Standards for Reading Literature

The Common Core Standards for Reading Literature are similar to what you’ve probably been doing for years. The emphasis, however, is no longer on the piece being read. It’s on the skills acquired while reading. Here’s a link to Common Core recommended reading selections.

Reading for Literature Lesson Plans

We’ll start with some of my favorite reading lesson plans before we get to the standards.

Comprehensive Short Story Guides

Check out Teacher Guide Central for Excellent Short Story Teacher Guides. Selections include “The Most Dangerous Game,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Black Cat,” “The Necklace,” and more. They include annotated copies of the story, lesson plans aligned to Common Core Standards, graphic organizers, rubrics, answer keys, and my incredible wit.

Common Core Standards for Reading Literature

RL.9-10.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

  • Explanation: This is simple evidence gathering followed by making sense of the data. It forms the basis for all literary analysis and all intelligent argument—literary or non-literary. It should form the foundation of every literary unit.
  • Non-eduspeak Explanation: Students are under the false assumption that there’s no such thing as a stupid opinion. I don’t know about you but I hear stupid opinions all the time. For an opinion not too be stupid, it must be supported with evidence and logic. This standard, therefore, becomes a necessary element of not making yourself look like an idiot in front of intelligent people. The best part is that this skill is transferable to every subject and topic.

RL.9-10.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

RL.9-10.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.

  • Explanation: These two standards give direction to what you’re practicing in standard 1. It requires higher level thinking. It requires students to take facts and specific details from a literary work and explain how it contributes to the overall theme and development of the work.
  • Non-eduspeak Explanation: Writing about or discussing literature usually involves students summarizing a literary work that you’ve read several dozen times. That’s not analysis. I suppose it’s our responsibility to help them learn how to think critically. You’ll find discussion topics, graphic organizers and writing assignments that will help facilitate actual analysis on this outstanding site.

RL.9-10.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language evokes a sense of time and place; how it sets a formal or informal tone).

RL.9-10.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure a text, order events within it (e.g., parallel plots), and manipulate time (e.g., pacing, flashbacks) create such effects as mystery, tension, or surprise.

RL.9-10.6 Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature.

RL.9-10.7 Analyze the representation of a subject or a key scene in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment (e.g., Auden’s “Musee des Beaux Arts” and Breughel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus).

RL.9-10.9 Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare).

  • Explanation: These last standards focus on author’s purpose and why an author or speaker chooses certain words, points of view, structure and all that other literature stuff.
  • Non-eduspeak Explanation: Yes, there’s a reason why the masters write what they write and there’s a reason we should study their methods. They’re masters, after all. If you were building your very own dream house, wouldn’t you prefer learning from a master builder instead of the handyman that advertises by finger-painted signs in front of the local convenient store?

ELA Common Core Standards

Whether the Common Core Standards are just the latest fad or here to stay, you need lesson plans that address the Common Core Standards.  The good news is that they’re probably the same standards you’ve been teaching, but with a different name.  Use these links to find lesson plans matched up with the standards.

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