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The TRR reports for K–8 and high school science are now available. The new Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) rubrics for K–3 and 4–8 English language arts and reading, K–3 and 4–6 Spanish language arts and reading, and K–12 mathematics are now available for review. Provide public comment through December 15, 2023, or sign up for a November focus group.
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts (what students read, see, and hear)
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Thinking, Inquiry, and Research
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills (Grades K-5 only)
Section 5. Supports for Diverse Learners
Section 6. Ease of Use and Supports for Implementation
Section 7. Technology, Cost, and Professional Learning Support
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The instructional materials include high-quality, well-crafted texts written by world-renowned authors and experts in various disciplines. The texts are content rich, and themes across the units, such as human connections, freedom, and survival, appeal to a range of student interests.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Unit 1 includes the “The Vietnam Wall” by Arizona’s poet laureate Alberto Rios. Contemporary texts are represented as well and include “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen. Unit 1 texts consider a range of student interests and would appeal to 9th-grade students. “Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah is about a high school student who immigrated from war-torn Sierra Leone and is trying to fit in.
Unit 2 includes the poetry of Detroit’s poet laureate Dudley Randall, with “Booker T. and W.E.B.” Contemporary texts are represented as well and include the text “Interview with John Lewis,” a podcast interview with civil rights leader and U.S. Representative John Lewis. The informational texts found in the unit use rich, academic vocabulary and language appropriate to the disciplines they represent. For example, the nonfiction historical text Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly provides factual information, including statistics, which also appeals to student interests.
Unit 3 presents contemporary texts, written by experts in their fields, including a scientific text about chimpanzees, “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect,” by Frans de Waal, trained biologist and director at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center; and the informational text “With Friends Like These…” written by psychologist Dorothy Rowe. The informational texts use rich, academic vocabulary and language appropriate to the disciplines they represent. “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect” contains complex, scientific vocabulary appropriate to the genre, such as synchronization, contagion, mimicry, and cognition. The texts consider a range of student interests and would appeal to 9th-grade students.
Unit 4 contains well-known traditional and classical texts, such as William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The texts in this unit consider a range of student interests and would appeal to 9th-grade students. For example, there are texts about love and relationships, which students at this age can relate to; these include Diane Ackerman’s essay “Love’s Vocabulary,” and the poems “Having It Both Ways” by Elizabeth Jennings and “Superheart” by Marion Shore.
Unit 5 includes an excerpt from Louise Erdrich’s “The Leap,” a short story with a plot that uses flashbacks; this is engaging to students. Erdrich is a contemporary author who is best known for stories representing her Native American heritage. Students also read an excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s Night, a memoir about the author’s life as a Holocaust survivor and his time spent in a concentration camp. Wiesel is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and a well-known author and human rights advocate.
Unit 6 contains well-known traditional and classical texts, such as excerpts from Homer’s The Odyssey. The informational texts use rich, academic vocabulary and language appropriate to the disciplines they represent. In Unit 6, the excerpt from The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak contains photos that document the writer’s travel experience and the cultures that she encountered, along with a map that shows the route she took.
The materials contain a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the requirements for English I. Literary texts included in the materials include forms such as drama, poetry, short stories, and excerpts from novels and memoirs. Informational texts include mentor texts, science texts, history texts, texts that make an argumentative claim, and other expository text types. Print and graphic features for a variety of texts are present; for example, they are included in poetry, graphic novels, informational text, and travel writing.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
“Once Upon a Time” by Nadine Gordimer (short story)
“The Vietnam Wall” by Alberto Rios (poetry)
“The Censors” by Luisa Valenzuela (short story)
“Loser” by Aimee Bender (short story)
“At Dusk” by Natasha Trethewey (poetry)
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare (drama)
“The Leap” by Louise Erdrich (short story)
excerpt from Night by Elie Wiesel (memoir)
excerpt from The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman (memoir)
excerpts from The Odyssey by Homer (poetry)
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
“Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah (informational)
excerpt from Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (informational)
“The Price of Freedom” by Noreen Riols (informational)
“A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen (argumentative)
“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (argumentative)
“Is Survival Selfish?” by Lane Wallace (argumentative)
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
Throughout the materials, the texts are accompanied by a variety of graphics, including photographs, paintings, digital graphics, graphic organizers, and other graphics; they also contain print features such as bolded words, titles, subtitles, and word banks.
Examples of multimodal texts include but are not limited to:
Saving Lincoln by Salvador Litvaki (film clip)
“Interview with John Lewis” by NPR (podcast)
Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi (graphic memoir)
“My Shakespeare” by Kate Tempest (poem and video)
The materials include texts appropriately complex for English I students with a text-complexity analysis provided at the beginning of each text. The analysis clearly explains the grade-level appropriateness of the text and includes both a quantitative measure and many qualitative descriptors.
Examples include but are not limited to:
At the introduction of each new text, a text-analysis chart is provided. Each text-complexity analysis includes a rationale for the text’s quantitative and qualitative measures. The quantitative measure is the Lexile level, while the qualitative measures feature the ideas presented, the text structures used, the language complexity, and the background knowledge required. Quantitative measures are not provided for poetry or multimodal texts.
In Unit 2, the text Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly has a Lexile level of 1140L. Regarding ideas presented, the qualitative complexity analysis states: “Mostly explicit, but some key ideas are left implied.” Regarding text structure: “Text features help guide reading; narrative events are mostly in chronological order interspersed with information shared via cause-and-effect and main idea and details order.” Regarding language complexity: “Mostly Tier II words with some Tier III words that are specific to the areas of law or government and aircraft engineering.” Regarding the knowledge required: “Most of the background knowledge needed to understand the text is provided prior to the text or embedded within the narrative.”
The Lexile levels of texts range from 760L to 1330L. The majority of the texts fall within the 1050L–1260L range, which is ideal for 9th grade. The qualitative features reflect the skills and concepts required of 9th-grade students.
The qualitative features of the texts reflect the skills and concepts required of 9th-grade students, and the units tend to build toward more complex texts that require inferential thinking and background knowledge that is essential for understanding and that may contain more archaic, unfamiliar, or allusive language. In Unit 3, the text complexity analysis for “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect” states that the text contains domain-specific words and complex text structures. In Unit 4, the text complexity analysis for “The Leap” states that the text includes nonlinear plot structures and a more complex theme than fiction works in previous units. The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and The Odyssey are both in later units, Unit 4 and Unit 6 respectively, because of their qualitative complexities.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within and across texts. Units are organized by essential questions relating to the theme of multiple texts. Questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge and are text-dependent. The materials provide sufficient opportunities for students to discuss and answer questions about complex elements of the text. Students are asked to make connections to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, pairs of students research a cultural group and then, in small groups, discuss connections between their chosen group and the nonfiction text “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen. The questions and discussion tasks require students to make personal connections and/or text-to-text-connections to support identification and discussion of big ideas, themes, and details. Students find evidence to support the claims made in Quindlen’s writing on immigrants. The following instructions are also given: “Have group members describe how their cultural group relates to Quindlen’s claim. You may include personal connections or experiences as evidence.” Students then take the information gathered in their group discussion to “suggest ways that cultural groups become another panel of our quilt of a country.”
In Unit 2, students analyze elements of “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr., by highlighting the claim and underlining evidence that supports the claim. Students highlight examples of “extreme language” in paragraph 7 and explain the meaning of a phrase used in that paragraph. Students underline the examples of repetition and parallelism in the speech and explain why the use of these elements is effective.
In Unit 3, students make inferences about theme as they read “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” by Yasunari Kawabata. They use a graphic organizer with key topics. The students record text evidence as they read and then make inferences based on that evidence in order to write down three themes.
In Unit 4, students read Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, by William Shakespeare. Students analyze elements of drama by highlighting lines that illustrate the parallel plot of the play, examples of parallel structure in Juliet’s speech, and lines that foreshadow what will happen later in the play. In Act 3, Scene 1, students highlight the section in lines 115–122 that illustrates characterization. In the essay “Love’s Vocabulary,” students highlight the statements that show the author thinks love can be both a positive and a negative force. Students highlight examples and explain how they serve as supporting details for the thesis “Love is not easily defined.”
In Unit 6, students use a “Response Log” as they read “Archaeology’s Tech Revolution Since Indiana Jones” by Jeremy Hsu. They determine the challenges faced by archaeologists, changes in archaeology, and what quests motivate archaeologists. As they write and discuss their answers from the text, they use and highlight the academic vocabulary words that they included in their writing. This writing task builds conceptual knowledge, requires students to cite text evidence, and integrates multiple TEKS.
At the end of Unit 6, students reflect on the “Essential Question” and on their thoughts and opinions of the selections in the unit: “What drives us to take on a challenge? How has your answer to this question changed since you first considered it when you started this unit? What are some examples from the texts you’ve read that show the human need to seek and meet challenges?” These questions require careful reflection, the integration of text evidence, and an understanding of theme across multiple texts.
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. The materials provide opportunities for students to identify the stated and implied purposes of different authors’ writing and to make inferences and draw conclusions about those purposes in a variety of texts and genres. Questions and tasks support the study of author’s craft and how the author’s choices in language influence the reader. Questions often ask students to analyze the author’s syntax and word choice and to provide specific textual evidence to support their analysis.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students answer questions that help them evaluate reasons and evidence in order to find the author’s position in the argumentative text “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen. Questions include the following: “Does the reason logically and directly support the claim? Can the facts or statistics be verified? Do the examples or anecdotes present common situations, or do they represent rare or unusual situations? Are quotations relevant and from respected sources?” These questions require students to read closely to analyze and evaluate the text’s key ideas and the author’s claims within this genre. In the next lesson, students underline the author’s italicized thoughts and then circle two details that caused those thoughts. Then, they analyze how the author’s syntax and word choice reveal his attitude and outlook. These tasks require students to study the specific language of the author and read closely to provide text evidence of their understanding.
In Unit 2, students read an excerpt from Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Students consider “What is the setting for this memoir? What do you think the author’s purpose is for writing it?” and analyze the text by stating how the author uses details of setting to achieve her purpose. Students compare this excerpt from Reading Lolita in Tehran and an excerpt from the graphic novel Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi. For Reading Lolita in Tehran, students consider how effective the author’s repeated use of rhetorical questions is in conveying her point of view. For Persepolis 2, students consider how the visual consistency of the narrator’s facial expression reveals the author’s point of view. Students are then asked, “What is the effect of using language only, as opposed to combining language and images? Are any aspects of the story gained by using images and/or lost by using fewer words in a graphic novel?”
In Unit 3, students read the poem “At Dusk” by Natasha Trethewey and analyze the author’s language in order to strengthen their comprehension of the poem and understand its key elements. They are asked to “make note of the author’s diction and syntax choices.” Students have an example of a chart to use to record their thoughts as they interpret “the effects of Trethewey’s diction and syntax on tone, mood, and voice.” This task supports students’ understanding, requiring them to use text evidence and to study the specific language within the text. In the “Collaborate and Compare” section, students consider how authors of different genres use different techniques to develop their genres; they compare the short story “Loser” by Aimee Bender and the poem “At Dusk” by Natasha Trethewey.
In Unit 5, the memoirs Night by Elie Wiesel and The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman present first-hand experiences from the Holocaust. In a graphic organizer following the texts, students compare the author’s purpose in each text. Both texts include other characters besides the authors/narrators. Students are asked how the inclusion of other characters’ perspectives adds to the meaning of the texts.
In Unit 6, the poem “The Journey” by Mary Oliver and the travel memoir The Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak both convey messages about journeys. In a graphic organizer following the texts, students identify the author’s purpose in each text. In the “Analyze the Texts” section, they then describe each writer’s purpose and note how they are similar and different. In the “Collaborate and Compare” section, students use a graphic organizer to identify language in the travel memoir The Cruelest Journey: Six Hundred Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak and the poem “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. Suggested responses are that the travel writing includes “varied sentence structure with vivid descriptions,” and the poem includes “metaphors, personification.” Students are asked how the author uses language to effectively convey her point.
Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. The plan includes opportunities for students to apply words in appropriate contexts. Scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners are provided.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials include the “Vocabulary Studio,” found in “Resources,” which is an interactive module that “provides students with instruction on key aspects of vocabulary.” The materials offer instruction and practice with ways to decipher the meaning of words that students will encounter while reading. The instruction and practice includes learning and applying knowledge and skills such as using context clues; analyzing word structure; recognizing and applying roots, prefixes, and suffixes; and practicing denotation and connotation. Vocabulary Studio lessons are suggested in the “Plan” section for most selections in the teacher’s edition. In Unit 1, for “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen, the suggested Vocabulary Studio is “Words With Multiple Meanings.” In Unit 3, for “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” by Yasunari Kawabata, the suggested Vocabulary Studio is “Context Clues.” The lessons in the Studio “are arranged by skill for each grade level and provide additional support and independent practice for students,” in order to develop reading and writing skills by focusing on vocabulary comprehension skills.
Materials include embedded supports throughout the units in both the student and teacher’s editions. “Word Gap” opportunities are available throughout each unit. Specifically, within Unit 1, students use the “Signposts” from the “Notice and Note” portion of the lesson to help them make meaning of words using context clues.
Each unit offers students the opportunity to complete a graphic organizer with a comprehension strategy called “Word Networks,” in which students analyze a word through multiple frames, like its definition, synonyms, antonyms, and clarifying examples, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the word’s meaning and application. The graphic organizer, along with the accompanying collaborative work strategies provide a scaffolded experience for students. In Unit 2, teachers introduce academic vocabulary that relates to all of the texts in that unit. Students are encouraged to discuss the vocabulary with a partner as they complete the Word Networks. The graphic organizers and discussions help scaffold vocabulary development for diverse learners.
The student edition supports include unit academic vocabulary overviews and prompts to reinforce students’ application of academic vocabulary in their written and spoken responses.
In Unit 1, students preview the critical vocabulary for the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln by matching the words to their definitions. As they come across a vocabulary word in context, they are asked questions to help them understand, analyze, and apply that word. For example, when students encounter the word conceive in the text, they “explain the relationship between a nation conceived in liberty and the reason that Lincoln was giving this speech.”
In Unit 6, students turn to a partner and discuss the following questions after reading an excerpt from The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak: “What does Salak say motivates her to choose this journey down the Niger? Is she clear about her objective? Why did Salak undertake such a dangerous journey?” Students are guided to use the academic vocabulary in their discussions. They are instructed to write out their responses before sharing with the whole class. Because students are analyzing and applying academic vocabulary through thinking, writing, speaking, and listening while reading each text selection, they are developing an understanding of the words and applying that understanding to familiar and new contexts. These embedded supports are included in every unit, which demonstrates a year-long plan.
The materials include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. Procedures and/or protocols, along with support for teachers, are included to foster independent reading. A plan is provided for students to self-select text and read independently for a sustained period of time.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The procedures for independent reading are consistent for each unit: students follow guidelines to select the text(s) they want to read; students review the “Signposts” for the unit and are reminded to apply them to their independent reading; students read the self-selected text(s); and students discuss the text(s) with a partner.
The materials provide students with a process for self-selecting texts. Each “Independent Reading” section begins with a photo gallery that includes an image and tagline or hook for each selection. In Unit 4, there is a photograph of a fish swimming near a fishing lure. Under the photo is the title of the selection, “The Bass, the River, and Sheila Mant” by W.D. Wetherell, followed by the questions “What will a person sacrifice for love? Is the sacrifice always worth it?” Students are directed to read these descriptions to determine which text gets their attention, to think about which genres they enjoy reading, and to “select the text or texts that you want to read on your own.”
Each unit includes lessons for independent reading. For instance, for each of the Units 1, 2, 3, and 5, there are two days of lessons built into the curriculum for independent reading. The texts are related to, and expand upon, the themes and essential questions of the units. Students are given choices from five selections of different genres. In Unit 1, students may choose an independent reading selection from a range of genres and ability levels. The selections include but are not limited to poems, such as “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa and “Theme for English B” by Langston Hughes; blogs, such as “Making the Future Better, Together” by Eboo Patel; speeches, such as “Oklahoma Bombing Memorial Address” by Bill Clinton; and short stories, such as “Night Calls” by Lisa Fugard.
The range of genres available to students fosters independent reading; students choose texts based on their interest, building lifelong reading habits.
In the “Social-Emotional Learning” box in the “Teacher Wrap,” teachers are given suggestions for helping students set independent reading goals. In Unit 1, teachers are directed to have students set goals for reading self-selected texts outside of class. In Unit 3, students are encouraged to create a plan for reading self-selected texts. In Unit 5, students are encouraged to select a text that may seem more challenging.
The materials include access to a “Reading Studio,” found in “Online Resources.” These resources are available to students and target reading skills relevant to those needed to access texts within each unit. These learning modules reinforce skills students are learning through the curriculum, such as to “Notice and Note,” “Collaborate and Share,” and use logs to track reading progress and reading comprehension. In Unit 5, for the “Signpost” (reading techniques specific to each unit) of “Contradiction and Comparison,” students are given the anchor question for “The Leap” by Louise Erdrich: “Why did the character act that way?” The materials contain an online digital library with access to over 100 full-length digital novels. Students can preview these novels and choose a selection based on their interest. There is a sidebar tool that allows students to make notes while reading and highlighting the text.
Materials include a professional learning component to help teachers implement the independent reading lessons for each unit. This resource provides teachers with an overview of the independent reading lesson elements, and of the resources students can access to enhance their independent reading experience.
The teacher's edition reminds teachers that “Independent Reading” sections are only available in the e-book and list selections.
The materials offer several options for accountability. Teachers encourage students to use their “Notice and Note Signpost” strategy as they read and mark their thinking in the notes section or to share their thoughts about their independent reading with others. At the end of each “Independent Reading” section, students discuss what they read with a partner. The same four “Collaborate and Share” tasks are provided for each unit: Students (1) summarize the text, (2) describe and explain “Signposts” they notice in the text, (3) describe what they enjoyed/found challenging about the text, and (4) provide a recommendation/evaluation of the text. There are also selection tests available that ask multiple-choice questions, technology-enhanced questions, and constructed-response questions.
The materials provide support for students to develop writing skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Students are given opportunities to write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. The materials provide opportunities for students to write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are provided opportunities to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Students write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. The materials provide opportunities to write literary and/or rhetorical analyses.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students read “Once Upon a Time” by Nadine Gordimer and create a modern fairy tale using given guidance on writing narratives.
At the end of Unit 2, students write a three- to four-paragraph argumentative essay about whether or not graphic novels are an important genre. They are reminded to base their opinions on evidence. Formatting suggestions are given for what to discuss in each paragraph. Sentence frames are provided for English Learner support.
In Unit 3, students receive a literary prompt: “Write a short story about an event that reveals something about how we connect with each other.” They have a mentor text as an example and are encouraged to use their “Response Log” notes from the unit. The writing prompt has a “Read, Think, Write” format with a checklist of guidelines, such as “begin by introducing a setting, a narrator, and a main character” and “include sensory language and descriptive details.”
In Unit 3, students write an informal letter to a character from the text “The Grasshopper and Bell Cricket” by Yasunari Kawabata. They describe the results of their research on Japanese art forms and pose questions to the characters. Guidelines are given on how to write a greeting, how to organize the body of the letter, and how to write a concluding paragraph.
In Unit 4, students read “The Price of Freedom” by Noreen Riols. In the “Create and Discuss” section, students write a professional letter in which they express interest in working for an agency that they have researched. Students go to the “Writing Studio” for guidance on formal writing (which is found in the “Writing Informative Texts Studio”).
At the end of Unit 5, students are introduced to argumentative writing again, and the thesis statement is reviewed as well as how to write claims and counterclaims. Students receive a writing prompt that has them read the quote “Survival may be instinctive, but it is not simple.” They then think carefully about the question “What does it take to survive in a crisis?” After these steps, they write an argument essay stating their opinion on the question “Does survival require selfishness?” A mentor text is provided along with supports and scaffolds for each phase of the writing process.
At the end of Unit 6, teachers are directed to review the elements of a strong explanatory essay. Students then write an essay about how “an activity described in one of the unit selections meets the human need for challenge.” A mentor text is provided along with several student supports, such as sentence frames, a graphic organizer for planning, a revision checklist, an editing checklist, and a scoring rubric.
Most written tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate knowledge gained through the analysis and synthesis of texts. Students are provided opportunities to use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. Students demonstrate, in writing, what they have learned through reading and listening to texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Each text selection ends with a section where students analyze the text and support their responses with evidence from the text. For example, in Unit 1, for “Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah, students are explicitly asked to provide evidence from the text for four of the five questions. One question asks: “How does the text structure—a personal essay—enable the author to deliver his message effectively? Explain your answer using examples from the text.”
In Unit 3, students write about how the story “Loser” by Aimee Bender explores different themes. First, students write their opinion on how the theme connects to human nature and life, and then they write about how the theme connects to the story.
In Unit 5, when reading “The End and the Beginning” by Wislawa Szymborska, students analyze the tone of the poem by responding to three sub-questions, citing words and phrases from the poem to support their answers.
In Unit 6, after reading The Odyssey, students write a narrative about an event from the text. They write from the point of view of a character in the text other than Odysseus, demonstrating their comprehension through writing.
At the end of each unit, students complete a summative writing task that is based on the readings from the unit. In Unit 5, students write an argument on whether survival requires selfishness, using evidence from at least two texts read in the unit. In the “Plan” section of the task, students receive a graphic organizer: “Use the word web below to help you explore your thoughts and feelings about survival. Include ideas from the unit texts.” Students are also encouraged to use their “Reading Response Logs” from the unit when planning their argument. In Unit 6, students produce an explanatory essay with a thesis, supporting ideas, and evidence gathered from sources encountered throughout the unit.
The materials also provide multiple opportunities for brief written responses to text, including annotations, response logs, and graphic organizers. The materials include room for margin annotations related to specific strategies learned in the unit. For example, in Unit 1, students note the author’s purpose, voice, and tone in the text as they read “Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah. The materials also include response logs throughout the unit, in which students respond to the “Essential Question” by adding notes and information from each text. The notes from the texts are later used to write an essay. The materials often ask students to make notes as they read and record their thoughts in graphic organizers and charts. For example, in Unit 6, students make notes in a chart about poetic elements they find throughout The Odyssey by Homer.
Writing skills and knowledge of conventions are applied in increasingly complex contexts over the course of the year, with opportunities for students to publish their writing. The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process. Opportunities are provided for the practice and application of the conventions of academic language, including punctuation and grammar, when speaking and writing. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context, and grow in depth and complexity within and across units.
Examples include but are not limited to:
There is a writing task at the end of each unit that guides students through the full writing process (plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish).
For example, in Unit 1, students write a personal essay about how differences between people can be opportunities rather than obstacles. In the planning stage, students reflect on the unit’s readings and use two provided graphic organizers to brainstorm personal experiences or events and organize their ideas into a topic statement, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. In the drafting stage, students analyze author’s craft and genre characteristics in the mentor text for Unit 1, the essay “Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah, and apply these elements to their own writing. In the revising stage, students use a revision guide to make necessary changes to their writing. In the editing stage, students edit their papers for passive voice.
Additionally, in Unit 3, the summative writing task asks the students to write a short story about an event that reveals something about how people connect with others. A plot element chart is used to help them plan and organize ideas. In the drafting stage, students analyze the descriptive and sensory details in the mentor text “Loser” by Aimee Bender and add these elements to their own draft. The revision process has them evaluate their writing with a partner using a revision guide. In the editing stage, students edit their drafts for standard English conventions and focus on spelling plural nouns correctly. The draft is then published and presented. A scoring guide is available for teacher and student use.
Most reading selections include a “Language Conventions” focus in which punctuation and grammar are addressed. After analyzing the targeted elements of grammar in the selection, students apply the grammar skills to their own writing. For example, in Unit 2, students learn about pronoun-antecedent agreement and apply what they learned when writing a paragraph about the women described in Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. In Unit 5, students learn about how to use punctuation as a guide for phrasing. Students practice reading paragraphs aloud from “The Leap” by Louise Eldrich, paying attention to punctuation cues, and discuss with a partner the author’s use of relative clauses. In the “Language Conventions” activity that follows “The Leap,” students apply their knowledge of relative clauses to the research summary that they wrote about circus-related terms found in the selection, and discuss with a partner the author’s use of relative clauses in the text.
The materials include a “Grammar Studio” that provides direct instruction and practice opportunities for grammar. Modules focus on topics such as agreement, capital letters, parts of speech, and punctuation. Specific grammatical structures or skills from the modules are tagged to reading selections that contain strong examples. For example, in Unit 1, students read “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen, analyze the author’s use of noun clauses, and then write original sentences with noun clauses. In Unit 4, students read “The Price of Freedom” by Noreen Riols, analyze sentence variety in the text, and write a short passage about a topic of interest in which they include a variety of sentence structures.
The materials also provide resources on grammar and punctuation during the editing stage of each unit’s summative writing task. The student edition includes definitions and expectations for conventions, as well as resources for students to evaluate their use of conventions. The teacher’s edition includes strategies for teachers to instruct students on how to evaluate their writing for use of conventions, including grammar checklists and peer reviewing.
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts by providing opportunities that are focused on the text(s) being studied in class, allowing students to demonstrate comprehension. Oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate knowledge gained through the analysis and synthesis of texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students discuss specific text-based questions in groups. While reading “Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah, students “express their ideas about Beah’s decision to keep his childhood experiences a secret.” When students reconvene as a class, they share some of their examples. This oral task requires students to use information gained from reading the text to support their claim and demonstrate their analysis of a character’s motive. In “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen, students watch a “Close Read Screencast” in which two students discuss ideas expressed in paragraphs 3 and 7. In the “Teacher Wrap,” teachers are advised to have students watch this screencast, then have students work with a partner to closely read and discuss paragraph 8.
In Unit 2, for Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, several discussion questions are included in the “Teacher Wrap” to allow students to demonstrate their comprehension of the text. Students are asked, “What rules did the government impose on women and girls after the Iranian Revolution?” and “Why would it be difficult for women to convert to the thinking of the Iranian government?” Students also discuss how the regime’s laws made personal histories irrelevant.
In Unit 3, students read “Loser” by Aimee Bender and analyze and discuss the themes present. After students free write their ideas, they discuss in a small group. They receive a graphic organizer during the discussion to record their group’s themes and supporting details. Students create discussion questions about the story that they pose to their group. Question stems include “Why did the author…?” and “What was the young man’s attitude toward…?” Students are reminded to support their responses to the discussion questions with text evidence. This activity gives students the opportunity to speak and listen while demonstrating their understanding of the text.
In Unit 5, after reading “The Leap” by Louise Erdrich, students create a timeline of events from the story and respond to the question “What do these events tell us about the narrator and her mother?” Students are instructed to skim the selection for details to support their thinking. With a partner, students then discuss their ideas and the information they found in the selection to support them. Pairs share their discussed ideas with the class. Students also engage with the poem “The End and the Beginning” by Wisława Szymborska; they cite evidence “to support analysis of poetic language and structure.” For the Night and Pianist readings, students use research in the “Create and Present” post-reading activities to expand one of the readings’ background paragraphs. Students share information during this activity, then create their own background paragraphs for one of the two memoirs. Then, students reflect, as a group, on how they incorporated the research in different ways. Students engage in a collaborative discussion to respond to the question “How do the different introductions provide the reader with helpful context?”
The materials engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions, in both formal and informal settings. Grade-level protocols for discussion are provided. Students have opportunities to give organized presentations/performances and speak in a clear and concise manner using the conventions of language.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials provide a “Speaking and Listening Studio” that explains how to collaborate effectively and how to give an effective presentation. The Studio discusses establishing and following procedures and explains how to speak constructively, as well as how to listen and respond thoughtfully. Guidelines and protocols for discussions and presentations are thoroughly detailed. Within the Studio, there are multiple video examples and sound clips, and each section has activities and quizzes that allow students to check their understanding. In Unit 1, “Participating in Collaborative Discussions,” students learn the protocols for collaborative discussions. In Module 2 of this unit, “Participating in Collaborative Discussions: Introduction,” students learn what all participants do in a collaborative discussion, including “actively participate, listen to one another, build on each other’s ideas, stay on topic, and achieve discussion goals together.” Students listen to a recording of a collaborative discussion and follow along with a transcript of the discussion. The recording and transcript are broken into sections. Students evaluate a specific element of collaborative discussions after each section.
In Unit 2, materials prompt students to work in small groups to “create a multimedia presentation about one aspect of Lewis’s career,” then present it to the class or post it online, in response to the “Interview with John Lewis” reading selection. While creating their presentation, materials prompt students: “Choose language that suits your topic and purpose. Then, practice your presentation, noting when you should pause or change the volume of your voice for effect.” To support students with presentation skills, the materials provide teachers and students with sidebars that direct students to the Speaking and Listening Studio, in which students can find interactive lessons addressing “Analyzing and Evaluating Presentations,” “Giving Presentations,” and “Using Media in a Presentation.”
In Unit 3, students read and respond to “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect” by Frans de Waal in small groups. The text explicitly describes the instructional strategy of “reciprocal teaching”: the teacher provides a list of generic question stems, the students work independently to create questions about the text, groups present their questions to each other for discussion, and students answer questions with evidence from the text. Additionally, the strategy of a three-minute review is explained: the teacher first facilitates a whole-class discussion about the author’s claim; students work for three minutes to answer whether the author presented valid reasons and had enough support for his claim; then, student partners review the selection and write clarifying questions; finally, partners share their thoughts with the class. Varying instructional strategies provided at the beginning of each selection give guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion in which students express their thinking.
In Unit 4, students engage in “a formal panel discussion” to present the findings and key points from each small group’s discussion. Representatives from each small group are directed: “[U]se appropriate register (degree of formality), tone, speaking rate, volume, and enunciation. Speakers should also use technical language effectively and follow language conventions. As they present, speakers should make eye contact and use purposeful gestures.” To support students with presentation skills, the materials provide teachers and students with sidebars that direct students to a Speaking and Listening Studio, in which students can find interactive lessons addressing “Analyzing and Evaluating Presentations” and “Giving Presentations.”
In Unit 5, students write an argument about their position on whether survival requires selfishness. They then practice presenting their adapted argument with a partner or group before giving the presentation to the class. Effective verbal and nonverbal techniques are explained, including enunciation, voice modulation, pitch, speaking rate, volume, eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures. The materials provide advice on what an audience and presenter should look and sound like for listeners and presenters.
In Unit 6, students participate in a collaborative discussion using their essay as the basis for their discussion. Teachers provide students with a graphic organizer where students can collect notes on other speakers’ key points and evidence. Teachers introduce students to the task by describing the characteristics of an effective collaborative discussion, reminding students to ask for clarification when they are confused and to participate actively and constructively.
The materials engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources. Materials support identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. Students practice organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade-level audience.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students engage with both primary and secondary resources as they conduct short-term and sustained inquiry to research and analyze aspects of various topics. For example, after reading “Once Upon A Time” by Nadine Gordimer, students research well-known fairy tales, write a summary of each noting their structure and characteristics, and cite their sources. After reading “The Vietnam Wall” by Alberto Rios, students research the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and people’s reactions to it, as they analyze the memorial’s impact. They are reminded to use only reputable sources (sites the teacher recommends or those ending in .edu, .org, or .gov). Students then read the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln and conduct research about the audience of the speech; they are reminded to use valid, reliable sources. Then, students engage with a secondary source, a film clip from Salvado Litvak’s Saving Lincoln, which is based on letters and journals from Lincoln and his bodyguard. Students synthesize information from both accounts to deepen their understanding.
In Unit 2, students listen to an excerpt from an NPR podcast episode, “Interview with John Lewis,” and then research more about John Lewis and his accomplishments. Students use a graphic organizer to record his achievements and their effects, create a multimedia presentation about one aspect of Lewis’s career, and present it to the class or post it online. Also in Unit 2, students read Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran and “research modern Iranian politics, society, and culture based on information from two or three reliable websites” to find out how the Iranian government and society may have changed since the time when the memoir was written. Students list at least two online sources with relevant notes; materials give a research tip to check the reliability and credibility of sources of information by starting with well-known news organizations.
In Unit 3, students read “With Friends Like These…” by Dorothy Rowe and research friendship and neuroscience. Students “look for sources geared toward a general audience,” like newspaper articles and books.
In Unit 4, students read Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and research three adaptations—“songs, poems, plays, visual works of art, or musicals”—to note similarities and differences between the adaptations and the original text. Students also locate and conduct research on an interview with an artist who based their work on a Shakespeare play.
In Unit 5, students read “The Leap” by Louise Erdich and conduct their own research on traditional circuses, including finding images of vintage circuses and circus-related terms. Students record their research in a chart and write a four- to five-paragraph research summary that they present in a small-group discussion. Also in Unit 5, students read Lane Wallace’s “Is Survival Selfish?” and work in partners to research stories of survivors. Materials provide students with a research tip to research topics related to their topic and expand their search to include other aspects if they are having difficulty finding enough information on their topic. Students cite sources and check for the accuracy of their quotations, in keeping with ethical research practices.
In Unit 6 of the “Writing Studio,” students learn about conducting research, including how to start the process, how to identify and locate sources, how to conduct field research or internet research, how to take notes, and how to give credit to sources used. The materials provide an explicit definition of primary and secondary sources and include multiple examples with pictures. Each example has an explanation of why a source is primary or secondary. The Studio also explains why to use a primary source and how to match sources to research questions. Unit 7 of the Writing Studio is titled “Evaluating Sources” and covers choosing sources for quality, usefulness, and reliability. This unit describes how a reliable source should be “current, credible, accurate, objective, unbiased, and presented well.”
In Unit 6, students write an explanatory essay for the summative writing task. As students read various texts throughout the unit, such as The Odyssey by Homer, “Archaeology’s Tech Revolution Since Indiana Jones” by Jeremy Hsu, The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak, and the poem “The Journey” by Mary Oliver, the materials direct students to make annotations about “Numbers and Stats,” “Contrasts and Contradictions,” internal conflict, and how authors use repetition. When developing their drafts of their summative writing task, students synthesize their notes and research in order to support and develop their claim for their essay.
The materials contain interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. Questions and tasks are designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. 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 are included in the materials. Tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking and include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students prepare to read “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen by discussing things that represent America to them. Then, they analyze the parts of an argument that they will be seeing within the text, such as claim, evidence, counterargument, and concession. They receive a graphic organizer to use while reading that will help them evaluate Quindlen’s claims; in the organizer, students write down reasons/evidence from the text and how the reasons/evidence support the claim. The materials also provide students with instruction on an annotation strategy called “Word Gaps.” Students underline unfamiliar words, then look for context clues to help them define the unfamiliar words. Later in the unit, Nadine Gordimer’s “Once Upon a Time” is followed by “Analyze the Text” questions, to which students must respond by using evidence from the text. Students are asked, “What is the theme of the story? Explain how Gordimer develops this theme through the story’s setting.” In the “Create and Present” activity, students apply writing skills by writing a fairy tale with a partner; they apply speaking and listening skills by presenting their fairy tale in a recording or by reading it aloud to the class.
In Unit 2, students collaborate and compare across genres. After reading Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi and an excerpt from Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, students discuss the common elements in the two stories and take notes in a chart. They discuss, think, and write about the author’s purpose, message, and language used. Then, students write about their own personal reactions. Specific text-dependent questions guide group discussion, including “How is the way the authors communicate with readers similar and different in the texts? What is the effect of using language only, as opposed to combining language and images? Are any aspects of the story gained by using images and/or lost by using fewer words in a graphic novel? What have you learned from these sources together about the status of women in Iran since the Iranian Revolution?” For the end-of-unit “Writing Task,” students apply writing skills by writing a research report about an event, person, or group of people connected to the struggle for freedom, which is the unit theme. Students also revisit the mentor text from the unit, Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures, to analyze author’s craft. Students read the author’s thesis statement and note the author’s precise use of language, then apply what they have learned to their own research report. Students apply speaking and listening skills by participating in a peer review of their drafts. Students are reminded to “listen carefully and take notes” as their partners provide feedback.
In Unit 4, students read “Having It Both Ways” by Elizabeth Jennings and “Superheart” by Marion Shore, with the objective of comparing elements of both poems. The materials provide students with instruction on making connections while reading. Materials reinforce two “Notice and Note” annotation strategies: “Contrast and Contradictions” and “Word Gaps.” In groups, students discuss the poems and the messages conveyed and then create “a visual response to the messages that society communicates to us about love and relationships.” When they locate five images, they write what each image says and explain why they chose it. While writing and discussing what they learned from the poems, they use a checklist on which they check off the unit’s academic vocabulary as they use it. After students finish reading each poem, materials prompt students to complete a “Check for Understanding” section, which is used to help students and teachers ensure comprehension of each poem. These questions reinforce the “Connect Ideas” and “Notice and Note” prompts students were given during their reading. In the post-reading activity, students answer text-based questions: “What message do you think the author of ‘Superheart’ is trying to communicate by combining the sonnet form with a modern-day pop-culture allusion, or reference, to Superman?” and “The author of ‘Having It Both Ways’ uses we and our as she describes contrary desires for romantic love and independence. What is the effect of this choice on the sonnet’s tone?” The materials extend these types of questions and tasks to multiple texts when students “find at least three other sonnets,” then compare the prosody of these poems to the two focus readings. Materials further prompt students to identify the theme for all five poems and record responses in a graphic organizer.
In Unit 6, for the end-of-unit “Writing Task,” students apply writing skills by writing an explanatory essay about “how an activity described in one of the unit selections meets the human need for challenge.” This task requires students to base their writing on one of the readings from the unit. Students are directed to the “Developing a Topic” module and the “Formal Style” module of the “Writing Informative Texts” unit in the “Writing Studio.” The materials integrate reading skills by reminding students to review the “Response Log” that they completed as they read the selections of the unit and go to the “Reading Studio” for resources on “Notice and Note” reading strategies. Students also revisit the mentor text from the unit, Jeremy Hsu’s “Archeology’s Tech Revolution Since Indiana Jones,” to analyze author’s craft. Students note the author’s use of narrative structures and evidence and apply what they have learned to their own explanatory essay. Students apply speaking and listening skills by participating in a peer review of their drafts. Students are reminded to describe specific revision suggestions in their discussions.
The materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice by supporting distributed practice over the course of the year, including scaffolds for students to demonstrate integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide students with multiple opportunities to practice writing similar texts throughout the units; for example, students have multiple and varied opportunities to write research reports.
In Unit 1, students write research for their post-reading activities: they are prompted to write a summarizing report for “Unusual Normality” by Ishmael Beah, they research fairy tales, and they research the Vietnam Memorial. In Unit 2, students extend the Unit 1 practice of writing research: students write a research report as this unit’s summative writing task. Research is reinforced in Unit 3, when students research friendship and neuroscience in the “Research” post-reading activity for Dorothy Rowe’s “With Friends Like These….” In Unit 4, students read William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and research three adaptations, noting similarities and differences between the adaptations and the original text. In Unit 5, students write a research summary after reading “The Leap” by Lousie Erdrich. These many opportunities to conduct text-based research and to write research texts such as research summaries and reports give students distributed practice with a literacy skill in a systematic way throughout the year.
Students learn “Notice and Note” strategies (“Contrasts and Contradictions,” “Aha Moment,” “Tough Questions,” “Words of the Wiser,” “Again and Again,” “Memory Moment,” “Extreme or Absolute Language,” “Numbers and Stats,” “Quoted Words,” “Word Gaps”) to support them in analyzing the texts they encounter throughout the year. In Unit 1, students read “A Quilt of a Country” by Anna Quindlen. Students use “Notice and Note” strategies during their reading as an annotation method. For the Quindlen text, these annotations include “Contradictory Language” and “Word Gaps.” Students look for phrases or language within the text that demonstrate a contrast or contradiction; then, they identify the contrast or contradiction and ask themselves why it matters. Students also underline unfamiliar words for the “Word Gap” strategy; then, they look for context clues to help them define the unfamiliar words. In Unit 4, students encounter the “Notice and Note” strategy “Numbers and Stats”; they are instructed to pay attention to when the author uses numbers and statistics when reading “The Price of Freedom” by Noreen Riols. This support helps them make inferences and draw conclusions. They apply the “Signpost” strategy to Riol’s text first, and then to other texts throughout the curriculum. In Unit 5, students are instructed to use the “Notice and Note” strategies “Memory Moment,” “Again and Again,” and “Contrast and Contradictions,” while reading “The Leap” by Louise Erdrich. Then, they are prompted to use this information to respond to the unit’s “Essential Question.”
The “Studios” for writing, vocabulary, reading, grammar, and speaking and listening provide students with the option for additional interactive practice focused on targeted instruction. The “Writing Task” for Unit 1 is a personal essay. In the digital student edition, links to the appropriate Studio are embedded at the point of use. In the assignment overview, students are directed to the “Writing Informative Texts: Overview” module in the “Writing Studio” for help writing the essay. In the “Plan” stage of the essay, students are directed to the “Planning and Drafting” module. They are also reminded to apply what they learned about the features of this type of writing and are directed to the “Reading Studio” for more resources on these strategies. In the “Revise” stage of the essay, students are directed to the “Revising and Editing” module in the “Writing as a Process” unit of the Writing Studio. Students are directed to the “Active and Passive Voice” module in the “Grammar Studio” for help with editing. In Unit 3, for Frans de Waal’s “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect,” the “When Students Struggle” section in the “Teacher Wrap” provides a breakdown of the difference between reasons and evidence in an argumentative text: “Reasons usually answer the question ‘why’ and evidence should answer the question ‘how,’ or ‘what proof is there?’” The materials also suggest that students go to the Reading Studio, and that teachers assign the “Level Up Tutorial: Evidence,” if students need additional support. For Unit 5, in the “Speaking and Listening Task,” students adapt the argument that they wrote in the “Writing Task” as a formal oral presentation. Students are directed to the “Giving a Presentation” module in the “Speaking and Listening Studio” for help planning their presentation.
The materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation, are provided for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students read “A Quilt of a Country,” an argumentative text by Anna Quindlen. The “To Challenge Students” section of the teacher’s edition includes an extension for students to analyze rhetoric by identifying rhetorical devices (for example, rhetorical questions, repetition, and parallelism) and discuss their impact with a partner. The teacher materials also include an “Extend” activity, in which students work in peer groups to create a “list of qualities that help immigrants to succeed”; this activity builds upon the research students conduct on a cultural group within the United States. Students also read “Unusual Normality,” a personal essay by Ishmael Beah. The “To Challenge Students” section of the teacher’s edition includes an extension activity: In small groups, students can explore the author’s decisions and discuss guiding questions such as “What are some reasons Beah listens to his classmates and does not share his own experiences? Do you think it will bridge differences between Beah and his classmates if he speaks openly? Why or why not?”
In Unit 4, students read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. The “To Challenge Students” section of the teacher’s edition includes an extension activity: Review Scene 4 and discuss its function. The teacher prompts students: “Is Scene 4 merely an amusing digression, or does it fulfill a greater purpose?” In small groups, students discuss how the scene might contribute to the understanding of a character, how the speeches and interactions might express important themes, how the scene affects the pacing of the play, and how the scene conveys mood.
In Unit 5, students read “The Leap,” a short story by Louise Erdich. The “To Challenge Students” section of the teacher’s edition offers an extension activity: Interpret point of view by rewriting the scene where the mother rescues the daughter from the house, using first-person narration from the mother’s point of view or third-person, omniscient voice. Students share and compare their finished narratives; they discuss the new connections they made to the story by changing the point of view. After students have finished reading Homer’s The Odyssey, they conduct research by finding and listening to two audio recordings of the epic, paying attention to the poetic elements and speaking techniques used in these audio recordings. An “Extend” activity prompts students to use their research to create their own audio recording.
In Unit 6, students read an excerpt from The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu, a travel memoir by Kira Salak. In the “To Challenge Students” section of the teacher’s edition, an extension activity has students reflect on their own personal motivations and compare them to the author’s motivations; students consider what challenges motivate them to succeed. Students can then write a personal essay in which they describe their motivators for accepting challenges and make connections to Salak’s actions in the text. Students include “at least one example of an experience in which this motivation played a large role and the outcome of that experience, including whether they learned something in the process.”
The materials include supports for students who perform below grade level to ensure they are meeting the grade-level literacy standards. Planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation, are provided for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Teacher Wrap” for each selection, there is a box labeled “When Students Struggle,” which presents suggestions for helping students demonstrating proficiency below grade level. In addition, materials include the “Reading Studio,” an online resource that includes targeted lessons on reading fluency and reading comprehension instruction.
In Unit 1, students read “A Quilt of a Country,” an argumentative text by Anna Quindlen. In the “When Students Struggle” section of the teacher’s edition, the materials suggest students can analyze arguments by using a chart to identify evidence that supports the author’s claim. Students may work with a partner or individually to find evidence. They are also directed to the Reading Studio’s “Level Up Tutorial: Analyzing Arguments” for additional support.
In Unit 2, for “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr., the materials include a section in the teacher’s edition for “When Students Struggle,” which targets students who “struggle to notice signposts.” The strategies that the materials provide are meant to help these students “instill the habits of slowing down, rereading, taking notes, and questioning,” skills that are applied when students are successfully employing the “Notice and Note Signposts” reading strategies. The materials also provide a second “When Students Struggle” for the same reading to help students analyze figurative language. Students can also be assigned a “Level Up Tutorial: Figurative Language” from the Reading Studio.
In Unit 4, students read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. In the “When Students Struggle” section of the teacher’s edition, support suggestions include students summarizing a scene. Volunteers are asked to represent characters in the scene and act out what is taking place, while reading the lines. Students can then work with a partner to write a brief summary of what took place in the scene and how it helped them understand more about the feud between the two families. During the reading of this text, teachers are also advised to guide students performing below grade level to analyze plot by noting that Tybalt’s death is a turning point in the play. Teachers draw a simple plot diagram with Tybalt’s death at the peak. Students then predict what will probably happen after Tybalt’s death. For additional support, teachers can use the Reading Studio and assign the “Level Up Tutorial” on “Plot Stages.” Another support offered later in the unit supports students in analyzing the cause-and-effect relationships driving the plot in the play. They work with a partner to create a chart, mapping the cause and effect from Scene 1 and Scene 2. Students add to their charts as they read further. For additional support, it is noted that teachers can assign students to go to the Reading Studio’s “Level Up Tutorial: Plot: Sequence of Events.”
In Unit 5, in the lesson focused on the poem “The End and the Beginning” by Wislawa Szymborska, the materials include a section for “When Students Struggle,” which targets students who struggle with identifying the tone of an author from the author’s diction. The strategies that the materials provide support students in relating diction to tone. Strategies include re-reading, employing graphic organizers, and using a scaffolded reading analysis process. The materials provide teachers with additional support resources and direct teachers to assign students the “Level Up Tutorial: Tone” from the Reading Studio.
In Unit 6, students read “Archaeology’s Tech Revolution Since Indiana Jones” by Jeremy Hsu. In the “When Students Struggle” section of the teacher’s edition, a support for students demonstrating proficiency below grade level is to use a graphic organizer for analyzing technical texts. Students draw conclusions from the information they have recorded. They are asked to return to the thesis they identified at the beginning of the selection and look for a direct or indirect restatement of the thesis in the final section. For additional support, students are directed to the Reading Studio’s “Level Up Tutorial: Drawing Conclusions.”
The materials include supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. Accommodations for linguistics commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS are included. Materials provide various scaffolds, such as Spanish translations of essential components of each unit and cognates for unit vocabulary. Students are encouraged to use their first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. Vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse.
Examples include but are not limited to:
A “Text X-Ray: ELPS Support” section precedes each text selection. According to the description provided, the Text X-Ray “provides support for the four domains of English language development addressed in the English Language Proficiency Standards.” The materials provide pre-reading strategies, cultural resources, and instructional strategies designed to target the different domains of the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) (listening, speaking, writing, and reading) through domain-specific content boxes targeted toward a specific ELPS proficiency level.
The “Reading Studio” includes Spanish translations for essential questions, reading response logs, academic vocabulary, and summaries for each selection.
In Unit 1, for the text “The Vietnam War” by Alberto Rios, the “Text X-Ray: ELPS Support” for “Listening” suggests ELs at the “Beginning” level read sections of the poem aloud with a partner to understand the central idea. To guide discussion, the materials provide sentence frames such as “The author is showing us…. This represents….” The materials suggest “Advanced” ELs summarize their thoughts on the poem’s central idea and then explain to a partner what language in the poem led them to their conclusion. To guide discussion, the materials provide sentence frames such as “When the author says…, it makes me feel…. This part reminded me of….” In the EL support box for Anna Quindlen’s “A Quilt of Country,” the materials suggest displaying academic vocabulary words related to argument and their cognates, such as argument/argumento, position/posicion, opposing/opuesto. Students can then use the terms to complete sentence frames, including “An…presents a claim;…support a claim;…supports reasons.” It is also noted that students “whose primary language is Spanish, Vietnamese, Hmong, Cantonese, Haitian Creole, or Korean” may experience difficulty with the short i sound. It is suggested that the teacher pronounce the critical vocabulary words from the selection that contain the short i sound and have students repeat them.
In Unit 2, the “Text X-Ray” suggests pre-teaching vocabulary and cultural terms and building background for the short story “The Censors” by Luisa Valenzuela. The “Text X-Ray” offers activities and instructional support in listening, speaking, reading, and writing for students at four levels of proficiency: “Beginning,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced,” and “Advanced High.” For reading “The Censors,” the support suggests a two-column chart with sentence frames in the left column. Beginning ELs write a word or phrase that makes sense in the right column after reading specific paragraphs. Intermediate ELs use the same chart, but the students write the word because and complete the sentence after reading specific paragraphs. Advanced ELs are asked to describe the main character and how he is changing, citing text evidence to support their answers. Advanced High ELs are asked to retell the story in a paragraph that would be accessible to Beginning ELs. For the “Interview with John Lewis,” the support box for “Listening” provides strategies for Beginning, Intermediate, High, and Advanced High English Learners. A strategy for an EL student at the Intermediate level for listening is to be given a purpose for listening, and then to listen to the podcast. Teachers are to have students “make a note whenever they hear one of the different elements used in the podcast”; the elements focused on are sound elements and voice narration. In the “Teacher Wrap” for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream,” for EL support, teachers are advised to point out that three of the “Critical Vocabulary” words for the selection have Spanish cognates: inextricably/inextricablemente, desolate/desolado, degenerate/degenerar.
In Unit 3, for “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” by Yasunari Kawabata, the “Text X-Ray: ELPS Support” for “Speaking” suggests having Beginning ELs use cultural vocabulary by repeating responses to questions. The teacher asks, “What is something that can be worn?” The teacher then points to a picture of a kimono and says, “kimono”; students repeat the response. Advanced High ELs discuss with a partner what they consider to be the most interesting element of Japanese culture presented in the story. They are given choices: lanterns, insect cages, and bell cages. In the EL support box in the “Teacher Wrap” for Frans de Waal’s “Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Connect,” teachers review some common suffixes (-al, -ive, -ous, -tion/-ation) and their meanings. Students then work with a partner to define the words ineffective, emotional, imagination, and various, discussing how the suffix helps them understand the meanings of the words.
In Unit 4, while reading “The Price of Freedom” by Noreen Riols, one of the EL support sections suggests helping EL students analyze figurative language: “Explain that the phrase ‘leaping like a demented kangaroo’ in paragraph 4 is a simile, or a way of comparing two things by using the word like and creating a mental image. Ensure that English Learners know what a kangaroo is by showing them a picture. Explain that demented means ‘not thinking straight’ or ‘crazy.’ Then ask students to complete this sentence: In this sentence in the essay, ‘leaping like a demented kangaroo’ means….” After students complete the sentence using the sentence frame, small groups work together to create a sentence that they feel captures the meaning of the simile. This support is specifically suggested for Intermediate ELs. In the “Teacher Wrap” for William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, for English Learner support, teachers are advised to point out that the verb exile has the Spanish cognate exiliar. Students also develop academic vocabulary by discussing Shakespeare’s use of oxymorons in the play using the sentence frame “…is an oxymoron because…means…and…means…. These meanings are….”
In Unit 5, in the English Learner support box in the “Teacher Wrap” for Wislawa Szymborska’s poem “The End and the Beginning,” teachers are advised that the term photogenic and the “colloquial sentence structure in lines 18–19” may be confusing to students. For Beginning and Intermediate ELs, it is suggested to have students use the cognate fotogenico and the context clue cameras to understand the meaning of the word photogenic.
In Unit 6, before reading The Cruelest Journey: 600 Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak, students preview critical vocabulary. The EL support states for the teacher to tell students that three of the vocabulary words have Spanish cognates: circuit/circuito, integrity/integridad, embark/embarcar. Students also read Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. One of the EL supports is to read and paraphrase. Teachers read aloud the dialogue from lines 31–61 and paraphrase. Then, students work with a partner to retell what happened in simple terms. Teachers monitor conversations for understanding and then have students draw a cartoon of the dialogue with simple speech balloons or captions. This support is recommended for Intermediate/Advanced ELs. In the EL support box, in the “Teacher Wrap” for Homer’s The Odyssey, students rephrase unfamiliar vocabulary for better comprehension. Teachers provide students with a list of substitutions for difficult words and phrases in the selection, such as “have no muster=don’t get together”; “no consultation=don’t share information.” Students work in pairs to reread a section of the text using the given substitutions, then discuss the meanings of these words and phrases.
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress, including how to interpret and act on data yielded. The formative and summative assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. The assessments and scoring information provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. The assessments are connected to the regular content to support student learning throughout the materials.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In the “Assessment” tab on the main page, there are links to several online assessments, including diagnostic assessments for literary elements, like “Plot and Setting,” “Comparing Themes,” and “Irony and Ambiguity.” The “Level Up Tutorials” also contain online assessments, and objective summative assessments are available for each reading selection. For each of these online assessments, teachers can access printable versions with answer keys that denote the TEKS and Depth of Knowledge (DoK) level for each question.
The materials formatively assess “Comprehension,” “Analysis,” “Research,” “Writing,” “Speaking and Listening,” “Vocabulary,” and “Language” skills with each reading selection. As students read a selection, they answer specific, TEKS-aligned questions that assess their understanding during and after the reading process. Teachers examine online individual student notes and answers to assess their understanding of the reading. Students also answer multiple-choice text-related questions in the “Check Your Understanding” section at the end of each text (or embedded within the selection for the online version). Post-reading, each selection contains an “Analyze the Text” section where students respond to questions. The students then take a selection test, online or printed, with a series of multiple-choice and short-answer questions. In Unit 5, students read “The Leap” by Louise Erdrich. The selection’s test has 12 items that are a mix of multiple-choice, short-answer, and technology-enhanced items. The text is provided for the students to reference as they answer questions. In Unit 6, students engage with the informational text “Archaeology’s Tech Revolution Since Indiana Jones” by Jeremy Hsu. Some of the learning objectives for this lesson include making predictions and analyzing the structure and characteristics of informational texts. The materials provide teachers with the ability to assign an online assessment to assess the students’ proficiency with key skills taught during the lesson. Questions used in the assessment provide students opportunities to use text features to make predictions about the text’s thesis and to use text characteristics to make inferences about the author’s purpose, both skills taught during the lesson.
Unit tests, in STAAR-like format, provide an array of data aligned to the TEKS. Teachers can view reports that detail student performance, item analysis, time spent testing, and assessment proficiency. The auto-grouping function allows teachers to group students according to instructional decisions. Unit tasks in “Writing” unit tests provide summative assessments aligned to the TEKS at the end of each unit and require students to demonstrate multiple skills learned throughout the unit. According to the Unit 3 “Instructional Overview and Standards,” the skills students engage with and learn during the reading and assignments for Unit 3 include analyzing setting and theme; making inferences about theme; analyzing an author’s claim; evaluating details; analyzing plot, diction and syntax, and characterization; and using context clues to comprehend meaning. The unit test includes a fictional passage, “The Wild Duck’s Nest” by Michael McLaverty, and an informational passage, “The Vital Role of the Wetlands” by Jessica Perez. Students read the passages and answer questions. There is also a “Revising and Editing” passage with questions that correlate with the unit’s grammar skills. For the “Writing Task” in Unit 3, students write a short story in which they include “Aha Moments” and vivid details (elements students looked for when reading selections throughout the unit). Students apply grammar conventions studied in the unit as they edit their stories. The “Teacher Wrap” denotes the TEKS assessed for each component of the Writing Task. The Unit 3 summative test is 44 multiple-choice questions. The practice passages give students the opportunity to transfer and apply what they have learned from the unit.
The materials provide “Summative Writing Tasks” aligned to the skills and knowledge taught during the unit and to the TEKS emphasized in the unit. For Unit 1, one of the “Unit Learning Objectives” is “Write a Personal Essay.” For the Summative Writing Task, students write a personal essay. The materials guide students through this task via activities that correspond to each step of the writing process: prompt, plan, develop, revise, edit, and publish. The personal essay genre is aligned to the TEKS; students are expected to make connections to personal experiences. The TEKS-aligned writing process includes expectations that students compose a text using the planning, developing, revising, editing, and publishing steps of the writing process.
The materials provide teachers with a “Data and Reports” page. The “Differentiate with Data” section of the teacher’s edition’s front matter states that teachers can access the “Data and Reports” tab “to find instructional recommendations for individuals, groups and classes.” The recommendations for on-level practice, application, and extension include the “Studios” (“Writing,” “Vocabulary,” “Reading,” “Grammar,” and “Speaking and Listening”), “Grammar Printables,” “Close Reading Screencasts,” and “Media Projects.” On this page, teachers can view data on assessments and standards. Materials allow teachers to view whole-class and individual-student data reports. Materials provide three kinds of data reports: assessments, standards, and growth.
“Assessments” reports show teachers whole-class and individual-student proficiency on assessments in terms of performance scores. Teachers can view data for one assessment, or cumulative assessment data. The assessment report also provides information on student performance on the unit tests. There is an “Assessment Proficiency” chart that shows how many students performed within specific ranges. For example, one student fell in the 0%–64% range, five students fell in the 65%–79% range, and seven students fell in the 80%–100% range. There is an “Assessment Performance” chart that lists all students and shows each student’s score, the time spent on the assessment, the number of times the assessment was opened, and whether the student got each item correct or incorrect. There is a “For Review” section that pulls specific items from the test for teachers to review (usually the questions students missed most). There is also a tab in this section to see this information by standard. At the top of this screen is a “Recommended Groups” tab.
The “Standards” report tracks student performance on unit and selection tests, skills diagnostics, and embedded formative practices. The data report provides a chart that compares student proficiency in specific skills by TEKS strand, such as “Reading Comprehension of Literary Text/Theme and Genre.” Teachers can click on “See Proficiency by Standard” to see how students performed on each specific standard that was assessed under that strand. Materials allow teachers to monitor student performance per standard by showing students’ cumulative average performance on assessment items aligned to particular standards.
The “Student Growth Measure” is a diagnostic assessment given three times a year; it provides teachers with each student’s Lexile level and skill proficiency. In the “Growth Measure” report, teachers are given a chart that plots all students across Lexile bands and a chart that shows changes in Lexile from previous assessments. The report details whether students are “Below Basic,” “Basic,” “Proficient,” or “Advanced” and also charts their growth from previous assessments. This data enables teachers to interpret Lexile levels compared to grade-level norms and to make individualized decisions.
The materials include year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify the needs of students, and they provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners to ensure grade-level success. Comprehensive plans are included for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures, and they attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. Teacher’s edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials as well as support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. Annotations and ancillary materials provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The teacher’s edition includes an instructional overview at the beginning of each unit that denotes the suggested number of days, skills, and TEKS for each selection. The units in the teacher’s edition are separated into sections labeled “Plan,” “Introduce,” and “Teach.” The “Plan” section presents an overview of each selection in the unit. The “Introduce” section guides teachers through introducing students to the “Essential Question,” unit learning objectives, academic vocabulary, and the “Reading Response Log.” The “Introduce” section corresponds with the materials in the student edition.
Each selection has a “Plan” and “Teach” section that guides teachers through the planning and delivery of the lesson. The “Teach” section corresponds with the materials in the student edition. For example, in Unit 2, in the “Instructional Overview and Standards” section of the teacher’s edition, materials provide a sidebar with information about the resources provided to teachers via the online environment that will help teachers engage students and monitor their progress. The sidebar provides reminders that the online environment allows teachers to access digital resources, provides tools to check the originality of student writing, and provides assessment resources. For the lesson on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which is part of Unit 2, the “Plan” section includes a content box labeled “Resources,” which highlights the resources that teachers can find for this lesson. Resources listed include an audio selection of the text that teachers can provide to students and suggestions for tutorials associated with the lesson’s skills from the various “Studios” provided in the online environment. For instance, one Studio tutorial suggested is the “Level Up Tutorial: Figurative Language.” This tutorial is suggested to teachers later in the teacher’s edition materials, in the “Teach” section. In a sidebar labeled “When Students Struggle,” materials provide teachers with a strategy to help students analyze figurative language; in this sidebar, materials suggest the “Reading Studio” tutorial “Level Up Tutorial: Figurative Language” as additional support.
The teacher’s edition materials include annotations for supporting differentiation and engaging a variety of learners. Annotations provide guidance for teachers during instruction, including suggestions for how to explain key concepts to students, guiding questions and possible responses for reading selections, supports for various levels of learner proficiencies, and suggestions for extending learning. These year-long supports include “Notice and Note Strategies,” English Learner instructional supports, “To Challenge Students” instructional supports for students demonstrating proficiency above grade level, and “When Students Struggle” instructional supports for students demonstrating proficiency below grade level. Throughout the materials, there are suggestions for when to direct students to resource materials, such as one of the “Studios” for extra help or the “Text X-Ray” section for ELPS support. Within the teacher’s edition, there are also thorough annotations that support teachers in engaging students with the texts, skills, and activities being taught. Teachers know to whom they should provide support (e.g., the whole group, struggling learners, English Learners) and when to provide support; the materials give explicit and detailed instructions. Additionally, teachers have access to a “Professional Learning Guide,” “On-Demand Professional Learning Modules,” and “Classroom Videos” for individualized professional development.
Ancillary materials, such as the “Reading,” “Writing,” “Speaking and Listening,” “Grammar,” and “Vocabulary” Studios, allow students to receive extra instruction with interactive practice in order to master the standards and skills for their grade level. Other student supports include “Close Read Screencasts,” “Level Up Tutorials,” “Peer Coach Videos,” and “Anchor Charts.”
The materials provide teachers with support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. For instance, the “Instructional Overview and Standards” of the teacher’s edition includes reminders of the resources that can be found in the online environment. In the online environment, teachers can find digital resources, create custom plans, manage groups, see proficiency reports, and get resource recommendations. The online environment materials also provide teachers with a help site, with pages devoted to topics that include “Rosters,” “Resources,” “Plans,” “Assignments,” “Data and Reports,” and “Groups.” This help site provides teachers with guided tutorials on how to access and use the resources in the online environment. Some tutorials include “Navigate the ‘Data and Reports’ Page,” “Create Groups,” and “Add Feedback to an Assignment.”
At the top of the “Assessment Data” page in the “Data and Reports” tab is a “Recommended Groups” button that suggests student groupings based on assessment data. The auto-grouping feature also allows teachers to group students based on their proficiency levels or skill deficits. Data-driven suggestions are given for individuals, groups, or specific classes. Reports provided within the materials give resources and recommendations for teachers to identify student needs and reteach in order to support accelerated student growth. The materials provide teachers with access to edit and manage these groups and with the ability to create groups based on other, teacher-directed criteria. On the “Help” site of the online environment, the materials provide a tutorial—video and text—on how to use the group feature.
The materials contain a “Professional Learning” tab, which includes modules that guide teachers through the implementation of the program. “Welcome to the Student Experience” guides teachers through the material from the student view. “Teaching and Planning” offers a wide range of support in planning and preparing lessons, teaching and supporting students, and fostering independence and choice for students.
The materials include implementation support for both teachers and administrators, with a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills taught in the program. The materials also include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing guidance, routines, and support for a 180-day schedule.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials provide a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence and pacing guide for each unit. The scope and sequence outlines the essential knowledge and skills taught in the unit, including a sequence for presentation. Each unit includes five instructional phases (“Introduction,” “Analyze and Apply,” “Collaborate and Compare,” “Independent Reading,” and “End of Unit”), with a suggested number of days for each phase. For example, in Unit 3, the materials provide guidance that the “Analyze and Apply” phase consists of four different lessons, each associated with its own text and lasting a specific number of days. Lesson 1, which is paced at five days, focuses on the short story “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” by Yasunari Kawabata. Materials categorize this lesson as “Reading Literature” and list the major reading skills and strategies taught through this lesson, such as “Analyzing Setting and Theme,” and “Making Inferences about Theme.” The materials also provide the TEKS aligned to these skills.
The teacher’s edition includes a “TEKS Overview/Online TEKS Interactive Correlation” document that lists all of the grade-level TEKS and provides page numbers, for both student and teacher editions (or links, if accessed online), where each standard is taught in the materials as well as specific modules within the “Speaking and Listening,” “Writing,” and “Grammar” Studios.
For each text, the teacher’s edition provides the learning objectives, genre elements description, text complexity analysis, TEKS and ELPS that align with the text, list of online resources to use, English and Spanish summaries of the text, and small-group options to use while teaching the text.
The materials include embedded teacher supports, digital tools, unit and selection videos, selection audio recordings, selection assessments, unit assessments, diagnostic tools, tutorial videos, and learning Studios. The “Professional Learning Module,” located in the resources section, provides digital support for the implementation of the materials, including an overview of the materials, a guide through the student experience, and a “Teaching and Planning” section that explains how to teach the components of the program and provides support for differentiation. The materials offer additional support via an online help site called “Ed: Your Friend in Learning Teacher Help.” On this site, teachers will find guided walkthroughs and explanations of the materials’ components. Examples of walkthroughs include how to manage rosters, how to search for resources, how to assign writing tasks, and how to rearrange resources in plans. This site is searchable, so teachers can look up a possible walkthrough via a search string. Materials provide additional support via an online site called “Ed Updates.” On this site, teachers will find updates regarding new features or components that have been added to the materials, or updates on program-level issues. Teachers will find dated memos with descriptions, text, and pictorial representations of the updates. Examples of updates include an update on a viewing-student-data issue, changes to the manage-notifications feature, and update to the “Scores” component.
According to information from the “Ed: Your Friend in Learning Administrator Help” site, district and school administrators have access to the materials that teachers and students are engaging with, but with certain permissions that differ from the teachers’. While administrators do not have access to creating assignments or assigning grades, administrators have permission to create and share plans, create assessments, and access data reports. While administrators cannot access growth reports for individual students, administrators are able to access growth reports for a class and for all grade levels in a school, which is a permission that teachers do not have. Administrators can help support teachers with reports that can be used to evaluate the efficacy of the program across a grade level, instead of just in one class, or for one teacher. Administrators also have access to features such as importing data files, setting rostering permissions for teachers, adding students to classes, and adding teacher accounts, which are features that will support teachers with implementation of the materials.
The materials include pacing suggestions for approximately 180 days of instruction. The pacing guidance is realistic and includes routines that repeat throughout each unit: “Analyze and Apply” sections, “Collaborate and Compare” sections, “Independent Reading,” and “End of Unit Summative Assignments and Writing Tasks.” No 210-day pacing guide is present. However, the materials have enough depth to easily extend learning.
The visual design of the student edition, both print and digital, is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Materials provide ample white space to minimize distractions with appropriate font style size. The student edition allows students to turn on audio with read-along highlighting. Students can access the sidebar to click on the table of contents and easily navigate through the unit. They can bookmark pages as well as take notes and highlight within the texts. Sections and selections within the unit are color coded, making it easy to navigate through the materials. The banner at the top of the page for each selection is blue (each selection in a unit is a different shade of blue), the “Collaborate and Compare” section is bright orange, the “Independent Reading” section is deep orange, and the “End of Unit Tasks” section is purple.
Screens surrounded by margins keep the user’s eyes focused toward the center of the page, where materials show the main content. Materials use colors to denote different sections of page content. For instance, the Unit 2 “Struggle for Freedom” opener begins with a large-font, dark, bold title set against a contrasting yellow color. Under the title is the unit picture. These elements are all set against a yellow background, denoting a title section. Then, materials switch to a white background, denoting movement to a different section, and different content.
The visual design is appealing and engaging. Pictures and graphics, including photos, screenshots, maps, and satellite images, are closely connected to the selections and provide visual support for the content of the texts; they engage students without distracting from the learning experience. Each unit begins with a picture related to the “Essential Question” and a video that introduces and builds background knowledge for the thematic idea. Where appropriate, the materials use graphics to enhance the descriptions and messages the author is trying to convey. Supports like “Close Read Screencast” videos, which teach students to read closely and analyze the text, are embedded in the texts. The materials also embed questions throughout the text and give students ample room to type their answers.
Technology components included are appropriate for grade-level students and provide support for learning. Technology supports and enhances student learning as appropriate, as opposed to distracting from it, and includes appropriate teacher guidance.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The digital student edition is easy to navigate; it includes a “Contents” button, which has a drop-down menu that leads students directly to the section, text, or assignment that they select. There are six units that students can access by clicking on the graphic for each unit. Each unit begins with a short “Stream to Start” video that engages students in the theme of the unit.
Technology allows students to easily engage with texts, with features like videos, text boxes in which to type answers, highlighting tools, screencasts, graphics, and graphic organizers. Students can use the “Play Audio” feature at the top of the page to listen to each selection. Students can highlight text in different colors and take notes digitally with an option to print their notes. The text contains embedded footnotes and definitions to aid student understanding. Students can click on superscripts and highlighted vocabulary words to access notations and definitions.
Materials embed links to the “Reading,” “Writing,” “Speaking and Listening,” and “Grammar” Studios at point of use, giving students easy access to instructional supports. The first selection of each unit has an embedded “Close Read Screencast” that models appropriate student annotation and discussion of the text to guide students in their own annotation and discussion of the text.
Online assessments have a split-screen view, with the text on one side and the test questions on the other. This feature allows students easy access to the assessment passages without needing to toggle between tabs.
Writing tasks at the end of each unit provide graphic organizers in which students can type as they plan and organize their ideas; they also provide spaces for students to draft their writing.
The teacher’s edition offers ample guidance and the program provides video tutorials for teacher support in implementation of the product.
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