COMMON CORE STANDARDS
RL.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.
RL.8.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.
RL.8.5 Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
RL.8.6 Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor.
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.8.3 Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).
RI.8.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.
RI.8.7 Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using different mediums (e.g., print or digital text, video, multimedia) to present a particular topic or idea.
Reading in History/Social Studies
RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
RH.6-8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
RH.6-8.5 Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
RH.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
W.8.1 Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
W.8.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
W.8.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking & Listening
SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
L.8.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grade 8 unit titled “UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand and FAREWELL TO MANZANAR by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston – Perspective of WWII: Imprisonment, Internment, Hope, and Humanity” provides teachers with a short unit plan using text excerpts with an estimated instructional time of 4 to 5 days, as well as a longer unit using the complete novels with a suggested instructional time of 15 days. In both cases, students participate in critical discussions of two stories that illuminate important, yet divergent, experiences of war and conflict. Within the construct of the lessons, students use stories of imprisonment and internment to both further their understanding of history and their application of critical literacy skills embedded in the Common Core State Standards. In conjunction with discussion and peer / teacher feedback, students use close reading activities and textual evidence to participate in discourse and a culminating writing task that is focused on stating claims and establishing conclusions to derive a more specific understanding of larger, more overarching historical themes.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively. Although the materials give some suggestions for supports, there may need to be even more modifications for students who are ELL or have disabilities. The unit plan as written does not include aligned rubrics or assessment guidelines to provide sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
This unit is an exemplary example of how to integrate social studies content with literacy. It addresses instructional expectations and is easy to understand. The lessons gradually remove supports, requiring students to demonstrate their independent capacities. Students are routinely expected to draw evidence from texts to produce clear and coherent writing that informs, explains, or makes an argument. Instruction focuses on challenging sections of text(s) and engages students in a productive struggle through discussion questions and other supports that build knowledge to advance students toward independent reading of complex texts at the CCR level. The materials include: detailed lesson structures (for use with text excerpts as well as with full texts), six fully developed extension activities and materials, and a culminating writing assessment (with a student organizer). The following link provides an example of how teachers and students engage in the close reading process using UNBROKEN.
Reading Closely with Middle School Students (from Expeditionary Learning)—Students in Chris DiFulvio and Chris Leins’ eighth-grade classroom in Homer, NY are engaged in the close reading process. The students grapple with the complex non-fiction text, Unbroken, to deepen their understanding of the book’s central character and of the World War II era.