Content-Area Literacy

C3WP Mini-Units


This resource from the College, Career, and Community Writers Program (C3WP) features one-minute videos that define mini-units and explain the value of using nonfiction sources/texts. There are links to related pages on the C3WP website that focus on creating text sets and on developing and sequencing mini-units. These resources will take facilitators and teachers through both the content and implementation of researched argumentative modules, with space to supplement or customize. Teachers can write in response to some of the units to see how they might work with students.


Mini-units are:

  • designed to build capacity for students’ argument writing over time
  • focused on one or two skills in argument writing
  • intended to build on routine argument writing and lead towards extended research argument
  • limited in duration, usually from 4-6 class periods

Mini-units help students:

  • curate information
  • participate in conversations that matter
  • understand multiple points of view
  • use evidence from nonfiction sources
  • take reasonable stands and seek thoughtful action

How to use the chart of resources:

  • This charts assists teachers in selecting and sequencing mini-units based on specific instructional goals. Each mini-unit focuses on a specific set of skills identified by the title. Because each unit is focused on a different area of emphasis, the unit set provides multiple entry points to develop and stretch student skills with argument. The charts are organized from left to right, beginning with a focus on the area of emphasis and argument skills in each mini-unit. The last column in the chart provides a sample text set. While the texts have been carefully chosen, if you would like to create another, see the guide to Creating Text Sets.
  • The charts are not meant to suggest that a teacher should move from top to bottom through the sequence of mini-units, but rather that the selection and sequencing of mini-units can depend upon a variety of factors such as students’ experience with entering skills, area of emphasis, written product, student engagement, or need to reteach or go deeper into an area of emphasis.
  • One primary function of these charts is to identify Next Steps based on a needs assessment, the Using Sources Tool, or another protocol for looking at student work.
  • Definitions of Key Terms:
    • Entering Skills: Skills that students should have experience with prior to beginning the mini-unit.
    • Foundational Skills: Essential skills that are transferable across argumentative tasks and that are likely to be circled back upon multiple times over the course of a year or years.
    • Going Deeper: More complex and nuanced skills that take the Foundational Skills to the next level.

View the Chart of C3WP Resources