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Culminating Project: Recommended Screen Time Position Paper and Visual

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Building on the research and decision-making that students did in Unit 2, Unit 3 is an extended writing process during which students draft, revise, edit, and publish a research-based position paper. In the first half of the unit, students analyze a model position paper and plan their own. Students have several opportunities to talk through their ideas and get feedback to improve their plans. The mid-unit assessment is the best first draft of the position paper (RI.7.1, W.7.1a, b, e, and W.7.4).

In the second half of the unit, students revise their position papers based on teacher feedback. The end of unit assessment is a student reflection on the process of writing the position paper, using evidence from the students’ own work (RI.7.1, W.7.1c, d, W.7.4, W.7.5, and L.7.6). Finally, students engage in the performance task, where they will create a visual representation of their position paper to share with their classmates.


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

  • Should screen time be limited? Why or why not?
  • How can I make an informed decision about an issue and then effectively argue my position? 
  • Argument writing requires a clear claim, reasons, evidence, and sound reasoning.
  • Creating a strong writing piece involves prewriting, planning, drafting, revising, and editing.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read informational texts about adolescent brain development. This ELA module is designed to expose students to informational text from various sources and encourage the interaction with texts through multiple modalities (e.g. books, articles, electronic, digital). However, this ELA module does not supplant the regular science curriculum and instructional program at the local level aligned to the NYS Learning Standards in Science for this grade level. The informational text in this module intentionally incorporates Science concepts and themes to support potential cross-standards connections to this compelling content. These intentional connections are described below. 


NYS Learning Standards in Science:

Intermediate-Level Science Core Curriculum Guide Grades (5-8)

Standard 4: The Living Environment

Key Idea 1: Living Things are both similar to and different from each other and from nonliving things.

Performance Indicators 1.1; Major Understandings 1.1e, 1.1g, 1.1h

Performance Indicators 1.2; Major Understanding 1.2h

 Key Idea 4: The continuity of life is sustained through reproduction and development.

Performance indicator 4.3 Major Understanding 4.3c


Big ideas and guiding questions are informed by the Next Generation Science Standards:

Science and Engineering Practices

The eight practices of science and engineering that the Framework identifies as essential for all students to learn and describes in detail are listed below:

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information


Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
Nicholas Carr’s ‘The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
by Jeffrey Brown, Nicholas Carr, and Mathew Kielty
Guest Opinion: Step Away from the Screen
by Margaret Desler, M.D.
"Can You Unplug for 24 Hours?”
by Heidi St. Clair
Attached to Technology and Paying a Price
by Matt Richtel
NY Times, 2010
The ONLINE EDUCA Debate 2009, Part 2 (Video)
by Aric Sigman
Why Facebook Could Actually Be Good for Your Mental Health
by Sy Mukherjee
Video Games Benefit Children, Study Finds
by Queensland University of Technology
Gaming Can Make a Better World (Video)
by Jane McGonigal
Ted Talks, 2010
The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games
by Peter Gray
Psychology Today, 2012
Is Google Making Us Stupid? (Video)
by Jane McGonigal
Ted Talks, 2010
Beyond the Brain
by David Brooks
Policy Statement: Children, Adolescents, and the Media
by Victor C. Strasburger and Marjorie J. Hogan
You Trouble
by Justin O’Neill
Growing Up Digital
by Matt Richtel
The Digital Revolution and Adolescent Brain Evolution
by Jay N. Giedd, M.D.
Students and Technology, Constant Companions
by Joshua Brustein, Matt Richtel, and Erik Olsen
NY Times, 2010
Development of the Young Brain (Video)
by Jay N. Giedd, M.D.
National Institute of Mental Health, 2011
Insights into the Teen Brain (Video)
by Adriana Galván
TedXYouth, 2013
What You Should Know about Your Brain
by Judy Willis
Educational Leadership, 2009
The Child’s Developing Brain
by Tara Parker-Pope, Jon Huang, and Mike Mason
NY Times, 2008
"What’s Going On in Your Brain?”
by Linda Bernstein
Current Health, 2006
The Teen Brain: It’s Just Not Grown Up Yet
by Richard Knox
National Public Radio, 2010
“Teens and Decision Making: What Brain Science Reveals”
by Scholastic Inc. and National Institute on Drug Abuse
April 14, 2008, 2008


ELA G7:M4A:U3:L5

Mid-Unit Assessment

Optional Activities


  • Invite members of the community who are writers or researchers to work with the students on crafting their argument or planning, drafting, and revising their papers.
  • Ask local artists or graphic designers to work with students on the visual representations of their position papers.


If a local museum has an exhibit on digital media or technology, especially an art museum, arrange for a visit for your students to investigate how these issues might be communicated visually.


Arrange for students to share the visual representations of their position papers with the community. Consider asking a local community center, public library, or other community building for space to create an exhibit of the students’ work.

Optional: Extensions

  • Students may create a museum-quality exhibit of their work, incorporating their position papers and visual representations, as well as other elements such as models, diagrams, charts, and photographs.
  • Students may undertake further study into the ways screen time affects adolescent brain development or behavior.
  • Students may keep a record of their own screen time habits for a week and reflect on the way technology affects their lives and more specifically, their thoughts, behavior, and moods.
  • Students may write a poem (or a digital collage or any other type of artistic expressions) titled “This Is My Brain: Plugged In,” which incorporates the information they have learned throughout the model with their personal reflection.

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