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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 %
ELPS Teacher %
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 Supports
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials provide a wide range of high-quality and diverse texts that contain content from a variety of experts in various disciplines. The texts include a wide range of student interests.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout each unit, materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts. The materials include diverse multicultural storytelling. Topics range across many areas of interest to grade 4 students, such as trickster tales, natural disasters, starting a business, friendship, the wonders of space, and more. Leveled readers add to the variety of topics, creating rich and diverse content for students to read throughout the year.
Units 1 and 2 have complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts. The stories vary in genre, such as argumentative, realistic fiction, biography, fantasy, fables, historical fiction, etc. The following are examples of some stories:
In Unit 3, students read the realistic fiction story Aguinaldo, by children’s author Lulu Delacre. Delacre sets the story in her home country of Puerto Rico and tells about the relatable experience of a fifth-grade girl on a school field trip to a nursing home. The text contains rich characterization and vocabulary and juxtaposes the fun of a field trip against a fear common to children: being intimidated by interacting with older people. The culture and Spanish language vocabulary of Puerto Rico that is incorporated in the text gives students an opportunity for a greater understanding of various cultures.
The Moon Over Star by published children’s author Dianna Hutts Aston, tells the story of the 1969 moon landing from the perspective of Mae, a young African-American girl. The text from Unit 4 addresses many issues and provides many angles for study as Mae convinces her reluctant grandfather, who is a farmer, to watch the moon landing. The illustrations and text highlight the contrast between a rural family and NASA astronauts while also emphasizing that all people are connected as part of humankind. While this story focuses on Mae and her interpersonal relationships, it is more complex than the earlier text Aguinaldo because it is historical fiction and based on real events.
In Unit 6, Energy Island: How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed the World by Allan Drummond presents a well-written narrative nonfiction text that relates how a diversity of people on a Danish Island named Samso become energy-independent. After Samso is chosen as the ideal place to stop using nonrenewable energy, a teacher named Soren Hermansen takes on the task of urging community members to develop ways of using renewable energy on Samso. Since the island was in an extremely windy location, the community decided on using wind energy as a form of renewable energy. Although many community members remain skeptical, experiencing a power outage caused by a storm reminds them that energy independence is possible for them. Coupled with informative sidebars that include scientific concepts such as “Renewable Energy,” “The Problem with Nonrenewable Energy,” and “Global Warming,” the author retells the journey of the Samso community toward energy independence. Narratives such as these convey the message that anything is possible when communities join together. Also, students are left with the feeling that problem-solving can both solve small obstacles and larger issues.
The materials include stories that span all grade-level specified TEKS and include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse literary texts. For instance, they include children’s literature, poems, drama, folktales, fables, fairy tales, legends, myths, informational texts, and argumentative texts. The materials include text and graphic features to help the reader better understand the stories they are reading. They include captions, subheadings, and bold print to photographs, illustrations, timelines, and graphs. These visual features stand out against the rest of the text on the page, which grabs the reader's attention and helps them better understand the stories. Argumentative texts contain claims, identify an audience, and distinguish fact from opinion. Digital and multimodal texts provided in the digital student edition and Build Knowledge videos include visuals, video, and audio.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The text types in the materials include those outlined in the TEKS for specific grades. Some texts overlap multiple genres or subgenres to fulfill these requirements.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 2, Spiders by Nic Bishop provides a colorful and informative text comparing and contrasting the physical characteristics and habits of various spiders. Each page features a close-up photo of each type of spider along with a caption that illustrates interesting characteristics of each insect. Additionally, the author includes bolded science vocabulary throughout the text.
In Unit 3, Partaking in Public Service, no author listed, (expository) includes color photos of various young people who have taken action and organized others to make a difference in their communities. A bar graph depicts the top four volunteer activities for kids.
In Unit 6, Native Americans: Yesterday and Today, the author compares the lives of Native Americans in the past to the present. Each section of the text is divided by subheadings about Native American groups in the south, north, east, and west. The student observes color photos of Native Americans in the past and present, and captions provide a brief description of each photo. A map of the United States indicates where Native American tribes were relocated in the mid-1800s. The text also contains sidebars prompting students to compare texts and includes bolded and highlighted words such as ancestors and honor.
The materials provide a Text Complexity Tool Analysis for Interactive Read-Alouds, Shared Reads, and Anchor Texts. This document assigns a grade level to the passages and breaks down the genre. It also provides qualitative and quantitative information as well as reader and task considerations for each text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Analyzed texts in grade 4 range from 610L to 970L, with most falling in the 800‒900 range. This range of lexiles falls mostly in the proficient range for grade 4, with some titles below and above this range. Most titles contain meaning, purpose, structure, language, and knowledge demands that are listed as “Moderately Complex," “Somewhat Complex," “Slightly Complex,” and “Exceedingly Complex.” Teachers can use information about reader and text considerations to plan for their students’ needs. Although students continue to encounter Slightly Complex and Somewhat Complex texts throughout the grade level, rigor increases somewhat over the year as more texts with Moderately Complex and Exceedingly Complex texts are toward the end of the materials. While references to research and evidence-based best practices are not directly linked in the analysis tool, many research white papers related to text complexity issues are included.
In Unit 1, there is the Interactive Read-Aloud Titled Avalanche!. This piece has no author listed with a Lexile level of 860L. The genre is expository. Qualitative features meaning and purpose is listed as Slightly Complex because the passage provides a clear description of what causes an avalanche and its dangers. The structure is considered Slightly Complex since the information is well organized under headings with details that relate to the central idea. The language is Slightly Complex; the vocabulary is not complex, but students may not be familiar with vocabulary used in the passage such as triggered and beacon. The knowledge demands are Moderately Complex, because some students may not have experienced snow or know about the dangers associated with it. Reader and task consideration is that students will need to understand that different natural disasters occur in different regions.
In Unit 3, the title Nelson Mandela: Working for Freedom balances a text at 950L with Slightly Complex and Moderately Complex quantitative features. The biography’s theme of Mandela's courage and leadership is clearly stated. The Slightly Complex structure of the biography follows a chronological sequence that is easy to follow using provided subheadings. Vocabulary is Slightly Complex. Some sentences begin with prepositional phrases that include dates, which helps students follow the sequence of events. Reader and task information includes the considerations that students may not have any background knowledge about the discrimination black South Africans faced during apartheid, but they will build content knowledge about world leaders who fought for equal rights and freedom as they read.
In Unit 4, an Interactive Read-Aloud titled Good-bye Icebox! is a historical fiction text with a Lexile level of 660L. Although it is listed as a grade 5 level, the passage is listed as Slightly Complex because the central idea is clear and revealed early in the text. The text structure is listed as Slightly Complex because the story includes references to items from the past. The narration is in the third person. It includes dialogue and interior thoughts. Language is Moderately Complex, and vocabulary is Somewhat Complex. The piece includes vocabulary such as icebox, compressor, refrigerator, and chrome. The passage includes some idiomatic language such as “real beauty." Knowledge demands are Moderately Complex because the theme is clear, but the setting will be unfamiliar to students who might not understand the modernization of refrigeration. Therefore the Reader Consideration focuses on the need for background knowledge about iceboxes to help facilitate understanding of the passage.
The materials include questions and tasks that students complete to make connections to other texts, themselves, and other disciplines. Students support their answers and ideas with support from their reading. The questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge and require text-specific references and integrate multiple TEKS.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The questions and tasks provide students with the opportunity to identify and connect big ideas. For example, in nonfiction text lessons, students identify main ideas to expand conceptual knowledge in individual texts and across texts. In fiction text lessons, students identify themes within the individual text and from text to text. Students engage in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking through discussion and through completing graphic organizers. Questions and tasks also ask students to look at references in the text.
In Unit 2, during a lesson on Author’s Craft: text features, Spiders, students recognize characteristics and structures of informational text, including the central idea with supporting evidence (4.9.D.i). Students answer the following questions: “How does the photo support the text on page 92?” (The text tells me that spiders have two main parts and that they have two short arms. The photo illustrates the two parts of the spider’s body and the two short arms). After rereading the caption on page 92 that explains the camouflaging properties of a green lynx spider as it stalks its prey, students answer the question, What information do you learn about spiders from the caption that is not in the main text? (The green lynx spider uses camouflage to help it hide while it waits to capture prey.) During this lesson cycle, in the section “Author’s craft: Text Features,” the student rereads the text and answers, “How do the text features help you understand orb-web spiders?” Students use a chart to indicate text evidence and what they visualize. Using sentence starters to answer the question, students finish the sentence, “The author helps me visualize how a spider eats its prey by...” The teacher emphasizes that the photo illustrates what an orb spider and web look like. Additionally, the caption describes how they are able to walk on their webs without hindrance.
In Unit 3, during a Shared Read lesson, teachers use the expository text Judy’s Appalachia. The lesson covers multiple TEKS and targets complex elements of text, such as annotating, discuss specific ideas in the text that are important to the meaning, and explain how the use of structure contributes to the author’s purpose. Before reading, teachers display a map to show Appalachia and set a purpose for reading. Students annotate in the left column, noting questions, interesting words, and key details. Teachers stop at various points to both model and ask text-dependent questions during the initial reading of the text. Students answer questions such as “What words does the author use to describe what the coal mining companies are doing to Judy’s home?” “Have students find examples in the text of how Marfork was special to Judy.” “Check students’ understanding of mining. Direct them to the first paragraph. Ask: How does the first paragraph set up the cause of the problem and how it affected Judy?” “How does the author use a cause-and-effect text structure to organize the information?” Students use space in their Student Editions of the text to focus on specific aspects of the texts and questions. They work through tasks and questions as they continue reading, underlining the detail that tells what Judy’s grandson found in a creek, then answering the question “How does the author describe that day as a turning point for Judy Bonds?” Students circle details in paragraph 2 that tell why coal mining is important to the people of Marfork and then draw a box around why Marfork is important to Judy.
In the Small Group Differentiated Instruction On Level lesson for Unit 4, Week 4, students make connections to their own schema and to bigger ideas in order to respond to and explain their responses to questions about the following vocabulary: gleaming, squirmed, scouted, tinkering, such as “What can you see gleaming in a city at night? What have you scouted for in a crowded room? Why would a mouse have squirmed through a hole? Why would a mechanic be tinkering with a car engine?” Students go beyond the context of the literary anthology text and make authentic connections to the world around them in order to apply newly acquired vocabulary.
The materials provide opportunities for students to make inferences and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and to provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Questions and tasks require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. Students develop deep understanding of text and show understanding by participating in discussions as a whole class and partnerships. Professional development assists teachers with effective planning of in-depth studies of characters, the author’s purpose and craft, and themes in complex texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials require students to consistently analyze the literary and textual elements of text through the unit study of a genre in the “Anthology” texts and the “Shared Reading” text lessons. Throughout the materials, student tasks require them to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Students also compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic.
Students analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning (in a single text and across a variety of texts). They also study the language within texts to support their understanding. Students then apply that knowledge by engaging in independent writing experiences. Students analyze the author’s choice of setting and types of conflict. By examining the author’s purpose and author’s choices, students increase comprehension of the text. The author’s choice of language is covered in the “Spotlight on Language” sections.
In Unit 1, students compare the author’s message from different texts: “Helping Others Is Good Business” Blast, “Miller Boy,” “Kids in Business,” and “Starting a Successful Business.” In “Talk About It,” with a partner, students read “Miller Boy.” Students talk with a partner about how the song tells what the Miller boy does to earn money. In “Cite Text Evidence,” students circle clues in the song that help them understand how the Miller boy runs his business. In “Write,” students finish the prompt “The author of the song and this week’s selections want you to know that….” Also in Unit 1, students compare a photograph to texts. Students answer the questions “How does the photographer show how rescue workers respond after a natural disaster? How does it compare to what you read in ‘Masters of Disasters’ Blast, Earthquakes, and ‘Weathering the Storm’?”
In Unit 2, students analyze elements of text through the use of “The Sandpiper,” “The Grasshopper Springs,” and “Fireflies at Dusk.” After students read the poems, they use sentence starters to discuss what each poet discusses. The sentence starters read, “In each poem, the poet uses figurative language to…;” “In ‘The Sandpiper,’ the poet describes…;” “In ‘The Grasshopper Springs,’ and ‘Fireflies at Dusk’ the poet describes….” Additionally, students “Respond to Reading” by writing a short-answer response to the following question: “Describe how the poets use figurative language to show the point of view about each animal or insect.”
In Unit 4, in the Shared Reading lesson, teachers use the historical fiction text A Telephone Mix-Up. Before reading, teachers have students think about the “Essential Question” (“How do inventions and technology affect your life?”) and what they know about how technology changes our lives. Teachers explain that in the past, when dialing a number, people had to go through the operator rather than dialing directly. Teachers provide support with the third-person limited narrator used in the story, pausing to explain how the narrator describes the thoughts of characters through the text. Students annotate in the left column of their copy of the text, noting questions, interesting words, and key details. During the initial reading of the text, the teacher stops at various points to both model and have students answer text-dependent questions. Students answer questions related to the genre, such as “What evidence in the first paragraph tells you this story is set in the past? What is a clue in the last paragraph that helps you confirm that the story’s setting is in the past?” The teachers remind students that familiar words and phrases can have different meanings when they refer to a situation found in literature and history, and that certain words like newfangled are dated. The teachers give students cultural context by explaining Pandora’s Box and asking related questions, such as “Do the words ‘open up a Pandora's box of troubles’ tell about good or bad things?” Students discuss to point out that the text describes that the machine would create troubles or problems.
In Unit 5, students analyze the author’s craft through a Shared Reading of “Your World Close Up.” Students think about the Essential Question and what they know about magnification. The teacher explains that the author uses a sequential text structure in this expository piece. Students preview the text and make predictions. The teacher explains that as students read, they should use the left column of page 2 to note questions they have, interesting words they find, and key details they identify. Students and teachers discuss how the language adds to comprehension. In the Spotlight on Language section, the teacher checks students’ understanding of the term may. The teacher reads the second sentence with the students. Students infer that the phrase “but the word micro means small” gives clues that the crystal is not large but only looks like it. Students determine what other words they can use for may look, and the teacher then guides students on how to paraphrase the sentence.
In Unit 5, in the “Reading Digitally” text “Help in the Box” from Time for Kids, the teacher asks students to examine “Craft and Structure.” Students reread parts of the article, paying attention to text structure and the author’s craft. The teacher and students discuss these questions: “How do the subheads for the different sections help you better understand the text?” “What most surprised you about the ‘By the Numbers’ feature’?” Students also determine the “Author’s Point of View.” Students reread to answer the question “How did one idea make such a large impact?” Students skim the text to find the answer. Partners share what they find.
The materials provide a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. Students learn specific Tier 2, high-value words that they apply across texts and content areas. Teachers instruct students in research-supported vocabulary strategies, such as using Greek and Latin roots or context clues to determine the meaning of unknown words. There are weekly visual supports and multimedia practice opportunities. Students apply words in isolation and in context and use new vocabulary in writing tasks. Scaffolds and supports enable teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. There is a professional development and research rationale.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Teachers read and apply the whitepaper “Academic Vocabulary Study: Embedded, Deep,
and Generative Practices” by Dr. Donald R. Bear, which identifies five principles of vocabulary instruction: 1) it is intertwined with concept development, 2) it is taught in context, 3) it is learned in relation to text and not just via isolated words, 4) it is “deep and generative” in that when students learn new words, they also connect to many related words, and 5) it involves the study of morphology (word structure). Teachers use descriptions of activities such as sorts, set up directions for vocabulary notebooks, and reference further websites and sources.
In the “Placement and Diagnostic Assessment” part of the materials, there is a K–6 vocabulary assessment, “Critchlow Verbal Language Scales.” Students say the opposite of a word given by the teacher from a list of 75 words arranged in order of difficulty. Cut scores are identified from kindergarten to grade 6, so that teachers can determine whether students are working below, at, or above grade level.
Materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts throughout the units. Weekly plans consistently include vocabulary lessons for the core lesson from the “Literature Anthology” and for each level of small group differentiated instruction (“Approaching,” “On,” and “Beyond Level”). Academic vocabulary is taught in context in the “Reading/Writing Companion” sections “Talk About It,” “Introduce the Genre,” “Shared Reading,” “Vocabulary Words in Context,” “Vocabulary Types,” “Grammar,” and “Expand Vocabulary.”
There is scaffolding and support for vocabulary in a “Small Group Differentiated Instruction” lesson (On Level). Teachers review Greek roots with the “Genre Passage” “Food for Thought.” Students then apply their learning: “Read the second paragraph on page O1. Which word has a Greek root? (photosynthesis) What does the Greek root photo mean? (light) How can we determine the meaning of the root synthesis? (Using context clues, I see that different elements are required for plants to make food; synthesis may mean a combination of many things: the light, carbon dioxide, and water to make food.)” Additionally, teachers have students write sentences in their “Writer’s Notebooks,” using current vocabulary to provide word information they learned from recent readings. There are sentence stems for students who need extra support.
In Unit 3, in the Literature Anthology text “A New Kind of Corn” (from Time for Kids), there are highlighted and bolded academic vocabulary words: characteristics, inherit, concern, agriculture, advancements. Teachers review strategies for finding the meaning of unfamiliar words, such as using context clues, word parts, or a dictionary: “Point out the word resistance in the third paragraph on page 223. Which clues in the paragraphs around the word resistance can help you figure out its meaning? (pesticides, herbicides, develop).” As students use context clues and resources to find the meaning of unfamiliar words, they develop their knowledge of the words related to this text as well as their ability to transfer this knowledge and use context clues and resources to find meaning in other texts they read. Students review the words from the selection and apply their knowledge of the specific words in given sentences such as “There have been many advancements in...in the last few years. Teresa has some concerns about the big...next week. One of the characteristics he likes to find in a friend is….” Words for study relate to the specific text of the week and are high-value, Tier 2 vocabulary words that students will encounter across multiple texts and content areas.
In Unit 5, students further apply the strategy of using suffixes to determine the meaning of unknown words in a “Practice Book” activity. Students type “Greek roots” into a reliable search engine and discuss some Greek roots listed. Teachers encourage students to identify examples of familiar Greek root words they have read or know, such as anti- (against) in antibiotics. Students list interesting Greek roots in their Writer’s Notebooks.
Unit 5 includes a vocabulary lesson in the Shared Read section, when students read “The Founding of Jamestown.” For a “Spotlight on Language,” the teacher guides students to understand the proverb “ignorance is bliss.” The class discusses the meaning of the words ignorance and bliss. The teacher restates the proverb, and the class discusses why the author uses the proverb to talk about the people in Jamestown. The teacher asks: “What did the settlers have ignorance about? Why does the author mention the proverb?” Materials provide possible student answers.
The materials provide procedures and routines to support teachers and students in independent reading. Independent reading happens daily for an appropriate amount of time. Along with the various resources, the materials provide suggestions to maximize student choice and engagement. Students are held accountable for independent reading via teacher conferences, reader response forms, writing journals, products, and activities.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Instructional Routines Handbook provides teachers with an Independent Reading Routine:
“1. Students select a book that interests them, using the Five Finger Rule or Additional Strategies to determine if it is appropriate for them.
2. Students read the book each day during Independent Reading time.
3. Students annotate their reading using Thinking Codes or their writer’s notebooks.
4. Students record what they’ve read at the end of each Independent Reading session on their Reading Logs or in some other way using Additional Strategies if needed.
5. Students share their opinion of the book by telling a friend, writing a review, or making a poster or some other product.
6. Students begin the process again with a new book.”
The materials articulate foundational practices for independent reading that align with research, which is cited. Students “read texts on their independent reading level, read more complex selections about topics that interest them or reread familiar texts or previously scaffolded texts.” Students choose from many resources, including but not limited to independent reading selections in the Literature Anthology, differentiated Genre Passages, Classroom Library trade books, and Leveled Readers.
The materials define what classroom practices should look like: “During independent reading time, you should see your students previewing books to decide which one to read. They might be reading titles, talking quietly with a partner, or flipping through a book to help them choose. Students should be reading quietly. They might also be participating in collaborative conversations, book talks, or literary circles; responding to what they read, or looking for another book.”
The Instructional Routines Handbook provides teachers with grade-level specific daily time allowances for independent reading and accountability practices. Students in grades 3‒6 read for 30‒40 minutes daily. Students record what they read via a Reading Log or through additional strategies such as Reader Response forms, sharing in literature circles, or conferencing with peers. Teachers confer with students using the Teacher-Student Conference Routine. Students create products and give Book Talks using the Book Talks routine to show accountability. Additional strategies help teachers encourage and differentiate for all readers, such as classroom libraries, individual book boxes, and collaboration with the school librarian on topics of interest.
The materials develop students’ composition skills across various genres. Students have multiple opportunities to write informational texts, literary texts, as well as argumentative texts. Opportunities to address multiple audiences and to practice correspondence writing are also available. Resources are in both printable and digital form, and writing resources span the entire year of instruction, helping to build students’ stamina and skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a Writer’s Notebook section with teacher and student resources that are both in print (hard copy) and digital form. The materials cover the entire year of instruction (Units 1‒6) and cover multiple text types. Each unit focuses on 1‒2 different writing styles and provides instruction, resources, and teacher support materials for each part of the writing process. In Unit 1, students write personal narratives and persuasive essays. In Unit 2, students write expository essays and poetry. In Unit 3, students write expository essays and feature articles. In Unit 4, students write realistic fiction stories and narrative poems. In Unit 5, students write biographies and opinion essays. In Unit 6, students write research reports and narrative poems. Writing exercises are unit-specific and address genres and texts that students are currently reading. The writing genres are TEKS aligned, and the genres build from more personal and concrete to more research-based and abstract writing tasks over the year of instruction.
In Unit 1, Week 1, students identify the elements of a personal narrative. Students begin by identifying a time in their lives that was important. Students generate ideas about a time they tried to do something difficult. The teacher guides students to think about their purpose and think about the audience. The teacher and students review different text structures, and students complete a graphic organizer. Students write a paragraph using what they feel, see, hear, and touch when they do something hard. Students write a draft that includes sensory details. In Week 3, students revise using a structured set of questions such as Does your personal narrative have a conclusion? Have you included some sensory details? Does the conclusion remind readers of the beginning? Does the conclusion wrap up the narrative and show how the events affected the author’s life? Does the conclusion reflect some of the ideas we shared today to make it stronger?. The teacher asks the questions, and after each question, the students raise their hand and share an example if it applies to them. Teachers remind students to use details that help readers see, hear, smell, taste, and feel what the character experiences and remind students that sensory details come from their senses. Students then edit, proofread, publish, present, and evaluate their personal narratives.
In Unit 1, Week 3, students write business letters requesting information, as specified in the TEKS. Teachers point out the parts of a business letter: heading, date, address, greeting, a body that states the reason for the business letter, a complimentary closing, and signature. Teachers model how to ask for information in a business letter using formal language. Students choose a law from their community and write to an official to ask questions about the law. Students continue the project through the stages of the writing process.
In Unit 3, Week 1, teachers use Lulu Delacre’s Aguinaldo as a mentor text to introduce realistic fiction narrative writing. Teachers create an anchor chart outlining the features of realistic fiction narrative writing (dialogue, sequence, details, plot) and point out that realistic fiction narrative is a form of fictional text that tells a made-up story about characters, settings, and events in a realistic manner. Teachers focus attention on how the author’s purpose informs realistic fiction writing by discussing questions such as “What is the setting at the beginning of the story?” Students analyze the use of dialogue with questions such as “How does the dialogue develop the plot and the main character, Marilia, so that readers want to read more?”
In Unit 3, Genre Study 3, students use digital tools to write an opinion essay, taking their writing through all the stages of the writing process. To plan their essays, students complete a graphic organizer with details leading to their opinion. Students click on resources, such as the video “Outline to Draft,” if they need to review. Students also access a rubric with criteria specific to argumentative writing: “It gives a clear opinion with many pieces of relevant supporting evidence, makes it clear that the writer's purpose is to persuade readers, has a strong introduction and a strong conclusion.” Students copy and paste their work from the previous class sessions onto a new labeled tab as they move through the stages of the writing process. They revise their work using a revising checklist and work with other students in peer conferences. Students use an editing checklist to prepare their work for final publication.
In Unit 5, Week 2, teachers introduce students to the features of an explanatory essay using the Reading/Writing Companion lesson. Students brainstorm with a partner to create a list of objects that would be fun to learn more about. Students choose an object and an audience and use a main idea and details graphic organizer to plan their essays.
The materials include writing tasks requiring students to use details from texts to support answers given. Students analyze and synthesize their own ideas as well as those from mentor texts they read. Students must provide text support for both process writing and shorter-term writing tasks such as constructed response questions. Tasks are scaffolded as the instructional year progresses and grows in complexity over time.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, Week 3, Literature Anthology, students read the story, Experts Incorporated, and they answer the question, “How does she (the author) help you understand how Rodney feels as he struggles and then comes up with an idea.” There are three questions to organize the text evidence: “Sarah Weeks uses dialogue to show…, Rodney and his friends…, This helps me understand …, and She also helps me see that Rodney can….” Students also analyze Experts Incorporated and answer the question, “Does the author do a good job using realistic dialogue between Rodney and his friends?” Students answer the question, “Is it effective?” and cite text evidence in a chart. Students also answer, “How does the author help you understand how Rodney feels as he tries to think of an idea?” Students complete a web with how Rodney feels and cite four pieces of text evidence.
In Unit 1, Week 2, students respond to the prompt, “How does Gary Soto help you see how his dreams helped him become a writer?” Teachers ask students what the prompt is asking them to do and direct students to understand how the author uses description to help the reader understand his purpose for writing. Students look back at the story Gary the Dreamer in the Literature Anthology and consider details such as how Gary uses his imagination to play with watermelon seeds and beans, or how he compares a playground slide to a “big, shiny and slippery spoon.” Students synthesize details from the text as they complete their responses in the Reading/Writing Companion. Teachers remind students to focus on two or three details that illustrate Gary’s strong imagination as they respond to the prompt.
In Unit 4, Week 4, after reading the story The Moon Over Star, students respond to the prompt, “How does the author use a historical event to develop the plot of the story?” Teachers remind students to pay attention to each character’s point of view about the historical event, the moon landing in the text they have read and tell students they may need to infer how characters feel and what they think based on their actions. Teachers ask questions to focus students’ attention on text evidence such as “What does the narrator say Gramps’s point of view about the space program is? What is Mae's point of view about the moon landing? What does the moon landing cause Mae to wonder about her grandfather?” Students use sentence starters to guide their responses. There is teacher guidance to help students identify Mae’s and Gramps’s different points of view about the Space Program. The students should synthesize how the two characters’ distinct points of view drive the plot and cause their relationships to develop.
In Unit 5, Week 1, using the story, Your World Up Close, students answer the question, “Who took the first photomicrographs of snowflakes?” and underline the text evidence to support their answer. In Week 2, after reading “A Drop of Water," students answer the question, “How does the author use photographs to explain complex ideas?” Students complete a chart and write text evidence that supports the photographs. Students also use text evidence to respond to the question, “How does the author help you understand the difference between molecules in liquid water and ice?” In Week 2, students read “The Incredible Shrinking Potion” and cite evidence to answer the question, “How does the author use words and phrases to help you visualize what the classroom looks like to Isabel and Mariela’s point of view?” In Week 5, students read “Rediscovering Our Spanish Beginnings" and answer the question, “What information do the sidebars add to your understanding of past and present Spanish influence?” and complete a web to cite text evidence that supports their answer.
In Unit 6, Week 4, students read the anchor text, The Game of Silence. Teachers ask questions to focus students’ attention on text details: “How does the author use sensory language to describe the game of silence? Do you think the author's use of sensory language is effective?” Students write their opinions using the sentence frame, “I think the author's use of sensory language is/is not effective because….” In writing this response, students must draw upon their understanding of this text and evaluate whether or not an author's technique is effective for the intended purpose, reflecting deeper thought than earlier in the year.
The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. There are opportunities for students to practice and apply conventions of academic language when speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Grammar and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, Week 1, students identify the elements of a personal narrative. Students begin by identifying a time in their lives that was important. In Week 2, students brainstorm ideas about a time they tried to do something difficult. Students select a hardship and write about the experience. In Week 2, students write a draft that includes sensory details. In Week 3, students revise their draft using a structured set of questions. In Week 4, students edit, proofread, publish, present, and evaluate their personal narratives. Then in Week 4, students identify the elements of an opinion essay. Students generate ideas and begin a draft on “Why students should have more or less recess time?” and include facts and evidence. In Week 6, students revise their draft using a set of structured questions. Students edit, publish, present, and evaluate their opinion essays.
In Unit 2, Genre Study 1, students use digital tools to write a compare and contrast essay, taking their writing through all stages of the writing process. To plan their essays, students complete a Venn diagram to show how their topics are alike and how they are different. Students click on resource videos such as “Write For Your Audience,” “Evaluate Sources For Reliability,” or “Purpose of Informative Writing” if they need to review as they plan their purpose and think about the audience. Students use completed Venn diagrams to organize their thoughts as they type drafts. Students copy and paste their work from the previous class sessions onto a new tab as they move through the stages of the writing process. Students revise their work using a Revising Checklist and work with other students in peer conferences. Students use an Editing Checklist to prepare their work for final publication.
In Unit 3, students identify the elements of realistic fiction. In Week 2, students free write ideas on “something that could make someone nervous when doing it for the first time.” Students choose a topic and plan out the sequence of events for their realistic fiction essay. Students write a draft and include dialogue and expression. In Week 3, students revise their draft using a set of structured questions. In Week 4, students edit, publish, present, and evaluate their realistic fiction essay. In Week 5, students identify the elements of an opinion essay. Students generate ideas, plan for how much screen time they believe they should have. Students write a draft of how much screen time they should have and include facts and evidence. In Week 6, students revise using a set of structured questions. Students edit, publish, present, and evaluate their opinion essays.
In Unit 4, Week 5, students practice with pronouns and homophones via an online activity or a standard paper resource from the Practice Book. Online, students complete sentences with the correct homophone (You’re, your) in sentences such as “... science project about volcanoes was really interesting.” On the Practice Book page, students underline the homophone that correctly completes the sentence (such as “Do you think their/they’re/there at the park right now?”).
In Unit 5, Weeks 1‒5, students work on various grammar skills: adjectives, articles, adjectives that compare, comparing with more or not, and comparing with good and bad. Students have practice pages and an online option to practice the skill. There are “Talk About It” activities for small group instruction to scaffold and support learning. In Week 4, “Think About It,” students have an opportunity to practice listening, writing, reading, and speaking skills. In this activity, students reenact a favorite scene from a story the class has read. As students role-play, they use comparative and superlative adjectives. As other students watch, they also listen for the comparative and superlative adjectives. In Week 5, Think About It, students in small groups each write three sentences that use adjectives to describe a historical person or event. Then they combine their sentences into one sentence and read their new sentence aloud.
The materials provide a year-long systematic and explicit program for students to practice cursive handwriting. Teacher guidance includes objectives, lesson activities, and assessments with specific questions to help students evaluate their own handwriting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Handwriting Workbook and Teacher’s Edition are available for all grades 3‒6 students and teachers, respectively. The Handwriting Workbook provides a comprehensive program for students to learn cursive. The Handwriting Workbook contains 70 lessons. There are six units in The Handwriting Workbook and Teacher’s Edition and provide ample practice for the school year. Students start in Unit 1 with a review of print by writing upper and lower case letters. Students categorize letters by shape and review rules for spacing, punctuation, and writing numerals and sentences. Students practice correct writing position according to their dominant hand and complete lessons transitioning and comparing manuscript and cursive letters. Students then move into Units 2 & 3, which are arranged systematically, and teach students to write letters and words in cursive. The teacher teaches letters in order of difficulty. The materials group letters together with other letters made using similar strokes (such as strokes that curve up — letters i, t, e, and l, strokes that curve down — letters o, a, c, and d). Students write letters and words that contain the current letter learned and write letters and words using letters from previous lessons. In Unit 4, the students progress to writing sentences in cursive. In Units 5‒6, students write symbols, the names of people and states, and short stories in cursive. Each unit builds on the students’ cursive handwriting skills and reinforces skills through practice. Each unit culminates in an assessment.
There are various components of the lesson cycle in the Teacher’s Edition. Also in the materials is “Taking Tests,” which has the “Objectives,” “Materials,” and “Getting Started.” This section provides teachers with information on what they need to do. In “Using the Page,” there are directions on how to use the workbook page. In “Extension,” students get additional practice on the tested skill. In “Evaluate,” teachers have questions to help children evaluate their writing: “Do your words sit on the bottom line?”, “Are your letters the correct size and shape?” and “Do your letters begin with the correct stroke?”
Teachers guide students on how to form letters using the Stroke Directions such as “Begin at the top line; slant left and down to the bottom line. Lift.” for lowercase a. Teachers ask specific questions to help students evaluate their own handwriting that builds on prior learning, such as, “Are your letters about as wide as the models? Does the loop on the H touch the first slant stroke at the middle line?” Activities span beyond the pages in the practice book and involve other learning modalities, such as having students look through magazines to find words that begin with the focus letters for the lesson, then writing those words in cursive, or using chalk to write words.
There are student practice worksheets where students practice their cursive handwriting skills. Students practice writing lowercase letters and words first, move to capital letters and words, and then sentences and phrases. The pages begin “Left-Handed Writers” and “Right-Handed Writers,” which teach beginning cursive writers how to position their bodies in their desks along with their papers and pencils. Teachers read the instructions for left-handed and right-handed writers and discuss the illustrations on the page. Additionally, the teacher models the proper way to hold the pencil and write in cursive.
In Unit 1, students answer True or False questions about the formation of cursive letters and then practice cursive writing based on the skills taught. Students also self-evaluate as they circle their best letter for each letter practiced.
In Unit 2, students write a compare and contrast essay. In the “Write a Draft,” the teacher reminds students to either write legibly in print or cursive.
In Unit 3, students write a narrative realistic fiction essay. In the Write a Draft portion of the writing lesson, the teacher asks students to write legibly in print or cursive in their writer’s notebook or type accurately on-screen. In Week 5, students write an opinion essay. In the Write a Draft portion of that writing lesson, the teacher again asks students to write legibly in print or cursive in their writer’s notebook or type accurately on-screen.
The materials are structured to elicit reading comprehension and provide opportunities for students to speak and listen to texts. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported responses to demonstrate knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In every unit (1‒6), Week 1, Week 3, and Week 5, there is an “Introduce the Genre” section where the teacher reads aloud and models a comprehension strategy. The students then use the strategy to retell the story using evidence from the text. The oral tasks in these sections ask students to provide clear, concise, and well-defended text-supported claims gained through analysis and synthesis of text.
In Unit 1, after reading “Kids in Business,” students answer the essential question, “How does the author help you understand how he feels about young entrepreneurs?” In the “Talk About It” section, students reread the Literature Anthology about Hayleigh’s and Joshua’s businesses. Students infer how the author feels by citing their evidence on a graphic organizer. Partners or small groups refer to and discuss their completed charts. The teacher directs students’ attention to the sentence starters on page 72 of the Reading/Writing Companion. Students use the sentence starters to guide their responses.
In Unit 2, Week 3, students read the drama text The Ant and the Grasshopper. During the Shared Read, teachers reread part of the text and have students respond. Teachers reread Stage Directions 1 and ask, “How does the termite’s opening dialogue help you figure out the setting of the drama? Read termites opening dialogue with students and have them identify the setting. Discuss ways in which the setting can give them a better understanding of a story or drama.” Teachers reread the stage directions for Scene II and ask, “What information do the stage directions give? Ask students to make a prediction about what will happen next based on the information given in the stage directions.” Students make inferences based on text evidence to make their predictions. Students also pair up to summarize the selection orally using notes they have taken during the lesson.
In Unit 3, using the read-aloud Books, the teacher models how to use the visualization comprehension strategy: “I was able to picture in my mind….” Students think about other texts that they have read independently or as a group that were realistic fiction and briefly retell the story Books in their own words, including the main ideas and details of the read-aloud in their retelling.
In Unit 4, Week 3, students read the historical fiction text A Telephone Mix-Up. During the Shared Read, teachers reread part of the text and have students respond. Teachers reread paragraph 1 and ask, “From what point of view is this story told? How do you know? Have students look for evidence of the third-person point of view in the fourth paragraph.” Teachers reread paragraphs 2 and 3 and ask, “Predict how other people will feel about the new invention of the telephone in a year. How students confirm and revise the prediction they made as they continue to read.”
In Unit 5, Week 1, the teacher reads the Read Aloud, Stick Like a Gecko, to the students. The students discuss the elements of the Read Aloud that let them know it is expository text. Then the students restate the most important details from Stick Like a Gecko in their own words. In Week 3, the teacher reads the Read Aloud, A Special Birthday Hug, to the students. The students use the elements of the Read Aloud to discuss how to know it is realistic fiction. Then the students briefly retell the story, A Special Birthday Hug, in their words. In Week 5, the teacher reads the Read Aloud Pictures from Long Ago to the students. The students discuss the elements of the Read Aloud that let them know it is expository text. Then the students restate the most important idea from Pictures from Long Ago in their own words.
In the program, students engage in productive teamwork and in student-led discussions, in both formal and informal settings. Guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion are clearly outlined for teachers, with additional suggested supports. Students express their thinking and can evaluate their participation in collaborative conversations. Students give organized presentations and performances and use the conventions of language to speak appropriately.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “K–6 Instructional Routines Handbook” provides guidelines and routines for “Collaborative Conversations.” “Collaborative Conversations” occur at the beginning of every week or genre study, as teachers introduce concepts and “Essential Questions,” during close reading, during guided practice and independent practice, and when students respond to and write about texts they are reading. Materials outline specific criteria for success; these include understanding the focus of the conversation, making statements, asking questions related to the focus, listening respectfully to one another, and engaging in multiple exchanges. In these exchanges, students build upon the ideas of others to clarify their thinking and express new thoughts.
The materials contain collaborative conversation routines that guide students through a systematic lesson cycle: “1. Introduce the focus of the conversation. 2. Review relevant guidelines to support student participation. 3. Provide specific information so students know exactly what to do. 4. Monitor student conversations and provide corrective feedback as necessary. 5. Close the conversations.” Materials also suggest additional supports such as role-play, displaying sentence starters, or posting a word bank.
Students self-evaluate and regularly give their peers feedback on their conversations. Teachers ask questions such as “What went well in your conversations this week? What would you like to see happen differently next time?” Also, some videos help model collaborative conversations for students. Models are customizable by grade level. There are student-friendly anchor charts to post in the classroom. One such poster guides students on “How to Have a Collaborative Conversation”: “Listen to the person speaking. Take turns speaking. Respect each other's feelings and ideas. Ask and answer questions about what others are saying about the text. Ask questions to get more information. Say your ideas.”
Students complete three major research projects during the year: “Investigate: Sharks,” “Take a Stand: The Environment,” and “Write About: Geographic Regions of Texas.” Using an interactive digital resource, students navigate multiple steps within the project, which culminates in an informative performance task at the end of the unit. Students write a research paper and present their information offline. Students use project-specific rubrics to guide and evaluate their presentations.
In Unit 1, Week 1, Collaborative Conversations, “Listen Carefully,” the teacher observes students engage in partner, small group, and whole class discussions. Students follow discussion rules: They listen carefully to speakers, “always look at the person who is speaking, ask relevant (on-topic) questions to clarify information and make pertinent (on-topic and important) comments.” As students engage in discussions, the teacher encourages students to add new ideas to their conversation. The teacher reminds students to “connect their ideas to things their peers have said and to look for ways to connect their personal experiences or prior knowledge to the conversation.” In Week 5, during the “Take on Discussion Roles” students engage in partner, small group, and whole class discussions. The teacher encourages students to take on a role, such as that of a questioner who asks questions to keep everyone involved and keep the discussion moving, a recorder who takes notes on the important ideas being discussed and who later reports to the class, or a discussion monitor who keeps the group on topic and makes sure everyone gets a turn to talk.
In Unit 6, “Independent Study,” students brainstorm questions related to the Time for Kids article “Change!” For example, “What other energy sources could cars use?” Students choose a question, conduct research, and gather evidence. Groups have opportunities to speak and have a round-table discussion on different fuels cars could use. The teacher discusses with the students the difference between formal and informal discourse and reminds them to adjust their speech as appropriate.
The materials engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes. Students analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources as well as organize and present their work to an audience of peers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each grade level has three “Inquiry Space” projects available in the “Scope and Sequence” as options throughout the year; they are not tied to any particular unit. Grade 4 has three digitally based research tasks: “Investigate: Sharks,” ‘Take A Stand: The Environment,” and “Write About: Geographic Regions of Texas.” Each research project builds in rigor: from investigating, to taking a side on a controversial issue, to writing about a specific topic. All projects are broken down into steps that include short-term and lengthier inquiry process learning. Each task is completed over several weeks, via carefully sequenced steps. The projects integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. For example, in the Inquiry Space research project Investigate: Sharks, students work over several weeks to research sharks, write a report, and present their findings. As they read and research, students listen to oral directions while using the self-directed digital tool. They think about the various texts they have read during the project and revise and edit their writing. Students revise and edit their reports, conference with peers, and use a “Peer Review Checklist” to finalize and publish drafts. This checklist includes what the partner liked, suggestions made, and changes. Students plan and present their findings to the class and listen to other students’ presentations, using the “Presentation Checklist” and “Listening Checklist.” Because of the self-paced nature of the project and the fact that students participate in three of these long-term assignments over the course of the year, students have various opportunities to build research skills over time and increase their independence.
The materials provide opportunities to discuss primary and secondary resources in “Research and Inquiry” aligned to Units 1 and 6. Also, through Research and Inquiry in Units 1, 3, and 5, students have multiple opportunities to practice organizing and presenting their research to their peers. For example, in Unit 1, students participate in Research and Inquiry aligned to the “Essential Question” “How can starting a business help others?” The students and teacher discuss primary and secondary resources. Students create a biographical sketch with a partner or group. They select an entrepreneur or business leader from their state and create a biographical sketch about that person. Students use both primary and secondary resources; they include a photo, slides, and/or video to present their information; and they include a bibliography of all of the sources used. They then present their project to the class.
In Unit 3, Research and Inquiry, students address the Essential Question “In what ways can you help your community?” Students research a landmark and, with a partner, create a 30-second public service announcement about a landmark they think should be preserved. The teacher guides students with what they will need to prepare in order to present their best work. Then the teacher discusses each item on the “Presenting Strategies” checklist in the “Reading/Writing Companion.” Partners and small groups rehearse their presentations. The teacher models and then discusses being a part of the audience, reviewing the behaviors of an effective listener. During the presentation, the audience writes down any questions. Then the teacher guides a discussion of the presentation.
In Unit 6, students participate in Research and Inquiry that aligns with the Essential Question “How do traditions connect people?” Students create a research plan to research a Native American group that lives in their state. Students brainstorm places where they can find information related to the topic. Materials suggest starting with a book or reliable source on the internet. Students also reach out to any people or organizations that can provide more information; create a chart with questions that they want answered; and address the following questions: “What are some of the traditions of this group? Why did the group settle in that region? How long has the group lived there?” After researching, students write an encyclopedia entry and include a visual or map to support the information. Students present information to the class. Students discuss how they can make a class reference guide.
The materials contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. Questions and tasks are designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. Students interact with different texts and apply their knowledge of vocabulary and comprehension as they complete tasks. Research requires students to read and integrate concepts from multiple texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials have three digitally based research tasks: “Investigate: Sharks,” “Take A Stand: The Environment,” and “Write About: Geographic Regions of Texas.” Students complete a task over several weeks via carefully sequenced steps. Each project builds in complexity and integrates reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. Students interact with different texts and apply their knowledge of vocabulary and comprehension as they complete each level of the task. Research requires students to read and integrate concepts from multiple texts. Each unit begins with an “Essential Question,” and students subsequently seek the big ideas found in each text. Students can seek help from the teacher when needed, but they work with increasing independence through the self-paced, digital tool. Students answer text-dependent questions to evaluate their work, such as “Did I take notes from each source? Do my notes contain enough facts and information to answer my research questions?” From their outlines, students write drafts and consult sources again if needed. After saving their drafts, students again must self-check with questions such as “Does my draft focus on a single topic? Does my topic sentence summarize what my report is about, and will my introduction grab the attention of my audience? Is related information grouped together in paragraphs? Do I have at least two details to support each main idea?”
The materials also offer opportunities for students to practice fluency in the “Small Group Differentiated Instruction” portion of the lesson, which is available every week throughout the units. In the “Shared Reading” section of the lesson cycle, during Weeks 1, 3, and 5, students have opportunities for fluency practice as well. In Unit 2, students read the text “Animal Adaptations.” Students re-read to gain fluency and practice reading strategies.
Students have opportunities to build research skills throughout the materials and increase their independence. For example, in the “Inquiry Space” research project Investigate: Sharks, students work over several weeks to research sharks, write a report, and present their findings. As they read and research, students listen to oral directions while using the self-directed digital tool: “You volunteer at a local aquarium. Your mentor has asked you to give a multimedia presentation on sharks. Your audience will be people on school trips to the aquarium. They will include teachers, parents, and students in your grade. You will tell the audience about sharks’ habitats, their way of hunting, and the threats they face.” Students evaluate both text and video sources for reliability and relevance to see if they will be useful for their research. If students choose wrong answers, teaching videos will pop up. Students then paraphrase as they record facts and questions about their sources. Students continue to consult their sources and notes as they write an outline for their reports, entering a topic sentence, main ideas, supporting details, and a concluding statement. Students revise and edit their reports and answer questions such as “Did I use linking words to connect my paragraphs? Do my sentences vary? Do I use formal language in my writing?” Students confer with peers and use a “Peer Review Checklist” to finalize and publish drafts; the checklist asks about what the partner liked, suggestions made, and changes. Students continue to answer questions to self-evaluate, such as “Did I listen to what my partner had to say? Did I proofread my final draft?” Students then plan and present their findings to the class and listen to other students’ presentations, using the “Presentation Checklist” and “Listening Checklist” as they do so.
In Unit 1, during the reading of “Experts Incorporated” students answer the questions “Why does Rodney want to be a name expert?” and “Why does Lucas change his opinion about Rodney’s profession?” After reading “Experts Incorporated” and “Speaking Out to Stop Bullying,” students make connections to the texts. Students answer the question “How do the girls in the photograph below and the authors of ‘Experts Incorporated’ and ‘Speaking Out to Stop Bullying’ help you understand how your actions might affect others?” Students read the caption, look at the photograph, and then talk with their partner about what the girls are doing. Students discuss how the older girl is affecting the younger girl, citing evidence. Then students respond to the prompt “The photograph and the authors help me understand how my actions could affect others by….”
In Unit 5, Week 3, “Words in Context” in the “Reading/Writing Companion” asks students to participate in the “Visual Vocabulary Cards” routine using the unit’s focus words (bouquet, emotion, encircle, express, fussy, portraits, sparkle, whirl). The teacher and students discuss the word bouquet by looking at a picture and using the word in a sentence. Students hear the word in context: “A bouquet is a bunch of picked flowers.” The routine is repeated until all words have been discussed. If there is a Spanish cognate, it is also discussed. In this unit, students also have the option to complete a page from the “Practice Book” focusing on the unit words. In an additional vocabulary exercise, students study figurative language.
The materials support distributed practice over the entire school year. Questions and tasks build in academic rigor over time and incorporate higher-level thinking such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The provided supports and scaffolds are multimodal and provide choice for reinforcement of learned concepts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the materials, short sessions and lessons for reading and writing require students to listen, speak, and think. Every grade level has six units. Each unit focuses on a genre. Weeks 1, 3, and 5 have the same lesson structure. The first section is “Introduce the Concept,” where background knowledge is built around an “Essential Question.” In Unit 1, the question is “How do people respond to natural disasters?” The next lesson is “Listening Comprehension: Introduce the Genre,” where students listen to a text read aloud and list the characteristics of the text. The list defines the genre. For example, students examine a visual and listen to “Avalanche,” which is an informational nonfiction text. Together, the class creates an anchor chart with the characteristics of informational nonfiction. Students then participate in the “Shared Reading” portion of the lesson cycle. Two vocabulary lessons are available for the teacher to use. Students learn about multiple-meaning words and/or words in context. “Grammar and Spelling” are the last two sections. All of these lessons provide short repeated practice of listening, reading, writing, and thinking. Similarly, Weeks 2 and 4 have the same lesson sequence: “Anchor Text: Literature Anthology,” “Responding to Reading,” “Writing (Genre),” and “Grammar and Spelling Practice.” Each Week 5 has “Reading Digitally,” “Share What You Learned,” and “Writing” in a genre studied in the unit.
Regular spiral review activities are included both on paper and in digital materials. Each unit contains digital practice games that students can access. Games provide immediate feedback and opportunities for analysis of errors. In the digital “Structural Analysis Activity: Roots in Related Words,” students practice and apply their knowledge of Greek roots by sorting words into columns with common related roots; this allows for additional support of the Unit 3, Week 5 “Vocabulary” lesson on Greek roots. Additional support materials are in the “Practice Book” page “Vocabulary Strategy—Greek Roots.” Students use Greek roots from a given root bank (e.g., phys = nature or body) along with context clues to find meanings and write definitions for words in given sentences (e.g., “For many years, physicists, biologists, botanists, and other scientists have studied how we can use the awesome power of water to help humanity.”)
In Unit 3, Vocabulary, students build upon the morphological skills they learned in the previous grade and apply them to Greek roots. Teachers model locating and thinking about Greek roots to determine word meaning: “When I read the word cycle on page 59, I know the Greek root cycl means circle. Cycle must mean a series of events that repeat regularly.” Students use roots such as gen = race, kind and agr = field to respond to sentences from the text “Food Fight,” defining the words gene and agriculture based on the roots and what they read.
Materials support distributed practice over the course of the year; vocabulary studies get increasingly more complex as the year progresses. In the last unit, Unit 6, teachers display the “Differentiated Genre Passage” “The Generation Belt.” Teachers model figuring out the meaning of merrily and discuss the connotation and denotation, reflecting a higher level of sophistication in vocabulary study from earlier units. Students use context clues to determine the connotation of other words in the passage and then use a print or online dictionary to look up the denotation.
The materials include a research-based sequence of instructions for grade-level foundational skills. There are sufficient opportunities for student practice to achieve grade-level mastery. Foundational skills are taught in a systematic and explicit TEKS-aligned order across the material in each unit. Materials provide opportunities for students to practice grade-level word recognition skills to promote automaticity both in and out of context. “Practice Book” activities and digital games provide additional practice opportunities for building foundational skills. Professional development whitepapers, videos, and lesson specifics allow teachers to support students in need of effective remediation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The whitepaper “Foundational Skills, Grades K-5” and the video Three Levels of RTI, both by the nationally recognized educational researcher and consultant Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, outline the four essential prerequisite foundational skills for reading print concepts, fluency, phonological awareness, phonics, and word recognition. The “Scope and Sequence” for each unit contains a “Phonics and Spelling” sequence of instruction, which systematically develops knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns and word analysis skills through explicit instruction that aligns with grade-level TEKS. Also, decoding strategies are taught in a systematic, explicit, TEKS-aligned order within the “Vocabulary” lessons in each unit. Practice Book activities and digital games provide additional practice opportunities for the lesson skills. The “Instructional Strategies Handbook” gives teachers access to systematic routines and practices to support students that need effective remediation. There are work activities for phonological and phonemic awareness, blending, and segmenting. Phonics routines also assist teachers with sound-by-sound blending, building words, and decoding multisyllabic words.
In the “Lesson Cards Foundational Language—Word Automaticity” activity, the teacher explains to students that “Speed Drills” help them read high-frequency words faster and more accurately. The teacher gives them a page of words to practice reading. Students read the words for one minute. The teacher counts how many words the students read correctly. The materials remind teachers to keep track of the words students read correctly to demonstrate where they can improve their speed and accuracy in future drills.
In Unit 1, “Reinforce the Words,” students read high-frequency words out loud and use the words to complete the sentences in the Practice Book. With a partner, the students divide up the “High-Frequency Word Cards” and read the words out loud. They take turns using them in a sentence. In Week 3, the teacher assigns spelling words with long e; segments words sound by sound and points out the long e sound with ea and y; and then demonstrates sorting the spelling words by pattern. Students take a sentence dictation pretest. With a partner, students sort words and write answers in their notebooks. Students also take sentence dictation post-tests.
The materials provide opportunities for students to practice and apply word analysis skills in an activity found in Unit 1. In this activity, teachers explain that the /ē/ sound has different spellings: e, ea, ee, e_e, ie, ei, ey, and y. Teachers spell the tree “Sound-Spelling Card” and then provide a sample word for each spelling of the /ē/ sound: we, seat, teeth, these, grief, receive, key, and scary. Teachers write the word happy on the board, underline the letter y, and say the long vowel sound /ē/. Teachers model pronouncing each syllable and blending the word. They remind students that y is the only spelling of /ē/ that does not include the letter e. Students identify the spelling of the /ē/ sound in each word from a list of words such as chief, monkey, sweet, and ceiling. Students read their words to a partner. Students apply their word analysis skills in the “Leveled Reader” Rosa’s Garden as they read words such as seemed, pretty, and creating.
In Unit 4, Week 4, students practice and apply reading and spelling diphthongs. Teachers display the Boy and Cow Sound-Spelling Cards for the diphthongs /oi/ and /ou/. Teachers point out the oi and oy spellings on the Boy card and the ow and ou spellings on the Cow card. Teachers say the sound as they point to each spelling, and then provide a sample word (coin/toy, now/ house), circling the letters oi in the word and pronouncing the diphthong /oi/. Teachers model how to pronounce the diphthong and sound out the whole word. Students identify each diphthong in a provided list of words, such as cloud, enjoy, and boil, and echo-read the words. Students apply their knowledge as they read words like toiled in the “Genre Passage” “Leonardo’s Mechanical Knight.”
In Unit 5, students demonstrate and apply spelling knowledge by spelling multisyllabic words with closed syllables; open syllables; VCe syllables; vowel teams, including digraphs and diphthongs; r-controlled syllables; and final stable syllables. Teachers dictate sentences such as “The blanket is blue and fuzzy.” “One red rose blossom opened.” “Use the dipper to scoop some water.” “Karen liked to visit distant lands.” There are differentiated lists for students who are approaching, on, and beyond grade level.
In Unit 6, students read “The Great Energy Debate,” and then engage in a lesson on Greek and Latin prefixes. The teacher defines a prefix and provides examples of Latin prefixes, such as non- and pre-, and examples of Greek prefixes, such as hype- and bio-. Then the students locate the word biofuels and determine the meaning using the prefix bio-. Next, they determine the meaning of the words nonrenewable and hypercritical using the Latin and Greek prefixes for help. Another activity that provides further opportunity for students to practice word recognition and analyze words is with “Energy from the Sea,” in the “On Level” online “Differentiated Passages.” The teacher models determining the meaning of the word hydropower using Greek and Latin prefixes. Together, the student and the teacher analyze the word megawatts and use Greek and Latin prefixes to determine the meaning. Students work with a partner to determine the meaning of the words preview and geothermal.
“Additional Resources” found across the materials for Grades 3–6 are Tier 2 “Interventions for Fluency” (“Using Fluency Intervention”) and “Intervention/Word Study” (“Using Phonics/Word Study Intervention”). The resources provide a lesson for Weeks 1–5 of every unit with a review lesson. Materials explain their purpose and use and also provide progress monitoring tools, instructional routines, and instructional modifications.
The materials include tools to support and direct teachers in assessing students’ growth in, and mastery of, foundational skills according to TEKS English Language Arts across grades K–6. Teachers have access to materials that allow them to assess each student’s skill set and then place them in the correct groups with appropriate materials to fill the gaps. Materials support the teacher in working with students to self-monitor, use context to confirm or self-correct understanding, and employ rereading when appropriate. Materials also provide detailed guidance and record-keeping opportunities so that teachers can use information to make instructional decisions. Professional development guides and videos foster in-depth understanding of how to administer and utilize diagnostic assessments.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include tools to support and direct teachers to assess students’ growth in, and mastery of, foundational skills (e.g., skill gaps in phonics and decoding) both in and out of context. For instance, the 325-page “Placement and Diagnostic Assessment Guide” provides teachers with “assessment options to measure critical components of state standards for English Language Arts across grades K–6.” Teachers use the Placement and Diagnostic Assessment Guide to place students into appropriate instructional levels within the program as either “Approaching Level,” “On Grade Level,” or ‘Beyond Level.” It includes screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring assessments. “Foundational Skill” assessments include “Phonological and Phonemic Awareness Subtests,’ “Letter Naming and Sight Word Fluency” tests, “Oral Reading Fluency and Phonics Survey” tests, “Inventories of Developmental Spelling,” and “Critical Low Verbal Language Scales for Vocabulary.” There are “Informal Reading Inventories” for each grade level to measure students’ application of foundational skills in context. Materials provide recommendations for aligning to products such as DIBELS Next and TPRI inventories with the program. Additional guides for teachers include the “Assessment Components and Resources” chart, the “Assessment Administration Guide,” the “Know Your Reports User Guide,” the “Assessment Handbook,” and a guide to “Prepare Students for Online Assessment.” Expert program author videos are also available, such as Jan Hasbrouck’s “Informal Reading Assessments and Progress Assessment.” “Additional Resources” for Grades 3–6 include “Tier 2 Intervention Vocabulary,” “Tier 2 Intervention/Word Study,” “Tier 2 Intervention: Grammar and Writing,” and “Tier 2 Intervention Comprehension.” Teachers can use these for guidance and direction to respond to the needs of each student while monitoring growth and mastery.
The Placement and Diagnostic Assessment Guide supports teachers with guidance and direction to respond to individual students’ literacy needs based on tools and assessments appropriate to the grade level. The guide gives specific assessments to use and grade-level-specific guidelines for placement. In the introduction section of the resources, the teacher finds “Placement Decisions” for Grades 4–6. This tool directs the teacher on what assessments to conduct and where to place the students in terms of instructional materials (Beyond Level, On Level, and Approaching Level) based on the results of their assessments. The materials provide several resources to monitor and assess students’ growth. For grade 4, teachers give the Oral Reading Fluency Assessment, Reading Comprehension Tests, Sight Word Fluency Assessment (if applicable) and Phonics Survey Subtests (if applicable) to students. There is a flowchart with guidance for specific score points. For example, “If students score in the 50th percentile or higher on the Oral Reading Fluency Assessment AND 80% correct or higher on the Reading Comprehension Tests, teachers begin instruction with Wonders On Level materials. Use Beyond Level materials for students who score high on placement assessments and easily complete On Level assignments.” Materials also suggest that at the beginning of the year, teachers make instructional decisions about which lessons to use from the “Foundational Skills Kit” based on results of the Placement and Diagnostic Assessment.
The materials also support the teacher in working with students to self-monitor and self-correct their understanding of context. For example, in the “Assessment Resource” book, under “Assessment Opportunities,” a section called “Informal Assessments” explains how the teacher works with students to self-monitor, use context, self-correct, and reread. This section defines assessment as systematically gathering information, informally and formally, about what students know and can do. Teachers teach students to monitor their own comprehension in the supplemental materials, “Reading Wonders.” This is available for grades 1–6. Students have the opportunity to ask themselves questions about their reading. Readers learn metacognitive skills by participating in the reading process, and teachers ask students to remember what they read. If students do not remember, they are taught to go back and read. Teachers teach students how to monitor their own progress. If students realize they do not understand something they have read, they can try various reading strategies and/or ask for help from peers or from their teacher. Teachers listen for the substance of the answer, and not merely if it is “correct” or not.
The materials provide opportunities for students to develop fluency and accuracy. Each unit contains fluency lessons related to the main reading selection. The ancillary materials and online digital activities contain fluency opportunities. Students complete independent reading, close reading, and shared reading to build fluency with grade-level texts. Lessons and practice activities include explicit instruction in fluency, including phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy. Progress monitoring assessments provide resources for teachers to regularly monitor and provide corrective feedback on phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include explicit instruction in fluency, including phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy. In Unit 3, the teacher explicitly teaches accuracy: The teacher provides the meaning of accuracy and then models using “Judy’s Appalachia,” found in the “Reading/Writing Companion.” While modeling, the teacher reads each word carefully and enunciates terms such as Marfork, generations, Appalachian Mountains, and mountaintop removal mining. The class is divided into two groups; one group reads a section while the other group listens and provides feedback. The groups switch roles and practice again. The teacher monitors and provides correct pronunciations and feedback as needed. If needed, students can use the additional online “Differentiated Genre Passage” “The Life of Barbara Jordan.”
Materials provide students opportunities to read grade-level texts as they make meaning and build foundational skills. In Unit 4, “Self Selected Reading,” students choose a historical fiction book and preview the book by looking at the title and cover. Students make predictions as they read about the story’s characters and events and confirm or revise their predictions as needed. While reading, students fill in the details and the point-of-view on the online “Point of View Graphic Organizer.” Students use the graphic organizer to write a summary of the book and share their reactions to the book with the class.
In Unit 4, the teacher explains that dialogue in a story should be read the way a character would say it; readers should express the same emotions. Teachers model by reading the dialogue on the first page of the “Approaching Level” reader “Leonardo’s Mechanical Knight” in the online Differentiated Genre Passages. The teacher directs students to pay attention to punctuation and descriptions when reading aloud. Students repeat lines of dialogue after teachers, using the same expression and emphasizing certain words and phrases to show how the characters talk. Partners take turns reading dialogue from the Approaching Level passage, focusing on their expression. Teachers listen in and provide corrective feedback by modeling proper fluency as needed.
The “Placement and Diagnostic Assessment Guide” provides “Informal Reading Inventory” and “Oral Reading Fluency” passages for Grades 1–6. As teachers administer the Oral Reading Fluency assessment, they determine the “Oral Reading Accuracy Rate,” divide the WCPM by the total number of words read, and capture this information on a recording sheet. Teachers use the “Prosody” scoring table on the recording sheet to measure a student’s ability to “Read in Phrases,” “Pace,” “Syntax,” “Self-Correction,” and “Intonation.” Teachers score students on an “Oral Fluency Scale,” allowing for the tracking and improvement of their performance over time. At each grade level, there are two fiction and two nonfiction reading passages, which alternate between oral reading and silent reading, since the Informal Reading Inventory tests for both oral and silent reading comprehension and fluency.
The materials include various planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at grade level. All lessons include differentiation to meet the needs of students above grade level. The activities allow for learning opportunities to meet the needs of those students that need to be challenged in the classroom. Guidance includes extensions and differentiation activities that come with general instructions and graphic organizers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Above grade-level planning and learning opportunities are in the “Small Group Instruction–Beyond the Level” for each unit throughout the materials. The teacher provides vocabulary and comprehension lessons to students using a text that is above the level of the whole group. Above-grade-level genre passages and above-grade-level books provide students with above-grade-level reading materials. Throughout the unit lessons, students are pre-assessed to discover their current spelling and vocabulary level. The teacher has the flexibility to customize word work according to students’ needs based on the pre-assessment data. Throughout the units, students working above grade level have consistent opportunities within small groups to be challenged. For example, In Unit 5, students read a nonfiction text about the properties of water, including the makeup of its molecules, how it is affected by temperature, and how it interacts with light. The teacher then challenges students with a topic for “Independent Study.” The teacher is to: “Challenge students to further their study about chemistry. Tell them to choose something they found particularly fascinating about this week’s subject matter and conduct further research on it. Have students present what they learn to the class.” Students may choose books from the Leveled Reader library to support their work.
In Unit 1, Week 3, after the teacher models using context clues, students work with partners, using context clues to discover the meanings of idioms such as “cat got your tongue” or “standing up for myself” using the text “The Talent Show.” The teacher uses an online rubric to check for students’ success. The teacher has extended options. For example, students look up other examples of idioms, and then they must write their own short story using at least one of the idioms they have learned.
The materials provide students opportunities to choose extensions that appeal to them. For example, in Unit 2, Week 3, the student’s read “The Dragon Problem.” After reading the drama, the students respond to the text by choosing one of the following activities, “Writing a News Report,” or they can choose to “Create a Journal Entry.” If the student chooses to write a news report, then the student assumes the role of a news anchor and gives a 60-minute news report about how the main character in the story defeats the dragon. If the student chooses to write a journal entry, the student assumes the role of the princess and writes a journal entry that Princess Liang would have written on this day.
In Unit 3, Week 5, students above grade level read the leveled reader The Battle Against Pests (Lexile 910, which is one grade level above). Students use argumentative techniques from The Battle Against Pests to choose a recent technological advancement and write an argumentative text that describes either the dangerous or positive effects it has. Volunteers share their argumentative texts with the class.
In Unit 4, Week 4, students choose a drama for sustained silent reading. The materials provide opportunities for students to access the online Leveled Reader Library for selections. Students above grade-level fill out Graphic Organizer #144 and write summaries of the dramas in their journals. Furthermore, the teacher challenges students to discuss how their self-selected and assigned texts relate to the key discoveries. The teacher asks the question: “How can taking a second look lead to new discoveries, as evidenced by the characters in the dramas?”
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities (including extensions and differentiation) for teachers to meet the needs of students working below grade level. The materials provide for guidance in small group instruction and placement and diagnostic assessments to determine whether students need additional support. Scaffolds and supports apply to all areas of literacy.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Several placement and diagnostic assessments are available to define student achievement: “Informal Reading Inventory,” “Oral Reading Fluency,” “Letter Naming/Sight Words,” “Phonics/Decoding,” “Phonological and Phonemic Awareness,” “Reading Comprehension,” and “Spelling/Vocabulary.” Scoring criteria charts guide teachers in determining whether students are on, below, or above grade level. For example, for the Reading Comprehension assessment, a score below 15 out of 56 would place students below grade level; 15‒25 is on grade 3 level; 26‒34 is grade 4 level; and 35‒42 is grade 5 level.
The multimedia resource “Student Practice with Data Reporting” organizes practice by major reading skills, such as main idea and key details, multiple-meaning words, sequence, theme, and similes. Students take a ten-question quiz on their skills, and teachers access their scores or print them to determine whether they are performing as expected. Students can also see and monitor their performance and check answers as they go along. There are further specific strategies on scaffolding for students with various challenges, such as attention, different learning modalities, executive functions, and self-regulation. For students with memory and cognitive difficulties, strategies are in the “Instructional Routines Handbook.” Strategies include to establish and teach rules and routines; provide only one instruction at a time; have students restate the instruction back in their own words; list instructions on the wall or board; allow students to review and practice frequently; encourage the use of virtual manipulatives; encourage students to verbalize what they are doing by using words, pictures, manipulatives, and numbers; allow students more time to explain and justify their thinking process; build in time for repetition and practice; provide opportunities for students to explain the concepts to others; represent abstract concepts in a variety of ways such as words, symbols, drawings, movement, and acting out; and create heterogeneous groups so students can learn from and model their peers’ behaviors.
To help monitor student progress, teachers have access to “Quick Checks” in the “Teacher’s Edition,” which provide feedback on the key skills of the week. One example of a Quick Check activity checks for understanding multisyllabic words. Teachers ask students to blend multisyllabic words with short a. If students cannot blend words, the teacher provides additional modeling and guided practice using the words in the “You Do” section of the lesson cycle and “Phonics Card 35.” Another Quick Check activity involves inflectional endings. This check sees if students can add inflectional endings to verbs. If students cannot, then the teacher provides additional modeling and guided practice using the words in the You Do portion of the lesson cycle and the additional words on “Structural Analysis Card 19.”
“Leveled Readers” are also available to teachers to assist students with various literacy skills. In Unit 2, students “Approaching Level” review the definition of theme with the teacher. Students identify the theme by paying attention to the character’s actions and the results of these actions after reading “The Dragon Problem.”
In Unit 3, the “Approaching Level for Small Group Differentiated Instruction” provides a review of both high-frequency and Tier 2 vocabulary words that may be needed before reading the text. These supports prepare students to decode more successfully. Also, teachers can use a lesson on context clues focused on definitions and restatements to support students’ understanding of the text.
In Unit 4, students have access to digital activities that cover inflectional endings and spelling rules (doubling a final consonant). Students working below level use this support to help them improve their writing skills.
The materials provide daily linguistic accommodations for English Learners (ELs) for core lessons as well as “Leveled Readers” that are used in small group instruction. There are scaffolds such as visuals, adapted text, glossaries, and other modes of comprehensible input. Professional development materials encourage the strategic use of students’ first language for vocabulary and academic development. Vocabulary is developed in isolation as well as in context. Students have regular opportunities to gain proficiency in speaking, listening to, reading, and writing English.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
All weekly lessons include support for ELs that is communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded according to various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS (Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced High). “Bridge to English Lessons” provide linguistic, affective, and academic development in each unit. In the “ELL” section of the “Teacher Edition,” there is a “Scaffolded Shared Reading” plan for Beginning and Intermediate ELs. In the “Shared Reading Planning Guide,” teachers create a language objective, build background knowledge, chunk text using the interactive read-aloud, guide students in building an interactive glossary, and develop oral language by summarizing text. Sentence frames and paragraph frames provide language support so ELs can participate with the text at the same level of rigor with language supports. Beginners use an adapted version of the shared reading.
The “Guide to Linguistic Transfer” is a teacher’s resource guide that gives additional EL strategies. Dr. Jana Echevarria, the author of the Sheltered Instruction Protocol, and Dr. Josefina Tinajero, a bilingual education scholar, are the authors of this guide. In this guide, students examine cognates and Spanish language patterns as compared to English language patterns. Word sorts are available for every spelling lesson. The word sorts introduce concepts of the English language and allow ELs to recognize spelling patterns.
The materials provide scaffolds for ELs. For example, teachers access a set of “Newcomer Cards” with visuals that help students develop their basic interpersonal communication skills and general academic language. Cards are categorized in the Table of Contents, and students begin with basics such as greetings and their names. Visuals are color photos and illustrations with labels, depicting school life, family, community, and the world. A “Newcomer’s Teacher’s Guide” provides lessons on these common basic language topics as well as some oral language assessments, conversation starters, and games.
Materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic development through the use of cognates in a glossary. In each of the adapted “Shared Reads,” the publisher provides a glossary for challenging words and phrases with Spanish translations. For example, in Unit 1, “The Talent Show,” a sidebar glossary provides the Spanish translation and the English definition for the following terms: in three weeks (en tres semanas), act (acto), tightly (firmemente). In Unit 3, “Remembering Hurricane Katrina,” the student finds the following words: hit (azoto), powerful (poderosa), caused (causo), damaged (dano), torn (rasgados).
The “Language Transfers Handbook,” available for all grade levels, provides “Language Transfer Charts” to encourage strategic use of students’ first language. The chart indicates areas in which a positive or approximate transfer of sounds occurs for English learners from their native languages into English. Resources highlight transferable skills and sounds that students can produce even when there is no equivalent in the native language. Teachers emphasize the skills that cross over into second language acquisition. Additionally, materials provide a “Sound Transfer Chart” that features consonants and digraphs that transfer over into Spanish, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Hmong, and Korean.
In Unit 2, “Spiders,” (“Expository Text/Text Features”), Beginning ELs read the assigned paragraph and restate the sentences as needed. Students point to the parts of the spider in the photograph, responding to the following questions: “Where is the back part? What is it called? (abdomen) What parts make up the abdomen?” Students read the second, third, and last two sentences in the paragraph for clarification. Intermediate ELs point to the parts of the spider as they respond to the following questions: “What does the heart do? (pumps blood) What do the spinnerets do? (make silk) Where is the cephalothorax? (front or the head part) How does the photograph help you understand the text?” Advanced/Advanced High ELs answer comprehension questions such as “What is another word for spider arms?” They demonstrate what they learned by answering the question “What new information do you learn from the photograph and caption?
In Unit 4, with the “Genre Passage” “Leonardo's Mechanical Knight,” teachers build background knowledge by discussing with students what life might have been like during the 15th century. Teachers help students think about things such as how different traveling, communicating, cooking, reading, or getting information must have been and whether people had machines or technology to use in their daily lives. There is an “Interactive Question-Response” routine to use after each paragraph to provide language support and guide comprehension. After paragraphs 1 and 2, Beginning ELs choral read the first paragraph. Teachers help students restate sentences they have difficulty understanding to clarify the meaning; for instance, “What did Leonardo want from his father? He wanted a suit of armor.” Intermediate ELs work with partners to identify context clues that help explain the word concentration. Students discuss whether concentration and focus are synonyms and use the words in a sentence frame: “I need concentration/focus when I...because….” Advanced/Advanced High ELs discuss the question “What is the narrator's point of view? How do you know?”
The materials provide teachers with grade-specific “Visual Vocabulary Cards” for academic language for the units and for each weekly lesson. In Unit 5, Week 2, “Small Group English Language Learner,” the teacher leads a discussion of vocabulary words using Visual Vocabulary Cards before the text is reread.
Unit 6, with the Shared Read “A Surprise Reunion,” during the Interactive Question-Response Routine, the teacher asks questions, helps students understand the meaning of the text, and explains challenging or unfamiliar concepts. For Intermediate ELs, the teacher provides sentence stems. Advanced/Advanced High ELs retell the information from the text. The teacher also reinforces weekly strategies and skills through modeling and scaffolding questions. The teacher uses images and other text features to aid students’ comprehension. For the reading comprehension of the text, the teacher reads the text with students and reviews vocabulary such as despised and irritating. The teacher asks questions such as “What does Chief Cameahwait remember about his childhood? What happened to his sister?” The teacher asks Intermediate ELs to use context clues in defining an unfamiliar word: “What context clues help you understand the meaning of the word despised?” Advanced/Advanced High ELs explore the question “What words describe how Chief Carmeahwait feels?”
The materials have multiple formative and summative assessments to be used as benchmarks and for progress monitoring. There are guidelines for using student assessment data in designation and grouping decisions as well as for determining which assessments to use. The assessments are aligned to the TEKS.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Assessment Components and Resources Chart” lists all formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are progress monitoring assessments for Weeks 1–2, Weeks 3–4, and Week 5. They include new texts for students to read and check students’ use of vocabulary and comprehension for the previous 1–2 weeks of learning. This allows the teacher to monitor mastery and adjust whole groups and small groups as needed before Week 6 (end of the unit). Each unit has weekly or biweekly assessments to check for mastery of the TEKS taught in that unit, and the materials provide a plan for reteaching whole group or small group. The materials provide answer keys with the content the question focuses on, the TEKS being tested, and the depth of complexity of the question (DOK 1–4). Assessments are a mix of comprehension questions, vocabulary questions, and “English Language Conventions” questions. There is a rationale for each question. Students have opportunities to respond in various ways. For example, some assessments ask multiple-choice questions; some require evidence-based responses; some are performance-based tasks; some have constructed responses; and some have technology-enhanced items. There are selection tests for reading passages within the units. There is a summative assessment for each unit aligned to the TEKS. Student progress is measured based on an understanding of TEKS-aligned reading content for that unit. Also, students write in response to a prompt. Texts alternate between literary and informational, and there are items testing foundational skills, vocabulary strategies, and conventions. Scoring guidelines for writing include exemplar models; rubrics are also available.
The “Benchmark Assessments Grade 4” provides more opportunities to monitor student progress. This resource has three tests that have multiple-choice, evidence-based responses, performance-based tasks, constructed responses, and technology-enhanced items. There is an answer key along with rubrics. The first test covers Units 1–3; the second test covers skills from Units 4–6; the third test covers various performance tasks. The resource helps support the teacher in developing small groups and provides opportunities for reteaching to support mastery of skills and TEKS.
The materials provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance in various ways. For example, the “K-5 Assessment Handbook” guides teachers on how to administer and score the various assessment components. It provides guidelines for using student assessment data in designation and grouping decisions as well as determining which assessments to use. Another resource, “Making the Most of Assessment Results,” guides teachers on how to review the assessment with students to have them self-correct incorrect responses. The teacher uses the results to determine reteaching or enrichment opportunities based on the needs of the students.
An “Online Assessment Center” provides teachers with an “Item Analysis Report” and “Standards Analysis Report.” The “Data Dashboard” offers “Recommendations Reports,” “Activity Reports,” “Skills Reports,” and “Progress Reports,” all to help the teacher determine the next steps in planning and instruction. The “Reteaching Opportunities With Intervention” online resource explains when to reteach according to provided parameters. For instance, if a student scores below 70% in comprehension, the teacher can reteach the tested skills using the “Comprehension” PDF. There is support for extending activities for gifted and talented students, such as through “Beyond Level” small group lessons, workstation activities, and “Differentiated Genre Passages.”
The materials provide year-long plans with support and guidance for teachers to identify the needs of students. Additionally, the materials suggest ways for teachers to provide differentiated instruction and multiple groupings, based on the needs of the student. The materials engage students and assist teachers throughout the instructional framework and through the use of ancillary and resource materials.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple groupings. For example, throughout the materials, the “Weekly Planner” provides for differentiation within the whole group lesson as well as in weekly small group lessons. There are “Differentiated Instruction” lessons for students depending on their reading level designation (“Approaching,” “On Grade Level,” “Beyond Grade Level,” “English Learners”). Small group differentiated lessons include “Phonics/Decoding,” “Fluency,” “Comprehension,” and “Vocabulary” components as needed according to students’ skills. The teacher places students in a flexible reading group based on the diagnostic assessment as well as on data taken from the formative and summative assessment found in each unit.
The materials provide multiple teachers’ tools to help support student learning and differentiate instruction. Professional development videos support teachers; these include “Changing Daily Instructional Schedules,” “Introduction to Grouping for Instruction,” “Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Grouping,” “Incorporating Flexible Groups and Reassigning Group Membership,” and “Selecting Group Size.” These videos address the logistics of choosing, scheduling, and changing groups. The professional development video “Leveling Up with Leveled Readers” explains that leveled readers are organized as a set of connected readings on similar topics, so students who are initially reading at a lower level of text can advance. Students read the easier text and then jump to harder texts (50–100 Lexile) in later reads; this engages them in their learning, as they use background knowledge they previously learned. Students move within flexible groupings as they progress. The materials also provide 72 “Literature Circle” lessons. Students from all reading level designations participate in Literature Circles, using the “Thinkmark” questions and graphic organizers to guide the discussion. Teachers follow up with whole class discussions based on the content of the “Leveled Readers.”
The teacher materials include multiple annotations and support for engaging students in the materials as well as support for implementing ancillary and resource materials with student progress components. An ancillary resource available for grades 3–6 is the “Handwriting Cursive Workbook: Annotated Teacher’s Edition.” This resource provides the answers for the teacher. Another support for teachers is the “Reading/Writing Companion Annotated Version” (Units 1–2, Units 3–4, and Units 5–6). This resource provides the teacher with answers, underlined or circled text evidence, think-alouds, and notes explaining portions of the text. The “Grammar Handbook” is another resource annotated with answers to the questions. Teachers have access to “Differentiated Texts English Language Learners Teacher’s Edition Annotated Text.” There is one for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced. The “Teacher Edition Genre Studies 1-2” for each unit provides more information on the “Essential Question,” “Leveled Text,” “Take Notes,” and “Reinforce Vocabulary.” It also provides the answers to each question. The materials have vocabulary cards for each week in the unit. The front of the vocabulary card has a picture to represent the word. The back has a teacher script titled “Teach Talk.” Teach Talk provides the teacher with a definition, an example, and a question to ask, asking students to look back at the picture. The teacher points to the picture and says the word and sentence. There is also “Partner Talk” on the back of the card, and it includes discussing the word as it connects/relates to students. There are also “Visual Vocabulary Words” found throughout the units that provide the teacher with guidance on how to use the cards.
Teachers have access to a TEKS-aligned “Scope and Sequence” and “Pacing Guides.” There are videos to support teachers in implementing the resources and support for administrators to help teachers with implementation. Pacing guides support 120-minute, 90-minute, or 60-minute blocks for implementing 180 days of literacy instruction. Although the program contains sufficient materials to support a longer timeframe, 220-day schedules are not specifically outlined.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials have a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence for each grade level of the program. It outlines the essential knowledge and skills taught in each unit, including the weeks in which they are taught, the “Essential Questions” for the unit, and the comprehension focus/TEKS. Throughout the materials, there are six units containing six weeks of material; all are organized consistently across the program for each grade level. Each week has a “Weekly Plan,” “Weekly Standards,” and a “Calendar” to help with planning and pacing. A “Genre Focus” occurs every two weeks of the program. For example, in Weeks 1–2, it is expository text. In Weeks 3–4, it is historical fiction. In Week 5, it is poetry. Weeks 1–5 in each unit contain the following sections, which address research-based and TEKS-aligned routines, practices, and materials: “Read Aloud,” with interactive read-aloud titles; “Shared Read,” with selection titles and specific genres and Lexile levels; “Literature Anthology,” with anchor texts and paired selections; “Leveled Readers,” with titles of main and paired selections with Lexile levels; and “Vocabulary,” with weekly text-aligned words and strategies. The sixth week of each unit is for review, assessment, and extension activities. It includes sections with materials for “Reading Digitally,” “Fluency,” “Show What You Learned,” and “Writing and Presentation Options” such as “Reader’s Theater,” “Inquiry Space,” and “Writing.”
An “Implementation Timeline” provides teachers with additional support to help implement the materials; an overview explains how to get the materials set up for the year. It is divided into three sections: “Before Implementation,” “Initial Implementation,” and “Ongoing.” Before Implementation, teachers redeem master codes, set up a class calendar in the online teacher workspace, and begin professional learning modules. During Initial Implementation, teachers set up the “Wonders” classroom, plan initial lessons using the customizable online planner, use digital resources to support daily lessons, administer placement tests, enter students’ reading levels in their online profiles, and set up groups for small group instruction. Teachers review additional support materials, including the “Manage Small Group Time” module, assessment and data materials, and classroom and coach videos. In Ongoing, teachers use real-time data in the “Data Dashboard” to inform student grouping and plan targeted lessons, adjust the online calendar as needed, and continue to reference the materials on the professional development page for implementation support.
Materials include additional supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials. An “Administrator Implementation Checklist” provides administrators information on how to help teachers get started with the program. It includes a Before Implementation: Administrators check program materials against the inventory list, distribute materials and master codes, direct teachers to the website (my.mheducation.com), monitor teacher progress, and communicate student learning goals with teachers. During Initial Implementation, administrators ensure classrooms have all needed materials and monitor teacher progress toward completing the “Wonders Basics” and “Digital Quick Start” professional development modules. The materials provide an “Administrative Walkthrough and Beginning of Year Classroom Observation” tool. The Administrative Walk-Through has 10 “Look Fors,” such as the climate and tone of the classroom, pacing of whole group lessons, the use of print and digital resources, and evidence of student data driving the whole group and small group instruction. It encourages administrators to conduct at least two 5-minute walkthroughs to monitor implementation throughout the year. Administrators can view reports in the Data Dashboard and work with coaches to use mid-year in end-of-year observation tools to help teachers reflect on instructional practices and set goals. An “Administrator Best Practices for Implementation” video is also available.
In the “K-6 Professional Development” book, “Suggested Lesson Plans and Pacing Guides” contains a plan to cover a 180-day schedule. Although the program contains sufficient materials to support a longer timeframe, a 220-day schedule is not specifically outlined.
The materials reflect appropriate use of white space to support students’ anecdotal notes and understanding of information. Across the materials, the illustrations and graphics (timelines, photos, charts, and other visual graphics) are engaging and relevant. The visual design of the materials is organized and not distracting and contributes to student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Selections across the student materials include consistent margins in all printed and digital materials. White space is provided around and between text and questions. Colorful illustrations are used for text selections. Pages on which students answer questions are free of illustrations, so that students can focus on their answers or on returning to the text. Subheadings in the text are in a larger font and often in different colors. Color is used to differentiate vocabulary words and different types of tasks.
In Unit 3 of the “Reading/Writing Companion,” the students read “Judy’s Appalachia.” This text uses white space appropriately; its design supports and does not distract from student learning. The pages feature a photo of a mining operation on the Appalachian and Judy at a podium. As students read the text, they encounter various speaker icons for an audio read of the text. On the page, notes and questions appear on the margins with a white background. Students find a sidebar indicating the “Essential Question,” a magnifying glass reminding students to “Cite Text Evidence,” and a logo depicting two students discussing to prompt students to reread the text and answer an “Author’s Craft Question.” Similarly, the “Writer’s Notebook” provides appropriate use of white space to support student learning.
In Unit 3, Week 1, in the Reading/Writing Companion, students read “Remembering Hurricane Katrina” and engage in various activities. There is a picture, a place for notes, and a place to write down interesting words and key details. The materials provide opportunities for students to practice vocabulary words. There is a sentence with a highlighted word and a question underneath that aligns with the vocabulary word. Lines underneath allow for student response. The students have a graphic organizer for “point of view and details” to support their learning.
Image graphics are supportive of student learning because they relate to the texts students read, are colorful, and are engaging without being visually distracting. Graphic organizers are frequently used to help students make sense of what they read. Types of images used vary depending on the text genre. Fictional stories have a cartoon or drawn illustrations, while nonfiction selections use photos. Images are used to reflect people of various ethnic backgrounds and ages and in a variety of locations. The digital text has tools to adjust text size and images for better viewing if needed. The student edition supports student learning with consistent icons used across the materials. Upon entering the student digital edition, students encounter an image with brown sand-colored butterflies that resemble mountains encircled by an orange shiny band. Surrounding this graphic, students see five graphic icons. One icon displays a notebook with a green checkmark; as the student moves the cursor over the icon, the words “To Do” appear in white font over a green background. Another icon is the letter “W” on a blue cube. When the student moves the cursor over this icon, “Words to Know” appears in white font on a red background. The other three icons have similar formats: images of a notebook and pencil, a book, and a controller represent “Read,” “Games,” and “Write.” In the background of these images, materials depict a desert landscape with a cactus in the foreground and an oasis in the center. At the top of the screen, the student finds “My Binder,” “Collaborate,” “Resources,” and “School to Home.” Beside the words “School to Home,” materials include an icon with a pencil and an “ABC” icon. If the student clicks on the “ABC” icon, a glossary pops up with words; behind these words, the student sees white space. This format is similar across all grade levels; however, the images found in the center of each grade level are different and unique to that grade level.
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:
Technology supports and enhances student learning as appropriate, as opposed to distracting from it, and includes appropriate teacher guidance. This happens through interactive games, videos, and activities for each week that support the TEKS taught during the week. The “Teacher’s Edition” includes appropriate guidance for teachers on the online options available to them. The online activities and games support learning in grammar, phonics, fluency, spelling, word sorts, structural analysis, and vocabulary practice. The students engage in the interactive game or activity and then check their work; there is a “try again” option for any incorrect answers. The online resources are simple to view by clicking on “open this resource.” Teachers find details about the resource and the alignment to the TEKS being taught in that unit. Teachers can assign each resource directly to students for practice via Google classroom. Teachers have access to songs for spelling and grammar. Students have access to the “Leveled Readers” online. Teachers have access to an “Online Assessment Center.” The Online Assessment Center allows teachers to view an exam as a student would view it, edit the assessment, assign the assessment to students, print the assessment, and export metadata.
The materials also have a digital student edition. The student edition has an easy-to-navigate homepage that contains icons for “To Do,” “Words to Know,” “Write,” “Read,” and “Games,” so that students can locate the section of the materials that they need. Students have a digital “My Binder” resource divided with clickable links, such as the “Reading/Writing Companion Unit 1–2” “3–4” or “5–6.” Students click on the worktext for the current unit. Clickable boxes allow students to type alongside each question. Tools to interact with the text and questions include a highlighter, drawing, a sticky note, and audio reading. Each unit has several interactive games and activities for grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension tasks. Practice activities relate to the concepts being studied in the unit and only present a limited amount of text and answer choices at a time to help students focus. Activities include a self-checking button so that students are held accountable for doing each part correctly.
There are many videos and digital images to support student learning, such as the “Build Knowledge” videos to help students with prior knowledge, “Grammar and Spelling Song” videos, “Interactive Read Alouds,” and “Opener” videos. Images are clear and relevant to the text, and videos are brief and are age- and grade-appropriate. A digital activity in each grade level is “The Alphabet Interactive.” Students interact with the chart by clicking on a letter. Options appear on the screen for students to listen to a song about the letter. If students want to hear the letter sound, they click on corresponding buttons. Additionally, materials contain games such as the “Grammar Activity” and “Build Vocabulary Activity.” In one of the Grammar Activity games, the student matches the correct contraction with the corresponding subject and verb, such as “you are” to “you’re.” Games are straightforward and user-friendly.
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