Analyzing Word Choice: Understanding Working Conditions in the Mills | EL Education Curriculum

You are here

ELA 2012 G7:M2A:U1:L7

Analyzing Word Choice: Understanding Working Conditions in the Mills

You are here:

Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of literary text. (RL.7.1)
  • I can analyze the interaction of literary elements of a story or drama. (RL.7.3)
  • I can use a variety of strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words or phrases. (L.7.4)
  • I can analyze figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. (L.7.5)
  • I can effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about seventh-grade topics, texts, and issues. (SL7.1)

Supporting Targets

  • I can use context clues--both in the sentence and on the page--to determine the meaning of unknown words.
  • By engaging in a discussion with my partner, I can analyze one section of Lyddie to deepen my understanding of the plot, characters, and setting.
  • I can cite specific textual evidence to explain what working conditions were like in the mills and how they affected Lyddie.
  • I can analyze how the author's word choices create vivid descriptions of Lyddie's living and working conditions.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Checking for Understanding entry task
  • Chapter 10 of Lyddie Text-Dependent Questions
  • Working Conditions anchor chart--student version


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.     Opening

A.  Entry Task: Checking for Understanding (10 minutes)

2.     Work Time

A.  Close Read of Pages 75 and 76 in Lyddie (25 minutes)

B.  Adding to Working Conditions Anchor Chart (8 minutes)

3.     Closing and Assessment

A.  Previewing Homework (2 minutes)

4.     Homework

A.  Read Chapter 11 of Lyddie and complete Reader's Notes for Chapter 11.

  • Students continue to analyze working conditions in the mill and how they affect Lyddie.
  • This lesson adds a focus on word choice and figurative language, as students discuss how author Katherine Paterson's choice of language helps the readers better understand Lyddie's working conditions and how they affected her.
  • In advance: Prepare sets of Working Conditions note cards (one set per pair). Students will not write on these, so you can prepare one class set and use it with multiple classes.
  • Review: Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapters 9 and 10; Lyddie, Chapters 9 and 10
  • Post: Learning targets.


personification; goods, flaw (65), decipher (66), radical (67), infamous, operatives (69), strenuous (74), laden, bowels (75), inferno, meager (76), commenced (77), ravenous. fatigue (78)


  • Checking for Understanding Chapters 9 and 10 entry task (one per student)
  • Weaving Room Discussion Appointments handout (from Lesson 3)
  • Working Conditions note cards (one set per pair; teacher-created; see Supporting Materials)
  • Reading Closely: Guiding Questions handout (from Odell Education; also see stand-alone document on and (one per student)
  • Document camera
  • Lyddie (book; one per student; focus on pages 75 and 76)
  • Chapter 10 of Lyddie Text-Dependent Questions (one per student)
  • Chapter 10 of Lyddie Close Reading Guide (for Teacher Reference)
  • Working Conditions anchor chart, student version (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Working Conditions anchor chart (begun in Lesson 1)
  • Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 11 (one per student)
  • Lyddie Reader's Notes, Chapter 11, Teacher's Edition (for Teacher Reference)



A. Entry Task: Checking for Understanding (10 minutes)

  • Distribute Checking for Understanding, Chapters 9 and 10 entry task to students. Direct students to complete the entry task individually. As they do so, circulate to check the Reader's Notes (Chapters 9 and 10) for completion.
  • When students are done, call on several to share their answers to the Checking for Understanding entry task. Prompt them: "How did your Reader's Notes help you answer that question?"
  • Post the correct definitions of the words in the Reader's Dictionary and prompt students to correct their Reader's Notes as necessary. Ask:

*   "Why did the author use the word ravenous instead of 'hungry' and fatigue instead of 'tiredness'?"

  • Listen for students to point out that ravenous and fatigue are stronger words, representing more extreme sensations. Paterson is trying to give her readers a vivid sense of what it might have been like to live during this time.
  • Refer students to or distribute the Reading Closely: Guiding Questions handout. Students also used this in Module 1. Direct students' attention to the section on language and have them "popcorn read" the questions aloud. Tell students that they will be asking these types of questions today as they read a passage from 
    Lyddie closely.
  • Remind students that today they will continue to work on the learning target: "I can cite specific textual evidence to explain what working conditions were like in the mills and how they affected Lyddie." They will reread part of Chapter 10 and practice analyzing working conditions in preparation for the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment in Lesson 9.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Close Read of Pages 75 and 76 in Lyddie (25 minutes)

  • Focus students on pages 75 and 76 of Lyddie.
  • Set a purpose for the reading session today: Students will learn about what working conditions were like in the mill and how that affected Lyddie. Ask the students what is happening at the beginning of Chapter 10. Give them a minute to review their books and ask them to raise their hands when they know. When most of the class has a hand up, ask a student to share out. Listen for: "It is the start of Lyddie's first full day of work in the weaving room."
  • Begin by asking students to read silently as you read the text aloud. Tell them to pay careful attention the language Paterson uses and how she tries to help the reader imagine what Lyddie's life was like. As they noticed in the entry task, Paterson will not say: "The work was hard." Instead, she will use more precise words (such as those discussed in the entry task), and she will layer details together to try to make readers feel like they are there.
  • Read the text aloud with expression and drama from the top of page 75 to "She had lost all appetite" at the end of page 76.
  • Direct students to use their Weaving Room Discussion Appointment sheet and move to work with their Shuttle partner. Once they are settled, distribute a set of Working Conditions note cards and two copies of Chapter 10 of Lyddie Text-Dependent Questions to each pair.
  • Tell students that they will practice analyzing specific quotes from the text to see how Paterson helps readers vividly imagine Lyddie's life and work. Display Chapter 10 of Lyddie Text-Dependent Questions and use the Chapter 10 of Lyddie Close Reading Guide to guide students through a series of text-dependent questions related to excerpts from pages 75 and 76 of Lyddie.
  • After students have worked for 10 minutes, cold call pairs to share their answers about which Working Conditions note card matched with a quote. Consider discussing some of the other questions on the Close Reading Guide to help students analyze word choice.
  • Consider working with a small group whose work suggests they may need extra support with this close rereading activity.
  • Consider having struggling readers complete fewer questions. This differentiates the task by quantity of questions rather than complexity of text and gives all readers the chance to read complex text closely.

B. Adding to Working Conditions Anchor Chart (8 minutes)

  • Direct pairs to get out their Working Conditions anchor chart--student version from Lesson 6. Ask them to use the quotes they analyzed today to add to the chart. This is just what they did in Lesson 6; they are rereading the specific quotes to add both facts about working conditions and questions to research about working conditions today.
  • Call on several pairs to share out, celebrating interesting questions and reminding students that they will have the opportunity to explore these questions in Unit 3. As students share, prompt them to explain evidence in the text that supports their ideas. Add their ideas to the Working Conditions anchor chart. Prompt students to revise their own charts as necessary.
  • Ask students to turn in their Working Conditions anchor chart--student version and the Chapter 10 of Lyddie Text-Dependent Questions worksheet as they leave. When you review this work, identify students who seem to be struggling to analyze specific quotes to better understand Lyddie's working conditions. Consider working with these students in a small group during Lesson 8.

Closing & Assessments


A. Previewing Homework (2 minutes)

  • Preview the homework for the next few days with students: Chapter 11 is due in Lesson 8, and Chapters 12 and 13 are due in Lesson 9.
  • The assessment (in Lesson 9) focuses on Chapters 12 and 13. Students may wish to read all or part of Chapter 12 this evening but should make a plan that ensures that they will have read through Chapter 13 before the assessment in Lesson 9.


  • Read Chapter 11 of Lyddie and complete Reader's Notes for Chapter 11.

Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

Sign Up