This eight-week module focuses on a “science and society” topic, engaging students in reading compelling informational text about adolescent brain development and the effects of entertainment screen time on the brain. In Unit 1, students first read various texts that will build their background knowledge about adolescent brain development in general. Their learning will center around three areas of the brain, namely the prefrontal cortex, the limbic system, and the developing neurons. Students determine main ideas and evidence in diverse media and clarify their learning about this complex content. Then they begin to focus on the issue of screen time and how it may affect teenagers.
In Unit 2, they begin to read argument texts. They trace arguments and evaluate the soundness of reasoning and the sufficiency and relevancy of evidence in the texts and media that they engage with in this unit. They dive deeper into first the potential benefits and then the potential risks of screen time by participating in a robust research project. To organize their research sources and information, students use a researcher’s notebook. Then students conduct Internet-based research. Throughout Unit 2, students engage in many conversations to synthesize and clarify their learning.
To help students grapple with this issue, the second half of Unit 2 introduces students to a modified decision-making process called Stakeholder Consequences Decision-Making (see the end of this document for details). This process will help students understand the implications of various choices and will scaffold their ability to determine, based on evidence and their own values, what they themselves believe should happen. Unit 3 marks the transition from research to writing as students plan and draft a position paper, addressing the question: “After examining both the potential benefits and risks of entertainment screen time, particularly to adolescent development, make a recommendation. Should the AAP raise the recommended daily entertainment screen time from two hours to four hours?” Students have several opportunities for feedback and revision during this unit. As a final performance task, students publish and share a visual representation of their position paper. This task centers on ELA standards RI.7.1, W.7.1, W.7.4, and L.7.6.