Written to meet the demands of the Common Core and the new PARCC exam, this unit includes over 60 pages of creative, challenging, and totally original handouts to teach meaningful pre-AP skills: close reading, annotation, identifying author's purpose and author's message, and writing about irony, allusion, rhetoric, diction, thematic elements and more. To help prepare students for the new PARCC exam, they'll write about authors' messages in two genres: Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men and Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. They'll graph and post the results of an anticipation guide and use them to compare the values of their generation with those that came before them. They'll create their own Bucket Lists and present them in class. They'll learn about allusion in poetry and in popular culture. They'll step into Curley's wife's shoes and tweet about discrimination and loneliness. They'll use a jigsaw strategy to teach each other background information about the story. They'll write an essay about theme using the LIQFU strategy for quoting literature. There are 20 original and challenging (and often multi-day) assignments here; pick and choose or teach them all! Thanks so much for looking!