Remarkable Accomplishments of the Hidden Figures | EL Education Curriculum

You are here:

In Unit 1, students built background knowledge about the historical context of the Space Race and the Apollo 11 mission featured in the anchor text. As students segue into Unit 2, they begin to recognize that many others contributed to the success of the missions beyond those most commonly recognized in history. This is made clear by reading selections from the anchor text, Hidden Figures (Young Readers' Edition).

In the first half of Unit 2, students read the first nine chapters of Hidden Figures, which provide context for the contributions of the West Computers, the segregated pool of female African American mathematicians, and highlight the specific story of one hidden figure, Dorothy Vaughan. The Mid-Unit 2 Assessment, focused on passages from chapter 9, will evaluate students' abilities to effectively determine the central idea(s) and the author's point of view and purpose in a text, as well as discern figurative, connotative, and technical meanings of words as they are used in a text.

In the second half of Unit 2, students switch to a Jigsaw protocol, for which the chapters about hidden figure Mary Jackson are divided between Groups A and B. This protocol makes reading the text more manageable and allows students to co-construct knowledge about the topic by sharing what they have learned about Mary Jackson from their assigned chapters and listen to the knowledge shared by their peers studying the other chapters. Building on students' learning from reading multiple texts and text types on the same topic, the End of Unit 2 Assessment will evaluate students' ability to compare and contrast portrayals of the same individuals and events across texts.

Please note: For the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum, there are Teaching Notes for each unit that contain helpful information for supporting English language learners. These overview notes complement the more specific English language learner supports and differentiated materials within each lesson. You will find the Teaching Notes in the Unit download below.

CCS Standards

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Remarkable Accomplishments in Space Science
  • Task: 
    • Read two short sections of chapter 9 in their anchor text, Hidden Figures, and answer selected response and short answer questions about the argument the author makes in the text, as well as the author's point of view toward Dorothy.
    • Reread an excerpt from the anchor text, Hidden Figures, about Katherine Johnson and then read an excerpt from "Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM" that describes the same events as the anchor text. Students respond to selected response and short constructed response questions to compare and contrast each author's presentation of those events in terms of content, author's methods, and point of view.
  • Targets: RI.6.1, RI.6.3, RI.6.6, RI.6.8, RI.6.9, RI.6.10, W.6.1b, W.6.10
  • Texts: Hidden Figures (Young Readers' Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly, "Moon Dust and Black Disgust" by Booker Griffin, "From Moton to NASA" by Carson Reeher for The Farmville Herald, "Mary Winston Jackson", excerpt from Power in Numbers by Talithia Williams, "July 20, 1969: One Giant Leap For Mankind" from NASA, "Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM" by Heather S. Deiss


Each unit in the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize students' understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to the EL Education curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students work to become effective learners by collaborating with their Jigsaw groups to become experts on their assigned chapters, then share their learning with their home groups to ensure everyone has equal and thorough understanding of all parts of the book. They practice empathy and compassion as they read argument texts that highlight how the money and energy allocated for space exploration could be used to solve issues of poverty in the United States.

Students also draw inferences about the many habits of character displayed by the "Hidden Figures" in order to achieve their many remarkable accomplishments, especially in the face of racial and gender discrimination. Specifically, students note how the hidden figures persevered through this challenging social context to contribute to a better world by being pioneers for other women of color in the field of space science. By making direct connections to the habits of character displayed by these historic figures, students learn to emulate and embody those same character traits.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 10-18 lessons. The Unit-at-a-Glance charts break down each unit into its lessons, showing each lesson’s CCS standards, agenda breakdown, daily learning targets, and ongoing assessments. It also indicates which lessons include mid- and end of unit assessments and the performance task.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts and resources that need to be procured. Please download the Required Trade Books and Resources Procurement List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition)
by Margot Lee Shetterly
one per student
ISBN: 9780062662378

Preparation and Materials

Carefully read and annotate the anchor text Hidden Figures to prepare for the lessons throughout the unit.

Carefully read the additional supplemental texts introduced in this unit to further develop background knowledge and highlight differences in point of view about the Space Race and the women of the West Computing Pool whose work helped land humans on the moon.

Review the list of focus figure options for the independent argument essay and the performance task. Determine whether options beyond the list will be allowed and whether additions to the list might be added prior to distribution to students. Please note that some individuals on the Focus Figure Options list will require more extensive research to unearth all of the necessary biographical details.


Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

Sign Up