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I think the key is reading the CCSS language for the language skills vertically, as once they get to grade 6 and 7, they are required to explain the function of each part of speech and the different types of sentences. That's the pinacle of higher order thinking, as memorizing grammar rules is one thing - being able to explain why the rule exists is another. I always find that when I focus on the why and ask student to respond to that in some way in an assessment (poem, traditional test, pamphlet, etc...) it really stretches their thinking.
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