Reviewed OER Library

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington conducted reviews of OER in full-course mathematics and units in English Language Arts.
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All resources in Reviewed OER Library

Critical Ways of Seeing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in Context

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Huckleberry Finn opens with a warning from its author that misinterpreting readers will be shot. Despite the danger, readers have been approaching the novel from such diverse critical perspectives for 120 years that it is both commonly taught and frequently banned, for a variety of reasons. Studying both the novel and its critics with an emphasis on cultural context will help students develop analytical tools essential for navigating this work and other American controversies. This lesson asks students to combine internet historical research with critical reading. Then students will produce several writing assignments exploring what readers see in Huckleberry Finn and why they see it that way.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

"Picturing" America At the Turn of the Twentieth Century

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Students link together the literature and the history of the United States at the turn of the twentieth century. Questions guide students as they study visual documents. Students also read the teacher's choice of two widely anthologized short stories and an excerpt from a best-selling novel of the period. Two exercises will raise student awareness of the impact that visual images have on their lives: one that is based on internet advertising and a second that results in a student-produced scrapbook.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Author: Scott Culclasure

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Teacher's Guide

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Told through the eyes of narrator Nick Carraway, F. Scott Fitzgerald's lyrical masterpiece recounts Jay Gatsby's desperate quest to win back his first love as he struggles to recapture the past. This Big Read Teachers Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through F. Scott Fitzgeralds classic novel, The Great Gatsby. Each lesson has four sections: a thematic focus, discussion activities, writing exercises, and homework assignments. In addition, we have provided suggested essay topics and capstone projects, as well as handouts with more background information about the novel, the historical period, and the author. All lessons dovetail with the state language arts standards required in the fiction genre.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

The U.S. Constitution: Continuity and Change in the Governing of the United States

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This unit includes four lessons using primary sources to examine continuity and change in the governing of the United States. Lessons one and two are focused on a study of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and provide access to primary source documents from the Library of Congress. Lesson three investigates important issues which confronted the first Congress and has students examine current congressional debate over similar issues. Lesson four features broadsides from the Continental Congress calling for special days of thanksgiving and remembrance.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - Teacher's Guide

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Humor, trouble, and adventure follow Tom Sawyer everywhere--from the banks of the Mississippi to the brink of death and back in Mark Twain's first full novel. This Big Read Teacher's Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through Mark Twain's classic novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Each lesson has four sections: a focus topic, discussion activities, writing exercises, and homework assignments. In addition, we have provided capstone projects and suggested essay topics, as well as handouts with more background information about the novel, the historical period, and the author. All lessons dovetail with the state language arts standards required in the fiction genre.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

Grade 8 ELA Module 1

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In this module, students will develop their ability to read and understand complex text as they consider the challenges of fictional and real refugees. In the first unit, students will begin Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai, analyzing how critical incidents reveal the dynamic nature of the main character, Ha, a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl whose family is deciding whether to flee during the fall of Saigon. The novel, poignantly told in free verse, will challenge students to consider the impact of specific word choice on tone and meaning. Students will build their ability to infer and analyze text, both in discussion and through writing. They then will read informational text to learn more about the history of war in Vietnam, and the specific historical context of Ha’s family’s struggle during the fall of Saigon. In Unit 2, students will build knowledge about refugees’ search for a place to call home. They will read informational texts that convey universal themes of refugees’

Material Type: Module

Grade 6 ELA Module 1

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In this module, students are involved in a deep study of mythology, its purposes, and elements. Students will read Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief (780L), a high-interest novel about a sixth-grade boy on a hero’s journey. Some students may be familiar with this popular fantasy book; in this module, students will read with a focus on the archetypal journey and close reading of the many mythical allusions. As they begin the novel, students also will read a complex informational text that explains the archetypal storyline of the hero’s journey which has been repeated in literature throughout the centuries. Through the close reading of literary and informational texts, students will learn multiple strategies for acquiring and using academic vocabulary. Students will also build routines and expectations of discussion as they work in small groups. At the end of Unit 1, having read half of the novel, students will explain, with text-based evidence, how Percy is an archetypal hero. In Unit 2, students will continue reading The Lightning Thief (more independently): in class, they will focus on the novel’s many allusions to classic myths; those allusions will serve as an entry point into a deeper study of Greek mythology. They also will continue to build their informational reading skills through the close reading of texts about the close reading of texts about the elements of myths. This will create a conceptual framework to support students’ reading of mythology. As a whole class, students will closely read several complex Greek myths. They then will work in small groups to build expertise on one of those myths. In Unit 3, students shift their focus to narrative writing skills. This series of writing lessons will scaffold students to their final performance task in which they will apply their knowledge about the hero’s journey and the elements of mythology to create their own hero’s journey stories.

Material Type: Module

Grade 7 ELA Module 4A

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This eight-week module focuses on a “science and society” topic, engaging students in reading compelling informational text about adolescent brain development and the effects of entertainment screen time on the brain. In Unit 1, students first read various texts that will build their background knowledge about adolescent brain development in general. Their learning will center around three areas of the brain, namely the prefrontal cortex, the limbic system, and the developing neurons. Students determine main ideas and evidence in diverse media and clarify their learning about this complex content. Then they begin to focus on the issue of screen time and how it may affect teenagers.

Material Type: Full Course, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

Natural Disasters: Nature's Fury

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This lesson invites students to read personal accounts of natural disasters in the U.S. during the late 1800s and early 1990s -- the great Chicago fire (1871), the Johnstown Flood (1889), the San Francisco earthquake and fire (1906), the Titanic (1912), the 1918 Flu Epidemics, the Dust Bowl (1930s-40s). Students research a disaster and create a presentation in which they assume the role of a witness to the event.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Persuasion Across Time and Space

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This unit shows instructional approaches that are likely to help ELLs meet new standards in English Language Arts. Built around a set of famous persuasive speeches, the unit supports students in reading a range of complex texts. It invites them to write and speak in a variety of ways and for different audiences and purposes. Students engage in close reading of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech, Aristotleí˘ä‰ĺ䋢s Three Appeals, Robert Kennedyí˘ä‰ĺ䋢s On the Assassination of Martin Luther King, and George Wallaceí˘ä‰ĺ䋢s The Civil Rights Movement: Fraud, Sham, and Hoax, Barbara Jordaní˘ä‰ĺ䋢s All Together Now. The five lesson culminate with student's constructing their own persuasive texts.

Material Type: Unit of Study

The Call of the Wild by Jack London - Teacher's Guide

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Abducted from his comfortable home and sold as a sled dog, Buck battles the elements to become leader of the pack. This story of a struggle for survival is an unforgettable adventure. This Big Read Teachers Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through Jack Londons classic novel, The Call of the Wild. Each lesson has four sections: a focus topic, discussion activities, writing exercises, and homework assignments. In addition, we have provided capstone projects and suggested essay topics, as well as handouts with more background information about the novel, the historical period, and the author. All lessons dovetail with the state language arts standards required in the fiction genre.

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

Found Poetry with Primary Sources: The Great Depression

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Students explore poetry using American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection of American Memory, which covers personal stories collected by the Works Progress Administration. In particular, students write "found poetry" based on the stories found in this collection. This unit is best undertaken after students have studied a good amount of published poetry and are familiar with at least several different elements common to most verse. These can be found in any grade-level student text or teacher manual, from junior high on up. Briefly, elements to look for include the following: alliteration, repetition, sensory language, metaphor and simile, imagery, rhythm, stanzas, and line breaks.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Zlateh the Goat

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During the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, Reuven is forced to sell Zlateh, the family goat, because business has been bad. On his way to the butcher, Aaron (Reuven's son) and Zlateh get caught in a terrible snowstorm, and after finding shelter in a haystack, they develop a deeper bond and interdependence. (McDougal Littell The Language of Literature, 2002) This lesson was created as part of the Anthology Alignment Project, during which teachers created CCSS-aligned lessons for existing literary and information texts in anthologies. All page numbers and unit/week designations found in this lesson relate to the edition of the anthology named above. If you are using a trade book or different edition of this title, the page/unit/week references in this lesson will not match. Consult the content referenced in the body of the lesson to determine appropriate page numbers for your text.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

The First Emperor

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This is an excerpt from "Tomb Robbers." Ch’in Shih Huang Ti was the first emperor of China. He had a great fear of his own death. He kept searching for a secret that would let him live forever. He also began to build his own tomb. It took 30 years. There are many legends about what the tomb contains. Some stories say it has 270 small copies of Shih Huang Ti’s palaces. Others say it has rivers of mercury. Still others say it has weapons—crossbows—waiting to shoot anyone who tries to enter. For years, the tomb was covered with earth. Then, in 1974, a peasant was plowing a field. He found a life-sized statue. Many more statues were found later. They were part of the emperor’s “spirit army,” which was supposed to serve the ruler in the next world. No one knows yet if the tomb has been robbed. Chinese archaeologists are still digging up the area. They are working very slowly and carefully. (McDougal Littell The Language of Literature, 2002) This lesson was created as part of the Anthology Alignment Project, during which teachers created CCSS-aligned lessons for existing literary and information texts in anthologies. All page numbers and unit/week designations found in this lesson relate to the edition of the anthology named above. If you are using a trade book or different edition of this title, the page/unit/week references in this lesson will not match. Consult the content referenced in the body of the lesson to determine appropriate page numbers for your text.

Material Type: Lesson Plan

Using Textual Clues to Understand “A Christmas Carol

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In Lesson 1, students focus on the first stave of the novel as they identify the meanings of words and phrases that may be unfamiliar to them. This activity facilitates close examination of and immersion in the text and leads to an understanding of Scrooge before his ghostly experiences. In Lesson 2, students examine Scrooge’s experiences with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future and discover how Dickens used both direct and indirect characterization to create a protagonist who is more than just a stereotype. In Lesson 3, students focus on stave 5 as they identify and articulate themes that permeate the story.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Unit of Study

English Language Arts 10

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This course is oriented toward US high school students in grade 10. Its structure and materials are aligned to the US Common Core Standards. You will be expected to build literary analysis from the texts as well as outside sources of knowledge. By the conclusion of this course, you will be prepared for the material in upper level high school English courses (and, subsequently, collegiate texts). You will be able to read and interpret more autonomously, and you will be able to handle more rigorous texts with fewer instructional supports

Material Type: Activity/Lab, Full Course, Homework/Assignment, Reading, Syllabus

From Courage to Freedom: Frederick Douglass's 1845 Autobiography

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In 1845 Frederick Douglass published what was to be the first of his three autobiographies: the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. As the title suggests, Douglass wished not only to highlight the irony that a land founded on freedom would permit slavery to exist within its midst, but also to establish that he, an American slave with no formal education, was the sole author of the work.

Material Type: Lesson Plan, Unit of Study