One of my favorite curriculums to use with middle school students is National Geographic’s Inside series. I love how it is cross-curricular, with most of the units directly connecting to science and social studies, and it is aligned to CCSS ELA standards. My students have always found the readings to be highly engaging. I also appreciate how budget-friendly it is. It is possible to teach the curriculum with only the student books. The online materials, workbooks, and writing curriculum are all nice, but not necessary, and as I spent most of my career working at schools with a budget of $0, having a curriculum that worked well without all of the “extras” was a necessity. I only have two concerns with the series: academic vocabulary and grammar.
The series does include academic vocabulary, but I find it is poorly developed. The practice activities usually consisted of one or two worksheets, which were included in the workbook (which I often did not have access to). Thankfully, I already have a standard set of vocabulary activities I know work well and my students enjoy. I used my 30-weeks of Academic Vocabulary as inspiration, and created academic vocabulary units for each unit of levels A (blue book) and B (green book). Each unit includes the eight academic vocabulary words for each of the eight units. Since the curriculum repeats some words, this resource also repeats some words. In my class I start each unit by working together to complete the chart and scatter the other activities throughout the unit (each activity takes about 5-10 minutes). The assessment is given near the end of the unit, separate from the unit assessment. The activities consist of the aforementioned chart, cards to add to our word wall, sort cards, clip cards, match-it cards, worksheets, a scrambled word recording sheet, and an assessment.
When it came to dealing with the grammar, I decided to supplement unit-by-unit. Over the years I developed fairly extensive plans for each unit that included a variety of grammar (and other) supplemental activities. When I found myself having to change districts mid-year, leaving my class in the hands of a long-term sub (who happened to be my best language tutor) who wasn’t trained as a teacher, my principal asked me to leave as many plans as possible. I quite happily turned over my entire unit plans for the rest of the year, including what supplemental resources I could leave. Those plans were later used by a mid-year hire teacher who told me how helpful they were. This got me thinking and I realized my unit plans could be useful for other teachers.
It took awhile to find the time, but about a year ago I finally got all of my plans written up in a format that is easier to use, and understandable to more than just me. Each zip file (one for level A and one for level B) contains plan tables (day, class activities, homework) for each unit. Whenever a supplemental activity is mentioned I try to link to it so you can easily download it for yourself. The zip file also includes templates/handouts for whatever assignments and resources I could freely share without violating copyright laws. Not included in the lesson plan download are the word wall cards I made for the vocabulary in the various readings. These are available as a free download, or from my post Vocabulary Word Wall (which describes in detail how I use them). Another thing I did not provide was a lot of detail on how I implement each activity. We are all professionals and have our own styles, how you implement the activities will be different from how I implement them, and that’s OK–even good! Unfortunately I cannot put zip files on this blog for direct download, so I had to post the plans on Teachers Pay Teachers, but they are free.
It is my hope that these plans will be of use and benefit to other teachers. I greatly miss working with this particular curriculum (though I do enjoy National Geographic’s Pathways, the curriculum I use with my adult students) and am always excited when I teach a similarly themed unit and get to delve back into some of the resources and activities. Happy teaching, everyone!
Need some of those links again? Here they are:
To make things even easier for you, I’ve put together a bundle for each level. The bundles contain all of the plans and supplemental activities that I’ve developed for each book. This allows you to get all of the supplemental resources I’ve created for each book at a 20% discount. Please note: some products are repeated in the bundles.
Teaching both books and don’t want to try and figure out which products are included in both bundles? No problem, there’s a bundle that has everything for both books, this one at a 25% discount.
Many people have contacted me about plans for Inside Fundamentals, the orange books. I only used that level very briefly and many years ago. In fact, I only taught the first six units from it. I haven’t had time to put together proper plans to share, but I did throw together an activity list for the six units I taught and a couple of bonus units (telling time and body parts). The list is a bit of a mess, and I couldn’t find links for all of the activities, but I’m happy to share what I have. Hopefully I’ll get some time later this semester to put together a proper “plan” and search for some of the missing links. Feel free to contact me with any questions and I’ll do my best to help.