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Instructional Unit Samples - 8th 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 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.
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: Creative Movement (Douglas County School District)
Unit Description: The focus of this unit is for students to make connections between creative movement, rhythmic sequencing, and fitness (e.g. health related and skill related components, target heart rate, and healthy fitness zones). Students will develop skills to transfer patterns between different activities, set goals to improve personal fitness, and collaborate with peers to create rhythmic performances. This unit culminates with peer groups creating routines implementing eight count sequences while integrating manipulative props, dance patterns, cultural influences, and/or sports equipment. Students will participate in a peer-led movement routine and perform their final product as a contestant in a mock T.V. program of “America’s Got Talent.”
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: The American Dream (Wray School District)
Unit Description: In this 9-week unit, students will examine the concept of the American dream. Students will read a variety of texts (informational and literary) to develop an understanding of how the concept of “the American dream” has changed and/or endured over time. The texts read will span many decades – from our country’s foundational documents up to contemporary times -- and classroom discussions will explore how text qualities such as perspective, language use, and imagery shape our perceptions and understanding. The students will synthesize the texts presented in this unit to develop a personal definition of the American dream. The unit culminates in a multi-genre project that expresses this definition of the American dream.
Unit Title: Trials and Tribulations (Wray School District)
Unit Description: In this nine week unit, students will explore literature that addresses the concept of “adversity” and how authors develop that concept in literary and nonfictions texts. Students will read a variety of short stories, personal narratives, memoirs, and other nonfiction pieces to see how people – real and imagined – meet the challenges in their lives. The unit culminates with students writing their own narrative that reveals adversity.
Unit Title: Facebook of Face-to-Face (Wray School District)
Unit Description: In this 9 week unit, students will explore the complexities of social media, hone their research and presentation skills so that they can effectively debate an issue, and write an effective argument. Students will study social media as a genre of text with its own conventions, style, norms, and purposes. The unit will conclude with students participating in a debate and writing an argumentative essay in which they argue for the value of social media (Facebook or Face-to-Face?) in communicating with others.
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: 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: Our Place in Space (Ellicott School District, Hanover School District, and Colorado Springs School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on exploring patterns of motion in our solar system as they relate to the positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun. Students will be introduced to models of the solar system and how the movement/position of celestial objects effects tides, creates eclipses, day cycles, year cycles, seasons, and moon phases. The unit culminates in a presentation interpreting data about an imaginary planet/solar system and what solar system/planetary conditions might explain the given observations.
Unit Title: Transfer and Transformation of Energy (Colorado Springs School District, Ellicott School District, and Hanover School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on how energy is transformed and transferred across different systems. The types and nature of energy will be investigated as they relate to weather and weather patterns, available resources, and features found in energy waves. This unit culminates in a performance assessment that has students critically examining human activity with regard to harnessing energy.
Unit Title: Finding Our Voice (Ellicott School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on the foundations of U.S. government, the Constitution and the development of an American voice. The unit begins with a look at the major social, economic and political aspects of the newly independent 13 states. Then, students examine the Constitutional Convention and the various changes, compromises and additions to the Constitution necessary to promote the common good and provide individual rights to citizens. Next, students study the development of a political culture in the United States and how this led to an American identity in the global world. Finally, the unit culminates in a performance assessment which has students creating a presentation for a United Nations Youth Assembly to share the principles of American democracy and evolution of the American identity within its first 50 years.
Unit Title: From Subject to Citizen (Ellicott School District)
Unit Description: This unit focuses on the era from English colonization in the United States through the American Revolution to independence. The unit begins with a review of the economic and political benefits of colonialism in British North America. Students will analyze the political, social, and economic circumstances of the Colonies prior to the French and Indian War. The focus of the unit then moves to the increasingly oppressive policies of the British Crown on the colonies and the colonists’ efforts to increase self-determination and continue self-governance. Students continue an analysis of the forms of rebellion used by the colonists against the British Crown, ultimately ending in revolution, which left the new nation with new challenges. The culminating performance assessment has students investigating various perspectives and reactions to the rebellious acts of the colonists in the form of creating a documentary segment for the History Channel.
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: Reality Check - Unresolved Issues (Ellicott School District)
Unit Description: This unit begins with a look at the major economic, social, geographic and political differences between the Southern and Northern states. Next, students look at the most prominent tensions/disagreements/differences, the extension of slavery, and state vs federal rights. Students will then analyze various actions and reactions to these regional disagreements. Then, students will take a look at the Civil War, and its effects and major changes the country went through after the South surrendered. The unit culminates with a performance assessment which has students creating a proposal for a display case concerning the unresolved political, social and geographic issues between the Northern and Southern states.
Unit Title: Money Matters (Pueblo County School District)
Unit Description: In this unit, the students will learn the basic concepts of credit and debt. Students will formulate strategies for making good financial decisions by investigating different types of credit, loans, and the costs associated with using credit. Students will also discover the importance of maintaining debt. The unit culminates with students demonstrating the practical application of personal financial literacy using the basic concepts of credit, debt and management skills to make educated financial decisions.
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.