A breakdown for teachers who teach RL.5 in middle school ELA. In this post, we’ve included learning targets, concept breakdown, resource suggestions, and activity and assessment ideas!
The structure of a text contributes to how it is interpreted and its overall meaning.
Although many of us don’t realize it, we have different preferences when it comes to the structure of a story.
Some people love reading poetry or lyrics and feel really connected to the writing. Other people don’t care for poetry at all and will put a book back on a shelf if they find the text is written that way.
But not all poetry is the same. There are poems that rhyme, and there is free form. There are poems with repetition others focus on alliteration and assonance. Still, others are built from patterns and carefully placed syllables.
There is so much to dive into here!
Then there are all the other text structures, such as dramas, scripts, letters, etc. All of these have different parts and pieces. For example, scripts are often written with limited stage direction or with or without a narrating voice. They lack the narration of a typical fictional telling that includes an omniscient narrator.
So many things to consider when dealing with text structure.
So where do we begin?
The RL.5 standard in middle school ELA is completely focused on helping students work through these different text structures. Let’s begin by breaking down the standards into simple learning targets that we can focus on as we get started with our learning/teaching.
Breaking standards down into learning targets is one of the best ways to begin deconstructing a standard and making a plan for how to teach the standard. Once the learning targets are clear, then you can build lessons and activities to focus on each.
When we plan our year, we like to take a look at the year wholistically, so checklists, like the ones linked below, are super important and give us a chance to make sure that every standard we need to teach is getting its moment to shine!
Once we’ve decided to focus on a specific standard, we break the standard down into 2-5 learning targets to guide our planning.
Here are the learning targets on which we developed our resources around for the RL.5 standard.
How to Teach RL.5 in Middle School
6th Grade Standard: Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.
6th Grade Learning Targets
- I can define the various structures of literary text.
- I can analyze how a sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text.
- I can analyze how particular structure contributes to development of theme, setting, or plot.
7th Grade Standard: Analyze how a drama or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.
7th Grade Learning Targets
- I can determine the form or structure of a drama (e.g., soliloquy)
- I can determine the form or structure of a poem (e.g., sonnet)
- I can analyze how the form or structure contributes to the meaning of the drama or poem
- I can analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds on a section of a text (poem, story, or drama)
8th Grade Standard: Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
8th Grade Learning Targets
- I can analyze how text structure contributes to the meaning of a text.
- I can compare and contrast the structure of multiple texts.
- I can analyze how the differing structure of each text influences its meaning and style.
Growing through Middle School
As you can see in the standards above, the middle school RL. 5 standard takes a pretty sharp turn as students enter 8th grade.
In early middle school, the students focus primarily on text structure as it relates to poetry, and a 7th-grade teacher can spend much of their year focusing on text structure from the perspective of poetry and probably feel like they covered the standard fully.
In our 7th grade resource, many of our lessons talk about poetry, but we also have an activity specifically focused on working with a drama.
As students get into 8th grade and start preparing for deeper analysis in high school, the text structure standard says nothing about poetry at all. Instead, the standard leaves the type of text wide open and instead starts to hone in on comparing the structure of multiple texts and how it influences the meaning.
That means that once students get into 8th grade, they will need exposure to lots of different types of text structures. This is a great time to start pulling in different kinds of dramatic works, lyrics, memoirs, letters, fictional and nonfiction books, memos, memes, comic strips, graphic novels, etc.
Standard Specific Skill
It is hard to break down this standard into just one major skill as it actually includes a whole slew of important concepts that students will need to have, including an understanding of figurative language (which is covered in RL.4) as well as an understanding of different types of poetry (i.e., limerick, haiku, sonnets, etc.) as well as a basic understanding of rhyme scheme. In regards to drama, students will need to know and practice working with different dramatic elements such as symbolism, plot, monologues, soliloquy, etc.
Rather than just focusing on poetry and dramas again in 8th grade, we turn the focus to more advanced types of structural analysis like point of view and literary devices like foreshadowing, parallel plots, and flashbacks.
Resources for teaching RL.5
The Sparkly Notebook isn’t just another cutesy resource creation company. We pride ourselves on creating resources that align with the standards and help teachers plan the lessons their students need to be exposed to. Although it is great to supplement the standards with additional resources and practice, it is important to always start and plan with the standards in mind.
Each of our resources for this standard…
…works through the standard using grade-level-specific passages and activities that help the student develop the standard completely.
The resources include a lesson/activity for each specific learning target or concept and also include assessments, posters, and answer keys.
Activities and Projects for Practicing and Assessing RL.5 in Middle School
- Read lyrics to a song. Spend time analyzing the lyrics and considering their structure. Then listen to the song. Were the students surprised by what the song sounded like after reading it on paper? Spend some time in discussion.
- Split students into multiple small groups and have each practice and present the same short drama. Discuss how each group presented the play and how the text structure contributed to their choices. This is an activity in our 7th-grade resource.
- Give students a variety of poems of different types and see if they can identify what kind each one is. See if you can find poems on the same subject and spend time discussing how each piece of poetry treated the same subject. We explore different poem types in one of our 7th-grade activities.
- Watch a short clip from a movie and discuss how the producer has arranged the pieces of the film. This is an activity in our 8th-grade resource.
- Write your own parallel plot. After reading a passage or text, ask students to write their own parallel plot related to the text. Read the students’ submissions and discuss how they compare to the original. This is part of our 8th-grade unit.
I don’t know about you, but this standard has always felt like a big one with so many elements to cover, but hopefully, breaking it down this way and maybe even using our resources to support you will make it all a whole lot more manageable.
If you are looking for more passages to work with, make sure you check out some of our paired passages. We have a whole bunch of very popular middle school topics to choose from, so check them out by clicking this link!