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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
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TEKS Teacher %
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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:
Unit 1 emphasizes fiction. In the beginning, students read Shirley Jackson’s short story “Charles” and are introduced to the vocabulary words insolently, elaborately, matronly, and haggard. Students then read “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers, which contains a relatable storyline that tells of a student who cannot play sports until he has passing grades. As they move through the unit, students read “A Mother in Mannville” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury, which is paired with the article “Echoes of Shiloh” by Shelby Foote, and the short story “Last Night” by Faye Myenne Ng. This diverse array of texts allows students to gain new insight and perspectives, background knowledge, vocabulary, and use higher-level thinking skills.
The texts range in complexity from easy to challenging, including offering materials with below-grade-level to above-grade-level Lexile. In Unit 2, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe has a moderate reading level with a below grade-level Lexile of 830L. The story follows the narrator, a murderer who suffers from mental issues but protests that he is not insane. The difficult sentence structure may present some challenges, but the engaging plot provides some ease.
In Unit 2, “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe is a classic American Gothic tale from the 1800s that offers rich examples of symbolism while dealing with mental illness. Students can connect with this text despite its age.
In Unit 4, students explore informational text, beginning with reading a science article by Valerie Jablow titled “A Tale of Two Rocks.” Students then read the scientific chart “Scale of Geologic Time” and draw conclusions based on their information. The article “On the Relativity of Time” by Wolfgang F. Pauli introduces terms such as paleontology, reckoning, ephemeral, and inert. “Indian Cattle,” an informational text by Eugene Rachilis, encourages students to ask questions and seek answers as they read informational text. The memoir “Counting Coup on a Wounded Buffalo” by Chief Plenty-Coups pairs with the traditional informational texts and gives students insight into what it was like to experience that part of history on a personal level. The informational text “Murder and More Mushroom Meyhem” by Elio Schaechter gives students historical context and safety rules for eating mushrooms.
Unit 5 includes poems written during the Harlem Renaissance by movement leader Langston Hughes. “Dreams” and “Dream Deferred” both deal with the importance of dreams, especially during that particular time in history. “Dreams” includes figurative language and a familiar subject. The themes of both poems continue to be relevant today.
Unit 7 focuses on drama. The play “The Diary of Anne Frank” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett provides a recollection of Anne Frank’s life in the cramped secret apartment and her hopes for the future after the war. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Dying Detective” is also in Unit 7. Doyle is the famous writer of all the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels. This selection includes detailed examples of stage directions along with the dialogue.
Unit 8 focuses on folk literature. Students start by reading an Aztec legend titled “Legend of the Feathered Serpent,” which introduces new words like perpetrator, exquisite, prophecy, and maneuver. Students then read the tall tale “Pecos Bill” by Adrien Stoutenburg and read about a boy raised by coyotes in Old West Texas. The descriptive writing allows students to consider how authors create a scene for readers. The story’s dialect gives students insight into how authors showcase time and place to readers. The Cheyenne legend “Where the Girl Rescued her Brother” gives students a chance to summarize events from a historical context. The legend “Blackbeard’s Last Fight” allows students to think critically about pirate literature’s fascination while recognizing the value of characterization within a text. In Unit 8, students also read the tall tale “Paul Bunyan of the North Woods” by Carl Sandburg and explore eponyms and hyperbole. The diverse texts that vary from traditional to contemporary give a variety of higher-level thinking opportunities to students.
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, and 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 2, the short story “Born Worker” by Gary Soto includes pictures such as a pool, a cleaning brush, and a poodle to illustrate images from the story.
In Unit 3, the argumentative essay “Soul of a Citizen” by Paul Rogat Loeb uses pulled quotes to emphasize key points to the reader. These are set out in red. One reads, “There are no natural leaders or followers.”
In Unit 7, the play The Dying Detective uses bolded words to emphasize speaking parts. It italicizes stage directions. The difference in the text helps readers identify different parts of the drama.
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:
Included with the materials, at the start of each unit, is a “Scope & Sequence” guide. This guide included the titles and 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 690L to 1410L. Each text is also labeled with the publisher’s difficulty descriptor. The majority of the texts included in each unit are labeled Moderate, and each unit also includes texts labeled Easy. Only some units have texts labeled Challenging.
In Unit 1, four texts are labeled Easy, five are labeled Moderate, and one is labeled Challenging. The short story “Charles,” by Shirley Jackson, has a Lexile of 690L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factors listed as a simple plot and conversational tone. The short story “Mother in Mannville” by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings has a Lexile of 770L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factor listed as tangible descriptions. The article “Echoes of Shiloh,” by Shelby Foote, has a Lexile of 1230L and Text-Complexity rating of Moderate. The short story “Last Night” by Fae Myenne Ng has a Lexile of 690L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factor listed as an engaging plot. The Unit 1 anchor text, “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” by Ray Bradbury, has a Lexile of 970L, Text-Complexity rating of Challenging, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, Ease Factor listed as length.
In Unit 4, eight texts are labeled Easy, four are labeled Moderate, and one is labeled Challenging. The article “On the Relativity of Time” by Wolfgang F. Pauli has a Lexile of 980L and Text-Complexity rating of Moderate. The informational text, “Indian Cattle,” by Eugene Rachlis, has a Lexile of 1060L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Considerations listed as description and length, and Ease Factors listed as vocabulary and familiarity. The article “Orienteering: The Thinking Sport” by David LaRochelle has a Lexile of 1080L and a Moderate Text-Complexity rating. The Internet article, “Industrial Light and Magic, Part 1: History,” by Dr. David West Reynolds, has a Lexile of 1410L and a Moderate Text-Complexity rating. The Unit 4 anchor text, “A Tale of Two Rocks,” by Valerie Jablow, has a Lexile of 1360L, Text-Complexity rating of Challenging, Difficulty Consideration listed as scientific information, and Ease Factor listed as the length.
In Unit 8, five texts are labeled Easy, eleven Moderate, and two Challenging. The five texts’ Lexile levels range from 450L to 1330L. The Aztec legend, “Legend of the Feathered Serpent,” retold by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, has a Lexile of 900L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as Aztec names, and Ease Factor listed as vocabulary. The tall tale, “Pecos Bill,” retold by Adrien Stoutenburg, has a Lexile of 1000L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as unfamiliar setting, and Ease Factors listed as style and vocabulary. The Cheyenne legend, “Where the Girl Rescued Her Brother,” retold by Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross, has a Lexile of 970L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as unfamiliar setting, and Ease Factors listed as length and vocabulary. The legend, “Blackbeard’s Last Fight,” retold by Richard Walser, has a Lexile of 1250L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as vernacular, and Ease Factor listed as length. The essay, “The Ole Feller Recollects How Joe Fournier Became Paul Bunyan,” by D. Laurence Rogers, has a Lexile of 1100L and a Text-Complexity rating of Moderate. The Unit 8 anchor text, “Paul Bunyan of the North Woods,” by Carl Sandburg has a Lexile of 1210L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factor listed as a familiar story.
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.” It outlines how it uses Bloom’s and Anderson’s taxonomies to develop the questions. The Program Overview outlines how texts are grouped and 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, while reading the anchor text “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury, teachers prompt students to compare and contrast with questions such as “how the drummer boy sees himself as different from the soldiers,” and draw conclusions with prompts such as “use clues in the passage to conclude what ‘shield’ the soldiers have cast.” Teachers also prompt students to make several historical connections to the Civil War.
In Unit 3, after reading “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl” by Elizabeth Wong, students examine the cultural context. Students are introduced to the topic of external conflict vs. internal conflict. Students determine how these conflicts are resolved using the text. Using the “Close Reading” model, students work through the piece, starting with asking questions and then analyzing the piece to determine the tone.
In Unit 4, after reading the anchor text “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow, the resource provides text-dependent questions in the “Find Meaning” and “Make Judgments” sections of the resource. Questions include “What did his findings suggest?” and “What makes this description effective?” Teachers prompt students to make connections to both geography and art.
In Unit 7, while reading the play “The Dying Detective,” based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, students analyze the effect of the stage directions. Students answer questions such as “Why do the stage directions distinguish between essential features and others?” and “How do the stage directions help explain Mrs. Hudson’s pause?” Other close reading questions ask students to analyze the literary feature of dialogue with questions such as “What important details do you learn about the characters and plot from this dialogue?”
In Unit 8, after reading the anchor text “Paul Bunyan of the North Woods” by Carl Sandburg, the resource provides text-dependent questions to the students in the Find Meaning and Make Judgments sections. Questions include “How does Paul get rid of the bee mosquitos?” and “How effective is the use of an anecdotal style of writing in this selection?” Teachers also prompt students to connect to science and the modern-day logging industry.
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:
In Unit 1, while reading “Charles” by Shirley Jackson, students respond to the “Close Reading” question “How does this detail establish the conflict in this story?” (The detail is the underlined word mindful). The question guides students to look at the author’s use of language and what inferences can be drawn. After reading the text, students respond to questions in the “Make Judgments” section. Students respond to the following question: “How does the author build suspense in this story?” These questions draw student attention to the literary element and ask students to analyze it.
In Unit 2, while reading the short story “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry, students make predictions and identify the author's purpose, among other skills. Students discuss the ransom letter’s wording and what they know about the boy’s behavior as a class. The teacher then asks students to make predictions about how the father might respond to the ransom letter.
In Unit 3, students compare the biography “Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad” by Ann Petry to the speech “Our Struggle Is Against All Forms of Racism” by Nelson Mandela. Additionally, the materials make historical and cultural connections. Before reading the speech, teachers provide background information about apartheid. After reading both texts, teachers review the main ideas and the two selections’ tones and answer comparison questions. Students must analyze the texts and extend thinking to infer injustice in the world today and the elements that create such injustice.
Unit 4's how-to article “How to Use a Compass” by Kjetil Kjernsmo allows students the opportunity to analyze the author's purpose. The teacher has students explain the author's purpose in using italicized print in the article and then discuss the value of different print types to understand the content.
In Unit 5, after reading “Dreams” by Langston Hughes, students answer the following question from the “Find Meaning” section: “Why might the author have chosen this image?” Students must reflect on why the poet made a specific literary move and inference. In another poem by Hughes, “A Dream Deferred,” students are asked to compare the two poems, which are both about the topic of dreams.
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 independently. 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 margins of the teacher resource 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 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.
Unit 1 begins with a lesson in which students create a notebook to collect new words to study. Students learn why they should collect and study new words and practice adding new words into their notebooks. The highlighted word from the unit for the week is pandemonium. The Time Out for Test Practice for Unit 1 contains 18 multiple-choice questions to assess students’ understanding of the unit’s lessons. The teacher Tip boxes provide teachers with language to encourage students to learn new words and additional information for teachers about word parts to share with students.
In Unit 4, students read about word origins and the etymology of many of our English words. Students practice using a dictionary to find the meaning and origin of a list of words. The highlighted term for the week is era. The Time Out for Test Practice for Unit 4 has 18 multiple-choice questions to assess the unit’s lessons’ understanding. The Tip boxes provide additional information about etymology for teachers to share with students and information about the definition of the terms archaic and context clues.
In Unit 8, students read about vivid verbs and practice rewriting sentences using more vivid verb choices. The highlighted word for the week is cow. The Time Out for Test Practice included at the end of Unit 8 contains 12 multiple-choice questions and twelve matching questions so that students can demonstrate their understanding of the lessons in the text. The Tip boxes give more information about verbs and how a thesaurus can help a writer find different words that mean the same thing and information about euphemisms for teachers to share with students.
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 of the book they are reading, the page they started on, the page they stopped on, and 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 The Outside Shot by Walter Dean Myers, Missing May by Cynthia Rylant, Tunes for Bears to Dance To by Robert Cormier, Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.
In Unit 3, 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 The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights by Russell Freedman, Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium by Carla Killough McClafferty, and The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano by Margarita Engle.
In Unit 5, some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are This Same Sky: A Collection of Poems from Around the World by Naomi Shihab Nye, Here in Harlem: Poems in Many Voices by Walter Dean Myers, The Complete Collected Poems by Maya Angelou, and My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States by Lee Bennett Hopkins.
In Unit 7, some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, Children of a Lesser God by Mark Medoff, Backstage at a Play by Kimberly M. Miller, Shakespeare: His Work and His World by Michael Rosen, and An Actor on the Elizabethan Stage by Stephen Currie.
The materials provide students opportunities to write literary, informational, and 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, students read the short story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers. In the “Argumentative Writing” task, students pretend they are music reviewers and write a review of Lemon Brown’s performances. Students must include biographical information and photographs with their review and explain their opinion of the performance.
In Unit 2, after reading the short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, in the Argumentative Writing task, students write a statement of opinion as to whether or not they agree with Walt Whitman’s assessment of Edgar Allan Poe being “brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.” Students must include support for their opinion.
In Unit 3, after reading “Mrs. Flowers” from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, students imagine that they are Marguerite and write a letter to Mrs. Flowers, thanking her for the cookies, lemonade, and books.
In Unit 4, after reading the informational article “Orienteering: The Thinking Sport” by David LaRochelle, in the Argumentative Writing task in the Extend Understanding section of the materials, students write a persuasive piece to explain what tool they would select to use when navigating a new city. Students must include how this tool would help them in a new and unfamiliar place.
In Unit 5, after reading two poems by Langston Hughes, “Dreams” and “A Dream Deferred,” in the “Creative Writing” task located in the Extend Understanding section of the materials, students write a personal letter to Langston Hughes, telling him about their dreams for their life. Students must follow the format of a personal letter and explain why their dreams are important to them and how they might accomplish them.
In Unit 7, after reading diary entries from “Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, in the Creative Writing task found in the Extend Understanding section of the materials, students write a personal letter to Anne Frank. Students must share their thoughts about her experiences in this letter and comment on her diary entries.
In Unit 8, after reading the Aztec legend “Legend of the Feathered Serpent” by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, in the “Informative Writing” task located in the Extend Understanding section of the materials, students write an essay analyzing the situational irony in the legend. Students must include a thesis and textual evidence.
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:
In Unit 1, after reading the short story “Charles” by Shirley Jackson, students write a paragraph presenting and explaining foreshadowing examples in the short story. In another paragraph, they compare the nonlinear plot of “Charles” to a story they have previously read that has a linear plot, using both texts to support their comparisons.
In Unit 1, “Writing Workshop,” students write a response to a short story of choice they have read. The response should have a clear organizational pattern, contain textual evidence that is both paraphrased and quoted and supports their main idea, and restate the thesis in a new way in the conclusion.
In Unit 3, after reading the personal essay “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl” by Elizabeth Wong, students write an analysis of the essay’s last line. The teacher guides the students’ writing by asking what the author means by “Sadly, I still am.” Students plan a literary response, creating an outline for their response that introduces their interpretation in a thesis statement and supports it with evidence from the text. Students conclude by commenting on the significance of Wong’s essay in the context of modern American culture.
In Unit 4, students read a scientific chart titled “The Scale of Geological Time.” After reading, students identify the main points in the chart and write a summary, citing evidence from the chart to support their interpretation of the key points.
In Unit 5, after reading the poem “The Naming of the Cats” by T.S. Eliot, students write a literary response analyzing Eliot’s rhyme use in the poem. Students must support their thesis with examples from the poem.
In Unit 7, after reading the play “The Dying Detective” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, dramatized by Michael and Mollie Hardwick, students use their details chart to write a brief literary response essay that discusses the most significant details and how they contributed to a particular theme or message in the play.
In Unit 8, after reading the Cheyenne legend “Where the Girl Rescued Her Brother” by Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross, students write an essay describing the authors’ purpose and perspective. Students must speculate about why the authors chose to share this legend and support their speculation with examples from the text that showcase the authors’ perspective.
In Unit 8, after reading the Aztec legend “Legend of the Feathered Serpent” by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, in the “Event Over Time” task, students research facts and details about the Aztec empire and present the information they learned in the form of a timeline.
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’ writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Grammar & 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 present throughout the textbook. The Writing and Grammar workbook provides lessons to accompany each unit. Unit 1 contains lessons for subject-verb agreement and pronoun-antecedent agreement. Unit 2 teaches comma use, pronoun use, and independent and dependent clauses. Unit 3 contains lessons for punctuation (dashes, colons, and semicolons), prepositional and participial phrases, and consistent verb tenses. Unit 4 teaches simple, compound, and compound-complex sentences and adjective and adverb clauses. Unit 5 contains lessons for nouns (proper, plural, possessive, collective) and simple and compound subjects. In Unit 6, students learn personal and possessive pronouns, simple, complete, and compound predicates, and intensive and reflective pronouns. Unit 7 contains lessons for verbals, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences. Unit 8 teaches misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers.
In Unit 1, the “Writing to Sources” activities include a creative task in which students write a dialogue, an informative task in which students compose an informative paragraph, an argumentative task in which students write a review, an informative task in which students write an essay, a creative task in which students write a diary entry, an informative task in which students write a brief essay, a creative task in which students write a letter, an informative task in which students write a problem-solution essay, a narrative task in which students write a narrative paragraph, an informative task in which students write a character analysis, a creative task in which students write a dialogue, an informative task in which students write a short essay, a creative task in which students write a newspaper article, a descriptive task in which students create a character sketch, an informative task in which students write a short essay, and a creative task in which students write a diary entry.
The “Differentiated Instruction” teacher note in Unit 3 lyric poem “I Was Born at the Wrong Time” by Angela Shelf Medearis advises on the use of punctuation in poetry. The teacher reminds students that when they read poetry, they need to observe the punctuation or lack thereof at the ends of lines, adjusting their rhythm to match each sentence’s sense. The students then reread the poem aloud, paying special attention to punctuation.
The Unit 4 “Writing Workshop” helps students learn how to write a descriptive essay. The objectives of this lesson include the ability of students to write a descriptive essay that “illustrates an impression in its introduction, has a clear organizational pattern, uses figurative language and sensory details in its body paragraphs to support the impression, reinforces the impression with personal thoughts and feelings, and has a conclusion that summarizes and conveys a new insight.” Students go through the writing process by prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their essays. There is a student model or exemplar included guiding each paragraph.
In Unit 5, the “Writing to Sources” activities include a creative writing task in which students write an imagist poem, an informative task in which students write an analysis, a creative task in which students write a personal letter, an argumentative task in which students write a persuasive speech, a narrative task in which students write a personal narrative, an informative task in which students write a literary response, a creative task in which students write a poem, an informative task in which students write an essay, a descriptive task in which students write a descriptive essay, an informative task in which students write a biography, a narrative task in which students write a short story, an informative task in which students write a literary response, a creative task in which students write a personal letter, an informative task in which students write an informative essay, a narrative task in which students write a personal narrative, an informative task in which students write a compare and contrast essay, a narrative task in which students write a personal narrative, and an informative task in which students write an essay.
In Unit 7, while reading the drama “The Diary of Anne Frank, Act 2” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, students have the opportunity to practice their read-aloud skills. The teacher reminds students that it is important to read fluently and accurately when reading orally, suggesting they pay particular attention to punctuation as they read aloud and adjust their intonations and pacing accordingly. The following guidance is included: “1. Slow down slightly at commas, slightly more at semicolons, and even more at periods. 2. Use appropriate intonations for questions and exclamations. 3. Hesitate when encountering ellipses.”
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 8” 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 “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. “Teacher’s Notes” facilitate students’ understanding of the text. One note asks teachers to consider a specific line from the story, where Laurie’s father asks him a question. Students make inferences about what this question means about Laurie’s father’s attitudes and beliefs and explain their thinking aloud. Teachers model responses, and then students share their responses with the class. In the “Collaborative Learning” section, students role-play a parent-teacher conference with Charles, his teacher, and his parents. The students must write a plan for Charles.
In Unit 2, the “Speaking and Listening Workshop” has students deliver and listen to 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 workshop does not tell students what story to select to interpret. However, it offers guidance that students should select a story to which they had a strong personal reaction. The presentation must be based on the text they select. The materials also include a speaking rubric and a listening rubric, so students know what they need to do to successfully deliver and listen to literary interpretations.
As students read the Unit 3 memoir “Epiphany: The Third Gift” by Lucha Corpi, the teacher reminds students that too many short sentences can sound choppy in both writing and speaking. Students work with a partner to revise and read aloud a paragraph and use connecting words to help vary the sentence lengths and patterns. In the Collaborative Learning section, students discuss the setting of the essay. They compare previously created cluster charts and then create a new chart based on the information they discussed.
In Unit 5, the Speaking and Listening Workshop calls for students to deliver and listen to informative presentations. The materials contain guidance for students to follow as they build their presentation, such as what should be contained in the introduction, body, and conclusion. The materials do not provide a topic for the students but state that students should research their topic and present clear information about their selected topic. The workshop suggests that students practice delivering their presentation with classmates and receive feedback so that they are prepared to deliver it to the entire class. The materials include possible ways students might choose to organize their presentation, such as cause and effect, compare and contrast, chronological order, and classification order. The materials also include a rubric for speaking and listening so that students know what they need to do to be successful at delivering and listening to informal informational presentations.
In Unit 6, students read the poem “Ode to My Socks” by Pablo Neruda. Students work with a partner to analyze the poem’s mood in the Collaborative Learning section. The partners then create a cluster chart filled with details from the poem. Students then explain to another small group what they believe to be the mood and why they think this.
During the Unit 7 play “The Diary of Anne Frank, Act 2,” students use visualization skills while listening to the text. The teacher asks students to visualize and then describe the scene in which Mr. Van Daan and Mr. Dussel argued about the cake. The teacher has students focus on the three men’s facial expressions and model response by suggesting that Mr. Frank would probably have an embarrassed and apologetic expression on his face, Mr. Van Daan would be showing anger, and Mr. Dussel would likely appear self-righteous and a little frightened.
In Unit 8, students present and listen to research reports in the Speaking and Listening Workshop. Students begin with a research report they have already written for their social studies, science, or literature class. Students then go back into what they wrote, determine key points to share with their audience, create an outline, and then create cards to help them with their speech. The materials provide a speaking rubric and a listening rubric to know what they must do to be successful at presenting to and listening to research reports.
The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to help students express their 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 8.” 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.
While reading the Unit 2 short story “Men on the Moon” by Simon Ortiz, the teacher suggests that students create a multimedia presentation for the information they find about the Apollo 11 mission. As a class, teachers and students discuss different formats they can use, including computer presentations with presentation software or a poster with accompanying video or audio recordings.
During the class reading of the biography “Ishi in Two Worlds” by Theodora Kroeber in Unit 3, the teacher divides the class into groups of four or five, telling them that they will be preparing a panel discussion to present to another group. The subject of the discussion will be whether a person like Ishi should be protected and studied like he was at the museum or encouraged to live his life freely. The teacher has the groups work together, taking turns in speaking and listening roles.
In Unit 4, students read the science article “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow. In the “Collaborative Learning” task, students work in groups to uncover and discuss possible theories that suggest explanations about global warming. Groups present their research findings to the class.
The Unit 5 “Independent Reading Activity” offers the opportunity for class discussion. The teacher helps students form literature circles by creating groups of five or six students in combinations to facilitate fruitful discussions. The teacher asks each group to choose a poetry anthology devoted to a single theme. After giving the groups time outside of class to read the books, the teacher allows them to select topics for discussion and time to prepare their discussion. Finally, the teacher lets the literature circles meet during class, telling students to reflect on their experiences once they conclude their group discussion.
In Unit 6, the Speaking and Listening Workshop has 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/listening to a narrative of a life experience.
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 provides 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.”
While reading the Unit 1 short story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers, the materials guide interested students to complete a “Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment” activity. The activity states that “students compelled by the history and culture of Harlem might be interested in researching and reporting on the lives and accomplishments of some of its celebrities, many of whom gained fame performing at the historic Apollo Theater.”
After reading the Unit 2 short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe, students practice primary and secondary sources. The teacher points out that in researching the life and career of a writer, such as Poe, students can use both primary and secondary sources, explaining each. Students then identify which of the materials provided are primary or secondary sources.
In Unit 4, after reading “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow, in the “Collaborative Learning” section, students discuss the piece’s thesis and then research global warming theories. They then present their research findings.
While reading the Unit 6 narrative poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the teacher reviews the students’ textbook’s “History Connection.” Students research Paul Revere and other heroes and important diplomats of the American Revolution, such as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Lafayette. The teacher provides time for research and the delivery of oral or written reports.
After reading the Unit 7 drama “The Diary of Anne Frank, Act 1” by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, students use the “Enrichment Projects & Activities” workbook to complete a primary source project. Students read parts of Anne’s original diary, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and compare and contrast the two works’ specific elements. Students then write a letter recommending one version of the narrative.
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, and include quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information from multiple sources that maintain the meaning and logical order of information. They must include correct documentation for their sources—including a Works Cited page—and offer their insights and explanations. 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 “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. Students draw a Venn diagram graphic organizer before reading, labeling one circle “Charles” and the other “Laurie.” As students read, they collect information about each character in the story to put in the diagram. When there are similarities between the two characters, that information gets put in the space where the two circles overlap. Students can use this diagram to compare and contrast the two characters. As students read, they encounter various questions embedded alongside the story. Some questions point to specific lines in the story and ask students to make inferences about what the narrator was feeling in that line; other questions point to details in the story and ask how those details help establish the story’s conflict. Students are asked their opinion on a claim that Laurie makes in the story and how they think the narrator’s concern for her son leads to the story’s climax. In a sidebar located in the teacher edition of the materials, teachers are guided to have students pause at various times in the story, consider the changes in Laurie’s behavior, and generate their questions about what these behavior changes might mean. Students are encouraged to list possible answers to the questions they generate. Students are prompted to make inferences about Laurie’s father based on Laurie’s questions and share how believable they find Laurie’s claims in the story. Students compare and contrast portions of the story when prompted by sidebars in the margin and make predictions about what Laurie’s parents would say to Charles’s parents if they ever met. After reading the story, the “Informative Writing” task has students reread the story, this time looking for places where the author uses foreshadowing. Students then compare the nonlinear plot of “Charles” to a story they are familiar with that has a linear plot and then compare examples with a partner.
After reading the Unit 3 essay “Appearances are Destructive” by Mark Mathabane, students write argumentative essays of their own, arguing about school-related issues. Students are reminded of the purpose of argumentative essays and instructed to write a one- to two-page essay on a school-related issue that affects students’ well-being and learning. As a class, students brainstorm a list of school-related issues such as dress code, school hours, year-long school, school safety, class size, and extracurricular activities. They will then choose from the list a topic about which they have an opinion. Once the topic is decided, students will develop a proposition and identify arguments that will support their proposition. The material provides guidance for drafting the essay, revising and editing, and presenting and publishing.
In Unit 4, students read the science article “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow. Before reading, students are given the definitions of several key terms included in the article and draw the main idea map. As they read, students collect details on the map to use later to help them determine the article’s main idea. Embedded along the story are prompts asking students to pause and add details to their web. Students are also given places to stop and ask their questions about what they have read in the article and are given opportunities to formulate their answers to their questions. Some of the questions embedded along the way ask students to explain how the author’s use of temperature measurements helps readers understand what happened to the rocks and what beliefs led scientists to think the “impact theory” was radical. Students are asked how details in a paragraph support that paragraph’s main idea and if they agree with the author’s inference that humans and other large animals would not have evolved if dinosaurs had lived. Students are asked to consider their prior knowledge about theories of how dinosaurs became extinct and then to decide if the Chicxulub crater theory supports or contradicts their prior knowledge. In the “Creative Writing” task, students write a screenplay for a scene for either a science fiction or a nonfiction movie based on details from the article. In the “Media Literacy” task, students work with a partner to research the Chicxulub crater and then present their findings to the class.
In Unit 8, students read the Aztec legend “Legend of the Feathered Serpent” by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal. In the “Find Meaning” section, students answer text-dependent questions, such as how the priest reacts to a “ball of fire” appearing in the night sky and what leads Aztecs to believe this event is a part of their prophecy, who the Feathered Serpent is and why the Aztecs fear him, and what the Spanish do to the statue of Xochipilli. In the “Analyze Literature” section, students create and fill out a chart that lists the details from the text that are characteristics of a legend and details from the text that are more typical in a myth.
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, which are 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 leading students from guided to directed to independent reading.
Before reading the Unit 1 short story “Charles,” the reading skills compare and contrast are introduced to students. Before reading, the teacher previews key vocabulary and launches the lesson by asking students to share stories about mischief in the classroom. The teacher explains that to compare one thing to another, describe similarities between the two things, and to contrast two things, describe their differences. As they read “Charles,” students use a Venn Diagram to note the similarities and differences between Laurie and Charles. Throughout the lesson, several “Close Reading: Compare and Contrast” opportunities were presented to expand students’ knowledge and understanding of comparing and contrasting. After reading, students respond to text-dependent questions in the “Find Meaning” and “Make Judgments” sections.
Similarly, before reading the Unit 2 short story “Born Worker” by Gary Soto, students are reminded about the key features of the reading skill “Compare and Contrast.” The materials provide guidance for the teacher to reiterate that students describe their similarities to compare things and describe their differences to contrast them. Students create a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast Joes and Arnie, the story’s two central characters.
In Unit 4, while reading “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow, the teacher previews key vocabulary and launches the lesson by having students discuss why they like mysteries and how that relates to what scientists do. Students practice their reading skills as they read and follow the close reading protocol. Teachers point out and discuss vocabulary that is jargon. The teacher also models how to evaluate internet sources for credibility. Also, teachers point out the grammatical structure—the dash. After reading, the students answer text-dependent questions in the Find Meaning and Make Judgments sections.
The reading skills for compare and contrast are addressed both in the teacher-taught lessons and in the students’ independent reading. While reading the lyric poem “Nikki-Rosa” by Nikki Giovanni in Unit 6, students compare and contrast how the speaker feels about her childhood and how others report her childhood.
In Unit 8, while reading “Legend of the Feathered Serpent” by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal, the teacher previews key vocabulary and launches the lesson by having students relate to the concept of greed. Students respond to text-dependent questions with the close reading protocol. Teachers have students look for commonalities of words with an Aztec background and practice using context clues. Teachers ask students to discuss events that may become legendary. After reading, students answer text-dependent questions in the Find Meaning and Make Judgments sections.
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 performing above the expected grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The introduction of the “Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment Projects & Activities” Teacher Edition states that “advanced students want to be challenged to gain the high-level skills that help them succeed in college and the workplace.” The guide provides multiple opportunities to engage students. Additionally, this ancillary resource provides activities to challenge above-level students for selections in each unit, as well as unit-level projects and activities.
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, students read the short story “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. The materials provide an extension activity afterward where students, in groups, discuss eponyms and consider the eponym from the story, and then work to create their own eponyms based on the characteristics or accomplishments of a variety of people—fictional and real. Students present their findings to their classmates. The materials also provide four ways to extend understanding that include two writing options, a collaborative role-play option, and a critical literacy option. In these activities, students think about other ways the story could have gone and write their own versions, students explain in writing the foreshadowing in the story after reading it again to look specifically for foreshadowing, students act out a parent-teacher conference and write a plan of success, and students draw their own conclusions about the characters in the story and present their ideas using evidence from the text.
At the beginning of each unit in the “Visual Planning Guide,” reading selections are identified as having reading levels that are “easy,” “moderate,” or “challenging.” In Unit 2, there are three reading selections labeled challenging. Extension activities are also outlined in “Unit Scope-and-Sequence.”
In Unit 3, students read the essay “The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl.” In the enrichment activity included in the materials, students research elements of Chinese culture and “exhibit their findings in the form of an oral presentation with visual aids.” In one of the four extend understanding activities included in the materials for this essay, students pretend they are the author and write a diary entry using a scenario presented in the activity. In another extended understanding activity for the essay, students create a book with common phrases translated into the Chinese language that they feel would be useful if they took a trip to China.
In Unit 6, “Paul Revere’s Ride” is a narrative poem about a cultural hero. One extension of learning is the mapping of Paul Revere’s route. Students trace the path his travels took him and noted the time of day in addition to significant events at each point. Students identify the rhyme scheme and the tone as it changes. A research project about the heroes of the American Revolution gives students another opportunity to extend learning.
In Unit 7, the Visual Planning Guide contains one (out of four) selections labeled as challenging. As students read “The Dying Detective,” they investigate the British monetary system’s history, found in the enrichment section. After reading the adapted play, teachers assign one or more of the Extend Understanding options. Students may write a news article about the play’s cast, write a literary analysis about the theme, classify the play’s characters with a partner, or create a list of stage elements and props for the play.
In Unit 8, students read the folktale “The Souls in Purgatory.” In the enrichment activity included in the materials, the teacher asks students to theorize how several similar plot elements and themes were included in stories written by vastly different cultures. The teacher challenges students to learn more about this phenomenon and to share their findings with the class. There are four Extend Understanding opportunities for this folktale included in the materials. Students write from one of the girls’ perspectives in the folktale to the three souls in the Creative Writing activity. Students read the short story “Rumplestiltskin” and find the similarities and differences between the two text selections’ plot elements in the Compare and Contrast activity.
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below expectations of 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.
In Unit 1, the teacher is given instructions for the “Close Reading Model’s” steps and how to apply them to the selection “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. Progressive steps assist a below-grade reading level student in engaging actively in the reading. The first reading begins with a broad look, and then a second and a third reading delve deeper into the details of the work. Learning to think about what is read enhances learning for all students’ levels, including below-grade-level students.
In Unit 2, students explore a short story by Gary Soto, “Born Worker,” and apply the Close Reading Model to the piece. The theme is of high interest and accessible to grade 8 students around a different perspective on work value. Students are given Guided Reading techniques starting with building the background and context. The story is built around a geographical context, and students are invited to explore that while relating it to their own lives.
In Unit 4, a focus on vocabulary development enhances literacy skills. During the reading of the article “On the Relativity of Time” by Wolfgang F. Pauli, teachers guide specific vocabulary terms to help struggling readers grasp the article’s meaning.
In Unit 4, there are six selections labeled “easy.” There are also scaffolds in the selections. In “Murder and More Mushroom Mayhem” by Elio Schaechter, the teacher directs students to role-play conversations in the text. This scaffolding is found in the “Differentiated Instruction: Special Needs/Kinesthetic Learning” section.
The use of graphic organizers also helps with literacy development. In Unit 5, during the reading of “Legacies” by Nikki Giovanni, the teacher helps struggling readers compare and contrast the grandmother’s and granddaughter’s points of view.
In Unit 5, students examine a poem called “Night Clouds” by Amy Lowell. While this is considered a “Moderate” reading level piece, it is a short length piece, making it more conducive to students below grade level. Each time a teacher is given instructions on the Close Reading Model throughout the text, as it progresses from beginning to end, additional detail is added. There are aspects to examine unique to each passage, and the whole text allows for the progress of students who are challenged with below-grade reading levels.
In Unit 8, read-aloud is presented as a means of building comprehension for less-able readers. During the Cheyenne legend “Where the Girl Rescued Her Brother” by Joseph Bruchac and Gayle Ross, students listen to the teacher read the story aloud to aid comprehension. After the teacher asks questions to check for understanding, students then read through the selection independently.
The materials include some linguistics accommodations and some scaffolds for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. While English language learner 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 from the selection text. The eResource has several areas where words are defined in a glossary style.
In the “Teacher Edition,” EL 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.”
Teachers are provided a supplemental text, “Differentiated Instruction: English Language Learning Support.” This text provides lessons in “Literacy & Reading Skills,” where students learn strategies to apply to the textbook’s selections. There is also “English Language Development” divided into three proficiency levels aligned with selections from the textbook. Also, “Foundation Literacy Skills” provide audio pronunciations and Spanish selection summaries in text and audio. Throughout this text, the teacher is provided with supports in vocabulary development and reading fluency lessons. Spanish-speaking English Learners have access to reading selections and novels for extended reading in the native language online.
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. The Differentiated Instruction: Literacy & Reading Skills resource includes Culture Notes. For example, in the During Reading section of Charles, A Short Story by Shirley Jackson, the margins include a Culture Note that states, “The PTA is a parent-teacher organization that meets in school to plan events, establish priorities, raise money, etc. PTAs were very popular at the time the story was written.” Students can connect to the content of the text based on the culture note, but native language support is not provided.
Students’ limited opportunities to use their first language are included in the materials. In Unit 1, in the “Writing Workshop,” students base their essays on stories they have read in their native languages.
The resource identifies a lengthy list of vocabulary words at the beginning of each unit, but there are not words specified for ELs. There are “Vocabulary Skills” lessons in each unit aligned with one of the reading selections given to the students. These lessons are connected to the piece’s content and additional skills the students have an opportunity to learn. For example, in Unit 2, the selection “Moon” is aligned with Vocabulary Skills lessons centered on the “Language Development” activity learning Jargon.
In Unit 5, during the Writing Workshop, students work in pairs to identify which teacher-provided transitions are for comparison and which are used to contrast. Depending on student proficiency, they may also write sentences using transition words or phrases.
In Unit 6, while reading “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, teachers provide pre-reading support to help students understand the American history background knowledge needed to comprehend the poem.
In Unit 7, while reading the play “The Dying Detective” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the teacher provides language support for “increasingly complex and elaborate spoken language.” During this same play, teachers also point out the differences between American and British spellings.
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 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 to practice and 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 and 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 “Charles” by Shirley Jackson. 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 need support with vocabulary. 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 engaging their students with the text before reading it. For this particular short story, the notes prompt the teachers to ask students to share experiences they may have had with mischievous younger siblings to create the context for the character Charles in the story.
Each lesson included in the teacher’s edition includes “Differentiated Instruction,” “Analyze Literature,” “Literary connection,” “Reading Skills,” and several other annotations and teacher’s notes. The lesson previews also include the resources that will be used throughout the lesson. For example, in the lesson’s margins, in the preview of the informational text “Indian Cattle” by Eugene Rachlis in Unit 4, the program resources list the selection lesson plan, lesson test, directed reading activity, and cultural context research project.
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 8 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 Editionis the “Mirrors and Windows Correlation to the Texas English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) for ELA and Reading - Grade 8.” This series of pages list each of the Grade 8 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, to 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 8” 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 additional 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 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, along with 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 what the unit will cover. The pictures and graphics included within the unit are not distracting but rather add to the text’s understanding. In Unit 1, the spread includes the title “Unit 1, Finding Ourselves, Fiction Connections,” a small illustration of a man standing in front of an apartment, and an almost half-page photograph of a field. There is a quote from author Cynthia Rylant and the guidance, “As you read the short stories in the unit, use the imaginary experiences of the characters to enrich your own real process of self-discovery.”
Most text selections present a small photograph of the author on the “Before Reading” pages. They also include a small drawing of the graphic organizer the text recommends students use to collect information as they read and then embeds graphics/images along the way. In Unit 4, students read the scientific article “A Tale of Two Rocks” by Valerie Jablow. In the Before Reading pages, there is no picture of the author, but a graphic web organizer is shown that students can use to help them collect information as they read. The article’s title page is a full-page image of a giant burning rock in space with the title. The second page of the article includes a half-page photograph of a piece of land on the water that has a crater in it, the fourth page has a half-page, close-up photograph of a rock, the final page has an image of a comet in a starry night sky, and the “After Reading” pages contain a three-column drawing of a chart that students are expected to fill out. The pages without images have mainly text, with white space surrounding the text and a small amount of in-text questions embedded in the white space alongside the text.
In Unit 8, the title page spread has the title, “Unit 8, Recalling Heroes, Folk Literature Connections,” a half-page photograph of a crocodile in the water, and a half-page, color drawing of two small children in a river. There is a quote from author Virginia Hamilton and the questions, “What can you learn about culture through folk literature?” and “What cultural values would you find in modern tales from your area?” Students can use these guiding questions to help their thinking as they read the texts in the unit.
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.