Student View
Water Bottles: Handy or Harmful?

Sure, they make life easier. But they’re also hurting the environment.

By Lauren Tarshis
From the February 2019 Issue
Lexile: 600L-700L, 800L-900L
Guided Reading Level: T
DRA Level: 50
Activities (2)
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (1)
Activities (2) Download All Activities
Quizzes (2)
Quizzes (2)
Answer Key (1)
Can't-Miss Teaching Extras
Problems With Plastic

Plastic water bottles aren’t the only problem. Direct your students to National Geographic’s Kids vs. Plastic page for more information about single-use plastics. They’ll find tips for reducing plastic use, directions for making paper straws, info about how plastic affects animals, and more.

Quick Facts About Drinking Water Around the World
  • 844 million people live without access to safe water.
  • Women and girls spend 200 million hours every day collecting water.
  • 1/3 of all schools around the world lack access to clean water and basic sanitation.

Your students can learn more about the global water crisis at

More About the Story


main ideas and supporting evidence, opinion writing

Complexity Factors


The debate presents pros and cons of bottled water.  


The text is linear. It consists of an introduction followed by two sections that each present a side of the argument. 


The language is mainly conversational but includes a few higher-level words, such as thoroughly and necessity. There are also rhetorical questions, a metaphor, and other figures of speech

Knowledge Demands 

The text refers to fluoride and to the distance between Earth and the moon.

Step-by-Step Lesson Plan

1. Preparing to Read

Have students preview the text features. Ask:

  • What is the topic of the debate? (Prompt students to use the debate title and the heading on the chart as clues.)
  • What do you think are the two sides of the issue?

2. Reading the Debate 

Read the debate as a class or in small groups.

Have students read the debate a second time. Prompt them to mark the types of support the author presents to back up each side, including:

  • Facts and statistics (F/S)
  • Quotes from experts (Q)
  • Stories or examples (EX)

3. Discussing

As a class or in groups, have students discuss:

  • Which evidence is most effective in supporting each side?
  • Is one side stronger than the other? Why?
  • What is your opinion? What evidence do you find the most convincing?
  • For more-advanced students: Do you think the author has a preferred point of view on this issue? What is your evidence?

4. Writing

Have students complete the chart in the magazine.

Distribute the activity “Write an Opinion Essay.” The lower-level version guides students to write a three-paragraph essay on the debate topic. The higher-level version prompts them to bring in additional evidence and write six paragraphs, including a rebuttal of the other side. With either version, hand out our Opinion Writing Toolkit, which offers writing tips and transition words.