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Using Textual Clues to Understand "A Christmas Carol"

EDSITEMENT! National Endowment for the Humanities

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This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2015. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was last updated: 10/30/2014.

Background from OER Project Review Team
EDSITEment! is a partnership among the National Endowment for the Humanities, Verizon Foundation, and the National Trust for the Humanities and is a member of the Thinkfinity Consortium of educational websites. This is a lesson plan with three activities rather than a full unit. This should factor into the viewer's analysis of the review results.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Revision needed (3.8)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 1.25, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 1.0, Instructional Supports: 0.75, Assessment: 0.75.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.0, Interactivity: , Exercises: 1.5, Deeper Learning: 1.5.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (2.25)

Comments/Ideal Use:

I like the approach of the unit, and I liked how there are a variety of ways to practice writing. The lessons require students to use a grade level complex text in a variety of ways and if a teacher needed to teach how to read a complex text this would be a good unit. Also, this unit offers 3 different opportunities to practice the different 3 writing CCSS genres. Students are required to closely read the text for a variety of purposes - vocabulary acquisition, theme vs. summary, direct/indirect characterization practice.


  • The prompts follow a lesson on reading skills that do support the writing prompt, but not clearly to the student
  • Missing supports for ELL and struggling readers


  • Include writing lessons to allow students opportunities to practice the writing styles, add a rubric for students to know what specific components of the writing genres
  • Use different versions of the tale, perhaps include images to support context understanding

Comments/Ideal Use:

The activities in each lesson require students to practice close reading and supporting evidence from the text. An experienced teacher with a clear understanding of the instructional shifts in ELA would be able to make the recommended adaptations and build this unit to ensure alignment with the standards and students are provided purpose for the learning and progressions toward mastery.


  • Limited connection between the lessons to create in-depth understanding of the standards addressed - each lesson focuses on one standard and there is little to no reference to previous lessons and how they connect or build to the current lesson.


  • Create a final assessment that connects each of the lessons into a greater understanding of the theme or moral lesson of "A Christmas Carol" vs. the change in Scrooge. That would require a discussion of the vocabulary from lesson one, the characterization in lesson two, and the analysis of theme from lesson three.
  • Have the class discussions deepen the understanding of the activities and the textual evidence identified in each activity.
  • Develop more opportunities for students to collaborate or communicate their understanding with their peers in Socratic discussions or other organized discussion models.

Comments/Ideal Use:

As envisioned, the lessons and unit provide rigor, depth, and engagement. Currently, it requires an experienced teacher but with modification, could be taught by a new teacher. The Lesson Two worksheet on characterization comes the closest to addressing both the CCSS standard called out, as well as the identified learning target in terms of rigor and depth of thinking.


  • Limited opportunity to build and extend understanding of the stated learning target/standard through discourse. Each of the lessons has a worksheet that addresses some aspect of the learning target / CCSS standard. In addition, each lesson has end-of-class discussion question questions provided. The discussion questions do not reinforce the learning target, nor do they promote student-to-student discourse.
  • Each lesson has a different writing assignment (narrative, informative, or argumentation), but they are stand alone, missing the opportunity for the student to build integrated knowledge.
  • Lesson Activities do not provide explicit reinforcement of the academic vocabulary called out in the learning target or in the student worksheet.
  • Summative rubric is over simplified and not sufficient if a student is using the rubric to help guide his/her work.


  • Amend lesson activities to include learning targets in class discourse; provide for student-to-student paired and group discourse
  • Modify lesson assessment activities in three ways: 1) include formative assessment opportunities; 2) have each lesson assessment build toward the summative assessment; and 3) include multiple modalities in lesson assessments
  • Amend lesson activities to specifically address academic vocabulary
  • Maintain the holistic rubric format, but include more targeted language

Comments/Ideal Use:

This unit could be used with advanced students that need to be challenged. The material is a little difficult to read for some 8th graders that are at or below grade level. The literary text, vocabulary, and character analysis could be used in small groups as an enrichment activity. The extend activities are authentic and provide students with variety and higher level thinking opportunities:

  • create a story-book, compare the text to the movie or play, and create a series of visual images (just to name a few).
  • work in small groups on vocabulary worksheet.
  • think deeply throughout the unit and make inferences based on the reading and their understanding of the text.


  • The assessments for each lesson are essays that seem to be disconnected with the learning target.
  • The lessons (especially one and three) provide instructions that are not "user-friendly" for inexperienced teachers.
  • The expectations in the assessment rubric categories are vague and do not require students to state explicitly evidence from the text and appear to be extremely subjective.


  • Create assessments that provided students an opportunity to demonstrate what they have practiced during the lesson.
  • Add a mini lesson (s) to the unit to address the skills theme, plot and others so this unit is open to teachers at all levels.
  • Recreate the rubric and/or borrow a rubric from another source.

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