On the scoring rubric for the Response to Literature section of the Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) the wordperceptive appears three times, always to describe exemplary performance. To demonstrate excellence, our students are expected to develop perceptive interpretations, make perceptive connections and defend perceptive judgments about literature. By the time students reach high school, we expect them to be more adept at independently probing and analyzing text. While we want them to ground their thinking in the text, we expect them to see beyond it to its cultural and historical context, the character's motivations and conflicts and the author's probable intent. For some students, especially those that still struggle to decode what the text literally says, grasping the text's deeper meaning can be frustrating and discouraging. The aim of this unit is to demystify the process of interpretation by making the act of critical thinking more visible to students. Using Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), an instructional model developed by cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen and museum educator Philip Yenawine, as a point of departure, this unit reinforces core skills of inquiry: making observations and inferences, defending claims with evidence from the text, and entering into an academic conversation.
(Developed for English Language Arts, grade 10; recommended for English Language Arts, grades 9-12)