Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 7: Analyzing an Author’s Style - Macaulay’s Unique Way of Explaining a Complex Process  

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Common Core Standards

Reading Informational Text

RI.7.1 Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

RI.7.3 Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).

RI.7.5 Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.


W.7.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

W.7.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and link to and cite sources as well as to interact and collaborate with others, including linking to and citing sources.


L.7.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 7 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.7.4 (A) Use context (e.g., the overall meaning of a sentence or paragraph; a word's position or function in a sentence) as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.

L.7.4 (B) Use common, grade-appropriate Greek or Latin affixes and roots as clues to the meaning of a word (e.g., belligerent, bellicose, rebel).

L.7.4 (C) Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.

L.7.4 (D) Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).

Description of Unit

This Grade 7 unit titled “Analyzing an Author’s Style—Macaulay’s Unique Way of Explaining a Complex Process” from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is intended to be completed in three weeks of ELA/Literacy instruction.   In this unit, students first engage in a close read of David Macaulay’s “Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction” to examine the author’s use of words and images to depict architectural design and construction.  They then compare works by other authors to determine how Macaulay’s approach differs from the others.  Finally, students review a collection of books Macaulay has written and illustrated to find commonalities among them. As a summative assessment, each student writes an essay on Macaulay’s style using evidence from “Cathedral” and other texts.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that due to the rigor required for student success, additional modifications and supports for students who are ELL, have disabilities, or read well below the grade level text band may be required; additional time may also be necessary, depending on the needs of students. While vocabulary activities are included, it is unclear if there is explicit instruction for CCSS L.7.4 (B) listed above. The unit plan includes standards for language, reading informational text and writing; however, standards for speaking and listening are not listed and could be added.  The teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively.    Individual student copies of David Macaulay’s “Cathedral: The Story of Its Construction” will be needed. Access to computers for the writing of essays is recommended.

Rationale for Selection

This exemplary unit includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills deepen over time.  It facilitates rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about common texts (including images and videos) through a sequence of specific, thought-provoking, and text-dependent questions.  The unit plan uses technology and media to deepen learning and draw attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.   Instruction includes a balance of on-demand and process writing and short, focused research projects that incorporate digital texts where appropriate. The summative assessment includes a Common Core-aligned rubric for interpreting student performance.