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Module 4A Unit 1 - Development of the Adolescent Brain

EngageNY/Expeditionary Learning

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This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2015. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was last updated: 4/24/2014.

Background from OER Project Review Team is developed and maintained by the New York State Education Department. In order to assist schools and districts with the implementation of the Common Core, they have provided curricular modules and units in P-12 ELA and math that can be adopted or adapted for local purposes. Grade 6 ELA consists of a high-level outline (curriculum map and module overview) for instruction and protocols, graphic organizers, resource guides with scaffolding instruction, and other materials. This is one unit from the grade 7 curriculum.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar (11.0)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 3.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.75, Instructional Supports: 2.75, Assessment: 2.5.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 3.0, Interactivity: , Exercises: 3.0, Deeper Learning: 3.0.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

None (0.25)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This resource provides teachers will tons of resources and activities. Students are provided with grade level reading that not only scaffolds, but challenges and there is reading material included in unit.

This resource could be used in any classroom by teachers with a variety of experience.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

In looking at the reminder of the units in the module, I would recommend teachers consider completing the entire module to ensure greater balance with the writing standards. This is an extensive unit. Teachers would need to take some time reviewing the unit, read the materials and gather the other media used.

The unit is designed to meet the CCSS. It is clearly focused on instructing students in strategies to closely read and gather information. The majority of lessons have students identifying the main idea and supporting details of each article, video, or audio recording. Vocabulary study was authentically embedded throughout the unit. Additionally students defined other important words and concepts using evidence from several text read during the unit. There are several short articles, videos and audio recordings. Additionally one text was at a level greater than the grade span and instruction was provided to assist the teacher and students with tackling it using strategies previously practiced. There is a focus on identifying text evidence and repeated guided practice and modeling of identifying information within the text as support for claims.


  • Insufficient instructional supports for ELL and students with disabilities — sidebar suggestions focused mainly on using group conversations versus providing some models for scaffolded reading strategies teachers could use with students who struggle.


  • Include more reading guides differentiated for students who struggle.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

The unit provides all the necessary resources, thus just about any teacher could use this in his/her classroom. Beginning teachers will be able to follow along easily and advanced teachers will notice the details in each lesson plan that will support students. This lesson will be of interest to students who have an interest in science, teachers who wish to do cross curricular work, or for teachers who want to work with students on informational texts. This unit provides something that not many other units provide: the combination of ELA and Science skills. Teachers will want to prepare in advance to know the content so they can feel comfortable in their work with students. All the support materials are included in the unit, so a teacher would not have to search for them. The unit references the article "The Digital Revolution and the Evolution of the Adolescent Mind," which gives an ELA teacher who may have limited Science background a good understanding of the issues needed to teach the Informational Texts.

Students work on informational texts throughout the unit so there is a lot of value and work around the CCSS RI.7.1 and RI.7.2. Students work on science content (brain development) in an ELA class. The unit attempts to tie in the NGSS too. As many students use technology that increases their screen time this unit is a good entry point for students. The unit also has areas that focus on teen decision making. These areas should be of interest to students. In lesson six students will need to choose an independent reading book. Other than the work in lesson six students do not spend much time working on their independent reading log. There are also several extension ideas provided in the unit. Students keep a neurologist's notebook throughout the unit to help hold them accountable for the reading. The purpose is to work on Reading Informational Texts. This would serve as an on-going assessment. The assessments in unit one call for students to answer questions relating to author purpose, vocabulary, text structure, and text-based evidence. The position paper comes during the 3rd unit. The assessment deals mainly with assessing the reading standards.

Under the recommended texts section the unit gives the lexile for each text and includes if it fits in the 6-8 band or not. There are detailed lesson plans that give time projections. This will support teachers through the unit in knowing how long each portion of the lesson takes.


  • Some texts could be a challenge for ELL students or struggling readers.
  • Didn't see a rubric or other grading criteria within Unit 1.


  • Provide an option in the lesson plans that addresses struggling readers or ELL students. This could be as simple as giving different strategies for a teacher to use with ELL students.
  • Provide grading criteria within Unit 1. The grading criteria should align with the end assessment in Unit 3.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Due to the vastness of most Engage NY units, the ideal use would be for a general education teacher that works collaboratively with job-alike colleagues.

The unit has a large amount of resources that students will find engaging. The links to articles, interactive web graphics, pictures, etc. are all current, relevant, and engaging for students. The unit provides graphic organizers and quality text-dependent questions and the sources pages at the end of each lesson PDF include the student and teacher versions of some thought-provoking and depth of knowledge activities.


  • Lack of writing opportunities and types — the unit has Think Logs, a notebook, short-answer, and summarization, but not a more formal and/or extended piece.
  • Lacks literature — there are primarily informational text and literary nonfiction.


  • The unit might need to extend one or two of the questions in the TDQ's to a specific text type that is extended into a couple of paragraphs.
  • Include a song, poem, or short story that exemplifies the adolescent brain in action.

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.