Common Core Standards: ELA
Standard 5: Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
Breakin’ it Down:
Analyzing the ‘structure’ of a text can encompass a number of different things. This can be an analysis of sub-headings or the order of paragraphs. It can also mean searching a text for ineffectual tangents or contradictory evidence. Or it can mean discussing why or how the points of an argument are presented.
While 18th and 19th century informational texts may tend to present ideas in rambling, endless paragraphs, many modern authors have adopted subheadings and bulleted lists to clarify arguments. Prepare students to read both text types, and analyze which techniques are reader-friendly.
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Using this Standard
- 1984 Teacher Pass
- A Raisin in the Sun Teacher Pass
- A Rose For Emily Teacher Pass
- A View from the Bridge Teacher Pass
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Teacher Pass
- Animal Farm Teacher Pass
- Antigone Teacher Pass
- Beowulf Teacher Pass
- Brave New World Teacher Pass
- Death of a Salesman Teacher Pass
- Fahrenheit 451 Teacher Pass
- Fences Teacher Pass
- Frankenstein Teacher Pass
- Grapes Of Wrath Teacher Pass
- Great Expectations Teacher Pass
- Hamlet Teacher Pass
- Heart of Darkness Teacher Pass
- Julius Caesar Teacher Pass
- King Lear Teacher Pass
- Macbeth Teacher Pass
- Moby Dick Teacher Pass
- Narrative of Frederick Douglass Teacher Pass
- Oedipus the King Teacher Pass
- Of Mice and Men Teacher Pass
- One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Teacher Pass
- Othello Teacher Pass
- Romeo and Juliet Teacher Pass
- Sula Teacher Pass
- The Aeneid Teacher Pass
- The As I Lay Dying Teacher Pass
- The Bluest Eye Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales General Prologue Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale Teacher Pass
- The Canterbury Tales: The Wife of Bath's Prologue Teacher Pass
- The Cask of Amontillado Teacher Pass
- The Catch-22 Teacher Pass
- The Catcher in the Rye Teacher Pass
- The Crucible Teacher Pass
- The Great Gatsby Teacher Pass
- The Iliad Teacher Pass
- The Lottery Teacher Pass
- The Metamorphosis Teacher Pass
- The Scarlet Letter Teacher Pass
- The Tell-Tale Heart Teacher Pass
- Things Fall Apart Teacher Pass
- To Kill a Mockingbird Teacher Pass
- Twilight Teacher Pass
- Wide Sargasso Sea Teacher Pass
- Wuthering Heights Teacher Pass
Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom
1. UNDERSTUDY: Summary Trump Cards
While verbose or wordy non-fiction texts may have been appreciated in their time, students often end up frustrated with the lack of structure and clarity in early American texts. Acknowledge their potential frustration with a game of trumps!
Give students a section of a wordy text (increase the length as students get better). After reading, ask each student or group of students to write the shortest summary possible of the author’s argument without removing any essential ideas. Have them write their word count on their page. Randomly choose one group to read their summary and evaluate the completeness and accuracy of their work. Other groups may ‘trump’ the previous group by presenting a comprehensive summary with fewer words.
2. COLLEGIATE: Genre Studies
There are definite differences in the formats and writing conventions of texts in different genres or subject areas. Students should be able to recognize the formats and conventions of a biology text versus a book review. This is an area of literacy that is often passed over in high school classrooms, but it is vital to building advanced literacy skills.
If you can team up with other departments, a great cross-curricular project is to assign a replication writing assignment in each subject area that requires students to follow the formatting and conventions of that subject area. Give them expert texts as a guide to structure, but ask them to create a text with brand new material. As students complete the assignment in different classes, they will start to recognize the subtleties of text structure. And it’s a great opportunity to test their mastery of material while building literacy!