Writing: Position Paper about the Use of DDT | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G6:M4:U3

Writing: Position Paper about the Use of DDT

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Building on the research and decision-making process that students completed in Unit 2, Unit 3 is an extended writing process during which students draft, revise, edit, and publish their research-based position papers. In the first half of the unit, students analyze a model position paper and plan their own, with several opportunities to talk through their ideas as well as get feedback to improve their plans. The mid-unit assessment is students' best draft of their position paper.

In the second half of the unit, students revise their position papers based on teacher feedback. They also receive lessons on the use of grade-level-appropriate vocabulary and formal English in writing. The end of unit assessment is students' published position paper as well as a student reflection on the process of writing the paper, using evidence from the students' own work. Finally, students engage in the performance task: creating a scientific poster based on their position paper. They share this poster with their classmates in a hosted Gallery Walk.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • How do we balance the needs of people and the condition of the natural world?
  • Do the benefits of DDT outweigh its harmful consequences?
  • How do I integrate evidence from multiple sources to help support a claim in a position paper?
  • Research includes the close reading of multiple sources, evaluation of those sources, and collecting of relevant information.
  • Thorough research of multiple perspectives of an issue builds toward an informed decision and claim.
  • Position papers are well supported by carefully chosen evidence from credible sources. 

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards as students read literature and informational text about the use of DDT. 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 4: Geography, Humans, and the Environment: The relationship between human populations and the physical world (people, places, and environments); impact of human activities on the environment; interactions between regions, locations, places, people, and environments.
  • Theme 9: Science, Technology, and Innovation: Applications of science and innovations in transportation, communication, military technology, navigation, agriculture, and industrialization.

Social Studies Practices, Geographic Reasoning, Grades 5-8:

  • Descriptor 2: Describe the relationships between people and environments and the connections between people and places (page 58).
  • Descriptor 3: Identify, analyze, and evaluate the relationship between the environment and human activities, how the physical environment is modified by human activities, and how human activities are also influenced by Earth's physical features and processes.

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

  • Descriptor 1: Define and frame questions about events and the world in which we live and use evidence to answer these questions.
  • 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 4: Describe and analyze arguments of others.
  • Descriptor 6: Recognize an argument and identify evidence that supports the argument; examine arguments related to a specific social studies topic from multiple perspectives; deconstruct arguments, recognizing the perspective of the argument and identifying evidence used to support that perspective. 


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
Frightful's Mountain
by Jean Craighead George
One per student
ISBN: 978-0141312354, 0141312351

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

Invite writers of editorials or opinion pieces to speak to students about their process for writing and the most important aspects of writing position papers.


Consider having students submit their position papers to a local newspaper as a way to contribute to their community's dialogue about the use of pesticides. 

A presentation of students' scientific posters to stakeholders in the community: scientists, farmers, policy makers, etc. 

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