“Brain Gain”: Teaching & Building on a Common Core Unit

Something that I loved about “Brain Gain,” a unit by Odell Education that is designed to help build students’ close reading, annotating, and text-based discussion skills, is that it
asked students to think critically about the value of education. A few students noted that they hadn’t previously considered how lucky they are to have access to public education — they didn’t know that founding fathers (like Thomas Jefferson) had to actually fight to institute a public education system. Students also began to see connections between education, economics and government.

Here are a few resources that you can use, build-0n or adapt when implementing the “Brain Gain” unit yourself:

  • Brain Gain PPT: I used this PowerPoint to frame lessons and to provide a visual resource for students .
  • Homework, PBS Website: The unit includes an optional extension activity in which students explore and write about a PBS website related to education. I assigned this as a homework activity. If students do this as homework, they should have class time to “share out” or discuss findings with small groups.
  • Graphic organizer, Powell-Montessori: Several students benefited from using this graphic organizer to help organize their comparative piece (comparing texts 5 & 6).
  • Graphic organizer, multi-paragraph writing: This is a writing aid that I offered students while they composed their final writing piece.
  • Revision workshop, Brain Gain: After analyzing student writing samples, I compiled a list of common mistakes in writing, showed these to students, then provided class time for students to revise. This PowerPoint also includes a revision scale and reflection component so that students understand how they will be evaluated and so that they have a chance to consider how they can improve their writing through revision. See also: Teaching Students to Revise.
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