Unit 1 of Benchmark Advance

Immediately after the Review + Routines weeks, CA and National Edition teachers transition into a unit on rules and government, which I think is pretty fitting! We transition from talking about classroom rules and expectations to larger-scale ideas.

Teachers using a later version of Benchmark (2021 and after) begin their year with a unit on animals. (This is because Benchmark swapped units 1 and 3 in these later editions.) If your unit 1 topic revolves around animals, read about that here!

Introducing the Topic

I begin this unit with an Inquiry Chart, which is the Project GLAD version of a KWL Chart. We put the unit topic in the middle (grades K-1, consider using the word “rules” in the middle), and then as a class, we have a discussion about what we already know about the topic and then what we want to know or what we have questions about.

Tie in a Project-Based Learning Assignment

For the older grades, I like to introduce this topic in conjunction with a project. My favorite project that connects well with this unit is my Improve the Community PBL assignment. As a class, we brainstorm an issue or problem in our community that needs a solution. Once everyone has agreed on a problem, we work to find a solution that we can implement. You can read about what I’ve done in the past with my kids here! Or, if you’d like to implement this project-based learning assignment in your own class, you can check out my Improve the Community PBL pack here. It’s got everything you need to guide your students through the process, including teacher directions and student graphic organizers. This project can be adapted easily for grades 2-5.

Planning + Prepping for Unit 1

I know that getting started can be the hardest part. Especially for new teachers or teachers new to the curriculum, the idea of starting out with a project can be super overwhelming. We feel you! If you’re looking for a little extra help to get your thoughts in order and maybe get some anchor chart ideas, my “Planned for Me” resource is a huge time-saver. I actually have a FREE sample I want to share with you for Unit 1!

Click your grade below to grab your freebie!

Grade K  |  Grade 1  |  Grade 2  |  Grade 3  |  Grade 4  |  Grade 5  |  Grade 6

If you’re a visual learner and you’d like to be walked through the planning process, you can “plan with me” as you watch this video:

Photos from My Third-Grade Class

Here is a collection of photos that I took as my class was moving through our unit on government. Many of these photos are of anchor charts that I used to help me teach the close reading lessons. You can also see that I tried to make the lessons more collaborative and interactive whenever I could. For more photos shared by teachers across grade levels for the government unit, check out the Unit 1 Photo Album in our Facebook group (you must be a member to view them).

I hope this post has given you a helpful starting point! Be sure to join us in the Markers and Minions Facebook Group for Benchmark teachers, Benchmark Advance Planning, Organization, and Tips!

Hi! I’m Toluca from Markers and Minions, where I help teachers feel more effective and confident with high-quality resources and an awesome teacher community!

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