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        Condense, Combine or Categorize New Information - Your Brain and Moral Decision-Making

        Students watch a video showing an experiment on how the brain responds when making moral decisions. They then synthesize information to create a summary paragraph that describes the experiment and the conclusions presented.

        Lesson Summary


        Students watch a video segment chronicling an experiment regarding how the brain responds when making moral decisions. While watching the video, students complete a graphic organizer in order to condense the information. Students synthesize information to create a summary paragraph that describes the experiment including the parts of the brain that are affected during the experiment and the conclusions presented.

        Why is this an important concept?

        Learners who can condense, combine or categorize new information have the ability to separate relevant from irrelevant information. They can also establish the author’s purpose and the main idea of a work. These are important skills to develop, especially when reading nonfiction or informational texts. These reading techniques are especially beneficial when conducting scientific research.


        Grade Level:


        Suggested Time

        (1) 45-minute period and (1) 20-minute period

        Media Resources

        Your Brain and Moral Decision Making QuickTime Video


        Your Brain Graphic Organizer handout
        Your Brain Summary Paragraph rubric

        The Lesson

        Part I: Learning Activity

        Day One

        1. Provide the purpose for the activity: to condense and summarize information by completing a graphic organizer and then write a complete summary paragraph to detail the results of a scientific experiment.

        Note: Preview the video segment to take note of captions. As captions reveal information essential to understanding the experiment, you may choose to pause the video in these places.

        2. Ask the students what it means to summarize. What needs to be done with information in order to summarize it? Guide this discussion during a brief question and answer session.

        3. Explain to the students that they will be watching a video that chronicles a scientific experiment. The researchers want to know what parts of the brain are stimulated when a person makes a moral decision. They also want to know how the brain’s reaction to stimulus affects the decision that a person ultimately makes. As they watch the video, ask students to create a sequential list of the most important events that occur during the experiment. Play the Your Brain and Moral Decision Making QuickTime Video.

        4. After watching the video, ask the students what events they included in their lists and why. Also ask what events they did not include and what made them decide these things were not relevant. 

        5. Distribute the Your Brain Graphic Organizer handout. Ask students to watch the video a second time and complete the graphic organizer. Pause and play repeatedly for comprehension and review.

        6. After watching the video a second time, ask students to compare their graphic organizers to the lists they created while watching the video the first time. Did they add or take away information? Discuss.

        7. Distribute the Your Brain Summary Paragraph rubric. Tell students to use their graphic organizers to write a summary paragraph that details the events and results of the experiment. Review the rubric so students will know the expectations of the paragraph.

        8. Using their graphic organizers and the rubric, students write a draft of the experiment summary paragraph. Students may complete the paragraph drafts for homework if additional time is needed.


        Part II: Assessment

        Day Two

        1.Students complete their summary paragraph rough drafts.

        2.Students exchange paragraph drafts with fellow students to peer-edit and discuss needed revisions and/or additions.

        3.After making needed revisions, students complete final versions of paragraphs and hand in with the first drafts and rubrics for a grade.



        For students who need additional guidance:

        • Provide opportunities for students to watch the video segment multiple times.
        • Provide extended time to complete the Your Brain Graphic Organizer handout. Students can work with a partner to complete organizer.
        • Students may consult corresponding web sites for proper summary paragraph format and proofreading guidelines.



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