Unbroken – A Complete Unit Plan

I have to admit: the idea for creating an Unbroken unit plan was not my own!

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Just before Christmas Break, I received an email from a subscriber who suggested that I create a series of lesson plans for the Young Adult version of Unbroken. I responded immediately to the email telling him that it was a brilliant idea! At that point, I had only read the original 2004 edition, so I ordered the 2014 YA edition right away.

Creating Lesson Plans for Unbroken

Over the break, I must have read Unbroken 5-6 times as I worked to design a curriculum. Louie Zamperini’s story is unbelievable and, while I loved the original version, I was absolutely captivated by the story this time around. I read it over and over again to help me create the best possible resource that I could!


(For anyone who isn’t familiar with Louie’s story, he was a rebellious youth who trained to become an Olympic runner. After competing in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, he joined the military and trained to become a bombardier during World War 2. On a rescue mission, Louie and the rest of his flight crew crashed into the ocean. [Don’t worry-I’m not giving anything away here. You find this out in the prologue!] What follows is an incredible story of resilience and perseverance in the face of excruciating difficulties!)

More Than Comprehension Questions

As I put together the Unbroken lesson plans, it was important to me that the assignments were more than basic comprehension questions. While there are some comprehension questions, with this unit we delve deeper into the story, its themes, the life lessons, etc. that make Louie’s story so inspiring. It was also important to me to make the events that happened over 75 years ago feel relevant to the adolescents who would be studying it today!


I included supplemental readings on mental health and PTSD that are relevant to Louie’s experiences. To create these, I worked closely with my good friend, Rudi, who is working as a middle school social worker. Additionally, I included reflective assignments to help student relate to and connect to the text.


One of My New Favorites

To be honest, I am incredibly proud of this Unbroken unit! I feel like it will be both engaging and meaningful to teenagers today. Additionally, it helps students learn and practice a wide variety of important ELA skills! (see image below)


Is Unbroken Your Next Class Read?

If you’re looking for a great narrative nonfiction text to read with your class, I highly recommend Louie’s story and this Unbroken Unit Plan! It’s the kind of nonfiction narrative that your students won’t want to put down!

[Word of Caution: this story does contain some content that may not be appropriate for younger students (war violence, prison camp experiences, etc.). Be sure to read it first and communicate with administrators and parents, just to be safe!]

What other narrative nonfiction stories would you like to see resources for? Let me know in the comments!

Until Next Time,

Brenna (Mrs. Nelson)