Understanding by Design Unit Template

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Understanding by Design Unit Template

Title of Unit

Symbols of America

Grade Level


Curriculum Area

Social Studies

Time Frame

30 minutes/8-10 days

Developed By

Brandi Jackson, Amber Hall, Aimee VanMiddlesworth

Summary of the Unit

  • In this unit, students will learn what a symbol is. Furthermore, students will identify the flag of the United States as an important symbol in our everyday lives. They also will learn about other symbols of our country, such as, the President, White House, The Liberty Bell, The American Flag, American Bald Eagle, and The Statue of Liberty. Students will also learn the meaning of The Pledge of Allegiance and The Star-Spangled Banner. They will be engaged in many individual and cooperative group lessons. Students will be reflective and contribute to class discussions about the symbols of America. Furthermore, they will investigate their symbolic contributions to the United States and the rest of the world based on family, ethnic and cultural traditions and diversity.


Identify Desired Results (Stage 1)

Content Standards

Indiana Academic Standards

Social Studies

Knowledge__1.1.3Identify_American_songs_and_symbols_and_discuss_their_origins.'>1.1Historical Knowledge

1.1.3Identify American songs and symbols and discuss their origins.

1.1.4Identify local people from the past who have shown honesty, courage and responsibility. (Individuals, Society and Culture)


Essential Questions

Overarching Understanding



  • Symbols are used to represent a country and its people.

  • Symbols have meaning in our everyday lives.

  • How does a symbol represent a country’s people?

  • Why is it important for a country to have its own symbols?

  • Why can a country’s symbols evoke emotions?

  • Explain how symbols relate to objects and actions.

  • Why do flags look different from one another?

  • What is a symbol?

  • What do the colors of the flag mean?

  • What do the 13 stripes on the flag stand for?

Related Misconceptions

  • Symbols have no meaning.

  • Not all countries have flags.

  • The history of the flag and the meaning and purpose of the Pledge of Allegiance.


Students will know…


Students will be able to…

  • Key terms and definitions related to symbols of the United States of American

Symbol, United States, North America, 13 original colonies, American, citizen, citizenship, map, city, state, locate, President, White House, Washington D.C., Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Mount Rushmore, bald eagle, The Pledge of Allegiance, The Star-Spangled Banner, The Liberty Bell, monument, diversity, family, community, allegiance, honesty, courage, responsibility, culture, Web Quest, Power Point, leader, past, present, change, loyalty, purity, peace, hope, freedom, justice, truth,

  • Factual information of symbols of the United States of America

  • Recognize and become familiar with the symbols

  • Application of nonfiction information to transfer facts into writing, reading, and speaking

  • It is helpful if students are familiar with 6 Traits of writing

  • Map skills (compass rose, cardinal directions, map key) and how to locate city and states on a map of the United States of America

  • Recite The Pledge of Allegiance

  • Recite The Star-Spangled Banner

  • Reading skills

  • Writing skills

  • Analytical skills

  • Social Studies Research skills

  • Speaking and Listening skills

  • Gather historical data from a variety of sources

  • Use available technology to obtain historical information

  • Organize their writing

  • Produce a variety of types of writing and make reasonable judgments about what to include in his or her work (RAN chart)

  • Generate a list of main ideas in resource materials

  • Know and use correct subject/verb agreement

  • Know and use correct capitalization, punctuation

  • Identify supporting details and main ideas

  • Read, respond to, and discuss a variety of work such as content-area reading

  • Set purpose for reading

  • Respond to written and oral presentations as a reader, listener, and an articulate speaker

  • Use organizational features of electronic information

  • Technology skills—navigate a Web Quest

  • Generate questions about the symbol beyond facts

Assessment Evidence (Stage 2)

Performance Task Description


The goal is teach a kindergarten class about American symbols.


You are the teacher. You will define and display pictures of the symbol on a visual display board and give specific facts and information about the symbol’s history, how the symbol represents a country’s people, why it is important, and how it relates to objects and actions.


Teacher, kindergarten class


Students are going to work in groups to create a visual display of their assigned symbol connected to 5 facts about their symbol. Kindergarten groups will rotate around each symbol station to learn about the symbols.


Students will design a visual display board to help teach 5 important facts about their symbol, such as, the history of the symbol, the symbol’s location and/or origin, and what it means to the country and its people. Kindergarten student’s understanding will be assessed through closure activity and discussion. First grade student’s understanding will be assessed using a rubric along with a culminating lesson by creating a flag that represents themselves.


Indiana Academic Standards

Social Studies

1.1 Historical Knowledge

1.1.3 Identify American songs and symbols and discuss their origins.

1.1.4 Identify local people from the past who have shown honesty, courage and responsibility. (Individuals, Society and Culture)

Other Evidence

Type of Evidence

Description of the Assessment Activity

Which Facet of Understanding is Emphasize


Primary Performance Assessment (PBA)

  • Your first grade class has been asked to help a kindergarten class understand American symbols. Design a visual display and plan for a five minute oral presentation.



Written prompts/journals

  • Non-fiction writing piece at the end of the unit with the RAN chart

  • American Symbols Journal

  • Five fact sentences about symbols



Small projects/skill demonstrations/supporting performances

  • Symbols product

  • Statue of Liberty Experiment

  • Web Quest

  • Personalized Flag

  • Recite The Star-Spangled Banner

  • Recite The Pledge of Allegiance

  • American Symbols Folder

  • Interactive bulletin board

  • Web Quest



Student self-assessments

  • Various Rubrics and Symbols product checklist



  • Informal assessment about students working together and independently throughout the unit.



  • American flag quiz

  • Symbols fact and vocabulary quiz

  • Cumulative test



  • Oral explanations using age appropriate speaking and listening skills to explain group symbol activity.

  • Participation during culmination of facts from the books

  • Informal observation through anecdotal notes


Learning Plan (Stage 3)

Where are your students headed? Where have they been? How will you make sure the students know where they are going?

  • Students will learn the importance of a symbol. Students will use their background knowledge about community, citizenship, and families to understand their symbolic contributions to the United States and the rest of the world.

How will you hook students at the beginning of the unit?

  • Begin the unit with a RAN (Reading and Analyzing Non-fiction) chart. Students will be shown important symbols of the United States on a slideshow.

  • Each day, lessons will begin with an amazing fact about the symbol for the day without naming the symbol. This will be followed by a Word Splash for the symbol.

What events will help students experience and explore the big idea and questions in the unit? How will you equip them with needed skills and knowledge?

  • Students will participate and contribute to a cumulative interactive bulletin board (large map of the United States with a timeline illustrating the location and /or origin of each symbol in the unit)with new learning and visual representations throughout posted throughout the unit. The key terms, definitions, and unit concepts will be displayed along with the unit EU and EQ’s. Students will participate in daily non-fiction read alouds about each symbol, where they will gather facts on chart paper. They will choose five facts from this list to create five fact sentences to accompany their symbol to be placed in their symbols folder. Throughout the unit, they will also locate the symbols on the map on the interactive bulletin board and place a picture of the symbol in the correct location. They will have daily reflective writing open ended responses that correlate with EQ’s in their American Symbols Journal. They will be engaged in multiple learning experiences where student understanding of the symbol will be evidenced by the creation of a symbol’s product.

How will you cause students to reflect and rethink? How will you guide them in rehearsing, revising, and refining their work?

  • Students will be engaged in think aloud activities along with picture books and stories. Students will be engaged in multiple writing experiences that encourage students to keep reflective journals.

How will you help students to exhibit and self-evaluate their growing skills, knowledge, and understanding throughout the unit?

  • Oral presentation rubric (PBA)

  • Symbols product checklist

  • American flag quiz

  • American Symbols Journal rubric

  • Symbols fact and vocabulary quiz

  • The Star-Spangled Banner rubric

  • Personalized flag rubric

  • Informal observation through anecdotal notes

  • Cumulative test

  • American symbols folder rubric

  • 6+1 Writing Traits Rubric

  • Non-fiction writing piece

How will you tailor and otherwise personalize the learning plan to optimize the engagement and effectiveness of ALL students, without compromising the goals of the unit?

  • Students will be given multiple learning experiences that engage them in different learning styles to meet the needs of all learners.

How will you organize and sequence the learning activities to optimize the engagement and achievement of ALL students?

  • The unit will be organized around the implementation of the interactive bulletin board. The unit will follow the outlined scope and sequence, making adjustments as needed as based on student need (example: Working one on one or assigning a partner).


  • Welcome Book Series on American Symbols—Nonfiction Texts

  • Nystrom Social Studies Curriculum (Primary)

  • Primary sources

  • Internet resources

  • Web Quest

  • Recording of The Star-Spangled Banner

  • Lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner

  • American Flag

  • Large map of the United States

Materials Needed

  • Paper, crayons, scissors, slideshow with symbols of the United States, chart paper, pictures of symbols, interview outline, trade books, big books, map of the United States, globe, RAN chart, pictures of presidents, rubrics, large mural paper

From: Wiggins, Grant and J. McTighe. (1998). Understanding by Design, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

ISBN # 0-87120-313-8 (ppk)

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