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Instructional Unit Samples - High School

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 high school 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 High School curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.

Comprehensive Health

Unit Title: Happy is the New Healthy (Center School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on mental/emotional wellness with an emphasis on advocacy. Across the unit’s 3-4 week duration, students will define various issues of mental/emotional health (depression, anxiety and self-harm), in order to familiarize themselves with a multitude of resources to support mental/emotional health, and improve communication skills to meaningfully advocate for mental/emotional health on behalf of themselves and others. Additionally, students will leave with an understanding of the impact diversity and respect play in creating a more positive environment within their school.

 

Unit Title: Goal Setting, Self-Management, and Positive Decision Making (Gunnison Watershed School District) 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard    

Unit Description: This unit looks at substance abuse through the lenses of healthy goal setting, self-management, and positive decision making; behaviors that impact relationships throughout a person’s life.  During this 3-4 week unit, students will identify positive support systems, both in their lives and their community, as well as analyze the risks and consequences of substance abuse.  Students will reflect upon a variety of influences in their lives, their community, and in larger society, as well as consider the interactions of these influences.  The unit culminates in a “Talk Show” designed to allow students to demonstrate all they have learned about substance use/abuse and interpersonal relationships.  

 

Unit Title: Suicide Prevention (Positive Choices and Options) (Adams Five Star School District) 

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard     

Unit Description: This unit allows students to develop an awareness of suicide prevention and become advocates for themselves and others by using effective communication skills to connect with emotions such as depression, anxiety and stress. During this 1-2 week unit, students will integrate prior knowledge of these emotions in order to recognize when distress may potentially become a warning sign for suicide.  The unit culminates with a performance assessment that requires students to demonstrate effective communication and advocacy skills by creating a public service announcement to increase high school students’ awareness of suicide prevention. 

 

 

Dance

Unit Title: Creating and Notating Dance - Extended Pathway Focus (Peak Academy of Dance, Douglas County School District, and Littleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores the use of the Language of Dance Movement Alphabet to further the exploration and understanding of basic movement concepts to make dance literacy an integrated practice in all aspects of dance. Across the unit students will learn the history and reasons why the Language of Dance was developed; symbols from the Movement Alphabet; also in small groups students will explore creative movement choices that relate to the symbols from the Movement Alphabet; then notate a short except from a repertory work using a portion of the symbols from the Movement Alphabet. The final assessment will culminate with an oral presentation by small student groups sharing which symbols were utilized to document and record movement from the repertory excerpt.

 

Unit Title: Creating Like a Well Known Choreographer (Colorado Ballet and Douglas County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit exposes students to a variety of masterworks from across historic periods and disciplines. Students will learn to execute excerpts from two chosen works with technical proficiency, and create original work incorporating components from the two masterworks. Students will have to articulate choreographic components both in observation of the masterworks and evaluation of their own work. The ultimate goal of the unit is to have one student work selected to be performed on a masterworks bill by the Artistic Director (teacher).

 

Unit Title: Improvising Within a Structure - Fundamental Pathway Focus (Colorado Springs School District, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores beginning improvisational dance technique.  Across the unit students will learn basic elements of loco motor skills, incorporate the concepts of space, time, and energy; experiment with floor patterns, while collaborating in small groups to create a dance that links improvised movements to a choreographic structure.  The unit culminates in students preparing a dance recital of basic choreographic patterns including reflection on the creative process used to develop the choreography.

 

Unit Title: Researching History, Making a Dance - Extended Pathway Focus (Colorado Springs School District and Colorado Dance Education Organization)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores multiple cultures of dance as origins for unique styles of movement. Across the unit students will experience multiple styles of dance, analyze movement concepts and gestures within cultural styles, and associate styles of dance with the historical context from which they originate. The unit culminates in students creating a piece of work that could be performed at a cultural festival as a depiction of that culture’s traditional dance form. In addition, students will respond to the work of their peers through written reflection.

 

 

Drama and Theatre Arts

Unit Title: Ensemble Building - Extended Pathway Focus (Westminster 50 School District and Cherry Creek School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop the Extended strand of the ensemble building overview. The Extended strand focuses on the development of an ensemble in theatre by using student written scripts as a vehicle. Students will experience group bonding and ensemble development activities that also focus on collaboration, character development, relationship development, environment development, script analysis, and script creation.

 

Unit Title: Exploring Acting Styles, Techniques, and Methods (Douglas County School District and Jefferson County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will examine the Fundamental strand of the styles, techniques and methods of various theatrical practitioners.  The Fundamental strand focuses on the students’ exploration of different approaches to character creation and development established by individual teachers/theorists/practitioners and the application of that approach to scripted work. Students will be asked to research, investigate, practice and demonstrate techniques specific to the chosen acting style.  The unit will culminate in a duet scene performance in which students apply the acting technique to a self-selected scene.

 

Unit Title: Expressions of Filmmaking-Fundamental Pathway Focus (Adams 12 Five Star School District, University of Northern Colorado)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop the Fundamental strand through designing a storyboard for a film.  The Fundamental strand focuses on the students’ exploring the aspects of creating a storyboard. Students will be asked to analyze and refine their design through the lens of the director’s vision. The unit will culminate in a final storyboard in which students will describe and justify their choices and decisions.

 

Unit Title: Film and Cinematography - Fundamental Pathway Focus (Denver School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop the Fundamental strand through creating a critical response to a film.  The Fundamental strand focuses on the students’ exploring personal emotional connections to a filmed screenplay. Students will be asked to analyze and refine filmmaking techniques through the lens of social, political, historical, and/or environmental factors. The unit will culminate in a written film critique in which students identify the numerous styles of filmmaking while considering the context of social, political, historical, and/or environmental factors that are addressed in the work.

 

Unit Title: Foundations of Technical Theatre - Extended Pathway Focus (Denver School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop the Extended strand of the technical theatre unit overview. The Extended strand focuses on individual and collaborative student learning, individually and in groups, in order to work through the design and production process. Students can complete the performance in order to take a hands-on approach to this process, or take a more theoretical approach without performance. Students will demonstrate understanding of learning through a culminating portfolio presentation and interview.

 

Unit Title: Foundations of Technical Theatre - Fundamental Pathway Focus (Cherry Creek School District, Douglas County School District, and St. Vrain Valley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This survey unit is designed as a hands-on application of Fundamental understandings in topics of technical theatre: parts of a theatre, safety, scenery, lighting, sound, costumes, and design.

 

Unit Title: Friday Afternoon Live: Improvisation and Sketch Comedy (Adams 12 Five Star School District and Douglas County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will investigate, discover and critique improvisation and original sketch comedy to bolster knowledge of human expression and emotion. The unit will culminate in a two-part performance including an improvised scene and a sketched scene. The focus of the unit will be exploration and play of human expression and emotion. 

 

Unit Title: Scripted Works (Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Colorado Springs School District, and Woodland Park School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop the Fundamental strand of the scripted work overview.  The Fundamental strand focuses on the students’ exploring personal emotional connections to a scripted work through the creation of a play. Students will be asked to analyze and refine performances through the lens of social, political, historical, and/or environmental factors. The unit will culminate in a scene performance in which students portray a character with a range of emotions while considering the context of social, political, historical, and/or environmental factors that faces the character.  

 

Unit Title: Theatre History (University of Northern Colorado)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will develop the Fundamental strand of the Theatre History overview.  The Fundamental strand focuses on the students exploring real world connections between historical and contemporary theatre.

  

 

Mathematics

Algebra I Unit Title: Power to the Variable (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on a formal introduction to exponential functions. The students start with exploring exponential growth through geometric sequences that either grow or decay. As the students learn about geometric sequences, they continually compare them to arithmetic sequences, building to linear and exponential functions. Student fluency with these functions improves through multiple experiences with tables, graphs, equations and contexts. Then students examine the differences in the growth rates of linear, exponential, and polynomial functions leading to a formal proof of how linear functions grow by constant differences and exponential functions grow by common factors. 

 

Algebra II Unit Title: Logarithmic Log Jams (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the exponential functions that are embedded in our everyday financial lives. Students explore credit card debt, interest rates, and the time it takes for investments to double in value. As they explore these topics, they are motivated to solve exponential equations, necessitating the introduction of logarithms. The students become fluent in rewriting expressions using logarithms and in solving for unknown variables in the exponent using logarithms. In addition, the students explore continuously compounded interest and discover one of the most important numbers in mathematics, e.

 

Algebra II Unit Title: Survey Says... (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on inferring conclusions about a population from samples. Students explore normal distributions and the concept of quantifying “normal”. The concept of normal distributions provides the foundation for making inferences about a population from sample means and standard deviations.  The unit then looks at the different ways to collect data about a population. Finally, students investigate simulation the use of simulations to test the validity of statistical conclusions and hypotheses. Throughout this unit students will explore how statistics are used to make policy decisions and engage in the process of creating policies that impact their life.

 

Integrated Math 2 Unit Title: Reproducing Bacterial Rabbits (Mesa County Valley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on exponential functions embedded in our everyday financial lives.  Students explore credit cards, loans and savings accounts.  As they explore these topics, they are motivated to solve exponential equations and become fluent in interpreting exponential expressions by using the properties of exponents to rewrite expressions. Students are introduced to the concept of the mathematical constant e, through the context of continuously compounding interest.  Students also explore the attributes of classes of functions including their inverses, which introduce the concept of a logarithm.  Students will further explore classes of functions and the impact of multiplying or adding a constant in the next unit and the concept of logarithm is developed further in Integrated III.

 

Mathematics 1 Unit Title: Transform the World (South Routt School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit investigates transformations, congruence, and proof. Students begin with informal explorations of rigid transformations.   Students then use precise mathematical definitions of rotations, translations and reflections to determine if each of these rigid transformations is a function. The transformation work of this unit leads students to develop formal proofs about congruency, parallel lines, triangle relationships, and parallelograms.

 

Mathematics 3 Unit Title: Survey Says... (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on inferring conclusions about a population from samples. Students explore normal distributions and the concept of quantifying “normal”. The concept of normal distributions provides the foundation for making inferences about a population from sample means and standard deviations.  The unit then looks at the different ways to collect data about a population. Finally, students investigate simulation the use of simulations to test the validity of statistical conclusions and hypotheses. Throughout this unit students will explore how statistics are used to make policy decisions and engage in the process of creating policies that impact their life.

 

 

Music

Ensemble Unit Title: ‘Arranging’ Your Folder (Jefferson County School District, Center School District, Adams-Arapahoe School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will focus on how arrangements enhance the structural foundation of music. Students groups will be asked to take a melody from a known piece of music and create a thoughtful (re)arrangement of that piece. Students will demonstrate knowledge and understanding of specific musical skills including rhythm, key, instrumentation, and expressive elements.  The unit culminates in a final class or concert performance that will include their new arrangements and program notes that share their creative processes with the audience.

 

Ensemble Unit Title: Emotion Through Rhythm (Colorado Springs School District, Woodland Park School District, Center School District, Adams-Arapahoe School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will understand, perform, and write rhythmic patterns in both simple and compound meters while keeping a steady beat. Students will explore common time through the rhythm tree, focusing on duration/ratio between note values. Students will apply their knowledge of duration/ratio to various rhythmic patterns that include all note values in simple and compound meters. This unit will culminate in a final performance of percussive storytelling.

 

Ensemble Unit Title: The Music in You (Denver Public School District and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will investigate the process of selection, preparation and performing music of various cultures and genres and how it influences our personal musical growth. Students will use evaluative tools to identify and react to musical and expressive elements.  This unit will culminate in a final concert showcasing music of a variety of cultures and genres for the school and/or community.

 

Ensemble Unit Title: The Music in You - designed to span a full course (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This is a secondary music performance ensemble unit designed for the entirety of the school year to introduce rehearsal and performance practices and procedures and the necessary technical instructional foci when preparing for various ensemble experiences to include choir, pep/marching band, concert band, and adjudicated contests. In this unit students will be able to articulate the proper procedures and roles within an ensemble and will execute various techniques necessary for successful ensemble performances such as tone quality/intonation, scales, articulation, rhythm etc. The unit culminates with a student-created recruitment video for joining the high school music ensembles directed at middle school students (or other interested students).

 

Generalist Pathway Unit Title: Music Enriches Lives (Adams-Arapahoe School District, Metro State University of Denver, and Pueblo City School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This secondary academic music focuses on understanding how composers engage with music and music making to create a particular emotional response. The emphasis of this unit is on analyzing and describing music, focusing on the elements of music (rhythm, pitch, beat, tempo, dynamics, form). Across the unit’s duration, students will consider several different genres of music and determine the different emotional connections in each of the styles. They will be able to discuss how different musical elements elicit different emotional responses.

 

Generalist Pathway Unit Title: Music From Times and Places (Adams-Arapahoe School District, Metro State University of Denver, and Pueblo City School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on understanding how people in a variety of cultures engage with music and music making. The emphasis of this unit is on analyzing and describing music, focusing on the elements of music (rhythm, pitch, beat, tempo, dynamics, form). Across the unit’s duration, students will consider several different cultures and the music associated with that culture. They will compare and contrast these cultures and present an analysis of these similarities and differences.

 

Performance Based Unit Title: Explore the Possibilities: Getting to Know Your Instrument (Jefferson County School District, St. Vrain School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is designed for those students who did not participate in (performance) music programs during middle school. It is designed so as to be utilized in and relevant for multiple settings (i.e., band, choir, orchestra, guitar, keyboard, technology, etc.). The unit has students actually making music as quickly as possible and exploring the possibilities of sounds that can be created  and techniques that can be applied/utilized with a particular instrument (within the-teacher set- limits of the instrument) . The unit culminates in a final performance in which students apply their exploratory learning into a composition of their creating. 

 

 

Physical Education

Unit Title: Adventure Leader (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit provides opportunities for students to develop skills as adventure leaders that will enhance their independence for exploration in wilderness experiences. These developed skills will potentially include positive social behavior, decision making, communication, collaboration and outdoor safety practices. The ultimate goal will be for students to have an understanding and appreciation for the benefits of lifelong physical activity. The unit culminates with students participating in a wilderness experience designed and led by them cultivating individual physical, mental, and social strengths that lead to strong group dynamics.  

Unit Title: Fitness Planning (Adams 12 Five Star Schools)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: The focus of this unit is to develop skills towards improving personal wellness while emphasizing goal setting, fitness components, the FITT principle, responsibility and integrity. Students will analyze lifestyle factors that impact the short term and long term physical, social/emotional, and mental aspects of health. This unit culminates with students developing a personal fitness plan that includes the FITT principle, health related components of fitness and safety requirements. Students will have an opportunity to participate in a peer led fitness camp.

Unit Title: Personal Fitness Planning (Adams 12 Five Star Schools)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit uses ongoing analysis of health related fitness components to guide individuals in developing a quality personal fitness plan. Throughout the unit students will collect fitness data, develop personal goals, identify barriers to those goals and utilize safety procedures that will enhance their lifelong health and wellness. This unit culminates with students designing expert individualized fitness plan with the goal of analyzing their physical wellness at various phases of their life.

  

  

Reading, Writing, and Communicating

12th Grade Unit Title: Responding to Diversity (Gunnison Watershed School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will explore the diversity of literature within three literary movements: Romanticism, Post-Colonialism, and Modernism. Students will analyze how the movements reveal diverse themes, cultural contexts, style, and purposes in world literature which will allow students to develop new perspectives toward literature and literary movements.  The culminating project will be an essay and oral presentation asking students to connect past literature and literary movements to modern texts.

 

11th Grade Unit Title: The Power of Story (Mapleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: Throughout this 4-6 week unit, students explore bias, both in their personal lives and within the literature they study. Students will analyze how personal beliefs and biases influence the way they interact with texts they read and which they produce. The unit culminates with a personal portfolio project that includes a personal narrative, literary analysis, reflections, and an argument piece in which the students will make recommendations concerning a literature curriculum.

 

10th Grade Unit Title: E Pluribus Unum, Multiple Voices - Heroism (Bayfield School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard    

Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit focuses on how cultural experiences, societal influences, and adversity impact individuals in those cultures.  Through collaborative inquiry and sharing thoughts and opinions, students may examine diverse texts that explore human responses to adverse situations and shape the definition of "hero” in those cultures.  Students may demonstrate their understanding of how cultural and societal influences shape and define characters by writing a narrative piece in which they synthesize the ideas and language of the characters they have studied.  

  

10th Grade Unit Title: E Pluribus Unum, Single Voice - Identity (Bayfield School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard    

Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit focuses on how cultural experiences, societal influences, and adversity impact individuals in those cultures.  Through collaborative inquiry and sharing thoughts and opinions, students may examine diverse texts by a single author that explore “identity” in those cultures.  Students may demonstrate their understanding of how cultural and societal influences shape and define identity by writing their own narrative piece.   

 

9th Grade Unit Title: Exploring Diverse Perspectives (Garfield Re-2 School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 4 to 6 week unit, Students may explore different voices via comparing and contrasting those perspectives in supplementary texts with those expressed in an anchor text (for example, Master Harold…and the Boys by Athol Fugard). Initially, Students may complete a research project so that they can practice research skills and gain a better understanding of the historical and cultural contexts that give rise to the different perspectives voiced in the anchor text. Then, the Teacher may introduce supplementary texts (speeches, essays, poems, songs, artwork) that reflect the same theme/concept as the anchor text. Class discussions and small group work will allow students opportunities to compare/contrast how authors use language to reveal perspectives, cultural background, historical context, and biases. This unit will culminate in a student-driven multi-genre project that demonstrates the students’ understanding of how perspective is informed by individual biases and historical/cultural contexts and how authors make choices in order to voice their perspectives/achieve a purpose in accordance with their audiences. 

 

9th Grade Unit Title: Posing Questions and Solving Problems (Garfield Re-2 School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This 4-6 week unit will focus on having students develop an academic problem-solution research essay using MLA style. This process will be initiated with the development of an inquiry question that stems from issues and themes that have been (or will be) discussed throughout the course of the year. This inquiry question will be developed from a student’s perspective on an issue that has been discussed during the course. Once the inquiry question is established, students will work in small groups to strengthen their question, begin the research process to find evidence to support their belief, and to receive feedback throughout the writing process. The final written product will be a problem-solution essay.

 

9th Grade Unit Title: Recognizing Patterns in Stories (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will explore multiple themes that recur in literature while considering patterns in stories and the idea of character transformation.  Three specific themes will be studied by using an anchor text for each theme supplemented with additional literary and non-fiction texts.  The learning experiences include a series of formative assessments which asks students to make connections within and between texts.  The summative assessment will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of a specific theme, patterns in literature, and character transformation by crafting their own personal narrative.  The ability to analyze a text is another important aspect of this unit and will be assessed through critiques of a peer’s personal narrative.

 

9th Grade Unit Title: Seeking Justice (Garfield Re-2 School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This four week unit immerses students in analyzing argumentative texts exploring issues under the broader topic of social justice. Students will learn the language of argument (claim, counterclaim, evidence, warrant) and strategies for analyzing and deconstructing arguments. Teachers may use formal and academic argument texts as well as speeches, advertisements, propaganda, visuals, etc. Teachers may also use pieces of literature – poetry, music, novels – that explore themes in justice / social justice. The unit culminates with students adopting the role of members on a newspaper editorial board and critiquing the effectiveness and quality of two arguments on a topic of student choice under the broader topic of “social justice.”

 

9th Grade Unit Title: Uncovering Context (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will read an extended anchor text (e.g. To Kill a Mockingbird) exploring various themes:  race, gender, age, etc.  As they progress through the unit, students will read a variety of texts on the issues raised.  The nonfiction / informational texts range from news reports, research, and infographics to opinion pieces, murals and art work, poems, and short stories.  Students will analyze this rich variety of texts so they can understand that writers use different modes, genres, and techniques to express their perspectives on given issues.  Class discussions will allow students to explore how different contexts impact our perspectives and how we write about issues or themes in the world around us.  The unit will culminate with students writing a multi-genre text expressing their own perspective on an issue of inequity relevant to them..  (This unit is also effective scaffolding for the unit that follows in which students will present an argument on justice.)  

 

 

Science

Biology Unit Title: Population Ecology (Monte Vista School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on ecological interactions between populations of organisms and their environment.  The unit describes biotic interactions, trophic levels and energy flow, cycles of matter, abiotic and biotic resources, and population and community dynamics.  Beginning with ecosystem components, across the unit students will explore ecological concepts such as biotic and abiotic factors, biomes, niche, keystone species, communities, populations, ecosystems, and the biosphere.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to create a presentation for a local authority (county commissioner, city council, zoning board, etc.) to present an analysis of the impacts of the eradication of a top level consumer

 

Biology/Environmental Science Unit Title: Matter and Energy in an Ecosystem (Denver Public Schools, Mesa County School District, and Montrose County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit, students will focus on the relationship between the conservation of matter and energy, nutrient cycles, how matter and energy are cycled through an ecosystem, and how disruptions alter the functionality of ecosystems. The unit culminates in a performance assessment where students take the role of an Environmental Consultant asked to make a recommendation on land-use practices to a group of public stakeholders.

 

Chemistry Unit Title: Chemical Reactions (Cherry Creek School District, Harrison School District, Colorado Education Initiative)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on chemical changes. The unit begins by differentiating between physical and chemical changes and then focuses on chemical equations as a means to represent, identify, and quantify a chemical reaction.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to investigate a reaction between zinc metal and HCl in order to identify the useful product, state the reaction type, and determine how much zinc would be required to make enough of this product.

 

Earth Science Unit Title: Earth's Changing Surface (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard    

Unit Description: This unit focuses on our restless planet.  Beginning with plate tectonic theory, across the unit students will explore technological evidence/advances that have furthered knowledge of this theory, natural hazards associated with plate tectonics, and resources and landforms that result from tectonic forces.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to create a community proposal based on a specific role/perspective and present to a governing body for future planning of a geologically active area.  They will need to consider potential hazards and implications of development based on technological evidence of plate tectonic theory.  

 

Physical Science Unit Title: Forms and Transformations of Energy (Harrision School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on forms of energy and how those forms are transformed and conserved in a variety of situations.  Beginning with the foundation of energy conservation, students explain and calculate how various types of energy (kinetic, potential, mechanical, thermal, chemical, nuclear, electrical, and radiant, etc.) are used in real life scenarios.  They identify efficient forms of energy used to do work and recognize that the transformations involved conserve instead of “lose” energy.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to investigate ways top decrease energy consumption for their school and present a report to their local school board. 

 

Physical Science Unit Title: Motion and Force (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on students exploring the Laws of Motion. The unit describes Newton’s Laws of Motion, gravity, friction, momentum, and force. Beginning with a review of the Laws of Motion and then progressing through the concepts that unbalanced forces cause motion to change, an object can increase or decrease in acceleration impacting velocity, the relationship between force and friction, and objects traveling at the same velocity exemplify the direct relationship between inertia and momentum. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to identify and graph (motion) four skateboard stunts, including at least one law of motion with each stunt, and using all three laws within the four stunts.

 

 

Social Studies

Civics Unit Title: Securing the Blessings of Liberty (Montrose County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores the historical events and the role of government in shaping U.S. domestic and foreign policy, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens to participate in policy decision making. The unit begins with a look at political parties and the role that party platforms play in policy decisions.  Next, students will study monetary and fiscal policy decisions and how citizens may react to and/or influence those decisions.  Next, students examine domestic and foreign issues/polices, the tools used by the federal government to make those decisions, and the ways in which citizens may influence policy decisions. The unit culminates with students will creating a newscast that illustrates the social and economic conditions, and priorities of the people related to an ongoing domestic or foreign issue.

 

Economics Unit Title: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions (Denver Public School District, Douglas County School District, and Colorado Council for Economics Education)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This is an introductory unit on economics.  Economics is the science that studies the choices of people, businesses, and governments trying to satisfy their wants in a world of scarcity. Students will be introduced to many fundamental concepts and principles of economic reasoning. Through real-world and personal financial literacy examples, these concepts are explored at the student level to increase relevancy and application. Students will be asked to weigh the costs and benefits of various decisions in order to begin to think like economists.  The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to use their economic knowledge in pursuit of a college scholarship.

 

Economics Unit Title: So, You Want to Be a Millionaire? (Brighton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: The focus of this unit is on the creation of wealth and future prosperity.  Students will be introduced to concepts of financial planning, wealth and financial management and the protection of one’s wealth and financial prosperity.   The unit will culminate in the creation of a financial plan to work towards becoming a millionaire by investing $150,000.

 

Geography Unit Title: Whose Earth Is It...Anyway? (Ellicott School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard     

Unit Description: This unit focuses on energy resources and energy production at state, national, and global levels and considers the policies and implications of both non-renewable and sustainable forms of energy. The unit begins with a focus on individual energy uses and fuel source usage; asking students to consider what, where, and how (much) energy they use.  During the 6-8 weeks of the unit, students will then examine state, national, and international efforts to develop, maintain, and sustain the dominant existing sources of energy (i.e., fossil and hydroelectric); examining both the economic and environmental factors and concerns connected with these efforts. From there, the unit then moves on to parallel state, national and global policies and programs that incentivize the development of sustainable/renewable forms of energy; looking at both the conflicts and opportunities for cooperation inherent in these efforts.  The learning experiences build to a performance assessment that asks students to take a position on a particular energy source in Colorado and to present that position/perspective to a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing; making a compelling case for the development of and investment in this resource.

 

Geography Unit Title: Globalization: Promise or Peril? (Mesa County Valley School District, Boulder Valley School District, Briggsdale School District, and Brighton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the many facets of globalization. Students explore the concept of globalization and then examine the political, economic, cultural and environmental impacts of our increasingly interdependent world. Students then look at ways globalization impacts the distribution, access to and availability of resources. Students also examine how globalization and issues caused by increasing populations and decreasing resource availability leads to the potential for both cooperation and conflict. This unit culminates with a presentation to the President of the United States recommending if and/or how the United States should intervene in an international conflict.

 

U.S. History Unit Title: Change is a Comin' (Durango School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: Definitions of national unity based on romantic ideals of justice for all are often tested by populations who question the existence and breadth of civil liberties.   Through this unit, students will develop an understanding of how changes in the perceptions of civil rights and liberties have led to an infringement on people’s civil rights.   Students will look at changes over the past 150 years in the United States by studying events such as women’s suffrage, the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, minority rights, etc. Finally, students will discover how individuals and groups have affected social change in the structures of power and authority through civic engagement.

 

U.S. History Unit Title: War and Peace (Lake County School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: Throughout this unit, students will explore the ways in which the forces of imperialism, nationalism, militarism, economic self-interest, and geopolitical alliances taken to the extreme can result in international conflicts.  The unit begins with the Spanish-American War and leads students through post 9/11 America.  Students will examine national and international responses/policies (e.g., alliances) to international conflict and times of peace.  Finally, students will analyze public perceptions of war and the subsequent actions/reactions of the public.  This unit culminates with students creating a “special edition” of Time Magazine focusing on the international conflict involving the U.S. since the Spanish – American War.

 

World History Unit Title: How We Relate (Valley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the ways in which international expansion led to increased human interactions; thereby, contributing to practices and policies that limited and/or expanded human rights.  Students will study how the beliefs about the rights of people have changed over time (1400’s – present) and how economic, political, geographic factors/policies, and religious beliefs had an impact on the infringement on human rights. In addition, students will investigate how nations reacted (or didn’t react) to the policies that marginalized cultures and violated human rights. Finally, student learning should be focused on the changing nature of human rights violations and how nations have fought to preserve the rights of all people.

 

 

Visual Arts

Unit Title: Abstraction as Interpretation (Colorado Springs School District, Woodland Park School District, and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students engage in the process of abstracting an idea, place, figure, and/or object to explore how the laws and rules of visual art can influence or change compositional choices. Students analyze the compositional styles of modern and contemporary abstract artists; developing their own process for reconstructing the world around them as they experiment with the expressive features and characteristics of art to determine compositional design and create meaning. The unit culminates in the creation of an art show.

 

Unit Title: The Cultural Impact of Color (Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will explore their own heritage/ culture and the ways that color can impact a piece of artwork. Students will gain an understanding of how artists use color and expressive characteristics and expressive features such as culture, expression/emotion, tradition, style, investigate, relationships/ interaction, inspiration, tension/conflict, intent in their own artwork.

 

Unit Title: Drawing Illusion: Personal Place Perspective  (Pueblo County School District and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will engage in the process of drawing using formulas and conventions to accurately render space on a two-dimensional plane. Students will create a visual illusion of a cityscape by using the characteristics and expressive features of art in perspective drawings. The unit culminates in the creation of an individual artwork of a futuristic cityscape. Students will analyze the relationship between historical and contemporary art pieces to provide insight into approaches to rendering depth and space and when and where art was created.

 

Unit Title: Identity and World Cultures (Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students will explore the ways that art can reveal individual and cultural values and beliefs, as well as challenge those values and beliefs. Students will gain an understanding of how artists employ expressive features and characteristics of art such as composition, juxtaposition, and relationship of elements to direct the viewer and/or add emphasis to what they are communicating about identity.

 

Unit Title: Not Your Grandmother's Art: Aarrrgh...It's Parroty! (Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is intended to explore artist’s use of humor to challenge and transform individual, societal, and cultural beliefs. Students will discuss what they find humorous and how humor is used in society. Students will look at historical and contemporary examples of artists who use humor to challenge and/or alter culturally pervasive symbols, values and beliefs. The unit culminates with students creating their own artwork that presents a serious or silly recent local or national event using humor including satire, irony, parody and/or sarcasm.

 

Unit Title: Observational Drawing: Still Life Self Portrait (Colorado State University and Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This observational drawing unit gives students the opportunity to explore the concept of consumerism and its relevance in their lives. Students will learn about/research contemporary artists inspire by consumerism and use these artists/works as inspiration for their own work of two-dimensional work of art. This unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to produce a final drawing that shares their views of consumerism.

 

Unit Title: Tension, Conflict, and Transformation (Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit engages students in the process of working in three dimensions, spatial transformation, and the process of challenging the viewer’s perceptions about space and environment. Students analyze, compare and contrast 3D art forms in relation to environment with consideration of perception, feeling, content, and purpose through learning about installation artist and ultimately creating their own 3D installation piece.

 

Unit Title: Wabi-Sabi: The Beauty of Things Imperfect (Poudre School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this unit students explore the concepts of personal artworks and the relationship between tradition and artmaking. Students will explore artists known for using cultural, societal, historical, and/or personal traditions as inspiration for their artwork. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that requires students to produce a final work of three-dimensional art that highlights or challenges the meaning of tradition.

 

 

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