Sample Lesson/Unit Plans

Elementary School


Grade(s): 4
Unit: Adaptations of Animals
Additional Content Possibilities: Reading, Language Arts
Title: Science Through Children’s Literature
Author: C. Butzow & J. Butzow
Publishing Company: Teacher Ideas Press
ISBN: 0-87287-667-5
Copyright Date: 1989
Lessons Included?: Yes
Process Skills Emphasized: Cognative, Affective, Learning-How-to-Learn, Communication
During our unit on animals, we will spend time focusing on adaptations. This resource has a chapter on animal adaptations that provides 18 activities (complete with probing questions). The activities range from simulation and modeling to field research and graph making. The lessons on adaptation will begin with story-reading, according to the suggestion in this resource. Linking literature to our study of adaptation will provide increased opportunities for students to trigger curiosity, for learning to link arts and sciences outside the classroom and for heightened awareness of the amazing science all around us. The activities will focus on developing various individual skills and will help students increase retention of the concepts.

In particular for this unit, students will begin with activity #1 (p.102), in which they will build imaginary critters, hide them around the room and have a class scavenger hunt to find them. This will get students thinking about what factors affect survival and will lead into a discussion about adaptation. Once they understand the purpose behind adaptation, students will apply those survival concepts to predator-prey relationships. Students will participate in “building” a model of a food web (activity #3, p. 103). Once we have discussed eating patterns, we will proceed into a specific example, using activities #9 and 10 (p.104). In these activities, we will focus on how adaptations of plants (food for animals) allow or prohibit predation. Finally, we will consider adaptations that are more physiological or behavioral and discuss how those adaptations help organisms survive; we will utilize activities #14 – 18 (p.104-105) in order to do this.

Social Studies

Grade(s): 2
Unit: Diversity
Title: The Kid’s Multicultural Art Book: Art & Craft Experiences From Around the World
Author: A. Terzian
Publishing Company: Williamson Publishing
ISBN: 0-913589-72-1
Copyright Date: 1993
Price: $12.95
Lessons Included?: Yes
Process Skills Emphasized: Affective, Communication
Students can learn about different cultures and geographical regions through arts and crafts. This Parents’ Choice Award book joins clear directions for cultural arts and crafts with information about the arts’ and crafts’ history and role in the respective cultures. Kids will love learning about the Hispanic culture (from Aztecs to folk art to weaving) as they participate in activities that teach concepts as well as tradition and aesthetics. Other cultures addressed in this book include African, Asian, and American Indian. With this fun and engaging book, students will more memorably appreciate the ever-important issue of diversity.

Middle School/Junior High School

Language Arts

Grade(s): 6
Unit: Integrated into entire curriculum
Additional Content Possibilities: Social Studies, English/Creative Writing, Art, Communication, Public Speech
Title: TalentEd: Strategies for Developing the Talent in Every Learner
Author: Jerry Flack
Publishing Company: Teacher Ideas Press
ISBN: 1-56308-127X
Copyright Date: 1993
Price: $24.00
Lessons Included?: Yes
Process Skills Emphasized: Cognitive, Affective, Learning-How-To-Learn, Reference/Research, Communication
TalentEd is so rich with creative ideas that can easily (if not directly) be integrated into any middle school language arts program, that I would utilize the challenging references and unique exercises throughout my course. The content of this book will enliven my language arts class as it brings unique, creative challenges and scenarios relevant to the daily lives of my students into their school studies. This resource is fashioned around the concept of developing talent in all students. The format of the book makes it easy to follow and address various components from the Type II matrix. For these reasons, I am confident that infusing my standard language arts curriculum with lessons from this resource will not only maximize challenge and opportunity for all my students but will also cover many of the skills they will need to build in preparation for independent and advanced work.

TalentEd provides a quick and easy reference point from which I can integrate creative problem-solving, thinking skills and communication skills into the curricular goals I must focus on in language arts. For example, I can use this resource to teach about biographies through the chapter, “O is for Olympics.” I could use, “Q is for Questions” during creative writing and poetry units. And during our unit of persuasive essays, I could use, “G is for Garbage.” This resource provides endless opportunities for making language arts more challenging, personal and exciting for both my students and myself.


Grade(s): 7
Unit: Probability and Statistics (per Connecticut Standards)
Additional Content Possibilities: Social Studies, Science
Title: Chi Square, Pie Charts and Me
Author: S. Baum, R. Gable, & K. List
Publishing Company: Trillium Press
ISBN: 0-89824-171-5
Copyright Date: 1987 (new edition coming)
Price: $14.95
Lessons Included?: No
Process Skills Emphasized: Cognitive, Learning-How-To-Learn, Reference/Research
Chapter IV, “Statistical Techniques,” will supplement our lessons about probability, estimation, graph-making and statistics. During this unit, students will be assigned a long-term original research project (research process -design and execution- steps are provided in earlier chapters of this resource) in which they demonstrate their abilities to correctly utilize statistics and graphic representations of data to answer meaningful, real-world questions. This resource is especially useful because it goes beyond formula presentation and discussion to walk students through original research. From identifying problems to hypothesizing and data collecting, this book provides plenty of clear guidelines for independent work.

The book (Chapter IV) will be directly utilized during our Probability and Statistics unit, but will serve as a reference for the original research assignment once we have overviewed the research design and data collection processes as a class (1-2 class periods, maximum). Students will increase their understanding of probability and statistics through use of this book because they will be applying knowledge to real-world problem solving. As we include the research guidelines and steps into our curriculum, students will enhance their research and communication skills while they learn school/district/state-mandated standards.

High School

Advanced Placement Environmental Science

Grade(s): 11, 12
Unit:Urban Development
Additional Content Possibilities: Art, Environmental Science, Physics, Computers
Title: Why Design? Activites and Projects From National Building Museum
Author: A. Slafer & K. Cahill
Publishing Company: Chicago Review Press
ISBN: 1-55652-249-5
Copyright Date: 1995
Price: $19.95
Lessons Included?: Yes
Process Skills Emphasized: Cognitive, Affective, Learning-How-To-Learn, Reference/Research, Communication
I will weave the design process presented in Chapter 4 of this book (p112-142) throughout our unit on Urban Development. Students will implement problem-finding strategies in local or regional urban areas. Utilizing the step-by-step process (and corresponding forms) outlined in this book, students will design a solution(s) to their individual problems. Completed forms and journals used for documentation of the process will be turned in on the day of the unit evaluation. Step 9 of the design process is self-evaluation. This step will be done during the unit evaluation. Points for this design project will contribute to the total unit evaluation grade.

The final step (#10) is implementation of the solution(s). This will be an optional step for students. While students will be encouraged to follow-through with making their ideas realities, failure to do so will not effect their grades negatively. However, students who do follow-through with implementation will earn volunteer hours (arranged with the Volunteer Coordinator) as well as limited extra credit and may be eligible (depending on the quality and success of the project) for exemption from one substantial homework assignment or non-mandatory project later in the year. In order to gain eligibility for exemption, students will have to document what they learned and how that knowledge fits into the goals of AP Environmental Science.

Students will learn the design process through authentic application to a real-world, content-relevant situation. Students’ understanding of the complexities of the design process as well as the disciplined thought behind creation of a design will increase their appreciation for the challenges facing environmental policy-makers from the grass-roots to the federal level. Furthermore, because the content will pertain to an authentic project (the problem-solving, solution-design process), students’ grasp and retention of the content will increase.

Heightened student interest, maximizing challenge and applicability of learning, and nurturing lifelong learning skills are significant and would be sufficient reasons to do this in and of themselves. However, an additional bonus comes from the research supporting Type II Enrichment in the Schoolwide Enrichment Model. That is, students who work with and through this design process will have developed and honed problem-finding and problem-solving skills which are essential to advanced research or independent projects (Type IIIs, in SEM-language).

U.S. History

Grade(s): 10
Unit: The First Amendment – How have issues pertaining to freedom of speech helped shape U.S. history?
Additional Content Possibilities: Sociology, Debate, Legal Studies, Philosophy
Title: You Decide! Applying the Bill of Rights to Real Cases
Author: G. A. Smith & A. L. Smith
Publishing Company: Critical Thinking Books and Software
ISBN: 0-89455-440-9
Copyright Date: 1992
Price: $18.95/21.95
Lessons Included?: Yes
Process Skills Emphasized: Cognitive, Affective, Learning-How-To-Learn, Communication
Students will discover, through discussion, guided questions and real-case investigation (book above) what the First Amendment means, how it has been challenged and why it has been so integral in many social changes over time. Students will brainstorm lists of how freedom of speech may have guided/enabled social evolution. After reading several examples of real cases from the book, students will check their brainstorming lists to see which ideas the real cases addressed. Groups of students will be asked to develop arguments (after evaluating point of view and perspective) for individuals from teacher- or self-assigned roles; the culmination of this analysis of real cases will be a “government think tank meeting.” The entire class will, from their respective assumed identities, discuss and debate issues and questions posed by the teacher or moderator.
Finally, students will select a method of expressing their understanding of the First Amendment (particularly free speech) with regard to how it has been integral in shaping United States History. These final projects may take any form from dramatic interpretation to written report or multimedia presentation, per teacher approval