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ELA G3:M4:U2

Reading and Research: Challenges of Water around the World

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


For this unit, students will build their knowledge of the challenges of access, pollution, and demands on water. Students first will research each challenge as a class, finding the key information about the particular challenge as they read their central text, One Well: The Story of Water on Earth. Students will answer text-dependent questions throughout their reading to ensure that they are able to use specific details and information from the text. The first half of this Unit, in effect, serves as a guided practice for research and builds students’ knowledge about each challenge before they study one more in-depth. Students will continue to build their vocabulary with a focus on learning words from context. In the mid-unit assessment, students will demonstrate their ability to ask and answer questions based on an informational text in preparation for their research project in the second half of the unit.

For the second half of the unit, students will work with greater independence to conduct a short research project to research in more depth about one of the challenges regarding water: access, pollution, and demands on water. Students will take notes as they read, determining the most important details about this particular challenge. Students will work in partnerships, or with “research buddies.” Although they will read independently, they will have this peer to support them through the process. For the end of unit assessment, students will write a two-paragraph, on-demand informational piece about the challenges of water: One paragraph that synthesizes all three of the challenges regarding water and a second paragraph that goes into more detail to inform the reader about the specific challenge the student researched. This on-demand writing also will serve as a scaffold for their students’ public service announcement (PSA), the final performance task that students will complete in Unit 3.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Where does our water come from?
  • What happens when people don’t have access to clean water? (Unit 2 and 3 specific question)
  • How do writers use evidence from text to strengthen their message? 
  • Writers support their points of view with reasons, facts, and details.
  • Water is a natural resource that every living thing needs.
  • Access to clean freshwater affects where and how people live.
  • Water is a finite resource.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and Science content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework:

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum:

  • 3.10 “People living in communities around the world depend on, adapt to, and modify their physical environments in different ways.” (p. 48)

NYS Science:

  • 3.7.a “The earth comprises continents, oceans, and other physical features, all of which help define distinct geographic regions around the world.”


Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
by Rochelle Strauss
One per student
ISBN: 978-1553379546, 1553379543

Optional Activities


  • Invite a person from the Department of Water to come into the classroom and discuss with the students the efforts being made to keep New York’s water accessible, clean, and conserved.
  • Invite members of a water conservation group to come in and share their work to preserve local water sources.


  • Go to a water treatment center and investigate how water is cleaned.
  • Go to a local stream or river with an expert naturalist to explore how pollution has affected a local site.


  • Adopt a local stream.
  • Create water issue fliers about each challenge to water for students to distribute locally at various sites: grocery stores, gas stations, libraries, etc.


  • One Well provides excellent opportunities for math extensions and connections. Preview Lessons 3 and 5 and consider doing additional work on percentages, fractions, large numbers, measurements, and/or graph reading during other parts of the day.
  • Work with your school’s media specialist to plan lessons to guide students in finding additional text or web-based materials to support their research (Lessons 8–10).

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