Making a Treasure Your Own (a continuation of “A Treasure at our Doorstep”)

By Lisa Morein, April 1, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School


  • City of Neighborhoods

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

80 minutes


Handout from Part One: Tour of the Curtis Center Handout (Lisa Morein)-2   This lesson is a continuation of Lesson One, “A Treasure at your Doorstep”. In this lesson, students will transfer the knowledge they learned and the information they gathered in Lesson One into a well-organized essay about the architecture and art at the Curtis Center.

National Standards

Pennsylvania standards:
1.5.11.A through G

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.


Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text

Craft and Structure:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.4 Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.5 Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.10 Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes1:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.1Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

Knowledge of Language:


Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.


Students will: -transfer knowledge acquired during Lesson One into a well-organized essay -transfer sensory perceptions into text -learn about and understand the concept of painting pictures with words by using their senses -write an outline of an essay based on what they learned about the Curtis Center -critique their work -write a descriptive essay about the Curtis Center


Write Source, Dave Kemper, Patrick Sebranek, and Verne Meyer Effective Academic Writing, Jason Davis and Rhonda Liss Blowing Away the State Writing Assessment Test, Jane Bell Kiester Thinking in Threes, Brian Backman


Teacher generated handouts for essay building. Handouts should include, but are not limited to the following: 1. Creating a thesis statement 2. Building the Essay: Outlining


Nitty-gritty detail: a catchy phrase for sensory language Sensory language: language that describes the five senses Strong verbs: action verbs Dead verbs: verbs that are formed from (but not limited to) the verb to be Word pictures: vivid descriptions using language


1. Review the structure and elements of the five paragraph essay. 2. Discuss kinesthetic language and sensory language with the students. 3. Review students’ “Sensory Handout” from Lesson One. Discuss how the sensory discoveries and the information they recorded should be used in their descriptive essay on the Curtis Center. 4. Have students transfer knowledge, primary resources, and their notes into an outline in preparation for writing the first draft of essay. Remind students that this essay is meant to be descriptive about the art and architecture at the Curtis Center. 5. Students should swap outlines with another classmate for a critique. 6. Once the outlines have been critiqued, each student should begin the first draft of their descriptive essay. Remind students that their descriptive writing should “paint” a picture of what the Curtis Center is like. 7. After they have revised their first draft, have students present their writing to the class.


Assessment is determined by the use of language in the descriptive essay. Assessments should be based on the use of strong verbs, strong descriptive details, organization, focus, and content of the essay. A rubric is used for grading.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Students can transfer knowledge gained by transforming the descriptive essay into a proposal. Students will critically analyze their site, the Curtis Center, and propose in writing how they can make it better. Storyboards and sketches will be included in proposals.

Teacher Reflection

Students' work shows the need for repeated review and practice. In particular, practice is needed in transitioning from a heavy reliance on dead verbs to strong active verbs. Students also need more work on sentence expansion. Students worked successfully in groups and participated well in class when building strong paragraphs. It was helpful to lead the class with prompts such as "The party was awesome" and then refer to Jane Bell Kiester's book on writing and her chapter on strong verbs. The lesson works well. However, preparing all students to write a proposal is a potential goal.

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