This unit is based on Kathie Nunley's Layered Curriculum concept. Layered Curriculum is a differentiation strategy originally created for high school, but it works very well with all grade levels, especially junior high. This unit was created to go with Holt Science & Technology middle school Earth Science, but it could be adapted for any textbook. For more information on Layered Curriculum check out Kathie Nunley's website at help4teachers.com. This approach allows for a variety of levels of student work, with high expectations for all. Layered Curriculum is a highly motivating method for students. My students BEGGED for these!
Information for management of Layered Curriculum is available on the website, but here's how I used it in my classroom: I created a LC document for each unit taught. Each day had a "mini" direct teach lesson followed by student centered activities. Students had a variety of activities available to them with labs scheduled for each day. The students did not have to participate in ALL labs, but all students participated in most of the labs. A few minutes was used each day to go over student work. The key part of LC is that students can give an oral defense of their product. I ask several questions, and if the students are unable to answer them to my satisfaction, they did not receive full credit for their product. Any necessary worksheets or papers were in a hanging chart. Each student was given a packet with the rubrics for each type of product (book, PowerPoint, poster, etc.) at the beginning of the year. This was to be kept all year as a reference. The LC concept allows for some extension beyond the topic, as well. This is critical for gifted/talented students. The "A" level plays into this, as well, by requiring critical thinking, defense, etc. There is not necessarily one correct answer, but the process involved requires many higher order thinking skills.
The preview file is PDF. The purchased file is in Word so you can adjust it to your needs.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions about implementation into your classroom. I'm happy to help as best I can!