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Beowulf Reading Guide & Analysis for TNReady

CalendarIt’s Back to School, round 2! The pitch black mornings and winter chill of 3rd quarter feel like the most productive learning days of the year. Students are rested, your classroom ecosystem flows with automaticity, your students have mastered basic skills, and it’s not yet time to focus on test preparation.

This is also a great time to expose students to complex texts and spiral standards you’ve worked on in the fall. This one-week mini-unit scaffolds a complex text using a catch and release approach. Students read chunks of the text, discuss as a whole class, and record a main idea/summary + analyze the text structure, theme, and figuratively language independently.

This approach keeps students engaged and motivated. It also allows teachers to quickly recognize and remediate misunderstandings.

Put your best foot forward in the New Year with a TNReady aligned lesson that will prepare students to identify textual evidence to support an argument. This lesson provides students with the skills and knowledge to succeed on the upcoming Writing portion of the TNReady Test.

Lesson Overview


Engage students in reading and analyzing Beowulf, the epitome of a complex text. Spiral the Reading Literature standards for TNReady (and Common Core) in a scaffolded, guided release lesson. After building historical context, students read Beowulf and fill in a graphic organizer for every 10 lines. Students record a summary (main idea) of the lines and find evidence that shows figurative language, textual structures/features, or theme and elaborate on the evidence.


How Does it Work

  • Introduce students to myths and build historical context.
    • Students complete notes
  • Introduce key characters/places using a graphic organizer to scaffold the text and enable students to record additional notes.
  • Facilitate constructed response writing that requires students to develop an argument and support with evidence
    • This constructed response helps students think about the theme of “evil” before reading
  • Read the text as a class stopping every 10 lines to review context and fill in the graphic organizer with a summary and observation about language, structure, or theme
  • Complete a plot diagram using the graphic organizer
  • Answer a constructed response explaining how the theme is conveyed in the text using evidence and elaboration


The standards included are (these are aligned to TNReady and the national Common Core Assessment):

  • 7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • 7.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
  • 7.5 Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s structure contributes to its meaning.

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Beowulf Analysis of Theme, Structure, and Language for TNReady
Available Here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Beowulf-Analysis-of-Theme-Structure-Language-for-TNReady-2265652

Teaching Common Core RI (Reading Informational Text) Standards in Middle School

The RI standards for Common Core and TNReady are easily broken down and taught in isolation, but this is not the way they were intended to be taught & this is not the way students will be assessed on these standards.

However, when these standards are introduced, I believe they should be taught in isolation as separate lessons & should be spiraled together in the format of the lesson described below before teaching students to synthesize their findings in an essay format.

Students need to be experts in doing the following with reference to informational texts for TNReady:

  • Read and annotate for Main Idea
  • Explain the Central Idea of an informational text in their own words
  • Identify different Rhetorical Devices, or types of evidence, an author uses to develop and argue his/her Central Idea
    • I initially introduce rhetorical devices through the Rhetorical Triangle because it’s initially easier for students to bucket evidence into 3 categories.
  • Analyze how effective the Central Idea was developed throughout the text
    • This specifically requires students to look at the types of evidence the author uses & analyze why the evidence is/ isn’t persuasive. 
    • In addition to analyzing evidence, students must also think about how/ why the author’s elaboration (explanation of key points) is/ isn’t effective.

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