LDC Task

“It’s Electric! How Should Our Electricity Be Generated?” Argumentative/Persuasive Writing

Grade Levels

7th Grade, 8th Grade

Course, Subject

Environment and Ecology
Related Academic Standards
  • Big Ideas
    A technological world requires that humans develop capabilities to solve technological challenges and improve products for the way we live.
    Each area of technology has a set of characteristics that separates it from others; however, many areas overlap in order to meet human needs and wants.
    Energy is neither created nor destroyed. Energy can be transformed from one form to another, but transformation between forms often results in the loss of useable energy through the production of heat.
    Solid, liquid and gaseous earth materials all circulate in large scale systems at a variety of time scales, giving rise to landscapes, the rock cycle, ocean currents, weather, and climate.
    Technological design is a creative process that anyone can do which may result in new inventions and innovations.
    Technological literacy is the ability to use, assess and manage technology around us.
    Technology is created, used and modified by humans.
    The cell is the basic unit of structure and function for all living things.
  • Concepts
    A technological design & problem solving process changes ideas into a final product or system.
    All living things are made up of smaller units called cells.
    All multicellular organisms have systems that interact with one another to perform specific functions and enable the organism to function as a whole.
    Batteries store chemical energy and transform it into electrical energy.
    Bio-related technologies are the processes of using biological mater to make or modify products.
    Bio-related technologies are the processes of using biological organisms to make or modify products.
    Cells carry out the many functions needed to sustain life.
    Cells grow and divide thereby producing more cells.
    Cells take in nutrients that they use to provide energy to carry out their life functions.
    Communication is the process of composing, sending, and receiving messages through technology.
    Communication is the process of composing, sending, and receiving messages using technological devices.
    Construction is the process of turning materials into useful structures.
    Construction is the process of turning raw materials into useful structures.
    Creating optimal solutions under constraints are a primary component of technological problem solving (e.g., tools/machines, materials, information, people, capital, energy, and time).
    Decisions about the use of products and systems can result in expected and unexpected consequences.
    Decisions about the use of products and systems can result in known and unexpected consequences.
    Different body tissues and organs are made up of different kinds of cells.
    Disease affects the structures and/or functions of an organism.
    Earth materials (rocks and soils) can be classified by their composition and texture and those features can be interpreted to infer the history of the material.
    Energy and power technologies are the processes of converting energy sources into useful power.
    Energy and power technologies use processes to convert energy into power.
    Energy appears in different forms and can be transformed within a system.
    Energy can be transformed within a system or transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways. Thermal energy is transferred from warmer objects to cooler objects. Mechanical energy can be transferred when two objects push or pull on one another. Electromagnetic energy can be transferred when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device. Chemical energy is transferred when particles are rearranged in a chemical reaction.
    Energy from the sun warms air and water, which creates moving currents within them. This movement causes changes on the earth’s surface.
    Every organism has a set of genetic instructions that determines its inherited traits.
    Everything on or near the earth is pulled toward Earth’s center by a gravitational force. Celestial revolutions are caused by gravitational attraction.
    Heat energy is usually a by-product of an energy transformation.
    Heat flow from the earth and motion within the earth lead the outer shell of the earth to move around in large rigid pieces (plates) and leads to the creation and destruction of ocean basins, motion of continents relative to one another, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and development of mountain belts.
    Heat moves in predictable ways, normally flowing from warmer objects to cooler ones, until the objects reach the same temperature.
    Human activities change land cover and land use patterns, add or remove nutrients from ecosystems and modify some of the fundamental cycles of the earth system, including the carbon cycle. These changes can have unexpected and far-reaching effects due to the complex interconnections among earth systems.
    Human decision making (e.g. Human needs and wants plus cultural considerations) drives the selection and/or use of technologies.
    In a technological world, inventions and innovations must be carefully assessed by individuals and society as a whole.
    Innovation is the process of improving an existing product, process, or system.
    Innovation is the process of modifying an existing product, process, or system to improve it.
    Interaction of circulating air masses gives rise to a wide variety of weather phenomena including fronts, mid-latitude cyclones (and anti-cyclones), and severe weather (tropical storms, tornados, severe thunderstorms, etc.).
    Invention is a process of creating new products, processes, or systems.
    Invention is a process of turning ideas and imagination into new products, processes, or systems.
    Inventions and innovations must be carefully assessed by individuals and society.
    Large scale wind patterns drive surface currents in the oceans and affects weather.
    Manufacturing is the process of turning materials into useful products.
    Manufacturing is the process of turning raw materials into useful products.
    People select, create, and use technology.
    Plants transform light energy into chemical energy, which then can be used by other living things.
    Safety is a preeminent concern for all technological development and use.
    Safety is one of the most important concerns for all technological development and use.
    Science and technology are interconnected.
    Science is the study of the natural world and technology is the study of the human designed world but both are inextricably connected.
    Some changes in Earth’s surface are abrupt, such as earthquakes, volcanoes, meteor impacts, and landslides. Others are gradual, such as the lifting up of mountains or their wearing away by erosion.
    Some organisms are made up of only one cell.
    Specialized cells perform specialized functions in multicellular organisms.
    Technological design & problem solving follows many steps.
    Technological design & problem solving includes both formative and summative analysis.
    Technological design & problem solving includes clearly communicated solutions.
    Technological design & problem solving includes frequent checking.
    Technological design & problem solving requires hands-on applications.
    Technological design & problem solving requires the ability to clearly communicate engineered solutions.
    Technological design & problem solving requires the application of hands-on abilities such as sketching, prototyping, and fabricating.
    Technological design & problem solving transforms an idea into a final product or system.
    Technological design & problem solving utilizes a series of steps that take place in a well-defined sequence.
    Technological literacy is necessary for a productive workforce.
    Technological literacy is necessary for all citizens.
    Technological literacy is the ability to understand, use, assess, design, and create technology.
    Technological literacy requires lifelong learning.
    Technology and society impact each other.
    The abilities required in a technological world include diagnosing, troubleshooting, analyzing and maintaining systems.
    The abilities required in a technological world include understanding, fixing, and maintaining systems.
    The atmosphere circulates in large scale patterns which steer weather systems due to heat from the sun.
    The circulation of the ocean and atmosphere carries heat energy and has a strong influence on climate around the world.
    The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere plays an important role in determining climatic patterns.
    The Earth is mostly rock, with a metallic core, a thin layer of water covering about ¾ of the surface and surrounded by a thin blanket of air.
    The Earth’s revolution around the Sun causes the seasons and the year. Because of the Earth’s tilted axis, sunlight falls more intensely on different parts of the earth during different parts of the year, producing the seasons and seasonal patterns in weather.
    The Earth’s rotation around its tilted axis causes day and night.
    The gene is the basic unit of inheritance.
    The goal of technology is to meet human needs and wants.
    The Moon’s revolution around the earth once in about 28 days changes what part of the moon is lighted by the sun and how much of that part we can see from the earth, giving rise to lunar phases.
    The rhythms of the Earth are caused by 3 celestial motions: The Earth’s rotation, revolution around the sun, and the Moons’ revolution around the Earth.
    The study of the impacts of technological systems enables us to plan and direct technological developments.
    The sun is the main source of energy for biological systems on the surface of the earth.
    The use of technology involves weighing the trade-offs of the positive and negative effects.
    There are defining structures of cells for both plants and animals.
    There are structural and functional similarities and differences that characterize diverse living things.
    There is a relationship between structure and function at all biological levels of organization.
    Thousands of layers of sedimentary rock confirm the long history of the changing surface of the earth and the changing life forms whose remains are found in successive layers.
    Transportation is the process of safely and efficiently moving people and products.
    Understanding technological systems help us plan and control technological developments.
    While science is the study of the natural world, technology is the study of the human designed world.
  • Competencies
    Demonstrate how technological progress promotes the advancement of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
    Describe how science and technology work together.
    Describe how technology impacts society.
    Describe the complementary roles of scientific knowledge and technological application.
    Describe the flow of energy from the sun, throughout the earth system, living and non-living, from the cellular scale to the global scale, and describe the transformations of that energy as it moves through the system.
    Describe the nature of technology and the consequences of technological activity which impact society and the world.
    Design and develop the ability to create and send messages using technological devices.
    Design and develop the ability to safely and effectively use tools and materials to build structures.
    Design and develop the ability to safely and effectively use tools and materials to convert energy into power.
    Design and develop the ability to safely and effectively use tools and materials to create bio-related products and systems using technology.
    Design and develop the ability to safely and effectively use tools and materials to create vehicles that transport people and products.
    Design and develop the ability to safely and effectively use tools and materials to manufacture products.
    Differentiate between the study of science and technology.
    Explain how making informed decisions about the development and use of technology may have known and unexpected consequences.
    Explain how making informed decisions using technology may have expected and unexpected consequences.
    Explain how technology has and can change the human condition throughout time.
    Explain the importance of carefully assessing technological inventions and innovations.
    Make ideas into technological products and/or systems.
    Safely use tools, machines, and other devices.
    Use design and problem solving skills to solve technological challenges.
    Verify that engineering design is influenced by personal characteristics, such as creativity, resourcefulness and the ability to visualize and think abstractly.


The Literacy Design Collaborative teaching task provides a blueprint for seamlessly integrating literacy and content standards in a rigorous, authentic classroom experience. After determining the discipline, course, and grade level, educators use teaching tasks built around predefined template prompts. The teaching task requires students to read, analyze and comprehend written materials and then write cogent arguments, explanations or narratives in the subjects they are studying.


Fossil fuels contribute to 81.2% of all electrical generation in the world. Alternative energy sources, including solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, biomass, nuclear (both fission and fusion), and hydroelectric power, are playing an increasing role in modern power generation. Based on these alternative energies and the fossil fuels, students will consider the socioeconomic, environmental, and political ramifications of specific energy sources to recommend which energy source we should use to generate electricity.


In this extended writing task, students will read, analyze, and gather relevant information from text(s) and write an argumentative essay. Students will:

  • Examine and evaluate the production of energy and efficiency of energy usage in the United States

  • Research the socioeconomic, environmental, and political costs and benefits of specific energy sources used to generate electricity
  • Read, analyze, and utilize information from multiple sources

  • Write an evidence-based argumentative essay


biomass – the mass of living organisms in a given area


fission – the process of splitting a nucleus into smaller particles


fossil fuels – fuels formed by natural processes such as the decomposition of buried dead organisms


fusion – joining atomic nuclei to form heavier nuclei


geothermal – heat energy generated and stored in the Earth


hydroelectric – the production of electricity using the force of falling or flowing water


renewable energy – energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which is naturally replenished


tidal – converting the energy of tides into useful forms of power


turbine – a rotary engine that extracts energy from a fluid flow and converts it into useful work



350 minutes/7 periods


Related Materials & Resources

Suggested Instructional Strategies


The students will analyze and discuss the teaching task to identify what the task is asking them to do and to help students access background knowledge. Sample student papers or texts will be used as models. Students will work with the teacher to interpret the Literacy Design Collaborative rubric.


The teaching task, which is both relevant and rigorous, engages students in subject specific reading, research, and writing. The teaching task requires the application of content knowledge to a new scenario.


The teacher will engage students through reading and discussion, note-taking, and the development of a rough draft of the assignment.


Students will use active reading strategies (e.g., "Talking to the text"), discussion protocols (e.g., think-pair-share, Paideia/Socratic seminar), and writing strategies (e.g., peer editing, teacher modeling and guided practice) with appropriate scaffolds as they develop their final written product.


The students will create an extended writing assignment which incorporates both their content understanding and text-based information. The Literacy Design Collaborative rubric will be used to provide feedback to students.


The Literacy Design Collaborative teaching task is a tiered assignment. Individual tasks can be made simple or complex by varying the task demand, with up to three tiers of difficulty. For leveled tasks, teachers can choose to teach Level 1 (L1) alone or add demands to the prompt by including Level 2 (L2) and/or Level 3 (L3).

  • Level 1 (L1) refers to the most fundamental levels of difficulty.
  • Level 2 (L2) refers to a "next step-up" skill or cognitive demand.
  • Level 3 (L3) adds additional demand to the task in which writers are asked to make connections and use background knowledge.

The teaching task is designed to help students apply subject area content through reading and writing. The teaching task might be sequenced toward the end of a content unit. The teaching task is an extended, multiple day classroom assignment.

Instructional Procedures

Teacher Preparation
Prior to launching the teaching task in the classroom, a teacher should consider the following questions:


How much support will students need to successfully complete the task?


What parts of the process can be completed independently (during or outside of class)? What parts of the process represent new learning or substantial challenge and warrant direct instruction or guided practice during class?


What content and vocabulary instruction and activities will be provided so that students are able to successfully complete the task?


How will reading be scaffolded for my students? (Read together? Read in groups? Read independently?)


What note-taking method will students use, and does that method align with the writing task?


How will students make the transition from the reading to the writing? (outline, graphic organizer, etc.)


What writing instruction is needed to help students write their thesis statements, organize their notes, embed quotes, and cite evidence?


How will students receive feedback at various stages of the writing process to make sure they are answering the prompt, their papers are focused, their ideas are fully developed with details, examples, etc.?


Daily Plan
The daily plan is flexible based on students' prior knowledge, experience and skills in reading, research and writing as well as their ability to apply subject area knowledge to a new scenario. The amount of time, in class instruction, and scaffolds needed can be increased or decreased to provide the appropriate level of challenge and support for students.

Teaching Task

Task 1 Template (Argumentative/Analysis L1/L2/L3): After researching informational texts on the various energy sources, write an essay that argues your position on which particular energy source should be used for producing electricity in the United States. Support your position with evidence from your research. L2: Be sure to acknowledge competing views. L3: Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and clarify your position.


Day 1

Task Engagement and Analysis
The teacher introduces the teaching task to students by linking the task to the class content that has been taught previously and to existing knowledge, skills, and interests. The teacher asks students to read the teaching task and make notes or discuss with peers things they already know about this issue or topic.

The teacher helps the students to understand the expectations of the teaching task by asking students what they think a good response to the task might include and creating a classroom list. The teacher may share examples of the type of texts the students will produce (either actual student samples or commercially published texts). Sharing the rubric with students will clarify the expectations.

The teacher explains the timetable and supports available for completing the task.

Text Selection
The teacher has either preselected the texts or will provide access to research sources for students to select texts. The teacher asks students to begin to record information about the sources (e.g., using notebooks, note cards, technology). The teacher may need to provide models or instruction on creating a bibliography or works cited. The students should identify author, title, publisher, date, and any other needed information (e.g., volume, editor) A discussion about the credibility or merit of sources may be needed.


Days 2-3

Preview texts
The teacher can provide students with all of the texts or offer students a list of acceptable sources from which to choose. The teacher briefly highlights each text with a summary to assist students in making appropriate text selections. The teacher asks the students to skim through each text to identify the genre, purpose, and text structure. A teacher think-aloud explaining rationale for making certain text selections may be beneficial to students.

The teacher provides or suggests that a note-taking method be used that is consistent with the expectations for the task and the type of writing (e.g., argumentative-pro/con t-chart). Students should be encouraged to refer to the teaching task so that their notes are relevant to the prompt. Students should be encouraged to include both textual information and their own connections and implications. Students should continue to add to their bibliography or works cited.

Teachers may need to teach or reinforce practices to promote academic integrity and to help students avoid plagiarism. The ability to use and credit sources appropriately shows respect for the work of others and adds credibility to a student's argument and/or research.

Reading and Research
The teacher assigns the reading, research and note-taking to students and provides instruction to support analysis and synthesis of texts. The teacher may ask students to reflect orally or in writing on key questions including:


Which parts of the text provide evidence that relates to the prompt?


What historical or current examples did you notice that relate to the prompt?


What is the text explicitly saying? What gaps or unanswered questions do you see?


What competing arguments have you encountered or thought of based on the text (argumentative)?


How do you know your sources are credible?


Depending upon the needs of students in the classroom, additional scaffolds may be necessary (e.g., whole-group reading and teacher modeling of note-taking, paired in-class reading, talking to the text, small group discussion). The teacher may either provide students with print source options or make electronic texts available to them through the use of Web 2.0 tools (e.g., Wikis, Nings) or online library databases (e.g., EBSCO, ProQuest).


Day 4

Transition to Writing
The teacher uses discussion based strategies such as the Paideia/Socratic seminar or small group discussions to help students make connections between their research and notes and the teaching task.

Developing a Thesis or Claim
Students write an opening paragraph that includes a controlling idea and sequences the key points that will be made throughout the writing assignment. The teacher may provide models of opening paragraphs and analyze them with the class. Students may provide feedback to each other on their opening paragraphs. Students should compare their opening paragraph to the teaching task and assess whether the paragraph fully address the main points of the prompt (e.g., define and explain, compare, take a position, etc.)

Organizing Notes/Planning
Students organize their notes into a graphic organizer or outline that establish a logical structure for the assignment. An outline begins with the thesis or claim, sequences key points and includes supporting evidence from texts.


Days 5-6

Development of rough drafts
Students begin writing their rough drafts. The teacher frequently checks in with students to answer questions, offer feedback, and provide writing instruction as needed. Through planning, the teacher embeds opportunities for students to receive feedback on their writing prior to the submission of the final draft either through peer conferencing, teacher conferencing, or written teacher feedback. Students revise their drafts based on the feedback they receive. The amount of time needed for the development of rough draft varies and may include time during and outside of class.


Day 7

Completion of Final Draft
Students either self or peer-edit their papers for conventional errors and complete the final draft.

Assessment and Reflection
The teacher uses the LDC rubric to assess the students' writing and provide feedback to help students improve their performance. Patterns in student performance guide further instruction.

Analytic Scoring
The rubric is structured to facilitate analytic scoring - the awarding of separate scores by readers for each of the seven scoring elements. Scorers should keep in mind that the description of work quality within any particular "cell" of the rubric may still address more than one idea, and therefore may not match a particular essay perfectly. The scorer must identify the descriptor that is the best match to a paper based on the preponderance of evidence. If the decision is truly a "coin toss," the scorer should feel free to use the "in-between" or "half" scores. A variation of analytic scoring might be used in a situation in which the emphasis of instruction at a particular time might be on a subset of the seven scoring elements. For example, if instruction is focused on development and organization, then a teacher might simply award scores for those two scoring elements.

Holistic Scoring
Holistic scoring is assigning a single, overall score to a paper. Analytic and holistic scoring rubrics look much the same. The holistic scorer's job is to pick the single score (1, 2, 3, 4) that corresponds to the set of descriptors for scoring elements that best matches a paper. Again, in-between or half scores can be used. Ideally, holistic scorers are thinking about all the scoring elements as they read papers, but over time they find that they can assign holistic scores very rapidly, yet still fairly accurately. This is one of the advantages of holistic scoring. However, analytic information is not generated by this method.

Score Recording and Feedback
It would be good practice for teachers to share the rubrics with students and discuss "criteria for success" relative to the scoring elements. However, it is not intended that a clean scoring rubric would be attached to every paper that is scored in all situations. It might be more appropriate to attach score slips that list the scoring element names with blank spaces after them for the recording of scores (and a space for a total score, too, perhaps). A customized rubber stamp could accomplish the same. Analytic scores do provide useful information to the students since they reference descriptors in the rubric. However, nothing beats descriptive comments that are best written in the margins of the papers where they are most appropriate.

Cut Scores for Proficiency Levels
Scorers can readily compute a total score (the sum of the seven element scores) or an average score (that sum divided by 7). If translating scores to performance levels is desired, then the structure of the rubrics lends itself to the use of the following cut scores:

Performance Level Total Score Cut* Average Score Cut*
Not Yet 10.5 1.5
Approaches Expectations 17.5 2.5
Meets Expectations 24.5 3.5
Advanced N/A N/A
* The cut scores above are the highest scores possible within their associated performance levels. To score at the Advanced level, a student would have to earn more than 24.5 total points or an average score greater than 3.5 points. The highest scores possible for Advanced (28 and 4.0) are not cut scores because there is no higher performance level than Advanced.

LDC Scores and Grades
LDC scores could be translated to grades contributing to students' course grades. How this would be done is an individual teacher's decision. Teachers could establish their own cut scores for letter grades or just re-label the four performance levels as A, B, C, D. They could come up with their own way to convert LDC scores to numerical grades consistent with whatever numerical scale they use for other class work.




Not Yet

Approaches Expectations

Meets Expectations


Scoring Elements










Attempts to address prompt, but lacks focus or is off-task.


Addresses prompt appropriately and establishes a position, but focus is uneven.


Addresses prompt appropriately and maintains a clear, steady focus. Provides a generally convincing position.


Addresses all aspects of prompt appropriately with a consistently strong focus and convincing position.


Reading/ Research


Attempts to reference reading materials to develop response, but lacks connections or relevance to the purpose of the prompt.


Presents information from reading materials relevant to the purpose of the prompt with minor lapses in accuracy or completeness.


Accurately presents details from reading materials relevant to the purpose of the prompt to develop argument or claim.


Accurately and effectively presents important details from reading materials to develop argument or claim.


Controlling Idea


Attempts to establish a claim, but lacks a clear purpose.

(L2) Makes no mention of counter claims.


Establishes a claim.

(L2) Makes note of counter claims.


Establishes a credible claim.

(L2) Develops claim and counter claims fairly.


Establishes and maintains a substantive and credible claim or proposal.

(L2) Develops claims and counter claims fairly and thoroughly.




Attempts to provide details in response to the prompt, but lacks

sufficient development or relevance to the purpose of the prompt.

(L3) Makes no connections or a connection that is irrelevant to argument or claim.


Presents appropriate details to support and develop the focus, controlling idea, or claim, with minor lapses in the reasoning, examples, or explanations.

(L3) Makes a connection with a weak or unclear relationship to argument or claim.


Presents appropriate and sufficient details to support and develop the focus, controlling idea, or claim.

(L3) Makes a relevant connection to clarify argument or claim.


Presents thorough and detailed information to effectively support and develop the focus, controlling idea, or claim.

(L3) Makes a clarifying connection(s) that illuminates argument and adds depth to reasoning.




Attempts to organize ideas, but lacks control of structure.


Uses an appropriate organizational structure for development of reasoning and logic, with minor lapses in structure and/or coherence.


Maintains an appropriate organizational structure to address specific requirements of the prompt. Structure reveals the reasoning and logic of the argument.


Maintains an organizational structure that intentionally and effectively enhances the presentation of information as required by the specific prompt. Structure enhances development of the reasoning and logic of the argument.




Attempts to demonstrate standard English conventions, but lacks cohesion and control of grammar, usage, and mechanics. Sources are used without citation.



Demonstrates an uneven command of standard English conventions and cohesion. Accuracy and/or appropriateness of language and tone is uneven. Inconsistently cites sources.


Demonstrates a command of standard English conventions and cohesion, with few errors. Response includes language and tone appropriate to the audience, purpose, and specific requirements of the prompt. Cites sources using appropriate format with only minor errors.


Demonstrates and maintains a well-developed command of standard English conventions and cohesion, with few errors. Response includes language and tone consistently appropriate to the audience, purpose, and specific requirements of the prompt. Consistently cites sources using appropriate format.

Content Understanding


Attempts to include disciplinary content in argument, but understanding of content is weak; content is irrelevant, inappropriate, or inaccurate.


Briefly notes disciplinary content relevant to the prompt; shows basic or uneven understanding of content; minor errors in explanation.


Accurately presents disciplinary content relevant to the prompt with sufficient explanations that demonstrate understanding.


Integrates relevant and accurate disciplinary content with thorough explanations that demonstrate in-depth understanding.



Matthew Franchina and Jesse Eisenbise, Palmyra Area School District

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