Introduction to Interpretive Work - Grade 8

Introduction to Interpretive Work is designed to provide students with an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the kinds of work people do with texts in English. Specifically, the work in this unit provides students with an opportunity to experience the practices of close reading as well as interpretive work distinguished by clear interpretive statements that are supported by compelling explanations and anchored in specific moments in the text. This type of interpretive work falls under the category of argument, as students learn to stake out a clear position and build a careful case for it.

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Table of Contents

Writing Tasks

Title: Argument Interpretive Assignment #1 Writing About “Everyday Use”

Instructions: For this assignment you will write an argument about “Everyday Use” that answers the question in the box below. It will sound familiar to you because you participated in a discussion about it in the previous session’s work:

At the end of the story, Maggie smiles—“But a real smile, not scared.”

Why isn’t Maggie scared anymore?

Suggested Student Materials: Argument Student Checklist

Title: Argument Interpretive Assignment #2 Writing About “It’s That It Hurts”

Instructions: For this assignment you will write an argument about “It’s That It Hurts” that answers the question in the box below. It will sound familiar to you because you participated in a discus- sion about it in the previous session’s work:

The first line in the story is “It hurts a lot”
and the title is “It’s That It Hurts.”

What is the “it” that hurts?

Suggested Student Materials: Argument Student Checklist

Charts for Discussion

Title: “Everyday Use” – Comprehension Questions

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 2

  • Take 5-7 minutes to facilitate a whole-class discussion about the three comprehension questions. Use this time to help students articulate their understanding of the characters and the events in “Everyday Use.” To verify understanding and to provide an artifact that students can consult in the sessions ahead, consider capturing the class’ answers to the compre- hension questions on a chart.

Title: How is forming an interpretation different from responding to a comprehension question?

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 5 and 9

Reconvene the whole class to discuss the question. Capture the class’ thinking about this on a chart. You might organize the responses by creating a simple T-chart, dedicating one column to features of comprehension work and the other to interpretive work. Afterwards, be sure to post this list in the room so that students can consult it as needed. (This is a “working chart,” which means the class will have opportunities to revise and add to it in the sessions ahead. You will use this chart in Session 5 and 9.)

Title: “It’s That It Hurts” – Comprehension Questions

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 7

  • Take 5-7 minutes to facilitate a whole-class discussion about the three comprehension questions. Use this time to help students articulate their understanding of the characters and the events in “It’s That It Hurts.” To verify understanding and to provide an artifact that students can consult in the sessions ahead, consider capturing the class’ answers to the comprehension questions on a chart.

Checks for Understanding

Title: “Everyday Use” – Comprehension Questions Small-Group Discussion

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 1

  • After the reading “Everyday Use,” give students time to convene in groups of two or three to work on the questions on the board.

  • Review the students’ work at the end of the period to determine whether or not they understand the story.

 

Title: “Everyday Use” – Step-Back Question #1 Small-Group Discussion

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 2

  • Review the question with the class and then, to help students reflect back on the work they did to answer it, lead the class through the following cycle of step-back work:

    1. Take a moment to reflect back on the work you did with this question.

    2. Take 3-4 minutes to write down in your notebook a list that answers the following question:

      “What are the things you did to answer this question and what was the order—as best you can remember—in which you did them?”

    3. Take your notes to a small-group discussion with two other students. For 2-3 minutes, the three of you should work together to share your lists. During this share out time, be sure to ask questions of one another as needed and, most importantly, to revise or add new items to your list. Your goal here should be to leave this short meeting with a list of things you did that is as detailed and accurate as possible.

    4. Finally, participate actively in a 3- to 5-minute long whole-group discussion about the “what are the things you did” question. Imagine that in this discussion you are working as a whole class to create an even more comprehensive list of the things a reader does when answering a comprehension question.

    5.  
 

Title: What are the things you did to answer this question and what was the order—as best you can remember—in which you did them?

Instructions:

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 2 and 7

  • Direct the class’ attention to this comprehension question:

» What happens in the story? In other words, what are the big events in the story and in what order do they happen?

Review the question with the class and then, to help students reflect back on the work they did to answer it, lead the class through the following cycle of step-back work:

  1. Take a moment to reflect back on the work you did with this question.

  2. Take 3-4 minutes to write down in your notebook a list that answers the following question:

    What are the things you did to answer this question and what was the order—as best you can remember—in which you did them

  3. Take your notes to a small-group discussion with two other students. For 2-3 minutes, the three of you should work together to share your lists. During this share out time, be sure to ask questions of one another as needed and, most importantly, to revise or add new items to your list. Your goal here should be to leave this short meeting with a list of things you did that is as detailed and accurate as possible.

  4. Finally, participate actively in a 3- to 5-minute long whole-group discussion about the “what are the things you did” question. Imagine that in this discussion you are working as a whole class to create an even more comprehensive list of the things a reader does when answering a comprehension question.

Title: Why isn’t Maggie scared anymore?

Instructions:

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 3

  • Convene the whole class and ask the question, “Why isn’t Maggie scared anymore?”

     
  • Jot down student ideas on a chart, so these ideas can be accessed later. Encourage students to write their classmates’ ideas in their notebooks, to help them with their upcoming writing assignment.

  • During this debrief, pause to work with the students to locate and note the page and line numbers of passages they might want to cite.

Title: “Everyday Use” Step-Back Questions Small-Group Discussion

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 4

Ask students to answer briefly in writing the following “step-back” questions about doing interpretive work independently in class or for home- work:

    1. What did you learn about the text that you didn’t know before the discussion? (To answer this question, look back at your notes to see what you added or how your thinking changed.)

    2. What do you do when you form an interpretation?

    3. How is forming an interpretation different from responding to a com- prehension question?

    4. What did you learn about forming interpretations from our discussion?

  • Students will have time to share their thinking about these questions at the beginning of the next session.

Title: “It’s That It Hurts” – Comprehension Questions Small-Group Discussion

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 6

  • After the reading “”It’s That It Hurts,” give students time to convene in groups of two or three to work on the questions on the board.

  • Review the students’ work at the end of the period to determine whether or not they understand the story.

 

Title: “It’s That It Hurts” – Step-Back Question #1 Small-Group Discussion

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 2

  • Review the question with the class and then, to help students reflect back on the work they did to answer it, lead the class through the following cycle of step-back work:

    1. Take a moment to reflect back on the work you did with this question.

    2. Take 3-4 minutes to write down in your notebook a list that answers the following question:

      “What are the things you did to answer this question and what was the order—as best you can remember—in which you did them?”

    3. Take your notes to a small-group discussion with two other students. For 2-3 minutes, the three of you should work together to share your lists. During this share out time, be sure to ask questions of one another as needed and, most importantly, to revise or add new items to your list. Your goal here should be to leave this short meeting with a list of things you did that is as detailed and accurate as possible.

    4. Finally, participate actively in a 3- to 5-minute long whole-group discussion about the “what are the things you did” question. Imagine that in this discussion you are working as a whole class to create an even more comprehensive list of the things a reader does when answering a comprehension question.

    5.  
 

Title: What is the ‘it’ that hurts?

Instructions:

Teacher Manual Instructions:

Session 8

  • Convene the whole class and ask the question, “What is the ‘it’ that hurts?”

  • Jot down student ideas on a chart, so these ideas can be accessed later. Encourage students to write their classmates’ ideas in their notebooks, to help them with their upcoming writing assignment.

  • During this debrief, pause to work with the students to locate and note the page and line numbers of passages they might want to cite.

Independent Reading

Title: Goals for My Reading Life

Instructions:

Title: Independent Reading – Individual Planning Sheet

Instructions:

Title: Book Recommendation

Instructions:

Title: Book Review Forum

Instructions:

Title: End of Marking Period Self-Assessment

Instructions:

Unit Resources

Title: Sentence Stems

Title: Criteria For a Good Discussion

Title:A Note on Using Rubrics

Title: Argument Rubric – Grade 8

Title: Argument Interpretive Assignment #1 Writing About “Everyday Use”

Title: Argument Interpretive Assignment #2 Writing About “It’s That It Hurts”