Grade 7: Child Soldiers – Analysis of News Articles (Lesson #1)


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Reading Informational Text

RI.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.7.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

RI.7.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author distinguishes his or her position from that of others.


W.7.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

W.7.9(a) Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Compare and contrast a fictional portrayal of a time, place, or character and a historical account of the same period as a means of understanding how authors of fiction use or alter history”).

W.7.9(b) Apply grade 7 Reading standards to literary nonfiction (e.g. “Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims”).

W.7.10 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.

Speaking & Listening

SL.7.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

SL.7.1(a) Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

SL.7.1(b) Follow rules for collegial discussions, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

SL.7.1(c) Pose questions that elicit elaboration and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant observations and ideas that bring the discussion back on topic as needed.

SL.7.1(d) Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, modify their own views.


L.7.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 7 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.7.4(a) Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

L.7.4(b) Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., belligerent, bellicose, rebel).

L.7.4(c) Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.

L.7.4(d) Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).


This Grade 7 lesson set titled “Child Soldiers – Analysis of News Articles (Lesson #1)” from CPALMS Lesson Plan Development Initiative has an ELA/Literacy instructional time of 12 hours. In this lesson, students read a series of three news articles about Sudanese efforts to disband child soldier units. Working in small groups, then partners, and finally independently, students work to determine the meaning of selected vocabulary from each article, respond to text-dependent questions, and complete a graphic organizer answering the lesson’s guiding questions and citing evidence from the text in support of their analysis. Students then write an extended paragraph in response to one guiding question of their choosing.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes/preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively. In order for students to be successful with this lesson, they must have prior knowledge about: the Second Sudanese Civil War or child soldiers in general; how to annotate an article; the terms author’s point of view and author’s perspective; the ways authors reveal point of view. Resources are provided in the lesson materials to help students develop this knowledge/skill. Computer access is required to carry out this lesson as intended. The labeling of the targeted standards listed above has been adjusted to reflect the Common Core State Standards used in Connecticut. The actual standards targeted in the lesson plan remain the same. While a sample rubric for the writing prompt is provided, creation of an aligned rubric that more closely assesses student proficiency of the targeted standards listed above is suggested. If this lesson is used in a history/social studies course, the English Language Arts Standards in History/Social Studies that are targeted will need to be added. Since the lesson topic also aligns with the Social Studies C3 Frameworks Standards, these standards could also be added. For direct links to these sources, see below:

English Language Arts Standards in History/Social Studies, Grades 6-8 →
Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Social Studies C3 Frameworks →


This lesson is an exemplary example of how to make reading text closely, examining textual evidence, and discerning deep meaning a central focus of instruction. Instructional activities engage students in a productive struggle with complex text through discussion questions and other supports that build toward independence. The lesson identifies important and rigorous vocabulary within text and provides strategic instruction and practice with these terms. The instructional plan provides an accommodations section that shows how teachers might add more scaffolding within the lesson. Extension activities are provided. Materials include all required texts, text-dependent questions for each article, a Vocabulary Practice handout, a Student Response Template and a Response Rubric. This is the first of three lessons within a unit that will build toward having students research and write a paper on child soldiers. For direct links to these lessons, see below:

Child Soldiers Lesson 2: The Music of a War Child →
Child Soldiers Lesson 3: Research Paper →