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 8th 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 8th grade curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.
For more information about the samples, contact
Standards and Instructional Support
Unit Title: Who Influences Me? (Adams Five Star School District)
Unit Description: This unit allows students to analyze the impact that media, culture and peers have on an individual’s development of communication, advocacy, and self-management skills. Throughout the unit, students will explore positive and negative influences and consider strategies that could be used to potentially minimize negative influences on mental and emotional well-being. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to design and present an action plan to the school community that promotes positive behaviors and/or changes negative influences/stereotypes to support positive mental and emotional health and well-being.
Unit Title: Setting and Respecting Personal Boundaries (Durango School District)
Unit Description: This unit analyzes high-risk situations faced by adolescents and the decision-making skills needed to establish personal boundaries and develop strategies to combat risky behaviors such as drug use, underage drinking and unwanted or unplanned sexual activity that could negatively impact personal health and goals. The unit culminates with students designing a PSA for teens that will demonstrate an understanding of decision making and self-advocacy skills to maintain personal boundaries in order to minimize risky situations.
Unit Title: Abstracting You Inspiration (Colorado Ballet, Littleton Public School District, Peak Academy of Dance, and Colorado Dance Education Organization)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will create an original dance phrase through the process of improvisation, and use a variety of emotions to transform the phrase into abstract variations. The unit will culminate in a class performance in which students perform both the original phrase and the abstracted phrase. Following the performance, students will be asked to compare and contrast their original dance phrase to the abstracted phrase.
Unit Title: Using Improvisation to Devise a Scripted Scene (Academy 20 School District, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Cherry Creek School District, and Cheyenne Mountain School District)
Unit Description: In this unit students will explore their own cultural and life experiences through improvisational techniques and exercises to collaboratively develop a scripted work. Across the unit students will apply a variety of improvisational techniques to explore and analyze the cultural influence and personal experiences that influence the creation of a dramatic performance. The unit will culminate in a final scene performance for an audience following a planning/development, rehearsal and revision process that includes reflection on a student’s personal creative process in the improvisation to script development.
Unit Title: Walk the Line (Lake County School District, South Routt School District, and Greeley School District)
Unit Description: In Walk the Line, students explore representations of proportional and linear relationships. The authors of this unit begin by having students explore different representations of a proportional relationship and then move their understandings of proportional relationships to linear relationships. A major focus of this unit includes an investigation with slope and similar triangles. Lastly, students will be solving a variety of one-variable linear equations that have one, none, and infinitely many solutions.
Unit Title: Got Rhythm? (Metro State University of Denver)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on using music history sources to better understand the origin and influence of the music known as Tin Pan Alley. Across the duration of the unit, the students will engage in musical history research, performance, writing short program notes based on music history research, and reflect on the ways in which the time and place of a musical performance determines the interaction of performers and audiences. The unit culminates with a variety-show style musical performance and reflections on the historical accuracy of the Tin Pan Alley musical style.
Generalist Pathway Unit Title: Garage Band to Grammys (Jefferson County School District, Thompson School District, and Metro State University of Denver)
Unit Description: In this unit, students will discover that creating music can encompass a variety of sources. Students will be encouraged to create their own compositions through learning about musical styles, ways of documenting music through traditional and non-traditional notation, and designing a strong structure and form for a piece. This unit will take students from the basics of understanding rhythm and meter to a culminating project that results in creating compositions from found items that are finalized using sound production software.
Unit Title: A World Without Borders (Garfield Re-2 School District)
Unit Description: In this 9-week unit, students will examine themes of diversity, tolerance, and intolerance from a global perspective. Students will explore a variety of texts (informational and literary) to develop an understanding of current cultural and historical events that reveal struggles in tolerance. With that understanding, students will conduct a research project about tolerance and diversity in a global society. The students will use the research to write a paper and give a presentation covering their topic. The unit culminates in a presentation similar to TED Talks.
Unit Title: Matter Responds to Energy (Thompson School District)
Unit Description: Instructional Unit Description: This unit illustrates the interconnectedness of energy concepts throughout earth, life, and physical sciences which include matter changing into different states based on energy. Beginning with the different forms of energy, across the unit students investigate how energy transfers though chemical and physical changes to generate electricity, different sources of energy have their own unique impacts on the environment, and how force and motion are impacted by the energy of an object or substance. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to develop, construct and defend a hydroelectric power plant site.
Unit Title: Genetics and the Human Influence on Genes (Lake County School District)
Unit Description: This unit is focused on genetics and the transmission of traits. Beginning with using Punnett squares and pedigrees to predict possible offspring, the unit has students investigate Mendelian genetics, genetic engineering and modification, and the transmission and mutation of traits during reproduction. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to write an opinion/position paper for a local newspaper on one topic (GMOs, cloning, genetic counseling, etc.).
Unit Title: Growing Pains (Del Norte School District)
Unit Description: As nations expand, various cultures and ways of life merge leading to both and enrichment of cultures as well as conflict. This unit focuses on the cultural interactions among peoples brought about by the westward expansion of the United States and how those interactions led to both cooperation and conflict. Students will learn about the interactions among peoples such as settlers, Native Americans, Mexicans, etc., as well as the governmental policies regarding resource allocation/distribution during the expansion of the United States from 1800-1900.
Unit Title: Bottle Caps to Old Shoes (Delta County School District, Falcon School District, Platte Canyon School District, Cherry Creek School District, and Colorado State University)
Unit Description: In this unit students will explore written and visual metaphor used by artists to create meaning in works of art. Examining a variety of assemblage and found object three-dimensional artists, students will transform and manipulate discarded materials and found objects to communicate a specific idea/concept for an audience. The unit asks students to make connections between linguistic transformations (e.g., the creation of metaphor, analogy, slang, colloquialisms, etc) that assign/represent new meanings for words or phrases to the way in which some artists use objects (ordinary, found, discarded) in new and unique ways. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to transform every-day and/or discarded (school/classroom) items into an art work that assigns new meanings to these materials.
For content specific questions, please contact the appropriate content specialist listed here.
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