Humanities: K-12

Create a Unit Plan for a Modern World History or Literature Course for 9th Grade Students


Middle and upper school teachers at independent schools create and implement unit plans comprising of classroom and homework plans for 8 to 15 class days on one theme or topic as part of a larger semester or year-long course. Depending on the course scheduling system of an independent school, you are likely to come up with unit plans for courses that last between 45 and 75 minutes and homework assignments that would take students between 20-25 minutes to complete per class session. Preparing unit plans will allow you to plan for how you would teach a semester’s or year’s worth of material in the school days that you have. Teachers typically come up with their own lesson plans, and can also borrow individual lesson plans from peers or online and weave them into a broader unit that they’re creating.

Typically at an independent school, the teacher designs the curriculum for the unit plans and no one else reviews the unit plan before implementation. This is contrasted to teaching in a public school where teachers may have to follow a pre-existing curriculum.

The Process

Create a unit plan for a 9th grade course on Modern World History or Literature. The unit plan will focus on a topic or theme that fits in the timespan of 1500 to the present. In a History department, a semester-long course may have 3-4 units, so choose a topic broad enough for you to cover in 8-10 daily lesson plans. Since many English courses are centered around a handful of books each semester, humanities unit plans are often longer to cover more class days. For a literature course, you can select one book to focus on that covers up to 15 class sessions. Examples of unit plan topics that you can use for History include:

  • Early modern state formation
  • Industrialization
  • The age of revolutions
  • Colonization and imperialism
  • The World Wars
  • Postwar liberalism

Task 1

Design a unit plan that includes a combination of lecture, worksheets, activities, media, discussion, and capstone project time (see Task 2 below for the capstone project task) for each day. You can also include homework assignments if you have access to a middle or upper school level textbook.

For a Literature course, pick a grade-appropriate novel and divide the novel into what you will cover in class and what students will read for homework in 15 days. For in-class time, you can include activities such as reading aloud, re-writing scenes from different perspectives, acting out scenes, and close reading analysis.

For the task 1 deliverable, identify a theme for the unit; it’s the topic of the unit. For example, themes for an ancient history class can include: Agriculture, Commerce, Knowledge, Philosophy, Politics, etc. Also include key skills the students will utilize for the capstone project. Some skills can include research, presentation, writing, reading and note-taking, etc. It can be helpful to think of the sequence of skills that students should learn; reading and note-taking, for example, can be skills from an earlier unit, and then subsequent units can then build on those skills to include research and then writing.

Task 2

Come up with a capstone project that will involve some in-class time on a few of the days in your unit plan. Be sure to include an explanation and instructions for the project assignment, project goals, student progress expected each day, and a list of relevant resources that student should consult. Try to scaffold your project tasks in a way that would allow students to build on their previous work.

The Deliverable

Attached are a sample deliverable of a unit plan and a capstone project on philosophy in classical Greece and China for an Ancient World History 8th grade course.


Skills Used to Perform These Tasks

  • Broad knowledge of history and/or literature
  • Research and analysis
  • Writing concisely
  • Ability to organize and compartmentalize course content into smaller sections
  • Creativity

Skills Needed for K-12 Education

  • Communication
  • Presentation
  • Research
  • Writing
  • Organizational
  • Leadership and teamwork

Additional Responsibilities

A teacher at an independent school will likely also:

  • Advise and support students beyond the classroom, including developing activities to enhance social and emotional well-being
  • Serve as a faculty advisor for student clubs and/or coach a sport
  • Serve on faculty committees on topics such as diversity and technology
  • Communicate with parents about the progress of their children

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