No Series: A Reason to Read: Driving Deep Analysis


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RI:  Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-12
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 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.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • RI:  Reading Standards for Informational Text 6-\x80\x9312
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 7: 
    Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different
    media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to
    address a question or solve a problem.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)


Common core State Standards

  • ELA:  English Language Arts
  • SL:  Speaking and Listening Standards 6-\x80\x9312
  • 11-12:  11th & 12th Grades
  • 1a: 
    Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on
    one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-\x80\x9312 topics,
    texts, and issues, building on others'\x80\x99 ideas and expressing their own clearly and

    a. Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under
    study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts
    and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well reasoned
    exchange of ideas.

    b. Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision making,
    set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as

    c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe
    reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a
    topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote
    divergent and creative perspectives.

    d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims,
    and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when
    possible; and determine what additional information or research is required
    to deepen the investigation or complete the task.

Download Common Core State Standards (PDF 1.2 MB)

A Reason to Read: Driving Deep Analysis

Lesson Objective: Apply knowledge of texts to create prototypes of people who push limits
Grades 9-12 / ELA / Case Studies
10 MIN
ELA.RI.11-12.1 | ELA.RI.11-12.7 | ELA.SL.11-12.1a


Enjoy your first video for free. Subscribe for unlimited access.

Have questions about subscribing? Click Here to learn more.

Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does this assignment challenge students to apply their knowledge of texts?
  2. What kinds of case studies did Ms. Wessling choose to share with students?
  3. Why did Ms. Wessling adjust her plans mid-lesson?


  • Private message to Jaclyn Rickenbrode

The assignment challenges students by having them apply all the different types of text sturctures they have learned throughout the years and analyze what they have in common with each other. 

The case studies she chooses to share with the students are ones that effect them in some type of way and have relevence in their daily lives. 

She adjust her plans mid lesson as any teacher would after evulating their knowledege wheather they are understanding the assignment or not. 

Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Diane Hoilman
Could you explain the writing assignment at the end of this unit?
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Peggy Gates
I am interested in the poster you have with the clothespins? It's about a challenge. Could you please share with me? Looks intriguing. Thank you.
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Jessie Kroeck
Thank you, Sherri. They all work now. Greatly appreciate it. Jessie
Recommended (0)
  • Private message to Sherri Devine
@Jessie: So sorry about that. We had a slight glitch with the supporting materials urls that should be fixed now. I'm able to get to the pdfs and word doc transcript without any problem. Please let us know if you're still having issues with access. Thanks for your patience and for letting us know about the problem!
Recommended (0)


  • A Reason to Read: Driving Deep Analysis Transcript

    Speaker 1: Tell the person next to you what we were doing when

    A Reason to Read: Driving Deep Analysis Transcript

    Speaker 1: Tell the person next to you what we were doing when you walked out of the room on Friday.

    The entire course is called Pushing the Limits and in order for students to engage in the thinking around a course that's organized around essential questions and themes and such I have to give them pathways into what we're reading.

    What is your big idea?

    That means we started by reading what Dan Pink says about human motivation and what Malcolm Gladwell says about human success and expertise. That's the first thing. Because if they don't have background knowledge, they don't have anything to hang on to when they read. All they'll read for is beginning, middle, and end or they'll read for superficial details. I've got to give them this research and then we use that as a pathway into case studies.

    Take all of the different texts that you have read, that you're trying to synthesize them, look for patterns in them.

    We are in the third week of school, and as I was thinking about it, I wanted the students to have some kind of experience where they would make observations, notice patterns, draw conclusions, and I started to read about case studies and how they functioned in different disciplines.

    Speaker 2: There was some quote about making sacrifices.

    Speaker 1: Students are using the case studies of these real people that they've read in these articles in order to inform this prototype for Google.

    What would your prototype still need?

    You could call these life-size prototypes a kind of graphic organizer.

    Speaker 3: Even though they are totally different things they all connect in a certain way.

    Speaker 1: Have you figured out how they connect?

    Their challenge is to create this prototype for a robot that would embody the human qualities of people who push emotional limits, push intellectual limits, how they push physical limits.

    What we've been trying to do is we've been trying to figure out what kinds of thinking happens when we look at more than one text at a time. Which is really what these are representative of.

    Speaker 4: Creative. I bet there's one in there about if he needs any therapy or whatever. Or motivate, you can do motivated with the why didn't he talk to his son.

    Speaker 5: [?] Pretty much.

    Speaker 4: Yeah.

    Speaker 5: For emotion.

    Speaker 1: The goal of the lesson was for students to recognize the patterns that they have been locating and observing throughout the reading of texts.

    Speaker 6: You have to fill something in over here.

    Speaker 1: Not only apply them to their prototype but then test that prototype for gaps in their thinking.

    Off you go.

    Speaker 7: Would this be a good quote? "Not knowing what really works or helps makes identifying the inessentials all but impossible if you try everything."

    Speaker 8: Yeah.

    Speaker 7: Okay.

    Speaker 1: The first thing that they did, they got into their groups and this was a chance for me to ask them some questions, to keep pushing their thinking, make sure that they are anchoring the insights that they have and the patterns that they've noticed to textual evidence.

    Speaker 9: How do you feel the passion?

    Speaker 1: All right, so what is passion?

    Speaker 9: To care for something.

    Speaker 1: But more...

    Speaker 9: Like something that you're actually motivated to do.

    Speaker 1: Something that you're actually motivated to do. All right, so how would you describe passion then, based on what you've read about Ferguson, how would you describe passion?

    Speaker 9: Something that drives you to do something, but like -

    Speaker 1: Okay.

    Speaker 9: - for emotional reasons.

    Speaker 1: I think that sounds great. Are there other examples besides just the Ferguson?

    Speaker 9: American Ninja Warrior-

    Speaker 1: Yeah, she did.

    Speaker 9: - she had passion for doing that.

    Speaker 1: Right. You could actually take out the text that you have. You could find the quotes where you, right? And you can include those right there. All right?

    Speaker 9: All right.

    Speaker 1: Okay.

    What do you think is the big strength of your prototype right now?

    Speaker 10: Learning and adapting. The surviving and stuff.

    Speaker 1: It's kind of an interesting challenge, isn't it, to create a prototype that learns?

    Speaker 10: Yeah.

    Speaker 1: This is early in the year. So there's a lot of this kind of questioning or explicit teaching that I need to start to empower them to become autonomous thinkers by highlighting over and over again these are what our brains do.

    How do you know when you come across a quote that works?

    Speaker 11: It describes the characteristics how we wrote down.

    Speaker 12: Exactly.

    Speaker 13: Yeah. I literally write good quote next to quotes that are good.

    Speaker 1: And then as soon as you write why it's a good quote -

    Speaker 13: Yeah.

    Speaker 1: - even better.

    Speaker 13: I do that too.

    Speaker 1: Hold your poster up high. What was your aha moment?

    Speaker 14: Our biggest aha would probably be that she has to be coachable and [?].

    Speaker 15: To concentrate to block out all distractions.

    Speaker 16: Learn from your mistakes or situations.

    Speaker 1: After they had worked on these prototypes I wanted to do some sharing. I asked, what's the big takeaway that each group had.

    Speaker 17: Ours was probably to learn from the mistakes and to adapt from the situation and one of the quotes says, "Survivors immediately accept a situation for what it is. Two important survivors indicators: optimism and unflappability." If you can't change to what your mistakes were then your probably not going to survive in tough situations like Ralston or the most dangerous game.

    Speaker 1: All right. Good.

    Speaker 7: Okay. Our aha moment was our quote in the head and that is, "Not knowing what really works or helps makes identifying the inessentials all but impossible if you try everything." That sort of goes with drive and creativity and because you have to try everything and you have to be willing to try everything.

    Speaker 1: Well done.

    From there they really needed to test their prototype. I wanted to have them see what they were missing.

    What do you feel confident about?

    I'd been asking them, what are you noticing, what patterns are you finding, and then I went to a couple groups and I said, "Let's say I'm Google. You have to present this to me in a week. I work at Google. Tell me where you're at right now. What can you give me right now. What's your status?"

    Speaker 18: We have a couple of dispositions. We probably need to see how different things and how that would affect a person.

    Speaker 1: Asking them that question and then hearing their responses really revealed for me that they were not ready to kind of do this other plan.

    We're going to have to shift gears here. We're shifting gears. I quickly gave them a little bit more work time. I built in for myself about five minutes where I could quickly come up with scenarios.

    They need a different kind of way to get further into their thinking. So that's what I'm doing, is making up these scenarios.

    One of the first things that I did was I looked at my bookshelf and I saw some books and I remembered the plot lines of a few of them where characters had to push the limits. So I kind of borrowed the plot lines of A Fault in our Stars and The Giver. So that was the first thing I did.

    I need you to start to put your prototypes to the test. We're going to do this a little bit differently. I'm going to give you some challenges, all right? you need to start to think about if what you have created could actually function.

    Up here I'm going to have you send a representative from your group up here and grab one of these cards. I need your group to figure out two things: what qualities of your prototype are currently equipped to handle this situation and what qualities does your prototype still need in order to handle this situation? I need you to write down both of those things somewhere on your poster.

    Giving them those scenarios got them really focused on what I needed them to walk away with, which was determining what their prototypes had, and I needed them to start to recognize that maybe there were some gaps that they needed to fill as well.

    What would your prototype still need in order to hold the all the memories of a society?

    Speaker 19: Well, we have good memories so that would help.

    Speaker 1: Okay, but that's really a small part of the challenge. Because that's not really what pushes the limit. Right, what pushes the limit is that single person is holding all the memories of a society. Yeah, so what do you do, right?

    Speaker 19: And then how would you communicate that with others?

    Speaker 1: How would you communicate it.

    Speaker 20: It's not just memory.

    Speaker 1: It's not just memory.

    Speaker 19: Yeah.

    Speaker 20: All right. Okay. I got it. So in holding all the society's memories, all that pressure can be able to like capture it all.

    Speaker 21: I was going to say that he's lacking the capacity to hold all the memories.

    Speaker 22: He can control his emotions, but he can't really communicate his emotions.

    Speaker 1: In designing this short project, what's happened is they read with more purpose because now they know they're not just reading to figure out what happened; now they're reading to figure out what am I learning about humans in these readings, and how do I synthesize this?

    As you thought about that connection, does that have any influence on how you think about surviving the plane crash?

    Speaker 23: Yeah, probably because other people on the plane could influence our prototype's decisions on how to survive.

    Speaker 1: Now they're going to transfer it to a speaking experience. They're going to transfer it to a writing experience. So we have all of those fundamental skills playing off of each other, intertwined with each other. I think that's what makes it valuable. And it feels real to them.

    What were you able to uncover because you were looking at many texts and not just one? What's your brain doing?

    Speaker 24: You start to connect them.

    Speaker 1: You start to connect.

    Speaker 24: Yes.

    Speaker 25: I see the differences.

    Speaker 1: Why is it important to see differences?

    Speaker 25: There are variations.

    Speaker 1: There are variations.

    Speaker 24: You'll start to see similarities.

    Speaker 1: When you start to see things over and over again you start to think well maybe this is-

    Speaker 25: Important.

School Details

Johnston Senior High School
6501 Northwest 62nd Avenue
Johnston IA 50131
Population: 1548

Data Provided By:



Sarah Brown Wessling


TCH Special
48 MIN

Webinar / Framework / Professional Learning

TCH Special
56 MIN

Webinar / Class Culture / Back to School


TLAC / Systems & Routines / Strategic Investment / Systems / Routines

TCH Special
57 MIN

Webinar / Differentiation / Back to School