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The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. 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 Kindergarten students.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Friends at School by Rochelle Burnett is a nonfiction read-aloud text that describes a classroom of children and the activities they like to do while working and playing with their classmates.
Getting Around by Plane by Cassie Mayer is an informational text about planes—what they carry, how and where they fly, and who works on them.
Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats is a realistic fiction story about a boy who wants to learn how to whistle to call his dog.
A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester is a fictional picture story about a porcupine and a rhinoceros that become friends.
Brave Norman: A True Story by Andrew Clements is a true narrative nonfiction story about a blind dog that saves a girl from drowning.
“Cats” by Eleanor Farjeon is a poem that describes all the different places cats sleep.
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:
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (picture book)
I Was So Mad by Mercer Mayer (picture book)
Umbrellas by Lilian Moore (poetic picture book)
Say Hello by Jack Foreman (realistic fiction picture book)
Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola (picture book)
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Tools by Ann Morris (expository picture book)
A Baby Penguin Story by Martha E. H. Rustad (expository picture book)
A Harbor Seal Pup Grows Up by Joan Hewett (expository picture book)
The Moon by Martha E. H. Rustad (expository picture book)
A Tiger Cub Grows Up by Joan Hewett (expository picture book)
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
In Tools by Ann Morris, students are directed toward the book’s title page. They analyze what information is included on the front and are specifically directed toward the photographs of people using tools. Later, students use the other photos in the book to compare to the text A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper.
In A Harbor Seal Pup Grows Up by Joan Hewett, students similarly analyze the title page. However, this time they also explore the back cover of the book, looking for what the book is about. Halfway through reading, students stop, and the teacher asks, “What did you learn from the words and the pictures about Sidney’s first weeks of life?”
In Dolphins by Kate Riggs, students stop to notice the word ocean; it is a different color than the other words on the page, and students explore the glossary to check the definition of ocean. They learn that defined words may be in different colors, and that these words have a definition in the glossary.
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: “Wordless/Alphabet”, “Slightly Complex”, “Moderately Complex”, and “Very Complex.”
The complexity of whole-class instructional texts are above the complexity level a Kindergarten student would be able to read independently such as Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Lexile AD530L).
Other Lexile levels for Kindergarten texts include:
Making Meaning Program Read-Aloud Texts
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff (AD440L)
Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie dePaola (AD500L)
Doctors Help by Dee Ready (520L)
Dolphins by Kate Riggs (310L)
The Being a Reader small-group texts increase in qualitative complexity over the course of the year. Set 1 starts with high-frequency words with few spelling-sound relationships; then, consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words are included. Set 2 informational texts are on single topics, while fiction texts have increased complexity compared with Set 1. In Set 3, informational texts continue to be on single topics. Fiction texts have increased complexity compared with Set 2, with opportunities for readers to identify characters’ feelings and changes in characters, as well as make inferences. Set 4 nonfiction includes unfamiliar topics, and fiction requires readers to make more inferences. Nonfiction texts in Set 5 are on new topics of increased complexity, while fiction texts allow readers to make connections between texts and identify information learned.
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:
In “Read-Aloud” lessons, discussion questions check students’ surface-level understanding of the text to prepare them for deeper thinking in subsequent days of the week. Suggested prompts and questions include “Tell me what you just read” and “What does that mean?” “Strategy” lessons introduce the comprehension focus for the week. In these lessons, the read-aloud is reread and the teacher asks questions that help students move beyond surface meaning to deeper exploration. 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 1, students make text-to-self connections by answering the question “Which animals in the story do you like?” and answering text-dependent questions such as “What are some of the things the girl learns to do from her friends?” Another example is when students listen to We Can’t See! and answer the questions “How do the children feel when they finally see the elephant?” and “Why do they think that?” This type of questioning requires students to monitor their comprehension as they read. Additional questions that achieve this goal can be found with the text My Cat Dot: “How does the boy feel when he can’t find his cat? How do you know?” “Have you ever lost something important? How did you feel?” Later in the year, in Unit 6, students make text-to-text connections through writing, answering the question “What did you learn about the tools in this book?” By this point, comprehension questions have progressed to “Why do you think Peter doesn’t want Amy to see the letter?”
In Unit 1, students listen to the story If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. After the read-aloud story, students briefly discuss: “At the end of the story, the mouse wants a cookie to go with his glass of milk. What do you think will happen next? If you give the mouse [a ball], what do you think he will ask for? Why?” The next day, students compare If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to If You Take a Mouse to School. Students listen and think about how the two books are alike and how they are different. The teacher facilitates a discussion comparing the two stories using questions such as “What are these two stories about? How are they alike? How are they different?”
In Unit 2, students compare and contrast Sophie and Little Critter. The teacher shows the cover of each book and asks students to think about the stories and their connections. The teacher tells the students to think about how the characters are alike and different. The teacher asks, “How is what happens to Sophie and what happens to Little Critter alike? How is what happens to Sophie and what happens to Little Critter different?” This provides an opportunity for students to evaluate and discuss texts within a unit.
In Unit 3, students use the sequence of events to retell stories. This literacy skill requires students to make text-to-self connections, answer questions to understand key details, and identify main events in the story. In Week 3 of this unit, the teacher guides students in the read-aloud by stopping and prompting to check for understanding. Some questions include “Why does Charlie need a cloak?” “What do you think might have happened to his old cloak?” and “What do you think will happen to Charlie’s new cloak?” Students use inferencing skills to respond to discussion questions.
In Unit 5, the story of Brave Norman is followed by an activity where students discuss the main character, Norman, with a partner; students are asked to cite what makes them think Norman is a hero and why. The teacher guide states, “As the students share, be ready to turn to the parts of the story that support their thinking and read those parts aloud.” This text-dependent activity prompts students to synthesize new information. In the same unit, students also grow literacy skills by comparing literary elements. Students compare characters and problems in A for Amy and Whistle for Willie.
Similarly, in Unit 6, students are introduced to nonfiction books and begin making sense of nonfiction using the reading comprehension strategies they have learned in earlier units. These strategies include making connections, wondering (asking questions about topics they read about), retelling, and visualizing. The goal of this unit is for students to use comprehension to make sense of what they read. For example, while previewing the book On the Go, students are asked, “What do you think this book will be about? What makes you think that?”
In Unit 7, the teacher shows covers of read-aloud books and reminds students that they have heard and talked about nonfiction books previously. Students have learned about topics like tools, people in the community, and ways that people and things move from place to place. The teacher then asks, “What else do you know about nonfiction books?” After reading A Baby Penguin Story, students answer questions regarding what they learned in every section of the text. Students then share what they wonder about penguins, generating their own questions, making personal connections, and responding to questions such as “What are some things you are wondering after hearing this book about penguin chicks?” Later, in Week 3, students read A Tiger Cub Grows Up and compare this text to A Baby Penguin Story. Students write about similarities and differences across the texts, noting questions that remain and where they believe answers may be found within and outside of the text.
Materials contain questions and tasks that require students to make inferences and provide evidence from texts 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,” Unit 1, students read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and If You Take a Mouse to School, then extend their learning by comparing how these two stories are alike and different. Later in the unit, students return to the topic and read the extension for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Several questions lead the student to discover the purpose of the illustrations and photographs and how they add meaning to the text. Some examples include “How does this illustration help you understand the story? How do the photographs help you understand the story?” After reading Flower Garden in Week 4, students complete a similar task and answer questions regarding the roles of the author and illustrator based on the title and cover of the book. These questions include “What does the author of the book do?” and “What does the illustrator do?”
In Unit 2, students compare and contrast the text Sophie with the text Little Critter. The teacher asks students to think about the stories and their connections. Students think about how the characters are alike and different. The teacher asks, “How is what happens to Sophie and what happens to Little Critter alike?” and “How are what happens to Sophie and what happens to Little Critter different?” Students respond to the questions by turning to a partner to share. The teacher signals for students’ attention and has a few student volunteers share their thinking with the class. In all, students are using a variety of texts to compare authors’ choices as they communicate key ideas found in each story.
In Unit 4, students visualize stories and poems as they hear them read aloud. The students use their background knowledge (schema) and make inferences to help them create a mental image from the descriptive language. After reading Cat’s Colors, the teacher models “how to visualize by closing your eyes and thinking of a picture in your mind.” Students are asked to close their eyes and picture bats swooping and soaring in the night. In this example, the text—“Black is the night when bats swoop and soar”—is specifically referred to for visualization. After listening to another section of Cat’s Colors, students use the “Think, Pair, Share” strategy to visualize the sentence “Is it yellow? Yellow is the sand on the sunny beach.” Student volunteers share out. The teacher prompts students with questions like “What did the beach look like in your mind?” and “What was happening on the beach?” Here, students are analyzing the specific language in the text to support their understanding of the beach.
During Unit 8, students continue to explore expository nonfiction, focusing on retelling key details in texts by identifying and discussing what they learn from the texts. For example, during the read-aloud of The Moon, the teacher asks the question “What have you learned about the moon from the words and pictures in the part of the book you just heard?” Later, during the second read, students are reminded that authors sometimes include diagrams to help readers understand information. The teacher asks, “How does the diagram, or picture, help you understand what I read?” This question ensures students recognize how authors can manipulate what figures, pictures, and diagrams to include in their text to communicate meaning.
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 engage with the 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 “Act Out the Word,” “Imagine That!” “Finish the Story,” and “Which Word Am I?” In-context vocabulary instruction includes explicit strategies to determine unfamiliar words while reading; these strategies include recognizing synonyms, 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. Additional “Teacher Tips” for struggling students are included in this guide. One example tip prompts teachers to ask two additional questions to lead students toward understanding the meaning of disappointed: “When have you hoped for something to happen, but it didn’t?” and “When have you wanted to go somewhere or do something, but couldn’t?” These questions encourage students to apply the vocabulary word to their own experience. If students are still not progressing with vocabulary, materials prompt students to say the word, read the word, and spell the word. Materials also include digital and print pictures and word cards that are meant to be used during the introduction, during review, and as visual support for struggling learners.
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 and 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 as they read as well as answering questions 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 “Based on what you heard and what you saw in the picture, what do you think the word upset might mean?”
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. For example, Week 9 has the suggested vocabulary words pudding, runny, lumpy, hums a little tune, and drippings. 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 Kindergarten 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 contains the words make, there, and be. These words are applied in context through the read-aloud “Word Wall” and the high-frequency word cards. Students then reread the read-aloud as an additional practice tool to study and apply the vocabulary words.
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 adequately support teachers 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.” Towards the end of the week, the teacher discusses and explains what building stamina means: “[L]earning to do something for longer amounts of time.” Teachers instruct students to read for longer amounts of time each week; students are told that, each day, they read for a few more minutes than they did on previous days. On Day 1, students read for five to ten minutes. Materials provide teachers with supports to introduce independent reading, model reading, and communicate the essential steps to set students up for success as they build their independent reading skills.
“Being a Reader” includes lessons on how to exchange books from the class library. The Day 1 focus is on choosing books. This skill is explicitly taught and modeled for students: “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.” On Day 3, teachers discuss and model procedures for exchanging books.
Under the subtitle “Choosing Texts,” in the introduction of the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual,” teachers choose books for the students the first week. In a later unit, teachers give students a bin with a variety of fiction and nonfiction books at various levels. Afterwards, students receive book bags filled with titles selected by the teacher. Finally, when students are ready for increasing independence, teachers give them tips on choosing books that are at their independent reading level. These tips help students measure their reading accuracy by using 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); students also answer basic comprehension questions, like “What does that mean?” or “Tell me what you just read.”
“Individualized Daily Reading” (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. In the “Center for Collaborative Classroom Learning Hub,” there are additional online resources to support teachers in managing independent reading; a form for IDR “Conference Notes” is provided.
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 conference is meant to review how a student’s desire to read has grown and how his or her stamina has increased.
In Unit 6, teachers model looking through a book and choosing a part to share with a partner. The listening partner responds by answering questions like “What books did you hear about that you would like to read?” and “What did you like about sharing the books that you read?” allowing for authentic accountability and engagement in reading various books.
The curriculum includes 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. Additionally, students have the opportunity to write informational texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, elements of personal narrative are listed by grade level in the “Being a Writer Teacher Manual.” Students visualize true stories from their own lives and write their personal narrative in words or pictures. In Week 1, Day 1, teachers model drawing a personal narrative about something they like to do. On Day 2, they draw something they can do. Students choose their own ideas to draw after seeing it modeled by the teacher. In Week 2, students draw and write about what they like about Kindergarten, sharing their pieces in the end. To continue writing personal narratives independently, students are given ideas for writing throughout the week about things they do after school or, to add feeling to their personal experiences, about things they love.
In Unit 2, during a read-aloud, the teacher guides students to share their feelings. On Day 2, the teacher takes students through shared story writing about feelings. The teacher models: “I picked the card that shows an angry face. I will start our story with the sentence: I feel angry when [people are mean].” Students are prompted and begin writing independently as they write their own stories.
In Unit 4, students are provided with opportunities to write informational texts. Students hear and discuss nonfiction books, and they write nonfiction, both as a class and individually. They explore how nonfiction is different from fiction and write about their classroom, their partners, and food. Students write about what foods they like to eat: “What foods do you like to eat? What is your favorite meal?” Students then generate facts about grapes, and each student writes a page about grapes. In “Being a Writer,” students continue their informational food writing through the new topic of raisins. Students “Turn and Talk” about facts and observations in response to the topic. A list of facts about raisins is generated on a class anchor chart titled “Things We Notice About Raisins.” Next, students have writing time to write their second page in their informational food book about raisins.
In the Being a Writer “Assessment Resource,” Unit 5, students are given the assignment to write a shared story about something they like. The teacher guides students through creating a “Things We Like” chart. As students brainstorm ideas, the teacher models aloud: “I like birds. I know that birds like the sun and warm themselves by sitting in the trees.” To elicit ideas, the teacher asks students, “What does a [bird] look like? What can we add to our picture to show that? What does a [bird] do? What can we add to our picture to show that? What words can we add to our story?” Students choose a topic and tell stories orally. Following this, students work at their seats to draw a picture and write one or more letters or sentences to tell about something they like.
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:
Students are engaged with the writing process in the “Being a Writer” program. In Unit 1, teachers inquire, “What do you like to draw or write stories about?” This allows the students to make the connection that writing a story can be done in pictures or words at the Kindergarten level. Next, the poem “Just Watch” is read aloud; it features a child describing things they can do. Brainstorming occurs as the teacher asks, “What else do you know how to do?” Students orally share their ideas. Students watch as the teacher models how to draw a story about something they can do. Lastly, teachers are told: “Encourage the students to tell their stories in any way they can.” Students use their writing time to draw a story of something they know how to do and share it with the class. Through the progression of the year, students continue using the elements of the writing process.
In Unit 2 of the “Being a Writer Teacher Manual,” Volume 1, students gather ideas to write about a place they like to go. After talking over ideas with a partner, students draw or write their ideas. Next, they share what they wrote in order to edit. Additionally in Unit 2, students are guided through the brainstorming process with prompting questions like “What do you like that you might write about? What is something you are interested in?” With partners, students discuss the question and orally plan out their writing. Prompting questions are given to the class if students cannot generate an idea to write about.
In Being a Writer, Unit 3, students plan and organize their writing by visualizing, discussing, and finally drawing and writing with the focus on “telling more” within their compositions. For example, after visualizing, drawing, writing a story of their choosing, they are asked, “What can you add to your drawing to tell more in your story? Turn to your partner.” Students discuss with their partners and then immediately return back to their independent writing and add details to their story. At the conclusion of “Writing Time,” students share what they added after they talked with a partner.
In Unit 6 of the Being a Writer Teacher Manual, Volume 2, students read a poem about alligators titled “Alligators Are Unfriendly.” A class list is generated from student responses to the question “What animal do you think would not make a good pet?” Using “Think, Pair, Share,” partners discuss, “What reasons might you give to explain why [an elephant] wouldn’t make a good pet?” Volunteers share their ideas with the class, and the procedure is repeated for the animals on the class list. During “Writing Time,” students write about an animal that they think would not make a good pet. If a student finishes early, the student is directed to “tell more by adding reasons to his writing or by drawing a picture to illustrate his writing.”
The materials include some opportunities for students to apply grade-level standard English conventions to their writing and guidance for students to practice and apply the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. However, these opportunities are not taught systematically.
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 as well as proofreading and editing for conventions. In Kindergarten, both of these processes are taught informally, through students’ interaction with writing without the formal cycle of writing (prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading, and publishing). Guided writing practice and shared writing opportunities encompass this early instruction in basic conventions.
The complete list of skills and conventions taught in Kindergarten can be found in the “Kindergarten Skills and Conventions” chart of the Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual, Volume 1. These concepts are taught directly in the core lessons and accompanied by suggestions for where they might be practiced. Unit 1 reads: “Draw pictures to tell stories (Practiced in Unit 2).” Unit 2 reads: “Tell stories/ideas orally before writing (Practiced Units 3–7). Label pictures using letters or words that relate to the writing (Practiced Units 3–7). Write left to right and top to bottom (Practiced Units 3–7). Use a word wall to spell high-frequency words (Practiced Units 3–7). Use spaces between words (Practiced Units 3–7). Write sentences (Practiced Units 3–7). Capitalize the first letters of sentences (Practiced Units 3–7). Use periods at the ends of sentences (Practiced Units 3–7). Approximate spelling using letter-sound correspondence (Practiced Units 3–7).” Unit 3 reads: “Use frequently occurring prepositions (Practiced Units 4–7). Add -s or -es to form plural nouns (Practiced Units 4–7).” Unit 4 reads: “Understand and use question words (Practiced Units 5–7).”
In Unit 2, the teacher keeps a record of how many students are beginning to write sentences. In the “Individual Writing Assessments,” the rubric includes checks for frequent use of correct spelling, sentence structure, ending punctuation, and capitalization. A “Teacher Note” says that for each unit, the teacher should collect three to four pieces of writing from each student to include in an Individual Writing Assessment folder. The materials recommend the writing samples be from the beginning and the end of the unit to measure students’ writing development.
In Unit 3, through a shared story, the teacher models and highlights the use of capitalization at the beginning of each sentence and periods at the end. In the “Teacher Note,” when students write about things they love, teachers are prompted to remind students that the word I is always capitalized.
In Unit 4, a Teacher Note instructs the teacher to remind students to check each sentence to make sure it begins with a capital letter and ends with a period.
The Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual “Program Guide” explains that, during conferences, as students experiment with writing and ask open-ended questions about their writing, the teacher guides students by pointing out elements of writing. Teachers 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.” This guidance provides students support in the application of skills within 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 five weeks of handwriting instruction, including finger games, songs, and a variety of activities. The instruction begins with warm-up exercises, such as hand presses, followed by some games, and then a wrap-up. The teacher instructs: “Press your palms together and push really hard. Count backward ‘Five, four, three, two, one’ and release. Repeat two or three times.” Additional activities include “Piano Playing” and “Rub Your Palms.” The students use hand motions as they read the poem “The Train is Coming.” They continue by singing and using hand motions with the song “Where is Thumbkin?”
Week 7 introduces the “Handwriting Books,” which will be used for student practice. Students begin by completing pages 1–4, while the teacher can walk around and offer help with pencil grip. Later within the unit, students learn to form the capital letters T, I, and L. When the students begin independent work rotations, instruction in letter formation is included. 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 capital letters A and Z. The teacher models guide the students through forming each letter using the stroke sequence. For each letter, students use the wipe-off board, dry-erase marker, and tissue to practice. They begin writing each letter through forming it using the stroke sequence. Students practice writing independently in their Handwriting Notebook. 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 for uppercase- then lowercase-letter formation. Points and dotted lines provide guidance on where to initially place the pencil; the 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 a letter with dashes. Finally, students are given only the point at which to begin writing the letter, without lines or dashes to trace. 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 notes 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. This is done by collecting the students’ work on the review blackline masters 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 10, 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 capital letters (T, I, L, H, F, E, C, O, Q, and G). The teacher distributes the Week 10 review sheet, where students trace the letter and the dotted letter, and then form their own letter in the blank space between the lines. Students work independently to complete the 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 monitors the student’s progress through the book and assesses 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 4, the Class Assessment Note instructs the teacher to observe the students and ask questions such as “Are the students using the correct stroke sequences?” and “Do they form letters that are appropriately sized?” The observations and answers to the self-asked questions are recorded on the “Class Assessment Record” sheet in the “Assessment Resource Book.” Teachers are also instructed to offer pencil-grip support and/or letter formation support by working with students individually or offering small-group time.
In total, 17 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 kindergarteners 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.
In Kindergarten, students informally use “Stop and Wonder” as a tool to prepare them for Grades 3–6, where they will use “Stop and Ask Questions.” For example, in the “Making Meaning” “Student Response Books,” Stop and Wonder activities require students to write to record their thinking. The materials support readers to wonder and ask questions to focus their reading, clarify meaning, and delve deeper into a text before, during, and after a read-aloud to support their comprehension of the text.
In the Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teaching Guide,” Unit 1, Week 1, students use the vocabulary words as they talk to one another throughout the day. In the “Extension” opportunity, the teacher looks for opportunities to ask questions about the word and uses the words as a model for students. For example, for the vocabulary word creature, it is suggested that the teacher might point out a bird or a squirrel outside of the classroom and ask questions such as “What creature do you see sitting in the tree outside of our classroom?” or “I can see a creature sitting in the grass outside of our classroom. How do I know that [the cat] is a creature?” The teacher provides prompts for the students’ responses to ensure they use the word correctly.
In the Making Meaning Vocabulary Teaching Guide, Week 11, students turn to their partners and discuss their new words, wade and mend (Unit 3). Students are given the question “Would you enjoy wading at the beach? Why?” They turn to their partner and are given the stem “I would/would not enjoy wading at the beach because….” After they listen to each other’s response, volunteers share what they heard from their partner with the class.
In Unit 5, the teacher introduces the story Brave Bear and models wondering by stating aloud, “I wonder what happened to the little bird? I also wonder what the bear will do that is brave.” As the teacher reads aloud the story, students share what they wonder, and the teacher continues to model until the students can generate their own “I wonder” statements. Students listen to and discuss their wonderings of another text, A Letter to Amy, with the specific prompt “What did you wonder about as you listened to the story?” This practice continues throughout the year; in Unit 8, students listen to a read-aloud about the sun and discuss their “wonderings,” as well as complete a chart titled “Things We Wonder About the Sun” to utilize in the following lesson.
In Unit 7, students learn about an animal’s offspring. The teacher first shows the title and author of the book A Baby Penguin Story, and then begins the story by showing photographs and stopping to describe the pages. While reading, the teacher asks, “What did you learn about how adult penguins take care of their babies, or chicks? What did you learn about how penguin chicks play? After reading, the teacher asks, “What are some things you are wondering after hearing this book about penguin chicks?” The class also shares responses to “I wonder” statements.
In the Being a Reader differentiated resource “Small-Group Teacher Manual,” Set 2, students engage in a discussion regarding the read-aloud Sled Dogs. Students discuss information with one another and the class by answering one of the prompted questions: “What did you find out from the photos in this book?” “How are Bell and Tom like pets?” “How are they different from pets?” This practice continues throughout the year; later on, while reading Fish for Max, students discuss and share their opinion of the story and whether they thought it was funny, explaining why or why not.
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.” In “Learning Letter Names,” the mini-lesson provides specific protocols for “Turn to Your Partner” that continue 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 has a student model this practice with them before giving the students the question “What is a food you like to eat? Turn to your partner.” Afterward, they reflect on how it went by asking, “What did you and your partner do to act responsibly during ‘Turn to Your Partner?’” Teachers provide feedback to students: “I noticed that partners turned to face each other when I said, ‘Turn to your partner.’ I also noticed that partners took turns talking and listening so that both partners had a chance to talk.” 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.”
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, when sharing their thinking, it is important to speak clearly and to listen closely when their partner is sharing their thinking.
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 2 lesson extends this when students speak to express interest in and appreciation for one another’s writing. The teacher guides the lesson by asking, “What can you say to someone who has shared his or her story to show that you were interested in it? What did you do or say today to express interest in someone else’s writing?”
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, students discuss the story, reflecting on important aspects, and turn to look at the person speaking while engaging in the discussion. There is a facilitation note for the teacher to ensure the conventions of language and appropriate discussion techniques are practiced. For class discussion, for example, these techniques are asking open-ended questions, using wait time, and not paraphrasing or repeating students’ responses in order to increase participation and encourage deeper conversations amongst students. This is seen in Unit 1, where the “Facilitation Tip” guides, by stating: “During this unit, help the students learn that they are talking to one another (not just to you) during class discussions by directing them to turn and look at the person who is about to speak. Ask speakers to wait until they have the class’s attention before starting to speak, and model doing this yourself. If students are unable to hear the speaker, encourage them to take responsibility by asking the speaker to speak up. Repeating these techniques over the next couple of weeks will help the students learn to participate responsibly in class discussions.” Suggested student responses also include 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. Also in Unit 1 of the Being a Writer Teacher Manual, Volume 1, the students work as a community to share stories about what they like about Kindergarten. Students are taught how to speak clearly when the teacher is instructed: “Remind the students that when they share, you want them to show their pictures and tell their stories in loud, clear voices.” When reflecting on the sharing, they are asked, “Could you hear people today when they shared their stories? If not, what can we do next time so people can hear us when we share?”
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 did you do during this lesson?” with phrases like:
The materials provide limited opportunities for students to ask and generate general questions for inquiry and 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 Kindergarten, 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 4 is focused on hearing, discussing, and writing nonfiction. When students are introduced to the text I Want To Be a Chef, they also generate questions about chefs. In this brief introduction, students focus on questions words like who, what, where, when, why, and how. After reading and discussing text, students generate a list of interesting people to write about from their school community. The next day, students invite one of the people from their list to interview and ask questions. Students apply the interviewing skill by interviewing and writing about a partner in the class, answering the question “What is your favorite thing to do outside?” Students complete a second day of interview modeling and peer interviewing with questions about jobs. In this week of instruction, students are given questions and also generate their own. 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 as 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 Manual, Unit 7, there are two locations where students are exposed to research and inquiry skills. First, after a nonfiction lesson focused on the text A Baby Penguin Story, students explore a website about penguins during a “Technology Extension.” Students generate questions about penguins and record them where everyone can see them. The teacher models navigating a relevant website and reads aloud information students may find interesting. As a class, students then discuss questions like “What is something interesting you learned about penguins? Did you hear any information that answered your questions about penguins?” and “What did you hear?” While students are generating questions and using a resource in accordance with the purpose of research, this skill is not directly tied to a research plan.
After two days of lessons focused on A Tiger Cub Grows Up, students conclude with an extension activity, conducting research on tigers. Materials include a suggestion to “consider doing this activity over the course of several days.” After generating questions and adding them to a “Questions About Tigers” chart, the teacher introduces the concept of research: finding information about a topic. There are four steps the teacher then works through, creating an “Our Research Plan” chart: “Step 1: Ask questions about tigers”; “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 tigers.” 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, and retelling key details.
In the Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual, Volume 2, Week 28, students extend their understanding of the text My Favorite Bear by researching bears; this generally aligns with the research instruction found in Unit 7 of Making Meaning. The complete instruction for the research assignment is as follows: “Turn to the ‘Bear Facts’ section on page 30 of My Favorite Bear and read aloud the name of each bear listed. Have each student choose a bear and then do research to find out more information about the bear. Provide books about bears for the students to read, or direct them to appropriate websites for their research.” There is no further guidance, nor does there seem to be any built-in class time to complete this assignment in the Week 28 “Suggested Weekly Schedule.”
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:
In “Making Meaning” Grade K, the 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. The units contain questions and tasks designed for students to integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. For example, at the beginning of the year, students answer questions about events in a story and what part of the story they like the most. The activities consist of singing the alphabet song and “turning to their partner” to discuss the story. Another example, found in Unit 1, includes students listening, thinking, writing, and speaking. The teacher displays the cover of My Friends and explains to the class that they will reread the story, instructing, “Listen carefully to hear anything that [you] might have missed the first time.” The teacher is instructed: “Tell the students that reading a story more than once can help them remember and understand it.” After stopping on page 25, the teacher asks, “What animal friends does the girl have?” The teacher picks a few volunteers. At the end of the story, the class participates in a discussion. Questions include “What are some of the things the girl learns to do from her friends? How does the picture help you to understand that the girl learned to [jump from her friend the dog]? What have you learned to do from your friends?” In the extension lesson, the class makes a book. Each student draws a picture of a friend and dictates a sentence about what they learned; the book is titled Our Friends. In Unit 5, students write about their reading, discussions, and thinking about Brave Bear and the connections they made to the text and their own lives. Later in the year, students transition to writing and then sharing their writing to lead discussions. Students discuss what they might write and then write for 15 minutes, before discussing the success of their writing time. These opportunities embed many skills for students to build and apply knowledge.
In the Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teaching Guide,” the teacher revisits lessons that support and supplement reading comprehension lessons in the Making Meaning “Teacher Manual.” After students are introduced to a word, they practice using it by answering questions that require them to think about the word in other contexts. Many questions ask students to relate the word to their own experiences, and follow-up questions ask them to explain their thinking. This requires students to think deeply about the word. For example, in Week 1, the teacher reminds students of the story My Friends and reviews that the girl learns to kick by imitating her friend the gorilla. Students hear the new word that they will be learning today, imitate. The teacher explains that imitate means to “copy what someone or something is doing.” The teacher directs students to a card and reveals a picture showing a boy imitating his friend by doing what she is doing—standing on one leg. Then, students play “Imitate Me,” in which they copy the leader with actions or gestures. This exemplifies integrated writing, speaking, listening, and thinking tasks.
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.
At the beginning of the year, students discuss the parts of the book they enjoyed during shared reading. 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. Later in the year, students begin to read independently and write about their ideas from their reading using pictures and words. During Week 4, students ask opinion questions about the reading and recall events at certain parts of the story. As the year progresses, the discussion questions become increasingly complex. In Unit 2, the concept of making connections in fiction text is introduced and modeled. Students practice making connections with the read-aloud When Sophie Gets Angry—Really Really Angry. By Unit 8, students discuss and write about the main ideas and key details of the nonfiction texts The Sun and The Moon; they work to make connections through class discussions. Both comprehension skills and genres are spiraled throughout the year. Students engage with poetry in Unit 4 of Making Meaning and in Week 9 and Week 10, when students identify rhyming words and are introduced to their poetry readers, respectively.
In the “Being a Writer Teacher Manual,” 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, drawing pictures to tell stories is initially taught in Unit 1, as students draw freely to learn that marks on a page communicate meaning. In Unit 2, students start adding letters and words to their stories. Students begin writing 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. Additionally, the writing process is consistent throughout the materials: Students hear and/or write a model text, brainstorm ideas for writing, write individually or in pairs, share with partners or the teacher, and get feedback. Students also occasionally publish and share their writing in “Author’s Chair.”
In the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual,” the “Scope and Sequence” provides detailed support for teaching literacy skills. In Appendix D, the standards taught are identified for each grade level. For example, consonant blends are formally taught in Set 3, and then applied individually in Sets 4 and 5. In “Volume 2,” according to the table of contents, each week is set up to have “Shared Reading,” “Independent Work,” and “Handwriting.” The sequence of readings each week consists of students participating in listening to reading, choral reading, partner reading, and independent reading. The scaffolded support allows for students to access text even if their accuracy, rate, or comprehension are not at the level of the text.
Multiple cooperative structures, like “Think, Pair, Share” and “Turn and Talk,” are incorporated to respond to text in multiple modalities. Literacy strategies are evident as well, such as previewing read aloud; text with additional vocabulary support; and daily opportunities for listening, speaking, reading and writing. 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. At the beginning of the program, the teacher reads Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and asks students, “What do you notice about the letters on this page?” Students point out that each uppercase letter is hugging its lowercase partner. Students are to watch carefully as the teacher moves the pointer to each word, then return sweeps to the next line. Later on, the teacher shows the front and back covers of the “Big Book” I Went Walking and reads aloud the title, author, and illustrator. After explaining the role of author and illustrator, the teacher slowly reads the story aloud, pointing to each corresponding illustration. This practice helps students connect between words in print and illustrations. In another lesson, the teacher introduces the procedure for echo-reading. Teachers are directed to use a pointer when reading aloud to lead students to track text and support their development of one-to-one word correspondence and directionality.
Using the Big Book Gossie, in Week 11, students are reminded that written words are separated by spaces. The teacher is directed to point to each word, space, and punctuation in a sentence. Together, the class counts words in a sentence. Practice continues as students complete a “Rebuild a Sentence” activity. Students demonstrate their understanding of how words are used to create sentences. The teacher creates sentence strips using lines from the story. Students observe as the teacher cuts each word apart and shuffles the words of the sentences. The teacher is directed: “Invite a volunteer to place the words in order in the pocket chart and then read the sentence aloud.” This practice is repeated with other volunteers. Later in the lesson, students complete this task in an independent work station.
In the Being a Reader program, small-group lessons pair reading comprehension and fluency with print concepts. For example, in “Small-Group Reading Manual Sets 1,” as students independently read We Can Read, the teacher monitors 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 texts in multiple settings. For example, in the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual” guide for an “Individual Daily Reading Mini-Lesson,” the teacher models examining texts’ 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.” Initial activities give students the opportunity to identify the phonemes in words, blend (/mmăănn/ into man) and segment (man into /mm/ /ăă/ /nn/). Activities progress to identifying first, last, and middle sounds and then dropping and substituting sounds. For example, in the Week 8, Day 2 lesson, students segment sounds in one-syllable words and count the number of sounds in the words.
In Week 1 of the Being a Reader Small-Group Teacher’s Manual, Set 3, students blend onsets and rimes. The teacher tells students that they will make words by putting two parts together. The teacher models with fed by saying the sounds slowly and clearly three times, isolating the beginning sound (onset) from the rest of the word (rime): /ff/… ed. Then, the teacher says the sounds more quickly, blending them to say the word. If students need more support, the teacher then repeats the same practice with the word red. Students blend each of the following words after the teacher says the onset and rime: /f/… ed (fed), /r/… ed (red), /t/… ed (Ted). To support students with blending, a sidebar states that the teacher may draw a blank and a box side by side on a wipe-off board. The teacher points to the blank as the word is said and points to the box as the rime is said, then sweeps under the blank and box as the word is said.
In Week 2, 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 Week 6, students explore the concept of rhyme as they listen for rhyme and identify rhyming words in the text Hands Can. The teacher reads two sentences from the text and asks, “What is the same about these two sentences? What is different?” The teacher explains that the two sentences are the same except for the words mix and fix. The teacher then explains that these words rhyme and that means they sound the same at the end. Students then practice finding more rhyming words in the book.
In Week 13 of the “Being a Reader Teacher’s Manual,” students explore alliteration in the poem “Windshield Wipers.” Students reread the first two lines of the poem. The teachers asks, “What do you notice about the sounds in the words I just read?” Suggested possible student answers are that the sound is the same, all the words start with /w/, and “Pane is one of the only words that doesn’t start with /w/.” Once students identify the pattern of a repeated first sound, the teacher explains that this pattern is called alliteration.
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 Kindergarten 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 foundational skills instruction that outlines the skills taught in Kindergarten across the five “Small-Group Manual Sets.” Each Manual Set also includes an overview and calendar with the phonics patterns and high-frequency words to teach each week. For example, “Manual Set 1” spans over eight weeks, focuses on CVC patterns with single consonants and short vowels, and includes the sounds for s, n, and d and the high-frequency words he, she, and can’t. It also connects the sounds to read-alouds, such as We Can Read and My Cat Dot.
The Manual Sets also provide a connection between phonetic knowledge and texts through the use of read-alouds. In Manual Set 1, the texts taught in the first two weeks only include high-frequency words, but simple CVC words are added as soon as the students learn their first vowel spelling-sound relationship. For example, Week 1 features the decodable reader We Can Read and several words that begin with s and n. To begin instruction, the teacher points to the “Alphabet Wall” card for Ss; “Tell the students that the letter s stands for the sound /s/.” Students practice saying the letter, the sound, and the word snake, which is pictured on the Wall card. Next, the teacher asks, “What sound do you hear at the beginning of sip?” A variety of words are practiced with an emphasis on the initial sound. The next lesson follows the same routine with the letter n. After students have had practice distinguishing the sound of /s/ and /n/, the letters are added to their guided spelling practice. Sound sorts are also included to support the practice of sorting picture cards, such as nest and snake, into groups. “Comprehension” and “Reflect” sections guide discussions of the reading.
The materials provide a routine for teaching high-frequency words: Students read the word, spell it, read and spell it again, and then read the word a third time. Beginning in Week 3, students are introduced to two high-frequency words and learn the procedure for reading and identifying them in the week’s text. For example, in Week 3, students choral-read “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and find the high-frequency words the and and in the song, using highlighter tape to highlight the words. High-frequency words are always introduced with the same sequence before they are added to the “Word Wall.”
The materials include explicit instruction and practice with spelling. In each “Guided Spelling” lesson, the students spell decodable words and high-frequency words with teacher support. For example, in Manual Set 1, students learn about spelling-sound relationships that include CVC. After reading My Cat Dot, students are introduced to the /k/ sound and practice orally spelling and writing the words cat, cap, and can. This builds support for the following lesson, which introduces decodable words using k /k/ and ck /k/. After reading the story The Kick, students practice orally spelling and writing words such as dock, duck, and kick.
The materials include additional resources for phonics instruction and assessment. “Shared Reading” lessons include instruction on general phonics concepts through the use of specific examples from the “Shared Reading” texts. For example, in Week 8, students learn the concept of blending onsets and rimes. Students read On the Job and learn about specific words created if they blend onsets and rime after a given phoneme. The following sounds are added to the ending -ap; /m/, /t/, /r/, /y/. The students recognize words that are created as the letters are changed. There are also additional activities in the “Extending the Instruction Program Overview” to provide more practice for students to apply foundational reading skills introduced in Shared Reading lessons. For example, it is recommended that, when there are a few extra minutes during the day, such as before recess or before students go home, the teacher should review high-frequency word cards and practice Alphabet Wall cards. 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 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. It is designed to help the teacher decide whether each student is ready to begin “Small-Group Reading” and is administered after teaching the “Learning Letter Names” lessons. The assessment materials support teachers in planning and providing small-group instruction based on the data results. The materials state: “If the student does not pass, the student is not ready for small-group reading instruction. Instead, the student needs additional instruction in letter names. Analyze the data from Section A and identify which letters the student does not know. Create a small group of students with similar results on the section and use Learning Letter Names to teach the letters the students do not know.”
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 and summative assessments are included.
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 to continue on to the next section. Instructions are included for the teacher to administer the assessment: “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. Sets 1–4 are provided with grade-level materials.”
Details for preparing materials, delivering the assessment, and interpreting the results support teachers as they determine student placements. 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” or Appendix E of the “Kindergarten Teacher Manual.”
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 “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. There is a “Forming and Managing Small Groups” section of the Manual with guidance on how to proceed after administering placement tests as well as a “Reading Levels Correlation” chart for students who place in Sets 6–12. It also instructs the teacher that students should be placed where they are able to read a text with 98–100% accuracy. In addition, there are tips for grouping students into reading groups based on a variety of results, including “[i]f 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; for example: “If most of your students struggle to learn and follow the procedures for Independent Work, repeat this week’s instruction before going on to Week 2”; “If most of your students struggle to use the work habits consistently and sustain independent writing, reading, and word work for the full amount of time, repeat this week’s instruction before going on to Week 4.”
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, and phonetic knowledge.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book” provides a “Letter Name Assessment” that is administered after teaching the “Learning Letter Names” lessons. The lessons include 20 direct-instruction lessons on the alphabet and sounds, with an introduction to upper- and lowercase letters. For example, in Lesson 4, teachers ask themselves, “Do the students remember the letters that have been taught (Rr, Tt, Nn)?” If students struggle to remember the letters, the materials suggest using the review deck two or three times a day and pointing out the letters in environmental print. After the completion of the lessons and the assessment, the materials guide teachers to use the results to form small reading groups. They also discuss how to support students not yet ready for small-group reading materials: “If the student does not pass, the student is not ready for small-group reading instruction. Instead, the student needs additional instruction in letter names. Analyze the data from Section A and identify which letters the student does not know. Create a small group of students with similar results on the section and use Learning Letter Names to teach the letters the students do not know. ”
In the Being a Reader program, whole-class “Shared Reading” lessons develop concepts of print, phonemic awareness, and letter recognition. Initially, the suggested weekly schedule includes 10–15 minutes of learning letter names. Students use wall cards as they learn and talk about letters. For example, Lesson 2 introduces capital and lowercase Rr with activities on identifying the letters and using foam letters as practice for independent work. During the Shared Reading activity in Week 4, 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. This routine continues throughout the lessons and develops concepts of print. Assessing students’ understanding occurs regularly in small-group reading using the “Group Progress Assessment.” Teachers ask themselves the following question: “Have the students mastered concepts of print, such as where to begin reading and pointing to each word as they read?” These questions assess students in their understanding of print concepts by measuring if all, most, or few readers have mastered these concepts. Suggestions are listed to provide guidance to support students who struggle. For example, in Day 3 of Set 6, it states: “Support any student who struggles by having the student reread the page and look closely at the illustration; then ask additional questions, such as: How does the diagram help you understand that?”
Students ready for small-group reading are also assessed throughout the year. For example, in Set 2, Week 6, teachers measure if students in the small group have mastered digraphs sh and th. Suggestions for supporting the students’ literacy needs include the reteaching of digraphs. For sh and th, materials recommend that the small group read We Have a Fish and review the sounds in the story.
The Being a Reader Assessment Resource Book assesses phonological awareness in the form of blending words in Set 1. Teachers ask themselves, “Can the students blend decodable words?” A rubric measures if all, most, or few readers have mastered these concepts. If results show that only a few students have been successful, the materials provide suggested additional practice with blending. Teachers are guided to use “Reteach with Can You See My Fish?” During Set 4, Week 2, the “Small-Group Reading Group Progress Assessment” measures phonetic knowledge for the current skill and provides suggestions for remediation. Teachers ask themselves the following question: “Can the students produce rhyming words? Are they able to read words with the ee and ea spellings?” These questions assess students in their understanding of phonological awareness. If only a few students are able to complete these tasks, materials recommend providing support in the form of a reteaching lesson. A Good Team and further practice with phonological awareness activities with another rime are used for students struggling with rhyming.
In the “Small-Group Placement Assessment” for Sets 1–5, “Spelling of Sounds” in Section B measures phonetic knowledge. Sections D–F contain a list of decodable words to read, with a five-second limit per word. Students who do not complete Section D within the allotted time are placed in Set 3. Each section builds in difficulty and allows the teacher to monitor progress with “Mastery Tests.” For example, in Set 3, Mastery Test 5 checks students’ ability to decode words such as zip, jog, edge, when, sing, quick, snap, and fast. The assessment also assesses students’ ability to read 11 high-frequency words. By the end of Set 5, the students will have mastered single-syllable phonics and been introduced to polysyllabic decoding. For example, in Week 1, students work on oral blending by blending the words that follow a phoneme stated by the teacher (not, laugh, pan). Students also work on guided spelling with the same letter and sounds as in their blending practice.
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 texts 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.
In Unit 1, students are introduced to My Friends. The teacher reads aloud the story, and 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 make a class book about friends. Students reflect on something they have learned from a friend. Each student draws a picture of a friend and dictates a sentence about what they learned. The teacher compiles the pictures into a class book titled Our Friends. The book becomes part of the student library.
In Unit 2, after reading When Sophie Gets Angry… Really, Really Angry, students write or draw to make connections about a time when they felt like Sophie. The materials also offer technology extensions for extending the learning for students who are proficient. For example, students learn about Mercer Meyer, the author and illustrator of the Little Critter series, by researching using the browser page. The teacher asks, “What is something you learned about Mercer Meyer?”
In Unit 3, students retell and sequence events in the story Charlie Needs A Cloak. As an extension, sentence strips with the story’s main events are written down with a coordinating picture clue. Students work to place the events in order to retell the story. A “Teacher Note” suggests pointing out words like first, next, then, and finally and explaining that these words can help readers figure out the order of events in a story.
Within Unit 5, students explore poems and words. An “Extension” activity and Teacher Note in the unit describe an opportunity for students to learn, discuss, and practice using rhyming in their poetry. For example, while listening to “Hey Diddle Diddle,” students listen for words rhyming with diddle. While they write, students are encouraged to try this rhyming technique in their poetry.
In Unit 6, the “Technology Extension” is to understand the tools students use in Kindergarten books. Students brainstorm the tools they use to get their work done and tools for content areas (art, math, reading, writing). Afterward, students use technology to print photographs. Students are encouraged to write a sentence or two to describe their pictures. Additionally, in the Making Meaning “Teacher Manual,” Technology Extension lessons provide options to use technology to extend instruction. For example, students might visit a website to investigate a topic or listen to an audio version of a book during a lesson.
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.” In addition, in order to support students above their independent reading levels, the “Teacher Note” in the “Individualized Daily Reading Mini-Lesson 3” 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.”
There are opportunities for students to extend their learning within the units of the “Being a Reader” program. In the Extension section, Week 4, students can “Create a Class Pattern Book” using students’ names and what they see. The students draw a self-portrait to illustrate the book, and it is made available in the classroom library. An Extension activity in Week 9 is “Make Puppets of the Characters in the Poem.” Students use wooden sticks, construction paper, glue, and scissors to make galloping-horse puppets to go along with the poem “Ten Galloping Horses” or monster puppets to go with the poem “Five Little Monsters.” Students can then use the puppets to act out the poems while they read independently.
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.
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 refers to Fountas and Pinnell or Lexile leveling systems to learn how to identify the level of the texts. Texts in “Being a Reader” and “Making Meaning” are not leveled for the teacher; this is inclusive of 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 3 of Making Meaning, teachers are provided guidance in assessing the class and providing learning activities to reinforce struggling students. The “Class Assessment Note” instructs the teacher to ask, “Are the students able to retell the story using illustrations?” If only a few are able to complete the task, the guide suggests more practice with a page-by-page retelling of a different story. Further extensions and practice are included in the “Technology Extension.” In this activity, students explore “Interactive Sequencing Activities”; the materials state: “Sequencing events in stories is an effective way to help students learn to retell stories.” “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 given details on ways to help if comprehension or fluency is an issue.
In Unit 8 of Making Meaning, extension activities provide opportunities for students to connect with the text to improve their understanding of the selected text. After discussing multiple selections featuring animals from throughout the year, students draw labeled diagrams of animals. They are to select an animal they are familiar with and include labels for the different parts of the animal’s body. Previous stories, such as Dolphins, A Tiger Cub Grows Up, and Brave Bear, are referenced. Although these supports are provided, there are no actual planned activities or opportunities designated for students performing below the expected grade level.
In Unit 1 of the Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teacher Guide,” extensions are offered in weekly lessons. The lessons review key vocabulary terms for a text introduced the prior week. Students read and discuss the text My Friends. The following week, students participate in activities that help support vocabulary development. For example, the teacher shares and discusses the concept term creature. The term does not appear in the story, but the students build a better understanding of the story by learning the concept. The teacher uses printed cards of images of objects to help students sort items. Using the chart “Creature or Not a Creature,” the teacher guides the students: “The [fish] [is/is not] a creature because….” Teachers are provided with a suggestion for an extension of the lesson—to encourage students to use the vocabulary word as they talk to one another throughout the day.
In Unit 4 of the Vocabulary Guide, students explore and review the prefix un-. Utilizing the text Umbrellas, the teacher rereads the poem and explains that a rainy day is unpleasant. Students discuss the prefix and identify other examples, such as uncrowded. An extension activity is also provided. Picture cards that include pleasant, unpleasant, crowded, and uncrowded are shared for students to compare and discuss; the teacher reminds students that “sometimes un- at the beginning of a word is a clue that the word is an opposite.” As other words with the prefix un- are discovered, the antonym is used as a comparison.
The materials direct the teacher to create differentiated small reading groups for targeted instruction. Students are grouped with others at similar levels and provided appropriate reading material. The groups read stories and answer questions to reinforce their understanding. For example, in Set 1, students review and reread “It Can Sit!” Activities in the small group are focused on building literacy skills for students who are performing below grade level. “It Can Sit!” provides practice for identifying end sounds as well as reviewing spelling sounds and high-frequency words. Sidebar notes are included to help teachers plan for instruction; for example: “If students struggle to identify the ending sound, you might use a visual aid. Draw three blanks side by side on a wipe-off board and point to each blank as you say the sounds.” Teachers work with students to segment the sounds and complete the word, emphasizing the final sound.
In the “Being a Reader Assessment Resource,” the evaluation in Week 27 of the “Class Assessment Record” addresses handwriting. It is suggested that in order to support any students who struggle with letter formation and/or pencil grip, teachers should work with them individually or in a small group during another time of the day.
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 that are 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. English Language Learner (ELL) 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 read-aloud Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with students while discussing the illustrations and the phrase enough room. The Support Feature notes also suggest building background knowledge for students by singing the alphabet and pointing to the letters in the book so students comprehend that the book is about the letters in the English alphabet.
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 My Friends, ELL Vocabulary includes the terms march, nap, and study 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, in Volume 1, the ELL Note recommends the teacher preview the text, point out and discuss the illustrations, and turn to the opening pages of the book and point to each letter of the alphabet while singing the alphabet song. Later within the unit, an ELL Note suggests the teacher provide picture cues next to the sentences to aid ELs in actively participating. When students discuss their favorite letter in partners, an ELL Note provides a definition of the word favorite (“letter you like best”) and the talking stem “My favorite letter is…” to assist students in the discussion.
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)?” The materials also include additional “Strategies for Supporting ELLs” beyond the practices embedded in the lessons, such as speaking slowly and simplifying complicated questions to ensure beginning English speakers comprehend important information and can participate. 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; as the year progresses, the focus moves to assessing “students’ comprehension and enjoyment of reading and…supporting the students’ reading growth.”
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. The materials include guidance for completing a “Placement Assessment.” The directions describe how to prepare, conduct, and interpret the assessment results. For example: “Passing criterion is set at 80 percent. Note that any standard of this sort is somewhat arbitrary. If a higher or lower passing score is more compatible with your instruction, apply that criterion to the assessment.” In order to determine if students are ready for small-group reading, a letter-identification assessment is provided to ensure students know at least 21 letter names. Individual and class progress supports teachers as they determine if students are responding to the lessons or if instruction needs adjustment. 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.” Handwriting samples are optional. The materials explain: “Examining students’ authentic writing is one of the best ways to evaluate their handwriting progress. You might additionally keep a record of each student’s handwriting progress by collecting the students’ work on the review blackline masters (BLM) that are provided every few weeks in the Handwriting lesson sequence. These writing samples can be placed in the students’ Individual Assessment folders.”
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 piece provides questions to help 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 1, the chart begins with assessing if students are working silently and staying in their seats. Next, it identifies if the students are approaching writing with confidence and enthusiasm, and if they can choose an idea and begin. Later in the unit, students are assessed on the directionality of their writing, letter-sound correspondence, and spacing. This assessment is aligned in purpose to the unit focuses: writing and the beginning writer.
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 are 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 align 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 Kindergarten-specific learning-block schedule. The materials include 30 weeks of instructional materials to support 120 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:
In the “Making Meaning Teacher Manual,” Unit 1, the “Reading Together” chart is simple and to the point, with plenty of white space to draw attention to the three steps for reading in a community. Another resource provided to students is the Making Meaning “Student Response Book.” Throughout the book, adequate space is provided 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. Spacing supports student learning.
The “Introduction” of the “Being a Reader Teacher Manual” mentions its design for print clarity and simplicity: “Just-right spacing between words and few lines of text on each page of a big book allow the students to easily follow along and attend to print.” All of the student-driven resources are designed to support student learning. For example, the Being a Reader “Handwriting Notebook” features space designated for handwriting skills practice. Each page has a letter, a graphic representing the letter, and space for students to practice tracing and writing the letter independently. The Being a Reader Handwriting Notebook also includes clear pictures and is laid out in an easy-to-use format for readability.
The Making Meaning “Vocabulary Teaching Guide” provides two options for displaying the picture cards and word cards used in vocabulary instruction: either through the 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 them, and they are not visually distracting. An example of each picture card appears at the beginning of each lesson, like the picture cards for the words decide and practice in Week 8. The word card for decide displays an image of a young student choosing a library book, while the word card for practice has two people shooting a basketball into a basketball hoop.
The “Being a Writer Student Skill Practice Book” provides adequate spacing between question directions and answer choices. Pictures and graphics enhance engagement of the directions, and appropriate spacing is provided to support student learning. Pages are used in their entirety and do not distract visually from student understanding.
The materials do not include student-facing technology components.
Read the Full Report for Technology
(pdf, 124.37 KB)
Read the Full Report for Pricing
(pdf, 125.47 KB)
Read the Full Report for Professional Learning Opportunities
(pdf, 135.79 KB)
Read the Full Report for Additional Language Supports
(pdf, 130.47 KB)