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ELARGrade 2 | 2018
Publisher: Learning A-Z, LLCSeries includes:
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
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Section 2. Texts (what students read, see, and hear)
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Thinking, Inquiry, and Research
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for Diverse Learners
Section 6. Ease of Use and Supports for Implementation
Section 7. Technology, Cost, and Professional Learning Support
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The materials provide a variety of high-quality texts that represent the content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. Texts are well-crafted and are of publishable quality, though most texts were not previously published and were written for the program. Materials include traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts that are increasingly complex and contain content that is engaging to second-grade students.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Nature Stinks by Kira Freed is an informational text with photographs of animals and plants that Grade 2 students will find engaging.
The Maria series by Kitty Higgins begins in Kindergarten at “Level A” and increases to a “Level L” in Maria’s Family Christmas. This is an example of the program’s fiction series, which follow the same character through books with increasingly complex reading levels.
The Hoppers series by David Cockcroft allows students to follow the Hopper family throughout the course of the school year as the texts increase in complexity.
World Landmarks by Danny Reif is an informational series of books about the most amazing landmarks on the planet. Each of the stories ranges in text complexity; second graders can independently read these throughout the course of a school year.
Brainstorm Bear by Torran Anderson is a fictional text with vivid illustrations and characters that are engaging for Grade 2 students.
Arctic Life by Christina Wilsdon is an informational text that includes embedded maps, vibrant photographs, and subheadings and uses quality language such as snuggle, fuzz, and plump.
Who Ate My Latkes by Judith Lipsett is a fictional text in which authors make full use of text styles to change the font, color, and direction to correlate with what is occurring in the story. For example, the words Who ate my latkes? are always written in a wave, emphasizing the repeated use of the phrase throughout the story. For more follow-up and engagement, the book has a latke recipe in the back.
The Creature Constitution by Torran Anderson is a fantasy text that incorporates history lessons and fictional stories to engage students while supporting the learning of vocabulary like constitution.
Materials include leveled fiction and nonfiction texts that provide students the opportunity to recognize characteristics and structures of literary and informational texts. Across all units, students have the opportunity to interact with print and graphic features within a variety of genres and formats. The text list offers many opportunities for students to read and recognize characteristics of varied texts; yet, there was only some evidence of drama persuasive texts covered in the Grade 2 units.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
The Day It Rained Tortillas retold by Betty Yee (folktale)
Baskerville Takes the Day by Lisa Harkrader (realistic fiction)
The Drum retold by Katherine Follett (folktale)
Flying Kites by David Cockcroft (fantasy)
The Mind Game by Stephen Cosgrove (narrative)
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Abigail Adams by Kira Freed (biography)
United Arab Emirates by Jill Sherman (informational nonfiction)
Critter Crossings by Karen Mockler (persuasive)
Shelter Pets Are Best by Gabrielle Fimbres (persuasive)
How to Make Lemonade by Steven Accordi (how-to nonfiction)
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
Blackbeard the Pirate by Kate Follet uses a map and footnotes to pose questions such as “Why did sailors become pirates?” and “Is a pirate’s life for me?” These graphic features provide the students with more content that helps deepen their understanding of the text.
The Magic of Migration by Judy Brause uses a variety of photographs, captions, footnotes, maps, and graphics to highlight content-specific vocabulary, explain photographs in greater detail, and depict different migration patterns.
“Comprehension Skills Packs” provide students direct instruction on key comprehension skills and include a fact or opinion persuasive pack where students distinguish fact from opinion. Texts include titles like How to Build a Sandcastle and No More Grass.
“Reader’s Theater” scripts are a fluency resource that gives students oral reading practice in the form of drama. Texts include titles like Aesop’s Fables and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. While these texts are in dramatic form, students do not recognize characteristics of drama text.
Materials include texts that are appropriately challenging and are at an appropriate level of complexity to support second-grade students. Texts are accompanied by a text complexity analysis provided by the publisher and are at the appropriate qualitative and quantitative levels for students. Read-aloud and shared-reading texts are above the complexity level of what students can read independently.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials contain a printable “2019 Learning A–Z Correlation Chart” that is available with nine different leveling systems, including the “Reading A–Z Levels.” The Learning A–Z “Leveling System” follows the guidelines for determining text complexity outlined in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The standards evaluate three areas of text complexity: qualitative measures, quantitative measures, and reader and task considerations. For the Learning A–Z Leveling System, quantitative levels were determined by average sentence length, word count, syllables, and number of different words per text. The publisher uses teachers to evaluate the qualitative measures, such as illustration support, concept load, and text organization. Each book in the publisher catalog is accompanied by a quantitative description and a summary. While not every book summary includes a description of qualitative features, many do. Two additional aspects of the Learning A-Z library are that many texts come in multi-leveled versions to better accommodate for differentiation, and many texts come with versions translated into other languages.
Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp adapted by Katherine Follett is described as a fairy tale (fiction) text with “2,084 words, Level T (Grade 3), Lexile 810L.” This text is utilized for shared reading and is above the complexity level of what students in Grade 2 can read independently. The publisher provides summaries for texts, such as this one: “A magician tricks Aladdin, the son of a poor tailor, into getting a magic lamp from a hidden cavern. Aladdin is able to use the magic lamp to get treasures for his family and marry the Sultan’s daughter, Princess Buddir. But the magician wants his lamp back, and Aladdin must outwit him again.” This book is organized into chapters and provides a new text structure for students to interact with. With onomatopoeia (SLAM!) and descriptive words like grumbled and burst, the language in this text pushes the rigor to a level necessary for shared text.
Fantastic Flying Machines by John Meyer and Elizabeth Austin is a “multilevel book” described as informational nonfiction. The version utilized in the Grade 2 curriculum is for leveled reading and is “237 words, Level I (Grade 1), Lexile 540L.” The book also comes in Levels L and P. The text teaches readers about the different ways many human-made things fly. A brief qualitative description in the text summary states: “The author poses questions to readers, offering opportunities for self-reflection. Photographs and illustrations support the text.”
The biographical nonfiction text A Crafty Escape by Susan Lennox is another Multilevel Book used in the second-grade curriculum. This version is utilized as a read-aloud and is “1,031 words, Level R (Grade 3), Lexile 690L.” The book also comes in Levels U and X. The text tells the story of two married slaves who escape to the North. Its qualitative features include “colorful illustrations and informational sidebars [that] will keep students interested in this couple’s daring journey to freedom.” The description also states: “Students will also have the opportunity to identify elements of biography as well as summarize to better understand the text.”
The leveled book Expedition 40: The Secret of the Seasons by Celeste Frasier is a series book meant for students reading above grade level. It is described as a “descriptive (nonfiction)” text, with quantitative characteristics including “936 words, Level R (Grade 3), Lexile 920L.” In this text, “readers learn how the seasons are determined not just on the time of year, but also on location on Earth as it tilts in space.” Also, “Maps, illustrations, and photographs support the text.”
The final read-aloud text in Unit 8 is Severe Weather, written by Bruce D. Cooper. This above-grade-level text comes in three languages: American English, Spanish, and British English. Described as informational nonfiction, this text’s quantitative complexity description is “1,775 words, Level T (Grade 3), Lexile 860L.” The text is split into 11 sections and has a table of contents, a glossary, charts, pictures with captions, maps, illustrations, and photographs.
Materials contain questions and tasks that support students in synthesizing knowledge and ideas to deepen understanding and identify and explain themes. Questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-dependent, and prompt students to synthesize new information. Formal and informal assignments and activities focus on texts students are reading and/or listening to and require close attention to the meaning and inferences as students demonstrate comprehension. Questions and activities grow students’ understanding of topics and literacy skills over the course of each unit. Materials provide opportunities for students to evaluate and discuss information from multiple places within a text.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Unit 1 includes the shared-reading text Good for Thurgood! Students are first asked to look at the cover of the book and discuss ways that a person can safely stand up for others. Before the reading, the teacher previews the photographs and illustrations with the students so that they can think of questions that they trigger. During the reading, students search the text for clues of how Thurgood was affected by the laws. Ample opportunities are given to evaluate and discuss information from multiple places within a text.
The Unit 1 text Community Government is a Grade 2, Level K text; the accompanying lesson demonstrates a building of conceptual knowledge, as the students are introduced to main ideas and details. Students use their text-comprehension skills to discern the general topic of the book and support their answer with details from the text. Students are also spiraling through the skill of making predictions about the text.
The topic for Unit 2 is “Elements of a Story,” and the overarching question is “How do characters respond to events and challenges?” The shared-reading, fiction text is Why the Bat Flies Only at Night. Addressed skills are making text-to-self connections, analyzing character, making inferences, and drawing conclusions. Later in the unit, the shared reading text is Jack’s Tale. This fiction story is used to practice the skill of comparing and contrasting. Finally, toward the end of the unit, students read the fiction text The Legend of John Henry and practice analyzing plot, cause and effect, and making inferences. The materials link the texts to the topic of the unit as well as build the literacy skills within the unit.
Unit 4 also allows students to read Yo-Yo Ma as a read-aloud text. The text-dependent questions about Yo-Yo Ma require students to look back into multiple places in the text to answer them. Some questions include “Why did Yo-Yo decide to have back surgery?” and “How did Yo-Yo first begin to play the cello?”
The Unit 6 shared reading, The Butterfly Life Cycle, includes text-dependent questions that prompt students to synthesize new information. For example, students are asked, “How many eggs can a female monarch butterfly lay in her lifetime?” “How would you describe a caterpillar’s skin?” and “How is a pupa related to a butterfly?” Students synthesize new information when they answer the question “How would you describe the sequence of a butterfly’s life cycle?” Later in Unit 6, students are given the opportunity to make inferences with the read-aloud text Glow-in-the-Dark Animals. Students engage in an informal assignment with discussion cards, which include questions such as “Why do you think there are only a few kinds of bioluminescent land animals?” “How could you sort the different animals that glow into two different categories?” and “What are the main idea and three supporting details of this book?”
In Unit 8, the read-aloud text is The Power of Wind. The comprehension skill being taught in the lesson is identifying cause-and-effect relationships. Before reading, the teacher introduces the skill by using relatable examples, such as “What would happen if I stayed up late watching a movie?” During the read-aloud, the class stops and marks details that explain cause-and-effect relationships and discusses them together. After reading, students are required to independently fill in a cause-and-effect graphic organizer by going back into the text and describing three relationships they read about. Graphic organizers allow teachers to formally or informally assess their students’ knowledge of the content and comprehension skill being taught in that lesson.
The materials include both a “Fiction Retelling Rubric” and a “Nonfiction Retelling Rubric” that can be used with any text in the program to assess comprehension. The Nonfiction Retelling Rubric provides prompts for students to retell key elements, focusing on the summary, main idea, details, vocabulary, and accuracy. The Fiction Retelling Rubric assesses a students’ ability to comprehend sequence, setting, characters, problem, and resolution.
The materials contain some opportunities for students to interact with the author’s purpose, language, key ideas, details, and craft. The opportunities found to analyze an author’s choices and the study of the language within texts to support students’ understanding are largely limited to the use and identification of text features within a text and not focused on vocabulary, figurative language, or implied purposes. Materials do not contain opportunities for students to compare and contrast the purposes of different author’s writing on the same topic.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Outside of the Grade 2 “Literacy Curriculum Map,” students have access to “Paired Books” including questions and tasks that promote analysis of textual elements. Each paired book lesson includes text-dependent questions about each text separately, and then about both texts combined. One example of this can be found with the texts Keb Needs a Home and Hermit Crabs; in this lesson students use the texts to answer questions like “Why did the author say that the life of most hermit crabs was a good one?” and “Why might it be difficult to find hermit crabs on the beach?” before answering cross-text questions like “What information about hermit crabs presented in the fiction story is shown to be true (or not true) in the nonfiction book?”
In Unit 2, students’ opportunities to examine author’s craft by identifying and describing. Throughout the four weeks, students discuss the purpose of illustrations, recognize and describe text structure, and identify the use of special print to support understanding of a text.
Unit 4 provides opportunities for students to evaluate the author’s purpose through the text Maria Tallchief: Prima Ballerina. The teacher models a think-aloud for the students on how to determine the author’s purpose, explaining to them that “I know that an author includes details in his or her writing that reflect his or her beliefs or feelings about a topic. When I read I look for those details….”
In Unit 5, teachers teach text features and how illustrations support understanding. Teachers ask, “What does the illustration help you understand?” Similarly to illustrations, teachers also address the use and identification of special print as a text feature used to highlight important words. Students are not asked to make the connection that text features are the author’s choices to influence and communicate meaning.
According to the “Standards Snapshot” in the Grade 2 “Literacy Curriculum Map,” author’s purpose is taught in Units 4 and 8. Discussing how text structure contributes to the author’s purpose and discussing the use of descriptive, literal, and figurative language is taught in Unit 2. The author’s use of print and graphic features to achieve specific purposes is taught through all eight units.
The materials provide vocabulary instruction with each leveled text, and each individual lesson plan provides guidance on how to introduce academic and content-specific vocabulary. Materials contain resources for vocabulary development; however, the materials do not contain sufficient scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. The materials do not include an “at-a-glance” year-long plan for building academic vocabulary.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Primary Protocols” document provides teachers with a framework on how vocabulary instruction should look in shared and guided reading over the course of a five-day literacy block. While there are suggested routines and procedures for how to teach vocabulary each day of the week, these suggestions are general and do not vary over the course of the year. While there is no plan on how to use previously learned vocabulary in a new text, all of the texts within a unit are on similar topics, which allows students to use their newly-acquired vocabulary appropriately.
Within the “Weekly Planner” and “Literacy Curriculum Map” resources, individual lesson plans do not provide a plan for differentiated vocabulary instruction. Each Weekly Planner file includes a folder titled “Resources for Differentiation,” which can be found in any of the six reading component folders: “Shared Reading,” “Phonics,” “Guided Reading,” “Centers,” “Read Aloud,” and “Writing.” However, when referenced in the Weekly Planner document, these resources for differentiation are essentially instructional options for the teacher. There are no further instructions for implementation, and documents do not vary over the course of the year. They do not include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. Each leveled text includes a lesson plan listing new vocabulary words and includes a script that teachers can follow to introduce the words. Sometimes, the materials reference additional graphic organizers and flashcards that can be used to practice the new vocabulary. However, these resources are not scaffolded for students at varying levels.
The “ELL” (English Learner) “Language Skill Packs” are a prominent resource throughout the curriculum. They “provide content-based resources for developing vocabulary and strengthening English language learners’ reading, listening, speaking and writing skills.” The ELL Language Skills Packs are one of the resources that teachers have for differentiation; however, the materials included in the pack are not directly related to the texts in the Weekly Planner. While vocabulary resources include “Vocabulary & Idiom Books,” “Graphic Organizers,” and “Word Sorts,” there are no differentiation opportunities among these resources.
In Unit 1, the shared-reading text for Week 1 is Community Government. The Weekly Planner tells teachers to refer to the “Introduce the Vocabulary Section” of the lesson plan to help teach and define the words council, departments, election, government, mayor, become, community, and event. This text includes a pre-made vocabulary lesson plan, which includes vocabulary instruction for five days. Also, there is a general “ELL Leveled Reader Pack” for Community Government, which includes “Lesson Overview, 5-Day Lesson Plan, Grammatical Structure Notes, Vocabulary Chart, Vocabulary Folder, and Vocabulary Cards.”
In the Unit 2 shared-reading texts Jack’s Tale and Giant’s Tale, students use context within the texts to determine the meaning of words, rereading as necessary. Teachers remind students of the strategies they can apply when they encounter unfamiliar words and refer students to the glossary for definitions. Students compare and contrast the glossaries of the two books, use word-attack strategies for pronunciation, read the meanings, and draw a picture beside each word. There are pre-made vocabulary lesson plans to pre-teach story words; however, neither text includes an ELL Leveled Reader Pack for additional vocabulary support. There are additional reading scaffolds found in the Resources for Differentiation folder, but there are no additional vocabulary supports beyond a generic Grade 1-2 “ELL Content Picture Pack: Adventures” resource. This document uses The Wizard of Oz as a guide for practicing writing, grammar, vocabulary, and critical thinking. It is not directly relevant to the vocabulary instruction for Jack’s Tale or Giant’s Tale.
In Unit 7, students read the shared-reading text Women of the Supreme Court and the guided-reading text Mother Teresa: Mother to Many. There is a general Guided Reading lesson plan for Women of the Supreme Court that includes instruction for teachers to introduce vocabulary in the text. Instructions include reviewing pronunciation, using the glossary to read and discuss words, and reminding students about strategies they can use to work out words they don’t know. There are no further supports and scaffolds found to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. For the guided-reading text Mother Teresa: Mother to Many, the Weekly Planner suggests using the “Vocabulary World Map II” as a resource for differentiation. This is the same resource referenced throughout the materials; again, it does not include specialized differentiation for these words, nor for students performing above and below grade level.
The program includes self-sustained reading opportunities for students via “Centers,” but the opportunities are dependent upon the amount of time teachers allot to Centers in their individual schedules, and the materials lack procedures and protocols to guide teachers through the implementation of self-sustained reading in their classrooms. Materials provide limited support for teachers to establish meaningful independent reading practices that are based on self-selected and self-sustained reading opportunities.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The Grade 2 “Literacy Curriculum Map” has a “Primary Protocols” document that gives teachers guidance on how to set up their literacy block in the classroom; it only mentions independent reading in the “Oral Language Development/Discussion” section, where the program describes how students should be engaging in deep discussion about texts they have read, including discussions about independent reading texts with other students, and in the “Reading Center” rotation. The Centers section mentions that self-selected reading time allows students to read for authentic reading purposes, practice reading skills, read a wide range of text types and genres, build reading fluency, and build endurance and confidence as they sustain uninterrupted reading over a 15–20 minute period. Although the document explains what self-selected reading is and why it’s important, it does not provide instructions or suggestions on effective practices for fostering self-sustained reading.
According to the Grade 2 “Standard Snapshot” document, self-sustained reading is taught in all eight units. The materials do not provide guidelines on how to implement self-sustained reading during Center rotations.
The Primary Protocols document notes that self-selected independent reading should occur during Center rotations, and that 15–20 minutes of uninterrupted reading time is ideal. Materials mention optional activities to occur during Center time: choosing a book from the class library or from “Kids A–Z,” rereading texts from shared reading or guided reading, finding a comfortable spot to read, reading aloud to self or to a buddy, sharing and responding to what students are reading, participating in literature circles, and exploring high-interest topics.
While the materials do not provide guidance on how to set up and implement procedures and protocols for self-sustained reading during Center rotations, the program does go into detail about how to use “Literature Circles” as a choice during Center rotations. Materials detail teacher and student roles in Literature Circles and mention that “Literature Circle Journals” can be used with each self-selected text to hold students accountable for their reading. The Literature Circle Journal includes reading comprehension skills such as making predictions, recording questions, comparing and contrasting, and illustrating information from the text to hold students accountable for their independent reading.
The “Reading Room” is a digital library for students to quickly find relevant, high-interest content. In the Reading Room, students can choose to either listen or read a story before completing an associated comprehension quiz. Students can navigate through the different categories on their own or favorite books they find interesting, while teachers can directly assign texts for students to read. Assigning texts to students can increase accountability, however there is no instruction for students to decide which books are best for them.
In Unit 2, students are to read on-level and self-select texts with purpose and understanding. Throughout the unit, students alternate between buddy-reading or reading a book independently from the class library or Kids A–Z.
There is no evidence of procedures or protocols for on-level reading or self-sustained reading in the “Leveled Book” lesson plans. The “Guided Reading” lesson plans have a section called “Build Fluency” that has some guidance on rereading at school and at home for an undetermined amount of time. The “Shared Reading” plans all seem to follow the same five-day cycle that includes a home connection piece and a reread on days four and five for fluency but not necessarily with self-selected texts.
The Level I text A Monument for George is used for reader accountability in terms of reading with fluency and accuracy. However, the lesson plan does not include the student self-selecting text or self-sustaining reading. Additionally, the protocol documents, which include guidance for program implementation, and the unit guide do not make reference to reading goals or setting reading goals for student achievement.
Materials provide students ample opportunities to write personal narratives and informational texts. However, there are only some opportunities for students to write procedural texts, poetry, and correspondence. These opportunities are sporadic across the curriculum and often framed as extension opportunities.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students are given the prompt “What are your rights, and what rules do we have to protect them?” Teachers use process writing for information, explanatory, and informational reports to guide students in writing an informational report. The objective is for students to write an informational piece with a clear topic, facts and definitions to support ideas, and a concluding statement. At the end of Week 3, students publish their writing in a presentation format, such as a formal report, a book, or a multimedia presentation.
In Unit 2, students are given the opportunity to plan a narrative piece by developing and organizing ideas. While this is practice with literary texts, students are not asked to convey their thoughts and feelings about an experience, which are key elements in personal narratives. Instead, after reading the leveled book Cinderella, students are expected to write a narrative piece that includes a narrator, characters, a logical sequence of events with transition words, dialogue, character reactions, and a conclusion. Students do this by answering the prompt “Write your own fairytale, which is expected to further develop throughout the following weeks.”
Unit 3 indicates students will respond to the prompt “How can motion change things?” across Weeks 1–3 of this unit. The objectives for this lesson are: “[W]rite an informational piece with a clear topic, facts and definitions to support ideas, and a concluding statement, and plan informational pieces by developing and organizing ideas.” The “Weekly Planner” does not provide a “Process Writing Lesson” to be used with this prompt, but it does have the teacher refer to the “Writing” section of the “Primary Protocols” for suggestions on how to teach the objectives over five days.
In Unit 4, the Weekly Planner uses a “Writing Center” to teach procedural texts. The Weekly Planner includes the “ELL Language Skill Pack: Verbs (Grades 1-2), Writing Lessons & Resources, Explaining Steps in a Process” activity to use at the Center. In this Center, students use provided pictures and a graphic organizer to explain the steps in a process. For example, one of the graphic organizers uses illustrations of the steps to make lemonade. Students have to write in the steps on their graphic organizer and turn the information into a paragraph. Students also work on narrative writing in this unit. Students read aloud Morty and the Mousetown Talent Show. After the read-aloud, students write a story about a character who plays a trick on a brother, sister, relative, or friend. They describe what the character did, why he or she did it, and what happened as a result. Students do not share their own experiences and feelings. At the end of Unit 4 there is a process writing lesson focused on procedural texts, “Process Writing Lesson: Informative/Explanatory—How To.” This six-part resource teaches the process of writing necessary steps for completing a task, however it is included with a “Pick a Prompt” writing center. This center includes prompts related to procedural writing, but it is not guaranteed students will choose those prompts.
In Unit 7, Weeks 1–3, students use the following writing prompt: “Choose two different cultures. How are they the same and different?” The objectives for this unit are: “[D]evelop and follow a research plan, write an informational piece with a clear topic, facts and definitions to support ideas, and a concluding statement, and plan informational pieces by developing and organizing ideas.” These objectives meet the standard that requires students to write informational reports about a topic. The Weekly Planner also includes the ELL Language Skills Packs “Verbs (Grades 3-5)” and “Daily Activities (Grades 3-5)” in “Writing Lessons & Resources—Expository Writing” for teachers to use to guide students in writing an informational piece.
Across the leveled reader library, there are some texts that include “Cross-Curricular Connections” at the end of the text. These additional tasks are meant to extend student learning and sometimes include writing opportunities for students. After the text The Leprechaun Trap, students complete the task, “write a letter to Olivia explaining why her trap can be thought of as a success.” Similar extension writing assignments can be found after “Close Reading” texts, like the one following A Special Beach: “create your own shape poem that describes a place you know well.” Direction and guidance is limited with both Cross-Curricular Connections activities and Close Reading extensions.
The materials provide optional lesson plans on correspondence writing that teachers may use at their own discretion, but these are not part of the scope and sequence for the year. One set of relevant lessons is the “Process Writing Lesson Plans: Transactional.” These optional lessons include a broad range of text types including business letters, friendly emails, invitations, speeches, and interviews.
Materials engage students in the writing process to develop text in oral, pictorial, or written form. Materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and sharing/publishing) to compose text. Students utilize drawing and brainstorming to generate drafts, and they organize drafts by writing, based on an idea and details.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In both Grade 1 and Grade 2, the section of the “Primary Protocols” document (a document that provides suggestions for daily routines and procedures to help support the implementation of the weekly planner) utilized for writing instruction is called “Process Writing.” The difference in writing instruction between the first and second grades is that second grade uses a different set of writing prompts in their weekly planners. The Primary Protocols document provides two versions of Process Writing. Version 1 is used when students develop writing compositions, and the specific genre varies depending on the weekly planner. Version 2 is used when students respond to text-based questions. Version 1 has the following framework: Week 1, planning and drafting; Week 2, drafting, revising, and editing; Week 3, editing and publishing; Week 4, responding to texts. Version 2 has the following framework: Week 1, responding to texts; Week 2, planning and drafting; Week 3, drafting, revising, editing; Week 4, editing and publishing. Both versions facilitate students’ use of the elements of process writing.
In both versions, the planning-and-drafting week is broken down even further into a five-day lesson. Days 1–2 are devoted to planning the draft orally. For example, on Day 1, “the students share experiences they have had or ideas they would like to write about.” Students also summarize their learning from the unit. On Day 2, students discuss “the different sections of the writing piece” and describe “the importance of each piece and how they work together.” On Day 3, the students complete a graphic organizer. They first observe as the teacher models how to organize thinking with a prewrite graphic organizer. After students independently complete their own graphic organizer, they are “encouraged to turn and talk to share their topic,” sharing their completed graphic organizer with a partner. The graphic organizers allow students to plan and organize their drafts at whatever level is appropriate for them. The revision checklist guides the students in self-monitoring their writing process. Finally, students take part in discussions with partners to finish the brainstorming process.
Each unit has a “Process Writing Lesson Plan” that is specific to the genre the students are writing. The Process Writing Lesson Plans teach the students the five-step writing process using four main genres: “informative/explanatory, narrative, opinion/argument, and transactional.” Each of those genres is divided into four developmental writing levels (beginning, early beginning, developing, and fluent). These lesson plans provide scaffolding and explicit directions for the teacher, while providing more opportunities for students to practice their craft. These lessons also all have examples of texts, examples of filled graphic organizers, blank graphic organizers, a revision checklist, and a sample report.
Unit 6 provides the Process Writing Lesson for “Informational Report” on “Setting the Stage,” which has students organize their drafts based on the details they have categorized into similar topics. Students then “generate questions on a topic about which they want to learn and then use information to answer these questions.” In the prewriting section, students use the “Informational Report Graphic Organizer” to expand on their ideas by taking information from sources when they answer a question and adding it to the graphic organizer in their own words.
In Unit 7, students use Weeks 1–3 of the Process Writing Lesson Plan to address the following writing prompt: “Choose two different cultures. How are they the same and different?” The week after the publish week, students immediately begin another five-day cycle; this time, they are answering the Unit 7 question: “What can we learn about different cultures around the world?” This question is explored through writing, reading, and discussion throughout all of Unit 7.
Over the course of the year, students are provided opportunities to apply grade-level standard English conventions to their writing. The materials provide opportunities for the practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Materials include thirty weeks of daily grammar practice activities that target key grammar skills at the four developmental writing levels: beginning, early developing, developing, and fluent. The activities provide quick practice with grammar, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, and other essential skills for writing. The “Write Rights” activities are listed weekly in the “Weekly Planners” under the “Writing” section. The “Primary Protocols” document states that “Grammar and Mechanics” instruction is embedded specifically in the “Read Aloud” and Writing portions of the day and is reinforced and practiced throughout different components of the literacy block. Grammar and Mechanics instruction is taught five days per week.
In Unit 1, students respond to the prompt “What are your rights, and what rules do we have to protect them?” The Weekly Planner tells teachers to use the “Draft,” “Revise,” and “Edit” sections of the “Process Writing Lesson”; students strengthen their writing via revising and editing checklists. These checklists direct students to look at their writing for capitalization and punctuation.
In Unit 2, students review the “Write Rights Rule Sheet” and complete the daily accompanying activities, which address plural nouns, verb tenses, and figurative language. Throughout the unit, students play the “Irregular Verb Race” game in which they complete a verb skills pack with the teacher; they also work on inflectional endings. Students also receive instruction on the rules for capitalization of the months of the year and the days of the week. Then, they review the Write Rights Rule Sheet and complete the accompanying activities.
In Unit 3, during a shared reading of Simple Mechanics, students identify a word that describes machines, working in pairs to look through the rest of the book and circle the adjectives, underlining the nouns they describe. Students write a list of their adjectives and share the list with the class. Later, students complete an adjective worksheet; they discuss their answers with a partner. Using the story Earth’s Water, students look for common nouns. They work with a partner and create three columns on a blank sheet of paper to categorize common nouns under person, place, or thing. The partners record five nouns for each category and then share their findings. Students then complete a noun worksheet.
In Unit 4, students study the use of quotation marks using the leveled text Mortyangelo and the Mystery Art. Students practice identifying the speaker by circling quotation marks. Then, they go back into the text to find more sentences that include quotation marks. After studying the use of quotation marks within the context of the text, students independently complete the “Quotation Marks Worksheet” to add quotation marks in a story.
In Unit 6, during a shared reading of Owls Overhead, the teacher chooses a sentence to read aloud, and students indicate with a thumbs-up if the sentence makes sense. Students orally identify what the sentence is about. The teacher explains the definition of a subject and a predicate. After the teacher reviews the subject of a sentence written on the board, students discuss whether the sentence makes sense, explaining why or why not. Students work with a partner to copy incomplete sentences written on the board, correctly finishing them by adding the missing part and then volunteering to correct them on the board as well. Students read a section of the story with a partner, circle the subject and underline the predicate of each sentence, and then review their choices with the class. For independent practice, students complete a complete-sentences worksheet.
In Unit 7, during a shared reading of Desert People, students explain how the preposition in is used in a sentence that is written on the board. They also explain the relationship of a subject to the rest of the sentence. Students take turns drawing a cactus and a rabbit on the board. Students take turns choosing from the words over, under, through, and beside to fill in the sentences “The rabbit goes…the cactus”; “The rabbit is…the cactus.” Students look through the story and circle examples of prepositions, then complete the prepositions worksheet.
In Unit 8, the teacher introduces the concept of plural nouns; later, during the read-aloud, the teacher pauses to point out plural nouns in the reading. The teacher and students discuss what they notice about these words and practice them in the Write Rights Rule Sheet activity. Unit 8 also addresses the capitalization of proper nouns and ending punctuation in the read-aloud Our Solar System. For example, the teacher asks the students to discuss the capitalization and punctuation rules for sample sentences from the text. The students can follow up this activity with the game “Punctuation Power” from the “Grammar and Mechanics Center.”
The second-grade materials include minimal practice for students to write legibly in cursive; they do not include instruction in cursive handwriting. Materials do not include a plan for procedures or supports for teachers to assess students’ handwriting development.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Weekly Planners” include the following instructions: “Encourage students to use clear handwriting during the center time of each week’s plans.”
Materials include “Cursive Letter Formation Sheets” in the “Cursive” section within the “Resources” tab, in “Writing, Vocabulary, and Word Work.” In this tab, there is a PDF for each of the letters of the alphabet. Each letter file includes eight cursive practice sheets. These sheets provide opportunities to trace and write lowercase and uppercase cursive letters and include the tracing and writing of two words that start with the target letter. While these practice sheets are included, there is no guidance, plan, or procedure for implementation and assessment. They are not referenced in the Weekly Planners.
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts and provide opportunities for students to listen actively and to ask questions to understand information. Students have multiple opportunities to engage in discussions that require sharing information and ideas about the topics they are discussing.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Primary Protocols” document states that on Day 1 of each read-aloud teachers should “model how to ask and answer questions by thinking aloud about what the text might be about.” It also suggests that the teacher tell students “that readers should ask questions when they don’t understand something; when they are curious about something; when they want to make a prediction about something; when they want to clarify something; and when they want to think deeper about the topic, theme, or story elements.” Each week of the materials’ eight unit plans includes asking and answering questions about a text as a reading strategy.
While reading Community Government in Unit 1, students actively listen for answers to their questions that they previously wrote down while completing a “Know, Want to Know, Learned (KWL)” chart. The teacher models how to ask questions and how to find the answers within the text. Students discuss their answers, write them down, and revisit the main idea, text details, text structure, and sequence. Later in Unit 1, before reading Good for Thurgood, students discuss standing up to bullies and use this discussion to make predictions about what will happen in the book. While reading, students also discuss character motivation: “Why did she not go through the park that day?”
In Unit 2, students listen to the read-aloud Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp and, in a whole-class discussion, answer questions like “What part of the book shows you it is a fantasy? What did Aladdin do after he met the genie? What causes the genie to appear the first time? What three words best describe Aladdin?”
In the Unit 3 shared-reading text Simple Machines, students learn about the “Ask and Answer Questions” strategy. Students ask and answer questions about key details in a text before, during, and after reading to reflect on their understanding of a text. Prior to reading, students share any questions they may have about simple machines based on the front and back covers. As students read the story, they ask themselves questions and find the answers. Students listen to each other as they discuss how asking and answering questions helped them understand and make sense of the text. To encourage students to ask more questions and listen to each other, students also use the “Discussion Cards,” which include questions like “What is the main idea of this book?”, “What are three supporting details from the text?”, and “How have simple machines made your life easier?”
In Unit 6, during the shared-reading text The Magic of Migration, students discuss the front and back covers of the book to try to identify the genre of the story. Additionally, the teacher asks, “What do you already know about migration? Have you ever seen animals migrating, and if so what do you remember?” Students share their responses with the class. During the reading, students use a KWL chart to write their own questions under the W column. Students are given opportunities throughout the reading to discuss their questions with a partner. Looking for the answers as they read keeps students actively involved in the reading process and helps them understand and remember what they read. As a class, students offer their opinions on the human disruption of migration patterns. They consider how building more structures affects migration, how some special birds and fish return to their birthplace to lay their eggs, and how humans are destroying their birthplace.
In the Unit 7 shared-reading text World Landmarks, the “Teaching Tips” document includes a section to “help teach how to ask and answer questions while reading.” The materials state: “Students use the title and picture on the cover page to generate questions about the book with a partner.” Afterward, students listen to each other as they share their questions and record some of them on the board. As students continue to read, they use their “Know-Want to Know-Learned-Still Want to Know (KWLS)” charts to “record questions they have about this book in the What I Wonder section.” After the reading, students review the questions they wrote during the reading; they point out the questions that were answered during the reading and circle the ones that weren’t. Together, students listen to each other for ideas on how to answer the questions that were left unanswered by looking into additional resources.
Materials engage students in collaborative discussions. Materials provide consistent opportunities for students to engage in discussion and to practice grade-appropriate speaking skills using the standard conventions of the English language.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Primary Protocols” document outlines how the literacy block provides opportunities for students to engage in deep discussion in order to build their oral language skills through academic discussions. The guidance is specific to engaging in discussion during shared reading, independent reading, and texts that have been read aloud. The conversations should revolve around the reading skills and strategies being taught. Additionally, the opportunities to have these discussions are varied between a whole-group setting, a small-group setting, or while students are working in “Centers.” Students are also provided with opportunities to practice the rules and expectations of different types of conversations. Students practice taking turns, listening when others are speaking, and understanding nonverbal behaviors and cues that add meaning to conversations. During these conversations, students use standard conventions of the English language correctly; practice with some of these conventions can be found in the oral practice portions of the units. After reading, students answer as many questions from the text as possible in discussion and they also create new questions not answered by the text.
The teacher models how to participate in structured, whole-group discussions with behaviors such as contributing relevant information, responding to others’ comments, speaking clearly, and listening actively. After the teacher models, students practice their own speaking skills through whole-group discussions that can then be transferred into small-group and partner discussions.
In Unit 1, while doing a read-aloud of Cesar Chavez: Migrant Hero, the teacher models and reviews what it means to listen actively, such as being attentive to the speaker and using what was said to ask and answer appropriate questions. The students focus on actively listening while the text is being read. After reading, the teacher uses the discussion cards included with the lesson plan to have students practice their listening/speaking skills as well as monitor their comprehension.
In Unit 2, during read-aloud instruction, students engage in discussion when they look at vocabulary cards and are asked “What does this picture remind you of? What other words may appear in this book?” The teacher models how to ask relevant questions while discussing a text to better understand what is being read.
In Unit 4, during the read-aloud Morty and the Mousetown Talent Show, students review and practice general rules of discussion while talking about the text. Students ask questions about the text and use the text-dependent questions on the discussion cards to guide their conversation with a partner. Students focus on speaking clearly, asking relevant questions, and expressing their ideas while discussing the text.
Unit 6’s read-aloud Slithery Snakes includes explicit teacher modeling on paraphrasing; students focus on paraphrasing while discussing the text. After students ask relevant questions about the read-aloud Electric Eels!, the teacher pauses to point out correct subject-verb agreement and has students discuss what they notice about these types of sentences. The teacher models and reviews how to build on the ideas of others in conversations so that students are then able to practice doing so themselves.
Before reading Our Solar System in Unit 8, students discuss the different things that they see in space and what they would see in the sky during the day and at night. Together, the class creates a “Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL)” chart about the Solar System, discussing the facts that they already know and the questions that they want answered. The teacher models asking relevant questions to deepen understanding. During the reading, students discuss new facts they are learning and add them to the KWL chart. After reading, students use their KWL chart to discuss their annotations.
Students have multiple opportunities to ask and generate general questions for inquiry. While most opportunities for students to generate and follow a research plan begin with a class model, the materials do provide opportunities for students to independently generate and follow a research plan. Examples of short-term inquiry exist for general research; examples of sustained recursive inquiry exist for general research, compare-and-contrast research, and persuasive research. Suggested time intervals range from one to four weeks of instruction.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 3, students use the prompt “How can motion change things?” to generate questions they will answer for an informational report. Using the “Brainstorm and Prewrite” section of the “Informative/Explanatory—Informational Report” lesson plan, students first brainstorm topics specific to the writing prompt by writing or drawing their ideas on a separate sheet of paper. Students share their ideas with the rest of the class. After students select their topics, they use the “Informational Report Graphic Organizer” to write two questions they will answer with their research. As students draft their research, they self-revise and edit their drafts using the “Informational Report Revision Checklist” and the “Editing Guide.”
Throughout Units 6–8, students conduct research following the writing process stated in the provided “Process Writing” lesson plans. The Brainstorm and Prewrite sections of the Process Writing plans encourage students to generate questions and use a graphic organizer as an outline for their research. After students select a topic to write about, they use sources introduced during whole-group instruction in “Shared Reading,” “Read Aloud,” “Writing,” and “Guided Reading” lessons to find evidence to add to their graphic organizers. After revising and editing, students publish their research in a presentation format.
In Unit 6, students return to the Informative/Explanatory—Informational Report lesson plan to answer the prompt “How do living things interact with their environment?” The research plan to answer this prompt is to generate questions, preview samples, explore sources, organize information with a graphic organizer, draft the report, revise and edit the report, and publish the report with a bibliography. Instruction is stretched across three weeks; by the end of this project, students are urged to “use technology to produce, publish, and share writing.” This second opportunity to write an informational report using a research plan creates a strong foundation for students, which comes in handy as students are expected to write using research plans for new purposes in Units 7 and 8.
Unit 7’s process writing is a compare-and-contrast writing activity where students answer the research prompt “Choose two different cultures. How are they the same and different?” A specific objective of this four-week-long activity is for students to develop and follow a research plan. The teacher uses the “Before Writing” section of this lesson plan to model and guide the students through the generating-questions section of the writing process. After brainstorming ideas by writing or drawing them in a brainstorm web on a separate piece of paper, students use a “C/C Essay Graphic Organizer” to organize their thinking. Using this resource, students organize the beginning of their report, plan a number of similarities and differences to write about, and plan the ending of their report. The class completes this drafting task, and then students continue into independent practice. Next, students use a “C/C Essay Revision Checklist” to revise their papers as a group, individually, and/or in partners. Prior to publishing, students edit their reports with an “Editing Guide.” Even though students are not taught how to self-select resources, they use the texts introduced throughout the unit to guide their research.
In Unit 8, students follow a similar four-week-long process write, but this time following the “Opinion/Argument—Persuasive” lesson plan. In this unit, students are still focusing on developing and following a research plan, but their purpose has changed to planning an “opinion piece with a clear opinion stated, reasons that support the opinion, connected ideas, and a concluding statement.” In this lesson plan, the research plan is for students to decide if they are for or against the opinion; gather evidence from their research packet, which has two sources; organize their research with a graphic organizer; generate reasons to support their opinion; and then draft, revise, edit, and publish their research. Across three weeks, students move through the “Brainstorm, Prewrite, Draft, Revise, Edit, and Publish” process as they answer the prompt “Why is it important to study Earth and space?”
The materials contain interconnected tasks that build student knowledge. Questions and tasks are designed so that students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. Tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; include components of vocabulary, comprehension, and syntax; and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The curriculum is designed for a 90- to 120-minute block; during the block, the literacy tasks are divided into six parts: “Shared Reading,” “Read Alouds,” “Guided Reading,” “Phonics,” “Phonological Awareness,” and “Writing,” to which an additional “Center” component is added weekly. Within each of these components of the literacy block, reading, speaking, listening, thinking, writing, and language skills are addressed.
Unit 1 includes the shared-reading text The US Constitution. This informational text about the constitution includes tasks and questions requiring students to respond and apply skills in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. For example, in the pre-reading part of the lesson plan, the students work with a partner to make predictions about what the text is going to be about and the genre of the text based on the cover, illustrations, and graphic features. This activity provides students the opportunity to read, think, speak, and listen. Later in the activity, students create a timeline of events from the book, requiring them to go back and reread, think, and write. Students also create a newspaper article highlighting important facts from the text. This requires the students to reread, think, write, and pay attention to the components of language as they write the article.
In Unit 2, The Legend of the Giant’s Causeway is used as a guided-reading text. In this lesson, students read, write, speak, listen, and think. Before reading, students build background by discussing the word legend. Then, students learn about summarizing and are given a reading focus: finding details to answer who, what, when, where, and why. Students preview vocabulary in the book by looking at the “Words to Know, and create a poster for each of their new vocabulary words.” During the reading, students use evidence from the text to answer comprehension questions, such as “Why does Finn finally agree to dress like a baby? In what ways are Cucullin and Finn the same? How are they different? What happens to Cucullin at the end of the story?” After reading, students respond to the prompt “Pretend Oonagh needs one more idea for her plan. Write a letter to Oonagh describing one more idea to help her.”
The curriculum provides opportunities for students to “use newly acquired vocabulary expressively” in every unit. The students locate words and discuss their meanings; then, based on the discussion, they illustrate each vocabulary word on a poster with a group/partner and share their products with their classmates. In Unit 3’s shared reading, Simple Machines, students read, write, speak, listen, and think as they work through vocabulary tasks. Students speak and listen in small groups to discuss what they know about a pulley, axle, and wedge. They “write or draw what they know about” each word and create a definition “for each word using student’s prior knowledge.” As the teacher reads the word, students read along to confirm the meaning of the words. Through a pre-made vocabulary lesson, students also read the words and their definitions to create a drawing for each one, complete analogies using the vocabulary words, and complete sentences that demonstrate their understanding of the vocabulary words.
For the Unit 8 shared reading Life in the Desert Night, students read, write, speak, listen, and think as they work through comprehension tasks that involve classifying information. Students speak and listen as they discuss the book. Students learn how a chart can be a helpful way to organize information and then read two pages of the story to “look for specific ways the owl either adapted for living in the heat, adapted for hunting, or both.” Students write the information they find in an organizing chart. Students then read, write, speak, listen, and think as they do the same for other animals with increasing independence.
Although materials do include some opportunities for spiraling and distributed practice throughout the year, there are some necessary standards that are sparsely spiraled or not returned to at all after they are introduced to students. There are many resources for differentiation, including scaffolded materials, leveled books, vocabulary resources, and leveled language resources.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The program is organized into eight units, each containing four weeks of instruction. Each unit includes an overview document and a “Weekly Planner” detailing topics of study, including topics like comprehension strategies, vocabulary, phonics, fluency, text features, etc. Materials for each lesson are located in the Weekly Planner, “Primary Protocols” document, and text-based lesson plans. “Shared Reading,” “Read Aloud,” and “Writing” talks all relate to the unit theme and unit question. Each week of instruction includes a folder of “Differentiation Resources” that can be used as a scaffold or support. Examples include graphic organizers, vocabulary books, high-frequency word packs, and additional worksheets.
While there are some examples in the materials where skills are spiraled throughout the yearly curriculum, there are many skills that are not. With teacher support, students first practice describing the main character’s (or characters’) internal and external traits in Unit 2. This skill is taught through Shared Reading and “Guided Reading” during Week 1 of instruction in Unit 2. This skill is only returned to during one of the remaining seven units (Unit 5) where it is the focus across three weeks of instruction. There are a few necessary skills that are also introduced only once in the materials and then never returned to as a focus. Both discussing the use of descriptive, literal, and figurative language and relating text structure to the author’s purpose is a focus only in Unit 2. The materials only focus on figurative language during the grammar-and-mechanics portion of Week 1. For relating text structure to the author’s purpose, students use the Shared Reading novel during Week 3 to “recognize and describe characteristics of a problem and solution.” Neither of these skills is listed as the primary objective for any other week in the Weekly Planners.
Over the course of the year, students practice writing with different purposes in mind. There is a balanced combination of whole-class writing activities and writing in “Centers.” The majority of the writing instruction depends on a set of “Process Writing Lessons” that fall into four main categories: “Informative/Explanatory,” “Narrative,” “Opinion/Argument,” and “Transactional.” Within these categories, there are specific lessons about more specialized writing purposes. For example, within the Opinion/Argument category, there is both a “Persuasive” and a “Pro/Con” lesson plan. Scaffolding exists for each lesson plan, as it is paired with “Student Resources and Teacher Rubrics” that vary based on reading ability. The four leveled sets include “Beginning,” “Early Development,” “Developing,” and “Fluent.” The teacher can utilize these scaled resources to support students as they spiral through the writing styles over the school year.
In Unit 1, students find the main idea and supporting details of the three sections of the book Community Government. Students reread each section of the book, determine the main idea, and support their claim with details from the text. After finding the main idea of each section, students determine the main idea of the entire text and write a sentence to describe it. This skill is returned to in Unit 6 when students find the main idea and supporting details for Owls Overhead, Level O. For this main idea and supporting details worksheet, students find the main idea and supporting details for two sections of the text, determine the main idea for the entire book, and write a sentence to describe it.
Within the instructional materials, there are comprehension checks that allow for repeated practice of comprehension skills that aren’t explicitly being covered within that lesson. For example, in Unit 3 Shared Reading, the target comprehension skill is “Main Idea and Details.” To repeatedly address standards within and across units, there is a “comprehension check” that includes a book quiz and a retelling rubric that can be used to progress monitor students’ understanding of the comprehension standards. There are also discussion cards that cover “comprehension skills and strategies not explicitly taught with the book and provided as an extension activity.”
Materials provide explicit systematic instruction in phonetic knowledge and opportunities for students to practice both in and out of context. Materials include a research-based sequence of grade-level foundational skills instruction and opportunities for sufficient student practice to achieve grade-level mastery. Materials systematically develop knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns as addressed in the Grade 2 TEKS, with opportunities for students to apply their knowledge to connected texts and tasks. Materials provide explicit instruction in grade-level high-frequency words and opportunities for students to read high-frequency words both in and out of context. Materials include building spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials include a variety of research citations to support their phonics approach. According to the research, phonics instruction can and should begin as early as Kindergarten due to the significant and substantial effect on later reading ability. Additionally, the research supports the integration of two major components: systematic instruction and practice. The systematic instruction component entails direct and explicit teaching of the major sound-symbol relationships in a specific and clearly defined sequence. The sequence begins with single letter sound-symbol relationships and then progresses toward more complex sound-symbol relationships.
The materials include a scope and sequence for foundational reading instruction. The “Phonics Snapshot” indicates when each phonics skill is taught and which specific skill is being introduced. For example, in Unit 1, students review soft and hard c and g patterns. The skills found in the Phonics Snapshot are directly correlated with the Grade 2 TEKS, including but not limited to compound words, contractions, abbreviations, prefixes, inflectional endings, and high-frequency words.
In Unit 2, students receive explicit instruction in the letter-sound correspondence for vowel diphthongs ou and ow in multisyllabic words. Using the text Different, the teacher directs students to locate the word playground in the text. The teacher writes the word on the board, underlines the letters ou, and explains that these two letters together create the second vowel sound in the word. The teacher then writes the word crowd on the board, underlines ow, and asks students to blend the letters together to create the same vowel sound as heard in the word playground. The teacher writes the words group and shout on the board and asks the students which has the same vowel sound as in playground. Students work with a partner to locate and circle all of the words in the story with the vowel diphthongs ou and ow that make the /ou/ sound. A “Center” activity for the week continues the focus on the vowel diphthongs ou and ow with the decodable book The Clown Who Lost Her Smile and a corresponding phonics worksheet. Resources for additional practice with the decodable text and the words hound, howl, prowl, pound, growl, howl, brown, and noun are also provided.
In Unit 3, students receive explicit instruction in the letter-sound correspondence for the variant vowel /oo/ in multisyllabic words. Using the decodable text Snoop the Crime Dog, the teacher models blending the words Sue, food, new, grew, and groom. Students use their workmats, variant vowel /oo/ cards, and letter cards to practice blending the words independently. Students also practice sorting words by word family. The teacher places the oo, ue, and ew word family cards in a pocket chart. Students draw a card, read the card, and sort it into the correct word family column. After completing these activities, students independently read the decodable text.
The materials provide guidance and activities to teach high-frequency words. Provided guidance includes introducing words in group of six to eight (or fewer) words per week, reading texts containing high-frequency words every day, creating a “Word Wall,” allowing students to write the words as often as possible, tracking which words individual students have learned to read and spell, and using everyday text to identify high-frequency words. Provided activities that can be used with any high-frequency words include “Word Detective,” in which students search for high-frequency words in the classroom, school, and print materials they encounter in their daily lives.
In Unit 5, students learn the high-frequency words hold, us, buy, and three. The teacher uses the shared-reading text Meeting Father in Plymouth to introduce the words and the high-frequency flashcards to teach students how to spell and read the words. Two high-frequency word books, There Were Three and Here Are Three, and high-frequency word flashcards are also provided for use during Center time.
The materials include daily grammar practice and writing activities over the course of thirty weeks that allow students to practice and build their spelling knowledge. Every week includes a focus spelling rule with an activity sheet for students to explicitly practice the rule. The focus spelling rules are aligned with the Grade 2 TEKS and include spelling words with open and closed syllables, compound words, vowel variants, consonant doubling patterns, prefixes, contractions, multisyllabic words, and the schwa. The provided spelling activity sheets involve a variety of tasks, including identifying correct spellings, correcting spelling errors, and correcting sentences for grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Spelling instruction includes practice with spelling words according to phonics patterns and spelling high-frequency words.
Materials provide frequent opportunities for students to practice and develop fluency while reading a wide variety of grade-level texts. Materials include explicit instruction in fluency, including rate, accuracy, and prosody. Materials provide opportunities and routines for teachers to regularly monitor and provide corrective feedback on rate, accuracy, and prosody.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Weekly fluency skills are addressed during multiple portions of the literacy block. Teachers model fluent reading during the read-alouds, and they monitor fluency skills during guided reading when students read texts independently. Teachers use their observations during guided reading to provide differentiated instruction in the form of modeling, direct instruction, goal setting, and conferencing. During “Centers,” students read and reread a variety of texts to practice reading words automatically with proper rate, accuracy, and expression. Fluency Center activities include reading and rereading fluency passages, readers’ theater scripts, and shared- and guided-reading texts; reading aloud to self or to a buddy; having students record themselves reading; and listening to and reading along with examples of fluent readings that have proper accuracy, rate, and prosody. The materials incorporate a variety of texts (including leveled books and fluency passages) and oral reading methods (including partner reading and readers’ theater) to promote reading fluency.
An outline of explicit fluency instruction, including regularly monitoring and providing corrective feedback, is given through the “Primary Protocols.” The materials recommend regular monitoring take place during “Guided Reading,” starting on Day 2 and continuing on to Days 3 and 4 of each week. On Day 2, the teacher sets a purpose for reading related to the fluency skill, comprehension skill, and/or reading strategy for the week. On Days 3–4, students set their own purpose. The students read silently while the teacher walks around conducting observations as an informal assessment. The teacher asks individual students to read a sentence or two aloud and takes notes on difficulties with decoding, comprehension, and fluency. The materials guide the teacher to use this assessment to guide instruction to provide support as necessary in the form of modeling, direct instruction, goal setting, and conferencing. After conducting a guided reading with more monitoring and feedback, students reflect on the purpose they set for reading related to the fluency skill. On Day 5, students continue to build fluency when the teacher provides independent practice opportunities as needed based on the observations made during the week. Teachers model rereading portions of the text and inviting students to then model reading themselves with accuracy, rate, and expression.
In Unit 2, the fluency components of rate, accuracy, and prosody (addressed in the materials as expression) are targeted separately by weeks before combining in Week 4. In Week 1, during Fluency Centers, students practice reading Why the Bats Fly Only at Night on their own or with a partner to demonstrate reading with expression. Afterward, during the read-aloud, the teacher models reading with expression; students point out examples of when the teacher reads with expression. In Week 2, students continue to read Why the Bats Fly Only at Night, focusing on reading with accuracy and rate. During the read-aloud, teachers model reading with accuracy and rate while students point out examples during the reading. In Week 3, accuracy and rate are targeted again, in the same manner, with the story of Jack’s Tale. Finally, in Week 4, with The Legend of John Henry, students read on their own or with a partner, demonstrating accuracy, rate, and expression. This same process repeats in other units of the materials with varying texts.
The materials include additional resources for students to practice fluency and guidance to support teachers in monitoring students’ rate, accuracy, and prosody. Provided fluency passages can be used as repeated practice readings. Students may read these passages with the teacher tracking their accuracy and calculating their rate, or they may use the passages independently or with a partner along with a stopwatch to record their own data. A “Fluency Standards Table” helps teachers determine whether students are making progress towards grade-level standards and provide feedback to students on their fluency.
Timed fluency reading passages for Levels F–G are also included, which involve a one-minute timed reading of a passage to assess accuracy and rate. The Fluency Standards Table tells teachers where their students should be reading in terms of rate and accuracy.
Materials include assessments on foundational skills, but they do not distinguish between the assessments’ purposes. Materials do not state whether assessments should be used for diagnostic or placement purposes. There are some additional resources meant to assist in foundational skills instruction, and assessments yield meaningful information for teachers to use when planning. However, the materials do not give sufficient guidance to teachers on how to respond to this student data.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials include numerous foundational skills assessments, but they do not designate any assessments as “diagnostics,” nor do the materials advise teachers to use or implement an assessment prior to initially teaching a foundational skill. The materials mention pre-assessment prior to the five-day learning cycle: “Give a quick informal assessment of the weekly skills to determine where students need explicit instruction and at what level instruction should be given. This information helps ensure proper grouping of students and differentiation of resources.” However, they do not note which assessments to give nor how to respond to them.
Quarterly assessments include little guidance for teachers on when these assessments should be given, other than calling them “quarterly assessments.” For example, the phonological awareness assessments section asks teachers to determine whether to focus on onset and rime, rhyme, syllables, or phonemic awareness skills using the assessments. There are eighteen assessments, but only a few are noted in the weekly planners to be used at specific times throughout the year. The materials do not note the order assessments should be given in.
As a resource meant to assist in foundational skills instruction, the program includes “Tutoring & Mentoring Packs” covering all foundational skills. Each comprehension pack includes numerous intervention lessons, letter books, picture cards, academic games, practice sheets, etc. While these resources do assis foundational skill instruction, the program depends on classroom teachers or trained professionals to interpret assessment, assess students’ growth, and respond accordingly.
Materials contain multiple options for reading level, alphabet naming, phonological awareness, phonics, and high-frequency words assessment; however, assessment is neither regular nor systematic. Materials offer teachers some guidance on how to respond to individual students’ literacy needs based on their assessment performance by providing resources such as additional lesson plans, decodable books, or “Center” activities. However, the guidance for teachers is often lacking specificity on which lessons to select and how to guide a student to mastery.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The program has an “Assessments” section where teachers can find progress-monitoring assessments for reading levels, alphabet naming, phonological awareness, phonics, and high-frequency words. Assessments are usually completed one-on-one; some are assigned online, and some are used as progress-monitoring tools for foundational skills. Assessments are not organized by grade level; they are organized by skill. Assessments include alphabet letter naming and high-frequency word assessments. Other assessments available to the teacher include retelling rubrics, which include a three-part student leveling assessment; phonological awareness assessments, which assess how children listen for, identify, discriminate, and produce sounds; phonics assessments, which assess sound-symbol relationships and the ability to read nonsense words; fluency timed reading assessments, which assess the ability to read passages accurately in one minute; and sentence reading assessments. Not every assessment is referenced within the “Unit Weekly Planners.” When they are, these assessments provide teachers with few suggested resources for differentiation to reteach skills based on the results of an assessment. The materials do not provide clear guidance or support for teachers on actions to take after a student completes the online assessments.
There is little teacher guidance and direction to respond to individual students’ literacy needs based on assessments appropriate to the grade level. The materials have a “Primary Protocols” document that states “assessments should be administered to determine students’ skill gaps and the instructional focus needed to close these gaps,” but this does not focus on how to close the gaps post-assessment. For example, the retelling rubrics are available for teachers to assess how well students comprehend what is read. The materials simply indicate that the software will help teachers identify comprehension skills for additional practice. For further monitoring, the materials recommend using benchmark passages and/or books. Teachers are also given the note that those students who are not progressing at an expected rate should be assessed “even more frequently.” No additional supports are provided that address individual student needs.
Teachers have access to phonics-based assessments that aid in determining students’ understanding of sound-symbol relationships broken into two types of phonics assessments: the “Identifying Sounds Assessment” assesses a student’s ability to associate a sound with a given symbol, and the “Identifying Symbols Assessment” assesses a student’s ability to associate a symbol with a given sound. There are also nine “Nonsense Word Assessments” that measure decoding skills. After each assessment, the materials state that teachers should reteach and enrich learning as needed based on the results of the assessment, but materials do not provide direction on how to reteach the skills. In the Primary Protocols document, these assessments are labeled as “quarterly assessments.” When accessed from the Unit Weekly Planners, these assessments are only referenced once in Unit 2. In Unit 2, students complete a practice worksheet using the consonant digraph ch and then take the assessment on consonant digraphs and blends. This summative assessment is intended to be used to gauge a child’s ability to identify and produce letter-sound correspondence. There is no guidance within the Weekly Planner describing how to implement this assessment, nor are there resources for differentiation to reteach skills based on the results of an assessment.
Teachers use guided reading to monitor and assess individual students’ reading fluency. During guided reading, students read leveled texts to practice reading and comprehension strategies, build vocabulary, and build reading fluency. On Day 1, teachers listen while students read and note any difficulties with decoding and fluency. On Days 2–4, teachers continue to monitor fluency and provide support in the form of modeling, direct instruction, goal setting, and conferencing. On Day 5, the teacher models rereading portions of the text fluently and invites students to model reading with appropriate accuracy, rate, and expression. The materials also include “Fluency Timed Reading” passages so that the teacher can incorporate monitoring and feedback into the lessons. There are two types of assessments available: one is a one-minute timed reading of a passage to measure the rate and accuracy of words read, and the second asks the students to read a series of sentences and then answer true/false statements to assess comprehension.
Materials provide some planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation, for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level. There is a clear plan for identifying a student’s independent reading level; materials differentiate for students working above grade level in the confines of small-group or guided-reading activities. The materials and lessons provide some opportunities for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level to extend their knowledge. Activities and lesson plans listed above grade level require students to complete more work with a more complex text rather than apply their knowledge in an extension activity. Most resources for differentiation are provided for students performing at or below grade level.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The program provides teachers with a leveling system that is used to assign each student a reading level. Using this leveling system, teachers can assign independent-reading texts, texts on the online program, and guided-reading texts appropriate for above-level learners. This gives students performing above grade level opportunities to work with more complex texts and continue to grow through the reading levels. Across the leveled reader library, there are some texts that include “Cross-Curricular Connections” at the end of the text. These additional tasks are meant to extend student learning and often include connections to writing, science, math, and art.
In Unit 3, all students are expected to write an informative and explanatory informational report. The teacher selects a lesson from four different lesson plans, depending on the students’ independent levels. The lesson available for readers who are proficient includes opportunities to view a five-paragraph short story to gain background knowledge for their writing. There are also four resources for short informational stories related to butterflies, which students can use as references and resources for their writing. Using an exemplar graphic organizer as a model, students use an empty graphic organizer to plan their introduction, body, and conclusion. The revision checklist focuses on the attention grabber in the introductory paragraphs and main ideas with supporting details. An exemplar for the full writing, with the parts of the essay labeled, is also provided as a sample that can either be shown to the students or used as a model writing lesson. A read aloud from this unit, Incredible Icebergs, includes “Cross-Curricular Connections” extensions to both writing and math. For the writing extension, students research the saying, “that’s just the tip of the iceberg” before describing how the meaning relates to the information from the book.
In Unit 5, all students are expected to write narrative realistic fiction. The teacher is given the opportunity to select from four various lesson plans depending on the students’ independent levels. The lesson available for proficient readers includes opportunities to view an eight-paragraph short story to gain background knowledge for their writing. Following the reading, an exemplar graphic organizer is provided in which the introduction contains bullet points that separate the characters, setting, and problem. The problem is introduced and continues in the body’s first paragraph. In the graphic organizer, students include bullet points for the sections in the introduction, three events with three details each in the body, and three bullet points for the conclusion. The revision checklist focuses on the attention grabber in the introduction and main ideas with supporting details. An exemplar for the full writing, in which the parts of the essay are labeled, is also provided as a sample that can either be shown to the students or used as a model writing lesson. A guided reading from this unit, The Other Book of World Records, includes “Cross-Curricular Connections” extensions to Writing and Art, and Social Studies. For the Writing and Art extension students consider what will happen next with the main character, and then they add a new page to the story. For the Social Studies extension students label and map where five world records were set and then compare their maps in partners.
The program also offers “Project Based Learning Packs,” beginning in Grade 2. These tasks require students to use a variety of literacy skills to complete a research project. The project packs are not included in the Weekly Planners; teachers have to search for them and use them at their own discretion. The topics of the research packs can be integrated into units of study that are included in the “Literacy Curriculum Map.” These Project-Based Learning lessons require students to collaborate, communicate, and think critically to answer a “Driving Question.” This question gives the students structure and purpose and helps them understand what they are learning about and why it’s important. The materials provided in the Project-Based Learning Packs help students stay organized and focused as they work through the process. Also, if the students need an even higher level of enrichment, Project-Based Learning lessons for Grades 3, 4, and 5 are available.
Materials include supports for students who perform below grade level to ensure they are meeting the grade-level literacy standards. Materials provide planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation, for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The program provides a leveling system that teachers can use to determine if a child’s reading level is below grade level. Using the “Assessing a Student’s Level” section in the “Teacher Corner,” teachers can find step-by-step directions about how to use benchmark passages, retelling rubrics, and comprehension quizzes to assess a student’s reading level. The first step is to use “Benchmark Passages” and “Running Records” to determine a child’s instructional and independent reading level. The passages are leveled aa–Z, so teachers would have to use their judgment on which passage to use before knowing a child’s reading level. Each reading level contains a fiction and a nonfiction Benchmark Passage. First, the child reads the passage to the teacher, while the teacher takes a running record. The student reads, then answers comprehension questions about the passage. The program provides information on how a teacher should score the running record and comprehension questions to determine a child’s reading level. In Grade 2, students are expected to begin the year reading at Level K and end the year at Level P. In addition to running records, teachers use “Retelling Rubrics” to identify strengths and weaknesses students have in comprehending fiction or nonfiction texts and “Comprehension Quick Check Quizzes,” which use multiple-choice questions to demonstrate a student’s comprehension of a story. Knowing this information, teachers can determine if their students are reading below grade-level expectations.
In Unit 1, in the “Shared Reading” folder of The U.S. Government at Work, the teacher can find two graphic organizers (“Draw Connections” and a “Know-Want to Know-Learned” [KWL] chart), high-frequency flashcards, a vocabulary graphic organizer that the student uses to illustrate the definition of words, and a graphic organizer that supports the reading strategy that is used during the Shared Reading lesson (main idea and details). Teachers are directed to use these resources during their whole-group instruction, but they can also be used during small-group instruction. For further differentiation, there are also five texts that are at a lower level than the original shared-reading text. These texts are intended to be used during small-group instruction as needed.
In Unit 2, “Writing,” the teacher uses the “Early Developing” level for the “Narrative Fairy Tale” process-writing lesson for all students during whole-group instruction. In this lesson, the students are provided an exemplar that indicates what each section of the writing is: beginning, problem, middle, and end. Students also receive a graphic organizer sample and a revision checklist that guides students to include coherent sentences and fairy tale elements. The teacher has the option to go down one level in the resources, to the “Beginning” level, as necessary, in the process of Writing lessons. This level includes all of the same sections, but they are given in a more concise manner, with fewer details and more lower-level vocabulary words.
Additionally in Unit 2, students identify and produce the letter-sound correspondence for vowel diphthongs ou and ow in multisyllabic words. The “Weekly Planner” states that teachers should use A Frog Princess and The Ant and the Grasshopper to review the phonics skills that have already been taught. Students use the texts to highlight words containing ou and ow. The Weekly Planner lists the “Sound/Symbol Book: Diphthongs ow, ou” and the decodable book The Clown Who Lost Her Smile as “Resources for Differentiation.” The “Sound/Symbol Book” uses the words cow, plow, house, and cloud to teach students to recognize the ow and ou letter combinations and hear their sound in the medial and final positions of words. The Clown Who Lost Her Smile contains many words that have the ou and ow spelling patterns, and students can practice decoding skills. This text also has a “Phonics” lesson plan that is divided into two sections. Section 1 is the core lesson, which can be used for most students in a whole-group setting. The core lesson is intended to introduce, model, and provide practice decoding ou and ow words. Section 2 consists of activities that are designed to reinforce the skills taught in Section 1 in a small-group or individual setting. These opportunities include students using letter workmats, using letters to spell words with the ou and ow spelling pattern. Additionally, students will use the spelled words to identify rhymes in the words clown, howl, growl, how, now, brow, shout, pout, pound, ground. To finish off Section 2, students continue practicing the sounds through three “Learning Centers”: “Story Writing,” “Game Boards,” and “Flashcard Creation.” In the Story Writing Center, students choose four of the words with the same vowel sound and use them to create a story about something that makes them smile.
In Unit 5, the “Guided Reading” lesson’s “Differentiation” folder has multiple texts below the level-P text The Other Book of World Records. These texts include two level-J texts and a level-M text. There are also graphic organizers for the reading strategy (a KWL chart), the vocabulary skill, and the comprehension skill (a story map) that are taught in the original Guided Reading lesson. These books and graphic organizers provide the scaffolding support that struggling students need to make academic gains and help close gaps.
Unit 8 lists the comprehension skill of “main idea and details” as the focus for guided reading. The Weekly Planner provides the texts Machu Picchu (Levels I, L) and A Landforms Adventure (Level N) for students reading far below grade level. Students are practicing the same skills as those reading on or above grade level but are using texts that are appropriate for their reading level. The Guided Reading section in Unit 8 also lists the “Comprehension Skill Pack: Main Idea and Details (Grade 2)” as a Resource for Differentiation. The Comprehension Skill Pack includes a lesson plan, a model passage, a practice passage, and two independent practice passages for students below grade level to practice identifying the main idea and details. If students continue to struggle, teachers have the option of using the “Comprehension Skill Pack: Main Idea and Details (Grade 1)” for more support.
Materials include supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. Materials include accommodations commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS). Materials provide scaffolds and encourage the strategic use of students’ first language as a means to development in English. Vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Materials include resources for ELs within the “ELL Edition” (English Language Learner Edition), including EL “Leveled Reader Packs” that can be used as companions to the core leveled books. A “Language Proficiency Alignment” is included in the leveling system; materials note how it aligns to state levels. The reader packs are separated into five English proficiency levels that correlate with Texas’ proficiency levels in the following manner: Level 1—”Beginning”; Level 2—not applicable; Level 3—”Intermediate”; Level 4—”Advanced”; Level 5—”Advanced High.” Distinctions are made according to state proficiency levels, where Texas is indicated to have Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced High levels for language proficiency alignment. The “Teacher’s Corner” also includes a “Language Proficiency Standards” page, which teachers can use to search within the materials for resources that correlate to the ELPS established by the state of Texas.
Additional materials are also leveled commensurate with students’ level of English proficiency. For example, Unit 6 requires students to write an informational report using the prompt “How do living things interact with their environment?” Rubrics are provided for “Beginning,” “Early Developing,” “Developing,” and “Fluent” stages, with differences between levels noted in provided writing exemplars, graphic organizers, and revision checklists. For example, the Beginning writing exemplar is one paragraph and uses basic vocabulary, while the Early Developing exemplar is three paragraphs and uses more content-specific vocabulary.
Leveled texts are accompanied by lesson plans that include comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar objectives. For example, the book Changes is intended for use with students at Level 5 (Advanced). The five-day lesson plan focuses on comprehension and decoding on Day 1, guided reading on Days 2–3, buddy reading on Day 4, and independent reading on Day 5. The objectives focus on retelling events from the text and orally summarizing the text using targeted vocabulary, personally connecting to the story by describing a similar experience, writing a narrative using vocabulary from the text, using simple past and present perfect verbs to express actions, and using conjunctions.
The lesson plans that accompany leveled texts provide language support throughout the lesson. For example, the lesson plan for the text Jack and Lily’s Favorite Food (Level C/Beginning) guides teachers to point to each word as it’s read aloud during shared reading, and then to have students do the same. After each page, the teacher stops for discussion questions and word-attack skills. For example, the teacher points to the word turkey and asks for the beginning sound, then points to what Jack is eating and the picture on the can before having the students guess what they think the word is. Later in the reading, students are given sentence frames to tell what food Jack and Lily like and whether it’s the same or different.
The materials provide a variety of materials translated into Spanish, including, but not limited to, Spanish foundational skills, Spanish leveled books, and Spanish graphic organizers. For example, the materials include close-read passages written in English translated into Spanish. One close-reading pack is titled “What do all baby mammals need?” and includes close-read passages about giraffes, blue whales, kangaroos, and squirrels. Each passage is leveled as Low, Medium, or High, so teachers can assign students a passage based on their independent reading level. The Spanish version contains the same passages and response sheets, so that students still reading in Spanish can participate in the same activities as the rest of the class.
The materials include additional supports to aid teachers in strategically using students’ first language as a means to development in English. For example, the lesson plan for the text I Can Be (Level C/Intermediate) includes a “Teacher Reference Vocabulary Chart” with Spanish translations for vocabulary such as cheetah, fast, loud, meek, peacock, proud, slug, compare, and explain. The chart also indicates words from the text that are cognates in English and Spanish.
Vocabulary instruction is included in the lesson plans for texts. For example, in Unit 1, the shared-reading text Community Government introduces the vocabulary words council, departments, election, government, and mayor. The lesson plan guides the teacher to engage students in a discussion about the vocabulary during a book preview. Students use the glossary to read and discuss the definitions of each word, then draw a picture that accurately reflects the meaning of each word. With a partner, students create and record sentences for each word, then record sentences that accurately reflect the meaning of each word.
Vocabulary is also addressed in additional resources called EL “Vocabulary Books.” In the Vocabulary Book Animal Habitats, there are colored vocabulary cards, a matching activity sheet, a cloze activity, and vocabulary games. Students use the present simple verb tense in complete sentences to classify vocabulary into logical categories and to compare and describe. For example, students use the vocabulary words animals and habitat along with dialogue frames to ask and answer questions with a partner. The dialogue frames included are “What is a special feature of ...?” “They have ….” “How does that help ...live in the ...?” “I think …because ….”
The materials include EL “Comic Conversations” resources designed for Beginning to Intermediate ELs to build vocabulary and conversational fluency. Each comic introduces a basic language function that students can apply in their own lives at school and at home and provides guided instruction to students as they read the comic, learn new vocabulary, and practice a conversation. For example, Unit 4 includes a speaking-and-listening objective about following agreed-upon rules of discussion when talking about texts. The Comic Conversations lesson plan introduces students to the vocabulary needed when agreeing or disagreeing with another person. Students read the comic to practice fluency and learn examples of how to agree or disagree with someone, role-play the story by reading from a script, create their own conversations that include agreeing and disagreeing, and present to the class.
The materials provide some assessments and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress. The materials include a clear alignment between the assessments and the TEKS in the unit guides. The materials offer a variety of formative and progress-monitoring assessments, but insufficient summative assessments. Some assessments provide scoring information; however, there is limited guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance for most assessments.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The program provides many opportunities for formative assessments. These types of assessments include but are not limited to graphic organizers, comprehension quizzes, and progress-monitoring assessments for foundational skills in phonics and phonological awareness. The comprehension quizzes that come with each leveled book assess the comprehension skill taught within the lesson plan, as well as the content taught in the text. The leveled texts also include higher-order discussion cards that teachers can use as a formative assessment for student comprehension of the text and comprehension skill. The program provides intervention lessons for students struggling with foundational skills and comprehension skills. The program uses a leveling system to assess each student’s reading level. The program suggests that these assessments be completed every six to eight weeks to monitor student growth across reading levels. Grade 2 does have the option of using each unit’s writing project as a summative assessment. However, this is the only evidence of a summative assessment that teachers can use to assess student knowledge of an entire unit. There is little evidence of summative assessments for foundational skills. The only assessments included for these skills are progress-monitoring forms.
According to the unit guides, the only assessment assigned is found in Unit 2. The teacher assesses the ability to read nonsense words in Week 4 of this unit from the “Phonological Awareness” assessment pack. This summative assessment is intended to gauge a child’s ability to identify and produce letter-sound correspondence. Teachers are not provided with direct guidance on how to use this assessment.
Unit 2 uses the shared-reading text Jack’s Tale. The lesson plan included with this leveled book has a comprehension-skill worksheet where students compare and contrast two different texts; a phonics worksheet where students practice discriminating long /e/ vowel digraphs; a grammar-and-mechanics worksheet where students identify and use adjectives; discussion cards; and a comprehension quiz that assesses different reading and comprehension strategies. All of these resources can be used as formative assessments. Using the comprehension-strategy worksheet, students use information from Jack’s Tale and Giant’s Tale to compare and contrast the experiences of the two different characters. After reading, students take a comprehension quiz that assesses sequencing events, comparing and contrasting, making inferences, vocabulary, cause and effect, problem and solution, and story elements. These skills are taught within the lesson plan or are review skills. Using the students’ responses on the graphic organizer, comprehension quiz, and during discussions, teachers can determine which students still need support in specific comprehension skills.
Unit 2 lists the “Nonsense Word Assessment: Consonant Blends and Digraphs” as a “Resource for Differentiation.” During “Center” time, the “Literacy Curriculum Map” lists a phonics worksheet that students should complete to practice using the consonant digraph /ch/. After completing the worksheet, teachers can use the Nonsense Word Assessments to determine if students have mastered or need additional support with the skill. Both progress-monitoring assessments require students to read a list of nonsense words that include consonant digraphs and blends. Using the data obtained from the assessments, teachers can search the program for specific intervention lesson plans to use with students who need additional support. There is little evidence of other specific assessments to use within each unit plan. Teachers have to use their own discretion on when to use specific progress-monitoring assessments with their students.
In Unit 6, students take two retelling assessments, one using the text About Trees and one using the text Gaggle, Herd, and Murder. A retelling rubric provides specific details expected from the students, so that teachers can evaluate each retelling with the same criteria. There are both fiction and nonfiction retelling rubrics, available in both English and Spanish. Prompts are provided in case the students have difficulty retelling parts of the story or remembering certain details. For example, if the child is struggling with getting the retell started, the teacher can use one or more of the following prompts: “How does the story begin? What important things happened in the story? What was the order of the events?” The rubric even asks the teacher to take into account how much prompting was needed for the student to be successful. Guidance is provided on how to interpret student data, but not on how to respond to the data.
The materials provide consistent formative assessment opportunities within every lesson in this curriculum. Most of these are focused on phonics/phonological Awareness, “Word Work,” or grammar skills. For example, in the Unit 8 shared-reading text Mysterious Mars, the curriculum suggests the following quick check for the consonant digraph sh phonics skill: “Have students reread the book...and circle all of the words containing the consonant sh digraph.” The quick check suggested for the Word Work skill of alphabetical order is to copy the words astronomer, telescope, sky, volcano, and canyon from the board onto a piece of paper, in alphabetical order, then share with a friend. There is also an alphabetical-order worksheet available for the teacher to use if necessary. Finally, the grammar skill taught and assessed in this Unit 8 text is plural nouns. Students have to come up with a sentence for a list of plural nouns written on the board. If necessary, there is also a worksheet to reinforce this skill.
Additionally, the materials assess students using a three-part online running record. Students complete an online reading and a recorded retelling of a story, then send the recordings to the teacher’s account. The students also take a “Comprehension Quiz” scored by the online system. Based on the rubric and quiz results, the teacher can assign students an independent reading level, which allows the system to provide corresponding leveled texts in the student’s online portal. Each leveled text includes graphic organizers and comprehension quizzes directly related to the content taught in the text. The materials provide an assessment schedule to monitor the progress of students. A note suggests students not progressing at the expected rate should be assessed more frequently than the assessment schedule. Additionally, the materials include a chart detailing the scores students should attain before moving to a new level.
Under the “Assessments” tab, teachers can find progress-monitoring assessments for “Benchmark Books/Passages,” “Retelling Rubrics,” “Alphabet Letter Naming,” “Phonological Awareness,” “Phonics,” “High-Frequency Words,” and “Fluency Time Reading.” While the program does not state when these assessments should be used, teachers can choose from the different types of assessments based on instruction and student need. For example, if a teacher wants to assess “Initial Sounds Recognition,” teachers have four assessments to choose from. Based on the results of the Initial Sounds assessments, teachers can choose from three lesson plans that provide reinforcement in these skills. Teachers can use these progress-monitoring assessments as often as needed across the school year.
Materials include year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify the needs of students and provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners to ensure grade-level success. Materials provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. Plans are comprehensive and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. Teacher 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 materials provide an overarching year-long plan through eight unit “Weekly Planners.” Each unit has a “Unit Snapshot” that consists of four weeks, for a total of 32 weeks of instruction. The plans are separated into 11 components, allowing the students to receive daily instruction on a reading strategy, comprehension, vocabulary, high-frequency words, text features/concepts about print, phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, speaking/listening, writing, and grammar & mechanics/word work. Instruction of these components is intended to be given through multiple grouping structures. The reading strategy, comprehension, vocabulary, high-frequency words, and concepts about print are taught through a shared-reading grouping structure; the teacher leads whole-group reading and also provides opportunities to work with partners as students search for concepts in the stories. Phonological awareness and phonics are covered through a leveled book chosen for the week; students have opportunities to discuss with a partner, share information with the whole group, and read independently. The reading strategy, comprehension, and vocabulary components are targeted again through guided-reading opportunities. During “Centers,” students work in their small groups, focusing on fluency, phonics, reading, and writing opportunities with the skills of the week. Students listen attentively and ask questions during a whole-group read-aloud, for further reinforcement of the reading strategy, grammar & mechanics, speaking/listening, and fluency.
The program has a variety of assessments that teachers can use at their own discretion to progress monitor skills; these include benchmark books, benchmark passages, retelling rubrics, alphabet letter naming, phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, and fluency timed reading. Teachers can use these assessments at any point in the school year, or they can use them to supplement whole-group lessons in the “Literacy Curriculum Map.” The program also has a section titled “Response to Intervention” (RtI), located in the “Teacher Corner.” Materials explain the framework for RtI and list additional resources. The program defines Tier 1 as whole-group instruction, Tier 2 as small-group instruction, and Tier 3 as individual, one-on-one instruction. The goal of the RtI framework is to provide struggling students with differentiated instruction so that they can remain in the general education environment. Teachers can use formative assessments, progress-monitoring assessments for foundational skills, and the text leveling system to determine which students are struggling and need additional support. The text leveling system helps teachers to accurately and reliably measure text complexity to support differentiated instruction. This assessment should be done at the beginning of the year so that teachers are aware of the varying levels of the class. Once teachers know the reading level of each student, they will be able to select texts and additional materials to support student learning.
The Literacy Curriculum Map provides teachers with annotations and ancillary materials that support student learning. Teachers can find these ancillary materials in the individual units’ folders. Each folder provides teachers with resources to use during whole-group instruction and a subfolder named “Resources for Differentiation.” The resources in these folders are the ones listed on the Literacy Curriculum Map under the Resources for Differentiation column.
The “Primary Protocols” are an overview document that encompasses all of the Centers throughout the curriculum, which cover “Fluency,” “Phonics,” “Phonological Awareness,” “Grammar,” “Word Work,” and “Writing.” This Centers document provides the teacher with organization and implementation tips. A few examples of the implementation tips are to review picture cards so that students can identify the pictures, to provide a hard surface to work at or a clipboard, to swap out letter cards for magnetic letters (to change up the Center occasionally), and to repurpose other “Reading A-Z” resources for Learning Centers.
The English Learner (EL) “Language Skills Pack” is available as an ancillary content-based resource to support student learning in the areas of vocabulary development and the strengthening of skills across the four language domains: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The annotations and guidance included for teachers include two options for teachers to consider when using the Language Skills Pack. One option is to connect assessment results with targeted instruction for each student; teachers administer an EL Assessment to identify specific language strengths and weaknesses, record the results, and then select lessons within a Language Skills Pack to address the identified needs. The other option is to connect language development and academic content instruction through the Language Skills Pack; teachers first select a grade level, then select a Language Skills Pack under a specific content area, and finally use the lessons within the pack to teach content vocabulary and targeted skills across the four language domains. Further annotations are given by providing teachers with the instructional sequence: building background, presentation, practice and application, check for understanding, and review. Teachers are able to become familiar with the sequence that is consistently followed in the packs, using the list and descriptions of each pack.
The materials include a scope and sequence of standards that are taught in each unit throughout the year, but there is no evidence of how the standards connect and build across grade levels. The materials include supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended, but there is no evidence of additional supports for administrators to support teachers with implementation. The materials include realistic pacing guidance for a 160-day schedule.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “Standard Snapshot” document includes a scope and sequence that details the TEKS that are taught in each unit, including information on which standards are spiraled throughout the year. The “Literacy Curriculum Map” also shows the theme for every unit and how the “Essential Questions” vary throughout the grade levels. For example, the Unit 1 theme is “Civics, Leaders, and U.S. Government.” The Essential Question in Grade 1 is “What are the rights and responsibilities of people in a community?” and the Essential Question in Grade 2 is “What is the role of government in people’s lives?”
Unit guides provide teachers with a summary of the content students will be learning, the materials needed for each lesson, and the resources needed for differentiation and extension. Each unit is four weeks long and includes a weekly planner with information about the focus topics and skills related to “Reading Strategy,” “Comprehension,” “Vocabulary,” “High-Frequency Words,” “Text Features/Concepts About Print,” “Phonological Awareness,” “Phonics,” “Fluency,” “Speaking/Listening,” “Writing,” and “Grammar and Mechanics/Word Work.” There are some issues with a lack of alignment between unit guides and daily lessons. For example, the guide for Unit 6, Week 1, lists the reading strategy as “asking and answering questions about key details,” but the lesson materials list the reading strategy as “summarizing.”
The materials include “Primary Protocols” to support teachers in planning and executing lessons. The Protocols provide teachers with a detailed explanation of each of the six components of the literacy block (“Guided Reading,” “Shared Reading,” “Phonics,” “Read Alouds,” “Centers,” and “Writing”), guidance on how to teach specific skills, a timeframe to follow for instruction, and suggestions for daily routines and procedures. For example, the Primary Protocols provide the following suggested weekly pacing for a read-aloud: Day 1, introduce the reading strategy, speaking/listening skill, and fluency skill; Days 2–4, read the text, model fluency and think-alouds of the reading strategy, and discuss the text; Day 5, discuss the weekly question and respond to the text.
An online component called the “Teacher Corner” provides additional resources for teachers to effectively and efficiently implement the program. For example, within “Student Connections” there’s a section called “Get to Know the Room” that helps teachers familiarize themselves with what students will see and be able to do when they log on to their online “Reading Room.”
The materials include eight units that contain four weeks of instruction each, for a total of 32 weeks or 160 days. The materials also include resources for administering benchmark assessments and other progress-monitoring procedures outside of daily instruction.
The visual design of the “Student Edition” (whether in print or digital) is neither distracting nor chaotic. 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:
In the “Kids A-Z” online student reading portal, there is an appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Students can select from six sections—“Level Up,” “Messages,” “Backgrounds,” “Badges,” “Assessments,” and “Reading Assignments”—that are distinguished with a simple graphic, making it easy, even for non-readers, to remember where to click to reach the desired destination.
The teacher online materials include PDF versions of all the texts and ancillary materials to allow students multiple access opportunities, including viewing the projected stories and/or printouts to support the e-texts that students can read through their online platform. After reviewing the multiple student versions, it was determined that students will have access to materials, whether in print or digital, that are within a normal range of white space and design and don’t have any major distractions for the user.
Graphic organizers contain appropriate space for students to write; minimal other graphics that would district from student learning or work are on the page. Graphic organizers logically section information into boxes or tables; for example, the “Character Map, Primary” graphic organizer has a circle in the middle of the page in which the students write the character’s name; surrounding the circle, there are four squares where students list character traits according to the text. Within each square, students are given enough white space to draw a small picture and write a single word or a sentence to describe the character. There are no other graphics or images on the page to distract from student learning.
The texts second-grade students read contain many pictures and graphics that support and enhance student learning without being visually distracting. For example, a “Deserts of the World” map shows readers a world map with colorful labels of the deserts and the continents they are on. In another example, a line graph shows the high temperatures in Miami. Each has clear labels, titles, and data that is easy to read.
The materials contain a “Reading” tab that offers “Level Up,” “Reading Room,” “Assignment,” and “Assessment” sections. These components are student-friendly and support student learning along with appropriate teacher guidance. Students are given the opportunity to listen to and read stories, take quizzes, and complete interactivities. As students complete their exercises, they earn points and badges to level up and build their personal avatar. There is also a message functionality that allows the teacher to communicate with the student.
On the student homepage, students see the tabs “Reading Room,” “Reading,” “Vocabulary,” “Messages,” “My Stats,” and “Star Zone.”
In the Reading Room, students select books and topics at their individual reading levels. The program tracks whether the students listen to and read the story. Once students listen to and read the story, they can complete the comprehension quiz to earn points. While listening to a story, the books track each sentence and word, so the student can follow along. If students do not listen to the entire story, the program bookmarks where the student left off. When a student independently reads the story, the program can track if the student reads too fast or too slow, and, depending on the rate, may ensure the student rereads the story. After the student successfully listens to and reads the story, the student can move onto the comprehension quiz.
In the Level Up! section, students choose stories to read or listen to. Listening versions are read with a voice that has proper reading intonation. As the voice reads, the phrase being read is highlighted in yellow; further tracking guidance is provided with a green highlight that moves one word at a time. The student can pause the story as needed, and, when the page finishes, the student has the option of clicking the arrow to go to the next page, or of clicking on the page to have it read again. However, the student cannot select a specific section to be reread; the student must reread the whole page.
For any of the activities assigned, students earn stars for the assignments that they successfully complete. The more difficult the task is to complete, the more stars the students earn for the task. For example, the students earn 10 stars for listening to a book, and they earn 500 stars for completing an entire activity. These stars can be spent to upgrade their avatar, their avatar’s background, and their avatar’s “RAZ rocket.” The more stars they earn, the more impressive the upgrades they can buy.
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