Evaluation for 3.e.2
Materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice.
The materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice by supporting distributed practice over the course of the year. The materials include scaffolds for students to demonstrate integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Students complete sequential lessons that spiral the skills being learned. Learning starts at a base level of text understanding with Freytag’s plot diagram and literary elements; students move to more complex skills such as analyzing the author’s purpose, point of view, and word choice. They use close-reading strategies and text-analysis activities, comparing different genres and text structures over the course of the year. In addition, supplementary “Essay Labs” guide students through numerous types of essays, including argumentative, analysis, informative, and explanatory. Essay Labs offer scaffolds to support the student’s entire writing process: prepare (focus on prompt to create title), plan (develop thesis and gather text evidence), write (draft with organization), and finish (revise and edit).
In Unit 1, students learn about, practice, and apply skills to master “ELA-hood,” including grammar, syntax, and diction. Simultaneously, students examine basic, essential literary elements (plot, characterization, point of view, etc.) by reading classic short stories, such as “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver.
In Unit 2, students use classic poems to continue practicing basic literary skills, with a focus on diction and analysis, diving deeply into the question “How can just a few choice words, line breaks, or parallel structural repetitions reveal worlds about a speaker’s perspective?”
In Unit 3, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee serves as the core text students study; “starting basic through vocabulary and summary,” then using their “fancy reading skills to analyze” the novel form. When students read To Kill a Mockingbird, several activities provide scaffolding by offering sentence stems to help students write responses and include evidence from the text.
In Unit 4, the materials delve into the historical, cultural, and social contexts of the featured literary texts. Units 3 and 4 are staggered; when analyzing To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, students investigate universal themes and truths about human nature that traverse time and space. Students write a 1200- to 1500-word compare-and-contrast essay focusing on the ways in which Liesel in The Book Thief and Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird respond to the injustice imposed on them. Students must include at least three quotes from each book and at least two quotes from outside, historical sources; they orient their literary analysis within the time and space of Holocaust-era Germany and the Jim Crow South. Also in Unit 4, students “dig deeper into the finer aspects of the novel,” moving beyond simple plot elements to motif, symbolism, and themes in The Book Thief.
In Unit 5, short stories by Jack London, Ray Bradbury, and John Steinbeck are analyzed. Students revisit skills, such as text structures, that they acquired in Unit 1 while studying Raymond Carver’s “Cathedral” and other featured short stories.
In Unit 6, students analyze text structure and learn “the virtues of gestures, stage directions, prompt books, and costumes” by reading selections from plays like The Crucible by Arthur Miller and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.
In Unit 7, in “Breaking News!” students practice skills they learned in the earliest units; they locate five different newspapers and spend time reading them, analyzing the text as well as the text structure, noticing what they contain, how they are set up, etc. There are questions to guide the students: “What sections does the newspaper have? What kinds of stories are on the front page (or homepage, if you're online)? Does it focus on local or national issues? What kinds of images are there? What are the headlines like?” After spending time thinking about these questions, students advance their writing skills by creating their own mini-newspapers, using the papers they explored as mentor texts. In addition, in Unit 7, students put their analysis skills “to the test” with nonfiction forms such as essays and speeches. Students also practice the art of persuasion using “new rhetorical and slant tricks provided by Shmoop.”
In the final unit of the course, students read the novel-length nonfiction text The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and apply all the skills acquired to “inspire poetry, blog posts, and even a research paper.”