Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 12: Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique - “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” Raymond Carver

Rating: Five apple rating


Common Core Standards

Reading Literature

RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RL.11-12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).

RL.11-12.5 Analyze how an author’s choices concerning how to structure specific parts of a text (e.g., the choice of where to begin or end a story, the choice to provide a comedic or tragic resolution) contribute to its overall structure and meaning as well as its aesthetic impact.

RL.11-12.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.


W.11-12.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

W.11-12.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.11-12.9 (a) Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Speaking and Listening

SL.11-12.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Description of Unit

This Grade 12 unit titled “Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique - What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver” from odelleducation.com is part of a developing core proficiencies literary program. This unit is intended to be completed in 6-14 sessions of direct instruction in ELA/Literacy. It is designed to cultivate in students the ability to make evidence-based claims in the realm of literary analysis on the short story genre using Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” As students participate in unit activities, they engage in a close read of this text, search for evidence of techniques used by Carver, and develop increasingly more complex claims about specific passages. In a culminating activity, students individually form and write more global claims about how the techniques and choices they have identified contribute to the story’s overall meaning and unity.


Connecticut teachers should be aware that extensive teacher notes and preparation materials require familiarity to be used effectively. Due to the rigor required for student success, additional supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band may be required. On page 3 of the unit document, one of the targeted standards is mislabeled; it should be W.11-12.9(a) as it is in the rest of the unit. The standards listed above are accurate.

Rationale for Selection

The design of this unit is exemplary. Instruction pushes students beyond general thematic understanding of texts into deep engagement with textual content and authorial craft. It includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time as it gradually removes supports and requires students to demonstrate their independent capacities.  In addition to reading and writing, it incorporates many structured collaborative activities to develop key speaking and listening proficiencies. Files, including detailed daily lesson plans tools, and checklists, are organized so that teachers can easily browse through the materials. Varied modes of assessment provide direct, observable evidence for interpreting student performance. The unit parts can be taught as short stand-alone units to introduce or develop key student proficiencies. Teachers can also integrate them into larger modules that build up to and around these proficiencies, or apply the activity sequences and unit materials to different texts and topics.