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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TN Ready Question Types for ELA Test


TN Ready is the Tennessee State Assessment that is replacing TCAP beginning with the 2015-2016 school year.

It was originally framed as a mixture of Common Core and State Performance Indicators (SPIs), but it appears based on what has been released to focus almost exclusively on Common Core.

Information about the design of the test has slowly been released throughout spring 2015, but has not been widely distributed to teachers. The Tennessee Department of Education’s website includes PDFs outlining the test design and percentage each type of question accounts for on the test, and a basic overview of what the test is and why it matters.

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On the Rocketship >>> Purpose, Summary, and Questions about the Future of Charters


Whitmire tells a chronological narrative of the creation, implementation, and challenges John Danner faced in starting Rocketship, a CMO of K-5 charter schools in San Jose, California. Whitmire briefly explores how other CMOs are adapting to a politically charged landscape and what these other CMOs do effectively.


Whitmire followed Rocketship through a school year and compiled this book from his findings. The title itself suggests that he supports charter schools; though he does offer opposing viewpoints in response to the most politically charged issues Rocketship faced.

John Danner’s (Founder of Rocketship) success began in the Silicon Valley with the creation and sale of his company Netscape, an Internet advertising firm. Danner’s career in the Silicon Valley coupled with the focus on core operating principles in a start-up were central to Danner’s management of Rocketship. Professional educators traditionally emphasize incremental improvement while startup guys like Danner thinks this will fail in the marketplace.

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