I am very proud to present the teacher-authored instructional unit samples in Science. Each of these units represents the work of a team of Colorado educators to translate one curriculum overview sample into a full instructional unit with learning experiences, teacher and student resources, assessment ideas, and differentiation options. To learn more about the unit development process and the unique aspects of the Science units, please consider participating in one or more of the scheduled instructional unit webinars.
Each of the units posted here was authored by a team of Colorado educators. As examples, they are intended to provide support (or conversation/creation starting points) for teachers, schools, and districts as they make their own local decisions around the best instructional plans and practices for all students.
You can also view the complete list of Science curriculum overview samples and use the instructional unit template to begin constructing your own Colorado Academic Standards-based units.
Science Content Specialist
Biology Unit Title: Population Ecology (Monte Vista School District)
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
Chemistry Unit Title: Chemical Reactions (Cherry Creek School District, Harrison School District, The Colorado Education Initiative)
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)
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.
Physics Unit Title: Forms and Transformations of Energy (Harrision School District)
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.
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: It’s All About You: From Cells to Organisms (Woodland Park School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on the structure and function from the cellular level to the organism within all living things including single-cell and multi-cell organisms. This unit describes homeostasis and interconnectedness of cellular organization to system functions. Beginning with cell theory, across the unit students investigate macromolecules, pro- and eukaryotic cells, active and passive transport, levels of organization, the structure and function of body systems, and the interconnectedness amongst systems. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to analyze the impacts of organ failure or disease on organ systems.
Unit Title: Water, Water Everywhere (Colorado Springs School District)
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.
Unit Title: Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources (Cheyenne Mountain School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on how humans, plants, and animals use renewable and non-renewable energy resources, and how the use of these resources impacts the environment both positively and negatively. The physical environment limits available resources, which dictate human use, decision-making, and activity. Beginning with the natural resources (renewable and nonrenewable), across the unit students investigate energy, info-graphics, resource availability and consumption, and the interconnectedness of humans and energy production and use. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to take the role of a city utility engineer and come up with a solution for coal depletion and present to the local city council.
Unit Title: Solar System (Park County School District)
Unit Description: This unit introduces the components of the solar system, which include the earth, moon, and sun, and examines the relationship between them. It also focuses on how the revolution of the earth, in relation to the sun, impacts life on earth through predictable patterns such as seasons, moon phases, and sunrise and sunset. Beginning with the components of the solar system, across the unit students investigate the Earth, the moon, the sun, the difference between revolution and rotation, predictable patterns, and the seasons. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to take the role of a news reporter asked to report to their local community on potential changes that could be observed in Colorado if a meteor hit Earth.
Unit Title: Earth Materials and Rock Cycles (Holyoke School District and Julesburg School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on the factors that cause continual change of the Earth surface and the features that can change suddenly because of earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, floods, or slowly because of weathering and erosion. Some of Earth’s resources include minerals, rocks (sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic), and soil. The unit includes the rock cycle and how rocks transform due to the effects of changes in pressure and temperature. . Beginning with the layers of the Earth, across the unit students investigate physical features of the Earth’s surface, different types of rocks, components and the formation of soil, minerals, resources, and weathering. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to captures images of Colorado landscapes that document how the earth is continually changing (Glaciers, landslides, floods, earthquakes, river formation, holes in rocks, cliffs, canyons, rocky mountains, plains, sand dunes, etc.).
Unit Title: Weather and Seasons (Rocky Ford School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on the effects of weather and seasons with respect to organisms and their environment, including seasons, normal weather patterns, severe weather, and catastrophic events. Students will understand how survival is dependent upon changes in behavior and the environment. Beginning with tools to collect data on weather, across the unit students investigate weather and temperature, seasons, human and animal behavioral response to weather and seasons, and severe weather and catastrophic events. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to take the role of a weather forecaster and report on local weather within a given season.
Unit Title: Organisms and Offspring (Woodland Park School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on the offspring of organisms, variations and similarities within those offspring, and patterns of inheritance. Beginning with characteristics of living and nonliving things, across the unit students investigate seeds and plants, animals and offspring, characteristics of animals, and patterns of inheritance. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to reunite animals babies that have been separated from their parents based on patterns of inheritance.
Unit Title: Characteristics and Properties of Organisms and Objects (Woodland Park School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on characteristics and properties of organisms and objects. Beginning with identifying characteristics/properties, across the unit students sort animals and objects based on attributes and characteristics. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to sort and categorize objects given to them in a box and have to explain their categories.
Questions related to Colorado's District Sample Curriculum Project should be directed to Dr. Brian Sevier.
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