COMMON CORE STANDARDS
RL.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.
RL.7.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
RL.7.3 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
RL.7.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.
RL.7.5 Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.
RL.7.6 Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.
W.7.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
W.7.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking and 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.
L.7.3(a) Choose language that expresses ideas precisely and concisely, recognizing and eliminating wordiness and redundancy.
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.7.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
L.7.6 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 LESSON
This Grade 7 lesson plan titled “Mark Twain-The Glorious Whitewasher” cited on achievethecore.org is intended to be completed in three 50-minute language arts classes. The lesson gives students an opportunity to closely examine a complex text and to discuss text-dependent questions while building academic vocabulary. Students independently construct a narrative that incorporates the same theme as the text, the voice of a narrator, and dialogue. 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 the time allotted and still achieve the rigor intended. The instructional plan lists many CCSS standards, yet several are only marginally addressed, if at all. The plan would be enhanced with more scaffolding to help students build the skills necessary for independence and deeper comprehension. An aligned rubric should be created to provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student writing performance.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
The lesson plan is a useful example primarily because of its rigor and learning tasks that address Common Core standards in reading, writing, speaking & listening, and language. These activities provide students with opportunities to engage with a complex text that is rich in humor, insight, and vocabulary. The plan includes an assessment that is easy to score using the annotated Teacher Guide’s specific rationale for answer options. Quantitative data about text complexity for the excerpt from “Tom Sawyer” is included with lesson materials. This model clearly demonstrates the process that educators could use to analyze text complexity.