Common Core Standards: ELA
ELA: KINDERGARTEN - GRADE 12
LITERACY: GRADES 6 - 12
Standard 4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper).
Breakin’ it Down:
This standard has two different skills disguised as one. The first is that students have to be able to figure out the meaning of a word using context clues. They’ve probably been exposed to this skill since elementary school, but you have to make sure they can do it with 9th and 10th grade texts.
The second skill in this standard is the ability to analyze the overall language patterns or style of a technical text. For informational texts, you’ll probably want to expose students to texts written for a wide range of technical audiences: art critics, car mechanics, historians, doctors, artists (or whatever floats your boat). This gives them a chance to find patterns in tone or diction across genres of writing.
Give students plenty of opportunities to analyze the different language patterns in various texts, and the effects that these have on the reader. In short, students have to be able to articulate how the audience of a particular text affects the writer’s language choice.
Teach With Shmoop
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Teaching Guides Using this Standard
- 1984 Teacher Pass
- A Rose For Emily Teacher Pass
- A View from the Bridge Teacher Pass
- Animal Farm Teacher Pass
- Antigone Teacher Pass
- Beowulf Teacher Pass
- Brave New World Teacher Pass
- Fahrenheit 451 Teacher Pass
- Fences Teacher Pass
- Frankenstein Teacher Pass
- Hamlet Teacher Pass
- Heart of Darkness Teacher Pass
- Julius Caesar 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
- Othello Teacher Pass
- Romeo and Juliet 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 Cask of Amontillado Teacher Pass
- The Catcher in the Rye Teacher Pass
- The Crucible Teacher Pass
- The House on Mango Street Teacher Pass
- The Iliad Teacher Pass
- The Odyssey Teacher Pass
- Their Eyes Were Watching God Teacher Pass
- Things Fall Apart Teacher Pass
- To Kill a Mockingbird Teacher Pass
- Twilight Teacher Pass
Teacher Feature: Ideas for the classroom
1. HATCHLING: Define a word using context clues
Once students hit high school, they have to be willing to dig deeper and read further for context clues. Give them passages where the clues to a word require reading in another paragraph, or making connections between two parts of a text. In informational writing, students can’t expect the definition of a word to always be sitting right next to the word itself.
You can create multiple-choice context clue questions with any text you have in class or find plenty of released practice tests from college entrance exams to keep students fresh.
2. TAKE FLIGHT: Do-It-Yourself
In our increasingly digital society, you can learn just about anything by pulling up an online article. A fun way to test this standard is to give students a technical document (how to make a paper airplane, how to assemble a blender, how to write a press release), and challenge them to make something or answer a quiz about the topic with only the text to guide them. It forces them to figure out the technical vocabulary and keep all their terms in order. Follow it up with a short vocab quiz on the important terms from the text.
It might seem silly, but these types of texts are becoming more frequent on standardized reading exams. With just a little bit of creativity, you can find technical documents that tie-in to your thematic units or supplement your class readings.
Quiz QuestionsHere's an example of a quiz that could be used to test this standard.
- Teaching Romeo and Juliet: What’s Up With the Ending?
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- Teaching Romeo and Juliet: Using Music Lyrics to Explore Themes, Imagery, and Symbolism
- Teaching Romeo and Juliet: Shakespeare Goes Modern (Understanding the Bard's Influence)
- Slaughterhouse-Five: The Art of the Epigram
- Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus Finch, Number One Dad
- Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird: A Dream Deferred
- Teaching Twilight: Judging a Book by its Cover
- Teaching The Tempest: Lost in the New World, or Shakespeare's Bermuda Vacation
- Teaching The Tempest: The Tempest Behind Bars
- Teaching The Yellow Wallpaper: Gilman vs. the Narrator: Analyzing Both the Author and Her Creation
- Teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God: Animating Janie
- Teaching Their Eyes Were Watching God: Anthropology 101
- Teaching Things Fall Apart: Things May Fall Apart, but Art Connects
- Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird: Time to Let Mockingbird Fly?
- Teaching Fahrenheit 451: A Graphic's Worth A Thousand Words?
- Teaching Fahrenheit 451: Burn, Baby, Burn: Censorship 101
- Teaching Fahrenheit 451: Internet Censorship
- Teaching Fences: Write an Omitted Scene and a Critical Review
- Teaching Frankenstein: Screenplay with a Twist
- Teaching Hamlet: John Everett Millais’s painting "Ophelia" (1851–1852)
- Teaching Heart of Darkness: Is there Darkness at the Heart of John Powell’s “Rhapsodie Negre”?
- Teaching Inferno: Recitation
- Teaching Jane Eyre: Jane Says
- Teaching Julius Caesar: Drawing Inspiration from Julius Caesar to Create Original Artwork
- Kaffir Boy: To Ban or Not to Ban?
- Kaffir Boy: Researching the Histories Behind Kaffir Boy
- Kaffir Boy: Personal Narratives About Race
- Teaching Life of Pi: Reading about Writing about Writing (And then: Writing, of course)
- Teaching Life of Pi: Cast Away
- Teaching Animal Farm: You Say You Want A (R)evolution?
- Teaching Animal Farm: To Ban or Not to Ban; That is the Question
- Teaching Animal Farm: Corruption Makes the World Go Round
- Teaching Animal Farm: The Power of Words
- Teaching Antigone: On the Hunt for Civil Disobedience