Nature of Differentiation

This unit uses preassessment to identify student differences. In Lesson 3, the career investigation is differentiated by interest. In Lessons 3, 6, and 7, the career profile, nanotechnology product advertisement, and presentation are differentiated by communication preference. The entire unit is designed using content that is at a higher level of abstraction, higher level of complexity, and increased depth compared to the standards middle school science curriculum. The pacing is faster than typical middle school curricula. The content is authentic because a cutting-edge, contemporary science topic is explored in a context that relates to middle schools students - the use of nanotechnology in school physical education clothing. Appropriate scaffolding is provided to assist all learners in mastering the goals of this unit. The nature of the content, the highlighted practicing professional chosen for discussion of traits, and the profile of a college preparatory program support talent development in STEM. However, allowing students to choose a career to investigate that matches an area of personal passion differentiates this talent development activity by interest.


Throughout this problem-based learning unit, students seek answers to questions that they have generated based on what they want to learn.
In Lesson 3, Scale of Objects, students explore objects that are of interest to them in each scale range.
In Lesson 5, What does it take to be a nanoscientist?, students explore careers in areas of personal interest.


The unit uses constructivist pedagogies to facilitate student learning about scale and nanoscience.


In Lesson 5, students choose the type of product they would like to produce to communicate information about their chosen career.


Overall, this unit covers content that is beyond the usual curricula of K-12 education. Middle school curricula typically contain content about properties of materials in physical science courses, however, changes in physical properties at the nanoscale are not included. The unit gives high ability students an opportunity to explore an area of cutting-edge science and technology.
In Lesson 4, alternative laboratory activities are provided for students who may have advanced knowledge of the topic.
In Lessons 6 and 7, materials are provided to accommodate a wide levels of reading ability from below grade level to well above grade level. Materials are provided in a variety of formats including text, video, and audio.

Website by Lori Andersen, 2012