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ELARGrade 3 | 2020
Publisher: Savvas LearningSeries includes:
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
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Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Support
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials reviewed meet the criteria for including high-quality texts for ELAR instruction and cover a range of student interests. The texts are well-crafted, representing quality content, language, and writing that experts produce. The resources include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse multicultural texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, texts include content that engages students and represents various cultural settings, characters, and authors within increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts. Some of the texts in the materials are published books with awards and distinctions and cover a range of student interests, including science, nature, and animals. While there are traditional and classical texts, the bulk of texts are both contemporary and diverse. Texts engage students through intentional illustrations, language components and figurative language, plot structures suitable to the target audience, and meaningful insights into diverse cultures and historical periods. Each unit combines whole-class read-aloud titles, leveled readers, chapter books, trade books, and mentor texts for various reading and writing workshop mini-lessons.
The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico by Nina Jaffe is a shared reading text. This traditional tale won the Americas award in 1996 and includes themes of childhood versus adulthood and the role of conflict in creating the world we have today. The rich use of color in the illustrations and simple sentences, including various Spanish words, engages students in the Taino heritage’s rich culture.
Little House on the Prairie is a classic text by famed author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Students can relate to Laura while learning about pioneer life on the prairie in the 1870s. Detailed illustrations help readers visualize the challenges of life on the prairie.
Milton Hershey: Chocolate King, Town Builder by Charnan Simon is a biography about the Hershey Chocolate Company founder. The biography focuses on Hershey’s struggles, hard work, perseverance, and charity on behalf of young people. Student engagement revolves around learning the story behind the chocolate treats familiar to so many.
Deep Down and Other Extreme Places to Live, an informational text by award-winning author Shinn Yim Bridges, uses stunning photographs of bird’s eye views to introduce each remote area. Bridges then presents close-up photographs and information about the Havasupai, Afar, and Sami peoples to teach about the physical and human geography of each people’s land.
Do Tornadoes Really Twist?: Questions and Answers about Tornadoes and Hurricanes is a popular nonfiction trade book by Melvin Berger, Gilda Berger, and Higgins Bond. Natural disasters and weather phenomena often appeal to students. The text provides facts and details about what tornadoes and hurricanes do and how they are formed. It gives numerous impact stories and dates, from greatest loss of life, strangest, worst tornado of all time, and most powerful hurricane.
Green City by Allan Drummond is a narrative nonfiction text about a tornado that destroys a town in Kansas. The residents are at a loss as to whether or not to rebuild. The residents do decide to rebuild their town, making sure it is strong enough to survive a storm and environmentally sustainable. This text has received four awards, including an award from Junior Library Guild Selections in 2016, Green Earth Book Award in 2017, Best STEM Books in 2017, and Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People in 2017.
Banner in the Sky, an award-winning fiction story by James Ramsey Ullman, has adventure, morals, and descriptive language to engage students. It follows a teen who wants to complete the quest to climb the Swiss Alps claimed his father's life.
Granddaddy's Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein is a shared reading text. This historical fiction text uses elements of idiomatic and figurative language and provides cross-curricular connections to social studies and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. This text was presented in the Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People award in 2016. The text provides insight into the Civil Rights movement and allows students to gain perspective on the struggles that African Americans faced during that time and how they overcame trials and tribulations.
The materials meet the criteria for including a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the TEKS requirements for grade 3. The literary texts include folktales, fables, legends, myths, fairy tales, drama, poetry, and realistic & historical fiction. Informational texts include information, exposition, argument, procedures, and a variety of documents as outlined in the TEKS. Materials include various print and graphic features that enhance the text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, both literary and informational texts include varied structures, and students have the opportunity to interact with print and graphic features within a variety of genres and formats.
Examples of narrative texts include:
Examples of informational texts include:
Examples of supportive print and graphic features include:
Patterns in Nature by Jennifer Rozines Roy and Gregory Roy utilizes photographs of natural elements, including animals, plants, rainbows, and snowflakes framed in solid color borders. Individual items in nature are arranged in patterns for students to identify.
Nature’s Patchwork Quilt by Mary Miché includes illustrations in a patchwork quilt design with different plants and animals found in various habitats.
Earthquakes, Eruptions, and Other Events that Change Earth by Natalie Hyde uses dramatic photographs of the aftermath of natural disasters and clear maps and diagrams to explain how faults in the earth’s crust cause earthquakes and volcanoes.
“in daddy’s arms” by Folami Abiade uses a collage of various materials such as torn paper and appliqué to create an image of a father and son playing.
From Frederick Douglass by Josh Gregory incorporates real photographs, sketches, timelines, and images of historical items.
Nora’s Ark by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully uses watercolor to illustrate the drama of the flood contrasted with the comfort of Nora’s cozy home.
“The Wright Brothers,” a poem by Charles R. Smith, Jr., uses stair-step text that begins at the bottom of the page and works its way up to help the reader visualize a plane taking off in the sky.
A Safety Plan In Case of Emergency by Marcie Rendon (Procedural Text) includes photos, illustrations, bold words defined in the margin, subheadings, and a chart summarizing types of natural disasters.
The materials meet the criteria for including challenging text at an appropriate level of complexity. There is a text-complexity analysis provided; texts are both qualitatively and quantitatively relevant for grade 3.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
All aspects of the program continuously focus on text complexity. The materials provide an article detailing text complexity systems within their professional development component for teachers. The article outlines the two most widespread systems used for establishing text complexity; both a qualitative system, Guided Reading levels, and a quantitative method, Lexile Framework. The article describes the systems and clarifies how each system supports teachers to increase students’ capacity as readers. The myView Literacy component includes a Text Complexity Chart for all of the shared read selections in the order in which they appear. Each text is broken down into several categories: recommended placement, quantitative measures, complexity level, qualitative measures, and reader and task considerations; however, this section does not include a grade-level baseline for comparison. The quantitative measures include Lexile level, average sentence length, word frequency, and word count. The qualitative measures are shown on a color spectrum with complexity levels ranging from simple to very complex and include levels for meaning/purpose, text structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands. Reader and task considerations are organized by English language (EL), intervention, and on-level/advanced student populations, and they provide overarching information about the text that may be relevant to each group.
Although not all units increase in complexity through the course of a unit, all selections are placed in the grade 2–3 complexity band or the upper level of readability for grade 3, with the exception of poetry and drama texts as text complexity is not generated for these genres. Shared reading texts are above the complexity level of what on-level grade 3 students can read independently. The teacher's guide includes a table of contents that lists the shared read for each of the five weeks, the weekly question, title, author, and genre. The first three weeks of each unit spotlight the genre for that unit; the last two weeks connect the shared-read text to the theme. The sixth week in each unit is a project-based inquiry and research project.
Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey is an informational text with a Lexile level 990L, suggesting that the text is at the upper end of readability for grade 3 students. Language conventionality and clarity are complex; vocabulary includes unusual, informal words such as lug, oozes, and nibble and domain-specific terms such as pupating.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder is a historical fiction text with a Lexile level 600L in the Grade 2–3 complexity band. The text excerpt rates high on levels of meaning; materials state, “Themes of showing bravery in challenging circumstances and the beautiful wildness of nature are conveyed by character actions and feelings in the face of crisis…which are not stated directly.” The excerpt is rated very complex for knowledge demands as Laura’s experiences are unfamiliar to most readers. Background knowledge of frontier life in the 1880s is a requirement for understanding the text.
Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein has a Lexile level of 630L. The average sentence length is 11.024; the word frequency is 3.753; the word count is 904. Based on these quantitative measures, the text is placed in the grade 2–3 complexity band. Using the qualitative measures, students might need additional support with idiomatic and figurative phrases (language) and understanding voting rights (knowledge demands).
In an excerpt from Frederick Douglass by Josh Gregory, students learn about Douglass's biography, from how he secretly educated himself and taught fellow slaves how to read to how he escaped to freedom to become one of the nation's most persuasive voices for abolition. The quantitative feature of this text is a Lexile level 920L, which is in the upper grade 3 complexity band. Qualitative features to consider include text features to support understanding of structures such as headings, timelines, sidebars, photos, and captions. Sentence structure is varied and includes several complex sentences, although the language is mostly explicit and easy to understand. There are sophisticated themes that rely on background knowledge of the fight against slavery and for civil rights in order for students to understand the context of Douglass's life story.
Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni has a Lexile level of 680L and an average sentence length of 10.26 words, which puts the text in the grade 2–3 complexity band. The text’s themes of having the courage and taking risks are implicit and revealed over the text’s entirety, and the third-person narrative is chronological and has many characteristics of traditional tales.
“The Race” by Jennifer Trujillo is a poem used as a shared read within the materials. The quantitative measures are not generated for poetry and drama, but qualitative analysis is provided for support. The text structure is fairly simple as it follows a narrative structure and has a straightforward rhyme scheme. Illustrations support and show the final scene of the poem.
The materials meet the criteria for containing questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. The materials build conceptual knowledge, have text-specific/dependent questions, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Both questions and tasks require students to make connections to self, other texts, and the world; plus, students are asked to identify and discuss important ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students have multiple opportunities to interact with a variety of texts throughout all lessons and answer text-dependent questions during mini-lessons. Students have listening comprehension opportunities, close reading opportunities of shared reading texts, individual conferences about independent reading texts, and responding to text opportunities. Each unit has an essential question, and within the unit, each week has an additional question for students to reflect on as they read various texts. Questions and tasks given during the shared read/close read are text-specific, and many target more complex elements of the texts. Later in the week, questions and tasks integrate multiple TEKS and make connections across multiple texts or genres. Each week within the unit follows the same structure. Lesson 1 focuses on the weekly question, theme, and genre; it includes a pre-reading page that reviews the definition of important vocabulary from the story and names four reading strategies. Lesson 2 is the shared read, where students and teachers read for enjoyment and understanding using first read strategies. Questions and think alouds during the first read focus on these reading strategies, such as noticing, generating questions, and connecting. Lessons 3 and 4 are the close read, where students return to the text to learn strategies that deepen comprehension and knowledge. During these readings, the callout boxes have the “Close Read” title and include a short think-aloud or explanation of a story element or structure, a question to ask students, and possible responses, as well as objectives and TEKS alignment. Lesson 5 allows students to compare texts by connecting what they experienced and learned in the text to their world in oral and written responses. The student interactive contains comprehension questions that build on what is covered in the class discussion. Students record their answers in the student interactive; the student text includes shortened summaries of the teacher's think-alouds to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. Questions and tasks build in rigor over the year.
In Unit 1, after explicit vocabulary instruction, students engage in a close reading activity using the informational text, Living in Deserts. The focus of the close reading is analyzing text features and text evidence, and students answer text-dependent questions such as, “Scan paragraph 2 to find and highlight the detail that supports what the photograph shows.” “How would you describe the distance between Antarctica and the equator? Using the information in the text features, what can you conclude about how a desert’s distance from the equator affects the desert’s temperature?” “What words on this page support your understanding of the possible dangers and difficulties associated with living in a desert?” “Why is an index a useful text feature?”
In Unit 2, the essential question for the unit is “How do plants and animals live together?” while the question of the week is “Why is it important for plants and animals to depend on each other?” As the class reads Nature’s Patchwork Quilt, the materials include think-alouds and prompts to facilitate comprehension, understand text elements, and make connections. One callout box labeled “Notice” begins with, “I noticed that the author explains how ranches and farms are people-built habitats…. However, I also noticed that people need to be careful because if they destroy the last piece of a natural habitat, those pieces of nature can become extinct.” In the student edition, before reading Nature’s Patchwork Quilt, one page reminds students about story vocabulary and first reading strategies: “Notice, Generate Questions, Connect, Respond.” After the story, a page helps develop vocabulary that includes a word web to summarize four of the vocabulary words related to habitats by asking students to write a sentence to show how each word relates to habitats. Another comprehension page checks for understanding by asking questions about the text and permitting students to look back at the text to answer the questions, which include, “How can the reader tell that Nature's Patchwork Quilt is informational text?” “How do survival mechanisms help animals and plants survive in cold climates? Cite text evidence.”
In Unit 4, students read a drama about a Chinese American girl’s relationship with her grandmother. Questions and tasks require students to go deeper with what they know about characters to make conjectures. For example, materials state, “After hearing grandma’s story about coming to America, how do you think Grace would answer the weekly question ‘How do people support each other in difficult times?’” Students make connections between text and the world around them; students write about how they connect the Chinese saying “All things are difficult before they are easy” to Grace’s challenges.
In Unit 5, one selection is from Aesop’s Fox retold by Aki Sogabe. After finishing the shared read, the teacher uses the suggestions to prompt students’ initial responses to the selection. The prompts include “React and Discuss,” with questions such as, “Did you like Fox? Why or why not? How is this story like other stories you know that teach a lesson?” After the discussion, students complete comprehension questions to check for their understanding of the text, including “Explain the author’s use of dialogue in paragraphs 9 and 10. How does it help you predict what will happen next? Synthesize information to make a connection between characters of Rooster and Crow.” The close reads for Aesop’s Fox focus on the strategies of “Infer Theme and Evaluate Details.” When students revisit the text, the prompts ask students to underline or highlight specific details, while the teacher’s edition includes questions that the teacher can ask using these details. Student prompts for “Infer Theme” include, “Underline details that help you infer the theme, or central message before it is stated. How is the theme different from the topic, or what the fable is about?” Questions the teacher can ask include, “How is the theme of this fable different than the plot of the story? What can you infer about the theme of the story from Fox’s speech and actions? Explain how the description of Crow’s reaction to Fox’s flattery helps readers infer the theme.” Students use their close read notes to complete a four-column chart with the headers “Fox’s interactions,” “Topic,” “Details,” and “Theme.”
The materials meet the criteria for including questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. In cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts, these questions and tasks ask students to analyze, make inferences, draw conclusions about the author’s purpose, and provide evidence to support their understanding. Students compare and contrast the stated or implied purpose of different authors’ writings on the same topic; students analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning in a text or across various texts. Students study the language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, materials contain text-specific/dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze details and how they support the author's craft and text structure. Each unit consists of a theme and a related essential question. Each week of the unit has an overarching question that supports the unit’s essential question and theme. Students read a variety of genres throughout the unit to see how each author approaches the theme. Students engage in a close read of a shared reading text; students answer various questions related to the author’s purpose and craft during this lesson. Questions and tasks require students to identify and support the author's purpose by making notes as they read and citing text evidence in written and oral responses and ask students to study specific language within texts. In the reading-writing workshop bridge for every unit, a specific mini-lesson explicitly explains the strategy of analyzing the author’s message and purpose. The teacher’s edition provides several callouts titled “Read Like a Writer/Author’s Craft” that offer teaching tips and discussion points about the author’s craft within a specific text; the student edition includes shortened summaries of the teacher's think-alouds to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. Students apply the mini-lesson to shared reading texts. Students analyze the author's craft with various texts in the student interactive component and use that analysis to apply elements to their own writing. Students also can apply the author's purpose and craft mini-lessons to their independent texts. After the story, a comprehension page checks for understanding by asking questions about the text and permitting students to look back at the text to answer the questions.
In Unit 1, questions and tasks include asking students to make inferences about the author’s purpose and provide evidence from the text. After students read the myth The Golden Flower, one of the checks for understanding questions asks, “Why do you think the author included descriptive language about the bursting pumpkin? Cite text evidence.”
In Unit 2, students begin to focus on the text structure the author used. In Week 2, students read an informational text about the symbiotic relationships among unlikely animal pairs. Students look for clues throughout the text to identify the text structure. Materials direct students to “Look for clues to determine the type of text structure the author used. Underline relevant details in paragraph 2 that show the clown fish’s problem and solution.”
In Unit 3, while reading the shared text Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, students engage in a mini-lesson surrounding developing vocabulary and how authors carefully choose words to give the reader information about the character’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. As a check for understanding, students complete a page in the student interactive and answer questions such as, “What is the most likely reason that the authors chose to tell the story from the grandson’s point of view?” and, “What is the author’s message? Connect this message to problems in society today.”
In Unit 4, during the shared readings of Nora’s Ark, a variety of callout boxes for the first read and close reads include prompts about analyzing and inferring the author's craft and purpose. Several callout boxes titled Read Like a Writer/Author’s Craft support story comprehension and develop skills used in writing workshop mini-lessons. A box about voice directs students to reread the phrase, “she says I'm tough, just like she is,” and reminds students that a first-person narrator voice reflects her or his personality, background, and feelings; students respond to the questions, “What kind of person does the narrator sound like? What else may the author want readers to understand about the narrator from these words?” A close read callout box about vocabulary in context directs students to find context clues to find the meaning of the word torrents and asks, “Why does the narrator use torrents instead of another word?”
The materials meet the criteria for including a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build academic vocabulary in and across texts. The plan includes ways to apply words in context as students build their vocabulary. There are scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, the professional development center has teacher videos defining the generative approach to vocabulary instruction and describing how to start teaching with a generative vocabulary approach. Unit and weekly academic vocabulary is directly taught and then used and applied to student tasks, class and small group discussions, and student writing. The program overview describes how developing academic word knowledge with generative vocabulary focuses on teaching words as networks of ideas instead of single unrelated words. Within the process, the first step is to introduce academic vocabulary at the beginning of the unit. The second step is for students to generate more words connected to the unit academic vocabulary through instruction and practice. Finally, the third step is for students to practice and apply the words learned throughout the unit in the writing and research project-based inquiry. As for a year-long plan, the materials include an instructional path for many lessons based on anticipated student learning. Many lessons can be reordered to accommodate the learning and progress of students.
The materials give scaffolds and supports with vocabulary development prompts, strategic small groups, and English Learner (EL) targeted support for different proficiency levels; these are in the teacher's edition and in callout boxes that include think-alouds for understanding words. There are differentiated vocabulary supports for ELs as well. The interactive student edition provides opportunities for students to learn words within the context of the shared read and apply or transfer word meanings in other stories or workbook pages that ask them to either define the words or create new sentences that demonstrate their meaning. In addition, there are language routines and vocabulary activities, and games in the Language Awareness Handbook. During guided reading, there are prompts to focus on developing vocabulary, such as, “What context clues can help you know the meaning of the word ___? What is the word’s definition? What does the word ___ tell us about the setting of the text?” The reading workshop includes a mini-lesson bank that supports the development of different writing genres and skills such as specific figurative language, sensory details, or conventions like transition words to enhance writing. After explicit vocabulary mini-lesson instruction following shared reading texts, students have formative assessment opportunities to show their understanding of developing vocabulary. Each week during the “Reading-Writing Bridge,” there is an opportunity to practice with the unit vocabulary.
In Unit 1, students review word forms, synonyms, and antonyms of unit terms and then add more related words to a chart given in the “Interactive Student Edition.” Materials direct students to “use this newly acquired vocabulary in your letter to the mayor or park official.” After reading Grandma and the Great Gourd, materials provide teachers with a teaching point script, reminding students to pay attention to the words authors use to describe the appearance and actions of the animal characters. Possible conference prompts in Unit 1 include “What words did the author use to tell about a character’s actions or looks? Why did the author choose those words?” and “What clues helped you understand each word?”
In Unit 2, a vocabulary lesson previews the following words that appear in the Shared Read, Nature’s Patchwork Quilt: dependents, camouflage, adaptations, food chain, and biodiversity. The teacher defines the words as needed. The Interactive Student Edition includes sidebars that suggest when students should highlight or underline parts of the text; sidebars also include brief definitions of the previewed vocabulary words. One callout box found in both the teacher's edition and as a sidebar in the interactive edition guides students in using context clues to determine which definition of roots is used in the sentence and what part of speech it represents. The Shared Read sentence says, “Some prairies have prairie dogs that eat roots and plants.” The sidebar in the Student Edition says, “The word roots can mean ‘plant parts that grow underground’ or ‘digs up.’ Underline context clues within the sentence that tell you the meaning of the word roots in this text.” After reading the story, a page in the Student Edition has students write a sentence for four vocabulary words related to habitats.
In Unit 3, the vocabulary words are encourage, distinguish, command, defeat, and achieve. An Expand and Ask question includes, “Expand: I encourage my brother to practice playing the piano. Ask: Who encourages you to do your best?” The teacher begins an academic vocabulary word wall and adds to it as new vocabulary is generated related to the unit’s theme. Cognates of the vocabulary words are available, along with EL targeted support for each proficiency level during the oral vocabulary routine. Students turn, talk, and share; students read the words and definitions, use each word in a question and answer with space to write them down in the Interactive Student Workbook, and share those questions and answers with a partner. Next, the teacher begins the weekly launch with a selection and the Teacher’s Edition includes prompts in Week 1 such as, “How did the astronauts achieve their goals? What qualities distinguish a hero from others? Emphasize that these words will be important as students read and write about the essential question.”
In Unit 5, students begin the unit with an oral vocabulary routine. During this routine, the teacher reads each word’s definition and students respond to the “expand” and “ask” questions using their newly acquired academic vocabulary. For example, using the word analysis, the expand statement is “After the flood, health workers did an analysis to make sure the water was safe to drink.” and the ask question is “What might an architect or home builder perform an analysis of?” Also, after reading the Shared Text, Deep Down and Other Extreme Places to Live, the teacher provides a mini-lesson to help students develop vocabulary using the words extreme, spectacular, region, and transport. The teacher models filling out a graphic organizer from Interactive Student Edition using the word extreme. Students engage in a formative assessment by filling in the graphic organizer for other academic vocabulary or using their independent text to find words and use context clues to determine the meaning.
The materials include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable and engaged in independent reading. There are procedures, protocols, and support for teachers to foster independent reading. Resources provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time; this program includes planning and accountability for reaching reading goals.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Within the program overview, a component of the reading workshop, the materials include independent reading. An article written about the reading workshop states, “Supported independent reading is an essential part of the workshop. The amount of independent reading time depends on readers’ varying levels of proficiency. However, the amount of time must be sufficient for readers to engage meaningfully in reading.” In each unit, the materials give a suggested amount of 20–30 minutes for students to engage in either small group learning or independent/collaborative learning, including independent or partner reading. The teacher can support students with their independent reading by helping students set goals for their reading and track progress toward their goal; reminding them to ask and answer questions before, during, and after reading to better understand the text; checking with students to make sure they still find their independent reading selection interesting; and recording the time they read each day to encourage them to increase their daily reading time.
Every week, when providing support to teachers related to small group instruction, there is information for what students should be doing during independent reading. Within the student actions, there are independent reading, partner reading, and book clubs. Students can read a self-selected trade book, read or listen to a previously read leveled reader or selection, begin reading their book club text, or read from a list of suggested titles in the teacher edition. If students choose to read a book from the leveled reader library, they can read books online, in the app, or using physical texts. For book club, there is a list of several titles in each unit for students to select from; most texts relate to the main text selections for the unit. Book clubs meet twice a week during small group time, and the book is to be read independently across ten days. Teachers guide the clubs by helping students pace the book to clearly define reading expectations before each book club meeting. Teachers confer with three students daily about their independent reading texts for three to four minutes; teaching points and possible conference prompts for teachers directly relate to the week’s mini-lessons and focus of instruction. The materials include step-by-step instructional support that includes implementation options and strategies as well as discussion charts for group conversations to help students think about their reading. Student materials incorporate tips and reminders for selecting books, and strategies for independent reading are provided for students, along with a reading log to be used throughout the unit. The reading log allows students to track the date, book, genre, pages read, minutes read, and give a rating out of five stars.
At the beginning of the program, there are several reading logs and bookmarks for both fiction and nonfiction for student accountability during independent reading. The first nonfiction bookmark is called “What I Learned," and it has blanks for the student to write the title, author, important ideas, key details, and what surprised the reader. The second bookmark, “Questions for the Author," includes blanks for the students to write the title, author, and three questions. The third bookmark, “Key Words and Vocabulary," provides blanks for students to write the title, author and keywords, and any new words. The first of the three fiction bookmarks, “What I Think," has blanks for the students to write the title, author, best part of the book and why, the worst/most boring part of the book and why, as well as what is surprising and why. The second bookmark, “Questions for the Author," is similar to the nonfiction bookmark with the same title. The third fiction bookmark, “Interesting Language," includes blanks for the students to write the title and new or interesting words/phrases. A “Genre Log” lists nine genres and has two charts for students to track and set a goal for how many works to read in each genre and unit. The reading log includes blanks to add titles, authors’ names, minutes spent reading, and the number of pages read in each sitting; plus a place for parent and student signature.
In Unit 1, after reading a mentor text traditional tale, materials give several leveled text suggestions teachers can use for guided reading or student self-selected reading. The Teacher’s Edition gives teachers possible teaching prompts to use during the conference, which includes, “What words did the author use to tell about a character’s looks or actions? Why did the author choose those words?”
In Unit 3, the Student Interactive provides support to students about different genres. Students think about the genres that interest them most before selecting an independent reading text. The Student Interactive also states that self-selecting texts in genres that students like helps them read for a sustained time. Students set a purpose for independent reading and use a previously taught thinking strategy called “Reading Detective” to watch for elements of genres as they read. Finally, students record their sustained reading in their independent reading log.
In Unit 4, when learning about identifying biographies, the teacher has support to ask students what they learned about the biographies they are reading during independent reading time and if they have identified narrative nonfiction elements.
In Unit 5, students focus on making connections as students are reading. Students have a table to complete as they read. It includes sections on “My Book’s Genre," “My Book’s Title," and “My Book’s Author”; each section contains questions such as, “How is this text similar to other texts you have read? How does this text connect with what you know from your life? How does this text connect with what you know about the world around you?”
The materials meet the criteria for including support for students to develop composition skills across multiple types and for a variety of purposes and audiences. There are opportunities to write literary text to express ideas and feelings about real or imagined characters, events, and ideas. Resources include chances to write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for particular purposes. Materials provide activities where students write argumentative texts to influence a specific audience’s attitudes or actions for certain issues. There are opportunities to write correspondence in professional or friendly structures.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, the writer's workshop structure is well organized; the 35–50 minute block follows the steps of beginning immersion, developing elements, developing structure, and revising and editing before publishing. These daily opportunities provide students the opening to develop composition skills authentically. The units include five-week structures for writing within the unit’s particular genre. Week 6 concentrates on applying the learned skills through project-based inquiry writing. Week 6 allows students to write for different audiences and purposes and moves away from traditional stories and essay writing. There are opportunities to write literary, informational, argumentative, and correspondence texts in the forms of a personal narrative, a historical fiction story, poetry, a how-to article, an informational scrapbook, an opinion speech, a travel brochure, and a friendly letter. There are options for teachers regarding mini-lessons and prompts for conferring topics within the materials, such as craft, structure, writing elements, or process. The mini-lessons follow the structure of teaching point and model and practice, including the teacher reading books from the mentor stack to further expose students to the genre they write. After the daily mini-lessons, students write independently and apply their learning to their own writing. During this time, the teacher assesses students’ understanding of the writing task using conference prompts and support. The interactive student edition has questions and graphics organizers in the Writing Workshop section of each unit that assist students in brainstorming and adding details to their writing, editing their writing, or understanding the genre’s elements. Students not only write during the writing workshop but also for assessment pieces and during the end-of-unit research projects. There is a “Share Back” portion at the end of the block.
In Unit 1, students compose personal narratives. During Week 1, students study the genre by reading sample personal narratives to see how authors develop a story around a special memory. In Week 2, students begin to develop elements such as narrator, setting, problem, and resolutions as they draft their narratives. In Week 3, students develop structural elements by composing an introduction and conclusion for their narratives. Students also focus on developing dialogue, actions, thoughts, and feelings in their narratives. During Week 4, students focus on editing narratives for conventional use of coordinating conjunctions, comparative and superlative adjectives, and adverbs. Students edit drafts for legibility and verb tense during Week 5 before they publish and share their writing. During the project-based inquiry week at the end of the unit, students engage in an extension activity to write a thank you note. The teacher explains that thank you notes include a greeting, an expression of thanks, specific details about why the students are thankful, and a closing. Students research playgrounds by reading the research article “What Makes Playgrounds Safe” and the opinion article “Get Outside” before gathering site-based field research at a local park. Students write an opinion letter to the students’ town mayor or park official describing what could be done to improve safety at the local park or playground. Students can opt to meet in person with the town mayor or park official. Materials provide instruction in how to compose a thank you note as a way to express gratitude for something that someone has done. Students compose a formal thank you note to the official they met with, including specific details about why they are grateful.
In Unit 2, during the workshop, students learn the characteristics of how-to articles in order to write their own how-to articles. Lessons include how to compose a headline and lead, how to compose facts and details, and how to clarify steps using strong verbs. Students learn how to organize ideas in two steps and then organize steps into a sequence. Other lessons include how illustrations benefit readers and the benefits of including diagrams. The project-based inquiry research project for Unit 2 requires students to research plant and animal relationships and create a scrapbook. Students include features of informational text, including different visuals and media. Students brainstorm topics they are passionate about, focusing on their purpose and audience.
In Unit 3, students use elements of narrative text to write a historical fiction story. Students begin the unit by introducing and immersing themselves in the historical fiction genre while identifying characters, setting, and plot structures. Students brainstorm ideas and plan their story before composing characters, choosing a setting, and establishing a problem and solution. As students develop structure, they write an introduction, develop an event sequence, compose dialogue, and describe events with details. Students edit for capitalization, add or delete ideas for coherence and clarity, and edit for verbs, punctuation marks, and prepositional phrases. In the Unit 3 assessment, students think about someone in the past who did something brave for their country and write a historical fiction story about how this person became a hero. During the project-based inquiry week, students work collaboratively to research and write an opinion speech about why it is important to take advantage of opportunities to be heroic. Students explore mentor texts to recognize the characteristics and structures of argumentative texts and develop a plan to compose and research their own text. Students use sources and research to make a claim about why people should try to be heroic and include reasons to support their claim. Students finish the week by incorporating different media types such as photographs, drawings, and videos before presenting their speeches.
In Unit 4, students use elements of opinion writing to write an opinion essay or argumentative text during the Writing Workshop. The mini-lessons in Week 1 include writing an opinion essay; developing the topic, point of view, and reasons; brainstorming the topic; and focusing on opinion. Week 2 mini-lessons develop topic, opinion, reasons, and supporting facts, distinguishing between fact and opinion. The teaching point for the “Develop Supporting Facts” mini-lesson is to explain and develop facts. The model and practice have the teacher read a book review from the mentor stack and have students listen for facts, details, and examples. Prompting questions include, “What kinds of details does the writer use to develop the fact?” Week 3 mini-lessons consist of composing an introduction and conclusion and organizing reasons and supporting facts. Week 4 focuses on grammar with the mini-lessons revising by adding linking words and details and editing for capitalization. Week 5 gives students opportunities to edit, proofread, and present their final drafts. The assessment gives students a chance to write an opinion essay independently. The opinion essay assessment prompt is, “Think about something in your school or community that needs to change. Write an opinion essay about what should change and why.”
The materials include clear directions for students to identify text evidence; however, there are limited opportunities for students to develop these skills independently. Students do demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to text; however, the scaffolds control most of the activities so that students do not analyze or synthesize separately from the modeled claim.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Within each unit, each week includes five lessons. After each close reading mini-lesson in the Reading Workshop, students have the opportunity to apply the strategy they have learned directly to Independent Text. For example, in the “Apply” step of the mini-lesson, Option 2 directs students to use sticky notes to mark places within the text that indicate proof of evidence. Lesson 1 introduces students to the genre with a listening comprehension activity. Lesson 2 is the Shared Read, where students read for enjoyment and understanding. Lessons 3 and 4 are the Close Read, where students return to the text to learn strategies that deepen comprehension and knowledge. Lesson 5 allows students to compare texts by connecting what they experienced and learned in the text to their own world in oral and written responses. This lesson includes a “Respond to Text” opportunity. Throughout each weekly lesson scaffold, materials direct students where to look for evidence, and students highlight or underline the same information. Students complete the activities in whole group, and students answer with the same information. During the weekly shared read, the materials direct students to highlight and underline parts of the text during the second and third close read. The “Student Interactive Edition” includes questions and graphic organizers that ask students to use these notes as text evidence to support their opinions and claims. During Lesson 5, Respond to Text, students reflect on the various texts from the weekly reading at the end of each week, which lends itself to independent analysis. Students complete “Check for Understanding” and “Write to Sources” activities within the Student Interactive Edition that allow them to write their opinions and thinking while citing evidence from the texts. The Write to Sources activities give students the opportunity to use multiple texts in their opinions and analysis. Even though materials offer students daily opportunities to underline certain parts of the mentor text and use this evidence in follow-up tasks, tasks do not grow in sophistication over the year. While scaffolding with text evidence at the beginning of the year is appropriate, materials continue to offer the same types of support through the end of the year.
In Unit 1, after reading The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico, a page in the student interactive edition guides students in visualizing details. One prompt says to use highlighted text evidence to “Write descriptive details from the text and then describe what you imagine.” Another page, titled “Reflect and Share,” asks students to think about all the texts from the unit and decide which is most effective in describing a particular environment, using examples from the text to support their opinion. The materials provide sentence starters: “Details that make this text the most effective at describing an environment include….” “I agree/ disagree with you because….”
In Unit 2, while reading the text Weird Friends—Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom, students highlight the details that describe how animals help one another survive. Then students evaluate the details to determine the key idea. When exploring a diagram, which shows the flow of energy through a food chain, students complete a quick write, answering the question, “What might happen if the deer or the wildflowers in this food chain disappeared?” Students use the diagram to apply their opinion and justify their thinking using text evidence. After reading the text, Wolf Island, students complete a “Check for Understanding” activity in the student interactive as they answer the following prompt, “How could you prove with text evidence that a balance of life on the island is good for all animals and plans on the island?”
In Unit 3, students read Below Deck, a historical fiction text. Sidebar supports for analyzing plot and setting prompt students to underline related details throughout the text, such as “Underline details that explain Grace’s location now and why she will travel to America." Later, students complete a graphic organizer about the setting, the text evidence, and the connection between the setting and plot. Students turn back to the underlined text to select needed text evidence. Students read another historical fiction text about a grandfather voting for the first time. The Check for Understanding task asks students, “Which text details would you select to support the key idea that Grandaddy was a patient man?” In the text, one of the sidebars to analyze characters directs students to underline details “that help you explain why Grandaddy and the others stay calm as others cut in line in front of them,” which makes the connection for the students. Granddaddy is patient because he remains calm when people cut in line in front of him.
In Unit 4, after reading The House that Jane Built: A Story About Jane Adams, the Check for Understanding page presents questions to ask students to use text evidence to support their opinion and a question to write about what they have learned. In this case, students identify the genre of biography: “How can the reader tell that the house that The House that Jane Built is a biography?” “Based on text evidence, what are some of Jane Addams's personality traits? Analyze how these traits helped her create the Hull House?”
In Unit 5, students ponder the following questions to help them plan a text-supported claim, “Think about the characters you have read about this week. What traits do these characters have? How do these traits help or hurt the characters? Use these questions to help you discuss traits that lead to positive and negative results for the characters.”
The materials meet the criteria for including composition convention skills applied in increasingly complex texts, with opportunities for students to publish their writing over the year. The resources facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process to compose multiple texts, including planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. There are opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing; grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, in and out of context, and materials allow for editing practice in students’ own writing as the year progresses.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, there are explicit mini-lessons in the “Reading-Writing Bridge” and the “Writing Workshop,” activities in the “Student Interactive Workbook,” and, during Week 6’s inquiry, authentic applications for the writing process to build students’ abilities. Materials facilitate an in-depth use of the writing process throughout each unit, with frequent opportunities for students to collaborate with peers and their teachers as they compose their writing. Students practice grade 3 conventions first orally and then apply them to sample writing and then to their own writing. Within the Reading-Writing Bridge, the mini-lessons connect to skills learned in the current or previous units. After the daily mini-lessons, students write independently and apply their learning to their own writing. During this time, the teacher assesses students’ understanding of the writing task using provided conference prompts, guides students through each step of their writing in smaller chunks, and ensures students are on the right track by offering support as needed. The Student Interactive Workbook has questions and graphics organizers in the Writing Workshop section of each unit that assists students in brainstorming, adding details, and editing their writing. After learning particular grammar, punctuation, or usage lessons as a whole group, students have the opportunity to peer edit within their own writing for the examples of the given topic, i.e., proper/common noun. There is a large focus at the end of the week on editing and peer review of their products. There is a checklist in the Student Interactive Workbook that lists conventions students must look to correct.
In Unit 1, students compose personal narratives. During Week 1, students study the personal narrative genre by reading sample personal narratives to see how authors develop a story around a special memory; students begin to plan their personal narratives and plan in the writing club as they brainstorm together in a small group. In Week 2, students begin to develop elements such as narrator, setting, problem, and resolutions as they draft their narratives, and students meet in small groups to discuss their writing and give each other ideas and suggestions for their drafts. Students examine their own writing for these specific elements of personal narratives during the week. There are teacher conference prompts for specific elements, such as “Which of your setting’s details are most important?” In Week 3, students develop structural elements by composing an introduction and conclusion and focus on developing dialogue, actions, thoughts, and feelings. Week 4’s focus is editing for conventional use of coordinating conjunctions, comparative and superlative adjectives, and adverbs; students edit each other’s writing for correct subject-verb agreement. Students edit drafts for legibility and verb tense in Week 5 before publishing and sharing their writing. In Week 6, students research what can be done to improve a local park or playground. After a short examination of argumentative writing, students conduct field research. Students collaborate and discuss a student model of an opinion piece and then draft their own opinion letters to the town mayor or park official. Students revise and edit their letters to focus on adding details where needed and then conduct a peer review of letters. Students publish and present their letters and reflect on their projects.
In Unit 2, students work through the writing process for five weeks in order to produce an informational how-to article. In the first week, the teacher immerses students in the genre as they analyze mentor texts for their headline, lead, facts, and details. Students brainstorm, set a purpose, and plan their how-to article. In Week 2, students develop elements such as an engaging main idea and details, facts and definitions, a command, and strong verbs. During Week 3, students develop structure as they write an introduction, organize ideas into steps and steps into a sequence, add illustrations, and develop a conclusion. Weeks 4 and 5 focus on revising and editing their writing for prepositions, coherence, clarity, nouns, adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, legibility, and subject-verb agreement; students spend part of Week 5 publishing and celebrating their writing.
In Unit 4, there is a mini-lesson titled “Edit for Verbs,” which connects to the Reading-Writing Bridge lesson. In the mini-lesson, the teaching point reviews the purpose of verbs. This lesson is modeled and practiced by reading passages aloud from the mentor stack texts, identifying verbs of different tenses, and discussing the importance of using them correctly. Students complete a “My Turn” activity, where they edit a sample paragraph for the correct use of present, past, and future verb tenses. Students use their learning and directly apply it to their own drafts.
In Unit 5, the checklist has spelling and punctuation, correct grammar, capitalization of specific places, clear paraphrasing, and quotation marks for exact words. The directions for students do not say to make the edits on each other’s work, but instead, “Discuss edits...that could make brochures more persuasive.”
Materials fulfill the TEKS requirement for the grade level even though there is no formal procedure for assessing the students' handwriting. However, there are informal opportunities for handwriting assessment.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Grade 3 materials contain a Handwriting Practice for All resource for grades K–2 students. Lessons include pencil grip, posture, and letter formation. Materials also contain a handwriting model that displays print and cursive models, including D'Nealian, for each letter of the alphabet. The materials include practice for students to write legibly in cursive; however, there are few mini-lessons and cursive handwriting resources. Instead of instruction in letter formation, the program includes practice in cursive handwriting with individual letter formation practice pages. The writing workshop has an editing checklist to remind students that writing should be easy to read or legible so that others can learn from their ideas. The list tells students to form letters carefully, leave proper spacing between letters and words, write with a slight slant, and maintain proper letter size. To practice, students read a paragraph and then write the paragraph on a separate sheet of paper in their most legible cursive.
In Unit 1, students edit a draft for legibility. Materials direct teachers to tell students the purpose for legibility; sometimes, they do not have access to a computer or technology for writing. Teachers also remind students that if their handwriting is not legible on a standardized test, their work cannot be scored. Students assess their own writing, ensuring that they leave enough space between each word and make sure all letters are the same size.
In Unit 2, the mini-lesson’s teaching point explains what legible handwriting is. Legible handwriting has appropriate space between letters and words, and letters formed correctly and (in cursive) joined correctly. The teacher models how to copy a how-to article draft using legible, cursive handwriting and says, “I am going to take my time as I write my final draft. I will write in cursive, leaving appropriate spaces between words. Legible handwriting is much easier and more enjoyable to read.” Students work on their workbook practice with directions to “[w]rite legibly in cursive as you copy this how-to text.” The materials note for the teacher to provide students with a chart of cursive letters if they need extra support in writing legibly.
In Unit 5, as students publish and celebrate their poetry, they answer questions about their poetry in the student interactive and write their answers in cursive.
The materials meet the criteria for including support for students’ listening to and speaking about texts. Opportunities focus on the texts studied in class and allow students to demonstrate comprehension. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate their knowledge through analysis and synthesis of the assigned texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each unit starts with an essential question and a unit video, followed by a “Turn, Talk, and Share” opportunity. After the unit introduction, the materials begin the “Weekly Launch” with a lesson where students read a selection from a specific genre with text or graphic features. Students move on into the reading workshop with a listening comprehension activity in which teachers read aloud a short text in the same genre as the main mentor text. During “Spotlight on Genre,” the teacher introduces students to the genre they focus on with the shared and close read. The teacher shares the characteristics of the genre. Students have various opportunities for oral tasks completed within a teacher conference, in pairs, small groups, or whole group. Before the first reading of the shared read, the materials include a pre-reading page that names four reading strategies. After the shared read, students can respond and analyze the text with teacher questions to prompt students’ initial response to the shared read. Sidebars integrate academic vocabulary with the unit’s close read strategies; however, some of the subsequent readings’ questions do not require students to defend answers with text evidence. Questions and think alouds during the first read focus on these reading strategies, such as noticing, generating questions, and connecting. During the second and third readings, callout boxes in the teacher’s edition have the title, close read passage, a shorter think-aloud, explanation of a story element or structure, a question to ask students, and possible responses. The strategies apply to close reading and focus more on analysis and comparisons and discussing the author’s craft or purpose. The student text includes shortened summaries of what the teacher demonstrates in the think-aloud to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. Materials provide discussion questions in the teacher’s edition for use during the first read, and most discussion questions require students to first scan the text for evidence before answering a question. There are opportunities to listen and speak about texts with the book club where they discuss their noticings, connections, and wonderings about the text with other students in their club.
In Unit 1, a read-aloud titled The Beaded Necklace is a myth. The teacher thinks aloud and points out that the setting is long ago, that the myth has special characters, and that myths usually explain some part of nature or how something came to be. To assess students' listening comprehension, the class completes a T-chart with the headings Cause and Effect, where they record responses to four different questions. While reading the shared text, Living in Deserts, students synthesize information and engage in discussion using the question, “How would you describe the distance between Antarctica and the equator? Using the information in the text features, what can you conclude about how a desert’s distance from the equator affects the desert’s temperature?” Students analyze the text, photograph, and caption details to explain why yurts are good homes for nomadic desert people.
In Unit 2, a listening comprehension activity directs teachers to explain to students that they “should listen actively, paying careful attention to the dialogue between characters, the setting, and the plot” before reading aloud “Producer and Consumer.” Materials provide sidebar supports for teachers as they think aloud while reading the text. Afterward, as a class, students discuss what Jacob (the main character) did to become a producer and what he planned to do as a consumer.
In Unit 3, after reading Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, students respond and analyze as they first discuss questions such as, “What did you think about this text?” and “What part of this story surprised you or interested you the most?” Then students make connections as they answer the question, “What do you like about trees?” and express opinions as they answer the question, “Do you think one person can make a huge difference in a country? Why or why not?” Students read the text The Hero Two Doors Down during book club, and they start by discussing the question, “What do you think will be the setting and plot of the main story that follows?” They discuss the text details they notice, the connections they are making, and the things they wonder about. There are conversation starters such as, “How would you describe Steve or his father? What do you think of these characters? If Steve had not mentioned any years, how could you tell that the story is not set in the present day?”
In Unit 4, students read the biographical text The House That Jane Built. The first paragraph of the text introduces the reader to a wealthy young woman named Jane Addams who “picked a house that was smack in the middle of one of the filthiest, poorest parts of town.” The author then asks the reader a direct question within the text, “Why would a wealthy young woman do this when she could have lived anywhere?” The teacher’s edition includes a “Possible Teaching Point: Author’s Craft” sidebar, which directs teachers to ask, “Why do you think the author ended the page with a question? What effect does this have on the reader?” After reading Frederick Douglass, the teacher asks: “What did you think about this text?” “ Which of Frederick Douglass's accomplishments did you find most interesting and why?”
In Unit 5, students read a selection of extreme places to live. The prompts are, “React: Would you like to live in one of these extreme places? Why or why not? Connect: Which of these three extreme places do you think would be the easiest to live in? The hardest to live in? Why?” When students revisit the text during the close read, there are teacher prompts for speaking opportunities. Some examples include, “Why does the author use this heading instead of ‘The Boazovázzi’? Use your evidence to support your response. Use your text evidence to explain why the author asks this question in the heading.” As students read Nora’s Ark, materials direct students to scan and underline details within the text that reveal what Wren and Grandma think about having a horse in the house. Teachers ask, “How does Wren’s point of view help you understand her relationship with Grandma?” and students discuss in whole group or pairs. Materials provide a possible student response.
The materials meet the criteria for including engagement in productive teamwork and student-led discussions, both formally and informally. The resources provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussions that express their own thinking. Students have opportunities to give organized presentations or performances and speak clearly and concisely using appropriate oral conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, protocols are set for discussions. Resources include an academic vocabulary “Expand and Ask” routine for students to practice using academic vocabulary with a partner. The teacher previews unit vocabulary at the beginning of the unit through an “Oral Vocabulary” routine. Teachers read definitions of unit vocabulary, and students respond to the Expand and Ask questions (script provided) using the newly acquired vocabulary and then complete a speaking task with a partner to follow up. The materials provide five speaking and listening lessons to foster collaborative conversations among students. These lessons focus on how to have a conversation, how to distinguish fact from opinion, how to present information as a group, how to follow and give instructions, and how to retell a story. For example, when discussing facts and opinions, students prepare ahead of time by gathering relevant information from several sources and then distinguishing the facts from opinions. Students present the topic to their partners or group. Materials direct students to “Speak coherently about the topic, presenting facts and opinions, then give your opinion about the topic.” Students include one or two reasons to support their opinions and listen actively to others’ reactions and responses; they record in the space given, including any notes to help them remember others’ opinions and reasons. Week 6 in every unit is a performance-based inquiry project. Students conduct research to write a final project or presentation to be shared with the class. Materials provide a rubric for teachers to evaluate the student’s language and vocabulary in the project and the delivery of the presentation; these sections are always scored, though the wording for each unit’s rubric varies slightly. A high score of “4” includes clear and precise language with appropriate use of conventions, and an effective delivery includes appropriate eye contact, speaking rate, volume, and enunciation.
Two routines for listening and speaking are in the Language Awareness Handbook. These routines are titled “Prepare for Discussions” and “Have a Discussion.” The purpose of Prepare for Discussions is to help students prepare for and engage in one-on-one, group, and teacher-led discussions; the purpose of Having a Discussion is to provide a frame for conducting accountable discussions. The “Small Group Guide” gives support in various aspects of small group time. One page explains the benefits of students working with a partner. It explains the difference between three partner work strategies, “Turn and Talk,” “Think Pair Share,” and “Mix and Mingle.” A chart at the bottom of the page lists the following rules for working with partners, “Review the work you need to do. Share the work. Restate what your partner said to be certain you understood. Make eye contact. Give each person time to talk. Praise and encourage each other. Disagree politely. Speak in a voice that only your partner can hear.” Callout boxes throughout the teacher’s edition direct students to turn and talk with partners; some boxes remind teachers to add the direction to follow “agreed-upon rules and norms (ways of talking).” Each book club planning page shows the same discussion chart in all units for the teacher to display so students may copy them in their notebooks; it is a three-column chart with the headings Noticings, Connections, Wonderings. The materials direct teachers to offer students examples of how to phrase their ideas productively and respectfully with sentence frames such as, “I understand your point, but I think _____,” “Why did you say that?” and “Can you repeat what you said?”
In Unit 1, students write an opinion letter to the town mayor or a park official. Before the final publication of student letters, students practice and present their projects orally. Students decide who presents with their partners. The teacher models first how to present a letter orally and identifies traits of effective speech. Traits include making eye contact with the audience, making sure the volume is loud enough for everyone to hear and the pronunciation of words is clear and correct, and the speaking rate is steady and natural. After the teacher models, students practice and make their presentations. After students present, they can allow time for questions, comments, and reactions from their classmates. The teacher scores final student presentations and projects with a rubric.
In Unit 2, after reading a shared text, students engage in a “Respond to Text” activity to reflect and share. They discuss the patterns they read about in texts and what patterns in nature they have seen with a partner. The student interactive includes information on how to listen carefully and ask relevant questions. The materials remind students not to interrupt the speaker, make their questions clear and related to the topic, and listen carefully to all speakers. There are sentence frames to help with the conventions of the English language such as, “I agree that _____, but I also think _____.” and “ I think _____ because _____. What do others think?”
In Unit 3, after reading a shared text, students engage in a reflect and share activity about making pertinent comments. Students respond to the questions, “Which characters acted like heroes? What motivated them to help others?” The materials remind students that when discussing their opinion, they need to make sure their comments are pertinent or relate to the topic. Students also include specific details in the text that support their ideas.
In Unit 4, students make a poster for a town hall meeting before the final publication. The materials suggest that students work in pairs to present their posters orally to another pair using the student model on how to present a poster effectively. As part of the lesson, the teacher identifies and models traits of effective speech, and, rather than a town hall meeting, the material suggests that students write down suggestions for their classmates using space in the student interactive edition.
In Unit 5, students read the text Do Tornadoes Really Twist? and collaborate in conversations about the text. The materials instruct that students listen carefully and respectfully build on others’ ideas and phrase their ideas productively and politely. Suggested sentence stems include, “I think the authors should/should not have ______, because ______. I want to follow up on your idea about ______. We see ________ differently, because ________.” For the Week 6 inquiry project, students research places most likely to be affected by natural disasters to create a travel brochure convincing readers to visit (or not visit) the place they research. Students pretend they are travel agents at the end of the week, and they present their travel brochures (or slide shows). Materials direct students to “be sure to establish eye contact and speak with appropriate volume and rate.” Materials explain what it means to enunciate and direct students to follow standard English conventions. Students reflect after their presentations on whether they think their classmates agreed with their claims and how they could tell.
The materials meet the criteria for including short-term and sustained inquiry processes to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources; they support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. Resources aid student practice in organizing and presenting appropriate grade-level ideas and the research’s assigned purpose.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, recursive inquiry is directly related to the unit and weekly essential questions. Within the research, students have multiple opportunities to learn and determine the difference between primary and secondary sources and apply that learning within the reading, writing, and researching. There is explicit instruction in the research skills, such as analysis and synthesis of information, as well as conducting and refining research. Children generate questions and use those questions to guide their research within short-term opportunities, and they engage in a week-long project-based inquiry at the end of each unit, which relates the essential question to a relevant topic in students’ lives. Many research projects include collaboration components. Students work independently in each unit to create the finished real-world project. There are opportunities for demonstrating inquiry and synthesis of research skills since many of the projects require a summary of findings and students' opinions based on evidence from their research. Small groups or partners discuss and decide the purpose, structure, audience, and research plan for their projects, building on their knowledge of informational text and symbiotic relationships developed in the unit. For each project, students have pages in the interactive workbook to plan their research, along with space to conduct and record research. A student model allows students to see an example of a finished product and analyze its components. It highlights the characteristics and structures of the project and provides a checklist for students. Materials direct students to develop their topics by “searching for information, such as facts, definitions, and details.” Using a library database and trade books, students gather information. Materials encourage students to change keywords to find more specific information. The teacher edition directs teachers to “be sure that they can identify their topic, the evidence to support their topic, and the text features they will use.” A research project checklist containing a four-point research project rubric is broken down into five areas: Focus, Research, Organization & Development, Language & Vocabulary, and Delivery. The delivery section focuses on their presentation skills. Students are rated on how well they maintain eye contact, speaking rate, volume, and enunciation.
In Unit 1, during the project-based inquiry week, students engage in a lesson about identifying primary and secondary sources. The teacher explains the difference between primary and secondary sources and models how to determine whether a source is primary or secondary. Students engage in a critical analysis activity where they read two articles, determine whether they are primary or secondary sources, and justify their thinking using evidence. Students conduct field research to apply their experience researching a primary source to their writing.
In Unit 2, students research plant and animal relationships and create a scrapbook about a plant and animal relationship to connect to the essential question, “How do living things adapt to the world around them?” Students use library databases to gather information on their research topic for this unit. Examples of primary resources that students can use are in the sidebar, such as interviews, discussions with scientists who study plants and animals, publications, books written by plant and animal scientists, and photographs or pictures of plants and animals interacting in a way that is beneficial to them both.
In Unit 3, one of the unit’s goals is for students to learn about historical fiction and analyze the plot and setting in historical fiction to answer the essential question, “What makes a hero?” In launching the themes for the unit, the materials include a lesson on interacting with primary sources. The materials explain that a primary source “helps us learn about people, places, and events from the past.” They share first-hand accounts of what happened during a particular time period or event. Photographs, letters, journals, newspaper articles, and audio and video recordings are all examples of primary sources. Students generate or ask questions about a topic as they read the primary source. The students’ workbooks include pictures with captions about the Apollo 11 moon landing so that students can practice generating questions from this primary source. A “turn and talk” activity in the workbook asks students to tell a partner how they would describe the astronauts and others involved in the mission and explain how they were heroic.
In Unit 4, students read a firsthand account written by Chicago city planner Daniel Burnham. Teachers “remind students that a primary source is a firsthand account of an event,” and students discuss how one person’s ideas can improve a community. Later, students research to create an informational poster about how part of a city or town has changed. Teachers introduce students to the online Library of Congress, a substantial digital collection of books, photographs, and maps for students to evaluate as they do their research projects. Teachers have students “identify and gather relevant information from digital texts and media on their topics.”
In Unit 5, the essential question is, “Why is it important to understand our planet?” Students write a travel brochure that persuades readers to visit, or not visit, a place likely to be affected by a natural disaster by researching the evidence that supports their claim and persuades their audience. Students conduct research online. Examples of primary resources students can use include documents, travel brochures produced by a city’s chamber of commerce, oral histories, interviews of people in cities where natural disasters have occurred, and current photographs or historical photographs of cities.
The materials meet the criteria for including interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. Questions and tasks are designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The resources provide coherently sequenced, high-quality, text-dependent questions and activities that require students to analyze and integrate their knowledge and ideas within individual texts and across multiple texts. Students integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; they include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency as needed while building appropriately increased independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Across all units, there is cohesion in the form of organized protocols for activities, questions, and growth toward independence. The unit themes and essential questions are interconnected with the assignments related to that topic and require students to utilize all of their language arts and reading skills, including thinking, integrating knowledge (prior and learned), and analyzing information. The essential question relates to questions, tasks, literature, and research-based inquiry throughout the unit, and each week includes a focus question that adds to the unit essential question. Questions and tasks build in complexity throughout the unit with a final analysis of each text in the unit and its relation to the unit theme. While the beginning of the week is teacher-led, by the end of the week, students engage in deeper levels of thought and discussion so that by the end of the unit, they can apply learning to a real-world situation to research or solve. Materials contain interconnected tasks within each unit that build student knowledge. There are various texts to use within small group instruction, and each text aligns to the essential question for the unit and the week. Students have listening, speaking, reading, and writing tasks aligned to the essential question that allow students to make connections across themes and texts. Many tasks in the Student Interactive integrate tasks, such as reading a text and writing a constructed response, practicing with a partner both listening and speaking a new vocabulary word, or sharing one’s thoughts about a text during book club. Students revisit the text during the close read, have an opportunity to reread parts of the text while thinking about specific close read strategies, and make annotations through discussions using teacher prompts and questioning. Students then use these annotations to independently complete a chart on the close-read strategies. During the “Writing Workshop,” mini-lessons range from focusing on the writing process steps to enhancing vocabulary, syntax, and word choice in different genres. At the end of each unit, students have an opportunity to integrate knowledge and ideas across all texts from the unit in the launch of the “Project-Based Inquiry,” which includes student research, reading and writing related to topics covered in the unit, and application of unit vocabulary in order to create a final product that is presented to the class or a group.
In Unit 1, the essential question is, “How does our environment affect us?” and the Week 4 question is, “What creative solutions do people come up with to survive their environment?” Students begin the week by analyzing an infographic and engaging in a discussion over questions such as, “Why do you think the solutions to surviving in each environment are different? What do the facts tell you about the importance of finding creative solutions to survive in different environments?” Students engage in a quick write activity where they answer the question, “Which solution for surviving in an environment described here is most creative? Why? Use text evidence to support an appropriate response.” Texts such as Living in Different Environments, Inuit LIfe, and Welcome to Tonle Sap! align with the ideas of how our environments affect us and how people come up with solutions to survive in their environment. The materials review the theme of “environment” as students reflect on the texts read during the week and discuss how the environment or settings are important to the stories they read and how people adapt to their environments within other texts. Students then address themes related to environments by collaboratively researching and writing an opinion letter to the town mayor, telling him/her what could be done to improve safety in a local park or playground.
In Unit 2, during the close read, many of the questions are text-dependent and require text evidence. During the reading of Nature’s Patchwork Quilt, the teacher asks, “What details in paragraph 1 help you explain the author’s purpose? What details about small plants and animals help explain the author’s purpose? What context clues tell you whether burrows is a noun or a verb in the text?” After the close read, students analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within the text by completing a chart. In this unit, students complete a chart to explain the author’s purpose. The two-column chart headers direct students to write “What the Text Says” and “How Text Relates to Author’s Purpose.”
In Unit 3, students collaborate to determine what makes a hero by reading historical fiction, biographies, and poetry during the reading workshop. While analyzing story elements, they learn to confirm and correct predictions, make connections, and begin writing more formal reading responses, such as, “What traits best help a person face challenges?” and “Choose a hero from two different texts and compare and contrast their heroic actions...what conclusions can you draw about the importance of heroes?” In the “Reading-Writing Workshop Bridge,” the materials explain the importance of illustrations and the use of voice, tone, and figurative language. In the writing workshop, mini-lessons use elements of narrative text to help students write their own historical fiction story, including developing a problem and resolution in the plot and adding or deleting ideas for coherence and clarity.
In Unit 4, during the Share Read, students use the “First Read Strategy” of “notice, generate questions, connect, and respond.” During the notice section, students pay attention to text structure. To generate questions, students use illustrations and text features to write questions. For connect, students connect the selection to what they know about communities. For respond, students respond by marking text they find interesting or surprising. Throughout the first read, the class reads the selection and pauses at points for discussion. Following the reading, a “Respond and Analyze” section allows for discussions on students’ initial responses to reading the selection. After this discussion, students complete a “Check for Understanding” independently; they think about the selection and respond to comprehension questions with written responses.
In Unit 5, students study the theme of “solutions” and how the world challenges us. Students read informational texts about extreme places to live, natural disasters, safety plans, and two realistic fiction texts about overcoming great challenges. In Week 6, students independently create a travel brochure persuading readers to visit or avoid a place likely to be affected by a natural disaster. Students read and discuss the article “Living on a Fault Line” and then generate questions about their own research and plan how they will include unit vocabulary in their brochures. Students also read and discuss “The City I Love,” analyzing the features of argumentative writing in order to apply to their own writing. Students also read a student writing model, again identifying characteristics of argumentative text for their own writing. Students integrate what they have learned about both genres into their brochures and create a slideshow to support their claims.
The materials meet the criteria for including spiraled and scaffolded practice. The resources contain distributed practice over the year and the design scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral throughout the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, there are spiraled and scaffolded skills that repeat throughout the year. Materials provide teachers with a detailed “Scope and Sequence” for the grade level and also a comprehensive TEKS K–8 vertical alignment document that outlines how skills build and spiral across grade bands. Every day, there are multiple opportunities for students to read, think, write, speak, comprehend, and practice literacy skills; objectives connect between reading, writing, language, and grammar. This connection is primarily made through the workshop model, which includes small group and whole group reading, a writing workshop, and a combined “Reading-Writing Workshop Bridge” that focuses on word study, spelling, and grammar. Materials state, “Each unit is a multi-genre text set designed to teach how to read while developing content knowledge around a content-related theme and an essential question.” At the beginning of each week, students hear about the genre they will be reading during the “Listening Comprehension” and then learn more specifics about the genre in the “Spotlight on Genre.” Connections continue through read/think aloud, shared, close reads, and student activities that revolve around the same text. Every unit has mini-lessons covering a variety of topics; these mini-lessons follow a scaffolded structure that releases the work from the teacher to the student. Each unit focuses on multiple genres of reading so students can compare text structure and features, and the theme offers a purposeful way to tie in writing and grammar topics. The materials have a distribution of writing opportunities across the year to pen literary, informational, argumentative, and correspondence texts. The “Language Awareness Handbook” provides scaffold instruction that targets English Learners, but the included strategies, routines, sentence frames, and lessons support all students. The teacher supports students through teacher modeling, partner and small group collaboration, and a “Quick Check,” which also serves as a formative assessment for the teacher. If students apply the skill easily, materials include an extension task. If students need extra practice, materials provide additional small group and practice opportunities. At the end of each week’s lessons, students have a “Respond to Text” opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the texts read throughout the week. There are scaffolds such as sentence starters, questions, and reminders to support students discussing and responding to the prompt and weekly questions.
In Unit 1, one of the weekly objectives is for students to develop language knowledge to make connections between reading and writing. Using academic vocabulary introduces the four basic parts of speech, and students identify nouns in a set of sentences and write their own sentences using the same base word but as a different part of speech in each sentence. A weeklong set of lessons that focus on common and proper nouns begins with a spiral review of compound subjects and predicates. Students begin with an oral discussion on the difference between common and proper nouns. In the following day's lesson, students identify both types of nouns while looking at a set of anchor sentences; students edit a draft paragraph in the student interactive workbook. The teacher reminds students during the writing workshop to check that they have capitalized any proper nouns or change common nouns to proper nouns to add more detail.
In Units 2–5, text structure analysis spirals through the units to support students' skills to apply their knowledge to new genres or texts. In Unit 2, students read the informational text Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom. Students learn about the genre of informational text by analyzing its problem and solution text structure. Later, students learn about themes concerning interactions by analyzing the text structure of a persuasive text, including its claim and supporting evidence. In Unit 3, students learn about themes with heroes by analyzing the sequence text structure of the biography Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya. In Unit 4, students learn more about the biography genre by analyzing the sequence, cause and effect, and problem and solution text structure of the biography The House That Jane Built. Finally, in Unit 5, students learn more about the informational text genre by analyzing the cause and effect text structure of the informational text Earthquakes, Eruptions, and Other Events that Change Earth; and the sequence and cause and effect text structure of the procedural text A Safety Plan: In Case of Emergency.
In Unit 3, students analyze plot elements of the historical fiction text Below Deck: A Titanic Story. During the close read of the text, teachers model how to annotate the text to analyze plot and setting using the opening of the text to underline places mentioned that show where Grace lives and where she is going. Students work in pairs to annotate the text that tells why Grace will travel to America, identifying in the margin what the detail tells about the plot. Students independently complete a T-chart graphic organizer with details from the text and what that detail tells about the plot or setting. For the Quick Check, teachers assess if students can explain the plot and setting of the story. If students struggle, teachers revisit instruction about analyzing plot and setting in a provided small group lesson.
In Unit 4, students engage in a mini-lesson covering making connections. As the lesson begins, the teacher explicitly teaches how to make connections between texts, ourselves, or the world. The teacher models and practices with students as they use the student interactive to make a connection between the text Green City and their personal life. Students engage in the “my turn” component, using the strategies of making connections independently. They either complete the student interactive by making additional connections to Green City or use sticky notes to make connections in their independent reading text. Students continue to use the practice of making connections within their daily reading of shared, independent, and book club texts.
The materials meet the criteria for including the systematic instruction and practice of foundational skills, including phonics and word analysis skills. There is a research-based sequence of grade-level foundational skills instruction and opportunities for student practice to achieve mastery. Resources include a system to develop knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns and word analysis as outlined in the TEKS for grade 3. Grade-level word recognition skills options promote automaticity, and students practice and apply word analysis skills both in and out of context. Spelling knowledge is built according to TEKS requirements, and specific supports are available for students in need of remediation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, the program’s approach is research-based; for instance, the materials include two white papers. “Building a Strong Foundation for Successful Reading'' by Sharon Vaughn describes the importance of building foundational literacy skills and phonemic awareness and phonics early on in order to achieve comprehension. “Learning to Read and Write in English—It’s Complicated” by Pat Cunningham explains that the process of learning to read is a combination of learning rules and patterns, as well as the rule expectations. It explains that research supports a comprehensive, well-rounded literacy program that encompasses a variety of instructional approaches. The “myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide” notes that the program utilizes a gradual release of responsibility to facilitate skills mastery and cites Fisher and Frey’s research for this approach. Materials explain that skills should be taught in context and refer to literacy expert Tim Shanahan’s position that “engaging and motivating context allows for effective reading instruction.” There is also a research bibliography. Systematic instruction and distributed practice of foundational skills, including opportunities for phonics and word analysis skills, are included. The lessons include a sequential approach to concepts that build on one another and allow students to practice foundational skills. The resources support the development of grade-level phonics patterns, word analysis skills, and spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS. Each week’s lesson focuses on word study and spelling in alignment. Word study lessons include five lessons for the week, with Lessons 3–5 as flexible options to support intervention or remediation. The spelling and word work lessons are aligned to reinforce each other. Opportunities to practice high-frequency words, word analysis skills, and spelling knowledge are provided through word study lessons, shared reading experiences, and writing workshops. The scope and sequence summarizes TEKS and breaks them into categories by strand. Materials provide sufficient guidance and materials for remediation of foundational skills. A resource called the “Language Awareness Handbook” states that it intends teachers to use these linguistically accommodated lessons during small group time with students. The teacher determines if they need additional scaffolded instruction. The handbook has models of scaffolded instruction, strategies, and routines for both reading and writing workshops. The program “provides a clear sequence of discrete lessons that cover the full range of Foundational Skills, as identified in national and state standards, that are critical to reading success.” The myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide includes a “Foundational Skills Trace” that shows when concepts are introduced in the program and how they develop and expand across the grade band and consist of a four-day lesson plan following the same weekly routine. Day 1, the teacher introduces, models, and teaches the skill (“I do” portion); the three following days include practice and monitor progress portion for each day (“We do”) and then conclude with an independent practice at the end of Day 4 (“You do”). The myFocus Intervention resource includes 16 intervention lessons and periodic assessments for groups of related skills.
In Unit 2, the teacher teaches r-controlled vowels such as ar, or, ore, and oar. After an explicit lesson on r-controlled vowels, students practice decoding words with r-controlled vowels such as formal, target, and cardboard. Students then identify the spelling of each r-controlled vowel as or, ar, ore, oar. Following the lesson, students practice the skills in their student interactive by reading various multisyllabic words with an r-controlled vowel and writing the word in the correct column based on how the sound is spelled. Students use their knowledge of r-controlled vowels to decode words such as surfboard, organ, farther, orchard, and tartan in another lesson. Students apply their knowledge of r-controlled vowels by filling in the blanks with ar, or, ore, or oar to form words and decode the words by saying each word aloud. Students work with a partner to write a sentence for two of the r-controlled words. During a shared reading of the text Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom, there is a possible teaching point related to r-controlled vowels. Students apply their understanding of r-controlled vowels as they decode and read words such as hermit within the text. High-frequency word instruction is embedded within word study lessons related to other concepts. The student interactive explains that high-frequency words are often in the text but cannot be sounded. Students practice the words certain and half. In a turn-and-talk opportunity, students read high-frequency words with a partner and use them in a sentence. They demonstrate their knowledge and apply that knowledge to find, identify, and read high-frequency words in various texts. In this unit, students engage in explicit instruction and practice surrounding compound words. Later in the week, students practice spelling compound words such as popcorn, football, moonlight, eyesight, airport, haircut, and fireworks, and challenge words such as courthouse, thumbtack, and teammate. Students practice spelling compound words through spelling activities from the resource download center. The teacher assesses students at the end of the week as they write sentences. For possible remediation, after students have studied contractions during word study lessons, the teacher has an intervention activity to support a variety of skills, including contractions. The teacher uses the myFocus reader to read the text “Plants and Animals Rely on Each Other” and provides instructional support for comprehension and contractions. Contractions included in this text include let’s and can’t.
In Unit 4, there is a set of week-long lessons on homographs. In the first lesson, the teacher focuses on strategies like adjusting the accent in words like project, subject, produce, lead and contract. The next day’s lesson has a page in the “Student Interactive Book.” The introduction states that in the word wind, the vowel sound changes between short and long to make the homograph. Students re-read a paragraph from the shared read to find another homograph. Students must identify the word, explain its meaning in the text, use a dictionary to find a different meaning, then use the homograph in a sentence of their own. The bottom of the page includes two high-frequency words, equation and among, and directs students to memorize these words to recognize them. The Teacher's Edition suggests students continue to find these words in various texts. A set of lessons in the “Read-Writing Bridge'' focuses on word analysis out of context for comparing adjectives. The lessons begin on day one with a review of prepositions and prepositional phrases, and the second lesson focuses on oral language development as the teacher models how to use the suffixes -er and -est to make comparative and superlative adjectives. Using a sample sentence, students identify each type of adjective then work in pairs to create a sentence with both a superlative and comparative adjective. For this unit, students spell words with the VCCCV pattern. The first lesson begins with a quiz to assess prior knowledge of the VCCCV spelling pattern. Students who know how to spell words with this pattern have challenging words to study throughout the week, such as contraction, embrace, completion. The next day's lesson focuses on the strategy of dividing the word into syllables before or after any consonant blend or digraph.
The materials partially meet the criteria for including diagnostic tools that assess student mastery, in- and out-of-context, at regular intervals, and providing opportunities for teachers to make instructional adjustments. Most tools and assessments focus on comprehension, vocabulary, and writing as opposed to foundational skills; there are foundational skills assessments sprinkled in throughout the materials. There is teacher guidance on specific data points, and materials provide some guidance on how to inform instruction based on these assessments. There are few explicit lessons provided to teach students to self-monitor, use context to confirm or correct understanding, or reread when appropriate.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are phonics, decoding, and spelling assessments sprinkled throughout myView. In the Reading-Writing Bridge of the Teacher’s Edition, there is a five-lesson plan for instruction on both phonics and decoding (with the label “Word Study”) and spelling. The fifth lesson focuses on assessment. For example, in Unit 1, the Word Study lesson focuses on decoding words with vowel digraphs. The Assess for Understanding on Day 5 appears in every week of instruction in myView. Combined, there are over 60 opportunities to assess phonics, decoding, and spelling. The Assessment Guide at each grade provides teachers with guidance on how to inform instruction based on assessment data. The Assessment Guide is available in print and on the Realize course. There are two parts to the Assessment Guide. Part 1 is all about guidance for the teacher on collecting and using assessment data. The first chapter specifically focuses on the types of data that can be gathered from various assessments and how to use that data to inform instruction. Part 2 of the The Assessment Guide at each grade level provides teachers with tools to support assessment of student growth by using the Reading Behaviors Checklist.
In this program, the Baseline Test is a diagnostic assessment that helps teachers determine specific student areas of strength and need at the beginning of the school year; the Middle-of-the-Year Test assesses student progress towards mastery of skills in Units 1–3, while the End-of-the-Year Test assesses progress on skills taught throughout the year. “Cold Read Tests” help teachers determine each student’s word count per minute (a measure of fluency), vocabulary acquisition, and comfort with comprehension. The “Weekly Standards Practice for Word Study” includes one slide with a TEKS practice question in a STAAR-like format. These assessments assist teachers in determining the appropriate instructional grouping for each child. Teachers use this data to group students of similar needs together during small-group instruction and mini-lessons. The materials state that teachers can use “several well-known leveling systems—including DRA™ and Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Text Level Gradient™” (not included with the materials)—to find what a student’s specific reading level is. Teachers can pair this data with the materials’ myView Cold Reads (a fluency and word recognition assessment tool) to assess student progress. The “Summative Assessments” includes the “Remediation Opportunities” table for each unit test and the Middle-of-Year test using the “myFocus Intervention” resource; this resource provides the teacher with scripted, step-by-step lessons, with 19 lessons total for foundational skills. Materials assess grade-level phonics within each unit assessment, and a weekly “Progress Check” assesses phonics and word study in five out of 14 test items. This checklist provides an opportunity for the teacher to observe and make notes on student mastery of various foundational skills. For example, the teacher analyzes the student’s ability to distinguish between long and short vowels, recognize how a changed phoneme affects a word, or segments spoken one-syllable words of three to five phonemes into individual phonemes. The teacher can mark yes or no based on student mastery and make comments, but no specific follow-up instruction is provided with the checklist. Grade 3 materials include leveled readers at levels L–P and a “Leveled Reader Teacher Guide,” which contains the instruction of specific skills related to word study in addition to vocabulary and comprehension. There are few specific supports for teachers when working with students to self-monitor, use context to confirm or self-correct understanding, and employ rereading when appropriate. However, students use these strategies when appropriate through a “close read” mini-lesson in Units 2 through 5, focusing on students monitoring their comprehension using rereading and background knowledge, asking questions, and annotating the text. There is minimal guidance and direction for the teacher to respond to individual students’ literacy needs based on tools and assessment. The materials favor a workshop model with small-group and individual conference time built into both the reading and writing workshop. Callout boxes prompt the teacher to give fluency practice during the shared read and allow students to self-monitor or self-correct their reading with a partner.
In Unit 1, the materials suggest conferring about Traditional Tales, asking students to share what they have learned about the plot in the book they are reading, and reminding them that knowing the fictional elements of traditional tales can help them understand the story. One of the possible conference prompts includes, “Does the plot include events that show the character trying to solve a problem?” During the shared read of The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico, the materials include a note in the teacher’s edition about fluency. The note directs students to reread a section of five paragraphs aloud with a partner “to develop students’ fluency reading descriptive language with expression.” While the lesson addresses the foundational skill of fluency, it does not help students self-correct and self-monitor.
In Unit 3, the materials suggest conferring about vocabulary and asking students to share some of the sensory words they are reading that help them see, hear, and feel the story’s action. One of the possible conference prompts asks, “How did these words help to bring the events set in the past to life for the reader?” When learning about biographies, the teacher explains that fluency means that readers read at an appropriate rate without losing accuracy. When reading a biography, the teacher explains that if there are details that need more attention, the readers should slow down. Students are encouraged to monitor their reading for meaning, and if they do not understand what they have read, they need to slow down. As students read Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya, the materials direct students to reread a section and “consider slowing down to support understanding.” Students monitor their comprehension of the poems they read using the strategies of using background knowledge, asking questions, and rereading. Students fill in a table with details from the poems they read and how the strategy they used help them understand the text. While the lesson addresses the foundational skill of fluency, it does not help students self-correct and self-monitor.
In Unit 5, the materials suggest conferring about monitoring comprehension and asking students to share how using sticky notes has helped them monitor their comprehension. One of the possible conference prompts asks, “How did you know your comprehension of the text had broken down?” Students monitor their comprehension by completing a table with their text evidence, including how they can check their understanding and how the adjustment they made helped them. While the lesson addresses the foundational skill of fluency, it does not help students self-correct and self-monitor to aid in comprehension.
The materials meet the criteria for including opportunities for students to practice and develop oral and silent reading fluency while reading a variety of grade-appropriate texts, including rate, accuracy, and expression that supports comprehension. Materials provide grade-level texts to make meaning and build foundational skills and include explicit instruction in fluency, including phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy. There are routines for teachers to monitor and provide corrective feedback on these fluency skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide guidance and routines for teachers to monitor student progress in oral reading fluency, especially in the small group guide and throughout the teacher’s edition in various callout boxes and mini-lessons. Small group opportunities focus on fluency both during leveled readers and specific small group instruction based on fluency. Teachers have options to regularly monitor and provide clear, corrective feedback using the “Cold Reads for Fluency and Comprehension” resource. These five weekly options, containing a short passage with multiple-choice and short answer questions (based on TEKS and previously learned skills), are available in each unit at three levels: developing, on-level, and advanced. Teachers can administer them independently or in a small group. As the student reads the text aloud, the teacher records any miscues or errors the student makes during the reading and then stops the student after one minute. There is scoring information on how to score the assessment for words correct per minute (wcpm), expression, prosody, reading rate, and comprehension. For wcpm, the teacher counts the total number of words the student read, subtracting the number of errors, and then calculates the words correct per minute. There is a chart with suggested wcpm data for various stages in grade 3 to guide teacher understanding. Students engage in listening comprehension as the teacher reads a text aligned to the week’s genre. After the read-aloud routine, the teacher provides explicit instruction on different components of fluency and has students practice the skill with the same text. Fluency is one of the “teacher-led options” for small groups for Lessons 2–4 weekly in the reading workshop and allows for practice and assessment. During practice, students work with a partner and take turns reading a passage from the text or a leveled reader; the teacher reminds students of the fluency skill focus of prosody, rate, or accuracy, and if needed, the teacher models the skill. The teacher assesses students on “Oral Reading Rate and Accuracy,” using the specific pages and passages in the cold read resource. There are lessons in the digital reading workshop lesson called “Spotlight on Genre” for each of the literary genres that include a subsection called “Be a Fluent Reader.” There is a fluency rubric for the teacher to score students from 1–4 on volume and expression, syntax/prosody, accuracy, and rate. The leveled readers include fluency components for teachers to monitor and provide corrective feedback, and students have the opportunity to interact with grade-level texts as they make meaning and build foundational skills related to fluency.
In Unit 1, after the listening comprehension lesson about traditional tales, the materials direct the teacher to project the passage and reread it, modeling expression and intonation. The teacher directs students to pay attention to the teacher’s prosody. The materials direct the teacher to reread only the dialogue, then have the class reread in unison, modeling the same prosody as the teacher. Finally, partners read the dialogue to each other with expression. Students choose a section of the listening comprehension text to practice reading with a partner in the following weeks. One “Spotlight on Genre” focuses on myths, and during the fluency mini-lesson, the teacher demonstrates how to speak with dialogue to reveal a character’s intended meaning using the selection, The Beaded Necklace. The teacher questions students and guides them to determine that the character, Artemis, was feeling jealous and asks, “If she were feeling jealous, how would she sound?” Students try using the appropriate expression for the dialogue to show jealousy. The teacher models the expression that makes sense for each line, and students echo the example. The materials include a note to remind students of the importance of reading with expression or intonation. During the Shared Read of The Golden Flower: A Taino Myth from Puerto Rico, the materials include a note in the teacher’s edition about fluency. The note directs students to reread a section of five paragraphs aloud with a partner “to develop students’ fluency reading descriptive language with expression.”
In Unit 3, one “Spotlight on Genre” focuses on biographies, and during the fluency mini-lesson, the teacher provides students with the reminder that fluency means readers read at an appropriate rate, or speed, without losing accuracy. When students read a biography, there may be details that need more attention, in which case readers can slow down and may need to reread. The teacher suggests that students monitor their reading for meaning, and if they do not understand what they have read, they need to slow down. Questions are, “Do I understand what I just read? Should I read the text faster or slower for better understanding?” Students have an opportunity to practice reading grade-level text with fluency using the selection Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya. While revisiting the text during the close read, the teacher’s edition sidebar on fluency prompts the teacher “[t]o develop students’ fluency, have them read paragraphs 36–40 aloud with a partner to practice reading at an appropriate rate. Encourage students to consider slowing their rate as they read to support understanding.” The teacher models reading a short section of Heart Mountain and asks students to pay attention to prosody or expression and how they read the punctuation. Students work with a partner to practice expressive reading while working in pairs. They choose a passage of at least two paragraphs from a text. Partners take turns reading the passage aloud to each other, paying attention to the rhythm of their reading. If needed, the teacher models reading with appropriate rhythm.
In Unit 5, the teacher models reading a part of informational text as students notice pauses for punctuation and the change in pitch to indicate question marks. Students choose a paragraph to practice reading aloud with a partner; pairs pick a short passage of procedural text from “A Safety Plan: In Case of Emergency” or a leveled reader. They take turns reading the passage at an appropriate rate for the listener to understand the steps in the procedure.
In the leveled reader, used throughout all units, “Bees Around the World,” the teacher models breaking a challenging word into syllables and rereading a sentence to decode and read a word. Then students choose a page they find challenging and practice reading the page with a partner. Students practice breaking down words into syllables or rereading a sentence to help with accuracy. In Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr., teachers tell students that when they are reading, it is important to read each word accurately to recognize its particular meaning. Students follow along on page 20 of the text while the teacher models accuracy by reading the page aloud. Students practice reading the following page aloud with a partner, who checks for accuracy. In the reader, “Pizza Sauce from Mars,” the teacher explains that “when we read, we sometimes have to stop to figure out new words or think about ideas. However, if we read too slowly, it can be hard to make sense of or remember what we are reading.” Students choose a page from the text that they find interesting and read aloud to a partner. The teacher emphasizes that they are practicing to have a reading rate or speed, which makes it easy to remember the information.
The provided materials meet the criteria for including supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Resources include extensions and differentiation in planning for teachers and learning for students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Small Group Guide” includes a section addressing modifications for students who need enrichment or more advanced work throughout all units. Materials state that “Every learner can learn a skill at a deeper, more complex level…. Rather than focusing on more advanced skills, help students become masters of the skills using a variety of more complex texts.” The whole class shared-reads include questions in callout boxes titled either “First Read” or “Close Read,” the latter for use on the second reading of the text. The Close Read questions are marked with the depth of knowledge (DOK) levels and range throughout all four levels. Though the questions are used in a whole-class setting, teachers may use questions marked with higher DOK levels to engage above-level students. Small group reading, literacy stations, shared reading texts, and project-based inquiry offer sidebar suggestions supporting above-level students. The materials include a “Text Complexity Chart” for all of the “Shared Read” selections during the “Reading Workshop.” During the Reading Workshop, teachers model a strategy or skill using a text within a mini-lesson. Students practice the skill with a whole group text or an independent text. Materials provide teachers with specific look-fors in the “Quick Check Notice and Assess” portion of the Reading Workshop. If students show understanding, materials provide specific tasks for an extension. “Quick Checks” are formative assessments. Some of the Quick Checks state if students “show understanding,” they continue practicing the learned strategies in small groups. Additional extension activities from the “Resource Download Center” include nonfiction and fiction bookmarks, genre logs, book recommendations, and reading logs. The bookmarks give students space to write about what they learned, questions for the author, keywords and vocabulary, what they think, and engaging language.
In Unit 1, during a five-day project-based inquiry lesson, students research improvement to a local park or playground and write an opinion letter to the town mayor or park official. For extension, during the introduction, students brainstorm a list of local parks or playgrounds and a feature of each that could be improved. Students read What Makes a Safe Playground? to build background knowledge on playground safety, generate questions they have about park or playground safety, and answer these questions as they conduct research. Students debate which would be the best to improve with reasons to support their opinions.
In Unit 2, during a small group lesson, the teacher conducts a strategy group that reviews how to organize informational text to present the main idea and details. Upon completing the small group lesson, students who demonstrate skills on or above grade level complete an inquiry activity. Students view an infographic showing different ways animals use plants for camouflage. They generate questions about how plants and animals depend on each other and their habitat. Students conduct research on one of the questions they generated.
In Unit 3, students identify precise words that help them see, hear or feel events in an excerpt from the historical fiction text Little House on the Prairie. Students can identify precise words in their independent reading texts during small group time to extend the skill. Materials provide conference prompts for the teacher, such as, “How did these words help bring the events set in the past to life for the reader?”
In Unit 4, students explore elements of drama, including characters and dialogue, in the whole group portion of the Reading Workshop. Materials offer several leveled readers that complement the drama genre, including texts at a higher Lexile. Students performing above grade level can read and discuss My New City, a realistic fiction Level P text. Discussion questions in the teacher’s guide (TE) include a conversation about how authors reveal things about their characters in different ways, including by what they say and do. Students discuss how the author includes details that give the reader additional information about Timmy, the main character.
In Unit 5, the text Earthquakes, Eruptions, and Other Events that Change Earth is a shared reading text to support the skill of explaining how vocabulary words describe events that affect Earth. After a formative assessment, the teacher determines whether students struggle or show understanding. Students who show understanding, on or above level, preview a diagram of the Earth’s layers and a map of Earth’s tectonic plates. Students consider how the two graphic features are related, discuss with a partner and share ideas aloud, and suggest materials used to make a model of Earth’s structure.
In Unit 5, a Quick Check asks if students can identify fables. If students show understanding, they continue to practice these strategies in small groups. An advanced option is available for small group instruction. In this option, titled “Inquiry: Question and Investigate,” students use the lesson launch poem “Lesson From the Forest” to generate questions about natural disasters and then choose one to investigate; students conduct research about the question.
The materials meet the criteria for including support for students who perform below grade-level to ensure they meet grade-level literacy standards. The resources provide opportunities for teachers to plan and students to learn when they demonstrate literacy skills below the grade-level expectation; there are both extensions and differentiation assessments and activities.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, materials state, “While working on the same skills as other students, you may need to adjust the amount of support and scaffolding based on needs. The goal is to have all students master the grade-level expectations.” Strategies such as modeling, small group, and partner work meet the needs of struggling learners. This resource works with core whole and small group instruction. There are opportunities for teachers to assess student learning through informal assessments and “Quick Checks.” The materials provide teachers with specific look-fors in the Quick Check “Notice and Assess” of the Reading Workshop and allow teachers to diagnose students' needs and determine groupings for daily workshop lessons. Literacy stations allow students to practice strategies and improve skills during small group time. This practice includes fluency, word work, reading for meaning, writing, words to know, and spelling. Each activity has specific options for students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level.
The “Language Awareness Handbook” states that these linguistically accommodated lessons be used during small group time with students that the teacher has determined need additional scaffolded instruction. The handbook has models of scaffolded instruction, strategies, routines, and teacher prompts for both reading and writing workshops. When working with students struggling with a skill, the teacher identifies the related sub-skills they have mastered and builds from there. The suggested sequence for an intervention lesson includes introducing the skill and explaining how mastering it helps students to become better readers and writers, modeling and teaching a strategy for approaching the skill, providing supportive prompts when guiding practice, providing anchor charts that clearly lay out the steps as well as adding visuals to the chart and highlighting keywords, having students practice the strategy on texts they can read, and finally working with students to add the strategies to a strategy journal. This resource includes scaffolded writing. The lessons include introducing the type of writing and understanding its purpose, providing model and practice opportunities for each step of the writing process, and using graphic organizers to organize the writers’ ideas. Within each area of writing, the prompts refer to either “If students need additional support…” or “If students show understanding….” Sidebars in the materials refer teachers back to the bank of mini-lessons for writing. Teachers use observations, conference notes, student work samples, informal progress checks, and formal assessments to determine if students’ literacy skills are below that expected at grade level. The “Small Group Guide” includes a section addressing modifications for students who need intervention.
In Unit 1, teachers use the Quick Check to assess whether students can determine how the setting influences the plot. If students struggle, the teacher revisits instruction about analyzing plot and setting in small groups. Using the “myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide,” the teacher guides students to identify elements of a story, describe how the parts of a story build on each other in a sequence, and explain the influence of setting on a plot.
In Unit 2, a Quick Check directs teachers to Notice and Assess: “Can students effectively recognize the structures of informational texts?” If students struggle, the teacher should revisit the information in a small group lesson that lists text features and directs teachers to explain their purpose in understanding the texts. Students look for characteristics of informational text in the “Student Interactive Weekly Opener.”
In Unit 3, materials state in the Notice and Assess section that if students struggle with the task, teachers should revisit instruction for comparing and contrasting in small group. An “Intervention Activity: Compare and Contrast Texts” directs teachers to use Lesson 42 in the myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide to reteach and reinforce by comparing two shorter, easier texts in more specific and gradual steps. It includes an assessment at the end of the intervention lesson, and a new text is utilized. Sidebar supports include vocabulary support and reminders for teachers. Each independent practice includes a monitor progress portion that supplies a specific script for teachers of what to say (and do) if students are having difficulty. The intervention lesson breaks down for students how to methodically compare and contrast texts. While the intervention lesson texts’ genre is not the same as the whole group lesson texts, the same method could be applied to any genre.
In Unit 4, as a Quick Check, students explain how vocabulary words relate to the biography. If students struggle, the teacher revisits instruction for developing vocabulary through a small group lesson. Using the “myFocus Reader,” students use the text A First Lady Moves On to recognize academic vocabulary words such as generation, familiar, and advice.
In Unit 5, a Quick Check directs teachers to notice and assess, “Can students identify point of view in historical fiction?” If students struggle, the teacher should revisit the information in a small group lesson that restates historical fiction elements and refers students to the whole class anchor chart. The Intervention Activity is from a separate resource guide that provides two brief historical fiction passages and directs students to look for specific aspects of historical fiction as they read. The guide also includes discussion questions for the teacher and additional support activities. For example, the guide says, “IF...students have difficulty describing the development of plot, THEN...have them fill in a brief plot outline with the entries Beginning, Middle, Ending.”
The materials meet the criteria for including support for English Learners (EL) to meet grade-level expectations. There are clearly communicated, sequenced, and scaffold accommodations for linguistics commensurate with all English proficiency levels defined by the ELPS. The resources include adapted text, native language support, cognates, summaries, and pictures. Materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to develop their English: linguistically, affectively, cognitively, and academically. Vocabulary is developed through connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, materials provide all students, including those who read, write, speak or listen in a language other than English, with opportunities to work with grade-level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards. The bulk of supports are tailored for teachers rather than ELs. The materials contain “ELL Observational Assessment Checklists'' for reading, writing, listening, and speaking within the assessment guide. There are differentiated supports for every EL level: beginner, intermediate, advanced, advanced high. Scaffolds are included, such as adapted text, cognates, summaries, graphic organizers, sentence frames, connecting or providing background knowledge, gestures, and using strategic talking partners. However, leveraging students’ first language is usually limited to identifying cognates. Only Spanish cognates are mentioned within the units; there are no supports specifically tailored for ELs such as translations, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, or thesauri. Photos or drawings are not in hard copy, but digital resources are available. There are sidebars for “ELL Targeted Support” in every literacy block phase, and there are the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS). The materials include a “Guide to the ELPS” chart that supports each ELPS with tips to clarify the standard, suggested examples of the standard, sentence frames for student understanding, and suggested activities for teaching the standard. The “Language Awareness Handbook” is a supplemental resource that includes scaffolded strategies, routines, sentence frames, and lessons to help ELs. The “Linguistic Contrastive Analysis Chart” identifies common errors made between the student’s native language and English. There are lessons for ELs to support the mini-lessons, small group strategy lessons, shared reading opportunities, reading and writing workshop bridges, writers workshop conferences, and project-based inquiry. Vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse tied to texts included for whole group, small group, and partner readings.
In Unit 1, the teacher conducts a small group strategy lesson on analyzing text features. To support ELs at the beginning level, students write short, simple sentences that summarize what they learned from a passage of a text and a related text feature. The following sentence frame is provided to support students: “I learned about __.” Students at the intermediate level select a photo and summarize how the photo supports the text. To support students at the advanced level, students work with a partner to identify examples of subtitles and bolding in the Living in Deserts text and discuss what they can learn from each. At the advanced high level, students make a list of the text features on the first two pages of the text and use their own words to describe something they can learn from each feature.
In Unit 2, the materials spend a week explaining the features of biographies. As the teacher reviews the unit’s essential question, “How do communities change over time?” and the question of the week, “How can personal stories change society?”, the class reads an interactive passage about Sojourner Truth. The EL targeted support focuses on using visuals and understanding of keywords. Beginning ELs make a character web of Sojourner Truth, and intermediate ELs complete fill-in-the-blank sentences using the vocabulary words. Advanced/advanced-high ELs write a sentence about one of the vocabulary words related to Sojourner Truth, trade sentences with a partner, then identify the keywords in each other sentences. Before participating in the whole class read-aloud, a whole class vocabulary lesson introduces the following words: slavery, abolitionist, violence, equality, influential. A sidebar for EL-targeted support focuses on making connections between words to learn new vocabulary. Beginning/intermediate ELs use the Sojourner Truth passage and circle the following keywords: freedom, slave, and speech. The teacher helps students make connections between them and the lesson vocabulary. Advanced/advanced-high ELs identify words and phrases from the Sojourner Truth passage to find words and phrases related to the five main words in the whole class vocabulary lesson. Students write sentences with the words chosen from the passage, share their sentences, and explain connections to a partner. To support ELs during the whole class shared read of From Frederick Douglass, the materials include another sidebar to support background knowledge. This sidebar directs teachers to display images of independence celebrations such as fireworks and parades. It is not clear if images are provided within the materials to support this part of the lesson.
In Unit 4, when students begin to study the biography genre, the EL language transfer callout points out Spanish cognates related to biography, such as author/autor, person/persona information/información, and sequence/sequencia.
In Unit 5, students write poetry. There is conference support for ELs for each proficiency level, and the support includes teach rhyming words that follow a basic phonics pattern for beginner ELs, display familiar words and have students provide a rhyming word for intermediate ELs, present the first line of a poem and have students write a second line that rhymes for advanced ELs, and give students a pair of rhyming words and have them create a poem for advanced high ELs. The EL mini-lesson support in this unit gives the option to focus on reading poetry or talking about poetry. Each option includes activities for each proficiency level, along with additional writing support found in the Language Awareness Handbook.
The materials meet the criteria for including assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress, including interpreting and acting on the data. Formative and summative assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. There is sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance, and assessments are connected to the regular content to support learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
For all units, the formative and summative assessments, available in both print and digital form, include a baseline diagnostic test, unit tests, middle-of-the-year (Units 1–3) and end-of-year tests (Units 1–5), weekly standards practice, and progress check-ups. In grade 3, the skills and standards addressed are comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary. The assessments and scoring information provide guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance and help teachers inform the whole group and small group instruction. A 192-page “Assessment Guide” explains the program’s assessment philosophy, best practices, and descriptions and locations of all the assessments in the program. It covers topics such as how teachers can use assessment and data to inform instruction, data-based decision making, how to use all kinds of assessments to drive instruction, when to use each type of assessment, how to facilitate ongoing assessment using the myView classroom, and how to assess student writing in a writer’s workshop format. The baseline test helps teachers determine each student's starting profile to guide and inform instruction; the accompanying item analysis chart displays each question’s focus or skill, the depth of knowledge (DOK) level, and the aligned TEKS. There are suggestions for instruction based on students’ overall scores on the test. There is fluency support based on miscue types. A “TEKS Practice Assessment” mirrors the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test format, and selections and questions in the unit tests become progressively more difficult from Unit 1 to Unit 5 to reflect the increasing sophistication of materials. The unit tests monitor progress on skills and standards taught within a unit and typically focus on comprehension, conventions, word study, and writing. These assessments include clear purpose, intended use, and the emphasized TEKS and literacy goals, and they connect to the regular content to support student learning. Each unit test includes thirty questions, consisting of ten comprehension questions paired with two to three passages, ten word study items, ten convention items, and a writing assignment. Progress check-ups are formative assessments that provide the teacher with information each week about their students’ ability to use the skills and standards taught in class. Other formative assessments happen during lessons that are used to inform instruction, including turn-and-talk opportunities, “Quick Checks” during reading workshop mini-lessons, checks for understanding within the student interactive, individual conferences during reading and writing workshops, and “my turn” opportunities after mini-lessons for word study and spelling. Within the reading workshop, the Quick Check formative assessment provides teachers with an ‘if/then” response to student data with two options. For one of the options, the materials describe what the teacher looks for and the next steps to do if students struggle or if students show understanding; this description helps to assess, differentiate, and determine small group instruction using choices from the “Teacher-Led Options.” All modes of assessment are to be used comprehensively: “Combined, your observations, running records, inventories, small-group conferences, surveys, student self-assessments, and ‘Weekly Progress Check-Ups’ results will help to inform your understanding of where your students are and how they are progressing.” During Week 6 of each unit, materials provide a project-based inquiry project related to the unit theme. This assessment encompasses several TEKS skills, such as comparing across texts, inquiry, and research; listening and speaking; and reading and writing.
In the Unit 1 assessment, one question aligned to TEKS 3.10.D analyzing descriptive language asks, “Which descriptive detail reveals a danger in Mr. Han’s yard?” Two questions relate to analyzing characters and align with TEKS 3.8.B. If a student misses both of these questions, the teacher understands the skill that needs to be retaught, the aligned TEKS for that skill, and they use lesson 28 from the myFocus remediation opportunities. Students study features of myths. In pairs, students describe the characters and plot of a well-known origin myth they have read and explain how they could tell that they were reading an origin myth. To formatively assess whether students recognize common features of myths, materials provide teachers a response pathway to the skill. Materials state that if students struggle, teachers are to “review instruction about myths in Small Group on pp...” and if students show understanding, teachers can “have them continue practicing the strategies for reading myths using the Independent Reading and Literacy Activities in Small Group on pp....”
In the Unit 3 assessment, one question aligned to TEKS 3.8.C analyze plot and setting asks, “What can the reader conclude about how William and his parents feel about King Richard riding through town?” On a weekly assessment, four of the multiple-choice questions ask students to find a synonym for an underlined word in a given sentence. Two multiple-choice questions ask students to select a definition for a word based on how it is used in a sentence. Four more questions give students a bolded word with a prefix and ask them to select the correct meaning of the word. One question asks students to select the word that has the same prefix as a given word. The last five questions connect to a short passage. There are three multiple-choice comprehension questions, one short answer about the plot, and one longer response asking students to write a short historical fiction piece. These questions are all directly related to TEKS and to lessons from the materials throughout that week. The writing assignment is “William, from ‘William Meets Richard the Lionhearted,’ dreamed of traveling. Write a historical fiction story about a young person who dreams of being an explorer. Include details that show your story takes place in the past. Write your story on a separate sheet of paper.”
The materials meet the criteria for including year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify students’ needs and provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners for grade-level success. Materials provide an overarching year-long plan to engage students in multiple groupings. Plans are explicit for on-level students. There are additional options for students who perform above or below grade level. However, there do not appear to be entry or exit points for individual differentiation needs. Teacher edition materials include annotations and supports for engaging students and implementing ancillary and resource materials that support student learning and teacher direction. There are no specific plans to differentiate for students that are below or above grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program has an overarching yearlong plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping structures with the provided instructional model and daily plans found at the beginning of the teacher’s edition (TE) and in the “Program Overview.” The TE has multiple sidebars with differentiated support for teachers as well as information and support found within ancillary materials. The TE and “Small Group Guide” also include annotations and support for student learning and engagement and assistance for teachers in implementing ancillary/resource materials and student progress components, including reference to lessons or page numbers in the handbooks. There are multiple grouping strategies for teachers to implement flexible groupings, such as whole group, small group, partner work, individual work, and turn and talk opportunities. The overall plan describes learning for a typical on-level student and is not differentiated for various student needs. Most differentiated instruction occurs in small groups, with intense small group time for remedial students and independent reading or worksheets for advanced students, with no specific guidance for differentiated pacing and timing.
The “Getting Started with myView” component provides teachers with a detailed scope and sequence, a TEKS correlation, and a table of contents. These documents clearly show how the materials build student knowledge throughout the year while connecting to content that has been previously learned in the current and previous grade levels. These materials do not include a year-long plan for grouping, but they do include a variety of grouping strategies within different components. Students frequently engage in turn and talk opportunities during the unit introduction, when interacting with genre sources, during formative assessment opportunities based on reading strategies, and during reading conferences.
While there is not a year-long plan of instruction, the materials include both a “Unit of Study” plan and a “Unit Overview,” which lists the main title for the shared read and learning goal, titles, social-emotional learning goals, daily goals, and a summary of the Week 6 inquiry and research project. The “Skills Overview” page lists the skills and TEKS in the lesson bank for each phase of the workshop blocks and in the Week 6 project. The “Workshop Overview” page lists observable behaviors, in the form of question stems, for each part of the literacy block. These help teachers guide their “observations of students' literacy behaviors and to identify responsive teaching points out the unit.” The final page in the unit overview lists titles and levels in the leveled readers library and directs teachers to use the “Leveled Reader Teacher’s Guide” or the “Small Group Guide” for support to incorporate reading into small group time.
The reading block’s daily plan includes beginning with whole group instruction to focus on word work, genre, theme, comprehension, and time to reflect and share. Following the whole-group lesson is small group, independent, collaborative action time, all of which support differentiation. Small-group can be used for guided reading, strategy groups, intervention, on-level and advanced activities, EL targeted support, conferring, and fluency. Students participate in partner reading, independent reading, “book club,” literacy activities, or word work during the student independent and collaborative action time. The reading workshop ends in a whole group with an opportunity for a “share back.” Students share their observations or reflections from their small group, independent work time, or collaborative time.
The teacher forms a strategy group based on the support needed for a specific skill. Materials state, “Strategies are actions or steps used to help readers and writers accomplish a skill or task; instructions for these strategies are explicit and focused.” In an on-level small group, the teacher works with students to teach strategies or guide the practice of skills introduced during mini-lessons. With intervention groups, the teacher works with students struggling with a skill. Materials support teachers by identifying related subskills students have mastered to build from that point; these activities are tiered, specific, and scripted. For advanced groups, materials state, “Rather than focusing on more advanced skills, [enrichment groups] help students become masters of the skills using a variety of more complex texts.” For English Learner (EL) groups, teachers are to “focus attention on individual language strengths and make modifications as needed.” Lessons provide support for students in each stage of EL proficiency.
During the writing workshop block, the daily plan includes beginning with whole group instruction using mini-lessons. Following the whole group lesson, students engage in independent writing and individual conferring, allowing the teacher opportunities to differentiate instruction. The writing workshop ends with “share back.” Students share their observations or reflections from their small group, independent work time, or collaborative time.
The materials meet the criteria for including implementation support for teachers and administrators. A TEKS-aligned scope and sequence shows the essential knowledge and skills taught, the order they are taught, and how they build and connect across grade levels. Materials include additional support to aid teachers in the implementation of the materials. The program provides enough lessons for 180 or 220 days and allows for flexibility. Pacing includes directions to guide teachers in how to pace the lessons, including pacing of remediation, extensions, or deletion of lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This program contains five units with six weeks of instruction in each unit and a five-day lesson each week for 150 days worth of lessons. The first five weeks are spent on literacy instruction, with the sixth week as a research and inquiry week. The “Baseline Test,” unit tests, Middle-of-Year, End-of-Year, TEKS Practice tests add another nine days for these assessments, totaling 159 days, allowing for some flexibility for the weekly progress check-ups, remediation after assessments, and STAAR preparation. The provided mini-lesson banks for each workshop contain lessons that can extend days of instruction from 180 to 220. Through “Realize,” administrators can customize and differentiate their dashboard, focusing on teacher support. Among other things, these options allow educators to view standards mastery and usage across the classroom, create teacher PD and training plans, and streamline school data analysis.
The materials have no realistic pacing guidance. The combined time for the reading and writing workshop ranges from 70–105 minutes daily. This time does not include the “Reading-Writing Bridge” lessons, as no time suggestions were provided. The Bridge consists of one lesson per week for “Academic Vocabulary,” “Read Like a Writer,” and “Write for a Reader,” and five lessons per week for “Word Study,” “Spelling,” and “Language and Conventions.” The time allotted for each component is unrealistic; students and teachers need more time to complete the lessons in their entirety. Materials state a “flexible option” next to some bridge lessons, but no guidance is given for which lessons are mandatory or optional. Likewise, in the “Unit Skills Overview,” all listed reading and writing mini-lessons are labeled in the “Minilesson Bank”; no guidance is given for which lessons are mandatory or optional. The lessons have time recommendations for each component which are often longer than most districts provide. Suggested breakdowns for each component of the literacy block, totaling 120 minutes for the reading and writing workshop block, include Reading mini-lesson or shared reading: 10–20 minutes, Reading workshop bridge: 5–10 minutes, Small group/Independent reading: 20–30 minutes, Writing mini-lesson: 5–10 minutes, Independent writing: 30–40 minutes, and Writing workshop bridge: 5–10 minutes.
The materials meet the criteria for including print and digital visual design that is neither distracting nor chaotic. There is an appropriate use of white space and design that does not divert students’ attention; the pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without distraction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, pictures and graphics are easily identifiable by students and supportive of student learning. The teacher’s edition is user-friendly, and sidebars and callout boxes for think-alouds, discussion prompts, and small group support are consistently in the same place. Tables, charts, and other graphic organizers in the workbook are clear, concise, purposeful, not distracting, and large enough for students to label or write in. The interactive student workbook includes all whole group/shared read texts with ample sidebar and line space for students to annotate. All texts include either illustrations or photographs. Images on the pages align to the instruction and are typically those within the shared reading texts. There are anchor chart examples for genre information, which are clearly designed and supportive for student learning. There are cartoon figures throughout the student materials, as well as icons and common phrases that denote a routine, such as “Turn and Talk” or “My Turn.” Some handouts in the “Resource Download Center” consist of practice for the components of “Language and Convention,” “Word Study,” and “Spelling.” All of these handouts begin with notes or definitions at the top of the page, then a My Turn section where students complete practice on the lines, space, or table. Digital components of the student interactive mirror the print version, so white space and graphics have the same productivity. There is a drop-down menu for each week; therefore, students can toggle back and forth between the components of reading, reading and writing bridge, and writing workshop. The student edition flipbook allows students to turn a page, as in a traditional hardcopy book. The digital edition in the “Realize Reader” presents the shared read as a continuous scroll with a nearly two-inch header at the top; depending on the device’s size, a student may struggle to scroll through the correct place as they read.
In Unit 1, there is an anchor chart on traditional tales. The anchor chart includes the purpose of the genre (to entertain, explain, or teach a lesson), the different types of traditional tales (folktales, fables, fairy tales, legends, myths), and a brief description of each. The selection Why the Sky Is Far Away uses colorful illustrations framed by a black border that stand out and are visually appealing.
In Unit 2, an anchor chart on “Informational Text Structures” defines the different text structures and shows a symbol for each one. The text structures have a description, shown with a light bulb. There is a sequence with a clock, cause and effect with arrows, problem and solution with a question mark, and compare and contrast using the plus and minus symbols. Patterns in Nature utilizes photographs of natural elements including animals, plants, rainbows, and snowflakes framed in solid color borders and individual items in nature arranged in patterns for students to identify.
In Unit 3, an anchor chart describes the elements of setting, plot, and characters for historical fiction. An excerpt from Little House on the Prairie has watercolor illustrations with dull shades of brown, blue, green, yellow, red, and orange.
In Unit 4, there is an anchor chart for the “Elements of Biography.” The term biography is defined, and a description is given in a table for narrative element, story structure, point of view, and theme for the biography genre; an excerpt from the biography Milton Hershey shows both black and white and color photographs.
In Unit 5, an anchor chart on informational text shows the different text structures and the signal words to help identify the structure. The selection Deep Down and Other Extreme Places to Live shows photographs of extreme places, along with the groups of people that live in these areas. Photographs include the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls, the Arctic Circle, and the Danakil Depression, one of Earth’s hottest spots.
The materials include technology components that are grade-level appropriate and support learning. The supports enhance learning, and there is appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This program incorporates technology for students that enhances student learning. The digital “Student Interactive” includes all mentor texts and student activities, which are easy to navigate, complete, and submit to the teacher. Students annotate texts digitally. Assessments are available for students to complete digitally and are easy to navigate. Question prompts and directions are in logical places. A “Notebook” button allows students to type questions, thoughts, ideas, and responses. Some pages, such as the unit opener, include a clickable response option for ranking progress toward learning goals. The Student Interactive also includes unit-launch video shorts students can view, pause, and repeat. Each page also includes an audio feature that provides an audio reading of the text on the page; this feature is on student activity pages as well as mentor text readings. The videos relate to the essential question and are engaging in vocabulary activities. Students fill in a digital reading log and engage in all components and activities related to the reading workshop, writing workshop, and reading and writing workshop bridge. The materials include a “Student Interactive Flipbook”; it is identical to the physical copy of the student edition and includes various features that enhance student learning such as a search function, full text, brush tool, bookmark sticky notes, and the ability to project. The search function allows users to search for a word or phrase, with results yielding all page numbers where the word or phrase is found. Only the text on the page is shown on a white background with all images and colors removed when the full-text feature is enabled. The leveled readers are available online, and many include a video to build background knowledge and a list of important vocabulary words. All text can be read from the screen, or the student can push a play button to have the words read to them; there is a separate button to turn the left or right page of the book. The materials include teacher guidance with the “Digital Walkthrough” document for the online platform found in the “Getting Started with myView” section of the online resources. In this document, there are step-by-step directions on how to assign content and activities to students.