What You Need to Know When Buying Fish | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M3B:U3

What You Need to Know When Buying Fish

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In this unit, students delve more deeply into learning about overfishing methods and case studies of specific fish depletion to answer the question: What do you need to know when buying fish? Students begin by researching factual information about overfishing methods, sustainable fishing methods, case studies, and ways to buy fish caught using sustainable methods, and record what they find on graphic organizers.

In the second half of the unit, students analyze consumer guides to learn about the features. Students then evaluate the information they have collected through research to determine what is most compelling to include in their guides. They organize their information to create an eye-catching consumer guide to answer the research question. 

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do human activities affect the balance of our ecosystem?
  • How can we make a difference?
  • What does a consumer need to know when buying fish?
  • Organisms and their environment have an interconnected relationship. Human choices affect this relationship.
  • Information needs to be presented in an eye-catching and emotionally appealing way to encourage people to follow the advice presented.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read a literary non-fiction text about the causes of and solutions to the issue of fish depletion in the oceans. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies practices and themes to support potential interdisciplinary connections to this compelling content. 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:

Unifying Themes (pages 6-7)

  • Theme 3: Time, Continuity, and Change: History as a formal study that applies research methods. Reading, reconstructing, and interpreting events, analyzing causes and consequences of events and developments, considering competing interpretations of events.
  • Theme 4: Geography, Humans, and the Environment: Relationship between human populations and the physical world (people, places, and environments), impact of human activities on the environment, and interactions between regions, locations, places, people, and environments.

Social Studies Practices, Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 2: Identify, describe, and evaluate evidence about events from diverse sources (including written documents, works of art, photographs, charts and graphs, artifacts, oral traditions, and other primary and secondary sources).
  • Descriptor 3: Analyze evidence in terms of content, authorship, point of view, purpose, and format; identify bias; explain the role of bias and audience in presenting arguments or evidence.


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.

Texts and Resources to Buy

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

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
World Without Fish
by Mark Kurlansky
ISBN: 978-0761185000, 761185003

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • Invite fishermen to speak to the students about the methods they use for catching fish and the rules and regulations they have to follow.
  • Invite a scientist to speak to the students about biodiversity and fish depletion.


  • Arrange for a visit to a local aquarium so students can learn more about biodiversity in the oceans.
  • Arrange for a visit to a museum or exhibit about the industrial revolution.
  • Arrange for a visit to a grocery store so students can see the fish available to buy.



  • An in-depth case study of depleted fish species and the impact of the depletion on humans and other species
  • A study of extinct species
  • A study of the depletion of a particular extinct species and the circumstances that led to their extinction; for example, the baiji white dolphin or the Javan tiger

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