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Friday, June 21, 2013

Common Core Literature Standard 9

I know what you're thinking: "What happened to Common Core Literature Standard 8???" Well, CCRR.R.8 asks students to "delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance an sufficiency of the evidence." By its nature, this standard only applies to Reading: Informational Text. In other words, there is no Standard 8 for Literature.

On to CCRR.R.9! This standard encourages students to "analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take." Wow, this standard gets those little brains working! We find ourselves at the top of Bloom's Taxonomy. What's better than analyzing one literary piece? Analyzing two, of course.

This standard directs students at different grade levels to make different types of comparisons:

  • Third Grade - Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series)
  • Fourth Grade - Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g. opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures
  • Fifth Grade - Compare and contrast stories in the same genre (e.g., mysteries and adventure stories) on their approaches to similar themes and topics
  • Sixth Grade - Compare and contrast texts in different forms or genres (e.g., stories and poems; historical novels and fantasy stories) in terms of their approaches to similar themes and topics

This week I've been working on a project involving texts in different genres. First, I found a compelling and humorous poem by Oliver Herford called "Medusa." Published in The Mythological Zoo in 1912, this poem and its illustration are now in the public domain. (That means I can legally share them with you on this blog. Yay!) Next I located a story that included Perseus's quest to kill Medusa in Old Greek Stories, a book that is also in public domain. After taking an excerpt from "The Dreadful Gorgons" and adapting it to a one-page narrative, I thought, "There! Two pieces of literature from different genres and viewpoints. This will create the backbone of a great lesson!"


 Don't you just love Herford's comparison of Medusa to a woman who can't do a thing with her hair? I can see how that would make her so frustrated that she would want to give people the "evil eye"! He's cut to the heart of female frustration and helped us all feel compassionate toward Medusa.


And this traditional piece about the hero Perseus makes you understand why it's so important to rid the world of Medusa. Now she hasn't exactly done anything in this piece to warrant death, but the narrator has surely led us to believe that Medusa is bad, bad, bad.

The corresponding lesson takes students through a series of steps, each hitting different CCSS. First, each student reads one of the two texts, practices writing a thorough character description, and explores the perspective from which the text is told ("Medusa" in first person sympathizing with Medusa and "The Dreadful Gorgons" in third person sympathizing with Perseus). Second, the students pair up with someone who read the opposite text to share the literature, character descriptions, and analyses of point of view. They compare and contrast the viewpoints and analyze Herford's synthesis of character traits from traditional mythology and new, innovative ideas to create a totally new perspective on Medusa. Finally, in an optional piece, students write their own third-person Medusa narratives that sympathize with Medusa instead of Perseus.

This series of lessons addresses a multitude of Common Core State Standards and asks students to use higher order thinking skills. It is appropriate for high ability (gifted and talented) students in fourth and fifth grade, as well as all students in grades six, seven, and eight. For those of you out there who are studying the Common Core, here are its correlations with the CCSS:

  • RL.4.3 - Describe a character in depth, drawing on specific details from the text
  • RL.4.6 - Compare and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated
  • RL.5.3 - Compare and contrast two characters (actually, the comparison for this activity is comparing one portrayed in different lights)
  • RL.5.6 - Describe how a narrator's point of view influences how events are described
  • RL.6.6 - Explain how the author develops the point of view of the narrator
  • RL.6.9 - Compare and contrast texts in different genres in terms of their approaches to similar topics
  • RL.7.3 - Analyze how particular elements of a text interact
  • RL.7.6 - Analyze how an author develops and contrasts points of view of different characters or narrators in a text
  • RL.8.3 - Analyze how incidents in a story reveal aspects of a character
  • RL.8.9 - Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on character types from myths, including describing how the material is rendered new
  • Also: S.4.1-S.8.1 (collaborating) and W.4.3-W.8.3 (writing narratives)
When you bring two related texts into the classroom, an entire world of instructional possibilities appear. More Common Core State Standards can be addressed, and activities automatically catapult into the realm of higher order thinking skills. I'm beginning to realize that two texts are better than one! 

I hope these texts and ideas excite you as much as they do me! Please feel free to tailor them to your own classroom needs. If you would like to use my corresponding worksheets and rubrics, they are available here on my Teachers pay Teachers site.

What other ideas do you have for College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard 9? I would sure love to hear about them!