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Reading Closely Unit - CCSS ELA / Literacy - Grades 11-12: "Lay down all my joys"

Odell Education

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2013 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2013. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was: 4/23/2013.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Odell Education (OE) is an organization of educational specialists focusing their efforts on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. This unit is part of the Developing Core Proficiencies Curriculum funded by the USNY (New York) Regents Research Fund.

Publishers' Criteria (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Strongly Disagree) to 3 (Strongly Agree). Quality of Text: 2.58, Quality of Questions and Tasks: 2.63, Writing: 2.25.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar if improved (2.5)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.75, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.5, Instructional Supports: 2.25, Assessment: 2.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 3.0, Interactivity: 0.5, Exercises: 2.25, Deeper Learning: 2.75.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (2.25)

This was an exemplary unit, a compelling and impressive compilation of different voices on the issues of civil war/slavery. It went from male to female voices, literary, poetic, political points of view.

I would love to use these materials to teach this subject matter. I also was impressed with the clear referencing to the standards, and the scaffolded worksheets and checklists. I am a special education teacher and I feel that my students could follow, through many reference points, what they are supposed to do and as a teacher with this clear graphic organizer I can reference quickly where the students are as a circulate the room and where they followed or possibly become lost with this exercise.

Because of the range of materials I could choose to limit those that my students use but the tool itself does not provide differentiated instruction. What is missing, also, is a type of summative writing assignment which would be appropriate with this length and breadth of unit, a comparison or formal essay on a topic related to these materials. In my opinion, however, this would be an easy fix. It would not be difficult to come up with these summative writing assignments. But, even better, it would be great if the originators added that element to this unit. All in all, though, I think this is a benchmark unit, that makes me want to use it with which to teach, immediately.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This unit as a whole would be useful in any ELA classroom. I believe that there is enough support and material to adapt it for use with any text, to gradually release the control of the lessons so that students are in charge of their learning. Using the unit as is would also be appropriate, but I think the lessons would benefit students in learning to learn. The handouts and activities would help students to understand how their thoughts work, how texts and historical aspects are connected, and to use what they know to better understand what they are reading. Students can feel comfortable during this unit because there is scaffolding in place to help the range of readers, but more would be necessary for ELL/SpEd students. The time requirement is just right, but could be adapted to meet the needs of your learners. There would be little work to be done to bring this unit into alignment for the Informational portion of the CCSS.

However, there are no literary texts. I am sure that there are texts that would match the featured texts, and could be useful (Red Badge of Courage for example).

Also, I would have liked to have seen a longer written project, so that the writing standards would have been addressed. This is something that would not be an issue to add on to the unit.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

In this unit students explore Civil War era documents to learn the skills of close reading and finding details in a text. The unit progresses from texts such as photos, short letters, videos, and websites to essays, speeches, and government documents. Students read works from literary figures such as Whitman and Emerson, and examine historical texts by figures such as Jefferson Davis and Harriet Jacobs. Along the way students practice the skills of re-reading, text marking, annotating details, and creating focus questions. The students finish the unit by leading a small group discussion on the text they closely read. The unit includes expansion opportunities, such as building the speaking portion of the lesson into a public speaking opportunity.

During the unit students, with decreasing teacher scaffolding, learn skills to examine documents in depth. There is a strong focus on informational texts and learning the skills to read complex texts, which students work toward practicing independently. The alignment with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is strong with the following standards for Reading for Information Texts in the 11/12 band: 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, and 10. There is a focus on standard 1 in the 11/12 band for speaking and listening as students prepare for discussion at the end of the unit. The writing standard this unit addresses in the 11/12 band is 9b. The unit provides models and processes the teacher can use with students. For example, there are worksheets, along with an exemplar, that break down the process of reading and finding details in a text. This should help students learn the process of close reading and finding details.

In this unit students get some practice with writing, although the teacher will have to do some work if he/she wants students to get practice with the writing standards. The unit has materials, such as a comparison between the Emerson and Burran pieces, where, with a little work, the teacher could create an argumentative or informative writing assignment. There is one spot for extended writing in Part IV, Activity four, but no accompanying rubric. The teacher may have to do a little work as well to be able to translate some of the activities, whether reading, writing, or speaking, into scores in the gradebook.

The unit is broken into five parts, each one taking 3-4 sixty minute class periods to complete. A teacher could take one of the five parts to create a standalone series of lessons. Since there is a strong connection with historical documents a history teacher covering the Civil War could also use this unit.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This unit requires no serious medication although it allows for ample opportunities for the educator to add, subtract, modify, or otherwise enhance. The unit is designed to encourage close reading, make evidence based claims, research and discuss to deepen understanding, and finally to build evidence based arguments. The unit fully describes what is to be addressed and makes it easy for the teacher to adapt and prepare students for the tasks at hand. The ELA standards specifically addressed include the following: RI.11-12.1,2,4,6,9; SL.11-12.1, and W.11-12.2,4,9.

The texts increase in complexity as the unit progresses. As the text become more complex, scaffolding is provided in the form of guided reading questions and self-assessment checklists. There is clear instruction for close reading that makes explicit the invisible process that most expert readers have internalized.

There a wide range of resources including multi-media, informative non-fiction, and literary non-fiction. Every question is text-based. Many of the lessons integrate communication skills with close reading of texts. There are also opportunities for comparison of how different texts treat the same topic.

The unit provides many opportunities for self-assessment and teacher assessment. Writing includes a variety of short responses from one or two sentences to a few paragraphs. Students are encouraged to utilize appropriate conventions and to pay attention to audience and purpose. Finally, extension activities encourage more independent reading and writing including a reflective essay.

I did not find rubrics specifically designed to assist the teacher in assessing student performance. A professional teacher with some experience should easily be able to design these.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Strongly Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.