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Literacy in ELA: Economics and the Evironment

NYC Dept of Education/misc. authors

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

Background from OER Project Review Team
The New York City Department of Education has developed Common Core-aligned tasks embedded in units of study to support schools in implementing the standards. Though there is no clear licensing on the materials, there is clear instruction on the website that educators may adopt these resources in their entirety or adapt the materials to best address students' diverse needs.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar if improved (9.8)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.75, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.25, Instructional Supports: 2.5, Assessment: 2.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.5, Interactivity: , Exercises: 2.5, Deeper Learning: 2.25.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

None (1.0)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This lesson would be great at any time of the year when a teacher (experienced or inexperienced) wanted to teach narrative writing or identify main idea. All or parts of the unit could be used. The final assessment can only be used if the reading material is used. However, the prompt could be changed to fit other information.

The unit provides instructions for teaching students how to identify the main idea of a paragraph. Instructions are user-friendly — each lesson has a step by step process for teachers, which includes vocabulary and worksheets to accompany the lesson. The reading material is provided and is divided in a way that helps teachers teach the lessons are instructed.


  • The lesson in the unit focus more on the reading standards R.I 2, 3, and 5 — the unit only states that writing standard W.8.2. will be addressed.
  • Unit does not provide articles for low level or advanced readers — the materials provided are all around 8th grade level (lexile 1100 ).
  • The unit does not meet CCSS Speaking and Listening standards.


  • Add reading standards to the unit.
  • Add an opportunity for students to have access to higher lexile materials.
  • Provide students an opportunity to present evidence from their community that is helping to preserve or contributing to the destruction of the environment.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This resource could be used in either an ELA or Social Studies class. Most teachers would be able to use much of this unit and could make the few needed revisions, however a brand new teacher might struggle with some of the lessons that need more direction.

This is a well developed performance task that sets the stage for the unit. Clear rubric aligned to the writing standards that also allows for demonstration of meeting the reading standards. Several examples of annotated student work to provide opportunities for teachers to analyze student responses. Multiple texts that allow students to read closely and practice identifying textual evidence — four different texts that focus on economics and the environment from around the world. Unit provides a variety of methods for analysis of the texts as well as getting to the understanding of the purpose of each.


  • Three of the lessons do not appear to provide sufficient explanation to ensure students meet the aim of the lesson.
  • Lesson 5 appears to be another component of the rereading strategies, but it is not explicit. Purpose of the lesson is weak. Not fully developed.


  • Provide examples of the other rereading strategies and have the teacher model either as whole class or in groups.
  • Provide scaffold or chart for students to complete and/or clearly defined steps for guided discussion either as a whole class or small group. Could see great opportunity for small group discussion.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

The ideal use for this unit is a teacher using it at the beginning of the year with students. A teacher could go through the entire unit and, in doing so, not only teach students several strategies for reading and writing to the texts provided, but give students an introduction to information/explanatory writing. The strategies suggested are ones teachers could use with other units too. The instructional supports allow for teachers to use portions of the unit, or all of the unit if the teacher wishes. A teacher does not need a lot of experience, nor would he/she need access to a technology to complete this unit. The directions are clear and easy to follow.

There are additional ideas to support learners in each lesson. There are mini-lessons to help students on certain items, such as finding the main idea of a passage. Teachers could learn the strategies this unit uses, and it uses a lot, and apply them to a different unit. The suggestion to use this unit as an introductory unit is a good one for eight grade as students (and sometimes teachers) learn various strategies they can use throughout the year. (Such as CEI- Claim Evidence and Interpretation on page 45). Everything is here to complete the unit, including the article. It is helpful to have everything all in one spot as a teacher would not have to spend time to find the resources.

I have not use this particular unit, but I have used other NYC DOE sources and find them to be very useful. I like how the units provide ideas for strategies to work with students.

Strengths include:

  • The rubric is provided, including a primary traits rubric and a secondary traits rubric. This allows teachers to focus on the most important item while grading — there is an explanation for the primary source and secondary source rubrics, and there are connections between the rubrics ad the CCSS Writing Standard #2.
  • The texts are provided with the unit plans. This is helpful because teachers do not have to search for the text on their own.
  • Each lesson has specific directions and the support pieces needed to complete the lesson. There are spots in the lesson that give ideas for both struggling learners and English Language Learners — at the end of each lesson there are many worksheets you would need to help complete the lesson. These worksheets are ready to be copied and given to students. The worksheets provide different strategies for working with students. On every lesson there are ideas on ways to support struggling learners, and ELL students.
  • There are 2 anchor papers to use either for teacher calibration or to work with students.


  • Could provide the standard the lesson is aligned to under the objective for each lesson. This would help further support teachers and students on the specific skill they are working on for a given lesson.
  • There are not a lot of extensions for students who would initially get the material. There are many areas that suggest additional support strategies, but not any for to extend learning.
  • Could include more instruction on the writing process. The summative assessment is an essay that would require students to use the writing process.


  • Put the standard(s) under the objective.
  • Along with the additional supports suggestions, provide some suggestions to extend the lesson.
  • Could provide a lesson, or even some mini-lessons on using the rubric and/or anchor papers to help students work with each other to revise their essays.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Teachers of varying experience should be able to use this resource as a unit. Any adjustments can be done quickly and easily. The ideas use would be to include this into a larger literary unit that addresses environmental and economic issues.

The unit is a strong unit for writing from sources. The unit models a performance task that asks students to cite evidence from sources used in class to support their essay. Most importantly, the unit provides scoring guides and annotated student work to illustrate how to meet the criteria. Text-based evidence facilitates rich discussions and writing. The unit provides multiple scaffolds to support students in analyzing and organizing evidence in their reading of informational text. Academic vocabulary is integrated into reading discussion and text dependent questions — tier II vocabulary is integrated into reading activities and text dependent questions instead of a separate, stand-alone practice. This supports student comprehension and regular practice with complex text and its academic vocabulary.


  • Lacks articulation of specific set of standards — the culminating assessment call out W.8.2 but there are many, many more standards explicitly taught throughout the unit.
  • Lacks literary texts — all texts are informational, including one video.


  • Add standards to lessons and activities to assist teachers in monitoring standards that have been taught and those that have been omitted throughout a school year.
  • Include some literary works, perhaps a poem, or embed this unit in larger literary unit within the same topic of environmentalism and economics (e.g. Flush by Carl Haissen).

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