Contemporary Civic-life Issue Research Based Essay

Contemporary Civic-life Issue Research Based Essay

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

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

Developer(s) Name: Shelley Wagner/Karen Ferrell

School: Washington Irving Middle School

Attached Files:
persuasive essay sheet

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 choose a contemporary civic-life issue, research their topic to form and defend an argument, and write a five paragraph persuasive essay with bibliography to cite their sources. Most of the work for this project will be done in class. Students research in the library, study and practice essay format in English class, study and discuss the Constitution as a basis for making informed decisions in civics, and draft, revise, and edit 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:
Students will identify and understand the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the
United States.
8.5Students will conduct inquires and research to demonstrate knowledge and nderstanding
of civics, economics, and geography.

FCPS POS Benchmarks:


Students will demonstrate an understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship.


Students will demonstrate an understanding of political culture and be able to employ

civic skills necessary for effective, participatory citizenship.


Students will be able to acquire information from a variety of sources.


Students will be able to analyze information.


Students will be able to interpret information.


Students will be able to communicate in a variety of written forms.

POS Indicators:


Realize the expectation that responsible citizens become informed aboutand involved

with contemporary and continuing issues in civic life.


Gather information from written, oral, and visual sources.


Use search strategies to access and retrieve electronic information


Identify the main idea (thesis) and supporting details (evidence)


Distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information


Recognize bias and stereotyping (7.3.5)


Paraphrase information


Summarize information from multiple sources.


Examine point of view


Determine the accuracy and reliability of sources


Draw logical inferences


Develop generalizations based on information from multiple sources


Determine the purpose, audience, and format for writing, working individually

or in groups.


Use the writing process to bring a draft to publication.


Communicate through products.


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


  1. What will we examine as evidence of student's knowledge and/or skill?

Product(s):A five-paragraph essay published with a bibliography


  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 guidelines (ClarisWorks 4.0) and Persuasive essay pre-writing activity
(ClarisWorks 5.0)

Directions to teacher/administrator using the lesson?
1. Give students the prewriting activity 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. 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.

  1. Have students type their bibliography.
  2. 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.