Introducing Module 4A; This is Your Brain-Plugged In | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M4A:U1:L1

Introducing Module 4A; This is Your Brain-Plugged In

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of informational text. (RI.7.1)
  • I can determine a theme or the central ideas of informational text. (RI.7.2)
  • I can analyze the organization of an informational text (including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas). (RI.7.5)
  • I can analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in different media and formats. (SL.7.2)

Supporting Targets

  • I can analyze photos, videos, and quotes to find a main idea.
  • I can determine important ideas in the article "Teens and Decision Making."
  • I can analyze the basic structure of an informational text.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Notices and Wonders note-catcher



AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A.  Entry Task (8 minutes)

B.  Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A.  Gallery Walk (10 minutes)

B.  "Teens and Decision Making" (20 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A.  Introducing the Neurologist's Notebook (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

A.  Read "The Teen Brain--It's Just Not Grown Up Yet" and use the questions that are to the right of the text to help you synthesize your learning. Fill out neurologist's notebook #1.

  • This lesson introduces students to Module 4A: This Is Your Brain--Plugged In. Students consider a short video and then participate in a modified Gallery Walk to preview and connect the learning that will follow in future lessons.
  • The Gallery Walk protocol has been modified, since its purpose here is to pique interest and curiosity, not to share text-based information. Students carefully and silently study the display of video and images, and then record observations and questions to help build background knowledge, foster community, and spark curiosity. Building background knowledge in this way promotes equity, since it "levels the playing field" for students--no matter what level of knowledge students have about the topic when they walk in, all get to learn before sharing with peers. Some of the Gallery Walk items are suggestions; se your judgment about which items to post.
  • The success of this lesson depends on building suspense and piquing students' interest. Therefore, do not give away too much information about the module, its texts, or its themes until the class has completed the Gallery Walk.
  • Students will revisit the Gallery Walk in Lesson 7, as they think back on what they have learned in Unit 1 and what questions they still have that will inform their research in Unit 2. In Lesson 7, students will again use their Notices and Wonders note-catcher from this lesson; be sure they have a place to keep the completed note-catcher until then, or consider keeping the note-catchers for the class and returning them during Lesson 7.
  • This lesson ends with a read-aloud of one of the building background knowledge texts for this module. Students will return to this text in Lessons 2 and 3. Today they will focus on noticing the structure specifically. This will help them use the structure of the informational texts they read later in the unit to help them determine meaning (RI.7.5).
  • Throughout the unit, students will use a variety of strategies, both in class and as homework, to process new vocabulary, including a Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart, which is introduced here in Lesson 1.
  • For homework, the students will read a text and complete their first entry in their neurologist's notebook, which they will come back to throughout the unit. The neurologist's notebook, which captures main ideas and supporting details, focuses on RI.7.2 and helps to scaffold toward the necessary skills for SL.7.2. Because this is the fourth module of the year and the fourth time students have completed readers' notes of this kind, students should be able to grapple with these notes on their own. In Lesson 3 you will have a chance to address any misunderstandings.
  • In the neurologist's notebook the terms "supporting idea" and "supporting detail" are used interchangeably. This is intentional. Although "detail" is the more common term, in many of the texts they read, students must synthesize many facts together to articulate the supporting idea. The word "idea" is there to signal that it should be a summation of evidence and not just one fact.
  • Collecting the neurologist's notebook each day will allow for ongoing formative assessment. Answers for teacher reference will accompany each neurologist's notebook entry in this unit. Look for this document in the supporting materials immediately following the neurologist's notebook.
  • This lesson focuses on SL.7.2 and RI.7.2: students interact with different media and texts to find main ideas, supporting ideas, and details. SL.7.2 is a new standard and will be emphasized throughout Unit 1.
  • In advance:

-   Read the building background knowledge texts that will be used throughout Unit 1 (see Unit 1 Overview).

-   Prepare the Gallery Walk:

  • Most items are for display around the room (on chart paper or taped to the wall)--some items are images and others are quotes.
  • Post or place the items in a way that will allow students to move freely and comfortably from one item to the next.
  • Item 1 is a short video, which students will watch together as a class. In Lesson 7, you will display it on a computer.

-   Review the Gallery Walk protocol (see Appendix).

  • Post: Learning targets.


main idea, neurological development, central idea, supporting details; (from "Teens and Decision Making") neurons (para. 3), electrochemical impulse (para. 3), neurotransmitters, (para. 3) prefrontal cortex (para. 6), limbic system (para. 6); (from homework) neurologist, pediatric neurologist, neuroscientists, frontal lobes, myelin or "white matter," neural insulation, brain chemistry, cognitive deficits, cognitive baseline


  • Notices and Wonders note-catcher (one per student)
  • "I Forgot My Phone" (video;
  • Digital projector
  • Gallery Walk items (for teacher reference; print and post items in advance)
  • Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart (new; teacher-created)
  • "Teens and Decision Making: What Brain Science Reveals" (one per student)
  • Model Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart (for teacher reference)
  • Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer (model, for teacher reference)
  • Neurologist's notebook #1 (one per student)
  • "Teen Brain--It's Just Not Grown Up Yet": Text and Questions (one per student)
  • Neurologist's notebook #1 (answers; for teacher reference)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task (8 minutes)

  • Tell students that today they will participate in a Gallery Walk, during which they will listen to and examine diverse media (images, quotes, video) to better understand what this module will be about.
  • Distribute the Notices and Wonders note-catcher. Explain that during the Gallery Walk today, students should write anything they observe or that is new or interesting in the Notices column. Remind them this is not a space for judging the materials or giving their opinion. Rather, it is a space for observations. They also may find some of the information surprising or may have questions that are not answered in the image or quote. They can write these questions in the Wonders column. Tell them they also should try to figure out what they will learn about in this new module.
  • Explain they are going to practice using the note-catcher together once as a class. During the Gallery Walk they will be doing this activity in silence.
  • Play the video "I Forgot My Phone" at with a digital projector. The video is about 2 minutes long.
  • Give students a few minutes to record their ideas on their Notices and Wonders note-catcher.
  • Ask students to turn and talk with a partner:

*   "What did you notice?"

*   "What did you wonder?"

  • Allowing students to discuss with a partner before writing or sharing with the whole class is a low-stress strategy to help them process in a risk-free situation.
  • Checking in with learning targets helps students self-assess their learning. This research-based strategy supports struggling learners most.

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (2 minutes)

  • Refocus whole class. Ask a student to read the first learning target aloud:

*   "I can analyze photos, videos, and quotes to find a main idea."

  • Ask students to turn and talk with a different partner:

*   "What do you think the main idea of this video is?"

*   "Based on the entry task, what do you think might be a main idea of the module?"

  • Tell students that as they participate in the Gallery Walk and listen to and examine diverse media (images, quotes, video), they will better understand what this module will be about.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Gallery Walk (10 minutes)

  • Review the Gallery Walk protocol with students as needed. Remind them of the norms for moving calmly around the room and moving to those images, quotes, and video where there are fewer classmates. Divide the class into small groups.
  • Give directions: Students will spend about 8 minutes silently wandering to each image, quote, or the video and writing down what they notice and what they wonder. They may linger at an item if they feel a need to do so. They need not worry about getting to all of them. Invite students to play the multimedia feature, which should already be on the class computer screen. Tell them that this feature runs about 2 minutes, but they do not have to stay for the whole 2 minutes.
  • Ask each small group to bring their Notices and Wonders note-catchers and a pen or pencil and stand by one of the Gallery Walk items.
  • Invite students to begin the Gallery Walk. Circulate to listen in and clarify procedures as needed. If all groups are working smoothly, consider participating in this step and writing your own Notices and Wonders.
  • After 8 minutes, invite students to sit and finish writing their thoughts. Focus them on the space at the bottom of the handout, where they can add to their initial thinking.
  • Refocus the whole group. Starting with Notices, allow students to "popcorn" discuss any of the ideas they have written down.
  • Repeat with Wonders, inviting students to discuss the questions that they have after the Gallery Walk.
  • Ask students to think silently about this question:

*   "What might the module be about?"

  • Have them turn and talk with their partner and share their idea.
  • Next, cold call students to share initial ideas and thoughts on what the module will be about.
  • Give students specific positive feedback for ways you saw them working well during the Gallery Walk or the discussion. Congratulate them for being willing to ask questions and think about information presented in diverse media; point out that this is something they will do a lot in this module.
  • Collect students' Notices and Wonders note-catcher (see Teaching Note; students will need these note-catchers again in Lesson 7).

B. "Teens and Decision Making" (20 minutes)

  • Share the title of the module with the students: "This Is Your Brain--Plugged In." Tell students that in Unit 2 they will concentrate more on the "plugged in" part of this module. Here, in Unit 1, their reading will center on the neurological development of teenagers. They will need to learn a lot about how the brain works before they can think about how the brain is affected by being "plugged in."
  • Briefly discuss the prefix "neuro-" (meaning "nerve") and encourage  students to look for words in their reading with that prefix.
  • Post the Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart and write the phrase "neurological development." Remind students that domain-specific vocabulary includes words that are not necessarily common in everyday conversation. Instead, they would hear these words when talking about specific content, as in science or social studies class. Complex informational text often contains lots of domain-specific vocabulary words. Connect the purpose of the anchor chart to the first word you have placed on it: neurological development. Model how you know the definition of that phrase by saying something like: "I know the word 'develop' means to  grow, and I know 'neuro' usually refers to the brain, so ..."
  • Distribute the "Teen and Decision Making: What Brain Science Reveals." Tell students it will give them important information regarding the adolescent brain. Today, they will hear this article read aloud as they read along in their heads. Set a clear purpose: Their task is to think about ideas in the article that seem important. Encourage students to underline any words they think are domain-specific words.
  • Read aloud the first eight paragraphs of "Teens and Decision Making"--which includes the introduction of this article as well as a section titled "The Teen Brain: Under Construction"--as students follow along in their heads.
  • Ask students to share any domain-specific vocabulary. Be sure they have identified neurons, electrochemical impulse, neurotransmitters, prefrontal cortex, and limbic system.
  • Prompt students to share what they think the definitions are and how they determined them. Remind students to reread the vocabulary in context. Point out that informational texts often restate the definition of a domain-specific word in a phrase right before or after the word (e.g., neurotransmitters). Write the answers on the anchor chart and clarify as needed by referring to the Model Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart (for teacher reference). Tell students they will continue to use this anchor chart throughout the module.
  • Distribute the Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer and use the document camera to display it. Explain that in Unit 1 students will be reading many informational texts. These texts, which often explain confusing topics, do so in a predictable way. Knowing a little about the structure of an informational text will help the students as readers and writers. They should think of it as a map. Knowing where you are on a map can help you make more sense of where you are going.
  • Tell students that complex texts, like this one, often require rereading. Reread the first two paragraphs. Pause and ask:

*   "What is the purpose of this paragraph? What is the writer trying to do?"

  • Listen for students to say that the author is using an anecdote or story to introduce his topic.
  • Write this information in the Introduction box of the Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer, referring to the Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer (model, for teacher reference) as needed.
  • Next, reread the third paragraph. Pause and ask:

*   "What is the purpose of this paragraph?"

*   "Has the author begun to explain his main idea yet?"

  • Listen for students to say that this paragraph gives some necessary background that the reader needs in order to understand the main idea. If necessary, prompt students to reread the title, which provides a clue about the focus of the article.
  • Point out the Background box on the Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer. Explain to students that authors often take a detour into some background information, especially when they are talking about a complex subject like the human brain. This little detour is not yet the main idea of the article, but it is very important to understanding the main idea. Write: "Brief history or background to give the reader context."
  • Reread the fourth paragraph. Pause and ask:

*   "What is the purpose of this paragraph?"

  • Listen for students to say that this paragraph connects the background to the main focus of the article--the way a teenager makes decisions. It acts as a "bridge." Prompt students with questions such as: "This is the end of introduction. What do we often find at the end of an introduction?"
  • Ask students to underline a sentence that points them toward the main idea. Prompt them to reread the title to make sure their sentence relates to the title. Remind them that as writers, they know that in the beginning of text, the writer will give the reader a focus or a thesis statement. Point out that in informational articles, the reader often has to read the whole thing before she or he can know the main idea for sure, but looking for hints along the way is good practice.
  • Have the students notice the subheadings. Explain that subheadings are a good sign they are entering a supporting chunk of information.
  • Reread the section titled "The Teen Brain: Under Construction." Identify helpful features of supporting idea/details paragraphs like quotes from experts. Refer to the Model Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer (for teacher reference)as needed.
  • After finishing, have students think about and then talk with a partner:

*   "Based on just this initial read, what are two important ideas from the article?"

  • Reiterate that they will work with this article again in Lesson 2, and their thinking certainly will deepen and change as they understand the text more fully.
  • When reviewing the graphic organizers or recording forms, consider using a document camera to display the document for students who struggle with auditory processing.
  • During read-alouds, read slowly, fluently, and without interruption or explanation while students look at the text and actively read. This promotes fluency and comprehension, because students are hearing and reading the text as a whole.
  • To further support ELL students, consider providing definitions of challenging vocabulary in students' home language. Resources such as Google Translate and bilingual translation dictionaries can assist with one-word translation.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Introducing the Neurologist's Notebook (5 minutes)

  • Tell students that while they are reading informational texts about the neurological development of teens, they will use a neurologist's notebook to write down the main ideas and details in the sections of text that they read for homework.
  • Distribute neurologist's notebook #1 and display a copy on the document camera. Remind students that they have kept similar types of reader's notebooks in other modules. Quickly discuss the meaning of the word neurologist with "-logos," meaning "knowledge or study of." Explain that this notebook is called the "neurologist's notebook" because that is what they are--people who study and learn all about the brain.
  • Review the structure and purpose of these notes. They first will read the article and then write down the main idea of what they read and any supporting details. Point out that this note-catcher mirrors the Informational Text Structure Map graphic organizer.
  • Ask students to think and discuss with a partner:

*   "What is a main idea, and what is a supporting idea/detail?"

  • Cold call on students to explain their thinking. Listen for them to define main idea, also called a central idea, as "what the article is mostly about" or "the big idea," and supporting details as "the smaller ideas and facts that explain and clarify the main idea," "reasons to support the main idea," and "facts or other information that relate to the main idea and make it clearer and more complete."
  • Point out that there will often be vocabulary words that are part of the reading. Sometimes the definitions will be given, but most of the time they will be words students must figure out based on context clues.
  • Answer any clarifying questions.
  • Distribute "The Teen Brain--It's Just Not Grown Up Yet": Text and Questions . Explain that the right-hand column of the paper will help them stop and think while they are reading.
  • Some students may benefit from having key sections pre-highlighted in their texts. This will help them focus on small sections rather than scanning the whole text for answers.



  • Read "The Teen Brain--It's Just Not Grown Up Yet" and use the questions that are to the right of the text to help you synthesize your learning. Fill out neurologist's notebook #1.

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