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Reading Closely Unit - CCSS ELA / Literacy - Grades 11-12: "Promised Land"

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: 5/2/2013.

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: 2.42, Quality of Questions and Tasks: 2.75, Writing: 2.5.

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: 2.75, Instructional Supports: 2.25, Assessment: 2.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.75, Interactivity: 1.25, Exercises: 2.0, Deeper Learning: 2.5.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (2.0)

This coherent, well-structured unit focuses primarily on building close reading and text-dependent questioning skills to support verbal and written analysis of texts. Guides, worksheets, activities, and checklists support students as they explore a range of short, complex texts on the theme of the separation of church and state. The unit maps closely to the CCSS, using language from the standards within its rationale and activities. Teachers will appreciate not having to hunt for the standards within the unit, or translate the academic language used in the unit to the language of the CCSS. The unit follows a logical progression of skills and texts that relate to and build on one another, fostering student independence in reading and analyzing complex texts. Reading and discussion skills are the primary focus of the unit. Students are prompted to generate and answer their own text-dependent questions in a variety of contexts. While writing activities are included, and steps are suggested, specific writing instruction, support, and evaluation could be more strongly articulated for the multi-paragraph writing assignment. Worksheets, printable guides and rubrics that match the quality of the close reading and discussion materials could be created for the writing assignments. The unit skews heavily to non-fiction and would benefit from greater articulation of fictional literature extensions. The strengths of this unit are its focus on close reading, questioning, and discussion skills; opportunities for students to practice generating questions for reading and research; student-led textual discussions; and a rich, well-structured progression of foundational American texts. The particular mix and progression of texts (visual text, amendment, letter, video, website, court opinion, speech, poem, and summary) makes the content accessible and helps students progress towards independent, proficient reading.

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

The focus of this unit is on close reading with connections to speaking and writing. The readings are informational texts and are taken from American History. 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, 8, 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 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. Students get multiple opportunities to practice the aforementioned reading for information standards. The units start out with easier texts such as pictures, the first amendment, a short letter, and progresses to majority and dissenting opinions from the Supreme Court and speeches in American history. Students interact with multiple types of text too, i.e. a short PBS video, Supreme Court decisions, political cartoon, speeches from American history. Students also get an opportunity to speak in small groups about specific non-fiction texts they read in advance. There are appropriate worksheets, along with models, that support students and the teacher as students complete short readings. There is scaffolding provided for struggling readers.

Although there are multiple opportunities to instruct students on close reading, there is not much writing instruction. Mostly students write a few sentences, or one paragraph, that shows their understanding of the reading. There is one spot for an extended writing, but no accompanying rubric. With the materials this source provides, though, it would only take some minor work by the teacher to add some writing components that connect to the CCSS. Another small adjustment a teacher may make is to create rubrics to grade student’s ability to read informational texts as the unit only provides look-fors.

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

This lesson provides a thorough explanation of the unit goals and all of the learning standards that are to be addressed (RI.11-12.1,2,4,6,9; SL .1-12.1; W.11-12.2,4,9). Explanations for the teacher are clear and complete (almost too detailed). The lesson includes a wide range of texts: literary, non-fiction, and literary non-fiction, as well as images (photos), audio, and video. Included in the non-fiction are seminal US documents (the First Amendment) and a Supreme Court ruling as well as non-fiction pieces designed to discuss the Supreme Court ruling and the First Amendment. The resources are in a wide range of text complexity and grade bands, yet the texts also include vocabulary definitions, but the pdf’s are editable by the teacher who can adjust vocabulary support based on students’ needs.

The wide variety of resources seem to provide opportunities for students to compare various treatments of the same subject matter. In turn, there are multiply opportunities for evaluation and discussion about the way each text treats the subject. These discussions can be teacher led, but there are many opportunities for student led/driven discussions.

Students have many opportunities to self-assess their reading strategies as they address text-based questions. Short writing assignments are also designed to elicit text-based responses. Responses are only one or two sentences or short paragraphs, but the focus is on text-based responses following the CCSS writing conventions.

I think that the writing assignments and assessments are the only areas that need work. At least I couldn’t find everything I was looking for, but this could be a product of me not being able to find them.

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

This unit was exceptionally deliberate in its attention to the CCSS and the deliberate way in which it explains how to read closely for details, question text and analyze text. It also had an exemplary range of materials under the theme of “promised land.” What it does, it does very well with strong alignment to the standards and careful scaffolding including clear, easy to reference outline for the students including a checklist for text centered discussion and a model to understand the main ideas. It is, I think, an excellent start to study which pays close attention to the common core standards. But it would need to be followed by extensions that include more extended writing opportunities. This should be a foundational benchmark to show how to carefully align standards and their application in units of study.

As a special education teacher I think it lacks delineated examples of differentiated instruction. But it has so much high interest text which I would want my students to explore. The rubric for the analysis was, I think, excellent for my students who often get sidetracked in their analysis. The rubric, scaffolded worksheets and checklist would be very helpful to help them to self-monitor their progress. This format would be an excellent one to apply to other units in order to support the gradual release of responsibility so that students can monitor their own progress.

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.