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COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Reading Informational Text
RI.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.
RI.8.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
RI.8.5 Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.
W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
W.8.1(a) Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
W.8.1(b) Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text.
W.8.1(c) Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
W.8.1(d) Establish and maintain a formal style.
W.8.1(e) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
W.8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
W.8.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
L.8.6 Students will acquire and use accurately grade appropriate general academic and domain specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grade 8 unit titled “Newspaper Reporting and Interviewing” from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education contains 12 lessons, each 50 minutes in length. This unit is intended to be used at the beginning of the school year to provide a base for research and argumentative writing for students’ subsequent assignments. All phases of the writing process are explored from examination of a model text through drafting, revising, editing, and finalizing. In a series of sequenced lessons, students learn about using: academic language to support evidence-based writing; transition words to link ideas; organization and text structure; strategic evidence; correct citation practices. As a culminating authentic performance task, students write a research-based argumentative essay.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. Before starting this unit, students will need to be familiar with annotating a text. They should also have had some exposure to the following terms: argument, thesis, introduction, evidence, reasons, opposing, and conclusion. While some accommodations and supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities and/or read below the grade level are provided, it will be important to consider the variability of learners in your class and make adaptations as necessary. Although the lesson plans are explicit, the curriculum writers encourage teachers to feel free to substitute other appropriate lessons that teach the unit goals. Teachers will need to update materials and electronic materials prior to using them. Several links embedded in the lessons are broken but can easily be replaced after doing an Internet search on the topic. Some of the articles and videos used in the lessons are dated and could be replaced. A computer for each student will be necessary to complete the unit as intended. Since this unit aligns with the Grade 8 Social Studies Frameworks for Inquiry in the Social Studies, these social studies standards could be added and/or replace some of the targeted standards listed above. For a direct link to this source, see below.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
The unit is a good example of how to take students through the steps of using source material for research and writing. It includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time. Lessons are designed to gradually remove supports, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities. The unit’s performance task elicits direct observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the major targeted grade level CCSS standards. The summative assessment includes an aligned rubric that provides guidance for interpreting individual student performance. Because the unit was designed to be flexible with strong individual lessons, all content areas and middle school grade levels could use the unit and/or some lessons by changing the topic of the research paper.