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The Biomed Unit Project

Author: Catharine Niuzzo Honaman



Time: 5 classes/1 week
Preparation
Time:
1 hour to read this lesson and the project lessons in the government and physics/biology classes
Materials: Time in a computer lab

 


Abstract
For the final project of this unit students will participate in a mock Senate hearing about a federal regulation that would prohibit a person less than 18 years of age from using a tanning device except upon prescription by a physician or surgeon for treatment of a medical condition. In English class students will prepare for the mock Senate hearing by writing a position paper that contains the arguments and supporting evidence for whichever special interest group the individual students will be representing. These position papers are to be persuasive papers using the expository theme format of introduction, first body paragraph, second body paragraph, third body paragraph, and conclusion.

Objectives
Students will be able to:
1. Write a persuasive paper following the expository theme format of introduction, first body paragraph, second body paragraph, third body paragraph, and conclusion that addresses the prompt of the final project adequately;
2. Use the correct conventions of English in writing the paper;
3. Explain the main arguments and include sufficient supporting evidence for each in the position paper.

National English Education Standards
Standard #6
Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and non-print texts.

Standard #7
Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.

Teacher Background
You should read the government and physics/biology lessons that are a part of this unit with special attention to the project lessons in those classes.

Resource Websites
Refer to the government project lesson for an extensive list of websites that will supply information for the different special interest groups that will be represented in the mock Senate hearing.

 

 

Activity
1. There are five class periods provided for this lesson. The first two are for the students to write the main arguments and supporting evidence for their position papers. This rough draft needs to be coherent enough to form the basis of the oral testimony of information that the students need to present before the mock Senate hearing. Use the next three days to put that talk into a well-written paper with time for peer-editing sessions if possible. The last three days are a writing workshop where the students have time to incorporate the corrections suggested by their peers after presenting to the Senate committee, make use of an opportunity to return to the library to find information that a peer editor may have pointed out is missing, or use this time to shore up an argument with additional or stronger evidence.

2. On the first day of the lesson remind the students that their position papers are to be a review of the arguments that would be presented before a Senate committee making a decision about a federal regulation that would prohibit a person less than 18 years of age from using a tanning device except upon prescription by a physician or surgeon for treatment of a medical condition. The position papers are to be persuasive papers using the expository theme format of introduction, first body paragraph, second body paragraph, third body paragraph, and conclusion.

3. The first class period is also the time to introduce the criteria upon which the position paper will be evaluated. It is suggested that the paper be assessed in the areas of:
- Correct interpretation of the prompt
The students have written a paper that contains the main ideas, supporting information and at least three strong arguments supporting the position one student will be representing in the mock Senate hearing.
- Proper organization
W-P2. Write a persuasive essay that contains effective introductory and summary statements; arranges the arguments effectively; and fully develops the ideas with convincing proof, details, facts, examples, and descriptions.
PO 1. Write a thesis statement to convey a point of view about a subject
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to the audience and
purpose
PO 3. Create an organizational structure that includes an effective beginning,
middle, and ending
PO 4. Use persuasive word choices and sentence structure (e.g., connotation,
strong verbs, repetition, and parallelism)
- Correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc.
W-P1. Use transitional devices; varied sentence structures; the active voice; parallel structures; supporting details, phrases and clauses; plus correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage to sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing
PO 1. Use transitions (e.g., conjunctive adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions) where appropriate
PO 2. Vary sentence structure (e.g., compound, complex, compound-complex)
PO 3. Use active voice as appropriate to purpose (e.g., creative writing)
PO 4. Use parallel structure appropriately
PO 5. Sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing through the
appropriate use of:
- capitalization
- standard grammar and usage (e.g., subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement and consistency of verb tense)
- spelling, with the use of a dictionary/thesaurus (as needed)
- punctuation (e.g., comma, ellipsis, apostrophe, semicolon, colon)- Strength of the arguments
W-P2.
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to the audience and
purpose

4. If any student is not able to complete the first draft of his or her paper in the three class days provided, he or she must finish the paper for homework in order to participate in the Senate hearing sessions.

5. During the days that have been set aside for the peer editing encourage multiple readings of each student’s paper. It is suggested that one student read for mechanical errors. You should list on the board the areas that will be assessed in this category: W-P1 criteria. Students should make notes directly on the first drafts. It is not the job of the proofreader in this case to correct the errors, but only to point them out. It is the responsibility of the writer to make the grammatical and spelling corrections. In some cases a proofreader may not know that something is actually wrong, but may just indicate that the writer may want to double check something, or rework an awkward section. Remind the students that they are not being good friends by merely rubberstamping another student’s work and telling him or her that it is wonderful because then you, the teacher, will be the one to find the mistakes and when you do, the student loses points.

A second proofreader makes his or her comments on a separate sheet of paper concerning the organizational aspects of the paper. You should list the criteria for this on the board also: W-P2 criteria. Remind students that it may take two readings of the paper to do a high quality job of finding mistakes.

A third proofreader will evaluate the arguments, and his or her comments will also be on a separate sheet of paper. Are there three arguments? Are the arguments convincing? Has the prompt been followed correctly?

Give the students five or ten minutes at the end of each proofreading session to meet, to read each other’s comments, and to ask questions to clarify each other’s recommendations. It is usually best for the proofreader not to sit near the student whose paper is being evaluated. It is too easy for the proofreader to ask a quick question if something does not make sense. However, when you are evaluating the papers you will not have that luxury and will take off points when something is unclear.

6. The students need to fix the problems that the proofreaders found with their papers each night for homework. Make arrangements with the librarian so that students may return to the library to do additional research if serious holes have been found in their arguments or if facts need to be rechecked.

Closure
The position papers are handed in and the students fill out an evaluation of the researching/writing process. This is found at the end of the lesson.

Homework
If students are not able to finish writing the position paper during the class time provided, it will be necessary for them to use additional time outside of class to finish their work.

Embedded Assessment
The position paper is the product of this lesson (and this entire learning cycle). It is the evidence of student learning and should be assessed according to the criteria presented to the students on the first day of the lesson.

- Correct interpretation of the prompt

The students have written a paper that contains the main ideas, supporting information and at least three strong arguments supporting whichever position the student will be representing in the mock Senate hearing.

- Proper organization

W-P2. Write a persuasive essay that contains effective introductory and summary statements; arranges the arguments effectively; and fully develops the ideas with convincing proof, details, facts, examples, and descriptions.
PO 1. Write a thesis statement to convey a point of view about a subject
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to the audience and
purpose
PO 3. Create an organizational structure that includes an effective beginning,
middle, and ending
PO 4. Use persuasive word choices and sentence structure (e.g., connotation,
strong verbs, repetition, and parallelism)

- Correct grammar, capitalization, punctuation, etc.

W-P1. Use transitional devices; varied sentence structures; the active voice; parallel structures; supporting details, phrases and clauses; and correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage to sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing
PO 1. Use transitions (e.g., conjunctive adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, and subordinating conjunctions) where appropriate
PO 2. Vary sentence structure (e.g., compound, complex, compound-complex)
PO 3. Use active voice as appropriate to purpose (e.g., creative writing)
PO 4. Use parallel structure appropriately
PO 5. Sharpen the focus and clarify the meaning of their writing through the
appropriate use of:
- capitalization
- standard grammar and usage (e.g., subject-verb agreement, pronoun agreement and consistency of verb tense)
- spelling, with the use of a dictionary/thesaurus (as needed)
- punctuation (e.g., comma, ellipsis, apostrophe, semicolon, colon)- Strength of the arguments

W-P2.
PO 2. Develop the point of view with ample and convincing support (e.g., details,
facts, reasons, examples, and descriptions) appropriate to the audience and
purpose

 


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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