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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.
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The materials include high-quality texts across a variety of text types and genres.
The materials include quantitative and qualitative analyses resulting in a grade-band categorization of texts, and they provide information about the Lexile level and text structure, language features, meaning, and knowledge demands regarding the texts found in the program. The materials include texts that are appropriately complex for the grade levels.
The materials provide students the opportunity to analyze and integrate knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within texts using clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims through coherently sequenced questions and activities.
The materials consistently provide students the opportunity to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.
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The materials include well-crafted texts that are of publishable quality. The seven genre-based chapters contain numerous texts representing American, British, and world literature. The texts also span a range of time periods, with selections from Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain, and Kate Chopin, and more contemporary texts by authors such as Leonard Pitts Jr. and Amy Tan. The organization of the materials by genre provides opportunities for increasing complexity throughout Chapters and over the course of the year. Additionally, the study of genres moves from concrete and relatable texts in fiction, information, and argument, to more abstract ideas within poetry, drama, and mythology.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Chapter 5, Fiction, students start the chapter by reading “Ambush” by Tim O’Brien, a story with clear, concrete themes. Towards the end of the chapter, students read “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “Two Kinds” by Amy Tan, stories with more abstract themes.
In Chapter 6, Argument, texts include Lisa Lewis’ “Why School Should Start Later in the Day,” which first appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 2016; “End the Gun Epidemic,” originally published by the New York Times Editorial Board; and Marc Bekoff’s “Why Was Harambe the Gorilla in a Zoo in the First Place?” published in Scientific American.
In Chapter 7, Poetry, texts include Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet Michael Ondaatje’s “Sweet Like a Crow,” Langston Hughes’ modern poem “Let America Be America Again,” noted contemporary poet Dana Gioia’s “Money,” and British poet John Keats’ classic, “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”
In Chapter 8, Exposition, texts include Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat’s New Yorker article, “Black Bodies in Motion and Pain.” The chapter includes a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics journal, Pediatrics, discussing the benefits of play, as well as an excerpt from Susan Cain’s recent book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
In Chapter 11, Mythology, texts include the Greek epic poem The Odyssey. The ancient Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh is made more accessible to students via a verse play adaptation by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa and noted playwright and director Chad Gracia.
The materials include a variety of text types. Each chapter focuses on a specific genre and includes texts of other genres to allow students to compare and make thematic connections. Literary texts vary in style, theme, and structure to allow for literary analysis and include both fiction (e.g., short stories and novel excerpts) and nonfiction (e.g., autobiographical essays and excerpts from memoirs and biographies). Informational texts include argumentative and informational pieces, though the materials provide limited examples of procedural, multimodal, and digital texts. Various print and graphic features are well represented throughout the materials.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
“Ego-Tripping (there may be a reason why)” by Nikki Giovanni (poetry)
“Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” by William Shakespeare (poetry)
“The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien (short story)
Boxcar - El Vagon by Silvia Gonzalez S. (drama)
A Roz By Any Other Name by Brett Ryback (drama)
“Music Lessons” by Sarah Vowell (literary nonfiction)
“La Gringuita” by Julia Alvarez (literary nonfiction)
Examples of informational texts include, but are not limited to:
A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid (informational)
“A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlan (informational)
“Are Humans Necessary?” by Margaret Atwood (informational)
“The Paranoid Style of American Policing” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (argumentative)
“Is It Immoral to Watch the Superbowl” by Steve Almond (argumentative)
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
Photographs of the author, as well as visual images, accompany central texts in each chapter to support and deepen students’ understanding of the texts by making connections to the images.
In Chapter 9, a bar chart depicting Gallup data on after-school activities by gender provides context for an excerpt from Mindy Kaling’s memoir Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
A web-based format of the textbook includes hyperlinks and other interactive elements. For example, Chapter 6 includes “End the Gun Epidemic in America,” an editorial published by the New York Times Editorial Board in 2015 in print and digital format. Though the digital text included a hyperlink to a related editorial along with other context-setting information, these additional elements are not included in the print version of the textbook materials.
The materials include texts appropriately complex for English I students with quantitative and qualitative text-complexity analyses. The quantitative analysis includes Lexile, mean sentence length (MSL), and mean log word frequency (MLF) statistics for the majority of the texts in a downloadable spreadsheet. In addition, the publisher provides measures of decoding difficulty, semantic difficulty, and syntactic complexity in the spreadsheet for nine of the texts. The materials include selections with a range of Lexile measures; however, the majority of the texts score 1050L or higher.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In each genre chapter, the first section contains foundational texts “designed to be entry-level texts that all students could read and analyze with minimal background information,” according to the Teacher’s Edition front matter. For example, Section 1 of Chapter 5, Fiction, includes a chapter from Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian called “Reindeer Games,” with a Lexile score of 520L. In the “Text Overview and Pacing” section for Chapter 5, the authors explain that Alexie’s piece “at first seems to focus on a boy and his father, but then shifts the focus to the boy and his coach. This topic is easily accessible to high school students, but the plot also revolves around the clash between life inside and outside an Indian reservation. This topic might require the building of context prior to reading.” The Teacher’s Edition suggests that the teacher allow students to “use their electronic devices to learn as much as they can about Indian reservations” as a way to build context.
According to the Teacher’s Edition front matter, Section 2 of each genre chapter includes texts “of a level that teachers can reasonably expect ninth graders to be able to read and analyze, although they may need additional context and teacher support.” For example, in Section 2 of Chapter 11, Mythology, the materials include Wanamaker’s article “Why Wonder Woman is the Hero We Need Today” (with a Lexile measure of 1450L) as part of a thematic text-set, in which pieces of varying text complexity support the central text, Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey (with a Lexile measure of 1010L).
Section 3 of each genre chapter includes what the publisher describes as “challenging texts.” As stated in the Teacher’s Edition front matter, these “texts are rich and sophisticated in terms of language, conceptual or thematic complexity, structure, and necessary context.”
Chapter 5 presents Amy Tan’s story “Two Kinds” as the central text. The Lexile stated in the accompanying spreadsheet is 840L, the MSL is 12.977, and the MLF is 3.706. This Lexile would place the story as below grade level, according to the explanatory material accompanying the Lexile spreadsheet. The note for “Two Kinds” provided in the “Text Overview and Pacing” section states: “Students should be able to relate to the complex relationship between Jing-mei and her mother. Amy Tan’s story plants the seed for the subsequent discussion about the role parents play in their children’s success.”
The materials contain questions and tasks to support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within and across texts. The first four chapters provide students with a foundation for analyzing and responding to texts. The genres of subsequent chapters focus on connections between texts and analyzing theme and purpose. The tasks include making personal connections and determining the author’s message as well as using the texts as a mentor for composing students’ own writing. The majority of questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge and are text dependent. The units integrate multiple standards throughout.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Chapter 3, students begin by focusing on summarizing the text. Guiding questions include “What is the title of the piece?” “What are words or phrases that are repeated often throughout the text?” “What is this text mostly about?” “What are the most important and relevant details intended to illustrate the main idea?” and “What details does the author focus on?” Later, the chapter shifts to interpreting the text by making inferences and determining the theme. Students read “Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambara and then write a short summary of the excerpt by responding to the question “What is literally happening?” Then, they write “an interpretation of what the author, Toni Cade Bambara, is trying to communicate about the significance of these events.” Students read an editorial and write an interpretation by responding to questions such as “What is the author’s purpose? What is the point the author wants the reader to take away from the text? What evidence from the text supports your inference?”
In Chapter 7, Poetry, students engage in poetry reading. After reading “Home Court” by Jose Olivarez, students answer questions such as “Summarize the events in this poem in chronological order, including those that occurred before the main event recounted in the poem,” “What do the following lines suggest about the speaker’s hopes for the game: . . . we were defiant, we were still alive, we sweat the fever of hurt from our bodies, our small hands aching to be held. . . .” “What can we conclude about the speaker of the poem from how he describes their game in lines 18–25?” “Reread the final stanza of the poem. Were the boys successful in making themselves feel better after the game? Why or why not?” and “This is a poem about loss. What is Olivarez suggesting about the effects of loss and how we deal with it?” Each of these questions requires students to support their responses with text and incorporate skills from multiple student comprehension expectations such as making inferences and using text evidence to discuss themes, central ideas, and details.
In Chapter 8, students read “What is Your Life’s Blueprint” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and make connections between that text and two surveys dealing with segregation. Students also compare it to the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes.
In Chapter 10, Drama, students study Silvia Gonzalez S.’s play Boxcar – El Vagon. Students examine a photograph referenced in the play and make connections between the historical situation referenced in the photograph and the protagonist’s current situation in the play. After reading the play, students answer a series of questions with increasingly more text-based inferences and connections with self, the world, and other texts. In the first section, “Understanding and Interpreting,” students answer questions such as “What evidence do you find that demonstrates Noel’s lack of understanding of border crossings? How does it compare to his academic knowledge?” In the final section, “Topics for Composing,” tasks challenge students to analyze characterization and structure, make a personal connection with a main character, evaluate a character’s decision, research related policies or historical events, and make comparisons to a thematically related text.
The materials provide multiple opportunities in each chapter to engage in analysis of texts, language, key ideas, and structure. The chapters are organized by genre, and each genre contains multiple texts from a variety of contexts (historical and contemporary) with tasks focused on the analysis of the author’s purpose and craft. Many of the texts are also thematically linked, providing students opportunities to connect the content of the texts and structures used to convey the content. The materials provide few tasks or questions focused on studying the differences between genres.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Chapter 3 (one of four foundational chapters) includes a section focused on reading for style that prepares students to analyze authorial decisions and their impact on the text’s meaning. Within this section, students read an excerpt from Pat Buchanan’s speech at the Nixon Library and answer the following question: “What is his attitude toward immigration, and how does his style help Buchanan to communicate his message about immigration to his listeners?” Students apply a similar analysis on the impact of style on an author’s success in communicating ideas to an excerpt from Katherine Mansfield’s short story “Miss Brill.”
The margins of the Teacher’s Edition provide questions about the structure of the texts. For example, in Chapter 5, the text “Once Upon a Time” by Nadine Gordimer contains the following guiding questions: “Why are the sentences in paragraph 11 so long? What effect does it have on readers?” These questions allow students to study the author’s use of language and how it affects a reader’s understanding.
After reading the central texts in a chapter, students answer questions about the texts, including questions from a section titled “Analyzing Language, Style, and Structure.” In Chapter 6, sample questions include “Reread the first sentence of the editorial. How does Lewis use diction to communicate a particular tone? What rhetorical appeal is Lewis employing here, and how does the language create that appeal?” and “Clearly with all of the statistics and findings from research studies this argument leans most heavily on logos. Where does Lewis also appeal to pathos, and how do these appeals help her build and support her argument?”
In Chapter 8, students explore the author’s purpose of expository texts. Students consider the audience and goals for writing as well as the author’s style and language. Throughout the chapter, students analyze the author’s purpose for a variety of texts, including pieces by Stephen King, Troy Patterson, Susan Cain, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The first questions students answer about Patterson’s text are “What is the main idea of the article? What is it that Patterson is trying to explain to his audience?” In one of the accompanying texts, “In Fashion, Cultural Appropriation Is Either Very Wrong or Very Right” by Jenni Avins, students discuss “What is Avins’ overall attitude toward the topic of cultural appropriation?” and answer “Select one of the examples of cultural appropriation that Avins uses in her article. How does the example support her observations and ideas on cultural appropriation?” Students then compare the two texts to analyze the author’s message. Students are asked “What similarities do you find between Patterson’s hoodie and Hart’s sneakers in relationship to the identity of the wearer? How do these articles of clothing establish identity in similar ways?” Students also make connections between the text and an image from Beyoncé’s “Formation” video as well as an interview with football player Cam Newton.
In Chapter 9, students read “La Gringuita” by Julia Alvarez. Students analyze the author’s craft by responding to questions such as “Alvarez regularly includes words in Spanish throughout her narrative, sometimes translating them and sometimes not. Students consider “What effect is created for the readers through her choices?” and “While the narrative follows a strict chronological order, there are significant choices about what events before and after her time with Mangú to include. Explain how the inclusion of specific events helps Alvarez communicate a central idea about language, identity, and/or culture.”
The materials provide opportunities throughout the year for students to build their knowledge of academic vocabulary and apply their understanding in the context of written and oral responses. Students receive instruction in and examples of academic- and content-specific terms. Many of the selections include opportunities for students to demonstrate their ability to analyze context by determining the meaning of specific words identified in the text. Teachers receive some guidance on which vocabulary to consider addressing, but the materials provide few structures for addressing the vocabulary and scaffolding instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Each of the foundational chapters includes “Academic Vocabulary Check-Ins” within each section, pulling out key concepts that have been introduced in the section and “all of the key terminology in one place for quick review.” For instance, in Chapter 1, Starting the Conversation, voice, active listening, dialogue, debate, and consensus are defined with examples listed in the Academic Vocabulary Check-In box. Students apply the literary terms and other academic vocabulary throughout the genre chapters. There is limited direction regarding how to utilize the vocabulary with students.
The readings for each chapter are organized by reading level, and one factor in identifying those reading levels is the difficulty of the vocabulary included in each piece; however, the materials do not provide a mandated scope and sequence but rely on teachers to create their own based on the information provided in the materials.
The “LearningCurve Activities” section provides a platform for teachers to assign students various vocabulary-based activities; however, the platform does not provide teachers with ideas on how to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. In addition, the materials include an appendix for vocabulary and root words but do not reference the specific texts or chapters where teachers would use the appendix as text support.
The guide to the genre chapters provided in the Teacher’s Edition directs teachers to over one hundred Vocabulary in Context worksheets, “which help support students reading at the word level by asking them to discover the meaning of a word, consider its connotation, and think about what effect that word choice has on the sentences.” For example, the worksheet provided for Anna Akhmatova's "Somewhere There is a Simple Life,” in Chapter 7, Poetry, highlights five words from the poem: “transparent,” “rites,” “calamity,” “gloomy,” and “Muse’s.” The task is the same for all worksheets: “For each term in bold below, determine the meaning of the word in the context of the sentence, and then describe the effect of the word: how the author’s word choice contributes to the meaning and tone of the sentence(s).” In the Student Edition, a different word is highlighted in a “Vocabulary in Context” task: “In line 6, Akhmatova uses the word ‘ceremoniously’ to describe how ‘we’ live. What is the typical use of this word, and how is it used in this poem?" The five words highlighted in the vocabulary worksheet are not highlighted in the Student Edition or the Teacher’s Edition.
Vocabulary in Context questions accompany every major text to support building vocabulary throughout the year. The guide to the genre chapters (5–11) provided in the Teacher's Edition advises that the Vocabulary in Context questions provided after texts “are specifically designed to support struggling learners.” For example, in Chapter 5, when reading an excerpt from “The Outliers,” the materials provide the suggestion “A vocabulary exercise based on challenging words from this reading can be found on the Teacher’s Resource Flash Drive.” When reading “Once Upon a Time” by Gordimer, teachers are instructed to ask students “What is meant by the phrase ‘of another color’ (par. 9)? Once all students understand the reference, you can discuss the impact of this use of language.”
In Chapter 11, the Teacher Note suggests “Challenging vocabulary in Scene 2 includes ‘lyre’ (l. 4) and ‘litanies’ (l. 62)” but provides no guidance in how to support or scaffold students’ understanding of the terms.
The materials also include Analyzing Language, Style, and Structure questions after every major text. These questions, while not specifically identified as vocabulary-building exercises, ask about the effects of diction choices.
The materials do not provide a clearly defined plan to support or hold students accountable for engaging in independent reading. While there are opportunities for students to independently read, these opportunities focus on the reading and studying of texts from within the materials. Additionally, there is a lack of procedures and protocols for teachers to foster independent reading and achievement of independent reading goals among students, and the materials do not provide guidance on holding students accountable for independent reading.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials provide suggested texts in the Teacher’s Edition that could be used as a pool of potential texts for independent reading. The materials also include an “Entering the Conversation” section that provides structured guidance on how to work with texts students select focused on the themes within each chapter.
There is no evidence of a plan for guiding self-selection of texts or establishing independent reading goals independent of the themes within the materials.
The materials provide students the opportunity to engage in composing literary, informational, and argumentative texts, as well as produce correspondence. In each chapter, students have sections entitled “Analyzing Language, Style, and Structure” and “Topics for Composing” that provide various writing tasks organized by genre. Additionally, each chapter has a writing workshop that provides an opportunity for students to engage in the writing process with guidance and instruction on a specific genre.
Evidence includes, but is not limited to:
In Chapter 3, Reading, Activity: Writing an Interpretation (Toni Cade Bambara’s “Raymond’s Run”), students are challenged to write an interpretation of the author’s message. The focus of the preceding instruction is on reading interpretation rather than writing skills; however, the Teacher’s Edition suggests that if the chapter is taught in sequence, the activity is one of the first opportunities for the teacher to assess students’ abilities to analyze a text for theme, suggesting that this formative assessment will allow the teacher to build on and reteach as needed. In the culminating activity for Chapter 3, Reading, the materials challenge students to annotate and summarize an excerpt from Sylvia Plath’s short story “Initiation” then write a brief two- to three-sentence interpretation, an analysis of the author’s style, and a self-reflection of reader response. The teacher is provided a genre-specific rubric to help assess students’ writing.
In each genre chapter, the third workshop focuses on writing an analysis of a text in that genre. For example, in Chapter 5, students write an analysis of fiction with the thesis and evidence organized into an essay; in Chapter 6, students write an analysis of an argument by composing a thesis and expanding it into an essay; in Chapter 9, students write an analysis of a narrative; and, in Chapter 10, they write an analysis of a drama. In addition, a Creative Writing Rubric is provided for the original writing assignments for Chapters 5, 7, 10, and 11, including genre elements, voice and style, revision, and a reflective statement.
In Chapter 5, students compose a personal response to “Two Kinds” by writing a journal response exploring the competition between rivals. Students are asked to give examples from their own experiences or observations of others. Another option is to “rewrite a scene in the story from a different point of view.” The writing workshop for Chapter 5 focuses on fiction. Students choose a genre and develop their setting, characters, conflicts, plot, and point of view. The second writing workshop is an analysis of fiction.
In Chapter 6, Workshop 2: Writing an Argument, students walk through the step-by-step process of writing an argumentative text. Students have an opportunity to compose argument texts by writing a response to whether or not they agree with the sale of firearms to civilians. The writing workshop for Chapter 6 is an argument essay. Students select a topic and develop a claim that appeals to the audience by providing evidence and refuting counterarguments.
In Chapter 8, students focus on reading exposition. Students compose a hurricane guide for navigating the library at school, tips on how to handle mean tweets, or what to do to make a huge first impression on someone. The writing workshop is both writing and analyzing an expository piece. Students also write an essay analyzing Dr. King’s use of blueprint as an extended metaphor to convey his message to his audience.
The materials provide written tasks requiring students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims. Students learn how to discuss, read, write, and use sources when analyzing texts throughout the first four chapters of the book. As students engage in reading texts throughout the chapter, they employ the skills of analysis and complete a culminating task to demonstrate mastery of the skills. In subsequent chapters, students implement the analysis, argumentation, and synthesis they learned, to compose responses to prompts requiring those skills.
Evidence includes, but is not limited to:
In Chapter 2, students analyze voice and tone by considering audience and occasion. The chapter includes activities to discuss the use of genre and mode to achieve a specific purpose with a defined audience. Students are given two scenarios to read and respond to in writing: “Look at the writing scenarios below. In the first scenario, the audience shifts. In the second scenario, the occasion shifts. Write four brief responses — one that works well for each situation. You can make choices about both what you say and how you say it.”
In Chapter 4, students learn how to evaluate and use sources in their own writing. The culminating activity is to compose a response integrating multiple sources to support their response. Students are tasked to “Return to the writing you have been doing on single-sex classrooms. Add a sentence or two to your response that incorporates an idea you learned from Talbot.” Additionally, in Chapter 4, Using Sources, students learn about different types of evidence and how to embed textual support from one or more sources to bolster their claims. Skills are scaffolded in a logical way that allows students to build their proficiency in marshaling evidence for their claims.
In Chapter 6, students analyze the tone of “Is It Immoral to Watch the Superbowl?” by Steve Almond and “point to evidence from the text to support conclusions about his tone and purpose in using this phrase.” Also, in Chapter 6, students read and analyze a New York Times editorial on the gun epidemic in America. Students create a written response to the task: “The writer claims that elected officials ‘distract us with arguments about the word terrorism’ (par. 3). What evidence do they provide to support this assertion?”
In Chapter 8, Exposition, Section 2, with Alan Weisman’s article “Earth without People,” the Teacher’s Edition suggests that students annotate a specific passage appropriate for close reading. The Teacher’s Edition then suggests students divide into groups to re-read and annotate, discuss how specific text examples relate to the author’s purpose, then construct a short essay based on their text-based discussion. After reading, students are asked to respond in writing to the following prompt: “Most of what Weisman says would happen to Earth without humans are hypothesized future situations or effects. What lends credibility to these supposed consequences? How does he know that this might happen? What supporting facts and information does he include?”
The materials provide opportunities for students to engage in the stages of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing); however, the materials do not provide instruction for publishing written products. In addition, the materials provide flexible grammar tools that allow teachers to target their instruction to specific students' needs. Those needs can be defined either through the formative writing opportunities in the book, or through the grammar diagnostics found on the LaunchPad platform.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials provide a “Grammar Workshop” section in the appendix. The fourteen workshops cover topics such as active and passive voice, capitalization, commonly confused words, parallelism, and subject-verb agreement. For example, students first identify errors in isolated sentences before revising errors in isolated sentences. Students then identify and revise errors in a paragraph before returning to a piece of their own writing and revising for the grammatical principle.
Diagnostics in the LaunchPad platform provide an individualized study plan for students and teachers. The exercises increase in difficulty; for instance, there are activities called “Avoiding Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers 1,” “2,” and “3,” with each designed to be progressively more difficult.
“Grammar Girl” podcasts offer a self-study opportunity for students, covering a wide range of writing, grammar, and punctuation topics. The podcasts do not provide interactive components nor any associated tasks for students. The teacher can assign the “Grammar Girl” podcasts to individual students or the whole class. The podcast titles do not always use the same language as the style guide, which may cause difficulty in identifying the relevant podcast.
LearningCurve interactive lessons are available to allow students to practice recognizing correct and incorrect applications of conventions in the format of multiple-choice questions; however, students are not called upon explicitly to apply those conventions in their own writing within the platform.
Chapter 2 focuses on writing with appropriate grade-level genre characteristics and craft within the writing process. Each section provides a definition and examples as well as an activity for students to apply their learning of the concepts. In the “Sentences” section, the materials provide examples and students practice revising sentences with comma splices or fragments. To apply to their own writing, students are tasked to “Return to the story activity titled ‘The Trip’ that you completed on page 45. Try inserting a sentence fragment somewhere in your revision. Share your sentence fragment addition with a partner. Discuss the thinking behind the idea and placement of the fragment.” In the “Paragraphs” section, the materials guide students through planning, drafting, and revising a paragraph. The chapter also includes a section on punctuation that briefly describes punctuation marks and recommends students “see the Grammar Workshop on commas in the back of the book” for more practice.
In Chapter 5, students engage in a writing workshop to compose a fictional text. Students work through each stage of the writing process of planning, drafting, and revising by creating a setting, characters, conflict, point of view, and an opening to the text. The materials also detail the steps of writing an analytical essay, from gathering evidence through drafting a paragraph and expanding to an essay. For each step, the materials provide information, models, and suggested tasks. The last step addresses the topic of revising and editing the initial draft, and the materials provide an editing and revision checklist, as well as a direction to see the Grammar Workshops in the appendix if students “need more help with grammar and style.” The materials do not mention publishing these writing pieces.
In Chapter 6, students plan and draft an argumentative essay by considering topic, audience, appeal, text organization, counterargument, and conclusion. In Workshop 2, students are guided through the steps of topic, claim, audience, points, evidence, rhetorical appeals, counterarguments, an introduction, and a conclusion. The final section, titled “Your Draft,” guides students to revise by stating: “By this point, you have all of the pieces of your argument: claim, counterclaim, evidence, appeals, introduction, and conclusion. When you put all of them together, be sure to consider such important details as: Putting your strongest evidence first, using transitions between ideas and paragraphs to help your reader move through your argument easily. Some common transitional words and phrases for argument writing are most important, additionally, however, therefore, on the other hand, and so on, addressing the counterclaim somewhere in the middle of your essay, sandwiched between your evidence, and maintaining the most appropriate and effective tone for your audience and your purpose.” The materials do not mention publishing these writing pieces.
In Chapter 11, Workshop 3: Writing an Analysis of Mythology, the materials provide step-by-step instructions for planning and drafting a literary analysis, along with models and activities. During the final step of the process, the materials direct students to revise and edit their essays, with brief advice on this process. The materials do not mention publishing these writing pieces.
The materials provide speaking and listening opportunities focused on the text(s) being studied in class. Students demonstrate comprehension by referencing the texts and responding to prompts that require comprehension. The small group discussions embedded throughout the chapters include opportunities for students to support their positions on topics through the use of textual evidence after engaging in analysis and synthesis of information in the tasks that precede the conversation.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the front matter of the Teacher’s Edition, the authors explain how each genre chapter “includes a brief synthesis Conversation, picking up on an issue in the Central Text. Synthesis is one of those skills with multiple benefits: it leads to lively class discussions, it encourages informed opinions, it demands nuanced and nimble thinking, and it forces students to draw on evidence to support their beliefs.”
Chapter 1 is titled “Thinking about the Conversation” and engages students in the process of beginning an academic conversation. The chapter addresses voice, active listening, academic conversations, and public speaking. For example, during an activity about active listening, students “Work with a partner, one will read aloud the first essay called ‘In Praise of the “Wobblies,”’ while the other will NOT look at the text, but only listen and take notes. Then, move on to the second essay, ‘Returning to What’s Natural,’ switching roles. As you listen carefully to the essay, be prepared to summarize the piece and explain what the author believes in.” At the end of the chapter, students engage in a conversation sharing their perspectives on an issue with textual support. At the end of the chapter, students are tasked with composing and delivering a speech to their peers, which allows them to practice active listening by summarizing an academic conversation by building on one another’s ideas.
In Chapter 6, Argument, in a discussion of Daniel Engber’s “Let’s Kill All the Mosquitoes,” the Teacher’s Edition suggests asking students about the connotation of a word in the second paragraph, then asking them to identify the context clues in the paragraph that would help someone understand what the word means in the particular context. Later, a recommendation is made to ask students to discuss the author’s tone in a particular sentence, then return to the text to find evidence to support their position.
In Chapter 7, to facilitate students’ meaning-making of an excerpt from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” the Teacher’s Edition suggests students select a sentence, phrase, and word that seemed particularly significant and discuss their choices in pairs or small groups. As the Teacher’s Edition explains, “If practiced frequently, this will become an easy classroom move that allows for students to make their own entry points in a text.”
In Chapter 8, students study expository writing by writing and orally defending evidence from a given text. The central text is “The Politics of the Hoodie” by Patterson. Students “include evidence from at least two texts from the Conversation, which can include the text you researched, to support your position,” and later students engage in a speaking reflection on the central text as well as the other texts.
In Chapter 11, students learn about the hero’s journey and character archetypes. One activity allows students to apply their understanding of archetypes through peer discussion: “Think about the story, film, or book that you wrote about earlier — or a new one — and identify as many of the archetypal characters from the descriptions above as you can. Compare yours with those of your classmates and discuss why there are similar characters across various stories.”
The materials provide students with guidance and practice on how to engage in conversations with peers to discuss and express their thinking. Throughout the chapters, students engage in both formal and informal presentations and discussions directly related to the content within the chapters. The appendix at the end of the resource provides detailed information to support students and guide teachers in supporting students to create effective oral presentations and engage in academic discussions.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Chapter 1, Thinking about the Conversation, provides instruction and examples of how to present information both verbally and nonverbally. The chapter begins with foundational skills for engaging in an academic conversation. The topics addressed in the chapter include voice, active listening, academic conversations, and public speaking. In the “Academic Conversations” section, the materials contain a chart about “the differences between debate and dialogue” and the functions and protocols for both types of discussion. The debate section of the chart includes statements such as “Assumes there is a right answer – and I have it” and “Is about winning,” while phrases such as “Is about exploring the common good” and “I discover new options” are used in the dialogue section. Students are also given guidance on engaging in conversation with peers. Some of the sample prompts for challenging an idea include “While I agree about…, I do not agree that…because…” and “Another way to look at…could be…” Students can reflect on the conversation by considering “How successful was your academic conversation? Were all the participants’ voices heard? Were you able to disagree respectfully? Was your conversation more of a dialogue or a debate? Did you find consensus?” Throughout the chapter, students receive instruction for engaging in student-led discussions, which will support them throughout the school year.
Chapter 1 also provides support for public speaking. The materials lead students through the steps of planning and delivering an oral presentation. The last task in the chapter requires students to compose and present a speech for their peers. “Write a short speech on the topic of a community to which you belong” that includes “a hook that captures the audience’s attention, a brief description of the community with enough details for the audience to understand what that community is like and how it is distinct from other communities, examples of the kinds of voices you use in that community and why you use them, an explanation of why that community is important to you, a clincher that wraps up your presentation in an interesting way.” All the components required were previously addressed in the chapter. The Speaking and Listening rubric included on the Teacher’s Resource Flash Drive addresses Delivery of Presentation, Content of Presentations, and Active Listening to Presentations.
In Chapter 4, in the “Sources as Conversation” section, students write a quick personal response to a question, then pair up with a peer and use listening and note-taking skills introduced in Chapter 1 “to identify two distinct ideas that your classmate wrote about that you find interesting, are curious about, or would like to investigate further.” Students then switch roles with the classmate. Students integrate their peer’s thoughts into their original written response. Finally, students discuss with their partners “how hearing another person’s perspective has affected your thinking on this issue.”
In Chapter 5, students study fiction and create a multimodal presentation: “Think about a special talent that you possess. It can be academic, musical, athletic, or other ability. Share your ability with the class in the form of a demonstration, video, or other presentation form.”
In Chapter 8, students conduct research and present their findings: “Research other ways in which gaming is transforming learning in other fields such as business, engineering, and medicine. In an essay, or other presentation, share your findings on how gaming has made strides to improve performance in these areas.”
The appendix includes a guide for listening and speaking. The first six sections directly address presentations. Students are given guidance and examples for creating informative and persuasive speeches, citing sources, using presentation aids, and listening effectively.
The materials provide opportunities for students to engage in short-term research and inquiry projects throughout each genre-based chapter. Students find and analyze sources as well as synthesize the information. The materials address primary and secondary sources separately, but do not give students opportunities to identify primary versus secondary sources. The materials provide topics for research, but the topics are suggestions for exploring content rather than required parts of the program. The research opportunities within the materials do not grow in complexity as the year progresses. The materials provide opportunities for students to discuss research with peers but do not provide opportunities for students to engage in sustained research or for them to present their findings in a more formal presentation format.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Chapter 4 focuses on using and analyzing sources of information. The chapter covers topics such as the types of sources, analyzing credibility, evaluating reliability, and avoiding plagiarism. The text defines a source as “any piece of information beyond your expertise or opinion. It can be an interview, a photo, a news story, a research study, a poem, a play, and more.” In the section “Evaluating Sources,” the materials provide a chart listing types of sources and their credibility levels. The culminating activity for the chapter is analyzing three sources and writing an argumentative response using the information from the sources provided. When analyzing sources, students are encouraged to consider relevance, currency, authority, accuracy, and bias.
In response to the central text of Chapter 5, Amy Tan’s “Two Kinds,” students have the option to research the opportunities and challenges Chinese immigrants faced when trying to balance their identity between two cultures. “In 1949, Tan’s parents immigrated to America when the Communist Party seized control of China. Like most immigrants, their hope was to secure a better future for their children. Research what family life was like in late 1940s China. What new opportunities and cultural challenges did Chinese immigrants face in America when trying to balance their identity between two cultures?”
Chapter 5 also provides additional informal research opportunities under the subtitle “Topics for Composing,” which range from brief in-class research to extensive research projects. For example, to build context for Sherman Alexie’s “Reindeer Games,” the Teacher’s Edition suggests students use their electronic devices for 10 to 15 minutes to learn about Indian reservations and share their findings with the class. To build context for Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” the materials suggest students research the National Geographic or Smithsonian websites to learn about the catacombs or research various aspects of the Masons and report their findings. There is no evidence of discussion of primary and secondary sources or a sustained recursive inquiry process.
In Chapter 6, students read “What’s Wrong with Cinderella?” and can “research the history of feminism in order to understand what ‘second-wave’ and ‘third-wave’ feminism mean.” Students can then compose a response based on their new understanding. There is no evidence of discussion of primary and secondary sources or a sustained recursive inquiry process.
In Chapter 11, students read the play Gilgamesh, and the materials suggest students conduct research on the myth of Gilgamesh as a potential historical figure and the myth’s connection to history. There is no evidence of discussion of primary and secondary sources or a sustained recursive inquiry process.
Throughout the materials, questions and tasks support the integration of reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language skills. Within each chapter, text-dependent questions and tasks are sequenced to build students’ understanding of genre-related concepts and provide practice in genre-related skills. The materials integrate vocabulary, syntax, and fluency components through post-reading questions and tasks. Each chapter is also designed to lead students through independent application of multiple skills within a genre, providing students opportunities to integrate knowledge and ideas within texts and across texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Chapter 5, Section 2, “The Most Dangerous Game,” the questions and tasks require students to build and apply knowledge and skills in multiple modalities from within English Language Arts and Reading. For example, the materials include high-quality, text-dependent questions involving reading skills and thinking skills such as “What is Rainsford’s central conflict in paragraphs 31–37? How does the conflict evolve over the course of the story? Give examples to support your answer;” and “In paragraph 119, General Zaroff explains how he views men. What would you say his definition of man is? Does Rainsford fit this definition? Why or why not?”
In addition, the materials integrate writing and speaking tasks to support the analysis of the text. “On the exterior, General Zaroff is a sophisticated, civilized individual. Underneath, he desires to satisfy his thirst for hunting in a game of wits and survival with humans as the prey. What human behaviors or tendencies might Connell be critiquing in this story? Explain other symptoms of this tendency that you have read about in history or current events. Does it play a positive role in any way or is it always negative?” and “General Zaroff admits that his boredom with hunting causes him to seek new and more dangerous games. Discuss the consequences, either positive or negative, of keeping ourselves constantly interested, or even entertained.” These tasks include an array of opportunities for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking at various levels of complexity and within a text-dependent format.
Chapter 7, Workshop 1, “Essential Elements of Poetry,” introduces the concepts of speaker, style, theme, sound, form, and literary elements. Students can use Cornell notes to help them make sense of the terms. A side note suggests the teacher may want to address the difference between “effect” and “affect.” Students read, comprehend, interpret, analyze, and respond to poems organized in four text-sets.
The materials sequence the tasks and questions presented after the poem as “Understanding and Interpreting,” “Analyzing Language, Style, and Structure,” and finally composition tasks. This sequence is consistent across all texts in the book. In the first section, students summarize the events mentioned in the poem, then interpret the speaker’s aspirations, draw a conclusion about the speaker based on text evidence, re-read and evaluate the character’s actions, interpret the meaning of the title, and analyze the theme. In the second section, students analyze the use and purpose of a multiple-meaning word used in the poem, identify examples of imagery, identify figurative language and explain the purpose, identify and analyze the effect of a shift in the poem, and identify diction.
In one text-set anchored by Langston Hughes’ “Let America Be America Again,” students integrate and analyze ideas across multiple texts on the theme of Lady Liberty. After working with multiple poetry text-sets, students integrate these skills in two different writing tasks – first composing a poem and then composing an analysis of poetry. The materials revisit the essential concepts introduced in the initial workshop through the steps of composing a poem, including revising with consideration of diction and syntax. In the final composition section, students write an analysis, conduct research, and write a personal response.
The materials provide opportunities to engage in reading, writing, listening, and speaking throughout the course of the year. The first four chapters provide students with the foundation for the skills, and Chapters 5–11 allow students to implement the skills they learned in the remaining chapters. The materials support distributed practice of integrated literacy over the course of the year. In addition, the design includes scaffolds such as explanations, examples, suggestions for small-group discussions, and differentiated assignments to support students in developing skills over time.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Chapters 1–4, students learn the skills to read, analyze, and write about texts. Chapter 1, Starting the Conversation, teaches about voice, academic conversation, listening, challenging an idea, and public speaking. In Chapter 2, students learn to write by focusing on voice, tone, word choice, sentence structure, and paragraph development. Chapter 3 provides students with a foundation for reading closely to engage in the analysis process. The chapter includes instruction in active reading to address “reading for understanding, reading for interpretation, and reading for style.” Students learn how to analyze styles, tone, and meaning as well as compose an interpretation. In Chapter 4, students learn to use sources in their own writing. Students also learn to synthesize information by drawing from single and multiple sources of information. Throughout the remaining chapters, students apply the skills they studied in chapters 1–4.
In Chapters 5–11, the materials are organized by genre. Students analyze texts and participate in activities related to the texts in the chapter. The materials contain three sections within each chapter: “Understanding and Applying,” “Analyzing Language, Style, and Structure,” and “Topics for Composing.”
In Chapter 5, students apply the skills from the foundation chapters by engaging in specific tasks related to fiction. One option is to analyze the text “What, of This Goldfish, Would You Wish?” for “What is the author’s purpose for ending the story with ‘Anything…not to be alone’? How does this line underscore a theme in the story?” Students also analyze the sentence structure similar to the skills they practiced in Chapter 2. “Look at the sentences in paragraph 10. What tone do these lines evoke? How does Keret create the tone in these lines by what he writes and how he writes it?”
In Chapter 8, students implement the skills they learned in Chapter 4 to integrate additional sources into their argument. “Locate one additional text on this topic that you think adds to this Conversation…. Read and annotate your new text carefully, making connections to the other texts in this Conversation and the Central Text, Troy Patterson’s ‘The Politics of the Hoodie.’”
In Chapter 11, students write an analysis of mythology in which they consider and analyze archetypes by creating a thesis, finding and presenting evidence, and composing an essay. All of these analysis skills were developed in the first four chapters of the text.
The materials provide opportunities for extensions and differentiation for students performing above grade level. The materials offer additional texts and post-reading tasks of above-average complexity, and teaching suggestions offer additional prompts for reading, analysis, composition, and research. The materials also provide alternative assessments for students wanting or needing an additional challenge.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the Teacher’s Edition, in “How Does Foundations of Language & Literature Support All Students?” the authors explain the “multiple avenues for differentiation throughout this book” include differentiation by text, by task, by process, and by cultural relevance. The Teacher’s Edition indicates that the textbook is designed to give the teacher “maximum flexibility to assign tasks to students based on their individual needs.” In addition, “the texts in Foundations of Language & Literature range from the approachable to the challenging, and everything in between, to give students of various skill levels points of entry and opportunities to join the conversation.”
In Chapter 8, students read the article “Earth without People” by Alan Weisman. In the Teacher’s Edition a “teaching idea” provides a possible teaching extension: “you might have students think of the processes Weisman describes in terms of cause and effect. You might even have students do a detailed inquiry-based project on how a specific piece of infra-structure near their home would succumb to time.”
In Chapter 11, in the Pre-Built Five-Week Mythology Unit, the materials suggest reading “Seeing Connections, Siren Song” for “students inclined to poetry or seeking an additional challenge.” The chapter includes a contemporary verse play adaptation of parts of The Epic of Gilgamesh, “providing an additional context within which students can apply their knowledge of mythic conventions and extend the discussion raised by other texts.” This play excerpt is labeled as most challenging. Composition topics offered after the completion of the play contain extension options, including the following: “Acquire a copy of another version of the story of Gilgamesh and locate a passage that has significant differences in the word choice and/or use of figurative language from this version you have been reading. Explain the effect of these changes on the readers’ understanding of the characters, theme, or tone of the story.” The Teacher’s Edition suggests that, “for a more challenging summative assessment, allow two or three days to read Gilgamesh independently, and assign a brief essay on Composing Q2.”
The materials provide some support for teachers in providing instruction at students’ current level of proficiency, but there are not enough opportunities to support students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level. Within the introduction, the materials outline the possible scaffolds available within the materials and suggest teachers make instructional decisions about the support needs of various learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The foundational chapters, at the beginning of the book, support the development of basic academic skills of speaking and listening in an academic setting, writing (making choices about words and sentences), reading (overcoming reading challenges), and using sources. These opening chapters support students entering the course performing below grade level. The materials also provide entry texts within the chapters to provide points of entry for students working below grade level.
The Teacher’s Edition advises that the Vocabulary in Context questions provided after texts “are specifically designed to support struggling learners.” For example, in Chapter 5, when reading an excerpt from “The Outliers,” the materials provide the suggestion “A vocabulary exercise based on challenging words from this reading can be found on the Teacher’s Resource Flash Drive.” When reading “Once Upon a Time” by Gordimer, teachers are instructed to ask students “What is meant by the phrase ‘of another color’ (par. 9)? Once all students understand the reference, you can discuss the impact of this use of language.”
In Chapter 5, before reading “The Most Dangerous Game,” teachers can choose from a variety of options to support students' comprehension: “Prior to reading the story, viewing a short clip from the 1932 film could prepare students for the reading experience. If your students need greater scaffolds prior to reading, you may want to play Daniel Lee’s version or one of the other short film adaptations available on YouTube.”
In Chapter 8, teachers can choose from a variety of instructional strategies to make the reading more manageable for students: “Given the length of the essay, some students would benefit from pulling this information together into a graphic organizer in order to chunk the information. This learning strategy would also support student success if replying to Composing Q1. This is also an activity that could be done with partners, or pieces could be assigned to different groups that will then share and present the information to other groups in a jigsaw-style discussion.” A sample graphic organizer is also provided.
In Chapter 10, the materials suggest scaffolding and supporting students in reading Shakespeare. “The first sixty-five lines expose students to Shakespeare’s bawdy language and rapid-fire witticisms. The richness of the puns may be too much for the students to handle without assistance. Here is a possible sequence you can take to teach this scene...” Another scaffolding activity before students write an analysis states “This activity can be modified by asking students to search the Internet for a review of one of the plays included in this chapter. They could then complete the activity using that review.”
The materials do not provide support for students who are English Learners. The materials do not include strategic accommodations with a clear plan for sequencing and scaffolding different proficiency levels for English Learners. The materials do not include adapted text, translations, and native language support. The materials do include summaries and overviews of the texts as well as pictures and some vocabulary support such as a glossary and cognates, but these are not designed specifically for English Learners. The materials do not address the strategic use of students’ first language as a means to enhance English Language proficiency.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials do not include clearly communicated, sequenced, or scaffolded linguistic accommodations, nor do the materials accommodate for specific proficiency levels because the materials do not provide explicit suggestions for linguistic accommodations at any level of proficiency.
The materials do not include adapted texts, translations, native language support, bilingual dictionaries, or a thesaurus.
Although the introduction to the materials provides some guidance in supporting academic vocabulary development, the guidance does not reference supports for English Language Learners. In addition, a glossary is provided at the back of the textbook, but there is little evidence of intentional accommodations for students with language barriers. No visual texts, pronunciation guides, or other aides are present in the glossary.
Though academic terminology is introduced and reinforced intentionally in the book, vocabulary needed to understand the many challenging texts in the book is not developed consistently within the context of connected discourse. Some after-reading questions address important conceptual vocabulary, but teaching suggestions are not consistently made to build important context before and during reading.
In each chapter, students have the opportunity to engage in conversations with peers utilizing the text selections in the chapter as well as academic vocabulary; however, there is no guidance for supporting the development of vocabulary in regard to English language proficiency.
The materials do not encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English (e.g., to enhance vocabulary development).
The materials include frequent visual images as aids to comprehensible input for students in general; however, the Teacher’s Edition does not indicate how to use these images to support comprehension for English learners. For example, in Chapter 8, Exposition, in the chapter introduction, a graphic, “How Scientists Grow Test-Tube Meat,” is included as an example of the idea that “exposition is all about asking questions and looking for answers.” The graphic is not referenced in the text itself, however, and the two guiding questions provided in the caption assume that students already understand the graphic: “What questions do you have about the process of creating test-tube meat that this graphic does not address? Where might you look to find the answers?” The Teacher’s Edition does not suggest how to make use of the graphic to build comprehensible input. The term “test-tube meat” is not defined and a test tube is not pictured.
In Chapter 6, Argument, in Rosenberg’s “Labeling the Danger in Soda,” the author mentions that “alto” means both “high” and “stop” in Spanish. The Teacher’s Edition does not note this opportunity to connect with the primary language of Spanish-speaking students.
The materials include options for formative and summative assessments that are aligned to the chapter’s content in purpose and intended use, but there is no reference to the TEKS in any of the materials. Additionally, while the materials provide some guidance for the scoring of summative writing assessments, there is not sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance on pre-assessments or formative or summative tasks. Assessments are connected to the regular content to support student learning, but lack guidance and support for teachers to document and track student progress. The materials include a guideline with suggestions for teachers to include summative and formative assessments throughout the units.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Assessments are connected to the regular content to support student learning. The instructional materials include assessments that are aligned to the instructional content of the unit. For each chapter, the formative tasks are used to build up to the summative assessment. The pre-assessments and formative assessments do not contain information for scoring or responding to students’ performances.
Each of the writing assessments includes a scoring rubric. For example, Chapter 5 includes a rubric for a fiction-writing task. Chapter 6 includes a rubric for argumentative writing. Chapter 8 includes a rubric for expository writing. There is no guidance for responding to students’ performance other than references to the foundational chapters that address the specific writing genre assessed in the task.
The Chapter 5 overview provides an option for pre-assessment that requires students to read “The Veldt” and answer specific questions outlined in the overview. The formative assessment includes the “Entering the Conversation” prompts in the chapter, and the summative tasks within Workshops 2 and 3 require students to write and analyze fiction. The assessments are aligned to the chapter’s content, but information about the TEKS addressed in each of these assessments is not included.
In Chapter 8, students study expository text, and the assessment opportunities are organized in the same manner as in Chapter 5. Again, there is no connection to the TEKS or information on how to interpret or respond to students’ performance.
The differentiation supports within the materials focus on the process, product, and texts; however, few specific examples of differentiation could be found throughout each chapter. The Teacher’s Edition does include some annotations and support for engaging students in the materials, as well as support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. Throughout the materials, there are “teaching tips.” Some of these tips address how to group students; however, the materials do not contain an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Annotations and ancillary materials provide some support for student learning and assistance for teachers. In the Teacher’s Edition, the introductory material discusses how the design of the text can support varying needs of individual students. There is information on “differentiation by text,” which provides teachers support in choosing the texts that meet the students’ academic needs. “Each genre/mode chapter has three text sections of increasing complexity that will allow you to tailor your curricular choices to your students’ needs while keeping all students working on the same skills.” The first text is foundational, the second is at grade level, and the third is more challenging. The materials also discuss how to differentiate by task, explaining how to use the questions at the end of the selections to meet students’ needs. Finally, teachers are provided with “differentiation by process,” which explains how to vary instructional practices and strategies to provide the most effective lesson for students based on academic needs as appropriate.
In the Teacher’s Edition, a section on “Troubleshooting Grammar and Style” states: “Although the opening chapters provide a foundation in grammar and style, some students may need extra support or practice. The Grammar Workshops at the back of the book are designed to help support students in the following areas…” There are 14 workshops in total. Specific guidance on how to decide whether, when, and how to engage students in these workshops is not provided.
Throughout the materials, teachers are provided with suggestions to support student engagement by including activities and strategies that can be incorporated to make the content more relevant or accessible. In addition, some formative assessment suggestions and resources are provided for teachers. For example, in the Chapter Overview for Chapter 6, Argument, a formative assessment activity is recommended in the Pre-Built Five-Week Argument Unit for students to “write a source-based argument paper in response to one of the prompts in the Conversation.” No suggestion is made for how to use the results of that formative assessment activity to differentiate instruction.
In Chapter 5, there is support for differentiation among the tasks: “Keep in mind that there are three prompts here, of three different levels of difficulty, to allow you to differentiate for your student population. Prompt 1 is more personal. Prompt 2 is more concretely argumentative. Prompt 3 is more abstractly argumentative.”
In Chapter 8, one of the teacher notes suggests a grouping strategy: “After an initial reading of the text, you might break students into groups and assign each group one of these sections: paragraphs 15–20, 32–39, 50–62, and 74–82. Given the variety of lengths for each chunk, this is a perfect opportunity to differentiate the task by ability level.”
In Chapter 11, Mythology, the Teacher’s Edition offers a Pre-Built Five-Week Mythology Unit plan, which includes a formative assessment activity. The task instructs the teacher to “break the class into small groups, with each group assigned a book to be an expert on in preparation for a jigsaw discussion based on the following questions.” No guidance is provided on how this group activity would yield individual diagnostic information upon which differentiation decisions could be made, nor are suggestions made for differentiation to be implemented as a result of the “formative assessment” activity.
The materials provide a context and overview of the instructional program with the knowledge and skills that will be addressed. The materials are not accompanied by a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills that are taught in the program or their connection between grade levels; however, guidance is evident of the order in which knowledge and skills are presented. There is some teacher support provided in implementing the materials through the use of annotations, suggested student responses, and an overview of the selections and how to pace instruction. There is no evidence within the materials reviewed of additional support to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. The materials provide a pacing guide based on 50-minute class periods. While some teachers may adjust for their individual schedules, the breadth of content is available to cover a year of instruction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a table of contents and a guided tour of the text. The guided tour outlines the structure and organization of the text with specific examples that provide detail about the purpose of certain organizational features such as the “culminating activities” and “foundational skills.” The front matter includes an overview of the text’s organization as well as the layout of the materials and some instructional implications. The introductory section also includes an explanation about the “marginal annotations throughout to support your teaching of students at all levels, including called-out passages for close reading, helpful teaching ideas, tips for avoiding common pitfalls, and help building context.”
There is a “Content by Theme” section, which organizes the text’s selections according to theme. The materials do not include a connection to or outline of the TEKS, nor do they demonstrate how the skills presented build and connect across grade levels; however, in the notes of the digital Teacher’s Edition, the materials state which TEKS are addressed by particular activities.
Each genre-based chapter includes a chapter overview and guide for pacing. The materials do note that the pacing is built on a 50-minute class period schedule. While there is no explicit guidance on pacing for various calendar options, there is enough material for a year’s worth of instruction.
An Opening Chapters Pacing Guide is provided in the Teacher’s Edition, with realistic pacing suggestions. The authors clarify that, “Although some textbooks are intended to be taught from front to back, this book is not... We have tried to create a book with enough material that you will have some fresh options to choose from throughout the life of the book.”
At the beginning of each genre chapter are chapter introductions that provide an overview and pacing guide, which the Teacher’s Edition refers to as the “a la carte” menu. A “Pre-Built Unit” is also offered for each chapter that suggests one pathway for approaching teaching the chapter.
The materials provide contextual support through the use of pictures and graphics as a means of increasing student learning and engagement. Each selection provides a photo of the author and a caption with a brief description to increase student background knowledge. The materials provide ample use of white space in the design and layout. The selections in each chapter contain images that are embedded within the text to support student learning and engagement as well as provide opportunities for students to analyze the images.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Each chapter includes bold headings and numbering to direct students to the appropriate sections for each task.
The materials include a different color text and font to differentiate between the texts and the questions and tasks for students.
Throughout each chapter, the images and graphics are included as part of the selection and relate to the content or topic of the text. The images and photographs are aligned center or justified right or left to provide adequate spacing for captions. The embedded images provide visual support for the text selection.
Texts include line numbering to allow for ease of discussion when citing text evidence.
In Chapter 7, the poem “In Chicano Park” by David Tomas Martinez includes an image of a mural that supports specific images described in the poem.
The online platform offers access to textbook materials outside of the classroom. The downloadable eBook allows students and teachers to access the content on a computer and a phone even without Internet access. Instructors can assign specific content to the class or to individual students. All materials from the textbook are accessible digitally. The digital table of contents provides access to materials for both teacher and student, and instructors can view the platform in student view. Text is clear and discriminable. In the eBook, text can be changed to meet the needs of students with visual impairments or dyslexia. In the web-based version, text can be expanded 200 percent without a loss of clarity. Audio support is limited, as is embedded text support. Navigation within each webpage is via table of contents and side scroll bar with limited embedded page navigation. The page layout is linear, reproducing the text organization in the print materials. Visual texts are static in the eBook and have limited interactivity in the web-based version.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The student textbook material is accessible via the LaunchPad online platform in a web-based format and as a downloadable eBook. The Teacher’s Edition is also available as a downloadable eBook.
The text in both online formats is high contrast with simple font. Color is used to code certain activities and types of text, but headers indicate these shifts as well. In the eBook version, readers can change the text size, font, viewing mode (Day, Night, Sepia, or Cyan), margins, and line height. In the web-based format, text is zoomable to at least 200 percent with no loss in clarity. The text selections do not appear to have text-to-speech or audio-recorded alternatives in either the web-based or eBook formats.
In the eBook, students can highlight or annotate text and access and edit those annotations via a digital notebook. Students can make digital flashcards accessible via the platform. Students do not have an opportunity to answer questions or otherwise complete open-ended tasks assigned online in either format.
In the web-based version, students can click on most images embedded within web pages to zoom in to a degree, though the zoom feature is limited to one size increase. In the eBook, the same images are static.
Lessons can be assigned to the whole class or to individual students, and the platform can be set to remind students of the assignment(s) via email. Students access assigned content via the LaunchPad platform and may also access unassigned resources, including game-like LearningCurve quizzes for adaptive formative assessment.
Online diagnostic assessments in grammar, style, reading skills, and reading strategies are available via LaunchPad, and an ExamView test bank allows teachers to customize multiple-choice assessments to be administered digitally or on paper.
“Grammar Girl” audio podcasts are available for listening within the online platform. Though there is no closed captioning for hearing-impaired students, there is an option to download a transcript.
In the eBook, hyperlinks for technical terms navigate the reader to the glossary. In the e-book version of Chapter 4, Using Sources, clicking on the hyperlinked word “sources” directs the reader to a definition of the term in the Glossary. There is not a clear path to return from that page to the text. In the web-based version, hyperlinked key terms offer a simple pop-up text definition upon clicking.
In the eBook, in addition to the left-hand Table of Contents menu, hyperlinks at the top of pages allow readers to access referenced texts. In Chapter 5 of the eBook version, all three texts in the section are on one webpage, along with questions, tasks, and related pictures. Hyperlinks to the three texts are located at the very top of the page. No other navigation options are embedded within the page.
In the eBook, each section is contained in one webpage with limited embedded navigation tools. In the eBook version, in Chapter 11, Mythology, Section 2, the long central text – an excerpt from Homer’s Odyssey – and the tasks, questions, paired texts and visual texts, are included on one webpage without additional point-and-click navigation or textual supports.
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