In Unit 1, students build background knowledge about natural disasters to understand how they affect the places that experience them. In the first half of the unit, they research natural disasters in expert groups, focusing on answering the question: "How do natural disasters affect the people and places that experience them?" Students work with a variety of sources, including videos, informational texts, and websites, as they investigate their group's natural disaster and learn about how to stay safe during it. As they research, they think about how authors use reasons and evidence to support particular points, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s). For the mid-unit assessment, students read a new text about a natural disaster, explaining how reasons and evidence support points the author makes, and identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
The second half of the unit opens with a Science Talk, allowing students to share their research about the natural disaster they studied in the first half of the unit, and draw conclusions about ways to stay safe during one. Throughout the rest of the unit, students plan, draft, and revise a public service announcement (PSA), explaining how to stay safe during the natural disaster they researched. As they write, they consider how to ensure their PSA is appropriate for the task, purpose, and audience, and learn how to use commas to set off words and phrases as a technique to engage the audience. Students also learn how to use punctuation to separate items in a series. For the end of unit assessment, students record their PSA and edit a paragraph for correct use of commas and semicolons.