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Instructional Unit Samples - 6th Grade

Over the fall/winter of 2013-14, the content specialists in the Standards and Instructional Support office worked with educators across the state of Colorado to build instructional units based on select curriculum overview samples. Teams of teachers authored units for each grade and content area of the Colorado Academic Standards.

Below, are sample instructional units for 6th grade mathematics, reading, writing, and communicating, science, social studies, comprehensive health, visual arts, drama/theatre, dance, and music. The units include learning experiences, teacher and student resources, assessment ideas, and differentiation options.

As examples, these units are intended to provide support for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students. Click here to view additional 6th grade curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.

Please share your thoughts regarding the instructional unit samples and advocate for other resources through this short survey.

Comprehensive Health

Unit Title: Media Messages and Your Health (Canon City School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit looks at alcohol and tobacco use through the lens of informational awareness, skill building, and positive decision making.  During this 3-4 week unit, students will examine and differentiate between media/ social portrayals and the realities of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and abuse.  Students will also reflect on how media and advertising influence their personal decisions while gaining skills to critically analyze powerful media influences. 


Unit Title: Positive Communication in Times of Conflict (Canon City School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit looks at ways to de-escalate conflict through anger management strategies, advocacy skills, and positive communication among peers, teachers, family members, and the community. Students will examine the effects of violence in our history and what strategies can be used to decrease violence in our lives today by analyzing the concepts of conflict, bullying, and harassment and make connections to their own personal experiences.  The unit culminates with a performance assessment that has students create a children’s story book that will describe and illustrate how to de-escalate conflict in a non-violent way, show positive communication skills when talking to adults and/or peers involved in the conflict, and apply advocacy skills for you and others.




Unit Title: Speaking With Our Feet (Colorado Ballet, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores improvisational tap dance.  In this unit the teacher introduces the student tap dancer to a variety of tap artists.  The students will observe and research the artist’s tap styles, specifically focusing on the artistic choices the artist made when creating improvised movement manipulations in tap.  Students will then create a short phrase from a selected tap artist.  Once the various dance phrases are internalized, the students will create their own abstractions and variations of an original tap phrase.  The unit will culminate in asking students to perform the original phrase, a collaborated group phrase, and a solo variation.



Drama and Theatre Arts

Unit Title: Using Improvisation to Create Who, What, When, Where, Why (Adams 12 Five Star School District and Brighton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an exploration in the use of the 5 W’s of improvisation (who, what, when, where, and why) through expression and group collaboration. Across the unit students will use prompts demanding personal reflection and group problem solving inspired by the influence of character, relationships, setting, and conflict. Students will discover how the 5 W’s are revealed through the practice of improvisation. The unit culminates in asking the students to perform a short improvisational scene. 




Unit Title: Go Figure! (Sangre de Christo School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the geometric concepts of perimeter, area, surface area and volume.  Students begin by working on the coordinate plane to find the perimeter and area of rectangles.  The formula for the area of a rectangle is then built upon to create a formula for the area of parallelograms and triangles.  The concept of area is then extended to surface area and nets of three-dimensional solids with rectangular and triangular bases.  Students finish the unit by exploring volumes of right rectangular prisms with fractional side lengths by connecting back to area and fraction multiplication. 




Generalist Pathway Unit Title: Trends with Technology (Thompson School District and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an exploration about how musical skills can be taught and enriched by using technology. Across the unit students will explore theory, arranging, composition, instrumentation and music appreciation through the use of various technology tools. Students will understand the regional media trends and styles that influence individual musical preference. The unit culminates in asking the students to write a musical composition using available technological sources that use fundamental composition and technical skills.


Ensemble Unit Title: Ensemble Where Everyone is a Starter (Colorado Springs School District, Woodland Park School District, Jefferson County School District, Pueblo County School District, Adams-Arapahoe School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit guides students in making connections between the rehearsal process and the performance. Students will learn about common warm up and rehearsal techniques that are most suitable for effective musicianship. They will then apply their learning to performance of familiar/learned repertoire. The unit culminates in students becoming an active participant in music class through designing and implementing warm-up rehearsal plans.



Physical Education

Unit Title: Sport Related Activities (Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Denver Public Schools, Douglas County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit cultivates the analysis and application of movement to promote mastery of object control. The focus is on analyzing the patterns within categories of games/activities, movement concepts, fitness components, rules of the game, and skill application. In addition, the ongoing learning experiences are focused on safe participation and responsible decision making.  This unit culminates with students developing an original game encompassing movement analysis, application of skills, manipulation, and participation.



Reading, Writing, and Communicating

Unit Title: Take a Stand (Plainview School District and Pritchett School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 6-8 week unit, students will research and explore a variety of controversial topics and, through collaboration during the research process, begin to understand how biases and assumptions influence people’s perspectives. Students will work in collaborative groups throughout the research process and participate in discussions and debates to demonstrate their understanding of how bias and assumptions influence our perspectives on issues and, therefore, influence our arguments.  The unit will culminate with teams of students participating in debates or mock trials in which they are argue whether a policy, a rule, or a practice is the right thing to do – a “just” or “unjust” action.  Think:  “Fracking on Trial” or “Hormones in Beef Cattle on Trial.”




Unit Title: Building Blocks of Life (Colorado Springs School District, Ellicott School District, and Hanover School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: The unit begins with the teaching of ways to measure mass, volume density, weight and gravity. Next the concepts of matter, atoms, molecules and the properties of matter are introduced. This will lead to the understanding of the states of matter and their molecular structures. The unit culminates in a performance assessment where students discuss the history of the periodic table and the modern day arrangement of the table which will include the concept of the elements and compounds.


Unit Title: Changing Environments (Colorado Springs School District, Ellicott School District, and Hanover School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit begins with an introduction of organisms and the flow of energy within an ecosystem. The unit then progresses to environmental changes such as constructive and destructive forces that affect the ecosystem, and the relationship between changes within the environment and how an organisms’ population will be altered. The unit will focus on the relationship between a changing environment and how the organisms’ population changes while attempting to achieve stability, and eventually equilibrium. The unit culminates in a performance assessment where the students are predicting how changes in an environment may (or may not) affect future populations within that environment.


Unit Title: Water, Water Everywhere (Colorado Springs School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This water unit focuses on its particle model (solid, liquid, gas), its unique properties, its quality and availability/usability in communities around the world, its distribution and circulation on earth, and its relationships among mass, weight, volume and density. Beginning with mass, density, and volume of water, across the unit students investigate state changes, temperature, cohesion, expansion, polarity, water cycle, and water quality indicators.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to create a product to document the journey of a water molecule.



Social Studies

Unit Title: What Did They Leave Behind? (Montezuma-Cortez School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit entitled “What did they leave behind” students explore how aspects of ancient cultural life are interpreted through artifacts left behind. Students will focus on material cultural artifacts as the physical evidence of the human experience.  In addition, students will be introduced to how archaeologists and historians assess and evaluate primary and secondary sources to learn more about the lives of people in the past.  This unit focuses on the early civilizations in the Americas, including the Maya, Inca, Aztec and Inuit.  The unit culminates with students creating a website illustrating an analysis of artifacts found at an archaeological site and the significance of those artifacts.

Unit Title: Movin', Movin', Movin' (Ellicott School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit addresses the European explorations of the Americas and the interactions between the Old World and New, with a particular focus on the outcomes of those interactions.  Students will study the various aspects of those outcomes and how they affected indigenous peoples in the Americas.  Additionally, the unit addresses the impact of exploration on the global economy (e.g., the Columbian Exchange).

Unit Title: The Action of We the People (Ellicott School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit begins with students revisiting their prior knowledge of colonial rule in North America.  Students will be reviewing the political, economic, and social structures that existed in the 13 colonies.  They will also be introduced to colonial rule in Canada. Using their knowledge of colonial rule in North America, they will explore colonial rule in Latin America and discover the significant differences of Spanish colonial rule as compared to British and French colonial rule.  Next, students will investigate the various ways in which colonized peoples reacted to the oppressive colonial policies.  The unit culminates with the creation of a documentary focusing on one of the major revolutions in the Americas.

Unit Title: Show Me the Money (Ellicott School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on economic decision making and cost benefit analyses at the personal, national and global level. The unit begins with a focus on basic concepts of economics such as needs, wants, supply, demand and economic systems. Then, the unit will focus on the individual, where students will explore their aptitude for certain careers, the economic potential of those jobs (income), and where in the Colorado (or the US) the resources are available and accessible for those careers.  From there, the students will create goals, a budget and practice investing in the Stock Market. Once students have an understanding of basic economics and how their careers are economic choices, they will reflect on how their personal economic choices have an impact globally.  These learning experiences build towards their performance assessment where students will research and analyze data concerning the economics and demographics of Colorado towns in order to make a formal bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. 



Visual Arts

Unit Title: Pop Culture and Art (Pueblo County School District and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will explore symbols, cultural meaning, juxtaposition, re-contextualization, and cultural value through the lens of Pop Art.  Students will begin by researching and studying the historical context and influence of Pop Art and move into a focus on the transformation of cultural meaning using symbols and everyday objects in new an inventive ways. Across the unit, students will explore the roles of color, language, irony, etc. in seminal works of Pop Art and experiment with creating their own Pop Art commentaries. The unit culminates with the students creating an artistic expression/commentary on a relevant school/community issue.  


For content specific questions, please contact the appropriate content specialist listed here.


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