Grade 9: Making It Visual for ELL Students – Teaching History Using MAUS


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Reading Literature

RL.9-10.1Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RL.9-10.10 By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

Reading Informational Text

RI.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.9-10.2 Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

RI.9-10.5 Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).

RI.9-10.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is valid and the evidence is relevant and sufficient; identify false statements and fallacious reasoning.


W.9-10.9.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

W.9-10.9.1(a) Introduce precise claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that establishes clear relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.

W.9-10.9.1(b) Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level and concerns.

W.9-10.9.1(c) Use words, phrases, and clauses to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.

W.9-10.9.1(d) Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.

W.9-10.9.1(e) Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.

W.9-10.9.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.

W.9-10.9.3(a) Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

W.9-10.9.3(b) Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.

W.9-10.9.3(d) Use precise words and phrases, telling details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.

W.9-10.9.3(e) Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.

W.9-10.9.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

W.9-10.9.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

Speaking and Listening

SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL.9-10.1(a) Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

SL.9-10.1(b) Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed.

SL.9-10.1(c) Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.

SL.9-10.1(d) Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.


L.9-10.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.9-10.4(a) Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence, paragraph, or text; a word’s position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

L.9-10.4(d) Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

L.9-10.6 Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.


This Grade 9-10 ELA/Literacy unit titled Making It Visual for ELL Students: Teaching History Using MAUS”  from has an estimated instructional time of fourteen 50-minute lessons.  The emphasis of these lessons is for students to: learn how historical events can have important relevance for today;  develop critical reading and thinking skills; develop and utilize visual literacy skills to aid and support reading comprehension of a graphic novel; deepen understanding of history texts;  compare how specific content is presented across modal genres (films, websites, books, articles); present personal interpretations of history in oral and written forms; as well as to draw on personal experiences and literacy practices to construct knowledge.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that before this unit is used in a history/social studies course, some modifications will 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, additional history/social studies content to meet grade-specific content standards, and a more comprehensive assessment with a CCSS aligned rubric that provides sufficient guidance for interpreting student performance in all unit standards.  Teacher notes and preparation materials will require familiarity to be used effectively.  Handouts and templates are included, but the main student text, MAUS, is not.  It is unclear if there is explicit instruction with student practice for many of the writing standards listed. Student access to computers is necessary to complete this unit as intended. The film from which an excerpt is used in Session 4 is rated “R” which may warrant administrative approval before use.


The unit plan is a useful example of how to integrate appropriate supports in reading, writing, listening and speaking for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band. Lessons focus on building students’ vocabulary in context throughout instruction.  Technology and media help to deepen learning about a historical topic. Multiple extension activities are included in the plan.  The first link that follows provides an example of a class using an interactive word wall activity to strengthen vocabulary and concepts and to show their collective understanding. The second link provides examples  of scaffolded classroom strategies required to facilitate deeper learning for ELL students

Strategy: Interactive Word Wall (from Expeditionary Learning)—Rich Richardson’s eighth-grade students at the Expeditionary Learning Middle School in Syracuse, New York, use an interactive word wall to demonstrate their conceptual understanding of words in context.

Deeper Learning for English Language Learners  Grades 9-12 Teaching Channel (Internationals Network Deeper Learning Series)  This video shows different classroom settings where recently-arrived immigrants attending Flushing International High School in Flushing, New York thrive with scaffolded instructional strategies and differentiation as needed.