Unit 1

“The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry


Grade 8

Unit Length and Description:


Nine Weeks


This unit will focus on the art of storytelling.  Students will read a series of short stories that connect to the anchor text.  Through a close look at the key ideas and details as well as the craft and structure of each of the stories presented, the students will gain the ability to comprehend at a deeper level, which will be assessed through numerous informative/explanatory essays.  Vocabulary studies will be an essential part of this unit, and several strategies will be presented.  The students will also be exposed to visual depictions of plays and will research the elements of drama, eventually comparing and contrasting these styles of prose writing. 




Reading Literature

RL.8.1: Cite the relevant evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


RL.8.2: Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text.


RL.8.3: Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.


Reading Informational Texts

RI.8.1: Cite the relevant evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.


RI.8.2: Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.


RI.8.3: Analyze how a text makes connections among and distinctions between individuals, ideas, or events (e.g., through comparisons, analogies, or categories).



W.8.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

a)   Introduce a topic clearly, previewing what is to follow; organize ideas, concepts, and information into broader categories; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding in comprehension.

b)   Develop the topic with relevant, well-chosen facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples.

c)    Use appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts.

d)   Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.

e)   Establish and maintain a formal style.

f)    Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented.


W.8.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


W.8.5: With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a different approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.


Speaking and Listening
SL.8.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

a)   Come to discussions prepared, having read or researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence on the topic, text, or issue to probe and reflect on ideas under discussion.

b)   Follow rules for collegial discussions and decision-making, track progress toward specific goals and deadlines, and define individual roles as needed.

c)    Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others’ questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.

d)   Acknowledge new information expressed by others and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views in light of the evidence presented.



L.8.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

a)   Explain the function of verbals (gerunds, participles, infinitives) in general and their function in particular sentences.

b)   Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.

c)    Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood.

d)   Recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in verb voice and mood.


L.8.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

a)   Use punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break.

b)   Use an ellipsis to indicate an omission.

c)    Spell correctly.


Enduring Understandings:


·        Key ideas and details allow the reader to engage with a story.

·        Authors use literary elements such as irony to make their stories more interesting to the reader.

·        The author can use a character’s perspective to engage the reader in his or her thought process.

·        Informational texts have a unique structure and organization.

·        Authors write short stories to engage in the art of storytelling and to allow the reader to become a part of it.


Essential Questions:


·        Why do key ideas and details matter?

·        Is appearance always the same as reality?

·        How is perspective used in literature?

·        How is information organized?

·        What is the purpose of reading or writing short stories?