Module 1 -> Lesson 4

Small-group research

Essential Question

How can we support balanced research on a controversial topic?

Anchor Text(s) for this Lesson

  • Students' completed Activity Guides from Module1_Lesson3

  • Example student-generated research template

Supporting Text(s)/ Resources for this Lesson

Lesson Overview

In this lesson, students work in triads to develop a plan for independent research and a strategy for organizing the evidence they gather through their own research and the texts they encounter in future lessons. Students are asked to refer to the output from lesson 3 to create a graphic organizer that enables them to map the distribution of evidence they are collecting in various claim categories to ensure that they are thinking about and researching more than one claim category and considering the views of both opponents and proponents of FRT.

Nota Bene

You know your students best. Consider students' reading levels, work habits, and personalities as you strategically form triads for today's lesson. Based on your students' needs and content you have already covered across the school year, you will highlight the skills that your students need most support in building.

Students will make continued use of the graphic organizer they create in this lesson as they proceed through the unit. For this reason, students should use Google docs to create and share their graphic organizer with their triad and the teacher(s).


Students will be able to

  • create a graphic organizer to structure and track research;

  • craft search statements to identify sources that address specific claims;

Suggestion Duration

45 minutes (adjust according to your students' needs)

NYS Next Generation ELA Standards

  • R8: Delineate and evaluate an argument and specific claims in a text, assessing the validity or fallacy of key statements by examining whether the supporting evidence is relevant and sufficient.

  • RH9: Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.

NYS Computer Science & Digital Fluency Standards

  • 9-12.IC.1 Evaluate the impact of computing technologies on equity, access, and influence in a global society.

  • 9-12.DL.1: Type proficiently on a keyboard.


  • opponent: a person who disagrees with something and tries to change or stop it

  • proponent: a person who supports an idea or course of action

  • advocate: to support or recommend something publicly

  • prompt: the inputs or queries that a user gives to an LLM GAI, like chatGPT or Bard, in order to elicit a specific response from the model

  • claim: a statement that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not agree with or believe it

  • controversial: causing a lot of angry public discussion and disagreement

  • potential: that can develop into something or be developed in the future


Remind students of the general categories they read about in lesson 3 in the chatBots' output in response to the prompt: What claims do opponents and proponents of FRT make. Ask them to evaluate each blurb and determine which claim this particular blurb supports.

  • "Amazon handed Ring video doorbell footage to police without owners’ permission at least 11 times so far this year — a figure that highlights the unfettered access the company is giving police to doorsteps across the country." (Source)

  • "A man who was abducted as a toddler 32 years ago was finally reunited with his biological parents Monday, with the help of facial recognition technology." (Source)


Building on the evaluation and comparison of the chatBots' output summarizing the claims that opponents and proponents of FRT make, students will identify 6 claim categories that they want to research and track. Students should be encouraged to consider any claim categories that are worth exploring but not included in the chatBots' output summaries.

Explain to students that at the end of modules 2 and 4 they will be engaging in SPAR debates focused on specific claims about FRT. Throughout the modules, they will be deeply exploring the impacts of FRT through a combination of assigned texts and independent or group research in order to prepare for the end of unit task.

Present an example (or a few) of a graphic organizer that students might use to structure and track their research. Elicit from students, if possible, why they might want to track which claim categories they are researching and how much evidence they have collected in each of those categories. Remind students that when researching a controversial topic it is crucial to consider multiple perspectives to refine their own thinking and to prepare themselves for making counter-arguments.


Students continue working in their triads to develop a system that works best for them to structure and track their research. Part of this design should include conversation among the group about how they will collaboratively research. It is recommended that each student in the triad "own" two claim categories; one in opposition of FRT and the other in favor of the technology.

Some students might benefit from conferring with a teacher or a peer to review the structure they created and to thought partner revisions. Ideally, this scaffolding will have already been baked in via strategic grouping.

Circulate the room and check-in with triads as they are designing their materials and provide support and feedback as needed.

For students who quickly design a structure for themselves that is a solid one, the remaining activity time should be spent doing preliminary research.

Wrap Up

End class in a way that is meaningful to you and will give you the most data on where your students are. One possibility is to ask 2 to 3 groups you have checked in with to share the system they designed to structure and track their research.

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