MCESA ESI Middle School Modeling Instruction Resources

Below is a collection of teaching resources created for use by middle school teachers who are part of the Maricopa Education Services Agency Engineering STEM Identity (ESI) Project. These resources are intended to support your use of the Modeling Method of Instruction in the design of your classroom’s learning environment.

Modeling Instruction is a powerful pedagogy that corrects many weaknesses of the traditional lecture-demonstration method, including fragmentation of knowledge, student passivity, and persistence of naive beliefs about the physical world. Unlike the traditional approach, in which students wade through a long list of seemingly unrelated topics, Modeling Instruction organizes the course around a small number of scientific models, making the course content coherent. It applies science and engineering practices to the teaching of basic skills and practices in mathematical modeling, proportional reasoning, quantitative estimation and technology-enabled data collection and analysis.

Please note that this resource collection is still in its beta phase of development, and we are anxious for your feedback on its usability in your classroom. We will be setting up a forum on our new website (due to launch in August of 2014) to hear your feedback and suggestions for revisions and/or additions. If you have feedback and are unable to find the forum, please contact us at

Model on!

Note: the links below are to zipped files that will download when you click on them–some are large and may take several minutes for the download to complete.

Introduction and Nature of Science

Pedagogical Readings

Grade 6

Grade 6, Unit 1: Water Chemistry (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 6, Unit 2: The Relationship between Sun, Air, Water and Land (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 6, Unit 3: Properties of Earth’s Bodies of Water (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 6, Unit 4: Life in Bodies of Water (updated 6/3/2105) (large file, allow a minute for it to download)

Grade 7

Grade 7, Unit 1: Organisms (updated 6/3/2105-very large file)

Grade 7, Unit 2: Ecosystems (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 7, Unit 3: Relationships between living and non-living things (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 7, Unit 4: Non-living earth systems (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 7, Unit 5: Earth’s place in the solar system (updated 6/3/2105-very large file)

What’s new in the April 2015 curriculum update

Grade 8

Grade 8, Unit 1: Structure and Properties of Matter (updated 6/3/2105) (this file is sort of large and will take about a minute to download)

Grade 8, Unit 2:  Motion, forces and energy (updated 6/3/2105) (this is a VERY large file that will take several minutes to download)

        Prezi links for Grade 8, Unit 2:

Unit 2.3 Activity 3a Superman and the Space Aliens
Unit 2.3 Activity 5 Surface Forces
Unit 2.3 Activity 6 Collisions
Unit 2.4 Introduction to Energy

Grade 8, Unit 3: Magnetism (updated 6/3/2105)

Grade 8, Unit 4: Heredity and adaptation (updated 6/3/2105)

10 thoughts on “MCESA ESI Middle School Modeling Instruction Resources”

  1. The materials look great and I am looking forward to using the materials in the coming school year. This might be my eureka moment.

    I was looking at the Grade 8, Unit 2 teacher file. It seems to be a heavily edited form of Grade 6 Unit 1. Was that intentional or part and parcel for a beta version?

    Looking forward to connecting and finding the website.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    I believe you are talking about the Grade 8 , Unit 1 (not 2) files being similar to Grade 6, Unit 1. As they stand in the beta version, they are similar. You are correct that this is a function of it being a beta version of the materials.

    We on the development team are of two minds–we believe the ‘big ideas’ in both the Unit 1 6th grade and Unit 1 8th grade are very important, and have heard from Middle School teachers that younger students can use the reinforcement. However, we are dissatisfied about the units being so similar. Therefore, we recently asked for feedback from expert Chemistry Modelers about the Grade 8 Unit 1, and now have someone editing the ordering and activities in this unit to make sure there is not so much of an overlap.

    We will keep you posted about the status of this edit, but feel free to contact me directly at if you want further information.

    Thanks for your comment! It’s nice to know that teachers are looking at these materials with a critical eye.

  3. It would be really neat if this was formatted better. They should be able to print PDF just like a book to save teacher time. Takes a very long time to download and organize in this format. Awesome units though!

    1. We left them in word format so that you could alter worksheets if you want–we could make them into pdf files if there is a demand for that, but with most modeling resources we find that teachers almost always choose to download the word files rather than the pdf versions. I will talk with MCESA and get them to poll the users of these materials to see if there is a need to create pdfs in addition to what you presently have access to.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Which Prezi are you referring to? Once I know which one you’d like – I’d be happy to locate it and send you the link.

        1. OK thanks I see what you are asking about now. I’ve located the folder that the teacher note’s mention – however the Prezi file isn’t working so we are contacting the person who wrote that unit and hopefully will get that Prezi link to you ASAP.

  4. Not sure what blogpost you are referring to, but there is not a separate site for Middle School Modeling Instruction. Everything is host here on our public website or on our members-only website.

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