Water Around the World | EL Education Curriculum

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This module focuses on the importance of clean freshwater around the world. In Unit 1, students read the text One Well: The Story of Water on Earth to build background knowledge about freshwater around the world and the three issues they will read more about in Unit 2: access to water, demands on water, and water pollution. In Unit 2, students continue their study of the three issues related to water, this time reading different texts about each issue and comparing the point of view of the authors to their own point of view. In the second half of the unit, they add to the research begun in Unit 1 by rereading the module texts for solutions for each issue. Students then use the Painted Essay(r) structure to write an opinion essay about the importance of water conservation.

In Unit 3, students plan and create a video public service announcement to educate people about their chosen water issue and to encourage them to take action with specific recommendations to solve the problem. They write invitational letters to guests for the live launch of their video PSA. For the performance task, students present a live "launch" of the PSA (public service announcement) they created about a water issue. The presentation includes a personal reflection on why this issue is important and a brief description of the process of creating a public service announcement. This task centers on CCSS ELA RI.3.1, SL.3.4, SL.3.6, and L.3.3b.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • Why are the world's freshwater sources threatened?
    • Water is a finite resource.
    • The demands on water and water pollution threaten our freshwater sources.
  • Due to rainfall, freshwater is not distributed equally around the world. How do people persuade others to take action to contribute to a better world?
    • People persuade others to take action by explaining the issue with researched facts and evidence and by providing realistic, manageable solutions in an engaging and meaningful way.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: the importance of water conservation
  • Task: Students create a presentation for their PSA about a water issue.
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): RI.3.1, SL.3.4, SL.3.6, L.3.3b
  • Text: One Well: The Story of Water on Earth, Water Dance, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block of the school day. However, the module intentionally incorporates science content that many teachers may be teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

Next Generation Science Standards:

Life Science Performance Expectation:

  • 3-LS4-4
  • LS4.D

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's 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 module, students work to contribute to a better world by taking care of and improving the environment and by applying their learning to help the environment when planning and writing their opinion essays and creating their PSAs.


Each unit in the 3-5 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 their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Performance Task

Water PSA Live Launch Presentation

For this performance task, students work in pairs to share their learning about their chosen water issue's causes, effects, and potential solutions by unveiling their PSAs to an audience in a live launch. Before playing the video PSA, students deliver a presentation outlining why this issue is important to them and the process they followed to create it. This task addresses CCSS ELASL.3.4,SL.3.6, andL.3.3b.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Water Dance
by Thomas Locker
1 per class
ISBN: 9780152163969
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
1 per class
ISBN: 9780803735118
One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
by Rochelle Strauss
1 per student
ISBN: 9781553379546


Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

ALL Block

The Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block is 1 hour of instruction per day. It is designed to work in concert with and in addition to the 1-hour Grades 3-5 ELA "module lessons." Taken together, these 2 hours of instruction comprehensively address all the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

The ALL Block has five components: Additional Work with Complex Text; Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM (Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics); Writing Practice; Word Study and Vocabulary; and Independent Reading.

The ALL Block has three 2-week units which parallel to the three units of the module.

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