selected text
  • Create an essay explaining an analysis of an individually selected text of the chosen type.
  • Resolve the analysis cross-culturally during discussion.

Learning Activities:

· Going from a non-critical viewpoint of media texts toward critical thinking

· The students are participating by selecting media types and media texts

· The students will create a group epistemology by examining the values of the culture

· The student will be prepared to write a well-formatted essay about a media text

· The student will critically analyze mass-media

· The student group will process and evaluate their learnings as a community of inquiry

Daily Schedule:

10 Minute Group Introduction and Reconnection

20 Minute Instructor-Led Participation and Lecture Time

15-20 Minute Peer-Group Inquiry Discussion Time

10-15 Minute Independent Work, One-To-One Interaction, Weekly Feedback Questionnaire

Total 60 Minute Course Periods Twice a Week.

Weekly Modules:

Week 1

Lesson Activities:

Group-phase activities including introductions, social processing, forming the group and establishing roles in the community of inquiry.

Materials Needed:

“Talking stick” or other organizational method for creating an effective circle process (Pranis, 2005).

Week 2

Lesson Activities:

Current events lecture and discussion to assist students in identifying the values and mores present in current events. Group processing time to discuss the differing viewpoints within the group surrounding current events. The group will identify shared values.

Materials Needed:

Media texts selected by the instructor for presentation representing an appropriate and controversial issue from current media.

Week 3

Lesson Activities:

Short lecture series differentiating the various kinds of media texts, whether periodicals, music, television, movies, or video games. The group will coalesce to select a media type for analysis during the essay assignment.

Materials Needed:

Classroom aid designed to present the various types of media texts as a lecture. This can be a powerpoint presentation, or a compilation of preselected material from the instructor.

Week 4

Lesson Activities:

The group will process an instructor selected text of the student selected media type. Each student will view, read, or otherwise engage in participation with the predesignated media text. The group viewpoint about the selected text will be created in group process.

Materials Needed:

A pre-selected media text of the chosen type with the appropriate permissions acquired for classroom use. Any equipment required to present the chosen media text is also required.

Week 5

Lesson Activities:

Lecture series on academic writing, formatting, and standards. The students will prepare themselves with the instructor’s assistance to complete the media analysis essay. Students will select the appropriate text for analysis during student-instructor feedback time.

Materials Needed:

A short (15 minute) pre-compiled presentation about appropriately citing media texts in APA style. Instructor-provided APA style website or online resource for student reference. Instructor-provided annotated APA-formatted research article provided as a visual learning aid.

Week 6

Lesson Activities:

Resolve the learning. Students will come together to discuss the assignment that was created and compare their assumptions about the given media texts with cross-cultural values. If the course is held in an independent or western context the class participants will compare their findings with a collective or eastern context culture.

Materials Needed:

Feedback worksheets collected throughout the course. A short presentation on the difference in cultural contexts such as the one shown on the website http://www.dxed.org/media-resources (Hixson, 2014). A group presentable version of the grading rubric for the written assignment as well as the group participation requirement.

Feedback Strategies

  • Group facilitation and instructor-group social participation.
  • Passive instructor observation during participant-participant interactions, with case notes.
  • Weekly module close Likert-scale feedback forms.
  • Independent instructor-student interaction time.
  • Group-instructor participation during inquiry time.

Individual Feedback Worksheet The feedback worksheet is a Likert-scale which will be used as an instrument throughout the course (Hixson, 2015a). The last fifteen minutes of every class period is scheduled as independent work and instructor feedback time. This time can also be used for instructor-group interactions using circle processes to acknowledge each class member as a part of the group process to positively evaluate the progress of the group (Pranis, 2005). Group progress is to be checked according to a confidence inventory of the essential questions created to meet the standards designed for the course (Unpacked Standards). A Feedback Scoring Sheet is provided for tracking the feedback worksheets and standards in the course.

Learning Activities

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Performance Task(s):


  • The Goal of the assignment is to create a credible and properly formatted academic work.
  • The Role of the students is to participate in the discussion of modern culture and the learnings associated with standard academic writing.
  • The Audience is the instructor who may choose to recognize individual works with the rest of the class group.
  • The Situation is the social presence of the student in a myriad of media and literature texts that influence values.
  • The Product is a written work containing at least three citations including those to the media texts in question.
  • The Standard is the correct grammar, punctuation, and academic style of the written work.
  • Click the links here to visit the section for the listed week.
  • Week 1
  • Week 2
  • Week 3
  • Week 4
  • Week 5
  • Week 6

Assessment Forms

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The formative assessment tool presented here for use during the course is designed to measure student confidence in exactly five essential questions. Since the course is developed around exactly five standards which are listed in the unpacked standards section of this page, the essential questions and rubrics can be created in the instrument to measure the overall performance of the learning group, or the instrument can be customized to measure five essential questions within each given week. The instrument can be administered weekly, or three times during the entire course to track student confidence according to the established course standards. The forms presented here work best when they are downloaded to a PC computer and modified to meet the instructor's specific needs for the given course. The instructor will need to formulate a rubric based on the five standards presented for this course to include with the assessment system.

The self-assessment feedback worksheet is the component of the assessment that is customized and given to the students, the feedback worksheet scoring sheet is designed to score each assessment given in order to provide statistics for the entire learning group.

Self-Assessment Feeedback Worksheet

Feedback Worksheet Scoring Sheet (Works in Microsoft Excel)


Grossman, D. (2009). On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and

Society. New York, NY: Back Bay.

Hixson, S. (2014, September 30). Communication guide for social change leaders [Video

Podcast]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0sKwLknVWg

Hixson, S. (2012, April 7). Violence & media [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from:


Hixson, S. (2015a). For teachers [Web Log]. Retrieved from: http://www.dxed.org/for-teachers

Holtzman, L. (2000). Media messages: What film, television, and popular music teach us about

race, class, gender and sexual orientation. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (2012). English / language arts unpacked

content. Retrieved from:


Pranis, K. (2005). The little book of circle processes. Intercourse, PA: Good Books.

Shea, P. & Bidjerano, T. (2010). Learning presence: Towards a theory of self-efficacy, self-

regulation, and the development of a communities of inquiry in online and blended learning

environments. Computers & Education, 55, 1721-1731.

Webb, N. L. (2002). Depth of knowledge levels for four content areas. Retrieved from:


Weiner, B. (2010). The development of an attribution-based theory of motivation: A history of

ideas. Educational Psychologist, 45(1), 28-36. Doi: 10.1080/00461520903433596

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Pearson.