Finding Relevant Information and Asking Research Questions: The Benefits of Video Games | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M4A:U2:L4

Finding Relevant Information and Asking Research Questions: The Benefits of Video Games

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can conduct short research projects to answer a question. (W.7.7)
  • I can generate additional questions for further research. (W.7.7)

Supporting Targets

  • I can generate strong supporting research questions.
  • I can gather relevant evidence from "The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games."

Ongoing Assessment

  • Thinking Log from Lesson 3 (from homework)
  • Researcher's notebook, section 1 (completed for homework)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Thinking Log: Personal Reflection on Video Game Use (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Introducing the Overarching Research Question: Reviewing the Researcher's Roadmap and Notebook (10 minutes)

B. "The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games" (17 minutes)

C. Supporting Research Questions (8 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Adding to the Brain Development Anchor Chart (5 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Complete Section 1 of the researcher's notebook.

  • Today's lesson is students' formal introduction to the overarching research question of the unit: "What are the potential benefits and risks of entertainment screen time, particularly to the development of teenagers?" The overarching research question serves as the "big idea" for students' research; it will serve as the lens through which the research is focused, as the focus questions have done in previous writing assignments. The overarching research question should be referred to regularly throughout instruction as a means of anchoring students' work.
  • In turn, students are responsible for generating original supporting research questions. These are specific, smaller questions that will direct their inquiry, and later their position paper and presentation.
  • The researcher's roadmap and researcher's notebook build from those used in Modules 2A and 2B, and the lesson is written as a review of their use. However, if this is the first time your students have seen these materials, consider how the lesson might be adapted to become a full introduction to the roadmap and notebook.
  • For the first few lessons in the research arc, students will work specifically with pro-screen time argumentative texts as their source as they hone their research skills. Later, they will do the same with anti-screen time texts. Finally, they will have an opportunity to find and use other sources in their research.
  • Encourage students to return to the original texts at any point for any clarification they require. Returning to the text consistently is a "habit of mind" that should be emphasized.
  • Note that at this point, students are using the researcher's notebook to develop a background level of knowledge, as they learn and capture information about the issue. They are not yet gathering information to answer specific questions.
  • The "Questions I Now Have" section does not necessarily relate specifically to this text; the questions are sparked in some way by this reading and can be used for future research but are not necessarily answerable by this specific reading.
  • For text selections in the researcher's notebooks, a teacher guide has been provided for you in the supporting materials of this lesson. Once students transition to finding their own research texts, informally assess students' notebooks to be sure they are taking accurate notes.
  • In advance:

-   Review the researcher's roadmap and researcher's notebook, especially if your students are being introduced to these materials for the first time. Consider how the researcher's notebook should be stored--in a binder, a folder, or other means of keeping multiple pages connected and organized.

-   At your discretion, assign specific students to read these three sections of the text:

  • "Computers are the most important tools of modern society ..."
  • "Research refutes the frightening myths ..."
  • "Video games have been shown to have many positive effects ..."

-   Review the GoGoMo protocol (see Appendix) for Work Time B.

  • Post:

-   Learning targets

-   Researcher's roadmap chart

-   Overarching Research Question anchor chart


overarching research question, supporting research questions


  • Thinking Logs (from Unit 1, Lesson 2)
  • Overarching Research Question anchor chart (new; teacher-created)
  • Researcher's roadmap (one per student and one to display as an anchor chart)
  • Researcher's notebook (one per student and one to display)
  • Teacher Guide: Researcher's notebook (answers, for teacher reference)
  • Sticky notes
  • "The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games" (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Research Questions Selected Response (one to display)
  • Brain Development anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 2)
  • Model Brain Development anchor chart (for teacher reference)



A. Thinking Log: Personal Reflection on Video Game Use (5 minutes)

  • Have students take out their Thinking Logs.
  • Cold call two or three students to briefly share their answers from the homework in Lesson 3.
  • Then, have students answer the Questions for Unit 2, Lesson 4:

*    "What role do video games play in your life? How often do you play them? With whom? What in your view are the benefits of playing video games?

  • Ask for students to volunteer their answers. Conduct a brief whole-class discussion based on their responses.
  • Wrap up by letting students know they will read about video games today and asking them to be mindful of how the reading supports, or perhaps contradicts, their personal experience with video games.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Introducing the Overarching Research Question: Reviewing the Researcher's Roadmap and Notebook 
(10 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the Overarching Research Question anchor chart posted in the classroom and read it aloud. Distribute the researcher's roadmap, researcher's notebook,and sticky notes. Remind students that these materials should look familiar to them, as they used them during Module 2. Give them 3 or 4 minutes to look over the materials to refresh their memories, using sticky note codes to flag places where they have questions or observations they want to share with the class.
  • Share out questions and observations.
  • Invite students to look at the researcher's roadmap (use theposter-size roadmap as a visual reference). Say:

*    "You'll remember that the roadmap gives researchers specific steps to follow. What steps have we already accomplished as a class so far? Where do you think we need to go next?"

  • Listen for students to identify that the class has set a purpose for the research through the overarching research question and that the class as a whole has been working on Step 2, using the brain science articles they read in Unit 1. Clarify, if needed, that Step 3 is yet to arrive, but that soon students will be branching out into finding and using other resources.
  • Think about how you might shape the brief presentation of the overarching research question to generate engagement and excitement. Students could rise and recite the question dramatically; technology may be used to create a visually engaging PowerPoint slide for display during the research; or you may have established classroom chants or response protocols that would work here.
  • Sticky note codes are a way to mark up the text without obscuring the text itself with handwriting. Places where students have questions can be marked with a "?"; observations can be marked with a "!" or with a drawing of an eye or asterisk.
  • Questions during Work Time A that the students want to discuss should serve to elucidate or clarify the materials only. Students can place larger questions about the project itself on a Parking Lot chart for future reference, or you may address them individually after class or during independent work time.

B. "The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games" (17 minutes)

  • Distribute "The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games" and display a copy under the document camera. Ask students to open their researcher's notebook to Section 1.
  • Let them know you'll read the first four paragraphs together in class, and then split off to read the next three sections independently.
  • Read the first paragraph aloud, having students read along silently in their heads as you do so. As you read, briefly define any words that you feel may be confusing to your students. Have them jot down those definitions on their texts.
  • Ask students to underline the sentence that seems to capture the gist of the paragraph. They may confer with a partner while they do this.
  • Have students share out their answers. Correct answers may vary; listen for any sentence that captures the idea that children naturally and independently make good choices in how they spend their leisure time.
  • Repeat the read-aloud and gist underline for the second paragraph.
  • Have students share out their answers. Listen for: "Children are suffering from too much adult control over their lives."
  • Repeat the read-aloud and gist underline for the third paragraph.
  • Have students share out their answers. Listen for: "Kids who are free really know what's best for them."
  • Repeat the read-aloud and gist underline for the fourth and final paragraph.
  • Have students share out their answers. Listen for answers that capture the idea that self-chosen activities, such as computer time, are more valuable to the students' learning than forced activities.
  • Display the researcher's notebook under the document camera. Note that the heading information for this text has been filled in for them this time, and briefly review it. Later, students will be expected to do this on their own.
  • Tell students that you are now going to give them a challenge: to take the four gist sentences and synthesize them into one note to place in their researcher's notebook. Give them the option to work in pairs or triads as they do this.
  • As they work, circulate and offer assistance where necessary. Note the strongest examples and ask for permission to share them under the document camera. Look for answers that summarize the claim that children who are given freedom in their choice of leisure time, such as on computers, will naturally find meaningful learning in it; students may need assistance in making this specific connection.
  • Share the strongest student work under the document camera. Have students correct or modify their own answers if need be. Confirm that this summarized statement is the claim of the text.
  • Ask students to read their assigned sections independently. Point out that the title of each section is a separate reason that supports the claim. (Alternatively, have students identify this pattern on their own.)
  • Due to time constraints, students will skim their sections and find one supporting piece of evidence for the claim in the title. Once found, they should write it in their researcher's notebooks.
  • Have the students stand, bringing a writing utensil and their researcher's notebooks, and engage in the Give One, Get One, Move On protocol until everyone has had a chance to write down one or two more key ideas from the text.
  • As students work with the researcher's notebook in this lesson and future ones, use the Teacher Guide: Researcher's Notebook as a reference guide. (Note that students may provide different, but still accurate answers; the teacher's version is meant as a guide only).
  • "The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games" is quite long but generally very accessible in terms of vocabulary and syntax. Work Time B is intended to facilitate a common sharing of the information found in the article that is efficient and accurate. Consider assigning smaller or less complex sections to students with emergent literacy. Of the three assigned to students in this work time, "Video games have been shown to have many positive effects ..." is the shortest; the first paragraph of "Computers are the most important tools of modern society ..." has the least complex vocabulary and syntax.

C. Supporting Research Questions (8 minutes)

  • Congratulate students on their hard work up to this point.
  • Inform them that they are now going to draft some supporting research questions. Display the Research Questions Selected Response on the document camera. Ask which criteria they would choose. Listen for: "a, c, and e." Lead a brief whole-class discussion on why b and d are not appropriate answers. Listen for: "Long and/or complicated questions actually bog the research process down and make it harder."
  • Cold call two or three students:

*    "Let us know the most interesting or important fact you came across in the article we read today."

  • Choose one of these answers to model writing a supporting research question under the document camera. For example:

*    "I see that the author says that people claim that video games can contribute to violence, but he doesn't give any specific evidence about that. I want to look into that more. So I write: 'What research has been done on the link between video games and violence?' Then, I check: 'Is my question specific? Is it relevant? Is it answerable?'"

  • Have students complete drafts of at least one supporting research question individually, based on their notes. Circulate and offer assistance where needed.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Adding to the Brain Development Anchor Chart (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the class Brain Development anchor chart and let them know that together the class will connect the thinking in the lesson text to the brain science they learned in Unit 1. Tell them that when they do this, now and in future lessons, they will record their connections in the researcher's notebook as you record them on the anchor chart, using the "if/then" format.
  • Discuss how the "if/then" format works in reverse in Unit 2. Instead of starting with the brain science and connecting it to its results in the real world, the texts begin with real-world arguments about screen time; students must think about how those arguments might connect to teen brain science.
  • Model (using the Model Brain Development anchor chart as a guide for yourself):

*    "If it is true that children learn more from self-chosen learning, such as on computers, then this might be because of the bigger shot of dopamine the teen brain gets in rewarding situations."

*    "If teens play video games, then their working memory and visuospacial skills (or neurons) increase, according to studies."

  • The modeling of these connections will be very straightforward for the first few lessons; then, in a gradual release model, students will eventually create "if/then" connections independently in their researcher's notebooks.


  • Complete Section 1 of the researcher's notebook.

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