In this first unit, students are introduced the development of the adolescent brain. They first will learn the basic biology of the brain, focusing on three key aspects of brain development: the prefrontal cortex, the limbic system, and changing neurons. Through a variety of sources, including text, video, and interactive Web sites, they learn that the adolescent brain is growing in a dynamic and unique way. With each source, they will practice analyzing the main idea and supporting details. They also will compare how the same ideas are presented in text and visual formats. This prepares them for their mid-unit assessment, which centers on analyzing the main idea in a video and comparing the video to a text (SL.7.2 and RI.7.7).
After the mid-unit assessment, students will begin to examine more specifically, the effects of screen time on the developing brain. They will grapple with a challenging text, which will help them examine the possible positive and negative effects of being “plugged in.” Through carefully designed close readings, students will continue to analyze the main idea and supporting details presented in this text while building their stamina and capacity for a complex text. To help personalize these difficult concepts, in each lesson students will return to an audio slideshow where they hear the voices of students who are immersed in the digital world. Then they read a profile of a student who typifies the positives and negative effects of being “plugged in.” For the end of unit assessment, students will analyze the main idea and supporting ideas in a text that links digital media, brain development, and adolescent behavior (RI.7.1, RI.7.5, and RI.7.6).