Analyzing a Model Position Paper: “Facebook: Not for Kids” | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M4A:U3:L1

Analyzing a Model Position Paper: “Facebook: Not for Kids”

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can identify the argument and specific claims in a text. (RI.7.8)
  • I can evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text for sound reasoning and relevant, sufficient evidence. (RI.7.8)
  • I can accurately use seventh-grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas. (L.7.6)

Supporting Targets

  • I can determine the central ideas in the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids."
  • I can identify the argument and specific claims in the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids."
  • I can identify the academic vocabulary in the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids."

Ongoing Assessment

  • Getting the gist of the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids"
  • Position Paper Planner for model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids"


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

A. Entry Task: Writing Improvement Tracker, Module 4A Reflections (7 minutes)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (3 minutes)

2.  Work Time

A. Examining a Model Position Paper: First Read and Partner Discussion (20 minutes)

B. Analyze the Model Paper Using the Argument Rubric 
(11 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

A. Exit Ticket: What Will Be the Most Difficult Aspect of Writing This Paper? (2 minutes)

B. Review Homework (2 minutes)

4.  Homework

A.  Look through your research and identify three reasons you will address in your position paper.

B.  Reread the model and underline where the author explained the brain science specifically.

  • This lesson begins the scaffolding toward writing a draft of the position paper, a type of argument essay that will be the Mid-Unit 3 Assessment in Lesson 5. Students must be able to write a clear and coherent position paper (W.7.1). Being able to share their understanding of the arguments they read about in Unit 2 and creating an argument that supports claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence are important skills. Writing about what they have read is enjoyable for students, since they will now want to share their well-reasoned arguments with an audience.
  • In the design of this lesson and the lessons that follow, the following criteria were used to define argument writing, as first introduced in Module 2A/2B:

-   The goal of argument writing is for the reader to acknowledge the validity of the claim (not necessarily be persuaded by it).

-   Appropriate evidence is used and analyzed logically to support the claim. This evidence is usually organized to support specific reasons, which in turn support the claim.

-   The author considers the reasons and evidence before articulating the claim.

-   The author acknowledges a counterargument in his or her writing.

  • Since students have written a literary analysis essay in Module 1, an argument essay in Module 2A/2B, and a text analysis in Module 3, they have already been introduced to how to plan and write an essay. Therefore, less scaffolding is provided in Unit 3.
  • In Unit 2, students were introduced to the prompt and made the claim they will write about in their position paper.
  • The model position paper is based on the prompt: "You are part of the Children and Media Expert Advisory Committee. Your job is to help the American Academy of Pediatrics revisit the recommendation that children over the age of two should spend no more than two hours a day on entertainment screen time. After examining both the potential benefits and risks of entertainment screen time, particularly to the development of the adolescent brain, make a recommendation. Should the AAP raise the recommended daily entertainment screen time from two hours to four hours?"--but addresses increasing the age of legal use of Facebook, as opposed to making a recommendation to the AAP. The model was intentionally written about a similar content; however, the model position paper does not use options in the prompt so as not to provide similar evidence, examples, and information that the student position paper will use. There will be some crossover with the brain science.
  • The writing process for the position paper is similar to that of Module 2A/2B. The rubric for this assignment is based closely on the New York State Grades 6-8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric. Because the students are already familiar with this rubric, the analysis will not be as in-depth as in previous modules.
  • To provide support, and to remind students that producing thoughtful writing includes revisions (W.7.5), students return to their Writing Improvement Tracker, used in Module 2A/2B, and 3A. They will return to it multiple times in this unit. The purpose of this is to develop students' awareness of their strengths and challenges, as well as ask students to strategize to address their challenges. Self-assessment and goal-setting helps students take ownership of their learning. The purpose of this tracker is for students to reflect on their growth as writers across modules.
  • Be sure students have their Writing Improvement Trackers, and/or go to or to locate copies of this tracker and print it out for students again. To begin, students review the reflections they completed during Modules 1-3, start the Reflection on Module 4A in this lesson, and then complete it in Lesson 10. Since this is the last formal writing of the year, consider what students will do with the completed Writing Improvement Tracker when they finish in order to encourage continued reflection.
  • Students need to know the content well and understand the structure of the paper they are writing. This lesson focuses on understanding the structure of the paper they will write through the lens of the model position paper. Students have already become content "experts" in Units 1 and 2.
  • Students first read the model paper "Facebook: Not for Kids" as a reader, much the same way they have read other informational texts throughout this module, using an Argument note-catcher. Examining the model position paper first as a reader provides students with a working example of how to structure their content before they begin writing. As part of analyzing the model position paper, students will deconstruct the model essay using the same Position Paper Planner that they will begin to use to plan their own writing in Lesson 2. Note that they receive a separate "Model Position Paper Planner" since it has a different focus question than they will have for their own writing. Note that there are two questions at the end of the planner about feedback. Students can ignore those questions for this lesson (however, they will be important on students' own planners later on).
  • Consider posting the Building an Argument Essay poster from Module 2A/2B. This may be helpful for your more visual learners.
  • In advance:

-   If you collected the researcher's notebook in Unit 2, Lesson 18 for assessment, have it ready to return to students today.

-   Make sure students can access their reflections (Writing Improvement Tracker) from Module 3.

-   Read the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids."

-   Post: Learning targets; Building an Argument Essay poster from Module 2A/2B: Unit 1, Lesson 13 (optional).


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  • Writing Improvement Tracker (begun in Module 1; students' own copies)
  • Model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids" (one per student)
  • Getting the Gist of the Model Position Paper (one per student)
  • Getting the Gist of the Model Position Paper (for teacher reference)
  • Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Model Position Paper Planner (one per student and one to display; see Teaching Notes)
  • Model Position Paper Planner (for teacher reference)
  • NYS Grades 6-8 Expository Writing Evaluation Rubric (position paper argument version) (one per student and one to display)
  • Document camera
  • Exit Ticket: What Will Be the Most Difficult Aspect of Writing This Paper? (one per student)
  • Researcher's notebook (from Unit 2, Lesson 4; returned with teacher feedback)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Entry Task: Writing Improvement Tracker, Module 4A Reflections (7 minutes)

  • As students enter the room, distribute the Writing Improvement Tracker.
  • Remind students that this tracker has helped them identify what strengths and challenges they have had in writing throughout the year.
  • Give students several minutes to reflect on and record their strengths and challenges.
  • Ask students to turn to a partner and share their strengths and challenges from the Module 3 essay. Ask them to also talk about how knowing their strengths and challenges will help them write their position paper on recommended screen time.
  • Call on several students to share both strengths and challenges.
  • Help the class notice that all writers have strengths and challenges, and one key to improving is having a strategy for tackling the challenges.
  • Developing self-assessment and reflection supports all students, helping them learn to be metacognitive about their learning. Metacognition, or the ability to understand one's own thought processes, includes the ability to monitor one's own learning. Learning how to learn helps all students, but it is often a missing ability in those who struggle.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Examining a Model Position Paper: First Read and Partner Discussion (20 minutes)

  • Remind students that they were introduced to the prompt for their position paper and made their claim during Unit 2. Today they will read a model paper that responds to a similar prompt.
  • Remind students that reading a model is an important part of learning process because it helps them know what is expected and it is an example of a good paper.
  • Distribute the model position paper "Facebook: Not for Kids" and the Getting the Gist of the Model Position Paper handout.
  • Read the model position paper aloud to students and ask them to read along silently.
  • Prepare students to read the model position paper a second time aloud. As students follow along, they should add details to the Getting the Gist handout. Remind them that "getting the gist" is about getting the main ideas, not about getting every detail. Assure students that they will examine the paper in further detail using the position paper planner and the Argument rubric. In addition, ask students to circle any words of which they are unsure.
  • Read the paper aloud for the second time.
  • Invite students to raise their hands to share details they found and wrote down.
  • Next, invite students to share any words they circled. List these words on the Domain-Specific Vocabulary anchor chart. Likely words include those identified above as vocabulary. If students do not mention these words, all of which are strong academic vocabulary, check to see that students understand the meaning.
  • Distribute and project the Position Paper Planner. Orient students to the six sections of the planner: the introduction, the three body paragraphs, the conclusion, and the counterclaim.
  • Read the introduction aloud one more time. Before you do so, ask students to go on a "treasure hunt" for the author's claim and reasoning, marking up the introduction as you read.
  • Cold call four students for their answers:

-   Claim: "The American Academy of Pediatrics should recommend that Facebook raise its minimum age to 18 so teens are on steadier 'neurological footing' before they begin to navigate the social world of Facebook." (Note to students that the claim is also introduced by the phrase "for these reasons," which gives a huge signal to the reader as to where the reasons for the claim are--in the sentences just before the claim.

-   Reasoning: "Because an adolescent brain has a developing prefrontal cortex, a highly sensitive risk and reward center, and is entering a period of dynamic growth, Facebook can be a particularly toxic when paired with the developing teen brain."

  • State that students should think about the reasons and evidence the author uses to support her claim. Model the analysis of the first paragraph for the students, saying something like:

*   "The author's first paragraph is all about how the undeveloped prefrontal cortex of a teen makes Facebook a dangerous place to be. On the planner, I'm going to note 'undeveloped prefrontal cortex makes foolish decisions likely on Facebook' as one of the reasons. I'm also going to fill in the topic sentence at this point."

*   "Now, as I look down the first column to see what else the planner wants me to notice, I see three places for 'Evidence' and three places for 'Analysis of Evidence.' I'm going to model the first one for you now. The paragraph first gives evidence about what happens when the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed yet--I'll note that as 'Evidence 1.' It's important, as you can see, to use an explanation of the brain science in your first piece of evidence so the rest of the paragraph makes sense. The paragraph then goes on to analyze, or explain, this evidence by using an "if/then" statement to show that this may result in a poor decision on Facebook. I'll note this in the 'Analysis of Evidence 1.'"

*   "Take a look here, too, at the cautious tone this paragraph uses. It doesn't say, 'Teens will make poor decisions online'; that prediction wouldn't be accurate, since we're only just learning about both brain science and how time online affects us. Instead, it says 'teens are more likely to make a foolish decision.' That's a big difference. You'll want to take this tone in your essays as well. We'll talk more about this as we go on in the unit."

  • Ask students to think about other reasons the author uses to support her claim. Have students turn and talk to a partner and write down reasons they found at the top of each of the Body Paragraphs sections of the planner. Call on students to share these reasons.
  • Invite students to work with a partner and fill in the rest of the planner from the model position paper.
  • Note two important points: Most, but not all, of the boxes on the planner need to be filled in, especially the "Analysis of Evidence" boxes (sometimes the evidence is clear enough on its own); and occasionally the same sentence can serve two functions and fill two boxes (for example, a piece of evidence that also concludes the paragraph). Ask pairs of students to join another pair in the class and share their planner. Have them circle any parts on which they disagree.
  • Refocus whole group and ask a representative from each of these four-student groups to report on any disagreements and help students clarify.


  • Consider redistributing the Writer's Glossary of the writing rubric used in other modules for students who still struggle with understanding the vocabulary words in the rubric.
  • Consider selecting students ahead of time to take on the role of responder to the cold call. Students who need practice in oral response or extended processing time can be told the prompt before class begins and prepare for their participation. This also allows for a public experience of academic success for students who may struggle with on-demand questioning, or for struggling students in general.


Closing & Assessments


A. Exit Ticket: What Will Be the Most Difficult Aspect of Writing This Paper? (2 minutes)

  • Distribute and ask students to complete the Exit Ticket: What Will Be the Most Difficult Aspect of Writing This Paper?
  • Collect students' exit tickets. You will have time to address these concerns in the Lesson 2, Work Time A.

B. Review Homework (2 minutes)

  • Distribute the researcher's notebook (if you collected it in Unit 2, Lesson 18) and tell students that their homework is to identify three reasons they will address in their position paper. They may use their researcher's notebook, anchor charts, neurologist notebooks, or thinking logs to help them.


  • Look through your research and identify three reasons you will address in your position paper.
  • Reread the model position paper and underline where the author explained the brain background specifically.

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