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COMMON CORE STANDARDS
RL.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
RL.8.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
RL.8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
RL.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
RL.8.6 Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.
RL.8.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
W.8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
W.8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
W.8.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
W.8.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
L.8.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
L.8.3 Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grade 8 unit titled “Text Analysis and Character Revelations – Flowers for Algernon” by Anita Hatch, Jennifer Carr, Joseph M. Bushong, Rithy Som, and Ryan J. Coe cited on the Literacy Design Collaborative website is intended to be completed in approximately 3-4 weeks of ELA/Literacy instruction. During this unit, students analyze a short story, focusing on how particular lines of dialogue or incidents propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. Unit activities provide an opportunity for students to reflect on how their interactions with text impact their assertions, written responses, and explicit/implicit understanding of the text. As a culminating activity, students independently write an essay that explains how the author reveals aspects of a character over the course of the text, supporting their writing with evidence from the text.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the website and the teacher notes/preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively. All of the student and teacher materials used in the unit are included except for the short story. (The text is available for no cost online in several places.) Additional supports and accommodations may be needed for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band. It is unclear how much discrete written instruction is included.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
This unit is a good example of how to make reading text closely, examining textual evidence, and discerning deep meaning a central focus of instruction. The instructional activities focus on challenging sections of the text and engage students in a productive struggle through discussion questions and other supports that build toward independence. The plan addresses instructional expectations and is easy to understand and use. Materials include a pacing guide, background for students, instructional strategies, handouts for teachers and students, an assessment, rubrics, and an extension activity.