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Making the Case in an Op-Ed

This mini-unit supports students as they plan and organize a purposeful argument.
Student Work
Example student work for this mini-unit can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

Lesson Sequence


Google Presentation



Sample Text Sets

[Middle School Sample Text Set]

This text set represents a significant international conversation about driverless cars and ‘semi-automatic’ technology. The set makes it clear that driverless car technology is already being used in cars and completely driverless cars are inevitable. The conversation around driverless cars is not Yes or No. Instead the conversation explores many issues that primarily include: the opportunities in the technology, how soon can they can be on the road, and what challenges need to be resolved.

BELL RINGER TEXT SET

Students explore the issue of driverless cars and form claims on a series of texts in preparation to do additional reading and eventually write an OpEd. They read three texts, write to explore their current thinking on the most relevant evidence provided in each text, and write a claim that states their current perspective based on that reading and prior knowledge. As students read and consider the information in each text, they also push their thinking to examine the issue from multiple angles. These video and infographic texts provide easy access to exploration of the issue.

Reading #1

“GM plans ‘semi-automatic’ cars” starts the exploration of the issue of driverless cars with a short news video describing plans for driverless technology to be used in new cars and consumer reactions to the idea of driverless cars.

“GM plans ‘semi-automatic’ cars.”  CNN. 8 September 2014. Web. 8 September 2014.

Reading #2

“Google Reveals Driverless Car Prototype” continues the exploration of the issue of driverless cars with an infographic in the article. The infographic pictures and describes Google’s prototype.

 Gent, Ed. “Google Reveals Driverless Car Prototype.” E&T: Engineering & Technology Magazine. 28 May 2014. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #3

“Driverless cars could let you sleep” concludes the exploration of driverless cars with a short news video on the aggressive steps California is taking to get cars on the road and includes multiple views.

“Driverless cars could let you sleep.” CNN. 15 January 2014. Web. 14 May 2015.

JIGSAW TEXT SET

Students choose one of the following readings to prepare for a jigsaw conversation with a small group of peers on the text set. They identify the author’s purpose, most relevant evidence, and evidence that raises questions. After discussing all the articles, students identify key takeaways and write a claim on their current perspective. The text set provides a range of reading abilities and views on the issue.

Reading #1

“Washington stumped by robot-powered cars” provides information that promotes robot-powered cars. The reading level of this article adapted by Newsela staff can be adjusted.

 “Washington stumped by robot-powered cars.” McClatchy-Tribune, adapted by Newsela staff. 21 May 2013. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #2

“Self-Driving Cars: Can We Really Trust Them” provides information that describes both positive and negative aspects of self-driving cars.

Hall, Ellen. “Self-Driving Cars: Can We Really Trust Them?” Esurance Blog. 12 June 2013. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #3

“Driverless cars changes halted by tumbleweed” provides information from three experts who faced problems while driving a driverless car.

Wright, Robert. “Driverless cars changes halted by tumbleweed” Financial Times. 17 November 2015. Web.

Reading #4

“At Google, here’s an odd job: Test driving new driverless cars” describes the job, experience, and purpose of test drivers who are testing and providing information to improve driverless cars.

“At Google, here's an odd job: Test driving new driverless cars” Associated Press adapted by Newsela staff.  13 October 2015.

Reading #5

“Cars of the future are right around the corner” compares shifting to driverless cars to shifting from horse and carriages to cars.

“Cars of the future are right around the corner” Los Angeles Times adapted by Newsela staff. 3 December 2014.

Whole Class Extension Excerpt [Optional]

“The Robot Car of Tomorrow May Just Be Programmed to Hit You” describes the way algorithms and computer software works to manage an unexpected crash. It also discusses the ethics of driverless car algorithm designs. It is a technical article that offers a more in-depth understanding of how driverless cars are programmed. As a whole class, guided reading and discussion, pulling an excerpt from the text might be a good option.

Lin, Patrick. “The Robot Car of Tomorrow May Just Be Programmed to Hit You” Wired. 13 May 2014.

OPED IMMERSION TEXT SET

These anchor texts provide in-depth opportunity to collaboratively study the New York Times (NYT) column, “Room for Debate.” Students identify elements in the “Room for Debate” column’s introduction/prompt, format, and structure as digital texts as well as analyze the line of reasoning developed by each author in a print version.

Reading #1

“Ethical, and Efficiency, Tradeoffs” is written by a transportation researcher and planner. Le Vine provides an argument to answer the question posed by NYT, “Are we ready for driverless cars?” This author is cited in the article from CityLab in the Jigsaw text set.

Le Vine, Scott. “Ethical, and Efficiency, Tradeoffs.” New York Times. 29 January 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #2

“To Hit the Road, Driverless Cars Must Be Safe, Not Perfect” is written by an information scientist at RAND Corporation. Kalra provides an argument to answer the question posed by NYT, “Are we ready for driverless cars?” This author is cited in the article from RAND Corporation in the Jigsaw text set.

Kalra, Nidhi. “To Hit the Road, Driverless Cars Must Be Safe, Not Perfect.” New York Times. 29 January 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

This text set represents a significant international conversation about driverless cars and ‘semi-automatic’ technology. The set makes it clear that driverless car technology is already being used in cars and completely driverless cars are inevitable. The conversation around driverless cars is not Yes or No. Instead the conversation explores many issues that primarily include: the opportunities in the technology, how soon can they can be on the road, and what challenges need to be resolved.


[High School Sample Text Set]

BELL RINGER TEXT SET

Students explore the issue of driverless cars and form claims on a series of texts in preparation to do additional reading and eventually write an OpEd. They read three texts, write to explore their current thinking on the most relevant evidence provided in each text, and write a claim that states their current perspective based on that reading and prior knowledge. As students read and consider the information in each text, they also push their thinking to examine the issue from multiple angles. These video and infographic texts provide easy access to exploration of the issue.

Reading #1

“GM plans ‘semi-automatic’ cars” starts the exploration of the issue of driverless cars with a short news video describing plans for driverless technology to be used in new cars and consumer reactions to the idea of driverless cars.

“GM plans ‘semi-automatic’ cars.”  CNN. 8 September 2014. Web. 8 September 2014.

Reading #2

“Google Reveals Driverless Car Prototype” continues the exploration of the issue of driverless cars with an infographic in the article. The infographic pictures and describes Google’s prototype.

Gent, Ed. “Google Reveals Driverless Car Prototype.” E&T: Engineering & Technology Magazine. 28 May 2014. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #3

“Driverless cars could let you sleep” concludes the exploration of driverless cars with a short news video on the aggressive steps California is taking to get cars on the road and includes multiple views.

“Driverless cars could let you sleep.” CNN. 15 January 2014. Web. 14 May 2015.

JIGSAW TEXT SET

Students choose one of the following readings to prepare for a jigsaw conversation with a small group of peers on the text set. They identify the author’s purpose, most relevant evidence, and evidence that raises questions. After discussing all the articles, students identify key takeaways and write a claim on their current perspective.

Reading #1

“Washington stumped by robot-powered cars” provides information that promotes robot-powered cars. The reading level of this article adapted by Newsela staff can be adjusted.

“Washington stumped by robot-powered cars.” McClatchy-Tribune, adapted by Newsela staff. 21 May 2013. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #2

“Self-Driving Cars: Can We Really Trust Them” provides information that describes both positive and negative aspects of self-driving cars.

Hall, Ellen. “Self-Driving Cars: Can We Really Trust Them?” Esurance Blog. 12 June 2013. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #3

“How Driverless Cars Could Make Traffic Dramatically Worse” provides information that describes and questions the benefits of driverless cars.

Jaffe, Eric. “How Driverless Cars Could Make Traffic Dramatically Worse.” CityLab. 26 January 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #4

“Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers” provides concise information that describes research, drawbacks, implications, and recommendations.

Anderson, James M., Nidhi Kalra, Karlyn D. Stanley, Paul Sorensen, Constantine Samaras and Oluwatobi A. Oluwatola. “Autonomous Vehicle Technology: A Guide for Policymakers.” Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2014. Web. 14 May 2015

Whole Class Extension Excerpt [Optional]

“The Robot Car of Tomorrow May Just Be Programmed to Hit You” describes the way algorithms and computer software works to manage an unexpected crash. It also discusses the ethics of driverless car algorithm designs. It is a technical article that offers a more in-depth understanding of how driverless cars are programmed. As a whole class, guided reading and discussion, pulling an excerpt from the text might be a good option.

Lin, Patrick. “The Robot Car of Tomorrow May Just Be Programmed to Hit You” Wired. 13 May 2014.

OP-ED IMMERSION TEXT SET

These anchor texts provide in-depth opportunity to collaboratively study the New York Times (NYT) column, “Room for Debate.” Students identify elements in the “Room for Debate” column’s introduction/prompt, format, and structure as digital texts as well as analyze the line of reasoning developed by each author in a print version.

Reading #1

“Ethical, and Efficiency, Tradeoffs” is written by a transportation researcher and planner. Le Vine provides an argument to answer the question posed by NYT, “Are we ready for driverless cars?” This author is cited in the article from CityLab in the Jigsaw text set.

Le Vine, Scott. “Ethical, and Efficiency, Tradeoffs.” New York Times. 29 January 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

Reading #2

“To Hit the Road, Driverless Cars Must Be Safe, Not Perfect” is written by an information scientist at RAND Corporation. Kalra provides an argument to answer the question posed by NYT, “Are we ready for driverless cars?” This author is cited in the article from RAND Corporation in the Jigsaw text set.

Kalra, Nidhi. “To Hit the Road, Driverless Cars Must Be Safe, Not Perfect.” New York Times. 29 January 2015. Web. 14 May 2015.

Student Work

Example student work for this mini-unit can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.

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  47k v. 1 Jun 22, 2015, 3:47 PM Unknown user
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  17k v. 1 Feb 9, 2016, 4:21 PM Rachel Bear
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  18k v. 1 Feb 9, 2016, 4:21 PM Rachel Bear
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  16k v. 1 Feb 9, 2016, 4:21 PM Rachel Bear
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