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The TRR reports for K–8 and high school science are now available. The new Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) rubrics for K–3 and 4–8 English language arts and reading, K–3 and 4–6 Spanish language arts and reading, and K–12 mathematics are now available for review. Provide public comment through December 15, 2023. Visit the instructional materials webpage to view the slides and recordings from the focus groups.
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. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts (what students read, see, and hear)
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Thinking, Inquiry, and Research
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for Diverse Learners
Section 6. Ease of Use and Supports for Implementation
Section 7. Technology, Cost, and Professional Learning Support
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
Materials include well-crafted texts of publishable quality that are traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse and represent the quality produced by experts in various disciplines. Texts include content that is engaging and relevant to first-grade students.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Dim Sum for Everyone by Grace Lin is a picture book about a Chinese American family enjoying a traditional dim sum meal. Grace Lin is an award-winning author and illustrator, and several other texts by her are included in the collection.
Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood is a picture book about a young boy who describes himself using characteristics of various animals. This fiction read-aloud challenges students to make a personal connection to an animal of their choice.
Big Blue Whale is a nonfiction text by Nicola Davies. This read-aloud engages students to wonder about the life of a whale. It explains what they look like, how they survive, how they raise their young, and how they communicate.
Sunny Days, Starry Nights by Corinn Kintz is an expository nonfiction selection. It provides concrete examples of day and night. This small-group reader provides practice and support for phrasing.
“I Wouldn’t,” a poem by John Ciardi, encourages students to appreciate and model the technique of repetition. In this rhythmic pattern of sounds, a fat cat tries to entice mice to come out and play.
A powerful memoir, Ruby Bridges Goes to School, describes Ruby’s experiences as the first African American child in an all-White school. The memoir provides a first-hand account of what it felt like to be a child in the 1960s.
The materials contain a variety of text types and genres across multiple content areas. Daily read-aloud texts include stories, poetry, and informational texts spanning a variety of topics. Across all units, both literary and informational texts support students with the opportunity to interact with print and graphic features within a variety of genres and formats. However, the materials lack persuasive texts and dramas.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
McDuff and the Baby by Rosemary Wells (picture book)
It’s Mine! By Leo Lionni (fable picture book)
Sheep Out to Eat by Nancy Shaw (picture book)
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni (picture book)
“School Bus” and “Sliding Board” in Did You See What I Saw? Poems About School (poetry collection)
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Dinosaur Babies by Lucille Recht Penner (expository picture book)
Chameleons Are Cool by Martin Jenkins (expository nonfiction)
Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby B. Beeler (expository nonfiction)
Velociraptor by Kate Riggs (expository nonfiction)
“How to Catch Your ZZZs” by KidsHealth.org (expository article)
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
In Birds: Winged and Feathered Animals by Suzanne Slade, students explore the table of contents, title, subtitle, author, and illustrator. Facilitated discussion questions include “After hearing the chapter titles, what are you wondering about birds? Where might we look for answers to our questions?”
In A Day in the Life of a Garbage Collector by Nate LeBoutillier, students explore text features, such as chapter titles and “fun facts” sections, to better understand information in the book.
In Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby B. Beeler, students discuss information in words and pictures by identifying what they learn and retelling key details from the book. Students use text features, such as labels and diagrams, to better understand information in the book. Facilitated discussion questions include “What do you think this diagram shows? What do you notice about the crown by looking at the diagram? What do you see?”
The materials include texts that are appropriately challenging and are at an appropriate level of complexity, accompanied by a text complexity analysis document provided by the publisher. The materials expose students to high-quality texts in small-group instruction that targets increased complexity at a student’s differentiated level.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials’ reading instruction is divided into two sets: 1, “Comprehension: Making Meaning” (composed of whole-class, guided-practice, and differentiated-instruction support) and 2, “Foundational Skills: Being a Reader” (composed of whole-class, differentiated-small-group, and independent instruction support).
The text complexity analysis includes quantitative and qualitative analyses of the texts in Making Meaning, Being a Reader, and Being a Writer. The “Collaborative Literacy Text Complexity Analysis” notes “teachers should consider... three dimensions: (1) quantitative analysis, (2) qualitative analysis, and (3) the reader and task.” The publisher utilizes two leveling systems: The “Fountas & Pinnell Leveling System” and the “Lexile® Framework for Reading” for quantitative text complexity and the following metrics for qualitative text complexity: text structure, language features, meaning, and knowledge demands. The text complexity analysis includes a “final evaluation” metric that includes the following ratings: “Slightly Complex”, “Moderately Complex”, and “Very Complex.”
The text complexity for whole-class instructional texts includes: Flower Garden, Fountas & Pinnell Level J (Week 3); and When Winter Comes, Lexile AD540L (Week 12).
Other Lexile levels for Grade 1 texts include:
Making Meaning Program Read-Aloud Texts
Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes (570L)
Angelina and Henry (Angelina Ballerina) by Katherine Holabird (560L)
Being a Reader Program Whole-Class Instruction
This Little Chick by John Lawrence (AD460L)
Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres (AD290L)
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuir (AD410L)
Based on qualitative features, texts are at an appropriate level. Most texts have a single layer of meaning, and some texts have multiple layers of meaning. Narrative structures are conventional and have single-point-of-view narration. Language in nonfiction is conventional and clear; fiction texts do include an appropriate level of figurative language. Text themes are common to readers; texts with unfamiliar culture or literary themes include scaffolds to make knowledge accessible.
The materials include quality questions that require students to analyze literary elements within and across texts. Discussion questions and assessments are text-specific, target elements of the text, and are systematically arranged to deepen understanding of topics. The materials include frequent opportunities for students to engage in questions and tasks that support students’ understanding of literacy. Through systematically planned read-alouds, students build conceptual knowledge of text with in-depth analysis of knowledge and connections. Formal and informal activities support and foster students’ comprehension, giving them opportunities to grow their literacy skills and understanding of topics. Students consistently evaluate and discuss information to synthesize across texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Proficient readers wonder and ask questions to focus their reading, clarify meaning, and delve deeper into a text. In “Making Meaning” Grade 1, students wonder what a text is about before they read, speculate about what is happening while they read, and ask questions after they read to gauge their understanding. In the “Assessment Tools” resource, students engage in the ongoing practice of “Individualized Daily Reading Conferences.” In these conferences, students discuss text they read aloud, answer questions regarding the problem, make connections, and point to text that explains the events represented. Literacy skills grow over the course of each unit, with individual and shared-reading opportunities paired with follow-up discussions. In conjunction, guided spelling and phonological awareness activities grow students’ understanding of topics. Across units, questions and activities progress from a focus on comprehension and story elements to more advanced questions and activities on analysis, comparison, and writing. For example, in the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual,” Unit 2, students make text-to-self connections by answering the question “How does what happened to Matthew and Tilly remind you of your own life?” They also answer text-dependent questions, such as “What happened to Matthew and Tilly?” Later in the year, in Unit 7, comprehension questions progress to “What have you learned about what birds eat?” In addition, while reading independently, students are encouraged to begin thinking about text-to-text connections.
In Unit 1, students listen to the story Quick as a Cricket. After the teacher finishes reading aloud the story, students briefly discuss with questions: “What did you find out about the boy in this story? Who is telling the story? How do you know?” The subsequent day, students practice listening in order to understand key details. After rereading the story, students engage in a brief discussion, answering the following questions: “Name one animal the boy thinks he is like. Why does he think he is like that animal? What does the boy tell us about himself at the end of the story? What animals in the story are you like? Why?” This pattern of questioning continues through lessons from Week 2 and Week 4.
To show comprehension after reading McDuff and the Baby, students stop at specific points in the story to discuss comprehension questions. After stopping on page 5, students are asked, “What have you learned about Lucy, Fed, and McDuff so far?” The teacher provides the opportunity for a few students to share their ideas with the class, and the class proceeds to read and discuss further parts. After reading the story, students are asked, “What part of McDuff and the Baby surprised you?” Next, the students share the parts of the story that surprised them, turn to those parts, and read them aloud. Students then reflect on listening and working with partners by answering questions about working with their partners.
Questions and activities continue to grow students’ understanding and literacy skills throughout each unit. For instance, in Snakes, questions are directly related to the topic and grow students’ understanding of snakes. Students are to explain how snakes move and share other information they learned about snakes. Additionally, in Food on a Campfire, text-dependent questions help build students’ conceptual knowledge. Students synthesize new information by explaining the knowledge they gained within the unit, responding to the prompt “What did you find out about sailboats from this book?” Within the same unit, Scout’s Puppies focuses on important ideas that come from multiple places within the text. Example questions are “How old are the puppies in this part?” and “What seems important to understand and remember about puppies when they are first born?” Later in the unit, after reading Sleep Well: Why You Need Rest and “How to Catch Your ZZZs,” students compare information across texts they’ve read. They synthesize this information with a new text by identifying both new and common information. The overall goal is for students to grow their understanding on the topic of getting quality sleep.
In Unit 7 of Making Meaning, students review nonfiction topics. The teacher asks, “What are some nonfiction topics you have read about recently?” Students respond to An Ocean of Animals by brainstorming what they wonder, answering the questions “What do you think you already know about animals that live in the ocean?” and “What do you wonder about animals that live in the ocean?” to create guiding questions before reading text in order to grow in their understanding. Next, while reading aloud a passage, the teacher models how to identify something you learned. The teacher places a sticky note in the margin of the page and thinks about whether this information is new or different. Students work on this skill as the teacher monitors. Next, students read Birds and answer questions to demonstrate comprehension; for example, “What are some ways feathers help birds?” Students are provided multiple opportunities to turn and talk with a partner and discuss what they learned or wondered to monitor their understanding. In the guided strategy practice, the teacher shows the covers of An Ocean of Animals, Big Blue Whale, Chameleons Are Cool, and Birds; students discuss how these nonfiction books give information and include where animals live. In the extension activity, students generate questions and find answers to their questions by researching or finding information from a book. These activities allow students to demonstrate their understanding of topics over the course of the unit.
While reading Jellies, students reflect informally on the nonfiction text by discussing what they enjoyed and why they may want to read more. Students visualize in their mind the descriptive language found in the text. This activity builds on the knowledge they gain and requires the students to pay close attention to demonstrate comprehension.
Materials contain questions and tasks that require students to make inferences and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. With teacher guidance, students compare and contrast different authors’ views on the same topics. Analysis across a variety of texts occurs periodically within the curriculum. Students are able to make connections to communicate meaning and comprehension. Opportunities to study language occur within poetry and include prompts to support student understanding.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Making Meaning Teacher Guide,” Units 3, 5, 7 and 8 include individual comprehension assessments where students record their wonderings, text details and features, plots, etc. The program introduction states: “Making inferences helps readers move beyond the literal to a deeper understanding of texts. In Making Meaning Grade 1, the students informally make inferences to think more deeply about both narrative and expository texts.”
In Unit 1, the teacher reads aloud the story When I Was Little. The teacher asks, “Who do you think tells the story in this memoir?” Based on student responses, the teacher emphasizes how this memoir is written from the first-person point of view—the narrator is speaking about himself or herself in the story. The teacher then facilitates the conversation by asking, “What are some things the girl in this story says about when she was little?” At the end, students answer the question “What are some of the differences between the girl now and when she was a baby?” These questions address a goal of the lesson, so students recognize that, in a memoir, the author’s purpose is to talk about personal experience.
In the Making Meaning Teacher Guide, Unit 2, students read Chrysanthemum and, during a class discussion, discuss the question “After her first day at school, Chrysanthemum says, ‘School is no place for me.’ Why does she say that?” Here, students are being prompted to analyze specific language from the book, infer its purpose in the book, and support understanding. Later, in an “Extension” lesson, the teacher shows the Epilogue page to students. Here, the teacher returns to inference-making when she asks, “Chrysanthemum giggled when Victoria forgot her lines. What do you think about that?” In the “Teacher Note,” it states that the second question is an opportunity for students to explore the effect of a character’s actions on the feelings of others. This analysis of the author’s language and choice facilitates students’ understanding through textual elements.
In Unit 4, students practice visualization by reading the poems “School Bus” and “Sliding Board.” In “School Bus,” students stop, close their eyes, and depend on specific language in the poem to create mental images. Teachers say, “The poem says ‘Stuffed with Kids!’ How do you picture the kids on the bus? What do you think it feels like to be on a bus ‘stuffed with kids’?” Similar language-dependent visualization occurs in “Sliding Board,” when students are asked, “What do the words ‘swish, whish’ bring to your mind?” In the next lesson, students visualize again during the read-aloud “The Balloon Man.” As students share and discuss, the teacher prompts by asking questions like:
Students are held accountable for providing reasoning for their visualization as they construct meaning from what was heard. In the first prompt, students specifically have to refer to text evidence to support their understanding.
In Unit 7, students read Birds and focus on retelling key details from the book. Students discuss that the purpose of this nonfiction book is to give information about where animals live. As students read, they are asked to recall important information: “What did you learn about birds’ habitats, or the places where they live?” and “What are some ways feathers help birds?” Immediately after this lesson, students write about reading and compare the purpose of nonfiction and the purpose of fiction. First, they recall the purpose of each genre: “What are some differences between fiction and nonfiction?” Then, through writing, they answer the question “Which do you prefer, or like better—fiction books or nonfiction books? Why?”
The materials include a year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. Materials provide teacher guidance with clear supports to apply vocabulary in context and to support tiered vocabulary instruction. The materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate instruction for all levels of learners.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Direct vocabulary instruction is found in the “Making Meaning Vocabulary Teaching Guide.” The overview section titled “The Words” describes the rationale for the set of vocabulary terms each week, usually four to six words. These terms are selected from relevant paired read-alouds and are considered Tier 2 vocabulary. Instruction is broken down weekly, where students learn four words each week in 15- to 20-minute lessons. Under the “Teaching the Vocabulary Lessons” section, sample calendars show how these activities might be integrated into three, four, or five days of vocabulary instruction. Vocabulary resources include a set of individual print picture cards, a set of individual print word cards, and access to vocabulary lessons. Materials provide a variety of activities to support vocabulary practice through partner and class conversations; a comprehensive list of activities can be found in the “Introduction” of the Making Meaning Vocabulary Teacher Guide; they include activities like “Which Word Did I Act Out?” “Imagine That!” “Tell Me a Story,” and “Which Word Goes With?” In-context vocabulary instruction includes explicit strategies to determine unfamiliar words while reading; these strategies include recognizing synonyms, using context clues to determine word meaning, recognizing antonyms, recognizing shades of meaning, recognizing words with multiple meanings, and using inflectional endings.
Scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary are included to increase development for all learners. Tier 2 words are specifically referenced in the Making Meaning Vocabulary Teaching Guide, explaining that students are not likely to use these words frequently, but educated adults regularly use them in their speech and writing. For example, to expose struggling students to Tier 2 words, materials include terms from a wide range of texts as well as vocabulary that is often associated with specific domains, such as science, social studies, and other content areas. Optional extension activities are interwoven throughout the curriculum to further understanding. For example, students are challenged to see where they can use their vocabulary words, memory and independent, within their day. Additional teacher prompts and student talking stems are provided as support and examples for these extensions.
The Making Meaning Vocabulary Teaching Guide also provides 30 weeks of vocabulary lessons for read-aloud texts used in Making Meaning lessons. The weekly overview includes the words to be discussed, past vocabulary terms to review, word-learning strategies, and vocabulary and social development foci. Each term is defined in developmentally appropriate, student-friendly language and is selected based on whether students will comprehend the text without the term’s definition as well as whether students could determine the term’s meaning from context.
Additional protocols are also built into these lessons to improve vocabulary instruction. When students are introduced to a word in Making Meaning, they practice using each word to answer questions. This application supports their thinking of words in context and out of context. Many questions encourage students to relate words to their own experiences. The teacher asks follow-up questions to prompt student thinking and encourages them to reflect deeply about the word, asking questions like “When have you done something thrilling? Why was it thrilling?” Students are later introduced to using context clues when they encounter the word meadow from the read-aloud. Materials note: “Explain that sometimes we can figure out the meaning of an unfamiliar word like meadow by reading the sentence that includes the word, or by reading the sentence that comes before or after, to look for clues. Tell them that sometimes we can also use the illustration in the book to figure out the meaning of a word.”
Teacher support in the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” Volume 1, includes a feature called “Suggested Vocabulary” that contains selected vocabulary terms used to support comprehension. The lesson feature is embedded in every lesson and spans the entire year. The teacher clarifies the vocabulary words as they appear in the reading and then reads the word, defines it, and reads it in context, following these same steps with the remaining vocabulary words. The Being a Reader Teacher Manual, Volume 2, includes a “Scope and Sequence” with a “Word Analysis” section for first-grade high-frequency words found in read-alouds and lessons throughout the year. Then, the beginning of each individual “Teacher Manual Set” contains an overview with high-frequency words found in the set as well as words further broken down each week. For example, a later manual helps students break down the meaning of compound words, such as kickball. Students apply this skill in context by exploring other compound words, such as kickstand and wastebasket.
The materials include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in self-sustained reading. There are procedures and protocols to support teachers adequately as they encourage students to engage with independent reading. Materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and multiple opportunities for students to read independently for a sustained period of time with gradual increases in time.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual Set” introduces students to the purpose of independent work, beginning with independent reading at their seats. On Day 1, the manual states: “[T]he goal of independent reading is for the students to have an enjoyable experience interacting with books in whatever manner is appropriate for them. Those who are not yet reading text will look at the pictures and may tell themselves the story. Those who are able to read some high-frequency words may look at the pictures and also at the text to read the words they know.” The teacher guides students through a brief discussion, asking “What do you like about reading books or hearing books read to you? What kinds of books do you like to read?”
At the beginning of the Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual, the teacher discusses and explains what building stamina means: “[L]earning to do something for longer amounts of time.” The teacher informs students that they will be learning to read for longer amounts of time each week, and that each day they will read for a few more minutes than they did on previous days. On Day 1, students read for about ten minutes. Shortly after, the materials provide teachers with reflection questions to guide observations of the students during independent work and reading, such as “Do the students read for the entire time? Do the students handle the books responsibly? Do the students share the books fairly?” In the next week of the manual, students choose their own independent reading books. Students choose up to five books to put in their toolboxes. The teacher models the expectation, stating: “When I choose a book, I read the title and look at the picture on the cover to find out what the book is about. Then I read the first two or three pages and look at the pictures. If it looks interesting or funny, I’ll choose it.” The teacher models thinking and actions: “Let’s see what I can learn about this book from the cover. I see [a mother and kids in a kitchen. There are footprints on the floor]. I’m curious about [why the mom is baking all of those cookies, and who is going to eat them]! I’m wondering about the title [The Doorbell Rang]. I’m excited about reading this book because it might be [funny].” The teacher guides students as they choose their books. The teacher asks, “What can you do if someone else chooses a book that you also want?” Students brainstorm ideas. The teacher gives students five minutes to pick books as she walks around the room to monitor, asking students, “Why did you choose this book?”
“Building Stamina,” in the introduction of the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual,” notes that first-graders are expected to read up to five minutes each day in Unit 1 and up to 15 minutes from Unit 4 to the end of the year. These stamina goals are adjusted according to individual student attention levels.
“Reading Appropriately Leveled Texts” in the introduction of the Making Meaning Teacher Manual provides tips on helping students choose books that are at their independent reading level; teachers can listen in on students’ reading with accuracy by having students use the “five finger rule” (a student turns to a random page in the book and holds up one finger for every word they cannot read); teachers can also pose basic comprehension questions, like “What does that mean?” or “Tell me what you just read.”
In the “Making Meaning Assessment Guide” introduction, students take a goals-and-interest survey to help teachers find trends in authors, series, and titles. This support helps teachers as they launch independent reading and tells them what books to include in book bags and classroom libraries. At the end of the year, the final “Individual Daily Reading” (IDR) conference is meant to review how a student’s desire to read has grown and how his or her stamina has increased.
Accountability for independent reading occurs in the Making Meaning student response journals, where students make open-ended entries throughout the year.
IDR procedures, routines, set-up, and tips for management are clearly explained in the Making Meaning Teacher Manual introduction; it defines the teacher’s role, explains how IDR conferences take place, guides teachers in finding independent reading levels, and supports students in self-selecting texts. It explains setting up classroom libraries with leveled texts and provides ways for building stamina in readers along with IDR mini-lessons. Finally, the resource gives teachers management tips for independent reading. Each unit contains IDR conferences in which students read independently, then read a part aloud to a partner and share wonderings. Teachers simultaneously have individual conferences with independent readers using the “Resource Sheet for IDR Conferences” from the “Assessment Resource Book.”
The materials include some support for students to compose across text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Guidance is provided for students to dictate or write personal narratives that convey their thoughts and feelings about an experience. Students also have sufficient opportunities to write informational texts and poetry using poetry elements. However, there are limited opportunities for students to dictate or write procedural texts and practice correspondence.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Students are provided with limited opportunities to compose procedural texts and practice correspondence. In the “Being a Writer Teacher Manual Guide,” a chart is included in the introduction that shows “Writing Development Across the Grades.” This chart lists the various genres students will be exposed to throughout the curriculum. According to this resource, students will write expository nonfiction, or informative writing, in Unit 5. In this unit, students “write facts, questions, and other true information,” exploring text features like the table of contents and labels, as stated in the Development Across the Grades table. Topics are based on student experiences, like themselves, their school, or their favorite objects. Later in the unit, students explore nonfiction by writing about themselves, the class, a place in the school, their partners, and favorite objects. They gather information for their own nonfiction writing by conducting interviews and examining objects. However, this does not get to the details of a procedural text.
Unit 1 focuses on elements of personal narratives. As stated in the Being a Writer Teacher Manual, Volume 1, students participate in “writing about true stories” from their lives. The “Writing Craft” requires students to include feelings in stories. Materials include a modeled writing lesson on “helping,” based on the read-aloud Farmer Duck. Students then complete their own narrative writing and illustration. The purpose of the writing is to draw on the student’s personal experience.
In Unit 2, students generate writing ideas from their own lives and tell stories in preparation for writing. In Week 1, students write a shared story about an animal they love. In this lesson, students write and illustrate their own stories to put into a class book of animals. The teacher provides a sentence frame, “I love…because….” The teacher then models: “Let’s write about cats. I’ll start the story by writing: I love cats, because they are cute. I’ll start my sentence by writing a capital I. I’ll end my sentence with a period.” The teacher prompts students’ thinking by asking questions like “What else can we write? Why do we love [cats]?” Students then write narratives by incorporating their thoughts and feelings.
In “Being a Writer,” Unit 4, materials include a modeled writing lesson on beginning, middle, and end. Students then choose topics as the teacher guides them by asking “What might you write at the beginning of your story? What might you write in the middle of your story? What might you write at the end of your story?” As students write their stories, they are to consider using transition words, such as first, then, next, and finally. The teacher uses “Tell Me More” to guide students in adding more details. Upon completion, students share their favorite sentences with the class.
In Unit 6 of the Being a Writer Teacher Manual, the introduction states that students will explore the craft of poetry by reading, discussing, and writing poetry. This three-week unit focuses on the interesting use of words in poetry, primarily in figurative language. A gradual release of responsibility is utilized. Students begin by writing and sharing poems in pairs, then create their own poem for publication in a class poetry book. By the end of the first week, small groups of students use what they have learned about movement words in poetry to write a “Round Robin” poem. This collaborative activity allows each student to contribute to the work and then pass the pen to the next writer. Later in Being a Writer, after reading and discussing the mentor poem “Riding on the Train” and exploring sound words in the poem “Ears Hear,” the students craft a shared poem modeled after “Ears Hear.”
In Unit 8 of the Being a Writer Teacher Manual, students create a class letter to first graders to give advice on how to work together as writers in a community, then attach self portraits to the letter. As an extension, they may write a letter about writing to next year’s first-grade class. However, it is not a required task stated in the curriculum. While this is one example of correspondence, the materials do not provide students sufficient opportunities to practice correspondence through dictation or writing thank-you notes.
The materials include support for students to engage in the writing process to develop text in oral, pictorial, or written form. Guidance is provided for students to coherently use the elements of the writing process to compose texts. Additionally, students have the opportunity to utilize drawing and brainstorming to generate drafts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Introduction” section of this resource, it states that, in Grade 1, there are many opportunities for students to draw and tell their stories and to see writing modeled. Students are exposed to model thinking aloud to understand “what to write and draw; writing letters, words, and sentences; using standard sentence punctuation; and rereading writing.” To support this model, students are exposed to guided writing practice and shared writing.
In Unit 1 of “Being a Writer,” students are asked to visualize ideas for an “I like to” story. Shared ideas are drawn alongside words and phrases on a class-generated chart. Next, students begin to draft their independent “I like to” writing pieces. The following day, students focus on the topic by writing stories about the things they like to do. On Day 3, students reread their writing and add related illustrations to their writing. On the last day of the activity, students share stories to get to know one another.
In Unit 2 of the Being a Writer “Teacher Manual,” Volume 1, students listen to a read-aloud of the book Chinatown. During “Think, Pair, Share,” they brainstorm about places that are special that they might want to write about. Students are prompted to consider favorite places they like to go alone, with family, or with friends. Then, students write in pairs and share their stories. Students work to revise the story using the “Word Wall,” rereading and adding words or sentences. Then, stories are shared in pairs before rereading again to add sentences to the draft.
In Being a Writer, Unit 3, students generate ideas for a fantasy field trip and discuss the ideas with partners. Students shift focus from drawing to writing. The teacher models writing and avoids illustrating to model prior to writing. Ideas are shared out to the class and recorded on a chart. Prompting questions are added to the discussion via the “Tell Me More” strategy to assist students in planning and organizing their writing pieces. Some examples include “What more might I tell about…? What else would you like to know about?” To plan their writing, students visualize by closing their eyes and making pictures in their minds. After students think and open their eyes, the teacher asks, “What are two things you pictured in your mind about your fun time that you might write about? [pause] Turn to your partner.”
In Being a Writer, Unit 4, students continue to enhance their drafts by writing additional details in their stories about feelings. Students brainstorm orally by choosing feeling cards and orally telling a story about a time that fits the emotion on the card. Students then “write a story about a time they felt that feeling.” The materials provide prompting questions, such as “Where do you provide a feeling at the beginning of your story?” Students enhance their drafts based on their reflections on the prompting questions. Later in the unit, students orally share and reflect on their stories: “Students will pick one sentence they especially like from the beginning of their story and read it aloud to the class.” As students complete the organization of their writing, they have the opportunity to share their writing in pairs; “partners will read their stories aloud to each other.”
Students also brainstorm orally in Unit 8 when reflecting on their summer. The teacher asks, “What might you do for fun during the summer that you could write about?” Using Think, Pair, Share, students orally share their thinking.
The materials include support for students to apply grade-level standard English conventions to their writing. Materials provide opportunities for students to practice and apply the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically both in and out of context.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual,” the “Introduction” section includes guidelines titled “Writing Development Across the Grades” that explain how learning in the writing process happens through learning about conventions from published works and proofreading and editing for conventions. In Grade 1, learning about conventions from published works is taught informally through students’ interaction with writing without the formal cycle of writing (prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading, and publishing); opportunities to proofread and edit for conventions are taught formally. Guided writing practice and shared writing opportunities encompass this early instruction in basic conventions.
In the “Being a Writer Skill Practice Teaching Guide,” “Skill Practice Mini-Lessons” are planned out over 30 weeks and are broken down into the following sections: “Sentences, Nouns, and Verbs”; “More on Sentences, Nouns, and Verbs”; “More on Sentences, Nouns, and Other Parts of Speech”; “Pronouns”; and “Commas and Capital Letters.” Materials include the “Being a Writer Student Skills Practice Book,” which follows along with the Skill Practice Mini-Lessons and provides students out-of-context practice with grammar, punctuation, and usage. For example, in this Practice Book, students write the underlined noun in the provided sentence correctly while they learn about common and proper nouns. Additionally, students complete practice sheets, such as “Using Nouns and Verbs in Sentences,” “Using Future Tense Verbs,” and “Using He/Him and She/Her,” to show what they know about the skills in isolation.
In the online resources found on ccclearninglab.org, a “Whiteboard Activity Lesson” asks the question “Which word could we use to take the place of ‘The children’ in this sentence? Would we say, ‘They write a story with Papi’ or ‘Them write a story with Papi’?” Volunteers respond verbally, then click the words The children to change them to a pronoun. Next, students read the new sentence to make sure the correct pronoun replaced the subject.
In the Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual, Volume 1, the Grade 1 “Skills and Conventions” chart states that students receive instruction in writing using complete sentences; singular, plural, common and proper nouns; present and past tense verbs; using nouns and verbs in sentences; declarative, interrogative and exclamatory sentences; and adjectives, prepositions, and pronouns. Punctuation includes teaching commas in a series and using commas for conjunctions or compound sentences. All of these skills are taught throughout Units 2–7 in the Skill Practice Teaching Guide. In Grade 1, most skill instruction in the core lessons occurs during the shared or modeled portions of the lesson. Additional practice for conventions and skills is provided in this Practice Guide and accompanying practice pages.
In Unit 1, as the teacher reads aloud the story Farmer Duck, the teacher revisits the first few pages, reading each page slowly and clearly and pointing to the words. The teacher notes that the sentences are written from left to right and continues reading the rest of the book pointing to sentences in this manner. Additionally, students are directed to focus on important conventions as they write, using sentence starters like “I can…” and “I like…” to help generate practice of sentence fluency while connecting to the writing topic.
In the Being a Writer Student Skills Practice Book, students practice adding adjectives to describe nouns with the aid of a word bank. In guided practice, students underline nouns and replace them with pronouns, also with the aid of a word bank. The Being a Writer Skill Practice Teaching Guide contains Mini-Lessons that include grammar objectives. For example, Lesson 1 focuses on complete sentences; the teacher emphasizes that complete sentences begin with a capital letter and end with an end mark. In guided practice, students volunteer to circle the capital letter that begins the sentence and circle the period at the end of the sentence. Students then copy the complete sentence using correct conventions. Later on, the unit focuses on commas as well as capital letters. Students discuss their observation of capital letters and complete an activity sheet in which they circle capital letters. Next, students work on the commas in a date activity. While conferencing with students, the teacher guides students by pointing out elements of writing as students experiment with and ask open-ended questions about their writing. It is recommended that the teacher discuss conventions in terms of how authors communicate with readers; for example, “Let me show you how writers let us know when one character stops speaking and another one begins. All speech must have quotation marks.”
The Grade 1 Skills and Conventions table of the Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual shows which unit(s) skills and conventions are taught systematically and directly in the core lesson and out of context and gives suggestions for where they might be practiced. Specifically, a solid square shape under a unit indicates that the skill is introduced, and a hollow square shape indicates that the skill is practiced within the unit. For example, in Unit 2, students are taught complete sentences, verbs, nouns and verbs in sentences, and pronouns as part of their grammar and usage instruction. In this unit, the skill has a solid square shape underneath, which means it is taught within the Skills Practice Teaching Guide lesson as an introduced skill. In Unit 3, students are exposed to commas in a series, complete sentences, common and proper nouns, and pronouns; these skills have solid square symbols underneath. However, when materials teach common and proper nouns, they give instruction with practice in the unit.
In Unit 4, students apply their knowledge of conventions in context while writing stories. During shared writing time, the materials note that the teacher should point out any capitalized proper nouns. Once students begin writing, they are instructed to capitalize names in their writing.
The materials include support for students to practice writing legibly in print. Guidance is provided for teachers to instruct print handwriting. A plan for procedures and supports to assess students’ handwriting development is provided.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual,” handwriting instruction is consistently supported through lesson cycles, and opportunities for students to practice are given in the student “Handwriting Notebook.” Handwriting instruction includes hand- and finger-strengthening exercises, pencil grip, posture, and practice of standard letter formation, including punctuation.
The instructional materials explain the progression of the program: “In the Being a Reader program, whole-class instruction on handwriting begins in the first week of the school year.” There are 12 weeks of handwriting instruction, including hand-strengthening games and songs. The instruction begins with warm-up exercises, such as “Piano Playing,” followed by games, and then a wrap-up. Week 2 has students work on stretches, posture activities, and gross-motor skills to prepare for letter formation. For example, students are asked to “draw a snowman with three circles in the air” and “draw a vertical line in the air from low to high.”
Week 6 introduces the “Handwriting Books,” which will be used for student practice. Students begin by completing pages 1–3, while the teacher walks around and offers help with pencil grip. Later within the unit, students learn to form lowercase letters c, o, and s. Then, when the students begin independent work rotations, instruction in letter formation is continued. The students practice what they are learning when they go to independent writing before beginning free writing. Handwriting practice is a connection from whole-class instruction to independent work rotations.
In Week 13, students learn and practice writing the lowercase letters e, f, and q. The teacher models to guide the students through forming each letter using the stroke sequence. For each letter, students first practice air-writing, then writing the letter on their wipe-off boards. Throughout the protocol, they state the stroke sequence aloud. In the Handwriting Notebook, students practice writing lowercase letters and words (west, wave, fast, fed, quit, and quiet). The teacher walks around and observes, assisting students as they work independently.
The Being a Reader Handwriting Notebook offers print letter formation practice throughout the year, beginning with lines and circles and moving to uppercase- and lowercase-letter formation. Points and dotted lines provide guidance on where to initially place the pencil; dotted lines give students a trail to follow. The letter is presented along with a picture of an object that begins with the letter’s primary sound. Examples of the letter written correctly are given to trace; this is then scaffolded to letters with dashes. Finally, students are given only the point at which to begin writing the letter, without lines or dashes to trace. Once all letters are covered and supported through practice, words are formed along with some letters with punctuation. Lined paper with dashes at midline is included and consistent throughout the series.
The “Being a Reader” program includes formative assessments for handwriting, which include reflection on students’ academic and social growth over time through observation. Class assessments are in the form of assessment notes, which are designed to help the teacher assess the learning of the whole class through observation while walking around and working with students individually and in pairs.
Additionally, writing samples are collected as an optional form of assessing students. According to the “Introduction” section, “Assessment of students’ handwriting is not formally included in the Being a Reader program.” The program reinforces that the most reliable way to assess students is through writing that students do in other parts of the day. It is also suggested that the teacher keep a record of each student’s handwriting progress by collecting the students’ work on the review blackline masters that are provided every few weeks in the “Handwriting” lesson sequence. It does state, “Record sheets are not provided as these are not formal assessments.”
In Week 8, the teacher has the opportunity to utilize the built-in review week to observe and make notes of each student’s handwriting progress as well as any specific concerns. The teacher reminds students that in the past week they have been reviewing many lowercase letters. The teacher practices writing words with the letters on a review sheet. The teacher models word spacing while writing the sentence “We go to school.” Students watch as the teacher models how to trace and write the first word on their own review sheet. As students work independently, the teacher walks around and observes, assisting students as needed. The teacher records notes of any observations and individual student handwriting progress.
The Handwriting Book that students use for practice throughout the school year is another assessment tool for the teacher. The teacher can monitor the student’s progress through the book and assess any specific areas of struggle, such as the formation of certain letters. In addition, within the weeks of instruction, there are “Class Assessment Notes.” For example, in Week 6, the Class Assessment Note instructs the teacher to observe the students and ask questions such as “Do the students form the letters appropriately?” and “Do they form letters that rest on the line and are appropriately sized?” The observations and answers to the self-asked questions can be recorded on the “Class Assessment Record” sheet in the “Assessment Resource Book.” The teacher is also instructed to offer pencil-grip support and/or letter formation support by working with students individually or offering small-group time.
In the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book, formative class assessments are included for handwriting. Starting in Week 5, a class assessment record has the teacher reflect on whether students are making appropriate marks to complete the activity and if students are gripping the pencil in a standard way.
In total, 11 weeks of formative class assessment rubrics are provided to aid in reflection and teaching throughout the year. The rubrics change to include more developmentally appropriate skills for first graders as they progress throughout the year.
The materials include support for students’ listening and speaking about texts. Materials provide guidance for students to listen actively and to ask questions to understand information. There are consistent opportunities for students to engage in discussions that require students to share information and ideas about the topics they are discussing.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Being a Reader Program at a Glance” explains: “A week of lessons typically begins with a read-aloud of an engaging text, followed by a class discussion of what the text is about. This same read-aloud text is used on subsequent days to teach the students a comprehension strategy and to give them guided practice with the strategy. The week usually ends with the students practicing the strategy independently by using classroom library books and discussing their thinking.” The “Shared Reading” lessons occur three days per week: “On Day 1, you introduce an engaging text (big book or poem), read it aloud, and lead a class discussion about the text. You then reread the text and invite the students to join in the reading as they are able. On Days 2 and 3, you reread the same text and draw the students’ attention to various aspects of the text, such as high-frequency words, letter-sound relationships, pattern, and rhyme. You also engage the students in various reading activities related to the text.”
The “Program Overview” of the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual” explains that the materials incorporate “Thinking Tools” to help students implement strategies they learn by allowing them to delve more deeply into text. Guidance is also provided to support students engaged in discussions about topics and ideas related to their texts. In the Making Meaning Teacher Manual, Volume 1, cooperative learning comes in many forms, such as “Turn to Your Partner” and “Think, Pair, Share.” During these activities, students express thinking orally and listen to their partner’s thinking. There are student expectations: “faces partner; makes eye contact; listens attentively; contributes ideas about the reading, question, or topic.”
In first grade, students informally use “Stop and Wonder” as a tool to prepare them for Grades 3–6, where they will use “Stop and Ask Questions.” This gradual structure exposes students to the framework of understanding information. For example, the Making Meaning “Student Response Books” include Stop and Wonder activities that require students to write to record their thinking. The curriculum supports proficient readers to wonder and ask questions to focus their reading, clarify meaning, and delve deeper into a text. Students have consistent opportunities to wonder and ask questions before, during, and after a read-aloud to make sense of the text.
In the Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual, Unit 1, the teacher reads Cat’s Colors and asks students to recall the part of the story they just heard; students turn to their partner, and the teacher asks, “What colors does Cat talk about in the part of the story you just heard?” Students discuss and make text-to-self connections. The teacher asks, “What did you hear during the second reading of the story that you didn’t hear the first time?” The teacher shares observations of student conversations with the class. That same week, in “Being a Reader,” students continue to practice Turn to Your Partner with the read-aloud text Flower Garden. To prepare for this classroom structure, students revisit the norms of Turn to Your Partner by answering the question “What will you do to make sure both you and your partner have chances to talk today?” This partner activity sets the norm that students are sharing information with one another. After the teacher completes the book, students first discuss the question “What happens in this story?” Second, students talk about the topic of “gifts” by discussing the question “Who is someone you would like to make a gift for? What would it be?” Teachers remind students to take turns talking and listening, and then students recap as a whole group.
In Unit 3, the teacher reads aloud Curious George Goes Camping and engages students by explaining that the monkey in the story is named Curious George, and that he goes on many adventures. The teacher explains the meaning of curious and connects the text to students by asking, “What do you think might happen to George in this story?” The teacher reads the story aloud, stopping to engage students in discussion: “What do you know about Curious George so far? Turn to your partner.” “What happened in this part of the story you just heard? Turn to your partner.” The teacher has volunteers share with the class. The discussion continues with the teacher asking more specific questions, like “What happens to Curious George on his camping trip?” A “Teacher Note” explains that the purpose of the discussion is to ensure students have a basic level of understanding of the story, which will be needed before they start the next lesson.
In Unit 5, the teacher introduces the story An Extraordinary Egg and models wondering: “I wonder if that’s the extraordinary egg on the cover. I wonder if it’s really an egg. I wonder what the creature sitting on top of it is. I wonder what is extraordinary, or unusual, about the egg.” The teacher directs students to the “What We Wonder About An Extraordinary Egg” chart and provides a prompt (“I wonder…”) to guide students, as ideas are recorded on a chart. The teacher continues by explaining that good readers wonder before, while, and after they read.
In Unit 7, students learn about animal life. The teacher shows the title and author of the book An Ocean of Animals. The teacher asks, “What do you think you already know about animals that live in the ocean? What do you wonder about animals that live in the ocean?” Students turn to their partner to discuss and share information. While reading, the teacher stops to ask questions: “What did you learn about the coastal zone? What did you learn about the sunlight zone?” While reading, students share information and ideas about the topics. After reading, the teacher asks, “What did you learn about ocean animals that surprised you? What are you wondering about animals that live in the ocean?” The class records “I wonder” statements on the chart. The class chart supports student comprehension of similar topics in later lessons. Later in Unit 7, while reading An Ocean of Animals, students share ideas with the class in response to discussion questions. Next, students turn to their partners and repeat what their classmates shared. With partners, students also discuss what they learned and wondered after reading independently in a nonfiction book.
The materials include opportunities for students to engage in collaborative discussions and to engage in and practice grade-appropriate speaking skills using the standard conventions of the English language.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Being a Reader” program incorporates “Cooperative Structures” to increase students’ engagement and accountability for participation. The materials state: “These structures help the students learn to work together, develop social skills, and take responsibility for their learning.” Some structures the program provides are “Turn to Your Partner” and “Think, Pair, Share.” Specific protocols for Turn to Your Partner are provided and used throughout the year. Students are set up for success; they learn that they will often discuss their thoughts and answers with a partner before sharing them with the class. They are taught to face each other and share answers to questions before sharing their thoughts with the whole group. The teacher models this practice together with a student, then gives students the question “What is an animal that you like? Turn to your partner.” Afterward, teachers provide feedback to students: “I noticed that partners turned and sat facing each other when I said, ‘Turn to your partner.’ I also saw that partners looked at each other when they were talking and listened carefully to what the other person was saying.” By the end of the year, sharing partnerships include the following expectations: “Listening to one another, speaking clearly, sharing their thinking with one another, looking at the person who is talking during class discussions, and contributing ideas that are different from other students’ ideas.” For example, in Week 16, after reading the story It Fell in the City, students first think and then discuss, “What do you like to do during recess? [pause] Turn to your partner.” Students are encouraged to refer to the parts of the book that support their thinking and read them aloud.
The Being a Reader program incorporates “Facilitation Tips” for whole-group discussion that include suggested questions to promote discussion in lessons. For example, in Week 1, during the “Setting the Foundation” lesson, materials note: “Continue to prompt the students to turn and look at the person who is about to speak. For example, you might say, ‘Taylor is going to speak now. Let’s all turn and look at her.’ Scan the class to ensure that the students are looking at the person who is speaking. If necessary, interrupt the discussion to remind the students of your expectations.” This tool supports consistent monitoring of proper student participation. In later discussions, teachers remind students that it is important to speak clearly when they are sharing their thinking, and to listen closely when their partner is sharing their thinking.
In “Making Meaning,” Unit 4, students practice Think, Pair, Share, which is introduced, modeled, and then practiced with a read-aloud. At the end of the lesson, students reflect on how the new discussion model went during the lesson. This cooperative structure encourages thoughtful discourse. A Facilitation Tip directs teachers to ask facilitative questions, such as “Do you agree or disagree with what [Travis] just said, and why?” These prompting questions teach students that their comments are valuable and that listening to each other is important.
Students receive additional guidance on appropriate behavior during discussions, noted in the “Being a Writer Teacher Manual.” Multiple opportunities exist to practice listening and speaking, including looking at the person who is speaking by giving full attention to the person, using an appropriate rate when speaking by speaking slowly and clearly, and reflecting on listening and speaking of self and others. A Unit 5 lesson directs the teacher to model how to interview a person before students practice this themselves. Participants are encouraged to speak clearly. A Facilitation Tip prompts teachers to encourage students to “speak up or to ask a question if they do not understand what a classmate has said.”
Each unit contains opportunities for students to speak with one another and/or the class as a whole using grade-appropriate speaking skills. For example, starting in Unit 1, students discuss what they think will happen next in a story, reflecting on important aspects, and then turn and look at the person speaking while engaging in the discussion. There is a Facilitation Tip for the teacher to ensure the conventions of language are used. Suggested student responses also encourage the use of the vocabulary and terms from within the story. There are several Turn to Your Partner opportunities that enable students to use the standard conventions of the English language to practice speaking skills.
In the Being a Reader “Assessment Resource,” three times a year, teachers record an inventory using the “Social Skills Record” chart, which measures listening to others and speaking clearly on three levels: does not implement, implements with support, and implements independently. Teachers also measure student participation with partners and in group discussions. Students should respond to “What do you remember about ‘Turn to Your Partner?’” with phrases like:
The materials provide limited opportunities for students to ask and generate general questions for inquiry or to generate and follow a research plan. Students are not supported in identifying relevant sources based on their questions; while students generate questions, these questions do not guide inquiry. There are some opportunities to practice understanding, organizing, and communicating ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of research. However, the materials lack multiple exposures meant to support students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry.
Examples include but are not limited to:
There is no overview in the materials describing how students master research and inquiry skills throughout the school year. There are three main resources where materials may support instruction for students to engage in short-term and sustained recursive inquiry: the “Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual,” Volumes 1 and 2; the “Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual,” Volumes 1 and 2; and the “Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual,” Volumes 1 and 2. In Grade 1, evidence relevant to this indicator can be found in all three resources; while relevant, most evidence does not move beyond optional extension activities. In both the Making Meaning and Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual documents, there is evidence that additional inquiry and research materials exist for Grades 3–6; however, they are not utilized for instruction in this grade level.
In the Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual, Volume 2, Unit 5 is focused on writing nonfiction. Students gather information for their own nonfiction writing by conducting interviews and examining objects. During Week 1, students practice the research skill of observation by taking a walk around the school and taking note of facts about what they see. During Week 2, students generate interview questions as a class before practicing the research skill of interviewing. After completing two days of interviewing with a partner, students publish their findings in a class book. This understanding, organizing, and communicating of ideas and information is in accordance with the purpose of research. Yet, the materials do not go so far to directly tie this process to a research plan. The focus of this unit remains on observing and generating facts, but it does not support students in the identification of relevant sources.
In the Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual, Unit 7, students practice research and inquiry skills after they read Birds: Winged and Feathered Animals. Through an optional extension activity, students complete research on birds. There is a suggestion to “consider doing this activity over the course of several days.” After generating questions and adding them to a “Questions About Birds” chart, the teacher introduces the concept of research: finding information about a topic. There are four steps the teacher then works through, creating a “Our Research Plan” chart: “Step 1: Ask questions about birds”; “Step 2: Look for answers to our questions”; “Step 3: Write notes about what we learn”; and “Step 4: Write down where we found our facts.” During Step 2, there is one reference to identifying relevant sources. If necessary, teachers are prompted to “explain that books and websites are both good sources, or places to find out more information about birds.” However, students are never prompted to identify relevant or good sources. All four steps are teacher-led, and there are no further opportunities for students to practice research and inquiry skills within “Making Meaning.” The focus of Unit 8 moves on to exploring expository nonfiction, text features, connection, and visualization.
In the Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual, Volume 2, there are two extension opportunities for students to conduct research. Students extend their understanding of the “Big Book” beetle bop by researching beetles in Week 15; this generally aligns with Unit 5 of Making Meaning. The complete instruction for the research assignment is as follows: “Tell the students that different types of beetles live in different areas. Turn to page 28 of beetle bop and read it aloud. Have the students do research to find out the kinds of beetles that live in your area. Provide books about beetles for the students to read, or direct them to appropriate websites for their research. Encourage them to circle any words on the ‘How Beetles Look,’ ‘What Beetles Do,’ and ‘How Beetles Live’ charts that describe the kinds of beetles they learn about, or to add any new information they learn about beetles to the charts.” There is no further guidance, nor does there seem to be any built-in class time to complete this assignment in the Week 15 “Suggested Weekly Schedule.” Another, almost identical, extension occurs after students complete the read-aloud Bugs for Lunch in Week 26. While this generally aligns with the research instruction found in Unit 7 of Making Meaning, the extension remains optional and does not develop beyond the previous extension in Unit 5.
The curriculum includes support for interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. Guidance is provided for students to build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. Additionally, interconnected tasks include components of vocabulary, comprehension, and syntax and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Throughout the units, there are multiple opportunities for students to apply their knowledge and skills. The units contain questions and tasks designed for students to consistently work on their reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. For example, at the beginning of the year, students make personal connections to the story, answering questions such as “What is a way the children in the story go to school? How did [students] get to school that day?” The activities consist of completing a chart related to a topic covered in the story that relates to the students’ personal lives. Students engage in speaking and listening when they complete a “Turn to Your Partner” activity to discuss the chart and the story. In Unit 6, after completing the read-aloud Sleep Well, students complete a writing piece focusing on text-to-self connections about what they learned and discussed from the book. Later in the year, students transition to reading books chorally and acting them out to lead discussions: Students discuss the characters in the story and their actions. They then chorally read certain parts of the book and act them out and discuss the actions of their peers.
In the introduction of Volume 1 of “Making Meaning,” the “Thinking Tools” section explains that students should “Stop and Wonder” throughout the resource during teacher read-alouds. The teacher frequently stops reading, allowing students to share what they are wondering with a partner and to confirm or adjust their thinking as they listen further. Students wonder and ask questions before, during, and after a read-aloud to make sense of a text. The program provides the cooperative structures of “Turn to Your Partner” and “Think, Pair, Share” to engage students in discussion and increase the students’ engagement and accountability for participation. For example, on Day 2, students practice listening. The teacher models by asking the question “What do you think you were like when you were little?” The teacher shows the cover of the book When I Was Little and rereads the story. The teacher takes students through a discussion: “What do you remember about the story so far? What are some differences between the girl now and when she was a baby? Which parts of this story remind you of when you were little?” Students create a class book using the sentence frame “When I was little, I…” and “Now I….”
In the Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teaching Guide,” students learn a word from their readings and practice using it by answering questions that require them to think about the word in other contexts. Many questions have them relate the word to their own experiences. Follow-up questions require them to explain their thinking, prompting them to think more deeply about the word. For example, in Week 1, the teacher reminds students of the story Quick as a Cricket and reviews that the boy begins by comparing himself to a cricket. The teacher tells students they will be working with the word rapidly; the teacher displays the word and picture cards, telling students, “Think about the animals you know. What other animals can move rapidly?” The teacher provides a sentence frame for students to use when discussing: “A…can move rapidly.” A sidebar “Teacher Note” states: “Repeating the definition of the word and having the students pronounce it provides another opportunity for the students to hear the word and think about its meaning.” This exemplifies integrated tasks of writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.
The materials include guidance for spiraling and scaffolded practice. Students engage in distributed practice over the course of the year. Included scaffolds for students provide opportunities to demonstrate integrated literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Program Overview” of the curriculum states: “The Making Meaning program develops students’ ability to think critically, read closely and thoughtfully, work collaboratively, and express themselves clearly and confidently. It aligns with reading, writing, and listening and speaking standards.” Each unit spans several weeks and addresses a sequence of standards repeatedly, within and across the course of the unit. Additionally, standards and skills are spiraled over the course of the year to provide in-depth exposure and instruction to students.
In “Making Meaning,” Unit 1, students ask questions about key details in fiction stories. The skill of identifying and retelling key details in a text is cycled throughout the entire curriculum. By Unit 7, students discuss nonfiction texts’ main ideas and key details and write about them in their reading journals. In Unit 2, the concept of making connections in fiction texts is introduced and modeled. Students practice making connections with the read-aloud Matthew and Tilley. This concept reappears as a spiraled concept in Unit 6, as students work to make connections through class discussions in nonfiction texts. Both comprehension skills and genres are spiraled throughout the year. Poetry is introduced and taught in Unit 4 of Making Meaning and also in Week 9 and Week 11 in the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual.”
In the Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual, the “Scope and Sequence” provides detailed support for teaching literacy skills. In Appendix D, the standards taught are identified for each grade level. Evidence of standards being readdressed occurs in the “Small Group Readers.” For example, consonant blends are formally taught in Set 3, then applied individually in Sets 4 and 5. In the Being a Reader “Small Group Teacher Manual” for emergent readers, the same elements of instruction are weaved throughout the guided reading lessons as students increase in reading level. These elements include phonological awareness, spelling of sounds, reading and spelling of high-frequency words, fluency, comprehension, and spelling of words. An example of this is in Set 3, where students blend, segment or rhyme words, learn or practice new sounds and decoding, learn and practice high-frequency words, and read or reread a book.
In the “Being a Writer Teacher Manual,” the sidebars titled “Skill Practice Note” provide students with extra practice related to the standards. An explanation of how the “Being a Writer” program follows the “6+ Writing Traits” program is also included. Student writing is assessed on seven characteristics that are taught, practiced, and evaluated repeatedly throughout the year. These seven characteristics are ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, conventions, and presentation. Beginning in Unit 1, students write using capitalization and ending punctuation. This skill is supported through writing practice all year and is mentioned in the sidebar “Teacher Notes” throughout the curriculum. At the beginning of the year, students also begin writing independently for ten minutes. Further in the school year, students begin to incorporate their reading into their writing, using their comprehension and analysis skills to apply the knowledge to writing. Literacy skills, such as comprehension, are covered throughout the year, allowing students to demonstrate literacy skills spiraled over the year. Students answer questions to build personal connections to the texts. Later, the questions progress to text-to-text connections, asking students to find similarities and differences between the stories.
The “Skills and Conventions” tables provide detailed support for teaching skills and conventions in writing. This design allows for spiraling over the course of the school year. For example, verbs are taught in Unit 2 and revisited in Unit 6. In Unit 2, students write about something special to do with a family member. The teacher shows the word cards find, learn, move, play, and put. In Unit 6, the teacher explains that movement words are called verbs. The teacher asks students, “What words in the poem tell how animals move? Turn to your partner.” Poems are used reciprocally, where the teacher revisits the same poem unit to unit. Practice is provided in Being a Writer “Skills Practice.” Student work spirals back effectively; students use nouns and verbs in sentences. This concept is first introduced in Unit 2, then reviewed in Unit 5 and Unit 6.
Multiple cooperative structures like “Think, Pair, Share” and “Turn and Talk” are incorporated for students to respond to text in multiple modalities. Literacy strategies, such as previewing text read aloud with additional vocabulary support, and daily opportunities for listening, speaking, reading, and writing are evident as well. Scaffolded instruction includes “[e]xplicit teacher modeling, rereading text, prompts to begin responses, drawing on prior knowledge and experiences, and building background knowledge.”
The materials provide explicit instruction in print concepts and opportunities for student practice. The materials provide explicit instruction in print awareness with connections to books/texts during shared reading and small groups; students have opportunities to connect print awareness knowledge to texts in the “Making Meaning” program.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Program Overview” of “Being a Reader” provides information on twenty lessons that introduce and review upper- and lowercase letters: “The goal of Learning Letter Names is to teach alphabet recognition as quickly and efficiently as possible so that students are well prepared for instruction in phonics and high-frequency words.” Students use alphabet wall cards, handheld letter cards, and foam letters to practice identifying upper- and lowercase letters during independent individual or small-group work.
“Shared Reading” lessons provide explicit instruction in print concepts. The teacher reviews the print concepts appropriate to the focus text and leads students in choral reading. In Week 3, the teacher introduces the procedure for echo-reading with the text Flower Garden. Teachers are directed to use a pointer when reading aloud to lead students to track texts and support their development of one-to-one word correspondence and directionality. The teacher points out that there are spaces between words in the text, reads a line from the text, and asks, “How many words are in this line?” Students then, with the teacher, help build the same line from the story on a sentence strip and point out the words and spaces. The teacher cuts the words apart and the words are read one at a time in the pocket chart. To show words create meaning, the cards are shuffled and students help put them in order again.
In Week 5, during shared reading of Over in the Meadow, the teacher shows the front cover of the book and reads the title and subtitle aloud: “Read the name of the author aloud and tell the students that the author of this book is also the illustrator, or the person who made the pictures.” A “Teacher Note” directs: “Pointing to the illustrations supports the students’ understanding of the animals and where they are in the meadow without interrupting the rhythm of the story by stopping to define each word.” This practice helps the student make a connection between printed words and their relationship to the text.
In Week 20 of Being a Reader, students continue to make connections between the meanings of words and the text. While reading When Winter Comes, student volunteers “use the pointer to slide under the words as they are read.” Students continue to use the pointer as they lead the class in choral reading.
First-grade students who are placed in Set 1 of the Being a Reader program are provided with small-group lessons that pair reading comprehension and fluency with print concepts. For example, in “Small-Group Reading Manual Set 1,” Week 1, the teacher monitors as students independently read We Can Read to identify students struggling with directionality and recognition of word boundaries; “If any students are struggling with directionality, pointing under each word, and recognizing high-frequency words, make a note so that you can provide extra practice for them at another time.”
Students are provided with opportunities to connect print awareness knowledge to text in multiple settings. In the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual” guide for “Individual Daily Reading Mini-Lesson 1,” the teacher models examining the front and back covers to aid in deciding which book to select for independent reading. The teacher points out the front cover and back cover and reads aloud the title and the author’s name to think aloud. The teacher debriefs by asking students, “What did you notice about how I chose a book that interests me? What did you notice about how I handled the book? What did I do when I [turned pages/held the book/put it back in the bin]? Why is it important to handle books responsibly?”
The materials provide explicit instruction in phonological skills and opportunities for daily practice. The materials provide opportunities for students to practice oral language activities and explicit instruction in sound patterns. Whole- and small-group practice provides practice for newly taught sound and sound/phoneme patterns.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Oral phonological awareness activities appear in small-group lesson sets every week in the “Being a Reader Small-Group Manual.” For example, in Week 1, Day 1, the teacher guides students to say the sounds in a word and clap each sound. Later in the week, the teacher models how to blend the word whiz slowly and then again more quickly; students then practice oral blending with a list of words. During Week 3, students practice oral segmenting. The teacher says a word and has students clap and count each sound they hear.
In Week 2, students explore the concept of rhyme and identify rhyming words in the shared-reading text Willaby Wallaby Woo. Students play a “Rhyming Name” game and practice rhyming classmates’ names with nonsense words. Students practice newly taught sound patterns. The teacher reveals the letter name card and changes the initial sound in the name to /w/. The students then sing the first line of the song and insert the nonsense word.
In Week 5, students identify rhyming words in the text Over in the Meadow. After reading the text, the teacher asks students to discuss what they know about rhyming words, with partners. If necessary, the teacher explains that words that rhyme sound the same at the end. Students then practice finding more rhyming words in the book.
In Week 6, students practice syllabication in an activity about students’ names. Students identify the letters of the alphabet in one another’s names, count the letters aloud, and clap the syllables in each name.
In the Being a Reader Small-Group Teacher’s Manual Set 5, with teacher guidance, students are introduced to two-syllable decoding, complex vowels, final y, and silent letters k and w. For example, in Week 2, students learn how to break words into two parts or syllables. The teacher writes the word magnet on the wipe-off board. The teacher points out the vowel-consonant-consonant-vowel pattern and writes VCCV below the word to align the letters agne. The teacher explains that V stands for vowel, and C stands for consonant. Finally, the teacher explains, when two or more consonants come between two vowels, the students will break the words into syllables between those consonants. The teacher draws a dot between the g and the n as students read each syllable. The teacher sweeps under the word to say the word. Students continue to practice with the words insect, thunder, upset, problem, forget, and Dexter. Questions to support the lesson include “How many consonants are between the two vowels? (two) What are the consonants? (n and s) Where will we break the word into syllables? (between the n and the s).”
In Week 2 of the Being a Reader Small-Group Teacher’s Manual Set 7, students review syllables and think about ways to read longer words more easily. The teacher starts the lesson by asking, “What do you know about syllables?” Students may respond by stating that syllables are parts of words; every syllable has a vowel sound; and words can have a lot of syllables. The teacher explains that “words are made of syllables and that a word can have one or more syllables.” In a think-aloud, the teacher models by saying, “I’m thinking about the word pen: ‘I put my pen in my backpack.’ The word pen is made of one syllable—pen. Now I’m thinking about the word pencil. ‘I wrote in my journal with a pencil.’ The word pencil is made of two syllables, pen and cil.” Students work in pairs to identify polysyllabic words.
The materials include a research-based sequence of explicit systematic instruction in phonetic knowledge and sufficient opportunities for students to practice both in and out of context. The scope and sequence focuses on appropriate grade-level phonetic patterns, high-frequency words, and spelling knowledge as addressed in the Grade 1 TEKS. Phonetic knowledge is connected to texts and tasks throughout the curriculum. Students are given sufficient opportunities to read grade-level high-frequency words in and out of context.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” Appendix D, includes a scope and sequence for phonics instruction that outlines the skills taught in Grade 1 across the five “Small-Group Manual Sets.” Each Manual Set also includes an overview and calendar with the decoding focus, high-frequency words, and read-aloud to use each week. For example, Week 1 focuses on dropping beginning sounds and two-syllable words. Students learn about dropping the beginning sounds, review two-syllable words, read decodable words and high-frequency words, read and reread the read-aloud, and complete sound sorts.
The Manual Sets also provide a connection between phonetic knowledge and texts through the use of read-alouds. For example, Week 5 focuses on the inflectional ending -ed. The teacher explains that -ed is an action that happens in the past and can stand for /t/, /d/, and /Əd/. Students write the words like, wave, and vote. After reading the words, the teacher explains that before -ed is added the e must be dropped. Students erase the letter e off their boards and add ed. The same procedure is repeated with the words chase, tame, and fade. Students then decode the following words on their wipe-off boards: waded, chased, splashed, shined, flapped.
The materials provide explicit instruction in high-frequency words. Within the small-group lessons, high-frequency words are reviewed daily before being added to the class “Word Wall.” For example, in Week 1, students are introduced to the high-frequency words make, there, and be. The teacher says the high-frequency word, uses it in a sentence, shows the word card, and says the word, sweeping under it on the card. After each high-frequency word is introduced, it is added to the review deck for students to revisit and practice reading in the future. For example, one “Word Work” activity includes writing high-frequency words on index cards for independent practice.
The materials include explicit instruction and practice with phonetic knowledge. Manual Set 3, Lesson 3, introduces consonant blends and inflectional endings. Students read The Good Little Ducks, Part 1, and the teacher supports students in reading the words with blends that appear. Later, in Week 3, students are introduced to consonant blends fl /fl/ and fr /fr/. Using wipe-off boards, students practice spelling the words flake, flip, flag, fresh, from, and freeze as they blend the sounds by sweeping under the spelling words. Additionally, in Manual Set 4, students are introduced to final-e spellings with and without inflectional endings, vowel digraphs ee and ea, and r-controlled vowels. For example, in Week 7, students use the picture to identify the spelling sound. The teacher explains that the picture of the bird will help them remember the sound /ur/ because the middle sound in the word bird is /ur/. Students use wipe-off boards to decode the following words: bird, perch, teach, her, chirp, first.
The materials include explicit instruction and practice with spelling. Each “Guided Spelling” lesson follows an instructional routine: Students spell two decodable words and one high-frequency word with teacher support on Days 1–2 and write a sentence using the spelling words on Day 3. The spelling words are aligned with the grade-level phonics patterns students are learning to decode. For example, in Manual Set 4, the spelling-sound relationships include long-vowel spelling patterns. In Week 1, students are introduced to the a_e (long a) spelling pattern. They practice spelling the words bake, flame, save, grape, skate, and shave. Students also spell high-frequency words they’ve encountered in “Shared Reading” texts. For example, in Manual Set 8, students read The Great Gracie Chase and practice spelling the following high-frequency words from the text: school, because, every, through, again, half, and thought.
The materials include additional resources for phonics instruction. Shared Reading lessons include instruction on general phonics concepts through the use of specific examples from the Shared Reading texts. For example, in Week 12, students learn the concept that a single sound can be spelled multiple ways. Students read When Winter Comes and learn about specific spelling-sound patterns for the long /o/ sound. There are also additional activities in the “Extending the Instruction Program Overview” that provide more practice for students to apply foundational reading skills introduced in Shared Reading lessons. The materials also include monthly “Mastery Tests” that evaluate whether or not individual students have mastered the phonics patterns, high-frequency words, and spelling patterns taught in small-group reading sets from the previous four weeks of instruction.
The materials provide frequent opportunities for students to practice and develop fluency, including rate, accuracy, and prosody. This includes explicit instruction during shared reading and additional practice during small-group instruction. Teachers are guided to regularly monitor and provide corrective feedback to students; recommendations on best practices to support students who need additional support with fluency are included.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials include explicit oral fluency instruction in whole-class “Shared Reading” lessons. The teacher leads students in various methods of reading aloud the shared-reading text, such as echo reading and choral reading, to provide frequent opportunities to practice fluency. For example, in Week 13, students echo read two lines of “In a Winter Meadow” at a time. Students listen carefully while the teacher reads and points to each word. Next, they read the same words together in voices that are not too loud or too soft. In Week 19, students participate in choral reading. The teacher explains that growing readers can read more than one word at a time, so they can read more smoothly and in a way that makes them easy to understand. Students start the lesson by echo reading “Kick a Little Stone” and then chorally read two poems aloud, “Kick a Little Stone” and “The Little Turtle”.
In Week 28, students read One Duck Stuck and act out parts of the story in groups with a focus on paying attention to punctuation. After reading the text, the teacher reminds students that the words “Help! Help! Who can help?” are repeated many times in the story. The teacher models reading aloud, and the students join in reading these words each time they appear in the book. The teacher points out the exclamation points and the question mark on the page and reminds students that these punctuation marks help readers know how a story should sound. The teacher invites a volunteer to read and model the way it should sound. Students join the teacher in chorally reading the words “Help! Help! Who can help?”
In addition to whole-class shared reading lessons, fluency is also monitored in small-group reading instruction where students read texts at their individual levels. The materials include assessments to evaluate students’ independent fluency and text comprehension for placement in small groups; they also include guidance on differentiating for students in these small groups. For example, students who struggle with phrasing after completing Set 5 go on to Set 6, which continues focusing on accuracy and rate, while those who are reading with prosody continue to Set 7 or 8.
The materials provide additional guidance for teachers on monitoring students’ fluency. For example, after teachers have conducted an “Individual Reading Observation,” they are prompted to consider the following questions: “Is the student able to group words together in phrases? Does the student use appropriate expression and intonation? Is the student able to read at an appropriate rate? Does the student’s voice reflect the punctuation marks? Does the student read in a way that reflects an understanding of how the characters are feeling?”
The materials include placement assessments and information to assist in foundational skills instruction. In order to support students’ growth in and mastery of foundational skills, the materials provide detailed guided support and directions so that assessment data provides information for teachers during the planning of small-group instruction and differentiation.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book,” a “Letter Name Assessment” is provided, designed to help the teachers decide whether each student is ready to begin “Small-Group Reading.” Teachers are informed that students need to know 21 lowercase letter names to begin Small-Group Reading. If students do not pass, they receive additional lessons in letter instruction in a small group; the resource for this is called “Learning Letter Names.” Additional resources for this are given in the “CCC Learning Hub.”
In the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book, the “Placement Assessment for Small-Group Reading Sets 1–5” is provided for the beginning of the year to determine a student’s use of spelling-sound correspondences to read decodable words and knowledge of letters and high-frequency words. The purpose of these assessments is to identify students’ reading levels for small-group reading instruction.
In the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book, “Mastery Tests” are designed to assess how well individual students are learning the spelling sounds, phonics patterns, and high-frequency words taught in Small Group Reading Sets 1–5. Throughout the Small-Group Reading lessons, a Mastery Test “Assessment Note” will alert the teacher when an assessment is suggested. These notes occur once every four weeks.
Formative assessments are completed through class observations and conferences with individual students; they are included in whole-class independent work and handwriting. For example, the “Small-Group Placement Assessment” record is used to record whether the student reads each word, sound, or letter correctly or incorrectly to determine whether or not to continue on to the next section. Instructions to administer the assessment are included for the teacher: “When you and the students are ready to begin Small-Group Reading, administer the Placement Assessment for Small-Group Reading Sets 1–5 to individual students to identify their reading levels. If a student tests below Set 4, you will need to acquire the Small-Group Teacher Manual and texts for that level.”
Details for preparing materials, delivering the assessment, and interpreting the results support teachers as they determine student placements. Directions provide support to teachers as they adjust the diagnostic assessment according to student mastery through each section. Components of the assessment include foundational skills in silent and oral reading of text with accuracy, grade-level appropriate rate, and expression. A running record is also taken along with comprehension questions. The Letter Name Assessment can be given in Grade 1 to identify students who need instruction in letter names.
Mastery Tests are summative assessments included in the Resource Book that are designed to assess how well individual students are learning the spelling sounds, phonics patterns, and high-frequency words taught in Small-Group Reading Sets 1–5. They help determine whether individual students have mastered the content of the preceding four weeks. A “Grade-Level Expectations for Reading” chart is also provided for teachers to use when assessing students.
The placement assessments included in the “Being a Reader” program are designed to help teachers make informed instructional decisions and track and evaluate student academic growth and needs over time. All materials for assessment, including instructions and forms, are included in the “Being a Reader Assessment Guide” and on the CCC Learning Hub.
Progress-monitoring forms may be copied from the guide or printed from the “CCC ClassView” app.
The “Class Assessments” are designed to help the teacher assess the academic, and sometimes social, performance of the whole class. Each “Class Assessment Note” in the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual” has a corresponding “Class Assessment Record” sheet where observations will be recorded. The record sheet reiterates the suggestions for how to proceed with the instruction based on the observations. A “Forming and Managing Small Groups” section of the Manual provides guidance on how to proceed after administering placement tests; there is also a “Reading Levels Correlation” chart for students who place in Sets 6–12. The teacher is instructed to place students where they are able to read a text with 98–100% accuracy. There are tips for grouping students into reading groups; for example, “If the number of reading levels in your class is greater than the number of reading groups you would like to have, if a student’s reading level falls somewhere between the levels of two reading groups, if a student’s reading level is below the level of your lowest reading group, if a student’s reading level is far below the level of your lowest reading group, and if a student’s reading level is far above the level of your highest reading group.” Lastly, within the actual assessments, there are suggestions for students who struggle, such as, “If most of your students struggle to manage their own learning and behavior in the work areas for 10–15 minutes or to manage the transitions as they rotate, repeat this week’s instruction before going on to Week 5.”
The materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress as indicated by the program scope and sequence. The program provides guidance for teachers to respond to individual students’ literacy needs after assessments. The assessments measure the students’ understanding of print concepts, phonological awareness, phonetic knowledge, and fluency.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book” provides a “Letter Name Assessment” that is administered to identify Grade 1 students who need instruction in letter names. If necessary, teachers can access the “Learning Letter Names” lessons on the “CCC Learning Hub.” Students who demonstrated mastery on the Letter Name Assessment continue to the “Placement Assessment for Small-Group Reading Sets 1–5” to identify their reading levels. Materials provide guidance for planning small groups based on the results of the assessment; for example, “If a student tests below Set 4, you will need to acquire the Small-Group Teacher Manual and texts for that level.” In contrast, if they place out of Set 5 at the beginning of the year, the teacher is directed to use the Placement Assessment for Sets 7–12.
Materials note: “During the course of the year, after the students have passed the Mastery Test at the end of Set 5, they will follow one of two pathways into Small-Group Reading Sets 6–12.” The pathways for small-group work are aligned to the lessons and activities concurrently taking place in the whole-group instruction of the “Being a Reader” program.
The Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book includes “Mastery Tests” designed to assess how well individual students are learning the spelling sounds, phonics patterns, and high-frequency words taught in Small-Group Reading Sets 1–5. Throughout the Small-Group Reading lessons, Mastery Test “Assessment Notes” alert the teacher when an assessment is suggested; these occur once every four weeks. For example, Mastery Test 1 is completed after four weeks of instruction in Set 1. Students have five seconds to read each of the following spelling sounds: s, n, m, t, a; “The passing criterion is set at 80 percent.” Materials provide guidance for how to address students who do not meet the criterion. For Set 1, after identifying students who need repeat instruction, teachers must further evaluate which sounds were missed. Next, the lesson “Reteach with Nat the Rat” is used to strengthen the skill.
In the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” Week 3, teachers use the “Class Assessment Record Sheet” (CA1), and a “Class Assessment Note” to determine whether the students are able to sustain independent writing, reading, and word work for at least 15 minutes each. This is observed through the teacher reflecting on questions such as “Do the students use their independent work habits consistently and do word work independently for the whole time?” There is also a separate “Assessment Resource Guide” that includes formative and summative assessments that can be used to respond to individual students’ literacy needs weekly.
In the Being a Reader program, whole-class “Shared Reading” lessons develop concepts of print, phonemic awareness, and letter recognition. By rereading texts during Shared Reading, students develop “awareness of the functions of print, their familiarity with language patterns, and their word recognition skills.” For example, in Week 3, echo-reading is introduced with the text Flower Garden. Students are directed to track the print as it is read. The teacher is directed to model tracking from left to right and top to bottom. Teachers observe each student’s ability to track print as they listen during Shared Reading. During Week 5, the teacher shows the front and back covers of the book; reads aloud the title, author, and illustrator; and explains what an author and illustrator do. Students then discuss the story. Concepts of print are assessed in Week 6, with the “Group Progress Assessment” for Small-Group Reading found in the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book. Teachers ask themselves, “Have the students mastered concepts of print, such as where to begin reading and pointing to each word as they read?” A rubric measures if all, most, or few readers have mastered these concepts.
In the Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book, Set 4, Week 2, the Small-Group Reading Group Progress Assessment has teachers ask themselves the following question: “Can the students produce rhyming words?” These questions assess students in their understanding of phonological awareness, and materials provide suggestions for addressing struggling students: “If the students struggle with rhyming, provide additional practice by repeating the phonological awareness activity with another rime.” A section titled “Reteach with A Good Team” is provided at the end of the lesson. During Set 5, Week 2, teachers ask themselves the following question: “Can the students read two-syllable words?” If they are unable to do so, materials provide recommendations, such as “Have them read two-syllable words by framing each syllable and having the students read each syllable separately before reading the whole word.”
There are opportunities for students to practice each newly taught sound and sound/phoneme pattern. Small-Group Reading Sets 1–5 focus on phonics/decoding and high-frequency word recognition. For example, in Week 4, students work on oral blending by blending the words that follow a phoneme stated by the teacher, such as pile, games, and shines. Students also work on guided spelling with the same letter and sounds as in their blending practice. In addition, by the end of Set 5, the students will have mastered single-syllable phonics and been introduced to polysyllabic decoding. Mastery Test 5 checks students’ ability to decode words such as zip, jog, edge, when, sing, quick, snap, and fast.
In the Small Group Placement Assessment for Sets 1–5, “Spelling of Sounds” in Section B measures phonetic knowledge. Sections D–F is a list of decodable words to read, with a five-second limit per word. Set 8 measures if the students can read polysyllabic words. The rubric measures if all, most, or few readers have mastered these concepts.
“Placement Tests” help to evaluate students’ fluency. Instructions on preparing the placement test, conducting the assessment, and interpreting the results are provided. Materials include assessment record sheets and notes on the next steps if the student does not pass. There are also next steps based on the percentage of accuracy. An “Individual Reading Observation” record is included to track fluency progress. Teachers observe as students read aloud and record responses to guide provided questions: “Is the student able to group words together in phrases? Does the student use appropriate expressions and intonation? Is the student able to read at an appropriate rate? Does the student’s voice reflect the punctuation marks? Does the student read in a way that reflects an understanding of how the characters are feeling?”
The materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Guidance is provided for planning and learning opportunities for students, including extensions and differentiation. While most extensions are framed for the general classroom population, extension and differentiation opportunities do successfully support students who demonstrate literacy skills above grade level.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Making Meaning Teacher Guide,” Volume 1, the introduction in “Extending the Instruction” describes that one way to extend instruction is through reader response. Students are given the opportunity to connect to the text and cite evidence after reading. In addition, students may choose to extend or deepen their learning through reading more about a topic, giving their opinion about a book read aloud, reading other books an author wrote after hearing one read aloud, or imagining another ending to a story.
For example, in Unit 1, during the core lesson, students are introduced to Quick as a Cricket. The teacher reads aloud the story; students discuss and participate in reflecting on their listening. After the teacher rereads the story, students make connections. For the “Extension” lesson, it is suggested that students act out the story Quick as a Cricket. In another Extension lesson during this unit, it is suggested that the class partake in making a class book. Students write about something they did when they were little and how they do it now. The teacher gives a sentence frame to support: “When I was little, I…” and “Now I….” In the Making Meaning “Teacher Manual,” “Technology Extension” lessons provide options to use technology to extend instruction. In Unit 1, the Technology Extension is to explore the genre of fables. The lesson includes students exploring different types of fables online, like text, audiobooks, or videos.
There are opportunities for students to extend their learning within the units of the “Being a Writer” program. In Unit 1, Week 1, there is a “Make a Things We Like to Do Class Book” activity, to compile students’ “I like to” stories. The book will then be read aloud and made available in the classroom library. In Week 2, students read Farmer Duck by Helen Oxenbury as part of the extension activity to continue exploring how illustrations relate to words in other books. Students explore other books illustrated by Helen Oxenbury through read-aloud and discussion of the relation of illustrations to the words on the page.
In Unit 2, extension opportunities push students to create “Our Views” stories, using digital cameras to take one picture close up and one far away. Students write clues that go with the close-up picture to share with another student who will guess what it is. Also found in Being a Writer, Unit 2, students engage with words from the “Word Wall.” These include the following types of extension activities: composing silly sentences using words from the Word Wall; writing a sentence using a word from the Word Wall, then sharing sentences with the class while students try to guess the Word Wall word; and sorting words on the Word Wall by type (for example, “action words” and “describing words”).
In Unit 6, students learn about their senses as they are exposed to more nonfiction text to practice using comprehension strategies. In an extension, students compare fiction and nonfiction books about sleep. The teacher reads aloud a fiction book about sleep or dreaming and students compare the story to what they learned in Sleep Well. Suggested fiction books are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming, and Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep by Jane Yolen.
In Unit 8, students conduct a mini-research project after listening to the book An Elephant Grows Up. Students “Think, Pair, Share” possible topics for research and make a list of things they wonder about their topic. Students then work in pairs to read various resources collected on the topic before they share what they learned with the whole class.
In the Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teacher Guide,” extensions are offered in some of the lessons. In Week 27, students explore academic language from the class read-aloud of Velociraptor. Students are explicitly taught about the word desert and its relevance to the book on velociraptors. Then, they listen to page 11 of the text for words that tell what the desert is like. After, the teacher asks, “What is a desert like? What words did I read that tell about a desert?”
The “Program Overview” section of the Making Meaning Teacher Manual provides a reference for “Setting up a Classroom Library.” This section guides teachers in making decisions as they set up books for students to read. It states: “The library should include a balance of fiction and nonfiction books. To accommodate various reading levels, at least 25 percent of the library should be books that are one to two grades below grade level, and at least 25 percent should be books that are one to two grades above grade level.” Additionally, in order to support students above their independent reading levels, the “Teacher Note” in the “Individualized Daily Reading Mini-Lesson 2” states: “During other times throughout the day, you might provide the students with opportunities to read books that are above or below their independent reading levels.”
The materials include supports for students who perform below grade level to ensure they are meeting the grade-level literacy standards. Guidance is provided for planning and learning opportunities for students, including extensions and differentiation. While support for students is of high quality, the lack of teacher guidance makes the implementation of these supports challenging.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual,” Volume 1, the introduction identifies where to find information on leveling text in order to meet the needs of students performing below, on, or above the expected grade level. It is suggested to refer to the “Fountas and Pinnell” or “Lexile” leveling systems to know how to identify the level of the texts. Texts in “Being a Reader” and “Making Meaning” are not leveled for the teacher. This includes sets of readers for small-group instruction. The “Reading Appropriately Leveled Texts” program details the importance of building reading fluency as a foundation for comprehension. Guidance on below-grade-level readers states: “Make sure they have time every day to practice reading decodable texts, and check in with them regularly to monitor their rate and accuracy.”
In Unit 1, the Making Meaning “Class Assessment Note” outlines various “if” and “then” options that identify if students are on target for the current lesson. After listening to “It’s Mine!” the teacher instruction notes: “If about half of the students understand the story, ask additional questions such as: ‘Why do the frogs argue?’ If only a few students understand the story, give the class additional instruction by repeating this week’s lessons using an alternative book before continuing.”
In Unit 3 of Making Meaning, teachers are provided guidance in assessing the class and providing learning activities to reinforce struggling students. The Class Assessment Note for Curious George Goes Camping asks the teacher, “Are the students able to retell the parts of the story using the illustrations?” If only a few are able to complete the task, the guide suggests providing additional instruction by repeating the week’s lessons using an alternative book before continuing. A further extension activity is also included: “Explain that when you retell a story, it is important to retell events in the correct order so that the story makes sense”; using prepared sentence strips of main events from the story, students work to put the story in order. “Individualized Daily Reading” (IDR) conferences also begin in Unit 3. In the beginning, the conferences focus on getting to know the students as readers. As the year progresses, the IDR conferences focus on assessing student comprehension, encouraging self-monitoring strategies, and supporting students demonstrating literacy skills below their grade level. Suggestions for supporting students reading below grade level are given in the conference notes. Some of those suggestions include finding books with predictable text and sharing texts with repeated vocabulary and engaging pictures. In addition, teachers are advised to ensure the text is at the right reading level and are provided details on ways to help if comprehension or fluency is an issue.
In Unit 8, the Class Assessment Note addresses students who are unable to describe what they learned in a diagram. Understanding text features from A Day in the Life of a Garbage Collector is a literacy skill that supports comprehension of informational texts. If only a few students are able to describe what they learned from the diagram, the lessons are repeated with alternative texts. Additionally, materials provide the extension activity “Read More About Garbage Collection.” In this activity, the teacher shares that A Day in the Life of a Garbage Collector includes a “Read More” section. Recommended nonfiction is included, and the teacher selects a title and reads the book aloud to the class. Periodically, students stop to discuss what they have learned and compare new information to the previous selection.
In the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” the “Program at a Glance” includes guidance to support students during small-group instruction. The materials provide a range of small-group reading books and a “Small-Group Teacher Manual” for each set. The “Program Overview” explains: “You might find that you need more books at a certain level or sets below or above your grade-level materials in order to meet your students’ needs. Individual small-group reading sets at all levels are available to meet the needs of different classrooms.” The “Teaching the Program” overview states: “Small-Group Reading begins no earlier than Week 5 of the school year, after the foundation for Independent Work is set and the students have been assessed for grouping.”
Differentiated small-group reading instruction includes practice with phonological awareness, blending of decodable words, sound sorts, high-frequency word cards, and guided spelling. Students are grouped with others at a similar stage and provided appropriate reading material. The groups read their stories and answer questions to reinforce their comprehension. For example in Set 3, high-frequency words are reviewed using the text On the Job. A “Teacher Note” provides guidance: “If the students struggle to read a high-frequency word, say the word and then have the students read it and spell it.”
A “Group Progress Assessment” found in the “Being a Reader Small-Group Assessment Resource Book,” Set 3, assesses, “Can the students read words with inflectional endings?” Suggestions are provided for students who are not able to perform on grade level. Teachers are instructed: “Support struggling students by reteaching previous content; see ‘Reteach with The Good Little Ducks, Part 2.’” If the student struggles with inflectional endings, additional practice can occur during the small-group time; for example: “Create several lists of five or six CVC words with inflectional endings and have students read one or more of the lists until they have mastered them.” In Set 5, students are expected to read two-syllable words. Teachers use “Reteach with Ants, Moths, and Wasps” if students are unsuccessful. Recommendations include “read two-syllable words by framing each syllable.” By reading each syllable separately, students are able to then connect the syllables and read them as a single word.
The Program Overview section of the Making Meaning Teacher Manual provides a reference for “Setting up a Classroom Library.” This section guides teachers in making decisions as they set up books for students to read. It states: “The library should include a balance of fiction and nonfiction books. To accommodate various reading levels, at least 25 percent of the library should be books that are one to two grades below grade level, and at least 25 percent should be books that are one to two grades above grade level.” Additionally, the Teacher Note in IDR “Mini-Lesson 3” provides a necessary resource for the creation of the classroom library.
The materials provide some supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. Limited guidance is provided for accommodations commensurate with the levels of English language proficiency defined by the ELPS. Furthermore, materials lack activities and scaffolds for the specific proficiency levels. Materials provide general scaffolds, and vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse. However, there is a lack of strategic use of students’ first language as a means to development in English.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” “ELL Support Features,” “ELL Vocabulary,” and “ELL Notes” are incorporated in each lesson to support teachers in supporting ELs. ELL (English Language Learner) Support Features include notes on previewing the text in order to define vocabulary or discuss illustrations that may assist in the comprehension of the read-aloud text. Additional support features include building background knowledge through visual aids, technology, photographs, and realia to increase comprehension. For example, in Week 1, the ELL Support Feature includes previewing and reading aloud the class poem “In a Winter Meadow,” with students while acting out the poem and discussing vocabulary. The Support Feature notes also build background knowledge for students by providing a picture and explanation of a snow hare.
Each read-aloud includes specific ELL Vocabulary: “This feature identifies and defines additional words in a read-aloud that you may want to address with your ELLs.” For example, in Unit 1, with the text Quick as a Cricket, ELL Vocabulary includes the terms weak and lazy to aid students’ comprehension. A “Vocabulary Teaching Guide” is also included. Vocabulary is taught and developed with words introduced in a familiar text read aloud and with definitions in student-friendly language. Aligned support is provided through photographs, illustrations, realia, acting, and modeled sentence starters. Other scaffolds to help students make personal connections to the vocabulary words include opportunities to discuss the words in connected discourse, gestures that convey meaning, and spiraling of the words throughout the curriculum.
ELL Notes provide additional guidance to the teacher to support ELs during daily literacy lessons. For example, Unit 1 includes an ELL Note for the teacher explaining what the Spanish cognate of timid is. In Week 20, students discuss the similarities and differences between books. An ELL Note sidebar provides a prompt to support student discourse and use of content vocabulary such as similar and different.
The materials recommend assessing students’ English language proficiency level and provide a table that outlines five stages of language proficiency. The “Making Meaning Teacher Manual” supports teachers in evaluating the reading comprehension of ELs at the early stages of language acquisition through alternative forms of assessment. The materials suggest considering questions such as “Do the student’s drawings and written symbols communicate thinking or show evidence of my teaching (such as completing a sentence frame and illustrating it appropriately, or including a beginning, middle, and end of a story)?” Additional supports for ELs come in the form of speaking slowly; providing visual aids and technology such as photos, realia, diagrams, sketches, physical modeling, book recordings, interactive read alouds, and visual expression through movement and art; pre-teaching; and simplifying questions. The materials do not provide accommodations that are commensurate with the levels of English language proficiency defined by the ELPS.
The materials are intended for an English immersion program, so encouraging strategic use of students’ first language for development in English is not woven throughout the materials. The suggestion of pairing EL students with another student who shares their native language for discussion activities is provided as a possible option, but the materials highly encourage pairing with a strong English language student who will model correct grammar. No materials explicitly state for students to use their first language as a means to develop their English.
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress, including how to interpret and act on data yielded. Both formative and summative assessments are aligned, TEKS centered, and connected to content that supports student learning. Assessment data provides sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Formative and summative assessments are provided throughout the curriculum in multiple resources. In the “Making Meaning Assessment Resource Book,” there are comprehension and vocabulary assessments for each unit as well as individual assessment folders. Starting in Unit 2, “Individual Daily Reading” (IDR) conferences provide teachers “the opportunity to talk with individual students about their reading, identify areas of strength, and note areas in which students need more support.” An IDR “Conference Note” in the “Teacher’s Manual” suggests when to hold conferences. Initially, the conferences allow teachers to learn about students as readers, and as the year progresses, the focus moves to assessing “students’ comprehension and enjoyment of reading and…supporting the students’ reading growth and encouraging self-monitoring.” The Making Meaning Assessment Resource Book also includes “Class Vocabulary Assessments.” This assessment occurs every two weeks starting in Week 2 and evaluates the performance and needs of the whole class based on vocabulary instruction from the lesson. Other connected assessments include “Social Skills” and “Letter Name” summative assessments.
The introduction of the “Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book” specifies evaluative tools for formative and summative assessments for each grade level and individual reading level, as well as assessments for small-group placements aligned to text sets. The materials help teachers make informed instructional decisions and track and evaluate students’ academic growth and social development. In addition, students keep their own data folders throughout the year. Individual and class progress supports teachers as they determine if students are responding to the lessons or if instruction needs adjustment. During small-group reading, teachers can monitor individual student growth based on the text set in which they are placed. Teachers keep a record of small groups with a “Reading Groups Class Record” report, which tracks progress over time, allowing informed instruction in the program. For grade-level requirements based on leveled text-set evaluations, students are scored as “Meets or Exceeds Expectations,” “Approaches Expectations,” or “Does Not Meet Expectations.” For ease of use, an assessment icon appears throughout the “Being a Reader” program to alert the instructor to check for understanding through various formative, summative, and placement tests. All assessment forms are available in the “CCCLab Apps.”
Information found in the “Being a Writer Assessment Resource Book” introduction recommends that both unit tests and progress-monitoring assessments should be administered a few times per year. Beginning- and end-of-year writing samples are kept in individual writing folders to show student growth over time. An “Individual Class Writing Assessment” record form is also provided. Individual Writing Assessments track student growth and identify stages of writing. The record sheet includes two parts: “Unit Writing Samples” and “End-of-Unit Writing Samples.” A reflection component provides questions to guide instruction. A place for “Conference Notes” and recording of individual assessments is included in each student’s writing folder. Assessment charts are aligned in purpose and intended use within units. For example, in Unit 2, the chart begins with assessing if students start writing easily and continue writing. Do they write from left to right? Are they able to sustain their focus on their writing? Later in the unit, students are assessed on their spacing between words, correct use of high-frequency words, and multiple sentences written. This assessment is aligned in purpose to the unit focuses: writing and the beginning writer. By Unit 4, as students publish writing pieces, the assessments shift to analyzing the skills and craft of writing.
When scoring assessments using the “CCC ClassView App,” teachers are able to “collect, sort, synthesize, and report assessment data for each student.” Reports for the class and individual students are generated when electronically entering assessment data. This allows teachers to provide informed instruction. At the end of each observation, suggestions for instruction are given and specific to the task. In “Being a Writer: The Assessment Resource Book” and in “Making Meaning: The Assessment Resource Book,” assessments include “Class Assessment Records” across multiple units. These forms support teachers in reflecting on the learning of the entire class. The form provides areas of “consideration” to support the teacher in interpreting and responding to student performance. Questions are also provided to elicit student thinking and performance. Example questions include “What else can you add to your illustration to show that [you put your toys away]? What can you add to your writing?” and “What is one thing you still want to know about your partner’s story?”
The materials include year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify the needs of students and provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners to ensure grade-level success. The materials provide opportunities to engage students in multiple grouping structures and support for identifying students’ needs. Teacher edition materials include annotations to support student engagement and implement the curriculum for differentiating instruction.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Multiple teacher resources in the curriculum include year-long plans for differentiation and supporting student progress. An “Implementation Guide” includes sample year-long calendars for Fall, Winter, and Spring for the three major components of the curriculum: “Making Meaning,” “Being a Reader,” and “Being a Writer.” This directs teachers on where to start and gives pacing for each week throughout the school year. Being a Reader includes a “Teaching the Program” section with a suggested weekly schedule, spanning through 30 weeks of instruction, five days a week.
Within units, the lessons are presented in a logical order; students are engaged through shared reading, independent work, handwriting, small-group reading instruction and independent work rotations, and various activities and assessments. In the “Being a Reader Small-Group Teacher’s Manual,” after assessing students’ reading levels, teachers assign students to differentiated small groups; these students work in pairs as is periodically recommended in lessons. The manual suggests random, heterogeneous pairing to build students’ social and emotional development. The materials explain the purpose of random groups: “Random pairing sends several positive messages to the students: There is no hidden agenda behind how you pair the students (such as choosing pairs based on achievement), every student is considered a valuable partner, and everyone is expected to learn to work with everyone else.” Materials provide alternative methods to identify random partners; for example, using playing cards, students pair up with someone who has the same number or suit. Specific cooperative structures are introduced throughout the materials. These structures include “Turn to Your Partner” and “Think, Pair, Share.” The only exception to random pairings is in the case of English Learners (ELs). In this case, the materials suggest pairing the EL with another multilingual speaker to support the EL’s oral language skills.
In the “Introduction” of the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” the “Collaborative Classroom” section mentions one of the program’s core principles: Classroom learning experiences should be built around students constructing knowledge and engaging in action. Specifically, the materials target increasing student engagement through intentional interactions with topics and activities, which in turn increases academic achievement. The program states: “The Collaborative Classroom is an intentional environment in which collaboration goes beyond conventional cooperation and compliance. Students become caring members of a learning community who take responsibility for their own learning. As students think, talk, and share ideas, they come to value the thinking of others. They become thoughtful writers and engaged speakers and listeners. They discuss and debate big ideas with respect, clarity, and understanding.”
The “Teacher Guide” found in each unit provides an overview of the unit and then reviews the implementation of each lesson, starting with the read-aloud and working all the way to the activities. Within the unit, information for teachers is located in the margins, such as “Teacher Notes,” “Facilitation Tips,” “Technology Tip,” “Vocabulary Note,” and “ELL Support.” In Making Meaning, beginning in Unit 2, “Individual Daily Reading” (IDR) “Conference Notes” appear throughout the program to alert the teacher when to conduct a formative assessment. The “Resource Sheet” for IDR Conferences in the “Assessment Resource Book” assists in tracking and monitoring student progress. The materials provide additional support for student learning and assistance for teachers through “Lesson Length and Pacing,” the “CCC Learning Hub,” and the Being a Reader “Handwriting Notebook,” Being a Writer “Student Skill Practice Book,” and Making Meaning “Student Response Book.” The Being a Writer “Skills Practice Teaching Guide” includes Teacher Notes that provide assistance to teachers in assessing students and diagnosing language skills.
The materials provide multiple resources to support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. However, the materials do not provide a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence or additional supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. Realistic pacing guidance and routines are included, but only for 30 weeks of literacy instruction.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Appendix D of the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual” provides a scope and sequence outlining the skills that are taught in the program (such as retelling as part of reading comprehension and directionality as part of print concepts). Direct alignment of these skills to the TEKS is not provided. The materials direct users to access a website to see a correlation of how the skills taught overall in the program aligns to the TEKS.
The materials include several supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended. In the Being a Reader Teacher Manual, the “Planning and Teaching the Lessons” section provides details on each lesson component (“Introduction,” “Shared Reading,” “Handwriting,” “Independent Work”) and support for understanding pacing and extending the lesson. The materials also include a “Learning Hub” with brief videos to support teachers with planning lessons (for example, demonstrations of teachers modeling specific techniques and examples of students using cooperative structures). The “Tips for Managing the Program in Your Classroom” resource includes guidance on how to arrange the classroom and manage materials and workflow. “Additional Technology Features” provides tips, extensions, tutorials, and mini-lessons related to technology. The online “Implementation Guide” shows teachers how the components fit into a single Language Arts block, with suggestions for scheduling, planning, and pacing guides. Separate resources such as the Being a Reader and Being a Writer Teacher Manuals provide additional implementation support for teachers. Materials do not include supports for administrators.
The Implementation Guide summarizes the 1st- and 2nd-grade-specific learning-block schedule. The materials include 30 weeks of instructional materials to support 150 minutes of literacy instruction each day, including “Individualized Daily Reading.” Suggested schedules to support weekly instruction are included throughout the “Introduction” section of the Implementation Guide.
The materials include student-facing materials with visual designs that are neither distracting or chaotic. The materials provide appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Making Meaning Student Response Book” provides adequate space for students to write responses. For example, a large box is given for students to draw their pictures, and lines are included for students to record responses. The entire page is used adequately to distribute the assignment. The pages include lines for students to write their responses; sentence stems are provided at the top of the page. Spacing supports student learning. Examples of activity pages include “What I Wonder,” “Making Connections,” “How I Pictured,” and other response sheets that have appropriately spaced lines and white space for illustrations.
In the “Being a Reader Handwriting Notebook,” white space is distributed appropriately throughout the material. Each page has a letter, a graphic representing the letter, and space for students to practice tracing and writing the letter independently. Students have adequate spacing to practice letter formation on the dotted lines provided. The dotted sentence practice of letter formation provides adequate spaces between words. Spacing supports student learning, and ample opportunities for handwriting practice are provided.
The Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teaching Guide” provides two options for displaying the picture cards and word cards used in vocabulary instruction: either through interactive whiteboard or through print. Picture cards provide visual support for the word cards that display vocabulary words. Cards are sized appropriately for students to clearly view and are not visually distracting. An example of each picture card appears at the beginning of each lesson, like the picture cards for the words wriggle and snuggle in Week 17. The word card for wriggle displays an image of a puppy twisting and turning in a child’s hands, while the word card for snuggle shows a child closely holding a teddy bear.
In the “Being a Writer Student Skill Practice Book,” materials include appropriate use of white space as students practice taught grammar. Fill-in-the-blank spacing includes appropriate room for handwritten student responses. Similarly, there is adequate spacing between question directions and answer choices. Pictures and graphics correlate with the sentences to enhance student comprehension and independence within their work. They also enhance engagement in directions to support student learning. Pages are used in their entirety and do not distract visually for student understanding.
The materials do not include student-facing technology components.
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