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ELA G3:M4:U3

Writing and Speaking about the Challenges and Solutions to Clean Water: Creating VoiceThread Presentations

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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.


In the final unit for this module, students bring their knowledge of the challenges of water to a focus on the solutions. Students develop an opinion about the “one thing” that should be done to ensure that everyone has access to clean water. In the first half of the unit, students read informational texts that focus on what people are doing to solve these water challenges. They also receive a Performance Task Invitation and listen to a model VoiceThread recording. Students engage in a discussion group to begin formulating their opinion about the one thing that should be done to ensure that everyone has clean water.

Students use the information they have gathered from texts to develop their opinion. In the mid-unit assessment, students write an on-demand opinion paragraph about the one thing that should be done. Students then listen to a model VoiceThread multiple times to engage with, and fully understand, the final Performance Assessment Rubric. Students use the writing they did in Units 1 and 2 to develop the script for their VoiceThread recording of a public service announcement (PSA). For the end of unit assessment, students present their VoiceThread script to their peers. Through a process of critique, students give and receive peer feedback in order to make improvements to their final performance task PSA.



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 texts 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. 

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.”

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 someone from the Department of Water or a local environmental group to come to the classroom and discuss efforts being made to keep New York’s water accessible and clean.
  • Invite a water conservation group to come in and share their work to preserve local water sources.


  • Visit a water treatment center and investigate how water is cleaned.
  • Visit a local stream or river with a 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.

Present VoiceThread recordings to a larger audience. Invite other classes, parents, and local water experts to come hear students’ recordings.  

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