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The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include a diverse variety of high-quality texts that include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical and multicultural texts. The texts cover a wide range of student interests.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Being A Writer, there are many high-quality texts.
Things Will Never Be the Same by Tomie dePaola is a memoir of dePaola’s second-grade year. The narrator shares the fun times he has sledding with friends. The diary entries have handwriting similar to that of a second-grade student, making them relatable.
The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume is realistic fiction. In this book, the narrator chronicles the annoying things about having a younger brother. The frustration the main character feels from how her younger brother acts and how adults relate to him is relatable for grade 3 students.
I Wonder Why the Sea Is Salty by Anita Ganeri is a nonfiction text. It is organized around questions that students may have about the oceans, such as How big is the ocean? and What makes waves roll? The artwork is realistic in some cases and humorous in others, which will engage students and contribute to building their background knowledge about the ocean.
“Two Voices in a Tent at Night” is a poem written by Kristine O’Connell George. It is about two children in a tent at night who hear a noise. The poem describes what each of them considers to be the source of the noise. The text addresses the fear the children in the tent feel as they hear a noise in the dark. The poem is intended to be read by two voices or two students, which is engaging for students.
In Making Meaning, there are many high-quality texts.
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch is a humorous text in which the common narrative structure is reversed, and the resourceful princess rescues the prince from a dragon. The princess’ desire to obtain justice and the traditional elements of fairy tales, such as magic and dragons, are relatable for students.
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard is a fiction picture book published in 1977. It tells the comical story of a misbehaved class and the lesson they learn. The content is relatable to students since it is about classroom experiences.
Flashy, Fantastic Rain Forest Frogs is an expository nonfiction book that uses beautiful photographs of various frogs found in the rainforest. It teaches students about animals that are nearing extinction due to peoples’ harvest of rainforest trees. The photographs are engaging, and the text has student-friendly language, such as the following description of the frogs’ size: as big as kittens. The author, Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, is an expert on the topic and holds a Ph.D. in Zoology.
Alexander, Who’s Not (Do you hear me? I mean it!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst is a realistic fiction picture book. It tells the story of a family moving to a new house because the children’s father got a job one thousand miles away. Alexander, the main character, refuses to move. Students will relate to the anxiety Alexander feels about moving to a new place and making new friends. The story is told through first-person point of view and chronicles all of Alexander’s thoughts, so students will also connect to the tone.
Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter is a biography that tells the life story of the first Latino to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. The text depicts a relatable topic for many students who do not have a lot. It is written in English and Spanish, which serves as both enrichment and linguistic support.
While there is little traditional literature provided, the literary and informational texts address all of the genres outlined in the TEKS. The materials also include print and graphic features for a variety of texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Collaborative Literacy Core Titles PDF Overview,” the chart demonstrates the percentages of genres represented in the various resources. Grade 3 genres in Being a Writer include 20% poetry, 21% fiction, and 59% nonfiction. In Making Meaning, the read-aloud genres include 2% poetry, 44% fiction, and 51% nonfiction.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
In Being A Writer, there is the nonfiction text Panda Kindergarten by Joanne Ryder, which contains beautiful and engaging photographs of young pandas.
In Being A Writer, Expository Nonfiction Unit, there is Reptiles by Tom Greve. The text focuses on the photographs, captions, and maps included in the text to deepen their comprehension. There is a glossary to define the words in bold print. Later in the same unit, there is The ABCs of Endangered Animals and Reptiles by Bobbie Kalman, which contains captions and illustrations.
In Making Meaning, there is the nonfiction text Are You a Dragonfly? by Judy Allen. It contains colorful illustrations and interesting and varied text size and orientation to pair the meaning with illustrations.
In Making Meaning, Unit 6, there is an article “Origami: The Art of Japanese Paper Folding” by the Center for the Collaborative Classroom. The text has titles, headings, and maps. Later in the same unit, there is the article “Jump Rope: Then and Now” by the Center for the Collaborative Classroom. This text includes a timeline.
The texts increase in complexity throughout the year based on quantitative measures. The publisher provides quantitative and qualitative analyses of the texts used throughout the materials.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The introduction to the Making Meaning Volume 1 Teacher’s Manual includes information about the leveling systems used throughout the materials. There are resources about the Fountas & Pinnell and Lexile Framework for Reading leveling systems, and the resources contain more information about each system. Titles range in difficulty from 340/level L to 1020 Lexile, which is exactly within the range for grade 3 students. On the Center for the Collaborative Classroom website, under General Resources, there is a list of core titles and accompanying reading levels in both Lexile and Fountas & Pinnell levels. There is a Collaborative Literacy Text Complexity Analysis document that uses the Standard’s Model of Text Complexity to provide a quantitative, qualitative, and reader and task analysis of each text. Qualitative analyses of texts utilize guidance from Achieve the Core.
In Making Meaning, Unit 1, students read Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard, which has a Lexile Level of 340L. The Text Structure and Language Features are Slightly Complex, while Meaning is Moderately Complex, and Knowledge Demands are Very Complex. The Final Evaluation is Moderately Complex.
In Making Meaning, Unit 3, students read Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman at a Lexile level of 650L and a Fountas & Pinnell Level of M. The Text Structure is Slightly Complex, and Language Features are Moderately Complex. Meaning is Very Complex, and Knowledge Demands is Moderately Complex. The Final Evaluation is Moderately Complex.
In Making Meaning, Unit 7, students read Explore the Desert by Kay Jackson with a Lexile level of 810L and a Fountas & Pinnell Level of N. The Text Structure, Language Features, Meaning, and Knowledge Demands are Very Complex. A Final Evaluation is Very Complex.
In Being a Writer, students read Are You a Dragonfly? by Judy Allen. Although there is no Lexile level for this text, its Fountas & Pinnell Level is L. The Text Structure, Language Features, Meaning, and Knowledge Demands are Moderately Complex. The Final Evaluation is Moderately Complex.
In Being a Writer, students read Hello Ocean by Pam Muñoz Ryan with a Lexile level of 600L and Fountas & Pinnell Level N. The Text Structure and Language Features is Very Complex, while Meaning is Moderately Complex, and Knowledge Demands are Exceedingly Complex. A Final Evaluation is Very Complex.
The resources include numerous text-dependent questions. The texts are grouped thoughtfully, providing opportunities for students to make connections and discuss big themes within and across texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include frequent opportunities to answer text-dependent questions. In Making Meaning, Unit 1, students make inferences based on an illustration. They answer questions such as, “What do you think you can tell about the story from this picture? What in the picture makes you think that?” As students read Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard, they answer strategically placed discussion questions. These culminate with the question, “What do you think happens to Miss Viola Swamp? What in the story makes you think so?” Students continue to make inferences from illustrations later in the unit as they read and make connections to Miss Nelson Has a Field Day, a similar story written by the same author.
In Being a Writer, Unit 1, the teacher reads aloud Grandpa’s Face by Eloise Greenfield. The teacher asks, “This story is about a time when Tamika was upset about a family member. If you were going to write a story about a time you were upset about a family member, what might you write?” Students make connections to the text and then reflect on these connections through their writing.
In Being a Writer, Unit 2, students read “More About Judy Blume” and discuss the following questions: “What did you learn about Judy Blume’s writing process? Why do you think she feels most creative when she’s rewriting?” These questions require students to use text evidence and integrate retelling (3.7D ) and make inferences (3.6F).
In Making Meaning, Unit 3, students make text-to-text connections by comparing two books written by the same author about the same character. For example, students read both Amazing Grace and Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman. Through think-pair-share, students discuss the similarities and differences between the two stores.
The materials provide opportunities for students to reflect on big ideas. In Being a Writer, Unit 3, students read Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez. After reading, the teacher asks, “In this story, Eric writes about special things he did with someone he loved. What special things does he write about? If you wanted to write about special things you’ve done with someone you love, what could you write about?” Students turn and talk and then write. In this instance, students reflect on a theme in the text and make a personal connection in order to generate an idea for writing.
In Making Meaning, Unit 5, students make connections between the text and their own lives. In Week 3, students read Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx by Jonah Winter. Then they discuss the question, “What lessons did you learn from Sonia Sotomayor’s life that you can use in your own life?”
In Making Meaning, Unit 6, students examine expository text. While reading Morning Meals Around the World by Maryellen Gregoire, the teacher asks, “What do you notice about this table of contents? Which country’s morning meal do you want to find out about? On which page or pages in the book will we find that information?” These questions are text-dependent and TEKS-aligned (3.9Dii), as students utilize text features to find information.
In Making Meaning, Unit 8, Week 5, students read Keepers by Jeri Hanel Watts. After reading, they write about the theme of the story and discuss it as a class. In this lesson, there are clarifying questions such as, “How might you use this lesson in your life? Does this theme remind you of themes in other stories you have read? Which ones?” In this way, students make connections to their lives and to other texts.
In Making Meaning, Unit 8, students read two texts about polar bears. Students discuss important details and big ideas surrounding the decline in polar bears, such as, “How is climate change affecting polar bears? What have you learned about ways people can help polar bears?”
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language and craft employed by the author. Students make inferences and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in a variety of texts in both Making Meaning and Being a Writer. Stated and implied author’s purpose between texts happens through the thoughtful sequencing and pairing of texts and through partner and class discussions. There are also opportunities for students to analyze how the author’s choices and language impact meaning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2 of Making Meaning, students read and discuss the poem “Seal” by William Jay Smith. After the first reading, the teacher displays the poem, and students analyze how the author’s choices communicate meaning by discussing, “What do you notice about the shape of the poem? Why do you think the poet decided to write it this way?” There is a “Facilitation Tip” in the sidebar that encourages teachers to provide 5–10 seconds of wait time in order for students to formulate their responses. There is a “Students Might Say” section to help guide discussion around the author’s choice in using shape in the poem.
In Making Meaning, Unit 3, students read The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch and describe the main character, Princess Elizabeth. The teacher points out that the author never explicitly stated the traits and that the students made an inference. The teacher charts the students’ thinking and then identifies examples from the story as evidence to the students’ descriptions.
Similarly, in Making Meaning, Unit 4, students read A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting. The teacher asks, “What kind of person is Abuelo? What in the story makes you think so?” The students infer and share the language within the text that is evidence for their inference.
In Unit 7 of Making Meaning, students read the article “Polar Bears in Peril” and discuss how text features such as sections and subtitles aid comprehension. After rereading sections, the teacher asks, “What do you think the author wants us to learn from this section?” Later in the lesson, the class compares the article to the picturebook Polar Bears by Mark Newman. Students discuss how the information in the two texts is similar and different. There is a Students Might Say section with guidance to facilitate the understanding that these two texts share the same important idea.
In the Personal Narrative unit of Being a Writer, students read mentor texts that model the structure of personal narratives. The class reads Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez in Week 1. Teachers read and display the dedication page of the text, and students see that it is written in both English and Spanish. Students respond to the question, “What does the dedication tell us about the author?” In this instance, students analyze how the author’s choices communicate meaning.
In the Fiction unit of Being a Writer, students analyze excerpts for the text Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams. Students visualize the character by closing their eyes and listening to the story being read aloud. The teacher stops at strategic points so that students can discuss their mental images with their partners. Later in the week, students analyze passages from the story by underlining words or phrases that help readers imagine the characters. After analyzing words that create imagery, students add imagery to the fiction stories they are writing.
In the Opinion Writing unit of Being a Writer, students read the article “School Should Start Later in the Morning.” After reading, they discuss the author’s purpose by responding to the question, “Why do you think the author wrote this essay?”
In the Expository Nonfiction unit of Being a Writer, the teacher reads A Pack of Wolves and Other Canine Groups by Anna Claybourne. The teacher points out various text features, including headings, diagrams, and captions. Afterward, the teacher asks, “What are some different ways that the author of this book provides information about wolves and other canine groups?” Partners turn and talk about how the author communicates information about wolves.
There are opportunities for vocabulary instruction within the Making Meaning and Being A Writer units. There is a vocabulary guide for teachers with a year-long plan for vocabulary, including specific lessons from vocabulary found in the read-aloud texts themselves. The materials provide scaffolds and supports to guide teachers with differentiating for all learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The grade 3 Making Meaning materials include two volumes of a Vocabulary Teaching Guide that provide a year-long plan to build academic vocabulary. These guides provide 30 weeks of vocabulary instruction that combine direct instruction in word meanings with activities requiring students to think deeply about the words and apply their meaning in conversation and across learning contexts.
The Vocabulary Teaching Guide focuses on 4‒6 Tier 2 words per week. According to the work of Isabel Beck at the University of Pittsburgh, these are words that students are “not likely to see frequently but that educated adults regularly use in their speech and writing that appear in a wide range of texts students might encounter.” If a text does not contain six vocabulary words, there are words that could be applied to the text that are labeled as concept words. The vocabulary teaching units include additional read-aloud texts, digital word cards, print and digital teaching guides with links to professional development media and lesson resources.
For example, in Week 2 of the Vocabulary Teaching Guide, the teacher introduces and defines debris. The word is in the week’s read-aloud text, Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Mary Nethery. There is an illustration to define the word. Then student partners use the word in a sentence with the prompt, “Debris I might see after a tornado or hurricane is….” Students create a synonym chart to list synonyms for the word. Students continue to review the week’s vocabulary words by playing the “I’m Thinking of a Word” game; they are formally introduced to using context to determine word meanings.
The materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. In Week 3 of the Vocabulary Teaching Guide, students learn about words with “shades of meaning,” such as utter, whoop, and plop. As students play the game “What Might You Utter?” there is an ELL Note in the sidebar to help students who may struggle with the scenario “the sleepover has been canceled.”
Also in the Vocabulary Teaching Guide lessons, “you might say” prompts provide sample language for a teacher to use if a student struggles to understand or use a new word. In Week 8, one target word is reunited. The prompt says: “If students struggle to answer the questions or have not reunited with anyone, ask alternative questions such as ‘When have you seen two people reunited?’ ‘How do you think it feels to reunite with someone? Why?’” Also in Week 8 of the Vocabulary Teaching Guide, students explore words with the prefix re-. The teacher defines the vocabulary word reunite, taken from Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman, and students “Think Pair, Share” to discuss the question, “When have you reunited with someone? What happened?” The teacher defines the prefix re-, and students apply their knowledge of the prefix to define words in context, such as refold, rewash, and reheat.
In Week 13 of the Vocabulary Teaching Guide, the teacher defines and discusses flabbergasted. Both an “ELL Note” and a “Teacher Note” support teachers as they differentiate this new vocabulary word. The ELL Note guides teachers to act out being flabbergasted by “open[ing] your eyes wide, cover[ing] your mouth with your hand, or gasping[ing] and say[ing], ‘Oh Wow!’”. The Teacher Note includes scaffolded questions, such as “When have you been very surprised by something you saw someone do in person or on TV or in a movie?”
Within the units of Making Meaning, the materials include specific suggested vocabulary for each mentor text. There is guidance in Unit 1, specifying that as the teacher reads aloud, they clarify vocabulary by “briefly defining it, rereading it in context, and continuing.” For example, in Making Meaning, Unit 2, the teacher clarifies the meaning of the words paced and whimpered and phrases such as the Mighty Mississippi.
The materials also include additional suggested vocabulary for English Language Learners (ELL). For example, in Making Meaning, Unit 5, students read Brave Harriet by Marissa Moss. The suggested vocabulary for all students includes words like gawky, longing, and fraud. The suggested ELL vocabulary includes words and phrases such as soar, flew solo, and “could be the death of you.” Suggested ELL vocabulary is also present in Being a Writer. For example, during the Expository Nonfiction unit, in addition to the vocabulary, prey, crumpled, and midges, ELL suggested vocabulary includes beware of, pounce, and enormous.
Materials include clearly defined procedures and protocols for students to engage in independent reading for sustained periods of time. There are supports to teach students the skills they need to be successful during independent reading. Independent Daily Reading is built into daily lesson structures, and the materials provide protocols for planning individual conferences that create accountability and help students set goals.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a plan for students to select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time. There are optional Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) mini-lessons within Appendix A of the Making Meaning Teacher's Manual to help support independent reading procedures. Lesson topics include “Selecting Appropriately Leveled Text” and “Self-monitoring and Using Fix-up Strategies.” There is guidance for setting up a classroom library and building stamina for reading to teachers in the “Introduction” of the Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual.
There is guidance for teachers to foster independent reading throughout the year. The introduction of the Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual describes the role of independent reading within the lesson structure. IDR is introduced in Unit 1, Week 1, where students learn the procedures of IDR and how to find books that are at the appropriate reading level for each student. The goal of IDR is for students to read independently for 25 minutes, and there is guidance for teachers to begin with a shorter amount of time to start, depending on students’ attention and engagement. There is a “Teacher Note” with a QR code in the sidebar for the first IDR lesson. The link is a video to support teachers in setting up procedures and expectations.
In Unit 2 of Making Meaning, students learn how to monitor their comprehension through fix-up strategies, such as asking themselves questions about the text. In Week 1, teachers support independent reading through the introduction of IDR Conferences. These one-on-one conferences help teachers get to know their students as readers and help assess individual students’ comprehension. There is a Resource Sheet for IDR Conferences in the Assessment Resource Book with questions such as, “Tell me about your favorite books or authors. What do you like about them?” Also in this unit, which covers visualization, the teacher encourages students to visualize as they read. The teacher uses a note-taking sheet to record observations as they confer with students. After IDR is over, partners share their visualization as they read. This procedure fosters both independent reading and accountability.
Students continue to build their independent reading skills throughout the year. In Unit 3, students learn fix-up strategies and continue self-monitoring. Going forward, there are more comprehension strategies, and teachers focus on those during independent reading conferences. For example, in Unit 4, Wondering/Questioning, students record their questions on sticky notes as they read.
There are Individual Comprehension Assessments in the Assessment Resource Book to support teachers as they confer and assess students’ independent reading. Teachers make use of the IDR Conference Notes as well as the IDR Assessment sheets to calculate an Independent Reading score. These end-of-unit reflections help guide teachers’ future IDR conferences. For example, in Unit 5, the Individual Comprehension Assessment reflection questions include, “What did you work on with this student during the unit’s IDR conferences?” and “what might you focus on during the next unit’s IDR conferences?” The materials provide professional development media, including “Using the Individual Comprehension Assessment” and “Setting up IDR Conferences” to support teacher implementation of these formative assessment data points
The materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across various genres, including literary, informational, and argumentative texts as well as correspondence. They also provide opportunities for students to write for a variety of purposes and audiences.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Volume 2 of Being a Writer, students write poems about topics of interest while exploring sensory details. Students explore sound, imagery, and placement of words and letters within poems they read and discuss. Students use poems, such as “Galoshes” by Rhoda Bacmeister and “Sunning” by James S. Tippet as mentor texts.
The materials also provide opportunities to write informational texts. In Volume 2 of Being a Writer, students write nonfiction texts about animals. Informational texts, such as Are You a Dragonfly? by Judy Allen and Into the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson, are mentor texts. After reading Are You a Dragonfly?, students have the prompt to think of other ideas for an “Are You a...?” book or to write about anything they choose. Over a six-week period, pairs of students write, revise, and publish an informational text by conducting research. They use facts, details, and definitions to convey information about their chosen animal. Students practice using transitional words and phrases and writing a table of contents.
Furthermore, the materials provide students opportunities to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. In Volume 2 of Being a Writer, students write persuasive essays to defend particular opinions. Students identify the audience and purpose of their writing. They state their opinions and support these opinions with reasons using transitional words and phrases. Students learn how to craft clear and direct openings and conclusions that restate their opinion. There are publisher-written opinion essays, such as “School Should Start Later in the Morning” and “Don’t Change Our Start Time” as mentor texts.
The materials provide students opportunities to write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. In Unit 3 of Being a Writer, students write a personal narrative that focuses on a single interesting event or topic from their own lives. This unit includes mentor texts such as Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez and My Father’s Hands by Joanne Ryder. Students imitate these texts and the author’s craft in their own writing by including sensory details, temporal words and phrases, engaging openings, and effective endings that draw a story to a close.
In the Fiction unit of Being A Writer, students study fiction texts like Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams, and The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch as they learn to draft, revise and publish their own fictional writing. Students experience focus lessons about key features of literary fiction texts such as character development, plotline, and well-crafted endings.
During the Opinion Writing unit of Being a Writer, students read several texts with differing opinions on the same viewpoint, such as “School Should Start Later in the Morning” and “Don’t Change Our Start Time.” Students think about what opinion they might want to persuade a reader to agree with. Students write and then share in partners. Throughout the unit, students discuss the author’s purpose in argumentative texts and how to write for a specific audience.
Lastly, the materials provide students opportunities to write correspondence. At the conclusion of the Personal Narrative unit of Being a Writer, students practice letter writing by writing a letter home about what they learned writing a personal narrative. There is teacher guidance to review elements of a letter and model writing a sample letter with the class. Students proofread their letters and take them home with the personal narrative.
In the Functional Writing unit, Week 3 of Being a Writer, students publish the directions for an activity they write. Students then write a persuasive letter to their classmates about why they should learn this new activity. The teacher models writing a letter, and there is guidance for the letter’s format, including date, salutation, closing, and signature.
Both Making Meaning and Being a Writer provide opportunities for students to demonstrate knowledge gained from texts through various writing tasks. Students support their opinions and claims with textual evidence. Students also have opportunities to demonstrate in writing what they have learned from the texts through reader response activities.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. In Making Meaning, Unit 2, students write to demonstrate their understanding of how to visualize a text. After reading “Seal” by William Jay Smith, students underline phrases in the poem that helped them visualize. Students then use this text evidence to write about how they visualized the seal moving.
The materials provide multiple opportunities for students to use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. In Making Meaning, Unit 3, students write their opinion about The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. The teacher asks, “Is Elizabeth’s decision to try to rescue Prince Ronald a good decision or a bad decision? Why?” Students write their opinion and give reasons based on textual evidence to support what they think.
Also in Unit 3 of Making Meaning, students learn to make inferences about the main characters in books they listen to and read independently. In week 5 of this unit, students write in their Reading Journals about characters’ problems. Their journal entry includes the problem faced by the main character in their independent reading book and a clue in the story that helped them figure out the problem. Students then independently read and use sticky notes to write clues that indicate a change that the character undergoes. This focus on finding clues directs students to text evidence.
In Making Meaning, Unit 8, students read persuasive articles and essays such as “Banning Tag,” “Smile—You’ve Got Homework!” and “Homework—Who Needs It?” by the Center for the Core Collaborative Classroom. Students complete a written response in their Student Response Book. They respond to the prompts: “What were some reasons the author gave to support the opinion that homework is good for students?”, “What were some reasons the author gave to support the opinion that homework is not good for students?” and “After reading both of these articles, which side of the issue do you support? Do you think homework is good or bad for students? Why do you think that?” The teacher reminds students to use text examples and evidence from their own lives to support or explain their thinking.
In the Opinion Writing unit of Being a Writer, students write an opinion essay on a topic they feel strongly about. Students read and discuss mentor texts by the publisher, such as “Schools Should Start Later in the Morning'' as a model for their writing. Guidance in the Teacher Edition states that teachers may wish to incorporate research as a way to have students support their positions.
In Unit 7 of Making Meaning, students apply the comprehension strategy of “Wondering and Questioning” to texts they hear read aloud and to their independent reading. In Week 2, students apply the strategy of “Stop and Ask Questions” to their independent texts while writing in their Reading Journals. Students review the questions they asked and answer one of those questions using their texts. If none of their questions are answered, they write about something else they have learned from their texts thus far. Students discuss with a partner before adding to their journals. Students write about what they have learned as they independently read their texts.
Throughout the year, students consistently experience the complete writing process to compose multiple texts across multiple genres. The materials provide opportunities to apply the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. In addition, grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context of students’ writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students learn the writing process in Unit 2 of Being a Writer. The Introduction within the Teacher Volume explains that in each unit, students “learn about elements of each genre as they brainstorm ideas, quick-write, and write multiple drafts. After this immersion and drafting phase, each student selects a draft to develop and revise for publication in the class library. The students spend the later weeks of each genre unit revising, proofreading, publishing, and sharing their pieces from the Author’s Chair.” Students experience all elements of the writing process as they produce a personal narrative, fictional narrative, expository nonfiction essay, opinion/argumentative essay, and poem.
In the Fiction unit of Being A Writer, students explore and engage in fiction writing over a six-week timeframe. In Weeks 1‒3, the teacher immerses students in the genre by listening to mentor texts. During this immersion phase, students begin to draft their own stories and apply their learning from the mentor texts. In Week 4 of this unit, students begin the process of analyzing and revising a chosen draft through guided peer conferring. In Weeks 5 and 6, students continue to revise and proofread their drafts, with a focus on language conventions, such as punctuating speech and correcting run-on sentences. Students publish and present final drafts to the class through Author’s Chair sharing on Day 5 of week 6.
The materials provide opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. At the end of each unit, students share their writing through the Author’s Chair. The teacher encourages students to use conventions of academic language. For example, on Day 5 of Week 6 of the Being A Writer Fiction unit, the teacher reviews speaking clearly and at an appropriate rate by asking students questions such as, “Why is it important to speak in a loud, clear voice when sharing with the class?”
In the Functional Writing Unit of Being A Writer, students reflect on the writing they shared with a partner by responding to questions such as, “What is something you learned about functional writing today?” “What is something you learned about your partner today?” “What did you do to handle our functional writing materials responsibly?” “I noticed that…. What can we do next time to avoid this problem?” These questions push students to speak about the writing process using academic language.
In the Expository Nonfiction unit of Being A Writer, students practice the conventions of grammar. The teacher provides the sentence frame, “The oak tree is...than the apple tree, but the redwood tree is the...of all.” The class discusses which version of the word tall best fits in each of the blanks.
Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of the context of students’ writing. Being A Writer comes with a Skill Practice Teaching Guide and Student Skill Practice Book that provide 30 weeks of mini-lessons in grammar, usage, and mechanics skills. These lessons supplement the writing instruction within the Being a Writer units. During these lessons, there is a proofreading notes chart on the board for students to add specific notes to their student writing handbook. There are Skill Practice Notes within the Being a Writer Teacher’s Manuals to alert teachers to particular skills lessons. Most skill instruction is within the revision and proofreading portions of the writing process, though these lessons can also be used out of context based on students’ needs. For example, within the Personal Narrative unit of Being a Writer, students write a personal narrative. Within the revision and proofreading stages in Weeks 3 and 4 of this unit, students learn specific language skills, such as recognizing and correcting run-on sentences (Lessons 1 and 2 of the Skills Practice Teaching Guide). They then apply these skills to their proofreading of drafts during Week 4. Similarly, students apply proofreading skills to each genre of writing during the editing phase.
The materials do not include practice to write in cursive or supports to assess handwriting development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are no opportunities for students to write in cursive or supports to assess handwriting development.
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts studied in class to demonstrate comprehension. Listening and speaking opportunities are built into lessons at strategic points. The tasks require students to use clear and concise information and claims based on textual evidence to demonstrate the knowledge they gained.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts. In Making Meaning, Unit 1, students discuss the books Miss Nelson is Missing! and Miss Nelson Has a Field Day by Harry Allard. Students look at the cover of the book and compare and contrast the texts by answering the questions, “In what ways are these stories similar or alike? Turn to your partner” and “In what ways are the stories different? Turn to your partner.” There are prompts for student thinking, such as “Miss Nelson is Missing! is about a teacher missing class. Miss Nelson Has a Field Day is about a football team.” These prompts model the language students can use as they discuss with a partner.
In Unit 1 of Being a Writer, students read The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume. Then students answer text-based questions such as, “Who is telling this story? Who is ‘the Pain?,’ and What do you find out about the little brother in this story?” Students extend the discussion by writing a funny story based on a personal experience.
The materials support students as they listen and speak about various texts and genre characteristics. Many of these listening and discussion opportunities occur through student partnerships that are designated at the beginning of each unit. For example, in Unit 2 of Making Meaning, students visualize as they read a text. On Day 3 of Week 1, students listen to a portion of Cherries and Cherry Pits by Vera B. Williams. Rather than seeing the illustration, students close their eyes and visualize the character. Students use “Think, Pair, Share” to discuss the question, “What does the character look like?” Afterward, they draw the character in their Student Response Books. On Day 4, students share their drawings as well as the words they underlined from the passage that helped them visualize the character. There is a “Students Might Say” section to help facilitate the discussion.
In Unit 5 of Making Meaning, students listen to Brave Harriet by Marissa Moss. Throughout the reading, the teacher pauses, and students discuss text-specific questions in pairs, such as “What have you learned about Harriet’s flight across the English Channel?” After reading, students discuss what they learned from the text and what they still wonder about. Speaking prompts appear in a Teacher Note in the sidebar of the materials (e.g., “I agree with...because….” “In addition to what...said, I think….”)
In the Making Inferences Unit of Making Meaning, students draw conclusions about Elizabeth from The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Students discuss their inferences about the character and then explain the evidence supporting their claim. This demonstrates comprehension of the story and mastery of making inferences.
In the Visualizing Unit of Making Meaning, students read The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet and share what they visualized. To support their responses, students give text evidence that sparked their images. Students explain how visualizing helped them understand and enjoy the story. In this instance, students explain their answers using information from the book.
In the Opinion Writing Unit of Being a Writer, students demonstrate knowledge of persuasive texts by discussing the author’s purpose for writing the essay “School Should Start Later in the Morning.” The teacher asks, “Who might the author be trying to convince that school should start later in the morning, and why?” Students answer with text evidence from the article. Students must defend their answers with knowledge gained through analysis of the text.
During the Poetry Unit of Being a Writer, students listen to the poem “Which is Best?” by James Stevenson. After listening to the poem twice and reading it themselves, students discuss the author’s word choice. Students respond to the questions, “What words or phrases does the poet include to help you see what’s happening? Feel what’s happening?” and “What words or phrases help you imagine smelling or tasting the ice cream?” There is a “Students Might Say” section to facilitate this discussion as well as a Teacher Note with directions for the Think, Pair, Share strategy utilized in the follow-up discussion.
The materials provide a range of opportunities for students to participate in discussions using protocols in both Making Meaning and Being A Writer. While Making Meaning provides limited opportunities for presentations and performances, Being A Writer provides regular opportunities for students to share their writing with the class.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Making Meaning, students discuss with partners or as a class throughout the units. In Unit 1 of Making Meaning, students learn the “Turn to Your Partner” procedure. The teacher and a class volunteer model what this procedure should look and sound like. The teacher also introduces the signal to end the discussion and face the teacher. Students practice their first Turn to Your Partner by discussing the question, “What is something you did in school last year that was especially fun or interesting? Turn to your partner.” There are several guiding “Teacher Notes” in this lesson to help support the teacher in building partnerships as well as using hand signals and building accountability. Students apply the Turn to Your Partner procedure to talk about their thinking. In Making Meaning, Unit 1, students participate in a discussion about the book Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard. In pairs, students answer the questions “What happens in this story?” and “What is surprising about the end of this story?” After a moment to think about their response, students turn to their partner and discuss their thoughts.
Students maintain their partners throughout the unit so they can build rapport. The teacher consistently provides discussion prompts to guide partner discussions. These include, “I agree with...because…. I disagree with...because….” “In addition to what...said, I think….” (Making Meaning, Unit 6). These prompts help students use the conventions of language.
In Being A Writer, students also often discuss with partners. For example, in Unit 2 of Being a Writer, students learn to give full attention to those who are speaking. Students reflect on this skill daily by answering prompts such as, “How did you do today giving your partner your full attention? If you weren’t giving your full attention, what will help you the next time we have a discussion.”
The Making Meaning materials provide opportunities for some students to give organized presentations. For instance, in Making Meaning, Unit 8, students write about the theme in Keepers by Jerry Hanel Watts. Some students present their answers to the class.
The Being A Writer Implementation Guide explains that throughout the system, “students learn to confer in pairs about their writing. They learn that the purpose of a conference is for partners to help each other improve their writing and that a conference entails both sharing and talking about their writing.” As students grow in their partnerships, they learn to ask for and engage in feedback with their partners to revise and edit their writing each week.
At the end of each day’s independent writing time, students reflect together. The teacher asks guiding questions, and students discuss their writing. For example, in the Fiction unit, students write a “What If?” story for 20‒30 minutes. After writing, the teacher calls the class back together to discuss their “What If?” stories and other fiction topics.
Making Meaning provides opportunities for students to present as extensions to lessons. For example, the Wondering/Questioning unit of Making Meaning concludes with a technology extension. Students review the biographies they read and select a famous person of interest to research. The teacher provides guiding questions such as “Is the information in the sources the same? If not, how is it different?” and students choose how to present their information. There are no other guidelines for this presentation.
In Being A Writer, students share their writing at the end of every unit through the Author’s Chair. For example, in Week 6 of the Fiction Unit, students who have completed their story read it aloud from the Author’s Chair. Then the teacher facilitates a discussion about the story read aloud using questions such as, “What kind of character has [Phineas] created? What clues did you hear that told you that?” or “What sensory details did you hear as you listened to the story? What did they make you imagine?” Students also reflect on their behavior during the Author’s Chair sharing with questions such as “If you shared a book today, how did the audience make you feel? What did the audience members do that made you feel [that way]?”
The materials provide opportunities for students to engage in inquiry using various sources. Students organize and present this information within core lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Although the terms primary resources and secondary resources are not utilized in the materials, the program provides opportunities for students to reference various research materials.
Being a Writer contains a Writing Performance Task Preparation Guide that supports students as they analyze and gather information from multiple sources to produce a piece of writing within a specific genre. Students evaluate, interpret, and integrate information from primary and secondary sources. For example, during the Narrative Writing performance task, students read an article (“The Great Wildebeest Migration”), watch a video (“Wildebeest Migration”), and review a travel guide (“East African Safari”). Students use the information they gather to complete the writing performance task. Teachers ask guiding questions to support students as they summarize these sources and gather notes. For example, teachers ask, “What more did you learn about an East African safari in the part of the travel guide you just read?” In this way, students use the sources to complete the writing task.
In the Expository Nonfiction Unit of Being a Writer, students learn about expository writing and conduct an extended research project. Students learn how to select a book that includes information related to their topic. The teacher models by using a search engine and asks, “Which of these results do you think will have information about the foods dolphins eat? Why?”. There are also optional technology mini-lessons to support the selection of research sources and how to cite them. As students complete the project, they research their topics and then locate information in two additional resources.
Throughout the Expository Nonfiction Unit of Being a Writer, students learn to organize their information. In Weeks 1 and 2, students hear and discuss expository nonfiction and begin to explore different ways to organize and present information. After reading nonfiction texts about animals, including Reptiles by Tom Greve, students discuss and make connections to the various ways authors organize information through class questions such as “How did the author organize information about reptiles?” and “When reading today, what did you notice about how the information you looked at is organized and presented?” By Week 4, students have researched an animal of interest and begin grouping their notes to organize their drafts. Partners respond to the question, “What have you found out about your animal that you think other people will be curious to learn about?” Materials then support teachers as they model organizing research notes and beginning a draft. At the end of the unit, students present their information through the Author’s Chair.
The materials consistently provide opportunities for students to build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. Throughout the year, they contain high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. While they have limited opportunities to integrate syntax, they include components of vocabulary and fluency.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students engage in Independent Daily Reading and Independent Writing for 20‒30 minutes per day. During this time, students practice skills taught during the guided lesson. For example, in Making Meaning, Unit 2, students listen to the teacher read The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock by Bill Peet. While reading independently, students practice visualizing.
The text-dependent questions in the materials allow for the integration of knowledge and ideas taught in guided practice. In Making Meaning, Unit 3, students make inferences while reading. As students listen to Boundless Grace by Mary Hoffman, the teacher stops to ask, “What have you found out about Grace and her family? How do you think Grace feels?” Partners discuss their inference and use text evidence to justify their responses.
The questions and tasks help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. For instance, in Making Meaning, Unit 3, students discuss the main character of The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch by answering the question, “How would you describe the character, Princess Elizabeth?” The teacher reads and displays the Sentences About Elizabeth chart. Students discuss what they can infer about the main character from each sentence. Students listen to their peers’ inference and think about whether they agree or disagree by answering questions such as, “Why do you think their inference [makes sense/does not make sense] in this story?” Afterward, students reflect on their own thinking through a brief class discussion that includes questions such as “What might you do differently the next time you share your thinking?”
In Unit 5 of Making Meaning, students read Brave Harriet by Marissa Moss and refer to the text to help support their thinking. During Week 1, students analyze parts of the text through sequenced questions. For example, students reread the Author’s Note and answer the question “What did you learn about Harriet Quimby from the Author’s Note?” Students integrate this knowledge by creating a newspaper story detailing her flight while answering the questions, “What information might you include in a newspaper article about Harriet Quimby and her flight across the English Channel?” and “What might you title an article about Harriet’s Flight?”
In Making Meaning, Unit 8, students discuss the problem and character changes in Keepers by Jerry Hanel Watts. Then they write in their journals about the theme of the story. Afterward, students participate in a class discussion about the theme. There are clarifying questions such as, “How might you use this lesson in your life?, Does this theme remind you of themes in other stories you have read? Which ones?”. Some students present their answers to the class.
In the Opinion Writing Unit of Being a Writer, students experience argumentative texts. Students listen to the article “School Should Start Later in the Morning.” Students then discuss, “When might you want to write a persuasive essay? When might you want to persuade a reader to agree with an opinion you feel strongly about?” After the discussion, students write opinion pieces during independent writing time to integrate what they learned during the read-aloud.
In the Poetry Unit of Being a Writer, students listen to poems and learn about poetic structures and devices. While writing independently, students write their own poems in the style of the poets they read. For example, students listen to “Which is Best?” by James Stevenson, which depicts eating ice cream. The class then discusses the vocabulary connected to the poem and which sensory details helped them imagine the sweet treat. Students craft poems about a food of their choice, thereby incorporating Stevenson’s style into their own writing.
While the materials include limited opportunities to integrate syntax, they regularly include components of vocabulary and fluency with opportunities for increased independence. In the Making Meaning Vocabulary Building Guide, Week 2, students read Two Bobbies, A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery. They learn the definitions for bustle, volunteer, and debris. In pairs, students answer questions to come up with practical uses for the words. Students then utilize a synonym chart to list synonyms for the words.
The materials provide spiraled and distributed practice of integrated skills across the year through both reading and writing. The materials provide scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of spiraled literacy skills throughout the year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the Making Meaning units, students use the Student Response Book to respond to the texts the class is reading. Students also respond to books they read independently in their Reading Journals and track their reading across the year.
The CCC standards correlation tab shows a breakdown of TEKS as they are taught throughout the year. This document shows how the standards are distributed throughout the year, giving students ample opportunity to practice. For example, the standard “110.5.b.6.B. Generate questions about the text before, during, and after reading to deepen understanding and gain information” is taught a total of 43 times across Being a Writer and Making Meaning.
The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year. In Making Meaning, students develop their understanding of reading comprehension strategies throughout the year within nine units of instruction. In Unit 1, students learn about comprehension strategies and learn to apply these strategies during their Individualized Daily Reading (IDR). In Unit 2, the class creates a Reading Comprehension Chart with the first strategy, “Visualization.” A Teacher Note in the sidebar guides teachers to reference the chart often and post it in a clearly visible place for students to access as they read. By Unit 9, students know the chart, which includes a variety of comprehension strategies. In this last unit, students reflect on their use of these strategies by answering class discussion questions such as, “How do these strategies help you make sense of what you are reading?”
Students continuously integrate self-monitoring skills and learn and apply reading “fix-up” strategies during IDR. Students learn self-monitoring in Unit 1 of Making Meaning as a way to pause while reading to ask themselves questions such as “Do I understand what I am reading?” The teacher models this strategy, and students practice it as they read independently.
The program design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. For instance, in Making Meaning, Unit 4, students practice asking questions about The Emperor and the Kite by Jane Yolen with a partner. Students then engage in IDR and generate their own wonderings about their books. Students have the opportunity to listen to a text and practice with a partner before practicing the skill in independent reading, demonstrating a scaffold of support.
Within the lessons, skills are distributed for practice throughout the year. For example, in Making Meaning, Unit 3, students learn how to use “fix-up” strategies during IDR. Throughout the rest of the year, students practice “fix-up” strategies with teacher support during IDR. Students also practice the skill that is taught during whole group instruction. For example, in Unit 5, the focus strategy is Asking Questions. During IDR, students stop and jot questions they had while reading independently.
Being a Writer has distributed practice. During the Expository Nonfiction Unit, as students write expository texts, they recognize and correct run-on sentences and sentence fragments. Students have additional opportunities to practice revising these types of sentences in a future unit when writing persuasive essays.
In Being a Writer, students listen to the teacher read a mentor text in the same genre they will be writing in. In the Personal Narrative Unit, students listen to excerpts from Childtimes by Eloise Greenfield before drafting their own personal narratives. The teacher confers with students and asks guiding questions such as, “What other experiences from your life might you want to write about? Why did you choose to write about this memory/event/thing?” This gives students a concrete, published example and allows them time to practice independently with teacher support.
Based on the Vocabulary Teaching Guide for Making Meaning, students receive five days of vocabulary instruction. Every week, Ongoing Review activities review vocabulary words and structures previously learned. The materials support students as they practice using the vocabulary through oral conversations with peers. For example, on Day 5 of Week 9, students review previously learned words (command, flutter, savory, and speechless). Students review the displayed words and use the words in context when playing the game “Which Word Am I?”
The materials provide explicit, systematic instruction in spelling skills and instruction in word analysis skills. However, they lack a systematic, research-based phonics program to support students, especially those in need of remediation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Collaborative Literacy includes a research-based spelling program called Guided Spelling that contains 30 weeks of spelling instruction. The program is based on four areas of research on spelling, including Developmental Stages (Edmund Henderson, University of Virginia), Explicit Instruction (Barak Rosenshine), Word Frequency (Carroll, Davies, and Richman), and Basal Spelling. For example, students build spelling knowledge in short vowels, consonant clusters, r-controlled vowels, vowel and consonant digraphs, prefixes and suffixes, changing y to i, and dropping e, as identified in the TEKS. However, the program does not target the syllable types outlined in the TEKS.
Each week of the Guided Spelling program contains approximately 28 words, including new words, review words, and challenge words. To practice, students follow a sequence such as cover, say, spell out loud, and check. Students also learn four sight words every week. These words contain irregular spelling/sound patterns and are reviewed for memorization weekly. For example, in Week 10, students learn chance, sign, since, and few. Students also review previously learned sight words each week. For example, in Week 10, they review chief, pretty, shoes, and clothes from previous weeks.
Making Meaning includes two volumes of a Vocabulary Teaching Guide. These 30 weeks of vocabulary instruction are based on the research of Baumann and Kame'enui, McKeown and Beck, and Stahl (1999). Students receive direct instruction in specific words and strategies to recognize words independently, such as using prefixes to determine meanings, using suffixes to determine meanings, using Greek and Latin roots to determine word meanings, recognizing idioms, and analyzing word relationships to better understand words. For example, students learn to determine word meanings by using prefixes un- and re- and suffixes -est and -ful. In Making Meaning, Appendix A, Lesson 6, students learn how to identify prefixes, suffixes, and base words. The teacher reads an excerpt from A New Robot and circles cleverest. The teacher demonstrates how to break the word into parts and how to use knowledge about the word base and suffix to determine the meaning of the word.
There is minimal guidance provided for remediation in vocabulary. Guidance appears at the bottom of each vocabulary assessment record in the Assessment Resource Booklet. Examples of guidance include: “If only a few of the students understand the word’s meaning, reteach the word using the vocabulary lesson in which it was taught as a model” or “If about half of the students understand a word’s meaning, provide further practice by having the students play...”. The materials reference an extension from a previous week’s lesson which addressed this skill. No other remediation lessons or small group lesson plans are included in the vocabulary, spelling, reading, or writing resources.
The materials do not include instruction in phonics, phonological awareness, or decoding of multisyllabic words through syllabication. They also do not include instruction or remediation in phonics, phonological awareness, or decoding of words. In order to teach phonics skills, the materials suggest the SIPPS program, which is available as a separate purchase.
The materials include various assessment resources, including diagnostic resources that assess reading and writing skills. However, these assessments do not assess foundational skills or provide teachers with guidance on how to respond to students’ needs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
While the Guided Spelling materials do not include guidance for assessing or teaching skill gaps in phonics or decoding, the materials provide resources to teach spelling patterns. The spelling resources include a weekly formative assessment and tools for the teacher to interpret this data to inform or adjust instruction. For example, in Guided Spelling, Week 3, the lists indicate new words, review words, and challenge words for students who are able to master the grade level list. The students also generate words with final consonant clusters such as -mp and -nch. It is important to note that a diagnostic tool is not included for spelling.
The program also includes a Vocabulary Teaching Guide where teachers find Individual Vocabulary Assessments. These eight assessments are multiple-choice and help teachers assess individual student word knowledge. Directions for administering the assessment and recording sheets are in the Assessment Resource Book. There are suggestions for how to score the assessment, such as awarding a point per word or creating a rubric.
While reading diagnostic tools are not in the Making Meaning materials, there are Individual Daily Reading (IDR) Conference Notes in the Assessment Resource Book. These notes are divided into four parts: “Initiate the Conference,” “Listen to the Student Read Aloud,” “Discuss the Text,” and “Discuss Text Level.” A “Suggestions For Supporting Readers” section directs teachers to a “Reading Development” section of the Assessment Resource Book. This informational section discusses the five stages of reading development (Awareness and Exploration, Emergent, and Fluent/Independent) and general ways to support each stage, such as “Work on phonics and phonological awareness” at the early reader stage. No phonics or phonological awareness instruction is in the materials at the time of this review.
In Making Meaning, Unit 1, students learn how to select books for independent reading. They also learn to use “fix-up strategies” when they struggle, such as asking, “What is happening in my book?” and “Do I understand what I am reading?”. In the Making Meaning Assessment Guide, there are notes that explain the rubric for each unit assessment. For example, in the Visualizing Unit, one of the skills teachers assess during individual conferences is “The student is able to visualize the story and use words from part of the text to create their visualization.” There is commentary to support teachers in determining the score from the rating scale. However, the rating scales are not broken down to indicate the specific skills to reteach.
The materials provide a “Reading Assessment Preparation Guide” on the teacher portal. These assessments are short passages with questions in a variety of formats. For example, after reading “Furry Friends and Helpers,” students answer multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions (e.g., “What evidence does the author give in paragraph 3 to show that herding dogs are smart?”) They also complete a bulleted list of jobs dogs can do. The materials contain a Class Assessment Record sheet where the teacher notes if “all or most students, about half of the students, or only a few students” are successfully answering the questions and using comprehension “fix-up” strategies. If half or fewer students adequately answer the questions, the teacher reviews a comprehension lesson such as “Self-Monitoring or Using Fix-Up Strategies” found in Appendix A of the Making Meaning Teacher Manual.
The Being A Writer Skills Practice Supplement includes a diagnostic language skills assessment. After administering this, the teacher may use the cumulative report forms to record individual results and class results. The teacher also utilizes the Center for the Collaborative Classroom (CCC) Class View Assessment App to track student progress and growth across all CCC systems. After analyzing these results, the teacher identifies skill practice mini-lessons to support student needs for additional learning. The skill practice mini-lessons include topics such as: sentences, nouns and pronouns, capitalization, and punctuation. The diagnostic does not assess foundational literacy skills. Furthermore, the resources do not support teachers in identifying gaps in phonological awareness, phonics, decoding, or fluency. The program suggests the use of a partner system called SIPPS, but this is not included within the CCC systems for review.
Students have ample opportunities to independently read the text at their level. While the materials reference the importance of teaching fluency and building foundational skills, they provide minimal guidance on how to teach these skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide ample opportunities for students to read independently. Making Meaning lessons include Individualized Daily Reading (IDR), during which students independently read the text at their reading levels and apply the reading strategies learned.
The Assessment Resource Book provides IDR Conference Notes. Teachers use these notes to individually assess students’ comprehension of the text they read independently and discuss text levels. Teachers conduct one IDR conference per student in each unit. During the conference, teachers ask, ”Do you think this [book] is at the right level for you—not too difficult and not too easy? Why do you say that?” Suggestions for helping a student choose a more appropriate book appear in the “Suggestions for Supporting Readers” section of the Assessment Resource Book.
The IDR Conference Notes include a section labeled “Listen to the Student Read Aloud.” One of the criteria on which they score students is “The student reads fluently” by determining a score range from 1‒4. There is no guidance to explain what fluent reading looks like or how to monitor for accuracy and fluency as students are reading (Introduction to Making Meaning). If a student does not read fluently during this conference, the teacher teaches IDR Mini Lesson 4, “Reading with Expression,” and IDR Mini Lesson 5, “Reading in Meaningful Phrases,” found in Teacher Volume II of Making Meaning, Appendix A. For example, in the mini-lesson for Reading in Meaningful Phrases, the teacher shows an excerpt from pages 4‒5 of the book Rainforests by James Harrison. The teacher reads aloud with and without phrasing. Then, students discuss the differences between the two readings. The group works together to chunk the excerpt into meaningful phrases and read it with phrasing. Students then compare what the reading sounds like with and without phrasing. Students continue to practice reading with phrasing using another excerpt and their IDR texts. The materials only provide one lesson to target each component of fluency, and the lessons utilize the same strategies and resources across grades 3‒5.
The Introduction to Making Meaning also expresses the importance of reading decodable readers, but decodable readers are not in the materials. Thus, the materials do not embed opportunities to build foundational reading skills.
The materials provide various opportunities for whole-group extensions through additional reading and writing opportunities. However, the materials include limited opportunities for differentiation for students who are performing above grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Introduction of the Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual includes a description of ways to extend or enhance core lessons through Writing About Reading or extension activities. For example, in the expository nonfiction unit, the teacher extends the lesson by reading additional titles by the same author. After the class reads Where Butterflies Grow and Panda Kindergarten, students read more books by the same author (Joanne Ryder). In the expository nonfiction unit (Week 5, Day 2), the teacher extends the work of writing an introductory sentence by reading opening sentences from mentor texts such as A Pack of Wolves and Other Canine Groups.
In Making Meaning, Unit 2, students learn about visualization in poetry and fiction. Week 2 ends with an extension activity where students listen to a non-illustrated story read aloud by the teacher. Students work together to illustrate parts of the story. Partnerships share their illustrations, and the class discusses the words from the story that help create visualizations.
In Making Meaning, Unit 3, students read an additional text by Kevin Henkes and engage in a comparison between the focus tradebook for the day, Julius, the Baby of the World, and the text they chose. Question stems for discussion include “What were you able to infer about Lilly’s personality from this story?” and “How are the stories the same? How are they different?” The teacher manual lists other Kevin Henkes texts that include the key character of Lilly for reference.
In Making Meaning, Unit 4, the manual describes a “writing about reading” activity for the focus text, The Emperor and the Kite. In this activity, students identify the main character and discuss her traits and the key problems she faces in the story. The teacher leads the students to make connections with another recently read text, such as the 2‒3 examples provided. The teacher models writing about the connections between two characters and the problems they solve, then prompts students to engage in similar writing with their own text-to-text connections using another character in The Emperor and the Kite.
In Making Meaning, Unit 5, students read biographies of famous women. As an extension, they research and report on people they find interesting. They select a person to research, then find two sources of information to include in their report.
In the Being a Writer Skill Practice Teaching Guide, Appendix B, there is an explanation of how to use these skill practice pages to meet the needs of various learner levels. It explains that each activity is scaffolded, with the first being a review skill, the second a grade-level appropriate skill, and the third a more rigorous task. The Teaching Guide recommends teachers use these in accordance with recent observational data to determine the needs of students.
In Being A Writer, students engage in an expository nonfiction unit. As an extension, they post their comments to reflection questions on the class blog. Students reflect on what they are learning about writing informational reports by answering questions such as, “Why do you think it is important to paraphrase, or write notes using your own words, instead of plagiarizing or using the author’s exact words?” A Technology Tip in the margins includes instructions on how to set up and maintain a class blog.
The materials include some extensions and differentiation opportunities as well as prompts for teachers to use if a student is not demonstrating mastery. However, these planning and learning opportunities are intended for all students who are not mastering the specific skill and are not designed specifically for students who perform below grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Introduction to Making Meaning specifies that the classroom library should include a balance of genres and that 25% of texts should be one year to two years below grade level. While this acknowledges the need for texts that are below grade level, the teacher does not have specific guidance on how to ensure that students reading below grade level are accessing the appropriate texts.
In addition, the Introduction to Making Meaning explains that all students engage in Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) for up to 30 minutes a day at their appropriate reading level independently. The teacher confers with the reader and reviews student responses to their reading. While this is an opportunity to support students individually, it is a general recommendation that applies to all students and does not provide specific guidance for students performing below grade level. The introduction also explains that this program pairs well with those that employ guided reading, but there are no specific differentiations outlined in the materials.
In Making Meaning, Unit 2, students practice visualizing. In Week 3, students apply this strategy during independent reading. In a Class Assessment Note, teachers record observational data and reflect on their students’ ability to visualize. Teachers proceed with Day 4 if “all or most students” are able to visualize. No prompts are provided for the students who are still not visualizing successfully. If “about half of the students” are able to visualize, teachers check in with struggling students and utilize prompts to help support the strategy. These prompts include students rereading descriptive words/phrases, then closing the book and describing what they see in their mind. While this provides an opportunity to reteach students who are not mastering the specific strategy at grade level, it does not necessarily foresee or address the needs of students who are performing below grade level and may be struggling due to other factors.
Similarly, in Making Meaning, Unit 4, students learn the comprehension strategy of questioning/wondering. In Week 3, students stop and ask questions about their texts. In a Class Assessment Note, teachers reflect and take note of their student’s ability to generate relevant questions of their texts. To support students who are struggling, teachers prompt individual students with questions such as “What is happening in your book right now?” “What questions do you have about what is happening?” “What questions do you have about what is going to happen next?” While these supports address the needs of students struggling to master the specific strategy at grade level, they do not foresee or address the needs of students who are performing below grade level.
The Being A Writer resources include limited differentiation opportunities for students performing below grade level regarding skills practice and spelling. The Being A Writer Skills Practice resource contains reteach opportunities for students who did not master the skill. Each week in Guided Spelling, there are student lists based on students’ current skill levels. Students who are below their expected level study from the starred word list. The writing component of Being A Writer provides limited opportunities to address students performing below grade level. In Being A Writer, Unit 1, students build stamina for writing during independent writing time. In a Class Assessment Note, teachers observe students as they write and take note of their writing habits. To support struggling students, teachers use prompts such as, “What are you thinking about right now?” and “What ideas have you written in your writing ideas section? Let’s pick one and talk about what you might write.”
In the “Personal Narrative Unit” of Being A Writer, the Teacher Note provides prompts to support students who are having difficulty making connections with the mentor text, such as, “What else have you learned?” The teacher also employs a longer wait time to ensure all students are prepared to answer. These prompts are brief and aligned to grade-level standards. They are not for students who do not show mastery of grade-level concepts.
In the “Functional Writing Unit” of Being a Writer, students independently write directions for how to draw a simple animal. In a Class Assessment Note, teachers observe students as they write directions and reflect on the clarity of the directions written. Teachers support struggling students by conferring individually and asking questions such as, “What is the first thing you do to draw your animal?” and “What do you do next?” The teacher also provides additional examples if students are struggling. As with Making Meaning, these prompts are general and support students who struggle with a specific strategy at grade-level but do not address the needs of students performing below grade level.
The materials provide supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. These supports include accommodations for linguistics, scaffolds, strategic use of students’ first language, and opportunities for connected discourse. While the teacher must differentiate the accommodations to various levels of English language proficiency, numerous strategies and ideas are provided.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials contain multiple accommodations for English Learners (ELs). Making Meaning Volume 1 of the Teacher’s Edition includes a Special Considerations section that describes supports and scaffolds for English Learners. These English Language Development Strategies include creating a respectful, safe learning community, cooperative learning, authentic communication, vocabulary development, language-rich environment, scaffolded instruction, integrating movement and art to demonstrate understanding, and critical thinking.
Suggestions for simplifying questions include “providing context clues as part of the question” and asking “who/what/where/when questions rather than how/why questions.” This section describes the developmental stages of language acquisition under an immersion framework. These stages are defined but not specifically addressed in the lessons.
The “Supports for ELLs” section of the teacher volume for Making Meaning provides ideas for tailoring the Individualized Daily Reading portion of the lessons, such as providing audiobooks, using partner reading, responding to literature in various ways such as drawing, and providing one-on-one support from support staff or parents.
There are also ELL Notes throughout the units, such as additional stopping places while reading Julius, the Baby of the World (Unit 3) and helping students suggest appropriate texts for independent reading (Unit 5). In Being a Writer, Unit 1, there is an explanation about the value of using “get to know you” questions and reflections to build a safe environment for students to develop oral language skills.
The “Introduction” to Being A Writer contains a section on teaching writing to ELs, including the stages of language development and strategies for supporting students, including using visual aids and pre-teaching, among others. For example, in the Fiction Writing Unit, there are callouts throughout the lessons explaining how to accommodate ELs, such as suggesting that students draw before they write. In the Functional Writing Unit, the teacher asks discussion questions such as, “What is something you know how to take care of that you could write about?” Students discuss with a partner before using their response to plan their writing. Also, the teacher uses scaffolding questions to assist ELs who may be struggling with this task, such as, “What do you take care of?” or “What do you do to take care of your pet?”
The materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. The “Introduction” to both Making Meaning and Being a Writer suggests previewing vocabulary, looking at images from the text, using realia, and pre-teaching in the student’s native language. The materials also state that some read-aloud texts from the materials are available in Spanish.
The core read-aloud text for Making Meaning, Unit 2, Week 2 is A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting. An ELL Note prompts teachers to ask Spanish-speaking students to help with the pronunciation of Spanish words in the story. The same lesson contains another ELL Note with the suggestion to provide the sentence frame “The prompts help…” to support EL students as they discuss the question, “How did using the discussion prompts help you listen to one another?”
The materials provide opportunities to develop vocabulary in the context of connected discourse. Making Meaning outlines vocabulary for each text and includes EL vocabulary that may be confusing. For example, in Unit 5, the teacher explains the phrase “fog had crept into my bones” from Brave Harriet. In Unit 2, the teacher uses the suggested vocabulary to explicitly explain vocabulary definitions that are unknown to students, such as darts, minnow feed, swerve, utter, and zoom. In the Poetry Unit of Being A Writer, students write about their ideas and phrases and discuss them with a partner before writing their poems.
Also, the Making Meaning materials include a vocabulary teaching resource. This can be integrated into the Making Meaning units or used separately. Each week, the teacher reviews vocabulary terms connected with the read-aloud text and selects word-learning strategies and resources to use with the reading lesson. For example, in Week 3, the word-learning strategies include recognizing antonyms, vocabulary videos, and using the prefix dis- to determine word meaning. These lessons also incorporate social development focuses such as working responsibly, developing the skill of explaining one’s thinking, or sharing thinking with others, which support ELs in their oral language development.
Making Meaning, Volume 1 of the Teacher’s Guide includes considerations for pairing ELs. Strategic pairing supports the development of vocabulary and oral language skills. For example, a recommendation states that students work with the same partner for an entire unit, though at times, random pairings may be advantageous. The materials recommend pairing a beginning English speaker with a fluent English or multilingual speaker or placing students in trios so they may have opportunities to hear fluent English spoken with the support of a similar native language speaker.
In the Making Meaning Vocabulary Teaching Guide, there is support for native Spanish speakers. There are parent letters to be sent home in Spanish, and there are notes for vocabulary words that have a Spanish cognate so that students can make the connection in the meeting.
The materials include formative and summative assessments aligned to the content, including guidance on scoring. However, the materials do not indicate the TEKS alignment and provide limited guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a data portal called ClassViewPro. The portal allows the teacher or administrator to review detailed reports on classes, groups, or individual students.
There is a “Reading Assessment Preparation Guide.” It contains assessments, which consist of short passages with questions in a variety of formats. For example, after reading “Furry Friends and Helpers,” students answer multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions (e.g., “What evidence does the author give in paragraph 3 to show that herding dogs are smart?”) They also complete a bulleted list of jobs dogs can do. The materials contain a Class Assessment Record sheet where the teacher notes whether “all or most students, about half of the students, or only a few students” are successfully answering the questions and using comprehension “fix-up” strategies. If half or fewer students are adequately answering the questions, the teacher should review a lesson such as “Self-Monitoring or Using Fix-Up Strategies” found in Appendix A of the Making Meaning Teacher Manual.
The Making Meaning Assessment Resource Book supports teachers in making informed, instructional decisions about the comprehension and social skills that are taught within the units. The assessments also allow teachers to track and evaluate vocabulary knowledge. Formative assessments include Class Observation Assessments, Individualized Daily Reading (IDR) Conferences, and a Student Reading Goals and Interests Survey. The Class Observations help the teacher assess the needs of the entire class. For instance, a question from Unit 1, Week 1, Day 3, is “Are the students able to recall details from the story?” Summative assessments include a Social Skills Assessment that is conducted three times per year, and Individual Comprehension Assessments that assess strategy use and comprehension. This assessment aligns with the strategy taught during the unit and is administered once per unit. While Making Meaning materials provide assessment resources, they do not contain a TEKS alignment.
Lessons within the Making Meaning core units include an icon that alerts teachers when the materials suggest an assessment. For example, in Unit 5, students learn the comprehension strategy of Wondering and Questioning. The Individual Comprehension Assessment that correlates with this lesson includes a double-entry journal for Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull. There is a scoring sheet, scored examples, and teacher commentary.
While the materials contain suggestions on how to support struggling students, they are limited. For example, during the formative Class Observation, Unit 3, Week 1, Day 4, the Class Assessment Record provides suggestions for teachers such as, “If all or most students are able to make inferences about characters, continue to week 2.” Suggestions for how to proceed if half of the students can make inferences include continuing with Week 2 during IDR reading and asking them follow-up questions about inferencing, but focus on students who are struggling. If only a few students are able to make inferences at this point in Unit 3, the Assessment Record suggests that teachers reteach the Week 1 lesson with an alternative text. There is a list of alternative texts in the online CCC Learning Hub. While there are suggestions for reteach, they frequently suggest that teachers repeat or reinforce the skill in the same way it has already been taught without providing a different approach.
The materials provide formative assessment opportunities through daily conferences. Both Making Meaning and Being a Writer have daily independent practice time. During IDR, in Making Meaning, Unit 4, students read silently while the teacher confers and asks guiding questions such as, “Why did you choose this book? What is the part you just read about?” During writing, students write independently while the teacher confers and writes notes on the Class Assessment Record sheet. In Being a Writer, Narrative Unit, the teacher makes notes on look-fors, such as if the students are writing about themselves and double spacing their writing.
In Being A Writer, students complete a summative assessment at the end of each unit. The materials provide guidance on scoring by including examples of scored passages. There is also a section called “Commentary” for each writing piece. This section contains a detailed explanation of the scored example to guide teachers through the rationale behind scoring. For example, in the Personal Narrative Unit, one of the standards addressed in the scoring rubric is: “one idea connects logically to the next.” In the sample, the student scored a 2. The commentary section explains that the overall sequence of events is discernible, although some transitions are not entirely logical or fluent. There is a section called “Student Writing Samples.” Teachers find a collection of student writing tied to each unit to show as exemplars to students. While these assessment materials are aligned to the unit, there is no TEKS correlation.
They include guidance on engaging students in multiple grouping structures throughout the year. The teacher edition provides various types of annotations and supports to engage students, including differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
At the beginning of each unit and week, an overview outlines the instructional materials needed, the objectives for students, any additional resources like online resources, technology extensions, assessments to administer during the week, and any other resources the teacher may need to print or create before teaching the lesson.
The scope and sequence documents and the teacher’s manuals provide information about the ancillary resource lessons teachers can use. For example, in Being a Writer, Unit 2, the teacher uses Lesson 1: Identify complete sentences and Lesson 2: Identify incomplete sentences from the Skills Practice Guide.
Students work in pairs and small groups to listen and discuss texts and apply comprehension strategies. Students are randomly paired at the beginning of each unit, and these pairs stay together throughout the entire unit. The Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual explains how to randomly pair students, such as by distributing pairs of playing cards or matching magazine pictures that have been cut in half. In Making Meaning, Unit 3, the teacher asks questions such as, “How can you show respect for your partner’s thinking?” to engage students in thinking about how to best work with their partner. Students remain with the same partner throughout the unit to build rapport and develop comprehension.
In the “Introduction” to Making Meaning and Being a Writer, there is a list of the helpful lesson features or annotations appearing in the lessons. These annotations include “Vocabulary Notes,” “Topic Notes,” “Teacher Notes,” “ELL Notes,” “Facilitation Tips,” “Cooperative Structure Icons,” “Suggested Vocabulary,” “ELL Vocabulary,” “Students Might Say,” “You Might Say,” “Chart Diagrams,” “Technology Tips,” “2D Barcodes,” “IDR Conference Notes,” and “End-of-Unit Considerations.” For example, a “Students Might Say” section supports students who struggle with responding to a question. Teacher Notes in the sidebar provide teachers with purposes for different activities, materials that are to be collected and/or saved, ways of managing a lesson, and references to ancillary materials that may be utilized with students. For example, in Unit 4, week 1 of Making Meaning, a Teacher Note alerts teachers students will focus on conflict and character development in week 2 of the unit. If the teacher notes that students need more practice on elements of plot, setting, and point of view, the teacher repeats the week’s lessons with alternative books. A link to the CCC Learning Hub provides access to these texts.
Both Making Meaning and Being a Writer include helpful technology features that support student learning and provide assistance to teachers. Two such features in the sidebar of the materials are Technology Tips and 2D Barcodes (QR codes). The Technology Tips assist teachers as they integrate technology into a lesson. The 2D codes are scanned and provide teachers with instant access to instructional media or professional development that is helpful for a particular portion of a lesson. For example, during the Personal Narrative Unit of Being a Writer, students learn how to “Share One Sentence and Reflect” after they have completed their writing for the day. A 2D code in the sidebar takes the viewer to a two-minute video example of the strategy.
There are Cooperative Structures, such as Turn to Your Partner, Think-Pair-Share, Think-Pair-Write, Heads Together, and Group Brainstorming throughout both Making Meaning and Being a Writer. These structures allow students to talk about their thinking and hear from others. They promote accountability and participation and are called out within the materials using a double speech bubble icon.
Lastly, the student response books in Making Meaning provide students with a guide to reflect on what they have read and show what they are learning. They also provide the teacher with information on how students are progressing through the material and skills.
The materials provide various resources to support teachers and administrators with the implementation of the curriculum. These supports include modules and slide decks that build a conceptual understanding of materials as well as supports for individual lessons. The materials include a school years’ worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing. There is also a scope and sequence that includes the essential knowledge and skills taught in the program.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a scope and sequence that outlines the units of study. The scope and sequence for both Making Meaning and Being a Writer detail the unit title, length of the unit, core titles, vertical alignment of objectives across grade levels, and the purpose of the unit. The “Purpose” section summarizes the unit understandings and any spiraling review of comprehension or self-monitoring strategies. Furthermore, it explains the lesson foci for whole group, small group, independent, and social skills development lessons. There is a whole-class “Vocabulary” section that identifies the words to be taught during the unit. In Being A Writer, the Scope and Sequence also includes what students will do and learn as part of “Writing Craft and Genre,” “Skills and Conventions,” and “Independent Practice.
While the scope and sequence does not include specific TEKS for each unit, the Learning Portal includes a correlations tab. This resource provides the standards addressed in each lesson of Making Meaning and Being a Writer.
The materials include additional supports for teachers. They include a digital teacher set that contains the teacher’s manuals, the Assessment Resource Book, Skill Practice Teaching Guide, and Writing Performance Task Preparation Guide. The materials also include access to the “Learning Portal,” where teachers can access interactive activities, tutorials, professional development videos, and student materials. Furthermore, the materials include 4.5 hours of online course modules to support teachers in understanding and planning for program structures. For instance, the course modules for Making Meaning include “Introduction,” “Understanding Program Structure,” “Vocabulary Acquisition and Use,” “Lesson Facilitation,” “Individualized Daily Reading,” “Assessment,” and “Reading Assessment Preparation Guide.”
Each of the teacher materials contains an introduction section that describes how the materials are used in conjunction with the other resources, a suggested timeline across the year, and any student resources that support instruction. For example, the “Introduction” to the Vocabulary Teaching Guide, Volume I, explains the importance of vocabulary instruction, how to use the vocabulary lessons, states a suggested lesson length, and gives an overview of the instructional design: “The lessons combine direct instruction in word meaning with activities that require the students to think deeply about the words and use them as they talk with their partners and the class.”
There are also supports for teachers in the margins of the teacher editions. These supports are marked with specific symbols and include teacher notes, cooperative structure icons, ELL support, suggested vocabulary, 2D barcodes to gain access to instant professional development and instructional media, and assessment notes. Administrators can also use these notes to support teachers with implementation.
The materials include materials specific to administrators to support teachers in implementation. The Making Meaning materials include a “Facilitator’s Guide for Professional Learning Support.” The Facilitator’s Guide has detailed explanations to support on-site professional development. The supports include publisher-created slideshow presentations with the presenter’s notes attached to each slide. There are session agendas, participant activities, facilitator/participant materials, and estimated timestamps within the facilitator guide. The guide includes material for seven professional development sessions and various school site reflection tools.
The materials include a school years’ worth of instruction and provide guidance for developing a scope and sequence. The Implementation Guide includes a “Sample Year Long Calendar” that outlines 30 weeks of instruction for Reading, Writing, Skills and Conventions, Vocabulary, and Spelling. Each week includes five days of lessons. According to the Implementation Guide, each instructional block is recommended to be 120 minutes. The resource includes strategies to extend the learning if needed, such as “Teach Writing about Reading activities, Extensions, and/ or Technology Extensions.”
The materials use an appropriate amount of white space and design that does not divert students’ attention; the pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without distraction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include consistent use of font and color, including pictures and graphics, which support student learning and engagement, for Making Meaning and Being a Writer. Color is used sparingly, as all text is in green lettering with a white background. The student-facing materials provide adequate white space. For example, the Guided Spelling Student Book provides simple practice spaces that only contain the words in white and green and do not distract from the student learning objectives.
The Student Writing Handbook for Being a Writer includes a functional writing unit in which students have an excerpt of the text “Puzzle Sticks” from Fun-To-Make-Crafts for Every Day, edited by Tom Daning. There is a black-and-white photo of a sample of puzzle sticks: wooden sticks with a design painted across them. The Student Writing Handbook includes excerpts from mentor texts, articles, essays, and poetry examples. Each text has its page with ample white space and large margins. The design of the Student Writing Handbook supports student learning with pages that are labeled and numbered.
The Student Response Book for Making Meaning includes graphic organizers and articles with pictures that are supportive of student learning. The majority of the resource book includes ample white space that supports students as they engage in activities and journal their reading. Images within articles are appropriate for use in grade 3, and although monotone, there is enough color contrast to distinguish the image from the background, and it does not distract from the reading. This includes excerpts from read-aloud texts, writing activities, reading logs, and a reading journal. This resource is written in grade-appropriate font and size and contains appropriate white space for students to write in and take notes. The design of the Student Response Book supports student autonomy with pages that are labeled and organized in a logical progression. For example, two excerpts from Lifetimes by David L. Rice are on two separate pages of the resource book with a text box that states “Excerpt.” The third page that asks students to Think, Pair, Write about the passages is strategically after the reading to support students’ understanding and promote independence. While working in Unit 4, the students read a short excerpt from Mailing May by Michael O. Tunnell and then a page to “Draw a picture of what May sees from the mail car of the train.” There are lines, which students write on describing their picture below.
In Unit 6, students are learning about informational writing. Homes by Chris Oxlade includes a diagram of a house to support the text; it is in greyscale and includes labels such as drain, walls, electric lights, roof tiles. Additionally, for Morning Meals Around the World by Maryellen Gregoire, there is a table of contents from the text and a graphic organizer for noting text features. The features are simple and engaging without being overwhelming.
In Unit 7, Functional Writing, students read an excerpt of “You Can Make Breakfast Quesadillas” from Morning Meals Around the World by Maryellen Gregoire, and there is a greyscale image of the recipe card, including a clear image of the completed quesadilla dish, which shows jalapeño slices for the eyes, a piece of bell pepper for the note, cheese for eyelashes, and a sliver of ham for the mouth.
The materials include technology components that are grade-level appropriate and support learning. The supports enhance learning, and there is appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Making Meaning and Being a Writer, there are technology resources in the introduction section of Teacher’s volume I. It states, “The Making Meaning Digital Teacher’s set includes electronic versions of the Teacher’s Manual, Assessment Resource Book, Vocabulary Teaching Guide, and Reading Assessment Preparation Guide (grades 3‒6) for use on a tablet device or computer.” This section lists technology tutorials that may support teachers’ implementation of the program’s technology features and how to use widely available technology referenced in the lessons, such as presentation tools. Tutorials include topics like “Using Web-based Maps and Related Tools,” “Using Blogs in the Classroom,” and “Creating Digital Stories.”
There are technology extensions for some lessons. In both Making Meaning and Being a Writer, Technology Extensions are optional activities that extend the learning for a particular lesson or topic and support students in a variety of topics. Examples include Navigating Safely Online, Choosing Effective Search Terms, and Understanding Search Results. Technology tips, extensions, and lessons are indicated in the Teacher Manual with a specific “clicking finger” icon. They include listening to and discussing an online interview with an author or publishing their writing in an online format such as a class blog, visiting a website to investigate a topic, or listening to an audio version of a book heard in a lesson. For example, in Unit 3, Week 1 of Making Meaning, the Technology Extension at the end of day 1 has students learn more about the author of the text they are reading. The extension, Meet the Author: Robert Munsch, has students in grade 3 brainstorm possible questions they would like to have answered, then read teacher-curated online articles and answer the question, “What is something you learned about Robert Munsch?” There is a Technology Tip in the sidebar to guide teachers to research age-appropriate informational sources before the activity.
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