Reading Informational Texts: Expert Group Biographies | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G4:M1:U2:L7

Reading Informational Texts: Expert Group Biographies

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • RI.4.1: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
  • RI.4.3: Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
  • RI.4.4: Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
  • L.4.4: Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 4 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
  • L.4.4c: Consult reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation and determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can describe the life of my poet and explain what inspired him or her to write poetry. (RI.4.1, RI.4.3, RI.4.4, L.4.4)
  • I can cite evidence from the text to support the answers to my questions. (RI.4.1)

Ongoing Assessment

  • Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet (RI.4.1, RI.4.3, RI.4.4, L.4.4)
  • What Inspires Poets to Write Poetry? note-catcher (RL.4.5)

Agenda

AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Engaging the Reader: Selecting a Poet to Study (10 minutes)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Expert Group Work: Reading for Gist and Unfamiliar Vocabulary (10 minutes)

B. Expert Group Work: Close Reading, Poet Biographies (25 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Sharing Our Work (10 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • In this lesson, students form expert groups and read a biography about their selected poet to learn more about the life of their poet and what inspired him or her to write poetry (RI.4.1, RI.4.3, RI.4.4, L.4.4).
  • Students choose the poet to research and write about from the following choices: Robert Frost, Valerie Worth, and Walter Dean Myers. These are writers that students will be familiar with from Unit 1. The element of choice has been included here to give students ownership of the work that they will complete. It is important to allow students to make this choice as freely as possible, so they can connect with the second module guiding question: "What inspires writers to write poetry?" In Unit 3, students will write original poems inspired by the poet they choose to study. Group sizes need not be completely even. It is more important for students to feel excited about the poet they will be learning about and to have some choice.
  • Students may be familiar with other poets and therefore interested in researching more about these poets instead of the provided choices. Consider allowing students to choose a different poet to study and support them in doing so by finding information about the poet's life, what inspired him or her to write poetry, and his or her accomplishments.
  • In Work Time B, students follow an Expert Group Poet Guide to closely reread their poet's biography and complete the Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet. This note-catcher follows the same format as the Close Read Note-catcher: A River of Words, Author's Note from close reading in Lesson 6 (RI.4.1, RI.4.3, RI.4.4, L.4.4).
  • The close reading in this lesson is mostly student-led, so students work with their expert groups with teacher support where necessary. Because the Expert Group Poet Guide follows the same structure for each group, consider supporting students in pacing as they work through the guides.
  • In this unit, the habit of character focus is on working to become effective learners. The characteristic they practice in this lesson is initiative, because they will be working to together in expert groups to read their poet's biography.
  • Students practice their fluency in this lesson by reading their expert group poet's biography in Work Times A and B.
  • The research reading that students complete for homework will help build both their vocabulary and knowledge pertaining to poetry and what inspires people to write. By participating in this volume of reading over a span of time, students will develop a wide base of knowledge about the world and the words that help describe and make sense of it.

How it builds on previous work:

  • In Unit 1 and the first half of Unit 2, students thought about what inspired Jack and William Carlos Williams to write poetry. In this lesson, students begin to think about what inspires a different writer to write poetry.
  • The Expert Group Poet Guide and the Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet follow the same overall structure and format as the close reading guide and note-catcher used when students closely read about William Carlos Williams in the previous lesson.
  • Continue to use Goal 1 Conversation Cues to promote productive and equitable conversation.

Areas in which students may need additional support:

  • Some students may need additional support completing their Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet. Consider inviting those students to write key words or draw pictures to complete the note-catcher. Or consider drawing lines on these students' note-catchers to help them organize their notes.

Assessment guidance:

  • Throughout the close read, check in with students as they share their responses with their expert group in order to build knowledge collectively and clarify any misconceptions. As students are working, circulate to clarify misunderstandings and use these as teaching points for the whole group.
  • Check student learning by reading their completed note-catchers, as incorrect information on these will affect the factual accuracy of the informational essays they will write later in the unit.
  • Consider using the Reading: Foundational Skills Informal Assessment: Reading Fluency Checklist when students read their expert group's biography in Work Times A and B. See the Tools page.
  • Consider using the Speaking and Listening Informal Assessment: Collaborative Discussion Checklist during students' small group discussions in Work Times A and B. See the Tools page.

Down the road:

  • Students will continue adding to the Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet in Lesson 8. In that lesson, students will complete the "What evidence do you see of this in his or her poetry?" box of their note-catcher after analyzing poems by their poet. Later in the unit, they will use the note-catcher to write an informational essay about William Carlos Williams. Because of this, the "What evidence do you see of this in his or her poetry?", Focus Statement, and Reflection/Connection parts on the note-catcher should be left blank for now.

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • The following poems for display: "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "The Pasture," "dog," and "Love That Boy." These poems can be found in the back of Love That Dog.
    • Copies of the expert group biographies. Note that each student needs only a copy of his or her expert group poet's biography (see supporting materials).
    • Expert Group Poet signs. Write the name of each expert group poet on a piece of paper: Robert Frost, Valerie Worth, and Walter Dean Myers. Post in separate areas of the room.
    • Prepare a small label with each expert group text's text title to attach to a pin and place on the world map. This needs to be large enough to see, but not too large to cover up too much of the map.
  • Read the Expert Group Poet Guide in conjunction with the biographies in order to familiarize yourself with what will be required of the students.
  • Review the Thumb-O-Meter protocol. See Classroom Protocols.
  • Post: Learning targets, Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart, Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart, and Discussion Norms anchor chart

Tech and Multimedia

  • Work Time A and B: For students who will benefit from hearing the text read aloud multiple times, consider using a text-to-speech tool such as Natural Reader, SpeakIt! for Google Chrome, or the Safari reader. Note that to use a web-based text-to-speech tool such as SpeakIt! or Safari reader, you will need to create an online doc, such as a Google Doc, containing the text.
  • Work Time B: Students complete note-catchers using word-processing software--for example, a Google Doc--using Speech to Text facilities activated on devices, or using an app or software such as Dictation.io.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 4.I.B.6 and 4.I.B.8

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs with opportunities to read closely, and to determine the gist and main ideas of complex text. This will expose them to vocabulary and syntax critical to their English language development. The lesson also provides opportunities for them to work in small groups, which will afford them more time to verbally exchange ideas in an academic context.
  • ELLs may find it challenging to self-facilitate in their expert groups with less direct teacher support. Ensure that students are placed in groups with students of higher proficiency who can model the close reading procedure successfully. If necessary, spend extra time explaining and modeling the process of the expert group work to minimize confusion while the lesson is in progress. (Example: Invite a group to "fishbowl" the first question of the close reading session for the class.)
  • In Work Time B, ELLs are invited to participate in a Language Dive conversation (optional). This conversation guides them through expanding the meaning of a sentence found in the Walter Dean Myers expert group poet biography. It also provides students with further practice analyzing and using prepositional phrases. Students may draw on this sentence when writing about what inspires poets to write poetry in their informational essays. A consistent Language Dive routine is critical in helping all students learn how to decipher complex sentences and write their own. In addition, Language Dive conversations hasten overall English language development for ELLs.

Levels of support

For lighter support:

  • During the optional Language Dive, challenge students to generate questions about the sentence before asking the prepared questions. Example: "What questions can we ask about this sentence? Let's see if we can answer them together." (Who is the sentence about? What inspired Walter Dean Myers?)
  • Invite advanced or intermediate proficiency students to facilitate the close reading session in their groups.

For heavier support:

  • Group ELLs together in the Walter Dean Myers biography group and work with them closely during Work Time B. Read the biography aloud to the group as they follow along. Read it more than once if helpful. Facilitate student thinking and discussion to determine the gist of each part of the text. After guiding them through completing the Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet, facilitate an optional Language Dive conversation.
  • During Work Time A, distribute a partially filled-in copy of the Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet. This will provide students with models for the kind of information they should enter, while relieving the volume of writing required. Refer to Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet (answers, for teacher reference) to determine which sections of the note-catcher to provide for students.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiples Means of Representation (MMR): Provide multiple representations of the text in order to enhance comprehension and remove barriers during the close read (e.g., use a document camera to enlarge the print for some students or provide the book on tape for students who may be at a lower reading level). This way, more students can have access to the text.
  • Multiples Means of Action and Expression (MMAE): Because students will need to have a good understanding of their poet's biography to write the informative paragraph, remove barriers to reading. The poet biographies may be above some students' reading levels. Consider allowing students to complete the note-catcher as they listen to the book on tape.
  • Multiples Means of Engagement (MME): Students select the poet for their informative essay. Some students may feel pressure to select a poet on the spot. Consider providing the options and additional resources ahead of class so that they have more time to make a decision.

Vocabulary

Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T); Vocabulary Used in Writing (W)

  • biography, cite evidence, initiative, collaboration, gist, initiative (L)
  • Frost biography: though, publishing, couple, struggled, published, career, culture, traditional, structured, patterns, objects, informal, themes, words, accomplished (T)
  • Worth biography: object, degree, illustrator, publisher, published, illustrated, illustrate, events, experiences, objects, words, whatever, whether, paradise, affection, career, struggling (T)
  • Myers biography: words, throughout, realized, council, publication, experience, realized, characters, words, community, considered, several (T)

Materials

  • "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (one to display)
  • "The Pasture" (one to display)
  • "dog" (one to display)
  • "Love That Boy" (one to display)
  • Expert Group Poet signs (four to display)
  • Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart (example, for teacher reference)
  • Expert group poet biographies (one per student in each expert group)
  • Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 2)
  • World map (from Lesson 5; one to display)
  • Labeled pin (three to display)
  • Compass points (from Lesson 5; one to display)
  • Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet (one per student and one to display)
  • Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet (answers, for teacher reference)
  • Academic Word Wall (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Domain-Specific Word Wall (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 3)
  • Discussion Norms anchor chart (begun in Unit 1, Lesson 1)
  • Expert Group Poet Guide (one per student)
  • Sticky notes (several per student)
  • Vocabulary log (from Unit 1, Lesson 3; one per student)
  • What Inspires Poets to Write Poetry? note-catcher (from Unit 1, Lesson 10; one per student and one to display)
  • What Inspires Poets to Write Poetry? note-catcher (from Unit 1, Lesson 10; example, for teacher reference)
  • Language Dive Guide (optional; for ELLs; for teacher reference)
  • Sentence strip chunks (optional; for ELLs; one to display)

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.

Opening

OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Engaging the Reader: Selecting a Poet to Study (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that today they will begin to learn about a new poet of their choice, and what inspired that poet to write poetry.
  • Tell students they will get to choose from three poets that Jack studied in Love That Dog: Robert Frost, Valerie Worth, and Walter Dean Myers.
  • Display the poems and remind students who wrote each one:
    • "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost
    • "The Pasture" by Robert Frost
    • "dog" by Valerie Worth
    • "Love That Boy" by Walter Dean Myers
  • Remind students that they analyzed each of these poems in Unit 1. Give students several minutes to reread these poems.
  • Refocus whole group and direct students' attention to the posted Expert Group Poet signs around the room.
  • Describe the process students will use for choosing their poet. Note for students that each part of the room is labeled for one of the poets:
  1. Move to the part of the room labeled for the poet you would like to study.
  2. Once there, share with the group why you chose that poet.
  • Invite students to move and make their choices. Support students as they make their decisions.
  • For students who may need additional time to choose a poet: Preview the poets and their poems with these students so they have time to make a thoughtful choice without stress. (MME, MMAE)
  • For ELLs: If some students are pre-assigned groups based on proficiency level, consider modifying the expert group assignment process to avoid a situation in which some students are allowed to choose their groups while others are not. (Example: Provide each student with a sticky note containing a line from one of a poet's posted works. Students must match the line to each poet to find their groups.)
  • For ELLs: Read each poem aloud for the class to provide additional input. For lighter support, invite advanced or intermediate proficiency students to reread each poem aloud for the class.

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and read them aloud:

"I can describe the life of my poet and explain what inspired him or her to write poetry."

"I can cite evidence from the text to support the answers to my questions."

  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"What kind of book is A River of Words?" (an informational text; a biography)

"What is a biography?" (an informational text about someone's life)

  • Tell students that today they will read a new biography about their selected poet to learn more about his or her life and what inspired him or her to write poetry, and they will use the same process they used when reading A River of Words--first they will read for gist, and then they will closely reread the text.
  • Underline the words cite evidence. Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"What do we mean by cite evidence from the text?" (We need to find proof in the text that answers a question or supports our thinking.)

  • Direct students' attention to the Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart. Ask:

"What does it mean to collaborate?" (You work well with others to accomplish a goal or task.)

  • Tell students that they will be working in expert groups to read a complex text, and so they will need to collaborate in order to accomplish this task.
  • To activate students' prior knowledge, display a completed Finding the Gist and Unfamiliar Vocabulary: A River of Words note-catcher and go through some of the examples. (MMR)
  • For ELLs: Point out the phrase the life of my poet in the second learning target. Ask:

"What does the life of my poet mean?" (the things the poet did; the things the poet experienced)

"What is another way of saying the life of my poet?" (my poet's life)

"Can you reread the whole sentence and use an 's to change the phrase the life of my poet?" (I can describe my poet's life and explain what inspired him or her to write poetry.)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Expert Group Work: Reading for Gist and Unfamiliar Vocabulary (10 minutes)

  • Tell students that over the next two lessons, they will be working in expert groups to read biographies about their selected poets and poems by their poets to learn more about what inspires writers to write poetry.
  • Inform students that today, they will read a biography for the gist then reread these pages more closely.
  • Distribute the expert group poet biographies.
  • Direct students' attention to the Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart and quickly review it.
  • Tell students that the text they will read is challenging and may have unfamiliar words. Reassure them that just as when they read other texts this year, they are not expected to understand all of it the first time they read it. Remind them that one key to being a strong reader of difficult text is being willing to struggle.
  • Invite students to read their group's biography, and then briefly discuss with their group what the text is about (It is about the life of their group's poet.)
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"How did we find the gist when reading about William Carlos Williams earlier in the unit?" (We read sections of the text and thought about what the text was mostly about.)

  • Reassure students that what they think the gist of a text is might be a little inaccurate or incomplete after reading a text for the first time. Explain that this is why we need to read texts more than once. Reading for the gist gives the reader a "big picture" frame that will make it easier to go back and more carefully identify the main idea and key details in the text.
  • Tell students that today as they read, instead of recording the gist and unfamiliar vocabulary on a separate note-catcher, they will record their thinking directly on their copies of the biographies. Tell students they can draw or write the gist in the margin or on sticky notes, and they can circle the words they are not familiar with. These are just notes to help them remember what the excerpt is mostly about.
  • Invite students to work with their expert groups to find the gist and the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary.
  • Circulate to support students in reading their biographies.
  • After 10 minutes, refocus whole group.
  • Focus students on the world map.
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"Where did your group's author live?" (Responses will vary.)

"Where is that located on the map?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Place a labeled pin on the city/state that each author is from and tell which continent each is on. Remind students of each of the continents on the map.
  • Display the compass points. Remind students that they can use compass points to explain where places are. Read through each of the compass points.
  • Point to the pin marking your location.
  • For each city/state, ask students to turn and talk, and select volunteers to share their responses with the whole group:

"Which continent do we live in?" (Responses will vary.)

"Where are we in relation to [the city/state]?" (Responses will vary, but students should use the compass points.)

"Has anyone had any experience with [the city/state] that they would like to share?" (Responses will vary.)

  • The poet biographies may be above some students' reading levels. Consider allowing students to complete the note-catcher as they listen to the book on tape. (MMAE)
  • For ELLs: On an enlarged or projected copy of the Walter Dean Myers expert group biography, model and think aloud the process of reading for gist and annotating the text. For lighter support, invite an intermediate or advanced proficiency student to do so. (Example: "Hmm. It looks like this paragraph is about his early life, so I am going to make note in blue that says 'early life,' and I'm going to underline some of the words about early life, like born and young.")

B. Expert Group Work: Close Reading, Poet Biographies (25 minutes)

  • Tell students that for the rest of this lesson, they will closely reread their expert group's biography, thinking about the life of their poet and what inspired him or her to write poetry. Remind students that they did this as a class in Lesson 6 when reading the Author's Note about William Carlos Williams.
  • Distribute the Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet.
  • Invite students to look at their expert group poet's biography and to discuss in their expert groups:

"What poet is this text about? Write the name of the poet in the top box on your note-catcher."

  • Direct students' attention to the Discussion Norms anchor chart and remind students to think about these norms as they work through the close read.
  • Distribute the Expert Group Poet Guide and sticky notes, and invite students to take out their vocabulary logs. Tell students that because they are working in expert groups, you will guide them through the close read by reading the directions and questions on the guide to them, and they will discuss their thinking with their group-mates. Point out the discussion and pencil symbols on the guide and tell students that these symbols will remind them of what should be discussed as a group, and what should be recorded on their own in either their vocabulary logs or on their note-catchers.
  • Give students 5 minutes to read the questions on the Expert Group Poet Guide.
  • Refocus whole group and read the first direction on the guide, and the corresponding questions. Remind them to think about the habits of character from the Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart and to confer with their group as necessary before recording on their note-catchers and to use evidence from the text to answer questions when they can. Continue in this way through the end of the guide.
  • Circulate to support students in rereading their expert group's pages and answering the questions. Refer to Close Read Note-catcher: Expert Group Poet (answers, for teacher reference) as necessary.
  • Refocus the whole group and invite students to share the unfamiliar words and their definitions their group discussed during the close reading. Add any new words to the academic word wall and domain-specific word wall and invite students to add translations in native languages.
  • Invite students to turn and talk to their partners, and then use equity sticks to select students to share out:

"How did the strategies on the Close Readers Do These Things anchor chart help you to better understand the text?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Tell students they are now going to use the Thumb-O-Meter protocol to reflect on their progress toward the first learning target. Remind them that they used this protocol in the first half of the unit and review as necessary. Refer to the Classroom Protocols document for the full version of the protocol.
  • Guide students through the Thumb-O-Meter protocol using the first learning target. Scan student responses and make a note of students who may need more support with this moving forward.
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with reading: Before instructing groups to begin working independently, display a model of the Expert Group Poet Guide on a document camera or as an enlarged copy. Invite one group to model asking the first question for the whole class so that all students are clear about the process. As the group models beginning to ask the questions, direct the class's attention to the relevant items on the enlarged copy of the guide. (MMR)
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with comprehension: Create sticky notes with different statements representing what inspired their poet, supporting details, and distractors that do not fit either category. Invite students to discuss among the group, and to choose which note represents what inspired their poet, and which supporting details best fit their chosen inspirations. (MMAE)

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Sharing Our Work (10 minutes)

  • Focus students on the Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart.
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"What did you do today to become effective learners?" (Student responses may vary, but could include: initiative--making decisions about which revisions to make on work based on peer and teacher feedback)

  • Explain that you want to focus on one of those strategies for being an effective learner. Record on the anchor chart:
    • I take initiative.
    • This means I see what needs to be done and take the lead on making responsible decisions.
  • Refer to Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart (example, for teacher reference) as necessary.
  • Using a total participation technique, invite responses from the group:

"What does it look like to show initiative? If you were watching a group working together, what would you see?" (When the group members aren't talking to one another or working well together, one person steps up to make a decision to help move the group forward, or someone acts as a facilitator and allocates roles, or does things without being asked.)

"What does it sound like to show initiative? If you were watching a group working together, what would you hear?" ("How about we try this?" or "I have an idea. Perhaps we could ...")

  • If productive, cue students to clarify the conversation by confirming what they mean:

"So, do you mean _____?" (Responses will vary.)

  • As students share out, capture their responses in the "What does it look like?" and "What does it sound like?" columns. Refer to Working to Become Effective Learners anchor chart (example, for teacher reference) as necessary.
  • Underline the word initiative.
  • Record this word on the Academic Word Wall and invite students to record it in the front of their vocabulary log, because it is a word that they will hear used frequently.
  • Guide students through the Thumb-O-Meter protocol to self-assess against how well they took initiative and collaborated in this lesson. Scan student responses and make a note of students who may need more support with this moving forward.
  • Invite students to retrieve their What Inspires Poets to Write Poetry? note-catcher.
  • Invite students to turn and talk with their expert group:

"What inspired your poet to write poetry?"

  • If productive, cue students to expand the conversation by giving an example:

"Can you give an example?" (Responses will vary.)

  • Refer to What Inspires Poets to Write Poetry? note-catcher (example, for teacher reference) as necessary.
  • Invite students to record this information on their note-catchers. Point out that the "Where can you see evidence of this in the poem?" column will be left blank for now. Tell students that in the next lesson, they will read and analyze poems by their poets and will be able to add to this column at the end of that lesson.
  • In addition to discussing what showing initiative looks and sounds like, use additional forms of representation (e.g., images or short videos). Also consider having students act out behaviors that show initiative. (MMR)
  • Consider scaffolding your questioning before having students make inferences about inspiration. Examples:
    • "What were some important events in William Carols Williams's life?"
    • "What was important to William Carlos Williams?" (MMR)
  • For ELLs: Ask students about the word family associated with initiative:
    • "What are some other words that have a similar beginning to initiative?" (initiate, initial, initially, initiating)
    • "Let's look at the word initials. What are your initials? (the first letters of your name)
    • "So what do all these words have in common?" (They are about being first.)
    • "How is showing initiative about being first?" (If you show initiative, you might be the first person to have an idea.)

Homework

HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs

A. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

  • For ELLs: Be aware that some ELLs may come from cultures that do not encourage collaboration in learning. Explain that in the United States, learning from others is considered worthwhile and that students will often be expected to work with others to accomplish a goal.

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