Research Access to Healthy Food | EL Education Curriculum

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In Unit 2, students are introduced to new research skills as they work together to research how GMOs impact access to healthy food. Students choose a second topic about access to food—pesticides, organic food, food deserts, or high-fructose corn syrup—and begin to conduct internet research independently. This prepares students for their mid-unit assessment, in which are given a new research question and are assessed on their research skills.

In the second half of Unit 2, students plan and draft an informative essay using the Painted Essay® structure, explaining how the topic they chose to research impacts access to healthy food. For their end of unit assessment, students prepare a short lesson to present their findings to their classmates and include visuals in their presentations.

Please note: For the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum, there are Teaching Notes for each unit that contain helpful information for supporting English language learners. These overview notes complement the more specific English language learner supports and differentiated materials within each lesson. You will find the Teaching Notes in the Unit download below.

CCS Standards

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Food Choices
  • Task: 
    • Research access to healthy food.
    • Write an informative essay about access to healthy food.
    • Present your findings to your classmates.
  • Targets: RI.8.1, RI.8.10, W.8.7, W.8.8, SL.8.4, SL.8.5, L.8.6
  • Texts: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, "Sticking Up for Coke, Sort Of" by Froma Harrop, "The Advantages and Disadvantages of Pesticides" by, "To GMO or NOT to GMO?" by George Erdosh and Marcia Amidon Lusted, "Food Desert" by Kara Rogers, "Organic Food" by Leslie A. Duram, "A Shock to the Food System" by Sid Perkins


Each unit in the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize students' understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to the EL Education curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this unit, students focus on working to become ethical people as they show compassion and empathy for those who may have different levels of access to healthy food choices. Students also focus on working to become effective learners as they show perseverance and collaboration to learn and practice new research and speaking skills.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 10-18 lessons. The Unit-at-a-Glance charts, available on the grade-level landing pages, break down each unit's lessons, showing CCS standards, agenda breakdown, daily learning targets, and ongoing assessments. The charts also indicate which lessons include mid- and end of unit assessments and the performance task.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts and resources that need to be procured. Please download the Required Trade Books and Resources Procurement List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
The Omnivore's Dilemma (Young Readers Edition)
by Michael Pollan
one per student
ISBN: 9781101993835

Preparation and Materials

Ensure that families are aware of the sensitive content of The Omnivore's Dilemma and the research topics, and prepare students who may be affected by this content in advance.

The case studies in this unit investigate healthy and sustainable food choices. Access to healthy foods often depends on affordability and location, and students and families may have varied access to healthy foods. As a result, these case studies may be sensitive for students to explore. The topic of high-fructose corn syrup may be a sensitive issue for students discovering its lack of nutritional value. Families may not be able to purchase foods without high-fructose corn syrup. The topic of food deserts may be sensitive for students and families who live in food deserts and do not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables, or students who were previously unaware of food deserts. Learning about pesticides, GMOs, and organic foods may be sensitive for students and families, especially those who may not have access to organic foods. As students study these topics, they may find some information to be shocking or upsetting. Allow time for students to process and respond to these topics during individual, small group, or full class discussion, and reach out to families as needed.

The following materials are introduced in this unit and referenced throughout both the module and the school year:

  • Researcher's Toolbox
  • Research Mini Lessons
  • Track Progress: Research

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