Analyzing the Central Ideas, Part 2: “The Border” | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2B:U1:L4

Analyzing the Central Ideas, Part 2: “The Border”

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can cite several pieces of text-based evidence to support an analysis of informational text. (RI.7.1)
  • I can express ideas with precision. (W.7.4)
  • I can effectively engage in discussions with diverse partners about seventh-grade topics, texts, and issues. (SL.7.1)

Supporting Targets

  • I can use quotes successfully to support an analysis of the central ideas of "The Border."
  • I can write with precision about "The Border" using the "quote sandwich".
  • By engaging in a discussion with my partner, I can analyze "The Border" to deepen my understanding of its central idea

Ongoing Assessment

  • Identity anchor chart
  • Reader's Notes: "The Border" (from homework)
  • Short Response Graphic Organizer: "The Border"


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A.  Reviewing Reader's Notes and Unpacking Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A.  Drafting "The Border" Short Response (15 minutes)

     B.  Setting Up Discussion Appointments (5 minutes)

     C.  Peer Critique: "The Border" Short Response (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  Reflecting on the Writing Process/Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Finish revising "The Border" Short Response (due at the start of Lesson 5).

  • This lesson continues to work with the text "The Border" and the technique of using the "quote sandwich" to cite evidence in writing. Students first practiced this activity in Lesson 3 orally; now, they transfer their skills to drafting a short response. Strong evidence, as discussed in Lesson 3, is made even stronger when a writer uses direct quotations from the text.
  • Short responses often appear on standardized exams; more importantly, they offer students opportunities to support and explain an argument in a precise way. In this lesson, students are taught a basic format for short responses: identifying the central idea and then providing two pieces of evidence from the text that support that idea.
  • Students will also set up Discussion Appointments in this lesson, which will serve as the basis for many partner pairings in the next two units. Discussion Appointments are tied to the Speaking and Listening Standards of the Common Core; though much emphasis is placed on reading and writing in the Common Core, it is essential for teachers and students to practice the skills of oral communication as part of their studies of the English language and in preparation for the needs of daily life.
  • Discussion Appointment handouts are used throughout the module and should be stored in the module folder or in whatever system you have set up to organize module materials for students.
  • In advance:

-   Determine the resources needed to print the Discussion Appointment handouts in color. The colors are needed for students to be able to make and keep their appointments.

-   Review the Discussion Appointment routine (from Module 1, Unit 2, Lesson 1; included again here as a supporting material for teacher reference).

  • Post: Learning targets.


  • Document camera
  • Reader's Notes: "The Border" (answers, for teacher reference; from Lesson 3)
  • Short Response Graphic Organizer: "The Border" (one per student and one to display)
  • Quote Sandwich Guide (from Lesson 3; one per student and one to display)
  • Diversity Discussion Appointments handout (one per student, printed in color)
  • Peer Critique Guide (one per student and one to display)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reviewing Reader's Notes and Unpacking Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Have students take out their homework from Lesson 3 and review it with a partner. Tell them to feel free to make changes if they feel it is necessary.
  • Using a document camera, display the Reader's Dictionary from the Reader's Notes: "The Border" (answers, for teacher reference), from Lesson 3. Ask students to revise their Reader's Dictionary as necessary to make sure all words are defined correctly. Their definitions do not need to be in the same words as yours.
  • Circulate and offer assistance.
  • Direct students' attention to the displayed Column 2: Central Ideas. Invite them to read the answer aloud, chorally, "with feeling."
  • Let them know that this central idea of "The Border" will come up again in the lesson and they should keep it in mind.
  • Direct students' attention to the learning targets:

*   "I can use quotes successfully to support an analysis of the central ideas of 'The Border.'"

*   "I can write with precision about 'The Border' using the 'quote sandwich'."

*   "By engaging in a discussion with my partner, I can analyze 'The Border' to deepen my understanding of its central idea."

  • Hands Up, Heads Down: Ask students to put their heads down on their desks. Tell them that you will now read each target aloud. For each target, have students give a "thumbs-up" if they feel confident about achieving the target; a "thumb in the middle" if they're not sure about their confidence, or a "thumbs-down" if they are not confident about achieving the target.
  • Hands Up, Heads Down is a quick and easy way for students to self-assess their learning and for you to get a visual representation of the "spread" of the class in that regard. Use the information you see in this activity to guide your individual support of students during the lesson. 

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Drafting "The Border" Short Response (15 minutes)

  • Distribute Short Response Graphic Organizer: "The Border." Let students know that their oral practice in using the quote sandwich yesterday will now help them use the same technique in writing a short response.
  • Define a short response: a small paragraph in response to a prompt. Ask students to share their experiences with short responses.
  • Emphasize that the most important thing students learn through short responses is to concisely and clearly support an argument. Review how strong an argument becomes when direct quotations are used.
  • Display the "The Border" Short Response graphic organizer and the Quote Sandwich Guide (from Lesson 3). Invite students to follow along as you walk them through the organizer and the sample at the top.
  • Review how a quote sandwich is put together.
  • Point out that the short response uses two quote sandwiches. The first one needs to show the author's struggle, or the first half of the central idea; the second one needs to show the author's action, which is the second half of the central idea.
  • Have students independently work on filling in the rest of the organizer (both the chart and the "pull it all together" section). Circulate and offer assistance where needed. 
  • During this work time, consider pulling small groups of students who have similar needs in regard to writing; these could range from legibility and conventions to stating central idea clearly. Or, the group could consist of students who struggled with the quote sandwich Back-to-Back and Face-to-Face activity in Lesson 3. 

B. Setting Up Discussion Appointments (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to raise their hands if they remember the Discussion Appointment protocol from Module 1. Depending on need, review the process of signing up for appointments. (See Module 1, Unit 2, Lesson 1.)
  • Tell students that they need to circulate and make appointments with five people, one for each line on the paper. When two students make an appointment, they each write their name on the other person's paper. For example, if I am making a Red Hands appointment with Derek, I write my name on Red Hands line of her paper, and she writes her name on the Red Hands line of my paper. Students cannot make multiple appointments with the same person.
  • Distribute the Diversity Discussion Appointments handout and give students several minutes to sign up for Discussion Appointments.
  • After students have signed up, call them together and explain that they will frequently do close reading work with a partner. Remind them that readers often understand a text better when they discuss it with someone else. Remind them of the norms for moving to be with their partner and direct them to take their graphic organizers and sit with their Green Hands Discussion Appointment partner.

C. Peer Critique: "The Border" Short Response (15 minutes)

  • Distribute and display the Peer Critique Guide. Tell students that now, in their pairs, they will swap their "The Border" Short Response graphic organizers with each other and engage in a peer review.
  • Walk students through the questions and responses on the Peer Critique Guide. Model the use of the Peer Critique Guide if necessary (see "Meeting Students Needs.")
  • Give students time to fill out the Peer Critique Guide. Circulate and offer assistance if necessary.
  • Allow pairs to discuss each other's peer critiques.
  • Thank students for their thoughtful critique and ask them to be sure to swap papers again, giving each other the corresponding Peer Critique Guide.
  • If time allows, have students begin making revisions on their graphic organizers.
  • If students need more scaffolding in peer work, consider modeling a peer critique session by setting up a fictitious model and critique guide with an adult partner who will come into the room and conduct the session with you. Having an adult of authority (a principal, vice principal, etc.) may reinforce the message of how important this step is. Another option is to have the whole class act as the peer reviewer for your model piece; include some egregious errors that students will enjoy identifying and correcting. 

Closing & Assessments


A. Reflecting on the Writing Process/Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Have students reflect on the writing process and their learning targets today by participating in another Heads Down, Hands Up.
  • Ask them to look back at the learning targets and then put their heads down:

*   "Do you think you met the targets? In other words, do you think your writing time today was productive and helpful? Put a thumb up if yes; thumb down if no; thumb in the middle if you're not sure."

  • Offer feedback to the students on their answers (e.g., "Most of you had your thumbs up. I'm so glad this was productive time for you" or "Several of you had your thumbs down. Would someone volunteer to describe why, so I can help you further?")
  • Remind students that their Mid-Unit Assessment is in the next class. Assure them that they have been practicing the exact skills that will be on the assessment, and that there will be no "tricks" or new materials. Express your confidence in their abilities and your excitement at seeing how they have grown as readers and writers so far. 


  • Finish revising "The Border" Short Response (due at the start of Lesson 5).

Note: The Mid-Unit Assessment is scheduled for Lesson 5, and is scheduled for return and in-class review in Lesson 6.

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