Grade 6: Close Reading – The Great Fire by Jim Murphy


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Reading Informational Text

RI.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.6.2 Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

RI.6.3 Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).

RI.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.

RI.6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.

RI.6.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.


W.6.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.

History/Social Studies

Literacy in History/Social Studies


Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


This lesson plan intended for Grade 6 titled “The Great Fire by Jim Murphy” from has an estimated ELA/Literacy instructional time of five 60-minute sessions. The lesson is intended to give students an opportunity to closely examine a complex text and to discuss text-dependent questions while building academic vocabulary. Students will independently construct an essay using evidence from the text and/or comparing different points of view.  A culminating assessment measures the students’ ability to examine textual evidence and discern deep meaning.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that the activities as described would be difficult to complete in five class periods and still achieve the rigor intended.  The plan would be enhanced with more scaffolding, teacher modeling, and discreet skill instruction. The instructional plan includes CCSS standards that are sometimes only marginally addressed, if at all.  Essays included in the plan should not be optional; an aligned rubric will need to be developed to provide sufficient guidance for interpreting students’ writing.


The lesson plan is a useful example primarily because of its rigor and its varied and thoughtful learning tasks that address Common Core standards in reading, writing, speaking and listening.  These activities provide students with multiple opportunities to engage with a complex text.  The plan includes a summative assessment that is easy to score using the annotated Teacher Guide which includes a specific rationale for answer options. Included with the lesson plan are: a teacher material folder, a student material folder, a blank student assessment and an annotated assessment answer key. Additional resources are listed in the lesson’s Appendices.