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The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
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Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include well-crafted texts, representing the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. The materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and multicultural, diverse texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The fiction selections include selections from a diverse set of voices. For example, in Unit 1, Jimenez writes about the Mexican-American migrant experience. In this selection, he recounts the life of a Mexican-American migrant family. Namioka writes, in Unit 2, about the Chinese immigrant experience. In “The All-American Slurp,” Namioka writes about the differences in the way cultures eat soup and how difficult it can be to stay true to your culture while living surrounded by a different culture.
Unit 3 includes well-known young adult author Gary Soto’s “The Jacket.” The memoir recounts the universal push and pulls of what a teenager wants versus what a parent wants. In the memoir, the author recollects when he did not get the jacket he wanted; instead of getting one, he says, “failed me.” The jacket becomes a symbol used throughout the text. This selection provides a quality mentor text for what a memoir looks like.
Each unit provides multiple texts for students to read while focusing mainly on one type of reading or genre. Unit 4 deals mainly with informational texts and begins with Dennis Brindell Fradin’s scientific essay, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies,” which has interesting information about ancient cultures and the ways people throughout history have assumed the solar system works. As students work through the information, they are introduced to new vocabulary words and given a chance to explore them in context. Then, students analyze photographs from NASA, followed by an article written by John Noble Wilford titled “An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists.” The texts cover topics and subjects interesting to grade six students while also containing high-level vocabulary words, such as “tomography” and “inscriptions.” The way the texts are organized allows students to make connections within and across texts. Another high-quality text students read in Unit 4 is a biography about blues singer Muddy Waters, titled “Muddy Waters from the Blues Singers.” The unit presents texts that show various ways students read to gain information about topics and people.
The poetry units, Units 5 and 6, include various poets from different periods and backgrounds, including Tennyson, Wordsworth, Cummings, Sandberg, Dickinson, and WB Yeats to Huges Mora, Shihab Nye, Cisneros, Okita, and Angelou. Unit 6 includes “Steps” by award-winning poet Naomi Shihab Nye. This narrative poem about Arab-American girls who share their cultural stories contains rich imagery and layers of meaning.
In Unit 7, the drama unit, the resource includes an excerpt from a play by William Shakespeare and a play by Gesner about the Peanuts characters. Shakespeare’s “Fairies’ Lullaby” is written in the classical language of the time and verse with lines such as “Worm nor snail do no offense.” Gesner’s “Do You Think I’m Crabby?” is an excerpt from the contemporary play You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown about the well-known Peanuts characters.
In Unit 8, the focus is on folk literature, and the materials contain a variety of these types of texts. Students read the Greek myth “Arachne,” which tells the tale of one of Zeus’s daughters, Athene, the goddess of wisdom. Students encounter words such as mortal, fate, obstinacy, and strive as they consider the cause and effect of a character’s actions. Following the myth, students read the lyric poem “The Orb Weaver,” written by Robert Francis. The myth tells the origin tale of the spider, and the poem allows students to make connections across the two texts as it is also about a spider. Although the poem is short, it contains several vocabulary words, such as serenely, sullen, embossed, and quarrel. Students read various traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts throughout the eight units, which allows students to consider ideas and themes from multiple perspectives.
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the requirements of grade 6 TEKS. The text types include realistic fiction, adventure stories, historical fiction, humor, myths, sufficient informational text, and graphic features throughout the material.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, the article “The Forecast: A Warmer World” from Time for Kids uses section headers to separate the text into sections divided by topic. These are also set in purple to contrast with the black text.
Unit 2 includes the text “The Dog of Pompeii” by Louis Untermeyer. Accompanying the text are photos from Pompeii today, including items recovered from ancient Pompeii.
In Unit 3, the memoir “The Flight of the Redbird” is recreated from the writings of Zitkala-Sa and the research of Doreen Rappaport. The text includes images, section headers, and footnotes with definitions for words students may not know. The section headers are set off in red. Pull quotes are set off in blue.
In Unit 8, the folk tale “A Cow of No Color,” retold by Nina Jaffe, includes bright colors in both an image and a pull quote. These pull the reader into the short tale.
The materials include a text complexity analysis with Lexile levels. Texts are at the appropriate quantitative levels and qualitative features for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
At the start of each unit, the materials provide a “Scope & Sequence” guide. This guide includes the titles, page locations of the texts students read in the unit, and other information about the texts. In the Unit Scope and Sequence, there is a table with a column labeled “Reading Support/Text Complexity.” This column provides the Lexile level for each reading selection, along with the publisher descriptor of “Easy,” “Moderate,” or “Challenging.” However, the publisher does not explain the process for determining the text descriptors. It also includes a word count for each selection. For most of the texts within each unit, the materials identify “Difficulty Considerations,” elements of the text that make the text more complex, and “Ease Factors,” elements of the text that make the text easier to comprehend. The publisher provides reading skills and graphic organizers that pair well with the text in other columns.
The texts range from Lexiles 600L to 1370L. Each text is also labeled with the publisher’s difficulty descriptor. The majority of the texts included in each unit are labeled Easy, and each unit also includes texts labeled Moderate. Only some units have texts labeled Challenging by the publisher.
Unit 1 includes the short story “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken with a Lexile of 940L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as the theme, and Ease Factors listed as plot and vocabulary. The short story “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros has a Lexile of 1060L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Considerations listed as figurative language and point of view, and Ease Factor listed as the theme. The short story “The Goodness of Matt Kaiser” by Avi has a Lexile of 600L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Considerations listed as length and narrator, and Ease Factors listed as characters and setting. The biography “Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez” by Kathleen Krull has a Lexile of 850L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy. The Unit 1 anchor text, “The Circuit,” by Francisco Jimenez, has a Lexile of 720L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Considerations listed as vocabulary and background needed, and Ease Factor listed as the point of view.
In Unit 4, the “Reading Support/Text Complexity” column lists ten selections as Moderate, one as Easy, and three as Challenging. The anchor text, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies,” by Dennis Brindell Fradin, has a Lexile of 1230L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as the subject, and Ease Factor listed as vivid imagery. The news article “An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists” by John Noble Wilford has a Lexile of 1370L and a Text-Complexity rating of Challenging. The biography “Muddy Waters” by Julius Lester has a Lexile of 1080L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Consideration listed as style, and Ease Factor listed as a high-interest topic. The biography “Women in the Mists'' by Farley Mowat has a Lexile of 1290L and a Text-Complexity rating of Moderate.
In Unit 8, the Greek myth, “Arachne,” retold by Olivia Coolidge, has a Lexile of 1250L and a Text-Complexity rating of Easy. The Greek myth, “The Twelve Labors of Hercules,” retold by Walker Brents, has a Lexile of 1010L, Text-Complexity rating of Challenging, Difficulty Considerations listed as vocabulary and syntax, and Ease Factor listed as a familiar story. The Chinese folk tale, “The Living Kuan-yin,” retold by Carol Kendall and Yao-Wen Li, has a Lexile of 1120L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Consideration listed as terminology, and Ease Factor listed as a compelling plot.
The folk tale, “The Magic Mortar,” retold by Yoshiko Uchida, has a Lexile of 860L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Considerations listed as unfamiliar terms and setting, and Ease Factor list as Vocabulary. The Unit 8 anchor text, “The Cow of No Color,” by Nina Jaffe and Steven Zeitlin, has a Lexile of 630L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Consideration listed as an unfamiliar setting, and Ease Factor listed as text length.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Questions and tasks require students to connect to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them and identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Program Overview,” the resource outlines its “Developing Critical Thinking Skills with Text-Dependent Questions.” The materials outline their use of Bloom’s and Anderson’s taxonomies to develop the questions. The Program Overview outlines how texts are grouped for students to make text-to-text connections. The resource outlines how an anchor text, a primary source connection, an informational text connection, and a literary connection are set up to scaffold students in making text-to-text connections.
In Unit 1, in the anchor text The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez, teachers “Ask students why they think the author includes these details about the father’s car.” In another section of the same story, students answer the inferential question, “Why was Roberto sad?” Students answer questions at the end of each selection labeled “Find Meaning” and “Make Judgements.” After reading The Circuit, students answer questions such as “Where does the family move?” “How do you think his help affects Panchito?” These include questions that prompt students to make connections, such as “How do the descriptions of farm labor in the vineyard affect your feelings about Panchito?” Students also make text-to-text connections after reading Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull because students compare and contrast the historical setting in both selections.
In Unit 4, students compare the instructional article “Developing Your Chops” by Fran Lantz to the biography “Muddy Waters” from The Blues Singers by Julius Lester.
In Unit 7, while reading “A Defenseless Creature” by Neil Simon, students respond to questions about stage directions, such as “How do the actions indicated in the stage directions help conclude the play?” After reading the play, in the “Make Judgments” sections, students must analyze the literary element of mood by responding to the following questions: “What is the overall mood of the play?” and “What details help establish this mood?”
In Unit 8, after reading the anchor text The Cow of No Color by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin, the resource provides text-dependent questions in the Find Meaning and Make Judgments sections. The resource asks questions such as “Why do you think he feels this way?” and “In this folk tale, does the chief get the punishment he deserves? Why or why not?” Students also make connections by responding to the question, “How do you think a wise leader should have responded to Nunyala’s fame as a wise woman?” Students must make a connection here to their own lives and experience.
The materials include questions and tasks that support students’ analysis of the literary/textual elements of texts by asking students to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author's purpose. Students also compare and contrast the author’s purposes and analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning. The materials also ask students to study the language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students answer text-dependent questions and tasks throughout the selections in the resource. Unit 1's “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken offers students multiple opportunities to analyze literature and make connections throughout the reading. Students respond to questions about the plot: “How does this change contribute to the plot?” and “What does this situation suggest about possible resolutions in the plot?” Also, students use inferencing skills while reading, addressing possible outcomes of an accident. After reading the short story, students recall the academic vocabulary words plot and foreshadowing and further analyze the plot by analyzing what events foreshadow the “revelation at the story’s end.”
In Unit 3, while reading the argumentative essay “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum, students answer the following question: “What does the author’s emphasis of certain words tell you about how he wants you to read those words?” Students also make text-to-self cultural connections by becoming familiar with games played in other cultures after reflecting on the American game hide-and-seek.
In Unit 4, students read the scientific article “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies” by Dennis Brindell Fradin. After reading, students analyze the organization of the article. Teachers remind students that they can use signal words and parallel construction to determine text structure and organization.
In Unit 5, while reading “The Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll, the teacher asks students to identify sensory details that the author uses to set the poem’s mood. After reading the poem, the students make judgments about the author's purpose, responding to questions such as “What do you think is the purpose of the first and last stanzas?” After reading the poem, students read an excerpt from a biographical narrative, The Other Alice, by Christina Bjork. After reading this selection, students connect both texts, reflecting on Lewis Carroll’s life and depictions in the poem.
In Unit 7, while reading “The Fairies’ Lullaby,” students must analyze the play excerpt’s rhyme scheme. After reading the excerpt (in the “Make Judgments” section), students are asked why the author repeated the line “Lulla, lulla, lullaby, Lulla, lulla, lullaby.” Students then read the W.B. Yeats poem “The Stolen Child.” After reading the play excerpt and poem, students compare their impressions of the fairies’ topic in both selections.
In Unit 8, students compare and contrast two selections around the theme of mythology with “Arachne” by Olivia Coolidge and “The Orb Weaver” by Robert Francis. Students collaborate to create a presentation and perform a scene for their classmates. They explore the narrative task and draw conclusions and make predictions. The comparison task gives the students the opportunities to make inferences and support understanding using the text’s evidence. The authors’ use of language to convey the character study serves as the material for the students to create a poster. Students apply knowledge from having read folk stories and folktales to the task of exploring this literary form, a myth.
The materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. The materials also include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The additional materials include a resource for teachers titled “Vocabulary and Spelling.” This resource is available as an electronic resource and a printed book. The resource contains 32 lessons designed to be used each week by teachers in their language arts classroom. These lessons can be used alone, or they can also be used as a supplement to the “Vocabulary and Spelling Workshops” included in the student and teacher materials. Each unit in the Vocabulary and Spelling resource includes a “Word of the Week,” “Try it Yourself,” “Just for Fun,” “Tip” boxes, “Academic Vocabulary,” and “Time Out for Test Practice.” The Word of the Week includes a word from the student textbook’s corresponding unit to highlight interesting or meaningful topics. The Try it Yourself section of the weekly lesson follows a grammar study of one or more topics and includes ways for students to practice the study topics by themselves. The Just for Fun section of the weekly lesson has activities to encourage students to play around with words and language. Several Tip boxes are embedded in the teacher resource’s margins to help teachers by giving clear definitions, additional information, and helpful suggestions. The Academic Vocabulary activities in the lessons’ margins help teachers review academic vocabulary words included in each unit. In the Time Out for Test Practice section of the lesson, students can practice what they learned in the lesson in a multiple-choice, test-format question.
At the beginning of each unit, the resource includes a “Building Vocabulary” section. Here the resource contains a list of “Words in Use” with the sub-categories “Preview Vocabulary,” “Selection Words,” and “Academic Vocabulary.” There is also a list labeled “Key Terms.” The words on these lists are found throughout the unit within the selections and instructional material.
In the Vocabulary and Spelling resource, there are seven lessons to accompany Unit 1. In the first lesson, students create a “Word Study Notebook” to track new words. The lesson has students practice by first selecting a word to add to their notebook and then adding its definition, origin, a sentence using the word, and a drawing of the word. The highlighted word for the week is imploring. Several Tip boxes are embedded in the Vocabulary and Spelling resource margins to help teachers by giving clear definitions, additional information, and helpful suggestions. In Unit 1, the Tip boxes along the way prompt teachers to share types of words students should include in their notebooks, potential uses for these words later in the year in their writing (such as poetry), and information to share with students about what word study is about as a way to engage the students in the lesson.
In Unit 4, there are three lessons and a Time Out for Test Practice included in the Vocabulary and Spelling resource. In one lesson, students learn about various reference materials and what they are used for. Students practice looking up words in the dictionary and write down pieces of the information they learn. The highlighted word for the week is intangible. In the Time Out for Test Practice in Unit 4, students answer ten multiple-choice questions over synonyms and ten multiple-choice questions over antonyms.
Academic vocabulary is highlighted in reading passages and presented in writing activities. In Unit 5, the writing workshop addresses personal narratives. The teacher introduces the terms standardized, memorable, jarring, and engaged while reading about what great writers do from “Little by Little” by Jean Little.
In Unit 8, there are five vocabulary lessons in the Vocabulary and Spelling resource to accompany the textbook. In one lesson, students read about how English-speaking people in different parts of the world may use different words to describe the same thing. Students read a list of terms that the British use and see the United States equivalent. Students examine some of the differences between British English spelling and American English spelling. Then, students practice translating sentences from British English into American English. The highlighted word of the week from the unit is foliage.
The materials include procedures and protocols, along with limited support for teachers, to foster independent reading. Materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time but lack structured accountability for achieving independent reading goals. Students have limited choices for self-selection outside of listed titles within each unit.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the materials titled “Program Planning Guide,” there is a “Reading Log” graphic organizer. The log includes a place for students to write the date, the title of the book they are reading, the author, the page they started on, the page they stopped on, and their summaries or reactions.
At the end of each unit, the materials present a list of suggested texts for independent reading. This list is titled “For Your Reading List” and encourages students to select from the list and read for blocks of time over the next few days or weeks. There is also guidance for students to consider as they read.
The “Story Share Library” is a digital library targeted at students who read below grade level. The teacher can assign selections and give the students choices to select what they are interested in reading. These selections are designed for the reader who is older but reading below grade level. Students can search by topic or by grade level so that independent reading is accessible to all students. The teacher can track progress with the resources available in the materials’ platform.
In Unit 1, some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, The Birchbark House by Louise Eldrich, The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley Holland, and Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. Teachers also help students link their reading to the unit theme, Finding a Place in the World, and ask how fiction can help readers better cope with surprises.
In Unit 3, some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Philip Hoose, Boy by Roald Dahl, Invisible Allies: Microbes That Shape Our Lives by Jeanette Farrell, and Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth by James Cross Giblin. Teachers help students link their reading to the unit theme, Defining Freedom, and ask how reading nonfiction can expand their horizons. Students identify either a personal freedom or a foreign country where that freedom is curtailed and then locate library books about these subjects.
In Unit 7, the materials suggest that students consider their purpose as they read to help them gain a deeper understanding of the text. Some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki, Everything About Theatre! The Guidebook of Theatre Fundamentals by Robert L. Lee, Stage Plays from the Classics by Joellen Bland, and A History of the Elizabethan Theater by Adam Woog.
The materials provide students opportunities to write literary texts, informational texts, argumentative texts, and correspondence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Language Arts Handbook” supports students in writing various genres, including adventure, autobiography, brochure, comedy, eulogy, history, and itinerary. Student instruction continues with steps to “Gather Ideas” to “Organize Your Ideas” and tips on performing these tasks. Two examples are given to students for an argumentative essay and an informative essay. Writing skills are detailed, giving students a general plan to develop their writing. Short instructions are given to consider when composing writing pieces. General writing plans that include prewriting, drafting, revising, and presenting, followed by reflecting, are detailed for students to guide them while carrying out other assignments. Differences in narrative, argumentative, descriptive, and informative writing are given to students to help decide which fits their purpose for any given assignment. General instructions are given regarding writing a series of drafts through stages of developing an essay, ending with “evaluating your draft.” Students are given suggestions to use peer review in coming to a final revision, and the product is complete.
In the Language Arts Handbook, “Research Skills” instructions guide students to use search engines and include needed elements for an informative research paper. In the “Research and Documentation” section, students receive pointers to write an informative research paper. Details for writing citations for various sources are given. Basic instructions for footnotes and endnotes are provided. Within the Language Art Handbook, a section called “Applied English” gives students instructions in composing a business letter. Tips for a business letter in its format and tone are given. How to address the letter and the salutation to use are given to students in several short paragraphs in a general form. Students are given guidelines such as to make an outline for the main points and to use the standard format used for business letters. Pointers are given to students for the opening and ending of the letter. Students are instructed to use a formal tone, but no examples are provided.
In Unit 1, after reading the short story “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer” by Avi, there are two writing options for students in “Extend Understanding.” One of these is a “Creative Writing” option that asks students to write a thank you letter to the main character, Matt Kaizer, from another character’s point of view. Students give details from the story and how the character may feel about what happened in their letter. Later in Unit 1, after reading the short story “The All-American Slurp” by Lensey Namioka, there are two writing activities for students to select from in Extend Understanding. One of the activities is a Creative Writing activity. In this activity, students pretend to be the narrator from the short story, and they write a letter to their best friend back in China. In this letter, students explain their experiences with American table manners, American customs, and what progress they feel they are making toward learning more about American ways.
In Unit 3, after reading the personal essay “Why” by Anne Frank, students choose one of two writing opportunities in Extend Understanding. One option is an “Argumentative Writing” task in which students create a main idea map with at least four supporting details, showcasing what they believe is the most important thing parents should do while raising children. Students then use that map to write at least a paragraph convincing parents to do what they said was the most important. Following the argumentative essay by Robert Fulghum titled “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” students write an anecdote about their lives as a way to convince a kindergartener to eat their vegetables.
In Unit 7, after reading the “Fairies’ Lullaby” by William Shakespeare and “The Stolen Child” by W.B. Yeats, in the “Writing Options” section, students write an informational essay comparing and contrasting the use of repetition by both authors. Students must use examples from both texts.
After reading the Unit 8 Ghanaian folktale “The Cow of No Color” retold by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin, students engage in a narrative writing activity. Teachers explain that this folktale tells an anecdote that symbolizes the larger human issues of rulers who mistreat their subjects. Students write their anecdote that deals with this issue.
The materials provide opportunities for students to use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. The materials also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each unit has writing tasks associated with the texts within the units, and each unit also contains a “Writing Workshop” at the end of the unit. In Unit 1, Writing Workshop, students write an informative piece responding to a short story they have read. They construct a clearly formed opinion or a personal reaction and use text evidence from the story to support and explain the opinion or reaction they are sharing. The workshop breaks down the process to help students with each part of the writing process and offers rubrics and guidance to help them collect evidence to support their opinion or reaction. The workshop also offers guidance for editing and revising. While reading the Unit 1 short story “The All-American Slurp” by Lensey Namioka, students use text evidence to support their opinions when analyzing the story’s theme. The teacher asks students to indicate signs that the Lins are getting used to American ways and, in their opinion, how well the Lin family is adapting to American life.
In Unit 2, after reading “Ta-Na-E-Ka” by Mary Whitebird, students answer questions about the text that provide opportunities to demonstrate claims regarding actions and characters in the text. Questions require students to use the text to support opinions regarding people’s values and cultural aspects. The “Research and Report” assignment offers students the chance to find other rites of passage rituals among Native Americans. Students choose one rite of passage and compare it to the one described in the reading. This comparison requires the students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned about the practices of the culture described in the short story.
In Unit 3, after reading the memoir “The Jacket” by Gary Soto, students write a literary analysis of how the author’s tone reveals his inner feelings about that particular time in his life. Students support their thesis with details they collected on a graphic organizer while reading the memoir. The “Creative Writing” activity prompts students to imagine that they are the narrator in the story and have fully outgrown their jacket. Students then write a diary entry explaining how they feel about getting rid of the jacket, adding sensory details when describing the jacket and their feelings.
In Unit 5, after reading the narrative poem “Steps” by Naomi Shihab Nye, students write a brief biographical essay about the author’s life. Students include details that might help someone reading Nye’s work for the first time understand her concerns and themes, using at least two print or online sources in their essay.
In Unit 7, after reading the play “In The Fog” written by Milton Geiger, students write a literary analysis. Students address their analysis to the author and let him know whether the play’s ending surprised them and provide text evidence to support their rationale.
In Unit 8, students write a research report on a specific, narrow topic. The task’s goal is for students to combine information thoughtfully from multiple sources to inform their readers about their selected topic. Students must understand the sources they are reading and clearly explain what they learned from reading them in their own words.
The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process elements to compose multiple texts and provide opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, and the materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Grammar and Style” section of the “Writing and Grammar” workbook provides in-depth language arts instruction to enrich students’ skills development beyond the level of meeting the standards. The resource offers a comprehensive developmental curriculum, using each unit’s textbook selections as examples and exercises. This resource is a supplemental guide, in addition to the Grammar and Style workshops throughout the textbook. The Writing and Grammar workbook provides lessons to accompany each unit. The five Unit 1 lessons teach sentences and parts of speech. Unit 2 contains four lessons about nouns and five lessons on pronouns. Unit 3 includes seven lessons on verbs and two lessons on subject-verb agreement and usage. Unit 4 includes three lessons on compliments and five lessons on modifiers. In Unit 5, the lessons included from the Writing and Grammar workbook are “Descriptive Writing: Describe a Person,” three lessons on linkers and joiners, and three lessons on interrupters. There are seven Unit 6 lessons on phrases and clauses. In Unit 7, there are seven lessons on punctuation and five lessons on capitalization. Unit 8 includes eight lessons on common usage problems.
After reading the Unit 1 short story “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer” by Avi, students are introduced to sentence fragments and run-ons. The teacher provides instruction regarding sentence fragments, explaining that “a sentence fragment is a phrase or clause that does not express a complete thought but is punctuated as though it does.” Additionally, instruction is given on run-on sentences, explaining that “run-on sentences are complete sentences that contain two or more complete thoughts but are incorrectly punctuated.” Examples of each are given. Students then identify whether each statement in the activity is a complete sentence, a fragment, or a run-on sentence and revise fragments and run-ons to form one or more complete sentences.
Following the Unit 2 selection, “President Cleveland, Where are You?” by Robert Cormier, students learn about the appropriate use of commas. The teacher explains that commas have many uses, explaining the differences between commas in compound sentences and commas in a series, providing examples for each. Students then select the correct response for several multiple-choice sentences, deciding the appropriate way to use commas in the sentence.
In Unit 5, the “Writing to Sources” activities include an explanatory task in which students create a list of steps in a process, a narrative task that has students write a narrative paragraph, a creative writing task in which students create a list, an informative writing task in which students write a literary response, a creative writing task in which students write a diary entry, an informative task in which students write a character analysis, a creative writing task in which students write an epitaph, another informative literary response task, a creative diary entry, an informative critical analysis, a narrative writing task in which students write a personal narrative, an informative task that is a compare and contrast essay, a narrative task in which students create a narrative stanza for a poem, another informative compare and contrast essay, a creative task in which students write a free verse poem, an informative task in which students write a literary analysis, a creative task in which students write a prophecy, an informative task in which students write a biographical essay, a creative writing task in which students write a descriptive paragraph, an informative task in which students write a literary response, a creative task in which students write an advertisement, another informative literary response, a creative task in which students write an advertisement, followed by another informative literary response, an informative task in which students write a character analysis, a creative task in which students write a menu, and an informative essay.
The Unit 7 Writing Workshop allows students to write a compare and contrast essay. This lesson’s objectives are highlighted by students being able to “introduce the subjects with a thesis statement, follow an effective organizational pattern, use transitions to show comparison and contrast, and conclude by restating the thesis and adding a related idea.” At the beginning of these lessons, the teacher places students into four or five groups. Each group identifies two animals that seem very different at first glance, then have groups spend two to three minutes finding at least two things those animals have in common. Finally, after bringing the class together, ask volunteers to report what each group learned. The students will write a compare and contrast essay that examines the similarities and differences between two subjects. The lesson’s goal is to provide insight into two subjects by showing how they are alike and different. They will use a clear and effective pattern of organization that suits the subjects and purpose. Students will go through the writing process, prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing, and presenting their essays. The materials include a student model/exemplar at the end of the workshop that helps identify the background information and thesis, the organization and transitions, and the ending features.
The materials include speaking and listening opportunities focused on the texts being studied in class and allow students to demonstrate comprehension. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Language Arts Handbook Grade 6” contains a section titled “Speaking and Listening in the additional resources located online.” In this section, verbal and nonverbal communication is defined, and guidelines for each are provided. Active and passive listening is defined, and the differences between listening for comprehension, listening critically, listening for new vocabulary, and listening for appreciation are defined.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken. Teachers prompt students to speak and listen to the text as they read. The teacher edition prompts the teacher to explain how summarizing in chunks along the way while reading can help with comprehension of what is being read. Then, students summarize parts of the short story aloud for each other. At the end of the story, students hold a group discussion about dogs and their loyalty to humans, specifically Lob and his representation of this loyalty. Students also discuss whether Lob’s journeys are a symbol and what they might symbolize. Within the margins, beside the referenced text, there are “Close Reading” questions, such as “Which character is most likely the ‘girl’ of the title?” Students are also asked, “What do you think will happen next?” “What does the author compare Lob to?” and “What is the conflict in the plot at this point?”
At the end of Unit 2, in the “Speaking & Listening Workshop” section, students plan and deliver a literary interpretation. In this literary interpretation, students are tasked with conveying the plot, setting, mood, and tone of the story through speech rather than writing. The resource guides planning, evaluation, and delivery. The workshop does not tell students what story to select to interpret; however, it offers guidance that students should choose a story to which they had a strong personal reaction. Students decide on three or four main points and then craft an introduction, body, and conclusion. They rehearse, give and receive feedback, and then present, avoiding passive voice. The materials also include a speaking rubric and a listening rubric, so students know what they need to do to deliver and listen to literary interpretations successfully.
While reading the Unit 3 memoir “The Jacket” by Gary Soto, students have the opportunity to listen and reflect on their listening. The teacher asks students to listen as the story’s first page is read. While reading, the teacher tells students to close their eyes and picture what they are hearing. After the reading, the teacher asks students to open their eyes and describe the main events they visualized and record in sketches and words the events that have happened so far in the story. As students read on, the materials guide them to continue adding notes on what they visualize.
In Unit 4, students read “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Sky,” a scientific article by Dennis Brindell Fradin. The margins alongside the text in the teacher edition offer teachers places to stop and ask questions, facilitating students’ discussion with their verbal responses. One suggestion guides teachers to ask students to make connections to the article by thinking about and explaining why they believe people once made up stories to explain celestial bodies. Another suggestion guides teachers to ask students to explain whether they believe the stars and planets’ position can influence their lives and why they think they either do or do not.
In Unit 5, the Speaking and Listening Workshop has students deliver and listen to an oral summary of a narrative poem. While students may select their poems, the materials offer guidance that the poem should be something students felt strongly about and long enough to summarize. It must have something unique about it to share with the class. The materials offer tips on summarizing a narrative poem best and sharing that information with others orally. The materials also have a speaking and listening rubric so that students know what they must do to be successful at delivering and listening to oral summaries of narrative poems.
In Unit 6, while reading the lyric poem “The Dream Keeper” by Langston Hughes, the materials offer appropriate intonation guidance during reading. The teacher discusses the kind of reading voice that would fit the poem’s message, demonstrating reading it loudly and forcefully, comically, softly and tenderly, and matter-of-factly. After reading, the teacher leads a discussion with students about why each is or is not appropriate, followed by students reading the poem aloud to partners. There are also suggestions in the margins for teachers to use to help facilitate the studying of the text. In one suggestion, teachers ask students to close their eyes before reading the poem and then say “dream” aloud. Students think about what comes to mind when they say the word. Students then read the poem and then share one sentence to state the poem’s main message. After reading the poem one more time, students then share how reading the poem affects their thoughts and lives.
The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to help students express their own thinking. The materials also provide opportunities for students to give organized presentations and performances while speaking clearly and concisely and using the conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the additional resources located online, there is a resource titled “Language Arts Handbook Grade 6.” Within this resource, there is a section titled “Collaborative Learning and Communication” that defines collaboration for students and provides guidelines for group discussions and projects. Examples of such guidelines include assigning roles when having discussions, listening actively, participating in the discussion, and sticking to the topic. Guidelines for projects direct students to choose a group leader, set goals for the project, schedule the project, and distribute the work equally amongst members while tracking the assignments on a sheet.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “Lob’s Girl” by Jane Aiken. After reading, students discuss dogs’ loyalty, focusing on Lob, the dog in the story. Students also discuss whether Lob’s journeys are a symbol and what they might symbolize. The teacher then asks students to choose a topic related to the story, research it, and prepare a brief presentation to share with their classmates.
In Unit 3, “Speaking and Listening Workshop,” students deliver and listen to a persuasive speech. In this speech, the goal is for students to convince others to believe, think, or do something. The students can select their own topic and must research and present information about their topic to back their reasoning. The materials give information about different persuasive techniques and include a rubric for speaking and a rubric for listening so that students know what they must do to demonstrate success at delivering and listening to persuasive speeches. During presentations, students are evaluated on content, delivery, and presentations.
In Unit 4, after comparing the instructional text “Developing Your Chops” by Fran Lantz and the biography “Muddy Waters” from The Blues Singers by Julius Lester, students work in groups to prepare multimedia presentations on one portion of the history of blues music. Presentations must include pictures or films of the artists, as well as selections from recordings of their music. The teacher assigns some groups early artists such as W.C. Handy, Bessie Smith, B.B. King, and Muddy Waters, while other groups create presentations on modern blues-based groups such as early Rolling Stones, Cream, and Fleetwood Mac. Students perform their presentations to the class.
In Unit 6, “Speaking and Listening Workshop,” students deliver a narrative presentation to tell a story about an experience that happened to them. The narrative presentation focuses on something from the students’ lives and offers guidance for how best to share an event from one’s life with others. There is also a rubric for speaking and a rubric for listening so that students know what they must do to demonstrate proficiency at presenting or listening to a narrative of a life experience.
In Unit 7, students read the screenplay “In the Fog” by Milton Geiger. After reading the screenplay, students discuss it and then plan out how to act it out. Students collaborate to create prompts and coordinate character actions, and then perform the screenplay for others. Later, students form book club groups with others in the class and choose another drama to read. After reading the work, the book club groups gather and discuss several factors of the work and allow each group member to share their initial reaction to the play.
The materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. The materials also support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade level audience.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Program Overview,” the materials advise there are opportunities to connect to a variety of primary sources and informational readings. Additionally, the materials offer “Primary Source Connections” for students throughout the text, and the “Enrichment Projects & Activities” workbook provides multiple “Primary Source Projects.” The Program Overview states that “after-reading material for each selection offers extensive opportunities for students to respond to the literature and to extend their learning through writing and extension activities,” including writing prompts that cover creative, argumentative, informative, narrative, and descriptive writing, which provide opportunities for research and writing to sources. In the “Apply Learning with End-of-Unit Workshops and Performance Tasks” section of the Program Overview, the materials provide “Writing to Sources” activities. The resource outlines how it includes “in-depth research paper writing assignments in each level to provide practice in research and writing to sources.”
The “Language Arts Handbook” provides definitions of primary and secondary sources, as well as information on how to find and use these sources in writing.
While reading the Unit 1 short story “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken, students conduct research. The teacher explains to students that when they need to identify topics for research in a work of fiction, they can approach the task in a few ways, such as by learning more about the author and other works by that author, through identifying the story’s genre and learning more about that, or through investigating details or concepts in the story that are based in fact. Students choose a topic related to the story, research it, and prepare a brief presentation to share with classmates. After reading the Unit 1 short story “The Sand Castle” by Alma Luz Villanueva and the news article “The Forecast: A Warmer World” from Time for Kids, students complete a primary and secondary source project. Primary and secondary sources are explained, and students are instructed to complete a K-W-L chart about global warming. Students use primary and secondary sources from the Internet to learn more about the issue and create a poster to report their findings.
After students read the scientific article “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies” by Dennis Brindell Fradin in Unit 4, they complete a primary source project, where they view primary sources that illustrate the “wanderers” of the ancient Greeks and use their findings to explore and present a feature shared by those planets. Later in the “Critical Literacy” section, students conduct internet research about satellite functions. They print a visual they find and write a paragraph explaining the satellite’s function.
After reading the Unit 5 narrative poem “Steps” by Naomi Shihab Nye, students conduct an enrichment research project. The teacher asks students to research the importance of literature and poetry in Middle Eastern countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Students also research the historical tradition of literature in these countries and share their research results with the class.
In the “Writing Workshop” for Unit 8, students write a research report on a specific, narrowed subject. Students can pick the subject they are researching, and there is a rubric accompanying the workshop so students know what they must do to be successful at the task. Students must have a clear thesis; organize their ideas logically; include quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information from multiple sources that maintain the meaning and logical order of information; include correct documentation for their sources—including a Works Cited page—and offer their insights and explanations as well. To accomplish this task, students must know how to identify high-quality primary and secondary sources and summarize information from them effectively.
The materials include questions and tasks designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The materials contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas. The literacy tasks provided integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The resource is organized by genre with a guiding question for each unit. There is also a theme and quotation to start each unit. These elements unite the selections within the unit. In Unit 1, students read the short story “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken. Before reading, students are given definitions of key vocabulary terms that will be present in the story and draw a T-chart with the labels “Story Details” and “My Conclusions.” As students read, they collect details from the story and draw their own conclusions about those details. In the “Find Meaning” section, students are asked questions that tie directly to the text, such as how the main character first met the dog, Lob, or what happened to them on the way to Aunt Becky’s house. Students identify words or phrases in the story that indicate time has passed and share them with the class aloud. Students also keep a running list of their own questions as they read. Students share aloud their thoughts and discuss them with others. Students consider how they think the character Aunt Rebecca feels and explain why they think so using evidence from the text. Teachers define what a minor character is, and then students share who they think are minor characters in the story and their function in the story. Students research a topic related to “Lob’s Girl,” and after researching it, prepare a presentation that they then present to the class. As a part of their research, students encounter several texts, select which information from these texts matches what they are trying to showcase, synthesize that information, and then share it in writing and orally with their classmates. There are also questions embedded in the student edition; students are asked to imagine what the father in the story is seeing as he looks at his daughter and makes his choice. Students are asked to think about if the initial conflict has been resolved since nine years have passed and explain their thinking. In the “Critical Literacy” task, students conduct internet research to find stories where animals played a part in saving people’s lives. Students are asked to compare and contrast the stories they come across, noting the similarities and differences they find.
The “Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment Projects and Activities Guide” provides multiple opportunities to engage students and to teach students the skills necessary to “excel in college-level, literature-based reading, thinking, discussion, and writing tasks.” These lessons integrate various resources and media to help students analyze, compare, and appreciate literature from diverse cultures. The material activities help students move beyond a basic understanding of what is occurring in the literary text. Each unit’s projects and activities were developed to connect students with the literature in their textbooks while leading them to think and feel new ways. For example, in Unit 3, “The Need for Solidarity Among Ethnic Groups” by Aung San Suu Kyi, students complete a “Social Studies Connection” project on Myanmar. Students work in groups to research information about the country and share their results in a display their classmates can view. Students form small groups and plan a display of one of the following categories related to Myanmar: Geography, Culture, History, or Current Events. The material provides guiding questions for each of the categories, such as “What is the climate of the country?” and “How did Great Britain affect the country’s history?” Each category offers multiple questions for students to research and use in their display. Students brainstorm original and engaging ways to display research findings in their groups, considering options such as arts and crafts, clothing, maps, photographs of people and places, newspaper articles, news videos, and student-recorded reports.
In the Unit 6 project and activity, students write a one-page essay comparing diction in the poems “Seal” by William Jay Smith and “Whale Breathing” by Bill Holm. Students identify rich language from each poem in a teacher-provided chart according to each word’s part of speech. They complete the lesson by writing a one-page compare and contrast essay discussing these two poems’ word choices.
In Unit 8, students read the Greek myth “Arachne,” retold by Olivia Coolidge. Before reading the myth, students create a graphic organizer that has two columns, one titled “Cause(s)” and one titled “Effect(s).” As they read, students look for causes and the effects of the myth and list them on their chart. Several questions along the text have students stop and analyze cause and effect, prompting them to write notes on their graphic organizers. Students visualize the character Arachne, using details provided in the myth to draw the character. Students generate their own questions about the text as they read, and at the close of the first read, the teacher groups students to play a game to answer the student-generated questions. The activity combines reading, writing, listening, speaking, and thinking.
The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year, and the design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Most reading skills are spiraled through the year. In the scope and sequence guide for almost every unit, the reading skills drawing conclusions, author’s purpose, sequence of events, and cause and effect are taught. Other skills are addressed throughout the materials; however, these skills may only be specific to certain units, such as rhyme and repetition covered in units 5 and 6. The introduction to the materials states that scaffolded instruction with the gradual release of responsibility model is applied within each unit and across the grades. This approach is based on research that supports the practice of leading students from guided to directed to independent reading.
In Unit 1, “Writing Workshop: Informative Writing: Responding to a Short Story” is illustrated through the selections in Unit 1, and students practice writing a response to a piece of literature. Students are given a scaffold to guide them in the process, from reading the piece to writing an opinion or a personal reaction to a short story. A rubric is provided that outlines what is required, including evidence and precise language. Students narrow their chosen topic through a series of self-reflection questions provided in the workshop. Students are provided a model to use as a pattern and a fill-in-the-blank set of organizing statements to write a thesis. For example, students are given the fill-in-the-blank sentence: “My Ideas: I...the story...because….” This process continues through a set of questions, a brainstorming session, and a “Testing the Thesis” session to present ideas to classmates; in response, they ask questions for clarification.
In the “Differentiated Instruction Reading Proficiency” teacher note in the Unit 3 memoir “The Pigman and Me” by Paul Zindel, the teacher guides students in using the sequence map they have created to retell the story. The teacher asks the following questions: “Who is the main character? What is the setting? What is the problem? What happens at the beginning? What happens then? What happens next? What happens in the end?” After scaffolding with those questions, the teacher invites students to look at their sequence maps and retell the story without coaching.
Additionally, in Unit 4, while viewing the visual media “Childhood Photographs” by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, the teacher instructs students to record key details of each image as they examine the photos and then draw conclusions about Lartigue’s life from the details. While viewing the photos, the teacher asks the students, “Which of the pictures do you think were planned and which were taken on the spur of the moment?”
Drawing conclusions is a literacy skill that is used throughout the materials. Before reading the Unit 6 lyric poem “Blazing in Gold and Quenching in Purple” by Emily Dickinson, the teacher instructs students that using examples of personification and other figures of speech in poems can help draw conclusions about the poet’s meaning. While reading, students evaluate how the poet’s figurative language gives clues about her intentions. Students create a three-column chart to write down the text they respond to, the figure of speech, and their conclusion.
In the Unit 7 workshop, students write a “Compare and Contrast” essay. In this workshop, students build on skills they have learned throughout the year. Students write a thesis statement and a rough draft using a chart and a guide to help guide their organization. A revised essay model is provided to illustrate what this would look like when they do their own. A checklist is an aid that helps students revise their draft step by step. Students discuss their essays with each other, leading to the growth of independence with the practice of critiquing skills.
The materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Planning and learning opportunities are provided for students who demonstrate above expected level literacy skills. The teacher is provided with activities and must decide which activity is most suitable for students above the expected grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the teacher supplement, “Differentiated Instruction Enrichment Projects and Activities,” teachers are provided activities that align with each unit. For example, in “Global Warming,” students research questions they formulate through analysis of two class reading selections. Going further, students present findings to the class using various media. Instructions are provided to use both primary and secondary resources to answer the questions they formulate. Each of these activities serves students with above-grade-level literacy skills.
Differentiation lessons specific to advanced students are provided for selections, as well as unit-level projects and activities, for all eight units of the student edition. In conjunction with reading the short story “The Circuit,” students complete an Informational Text Project. They work with groups and use several different types of informational texts to research aspects of Chavez’s life and write an informative paragraph using the facts about Chavez.
Each unit and lesson offers an enrichment activity, presented primarily as research and project-based learning assignments. These activities are often recommended for “students who are interested” and with teacher discretion may be used for those students who perform above grade level. For example, in Unit 1, after reading “Harvesting Hope: The Life of Cesar Chavez,” students extend their learning by pretending they are working for a union of farmworkers and research information about Cesar Chavez. There are also “Differentiation: Enrichment” options for each reading selection. In Unit 1, while reading the same piece, teachers ask students to research nationwide boycotts. These are activities that students performing at or below grade level could also complete. These activities are often recommended for “students who are interested” rather than those who perform above grade level.
In Unit 4, students read an excerpt from the essay “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” and the poem “The World is Not a Pleasant Place to Be.” The materials have enrichment activities following both selections. After the essay, the students determine what years the author would have been of the age to play Hide-and-Go-Seek and then research what other games existed at that time. Students form groups and work together to create booklets of instructions for these games. After reading the poem, students consider the meaning of the words optimism and pessimism, then think about if their first impressions of the poem and essay matched the text’s content selections in the enrichment activity included in the materials.
In Unit 7, after reading a play version of “The Phantom Tollbooth,” the interested students research the etymology of the word humbug, then share their findings with their classmates, as well as discuss with their classmates the controversial origins of the word. In another enrichment activity, interested students find the similarities and differences between the novel version of The Phantom Tollbooth and the play included in the materials. Students write paragraphs explaining why the play did not include the same incidents as the novel.
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The following program resources are available to the teacher to enhance the learning of below-grade-level students: “Program Planning Guide,” which includes lesson plans and assessments; “Passport Tools,” a visual, audio, and media library and a multiplatform student eBook; “Guided Reading” and “Close Reading” models; and “Differentiating Instruction for English Language Learning Support.”
The “Story Shares Library” provides “Relevant Reads” with different reading levels to engage students who read below grade level. It includes features such as “read aloud” and “word look-up” to add accessibility to each selection. The teacher can assign material and track the progress of the individual students. Just Like That by Jannette LaRoche is one of the Story Shares selections. The interest level is listed as High School with a Lexile of 570L and a Grade Level of 2.4. Common Sense by Jamie Todd is another Story Shares selection available for struggling readers. This story is Middle School/High School interest with a Lexile of 801L and a reading equivalency of 4.7.
The materials include support for students who may be struggling readers. Both planning and learning opportunities are embedded, specifically in the form of “Reading Proficiency” differentiation teacher notes. For example, in Unit 1, the Reading Proficiency teacher note for “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken reminds teachers that less confident readers may become confused during reading. Teachers can suggest that they keep a running list of characters’ names along with descriptions of them and any alternative names mentioned.
In Unit 1, the short story by Sandra Cisneros, “Eleven,” is presented as an “Easy” level reading with a Lexile of 1060L. The teacher uses a list of objectives to guide the lesson presentation to a variety of learners, including students reading below grade level. A guide for directed reading is provided with the increasing complexity of tasks from first building context, then setting the purpose, and finally analyzing literature. By beginning with the most basic process, the teacher can adjust the assignments to their level.
In Unit 4, in the scientific article “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies” by Dennis Brindell Fradin, the teacher asks students to find astronomy images and write paragraphs about them. In the same selection, in “Special Needs/Kinesthetic Learning,” teachers ask students to act out how the planets revolved around the sun physically.
Writing workshops offer reading proficiency differentiation notes specifically for struggling readers. For example, in Unit 4, teachers review the cause-and-effect signal words and phrases with struggling readers.
In Unit 6, students are given an informational article to learn about the ocean in “Dangers of the Deep,” an article by Alex Markels. The teacher engages the students in the “Close Read” process with instructions in the article’s margins. First, students distinguish fact and opinion, and then students move on to using context clues to engage in the material actively. Vocabulary words that may challenge below-grade-level readers are provided for the teacher and student. “Differentiated Instruction” is provided that is directed towards special needs students by employing visual and auditory learning. Students identify the main idea of the article and make connections to their own lives. This connection adds support for below-grade-level students in assisting their engagement level with the material to enhance learning.
In Unit 8, while reading the folktale “The Cow of No Color,” as retold by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin, students who have trouble keeping up with the labors and other events or distinguishing between the various characters with challenging names record the information on a chart as they read.
The materials include some linguistics accommodations and some scaffolds for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. While EL strategies are listed throughout the text, they vary greatly or change in complexity. There is little reliance on the first language strength and only general support of vocabulary building.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a resource titled, “Differentiated Instruction—English Language Learning Support.” This resource includes sections titled “English Language Development” in which activities are provided for students who are “Beginning/Emerging,” “Intermediate/Expanding,” or “Advanced/Bridging.” These labels correlate with the English Language Proficiency Standards’ (ELPS) labels of “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced,” and “Advanced High.” This resource has places where students can press a sound icon and hear someone read aloud to them, even the selection text. The eResource has several areas where words are defined in a glossary style.
In the “Teacher Edition,” English learners’ supports are labeled “Differentiated Instruction—English Language Learners.” The margins of the Teacher’s Edition include activities for “Advanced High” English learners. Activities for ELs who are “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” or “Advanced” can be found in Differentiated Instruction—English Language Learning.
The “Teacher Edition” outlines correlations with the ELPS. The chart labeled “Correlation to ELPS Standards” lists page numbers that correspond to each ELPS. The ELPS addressed in each unit are also outlined in the “Unit Scope and Sequence Guide.”
There are some opportunities for students to access Spanish novels and other reading selections online. The native language is used strategically for English language development in the “Literary Terms Handbook.” Here a Native Spanish speaker can find Literary Terms defined in Spanish, such as refrain, sonnet, or rhyme. In the Differentiated Instruction: Literacy & Reading Skills resource, Culture Notes are included. For example, in the During Reading section of Eleven, A Short Story by Sandra Cisneros the margins include a Culture Note that states, “A birthday is a time of gift-giving in the United States. Different cultures celebrate birthdays in different ways. How are birthdays celebrated in your culture?” Students can connect to the content of the text based on their cultural experience, but native language support is not provided.
In Unit 1, the Differentiated Instruction - English Language Learning recommendation for “Lob’s Girl,” a short story by Joan Aiken, gives a list of phrases in the story that the teacher defines using the learning techniques of concept mapping, drawing, memorizing, comparing, contrasting, or reviewing. There is no mention of native language supports or cognates. Later in Unit 1, with the short story “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer” by Avi, teachers are recommended to “use the visual, contextual, and linguistic support to enhance and confirm understanding of increasingly complex and elaborated spoken language.” However, the materials do not define or explain what those terms mean or how a teacher might do that for students. The EL recommendation for the short story “The Circuit” in Unit 1 is for teachers to use visuals while discussing possible experiences of moving to a school in a new country and for students to draw lists or copy work that has been difficult for them and how they are now coping with those situations.
Limited opportunities for students to use their first language are included in the materials. The essay “All I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum in Unit 3 has an activity for Advanced High ELs in which the teacher explains the game Hide-and-Seek to students. If students have a word for this game in their home language, they share it and then act out the game.
In Unit 4, after reading “A Sea Worry” by Maxine Hong Kingston, students labeled as Advanced/Bridging write a personal essay using five words from their native language. In Unit 4, before reading “Gorillas in the Mist” by Dian Fossey, students preview the nonfiction work and more connections about how people communicate with animals. Students also preview vocabulary by reading each keyword and rating it on a three-point scale, ranging from “I do not know it at all” to “I know it and use it.” The word or phrase is then used in a sentence, and students decide what they think the word means and then use a dictionary to check their definition. Students answer a variety of questions during the reading to check for understanding and complete a fact and graphic opinion organizer, identifying facts and opinions throughout the story. After reading, students answer reading, vocabulary, and short answer questions to understand further.
In a “Writing Workshop” in Unit 7, students practice transition words to compare and contrast. ELs work in pairs with a native English speaker or an EL one proficiency level apart. Students read a list of compare and contrast transitions and state whether each item indicates a comparison or a contrast.
The materials include formative and summative assessments aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. The assessments and scoring information provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. Assessments are also connected to the regular content to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Assessment Guide” provides a variety of assessments and guidance for teachers on using these assessments. Two formative assessment surveys are included that are to be given at the beginning of the year to provide the teacher with a baseline for each student, as well as midway through the year to help realign instruction or at the end to provide a summative measure of progress. The formative assessment surveys also measure students’ performance on key College and Career Readiness standards. The Assessment Guide includes “Lesson Tests” and “Unit Exams,” which contain questions for the most commonly taught selections in the unit and questions about the unit’s literary elements and the genre covered. Guidance is provided to teachers to combine questions from the Lesson Tests and the Unit Exams to create end-of-course exams. The Assessment Guide’s overview states that “the lesson tests align with the lessons in the student edition.” Also included are two reading fluency assessments per unit. These instruments present text selections from the unit that may be read aloud multiple times for practice and to track reading fluency progress. The Assessment Guide includes answers to the multiple-choice and matching questions from the Lesson Tests and Unit Exams, but there are no rubrics for scoring the essay questions. Additionally, there are “Remediation Rubrics” included for the formative assessment surveys. These rubrics include the test’s questions, the College and Career Readiness Standard addressed by each question, the textbook pages where the material is taught, and supplemental material for review and practice.
Within the Assessment Guide, there is a section titled “Alternative Assessment Options,” which begins by explaining that “teachers can assess students’ learning by evaluating the work they do.” The text explains that alternative assessments are often referred to as “authentic assessment or performance-based assessment,” including oral presentations, multimedia presentations, process demonstrations, oral fluency readings, and interpretive readings. The materials list checklists, rating scales, and rubrics as assessment instruments; however, there are only rubrics for writing workshops provided within the materials. The guide states that “all of these scoring instruments can be created and used successfully by students and teachers.”
The formative assessments, lesson tests, and unit exams in the “Assessment Guide” can be administered online, with questions from an online testing bank that have been correlated to ELA College and Career Readiness Standards. The online test bank questions are customizable and provide instant data for teachers, students, and administrators to measure growth and achievement and adjust instruction. Teachers can select from already-created exams or create their own from multiple-choice, short answer, or essay questions. The test items have been assigned a difficulty level of easy, moderate, or challenging. They can be sorted to create modified or alternative assessments. As students complete the assessments, teachers can individualize instruction for students who have difficulty mastering a particular standard or choose to re-teach a standard to an entire class. The tests can also be downloaded and printed.
In the “Teacher Edition,” the “Unit and Selection” resources provide a selection quiz for almost every selection found in the student text. The selection quizzes measure recall and comprehension and help teachers and students check for a basic understanding of the readings. In the “Speaking and Listening” workshops and the “Writing Workshops” found at the end of each unit, students are encouraged to assess their work using rubrics. The “Literacy and Language Skills” and “Differentiated Instruction” resource lessons offer various informal assessments, including rubrics, checklists, projects, presentations, and self-quizzes.
Formal assessment is offered in the “Test Practice Workshops,” which ask students to apply specific test-taking skills in reading, writing, revising, and editing. The “Test Practice Supplement” resource offers formal assessment, a test-taking skills study guide, and practice tests in various standardized forms, including the SAT and the ACT.
The materials provide a year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. The teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials, ancillary and resource materials, and student progress components. The annotations and ancillary materials provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Visual Planning Guide” at the beginning of each unit guides the planning and assessment tools that are needed for each unit and includes a “Lesson-by-Lesson” resource that lists each selection, the reading level, the additional resources other than the textbook, and how many days should be spent on each selection. Additionally, the “Scope and Sequence Guide” for each unit includes extension activities. Three additional teacher resources are provided that focus on differentiated instruction. These are titled “Differentiated Instruction - English Language Learning Support,” “Differentiated Instruction—Reading Strategies and Skills,” and “Differentiated Instruction—Enrichment Projects and Activities.” These resources align with the text selections in the “Student Edition.” There are notes embedded in the “Teacher Edition” margins that prompt teachers when one of these additional activities is available. Several other ancillary materials include a resource guide for each unit, an assessment guide, a vocabulary and spelling guide, and a writing and grammar guide.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “The Circuit” by Francisco Jimenez. In the Teacher Edition, there are annotations in the margins that give teachers information about text complexity, the text’s Lexile level, and what factors may need more teacher support. For this story, the notes suggest that students might require additional background knowledge and vocabulary support. There is also a list of vocabulary terms in the text, page numbers for where they are located, notes about the lesson objectives, and a section called “Launch the Lesson,” which gives teachers suggestions for ways to engage their students with the text before reading. For this particular short story, the materials prompt teachers to ask students to pretend they have had to move several times during the school year to different cities and different schools and to consider their effects on their lives.
Throughout the materials, there are multiple teaching notes and annotations that offer teachers guidance to support student learning. Close-read teachers’ notes in the margins provide teachers with checks for understanding and additional guidance using various skills. While reading the Unit 3 memoir “The Jacket” by Gary Soto, the “Close Read” note in the margin guides the teacher to identify cause and effect in the text. Additionally, the “Differentiated Instruction” teachers notes offer teachers guidance for working with special needs students, English Learners, and students who need reading assistance.
A TEKS-aligned scope and sequence accompany the materials. The materials include additional supports to help teachers and administrators implement the materials as intended. The materials also include a school years’ worth of literacy instruction for both 180-day and 220-day schedules.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher Edition,” there is a series of pages titled “Mirrors & Windows Correlation to Texas Educational Knowledge Expectations for English Language Arts and Reading.” In this series, each of the Grade 6 English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills is listed, along with the pages in the “Student Edition” and Teacher Edition where these skills are explicitly taught. Additionally, the unit Scope and Sequence Guide located at the end of each unit lists each student expectation taught in the unit. Also in the Teacher Edition is the “Mirrors and Windows Correlation to the Texas English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) for ELA and Reading—Grade 6.” This series of pages list each of the Grade 6 English Language Proficiency Standards and the page numbers where each standard is explicitly taught.
There are numerous supplemental resources included that support implementation. The unit “Planning Guide” at the beginning of each unit identifies the additional text resources used throughout the unit and specifically what tasks and assignments, including page numbers, will be covered. Each lesson also includes the program resources with the specific supplemental text, assignment, and page number.
The Teacher Edition includes a “Program Overview” that outlines the resource’s approach to meaningful language arts instruction for teachers. This section explains the “Program Philosophy and Instructional Design,” explaining its approach to scaffolded instruction and blended learning. This overview also provides a visual of how gradual release of responsibility works and is designed to work in the resource. Also, the overview explains how the resource can be used to help students connect to multiple texts, develop critical thinking skills, and write to sources and research. The next section overviews the online and supplemental resources that are available for use. The Program Overview also walks teachers through the Student Edition, emphasizing how the units are organized. This overview includes elements to open and introduce the unit, the use of the close reading model, how to teach using the gradual release of responsibility, how to support independent learning, how to compare texts and extend learning, how to make text-to-text connections, how to integrate other disciplines, how to use the embedded language skills lessons, and how to use the end-of-unit workshops and performance tasks. After walking teachers through the Student Edition, the resource also walks teachers through the Teacher Edition tools. These resources include the unit and lesson-based resources, including the scope and sequence guide, the vocabulary guide, and the other SE resources. While there are no specific administrator supports, administrators could use the teacher resources to support teachers’ implementation.
In the “Program & Planning Guide—Grade 6” ancillary resource, the introduction states, “To help you meet the diverse needs of your students, the Mirrors & Windows program offers a wealth of material—much more than you can teach in one school year. As a result, one challenge you will face is identifying the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” The introduction explains that the resource itself is a support for helping teachers select which instructional materials they will use in their classrooms. There are 106 days of instruction with the text selections alone, not including assessments or other lessons provided in the supplemental resources. The “College and Career Readiness Curriculum Guide” provides pacing for approximately 150 days, including the unit opener, most of the selections, and the workshops. That 150 days does not include assessments, an additional guided reading selection, or independent reading selections. It also does not include any of the vocabulary or grammar lessons. All-inclusive, this would be enough content for 180 days. The extra guided reading selection and the independent reading selections would add approximately 40 days of instruction. This extra material would support a 220-day school calendar.
The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports student learning. The pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There is an appropriate use of white space on most pages of the “Student Edition.” Some pages include text and pictures with roughly an inch of white margin at the top of each page and on either side. Story title pages feature the title, author, a picture and generally lack white space. The pages where the story text is written have a much larger margin along the sides and the button where “Close Read” questions are posted and vocabulary terms from the selection. This design is consistent across the units. There is ample white space provided in the workshops and grammar lessons, but not as much as in the Student Edition.
Each unit in the Student Edition begins with a full-page spread that includes an illustration and a quote and indicates the unit’s topic. The pictures and graphics included within the unit are not distracting; they add to the text’s understanding. In Unit 1, the spread with the illustration includes the title “Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, Fiction Connections” and a black and white photograph of a group of people standing in front of an apartment complex. There is a quote from the author, Sandra Cisneros, on the page, as well as the guidance “As you read the short stories in this unit, think about similar feelings you have had and how you have handled them.”
The scientific article in Unit 4, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Sky,” contains a small photograph of author Dennis Brindell Fradin, the drawing of a double T-chart, and the same illustration of the man and the village from the unit title page on the article title page. There is a small black and white photograph of a telescope in the lower left-hand margin of the first page, an almost half-page drawing of an astronomical chart on the third page, and a half-page drawing of a plate from “The Celestial Atlas,” on the second to last page of text. The pages without images have mainly text, white space surrounding the text, and a small amount of in-text questions embedded in the white space. These questions and images are not distracting, and the white space is not overtaking the page.
In Unit 8, the title page of “The Magic Mortar” includes a photograph of a mortar and pestle. Another image shows a person rowing away in a boat, which is another scene from the story.
The materials include technology that supports and enhances student learning as appropriate and includes appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials explain that the “Teacher’s Edition” and “Enhanced eBook” provide the instructional tools necessary to enhance students’ learning experience. The interactive eWorkbook activities are available online to allow students to practice and apply strategies and skills for college and career readiness. The Interactive Student eBook allows students to access a complete digital version of their textbook anytime they are online. Within the eBook, students have access to audio for every selection in addition to the ability to highlight text, bookmark sections of interest, and take notes. Students also have access to eSelections, “a collection of additional online independent readings accompanied by the full programmatic instruction.” The digital tools allow teachers to assign homework and tasks, track student progress with graphs and charts, provide feedback, access all program resources and content from all grade levels, and incorporate blended learning. It also allows the students to access materials anytime, anywhere, complete assignments and practice activities interactively, work on project-based tasks, submit work, receive immediate feedback, and track progress.
“Edulastic Online Assessments” provides digital versions of assessments. There is an electronic testing bank that teachers can pull from and some premade assessments within. Included is a teacher guide to explain all of the types of assessments offered. Teachers are provided with ample guidance to implement the use of the technology, including digital assessment. There is also a technical support resource for any problems that may occur.