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ELARGrade 4 | 2018
Publisher: Learning A-Z, LLCSeries includes:
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
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TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
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Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Support
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include high-quality texts and cover a range of student interests. The cross-content texts are well-crafted and are 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.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include high-quality, culturally diverse texts that span a range of student interests in assorted formats and 14 genres, including realistic fiction, fiction, non-fiction, classics, adventure, folktales, mysteries, biographies, fables, and legends. Texts cover varied content areas, including art, music, math, science, and social studies and appear in several different languages (Spanish, French, British, Polish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese). Also, the materials contain over 400 leveled texts at 29 levels of text complexity from reading level AA to Z2. All texts are available in both printable and electronic formats.
Additionally, there are 19 titles within the Classics section, including The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, and The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane. Each classic is broken down into smaller amounts of text for instructional purposes, and the pieces together represent the entire novel. Furthermore, diversity within the texts includes folktales from around the world, such as Ali Baba: An Arabian Folktale, The Drum, An Indian Folktale, and The Stone Cutter: A Japanese Folktale. All folktales are labeled with a Lexile level and a guided reading level, and most are available in multi-levels.
Unit 1 contains a non-fiction text titled Lincoln’s Lasting Legacy that includes illustrations and real photographs depicting the significant events in his life as well as the impact he made on our country. The text contains captions about the photos and illustrations to help support the text. The writer accurately conveys the historical pieces and the challenges Abraham Lincoln faced serving as President of the United States of America, particularly with the Emancipation Proclamation. In Unit 3, a text titled Electric Cars: History and Future highlights the evolution of electric cars. This book recounts history from the point of view of struggling inventors and helps the reader analyze the advantages and disadvantages of electric cars by calling attention to horsepower, fuel costs, manufacturing considerations, and effects on pollution. The text also contains a glossary defining terms such as prototype, emissions, mobility, breakthrough, and nuisance. Unit 7 contains a leveled text suggested for small group instruction entitled Ancient Cliff Dwellers by Kira Freed, which is Level V. It contains rich content vocabulary, such as adapt, ancestors, archaeologists, arid, pictographs, and prehistoric. The text describes a variety of aspects of Ancient Cliff Dwellers, including the Four Corners, Paleo Indians, archaic people, Ancient Puebloans, building the dwellings, daily life, modern-day descendants, and protecting the cliff dwellings. The author included insets in the text to provide information on “Early Tools” and “Safety Issues.” A “Do You Know” insert describes the Mesa Verde National Park. Additionally, in Unit 8, the text Making Changes contains a compilation of poems with illustrations and photographs depicting the impact of great African Americans. Factual information about Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman, and many others is coupled with poetic phrases that bring their challenging journeys to life for students. The poems are concise, drawing the reader to focus on the main contributions of each person depicted in the text.
The fiction books help increase engagement and provide support by establishing the relevance of characters, setting, and/or plot structure. For example, the Unit 2 text The Little Half Chick is a story with animals as the characters who live in Spain. Spanish culture is evident within this story, with the words medio pollito and illustrations depicting the Spanish architecture and countryside. Vocabulary such as brood, strutted, pleaded, and cackled further portray the tone and mood of the story. Unit 5 contains a fictional play titled The Dress Disaster depicting African-American characters involved in humorous events. A character solves the problem created when the dog destroys a pageant dress by becoming a zombie princess instead of a beautiful princess. The author conveys character emotions through words and illustrations. In Unit 7, a read-aloud entitled Pocahontas Saves John Smith by Gary Thompson contains rich content vocabulary such as permanent settlement, capture, customs, sacrifice, and escalated. The text describes English explorer John Smith’s capture by Native Americans and his meeting with the Powhatan Chief. The graphic novel contains the dialogue between John Smith and his captors and also highlights his inner thoughts.
The materials include print and graphic features and represent a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the requirements of the TEKS for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include 14 genres of texts as required by the TEKS in assorted formats and genres, including realistic fiction, fiction, non-fiction, classics, adventure, folktales, mysteries, biographies, fables, and legends. The materials also provide paired books to compare and contrast texts.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
The materials provide a Text Features section within the Grade 4 Implementation Guide. “Text features must be explicitly taught so students can recognize them and identify their purpose in a text.” This guide is for teachers to implement this explicit instruction and includes the following text features: table of contents, heading, subheadings, special print (boldface and italics), photographs, illustrations, graphics, sidebars, captions, charts, tables, graphs, maps, diagrams, timelines, cutaways, glossary, index, and digital texts. This resource defines the text features for teachers, gives instructional suggestions, and contains discussion questions to use during instruction. This aligns with the Grade 4 TEKS that indicate students should recognize the characteristics and structures of text features, including pronunciation guides and diagrams to support their understanding.
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, Your Road to the Whitehouse by Terry Miller Shannon includes photographs of the White House, Mount Rushmore, the Oval Office, recent U.S. Presidents, and a campaign headquarters, as well as a table of contents, text boxes, captions, a glossary, an index, and bold text.
In Unit 1, The Judicial Branch by Kelly Richards contains a table of contents, subtitles, bolded words, italicized words, sidebars, captions, diagrams, charts, and a glossary.
In Unit 3, Ben Franklin by Jane Sellman contains a table of contents, headings, captions, documents, timelines, a glossary, and an index.
In Unit 3, The Art of Photography by Jeffrey B. Fuerst showcases photographs of the evolution of photography and contains a table of contents, captions, subheadings, diagrams/models, step-by-step directions with photographs of how to develop film, an index, a glossary, and bold text.
Unit 4, A New Skyline by Susan Lennox contains a table of contents, italicized words, photographs, captions, a timeline, graph, sidebars, and a glossary.
Unit 7, Underground Cities by Louanne Silver contains a table of contents, bold words, italicized words, photographs, captions, maps, pronunciation keys, sidebars, cutaways, and a glossary.
The materials include a text-complexity analysis provided by the publisher to accompany the leveled readers and challenging texts at an appropriate level of complexity that allows sufficient exposure to quantitative levels and qualitative features to support grade 4 students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Raz-Plus materials provide printable, projectable, and electronic books at 29 levels of text complexity. They include a Correlation Chart so that users may compare Learning A-Z levels and materials to other popular systems such as DRA, Ages, Fountas & Pinnell, Lexile, Reading Recovery, ATOS, and PM Readers. Additionally, the texts are leveled according to a Text Leveling System “developed over a ten year period as thousands of books, ranging in difficulty from simple sentences to complex novels and academic texts, were evaluated by teachers and instructional experts and placed into a system to create developmentally appropriate levels for students.” The leveling system from the publisher follows the guidelines for determining text complexity, which includes qualitative measures, quantitative measures, and reader task considerations and is available in English and Spanish. Quantitative measures are statistical measurements of text such as total word count, number of different words, ratio of different words to total words, number of high-frequency words, ratio of high-frequency words to total words, number of low-frequency words, ratio of low-frequency words to total words, sentence length, and sentence complexity. Qualitative measures are text attributes that are subjectively evaluated by a human reader. Qualitative factors within the materials encompass predictability of text, text structure and organization (logical nature of organization, text and feature distractions and labeling and reader supports), illustration support, infographics (complexity and text reliance), and knowledge demands (concept load, familiarity of topic, single vs. multi-themed and intertextual dependence).
The “Lexile Text Measures to Guide College and Career Readiness” states that books for grade 4 should be between 740L to 940L; the materials provide books for grade 4 that are between 820L to 1030L, which correlates to guided reading Q-S and DRA 40.
Unit 2 has Ocean Quiz by Penny Atcheson and Elizabeth Fox (level W folktale containing 2,989 words). The purpose/structure of this text is mildly complex. The author tells the story from a third-person point of view; however, the dialogue helps the reader understand each character’s perspective and insights. Since the main characters are about the age of a typical fourth-grade student, a young reader is likely to relate and perhaps connect with the characters. The story is organized with a table of contents and chapters, and a glossary defines unfamiliar words written in bold print. Illustrations support the text, allowing the reader to have a visual interpretation of the content, thus supporting comprehension. The language is mildly complex in that dialogue is reflective of present time.
Unit 5 has The Cyberbully by Jessica Malordy (level V realistic fiction text containing 1,359 words). The purpose/structure of this text is slightly complex. The author tells the story from the third-person point of view, but the dialogue helps the reader understand the character’s thoughts and feelings. Since the girl is about the age of a typical fourth-grade student, a young reader is likely to relate and perhaps connect with the character. The story is organized with a focus question box, a making connections box, and a step-by-step process of what to do should bullying occur. Also, a glossary defines unfamiliar words written in bold print. Illustrations support the text, allowing the reader to visually interpret the content, thus supporting comprehension. The language is slightly complex with academic language throughout the book.
Unit 7 has Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Pioneer’s Life by Katherine Follett (level V biography containing 1,348 words). The story is organized with a table of contents and subheadings, and a glossary defines unfamiliar words written in bold print. Illustrations, photos, captions, and a map support the text, allowing the reader to visually interpret the content, thus supporting comprehension.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within and across texts. Furthermore, the materials contain questions and tasks that build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Students make connections to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them. Additionally, they identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In a close read passage, Game Over, students read the text three times, each for a different purpose. The first read focuses on “What does the text say?” and students answer questions such as “What is the team’s plan?” The second read focuses on “How does the text say what it says?” and students answer content/academic vocabulary questions such as “How do Magaskill and Lady Ninja feel when the team loses and how do they express their feelings?” The third read focuses on the meaning and value of the text, and students answer questions such as “What does the text teach readers about teamwork? Are all team members of a team equally important in order for the team to be successful? Why or why not?”
Additionally, within the paired text section of the materials, teachers may choose the grade 4 texts, such as Alternative Fuel Cars by Ned Jensen and Electric Cars: History and Future by Steven Accardi. There are question sets for each text, along with cross-text activities and a response to reading activity. Cross-text activities guide students to consider the challenges caused when people choose alternative fuel sources. The response to reading directs students to cite specific evidence from the books in response to the key question “What makes something a good alternative fuel source?” Students may also use a graphic organizer to write key points and interesting vocabulary about each book and note points for cross-text discussion within a box labeled for that purpose.
In Unit 2, a lesson focusing on narrative point of view provides teachers the following discussion questions: “Does the point of view change throughout the story, and how do you know? How would the story change if it were being told from another character’s point of view?” The lesson guides teachers to have students identify text evidence to determine narrative point of view, rewrite a section of the text from another character’s point of view, and discuss how a story differs when the point of view is told in first person and in third person. There are dialogue frames to support students as they answer text-dependent questions: “According to the text...; The text tells me...; In paragraph... it says....”
Within eight curricular units, the materials provide unit and weekly questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within and across texts. Questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. These are detailed within the scope and sequence, which states that lessons for connecting to prior knowledge are throughout Units 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8; lessons that reinforce the theme are in Unit 2, and main idea and details lessons are in Units 1, 3, and 6. For example, the Unit Question for Unit 4 is “Why are different types of energy important to our lives?” The weekly questions within the unit are: “How do light and sound affect your life?” “How can energy be used to solve a problem?” “Why is it important to have alternative forms of energy?” and “What have scientists taught us about different types of energy?”
In Unit 5, Week 2, the lesson objective covers multiple TEKS. Students analyze narrative point of view and make connections while reading the informational text Bullying Hurts Everyone by Jennifer Dobner. The teacher asks students to read the title and review the pictures in the text and share any experiences or connections they have to the topic. The lesson provides discussion questions to support discourse and comprehension, such as “What do you already know about...?” and “How did using what you already knew about the topic help you understand...?” Teachers guide students to work in pairs and use turn-and-talk to identify prior knowledge and connect to personal experiences, to other texts, and to their own world. Also, students make thematic connections by reading other texts, such as the realistic fiction The Cyberbully by Jessica Malordy, to determine how to prevent bullying.
In Unit 7, a shared reading lesson focuses on comparing and contrasting information, themes, and multiple accounts across texts. Discussion questions include “How are these stories/texts the same? How are they different? How are the themes or topics in the texts the same? How do the texts relate to one another?” Additionally, teachers guide students to create a Venn diagram or T-chart to compare multiple texts based on similar themes or topics or the author's point of view.
In Unit 7, Week 1, the lesson objective entails multiple TEKS as it asks students to summarize, identify genre, and distinguish fact from opinion while using text features to support comprehension. Students summarize key details to show understanding of the informational nonfiction text Prehistoric Trade by Kyle Ackerman. Teachers ask questions such as “What is the text or section of text about?” “What are the main ideas of the text or section of text?” “What is your evidence?” and “Why is this part not important to remember?” to help students answer the key questions of “who, what, when, where and why” about a topic. The teacher models how to summarize using a text the class has previously read, explaining the difference between summarizing and retelling. Next, students practice summarizing with a partner orally before developing a written summary independently.
The materials require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts by making inferences, drawing conclusions about the author's purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts, and providing evidence from the text to support their understanding. Additionally, the materials provide students the opportunity to study the language within texts to support their understanding, to compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic, and to analyze the choices authors make to influence and communicate meaning (in single and across a variety of texts).
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials address all grade 4, Strand 5 TEKS within the curriculum throughout the year and consistently provide questions and tasks to support students’ analysis of the literary/textual elements of texts, such as language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. Each unit lists focus skills and concepts that include the author's purpose.
The materials contain “Comprehension Skills Packs.” Teachers have access to grade-level texts with a complete lesson plan. Lesson plans are categorized to support specific literary/textual elements as follows: analyze character, analyze plot, analyze setting, author’s point of view, author’s purpose, cause, and effect, compare and contrast, fact and opinion, main idea and details, inferencing, drawing conclusions, narrative point of view, problem and solution, and sequencing events. These texts encompass varied genres and content. Students examine texts by various authors on the same topic as well as texts about different topics by the same authors in determining how an author’s voice or point of view influences the meaning.
The “Literacy Curriculum Map Implementation Guide” for each grade level provides teachers guidance on the author's craft lessons, including point of view and purpose. Specifically, the materials provide an author’s purpose lesson format that is not book-specific and can be adapted. It includes discussion questions and implementation guidelines for teachers to utilize with any lesson throughout the curriculum. The discussion questions include the following: “Why did the author write this text? How did the author present the information? What did you notice about the words the author used? What does the author want you to know about the topic (nonfiction)? What does the author want you to know about the story or characters (fiction)? Is this text going to teach me something, make me laugh or cry, or try to get me to do or believe something?”
In Pair Book Lesson Plan, students answer questions about two texts to compare and contrast the author's stated or implied purpose in nonfiction texts or fiction texts. With the readers “Alternative Fuel Cars” and “Electric Cars: History and Future,” students complete a worksheet about key points from each text and write notes about the “Cross-Text Discussion.”
In Unit 1, Week 1, students examine The Executive Branch by Willa Harryman. Students use evidence from the text to determine the author's purpose for writing (entertain, explain, persuade, convey a message, or teach a lesson). The teacher asks questions such as “Why did the author write this text?” “How did the author present the information?” “What did you notice about the words the author used?” “What does the author want you to know about the topic?” and “Is this text going to teach me something, make me laugh or cry, or try to get me to do or believe something?” Students connect to a previously read text, discuss the author's purpose, and explain how to use text evidence to determine the author's purpose when it is not explicitly stated. They identify text evidence that highlights the author's purpose and write quotes from the text with page numbers or sections on a graphic organizer.
In Unit 2, a lesson on author’s voice includes discussion questions, such as “What does the author mean when they say...? What is the author describing? What is the author comparing...to? Why do you think the author chose to use these words?” Students create a T-chart to compare the texts based on a similar theme or topic, author’s point of view, author’s purpose, and author’s language or writing style.
In Unit 4, students examine Harlem Murals: Our Stories. Students identify the position the author takes on the topic and how this influences the language, details, and information in the text. The teacher asks questions such as “Why did the author write this text?” “What would the author say about this?” “How does the text show the author's thoughts?” “What is the author's opinion on this topic?” Teachers guide students to connect to a previously read text and discuss the author's point of view, explaining how to use text evidence to determine the author's point of view when it is not explicitly stated. Students identify text evidence that highlights the author's point of view and writes quotes from the text and page numbers or sections on a graphic organizer to include words and phrases that show the author's point of view.
In Unit 7, Week 3, students identify and explain the elements of the author's voice, including the use of figurative language and other literary devices. The teacher asks questions such as “What does the author mean when they say...?” “What is the author describing?” “What is the author comparing...to?” “Why do you think the author chose to use these words?” and “What effect does figurative language have in a text?” Students identify features of a technical voice. As the class reads the realistic fiction text Page’s School Report by Troy Wolff, the teacher and students record examples of figurative language on an anchor chart. Students identify why the author uses anecdotes. Students draw a picture to match the literary device used in the text.
The materials provide continuity in lesson design and implementation of vocabulary within shared reading, writing, and literacy stations within literacy lessons in each unit, as well as other vocabulary supports for teachers and students. Furthermore, they include scaffolds and support for teachers to utilize to differentiate vocabulary for all learners. However, the materials do not contain a cohesive, year-long vocabulary plan that clearly demonstrates how the academic vocabulary builds in and across texts. Yet, for an additional charge, districts may purchase a vocabulary component that includes a year-long plan.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Although there is no evidence of a systematic, year-long plan for building vocabulary, the materials include consistent lessons containing ways to support student vocabulary acquisition throughout all units, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. The vocabulary-rich texts at each developmental level immerse students in language acquisition. Furthermore, the Scope and Sequence for each unit has a vocabulary section that contains academic vocabulary, content vocabulary, and context clue vocabulary application as part of the “Shared Reading,” “Writing,” and “Literacy Station” lesson portions. The vocabulary lesson design can be adapted to the current text of study.
Also, the materials provide a grade-level implementation guide that recommends teachers guide students with questions such as “Do you recognize any part of the word?” and “Are there clues in the words, phrases, or graphic features surrounding the word?” The guide also defines academic vocabulary, content vocabulary, and context clues. Teachers explain that understanding words in a text is necessary to students’ understanding of what they are reading and provide strategies to use when they come to an unfamiliar word. The guide instructs teachers to model a think-aloud and other strategies, such as the use of picture clues, graphic features, nearby words, a dictionary or glossary, or word parts, to determine the meaning of words. The materials encourage teachers to point out content/academic vocabulary words in the text and use each word in a sentence.
Under the “Resources” tab, teachers locate vocabulary and idiom books and vocabulary word sorts in the Writing, “Vocabulary,” & “Word Work” sections. Teachers use the 20 vocabulary and idiom books for whole-class, small-group, or individual instruction. For example, the vocabulary book on air travel begins with a picture of an airport with the shuttle bus, terminal, control tower, and departure area labeled in the picture. These focus words are in the written text about the airport. The text proceeds with the same format, highlighting the ticket counter, security checkpoint, terminal, airplane, inside the airplane, runway, and baggage claim. Each labeled picture contains up to six labeled focus words from the corresponding text. Additionally, the vocabulary books come with four activities, including read, cloze, and label activities, which allow students to practice vocabulary in context. The resources also include the following graphic organizers for vocabulary instruction: KWL Chart, Vocabulary Web Wheel, Vocabulary Web diagram, and Word Meaning Map.
The materials include a vocabulary station in lesson plans that provides students with opportunities to work with vocabulary in a meaningful way, such as highlighting unknown vocabulary words in texts, completing graphic organizers, referring to glossaries in Leveled Books or other reference materials to determine the meaning of unknown words, creating personal dictionaries with vocabulary words of interest, and playing vocabulary games with a partner or in a small group. Teachers use station time within the literacy block to provide differentiated vocabulary instruction for students.
The materials include grade 4 word sorts that help students fine-tune higher-level thinking skills by having them categorize information. Students cut out and sort words according to the categories provided at the top of each sheet or by creating their own categories. There are more than 60 word sorts, covering letters, sounds, content area topics, and open sorts.
Additionally, the materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. The “Differentiation Resources” include a below-level lesson and an above-level lesson. For example, in Unit 2, Week 1, the materials provide a differentiated lesson defining narrative point of view as the “Key Vocabulary” component and guide students to apply this understanding throughout the context of the lesson. In Unit 3, Week 1, teachers use the below and above-level lesson to teach main idea and details. Students apply this vocabulary understanding throughout the context of the lesson. In Unit 7, Week 1, the materials provide a differentiated set of lessons to teach the concept of fact and opinion as the Key Vocabulary component. The materials provide a “Word Meaning Map” and “Picture Dictionary” to support vocabulary among all learners as part of each below and above-level lesson.
Additionally, lessons with each unit contain supports for English Learners regarding vocabulary acquisition, including “Content Objectives” that task students to use the content vocabulary in the correct context. The materials contain texts at different levels in different languages, including English, Spanish, French, Vietnamese, Polish, Ukrainian, and British-English, that have glossaries to support vocabulary acquisition.
Furthermore, the EL resources provide “Vocabulary Power Packs” for Grades 3-5 to specifically build content and academic vocabulary. For example, the Economics Vocabulary Power Pack takes the students through the basics of how the economic system works in the context of obtaining a new bicycle. Academic power words in this pack are analyze and evaluate. Content vocabulary is on each topic card. For example, on the “Resources and Capital” card, the content vocabulary words are business, entrepreneur, and produce. The pack also includes a “Topic/Describe Graphic Organizer,” an economics picture dictionary, and several vocabulary quizzes to check for understanding.
The materials include a detailed plan to support and hold students accountable as they self-select their text and practice previously taught reading strategies while engaging in independent reading. The reading incentive program provides procedures and/or protocols for teachers to utilize to assist students in making and achieving reading goals.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a 120-minute literacy block framework, which includes 35 minutes allotted daily for small group instruction and a station rotation schedule to foster students’ independent reading. Teachers use the “Literacy Curriculum Map Implementation Guide” for suggested activities and resources in the “Read with Purpose and Understanding Reading Strategy” to guide students in self-selecting texts to read independently. Furthermore, the materials provide reading strategy teacher guides that assist teachers with implementation procedures that teach students to self-select texts for independent reading. For example, the guide instructs teachers to explain there are questions students may ask themselves when choosing a book, such as “Am I interested in the topic of this book?” and “After previewing a couple of pages, do I know most of the words?”
Additionally, the materials contain benchmark passages that teachers use to administer running records. These provide students’ independent reading levels, so they can choose texts accordingly. Students may also record themselves reading the benchmark passages or books and send recordings to the teacher for scoring. After assessing, teachers use the student profile pages within the assessment reports to monitor individual reading rate and level progress reports and guide students to make appropriate choices from the materials’ “personalized library of leveled books and additional reading passages available in printable, projectable, online, and mobile formats to each student.”
Next, the Literacy Curriculum Map Implementation Guide recommends teachers work with students to set personal reading goals based on target skills, previous instruction, or assessments. Teachers follow specific steps to create student rosters for independent reading and select a student’s reading level or use the reading placement tool within the materials that identify the appropriate starting point for students based upon performance on reading activities. The materials contain specific guidance on book levels and how to determine a student’s instructional reading level. A chart is available for additional guidance. Teachers download personalized Student Login Cards and distribute them to students so they can log in to the portal in class or at home. A letter is available in multiple languages for parents that explains how they can receive progress reports.
Teachers record student goals and measure student progress throughout the week as students read independently for sustained periods of time in the fluency, reading, writing, and phonics centers. Each unit contains literacy stations with an independent reading focus. For example, in Unit 1, Week 2, one literacy station objective states that students spend approximately 35 minutes independently reading. Furthermore, in the fluency center, students listen to examples of fluent reading or read or reread aloud to themselves or to a buddy a variety of texts, including instructional level texts and an array of genres, including poetry, reader’s theater scripts, fiction, and nonfiction. Students can reread texts from shared reading, small-group instruction, or read-alouds. Additionally, in the reading center, students self-select a text from the classroom library or the materials to practice reading for an authentic purpose and increase their reading proficiency, endurance, and confidence as they sustain uninterrupted reading over a 15 to 20 minute period. Specifically, in Unit 1, Week 1, the reading station instructions state: “Have students select a book from the class library or Kids A-Z and read independently or with a partner to practice reading with purpose and understanding.” Also, the “Connected Classroom” has an “add on” component that allows teachers to assign texts to students that are program generated for fluency practice and goal setting.
The grade 4 materials contain “Project-Based Learning Packs” that task students with investigating a high-interest topic to answer a “Driving Question.” Using the resources in the pack, students collaborate and develop creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills through guided inquiry while reading independently. Also, there is a “Literature Circles Overview” that guides teachers to provide book talks that allow students to make book choices before gathering with four to six other students in a Literature Circle to further discuss the text.
The materials provide sufficient materials for teachers to support students as they develop composition skills across multiple text types, such as literary, argumentative (opinion), and informational texts. Students write for different purposes and audiences, including correspondence written in a professional or friendly manner.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Grade 4 Implementation Guide states, “Writing begins with teacher-directed lessons followed by time for students to write.” The materials contain differentiated process writing lessons that expose students to the four main writing genres: informative/explanatory, narrative, opinion/argument, and transactional. Each six-part process writing lesson takes approximately two weeks to complete. The lesson begins with whole-class instruction for teaching and modeling the writing process and moves into students independently applying what they have learned during each lesson component and finally creating their composition by the end of the lesson.
The grade 4 TEKS specify that students compose informational texts using a clear central idea and genre characteristics. In Unit 1, students complete the biography and begin by writing questions they would ask Barack Obama. The lesson provides suggested questions for students needing guidance at different developmental levels (beginner, developing, fluent). Teachers use biography samples to note important events and their significance in chronological order. The Biography Graphic Organizer helps students organize information while creating the first draft. Then students use the Biography Revising Checklist and the Editing Checklist before publishing in either a multimedia format, a timeline, or a formal report.
The grade 4 TEKS specify students compose argumentative texts, including opinion essays using genre characteristics. The materials provide students opportunities to write to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Within the writing unit lessons, teachers guide students to understand what it takes to write something that will change a reader's point of view, get a reader to take action, or convince a reader that the writer's analysis or synthesis of a topic or concept is true. After modeling the concept, utilizing sample papers and graphic organizers, the teacher allows students to choose a topic for writing their own pro/con composition and supports them as they move through all stages of the assignment.
The grade 4 TEKS also specify students compose literary texts, including personal narratives and poetry, using genre characteristics. In Unit 2, students write a fairy tale. Teachers guide students to brainstorm what they already know about fairy tales, including good and evil characters, typical settings, and problem and solution. Then, students create a draft using the Fairy Tale Graphic Organizer and revise using the Fairy Tale Revision Checklist, which focuses on word choice and sentence fluency. In the editing phase, students use the editing guide to check for capitalization, spelling, and end punctuation. Students may also reference the Fairy Tale Poster to make sure their pieces are complete before publishing in either a storybook, play, or paper format.
The grade 4 TEKS specify students compose correspondence such as thank you notes or letters. In Unit 3, students complete a Business Letter assignment as teachers guide them to convey information about a product or service utilizing the Business Letter Graphic Organizer. The materials guide the teacher to note the differences and purpose of the formal voice used within a business letter versus the informal voice used within a friendly letter.
In Unit 5, students participate in the writing process as they complete a realistic fiction writing assignment. The scripted lesson guides teachers to have students discuss with a partner how it felt when they lost something and record thoughts as brainstorming. Then as students create a draft, the teacher reminds them that the characters, events, and setting need to be believable and also that dialogue can help convey messages to the reader. Throughout the writing process lesson, there are prompts to help the teacher appropriately guide students, such as “What is the problem in this story?” “Who faces the problem?” “Does anything need to happen before readers can learn about the problem?” “What happens after the problem?” “How is the problem solved?” Students use the Realistic Fiction Revision Checklist and Editing Guide before moving into publishing and presenting their piece. Additionally, the materials contain poetry writing lessons to support the development of the traits of good writing on eleven poetry types: acrostic, choral poetry, cinquain, clerihew, diamante, free verse, haiku, limerick, rap, tanka, and triangle triplet. The poetry writing lessons include detailed instructions for teachers and examples of each poetry type with scaffolded writing worksheets for students.
In Unit 6, students complete a friendly letter. The scripted lesson guides students to understand the purpose of friendly letters while using the “Idea Box” to brainstorm ideas. The teacher displays an exemplar before guiding students through writing a practice prompt. Students utilize the Friendly Letter Revision Checklist and Editing Guide to guide the drafting and self-assessment of their work before publication. The teacher instructs students how to fold their letter, address the envelope, seal the envelope, and create a stamp on the envelope before mailing. Writing rubrics help the teacher score student writing based upon developmental level.
The materials include written tasks requiring students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported evidence gained from reading or listening to text to support their opinions and claims.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials contain written tasks that require students to use clear and concise information to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts. Students have opportunities to engage in writing activities that demonstrate the use of textual evidence in supporting their opinions and claims. The use of rubrics, graphic organizers, constructed responses, literary essays, and published writing support students as they express comprehension of texts. For example, in Unit 1, Week 1, students use evidence from the text to determine the author's purpose for writing the text. The teacher guides students to answer the following questions: “Why did the author write this text? How did the author present the information? What did you notice about the words the author used? What does the author want you to know about the topic (nonfiction)? What does the author want you to know about the story or characters (fiction)? Is this text going to teach me something, make me laugh or cry, or try to get me to do or believe something?” Then, the teacher guides students to connect to previously read text and discuss the author's purpose using text evidence to determine the author's purpose when it is not explicitly stated and to identify point of view. Students then identify text evidence supporting their claims and write quotes with page numbers or sections on a graphic organizer.
Additionally, the materials provide Writer's Response sheets for select titles from levels E–Z that encourage students to reflect on the deeper meaning of each book using leveled texts on students’ reading level, or teachers may elect to use the texts with varied student groupings in accordance with current skill or concept of study. Prompts support writing that applies, synthesizes, or evaluates a book's enduring understanding. For example, Unit 2, Week 1 focuses on the topic “What do a Character’s Thoughts, Words and Actions Tell Readers?” and contains selections that provide insights into character development. Therefore, the teacher may elect to have students explore the leveled text Robin Hood Wins the Sheriff's Golden Arrow, adapted by Karina Barrentine, as it depicts a character who took risks for a good cause. Students write about why taking risks for good causes is or is not important, even if the outcome is grim.
In Unit 4, the teacher guides them through several texts, such as Click: A Book About Cameras and Taking Pictures by Gail Gibbons, I Face the Wind by Vicki Cobb, and Lightning by Seymour Simon. The students research a topic of interest and write factual/textual evidence onto a graphic organizer before developing a first draft. Students use the Informational Report Revision Checklist to verify textual evidence and then provide constructive feedback to peers regarding how to make their informational report stronger prior to publication.
Unit 5, Week 4 focuses on the topic “How Can Individuals Inspire Empathy, Respect and Compassion in Others.” The teacher may elect to have students explore the leveled text Mystery in the Moonlight by Abigail LaMarine. Students read about a family that is new to a neighborhood that seems mysterious because they are never seen in the day. The writer response activity has students write the importance of gathering facts before passing judgment on others.
In Unit 7, Week 3, students use textual evidence to determine the author's voice within a text. Students use textual evidence, including the use of figurative language and other literary devices. The teacher asks questions such as “What does the author mean when they say...?” “What is the author describing?” “What is the author comparing...to?” “Why do you think the author chose to use these words?” and “What effect does figurative language have in a text?”
Unit 6 focuses on the topic “Living Things and Their Environments“ and contains selections that reflect how living things play an important role within the environment. The teacher may elect to have students explore the leveled text The Hard Stuff! All About Bones by Lisa Trumbauer, which emphasizes the commonalities that humans have with many other animals (e.g., a skeleton). The writer response activity has students reflect upon the importance of keeping our bodies healthy and write the significance a skeleton plays in that role.
The materials provide opportunities for students to apply composition convention skills through coherent use of the elements of the writing process, including planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Students write in increasingly complex contexts over the course of the year and publish their writing. Additionally, the materials provide students opportunities to practice and apply the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context, and materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials facilitate the use of the writing process within the curriculum. Within each of the eight units, the teacher guides students through the writing process to publish a writing assignment. The lessons span two to three weeks and use the elements of the writing process: planning, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. Additionally, teachers guide students to discuss and write the conventions using academic language, including punctuation and grammar as part of the writing process and also as part of the Grammar and Word Work lesson portion within all writing lessons. Each genre is divided into several text-type lessons at four developmental writing levels (beginning, early developing, developing, and fluent), which helps teachers “match” the range of skills and abilities of writers. Lessons focus on organization, ideas, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation. Lessons include the following resources to support teachers and students throughout the process: lesson plans, graphic organizer samples, writing samples, graphic organizers, revision checklists, classroom posters, and rubrics. Each lesson begins with an “Experience It” activity, which establishes a common experience for initial exploration of the genre text type, activates prior knowledge, and creates an authentic context for the whole group to create a practice draft. Additionally, teachers encourage students to self-assess and provide peer feedback regarding punctuation and grammar conventions using an editing checklist. At the end of each lesson, teachers review a rubric that students may use to score a published piece of writing, which allows them to reflect on their writing and apply what they learn to the next piece of writing.
In Unit 1, students write a biography. First, teachers guide students to write questions they would like to ask Barack Obama and connect this activity to writing instruction by noting that through asking a person relevant questions and using the answers to these questions, they are completing the first steps in writing a biography. Teachers then preview biography examples and direct students to use the Biography Graphic Organizer to research and organize information for the first draft. Next, students use the Biography Revising Checklist and the Editing Checklist, focusing on conventions before moving to the publishing phase, where they have the option to publish and present in either a multimedia format, a timeline, or a formal report.
Grammar and word work are systematically presented throughout the curriculum. The Scope and Sequence presents the skills that are taught each week and in each unit. Unit 1 has lesson activities to support subject-verb agreement, capitalization of proper nouns, common nouns, singular nouns, plural nouns, regular nouns, irregular nouns, synonyms, antonyms, complete sentences (simple, compound), and avoidance of run-ons and fragments.
Unit 4 has lesson activities to support similes, prefixes (uni-, bi-, tri-, -oct, -quad, de-, con-), progressive tense verbs, degree adverbs, appositives/clauses (main, subordinating), subordinating conjunctions (before, after, because, when, if), commas with coordinating conjunctions, suffixes/inflectional endings (-ness, -ment, -ish), frequently confused words (a/an, allot/a lot, than/then, accept/except, quite/quiet), homophones (allowed/aloud, or/oar/ore, pair/pare/pear, principal/principle, peak/peek), and root words (mot, mob).
In Units 4 and 7, students write an informational report. Teachers guide students to brainstorm factual information about known animals using a KWL chart and then discuss an example of an informational report depicting how the introduction captures the audience’s attention, the middle contains facts (main idea and details), while the closing sums up the topic. Students use the Informational Report Graphic Organizer to complete the first drafts and the Editing Guide to help insert missing words and check word sequence. Beginning writers self-edit their pieces, while more fluent writers edit a partner’s piece using editing marks as appropriate. Students may reference the Informational Report Poster before publishing in a multimedia format, a formal report, or a book.
In Unit 8, teachers guide students to write a compare and contrast essay. Teachers complete a Venn Diagram with students as a whole group to help students see the similarities and differences between the two texts regarding characters, setting, problem, and solution. The teacher displays the Compare and Contrast Essay Writing and Graphic Organizer and notes important features within an example essay before students use the resource to plan and complete their first draft. During the revision phase, students use the Editing Guide to provide constructive feedback to one another, helping each other grow as writers.
Unit 8 has lesson activities to support relative adverbs (where, when, why), clipped words/portmanteau, prefixes, suffixes/inflectional endings, root words, and multisyllabic words (vowel phonograms).
The materials provide printable or projectable samples of graphic organizers and grammar and word work activities that coincide with the leveled readers to provide students additional practice. For example, teachers may access a lesson that accompanies the book Captain Morty Commands the Sky by Kathy Hoggan (Level T), which focuses on recognizing and using articles a and an and identifying and using homophones correctly in sentences. Students complete worksheets to work on these skills. All text-type lessons include the following resources to support teachers and students throughout the process: graphic organizers, writing sample, revision checklist, classroom poster relating to content in the lesson, and a scoring rubric.
The materials allow students to practice and apply cursive handwriting. While the guidance for teachers is limited within the materials, teachers have support for cursive handwriting implementation. However, the materials do not include year-long guidance for assessing, measuring, and supporting students’ handwriting development.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The grade 4 TEKS require students to write legibly in cursive to complete assignments. The implementation guide provides a writing schedule for the materials and states that handwriting/cursive is in every unit, every week.
The materials provide resources that teachers access for instruction and practice in cursive handwriting. For example, the grade 4 resources feature sheets that provide practice forming and connecting cursive letters and forming cursive words and sentences. Furthermore, teachers may access word and sentence practice sheets that support academic success in spelling, writing, and note-taking. Teachers may either print out individual resources by type of practice or all resources for grade 4.
Additionally, the materials include sequenced instruction that teaches cursive lowercase letters first before moving on to uppercase letters and then word and sentence practice. Also, the materials group cursive letters by approach stroke type so students gain confidence in one stroke type before moving on to others. For example, in Unit 1, Week 1, students practice the undercurve lowercase letters of i, t, u, w, r, s, p, and j. Students write these letters in isolation on lined paper, connect letters using cursive strokes, and then trace the letters before writing independently on the lines. Additionally, students may write vocabulary words beginning with the letter i in cursive, such as instinct, igneous, inherit, income, Indian Ocean, and Iroquois, as well as sentences such as “The Indian Ocean is the third largest ocean.” “The Iroquois were a group of five Native American tribes.”
In Unit 4, Week 3, students practice the undercurve loop lowercase letters of e, l, h, k, f, and b. Students write these letters in isolation on lined paper, connect letters using cursive strokes, and then trace the letters before writing independently on the lines. Additionally, students may write vocabulary words beginning with the letter f in cursive, such as federal, factor, fossil, freeze, Alexander Flemming, and Florida, as well as sentences such as “Alexander Flemming figured out how mold affected bacteria.” “Florida is famous for its fresh citrus fruit.” These types of activities allow students to practice letters learned previously and connect them with the current letters of practice.
In Unit 8, Week 2, students practice the overcurve lowercase letters of n, m, x, y, z, and v. Students write these letters in isolation on lined paper, connect letters using the cursive strokes, and then trace the letters before writing independently on the lines. Additionally, students may write vocabulary words beginning with the letter “z” in cursive, such as zapped, zoom, zinc, zone, Zimbabwe, and Zurich, as well as sentences such as “Zimbabwe has amazing wildlife including zebras,” and “Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland.” These types of activities allow students to practice letters learned in previous units and connect them current letters of practice.
While the materials contain cursive supports within the lessons, there is limited teacher guidance on stroke formation in modeling cursive for students.
The materials provide day-to-day opportunities for students to be actively engaged in discussions about the texts they are reading, including expectations that discussions are text-based. Teachers access speaking and listening lessons within each unit. Additionally, oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended, text-supported claims to demonstrate the analysis and synthesis of texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Implementation Guide states: “The literacy block provides opportunities for students to build their oral language skills through academic conversations. As students participate in different parts of the literacy block, they should discuss the texts they have read, including shared texts, texts used for independent reading, and texts read aloud. In addition, students should discuss the weekly strategies and skills. These discussions can happen in a whole-group setting or in small groups as students work together in centers or stations. During discussions with others, students will ask and answer questions about the texts they read, the strategies and skills they learn, and the Unit and/or Weekly Questions provided in the Literacy Curriculum Map.” Additionally, the instructional materials provide a listening and speaking objective within the “Read Aloud” component, which states, “Listen actively, ask relevant questions, and respond appropriately by answering questions, determining the main ideas of what has been presented, and/or commenting on others' thoughts.” The materials guide teachers to ask discussion questions, such as “What do you need to do to prepare for a discussion?” “What do you think about...?” “Share what you learned about....” “Paraphrase what...just said.” “Why are we talking about...?” and “What questions can you ask to clarify...?” The Implementation section of this guidance document instructs the teacher to “have students frequently participate in discussions with a focus on listening and responding” and to model how to listen attentively, how to summarize or paraphrase what someone has said, how to express and present ideas in a clear manner using visuals, and how to elaborate on what someone has said to continue collaboration on an idea. Also, the materials suggest teachers use student listening tasks, such as turn and talk to summarize or retell, and ask students to verbalize connections to what was said or read.
Speaking and listening opportunities about texts are built into the Read Aloud portion of each lesson within each unit. Teachers guide students to orally summarize the text and make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections to share with a partner. For example, in Unit 2, students read Robin Hood Wins the Sheriff’s Golden Arrow adapted by Karina Barrentine. The lesson plan guides teachers that students should discuss the text and its connection to the weekly question, “How does a character affect other characters and events in a story?” In Unit 5, after reading The Cyberbully by Jessica Malordy, students discuss the text and its connection to the weekly question, “How can you help prevent bullying?” In Unit 8, students read several passages from the “Weather Informational Text Pack” and then discuss the text and its connection to the weekly question, “How do weather and natural disasters affect people?”
Throughout the materials, teachers guide students to use specific information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate comprehension. For example, when using the “Literature Circles“ materials, teachers lead students through a guided discussion that includes making predictions, asking questions, and summarizing the text. Additionally, teachers use the “Comprehension Skills“ packs to guide students to respond orally to text-dependent questions. For example, in the Cause and Effect skills lesson, the teachers ask students to respond orally to questions about the model passage, An Oil Spill Causes Disaster, such as “Identify the cause and effect relationships” and “Which effects in the paragraph become causes of other events?”
Additionally, the leveled texts within the materials all contain a “Think, Collaborate, and Discussion” section, which includes discussion cards teachers may use to engage literature circle discussions, as essay or journal entry topics, as game cards, or as whole group discussion starters to set a purpose for reading. For example, some discussion questions that require students to cite text evidence from The Village by Rus Buyok are, “What can you conclude about the creatures at the end of the book? What character traits best describe Sarah and Jake? Why does the cat want the kids to get out of town?”
The materials provide teachers with implementation support to engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussion in both formal and informal settings. Additionally, teachers access routine speaking and listening lessons, which guide them to model speaking/listening opportunities and provide common discussion questions that lead students to create organized presentations/performances while speaking in a clear and concise manner and using the conventions of language. However, the lessons do not contain grade-level protocols for student discussion.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Implementation guide states: “It is important to start the school year by teaching students the rules and expectations associated with different types of conversations. Take time to develop and practice expectations for classroom discussions. Students should practice taking turns, listening when others are speaking, and understanding nonverbal behaviors and cues that add meaning to conversations.”
The materials provide routine opportunities for students to engage in discussion in expressing their thinking through a “Listening and Speaking” lesson component embedded within the “Shared Reading” block. Additionally, Week 3 of each unit has a Speaking and Listening lesson within the “Writing” section. While these lessons provide the objective, purpose, discussion questions, and implementation guidance, the materials lack evidence of a protocol for student discussion. However, within the “Project-based Learning” resources, the materials provide a “Teamwork Rubric” that addresses team discussions. The rubric is a checklist that allows students to evaluate their participation in the group discussion. Examples of discussion criteria include “I listened with care, spoke in turn, and stayed on topic,” “I asked questions when I did not understand,” “I explained my own idea and linked my ideas to what others said,” and “I could decide what the main ideas were and tell details from what was said. This helped me organize what was discussed.”
Additionally, each unit provides guidance for teachers to lead students through the writing process. After students publish, they have opportunities to present in varied formats, including an oral presentation. For example, in Unit 1, students write a biography. In the publishing phase, students publish and present in either a multimedia format, a timeline, or a formal report. In Units 4 and 7, students write an informational report. Students publish and present in a multimedia format, a formal report, or a book.
Furthermore, teachers access “Literature Circle” materials, which provide a structure for student-led group discussions. The teacher’s role is to set the groups’ academic goals, model instruction, and facilitate the literature circles using the quick guide that details routines and processes. Then, students engage in assigned roles to share meaningful conversations, focusing on a text to deepen comprehension. Specifically, the roles include discussion leader, predictor and questioner, skill master, summarizer, travel tracker, conflict connector, character/people tracker, wordsmith, illustrator, researcher, literary reactor, and theme tractor. Students focus on their role as they read a text and then regroup to allow students to present prepared findings to the group.
Also, teachers may utilize the “Reader’s Theater” scripts to allow students to give organized performances and speak in a clear and concise manner using conventions of language. The materials encourage teachers to guide students to read with expression and practice important fluency attributes, such as pause, inflection, and intonation. Teachers may choose fiction or nonfiction scripts, and most are multi-level, which allows for differentiated instruction. Grade 4 titles include The Amazing Amazon, Albert Einstein, and Rumplestiltskin.
The materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources and engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources available throughout the curriculum. Additionally, the materials provide sufficient student practice opportunities for organizing and presenting researched topics appropriate for grade-level audiences.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes supporting the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. For example, in Unit 1, students ask and answer questions using various informational nonfiction texts. In Unit 1, Week 1, students read literary text packs focused on the overarching question “What makes a good President of the United States?” Passages include secondary source articles “Lincoln’s Lasting Legacy” and “America’s Youngest President Inspires a Nation.” Students ask and answer questions about key details in the texts before, during, and after reading to show understanding. The teacher models the inquiry process and how to stop, restate, and answer a question. Students complete think-alouds about the text they read, address the key question, and cite evidence from the texts.
In Unit 4, Week 4, students cite text evidence while reading the informational text Tokyo Imperial Palace by Dionne Soares Palmer. Students research Emperor Meiji and write a biography about him summarizing his life, his reign as emperor, and how his decision to move the imperial residence still affects Japan today. Lastly, teachers guide students to research Japan’s system of government, complete a Venn Diagram to compare what they learn to the system in the US, and then write a paper about the similarities and differences of the two governments.
In Unit 7, students respond to the question “Why is it valuable to learn about people and places from the present and past on a global scale?” They use multiple texts to locate answers to this overarching unit question. Students read texts such as Page’s School Report by Troy Wolff. This text models the process of writing a research report. Students also examine the text Seven Wonders You Can Visit by David Dreier. Students practice finding answers to text-dependent questions, with the understanding that some text-dependent questions will require them to read multiple paragraphs, multiple texts, and even look at text features.
Furthermore, the materials support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research for an appropriate grade-level audience. For example, there are five Project-Based Learning Packs for grade 4. The topics are Crack the Codes, Looks Greek to Me, Protect My Rights, Environmentally Friendly Cars, and Money Games. Each pack includes a driving question, anchor texts, primary and secondary resources for students to use to research, a Lesson Plan to guide teachers in facilitating group projects, a project outline, and a project rubric. For example, within the Crack the Codes pack, the guiding question is “How do codes affect our lives and the ways we communicate?” The anchor text is Arrows by Dina Anastasio. Students may access five primary sources, including “Alphabet Symbols,” “The Curious History of @,” “Images and Symbols in Art,” “Images and Symbols in Craft,” and a “National City Zoo” map, and four additional secondary sources, including “Editorials,” “Helpful Reminders in Mathematics,” “One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words,” and a “Recipe for Granola.” Teachers guide students to use a “Project Outline” and an “Investigation Planner” to organize their investigation questions and summarize their findings. The Investigation Planners are graphic organizers with a space to put the driving question on the top and three investigation questions underneath the driving question; there is also space to track the sources used to answer each investigation question. Students use the second page of the planner to compile main ideas and details from their research findings. Teachers access Lesson Plans for each Project-Based Learning pack for project ideas with various presentation formats. For example, for the Crack the Codes unit, project suggestions include art gallery or museum displays of self-portraits with symbols and imagery or a quilt block or symbolic pattern design; a demonstration of an alphabet; or a creation of a new code that is then used to write and decode secret messages. Finally, the “Project Presentation Rubric” guides students through expected standards for organizing ideas, using props, speaking clearly, and presenting as a team and includes the following scores: Needs Work, Almost There, and Meets Standard.
The materials provide coherently sequenced text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to build and apply interconnected knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. Lessons involving literacy skills repeat as the text level increases, and there are varied genres throughout the school year. This provides students opportunities to apply their skill acquisition, thus fostering independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The material’s Scope and Sequence provides a detailed account of the content taught within the eight units. Text-dependent questions are included in each unit each week. Additionally, each lesson contains questions and tasks for students to incorporate reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language in accordance with the TEKS. Furthermore, literacy stations integrate reading, writing, thinking, listening, and speaking. Students have the opportunity to practice, apply, and review vocabulary, syntax, and fluency skills they learn throughout the literacy block.
The materials provide teachers guidance in implementing “Literature Circles” that foster deep discussion of texts as students analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts and across multiple texts. Teachers divide students into groups to read a chosen book independently and then meet together for discussion. Students use bookmarks to jot notes as they read, and then they apply their thinking in writing using the “Journal Pages.” Journal Pages become their reference tools for when students participate in their group's discussion.
Additionally, the materials contain close reads. Close reading requires students to analyze, evaluate, and think critically about a given text. Close Read Passages help students practice close reading skills through multiple readings of the text. Some passages are also connected to Leveled Books at a similar reading level, enabling students to create cross-textual connections.
Furthermore, the materials provide tasks that integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking, including components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency that foster increased independence. For example, teachers may access “Project-Based Learning Packs” that task students to investigate a high-interest topic and answer a driving question. Students collaborate and develop creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills through guided inquiry and the use of planning or organizing tools. They apply and gain independence in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking and study components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency. For example, a grade 4 topic, “Crack the Codes,” allows students to work collaboratively to develop a project while investigating various texts and literature pieces (books, symbols, maps, editorials, charts, abbreviations). Students study the vocabulary, read the anchor text in pairs or varied groupings, record information onto their graphic organizers, investigate and plan, find and evaluate resources and then present a culminating project type to represent their learning.
Furthermore, the materials contain integrated high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge, ideas, themes, and connections within individual texts as well as across multiple texts, building conceptual knowledge and targeting complex elements. For example, in Unit 3, students focus on the question, “Why is it important to have alternate forms of energy?” Teachers use The Sun by Ned Jensen in shared reading, Energy Sources: The Pros and Cons by David L. Dreier in read-aloud, and one of three different selections about energy in small groups. Additionally, students practice content and academic vocabulary during their vocabulary station time and respond to the weekly question during writing station time. In Unit 4, students develop a research piece after examining several texts, such as Click: A Book About Cameras and Taking Pictures by Gail Gibbons, I Face the Wind by Vicki Cobb, and Lightning by Seymour Simon. Students research a topic of interest and write factual/textual evidence onto a graphic organizer before creating a draft. Then, they use the “Informational Report Revision Checklist” to verify textual evidence listed, making sure facts and details support each main idea within their draft.
In Unit 6, the focus question is “What are the common characteristics of groups of plants and animals living in the same environment?” Teachers use The Grasslands by Kira Freed in shared reading, Taiga by Kira Freed in read-aloud, and one of three different leveled texts about various animal and plant habitats during small group instruction. Students practice with content and academic vocabulary during vocabulary station time and respond to the weekly question during the writing station time. After reading The Grasslands, teachers introduce the “Informational Reading Text Pack” that relates to the question “How do plants support life?” The text pack includes five articles for student groups in the class. Students highlight words or phrases and take notes in the margins to help them answer the question. Team members discuss their notes from each text to generate a team answer to the question. They collaboratively or individually write an answer that includes text evidence.
The materials provide distributed practice throughout all units. The lesson design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral the entire school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year with opportunities for students to demonstrate and apply knowledge, skills, and concepts. Lessons repeat throughout the units with common objectives, purpose, discussion questions, and implementation procedures. Due to the same discussion questions routinely reinforcing the ELAR TEKS, students incorporate previous learning into the current lesson of study. The weekly lessons are in the same format with Shared Reading, Read Aloud, Grammar and Word Work, Writing, Small Group Instruction, and Stations. For example, in Unit 1, Week 2, students summarize key details to show understanding of a text, realizing that the summary will sometimes answer the questions who, what, when, where, and why about a topic. Specifically, teachers encourage students to stop and turn to a partner at routine intervals throughout the text and summarize what they have read so far, including the main idea and a few details. The culminating activity consists of students developing written and oral summaries of the texts they have read. This same lesson is also in Unit 4, Week 1; Unit 5, Weeks 1 and 4; and Unit 7, Week 1. The Scope and Sequence provides teachers a reference point regarding how the lessons spiral throughout the school year. While the basic lesson format remains consistent, the book level (and therefore the rigor) increases as the units progress. Additionally, the genres and text types vary so that students have opportunities to apply the skill and concept knowledge at an increased rigor across varied types of texts.
The lessons provide numerous opportunities to interact with resources such as rubrics and graphic organizers throughout the year, fostering independence and deepening understanding of the grade-level TEKS. Teachers access rubrics as part of each type of writing process lesson as students complete writing assignments across the year.
There is a series of rich, high-quality printable and projectable electronic books at 29 levels of text complexity that progressively increase in difficulty to help students improve comprehension and fluency. Students read texts at their level and in their areas of interest anytime with web access to get the practice they need to become better, more confident readers.
The materials also include scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. The grade 4 “Implementation Guide” states that scaffolding happens through the integration of the “Grammar & Word Work Skills,” which are introduced every week and can be used for spiraling to gauge prior knowledge and explicitly teach the skills. Furthermore, the guide provides teachers the recommendation of setting Weekly Goals to gauge evidence of progress in literacy skills over the school year. The materials also provide teachers many resources, including a variety of graphic organizers and rubrics to reinforce developmental levels while providing an accountability piece for the lesson.
The materials contain close reads that require students to analyze, evaluate, and think critically about a given text through multiple readings of the text. The close reads allow students to work collaboratively with intentional student pairings and groupings to foster scaffolded learning and language supports. Students engage in scaffolded questions during each reading of the text. For example, the grade 4 Close Read fiction passage titled “Annie Christmas” (no author listed) contains scaffolded questions for students to discuss and answer after each reading. Students engage with main idea and details questions following the first read and then reread the passage and address inference and author’s message/word choice questions. Students examine the meaning and value of the text, the point of view, meaning, draw conclusions, and make connections after the third read.
Furthermore, nonfiction close reads are labeled with a text structure of either compare and contrast, problem and solution, cause and effect, sequence, or descriptive. Therefore, teachers select texts based upon the needed spiraling of text structure.
The materials provide students the opportunity to sequentially and systematically develop knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns and spelling knowledge, as well as word recognition and word analysis skills both in and out of context as delineated and sequenced in the TEKS for grade 4. Additionally, the materials provide support for students in need of remediation to achieve mastery.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Teachers access both “Decodable Books” and “Phonics Passages” to provide systematic, sequenced phonics instruction and word analysis skills practice within the leveled readers. Additionally, the “Supplementary Lesson Ideas” provide teachers with ideas for engaging students in the study of phonics using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile senses. The materials encourage teachers to use cueing systems, including semantics (what makes sense), syntax (what “sounds right” grammatically), and graphophonemic knowledge (the way a word looks and sounds), which is not aligned to the science of teaching reading.
Furthermore, teachers access “High-Frequency Word Book Sets” to provide students with an introduction to the most common and essential words in the early sets and reinforce those words in subsequent sets. The materials also provide lists of words for each set and the order in which they are introduced and reviewed.
The materials also guide teachers to provide instruction based on student needs. Teachers use the informal assessments within the materials to assess students weekly to determine skill gaps and the instructional focus for remediation. Each “Grammar and Word Work” lesson component contains “Differentiation Resources” to support students needing remediation. These resources include but are not limited to worksheets, graphic organizers, center activities, and word sorts. Students work within the current skill of study, but these differentiated resources provide the added support and scaffolding needed to build skill mastery. Teachers may also access the “Grade 4 Pause Point Phonics Lessons,” which provide instruction on the foundational literacy skills for either whole class or small group instruction based on student need. Each lesson provides guidance regarding Instructional Support and Support for English Language Learners.
The materials also contain “Word Work Centers” that provide students opportunities to work with words. The Word Work Learning Centers focus on spelling patterns, affixes, high-frequency words, and relationships between words. These center activities are primarily geared for lower elementary, but this resource is available for students needing additional remediation.
Additionally, the materials contain a “Focused Instruction” component, which includes High/Low Text Sets. The text sets have a lesson plan, a vocabulary focus, and graphic organizers to help teachers scaffold learning for students.
The “Tutoring and Mentoring Pack” provides teachers further options for remediation through an extensive collection of printable, research-based materials in six instructional categories: alphabet, phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, fluency, and comprehension. Teachers may access the K-2 Foundational Skills Curriculum and locate needed lessons within the scope and sequence in order to meet the remediation needs of lower-level students.
The materials develop knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns, spelling proficiency, and word analysis skills as delineated in the TEKS for grade 4 through the Grammar and Word Work component. For example, in Unit 2, Week 2, students practice spelling words using knowledge of suffixes, including how they can change base words, such as dropping e, changing y to i, and doubling final consonants. In Unit 2, Week 4, students practice decoding multisyllabic words with closed syllables; open syllables; VCe syllables; vowel teams, including digraphs and diphthongs; r-controlled syllables; and final stable syllables and decoding words using advanced knowledge of syllable division patterns such as VV. In Unit 4, Week 1, students practice decoding words using knowledge of prefixes. In Unit 5, Week 1, students practice spelling words using knowledge of prefixes. In Unit 7, Week 4, students practice spelling homophones and spelling multisyllabic words with multiple sound-spelling patterns. In Unit 8, Week 3, students practice decoding words using knowledge of suffixes, including how they can change base words such as dropping e, changing y to i, and doubling final consonants.
Also, teachers may access more than 60 Word Sorts that cover letters, sounds, content-area topics, and open sorts and help fine-tune higher-level thinking skills by allowing students to categorize information.
The grade 4 phonics lessons contain five days of instruction and include a “Daily Language Practice” (DLP) that provides 32 weeks of standards-based grammar and word work instruction, practice, and application that targets key skills. There are new skills introduced each week and then practiced daily, along with skills reviewed from previous instruction. The spiraling of the skills reinforces complexity both horizontally and vertically. Teachers may use the Daily Language Practice as a stand-alone resource or as fully integrated with the Literacy Curriculum Map, aligning with the current topic of study. For example, Week 8 of the Daily Language activities focuses on syllable patterns VCCV, CVVC, and VCV. This coincides with the lesson in Unit 2, Week 4, which has the objective of reading and spelling multisyllabic words correctly using advanced knowledge of syllable patterns. Week 15 of the Daily Language activities focuses on the suffixes ‑ness, ‑ment, ‑ish, which coincide with the lesson in Unit 4, Week 3. This lesson entails decoding words using knowledge of suffixes, including how they can change base words such as dropping e, changing y to i, and doubling final consonants. It also encompasses spelling words using knowledge of suffixes and identifying the meaning and use of words with affixes. Week 32 of the Daily Language activities focuses on multisyllabic words, specifically vowel phonograms, which coincides with a lesson in Unit 8, Week 4, on spelling and decoding multisyllabic words using advanced knowledge of consonant changes, vowel teams, digraphs and diphthongs, syllable patterns, and multiple sound-spelling patterns. Examples in the Learning Guide include closed syllable words such as fan/tas/tic, open syllable words such as mu/sic, r-controlled words such as car/pen/ter, and words with vowel teams such as cheer/lead.
The materials include diagnostic tools and provide opportunities to assess student mastery, in and out of context, at regular intervals for teachers to make instructional adjustments. The assessment schedule and implementation protocols for each assessment provide consistency in accurately determining student progress in foundational literacy skills, allowing for implementation of instructional support as needed.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include tools to support and direct teachers to assess students’ growth in, and mastery of, foundational skills both in and out of context. The “Foundational Literacy” component contains a variety of skills needed for readers to practice and acquire in order to accurately decode and comprehend. Teachers have access to a multitude of assessments to help determine student strengths and needs. Students have the opportunity to be assessed at routine intervals on Benchmark Books, Benchmark Passages, Retelling Rubrics, Alphabet Letter Naming, Phonological Awareness, Phonics, High-Frequency Words, and Fluency Timed Readings.
Although phonological awareness is primarily for early learners, teachers in grades 3–5 have access to “Phonological Awareness Assessments” as guides to inform instruction on listening, identifying, discriminating, and producing sounds. The materials provide single-skill assessments that give teachers targeted information about a specific skill and multi-skill assessments that evaluate multiple skills. Both are aligned with Phonological Awareness Lessons grades K-1.
Additionally, the materials provide phonics assessments, including sound/symbol relationship assessments and numbered Phonics Assessments (1-23) to determine student skills to decode words. All phonics multi-skill assessments include administration notes to ensure the validity of results. Furthermore, there are aligned assessments with skills presented in phonics lessons for grades K-2.
Teachers match lessons with students’ skills based upon their performance on the Phonics Assessments. Teachers access 16 scripted phonics lessons for grade 3. For example, Phonics Lesson 2 focuses on r-controlled and consonant-le syllable types. Students practice syllabication to decode words before blending and creating new words with these components. Students use the R-Controlled and C-le Syllable Cards and texts as resources.
The “Tutoring and Mentoring Packs” provide teachers guidance and direction regarding developmentally appropriate resources that address a student’s specific learning needs. The tools are convenient, well-organized, and educationally sound packs that supply teachers, parents, tutors, and tutor coordinators with effective reading strategies and an extensive collection of printable, research-based materials in six instructional categories: alphabet, phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, fluency, and comprehension. A teacher can download, print, and assemble the resources to create ready-to-use tutor packs.
The materials provide routine self-correction lessons throughout the units with the objective of student self-correcting word recognition and understanding by using context. The purpose of these lessons is to teach self-monitoring and self-correction strategies in improving student comprehension. “Kids A-Z” materials encourage students to self-monitor and reread by rewarding them with robust incentives as they successfully complete assessments, books, and quizzes. Students may spend their earnings to personalize their robot in the Robot Builder or their Raz Rocket. Teachers may also award bonus stars after scoring assessments.
The materials also provide “Running Records” that accompany the Benchmark Passages and Benchmark Books to accurately assess students’ reading behavior fluency and comprehension. After administering the Running Record, teachers access the Assessment Report to measure students’ progress and to access a chart that provides guidelines for student placement within the materials. However, the reviewer was not able to view the online lessons for the designated areas, seemingly due to access limitations.
The materials provide opportunities for students to practice and develop oral and silent reading fluency while reading a wide variety of grade-appropriate texts at the appropriate rate with accuracy and expression to support comprehension. While the materials include explicit instruction in fluency, including phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy, they lack sufficient opportunities and routines for teachers to regularly monitor and provide corrective feedback on these skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide students opportunities to read grade-level texts as they make meaning and build foundational skills. The “Foundational Skills” component contains “Fluency Texts” and “Fluency Passages” complete with “Retelling Rubrics” and “Comprehension Quick Check Quizzes” that provide information about a student’s understanding and comprehension. Retellings provide details that identify strengths and weaknesses students have comprehending fiction or nonfiction texts, including analysis of text structures. The rubrics provide specific details expected from every student so that teachers can judge each retelling with the same rigor. Additionally, multiple-choice quizzes provide students with feedback when completed on how well they scored. Students choose books from the Reading Room for independent practice.
The Foundational Skills also contain “Read Aloud Texts” that provide students opportunities to hear texts read fluently for making meaning while building foundational skills. Read Aloud Texts introduce and expose students to the sounds that different letters or combinations of letters make, help teachers provide models of fluent reading, and build oral and listening comprehension skills. Alliteration with consonants or repetition of vowel sounds in each book provides opportunities for students to demonstrate listening for particular units of sound, or phonemes, in the initial, medial, and final positions of words, thus enhancing oral reading fluency. The Read Aloud section has a 5-Day Implementation guide. On Day 1, it instructs teachers to introduce the Fluency Skills by modeling fluency by reading the text or a section of the text with appropriate accuracy, rate, expression, and self-correction. On Days 2-4, it instructs teachers to model fluency by reading with appropriate accuracy, rate, expression, and self-correction. This section also provides two lessons to use for fluency that are alternated throughout the materials and can be adapted to any text/materials. For example, in Unit 2, the Accuracy, Rate, and Expression lesson is taught in Weeks 1 and 3. The Self-Correction lesson is taught in Weeks 2 and 4. This pattern is the same throughout the curriculum.
The “Literacy Curriculum Map” under “Shared Reading” resources provides guidance for teachers to have students read the text, emphasizing fluency by reading with appropriate accuracy, rate, and expression while modeling self-correction.
“High-Frequency Word Books” prepare students for reading success with three sets of high-frequency word books, which include the most commonly used sight words in printed text. Each set targets high-frequency words, including sight words of gradually decreasing frequency. Repeated use will lead to greater fluency, reading rate, and reader confidence.
Additionally, teachers access “Reader's Theater” scripts that encourage students to read with expression and practice important fluency attributes, such as pause, inflection, and intonation. The grade 4 materials include various titles, including an “early” fictional script titled The Big Fiesta, a “middle” fiction script titled Rumplestiltskin, and an “upper” nonfiction, multi-level script, Albert Einstein. The lesson plans that accompany each script provide the teacher with tips for instructional support, sentence starters, comprehension strategies such as summarization techniques, and extension activities.
Furthermore, students have opportunities to enhance reading fluency by participating in silent reading during stations and independent text reading. Raz-Plus provides printable, projectable, and electronic books at 29 levels of text complexity, which gives students fluency practice with text that progressively increases in difficulty.
Materials provide fluency assessments, which are a one-minute timed reading of a passage to measure the number and accuracy of words read. Text passages are Levels F through Z, and timed readings have a series of sentences with true/false statements that additionally test comprehension. There are three of these assessments, each with more difficult sentences than the preceding one.
Teachers access the “Running Records” tools that accompany the Benchmark Passages and Benchmark Books. A teacher can assign a digital version of a Benchmark Passage or Benchmark Book (Levels aa-J) using the Assign button on the book’s thumbnail or landing page. Students record themselves reading aloud and send the recording to the “Kids A-Z In Basket,” where the teacher reviews it and provides feedback. However, the materials lack guidance for teachers regarding a schedule and routine to follow to measure fluency.
The materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Guidance provides planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation. While most extensions are framed for the general classroom population, extension and differentiation opportunities successfully support students who demonstrate literacy skills above grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the grade 4 units, students who are above grade level have varied opportunities in reading and writing to work above grade level, as teachers have access to lesson plans at the grade 5 level that correlate with the concept or skill of study. The materials contain extension activities that are differentiated for students working above grade level. These activities are located within grade-level lesson plans embedded within each literacy area (Shared Reading, Read Aloud, Grammar and Word Work, Writing, Small Group Instruction, Stations) for each weekly lesson. These activities primarily consist of independent practice or online extensions.
Furthermore, the Grade 4 Implementation Guide explains that “small-group instruction time is built into the literacy block every day to allow for differentiation.” The curriculum contains leveled texts that progressively increase in difficulty to help students improve comprehension and fluency. Additionally, the leveled readers have activities that support the current skill or concept of study. For example, a “Small Group Instruction” lesson in Unit 2 has students work with leveled texts in applying the close procedure. This lesson has a fifth-grade leveled text available for readers reading above grade level titled The Swallow’s Song. The texts include varied genres, fiction, and non-fiction selections to challenge students reading above grade level. Teachers then align books to students based upon readability and interest levels. For example, in Unit 7, Week 4, leveled books integrate the same central question: “How does examining natural and human-made wonders help us learn more about the world?” Underground Cities is available in Level U, and Natural Wonders of the World is available in Levels V and Y. This is continued throughout all units with leveled books of the same book or related topics of books written at the different levels.
The materials provide opportunities for students to participate in literature circles, utilizing leveled readers on an advanced level throughout the units. A template/recording sheet is available for students to utilize in facilitating reflective discourse among peer groups. For example, a lesson in Unit 2 provides opportunities for students to discuss how characters within a story affect other characters and events within the story. Students reflect upon the process and create journal notes regarding what went well and what should be changed in the story, and any lingering questions for the teacher.
In Unit 5, the teacher guides students who demonstrate above-level literacy skills to independently read a grade 5 level text, The Bridge, and highlight the character’s thoughts and complete a character chart using clues from the text to discover the character’s traits. Additionally, under the “Differentiation Resources” tab, teachers may access a Writing lesson over cinquain poetry. Teachers have two options for an introduction, one for more experienced writers or one for less experienced writers. The writing lesson includes an “Extend the Activity” section. Teachers can extend the activity by encouraging students to write another cinquain poem on a topic that is opposite of the one they have already written.
In Unit 6, Week 2, teachers utilize materials within the writing lesson to plan and implement learning opportunities for four developmental levels marked with one, two, three, and four triangles to designate their developmental level. The teacher selects a resource level on the basis of each student’s needs. For example, above-grade-level students will utilize resources with four triangles and are thus instructed to include a heading, salutation, body, closing, and signature. Additionally, the body of their friendly letter should include a clearly developed beginning, middle, and end.
In Unit 8, as part of their project-based learning presentation assignment about the importance of learning about earth and space, above-grade-level students access a rubric that is designed for fourth- and fifth-grade students. This rubric provides students the opportunity to exceed standard; whereas, the grade-level rubric only provides students the opportunity to meet standard. For example, in the “Responds to an Audience” category, students must answer questions to clarify and follow up with supporting facts and details to attain a meets-standard rating, whereas above-grade-level students must answer questions clearly and completely by expanding or elaborating about the topic expressed to exceed standards.
The materials provide sufficient planning and learning opportunities that include extensions and differentiation to support students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade-level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide an “Intervention” tab for teachers to use as supplemental resources to the curriculum. Under the Intervention section, there are links to “Decodable Passage Packs,” “Tutoring and Mentoring,” “Summer School,” “High/Low Text Sets,” and “High/Low Graphic Books.” The “30 Decodable Passage Packs Program Overview” states that they are based on the Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction. The High/Low Text Set overview states text sets are designed as a resource organized around a specific topic that is both engaging and standards-aligned. Teachers may access the seven high/low text sets to grow topic and vocabulary knowledge and 50 high/low graphic books to allow struggling students to explore nonfiction topics in a visually appealing format with accessible text. Lesson plans accompany the graphic books and provide tips on how to use the resource to differentiate for below-level students.
In the Grade 4 Implementation Guide, the “Literacy Block Overview” explains that “small-group instruction time is built into the [daily plan]... to allow for differentiation.” Then, within the small group instruction section, the materials provide three different leveled books for teachers to use: on-level resource, below-level resource, and above-level resource. Furthermore, the materials contain assessment materials that teachers use to best determine the leveled readers most appropriate for each student in order to match books based upon readability and interest levels. Teachers and students access texts from a variety of genres and types for students reading below the expected level.
Furthermore, throughout the grade 4 units, teachers may access High/Low resources indicated by an Ignite logo and/or lesson plans at the grade 3 level that correlate with the on grade-level concept or skill. For example, within a small group instruction lesson in Unit 2, the teacher guides below-grade-level students to work with a grade 3 text, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp by Katherine Follett, to apply the concept of characterization. Students make connections between the below-grade-level text they are reading and other texts they have read (text-to-text), between the text and their own experiences (text-to-self), and/or between the text and what they know about the world around them (text-to-world).
In Unit 3, the materials provide a lesson below grade level to reinforce problem and solution (which would have also been the on-grade-level, whole group focus). The teacher guides students below level through a lower-level text titled Saving the Cave Painting (no author listed) to determine what they think would have happened if the problem had not been solved. Then, to further scaffold learning, teachers guide students through a graphic organizer to follow a four-step process to analyze the problem and solution.
In Unit 5, the materials provide a below-grade-level lesson on point-of-view. The teacher guides students through a grade 3 text, prompting them to identify clue words that determine point of view. The materials provide extension activities and independent practice following this lesson with paper-pencil or interactive online options. For example, students may write their own short story passage from both the first-person and third-person points of view clue words they identified throughout the story.
Additionally, differentiation and extensions for students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level are included for each section of the literacy block under the “Differentiation” tab. For example, Unit 7 Writing provides two additional levels for Grammar and Word Work. There is a Level Y lesson to go with In Huck’s Shoes, where students identify the standard English word from a list of non-standard English words from the text and then use them in a sentence. Also, there is a Level R lesson with the text Woods of Wonder that allows students to add the suffix -ing to root words. Another example under the Differentiation tab is in Unit 7 in the Writing section. Teachers choose between two different leveled Summary charts in order to provide students the appropriate level of scaffolding while they summarize findings in the unit texts. One simplified chart is for students working below grade level, grades 2-3. It provides space for students to write the book title or topic and boxes to answer each of the questions: Who? What? When? Where? and Why? At the bottom of the chart, there are blank lines to write a complete summary. In comparison, the intermediate Summary Chart appropriate for grades 4-6 provides students with boxes to fill in four “Important Events” and provides space for a complete summary.
In Unit 8, students that are below grade level may access a Picture Dictionary and a Rhyming Go Fish game designed for grade 1 students and graphic organizers such as a Web Wheel, a Web Diagram, and a Y-Chart for kindergarten through grade 2 students to support elements of poetry and text features. These resources help the teacher to scaffold the lesson so that students working below grade level have opportunities to grasp the needed literacy concepts to accelerate learning.
The materials include supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations, including accommodations for linguistics commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency. Furthermore, the materials provide an EL Edition that includes scaffolds such as adapted text, translated texts, native language support, and other modes of comprehensible inputs. Although the materials include accommodations for linguistics and encourage the use of the students’ first language to enhance vocabulary development, additional components for encouraging strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English are needed.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide an EL Edition based on instructional models, such as the SIOP model (Echeverria, Short, & Vogt, 2003), the Picture Word Inductive Model, and the recommendations in the National Literacy Panel’s 2006 report Developing Literacy in Second-Language Learners. The materials provide Language Proficiency Standards for ELPA21, WIDA, TESOL, and the Common European Framework of Reference for Language, as well as for individual state language proficiency standards for Texas. The materials have a 1-5 leveling system with a correlation chart that corresponds with the ELPS. Level 1 represents Beginning Level, Level 2 is consistent with a high beginner/low intermediate, Level 3 represents Intermediate Level, Level 4 is equivalent to Advanced, and Level 5 correlates with Advanced High.
The materials provide EL curricular supplemental supports, curricular pieces, and resources, including the following: Leveled Reader Packs, EL Content Picture Packs, EL Grammar Packs, EL Comic Conversations, EL Language Skills Packs, and EL Assessments. The Leveled Reader Packs contain preparation notes for the teacher, a multiple-day lesson plan format, practice pages, and assessments. The EL Content Picture Packs provide content and research-based materials focused on five skills (vocabulary, writing, speaking, grammar, and critical thinking) within the content areas of language arts, math, science, social studies, and basic social and instructional language. The packs’ instructional strategies and accompanying activities enable teachers to differentiate instruction for ELs of all language proficiency levels. The EL Grammar Packs are organized by part of speech, language level, and grade level, and teachers may select texts that focus on a particular skill at a specific proficiency level. The EL Comic Conversations are for beginning to intermediate ELs with language proficiency levels of 1-3, which is equivalent to ELPS Beginner and Intermediate levels. The EL Language Skill Packs “provide comprehensive resources for teachers to meet students’ needs by teaching targeted language skills while building academic content knowledge.” The packs contain multiple lessons, interactive strategies, guided instruction, direct connection to the EL Assessments, best practices for scaffolding instruction, tools for differentiating instruction, and dialogue frames at varying levels of language proficiency. The EL Assessments provide resources for teachers to monitor and track English learners’ progress in targeted academic language skills across the domains of speaking, writing, reading, and listening. They also give teachers the ability to identify students’ specific language strengths and weaknesses and to plan extensions and interventions accordingly.
Furthermore, the materials provide the following types of resources in Spanish: leveled readers, authentic Spanish books, songs and rhymes, a fiction series, math books, benchmark passages, and High-Frequency Word lists. Additionally, the materials provide the following resources in French: leveled books, alphabet books, and a fiction series. The materials provide British English leveled books, Polish leveled books, Ukrainian leveled books, and Vietnamese leveled books.
Additionally, all grade 4 units contain EL resources in the categories of shared reading, read aloud, grammar, word work, and writing. For example, Unit 1, Week 2, provides a lesson for vocabulary development specifically designed for ELs within the shared reading component. As part of the lesson, students use dialogue frames at their proficiency level in order to ask each other questions using vocabulary picture and definition cards.
In Unit 2, Week 1, the materials include EL supports such as a lesson plan reinforcing Abraham Lincoln, which provides a retelling rubric and a separate detailed lesson reinforcing verbs specifically designed for ELs.
In Unit 5, Week 3, in the read-aloud lesson component, the materials include EL supports such as a two-day detailed lesson plan complete with tips, suggestions, and partially scripted pieces reinforcing the vocabulary and content in the texts I Live in the City by Margot Oliver and The Monster Pumpkins by Maribeth Boelts. The grammar and word work EL supports for this week include a grammar card pack reinforcing prepositions of location and the vocabulary text titled Suffixes by Courtney Silk, supporting the acquisition of the suffixes -ist, -ful, -less, and -ment.
In Unit 8, Week 2, the materials include EL supports within the writing component, including conversational dialogue through a comic conversation lesson, which provides dialogue frames, key vocabulary, and role-play scenarios to support conversational speech.
The materials include formative and summative assessments that are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis and provide sufficient guidance for teachers on how to interpret data, monitor progress, and then respond to student needs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials contain formative and summative assessments that are aligned to the objective(s) with an emphasis on TEKS. Although there is no evidence of a test generator or a bank of questions tied to each TEK emphasized within each lesson, teachers can access varied ways to assess student skills to determine TEKS mastery for the grade level. For example, in Unit 1, Week 4, Day 5, the “Grammar and Word Work” component contains guidance to assess students as they produce and punctuate all sentence types and recognize and correct fragments and run-ons. These objectives correlate with the following grade 4 TEKS: 110.6.b.11.D.i. The materials suggest that the teacher administer a formative assessment to students and collect the data to inform future instruction by suggesting the following options: create a quiz, or have students create a quiz to assess their progress toward the weekly skill, have students provide a brief answer to a question related to one or more grammar and word work skill before exiting the classroom (exit ticket), provide an area for students to “park” a sticky note with an answer to a question or to list an outstanding question (parking lot), have students write sentences including examples of the grammar and word work skills (writing sample) and/or have students write a brief note to a friend on a postcard describing what they have learned. Students draw a picture on the front of the postcard to support their writing. In culmination, the class reviews the class goal related to the weekly grammar and word work skills.
During Week 4 of each unit, within the Writing component of the lesson, students respond in writing to the Unit Question, which serves as a formative or summative assessment. This is an opportunity for students to demonstrate an understanding of the content and to apply grammar, word work, vocabulary, and other relevant skills to their writing. In Unit 4, Week 4, Day 5, students discuss the learning throughout the unit, and teachers assess student learning by collecting written work samples and reviewing observational notes to inform future instruction. The objective for this unit is to write an informative/explanatory piece with a clear topic, logical progression of connected ideas, accurate vocabulary, and a concluding statement which correlates to the following grade 4 TEKS: 110.6.b.7.F, 110.6.b.11.A, 110.6.b.11.B.i., 110.6.b.11.B.ii and 110.6.b.12.B.
In Unit 8, Week 4, as part of the Shared Reading component, students answer the weekly question “Why is it important to study Earth’s landforms?” and discuss information learned from the text. The teacher records relevant information on a class chart. The materials also recommend assessing students using the Comprehension Quiz associated with the text to check student comprehension. These assessments correlate to the following grade 4 TEKS: 110.6.b.6.F, 110.6.b.7.D, 110.6.b.6.E, 110.6.b.6.F, 110.6.b.6.I and 110.6.b.7.A.
The assessments and scoring information within the materials provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. The materials include videos and webinars to help support teachers in implementing the curriculum, including assessments. Additionally, the materials guide how to score students based upon their performance and how to rate students using the scoring information. For example, teachers access information regarding reading behavior and comprehension while rewarding student progress from level to level from the “Benchmark Passages.” After the teacher uses the tools within the materials to determine individual reading levels, the teacher can use the Benchmark Passages to help determine if students are progressing in reading levels as well as the degree of progress. Teachers use “Retelling Rubrics” to gain information about students’ strengths and weaknesses in comprehending fiction or nonfiction texts, including analysis of text structures. Additionally, multiple-choice quizzes provide students with feedback when completed on how well they scored. Lastly, teachers use “Assessment Reports” for a whole-class view and student profile pages to see the individual reading rate and level progress reports. The materials also provide an assessment schedule for teachers to use when assessing students with running records. For example, it states students in the Early Fluent Readers Stage (Levels K-P) should be assessed every six to eight weeks, whereas students in the Fluent Readers Stage (Levels Q-Z) should be assessed every 8–10 weeks.
The materials provide opportunities for teachers to assess student reading fluency with two types of assessments. The first type of fluency assessment is a one-minute timed reading of a passage to measure the number and accuracy of words read. There is a fluency passage for each level, F through Z. The second type has a student perform a timed reading of a series of sentences and then answer true/false statements about the sentences to show comprehension. There are three of these assessments, each with more difficult sentences than the preceding one. The materials also provide a “Fluency Standards Table” that contains information on recommended reading rates. The procedures for assessing fluency include explicit instruction on the materials needed (two copies of the assessment passage—one for the student and one for the instructor, stopwatch or clock, pencil, and clipboard). If implemented consistently and correctly, students are expected to reach the target words-per-minute standard for their grade level with an accuracy rate of 90 to 95 percent after four to six readings, according to the materials. A table shows how to calculate the fluency score.
The materials provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple groupings and other structures. However, while the yearlong plan lacks detail, the materials do provide support for teachers to identify strengths and needs of students in varied literacy skill areas. There are differentiated instruction opportunities throughout the school year to meet the needs of a range of learners to ensure grade-level success.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
While there is no overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple groupings and other structures, the lessons do provide guidance as to the student groupings and differentiation throughout each unit. The materials include a 32-week content plan with standards that spiral; however, they do not clearly note for teachers where the standards repeat. The same lesson plan structure is used throughout the materials, utilizing a different text in each unit. However, it does not build on each unit’s content mastery/understanding. For example, author’s purpose is in Unit 1, Week 4, and Unit 4, Week 1. In Unit 1, the lesson uses a Level R nonfiction leveled text, while Unit 4, the lesson uses a Level Q nonfiction leveled text. Additionally, the materials provide resources for Small-Group instruction within the literacy block that teachers may access to group students for differentiated instruction.
The materials also provide opportunities for students to participate in literature circles, utilizing leveled readers on varied levels throughout the units. Primary Graphic Organizers on a grade K-2 level are available for students demonstrating skills below level. Additionally, a template/recording sheet is available for students to utilize in facilitating reflective discourse among peer groups. For example, in Unit 3, the materials provide a differentiated lesson reinforcing the concept of comprehension with a skill focus on problem and solution as part of the Whole Group Shared Reading lesson portion. The teacher guides the students through a below-grade-level text, allowing students to determine what they think would have happened if the problem had not been solved. Students use a graphic organizer to follow the four-step process to analyze the problem and solution. Then students write two paragraphs containing a problem and two solutions. The teacher invites students to exchange compositions and apply the four-step process to determine the problem and solutions.
In Unit 5, the materials provide a lesson below grade level supporting point-of-view. The teacher guides students through a grade 3 text prompting students to identify clue words in determining the point-of-view. Students support their responses, noting story clues. The materials provide extension activities and independent practice following this lesson with paper-pencil or interactive online options. For example, students may write their own short-story passage from both the first-person and third-person points of view using appropriate clue words throughout each story.
In Unit 8, students that are below expected grade level may access a Picture Dictionary, a Rhyming Go Fish game designed for grade 1 students, and Graphic Organizers such as a Web Wheel and a Web Diagram developed for grades K-2 and a Y-Chart at the grade K-2 level in supporting elements of poetry and text features. These resources help the teacher scaffold the lesson so that students working below expected grade level have opportunities to grasp the needed literacy concepts in order to help accelerate their learning.
Additionally, teachers assess students through digital or printed running records to attain a baseline reading level at the beginning of the school year to determine the skills and reading behaviors that need support. Teachers access lesson plans for grade 3 that correlate with the grade-level concept or skill of study for students below level. Also, teachers may assign practice activities to students to enhance their skills and assess progress throughout the school year at recommended intervals as outlined within the materials.
Furthermore, teachers may assign customized lessons to students through the digital platform. These lessons are tailored to help support areas of need, such as character analysis, author’s purpose, cause and effect, classifying information, compare and contrast, fact and opinion, setting, main idea and details, inferencing, drawing conclusions, problem and solution, sequencing events, story elements, and vocabulary. Teachers also access scripted lessons for each area of focus and/or assign students specific online lessons for reteaching.
The lessons provide scripted guidance for teachers, including sidebars and tips. The materials provide support for implementing ancillary and resource materials as well as student progress components. For example, each writing process lesson contains specific criteria for teachers to rate each student through each writing phase (Pre-Write, Draft, Revising, Editing, and Publication). The PBLs include text boxes throughout the lesson plan that specify what the teacher needs to write on the board as the lesson progresses. The PBLs also contain live links embedded throughout the lesson plan that connect to resources such as Peer Review Sheet, Team Project Planner, Ask and Answer Questions KWLS, Investigation Planner, Driving Question Project Outline, and Teamwork Rubric. Additionally, some of the leveled texts contain small group guided lessons containing scripted Think Alouds for teachers to model how readers think.
The teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials, as well as support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. For example, “Raz-Plus” has a comprehensive blended learning platform that includes the curricular support teachers need and the personalized resources necessary to improve students’ reading skills. Although the materials contain a wide range of ancillary and resource materials with implementation guidance for these resources, they do not always give specific guidance as to when to utilize these components. Instead, it is left to teacher discretion. Additionally, since the ancillary materials are not part of the lesson plan (in many cases), the teacher has to search outside of the primary lessons to access these supports.
The materials provide a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills that are taught in the program, the order in which they are presented, and how knowledge and skills build and connect across grade levels. However, the materials only provide 32 weeks’ worth of literacy instruction, which does not support a 180-day or 220-day schedule. The materials provide additional support to help teachers implement materials as intended but lack support for administrators.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials have a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence, the “Literacy Curriculum Map Sequence & Standards,” which contains a sequence and standards for each grade level. It is broken up into eight units and 32 weeks of curriculum, which would not cover a 180 or 220-day school year. Each weekly plan lists the Reading Strategy, Vocabulary, Comprehension Skill, Speaking & Listening, Writing, Fluency, Text Structures, Text Features, and Grammar & Word Work to be taught. If one clicks on the different components, it states the TEKS that are aligned. For example, in Unit 1, Week 2, it states “Retell” as the Reading Strategy. When one clicks on “Retell,” it states the objective, “Retell key details and/or events in a text,” and states the standards by state. Additionally, the lessons for each skill or concept are consistent in grades 3-5. For example, the lesson on text features has the same objectives, purpose, discussion questions/question stems, and implementation guidance in grade 3, grade 4, and grade 5. The teacher adjusts the lesson plan to fit the current text. Furthermore, the writing lessons follow suit with the same lesson provided for informational/explanatory writing in grades 3-5. While the materials do not automatically “link back” or “link forward” to lessons that spiral nor “list” within the lesson units when the current lesson of study was previously taught or will be revisited in the future, the skills and concepts are listed in the unit scope and sequence so that teachers can view when that same skill or concept will be addressed within that unit.
The Literacy Curriculum Map provides implementation details for teachers for each section of the literacy block and includes definitions, the purpose behind each part, and strategies for teaching. Additionally, the materials provide professional development opportunities for teachers to provide information, background, and implementation support. For example, a “Getting Started” video provides teachers with the ability to view the various literacy component implementation as intended. There are live and recorded webinars available by topic so that teachers can choose based upon need. Additionally, there is a “Breakroom” that provides helpful teaching tips and inspiration. Topics include but are not limited to guest authors, book ideas, career goals, and organizational tips. Teachers may also utilize the scripted lesson plans to foster vertical and horizontal alignment in the implementation of the materials. Furthermore, there is specific guidance and protocols for teachers to access when assessing fluency so that accuracy and consistency are maintained from student to student as they move from grade level to grade level. Rubrics also provide specific criteria for teachers to use when scoring student writing development and presentation delivery.
The “Administrator Reports Overview” provides administrators guidance in the use of data. If an administrator has deep knowledge of the program, the administrator may choose to assign live or recorded webinars as part of a teacher professional development plan, designed to provide support as needed. These can also be a part of a teacher growth plan or refinement plan in helping teachers attain professional goals. However, the materials lack specific supports to help administrators guide teachers in implementing the materials as intended.
The materials divide the curricular components into eight broad units. Each of the eight units is divided into four weeks of lessons for the following literacy areas: Shared Reading, Read Aloud, Writing, Grammar and Word Work, Small Group Instruction, and Stations. Each week spans five days, which equates to a total of 160 instructional days. Because the materials offer additional lessons and resources, such as Project-Based Learning Lessons, Close Read Lessons, Literature Circles, and Text Sets, knowledgeable teachers could use resources within the program to expand to a 180-day schedule, but a structured plan for 180-days of instruction is not included.
While there is no specific student edition or student workbook, the visual design of the student materials, which includes graphic organizers, leveled texts, worksheets, and digital components, are neither distracting nor chaotic and maintain student focus on the learning objectives. Additionally, the resources contain sufficient white space with grade-level appropriate sizing and spacing, and the graphics are colorful and engaging while also supporting the written content.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials use different colored fonts throughout to denote different parts of the materials. For example, the Scope and Sequence uses purple, black, and blue fonts. The purple font distinguishes between whole-group instruction and small-group instruction. Bolded black font is for headings (“Shared Reading,” “Read Aloud,” “Grammar & Word Work,” “Writing”) and unbolded black font for the remainder of the materials. The blue font is for hyperlinks.
Additionally, throughout the materials, the margins are wide enough for students to annotate as needed on graphic organizers and worksheets. The margins are narrow for the close read passages, thus increasing attention to the text. The leveled texts contain sections of white space between headings and the body of the text. Text features such as bold print, italics, captions, and other written components enhance the resources. Spacing and font are appropriate throughout all texts and resource supplements. For example, Unit 1, Week 2 contains the text The School Versus James Holt by Rus Buyok, which has an appropriate amount of white space within the text that does not distract from student learning and ample spacing between the paragraphs and the glossary. Key vocabulary words are in bold font within the text. The arrangement of the text components is visually appealing to students at this developmental reading level. The pages contain margins that are wide enough for students to place small tabs or small post-it notes if needed.
In Unit 4, Weeks 1-4, the materials contain a persuasive writing activity that provides a graphic organizer. This resource has ample space for students to write with boxes that help contain the students’ thoughts and ideas. The boxes also help the students to be concise with their writing. The column descriptors are in bold font and easy to understand. The layout of the graphic organizer helps the students appropriately categorize information to systematically use in drafting their piece.
Additionally, the cursive handwriting practice pages and the “Daily Language Practice” student activity sheets throughout all units contain ample white space and appropriate line spacing for the developmental level of the student by grade level. The directions for each task are bolded, and the sample sentences are in the same font. The space where students rewrite the sentence provides ample space for students to successfully perform the task.
Also, the materials include pictures and graphics supportive of student learning and engagement. For example, the Leveled Readers include color photographs or illustrations. The printable books are in color or black and white and provide either single or double-sided printing options. In a leveled text in Unit 1, The Legislative Branch by Marvin D. Bodner, pictures and captions are placed appropriately, either before, after, or appropriately aligned within the text. The spacing and placement support the text and student understanding. Insets are throughout the text and look similar for student use. Insets are in gold boxes with red, white, and blue banners, and they contain a further explanation of terms in the text or provide expanded information on a topic within the text. For example, at the end of the section “How Congress Works,” there is an inset about “How to Become a Senator or Representative.” Another inset at the end of the “How a Bill Becomes a Law” section further defines and explains the term “dead bills.”
The materials include technology components that are grade-level appropriate and support learning. The supports enhance learning, and there is appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The technology within the materials supports and enhances student learning as appropriate and includes sufficient teacher guidance. Specifically, the materials include a “Getting Students Started in 3 Steps” section that provides teacher guidance on how to set up and use the online materials. The first step walks teachers through how to add students to their roster, create logins, send messages, and manage student activity. The second step illustrates how teachers determine student reading level. The last step guides teachers in how to communicate Kids A-Z instructions to students and parents. Additionally, the materials include teacher training via free live webinars. A catalog of Learning A-Z professional development opportunities is available, and teachers use the dropdown menus to filter by Learning A-Z product name, class type, or experience level.
The materials include a “File Cabinet,” allowing teachers to store and organize instructional resources digitally. The teacher may create custom file folders and subfolders and categorize materials by TEKS, content unit, comprehension skill, student groups, and other structures. Teachers can also share file folders with colleagues, fostering collaboration and planning opportunities.
The materials contain eBooks for students to either listen to or read in a digital platform. The listening versions contain continuous-play audio and follow along with highlighted text. The reading versions contain features that enable students to record and listen to their oral reading. The constructed response quiz questions give students the opportunity to type a short-answer response to a question, which promotes close reading and critical thinking skills while also strengthening the reading-writing connection. Answers to these questions are submitted to the teacher’s “In-Basket” for grading using an online rubric. The materials also provide online tools for note-taking, drawing, highlighting, and stamping so students can annotate as they read. According to the materials, these tools “support active reading practices for better comprehension.” The supports also contain “Individual Word Audio” playback that reads individual words aloud to students to support phonics and fluency development. The eJournal gives students a place to explore new words and practice their vocabulary through writing. Vocabulary Cards provide additional information and context about key vocabulary words in a text. The teacher can connect classroom instruction with students’ use of online resources by monitoring “Activity Reports” that show student progress. The materials recommend that the teacher review student scores on assessments to identify gaps in understanding and target content or skills that need to be retaught.
The technology components are available by grade level, and some portions are customizable for student needs. For example, the materials include online space-themed components available through both KidsA-Z.com subscriptions and a Kids A-Z mobile app. Furthermore, within the online component and app, the materials contain multiple components, including the following: “Level Up!,” “My Assignment,” “Reading Room,” “Flight Check,” “Messages,” “Star Zone,” “Stats,” and “Badges.” Specifically, Level Up! contains a collection of books that students can read and complete to automatically advance to the next reading level. Students automatically level up once they listen to/read all the books and pass the comprehension quiz with a score of 80% or higher. Also, teachers can assign students’ reading levels and customize the listening version anytime within the Classroom Roster. The My Assignment component is where students go to complete activities that teachers have digitally assigned to them. The Reading Room allows students to access reading resources for reading practice and enjoyment. Students find level-appropriate books by topic, category, and popularity and can save their favorite books for easy access anytime. Teachers can also customize students’ Reading Room experience in the “Roster” under the Raz-Plus tab. Lastly, in Flight Check, students find digital Running Records using the Benchmark Passages or Books. Teachers assign this to students; when students complete the tasks, teachers can digitally access the data regarding a student’s reading level, ability to name letters, and ability to recognize high-frequency words.
The materials also contain components to enhance communication with students and parents, including the “Messages” component, where students can view messages from the teacher or their parents. Students also receive notifications regarding earned badges and bonus stars through Messages.
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