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The TRR reports for K–8 and high school science are now available. The new Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) rubrics for K–3 and 4–8 English language arts and reading, K–3 and 4–6 Spanish language arts and reading, and K–12 mathematics are now available for review. Provide public comment through December 15, 2023. Visit the instructional materials webpage to view the slides and recordings from the focus groups.
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts (what students read, see, and hear)
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions: Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Thinking, Inquiry, and Research
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills (Grades K-5 only)
Section 5. Supports for Diverse Learners
Section 6. Ease of Use and Supports for Implementation
Section 7. Technology, Cost, and Professional Learning Support
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include high-quality texts for ELAR instruction and cover a range of student interests, time periods, genres, and content areas. The texts are well-crafted and of publishable quality, representing the quality of content, language, and writing that is produced by experts in various disciplines. Materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, “The Black Cat,” a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, vividly combines suspense and gothic elements that easily engage student readers. Through the dynamic nature of the narrator, who changes over time, the text presents complexities in characterization and plot sequence. The story is a rich exemplar for the study of the author’s craft, and for a study and an analysis of the effect of genre-specific literary elements.
In Unit 2, “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a contemporary, high-Lexile, nonfiction reading passage that provides ample opportunities for the rigorous analysis of rhetoric, audience, and purpose. The academic vocabulary presented in this text furnishes a complex study of connotation and the implication of word meanings relative to the occasion and time period that provoked King’s writings. Another high-Lexile text within Unit 2 is a historical document, the Declaration of Independence. This text presents complexities in writing style and diction that lend themselves to rhetorical analysis in the form of oral discussion and written composition.
In Unit 3, the text I Will Fight No More Forever by TobyMac and Michael Tait is an informational passage with rich cultural and historical details and references. This text anchors instruction on identifying text structure and analyzing patterns in the organization of points of assertion and persuasion.
In Unit 4, Night, a memoir by Elie Wiesel, presents a harrowing, first-person account of living through the Jewish Holocaust. The text provides opportunities for an analysis of the author’s style and lends itself to a detailed discussion and an exploration of thematic connections and genre-specific elements.
The materials present diverse texts with complex layers of meaning relevant to the identified purpose of each unit. The thoughtfully arranged assortment of Lexile-based reading passages provides mixed text types with varying text structure and culturally and historically relevant content.
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the requirements of the grade-level TEKS. The materials include American, British, and world literature as outlined in the TEKS. The literary texts presented in the materials lend themselves to students’ critical response and oral commentary. The informational texts include texts of information, exposition, argument, procedures, and documents. There is a lack of sufficient evidence that the materials include print and graphic features for a variety of texts.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
“The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe (horror, short story), American literature
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (novel), American literature
Dracula by Bram Stoker (novel), British literature
“If—” by Rudyard Kipling (poem), British literature
“Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie (short story), American literature
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Night by Elie Wiesel (memoir), world literature
Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech by Elie Wiesel (speech), world literature
The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (nonfiction), American literature
The Declaration of Independence (historical document), American literature
The curriculum, however, lacks sufficient materials that contain print and graphic features that inform the reader about the natural and social world. Some pictures with captions are present in the section “On Our Own: Integrating Ideas.” A few tables are also contained within the units, but not in a comprehensive manner.
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, the textbook contains a lesson called “Focus on Analyzing Character,” in which students use a graphic organizer to analyze Dracula’s character with detailed text evidence.
In Unit 3, the textbook uses underlined and bolded print to call attention to words and phrases for student focus and comprehension. In “Focus on Analyzing Points of View,” a picture titled American Progress is shown to help students make deeper text-to-self and text-to-world connections.
The materials include texts appropriately complex to support English I students at their grade level. Within the materials, the Teacher’s Guide provides some information on the three factors of text complexity: quantitative measures, such as Lexile scores, “consider word length, word frequency, and sentence length”; qualitative measures include “such elements as layout, purpose, and meaning, text structure, language features, and knowledge demands”; reader and task considerations require “the professional judgment of teachers to provide the support needed to ensure the success of their students as readers.” Each text is accompanied by a Lexile level, found in the table of contents in the Teacher’s Guide. Most of the texts’ Lexile levels are at or above the college-and-career-readiness metrics threshold of 1050L–1260L for 9th-grade students, as noted by lexile.com.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe has a Lexile level of 1340L. Genreflecting by Diana Herald has a Lexile level of 1180L.
In Unit 2, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a Lexile level of 1410L. The Declaration of Independence has a Lexile level of 1790L.
In Unit 3, “I Will Fight No More Forever” by TobyMac and Michael Tait has a Lexile level of 1060L. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown has a Lexile level of 1310L.
In Unit 4, “Declaration of Conscience” by Senator Margaret Chase Smith has a Lexile level of 1180L. Twelve Years a Slave by Soloman Northup has a Lexile level of 1200L.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within and across texts. The materials contain questions and tasks that build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific and text-dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Questions and tasks require students to make connections to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them. Questions and tasks also require students to identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials are divided into four units, and each unit begins with an “Essential Question”/”Big Idea.” Throughout each unit, the authors use multiple genres and a variety of text types to analyze the big idea and address key concepts and elements. The Teacher’s Guide notes the multiple TEKS integrated within each chapter.
The Essential Question (Big Idea) in Unit 1 is “What strikes fear in the heart?” Unit 1, Chapter 1, focusing on The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, starts by asking “How would you define suspenseful?” Students are then prompted to think about a story they have read or a movie they have seen that was suspenseful. “What made it suspenseful?” Next, students read an excerpt from “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs and answer “Is this a good example of suspenseful literature? Why or why not?” After the first reading of the text, students are asked several text-based discussion questions; for example, “What did you feel was the most suspenseful image in the story? Why? Support your answer with evidence.” During the second read, students listen to the author read the text. They make connections to the sensory details and answer text-based questions; for example, “What sense is being emphasized in lines 46–54? What effect does the baby smell have in the context of the entire passage? What emotions does it create in the reader?” Finally, during the third read, students are asked “What are the main events of the story, and what effect does the immediate focus on the knife, instead of the man or the setting, have on the reader?”
The Essential Question (Big Idea) in Unit 2 is “Are people truly equal?” Unit 2, Chapter 6, focusing on “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, starts by asking “Think about the way society alternately rewards and punishes its members. Which should be rewarded more highly, natural ability or hard work?” Students are informed that the selected text is a short story set in a futuristic society that wants everyone to be “average” and equal. Students are then asked “What conflicts do you expect to encounter in this story, and is it beneficial to society for everyone to be average?” During the first reading of the text, students are asked text-dependent questions such as “Who are the main characters? How does the government try to create equality?” During the second reading of the text, students focus on the theme of the text. Students are then asked more text-based questions, such as “How are handicapping devices chosen?” During the third read, students focus on identifying irony across the text. The chapter ends with a connection to the text, asking “What does equality mean to you?”
The Essential Question (Big Idea) in Unit 3 is “How do American Indians experience life in the United States?” Chapter 11 of Unit 3, focusing on “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie, starts by asking “How would you define the words ‘domineering’ and ‘assertive’ based on the context of the following sentences? Which word has a more positive connotation?” These questions allow the reader to connect to the text. During the first reading of the text, text-based questions are asked: “What is the First Grade section mostly about? Give a few examples. What words and examples stand out in the Second Grade section? Why?” Students are then asked, “When you think about your formal education at school, what type of classes and lessons usually come to mind? How are the ‘lessons’ Victor is learning different from those taught in a formal education?” During the second reading of the text, students work on understanding the point of view of the text and answer text-based questions such as “How do the section titles and narrative titles shape your understanding of each section?” and “How are lines 132–134 significant?”
The Essential Question (Big Idea) in Unit 4 is “When you see injustice, do you stand by, or stand up?” At the beginning of Unit 4, Chapter 16, students read the short poem “The Book” by Emily Dickinson and answer the question “What is this poem mainly about and what life lesson does the poem suggest?” Next, students read Night by Elie Wiesel and are asked “Who is narrating the events; what is happening at the beginning of the excerpt; what are the eight simple words, and why are they so frightening?” During the second read, students focus on uncovering the theme; they underline each instance of the word night or nighttime in the story. Then, students are asked several questions: “Why do you think the writer titled his book Night? Why does the narrator repeatedly talk about being in a nightmare? What might the writer be trying to say about the Holocaust by using the repeated ideas involving night?” Students are then given a graphic organizer to assist them with summarizing the learning and uncovering the theme.
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. The questions and tasks support students’ analysis of the literary/textual elements of texts, asking students to make inferences and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. The materials compare and contrast purposes, analyze the author’s choices, study the language within the text, and require students to study the differences between genres and the language of materials.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, the questions and tasks for The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman require students to analyze language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure. For example, the questions “What elements of Gaiman’s writing do you find particularly effective? Could you use these in your own writing?” require students to analyze the author’s craft and the structure of his writing. Next, students write an analysis of the author’s use of sensory description to establish the mood and the setting and to introduce a character. At the end of Unit 1, Chapter 1, students write an essay answering the question “How does Neil Gaiman use descriptive details and structure to create an atmosphere of horror and suspense in Chapter 1 of The Graveyard Book?” Both the task and question lead students to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s craft.
In Unit 2, students read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. They are given Vonnegut’s eight rules for writing a short story and are asked to use them to evaluate the text—“Which ones does Vonnegut follow? Which ones does he not follow?” Irony is the focus during the third reading of the text; students are asked, “Is the author trying to say that the way to equality is to handicap talented people?” Students discuss “how Vonnegut uses irony to satirize views of equality, competition, and fairness.”
In Unit 3, students read “Indian Experience” by Sherman Alexie. They are told: “The author grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Sherman Alexie has a lot in common with the main character Victor.” Students are then asked, “Why do you think Alexie chose to write a fictional story instead of an autobiography?” and “What is implied by the teacher’s use of the lowercase i in indian and the narrator’s capitalization of Indian in lines 50–52?” During the third reading of the text, students begin analyzing the tone of the text: “What is the writer/narrator’s attitude towards his education? How does this help you understand the theme?” After reading the final text in Unit 3, the State of the Union (1829) by President Andrew Jackson, students are prompted: “Based on what you have read in previous chapters of Unit 3, what may have been the reaction of American Indians to this speech? Answers should include textual evidence from previous texts in Chapter 3.”
In Unit 4, students read Night by Elie Wiesel, focusing on style and how style and language is used to support the theme. Students receive an explanation of style and how authors utilize style to communicate the theme of their work; then, they are asked, “How would you describe the style of Night?” Students continue analyzing the author’s work and his craft and are asked to respond to questions such as “According to Wiesel, why is forgetting dangerous?” and “What does Wiesel mean when he says, ‘Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices’? Support your answers with evidence.”
Materials provide opportunities to build academic vocabulary throughout the year; however, an explicit year-long plan for building and applying academic vocabulary within and across texts is not provided. The materials provide some scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. While scaffolds to support English Learners (EL) are clearly identified throughout the materials, there are no supports referenced for all other learners.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The first page of each chapter in the Student Book provides a sidebar with a list of academic vocabulary. The academic vocabulary includes terms and phrases that students will encounter in the academic dialogue of the instructional tasks throughout the unit as well as the academic vocabulary of the text genre presented in each chapter. While the Teacher’s Guide provides the definition of each academic vocabulary word followed by a sentence that uses the word in context, a plan to explicitly apply words in appropriate contexts is not available.
Unit 1’s “Introduction—What strikes fear into the heart?” has a blue text box that directs teachers to “create a word wall using synonyms for afraid, terrified, nervous, anxious, concerned, horrified.” These words correlate with the “Essential Question” and the idea of suspense. When students read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, the Teacher’s Guide and Student Book provide academic vocabulary including chronological order, sensory language, and textual evidence. The suggested words in the Teacher’s Guide for the “previewed” vocabulary—to be taught by the teacher during the first reading of the text—include the words diffused, accustomed, honed in, tendrils, insinuated, and treacherous. On the first page of the text, a blue text box labeled “ELL Support” (i.e. English Learner support) directs the teacher to “encourage ELLs to look up new words at https://www.learnersdictionary.com.” The introduction pages of subsequent chapters and units contain the “ELL Support: Preview Academic Vocabulary” text box, which provides ideas for teaching vocabulary. The writers suggest teachers “see Teaching Vocabulary (p. 18) in the ELL Teacher Resource for ideas to use for teaching vocabulary.” During the first reading of the text, students are asked to circle unfamiliar words as they complete the reading.
In Unit 2, when students read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, the Teacher’s Guide and Student Book list academic words including dystopian literature, irony, satire, and characterization. The suggested words in the Teacher’s Guide for the previewed vocabulary include vigilance, transmitter, toying, and speech impediment. Ideas are given for teaching vocabulary throughout the “Connections for English Language Learners Teacher Resources”; for example, “Explain, act out, draw pictures, and provide examples to define the following academic vocabulary: characterization, dystopian literature, inference, irony, satire, and theme. Have students keep a list of these words in their response journal.”
In Unit 3, students read “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie, and the Teacher’s Guide and Student Book list academic words including connotation, denotation, theme, and tone. The suggested words in the Teacher’s Guide for the previewed vocabulary include reservation, horn-rimmed, outstretched, symmetrical, anorexia, bulimia, and stoic. An EL support suggests that, during the first read, the teacher should read the text aloud. During the “Focus on Connotation and Denotation” assignment, students look up the word education in the dictionary. Then, students figure out the meanings of denotation versus connotation and how this applies to the reading selection. The significance of the ideas contained in the word education is enhanced by textual evidence modeled by the teacher and further provided by students.
Unit 4’s “Essential Question” is “When you see injustice, do you stand by—or stand up?” Teachers lead a class discussion of human rights. A suggested EL support is to discuss social media and look up the word apathy via a suggested link. For Night by Elie Wiesel, the Teacher’s Guide and Student Book list academic words including central character, figurative language, realistic dialogue, and style of writing. The suggested words in the Teacher’s Guide for the previewed vocabulary include illusion, indifferent, tumult, imperative, invectives, sage, and monocle. In the “Chapter Goals” section, as they read the goals on their own, students discuss and circle the meanings of the academic vocabulary words they are unfamiliar with.
The materials do not include a clearly defined plan to support independent reading and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. There are opportunities for students to independently read and study texts from within the materials. The materials do not include a plan that supports students in self-selecting texts and reading independently for a sustained period of time; they do not include planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals. At the end of each chapter, the Teacher’s Guide has an optional section called “On Your Own: Integrating Ideas,” which provides students with suggested additional reading materials: a book or research text that connects to the theme and “Essential Question” of the chapter.
The materials provide support for students to develop writing skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Students compose literary texts, informational texts, argumentative texts, and correspondence. Students are given opportunities to compose writing connected to the texts as well as stand-alone projects that include writing. Text choices and writing tasks present a range of complexity, context, and purpose.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, “Writing a Personal Narrative,” students are told: “In Chapters 1–5, you read a variety of fictional stories, a nonfiction narrative, and an educational text on classiﬁcations within the horror genre. In this section, you will apply what you’ve learned by writing your own personal narrative about a scary experience.” Here, students are encouraged to synthesize their previous learning with the current writing task.
In Unit 2, when students read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, they have the opportunity to write an argumentative response to Atticus Finch’s excerpted closing argument. Students are forced to take a position when answering the questions “Are the courts today the great levelers, making everyone equal, as Atticus believes?” and “Do wealth and race determine who gets justice in America?”
In Unit 3, after reading Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown and viewing a painting, students are told: “Write 2 or 3 paragraphs, contrast the concept of Manifest Destiny as it is represented in the excerpt from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the painting American Progress.”
In Unit 4, when students read Night by Elie Wiesel, they are prompted: “Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper but from the perspective of a survivor of a concentration camp who has immigrated to the U.S. Some of the SS officers who worked at Auschwitz and escaped to America are finally being tried for their crimes against humanity. A newspaper article quotes one of the men as stating that he is not guilty of any crime and that he was merely following orders. In fact, he goes so far as to say that if he had resisted the order, he would have been killed himself. The reporter for the article didn’t interview victims for an opposing point of view. You are outraged and decide to write a letter that will be published in the newspaper.” Specific steps are then given for the student to follow when writing the letter.
In Unit 4, “Writing a Research Paper,” students inform an audience of their concerns about a modern problem of which their community needs to be aware.
In the “Composition Practice Book,” writing skills are covered for multiple genres and purposes. For example, in Chapter 7, the Composition Practice Book targets “Personal Narrative.” Students “choose a subject for a personal essay” from their personal experience; seven suggestions/ideas are listed in a text box. Students are guided through the writing process. For “Short Story,” students complete a graphic organizer with a detailed description of their character(s) and setting in preparation for writing a short story. For “Play” and “Poem,” students get a graphic organizer for drafting.
Written tasks throughout the materials 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. The materials provide opportunities for students to respond to text-based questions and to justify their responses with evidence from the text(s).
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. After the second reading of an excerpt, students are told, “Analyze how Neil Gaiman uses sensory description to establish the mood and sensory description to establish mood and setting and to introduce the man Jack.” Students write a paragraph with their analysis and use evidence from the text to support their answers.
In Unit 2, students read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. After the second reading of a passage, students are told: “Write a two-three paragraph analysis of Atticus’s speech. Analyze what Atticus says to convince his audience by explaining rhetorical techniques he uses and how he uses an anaphora.” Students must use evidence from the text to support their analysis.
In Unit 3, after the third reading of the State of the Union Address by President Andrew Jackson, the materials ask, “Did you find Jackson’s argument convincing or not?” Then, they prompt: “Write an analysis of Jackson’s proposal to remove the southern tribes beyond the Mississippi. First, summarize the proposal. Then, evaluate the reasons he gives for not allowing these tribes to create their own government and why removing them is better than allowing them to stay.” Students are instructed to use evidence from the text to support their responses.
In Unit 4, reading Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, students are asked, “Explain how Wiesel uses the ideas of ‘forgetting’ and ‘remaining silent’ in his speech.” Later in the chapter, students are instructed to write a few sentences to explain Wiesel’s use of fragments: “Notice that Wiesel follows his fragments with a longer complex sentence. Explain why Wiesel does this. How does this affect the style of the writing?” Students must use evidence from the text to support their responses.
Over the course of the year, writing skills and knowledge of conventions are applied in increasingly complex contexts, with opportunities for students to publish their writing. The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process to compose text in all four units and in the stand-alone supplemental materials. The materials provide opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Within and across units, grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically both in out of context. Each chapter and unit of the materials presents text-based tasks that address conventions and usage, while the “Composition Practice” materials present drills and strategies out of context to help student writing grow in depth and complexity across units. For example, students start the year by writing about themselves in a personal narrative and end the year with a research paper presenting a human rights issue and a solution in which someone of their age could participate.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Each of the four units ends with a writing assignment that engages students in the stages of the writing process through varied genres.
In Unit 1, students are asked to think about a time when they were truly frightened. Then, they write a personal narrative in which they explain why this experience was significant and what they learned. The students gather ideas, use graphic organizers and an outline to organize their writing, write the first draft, participate in peer review, revise, edit, and then prepare a final draft.
In Unit 2, students write an argumentative essay, answering the question “What is an issue that you feel strongly about?” Students make a claim about the issue, support their position with strong reasons based on research and focused on logical appeals, and include a counterclaim and a response to the counterclaim. Students must also “include one example or quotation from a text” they read in the unit.
In Unit 3, students write a comparative essay by conducting an inquiry into an issue faced by a minority group in America. Students must clearly explain two different sides or perspectives on their topic in an unbiased way. First, students brainstorm and generate ideas; then, once a topic is picked, students begin to research and take notes; next, students use graphic organizers and outlines to organize their writing and cite their sources; they write the first draft, participate in peer review, revise, and edit; finally, they prepare a final draft.
In Unit 4, students write a research paper: “Take a stand on a human rights issue that you feel strongly about.” Students pick a topic that interests them and inspires them to make a change. The paper will “address the problem, identify how human rights are being violated, and suggest one or more solutions to the problem, including how students your age can help.” Students start by gathering ideas and evaluating sources; they conduct research and organize the ideas found from the research; they learn about the MLA format and create an outline for the first draft; they participate in peer review, revise, and edit; finally, they prepare a final draft.
Each chapter provides opportunities to learn about, practice, and apply specific conventions of academic language tied to the texts students read.
In Unit 1, Chapter 3, the “Language” section addresses voice and tenses in verbs. For example, it goes over the difference between active and passive voice. Then, it explains how to change the verb from a passive verb into an active verb and when to change an active verb into a passive verb. The teacher’s edition asks, “How does the meaning of the sentence change based on the voice used?” Next, it goes over the tenses of verbs and uses the in-context lesson on Dracula to explain present-tense writing.
In Unit 2, “Understanding Persuasive Language” addresses capitalization. In this lesson, specific lines from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are used to show capitalization rules and usage, such as “Though he is catholic and I am protestant, we are both Christians.”
In Unit 3, I Will Fight No More Forever by TobyMac and Michael Tait provides for an in-context lesson about using apostrophes. First, the text gives the rules for using apostrophes. Then, it gives sentences from Mac and Tait’s text, and the student is asked to add apostrophes, if needed, to their writing, such as “Instead he was here, huddled in a makeshift camp at the foot of the Bears Paw Mountains in Northern Montana….”
In Unit 4, Night by Elie Wiesel provides for an in-context lesson on the pronoun-antecedent agreement. The lesson starts by pointing out how the author uses pronouns and their antecedents. Then, it gives three rules and the correct and incorrect use of the pronoun and its antecedent. Finally, the student is asked to read a statement and correct any pronoun mistakes, if needed.
The materials also include a wealth of stand-alone supplemental teacher resources, including the “Writing and Language Teacher’s Guide,” which provides detailed lesson plans, vocabulary, tests, and other materials on composition, grammar, mechanics, and usage. The materials also include two accompanying student books, “Composition Practice,” and “Language Practice,” with instructional and practice materials on the writing process, grammar and mechanics, and usage (such as parts of speech, misplaced modifiers, clauses, subject/verb agreement, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling). The “Writing and Language Handbook,” a resource on the foundational skills of writing for students, is also included. Chapters 1–4 and 12–24 include vital information on the writing process. Chapters 1–4 cover the writing process, the writer’s craft, writing well-structured paragraphs, and writing effective compositions. Chapters 12–24 address parts of speech, grammar, and sentence structure.
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts. The materials contain speaking and listening opportunities that require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate comprehension and the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, reading The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe, students complete a graphic organizer to assist them with identifying the theme of the text. Then, students share their theme statements with a partner and use the following questions to evaluate their partner’s statement: “Are specific examples and direct quotes from the text included? Do the examples support the conclusions in the right-hand column? Does the theme flow from the conclusions in the rest of the chart?” Students then make the necessary changes to their statements based on their partner’s evaluation.
In Unit 2, after a second reading of “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, students discuss questions with a partner: “What other texts, television shows, or movies does this remind you of? To what current events in society does this story apply? What point about equality is the author making?” Students then complete a graphic organizer to assist them with identifying the theme of the text. Then, students share their theme statements with a partner, and discuss: “Are your theme statements similar or different? Respectfully explain the reasons for your answer. Be open to changing your theme statement based upon your partner’s evidence. Consider how you can come to a consensus on the theme.”
In Unit 3, after students read “A Colloquy at a Kiowa Agency” by Judson Elliott Walker, students learn to speak and listen just as the American Indian tribal councils did. The class splits into groups and students discuss whether the Agent or Satanta better represented his side of the argument; students use evidence from the text to support their arguments.
In Unit 4, reading “We Are Not Responsible” by Harryette Mullen, students discuss, with a partner, what message or messages the poet wants her reader to receive: “What you think Harryette Mullen, the poet, wants to express to her readers and to society in general?” Students are instructed to use evidence from the text to support their responses.
The materials engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions, in both formal and informal settings. The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to express the students’ own thinking. The materials also provide opportunities for students to give organized presentations and performances.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, Chapter 4, while reading “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allen Poe, students participate in a “Roundtable Discussion” centering on the question “Based upon the mental state of the narrator, is he a reliable recorder of events? Is he sane or is his account not trustworthy?” Guidance with grade-level-appropriate protocols for conversation dynamics is provided in this chapter. For listening, students are told: “Listen respectfully, look at the speaker, and follow along when a speaker refers to sentences within the text.” For speaking, students are told: “Speak at least two times, refer to the text to support conclusions, be open to comments and suggestions, and explain and justify (offer reasons to support your opinion).” Teachers are also given evaluation guidelines for implementing an effective roundtable; students are expected to
In Unit 2, Chapter 9, while reading Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” students participate in a Roundtable Discussion focused on a section of the text and are instructed to prepare for the discussion “by thinking about your response to the following question: Was King correct in targeting moderates instead of those who were more clearly his enemies? Why or why not?” Students follow the roundtable discussion guidelines and are told: “As you participate in the discussion, you will need to support your conclusions with details from King’s letter or other texts you read.”
In Unit 3, students research different arguments regarding using Native American stereotypes as sports mascots, like Braves, Chiefs, and Indians, and then participate in a class debate. The materials note, “Students’ debate should contain evidence, sound argument, quick thinking, and confident speaking.” Also in Unit 3: “Groups of students role-play a meeting between Young Chief Joseph, Old Chief Joseph, a young warrior from Chief Joseph’s tribe, and Captain Nelson Miles, discussing the surrender of the Nez Perce tribe.” Students have to accurately represent the character’s viewpoint by searching the excerpt from I Will Fight No More Forever: Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce War by Merrill D. Beal for clues and by conducting online research. Students later read “A Colloquy at a Kiowa Agency” by Judson Elliott Walker and participate in a Lincoln-Douglas Debate. Students form groups and are instructed: “You and your team will decide which members will be speaking to the affirmative, or FOR an idea (position), and which members will be speaking to the negative, or AGAINST an idea.” Materials provide a chart to guide student groups in preparing for the affirmative and negative position for the debate topic: “The government should continue to protect and provide for American Indians today.” The teacher is the moderator of the debate and follows the provided format, which specifies the timing for each team’s lead debater’s speech, rebuttals, and closing. One student acts as timekeeper, assisting the moderator in ensuring each speaker stays within the timeframe laid out in the protocol. Student evaluation is based on a set of guidelines, such as whether students “[a]ddressed arguments for the affirmative or the negative in a thoughtful and convincing manner, used reasons, evidence, and facts that support the position taken, and included rebuttal that was specific to the arguments given by the opposing side.”
In Unit 4, students participate in a “Roundtable Discussion” on the question “Does Senator McCarthy or Senator Chase Smith present a stronger argument? Which one is more persuasive?” The roundtable dynamics, protocol, and guidelines are consistent with those presented in Units 1, 2, and 3. Later in Unit 4, students read all or a part of a self-selected slave narrative and create a digital presentation to share with classmates. Materials recommend that the teacher should provide students with the digital presentation rubric to guide students’ presentation development as they complete their project.
The materials provide multiple opportunities for both formal and informal research tasks throughout the four units. The research varies from short-term to long-term, provides for student choice, and is built into the natural flow of inquiry and summary within the units. Students learn to identify appropriate evidence to support a claim and collaborate on organizing details for research. While the materials do contain high-quality primary and secondary sources, only the primary sources are identified and supported as such throughout the materials. There is a lack of evidence that the materials explicitly support students with the identification of high-quality, reliable primary and secondary sources. The materials support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research within the units of the textbook.
Examples include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, students read The Hot Zone by Richard Preston and create an informal digital presentation about a deadly virus. Students conduct an online search to develop a list of viruses and choose one virus to research. Students gather information, such as “the name and description of the virus, the origin of the virus, symptoms, treatment, and survival rate, steps to avoid contamination….” Students are directed to use three or more “valid” sources for their information. Students create an organized digital presentation that includes images and are encouraged to “practice [their] presentation using technical language that is appropriate to [their] purpose, audience, and occasion.” Students are reminded: “Use good eye contact, a natural rate of speaking, appropriate volume, clear and correct enunciation, purposeful gestures, correct grammar, and usage.”
In Unit 2, the culminating task for Chapter 10 provides students the opportunity to formulate a claim in response to a selected local, regional, or national issue of controversy. Students synthesize their previous learning about claims and counterclaims in the unit to brainstorm relevant controversial issues before conducting their research for viable sources that support their position. Students are directed to find four sources and provide the title of the text, the author’s name, website name, publisher, and date of publication.
In Unit 3, students research Native American tribes that are indigenous to their city and state and discover how the tribes’ history relates to any local information, such as landmarks and city names. Students read “A Colloquy at a Kiowa Agency” by Judson Elliott Walker. The term primary source is included in the teacher’s edition, and the teacher is directed to preview the term as academic vocabulary. The teacher’s edition defines a primary source as “a document or object written or created during an event” and provides examples, such as The Diary of Anne Frank as a primary source from the Holocaust. After students read the Walker text a third time, they are asked text-based discussion questions, such as “Is this colloquy an important primary source document? Explain why or why not.” The materials also include an opportunity for the teacher to share or read an account from the primary source “Campaigns of General Custer in the North-West, and the Final Surrender of Sitting Bull” to provide a balanced view of the conflict between the settlers and the Kiowa tribe. For the Unit 3 project-based assessments, students are directed: “Research a variety of legislation and primary sources concerning the Bureau of Indian Affairs, The Dawes Act (1887), The Indian Reorganization Act (1934), or the general topic of government provisions for American Indians….”
Unit 4 includes extension activities that provide an opportunity to conduct further research in relation to the core texts. Students read two speeches from Senators McCarthy and Chase-Smith and research what happens to both. Students also read Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup and research Solomon Northup’s later years as well as slavery that still exists in our world today.
In Unit 5, the final lesson involves writing a research paper on an identified human rights issue. Students are given scaffolds to assist in brainstorming ideas and organizing those ideas. A sample outline is given to aid in the organizational structure of the essay.
The materials detail these primary resources so that students may get as close as possible to the particular events of the time period; however, other multi-genre texts that clarify and provide thematic connections within the chapters and units of the materials are not identified or referenced as secondary sources. Secondary sources are covered in one of the supplemental resources, the “High School Handbook: Writing & Language,” student edition. In Chapter 10, “Inquiry: Initial Research and Development,” students are given the definition of primary and secondary sources with examples. When students complete a research paper in Unit 4, students use at least five sources of information from different suggested types of sources: online articles and journals, traditional print books, videos, documentaries, and interviews. Students are given several web addresses to aid in the research; however, aside from the one aforementioned lesson, explicit instruction in identifying primary and secondary sources was not found. The materials give teachers the following guidance: “Research Ideas: Consider requiring that students use at least two print sources, two digital sources, and one periodical source to ensure that they learn how to discern and use all three.” However, there is no evidence of explicit instruction on evaluating sources for credibility, bias, and faulty reasoning.
Each chapter of the materials contains interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. The tasks build and apply skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. They contain a coherently sequenced set of questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within texts and across multiple texts. The tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking in each chapter and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Unit 1 starts by asking students, “Do horror stories merely try to frighten readers, or do they impart warnings about behavior falling outside society’s norms? Do they deliver thrills and chills to provide readers with an escape from reality?” Next, under the “Making Connections” section, students are introduced to a list of reading strategies and asked, “What do you do when you have to read a text that is difficult to understand?” The students then read a short passage from The Tale of Terror by Edith Birkhead, use the strategies discussed in the “Making Connections” section, and discuss what the text was about. Then, students are introduced to the main text, Genreflecting: A Guide to Reading Interests in Genre Fiction by Diana Tixier Herald, with the purpose of learning new words and using the newly introduced reading strategies. After the first reading of a passage, with the teacher’s guidance, students are asked text-dependent questions, such as “What are some subjects explored in horror stories?” After the second reading of the text, students are instructed to write a paragraph answering the questions “What claim is the author making in this paragraph? Do you agree or disagree? What reasons support your argument?” Students then read their paragraphs to a partner. After reading the paragraph to a partner, students complete statements based on what they heard: “The author’s claim is…and you agree/do not agree with the author because….” Next, students read the text a third time and focus on analyzing the development of ideas. Again, the reader answers text-dependent questions and completes a written analysis of the excerpt. The chapter concludes with a language task that incorporates a lesson on colon and semicolon use in writing; the lesson is tied to the text and includes practice in the textbook.
In Unit 2, students examine an excerpt from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin to analyze, with the teacher’s guidance, the persuasive elements Franklin uses to gain supporters. Questions such as “How does Benjamin Franklin change the new members’ opinion of him? Why does he choose this method?” are a further study on the impact of rhetorical devices. In this chapter, students also study rhetoric in the closing arguments of Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Students complete a graphic organizer in which they determine the “main point” of specific paragraphs in the left column and then provide an explanation in the right column, addressing the question “How will this convince the jury that Tom is innocent?” A second graphic organizer provided within the materials includes specific quotes from the text, and students determine whether ethos, pathos, or logos is used in the textual example. Then, the students partner with each other and discuss questions like “Find examples of anaphora in Atticus’s speech. What words or phrases are repeated? Why did Atticus choose to repeat these phrases? How does he hope to influence his audience?” In “Connect to Testing,” question 1b reads: “What idea is Atticus emphasizing in this excerpt? How will this idea help him with his goal of proving that Tom Robinson is innocent? Include specific examples from the text in your answer.” Question 3 reads: “In paragraph 5, Harper Lee writes: ‘Atticus paused and took out his handkerchief. Then he took off his glasses and wiped them, and we saw another ‘first’; we had never seen him sweat—he was one of those men whose faces never perspired, but now it was shining tan.’ What can you infer in this sentence about the character of Atticus Finch? Explain.” Unit 2 concludes with students writing an argumentative essay on their own. This essay calls for students to make specific claims, address counterclaims, and use the persuasive elements of rhetorical devices. Student tasks include completing a graphic organizer in which they summarize each text—“Harrison Bergeron,” “Address to The Commonwealth Club” by Cesar Chavez, To Kill a Mockingbird, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and the Declaration of Independence—in one column, state the claim the writer makes in the second column, and determine how this information can be used in an argumentative essay in the third column.
In Unit 3, in the “Making Connections” section, students read an excerpt from A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Mary Jemison by James E. Seaver, then reread words and sentences they don’t understand, using background knowledge to understand new ideas. Students are instructed to write notes and questions in the margins and discuss ideas with other students. The section prepares the students for the change of depth complexity in “A Colloquy at a Kiowa Agency” by Judson Elliott Walker; in the “Connect to Testing” section, students are instructed to write about Satanta’s point of view, then the Agent’s point of view, and to end with a concluding statement. In the “Speak and Listen” section, students model reading by reading each other’s written paragraphs while the rest of the class listens, write notes about possible changes, and respond to all aspects of the text.
Unit 4 begins with the first reading of an excerpt from Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, where students attend to the author’s purpose, annotating key phrases to support their understanding. Students circle unfamiliar words as they read. Students then go back and make meaning based on context; they use the dictionary to confirm their definition and, with a partner, share their answers from their completed definition chart. Students are asked text-dependent questions, such as “How does Wiesel feel about receiving the [Nobel Peace Prize]?” Students complete a chart analysis of the purpose of Wiesel’s speech by determining where he is, who he is speaking to, and the purpose of the speech. All responses are to be supported with evidence from the text. The second reading of the text focuses on the author’s craft. Students partner and take turns reading a paragraph and summarizing what was read. Students respond to text-dependent questions, such as “What idea is repeated at the beginning of the final paragraph?” Students reflect on what they have read; they compare the paragraph to a biblical excerpt from Deuteronomy 4:9, attending to and supporting how the theme is similar in the text and the scripture. Student writing becomes more complex as they write to explain how Wiesel uses the ideas of forgetting and remaining silent in his speech. Students briefly discuss the effectiveness of switching points of view within the body of work, then move to the third reading of the text. Now, students only read the last paragraph of the speech. Students continue to hone their skills in assessing the validity of an argument. They also read “First They Came for the Jews,” a poem by Martin Niemoller, and make connections between the two works as they work toward identifying their theme.
The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year. The materials include scaffolds and practice at increasing levels of complexity. Students demonstrate integration of literacy skills, as information and activities spiral across the school year.
Examples include but are not limited to:
All units in the materials include a first, a second, and a third read. Scaffolds are built into the structure of the materials as students engage in multiple reads. Each read is purposeful; the first read focuses on key ideas and details; the second read focuses on craft and structure; and the third read focuses on integrating knowledge and ideas. This pattern is consistent throughout all four units, scaffolding depth complexity as students move from unit to unit.
In Unit 1, each chapter examines a major skill. In Chapter 1, “Build suspense through descriptive language.” In Chapter 2, “Analyze narrative word choice.” In Chapter 3, “Analyze character through inference.” In Chapter 4, “Identify main idea and themes through symbolism.” In Chapter 5, “Understanding the development of ideas.” Within each of these skills, the chapter uses the process of reading the text three times to support and scaffold learning. For example, students read an excerpt of The Hot Zone by Richard Preston three times. During the first read, students focus on identifying key details. During the second read, students focus on figurative language. During the third read, students focus on the author’s craft. By reading the text three times, learning is scaffolded, and the student can focus on analyzing the narrative word choice, which is the big-picture skill of the chapter. The lesson planner at the back of the teacher’s edition notes the standards provide spiraling throughout the year.
In Unit 2, the design of the materials includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. This design is evident primarily through the literacy routines of each chapter. Students first study the preview concepts of each unit and respond to the overview questions about background knowledge with a partner. Next, students read the first text sample for annotation in the “My Thoughts” section before being prompted to use their annotations to complete a graphic organizer that will tie in with the next text passage. After reading the second text with a purpose-for-reading question, teachers select another graphic organizer or a speaking-and-listening activity to help students retain their learning about the specific skills required for analyzing the effects of rhetoric and making strong claims in rhetorical writing. As the texts of this unit increase in complexity, beginning with the short story “Harrison Bergeron,” and ending with the Declaration of Independence, graphic organizers with some pre-filled textual evidence for more difficult texts are provided for students to analyze.
In Unit 3, students read Andrew Jackson’s State of the Union Address and are asked, “What problem does President Jackson present in his speech and how does he propose to solve this problem?” Key ideas and details are addressed throughout the study of this text. During the first read, students are asked questions to build background, such as “What is the essential question of this unit? What do presidents usually talk about in their State of the Union Address? What issues with the Native American tribes would you expect President Jackson to discuss?” During the second read, students focus on analyzing the author’s claims. After the third read, students complete a lesson on analyzing arguments. The depth complexity progresses throughout the chapter.
In Unit 4, students read Night by Elie Wiesel. During the first reading of an excerpt, students analyze the development of the main character. Skills become more complex as the text is paired with Niemoller’s poem “First They Came for the Jews.” Students continue to analyze the main character through actions and dialogue when reading Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. Students attend to language throughout the unit; lessons on grammar conventions and mechanics are embedded in each chapter. Later in the unit, students read two speeches: “Enemies from Within” by Senator Joseph McCarthy and “Declaration of Conscience” by Senator Margaret Chase Smith. During the first read, students identify and define key vocabulary. During the second read, students identify claims in both political speeches and support with evidence from the texts. During the third read, students evaluate arguments, attending to valid and invalid evidence. Each read is scaffolded; a specific structure is provided for each reading. Students have opportunities to practice via a second ancillary text, the “Connections Language Practice” textbook. For example, in Chapter 19, students are introduced to run-on sentences and comma splices. For more practice, students can access the “Language Practice” section of Chapter 15.
The materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level, including planning and learning opportunities.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The extension activities, “On Your Own—Integrated Ideas,” provide opportunities for students to engage in independent reading and research on topics related to a chapter’s “Essential Question” and core texts. The supplemental materials include explicit support for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level.
In Unit 1, students read Genreflecting: A Guide to Reading Interests in Genre Fiction by Diana Tixier Herald. After reading the text, the “On Your Own—Integrating Ideas” section provides four options of activities students can choose to extend their learning from the chapter. For example: “Rank the stories in this chapter in order of your personal preference from 1—Most Favorite to 4—Least Favorite. Reflect on your choice for number one. Did you choose this story because of its genre or the story’s visceral effect? Write a blog post explaining your choice. Post it online and invite other students to comment.”
In Unit 4, after students read “Enemies from Within” by Senator Joseph McCarthy and “Declaration of Conscience” by Senator Margaret Chase Smith, the “On Your Own—Integrated Ideas” section provides extension activities: connecting ideas from the speeches read in the chapter to issues in society today, or reading Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings and connecting the theme—“Hurtful words can have dangerous consequences”—to the core readings in the chapter.
In the supplemental materials, the “Connections: Writing & Language: Teacher’s Guide” includes specific supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. The materials label these activities as “Thriving.” For example, Lesson 1.3 is about the writing process and focus during the writing process. The Thriving activity asks students to imagine they are “a news reporter embarking on an ‘inquiring minds’ fact-finding mission” to discover something they “always wanted to know”; students “generate a list of questions...to explore a subject they are interested in.” Lesson 11.3 provides another example focusing on citing sources. The Thriving activity states: “Humanities topics are usually written to conform to MLA style or Chicago Manual of Style formats whereas APA style is used most often for social studies and scientific papers. Encourage students to research these different formats and compare them.”
The materials include supports, including planning and learning opportunities, for students who perform below grade level to ensure they are meeting the grade-level literacy standards.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The “English Language Arts Connections Teacher Guide” provides instructional support for “struggling” readers with various suggested scaffolded activities throughout the materials. The materials include a “Remediation” subsection in each chapter’s teacher notes. Specifically, explicit scaffolds and learning strategies are scripted to catch the readers who demonstrate proficiency below grade level during their first, second, and third read activities and to support their growth in literacy skills. Most of the strategies for these readers begin with phrases such as “Struggling readers may need…”; “Struggling readers can complete…”; “Struggling readers will find….”
The supplemental “Connections: Writing & Language: Teacher’s Guide” contains specific supports for students who demonstrate proficiency below grade level. The materials specify these activities as “Striving” (struggling). For example, Lesson 3.3 is about developing a paragraph with the use of transitions. “Striving” learner support is provided: “Hand out copies of a newspaper or magazine article, and have students circle the transitions. Challenge them to identify which type of logical order each transition signals.”
In Unit 1, students read Dracula by Bram Stoker. After the first read, the materials suggest: “Struggling readers may need more assistance to follow the plot of the story. Underline the sentences in the passage that describe Dracula’s actions, which advance the plot. This will reveal the plot of the text as well as help with the understanding of the character.” This chapter also has support given after the question “What is the narrator’s attitude toward this interaction with Dracula?” The support states: “If students have trouble answering question 2 in the Text-Based Discussion Questions, clarify that citing details includes using direct quotations or explaining information in their own words. Ask students to rewrite their answers after they read the explanation.”
In Unit 2, students read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. After the first reading of an excerpt, the materials note that readers who demonstrate proficiency below grade level “will find the words and sentence structure in this text very accessible but may struggle to understand that Vonnegut is satirizing ideas about equality and competition.” To ensure that these readers understand the main idea and the irony in the story, the materials suggest posing questions: “Is the author saying that all people should be equal in ability? How do you know? Can you support your answers with ideas from the text?”
In Unit 3, students read “Indian Education” by Sherman Alexie, and the material gives teachers guidance in the “Remediation” section for readers who demonstrate proficiency below grade level. The materials suggest students underline sentences that describe what is happening to the protagonist and how he responds to each situation; this activity helps students understand the protagonist’s emotions and uncover the theme and tone of the text. Also in Unit 3, the State of the Union Address by President Andrew Jackson includes a “Remediation” section “Write” activity; students can complete a graphic organizer with information to support them as they write their analysis of Jackson’s argument. The organizer includes a place for students to write in the problem and two blanks to fill in a solution that won’t work and/or a solution that will work. Students also fill in Jackson’s reasons and evaluate them.
The materials provide support for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. The accommodations for linguistics include levels commensurate with the various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS. The materials also provide scaffolds, such as adapted text, translations, native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, and other modes of comprehensible input. The materials encourage the strategic use of students’ first language as means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. Finally, vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The materials provide “Preview Academic Vocabulary” sidebars in the “Preview Concepts” section of each chapter, which contain strategies for making content more understandable for students; they include teaching content vocabulary, academic vocabulary, and language structures of the content area. The EL support box directs teachers to the “ELL Teacher Resource.” The ELL (English Language Learner) Teacher Resource provides support for teaching EL students in the classroom at each of the ELPS levels: beginning, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high. Supports focus on specific reading areas, such as close reading, vocabulary, and reading passages and connect to testing and assessments. Brief explanations of each and several support activities are provided. For example, the resource provides scaffolds such as creating vocabulary flashcards with the word in the student’s native language and in English, the definition in the student’s own words, a sentence using the word, antonyms/synonyms correlating with the word, examples, and non-examples. This resource also suggests using word webs and concept sorts and providing visuals, realia, and videos. Glossaries and footnote references are also provided within the materials as well as pictures and summaries.
The materials support teachers in identifying and writing language objectives for each chapter by providing “Chapter Goals” and “Preview Academic Vocabulary” sidebars in the “Preview Concepts” section of each chapter. These can be used to inform the writing of appropriate language objectives. A lesson plan template to assist in adapting lessons for sheltered instruction is included in this resource. The materials implement the use of sheltered instruction in the classroom, known as the “Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol” (SIOP), which supports ELs in learning grade-level skills within the content-area classroom while improving their grasp of English.
In Unit 2, students read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. After the third read, students write several paragraphs explaining the main idea of the story: “Discuss how Vonnegut uses irony to satirize incorrect views of equality, competition, and fairness.” The materials provide EL support suggesting the teacher should, prior to ELs writing their paragraphs, encourage the students: “Use a mind map (http://www.mindmapping.com/) to brainstorm Vonnegut’s point of view of equality, competition, and fairness.” Another support suggests placing EL students in “multilevel pairs or small groups to discuss equality, competition, or fairness in isolation before combining ideas for the writing task.” Provided sentence stems also assist ELs, guiding the discussion.
In Unit 3, for “A Colloquy at a Kiowa Agency” by Judson Elliott Walker, the EL support section instructs the teacher to preview academic vocabulary by teaching vocabulary (p. 18) using the “ELL Teacher Resource” for ideas; ideas include explaining, acting out, drawing pictures, and providing examples to define the academic vocabulary. Students should then keep a list of these words in their response journal. As necessary, the materials encourage EL students to look up the words at https://www.learnersdictionary.com to support the use of vocabulary during discussions. In the “Preview Concepts” section of Chapter 13, EL students are provided with the following sentence frames to use as they discuss in pairs or small groups: “To me, point of view means…. A story I read recently is…. A movie I saw recently is…. A story with an interesting point of view is…. A movie with an interesting point of view is….”
Unit 4 begins with the “Essential Question,” “When you see injustice, do you stand by or stand up?” The teacher edition suggests pairing/grouping ELs to discuss how they use social media to share information with their friends. Students look up the word apathy on a provided website and respond to guided questions, such as “When is it ok to be apathetic?” The ELPS “Correlation Text” provides a hyperlink that correlates to the appropriate ELPS. For example, for the ELPS “use prior knowledge to understanding meanings in English,” a link is provided that takes the teacher to the “Writing and Language” student pages, which contain questions to engage prior knowledge.
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress, including how to interpret and act on data yielded. The formative and summative assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. The assessments and scoring information provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. The assessments are connected to the regular content to support student learning throughout the materials.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Formative assessments are contained within each chapter and target the TEKS addressed within the chapter. The formative assessments can be found in the “Connect to Testing” section of each unit. These assessments include questions in a multiple-choice format and items that address grammar skills and vocabulary skills, analyze the impact of the literary devices used in the text passages within the chapter, and address the TEKS of the unit.
Summative assessments are found at the end of each unit and target the TEKS addressed throughout the unit. The readings in the summative assessments correlate with the genres of the readings in the unit. A Depth of Knowledge (DoK) level is provided for each question, noting the level of complexity of the question (DoK 1—Recall, DoK 2—Apply, and DoK 3—Analyze). The Teacher’s Guide answer key gives sample answers to all open-ended questions. The sample answers and the DoK level for the questions provide teachers with guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance for each unit.
Each unit culminates with a “Performance Task,” largely a summative project-based assessment in which students enhance the skills they have acquired over the course of their study of the unit by synthesizing information, conducting research and inquiry, applying skills knowledge, and evaluating their own scope of knowledge. The performance tasks are multi-layered with specific criteria allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge.
The materials include a year-long plan and supports for teachers to identify the needs of their students. The materials provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners to ensure grade-level success. The teacher’s edition includes annotations, suggestions, scaffolds, strategies for groupings and pairs, and other accommodations so that all students can access the content. The ancillary and resource materials provide direct support to the core materials.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The teacher’s edition of the English Language Arts Textbook contains a “Lesson Planner/Pacing Guide,” which links to specific chapters and lessons in the “Connections: Writing and Language.” The Lesson Planner is an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. Plans are comprehensive and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. Formative assessments are provided at the end of each chapter, and summative assessments are provided at the end of each unit, which gives teachers a way to progress monitor student learning. For example, in Unit 1, the planner provides specific plans and time for each chapter in the Connections: English Language Arts book, and Connections: Writing and Language book, along with the correlating TEKS. The plan suggests that it will take 51–52 days to teach the materials in Unit 1. All the materials are structured and organized to support students who are at different levels. Within each unit, the chapters offer a variety of opportunities to learn. The students work individually, in small groups and with partners throughout the unit. For example, in Unit 1, students read Dracula by Bram Stoker. After reading, students engage in several activities, such as analyzing Dracula’s character through reading, writing, speaking, and listening. As students complete the first read, they gather evidence of Dracula’s character by charting specific descriptions of the character and what it reveals. During the second read, with a partner, students focus on the interaction between the narrator and Count Dracula. Students chart the evidence on the narrator and Count Dracula’s actions and reactions by filling out a graphic organizer. Then, students write a paragraph about the narrator’s thoughts and the dialogue between the two characters. Next, students participate in listening and speaking in a peer review in small groups. Finally, students are assessed by creating a modern Dracula—a script with a different setting or time period. This variety of activities is demonstrated in all chapters of Unit 1.
The teacher’s edition contains annotations throughout, which support student engagement and include supports for struggling learners (students performing below grade level) and English Learners (ELs). A sidebar section called “Lesson Support” provides annotations to support student learning and provide assistance for teachers. In each chapter, students engage in three readings. As such, the teacher materials provide suggested scaffolds and strategies for each reading. For example, in Unit 1, Chapter 3, before reading Dracula by Bram Stoker, the Lesson Supports suggests: “Explain to the students that the excerpt from Dracula is written in the first person. The narrator, Jonathon Harker reveals his own thoughts and feelings as he interacts with Count Dracula. Reiterate to students that during the first read they need to underline and write questions they may have.”
The ancillary and resource materials, such as the “ELL Teacher’s Resources,” are mentioned and linked directly to the lessons, where applicable, providing direct support for the lesson. All the materials are structured and organized to support students at varying levels. The materials offer students multiple ways of learning skills, demonstrating their understanding, and engaging with content included within the lesson. For example, in Unit 1, Chapter 3, after the third read, the lesson focuses on “Characters’ Thoughts and Dialogue.” The Teacher’s Guide has a direct link to the ancillary materials for the sentence frames “One part that was clear was… and I was confused when….” This type of support is provided throughout the units.
The materials are accompanied by a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence as well as pacing guidance and routines that detail 205 days of instruction. There are multiple additional supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended; however, the materials do not include supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended.
Examples include but are not limited to:
The Teacher’s Guide includes a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills that are taught in the program in detail, the order in which they are presented, and how these skills build and connect across the grade level.
The materials include additional supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended, including direct links to the vocabulary PowerPointsTM in the Teacher’s Guide, suggested ways to help students make connections in the sidebar, direct links to the “English Learner Teacher Resource” for strategies and graphic organizers, and direct links to lesson-support PowerPointsTM during the close reading of the texts.
The materials include a school years’ worth of literacy instruction, outlined in a 205-day plan in the teacher’s edition. This plan would have to be adjusted by teachers to fit a 180-day schedule or a 220-day schedule, but adjustment consideration is included in the plan with flexible timelines and ranges of number of days needed to cover a chapter or complete an assessment.
The visual design of the student edition is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. The pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Materials provide the main focus for each chapter in bold large print set apart from the text. The chapter goals and vocabulary words are in gray boxes to the left of the page so they are eye-catching and noticeable.
Once the text starts, the materials direct teachers to give students lined pages to write questions they may have to the right of the text, setting apart text annotations in a way that is not distracting.
The student edition provides a variety of graphical pictures, illustrations, maps, and graphical features carefully organized for clarity and appeal and that support student learning.
The materials emphasize vocabulary words in bold print to emphasize their importance and to make them stand out.
Each time a concept is taught, the skill is set apart in a box with a bold blue banner for the heading while still giving appropriate white space, drawing attention to the skill at hand.
The “Connect to Testing” section appears to the side of the page in blue, which makes it distinct and shows that it is different than the chapter. Each chapter is organized with the same appropriate and consistent design that allows the student to become familiar with the textbook and its features.
The technology components included in the materials are appropriate for English I students and provide support for learning. The technology components provided support and enhance student learning as appropriate, as opposed to distracting from it and include appropriate teacher guidance.
Examples include but are not limited to:
A collection of digital materials is available for teacher and student use through the Perfection Learning digital portal. The teacher’s edition showcases built-in links to supplemental materials like Dictionary.com, worksheets, and other reproducible materials as well as access to other websites that complement each unit of instruction. Whiteboard lessons and interactive software and audio support are other digital features offered in the materials.
The student materials offer text-to-speech options as well as the ability to translate texts into more than 60 languages. The in-line tools (including highlighting lines of text and changing colors and fonts) support students with varying proficiency levels. Online writing tools support writing prompts from any source; provide customizable, student-friendly rubrics; encourage peer collaboration; and help students become self-directed writers.
Each chapter has a “Lesson Support” for each read with accompanying PowerPointTM slides. After each read, students respond to text-based discussion questions from the slides. Each chapter contains a section that addresses a language component (i.e., grammar and mechanics); subsequently, a PowerPointTM accompanies each language activity. Writing assignments such as narrative and argumentative writing also have a PowerPointTM accompanying the assignment. On-your-own integrated activities are extensions that direct students to use YouTubeTM, videos, and the internet to research skill- and task-related topics.
Students can interact with texts online by using the interactive tools included to change screen size, page transition, layout, and rotation. They can zoom in or out and toggle into full screen as needed. Students can take notes and make annotations by using the other features included on the tabs at the top of the online pages, including freehand tools, text tools, shape tools, a search function, and a free text box to write notes in the “My Thoughts” section. Additionally, materials provide a “Notes” button, thumbnails, and outlines within the “Panel” tab.
Students can right-click and copy and paste, highlight, underline, strikeout, and draw a squiggly line, if needed, within the text. Students have access to the table of contents, and they are able to click on the reading selections directly by clicking on the title.
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