School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 8

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 1. Refine comprehension skills by reading and analyzing a variety of self-selected and assigned literary texts including print and non-print

Objective a. Listen to critically, read, and discuss a variety of literary texts representing diverse cultures, perspectives, ethnicities, and time periods


The teacher should select a series of literary texts that are set in a distinctive time period. Prior to any reading, the teacher should share and discuss with students important events, discoveries, and accomplishments, styles of dress, means of transportation, ways of preparing food etc…during that time. The teacher might also share with students illustrations of that time period or listen to music of that time. Once a basis of information of that time period has been established, the teacher should read aloud or, as students become more skilled, have them silently read literary texts that are set in that designated time period. The first thing a student should be able to do after listening to or reading the text is to identify the time period and support that choice with specific details from the text. Following that basic identification, a student should be able to discuss the possibilities or impossibilities of certain character actions or motivations, settings etc…based upon the time period of the text. This same activity can be conducted by focusing on the ethnicity or culture of characters within the text or by comparing different time periods in texts or perspectives of different authors writing about the same time period.


Have students read a short literary passage which the teacher has previously read and noted specific, integrally important phrases or sentences. After reading is complete, the teacher should model this form of questioning by asking, "What does the author mean by…this particular phrase or sentence?" The teacher should encourage a multitude of answers and interpretations and record each one on the overhead or board. In addition, the teacher should encourage discussion among students by indicating interpretations that support or refute each other, which requires students to use text support to defend their suggestions. Once students understand the method of this discussion, students can be placed in small groups to look at different phrases or sentences and create a list of suggested interpretations of that line of text. It is essential that students be able to defend their interpretation using text support. After students have organized their suggestions, each group could report to the remainder of the class or each group could report directly to the teacher. Extension: This same activity can be conducted with a variety of questions that would require a reader to look critically at a text. For example, when working with paired passages or poems…How is this text like or different from the other text? Or after giving students a theme of a literary piece or guiding them to state a theme of a literary piece …Where is the text that supports that theme?


Prior to this activity, the teacher should ensure that students understand cultural diversity, perspective, ethnicity, mood, and tone. The teacher should assign reading of a literary text. After reading and a brief discussion to ascertain that all students have a general, literal understanding of the text, the teacher will divide the class into five groups assigning each group the topic of cultural diversity, perspective, ethnicity, mood, or tone. Each group must read carefully and discuss how well the passage shows its assigned topic and uses text to support its conclusions. Once each group has completed its assignment, the group will share its conclusions with the rest of the class. This can become an ongoing class activity. Groups can be rearranged or topics shifted among the groups to give each student an opportunity to work with each topic. Once all topics are familiar to all students, individual students can self-select texts and evaluate that text for one, several, or all of the literary components.


Before initiating this activity with students, the teacher should carefully read the literary text and isolate one or more topics that are addressed in that text. Topics might include such ideas as personal freedom, animal rights, environmental obligations, etc…Prior to reading the text, the teacher and students should discuss the topic. Students should be encouraged to voice their opinions about the topic. After the discussion, students should define their thoughts about the topic by recording their ideas on paper. Next, students should read the assigned text focusing particularly on what the text has to say about the assigned topic. After the students have completed their reading, the teacher and students should discuss the ideas presented in the text about the assigned topic. Once the discussion is complete, students should define their thoughts about the text's handling of the topic by recording their ideas on paper. Finally, the students should reread their own ideas and compare them to the text ideas thereby determining areas of agreement and disagreement. Extension: A discussion that furthers this activity is to determine by what means and how effectively the text relays ideas about the assigned topic.


To encourage students to access a variety of books that focus upon diverse cultures, perspectives, ethnicity, and time periods, the teacher can share award-winning books with students. Over a designated period of time the teacher can read aloud or have student read silently books or portions of books that have won awards like Americas Award (Latino), Coretta Scott King Award (African-American), Pura Belpre (Latino), or American Books Award (multicultural), etc… Following the reading, the teacher and students should discuss their reactions to the texts, the topics presented in the texts, or the elements that make these texts award winners etc…