Grades 6-8: The Power of Language

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COMMON CORE STANDARDS

CCR Reading

CCR.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCR.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

CCR.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

CCR.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCR.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCR.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

CCR.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCR.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCR.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

CCR.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

CCR Writing

CCR.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCR.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

CCR.W.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

CCR.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCR.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

DESCRIPTION OF UNIT

This grades 6-8 unit titled “The Power of Language” by Laura Billings cited on LDC.org is intended to be completed in approximately 9-10 hours of English Language Arts/Literacy instructional time in the third quarter of the year. The unit addresses the effects of language structures in non-fiction and poetry. Throughout unit activities, students focus on critical analysis of genre structure, vocabulary, grammar, and literacy devices as they examine how language structure shapes meaning. Students prepare for and participate in a Paideia Seminar as they transition to an independent writing task. As a culminating activity, students write an informational/explanatory essay that addresses the unit’s essential question, “How does language structure shape meaning?” using text evidence from selected text(s) to support their analysis.

CAUTIONS

Connecticut teachers are cautioned that the unit materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. Additional supports and accommodations may be needed for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band. Teachers may need to adjust teaching time to address their students’ needs; additional discrete skill instruction may be necessary to sufficiently address the targeted Common Core Standards listed above. The unit plan does not list any Common Core Standards for Speaking and Listening although the standard is addressed throughout the Paideia seminar and should be added. Click here for a link to these standards. A rubric for assessing the Speaking and Listening standards will need to be created.

RATIONALE FOR SELECTION

This unit is a good example of how to facilitate rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about common texts through a sequence of specific, thought-provoking, and text-dependent questions. It routinely expects students to draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing that informs and explains in various written forms. Materials include: links for all materials needed, a detailed explanation of how to conduct a Paideia Seminar discussion, an aligned rubric for the writing, and a list of possible extension activities.