Connecticut Core Standards

Grade 8: Voices from Little Rock - Understanding the Civil Rights Movement through Primary Sources  

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Common Core Standards

Reading in History/Social Studies

RH.SS.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

RH.SS.9-10.1* Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

RH.SS.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

RH.SS.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author's point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).

RH.SS.6-8.9 Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

Writing in History/ Social Studies

WHST. 6-8.1 Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

WHST.6-8.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

WHST.6-8.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.

WHST. 6-8.9 Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


L.8.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words or phrases based on grade 8 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.

L.8.6 Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

*While the majority of CCSS listed are targeted at 8th grade, the Primary Source Reading Guide helps to lay the groundwork for the kind of evidentiary support and analysis expected at the high school level.

Description of Unit

This Grade 8 ELA/Literacy unit titled “Voices from Little Rock: Understanding the Civil Rights Movement through Primary Sourcesdeveloped by Expeditionary Learning for Student Achievement Partners  has an estimated instructional time of fifteen or more 90-minute sessions. (The lessons can be divided into 45-minute periods or modified further to fit any school schedule.) This unit has students consistently doing the work of historians: closely reading and evaluating primary source documents in order to understand the past and its significance.  Initially, students do this with teacher guidance and support; as the unit continues, they do so with greater independence.  The close reading of a primary source, a routine that is used repeatedly, is a macro version of the summative assessment – to select one quote from one document and analyze it closely.


Connecticut teachers should be cautioned that teacher notes and preparation materials are extensive and will require familiarity to be used effectively. The unit includes a Civil Rights Module and a Civil Rights Appendices both of which are important to read to implement this unit as intended.

Rationale for Selection

The unit is exemplary; it was designed with two specific purposes: as a professional development resource and as a curriculum to use, adapt, or build from as districts see fit. The unit helps teachers to build students’ content understanding as it develops the literacy skills needed for College and Career Readiness. Lessons provide opportunities for students to build knowledge about a historical topic through analysis of a coherent selection of strategically sequenced, discipline-specific complex texts. Instruction includes a progression of learning where concepts and skills advance and deepen over time.  The unit regularly assesses whether students are mastering Common Core standards-based content and skills.