Developing an Opinion: The Importance of Water Conservation | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G3:M4:U2

Developing an Opinion: The Importance of Water Conservation

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In Unit 2, students build on their knowledge of the three water issues begun in Unit 1--access to water, demands on water, and water pollution--to develop an opinion on the importance of conserving water.In the first half of the unit, they read new texts and compare the point of view of the authors to their own point of view about water. In the second half of the unit, students research actions to help solve the water issues and consider the importance of solving these issues. Then, with teacher guidance, students write an opinion essay using the Painted Essay(r) structure about the importance of conserving water through the lens of water pollution, drawing from their research throughout the module so far. For the End of Unit 2 Assessment, students plan and write a new opinion essay about the importance of conserving water through the lens of demand for water.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • 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 T's

  • Topic: Developing an Opinion: The Importance of Water Conservation
  • Task: For the mid-unit assessment, students read a new text and answer selected-response questions, comparing the point of view of the author to their own point of view. For the end of unit assessment, students plan and write an opinion essay about the importance of conserving water.
  • Targets (standards explicitly taught and assessed): RI.3.1, RI.3.6, W.3.1, W.3.4, L.3.1b, L.3.5a
  • Texts: One Well: The Story of Water on Earth, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, "Real Lives: Angola, Africa," "Dry Days in Australia"

Assessment

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.

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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 by 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 work to contribute to a better world, taking care of and improving the environment and applying their learning to help the environment when planning and writing their opinion essays

Unit-at-a-Glance

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend text is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across both components of this curriculum: module lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy block.

In this unit, students continue to read research texts independently for homework and engage in frequent research reading shares during the module lesson for accountability.

Supporting English Language Learners

The Meeting Students' Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and some supports can serve a wide range of student needs. However, ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are specifically identified as "For ELLs" in the Meeting Students' Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: To prepare for the Unit 2 assessments, consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 2-3, which establish the routine for comparing and contrasting point of view and include a two-day Language Dive; and Lessons 7-11, which focus on planning an opinion essay and writing each paragraph. Be sure to complete the Language Dive in Lesson 5. If necessary, consider placing less focus on and condensing instruction in Lessons 1 and 12, which provide helpful feedback for students but don't introduce as many new concepts.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in Language Dives in Lessons 2, 3, and 5. These Language Dives support ELLs and all students in deconstructing, reconstructing, and practicing the meaning and structures of sentences from The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind and the Model Opinion Essay: Access to Water. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. Refer to the Tools page for additional information on Language Dives.
  • Conversation Cues: Encourage productive and equitable conversation with Goals 1-4 Conversation Cues (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O'Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O'Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K-6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to the Tools page for additional information on Conversation Cues.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students continue to explore and discuss the topics of water access, water pollution, and demands on water throughout One Well, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and other informational texts. Be sensitive to students' experiences and perspectives on these topics and foster inclusive action by creating space for students to express their feelings about issues embedded in the text, while being aware that these discussions may unearth trauma or social stigma. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion.
  • Literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases: The two-day Language Dive in Lessons 2-3 of this unit supports students in distinguishing between the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases by focusing on a sentence from The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind that uses nonliteral language. Encourage students to notice nonliteral meanings of words and phrases throughout other parts of their day as well, in conversations and texts from other subject areas.
  • Writing opinion essays: Students receive explicit instruction in how to craft an opinion essay: introductory paragraph, focus statement with Points 1 and 2, body paragraphs, and concluding paragraph. Students use the Painted Essay(r) format. Students who are still trying to comprehend the language itself may also need additional support to grasp this organizational structure. Use color-coding and manipulatives inspired by the Painted Essay(r) routines, such as paragraph strips, to support this skill. Also, this essay structure may be different from the text structure students may be familiar with in their home languages. Compare and contrast home language text structure whenever possible.
  • Regular and irregular plural nouns: The Language Dive in Lesson 5 invites students to identify and form both regular and irregular plural nouns. Students then receive explicit instruction in forming and using regular plural nouns in Lesson 8, and in forming and using irregular plural nouns in Lesson 11. This instruction will benefit ELLs by preparing them for the work they will do in revising their opinion essays during the module lessons, as well as preparing them for their revisions in the end of unit assessment. Support students by providing additional practice with regular and irregular plural nouns, including playing a regular and irregular plural noun practice game suggested in the Meeting Students' Needs column in Lessons 8 and 11. Additionally, encourage students to identify regular and irregular plural nouns throughout other parts of their day and add them as examples on the Regular and Irregular Plural Nouns anchor charts introduced in the module lessons.
  • Linking words and phrases: In the second half of the unit, students receive explicit instruction in identifying and using linking words and phrases. This instruction will benefit ELLs by preparing them for the work they will do in revising their opinion essays during the module lessons, as well as preparing them for their revisions in the end of unit assessment. Support students by providing additional practice with linking words and phrases as necessary. Additionally, encourage students to use varying linking words and phrases throughout the unit in their speaking, as well as in their writing.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual assets that ELLs bring to the classroom.
  • Strategic grouping: Since students work with partners to plan informative essays and to practice reading fluency, seriously consider matching ELLs to a partner who has greater language proficiency. The conversations that happen as a result of such strategic pairing will greatly serve the language development of both partners. During reading fluency practice, more proficient readers can provide helpful feedback to students who are less confident.
  • Language processing time: Give ELLs sufficient time to think about what they want to say before they share with other students or write.
  • Writing and essay organization: Students receive explicit instruction in how to craft an informational essay: introductory paragraph, focus statement, proof paragraphs, and concluding paragraph. Students use the Painted Essay(r) format. Students who are still trying to comprehend the language itself may also need additional support grasping this organizational structure. Use color-coding and manipulatives inspired by the Painted Essay(r) routines, such as sentence strips, to support this skill. Also, this essay structure may be different from the text structure students may be familiar with in their home languages. Compare and contrast home language text structure whenever possible.
  • Analyzing figurative language and determining main idea: Students participate in two close reading sessions during which they will hone their comprehension and interpretive skills by analyzing figurative language and determining details that support the main idea of text. Students will complete a series of note-catchers to help them process these concepts. It may be difficult for some students to grasp the concepts behind figurative language. Many students may need additional support to comprehend literal language, so figurative language may seem abstract to them. Spend additional time unpacking the meaning of figurative phrases.

Texts to Buy

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


Text Quantity ISBNs
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

Materials

The following is an outline of the work students complete in each component:

    • Additional Work with Complex Text: Students reread "Real Lives: Angola, Africa" to explain the issue of clean water and a solution. They also work on identifying and/or distinguishing the author's point of view from their own.
    • Reading and Speaking Fluency/GUM: Students reread "Real Lives: Angola, Africa" from module lessons for fluency and accuracy. They self-assess their fluency, set goals, and practice reading it, including reading the punctuation.
    • Writing Fluency: Students write an opinion paragraph on whether it is worthwhile for third-graders to study water issues.
    • Word Study and Vocabulary: Students analyze two academic vocabulary words (drinkable and constructing) and their affixes (using Vocabulary Trees).
    • Independent Reading: Students build independent reading stamina of both research reading and free choice texts.

Technology and Multimedia

  • Project Wet - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts about the importance of conserving water.
  • The Water Project - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts and view videos about the water cycle.
  • EPA Water Sense Kids: Simple Ways to Save Water - Additional reading and research: Students read additional information about saving water.
  • Water Use it Wisely: 100+ Ways to Conserve Water - Additional reading and research: Students read additional texts about saving water.
  • Prezi - Creating a multimedia presentation: Students use Prezi to create their multimedia presentations instead of slideshow software.

Additional Language and Literacy 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.

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions

Community: 

Invite members of the community, family members, or teachers to come into the classroom to share their experience of issues related to water.

Experts:

  • Invite a person from the Department of Water to come into the classroom and discuss with the students the efforts being made to keep the state or city's water accessible, clean, and conserved.
  • Invite members of a water conservation group to come in and share their work to preserve local water sources.

Fieldwork:

  • Go to a water treatment center and investigate how water is cleaned.
  • Go to a local stream or river with an expert naturalist to explore how pollution has affected a local site.
  • Measure and monitor pollution at a local water resource.

Service:

  • Adopt a local stream.
  • Create water issue fliers about each challenge to water for students to distribute locally at various sites: grocery stores, gas stations, libraries, etc.
  • Participate in water pollution cleanup opportunities around a local water resource.
  • Fund-raise for an access-to -water project.

Extension opportunities for students seeking more challenge:

Invite students to find additional text- or web-based materials to support their research of possible solutions.

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