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Reading Closely Unit - CCSS ELA / Literacy - Grades 11-12: "Life steps almost straight"

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: 2.25, Quality of Questions and Tasks: 2.25, Writing: 2.5.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Needs Revision (2.0)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 3.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.5, Instructional Supports: 2.25, Assessment: 2.0.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.5, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 2.25, Deeper Learning: 2.75.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (2.25)

Impressed with:

  • The level of instructional detail provided with this unit (very user-friendly and approachable)
  • The amount of structured, scaffolded learning stages the students progress through to the culminating activity
  • Table of recommended texts (including types and Lexile values)
  • Extension opportunities

Challenged by:

  • Lack of suggested/recommended answer key/scoring rubrics (what elements should be score, evaluated, focused upon?)
  • Lack of student inquiry required (could they research their own “text” to analyze and compare within a set of teacher parameters?)

Overall evaluation: Thoroughly impressed with this unit, as well as its presentation/layout. Specific enough to ensure fidelity when taught across multiple classrooms yet “loose” enough to accommodate teaching styles and strengths. Appreciate how the focus of the lesson is the actual skill and not the text (ie – focusing on the purpose not the tool). Recommending to my ELA staff TODAY!!

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, designed for Seniors, students learn close reading skills through the lens of philosophy. Students practice on a range of texts that include a painting, comic strip, informational texts, Buddhist scripture, poem, a speech by Cornel West, letter and philosophical treatise by figures such as Descartes, Rilke, and Rousseau. The unit starts with texts students would find easier while they practice the skills necessary to close read more challenging documents. Eventually the students tackle a difficult text independently, although even with the annotations, some students, especially ELL or Special Education, may struggle with some of the vocabulary and meaning.

There are supports provided to tackle the difficult texts. The unit provides teachers background information to all the texts as well as examples of completed worksheets to show students to reference. Teachers most likely will want to develop their own text-specific questions and model the text questioning sequence provided in the unit. The unit also includes a checklist for students to use as they work toward independence on close reading. The teacher could use that checklist as some sort of formative assessment to see how students are doing toward mastering close reading skills.

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 assignments are a little bit shorter, in the range of a couple of sentences to one paragraph such as in Part 3 Activity 3 where students write a comparative paragraph between texts #5 and 6 (the Dickenson poem and Buddhists texts), but the unit provides enough materials and supports that the teacher could create a longer assessment that would work for his/her situation. Toward the end of the unit in Part 4, Activity 5, there is a built in longer writing assignment, but the teacher will have to create a rubric and/or translate the materials into a grade for students.

The end of the unit culminates in students reading one of three challenging texts independently and leading a discussion in groups of 3 or 6 to students. There are extension activities options to prepare students for the next level including a panel discussion, and a portfolio to show student learning.

There are a number of great texts here and I would recommend this unit in my work with seniors and helping them work toward achieving close reading skills necessary for college.

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

This is a skills based unit that focuses on RI.1, RI.2, RI.3, SL.1, W.4, and W9. This is intended for a 7th grade audience, but could pretty easily be adapted to 11th grade. There is a tremendous amount of scaffolding built in to teach students to analyze text for evidence, make evidence based arguments, and write in an organized fashion based on text based evidence. The unit incorporates teacher modeling, student collaboration, independent reading, close reading for text based evidence, evidence based claims, and writing in an organized manner using text based evidence.

It is a very long unit with a plethora of assessment and self-assessment tools designed to inform and instruct. The unit includes a great deal of scaffolding and support for struggling readers. The unit could use a wider variety of texts including one or two pieces of fiction that correspond to the subject matter. Several weeks are devoted to teaching skills with very little content. It may be that by 11th grade, students will be more proficient in some of these skills and require less time in modeling and support. In any event, the texts would need to be changed to meet the 11th grade text complexity reading band since this is directed at 7th grade.

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

The unit as a whole would be useful, but as a 12th grade unit. The knowledge base is strong, and the skills are useful across the curriculum. The texts used are not 11th grade, and would be more appropriate for European literature or College Prep courses. There would be little work to adapt texts (although the Odell unit for the 11th grade band would be just as useful for questioning the texts and more applicable). The rigor is high, and there is support for students who are slightly below level. For students who are significantly below, there would need to be additional support in place, but it would not be impossible.

I appreciate that there is a longer writing product included in this unit, and that it could be attached to the 11th grade unit without too much manipulation.

I would use these materials in my classroom: 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.