Grades 11-12: Reading Closely for Textual Details –“Life Steps Almost Straight”


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Reading Informational Text

RI.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

RI.11-12.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness or beauty of the text.

RI.11-12.9 Analyze seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century foundational U.S. documents of historical and literary significance (including The Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address) for their themes, purposes, and rhetorical features.

RI.11-12.10 By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.


W.11-12.2 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.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

W.11-12.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and Listening

SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


This Grades 11-12 unit titled “Reading Closely for Textual Details – Life Steps Almost Straight” from is part of a developing core proficiencies program that is intended to be completed in three weeks of direct instruction in ELA/Literacy. This unit develops students’ abilities to read closely for textual details and compare authors’ perspectives through an examination of a series of texts about human nature. Unit activities provide students with multiple opportunities to: practice reading closely for details from a range of text types; make comparisons across texts; develop their abilities to express their analysis – first through writing text-based explanations and then through facilitating and participating in text-centered discussions. The unit ends with a multi-stage culminating activity in which students first listen to three related texts and discuss them as a class. Next, they select (or are assigned) one of the texts to discuss first with a small group and then analyze independently. Finally, students use their analysis to independently write a detail-based explanation of that text.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that teacher notes and preparation materials require familiarity to be used effectively. While this unit uses varied modes of assessment, including a range of pre, formative, summative, and self-assessment measures, no formal CCSS aligned rubrics are included to measure individual student performance on all targeted standards; it is suggested that rubrics be developed. If this unit is used in a social studies classroom, standards for Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standards should be substituted for the standards listed above. It is also suggested that social studies teachers add standards from the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks. For direct links to these sources see below.

Grades 6-12 Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Standards  

CT Elementary and Secondary Social Studies Frameworks


The design of this unit is exemplary. It provides all students with multiple opportunities to engage with text of appropriate complexity for the grade level with the scaffolding required so that students directly experience the complexity of the text. It includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. The unit plan integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening so that students apply and synthesize advancing literacy skills that meet targeted Common Core standards. Rather than simply ask students to read closely, this unit instructs them in a process for doing so. The unit plan has been structured to be implemented in a variety of ways. It can be used as a short, stand-alone unit to introduce or develop key student proficiencies in reading closely for textual details, or it could also be used to integrate the instruction into a larger module. Files, including detailed daily lesson plans, are organized so that teachers can easily browse through the materials and find everything needed for pacing and instruction. Formative and summative assessments provide all students with the scaffolding needed for success.