Building on the background students learned in Unit 1 through reading Bud, Not Buddy and the Steve Jobs speech, as well as the study of “If” in Unit 2, students will write informative essays based on one of their personal “rules to live by.” At the start of the unit, students will be presented with three relevant real-world topics (bullying, healthy habits, and environmental stewardship) with which they likely have significant personal experience. Based initially on this personal experience, students will discuss how those issues might translate into “rules to live by.” Then students will consider what it will take to truly inform others about their potential rules, given that personal experience is rarely sufficient to be a true expert on a topic. Ultimately, their “rules” will need to be informed by evidence.
This emphasis on evidence will serve as the launch of a short research project. Students will be organized into “research teams” around one of the three real-world topics that mostinterests them. In these research teams, students read about their topic, gathering relevant information to support their possible rule. Across multiple lessons, they use a Researcher’s Notebook to add information they gather and then answer focusing questions. The research skills taught in this unit are modeled through a class research project (about the importance of reading every day). This unit also has a heavy emphasis on speaking and listening skills.
At the start of the unit, the teacher will model good habits of discussion. Throughout the unit, students will participate in a series of discussion groups as they research their topic. Each discussion revolves around a focusing question; the teacher tracks students’ mastery of speaking and listening skills using a Discussion Tracker. As a part of the mid-unit assessment, over the course of two lessons, the teacher will use the same tracker to assess students’ speaking and listening skills.