ALEX Lesson Plan

     

The Case of the Invisible Signal 

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Katrina McGrady
System: Talladega County
School: Talladega County Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35681

Title:

The Case of the Invisible Signal 

Overview/Annotation:

Are cell phones really safe for humans to use frequently? In this mock trial lesson, students will use claim, evidence, and reasoning to construct a scientific argument on the safety of the electromagnetic waves involved in cell phone technology. During the lesson process, students will hold a “trial” and each individual student will construct their own written “verdict” based on the evidence presented at the mock trial.

This lesson results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Literacy Standards (6-12)
LIT2010 (2010)
Grade: 9-10
Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects
1 ) Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.

Insight Unpacked Content
Strand: Reading (RST)
CCR Anchor:
Key Ideas and Details
Evidence of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • analyze science texts
  • analyze technical texts
  • cite specific textual evidence to support analysis
  • attend to precise details of explanations or descriptions in science and technical texts
  • share analysis in written or spoken form
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • cite
  • specific textual evidence
  • support analysis
  • science texts
  • technical texts
  • precise details of explanations
  • precise details of descriptions
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • techniques for selecting textual evidence to support analysis
  • techniques for analyzing science and technical texts
  • close reading techniques (e.g., graphic organizers, two-column notes) for tracking precise details of explanations or descriptions in science and technical texts
  • techniques for constructing an analysis of science and technical texts
  • VOCABULARY: science text, technical text, textual evidence
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • analyze science texts
  • analyze technical texts
  • construct an analysis (written or spoken) of science and technical texts
  • attend to precise details of explanations or descriptions in science and technical texts
  • cite specific textual evidence to support analysis
Understanding:
Students understand that strength of the analysis of science and technical texts depends upon understanding precise details of explanations or descriptions.
Literacy Standards (6-12)
LIT2010 (2010)
Grade: 9-10
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
1 ) Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

a. Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

b. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form and in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.

c. Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

d. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.

Insight Unpacked Content
Strand: Writing (WHST)
CCR Anchor:
Text Types and Purposes
Evidence of Student Attainment:
Students write arguments focused on discipline-specific content that include:
  • an introduction that states the precise claim and acknowledges and distinguishes opposing claims
  • an organization that establishes clear relationships
  • fair development of claim(s) and counterclaims
  • data and evidence to support claim(s) and counterclaims
  • acknowledgement of strengths and limitations of claim(s) and counterclaims
  • discipline-appropriate reasoning and evidence
  • reasoning and evidence that anticipate the audience's knowledge level and concerns
  • words, phrases, and clauses to link major sections, create cohesion, and clarify relationships
  • formal style
  • attention to norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing
  • a conclusion that follows from and supports the argument
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • argument
  • discipline-specific content
  • introduce precise claim
  • distinguish claim from alternate or opposing claims
  • create an organization
  • establishes clear relationships
  • counterclaims
  • reasons
  • evidence
  • develop claims and counterclaims fairly
  • supply data and evidence
  • strengths and limitations
  • discipline-appropriate form
  • audience's knowledge level and concerns
  • words, phrases, and clauses
  • major sections of the text
  • create cohesion
  • clarify the relationships
  • formal style
  • objective tone
  • norms and conventions of the discipline
  • concluding statement or section
  • follows from or supports the argument
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • techniques for selecting the best evidence (accurate, credible sources) to support their claim
  • arguments demonstrate an understanding of the topic and state and support a claim
  • techniques for linking majors sections of the text, creating cohesion, and clarifying relationships
  • techniques for adjusting writing style based on audience, purpose, and discipline
  • arguments follow a predictable structure (e.g., introduction that states claim and organizes reasons and evidence, body paragraphs with logically organized supporting claims, and supporting concluding statement)
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • write an argument to support a claim
  • acknowledge and distinguish a claim from alternate or opposing claims
  • use logical reasoning and relevant evidence (credible sources) to support claim
  • use words, phrases, and clauses to link major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify relationships
  • write with formal style
  • write with a predictable structure (introduction with statement of claim, clearly organized evidence, and conclusion that supports argument)
Understanding:
Students understand that well-developed arguments use valid reasoning and credible evidence to present an analysis of discipline-specific content through claims and acknowledgement of counter-claims.
Literacy Standards (6-12)
LIT2010 (2010)
Grade: 9-10
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
5 ) Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

Insight Unpacked Content
Strand: Writing (WHST)
CCR Anchor:
Production and Distribution of Writing
Evidence of Student Attainment:
Students develop and strengthen writing by:
  • planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach to best address purpose and audience.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • develop and strengthen writing as needed
  • planning
  • revising
  • editing
  • rewriting
  • trying a new approach
  • how well audience and purpose have been addressed
  • conventions
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • qualities of well-developed and strong writing
  • techniques for planning writing
  • techniques for editing writing
  • techniques for rewriting
  • a variety of approaches to writing
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • use planning, revision, editing, rewriting, or a new approach to strengthen writing
  • explain techniques used to make writing appropriate for purpose and audience
  • produce writing that is well-developed and strong
Understanding:
Students understand that planning, revising, editing, rewriting, trying a new approach, and focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed are critical to the development of strong writing pieces.
Literacy Standards (6-12)
LIT2010 (2010)
Grade: 9-10
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
7 ) Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Insight Unpacked Content
Strand: Writing (WHST)
CCR Anchor:
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Evidence of Student Attainment:
Students conduct short as well as more sustained research projects that:
  • answer self-generated questions or solve problems
  • narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate
  • synthesize multiple sources on a subject
  • demonstrate understanding of a subject
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • conduct
  • short research project
  • more sustained research project
  • answer a question
  • self-generated question
  • solve a problem
  • narrow the inquiry
  • broaden the inquiry
  • synthesize multiple sources
  • demonstrate understanding
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • research answers a self-generated question or solves a problem
  • research needs to be narrowed or broadened when appropriate
  • research synthesizes multiple sources
  • research is a way to demonstrate understanding of a subject
  • VOCABULARY: synthesize
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • use research to answer a self-generated question or solve a problem
  • narrow or broaden research when appropriate
  • synthesize multiple sources
  • demonstrate understanding of a subject through research
Understanding:
Students understand that research is a process that involves answering a question or solving a problem, investigating and synthesizing several varied sources, and developing subject-specific understanding.
Literacy Standards (6-12)
LIT2010 (2010)
Grade: 9-10
Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects
9 ) Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Insight Unpacked Content
Strand: Writing (WHST)
CCR Anchor:
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Evidence of Student Attainment:
Students critically read informational text and:
  • write analysis, reflection, or research-based texts
  • include textual evidence to support analysis, reflection, and research
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • draw evidence
  • informational text
  • support
  • analysis
  • reflection
  • research
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • elements of analytical, reflective, and research-based writing
  • techniques for critical reading of informational texts
  • techniques for note-taking during and after reading
  • techniques for composing academic writing including descriptions, explanations, and comparisons and contrasts
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • compose an analytical, reflective, or research-based piece in response to reading an informational text
  • analyze a teacher-provided prompt or question about a text to determine what is being asked
  • form ideas in response to a teacher-provided prompt or questions about a text
  • support ideas with evidence from a text
Understanding:
Students understand that analysis, reflection, and research are strengthened by citing relevant evidence from appropriate texts.
Science
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 9-12
Physical Science
14 ) Propose and defend a hypothesis based on information gathered from published materials (e.g., trade books, magazines, Internet resources, videos) for and against various claims for the safety of electromagnetic radiation.

Insight Unpacked Content
Scientific and Engineering Practices:
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Waves and Their Applications in Technologies for Information Transfer
Evidence of Student Attainment:
Students:
  • Propose and defend a hypothesis based on information from published materials for various claims for the safety of electromagnetic radiation.
  • Propose and defend a hypothesis based on information from published materials against various claims against the safety of electromagnetic radiation.
  • Engage in argument from evidence obtained from various sources.
  • Analyze science resources.
  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis.
  • Evaluate and integrate multiple sources of information from visual, quantitative, and word formats to address questions or solve problems.
  • Form a coherent understanding of electromagnetic radiation by synthesizing information from a range of sources.
  • Resolve conflicting information.
  • Communicate information obtained from various sources.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Electromagnetic waves
  • E/M spectrum
  • Visible light
  • Microwaves
  • Frequency
  • Radio frequencies
  • Video terminals
  • Magnetic fields
  • Internet resources
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Non-ionizing radiation
  • Wavelength
Knowledge:
Students know:
  • Electromagnetic radiation (e.g., radio, microwaves, light) can be modeled as a wave pattern of changing electric and magnetic fields or, alternatively, as particles.
  • Electromagnetic radiation may be ionizing or non-ionizing type. Non-ionizing type of radiation is used in common electronic devices.
  • Non-ionizing type of radiation is used in common electronic devices.
Skills:
Students are able to:
  • Identify types of electromagnetic radiation.
  • Select credible resources from the Internet and AVL for use in the argument.
  • Categorize electromagnetic radiation according to safety levels for humans.
  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
  • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • Engage in argument from evidence on the safety of electromagnetic radiation.
Understanding:
Students understand that:
  • Non-ionizing radiation, such as those emitted in electronics, cannot cause immediate damage, but does interact with the body to potentially cause indirect damage, following long-term exposure.
  • Ionizing radiation, such as X-rays and gamma rays, can be hazardous.

Local/National Standards:

Next-Generation Science Standards:  HS.PS.4-4   Evaluate the validity and reliability of claims in published materials of the effects that different frequencies of electromagnetic radiation have when absorbed by matter.

Crosscutting Concept:  Cause and Effect

Science and Engineering Practice: Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will describe the electromagnetic spectrum and its properties.   

The students will describe how energy from electromagnetic waves is transformed once it hits matter.  

The students will prove a prediction (hypothesis) based on research. (Note:  Since the students are not completing an actual experiment on the topic, an experimental hypothesis and null hypothesis in this lesson are simply the predictions that the prosecution and the defense will "prove" during the trial.)

The students will use research, writing, and the mock trial format to deliver technical information regarding the safety of the electromagnetic waves used in cell phone technology.   

The students will use claim, evidence, and reasoning to answer the question:  Are cell phones really safe for humans to use frequently?  

Additional Learning Objective(s):

I can describe the electromagnetic spectrum and its properties.

I can describe how the energy from electromagnetic waves is transformed once it hits matter.  

I can compare and contrast the electromagnetic waves used in cell phone technology with other types of electromagnetic waves.  

I can use claim, evidence, and reasoning to answer the question:  Are cell phones really safe for humans to use frequently?

 

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Mock Trial Group Roles Sheet (one copy per group)

Mock Trial Role Rubric (one copy per group)

Individual Research Page (one copy per student)

CER Rubric (one copy per student)

CER Writing Page (one copy per student)

Any printed resources (if needed)

pencil/pen

notebook paper

Argument-Driven Inquiry Website 

Mock Trial Lesson Websites from the New York Times Learning Network and Read Write Think

Video on the Safety of Cell Phone Use

Group folder (one per group if desired for organizing group materials)

The Case of the Invisible Signal Exit Tickets (see attached PowerPoint presentation)

Technology Resources Needed:

Teacher computer with internet access and connection to a projector or TV

Computer or device with internet access (for individual student research if using digital sources)

Digital Poll (if students have one to one devices) like this Google form or Survey Monkey or Socrative

Video on the Safety of Cell Phone Use

Links to Sample Source Articles on the Safety of Cell Phone Use:

Science News For Students

National Cancer Institute

Consumer Reports

International Journal of Health Sciences

Indian Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine

Background/Preparation:

Before you start the lesson, the students should be familiar with the electromagnetic spectrum, its properties, and its uses in society. Some excellent resources to use to teach the general properties of the electromagnetic spectrum include the following:  NASA video and the NOVA interactive.  The students should also be familiar with citing resources and choosing credible resources.  

The teacher and the students should be familiar with the general format of a trial. The following resources provide some information on the mock trial format and how it should be presented:  The New York Times Learning Network Blog and Read Write Think. Remember that the lesson objectives refer to the safety of cell phone use NOT the mock trial format. Be careful and avoid letting your focus be more on the mock trial format instead of the collection of information on the safety of cell phones and the use of scientific claim, evidence, and reasoning.  

The teacher and the students should also be familiar with using claim, evidence, and reasoning to form a scientific argument to answer a question. For more information on developing a scientific argument, you may find the following resources useful:  Argument-Driven Inquiry website and NSTA presentation on CER.

Also, prior to any lesson, the teacher should also check all links to videos and sources to ensure that they will open and play on school devices connected to the school network.  If not, all sources should be saved or presented in another manner to ensure that the lesson runs smoothly.  

  Procedures/Activities: 

Before Activity/Engage: (Approx 15 minutes)  

Create a poll for your students to answer when they enter the classroom.  Ask them the following question:  Are cell phones safe for people to use frequently? You can do this on a simple presentation slide if each student does not have access to a device or a Google form like this one. Use a show of hands to tally the vote or you can use an app like Plickers to collect answers anonymously. If your school is one-to-one, create a digital poll using Survey Monkey or Google Forms. Then, you can show the students the results using a graph to reinforce data skills. For these digital sources, the graph is automatically created. However, if you use a show of hands, you can draw a pie chart on the board or generate a pie chart using Excel or another spreadsheet software. Discuss the results with students using follow-up questions such as:  Do these results surprise you? Why or why not? Why did you answer yes? Why did you answer no?

Then, show the students this video on the safety of cell phone use or another video of your choice that discusses the safety of cell phones and radiation use.

After the video, use questions to activate the students’ prior knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum and energy. Some sample questions would be:  What type of electromagnetic wave is used in cell phone technology? What typically happens when energy travels into a different medium? Can types of electromagnetic waves travel inside the body? How do we know this? Is frequent contact with electromagnetic waves safe or harmful to the body?  

Lesson setup (10 minutes): Explain to students that they will perform a mock trial to determine the answer to the question:  Are cell phones safe for people to use frequently? Divide students into two groups:  the prosecution and defense. Then, pass out the individual research pages, mock trial roles for the Case of the Invisible Signal (for group role responsibilities), and the mock trial role rubric.  Go over each handout with the group by reading the entire handout in class (individually or whole class) and highlighting the superior criteria on the rubric. You may ask students simple questions about the handout as you discuss it in class to ensure comprehension of the handouts. When you are going over the handouts, be sure to also note the roles that each plays in the trial format. Tell them that they will choose their roles in their group later. You may want to give each group a folder so that they can keep their handouts safe during the entire lesson. During this part of the lesson, be sure to explain to students that their job is to prove their group's prediction or hypothesis regarding the safety of cell phone use. For the prosecution, the prediction or hypothesis will be that cell phones ARE NOT safe for people to use frequently. For the defense, the prediction or hypothesis will be that cell phones ARE safe for people to use frequently. Let the students choose the individual roles that they will play in their group OR assign roles based on your knowledge of the students. Be sure to note that the prosecution will always present FIRST and the defense will always follow the prosecution.  

During/Explore/Explain: (Days 2-4 on Period Schedule OR Hours 2-5 on a block schedule)

Explain that first, the students need to gather information on the safety of cell phones to help their groups create their “case”. Tell them that they will begin their research using carefully chosen sources and place their research in their Individual Research Page (see attachments). Be sure that you note the deadline for their individual research page. If using only digital sources, send the digital sources to each student online. Sample digital sources are provided in the technology section. If using paper sources, pass out the copies of the chosen resources to each student. Give students time to research cell phone safety using your provided sources. This should end the first hour of class. Use the last 3 minutes of class (for a 55 minute period) to have each student complete a quick exit ticket:  What are three facts that you have learned about cell phone safety in your research today? See the presentation in the attachments section. You may create a ticket handout with this question if you have the resources to make copies. However, to save copy resources and materials, students can simply answer this question on notebook paper. View these documents to determine if students are struggling to comprehend the provided resources and address any misconceptions with the students during the next class.  

At the beginning of the second hour, tell each group that they should begin to discuss how they will set up their “case”. Have each group determine the group role for each group member. Then, have the students determine what kind of expert witnesses that they will need. As a group, the students need to determine where they have holes in their research and they should search for additional resources. Be sure to remind students how to search for reliable resources so their information can be used as evidence. All additional research should be added to their research page. Before the end of class, the teacher should meet with each group to discuss their research and how they are going to approach the delivery of their case. Each meeting should take 5 to 7 minutes and the meeting can be used to redirect misconceptions and help guide students to make a better argument.  

At the beginning of the third hour, each group will write their opening arguments and determine their line of questioning. Give each group the CER handout, so that they can review the criteria for making a scientific argument. They will also give the names and background of each of their “expert witnesses” to their opponent group so that they can determine questions to ask during the rebuttal of their opponent’s expert witnesses. The "expert witnesses" should be created from information gathered during research. Remind the students that they should be asking:  What types of experts would be useful to defend our argument at trial? Have the students use creative names and titles to help illustrate the expert characters that they create. For example, a ninth grade high school student would not be an expert on the science and safety of cell phone signals. At the end of class and during class, the teacher should circulate and meet with each group to determine progress and redirect misconceptions. Be sure to remind each "lawyer" to be prepared for their opening statements during the next class or the 4th hour (if you are on a block schedule).

At the beginning of the 4th hour, give each group 5 minutes to complete the final organization of their opening arguments. The trial will begin with the opening statements of the prosecution first and then defense. Each opening statement should take about 5 minutes. Then, the prosecution will present their case. During the trial, each student should take notes on the material presented at trial to be used during their CER writing. You can give them a specific note-taking format like Cornell notes if you like, or the students can just take simple jot notes.  You can end this day’s trial by making each student write a short newspaper “article” summary as an exit ticket.  See the presentation attachment for the instructions on how to do the simple "article".

After/Explain/Elaborate:  At the beginning of the fifth hour, the defense will present their case. Students in the class will take notes to be used during their Individual CER writing. Each group will give their closing statements. Then, each individual student will take the exit poll, which is the same as the entrance poll. Determine if the class data changed and how it changed. Ask follow-up questions to determine why the data either changed or remained the same. Finally, have each individual student do an individual CER writing that will be used as a summative assessment. You can use the handout provided in the attachments OR have the student simply write it in the format on their own paper. Use the CER rubric to grade the writing. 

Note:  As discussed in the NSTA and ADI resources, the CER presentation is initially done in groups under a typical argument-driven inquiry activity. However, the format of this activity bypasses the group CER presentation because the group argument is presented with the trial.  Thus, the final sentence of the assessment should be ignored for this activity but can be used in other CER activities.



Attachments:
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  Assessment  

Assessment Strategies

Formative assessment:  entrance poll, exit poll, whole group questioning (as the teacher circulates the room), group interview (with the teacher during class), research page (see attachments for the handout), exit tickets (See attachments for The Case of the Invisible Signal Exit Ticket Presentation).

The entrance and exit polls will give the teacher an idea of how student opinions have changed based on their research and the trial.  During the class, whole group questioning can be used to check for comprehension of the lesson and the format of the lesson as well as the documents and rubrics used in the lesson.  In addition, the group interview will allow the teacher to give feedback on the presentation of the argument before it goes to trial and identify misconceptions or weaknesses that can be addressed before they are presented at trial.  The research page should give the teacher an idea of what sources were used, their credibility, and the students' comprehension of their sources.  Finally, the exit tickets will give the teacher an idea of what the students are absorbing from the presentation and any misconceptions that the students may have generated based on the presentation of the material at trial.  

Summative assessment:  CER writing graded with rubric and group role performance graded with rubric.

The CER writing will directly assess the student's ability to answer the question (Are cell phones safe for humans to use frequently?) and their ability to back up their claim using scientific sources. The group role performance will summatively assess the students' participation and completion of their group role.   

Note:  As discussed in the NSTA and ADI resources, the CER presentation is initially done in groups under a typical argument-driven inquiry activity.  The group designs an argument, and they present it in round robin format. However, the format of this activity bypasses the group CER presentation because the group argument is presented with the trial. Thus, the final sentence of the CER rubric assessment should be ignored for this activity but can be used in other CER activities. 

 

Acceleration:

Students who need additional challenges on this topic can create a Public Service Announcment video on the safety of cell phone use to present on the school website or on YouTube.  A public service announcement is like an advertisement that informs the public on a particular topic, which usually involves health issues.  

 

Intervention:

During research, students who are still struggling with basic concepts on the electromagnetic spectrum or who need additional assistance with close reading sources can be pulled for small group instruction or individual help by the teacher.  

 

 

Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.