7-12 Language Arts Overarching Understandings

  • In addition to the skills outlined by the Iowa Core Standards, Iowa City students in grades 7-12 work toward the following understandings (big ideas) in grade-appropriate ways.

    Reading & Media Literacy

    Students will understand that...

    • The point of view, bias, and historical/cultural background of both the reader and the author influence how a text is written and understood.
    • Texts convey themes that allow us to better understand ourselves and our world.
    • Reading and media literacy involve using a variety of strategies to make meaning of texts, to develop critical thinking skills, and to inform our understanding of the world.
    • Authors use identifiable literary and rhetorical elements and patterns to create meaning in texts.
    • Visual artists use identifiable literary and rhetorical elements, as well as graphic design and cinematography, to create meaning in visual texts.
    • Authors create their works for a purpose; readers use evidence from the text to decipher the author’s purpose.
    • Visual texts are created for a purpose and include many different forms of media that are analyzed like literary texts.

    Students will be able to...

    • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
    • Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.
    • Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
    • Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
    • Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
    • Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
    • Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
    • Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
    • Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
    • Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
    • Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
    • Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings. 

    Writing

    Students will understand that...

    • Purpose and audience drive the content, language, style, and structure of writing.
    • Writers use standards in punctuation, grammar, and vocabulary to assure that they effectively convey their meaning.  
    • Writers use a purposeful, recursive process of prewriting, drafting, reviewing, revising, and editing.

    Students will be able to...

    • Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
    • Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
    • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
    • Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
    • Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
    • Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
    • Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
    • Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    • Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
    • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. 

    Speaking and Listening

    Students will understand that...

    • Public speakers use well-designed content, carefully selected media, and effective presentation skills to assure clarity for audiences.
    • Organization and practice creates credible, confident speakers.
    • Effective listening requires engagement, synthesis of information, and response.
    • Discussion helps participants clarify their own understandings, and see how others interact with and create  meaning from texts and ideas.

    Students will be able to...

    • Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
    • Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.
    • Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
    • Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.
    • Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.
    • Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
    • Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.