Should People Have Migrated West?: Paired Reading Passages & Opinion Writing

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Westward Expansion - Should People Have Migrated West?: Paired Passages & Opinion Writing - PDF & Digital

This is set of leveled paired passages or texts with reading comprehension tests, short response questions, and extended writing prompts. This unit can be used in reading, writing, or social studies.

The included texts are non-fiction. Four texts are included. Each one focuses on a different topic related to westward expansion. The extended writing prompts provided are for opinion or argumentative writing. Targeted reading levels are 4th - 6th.

This resource is included in both PDF and digital (Google slides) formats. The digital copies are included in both a whole file format and broken into individual pieces to make it easier for teachers to assign the pieces in an online platform.

Flexible Use

This product is designed to help students practice for state reading and writing tests such as FSA and MACS. The leveled texts can be used together for paired passages or could be used separately. This resource could also be used as part of a unit on the Westward Movement. Teachers can choose how to use this product.

Included are 4 different texts. Each one is provided on 3 different reading levels.

In order to differentiate, the leveled passages are provided at three different reading lexile levels:

  • Level A - Low, 4th grade level
  • Level B - Medium, 5th grade level
  • Level C - High, 6th grade level

The Unit

Students read about westward expansion. One text focuses on how and why the United States expanded its borders. The second text discusses life on the emigrant trails. The third text discusses how advances in technology impacted westward movement. The final text focuses on how westward expansion affected Native peoples. Students write an opinion or argumentative essay stating their opinion and supporting it with text evidence.

Teachers can use 2 - 4 texts with writing prompt.

Four reading comprehension tests are included. They have 5 multiple choice questions and 1 short response. Teachers can use these or skip them, depending on how they want to use the unit.

Teachers can differentiate this assignment in different ways:

  1. Use different reading levels as appropriate.
  2. Vary the number of passages given to students. There are 4 texts that can be used for the opinion writing.
  3. Assign groups to become experts on one topic, then teach the others. (Jigsaw)
  4. Use the texts in centers to break up the reading into smaller chunks. One center could be teacher led.

What is included in this product?

  1. The United States Expands West Passage – in 3 levels
  2. Traveling on the Emigrant Trail Passage – in 3 levels
  3. The Impact of New Technologies on Westward Expansion Passage - in 3 levels
  4. How Westward Expansion Affected Native Peoples Passage - in 3 levels
  5. 4 reading comprehension tests with 5 multiple choice and 1 short response question (one test for each passage)
  6. An extended writing response question for opinion/argumentative writing
  7. Answer Key for all questions
  8. Opinion Writing Rubric
  9. Argumentative Writing Rubric
  10. Standards Covered by this Product
  11. Testing Cover Page
  12. Testing Bubble/Answer Sheet
  13. Final Essay Blank Writing Paper
  14. Bibliography
  15. Digital copies of everything.

Please see the preview for even more information and pictures of this product.

If you are looking for help teaching paired passages, please see my writing center. This product discusses how to teach and organize evidence-based writing.

Paired Passages Writing Center: Citing Text Evidence Bundle Grades 4, 5, & 6 .

For more information, please see my blog post explaining the TEACH strategy.


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Total Pages
160 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
1 Week
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.


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