I piloted this lesson last year as part of a school-wide commitment to exploring CCSS strategies with our students specifically related to close reading and evidence-based dialogue.
I chose to work with this great editorial about genetically modified organisms from the Scientific American Food Issue that came out in August 2013. It is topical, controversial, and generated so much student interest that it inspired a new, highly successful extended five day food project lesson during our organic chemistry unit that I will be working with again this year.
I appreciated that there were many avenues of discussion with evidence open to the kids with this article. It also allowed us to discuss the difference between opinion, research/opinion, and bias. I also liked that this article really challenged our conventional wisdom about GMOs and led to a wonderful discussion about our responsibilities and rights as consumers and citizens.
National Geographic magazine has had a series of food articles over the past eight months and you can check out some of their online Future of Food series resources for other topics related to food that might be of interest to your students. I think there are many other food related or other topics that could work here and would love to hear your ideas!
1. Ask students to discuss the following prompt with their lab group:
What do you know about GMOs?
What makes them controversial?
2. Using the spokesperson protocol, do a quick share out of ideas with the class.
3. Announce that today we will be learning a bit more about the feelings of the science community when it comes to GMOs.
1. Access the September 2013 Scientific American Editorial Board article entitled Labels for GMO Foods are a Bad Idea. You can search for it on the Scientific American website, published by Scientific American, a division of Nature America, Inc.
2. Project the activity directions on the overhead screen and review them with the class.
3. Allow students time and a quiet space so that they can read, annotate, and reflect upon the short article. I like to remind students that to annotate means to
4. For support, students have the option of reading on their own or with a partner. For specific groups, we may read out loud together or the group may choose to lead that activity on their own without my facilitation. Our classroom is large and has two side office spaces and an outdoor space with multiple benches to allow for this additional support. Depending upon your set up, you may want to move to the library or another space to allow for multiple student groupings and interventions.
5. To assist students with their annotations, I always have post it notes, highlighters, and other classroom supplies available for students to use. I often put on classical music while they are reading and annotating and I allow students to work together, alone, or with me in various areas of the classroom as needed.
1. Pass out to students these text based prompts and reflection questions.
2. Allow students additional time to answer them on their own.
3. Announce that they will have the opportunity to discuss their answers with their lab groups tomorrow before moving on to our class discussion.
On to Day 2!