Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Research Reading Discussion | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G3:M1:U1:L7

Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Research Reading Discussion

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These are the CCS Standards addressed in this lesson:

  • RL.3.10: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • SL.3.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • SL.3.1a: Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
  • SL.3.1b: Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
  • SL.3.1c: Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.
  • SL.3.6: Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification.

Daily Learning Targets

  • I can follow discussion norms to talk with a small group about what I like about my book and what I find challenging. (RI.3.10, SL.3.1a, SL.3.1b, SL.3.1c, SL.3.6)
  • I can listen carefully to a small group discussion to provide kind, specific, and helpful feedback. (SL.3.1a)

Ongoing Assessment

  • Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Research Reading Discussion (SL.3.1a, SL.3.1b, SL.3.1c)


AgendaTeaching Notes

1. Opening

A. Introducing the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment Prompt (10 minutes)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

2. Work Time

A. Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Research Reading Discussion (40 minutes)

3. Closing and Assessment

A. Reflecting on Learning (5 minutes)

4. Homework

A. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

Purpose of lesson and alignment to standards:

  • In this lesson, students complete the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment, in which they discuss in small groups what they like about their research reading text and some challenges they have faced with it (RI.3.10, SL.3.1a, SL.3.1b, SL.3.1c, SL.3.6).
  • During the assessment, two groups are involved in the discussion. One group participates in the discussion while the second group watches and listens to the discussion. The watching group uses the Discussion Norms anchor chart to note things that were done well and things that could improve next time. While this is happening, the remaining groups read their research reading books.
  • In this unit, the habit of character focus is working to become ethical people. The characteristic students are reminded of is respect as they participate in a collaborative discussion.
  • The research reading that students complete for homework will help build both their vocabulary and knowledge pertaining to overcoming challenges in access to education, books, and reading near and far. By participating in this volume of reading over a span of time, students will develop a wide base of knowledge about the world and the words that help describe and make sense of it.

How it builds on previous work:

  • This builds on collaborative discussion practice in Lesson 2, the research reading students have been completing throughout the unit so far, and the research reading review completed in the previous lesson.

Areas where students may need additional support:

  • If students receive accommodations for assessments, communicate with the cooperating service providers regarding the practices of instruction in use during this study as well as the goals of the assessment.
  • Some students may need to have this discussion in a smaller group setting, as some may find it challenging to speak in front of a lot of other students.

Assessment guidance:

  • This is the first assessment of the year, and students have not had extensive practice following discussion norms in collaborative discussions. For this reason, they are to be assessed only on SL.3.1a, SL.3.1b, and SL.3.1c.
  • All assessment materials (student prompt and teacher checklist) are included in the Assessment Overview and Resources.
  • Collect Affixes Practices I and II to assess student understanding of breaking a word into affixes and roots.

Down the road:

  • Students continue to independently read their research reading texts for homework, collect unfamiliar vocabulary, and respond to prompts in their independent reading journals.
  • In the next lesson, students read a new literary text, Nasreen's Secret School, to determine the lesson and to describe how a character's actions contribute to the sequence of events.

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • Mid-Unit 1 Assessment Prompt (see Assessment Overview and Resources).
    • Schedule for group discussions, including which group will be listening to each discussion.
    • Discussion area in the room with one circle of chairs inside another.
  • Create the Discussion Norms handout using the Discussion Norms anchor chart (begun in Lesson 2) for use during the assessment.
  • Predetermine groups of four to five students for Work Time A.
  • Review the Think-Pair-Share protocol. (Refer to the Classroom Protocols document for the full version of the protocol.)
  • Post: Learning targets, Discussion Norms anchor chart, and Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart.

Tech and Multimedia

  • Work Time A: Record students' discussions using software or apps such as Audacity or GarageBand.

Supporting English Language Learners

Supports guided in part by CA ELD Standards 3.I.A.1, 3.I.A.3, 3.I.B.5, 3.I.C.11, 3.I.C.12

Important points in the lesson itself

  • The basic design of this lesson supports ELLs by inviting them to complete assessment tasks similar to the classroom tasks completed in the first six lessons.
  • The Mid-Unit 1 Assessment may be challenging for ELLs as it is a bit of a leap from the heavily scaffolded classroom interaction. ELLs will be asked not only to more independently apply cognitive skills developed in Lessons 1-6, but also to more independently apply new linguistic knowledge introduced in those lessons.
  • Encourage students to take big risks during the research reading discussion. Say: "Today is our research reading discussion. We are going to have a lot of fun. I want everyone to try their best and take turns speaking. It can be scary, but I know you can do it. It's okay to make mistakes. Just keep talking. Making mistakes will help you become an even better English language speaker." As students leave for the day, make a point of thanking them for sharing their opinion and congratulate them for taking the risk.
  • Review Goal 1 Conversation Cues for thinking, sharing ideas, and expanding reasoning and encourage students to use Conversation Cues during the assessment.
  • Allow students to review language they've written on the Academic Word Wall or in their vocabulary logs.
  • Ensure that ELLs understand the assessment directions. Answer their questions, refraining from responding for them during the discussion. See additional support in the lesson.
  • Ensure that ELLs understand the intent of the SL.3.1a, SL.3.1b, and SL.3.1c criteria on the Collaborative Discussion Checklist and that they will be assessed using these criteria.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Multiple Means of Representation: Students who may need additional support with memory or expressive language can benefit from activating their prior knowledge and providing explicit models. For instance, you can activate prior knowledge by providing work examples from Lesson 6 that students can reference during this lesson. Refer to the Meeting Students' Needs column for more examples. In addition, you can provide explicit models by practicing the different roles in the discussion groups before the activity.
  • Multiple Means of Action and Expression: This lesson requires students to build on their expressive language skills. Some may require additional support in this area. One strategy is to place those who may need support with expressive language in the second group during the discussion so they can observe their peer models. Additionally, you may want to provide a list of positive and constructive feedback sentences to help guide the discussion during the Closing.
  • Multiple Means of Engagement: Be cognizant of how feedback discussions are framed. This can be particularly stressful for students who may have additional learning needs. Emphasize growth and development over relative performance. Tell students that this is the first of many times they will practice class discussion. Each time they will improve based on the collective feedback. 


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T); Vocabulary Used in Writing (W)

  • Do not preview vocabulary for this assessment lesson.


  • Mid-Unit 1 Assessment prompt (one per student and one to display; see Assessment Overview and Resources)
  • Research Reading review forms (from Lesson 6; one per student)
  • Discussion Norms handout (one per student)
  • Discussion Norms anchor chart (begun in Lesson 2; one per student)
  • Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart (begun in Lesson 2)
  • Research reading texts (from Lesson 2; one per student)
  • Grade 3 Collaborative Discussion Checklist (see Informal Assessment Checklists Grades 3-5)

Materials from Previous Lessons

New Materials


Each unit in the 3-5 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Introducing the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment Prompt (10 minutes)

  • Distribute and display the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment Prompt. Read it aloud as students follow along, reading silently in their heads.
  • Invite students to retrieve their Research Reading review forms and show them that the questions they will discuss are the questions they have already considered and wrote short responses for in the previous lesson.
  • Distribute the Discussion Norms handout and ensure students recognize that this is a handout version of the Discussion Norms anchor chart.
  • Focus students on the Working to Become Ethical People anchor chart and remind them that ethical people treat others well and stand up for what is right.
  • Remind students of the respect habit of character.
  • Ask students to turn and talk to an elbow partner:

"Why might this habit of character be important to keep in mind during a collaborative discussion like this?" (Responses will vary, but may include: Some students may find it challenging to discuss their ideas with a group, so we need to be respectful to help them through it. Collaborative discussions involve students asking each other questions, so they should be asked and answered respectfully.)

  • For ELLs and students who may need support with memory: Invite students to tell a classmate what their responses were on the Research Reading review form from Lesson 6. (MMR)

B. Reviewing Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Direct students' attention to the posted learning targets and select a volunteer to read them aloud:

"I can follow discussion norms to talk with a small group about what I like about my book and what I find challenging."

"I can listen carefully to a small group discussion to provide kind, specific, and helpful feedback."

  • Ask students to turn and talk, and cold call students to share their responses with the whole group:

"What connections can you see between the learning targets and what you are going to be doing in the assessment?" (The learning targets are things we need to have an effective discussion.)

  • Focus students on the second learning target. Explain that students are going to participate in one group discussion and listen to another to provide feedback.

- Tell students that when providing feedback they will use the Discussion Norms anchor chart and identify something the group did well and something the group could improve on. Explain that students will not provide feedback to individuals, but to the group as a whole.

- To remember their feedback, they will mark a star and a step symbol on their handout during the discussion.

- Model an example by drawing a star and step on the anchor chart and then saying: "I saw a lot of you listening carefully without interrupting, but I think you could ask more questions about each other's texts."

  • For ELLs: Some students may be uncomfortable receiving positive feedback, perceiving it as useless or even patronizing. Explain that star and step feedback reflects the value that many U.S. classrooms place on giving kind and compassionate warm and cool feedback. Whereas not everyone agrees that both are useful, many studies demonstrate that both types of feedback are important to learning.
  • Emphasize that feedback will be for the purposes of growth and development rather than relative performance. (MME)
  • Display the star and step example as you model it. (MMR)
  • For ELLs and students who need support with comprehension: Check comprehension of the learning targets by asking follow-up questions. Examples:

"What two things are you going to talk about with your small group?"

"How are you going to use the discussion norms?"

"What is one way that you worked toward the learning targets in the past six lessons?" (MMR)

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Research Reading Discussion (40 minutes)

  • Invite students to take out the following documents:

- Mid-Unit 1 Assessment prompt

- Research Reading review form

- Discussion Norms handout

- Research reading text

  • Invite students to bring these items and move to sit with their predetermined groups.
  • Post the discussion schedule and tell students that when they are not discussing or watching/listening to a discussion, they should read their research reading text.
  • Prepare the first small groups to discuss or watch/listen.

- Remind students in the discussion circle to refer to their Research Reading review form and the Discussion Norms handout. Tell them they will have 8 minutes for their discussion.

- Remind students in the outside circle to refer to their Discussion Norms handout and mark a star and step as they listen and watch the discussion.

  • Invite students in the inside circle to begin discussing.
  • As students discuss, complete the Grade 3 Collaborative Discussion Checklist to assess student performance. Try to encourage students to run the discussion themselves, but if needed prompt with guiding questions:

"Would you recommend your text to someone else? Why?"

"What have you learned from it?"

  • After 8 minutes, bring the small group discussion to a close and have the inside circle and outside circle switch places.
  • Repeat the discussion process with the second group.
  • Refocus whole group and transition new groups to the discussion circles and repeat the process. 
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with memory: To help students recall prior knowledge, display a student-written short constructed response from Lesson 6. This will provide a familiar reference point while preparing them for the assessment task. (MMR)
  • Before beginning the Mid-Unit 1 Assessment: Research Reading Discussion, quickly model the student roles: the inside circle and what to say inside the circle, both circles' protocols, and how to use the Research Reading review form and Discussion Norms handout so that ELLs have another model. (MMR)
  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with expressive language: Write Goal 1 Conversation Cues on cardstock. When students get stuck, provide ample wait time and then prompt them by holding up an appropriate Conversation Cue. (MMR)
  • As students interact, jot down a sample of effective communication and a common ELL language error (pervasive, stigmatizing, critical) on the Collaborative Discussion Checklist. Share each of these with the class after the discussion or during Closing and Assessment, allowing students to take pride in the good communication and to correct the errors.

Closing & Assessments


A. Reflecting on Learning (5 minutes)

  • Invite students to pair up with an elbow partner and to label themselves A and B.
  • Focus students on their Discussion Norms handout.
  • Invite students to turn and talk to their elbow partner:

"What was one thing you feel you did well? Why do you think that?"

"What is one thing you think you could do better next time?"

"What is one thing you did to show respect during the discussion?"

  • Remind students that this is the first collaborative discussion of many, so they will have plenty of opportunities to improve.


HomeworkMeeting Students' Needs

A. Accountable Research Reading. Select a prompt and respond in the front of your independent reading journal.

  • For ELLs and students who may need additional support with writing: Discuss and respond to your prompt orally, either with a partner, family member, or student from grades 2 or 4, or record a response. Read the prompts aloud and brainstorm possible responses with your teacher. If you have trouble writing sentences, write words or make sketches in your responses, or your teacher can give you sentence starters. (MMAE)
  • Refer to the Assessment Overview and Resources for supporting materials for this lesson.

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