Curriculum Unit

This five-week curriculum unit provides an example of how Unfold Studio can be integrated into a secondary English, Social Studies, or Computer Science course. You may want to use it whole, or mix and match lessons and resources to make it fit your discipline and teaching context. This unit is released free for noncommercial use. It was written by Chris Proctor, who would love to receive your questions and feedback. (see Contact)


This curriculum unit follows the backwards-planning format suggested in Understanding by Design [WM00]. The jumping-off point is an essential question, something worth thinking about for a long time and which leads to important ideas. Pursuing the essential question provides opportunities for particular learning objectives and assessments to measure growth. Once this planning is finished, we are ready to plan out the lesson day-by-day.


How do we build our worlds? The social worlds we live in provide both resources and limitations for the kinds of identities we can write for ourselves. We all know how great it feels to be in a space where you feel safe and free. We are also familiar with how some spaces keep us from being the people we would like to be. Maybe it’s because your parents have a fixed idea about who you are, and impose that on you. Maybe it’s because you’re not around the people who know you best, and with whom you have shared memories. Maybe it’s because you’re in a culture that attaches expectations to your gender, race, or social position.

This unit invites students to explore the relationship between language, identity, and literacy spaces. Literacy spaces are communities of meaning-making which have their own histories with ideas and ways of understanding media. Your family is a literacy space–its members are known in particular ways, you know what gets talked about (and what doesn’t) at the dinner table, and everyone knows what to laugh about and what to take seriously. Other examples of literacy spaces are school classrooms and Facebook.

In a typical US middle or high school, these questions would often be explored in an English, Language Arts, or Social Studies class. They also ought to be right at home in a Computer Science class. We are still developing an idea of what secondary Computer Science should look like, but these questions are of central importance to human-computer interaction, modeling social phenomena, and computational linguistics. By opening a place for telling stories that matter to us, we will create a world where computational thinking is relevant and useful for the things we already care about. This unit is an example of how Unfold Studio can support interdisciplinary literacies, using computational tools to explore humanistic questions.

Essential Questions

  • What worlds do we live in?
  • Who can we be in those worlds?
  • How do we build our worlds?


  1. Write interactive stories which critically engage with real-world social experiences.
  2. Writing/programming practices: Reading, writing, revision, debugging, editing.
  3. Plan interactive stories using planning and prewriting strategies such as freewriting and using graphs to plan story flow.
  4. Use flow control and state to write interactive stories. Specifically, make use of:


Three assessments will allow students to demonstrate mastery of these objectives:

  • The Story Portfolio assesses students’ ability to analyze and critically engage with real-world social experiences (Objectives 1 & 2). Students submit several stories and a reflection explaining their intent.
  • The Broken Story assesses students’ ability to use programming concepts (Objective 4). Students are given a broken story and asked to fix it.

The writer’s workshop structure provides plenty of opportunities for informal formative assessment. The unit also contains several structured opportunities to check how students are doing.

Daily Lesson Plans

Unit Calendar, assuming 50-minute class periods
Day 1: Introduction Day 2: Map of childhood Day 3: Lesson Day 4: Lesson Day 5: Lesson
Day 6: Lesson Day 7: Lesson Day 8: Lesson Day 9: Lesson Day 10: Lesson
Day 11: Lesson Day 12: Lesson Day 13: Lesson Day 14: Lesson Day 15: Lesson
Day 16: Lesson Day 17: Lesson Day 18: Lesson Day 19: Lesson Day 20: Lesson
Day 21: Lesson Day 22: Lesson Day 23: Lesson Day 24: Lesson Day 25: Lesson

Day 1: Introduction

Introductory discussion: Who can we be? Quick free-write on particular questions; class discussion; free-writing. Create accounts on Unfold Studio (unless private installation); basics of syntax; first story

Day 2: Map of childhood

Map of childhood activity.

Day 3: Lesson

Map of childhood activity: finish up and share. Discuss interesting effects people created, different feelings in stories.

Day 4: Lesson

Prewriting and perspective story. Implement the story. Working in pairs.

Day 5: Lesson

Finish perspective story. Share, appreciate as a class.

Day 6: Lesson

Lecture and discussion on big concepts: models of personhood. Got another text? Incorporate it. Choose one of three writing prompts (from slides); freewrite on this and submit to teacher as a formative assessment.

Day 7: Lesson

Return writing; implement story. Set the stage: a little longer to write, building up. Will take time to discuss. Mini-lesson on conditionals (or let people figure it out on their own)

Day 8: Lesson

Writer’s workshop day on dialogue story. Mini-lesson on state.

Day 9: Lesson

Finish up dialogue stories, share, discuss.

Day 10: Lesson

Literature circles: read a story, practice discussing it. Whole-class discussion: What was interesting? dialogic interactions that need more attention. Introduce assessments, milestones, writer’s workshop working structure.

Day 11: Lesson

Writer’s workshop. Mini-lesson on pre-writing. Exit ticket: what do you need mini-lessons on?

Day 12: Lesson

Writer’s workshop Mini-lesson on dialogue

Day 13: Lesson

Writer’s workshop Mini-lesson on inventory

Day 14: Lesson

Writer’s workshop. Mini-lesson on theory of mind Assignment: literature circles meet, decide on a class-written story to read for tomorrow.

Day 15: Lesson

First story due. Literature circles meet, discuss class-written story.

Day 16: Lesson

Writer’s workshop

Day 17: Lesson

Writer’s workshop

Day 18: Lesson

Writer’s workshop

Day 19: Lesson

Writer’s workshop

Day 20: Lesson

Writing process assessment due

Day 21: Lesson

Writer’s workshop

Day 22: Lesson

Writer’s workshop

Day 23: Lesson

Broken story assessment

Day 24: Lesson

Finishing up portfolios

Day 25: Lesson

Closing discussion, reflective writing