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Common Core Close Reading Exemplars from Achieve the Core website

joe_phelan Posted by joe_phelan in Common Core on Oct 14, 2012 7:12:00 PM

Close reading exemplars

To be college and career ready, students need to be able to read sufficiently complex texts on their own and gather evidence, knowledge, and insight from those texts.  These close reading exemplars intend to model how teachers can support their students as they undergo the kind of careful reading the Common Core State Standards require.

Each of these exemplars features the following: readings tasks in which students are asked to read and reread passages and respond to a series of text dependent questions; vocabulary and syntax tasks which linger over noteworthy or challenging words and phrases; discussion tasks in which students are prompted to use text evidence and refine their thinking; and writing tasks that assess student understanding of the text.

We encourage teachers to take these exemplars and modify them to suit the needs of their students.  If you try these lessons in your classroom and have ideas about how to make them better, tell us what you think.


Grade 6, “The Making of a Scientist”


"Not having experience with many fathers, I didn’t realize how remarkable he was. How did he learn the deep principles of science and the love of it, what’s behind it, and why it’s worth doing?"

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Grade 6, “The Great Fire”


"'FIRE!' It would be a warning cry heard thousands of times during the next thirty-one hours. Chicago in 1871 was a city ready to burn..."

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Grade 7, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”


"Soon the free boys would come tripping along on all sorts of delicious expeditions, and they would make a world of fun of [Tom] for having to work- the very thought of it burnt him like fire..."

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Grade 8, “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave”


"...The silver trump of freedom had roused my soul to eternal wakefulness. Freedom now appeared, to disappear no more forever."

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Grade 7, “Farewell to Manzanar” and “Unbroken”


“The men had been adrift for twenty-seven days. Borne by an equatorial current, they had floated at least one thousand miles, deep into Japanese-controlled waters..."

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Grade 8, “The Long Night of the Little Boats”


“Overhead, the dive bombers wheeled. Behind them, the tanks and artillery roared. They turned to fight for the last time, and that was when the miracle began...”

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Grade 8, “Words We Live By”


“For a sense of the evolving nature of the constitution, we need look no further than the first three words of the document’s preamble...”

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Grades 9-10, “Gettysburg Address”


“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...”

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Grades 11-12, “Living Like Weasels”


“A yellow bird flew behind me. It caught my eye; I swiveled around- and the next instant, inexplicably, I was looking down at a weasel, who was looking up at me...”

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Grade 3, “Because of Winn-Dixie”


This is what happened: I was picking out my books and kind of humming to myself, and all of a sudden, there was a loud and scary scream.

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Grade 3, “The Fisherman and his Wife”


“There once was a fisherman and his wife who lived together in a hovel by the sea-shore...”

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