In this unit, students grapple with the question "Do the benefits of DDT outweigh its harmful consequences?" In the first half of the unit, students use a guided researcher's notebook, research folder, and a WebQuest to research informational texts about DDT's benefits and harmful consequences. The researcher's notebook requires students to cite their sources, assess the credibility of each source, paraphrase the information relevant to their research question, and decide if the evidence from their research changes the focus of their inquiry. Students also analyze an author's presentation of information and ideas, and then compare and contrast that presentation of information and ideas with the presentation by another author. Additionally, students revisit strategies they have learned throughout the year to address new vocabulary: context clues, affixes, and resource materials such as dictionaries and thesauruses.
In their mid-unit assessment, students read two unfamiliar informational articles about DDT. They complete a page identical to their researcher's notebook for one article, as well as a graphic organizer in which they compare and contrast the presentation of ideas in these two articles. In the second half of the unit, students work toward making a claim based on the evidence of their research, a similar skill to the work of Module 2 in which students made a claim on which they built a literary argument. Students learn the important skill of sifting through all the materials they have thus far encountered, deciding what is relevant to their research question and what is not. They use a Cascading Consequences chart, visually tracking the chain reaction of a decision, and a Stakeholders chart, tracking who is affected by a decision, as integral tools in making their claim. After reviewing research, considering a particular decision's consequences, and who it affects, students draft and revise a claim about the use of DDT. In their end of unit assessment, students are asked to orally present their final claim to an audience and include the use of multimedia components such as charts and graphs. This claim will launch students in their argument writing of Unit 3.