COMMON CORE STANDARDS
RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.9-10.2 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.
RL.9-10.4 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).
RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Reading Informational Text
RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RI.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
RI.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
W.9-10.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
W.9-10.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.9-10.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
L.9-10.5(b) Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grades 9-10 unit titled “Words Matter” is cited on collegeready.gatesfoundation.org as part of the Common Assignment Study. The unit was developed by integrating the Understanding by Design framework with a Literacy Design Collaborative module to help scaffold and support the development of students’ content literacy. It has an approximate ELA/Literacy instructional time of 6 weeks. Students develop their textual analysis skills gradually as they explore how words carry multiple layers of meaning and how authors purposely choose words to convey deeper meanings. They begin by collaboratively analyzing the impact of word choice on tone and meaning in rich texts and then through additional small-group practice and instruction on how to develop a focused thesis and structure an explanatory essay on a complex topic. In the final performance task, students individually read a text and explain the intentional word choices authors make to craft a message.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that due to the sensitive nature of the topic and the impact that it might have on individual students, it is important to introduce the topic of bullying and related classroom guidelines before beginning the unit. The teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. While most of the student materials used in the unit are included, some are not—but most of those can be found on the Internet. Additional supports and accommodations may be needed for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
This unit is an exemplary example of a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. Using gradual release, lessons provide all students with multiple opportunities to engage with text of appropriate complexity for the grade level. Scaffolding helps students directly experience the complexity of the text. Students are routinely expected to draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing that makes and supports an argument. Activities provide for authentic learning, application of literacy skills, student-directed analysis, evaluation and reflection. The unit elicits direct, observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the major targeted grade-level CCSS standards and provides quality aligned rubrics and materials.