It is universally understood that critical thinking is at the core of how students interrogate texts. Sternbergxvi notes the important role of critical thinking including active skills like analyzing arguments, claims, or evidence, making inferences using inductive or deductive reasoning, judging or evaluating, and making decisions or solving problems.xvii Newly revised Common Core State Standards punctuate this by recognizing its importance as a vital skill for college and career readinessxviii as an overall goal. Strategies are driven by Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts Literacy and History. Research based frameworks for leveraging critical thinking skills will be used to achieve unit goals such as revised Bloom’s Taxonomyxix (Bloom is universally agreed upon as the standard educators use to define hierarchical thinking skills) and Marzano’s high-yield instructional strategies, (identification of relational patterns, visual representations, and graphic organizers).xx The strategies used for this unit incorporates didactic journaling, a character profile organizer, a lyric analysis organizer, a timeline picture walk, and an essay outline:
Strategy 1: Didactic journaling (also known as a double entry journal or reader’s response notebook) will use open-ended questioning to deeply engage with the ideas in the text. This strategy supports CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.3: where students will use questioning to create a character profile.
Strategy 2: Timeline picture walks will be used as a primary source and build important background information. This strategy supports objective CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8 The timeline will organize historical events and the accompanying pictures will provide visual aids to help students grasp the context and historical era of the text.
Strategy 3: A graphic organizer will help students analyze the music of the era to help them understand the historical content of the novel and develop deeper character analysis. This strategy connects to objective CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7.
Strategy 4: Writing graphic organizers will be used to help students plan and organize their written essays. This strategy connect to objective CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.7.2.