The Ohio Resource Center offers free resources and lesson plans for teachers. We are on the cusp of realigning ALL of these resources to be common core friendly, but in the meantime, I have pulled together a sample unit plan for 9-10 grade reading informational text.
Using original materials created by ORC contributors, I realigned the original work and organized the lessons according to common core standards. I want to walk you through this process to discuss how this might/could look in a classroom. Keep in mind this is just a sample of my process and solely intended as one way to help guide you in your efforts to implement the common core.
The unit in its entirety is available through my ORC Collection.
First, I started with the collection of lessons, which is a little backward from what I am used to. I was not starting from scratch; I was, instead, starting with material and adjusting to fit new standards. I read through all of the lessons and followed all of the links. I then listed all of the applicable standards statements for each of the seven lessons as I tried to find one overarching standard for the entire unit (the common thread of all the lessons). As these lessons were originally intended for the 11-12 grade band, I looked at standards for both 9-10 and 11-12. Once my standards were listed, I zeroed in on the the seventh statement in reading informational texts, but because I did not think the rigor or complexity of the lessons met the new expectations for the 11-12 grades, I opted to move it to a 9-10 unit plan. The overarching standard for this unit, then, is “Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.”
The next thing I did was deconstruct that overarching standard statement. I won’t lie, I enjoy deconstructing standards, and I did something similar last year when I began breaking down the new standards on my own. Deconstructing helps me to determine very specifically what I want my students to know and do, and it gives me a clear picture of my expectations. For demonstration purposes, I uploaded my sample deconstruction as a Google doc and linked to it in the sample lesson plan (a cool feature of the “My Collection” tool the ORC offers for free to all educators!).
Throughout the lessons in the sample plan, I stopped short of prescribing which learning targets would be appropriate for each lesson because I didn’t want to lean too far into directing classroom teachers; I just wanted to show one way this could be put together. However, I would like to describe how using learning targets might work. In my deconstruction, I broke the standard into four learning targets. Looking at the lessons, I could plan to specifically address each learning target on certain days throughout the unit. Lesson Two, for example, requires students to use different media formats to research the same event. This lesson would work well for the learning target: “Locate multiple accounts of an event in different mediums.” Notice, that this isn’t the ONLY potential learning target that could be addressed in this lesson; in fact, the lesson itself has about four standards statements attached to it that could be addressed. A good English lesson would include learning targets from throughout the strands (reading, writing, speaking & listening, language, etc.), but for the purpose of mastering standards, and for the purpose of giving students a clear picture of expectations, zooming in on one learning target is appropriate.
Once you have plotted your learning targets and their connected lessons, you can create a learning-target based tracking sheet like this one: Sample Tracking Sheet. Instead of collecting mounds and mounds of handouts and worksheets, I would use a tracking sheet and observations and/or personal communication with students to determine if they are reaching the learning targets. This method also allows you and the student to zero in on specific areas of difficulty the student has. So, instead of saying, “This kid can’t, ‘Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums, determining which details are emphasized in each account,’” both you and the student can say, “We need to work on how to identify details in an informational text.” If I were using this tracking sheet in my own class, given my critique of my own grading practices, I would designate a B, D, M system for beginning, developing, and mastery. Without venturing too far into the realm of formative instruction or the RtI framework, I would make sure I work more individually with B students, plan accordingly for the D students, and add enrichment opportunities (more complex learning targets, moving to the “next step” in the deconstruction, and/or more complex texts/tasks) for the M students. The tracking sheet would provide me with a quick way to record my observations AND a quick way to adjust my instruction for each student.
You’ll notice in my notes for one of the lessons that the particular lesson aligned so perfectly with a speaking and listening standard statement that I would have deconstructed that standard, created a rubric using those learning targets (or another tracking sheet, perhaps), and devoted that part of the unit to that overarching standard before returning to the original informational text standard.