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Informational Reading Unit

Introduction

I designed this unit to prepare eighth grade students at Star Valley Middle School for their first semester summative assessment on informational reading.  We will use the Holt Elements of Literature Textbook for some instruction, practice, and feedback. Supplemental Pulitzer Prize winning articles will also be used.

Unit Goals 

•Students will be able to cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

•Students will be able to determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas.

Students will be able to analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories)
Students will be able to determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings and analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.

•Students will be able to analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.

Students will be able to determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how the author acknowledges and responds to conflicting evidence or viewpoints.

Students will be able to delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant or sufficient and recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced.

•Students will be able to write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content through the application of the following devices:

- introducing a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow, and organizing ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories.

-developing the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts,  definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

-using appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

-using precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

-establishing and maintaining a formal style.

-providing a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.

 

Closing Notes

As one of your most important goals will be to pass the summative assessment assigned to this unit, you will need to develop both deep understanding of the critical concepts presented and basic reading skills to independently complete the goals for this unit.  To help you on this journey towards independence, I will give you full access to my expertise and individual assistance on all assignments and allow you to redo these assignments as many times as you desire.  I will allow you to rework the quizzes and the unit final independently for up to seventy-five percent credit.  If you do not “get it,” I will offer you half credit on each missed item with my assistance.



Day One

Goal One:

Students will understand how to compose high quality short response reading items.

Assignments:

1.  Read and discuss the handout on short response reading items, paying close attention to the scoring guide.
2.  Participate in a class review on short response reading items.

Scoring Guide:

No scores will be awarded for these assignments.  If, however, you do not understand how to compose a short response according to these instructions, your grade will be negatively impacted.

Goal Two:

Students will examine what they already know regarding the topic of neglect before reading the article "The Girl in The Window."

Assignment:

Before reading the article "The Girl in The Window," record your thoughts about neglect.  Consider the following:  What is neglect?  How does it affect others?  When does neglect become criminal?  Compose a short response for each question and be sure to review the scale for this activity.

Goal Three:

Students will understand and define the term neglect, make predictions based on limited knowledge, evaluate how they would react to situations presented in the article, hypothesize important factors regarding human development and nature, and analyze and identity the format and text structure of this feature article.

Assignment:

While reading the article "The Girl in The Window," complete the indicated short response reading items when prompted (Make sure you understand the scale for short responses and refer to it often in order to earn full credit.)


Day Two

Goal One:

Students will understand how to compose high quality extended response reading items.

Assignments:

1.  With a partner, examine the handout explaining how to complete an extended response reading item.  (Pay careful attention because a large portion of your grade will demand the mastery of this skill.)
2.  Participate in a whole class review of extended response reading items to make sure you understand this concept.

Scoring Guide: 

No scores will be awarded for these assignments.  If, however, you do not understand how to compose an extended response according to these instructions, your grade will be negatively impacted.

Goal Two:

Students will be able to compose a high quality informative text by examining a topic and conveying ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content using an extended response format including the following:

  1. the identification and analysis of the central idea of the article and an analysis of its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas
  2. an evaluation of the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient
  3. the introduction of a topic clearly previewing what is to follow
  4. the development of the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations,or other information and examples
  5. the use of varied and appropriate transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts
  6. the use of precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic
  7. the establishment and maintenance of a formal style throughout the informative text
  8. a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.


Assignment:

1.  After reviewing "The Girl in The Window," complete the extended response reading item.  (Make sure you understand the scoring guide for this assignment and refer to it often while composing your response.)

Extended Response:

In the article "The Girl in The Window," the author seems to argue that extreme situations of neglect, like Daniel's, are criminal.  Do you agree with this claim?  What evidence has the author provided to support this argument and is the evidence sufficient?


Goal Three:

Students will identify and summarize the cause and effect text structure in the article "The Girl in The Window."

Assignment:

The author of this article organized the text using a cause and effect structure.  Identify and summarize three distinct scenarios of cause and effect.  Cite specific examples and details from "The Girl in The Window" to support your response.

Scoring Guide:

4 = 30 points (10 points per summary) - Response includes detailed summaries describing three distinct cause and effect scenarios supported with specific examples and details from the text while maintaining a formal style.
3.5 = 25 points - Response includes detailed summaries describing three distinct cause and effect scenarios supported with specific examples and details from the text but does not maintain a formal style.
3 = 20 points - (10 points per summary) - Response includes detailed summaries describing two distinct cause and effect scenarios supported with specific examples and details from the text while maintaining a formal style.
2.5 = 15 points - Response includes detailed summaries describing two distinct cause and effect scenarios supported with specific examples and details from the text but does not maintain a formal style.
2 = 10 points - Response includes one detailed summary describing a singular cause and effect scenario supported with specific examples and details fro the text while maintaining a formal style.
1 = 5 points - Response includes one detailed summary describing a singular cause and effect scenario supported with specific examples and details from the text but does not maintain a formal style.

Day Three

Goal One:

Students will be able to compare and contrast two articles and then identify the difference between a biased and an objective treatment of a subject and the difference between broad scope and limited scope.

Assignments:

1.  With a partner read "Comparing Texts:  A Historical Document and an Article" on page 178 in your Elements of Literature textbook.  (This will not be graded, but be prepared to discuss these concepts in a whole class discussion to prepare you for upcoming assignments.)

2.  As a class, take turns reading the Union Pacific railroad poster on page 179.  Then, take notes in response to the following questions:

A.  What claims does the poster make about the lands for sale?
B.  How well does the fine print in the poster support its claims?
C.  How does the poster portray the Nebraska climate?
D.  What impression about life on the prairie does the poster try to create?

(You may respond to the questions however you choose, but you will complete a “Test Practice” including multiple choice and extended response questions, and I strongly encourage you to take notes so that you earn a good score.)

3.  While listening to an audio recording, follow the article "Home, Sweet Soddie" on pages 180-182 in your literature textbook.  When I stop you, respond to the following questions:

A.  How does this description differ from claims made in the poster?
B.  How does the article describe the climate?
C.  How does the message the pioneer left scrawled across the door contradict claims made in the poster?

(You may respond to the questions however you choose, but you will complete a “Test Practice” including multiple choice and extended response questions, and I strongly encourage you to take notes so that you earn a good score.)

4.  Complete the five multiple choice questions on the "Test Practice" on page 183. (Each correct response will be awarded three points.)

5.  Complete the following extended response reading item:

Exaggeration is overstating something for an effect.  What examples of exaggeration can you find in the poster and what evidence in the article supports your claims?  (Review the extended response scale before composing your response!)

Scales:

Review the short response and extended response scales.  Problems for all other assignments are assigned a completion score for each individual question.

Day Four

Goal One:

Students will understand cause and effect.

Assignment:

With a partner, read "Understanding Cause and Effect" on page 289 in your literature textbook.  Record the definitions for cause and effect on your key terms sheets. 
Scoring Guide:

No scores will be awarded for this assignment.  If, however, you do not thoroughly understand the cause and effect text structure, your grade will be negatively impacted.

Goal Two:

Students will be able to analyze a cause and effect article by completing the following items:
1. citing textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what a text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text
2. evaluating the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound, and determining if the evidence is relevant and sufficient
3. composing a high quality informative text by examining a topic and conveying ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content using an extended response format.

Assignments:

1.  While listening to an audio recording, follow the article "Cesar Chavez:  He Made a Difference" on pages 290-291 in your literature textbook.
2. When I pause and present a question, respond to the following questions:
a.  Signal words and phrases such as since, because, therefore, and as a result can help readers identify cause and effect relationships.  What cause and effect relationship is introduced here by the word since?
b.  What was one effect of Chavez's hunger strike?
(You may respond to the questions however you choose, but you will complete a “Test Practice” including multiple choice and extended response questions, and I strongly encourage you to take notes so that you earn a good score.)
3.  Complete the following "True-False" questions.  (Each correct response will be awarded two points.)
  1. Cesar Chavez’s family were migrant workers?
  2. Chavez’s father was able to keep the forty acres of land he purchased?
  3. Chavez organized the National Farm Workers Association in 1962?
  4. The union believed in nonviolent actions, such as hunger strikes?

4.  Complete the five multiple choice "Test Practice" questions on page 292.  (Each correct response will be awarded three points.)
5.  Complete the following extended response reading item:

This account of the life of Cesar Chavez is built on a series of causes and effects.  Explain how the different succession of events leads to others.  (Review the extended response scale!)

Day Five

Goal One:

Students will explore their own ideas about why fitting in is very important to many teenagers.

Assignment:

Before reading the article "At a Certain Age," compose an extended response explaining your ideas regarding why it seems more important to fit in during the teenage years than perhaps at any other stage in life.  (Review the extended response scale and use "real-life" examples in place of evidence from a text for your supporting details.)

Goal Two:

Students will be able to cite textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what a text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text by assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence relevant or sufficient, and compose informative/explanatory texts using the extended response format.

Assignments:

1. While reading the article "At a Certain Age," complete the indicated short response reading items when prompted.  (Make sure you understand the scale for short responses and refer to it often in order to earn full credit.)
2.  After reviewing "At a Certain Age," complete the extended response reading item.  (Make sure you understand the scale for this assignment and refer to it often while composing your answer.)

Extended Response:  In the article "At a Certain Age," the author argues that during the teenage years fitting in is very important for many teenagers.  Do you agree with this claim?  What evidence has the author provided to support this argument and is the evidence sufficient?  Clearly explain your thoughts.  (Make sure to review the extended response scoring guide.)



Scales:

See the short response  and extended response scales.


Day Six

Complete the summative assessment (the unit final) for the informational reading unit.  As this is similar in format to Star Valley High School's common assessment format for language arts informational reading tests that you will need to earn English credit for your diploma, it is important that you become very familiar with this style of testing during your eighth grade year.