Grade 8: Reading Closely for Textual Details—“And, above all, we had to learn English.”


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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.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

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.8.9 Analyze a case in which two or more texts provide conflicting information on the same topic and identify where the texts disagree on matters of fact or interpretation.

RI.8.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 6-8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


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.8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.8.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and 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.


This Grade 8 unit titled “Reading Closely for Textual Details—And, above all, we had to learn English” from is part of a developing core proficiencies program that is intended to be completed in approximately three weeks of direct ELA/Literacy instruction. The instructional focus of this unit is on learning language and perspective; posing and responding to text-dependent questions; as well as on analyzing connections and relationships to deepen understanding.  It is explicitly and intentionally framed as skills-based instruction.  Lessons emphasize informational text, incorporating literary nonfiction and other literary texts to develop students’ abilities to read closely for textual details and compare authors’ perspectives through an examination of a series of texts. There is a two-stage culminating activity in which students first analyze and independently write about one of three related texts, and then participate in and lead a text-centered discussion where they explain the central idea of their text, identify something they have learned from reading their text (in the context of the other texts of the unit), and pose a comparative text-dependent question to facilitate a text-based discussion.


Connecticut teachers are cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. While assessment guidelines are included, the use of CCSS-aligned rubrics that elicit direct, observable evidence of the degree to which a student can independently demonstrate the major targeted grade-level standards is suggested to enhance the assessment component of the unit. Before this unit is used in a history/social studies course, some modifications would be necessary including: the replacement of the ELA CCSS listed above with the English Language Arts Standards in History/Social Studies that are targeted in this unit and possible assessment and/or assessment guidelines revision.


This exemplary unit includes a clear and explicit purpose for daily instruction which integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Students learn to apply and synthesize the core proficiency of reading closely for textual details by questioning and analyzing texts in order to explain their understanding—both in their own writing and in discussions.  Several strategies for teaching academic and disciplinary vocabulary in context are incorporated within the instructional plan. Varied modes of assessment are included throughout the unit along with excellent templates for instruction and engaging reading selections.  Social studies key ideas and themes support potential interdisciplinary connections.