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Powerful Explorations - Language Arts Lessons

Big Idea
A written document is only as valuable as the sources on which it is based. It is essential, especially in the sciences, to base one’s papers on solid scholarship, on articles from respected journals which contain reliable facts and statistics, and logical arguments. Valid studies must be in journals that are peer reviewed, and have been replicated.
Essential Question
What constitutes a reliable resource when doing research, especially in the areas of science, environmental health, and energy production?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage

Coal and Oil: Powering Our Way of Life
Students will brainstorm all the areas in which oil and petrochemicals are used and the impact on American life if these become scarce or highly priced.

1. Identify some of the common products that are made using petrochemicals;

2. Identify some of the effects that higher gasoline and coal prices would have on the American economy;

3. Organize the above information in a coherent chart;

4. Participate in a class discussion to highlight information and insights discovered by creating the chart.

Week 1,
2 classes

Explore

A Snapshot in Time
Students will read an article about America’s energy consumption for understanding and to find instances of bias.

1. State the main ideas in an article on America’s energy consumption;

2. Create questions to clarify the meaning of the article;

3. Site words and phrases that reveal a bias the author may have.
Week 1,
3 classes
Explain

Reliable Sources
Students will meet with the librarian to find out what resources are available in the library and how to ascertain that a source is reliable.

1. Use the library resources to find texts containing reliable information;

2. Create a series of guidelines for determining if a source contains valid information;

3. Distinguish between sources of high quality and poor quality.
Week 2,
1 class
Apply/Project

Finding the Sources
Students will find articles that have reliable scientific information, read them thoroughly, present their main ideas and significant facts to the class as well as share how they established that they were reliable articles.

1. Select an article that is about the assigned topic;

2. Read the article for meaning;

3. Analyze the article for reliability using established criteria;

4. Organize the information from the article and reasons that it is reliable into a coherent presentation;

5. Share the findings with the class in a well-organized and concise presentation.
Week 2,
4 classes

 

Big Idea
The executive branch of government will sometimes put together a task force to explore a problem and come up with a solution. Findings from this task force then can be taken to the legislative branch of government and presented at Congressional hearings. The form of the findings is presented as a position paper which is a persuasive document meant to promote a specific course of action.
Essential Question
What constitutes an effective position paper, one capable of persuading a Congressional committee to consider health related issues when adapting an alternative form of producing energy?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage

“Who Is Your Audience and What Do They Need to Know?”
In preparation for the unit’s final project in which students will be making presentations concerning various forms of energy and their impact on multiple aspects of life, especially environmental health issues, students will brainstorm with you about the things that a person should and should not do when speaking publicly and what impression these behaviors create.

1. Generate a list of all the possible ways people can make their ideas about a subject known in a democracy

2. Identify the audience of each form of expression

Week 3,
2 classes

Explore

Putting Together a Position Paper
In this lesson students will learn the format for writing position papers as an essential part of the third quarter’s final project, the meeting of the U.S. President’s energy task force.

1. Identify the audience of the position paper

2. Create a format that effectively persuades the target audience

3. Identify the necessity of clear arguments supported by appropriate information
Week 3,
1 class
Explain

Gathering the Appropriate Information
This lesson will be devoted to finding appropriate information necessary for written articulation on position developed in previous lesson.

1. Find reliable sources of information in order to create and support at least arguments

2. Find examples of well-written mission statements
Week 3,
1 class and
week 4,
3 classes
Apply/Project

Writing the Position Paper
In this culminating lesson students will write practice writing position papers on a form of alternative energy production for final project preparation in government class at third quarter’s end.

Write a position paper which is a persuasive document containing at least three arguments and following the conventions of proper English
Week 4,
2 classes and
week 5,
5 classes
This is the second of three learning cycles in the 3rd quarter:
#1 Reliable Sources of Information
#2 Writing the Position Paper
#3 Presenting the Position Paper

 

Big Idea
No matter what form of energy production a community chooses there will be environmental health considerations. When the legislative or executive branches of government make national policy they hold hearings to gather information from experts. It is essential for those speaking before a Congressional committee or a Presidential task force considering energy policy make their arguments succinctly and accurately, building up to the most crucial considerations of which the biomedical impact on a community and environmental health issues constitute a substantial focus.
Essential Question
How does a person effectively, and persuasively present arguments about the choice of an energy source to a governmental fact finding committee in a manner that accurately represents the issues, especially those that involve environmental health?
Learning Cycle
Lesson Title & Description
Objective
Students will:
Class period & week
Engage

“Who Is Your Audience and What Do They Need to Know?”
In preparation for the unit’s final project in which students will be making presentations concerning various forms of energy and their impact on multiple aspects of life, especially environmental health issues, students will brainstorm with you about the things that a person should and should not do when speaking publicly and what impression these behaviors create.

Identify word choices, sentence patterns, organizational formats, and verbal and non-verbal behaviors that a speaker would use and would avoid to create a strong oral presentation.

1 class
Week 6

Explore

Speakers in Action
Building on the awareness students now have on the importance of effective public speaking, this lesson will allow them to observe actual people speaking before governmental committees.

Identify, through the creation of a rubric, effective behaviors, techniques, and practices in giving presentations that include scientific information in a formal setting.
4 classes
Week 6
Explain

Refining Your Public Speaking Skills
In the previous two lessons the students established the behaviors, techniques, and practices that lead to a presentation being successfully persuasive when given in a formal governmental hearing.

1. Use the rubric to craft an effective oral presentation.

2. Polish their presentations through practicing with peers.
4 classes
Week 7
Apply

Stating your Position
This lesson will afford the students the opportunity to present the arguments of their position papers in a setting which simulates the conditions of a formal governmental hearing on the environmental health implications of an alternative form of energy production.

1. Make a formal presentation effectively presenting the benefits of a form of energy production to a simulated governmental hearing.

2. Rate the presentations of their peers using the rubric.
6 classes
Weeks 7 and 8

 

 

 

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:


an
NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award

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Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694


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Last update: November 10, 2009
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