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Running head: ACADEMIC TEXTS !

Analyzing Academic Texts within Content Areas

Caleb Ricks

National University 

ACADEMIC TEXTS !2

Analyzing Academic Texts within Content Areas

1. After reviewing the resources contained in the presentation for this week, I believe I have

a solid grasp on the definitions of each reading level as defined by the NAEP. Readers who are

below basic are reading below grade level. These readers have difficulty comprehending texts at

their current grade level, demonstrate a severe lack of performance, and cannot read fluently.

Below basic readers exhibit little or flawed understanding of the grade-level text material.

Readers at the basic level can read and understand the words in a text, answer simple factual

question about what is occurring in the text, and can read fluently enough to finish the text within

a reasonable amount of time. Though their performance is limited, basic readers have a partial or

simple understanding of the text material. However, I do not believe that readers at the basic

level can go beyond a rudimentary understanding of the text to make inferences from the text

material. Proficient readers, on the other hand, are able to comprehend the text beyond what is

written and make connections to their own experiences, classes, and other texts. Proficient

readers demonstrate a solid academic performance, a competent understanding of the material,

and an ability to flexibly think about grade-level texts and make inferences. Lastly, advanced

readers demonstrate a superior performance and comprehension of the text material. These

readers have a complex understanding of the material and can go beyond summarizing or

identifying main ideas and themes. Instead, advanced readers can approach the text from

different angles, question the author’s line of reasoning, and use textual evidence to unveil

themes, ideas, and motifs that go beyond a proficient reading of the text.
ACADEMIC TEXTS !3

2. The two texts that I will be analyzing for this assignment are Harper Lee’s To Kill a

Mockingbird and Toni Morrison’s “Recitatif.” I will be teaching both of these texts to high

school freshmen (9th grade). Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless text that poses important

questions about race, identity, justice, history, and memory in American society. I believe this

canonical text remains extremely relevant given today’s political climate, and poses extremely

important questions that help broaden students’ worldview. Morrison’s “Recitatif” reveals that

prejudice is a virulent learned construct that should be disassembled in order to provide dignity

and humanity to its victims. I believe this story is important because it is accessible and timely,

addressing important issues about race. 



ACADEMIC TEXTS !4

To Kill a Mockingbird “Recitatif”


Below Basic • academic language & vocabulary • academic language and vocabulary
• diction • character descriptions (constant
Level • keeping track of characters (large number of contradiction)
characters) • story structure (takes place over decades)
• identifying theme • historical references
• fluency—speaking, writing, and reading from • fluency—speaking, writing, and reading
evidence grounded in text from evidence grounded in text
• story structure (flashback & reliability) • racial language, loaded language,
• close reading, analyzing scenes, connotative descriptions
• answering questions about factual information • close reading of characters, analyzing key
fro text scenes
• answering questions about factual
information fro text

• academic language & vocabulary • some academic language and vocabulary


Basic Level • keeping track of all characters (large number • racial language, loaded language,
of characters) connotative descriptions
• identifying theme beyond reciting factual • close reading of characters, analyzing key
information from text scenes
• analyzing setting and society • making inferences about text
• fluency—speaking, writing, and reading from • understanding complexity of characters
evidence grounded in text and language used to define them
• story structure (reliable narrator) • identifying multiple levels of meaning in
• close reading and analyzing pivotal/ text: racial, social, identity, etc
significant scenes, • connecting this text with To Kill a
• answering questions about theme and Mockingbird
historical context
• making inferences about text

Proficient Level • some academic language and vocabulary


• identifying multiple levels of meaning in
• reasons behind contradicting descriptions
• navigating complex coded language and
text: racial, social, identity, etc language traps
• reliability of narrator • identifying multiple levels of meaning in
• identifying higher themes than presented in text: racial, social, identity, etc
text—Thinking at deeper levels to analyze • reliability of both narrators (Roberta and
personal, moral, and ethical struggles of Twyla)
characters • connecting this text with To Kill a
• some struggle finding textual evidence Mockingbird
• how culture and society of the time period • making connections between society and
influence characters’ thoughts and actions text
• multiple levels of meaning

Advanced Level • minor vocabulary words


• Deep levels of thinking used to contemplate
• analyzing, unpacking, and contemplating
racial signifiers
personal, moral, social, and ethical struggles • makimg inferences and connections
the text presents outside of text—what do the racial
• analyzing how characters react to cultural signifiers and characters’ desire to create
expectations divisions say about society and human
• making connections beyond text—how/why is nature?
this text relevant today? • multiple levels of meaning
ACADEMIC TEXTS !5

4. My newfound and current understanding of the overall considerations that I have

regarding the texts that I have chosen has inspired me to teach these texts in ways I have not

previously considered. Because I have always been an advanced reader, I believe one of my

biases as a teacher and as a student/reader was assuming that most of the peers/students have the

same grasp on a text as I. For this reason, I was somewhat ignorant regarding how I would teach

content-required texts to students at lower reading levels. I am grateful that this class is having

me overcome my bias as an educator to better understand the hurdles that lower reading level

students must overcome. By having to consider what each reading level would struggle with, I

am better able to understand how I would construct and adapt my instruction to reach my

students at each level. I understand that I will be teaching a diverse population of students at

various levels of reading. However, by breaking down each level, I am able to think of activities

that all students can partake in and that all students will benefit from, such as providing academic

vocabulary and definitions, having students create character charts, and maintain literary

journals. I will want my students to engage in the same academic text and activities regardless of

reading level. However, when I have students work collaboratively on the academic text, I may

divide the students into groups that reflect their reading level. This way, I can customize and

adapt my instruction to meet the needs of each group, posing different level journal questions,

providing different vocabulary words, and different forms of instruction.