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This unit attempts to provide the connections for a four week unit that covers Ecosystems, Genetics, and Stresses (both internal and external). The unit first recaps the information that should have already been covered in 6th and 7th grade with respect to ecosystems. This includes the performance assessment which centers on using their knowledge to reconnect the concepts they already know with the ones they are still struggling to learn. Next, the unit draws connections to genetics, specifically traits and DNA. These are impacted by the ecosystem and human and environmental factors. These factors are focused on last, but are discussed in the ecosystems (including the performance assessment) and genetics sections as well. Thus, the cohesive unit highlights specific parts of the enclosed unit flow chart for defined amounts of time, but the connections are much more than originally meet the eye. This unit strives to be interactive and informative, yet is focused on getting students depth not just breadth. Deep understanding is the goal at every step and students should be encouraged to come up with all of the connections they can between the sections of the unit and their world. This unit aligns with the North East ISD scope and the TEKS: 8.6 (C), 8.11 (A-C), and 8.14 (B). The TAKS workbook also calls for DNA to be addressed (but its molecular structure to be left out), and thus this too has been added to the curriculum.

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