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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Common Core Literature Standard 3

Today I'd like to continue the discussion of Common Core State Standards for literature with CCRA.R.3. Unlike the first two standards, this one changes quite a bit from grade level to grade level.

CCRA.R.3 (K-12 Anchor Standard): Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop over the course of a text. 

Let's take a look at this standard for third, fourth, and fifth grades. When I study a standard, I visualize how an exemplary student response might look. Then I think about how I can prepare students to write that response.

RL.3.3 (Third Grade): Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

When asked to describe, most students I know will just tell how the character looks. They need to understand that a description is based on traits, motivations, and/or feelings. Some of these may be found in the text, but some will require inference. For example, if the character has goose bumps and her knees are shaking, the students must infer that she is nervous. Using a table may help students translate a character's actions into a description.

Example Prompt: Describe Little Red Riding Hood and tell how her actions caused her to get into trouble with the wolf.

Notice how these two pieces of evidence are the causes for Little Red Riding Hood's problems with the wolf. Kids need to be able to zero in on the pieces of evidence needed for the specific prompt.

Let's look at a thorough response that introduces the character at the beginning, provides details in the middle, and explains how the character's actions contributed to events in the story at the end.

RL.4.3 (Fourth Grade): Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).

You'll notice that the standard includes the words "in depth" and now includes setting and event. We also need to remember that RL.4.1 requires fourth graders to cite.

Fourth graders need to understand what "describe" means. In order to describe, they must sift through the text, find details (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions), and interpret them. The interpretation helps when writing the topic sentence and conclusion, and the evidence goes in the middle. Here's an example from The Black Stallion. Instead of a using a table (which would work just fine), I've shown how students can use highlighters and notes in the margin to achieve the same goal.

Example Prompt: Describe Henry Dailey.

(Use of quotes is not required by fourth grade standards but sometimes makes answering easier.)

RL.5.3 (Fifth Grade): Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how the characters interact).

This is "a whole 'nother ballgame!" Although a student might be able to respond in a single paragraph, a four- or five-paragraph response would be more thorough. Here are some suggested steps:
  1. List details about each character, setting, or event.
  2. Organize details that fall into similar categories in a table.
  3. Write an introductory paragraph that tells whether the characters, settings, or events are more alike or different (thesis) and provide the categories that are being compared or contrasted.
  4. Organize the detail paragraphs for each category or each character, setting, or event being compared/contrasted.
  5. Conclude by restating the thesis and reviewing the comparisons.
Example Prompt: Compare three literary cats.

For this prompt, the student would choose three cats, list details about each one, and select categories to compare and contrast. Then he/she would create a table like the one shown below.

The finished product would include an introductory paragraph, three or four compare/contrast paragraphs with structures similar to the fourth grade sample, and a concluding paragraph. For a really in-depth look at how this can be achieved, take a look at the nine lessons I created for this standard on LearnZillion.

So there you have it: my interpretations of CCSS RL.3.3, RL.4.3, and RL.5.3. How do you interpret these standards? Do you have any other ideas on how to help our students master them?