Grades 9-10: Elusive Allusions: Unlocking Meanings


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Reading Literature

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.

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.

RL.9-10.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment.


W.9-10.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

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.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

W.9-10.3 (a) Demonstrate understanding of the concept of point of view by writing short narratives, poems, essays, speeches, or reflections from one’s own point of view.

W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Speaking and Listening

SL 9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.

SL.9-10.5 Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.


L.9-10.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


This Grades 9-10 unit titled “Elusive Allusions: Unlocking Meanings from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is intended to be completed in three to four weeks of ELA/Literacy instruction. The unit is focused on unlocking the meaning behind allusions and incorporating allusions into writing and speaking. Students learn to: unlock allusions used in literature through the investigation of art allusions in one work of literature; infer the author’s intention; relate it to the analysis of the work; argue the validity of the allusions; and explore a potential allusion the author did not employ that supports the author’s decisions. Students interpret artworks alluded to in a science-fiction short story. They identify the details and components of the visual, dance, and media artworks; create visual inventories using academic and domain-specific vocabulary; identify evidence from the text connected to each allusion; and make clear the connections through discussion and in writing. Using these experiences, students investigate and argue the validity of a historical allusion. They then practice using appropriate allusions when describing persons, places, and situations in their lives. For the Performance Assessment students complete four tasks including two writing products, a visual art product, and an oral presentation to their classmates.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used with the rigor intended. While many 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 to both content and time allotted as necessary. At the start of each of the lesson groupings, the texts and materials needed are listed. Many of the materials/texts are not included with the unit plan and will need to be secured. Copies of the short story, “’Repent Harlequin!’ said the Ticktockman” are available on the Internet. Some of the links to websites listed in the unit materials have broken links, but can usually be found on the Internet by conducting a search with the specific title.


This exemplary unit includes a clear and explicit purpose for daily rigorous instruction that integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening so that students apply and synthesize advancing literacy skills. Unit activities focus on complex text, media, art, interviews, conversations and/or observations that engage students in a productive struggle with a gradual release of support that builds toward independence. Students develop an understanding of the power of words and images to transform lives, as well as insight into the experiences of others and an understanding of cultures and historical periods. It also focuses on building students’ academic vocabulary in context.  Among materials are the unit templates for instruction, assessment guidelines, frequent formative assessments, and an aligned CCSS rubric for interpreting student performance.