A Contemporary Civic-life Issue

A Contemporary Civic-life Issue

Course(s)/Subject(s):Civics 8 /English 8

Key Words: English, Technology, Essay, Persuasion, Civics

Developer(s) Name: Karen Ferrell /Shelley Wagner

School: Washington Irving Middle School

Attached Files: persuasive essay sheet
essay handout

Approximate Time Frame: Three weeks to a month

Materials/Equipment Needed: Computers with a word processing program and Internet accessibility, and a library with reference materials.

Description of Lesson (includes context):
Students chose a contemporary civic-life issue, researched their topic to form and defend an argument, and wrote a five paragraph persuasive essay with bibliography to cite their sources. Most of the work for this project was done in class. Students researched in the library, studied and practiced essay format in English class, studied and discussed the constitution as a basis for making informed decisions in civics, and drafted, revised, and edited for final copy quality in the computer lab.

1.What is the objective of this lesson?
* To introduce students to using the Internet as a reference for research. (English/Civics)
* To acquire information from a variety of sources. (English/Civics)
* To comprehend what is read by organizing and synthesizing information from sources.
* To learn how to write a five-paragraph persuasive essay. (English)
* To discuss and evaluate issues involving the importance of civic responsibility to the
individual and to the community . (Civics)

FCPS POS Standards, Benchmarks, and Indicators:
Students will identify and understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the United States.
8.1.2- Students will demonstrate an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship.
8.1.3- Students will demonstrate an understanding of political culture and be able to
employ civic skills necessary for effective, participatory citizenship.
a. Realize the expectation that responsible citizens become informed aboutand
involved with contemporary and continuing issues in civic life.
Students will conduct inquires and research to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of civics, economics, and geography.
8.5.1Students will be able to acquire information from a variety of sources.
a. Gather information from written, oral, and visual sources.
b. Use search strategies to access and retrieve electronic information
(CT 8.4.1, 8.4.2, 8.4.3, 8.4.4, 8.4.5)
8.5.3Students will be able to analyze information.

a. Identify the main idea (thesis) and supporting details (evidence)
b. Distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information
c. Recognize bias and stereotyping (7.3.5)
d. Paraphrase information
e. Summarize information from multiple sources.
8.5.4 Students will be able to interpret information.
d. Examine point of view
e. Determine the accuracy and reliability of sources
f. Draw logical inferences
g. Develop generalizations based on information from multiple sources
8.5.5Students will be able to communicate in a variety of written forms
a. Determine the purpose, audience, and format for writing, working individually
or in groups
b. Use the writing process to bring a draft to publication
c. Communicate through products
d. Evaluate, take and defend a position on a contemporary issue in civic
life, working individually or in groups
Standard 3- Students adapt their language to communicate.
8.3-2Students revise writing to clarify and enhance meaning.
* Use sentence structure, form, and word choice to enhance meaning.
* Use transitions between paragraphs (SOL 8.5)
* Revise for organization of thesis statement, details, and conclusions in
persuasive writing (SOL 8.5)
* Revise for variety of sentence patters and structures (simple, compound,
complex) (SOL 8.5)
* Revise word choice appropriate to audience, purpose, & form (SOL 8.5)
* Revise to add detail to elaborate ideas (SOL 8.5)
* Revise for sentence fragments and run-on sentences (SOL 8.5)
8.3-3Students use grammar and conventions of language in writing
* Use language appropriate to audience, purpose, and form
* Edit for subject/verb agreement and consistent verb tense
Standard 4: Students respond critically to ideas in written and spoken language.
8.4-1 Students respond in a variety of ways to what is written
* Organize thoughts in writing
* Provide statements from the text that support or negate opinions
* Evaluate content of print as to accuracy or objectivity (SOL 8.6)
8.4-4Students comprehend what is read
* Evaluate and synthesize information (SOL 8.4)
* Draw conclusions
* Determine cause and effect
* Analyze details for relevance and accuracy (SOL 8.4)
Standard 5: Students comprehend what is read, heard, or viewed.
8.5-2Students acquire, organize, and synthesize information obtained from a variety of
* Synthesize information from two or more sources
* Evaluate context for accuracy and objectivity
* Organize information to communicate to an audience
* Prepare bibliography
* Take notes and document sources
* Paraphrase ideas
* Summarize ideas
* Find supportive and/or refutive facts
* Synthesize information from multiple sources

8.5-4Students use technology to assist in writing (SOL 8.5)
* Use local and wide-area networks and modem-delivered services to access
and retrieve information from electronic databases (SOL C/T 8.4)
* Use word processor to draft, revise, edit, and publish
* Select accessed information relevant to topic or questions
* Use search strategies to retrieve electronic information (SOL C/T 8.4)
* Use databases to perform research (SOL C/T 8.4)
* Use reference materials

VA SOL(s):


English/Writing SOL(s)

Civics SOL(s)

C/T 8.1



C/T 8.2



C/T 8.3


C/T 8.4

2. What will we examine as evidence of student's knowledge and/or

Product(s): a final copy of a five-paragraph essay with a bibliography

Performance(s):There are many possibilities.
* Debates (group or individual)
* TV shows- "In Contemporary Civic Life"


  1. What exactly will the students and teacher do during the lesson?

Directions to students for proceeding with the lesson:
1. see attached files
persuasive essay sheet (ClarisWorks 4.0) and essay handout (ClarisWorks 5.0)

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?
1. Give students the prewriting sheet from the file essay handout. Have them answer the
2. Once each student chooses a topic, take them to the library and have them research their
topic using the Internet and traditional research sources.
3. When students have completed their research, have them group their ideas by argument. 4. Next, take the students to the computer lab and have them begin composing their essay.
They will need to go through the entire writing process.
5. Teach a mini-lesson on how to write a bibliography.
6. Have students type their bibliography.
7. Turn in a final copy with drafts and notes.


  1. What options in presentation(s) and/or response(s) are suggested in order to provide the opportunity for all students to demonstrate achievement of the benchmark(s) and indicator(s).

Use LD and ESL teachers as a resource.