The Unit Organizer Routine

"Unit Organizer Routine manual cover photo"

Teachers use the Unit Organizer Routine to plan units, introduce and maintain the big ideas in units, and show how units, critical information, and concepts are related.

In studies with students in secondary social studies and science classes, students whose teachers used the Unit Organizer Routine regularly scored an average of 15% higher on unit tests than students whose teachers used the routine only irregularly or not at all.

Author(s): B. Keith Lenz, Janis A. Bulgren, Jean B. Schumaker, Donald D. Deshler, and Daniel A. Boudah

Publication Info: Edge Enterprises, 1994

This product is published by Edge Enterprises, Inc.  Professional development is recommended, see the SIM Event page for sessions.


Video: Unit Organizer in a digital classroom from RAISEup Texas.

The Unit Organizer Research (.pdf)


  • Boudah, D.J., Lenz, B.K., Schumaker, J.B., & Deshler, D.D. (2008). Teaching in the face of academic diversity: Unit planning and instruction by secondary teachers to enhance learning in inclusive classes. Journal of Curriculum and Instruction, 2(2), 74-91. This qualitative study indicated teachers began to think more carefully about content organization and difficulty of learning content when they were introduced to and began to use the Unit Organizer Routine.
  • Lenz, B.K., & Adams, G. (2006). Planning practices that optimize curriculum access. In D.D. Deshler & J.B. Schumaker (Eds.), Teaching adolescents with disabilities: Accessing the general education curriculum (pp. 35-78). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. This chapter reviews issues related to planning for students with disabilities, different kinds of planning interventions, and studies on teacher planning, including a review of lesson planning, unit planning, and course planning research.
  • Boudah, D.J., Lenz, B.K., Bulgren, J.A., Schumaker, J.B., & Deshler, D.D. (2000). Don't water down? Enhance content learning through the unit organizer routine. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(3), 48-56. This article describes the Unit Organizer Routine and provides an example of how to use the routine, including planning tips, logistical suggestions, ideas for modification, assessment consideration, and a summary of supporting research.

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