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               Understanding By Design Unit Template



Title of Unit

 Colorado History     

Grade Level


Subject Area (s)


Time Frame

  4-5 weeks (May) 


     Young, McPhail 

Desired Results (Stage 1)

Essential Content (Subject Area) Standards and Benchmarks/Indicators

History  Standard 1 _ Organize and sequence events to understand the concepts of chronology and cause and effect in the history of Colorado.

History Standard 2- The historical eras, individuals, group0s, ideas and themes inColorado history and their relationships to key events in the United States.

Geography Standard 1- Use several types of geographic tools to answer questions about the geography of Colorado.

Geography Standard 2- Connections within and across human and physical systems are developed.


National Education Technology Standards (Choose 2-3 to focus on)

                             Creativity and Innovation          Communication and Collaboration            Research and Information Fluency


       Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making         Digital Citizenship         Tech Operations and Concepts


Essential Questions

(connected to overarching and supporting understandings)

Overarching Understanding (“Big Idea”)

Various factors contribute to expansion, movement and settlement of peoples.

What role do natural resources play in the migration of peoples? 


How do resources determine which groups immigrate?


What kinds of conflicts can arise when groups are competing for the same resources?


What physical characteristics lead various cultural groups to select the places they do?


What are the potential outcomes when natural resources are depleated?


What are some of the reasons modern families relocate?




Supporting Understandings

Students will understand:  The abundance or lack or resources creates a need for movement or immigration.


Students will understand the basic needs of civilizations and how innovation and progress can meet those needs.


Students will understand how natural resources contribute to expansion.


Students will understand the interplay between immigrants and native peoples.







Students will know…


Students will be able to…

 What is a natural resource?


 What natural resources were abundant in the Colorado Territory in the 1800's?


 Which groups came to Colorado seeking these resources?      Native Americans, European Explorers, trappers, miners, farmers, settlers, railroad, military)


Innovation and progress (Mining techniques, railroad, system of forts) 


Why did people of various cultures migrate to and settle in Colorado?


What physical characteristics led various cultural groups to select the places they did for settlement in Colorado?


At what point did your family come to Colorado and why did they come? 

Identify the natural resources found in Colorado and connect these resouces with the groups that came to the Colorado Territory.


Analyze the impact of the settlers, immigrants and native people on each other.


Prepare and debate the perspective of one of the key groups involved in the settlement of the Colorado Territory.


Students will create a map of Colorado that includes the various resources and natural geographical features, as well as the key settlements and forts.









Assessment Evidence (Stage 2)


Assessment of Overarching Understanding/Big Idea


               Assessment Criteria (students will be able to… student application of Six Facets of Understanding)


               Assessment Tool (describe type of assessment tool to be used here - post completed tool with unit)


               Assessment Strategy (performance task description)













                   Evidence of development of supporting understandings, knowledge and skills

(identify assessment criteria, strategies and tools for each)

1.Students will be able to identify the natural resources found in Colorado and connect these resouces with the groups that came to the Colorado Territory.


Strategy:   Development of a "memory" board game to be played on the Mimio device, coupled with a matching clicker quiz.


Tools:  Mimio device, clickers, research materials.


2. Analyze the impact of the settlers, immigrants and native people on each other.

Prepare and debate the perspective of one of the key groups involved in the settlement of the Colorado Territory.


Strategy:  In cooperative learning groups, students will videotape an interview with a member of each of the key stake-holder groups.  Questions will be developed to demonstrate various points of view and perspectives.


Tools:  Flip video camera, mimio projector.















Evidence of student application of selected National Educational Technology Standards during the course of the unit? (Note: assessment of the NETS standards should be integrated with assessment of unit understandings, knowledge and skills and embedded within unit learning activities)





Learning Experiences (Stage 3)

                   Consider the questions in the boxes below as you design learning experiences that support student achievement of desired results and exploration of unit essential questions.



                        Building Background/Connecting to Students’ Current Understandings, Knowledge and Skills





     B.  Student Exploration of Essential Questions













Use “Where To…” as a tool to assess the quality and scope of unit learning experiences.

How will you cause students to reflect and rethink?  How will you guide them in rehearsing, revising, and refining their work?



Where are your students headed?  Where have they been?  How will you make sure the students know where they are going?


How will you help students to exhibit and self-evaluate their growing skills, knowledge, and understanding throughout the unit?



How will you hook students at the beginning of the unit?

How will you tailor and otherwise personalize the learning plan to optimize the engagement and effectiveness of ALL students, without compromising the goals of the unit?



What events will help students experience and explore the big idea and questions in the unit?  How will you equip them with needed skills and knowledge?

How will you organize and sequence the learning activities to optimize the engagement and achievement of ALL students?





From:  Wiggins, Grant and J. Mc Tighe. (1998). Understanding by Design, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

   ISBN # 0-87120-313-8 (ppk)

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