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COMMON CORE STANDARDS
Reading Informational Text
RI.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.
RI.3.4 Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.
RI.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text.
W.3.1 Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons.
W.3.1(a) Introduce the topic or text they are writing about, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure that lists reasons.
W.3.1(b) Provide reasons that support the opinion.
W.3.1(c) Use linking words and phrases (e.g., because, therefore, since, for example) to connect opinion and reasons.
W.3.1(d) Provide a concluding statement or section.
DESCRIPTION OF UNIT
This Grade 3 unit from Massachusetts titled “Opinions Matter: Pre-Revolution Boston” is intended to be completed in 13 forty-five to sixty-minute sessions to allow teachers to include additional reading and writing instruction. The focus of this unit is on reading historically researched texts and writing opinion statements to respond to events. During the first half of the unit, students keep a diary in which they state their opinions on events after reading texts and viewing video clips. They then apply their knowledge of events and people, as well as their own experience, in order to write opinion pieces. As part of the authentic summative assessment, students complete a final diary entry expressing their opinions about participating in a historical event, supporting it with facts and details. On the last day, students each leave an anonymous copy of their diary page in an agreed upon location to be found, read, and discussed by students in another class.
Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. The unit plan only lists standards for reading informational texts and writing; however, standards for speaking and listening are not listed and could be added.
RATIONALE FOR SELECTION
This unit is an exemplary example of a progression of learning activities where knowledge and skills advance and deepen over time, requiring all students to demonstrate their independent capacities. It provides for authentic learning as it integrates history/social studies content with literacy. Lessons are designed to give students multiple and varied opportunities to compare and contrast points of view in order to independently write historically accurate, informative diary entries. The “General Notes and Resources“ section contains an overview of instructional guidance; excellent materials include historical images, diary organizers, a speaking checklist, and an extensive list of unit resources. Ongoing formative assessments are designed to facilitate knowledge/skill acquisition. The summative assessment includes an aligned rubric that provides guidance for interpreting individual student performance.