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Instructional Unit Samples - 5th 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 5th 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 5th grade curriculum overview samples and write your own instructional units using the Colorado based template.


Comprehensive Health

Unit Title: Human Growth & Development (Thompson School District)

 Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit examines the structure and function of body systems and the changes that occur as we mature. Throughout the unit students will explore the physical and emotional characteristics of the maturation process, make personal connections to their individual growth and development, and establish positive coping skills. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to help their peers recognize the natural changes that occur to human bodies at developmental stages.




Unit Title: Jump into Creating (Colorado Ballet, Douglas County School District, St. Mary’s Academy, Colorado Dance Education Association, and Littleton School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit explores a multidisciplinary approach to learning the systems of the human body and applied health-related fitness components. Students will engage in the creative process through combining the movement elements and choreographic structures to devise a patterned movement phrase symbolizing various body systems (e.g. respiratory, nervous, muscular, circulatory, skeletal systems). The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to work collaboratively to prepare a final dance performance depicting a human body system.



Drama and Theatre Arts

Unit Title: Point-of-View Stew (Adams 12 Five Star School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit will explore the relationship between perspective, environment, and culture when depicting a character. Throughout the duration of this unit, students will consider different perspectives and how that influences characterization, individual and ensemble work, scene/monologue writing and production choices. The unit will culminate with a final collaborative theatrical performance demonstrating character perspective in relation to cultural and environmental influences.




Unit Title: Fraction Reaction (Clear Creek School District and Greeley School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit focuses on the relationship between fractions and each of the four operations. The unit begins by developing the concept of a fraction as the operation of division through fair share problems. A major development in this unit is the formalization of multiplication of fractions.  Students begin by modeling fraction multiplication using area and scaling models and eventually connect these models to the algorithm for multiplication.  Students also explore division of fractions through contextualized problems and informal solution strategies: this concept is formalized and the algorithm is developed during sixth grade. Finally, students apply their understandings of multiplication of fractions and fraction equivalence to the addition and subtraction of fractions with unlike denominators.




Unit Title: Feeling Blue (Poudre School District, Thompson School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an exploration of the Blues as a musical genre and how Blues artists utilized historical and cultural roots within their compositions.  Throughout the duration of the unit, students will consider the use of form and emotions to guide improvisation in Blues music. Across the unit students will critically analyze the context and purposes of Blues music. The unit culminates in asking the students to create lyrics and an improvised original 12-bar Blues progression.


Unit Title: So You ‘Wanna’ Be a Rock Star? (Boulder Valley School District, Fort Morgan School District, Poudre School District, Pueblo City School District, and Metro State University of Denver)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit guides students in making connections between expressive performance techniques (their symbols and notation) and people’s emotional response(s) to musical experiences.  Students will listen to a variety of examples from various musical genres to identify expressive elements and reflect on and analyze the different emotions that musical experiences can evoke.  Students will then apply their learning to transform the expressive elements of familiar repertoire.  The unit culminates in students planning, rehearsing, and performing a piece of music to demonstrate their mastery of musical expression.



Physical Education

Unit Title: Gymnastics, Rhythm and Dance (Aurora Public Schools)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is designed to provide another avenue for transferring skillful movements students are already familiar with: using flow, speed and sequence.  Students will have an opportunity to work with peers and develop effective communication and collaboration skills. Appropriate safety practices will be a focus of each learning experience and critical to student success. The unit culminates with peer groups creating a movement routine which may be performed for a variety of audiences.



Reading, Writing, and Communicating

Unit Title: Can't We Just Get Along? (Ignacio School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In this 4-6 week unit, students will explore conflict and resolution through fiction and nonfiction readings. Students will analyze stories to be able to distinguish between internal and external conflicts.  Students will then develop their understanding of how different points of view may add to a conflict or help resolve it.  Students will write a well-developed written piece demonstrating their understanding of internal and external conflict as well as the resolution of a conflict.




Unit Title: Renewable and Nonrenewable Resources (Cheyenne Mountain School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

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.



Social Studies

Unit Title: The Melting Pot? (Buffalo School District)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: In The Melting Pot, students will learn about early explorers and explain the economic and political motivations for exploration and settlement of the New World.  When the first explorers arrived in the Americas, they encountered native peoples who already inhabited those lands. Students will discover the motivating factors that prompted individuals to migrate to the New World such as oppression, persecution, and differences in beliefs and values.  Throughout the rest of this unit, students will identify how native peoples and immigrants interacted, and how both groups adapted their environment in order to survive.  Students will be able to distinguish among the varying perspectives of the relationship between the diverse groups and summarize the effects those interactions had on each other.  



Visual Arts

Unit Title: Arriving at Abstraction (Thompson School District and Colorado State University)

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF)     Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is an introduction to the origins, creation, and subject/content of abstract art. Over the course of this unit, students will examine the varying styles, techniques and inspirations for creating abstract art.  Students will specifically consider how emotions and distortion of expressive features influence composition. To further contextualize this exploration, students will explore how musical rhythm can translate to visual rhythm and compare the ways in which musicians and visual artists express emotion through abstraction. The unit culminates in a performance assessment that asks students to create a logo/visual identity for a music company that works with focuses on many different genres of music.



Unit Title: Body Systems Dance (Greeley-Evans School District 6)

Focus Disciplines: Dance + Physical Education + Science

Instructional Unit (Word or PDF) | Unit Storyboard

Unit Description: This unit is integrated with Dance, Physical Education and Science.  It allows the educator and students to learn about and explore human body systems (e.g., Circulatory, Digestive, Muscular, etc.) through movement elements.  Students will work in small groups to create movement that will symbolize the movements of selected body systems.  The unit will culminate in a school wide field day where stations of student groups will explain and perform the workings of a human body system to participants.


For content specific questions, please contact the appropriate content specialist listed here.