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Reading & Writing in the Disciplines

Building Knowledge from Multiple Sources

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Dr. Amanda Micsenyi leads her ninth grade class in a literature study of the timeline of HIV/AIDS. Students read and annotate four articles to better understand and discuss the disease, its social progression, and the development of treatments.

Teacher: Amanda Micsenyi

School: Millennium Brooklyn High School, Brooklyn, NY

Grade: 9

Discipline: Science (Quantitative Research)

Lesson Topic: HIV literature review

Lesson Month: March

Number of Students: 28

Featured Lesson’s Student Goals:

  • Content objectives – Read and interpret secondary and primary text documents from the HIV/AIDS epidemic [1981–present]; discuss main ideas and themes contained in an article and reflect on what we “know” now about the disease; interpret prejudices and misconceptions from the time period
  • Literacy/language objectives – Understand how language is used to convey main ideas and themes in secondary sources
  • Engagement/interaction objectives – Use peers to clarify comprehension and social prejudices

Standards Addressed:

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

    Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.
    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

New York State P-12 Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy

  • CCR Reading Standards for Informational Text 6–12
    1.a. Develop factual, interpretive, and evaluative questions for further exploration of the topics
  • CCR Reading Standards for Informational Text 6–12
    9.a. Read, annotate, and analyze informational texts on topics related to diverse and non-traditional cultures and viewpoints.
  • CCR- Speaking and Listening Standards 6–12
    1.a-e: initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on other’s ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Instruction Details:

The Unit
The focus of this 30-day unit was to look at different aspects of HIV: the disease itself, social justice issues, how politics come into play, and how to protect the population. The unit was taught in the spring, and the literature review lesson was the twelfth lesson of the unit.

Before the Video
Students incrementally watched the film And the Band Played On. Dr. Micsenyi distributed notecards before the film; after each viewing, students wrote down what they had learned and any questions they had. Leading up to this lesson, Dr. Micsenyi had introduced the idea of a literature review as it would look in a quantitative research class—using multiple sources, like journal articles, statistics, and data, to support a claim. Dr. Micsenyi divided the class into groups and assigned each group four articles from a specific time period during the HIV epidemic, which has spanned the past 30 years. Students were assigned their first article and were instructed to read, annotate, and fill out a graphic organizer. They left one part of the graphic organizer blank for group discussion in class.

During the Video
For the first five minutes of class, a student presented a lesson on a tangential topic relating to HIV: a group of European descendants who are genetically immune from ever getting HIV and have what is called the CCR5 delta 32 mutation. After the student-led lesson, students got into their groups and spent 10 minutes discussing the previous night’s reading, the first article in the review set of four. As they discussed their articles, students filled out an article deconstruction worksheet, noting what the main claim of the article was and how the author supported the claim, and pulled direct quotations to reflect on the social implications of the time. The remaining class time was spent reading and annotating the next article in the literature review packet.

After the Video
Students worked through the remaining three articles. As with the first article, students read, annotated, filled out a graphic organizer, discussed in class, and filled out an article deconstruction worksheet. After examining all four articles, each group wrote out on chart paper what the main events were during their assigned time period. The class then came together and assembled an HIV timeline encompassing the events from each group. Students did a “gallery walk” and chronicled HIV events from the beginning of the epidemic. Students used the timeline as background to write a literature review of their article set.

Teacher Prep
Dr. Micsenyi selected the four articles for the literature review packet and created the graphic organizer.

Prior Knowledge
Students needed to know how to support their answers with evidence; have knowledge of the topic; have a genuine interest in the topic; know how to recognize bias, relevance, and validity in text; and have a basic understanding of HIV.

Differentiated Instruction
Peer teaching provided an opportunity for an educationally eager student to take on a challenge. Dr. Micsenyi proposed he give a lesson to the class and gave him two journal articles to read and summarize. She did not give him guidelines for the lesson and told him to put the topic into context himself and to present it as he understood it.

Group Interaction
Groups got together and discussed what they had read the previous day. Part of the group dynamic was to realize that there is more than one way to look at an article. Students relied on their group members for help on difficult language, concepts, and implications as well as to clarify misunderstandings. The groups also did some vocabulary work. Dr. Micsenyi felt it was a prime opportunity to prep kids for the SAT by breaking down tough words from the articles.

Having students work in groups also allowed them to understand multiple perspectives. Dr. Micsenyi created the graphic organizer and article deconstruction worksheet so that students were not only reading and annotating the text, but also thinking about specific questions, such as, What’s the main claim? How does the author support his or her claim? For tough vocabulary, Dr. Micsenyi encouraged students to come to a conclusion on their own rather than give the answer. Students looked up words online or asked each other for help. Dr. Micsenyi also asked leading questions to get students thinking.

Resources and Tools

  • HIV articles from The New York Times and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Graphic organizer
  • HIV Literature Review Article Deconstruction Worksheet handout


Formative Assessment
Dr. Micsenyi walked around the room to observe and engage students in discussion and questions.

Student Self-Assessment
Students filled out an evaluation on the student presenter.

Summative Assessment
Students filled out an exit ticket that included 1) How do you think knowing about CCR5 delta 32 mutation will help combat HIV? and 2) Write one thing you learned from your discussion with your group regarding the article you read the night before. After analyzing the four articles in their literature review packet, students wrote a two-page paper that summarized what they learned from their four articles.

Impact of Assessment
Dr. Micsenyi noticed that infectious diseases and diseases in general that massively affect the population sparked students’ interests. Students connected with the topic and pursued it beyond the assigned classroom work. Knowing this, Dr. Micsenyi decided to format her curriculum for the following year to bring in more disease-related topics.

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Reading & Writing in the Disciplines


Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation. 2015.
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  • ISBN: 1-57680-906-4