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The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
High-quality texts for ELAR instruction are included and cover a range of student interests. The texts are well-crafted, representing the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. Complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse, multicultural texts are included.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 1 arranges a variety of narrative texts around the theme Stories of Change, reflecting personal struggles representative of early adolescent life. The unit opens with “The Circuit,” an Americas Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature-winning short story by Francisco Jiménez, which chronicles a migrant family’s story from a young man’s perspective. Text selections cross the centuries and range from a retelling of the classical Greek myth “Orpheus and Eurydice” by Bob Blaisdell to a contemporary novel excerpt from Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, both of which explore the sometimes tortured path of love. Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes’ short story “Thank You, M’am” and contemporary and renowned young adult storyteller Walter Dean Myers’ “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” create snapshots of urban life across time from a young person’s perspective.
Unit 2 arranges a variety of narrative and informational texts around the theme “The Power Change,” shifting students’ focus from self to the surrounding world. John Grogan’s memoir essay “Saying Farewell to a Faithful Pal,” which later evolved into the international bestseller Marley and Me, cultivates reader empathy. Students explore family and loss with Sharon Creech’s 1995 Newbery Medal-winning Walk Two Moons, a coming-of-age/bildungsroman novel. Unit 2 wraps up with multiple text selections about Temple Grandin, an American scientist and animal advocate, to familiarize students with a subject before they write their own informational essay on the topic of “Explaining how people can improve their lives through observing and interacting with animals.” “Dogs Make Us Human,” from the autobiography Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson, uses some complex scientific terms such as co-evolved, blood sugar, and diabetic and tells stories of dogs who save humans.
Unit 3 arranges a variety of argumentative texts around the theme “Changing Perspectives,” examining issues relevant to middle schoolers’ lives in preparation for researching and debating a controversial issue and writing an argumentative letter. The first half of the unit consists of immersing students in different types of argumentative pieces. The unit opens with three texts of varying perspectives on the topic of homework: an opinion piece from The Atlantic titled “A Teacher’s Defense of Homework” by Andrea Townsend; an opinion piece from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development website titled “A High School Student’s Perspective on Homework,” by Amedee Martella; and USA Today news article “Texas Teacher Implements No-Homework Policy, the Internet Rejoices,” by Ashley May. Materials strategically arrange the three text selections by difficulty, and the instructor leads the reading of the more demanding Townsend and Martella texts while student partners read the less complex May news article.
“Close Reading Workshop” supplements the core ELA textbook with additional multi-genre texts. Selections incorporate challenging texts. For example, Close Reading Workshop 1 begins with a whole group study of the autobiographical text Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, American writer and philosopher, before students tackle an excerpt from John Steinbeck’s autobiographical text Travels with Charley. With Close Reading Workshop 3, students examine poetic tone, structure, and meaning with the poem “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” from Vachel Lindsay before reading the diverse companion piece that examines what it means to be young and black in “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long” by Nikki Giovanni. Students have cross-curricular opportunities with Close Reading Workshop 6 Informational Texts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, which includes an article whose language targets the scientific community with an excerpt from “California Invasive Plant Inventory” by California Invasive Plant Council, 2006 and with “Invading Bullfrogs Appear Nearly Unstoppable” from National Geographic News, by storyteller and technical writer John Roach, which targets everyday readers.
A variety of text types and genres across content that meets the TEKS requirements for each grade level are included. Literary texts include those outlined for specific grades. Informational texts include texts of information, exposition, argument, procedures, and documents as outlined in the TEKS. Materials include print and graphic features of a variety of texts.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of literary texts from the “Grade 6, Close Reading Workshop” include the following:
Examples of informational text include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts from the “Grade 6, Close Reading Workshop” include but are not limited to the following:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers features illustrations essential to students’ understanding with a watercolor drawing of a Harlem tenement street scene and another of the treasure.
Unit 3, “Are Social Networking Sites Good for Our Society?” by ProCon.org, opens with a brief issue synopsis paragraph. The article uses subheadings such as “Social Media and the Spread of Information.” It employs two-column organizations to distinguish perspectives using the labels Pro and Con with evidence documented in footnotes and sources.
In Unit 4, Poet Paul Fleischman uses a unique two-column graphic layout of “Fireflies,” which mimics the flickering/flitting/flashing of the “Insect calligraphers.” The Miracle Worker by William Gibson introduces students to character names using all capitals and bolded and stage directions in parentheses and italics. Cues to a character’s attitude and dialogue delivery tone appear after his or her name in parentheses and all capital letters. The publisher periodically glosses vocabulary in purple, calling students’ attention to the purple pop-out boxes with definitions. Additionally, the publisher added blue numbers next to each line of the play script.
Texts are appropriately challenging and at an appropriate level of complexity to support students’ grade level. Texts are accompanied by a text-complexity analysis provided by the publisher and are at the appropriate quantitative levels and qualitative features for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include a “Grade 6 Text Complexity Rationales” document with 22 entries encompassing core texts from four units. The Grade 6 Text Complexity Rationales features a margin snapshot with four measures: Overall, Quantitative, Qualitative, and Task. The Overall rating represents a composite of the analysis of the Quantitative, Qualitative, and Task. In addition, a paragraph Summary describes text considerations. The main entry, titled Qualitative Considerations, has categories that vary to reflect the literary and informational text. Expert teachers assign qualitative ratings of High, Moderate, or Low Difficulty. Considerations for those ratings include implicit and explicit meanings in the text, the author’s use of language, organizational patterns, vocabulary, and the text’s cognitive demands. An overall rating of Accessible, Complex, or Very Complex is then assigned. Both main entries close with Task Considerations followed by three self-reflection questions for teachers to use when planning. Teachers can view the quantitative Lexile measure for each core text either in the Grade 6 Text Complexity Rationales document or in each English Language Arts—Grade 6 unit lesson “Teacher Wrap” note. Teacher Wrap notes serve as a reminder during lessons and include instructional strategies and background information teachers could provide. “Close Reading Workshops” note the Lexile measure in the Text Complexity annotation in every lesson that features text while including the category Context for qualitative insights. Texts in these materials range from 660–1430.
In Unit 1, the Grade 6 Text Complexity Rationale for 1.16 “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers includes a 760 Lexile. Qualitative comments in the “Summary” explain that moderate task balances overall difficulty with the analysis of an implied theme and figurative language. The main body, Qualitative Considerations for literary texts, provides guidance in levels of Meaning, Structure, Language, and Knowledge Demands. Level of Meaning notes explain that students examine dialogue and character internal thoughts to find the story’s “clear” theme. Structure notes describe the short story as moving chronologically through one perspective in a conventional way. Qualitative Considerations for Language advises teachers of some unfamiliar words and phrases along with a tip to examine figurative devices to determine theme and mood. Finally, Knowledge Demands underscores the benefit of familiarity with blues music. Unit 1 includes the novel excerpt “Flipped” by Wendelin Van Draanen. The text complexity notes state the text is Overall: Complex, a Lexile of 800L, Qualitative: Moderate Difficulty, and Task: Moderate (Analyze). As students read, they focus on expression as this story is told in first-person point-of-view, and it is suggested that every few paragraphs, students switch reading roles with a partner since this story is told from different characters.
Unit 3 in English Language Arts uses the news article “Social Networking’s Good and Bad Impacts on Kids” from Science Daily. Text complexity notes state the text is Overall: Very Complex, Lexile: 1430L, Qualitative: High Difficulty, and Task: Challenging (Evaluate). This text is highly complex for a grade 6 level; however, the text structure/organization uses a bulleted list.
In Unit 4, the Grade 6 Text Complexity Rationales snapshot for an excerpt from “A Letter to Gabriela, A Young Writer” by Pat Mora reveals the text as Overall Accessible, 870 Lexile, Qualitative features are Moderate Difficulty, and the Task is Moderate. The Summary notes make observations that describe text relevance and task demands. For this text, notes emphasize text suitability, as it provides context for the accompanying unit poems. The final Summary observation, which describes tasks as moderate due to figurative language use, prompts teacher review prior to implementation. Qualitative Considerations alert teachers to things such as the shift from first-person to second-person throughout the poem. Task Considerations state that the text pairs with a Unit 4 news article, giving students experience with varying text types. Additionally, notes acknowledge that this lesson builds skills for future research activities.
While the detailed Grade 6 Text Complexity Rationales document does not encompass texts found in the “Close Reading Workshop” lessons, brief Teacher Wrap annotations include text complexity information. For example, a Close Reading Workshop 1.1 Text Complexity annotation describes the excerpt from “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig as Overall: Accessible, Quantitative: 1150 Lexile, Qualitative: Moderate Difficulty, and Task: Moderate (Analyze). The Text Complexity annotations found in Close Reading Workshops use the category Context, rather than Summary, listing publication date, genre, and a brief contextual synopsis.
For Close Reading Workshop 6.3, the Text Complexity annotation for “Invading Bullfrogs Appear Nearly Unstoppable” by John Roach shows Overall: Complex, Quantitative: 1170L, Qualitative: Moderate, Task: Moderate (Analyze). Context observations distinguish this article as every day in contrast to the data-heavy 6.1 text selection. A final note explains that this article uses more accessible scientific language to describe a single creature, the bullfrog.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Questions and tasks require students to make connections to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them and identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Grade 6 instructional materials provide thoughtful analysis and problem-solving opportunities using texts that can be read and reread for multiple purposes. Text-dependent questions, graphic organizers, and instructional tasks provide strategic supports and scaffolds to be used across multiple thematic units across grade levels.
In Unit 1 of English Language Arts, while reading The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez, students answer questions such as “What happens in the story?” “What emotions does that narrator have throughout the story?” “How would you describe the ending of the story?” After reading, students dive deeper into the story to answer questions and support their answers with text evidence. For example, “Based on the figurative phrase ‘lump in my throat’ in paragraph 12, how does the narrator feel about the move? Cite other evidence from the story to support your answer.” “Revisit paragraph 14. How does Mamá feel about having to stay in a garage for the whole season? Cite text evidence to support your answer.”
The Unit 2 study of the memoir “Saying Farewell to a Faithful Pal” by John Grogan utilizes active reading strategies to guide students in determining the purpose of pets. As students read, they find textual evidence that details the loving bond between Grogan and his dog. After reading, a “Making Observations” text-to-self question asks students to share their initial impression of the selection. Students take a close look at the memoir’s opening sentences, determining their importance and impact on the reader. Questions have students review story details, an example, and word choice, repeatedly sending students back through the text and their annotations to ultimately analyze how the text communicates Grogan’s purpose. Students use a two-column graphic organizer to list textual evidence on one side while explaining the importance of this evidence to understanding Grogan’s feelings for his pet on the other. Finally, students write an informational essay using textual evidence from Grogan’s memoir and personal commentary to respond to the prompt “Why do people have pets?”
Students study argumentative texts in Unit 3 of English Language Arts and infer the meanings of denotations and connotations. Students read “A Teacher’s Defense of Homework” by Andrea Townsend and answer questions such as “Who is the intended audience of the article?” Students continue their study reading the news article “Texas Teacher Implements No-Homework Policy, the Internet Rejoices,” by Ashley May. Students answer scaffold text-dependent questions that include “What makes the author an authority figure on homework?” This study of argumentative texts concludes by students participating in a debate in response to the question “Should students be assigned homework?”
In Unit 4, students examine three poems by Pat Mora as preparation for writing an original poem. As students independently read the first poem, “I Can Dance,” they actively annotate rhyme and punctuation using close reading strategies well-honed by this end of the year unit. Questions purposefully build. For example, “Making Observations” asks students what they observe about the poem’s ending and prepares them for a “Returning to the Text” question, asking why the poet makes the change and how this change connects with the overall meaning of the poem. The lesson series’s final poem has students identify shared themes, supporting their assertions with textual evidence. “Check Your Understanding” explains that the three poems appeared in the same book and asks students to compare and contrast “theme, language, message, and form,” using textual evidence as support. Students define devices such as personification, finding examples from poems across the unit as well as creating examples of their own. Questions like these build skills in preparation for the “Narrative Writing Prompt” task, where students reflect on all Unit 4 poems before choosing a genre appropriate for their original poem.
“Close Reading Workshop 1” studies informational/literary nonfiction texts and discusses the text’s implicit and explicit meanings. In Activity 1, students read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. After answering text-dependent questions, students dive deeper into the meaning of the text by analyzing the subject/topic of the autobiography and the purpose of writing the autobiography. Text-dependent questions include: “According to Pirsig, how are traveling by car and watching TV similar? What does this reveal about traveling by car? What evidence does the author provide to support his idea that riding a motorcycle is more engaging than traveling by car? Which sentence from the last paragraph best describes Pirsig's outlook on travel? How might this connect to his overall outlook on life?”
In “Writing Workshop 3 Grade 6,” after reading the sample informational essay “Fun and Feisty,” collaborative partners respond to “Working from the Text” questions regarding purpose, audience, organization, evidence, transitions, language, and style. For example, the students assess the writer’s developmental evidence looking for textual evidence of “facts, examples, or personal experiences.” From here, students generate a topic idea and analyze which elements of informational writing would best support their idea. Next, students develop informational essays in a Writing Workshop.
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. Questions and tasks support students’ analysis of the literary/textual elements of texts by asking students to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Materials provide questions and tasks for students to compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic and analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning (in single and across a variety of texts). Students study the language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The instructional materials require students to analyze literary and textual elements to make inferences and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in narrative, explanatory, and argumentative literary text. Students read and analyze a wide variety of texts in genres, including novels, plays, biographies, non-fiction narratives, poetry, speeches, and films, to gain insight into various authors’ literary styles and use of language. In the “Teacher Wrap,” there are suggestions for teachers for the planning and strategic execution of questions and tasks to utilize in class. In English Language Arts—Grade 6, students typically preview texts by reading “About the Author” blurbs, reviewing the title, scanning the entire piece, and making predictions or inferences.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers. Before beginning the short story, a “Setting a Purpose for Reading” question prompts students to evaluate the “About the Author” blurb and story visuals to predict the title’s meaning. As they read, students revisit and revise their understanding of the title word treasure if necessary. While reading, students strategically mark and annotate figurative language, asking themselves what images of scene and character this language conjures in their mind. Students mark and annotate vocabulary, reviewing the context to determine meaning. “Returning to the Text” questions reinforce annotation practices by directing students to circle back to language use and story details, asking things such as “What sensory details can you find in paragraphs 8–11?” and “How do these details help a reader predict that something ominous is coming?” During “Working from the Text,” students pull examples of a simile, metaphor, and personification from the short story and analyze their purpose and impact on the storytelling. Another Working from the Text question has students examine why the author chose a limited third-person point of view, asking, “What purpose does this point of view achieve?”
In Unit 2, students study the contemporary memoir “Saying Farewell to a Faithful Pal” by John Grogan, utilizing active reading strategies to help students understand the author’s deep bond with his pet. The Setting a Purpose for Reading annotation guidance asks students to identify “words, phrases, and sentences” that communicate why Grogan felt such affection for his dog Marley. After reading, a Returning to the Text question asks, “How does the author structure positive and negative details to show how Marley was both challenging and good for his family?”
In Unit 3, the text “A Teacher’s Defense of Homework” by Andrea Townsend focuses on students’ understanding of argumentative claims. Setting a Purpose for Reading notes directs students to annotate the author’s claim along with supporting facts and details as they read. During the reading, students answer questions such as “What does the author do for a living?” a prompt meant to shape students’ thinking about the author's purpose. Returning to the Text circles back to the author's intent, asking a question about the intended audience and author’s purpose.
Unit 4 includes a deep analysis of literary devices used in poetry and plays for students to strengthen their literary analysis skills. In the text “A Letter to Gabriela, A Young Writer” by Pat Mora, students examine such things as “Why does the author repeat the words ‘I write because…’? In paragraph 9, what does the author compare writing to? What is the purpose of this simile? Why does the author write this letter?” Students explain how a text’s structure contributes to the development of a theme and analyze how an author uses diction to create meaning and tone. Students answer questions such as “How does the author develop the point of view in the story? How does the way the story is organized by sections help the author tell the story?”
The “Close Reading Workshop 3, Grade 6” selection takes students back in history with the 1914 poem “Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight” by Vachel Lindsay and Nikki Giovanni’s childhood poem “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long.” Questions for each poem have students examine how each author's word choice communicates meaning and message. For example, after a “Second Reading” of each poem, a “Check Your Understanding” task has collaborative partners review their lists of keywords and phrases to develop a greater understanding of the poem’s meaning. As part of “Synthesizing Your Understanding” for both poems, students identify the shift, tone, and theme. For example, students examine the poem’s structure or descriptions to find shifts that show a change in the poet’s focus or attitude.
Both “Grade 6 Writing Workshop 2, Argumentative Writing” and “Writing Workshop 3, Informational Writing” use model essays on pet animals to simplify craft study for varying writing genres. After reading the sample argumentative text “The Benefits of Pets” in Grade 6 Writing Workshop 2, collaborative partners respond to Working from the Text questions regarding purpose, audience, support, organization, transitions, and formal/informal language. Students begin their analysis of argumentative text by identifying the author’s purpose, returning to the text to locate the author’s primary argument. The support question has students assess the writer’s reasons, evaluating which prove most “relevant and effective.” Likewise, after reading the sample informational essay “Fun and Feisty,” about West Highland terriers as pets, in Writing Workshop 3 Grade 6, collaborative partners respond to Working from the Text questions regarding purpose, audience, organization, evidence, transitions, language, and style. Students begin their informational text analysis by identifying the author’s purpose, returning to the text to locate where the author best communicates it. The evidence question has students assess the writer’s developmental evidence looking for textual evidence of “facts, examples, or personal experiences.”
The materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. Included are ways to apply academic vocabulary in appropriate contexts, as well as scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
ELA Grade 6 Front Matter states that the program “threads” academic and text-specific vocabulary instruction across units, creating a year-long plan. “Teacher Wrap” notes briefly describe methods for implementing vocabulary study, including the use of tools and tasks embedded in lessons, Reader/Writer notebooks, and word study graphic organizers. The challenging words within reading passages are in bold at point of use, and “Periodic Word Connection” boxes guide students when processing a word with multiple meanings, interesting etymology, important roots or affixes, or connections to other content areas.
Each unit contains the section “Planning the Unit,” which explains the various components available to teachers to create personalized learning experiences for all students. Within this explanation, “Language Workshop” can be paired with the units for students needing additional academic English support. There is an explanation of the QHT strategy as a way to sort the academic and literary terms for the unit into categories: Q: words students have questions about, H: words students have heard, so students are familiar, and T: words students can teach to classmates because they know them so well. The overall academic goal is to move all words to the T column by the end of the unit. End Matter includes a wide selection of periodically assigned graphic organizers such as Definition and Reflection, Unknown Word Solver, Roots and Affixes Brainstorm, Verbal & Visual Word Association, Word Map for Academic Words. The “Index of Skills” indicates the location of vocabulary skills across all units, using categories such as Academic vocabulary, QHT strategy, Word meanings, and Word Wall.
Unit 1 contains a list of academic and literary terms necessary for the tasks in the study of the personal narrative “The Circuit” by Francisco Jiménez. Program routines expect students to use Reader/Writer notebooks or the “My Notes” to annotate unfamiliar vocabulary. A “Word Connections” box explores Roots and Affixes with a study of chronological in preparation for reading and asks students to determine the meaning of words such as chronicle, chronic, chronology. Another Word Connections box identifies cognates, showcasing examples from the text such as adventura (adventure) and Mamá (mother, mama). “Teacher to Teacher” briefly describes the cognate bridge strategy, which “Learning Strategies” fully explains. “Language Workshop 1a” focuses on reading and writing a personal narrative. Activity 2 begins by providing a list of needed vocabulary words such as imagination, influence, and sources. As students read through the texts, the vocabulary words are underlined and can be clicked on to provide the definition. As the workshop continues, students use prior knowledge to determine word meanings as well as participate in quick conversations with others using the words.
In Unit 2, to understand how author Sharon Creech develops character in Walk Two Moons, students study diction by evaluating unique words chickabiddy, gooseberry, and huzza huzza. In other tasks, students use context to determine the meaning of words like malinger, cardigan, and skittish before verifying their conclusions with a dictionary. Text-dependent questions provide further practice of contextual understanding of vocabulary use by having students infer how the word unbridled communicates the author John Grogan’s message in “Saying Farewell to a Faithful Pal.” Also, students use a vocabulary strategy called “Diffusing.” Students identify unfamiliar words while reading and think of potential synonyms before using a reference resource to determine the accuracy of their guesses.
In the Unit 3 study of “The First Americans” by Scott H. Peters, students unwrap the meaning of the literary vocabulary rhetorical appeals, logos, pathos, and logical fallacies through a review of Vocabulary box definitions and an instructional paragraph that details why writers use these techniques. Within Peter’s text, the materials gloss challenging words such as reservations and treacherous, defining them in margin boxes. Questions reinforce their understanding of how specific vocabulary like murderer and savage serve as a rhetorical device. A final Vocabulary box found in the lesson clarifies the academic terms relevant and sufficient, which Group Discussions use to assign tasks.
Unit 4 analyzes primary and secondary sources to generate research questions. There is a list of academic and literary terms that include, but are not limited to sources, bibliography, hermit, keen, fellowships, and solitude. The Vocabulary box provides the definition of citation, and as students read, vocabulary words are underlined. When needing a definition, students can click on the word to have the definition appear above the word. The Word Connections box explains the content connection of burr. As students answer the text and task-dependent questions, the vocabulary words are consistently used and reinforced through student responses.
The materials include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. There are procedures and protocols, along with adequate support for teachers, to foster independent reading. Materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time, including planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Front-End Matter explains the rationale behind independent reading. There are Reading Lists within each unit, including Spanish titles related to the themes, ideas, and concepts of the units. Each unit list connects to a genre or genres to further support connections. Using “Independent Reading Links” found in each unit, teachers have tasks for students to connect what they are reading in class and what they are reading independently. Reading Link boxes indicate when to implement tasks. Each unit begins with the “Planning the Unit” section, which briefly describes each activity within the unit and features a list of recommended independent reading texts. Additionally, the “Teacher Wrap” section provides explanations as needed for independent reading activities. An orange color-coded “Independent Reading” box in the Teacher Wrap notes briefly describes methods for implementing independent reading in a way that corresponds to unit instructional goals and texts. In every unit, a “Teacher to Teacher” box immediately follows the Independent Reading box and establishes Reader/Writer Notebooks protocols. Students work in their blank Reader/Writer Notebooks, documenting all academic responses such as vocabulary study, answers to text-dependent questions, reflections, responses to Independent Reading Links, and notes about learning strategies related to core content and independent reading in this school or student provided notebook. End Matter resources line up an “Independent Reading Log” document and graphic organizers for “Notes for Reading Independently” for fiction and nonfiction.
Unit 1 begins with a lesson on choosing a literary text for independent reading and setting goals in an independent reading plan. The teacher has questions to guide students toward books of interest and level. Once students have chosen a book, they use their Reader/Writer Notebook to create an Independent Reading Plan, including how long each day they will set aside to read independently. Independent Reading Links and Checkpoints allow students to make connections to what is read in class and what students read independently six additional times throughout this unit. Examples include but are not limited to, “How is the concept of change present in the book you are reading on your own? What is happening to the characters (or subjects) that is causing them to change, or what can you predict will happen? With a small group of your peers, compare how the theme of change is playing out in each of your independent reading books. Add your notes to an Independent Reading section of your Reader/Writer Notebook. Record in your Reader/Writer Notebook how the author of the book you are reading independently is developing character. Analyze the plot elements of your book. Compare these elements to the elements used in Flipped (such as multiple points of view and dialogue). How are the texts similar? How are they different?”
A Unit 2 Independent Reading Link provides additional practice for a unit task of comparing and contrasting characters from Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons. Students turn to their outside reading to select a subject to find points of similarity and difference that they document in a paragraph response. Students explore the Literature Circle strategy during a later activity, practicing their skills with a classic fairy tale. The Independent Reading Link brings students together for a Literature Circle where they discuss change as seen in their self-selected texts, comparing and contrasting how each text represents changes.
A Unit 3 Independent Reading Link has students identify an issue of personal interest and assigns them to collect informational and argumentative texts such as news articles, opinion pieces, editorials, and letters. In a later activity, students review their self-selected texts to find graphics that illuminate the topic. Students use their Reader/Writer Notebook to document the graphic’s message for use in a future core unit debating activity.
Unit 4 contains nine Independent Reading Links and Checkpoints as accountability pieces for students when reading. One activity asks students to find an informational text about the poet they are currently reading and determine if it would be a reliable source. If it is a reliable source, students use the text to answer existing research questions and generate new ones. Another activity uses the Independent Reading Checkpoint and states, “Gather and organize your research and prepare to give a short, informal presentation to a small group of students about your poet. In your presentation, discuss the kinds of poetry your poet writes as well as key details about your poet's life. Explain what makes your poet unique and provide evidence from your research to support your position.”
The materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Students have opportunities to write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. Students write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. The materials provide students with opportunities to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Exemplar texts, instruction, and activities give students multiple low-stakes opportunities to build writing skills before they demonstrate mastery in the embedded assessments completed at the end of a genre set. Ten “Writing Workshops” provide additional exemplar texts, instruction, and practice using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce understanding.
During Unit 1, students complete the writing process to generate personal narratives and a short story. Students use the writing process and tools such as graphic organizers, a memory map, and a rubric to complete Embedded Assessment 1, where they write a personal narrative describing a “change” of great importance in their life. Instructional support includes using the “Anecdote/Question/Quote/Statement of Intrigue” or AQQS strategy and a review of unit texts to write a narrative introduction that hooks their audience. Instruction guides students through using a reflection to create a takeaway as a way of closing their personal narratives. “Writing Workshop 7: Narrative Nonfiction” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce understanding. Later in Unit 1, students transition from personal narrative writing to short story writing, and students build story writing skills across multiple lessons before drafting an original short story for Embedded Assessment 2. Intentional instruction builds students’ understanding of short story structure using exemplar texts and lesson activities. At the end of Unit 1, students write an original short story about a real or fictional experience, incorporating genre elements such as plot, dialogue, audience, and sensory language.
In Unit 2, several low-stakes writing tasks prepare students for Embedded Assessment 1, where they use an informational text format to write up their analysis of literary elements in the novel Walk to Moons. In an analysis of the film Up, the class jointly writes a response to literature explaining how internal dynamics impact the main character’s life and draft possible theme statements of the film Up. Incremental writing opportunities such as these precede Embedded Assessment 1, where students write an informational response to the novel Walk Two Moons, choosing from prompts related to conflict, plot, setting, and theme. “Writing Workshop 5: Response to Literature” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce how to write a multi-paragraph informational response to the short story “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes. After a genre set of a memoir, autobiography, film biography, and biography all related to how pets impact humans’ lives, students write a multi-paragraph essay in response to an informational prompt to explain “how people can improve their lives through observing and interacting with animals.”
ELA, Grade 6 Unit 3 opens with a genre set that provides a craft study in how writers use argumentative text to target their audience. Students move through recognizing claims in 3.3, creating support in 3.4, vetting sources for “reliability, credibility, and bias” in 3.5, to using style and tone strategically for audience appeal in 3.6. In 3.7, students work with a collaborative group to compose a brief argument supporting the claim, “Teens spend too much time being passive consumers on their devices.” In 3.8, students use a graphic organizer to prepare for a debate on the topic of social networking sites’ impact on society, writing out all elements of an argument, including a central claim supported by reasons with evidence and source citations. This practice builds students skills for Embedded Assessment 1, where collaborative groups frame an argument for debate over a controversial school, community, or societal issue.
In Unit 3, students examine a variety of argumentative letters, such as letters to the editor, a student sample letter, and a historical letter. These provide a model for Embedded Assessment 2, where students write an argumentative letter to garner support for an issue of great concern to them. Writing Workshop 2 presents writing argumentative texts as the ability to influence the actions or thoughts of others. After reading the sample text, “The Benefits of Pets,” students determine the purpose, audience, and reasons given for the claim made. Students begin practicing the skill of writing an argumentative essay as they brainstorm important ideas to themselves, as well as consider topics that may be important to peers, such as pet ownership. Students must choose a topic that has two sides to be defended. Once a topic is chosen, students work together to determine which side they will take and their reasons for their opinion. This activity is repeated when students write with a partner and ultimately as they write an individual essay.
During Unit 4, students utilize the writing process to generate an original poem and a play script. Students review poems to find an appealing poetic form to use as a model for an original poem on a topic of their choosing that also incorporates figurative language. Students build their understanding of poetry as a way of communicating by examining poetic form, poetic device, and author intent. “Writing Workshop 8: Poetry” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce understanding of how to write a poem. Throughout Writing Workshop 8, students rely on peer feedback as they develop original poems. Students preview the second half of the unit and unpack the Embedded Assessment 2 task to collaboratively compose and perform a scene from William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker. A combined study of The Miracle Worker’s script and the film builds students’ understanding of dramatic structure. Activities reinforce student understanding of dramatic storytelling with lessons like play elements and point of view, stage directions and implied stage actions, setting, and conflict before students conclude the study by working “collaboratively” to prepare and present a scene from William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker. A study of the playwright’s craft, “Writing Workshop 9: Script Writing,” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce understanding of how to write an original script.
In most written tasks, the materials require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts. Students use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. The materials provide opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, after reading Walter Dean Myers’ short story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown,” students pull examples of figurative language and explain how they “enhance the story.” A separate “Independent Reading Link” has students reflect how their personal choice book represents the unit theme change, analyzing causes of change and predicting potential impact; students participate in a small group discussion and then respond in their Reader/Writer Notebook. Students also read the mentor text, “Thank You M’am,” by Langston Hughes and answer text-dependent questions that require students to provide their opinion and then return to the text to find text evidence that supports their opinion. For example, one question states, “How do the details of setting and character in the first paragraph set up the conflict of this story?” Students answer the five text-dependent questions that follow the text and provide text evidence to support their opinion.
In Unit 2, students compare and contrast the two main characters in the novel, Walk Two Moons, focusing on the text’s details to show the various types of characterization. Students formulate a topic sentence to organize their writing while using supporting details and commentary to maintain academic tone and voice and support their opinions of the characters. Students also keep a double-entry journal as they read. Suggestions for entries include recording a passage from the novel and making a prediction about future story events. Later, after reading a passage from an autobiography and a biography about Temple Grandin, students reflect on and synthesize what they have learned by responding to the question, “What unique type of information does each genre offer?”
In Unit 3, students read an editorial titled “A Teacher’s Defense of Homework.” Students identify the claim made by the author as well as supporting details. The teacher presents a definition of a claim, and students practice making their claim and providing supporting details when given the writing prompt “Briefly state a claim a writer could make to support the idea that students should not be assigned homework. Tell if the claim is debatable or not, and why.” Next, after reading three homework informational texts, students “Take a side in the homework argument, using the evidence you found in the texts,” writing why that evidence proved “most convincing.” In a “Quick Write,” students explain which Unit 3 argumentative text proved most persuasive, analyzing the use of rhetorical appeals like logos, pathos, and logical fallacies.
In Unit 4, students read three poems. After reading the poem “I Can Dance” by Pat Mora, students return to the text to answer the question, “How does the speaker feel about his or her dancing in front of other people? Use evidence from the text to support your inference.” Students answer other text-dependent questions after each poem and summarize their understanding by answering questions such as “Looking at the three poems by Pat Mora, what kinds of experiences does she write about? What themes are present in all three poems? Use evidence from the poems to support your inference.” Students also analyze the various structures used for meaning. Finally, after researching and presenting a poet, students complete a “Reflection” explaining how their research gave them greater insight into the poet’s work.
In “Close Reading Workshop 1: Close Reading of Informational/Literary Nonfiction Texts,” students use a variety of strategies to deepen comprehension and synthesis of texts. The materials provide written tasks such as, “Steinbeck claims that his purpose in writing is ‘not to instruct others but to inform myself.’ What does he mean by this statement? Use evidence to support your response.”
In “Close Reading Workshop 2, Close Reading of Argumentative Nonfiction Texts,” after reading two texts on the locavore movement, students write a reflection responding to the following questions “What societal problem does the locavore movement attempt to address?” and “What are some of the reasons different authors disagree on how to solve this problem?” Students cite details from the texts to support their responses.
In “Close Reading Workshop 6, Close Reading of Informational Texts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” after three readings and an evaluation of text vocabulary and ideas, students synthesize their understanding of an excerpt from California Invasive Plant Inventory by California Invasive Plant Council, determining the subject, purpose, and tone.
Over the course of the year, composition convention skills are applied in increasingly complex contexts, with opportunities for students to publish their writing. Materials facilitate the students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process to compose multiple texts. Opportunities are provided for practice and application of academic language conventions when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context, and the materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 1 teaches the essential elements of a personal narrative and how the incident, response, and reflection move the plot. As students study each element, students determine how to use these elements in their own narratives. Students begin to create their narratives by brainstorming a personal event about change. This idea is developed as students prewrite, draft, and revise. Embedded Assessment 1 has students complete their narratives, including editing for grammatical errors and readying their writing for publication. Students can use technology to create a publishable copy of their writing. Unit 1 also establishes a student learning goal on pronouns and the conventions of punctuating dialogue. “Teacher Wrap” notes direct instructors to have students create and orally share original sentences using reflexive or intensive pronouns. Later in the lesson, a “Language & Writer’s Craft: Punctuating Dialogue” mini-lesson pulls an example of dialogue from the lesson’s text Flipped and reviews rules of dialogue punctuation and paragraphing. Students participate by reading sections of the Flipped dialogue aloud to understand function and flow. Students practice by revising a paragraph to meet the conventions of dialogue punctuation and paragraphing. Students apply their understanding of pronoun use and dialogue writing in a piece of narrative writing at the end of the lesson.
In Unit 2, planning begins where students review the unit concept of change in relation to the Embedded Assessment 2 informational essay writing prompt of “explaining how people can enhance their lives by observing and interacting with animals.” Leading up to the Embedded Assessment, students independently write informational practice paragraphs about a change in their life, and they work collaboratively to write informational paragraphs about a change in a character’s life. In the next activity, students practice drafting strong introductions with a hook and thesis, informational paragraphs with topic sentences supported by details and commentary, and concluding paragraphs with an effective “so what” closing. Throughout the drafting process, students participate in writing groups, and they revise and edit. Students finalize and publish an essay about change, bringing together the pieces they wrote individually and collaboratively to form a whole. Furthermore, in Unit 2, students continue their study of transitions in a Language and Writer’s Craft activity. They employ transitions to compare and contrast, using appropriate punctuation like commas and semicolons depending on the transition placement. Students practice adding compare and contrast transition words to an out-of-context paragraph, using correct punctuation. An authentic writing task specifies that students use and correctly punctuate transitions in a paragraph where they compare and contrast two central characters in Walk Two Moons. In a “Check Your Understanding” activity, students have the chance to review their own writing using compare or contrast transitions, such as “in the same way” or “on the other hand,” along with the correct punctuation.
In Unit 4, students use their understanding of the conventions, function, and flow of dialogue for a choral reading of narrative poems and a drama study of The Miracle Worker. Students analyze an assigned poem’s narrative structure to determine the appropriate rate, inflection, and tone. The Teacher Wrap has teachers explain how punctuation and line breaks inform the delivery of the poem’s dialogue. Throughout The Miracle Worker, students pay close attention to how stage directions inform each character’s dialogue delivery. For Embedded Assessment 2, a collaborative group practices and performs an Act II scene from The Miracle Worker “using punctuation like dashes and question marks to inform delivery” of dialogue. The rubric describes exemplary performances.
“Revising for Language and Writer’s Craft” mini-lessons embedded in “Writing Workshop 3, Grade 6, Informational Writing” include brief instructions on complex sentence construction with a list of suggested subordinating conjunctions to try out. As part of each authentic Workshop 3 writing task, lesson guidance prompts students to use transitions to write complex sentences that improve overall coherence and communication. The rubric criteria specifies that students use “meaningful transitions to create coherence.”
The instructional materials provide a Grammar Handbook that lists out important mechanics and conventions of writing. Students have opportunities to practice grammar skills in the “Grammar Activities.” Lesson 5, Check for Understanding, asks students to create simple, compound, and complex sentences by applying conventions learned in the lesson. Lesson 13: Punctuating Dialogue runs through several examples of the conventions followed by authentic practice where students “write a short dialogue between three people or characters,” using dialogue tags and punctuation correctly.
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts. Speaking and listening opportunities are focused on the text(s) studied in class, allowing students to demonstrate comprehension. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended, text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and text synthesis.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez is a starting point for students to determine narrative elements. After reading the story one time, the teacher guides the students in a discussion to answer questions such as “What happens in the story? How would you describe the ending of the story?” The teacher moves from group to group, listening to answers to evaluate the level of comprehension. There are scaffolded questions for students who are struggling, as well as sentence stems and rephrasing as needed. When students complete the “Returning to the Text” questions, the process of providing text evidence is started, and the teacher guides students to highlight/underline/circle specific information to support inferences and conclusions. Students complete the “Check for Understanding” task with a partner in which they describe a story they know well using the vocabulary learned, such as characters, dialogue, setting, and conflict. The teacher listens to the students while discussing to determine their level of understanding.
In Unit 2, the class works together to generate a list of characters in Sharon Creech’s novel Walk Two Moons; students continue their characterization work in small groups by discussing and adding details about each character to a graphic organizer, building understanding needed for creating a personal narrative for Embedded Assessment 1. In another activity, whole-class or small groups discuss which storylines in Sharon Creech’s novel Walk Two Moons represent the main plot and the subplot, defending their responses with textual evidence. “Teacher Wrap” notes state that instructors should “Emphasize that literary analysis is not as much about finding the single right answer as it is about supporting your answer with evidence from the text.”
In Unit 3, “Changing Perspectives,” the instructional materials guide teachers to conduct a group discussion of a writing prompt related to the news article from the activity, Social Networking’s Good and Bad Impacts on Kids by Science Daily. After reading the article, students prepare for a class discussion by responding to the prompt “Do you agree or disagree with the statement that social networking has a negative impact on kids?” During the class discussion, students take notes and create follow-up questions to their peers’ responses. In this unit, students also use the text “A Teacher’s Defense of Homework” by Andrea Townsend. After the first read, students discuss with a partner their initial reactions. The teacher determines the level of understanding before moving on. After reading again, students discuss text-dependent questions, such as “Who is the intended audience? How does the author strengthen her argument?” Again, the teacher listens to each group as they discuss to determine the level of comprehension. Finally, as students begin to wrap up the activity, students work with a partner to paraphrase the claim made, and the teacher listens in for a clear and concise statement as students explain their position.
In Unit 4, A Change of Scene, the instructional materials guide teachers to lead a class discussion about “the actions” described in the play. Teachers use the “Making Observations” questions to facilitate a class discussion about how action is revealed in a drama. The questions ask, “What is your first impression of Helen in this scene? What is your first impression of Annie in this scene?” Students use the questions to build understanding and comprehension of the text. The teacher uses the students’ answers to the questions to evaluate whether they are ready to answer the text-dependent questions.
In Unit 4, a study of William Gibson’s The Miracle Worker, Act 1 begins with a pre-reading discussion where students share their knowledge of play format and scan the text to find additional features to discuss. After reading Act 1, partners complete “Returning to the Text,” where they find and discuss examples of how staging provides characterization details about Helen and Annie. Students also participate in a class discussion, citing examples where characters’ actions lead to conflict. Teacher Wrap guidance states, “Evaluate students’ comprehension of the scene based on their observations and ask follow-up questions or prompt them to reread sections of the scene if needed.”
The materials engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions in both formal and informal settings. There are guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to express their own thinking. There are opportunities for students to give organized presentations/performances and speak clearly and concisely using language conventions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Grade 6 materials provide an overview and brief descriptions of productive teamwork and student-led discussions in ELA Grade 6 “End Matter,” Learning Strategies, and Graphic Organizers, with detailed guidance embedded in the core textbook. The “Planning the Unit” per unit explains to the teacher which activities require the use of a protocol, and the Teacher Wrap margin notes explain when different protocols are used throughout the units. “Close Reading Workshops” and “Writing Workshops” provide teachers with clear guidance for engaging students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions using varied protocols depending on the genre. The End Matter has the Learning Strategies resource that provides definitions of the various strategies and the purpose used throughout the materials. The resource is broken into subsections, one titled “Collaborative Strategies.” The materials explain each collaborative discussion strategy with a definition and a purpose. These strategies include discussion groups, jigsaw, and literature circles. There are graphic organizers to provide an area for students to organize their discussion thoughts and respond using given sentence frames/stems. Such graphic organizers include Discourse Starters and Round Table Discussion.
In Unit 1, after reading an excerpt from Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, students have a “Collaborative Discussion” where they share about a time they had a different perspective on an incident. A graphic organizer immediately following this task guides students’ thinking and speaking with the starter “I Say…” and the concluding stem “Reflection: What did you learn, or how did you grow?” for their perspective, and “[Person] says…” with the concluding stem “Reflection: What would [Person] say you learned or how you grew?” for the alternate perspective. In another activity in the unit, students present a short oral presentation about “a connection you can make between your independent reading and a text you read in class. It could be a thematic connection, a cultural or historical connection, or a plot connection.” The materials remind students to “maintain good eye contact with your audience. Speak at an appropriate rate and volume, and enunciate well enough to be understood and taken seriously. Use natural gestures to engage your audience and convey information. Use language conventions appropriate for a formal presentation in front of your peers.” The checkpoint also provides presentation content guidance suggesting that students provide a brief synopsis of their text and use formal language while addressing their peers.
Unit 2 includes a time for establishing protocols for group discussion with an activity called “Communicating in Discussion Groups.” For this activity, students individually reflect on previous experiences with group discussion before working as a class to develop guidelines for productive group discussions considering both speakers’ and listeners’ roles. Students also create a list of group roles and responsibilities such as timekeeper and note-taker. After establishing protocols, students participate in a group discussion about themes present in the unit text Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech, using the Fishbowl Strategy, previously prepared “Working from the Text” questions, and an Active Listening Notes graphic organizer. Teacher Wrap notes briefly describe Fishbowl Strategy routines as having inner and outer circles which trade off speaking and listening turns.
In Unit 3, students prepare a brief argument and participate in a class debate on “Should students be assigned homework?” Lesson guidance outlines the “Philosophical Chairs” debate format where students shift around a U-shape from Yes to No or Undecided as a way of communicating the status of their position on the issue. Embedded Assessment 1 in Unit 3 has student teams work to research and debate a controversial school, community, or social issue. Materials include guidance bullets that address speaking behaviors, such as rate and eye contact, and listening behaviors, such as using a viewing guide. A rubric uses criteria for ideas, structure, and use of language, scoring on a four-point scale from exemplary to incomplete. Teacher Wrap notes provide additional guidance instructors can employ to facilitate the debates, such as suggesting students “Track participation by making a small fold in a corner of the card every time you speak.”
In Unit 4, after intentional teacher-modeling of how to perform a limerick in ELA Grade 6, 4.2, instructors assign each student a limerick to perform either for a small group or the entire class. Lesson guidance suggests that students mark up a copy of the limerick with speaking notes indicating inflection and pacing. Students practice their performance, memorize the limerick, and share their oral interpretation with attention to rate, inflection, and tone. Later in Unit 4, students conduct research, summarize findings, and present a poet’s life journey. Along the sidebar in the Embedded Assessment 1, the suggested pacing includes guidance on how to help students plan, prewrite, research, evaluate, and rehearse their presentation. The materials also provide students a scoring guide on the presentation requirements and provide a rubric to help students prepare for their presentation.
The materials engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources. Identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources are supported. Students are provided practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade level audience.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, after students analyze the impact of textual evidence in the primary source memoir “Saying Farewell to a Faithful Pal” by John Grogan, they use this evidence to support a written explanation of why people have pets. Next, students read the excerpt “Dogs Make Us Human” from the autobiography Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson and research how animals help people. Students also practice paraphrasing evidence in a logical order. Lesson instruction covers the steps for conducting research, and students use a KWHL graphic organizer to guide their research. Students identify and choose primary and secondary sources for their research. Students generate open-ended research questions in the “Independent Reading” link to build and track sources and facts. In “Check Your Understanding,” students summarize the research process and, with a partner, reflect on new ideas and strategies for future reference. “Teacher Wrap” notes suggest that teachers provide students with some vetted sources for their research.
In Unit 3, English Language Arts, 3.5, students complete the graphic organizer in the role of research and the research process based on prior knowledge. Students revisit the sources from the unit and determine if the resources are primary or secondary sources. Students discuss when it would be effective to use primary or secondary sources to support their argument. Students practice citations and complete a graphic organizer to apply what they have learned. The graphic organizer includes a section for students to make notes and record information from the sources. Students identify sources for reliability, credibility, and bias. Students read the quote by Bernard M. Baruch, American financial expert and presidential advisor, “Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts,” and answer the “Quickwrite” question, “Based on the quotation, what is the role of research in presenting an argument?” Teachers guide students to understand precisely the role of sources, citation, and credibility in research.
Unit 4 has students researching the life of a poet using multiple print and digital resources. Students use notes gathered from a previous activity to begin generating research questions and work in groups to answer the questions. Using the double-entry journal method, students organize the information obtained through their research. This information is used in Embedded Assessment 1, in which students create a multimedia presentation about their poet and present it to their classmates.
The two-page guide “Researching and Debating a Controversy” presents the activity task, writing process steps, and scoring guide rubric with grade-level standards. Each of the four process steps, “Planning and Prewriting,” “Researching,” “Preparing and Creating,” and “Speaking and Listening,” includes a definition and bulleted checklist. For example, the definition for Planning and Prewriting states, “Take time to make a plan for generating ideas,” and a bullet item asks, “What questions will guide your research?” “Preparing and Creating” bullet points have students consider how to select the best evidence, create talking points, and ethically represent sources. Materials include a rubric with four scoring ratings: exemplary, proficient, emerging, and incomplete, along with a detailed description justifying the rating. The rubric category “Ideas” specifies that an exemplary debate presentation “shows extensive evidence of the student’s ability to gather evidence, form questions to refocus inquiry, and evaluate the credibility of a variety of sources.”
The materials include interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. Questions and tasks are designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The materials contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. Tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency, as needed; and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students read and analyze the elements of a personal narrative. After reading the text, My Superpowers by Dan Greenburg, the instructional materials provide a “Teach section,” which guides students to prepare for a class discussion. Students respond orally by identifying “characters and setting,” as well as making a connection between the concept of cause and effect and the structure of the story: “What was the effect of this particular incident of bullying?” Students use a graphic organizer to reflect on their learning and thinking to facilitate class discussions about the text.
Unit 2 uses the theme “the power to change” to ground students in all unit activities. Students begin by viewing a visual prompt of a tiny plant growing up between rocks and describing what trait they might use in their own goals for change. This visual prompt relates to the film Up and is used in an activity where students determine internal and external forces on the main character and how they advance the plot. Students complete a graphic organizer in small groups to respond. A guided writing activity uses the informational prompt “How did Fredrick’s life change according to internal forces?” A sample paragraph is shown, and students work together to create a second paragraph answering this same question. Later in the unit, as part of Walk Two Moons’ novel study, students use their knowledge of characterization to compare and contrast two main characters. Again, students have a graphic organizer to support their thinking and are partnered up to complete the activity. Questions such as “What does the character look like? What does the character do?” are in the graphic organizer. At the end of the unit, students compare a biographical film, autobiography, and biography portrayals of a renowned author, professor, and activist as preparation for writing an informational text in response to the prompt “How did animals help Temple Grandin deal with the challenges of autism?”
In Unit 3, students study the art of argument and how to support their claims effectively. Students begin by looking at a visual prompt and asking themselves, “How might your perspective change when you look at the picture? What details do you notice in the picture?” Students then participate in a quick write answering the prompt “Have you ever tried to change the mind of someone in your family? Were you successful? If so, how did you convince them?” Students work in collaborative groups after reading the article, “A Teacher’s Defense of Homework,” to answer text-dependent questions such as “Who is the intended audience of the article? How does the author strengthen her argument in paragraphs 5 and 6?” In a later activity, students prepare and present a debate in which they summarize key ideas and social networking’s pros and cons. Using a graphic organizer, students organize their ideas as they continue to research and finally present their arguments to peers in the class.
In Unit 4, students study two narrative genres, poetry and plays, in-depth. Students read three different poems, “Oranges” by Gary Soto, “Trying to Name What Doesn’t Change” by Naomi Shihab Nye, and “FireFlies” by Paul Fleischman, and answer text-dependent questions, such as “What point of view is the poem written in? What effect does the stanza break have on the poem? What are some themes of the poem?” Students continue their study when they read multiple poems by Pat Mora and connect ideas such as “What themes are present in all three poems? How might Pat Mora’s life experiences influence her writing?” Students also practice fluency in Unit 4 with an oral interpretation of a limerick. Students listen to a shared reading of seven limericks from Edward Lear’s A Book of Nonsense, examining each’s meter and rhythm. After intentional teacher-modeling of how to perform a limerick, instructors assign each student a limerick to perform either for a small group or the entire class. Lesson guidance suggests that “Look at the punctuation to help guide your inflection and rate for your oral delivery.” Students practice their performance, memorize the limerick, and share their oral interpretation with attention to rate, inflection, and tone.
“Close Reading Workshops, Grade 6” build students’ genre knowledge and reading skills across ten lesson sets. Each workshop lesson set helps students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. For example, in “Close Reading Workshop 2, Grade 6, Close Reading of Argumentative Nonfiction Texts,” students complete three readings of an excerpt from Neal Peirce’s argumentative text “Time to Become a Locavore.” Students read independently, working to comprehend the “general meaning” and vocabulary. After the second teacher-led reading, students work with a partner to dig into vocabulary, examining how it informs their understanding. Students use their enhanced understanding of key vocabulary to write a one-sentence summary of “key ideas in the argument” with a partner. Students close out their study of Peirce’s text with “Synthesizing Your Understanding,” where they work with the whole class to evaluate the subject, occasion, purpose, and tone of an argument. Students demonstrate mastery by responding to a writing prompt that shows they comprehend Peirce’s central claim and reasoning of why now is the time to become a locavore. In Activity 3, students repeat similar activities independently with an excerpt from James E. McWilliams’s argumentative text “On My Mind: The Locavore Myth.”
The materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice. Distributed practice over the year is supported. The design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials provide multiple ways to examine distributed practice over the course of the year, such as three Grade 6 Scope and Sequence documents: “Curriculum Map,” “Grade at a Glance,” and the “Grade 6 Correlations by Standard.” ELA Grade 6 Front Matter explains that distributed practice in lessons engages students “through multiple levels of cognitive engagement: progressing fluidly from comprehension and understanding to analysis, and ultimately to synthesis and the creation of new content.” Materials describe a unit design that begins with the end in mind with students “unpacking the Embedded Assessment” to clearly understand learning targets. Each ELA Grade 6 unit divides the instructional focus by genre with repeated opportunities to study most genres. Periodic formative assessments check student progress toward mastery of the standards integrated into the Embedded Assessment. Teachers can see a snapshot of the instructional sequence and activity distribution by looking at each of the four units’ “Planning the Unit” documents or the ELA Grade 6 Table of Contents. The ELA Grade 6 End Matter also has an “Index of Skills” categorized by Literary, Reading, Writing, Media, Speaking and Listening, Language, and Vocabulary.
Unit 1 has exemplar tasks and activities centered around the personal narrative to begin and a short story to conclude. Embedded Independent Reading Link activities spiral practice of core content standards and skills. Students examine the point of view and response to change in the personal narrative “My Superpowers” by Dan Greenburg, while an Independent Reading Link activity asks students, “What is happening to the characters (or subjects) that are causing them to change, or what can you predict will happen?” Learning targets are set for character development, point of view, and dialogue with a study of a novel excerpt from Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen; an embedded Independent Reading Link activity has students find examples of characterization and analyze plot elements like dialogue and point of view in their personal choice book. An embedded “Language & Writer’s Craft: Punctuating Dialogue” pulls a passage from Flipped as an example of dialogue, tasking students with transforming a regular paragraph into dialogue using language conventions. Students transfer this skill to Embedded Assessment 1, where they write their own personal narratives.
Unit 2 uses the knowledge gained from the previous unit to broaden students’ understanding of personal narratives and short stories and look at change around them. The unit starts by asking discussion questions such as “How can talking and working with others help one analyze a novel? How do internal and external forces help people grow?” An early unit activity uses the film Up for students to analyze the internal and external forces on the main character’s life, and students record their thinking on a graphic organizer. Students write a paragraph explaining how the main character’s life was impacted due to these forces. Students begin the novel Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech and use characterization to compare and contrast the main characters. Embedded Assessment 1 has students write about the internal and external forces on a character and how these forces cause the character to change in the novel.
In Unit 3, students read a series of argumentative texts on homework and technology before collaboratively researching and debating a controversy of their choice. In the second half of the unit, students increase the rigor of their study of argumentative text by examining persuasive diction and technique in argumentative letters before writing an original argumentative letter of their own. “Writing Workshops, Grade 6” create additional learning opportunities for students to build their writing genre knowledge and skills across ten lesson sets that correlate to core units. For instance, “Workshop 2, Argumentative Writing” scaffolds tasks, such as analyzing argumentative text or writing an argumentative essay, with a gradual release from whole class writing to small group or partner work writing and finally independent writing.
Students have multiple opportunities in ELA Grade 6, Unit 4 to study a variety of poems before performing an oral interpretation, participating in a choral reading, and collaboratively researching and presenting on a poet. “Workshop 8, Poetry” scaffolds tasks, such as a choral reading or writing an original poem, with a gradual release from whole class writing, to small group or partner work writing, and finally independent writing. In the second half of Unit 4, students complete a parallel study of The Miracle Worker film and text while also reading an autobiographical excerpt from The Story of My Life by Helen Keller before performing a scene from the drama. “Writing Workshop 9, Script Writing” scaffolds tasks, such as adapting text for dramatic performance and using stage directions effectively, with a gradual release from whole class writing, to small group or partner work writing, and finally independent writing.
The materials include some supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade-level. Materials provide limited or no planning for teachers in supporting above-grade-level students. While learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation, are included, those opportunities are not consistent throughout the materials, nor are they sufficient for students demonstrating literacy skills above grade 6 level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials designate multiple planning activities and some learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected in grade 6 in the “Planning the Unit” overview, which precedes lessons. It includes sections such as AP/College Readiness and SAT Connections, Suggestions for Independent Reading, and Flexible Pathways. Flexible Pathways confirms that teachers can “supplement or replace” unit sections to extend learning to address the needs of students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level. The program does not include specific materials but states that teachers differentiate instruction by adjusting the pacing of lessons from “Close Reading Workshop,” “Writing Workshop,” or “Flexible Novel Units.” The Planning the Unit tool, “Suggestions for Independent Reading,” lists titles by author, genre, and Lexile facilitating teacher guidance for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level. Within lessons, the materials classify text selections as “Accessible, Complex, or Very Complex, with Complex representing on-grade-level texts.” Within individual lessons, “Teacher Wrap,” the name for the instructional margin notes, periodically has a “Leveled Differentiated Instruction” section that uses the category “Extend” to specifically list strategies for students who demonstrate literacy skills above or below that expected at the grade level.
In Unit 1, teachers use personal narratives to illustrate characterization and the elements of fiction. Students answer text-dependent questions on the stories read and make inferences about how and why authors include specific information. Students read a personal narrative and make predictions based on the author’s incident and response. As an extension, students write about how the author’s reflection reveals the theme of the narrative read.
In Unit 2, the teacher plans for a whole class discussion of a selected text using “Literature Circles.” The teacher assigns groups and provides each student in the group with a discussion role. Students prepare for the Literature Circles with their group members and take notes on their responsibility during the discussion. Students who demonstrate above-grade-level proficiency use their notes to write helpful hints to someone preparing for their Literature Circle role. Also, in Unit 2, the first embedded assessment asks teachers to assign an informational essay about a selected text by providing the same writing prompt to all students. Students who demonstrate above-grade-level proficiency extend their learning by writing an informational essay on a prompt of their choice.
Unit 3 introduces students to argumentative texts and the ideas of controversy. Students identify the claims of an argument and create support for their reasons using evidence. After participating in a mock debate, teachers extend students’ understanding of the concept by assigning them to find examples of arguments and reasons in the editorial section of newspapers. Students bring these additional examples in and share them with the class. As part of Unit 3, “Activity 8: Debate It: Organizing and Communicating an Argument,” students discuss the informational text article, “Social Networking's Good and Bad Impact on Kids.” After a teacher-led class read, “Leveled Differentiated Instruction” notes include differentiation for students who demonstrate above-grade-level proficiency, suggesting that they discuss the text in small groups or pairs. This Extend tip includes the unique question, “How does the risk that social media presents to children compare to risks from other technologies?” The tip does not include specific discussion routines but states that students should simply provide each other with helpful feedback.
Unit 4 immerses students in poetry and plays to deepen their understanding of the narrative genres while providing research opportunities to write their own poems and plays to be performed in front of their peers. Teachers supplement the activities with the “Close Reading Workshop 4: Shakespeare” to extend students’ learning. Students work in pairs to locate sentences within the monologue that indicate the key ideas. Later, students summarize Jacque’s ideas of how life moves from birth to death. Students use this summarization and include imagery and poetic language to strengthen their writing.
Most lessons in Grade 6, Close Reading Workshop resource include “Adapt” in the teacher margin notes, such as those for Activity 1 Guided Practice, which direct the teacher to have students move beyond simply marking the reading passage to annotating it. Additional guidance specifies that students determine each paragraph’s purpose or write a summary identifying the main idea of each paragraph.
The materials include support for students who perform below grade-level to ensure they meet the grade-level literacy standards. Planning and learning opportunities (including extensions and differentiation) for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level are included.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a “Planning the Unit” section, which precedes lessons and includes sections such as “Suggestions for Independent Reading” and “Flexible Pathways” for teachers to determine the best instructional pathway based on student learning needs. In the Planning the Unit tool, the Suggestions for Independent Reading lists titles by author, genre, and Lexile, facilitating teacher guidance for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level. Flexible Pathways, another Planning the Unit tool, confirms that teachers can “supplement or replace” unit sections to support learning. The program does not include specific materials but states that teachers differentiate instruction by adjusting the pacing of lessons from “Close Reading Workshop,” “Writing Workshop,” or “Flexible Novel Units.”
The materials provide the “Foundational Skills Workshop” for students who need basic reading skills instruction. Activities include high-frequency word work, fluency activities, and academic vocabulary to support students in their reading. Activity 1 has students learning the relationship between letters and sounds. Students stretch sounds out, match the sounds heard in words, and produce rhymes when given a specific spelling pattern. Activity 9 focuses on fluency with an informational text for students to read out loud. Students read and reread the passage, improving the rate of errors and speed with each repeated read.
Within individual lessons is the “Teacher Wrap.” These instructional margin notes routinely have an “Adapt” section and use descriptive phrases such as “If students need additional help,” “To help students understand,” or “You might identify students who will need more support on a specific concept or skill” to list strategies for students who demonstrate literacy skills below the grade level. Within lessons, the materials classify text selections as “Accessible, Complex, or Very Complex, with Complex representing on-grade-level texts.”
In Unit 1, after students read an excerpt of “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros, they answer “Returning to the Text” questions. Adapt tips provide differentiation strategies. To support students when they compose theme statements, sentence frames included in the margin notes guide students toward finding a universal truth. A second strategy lists scaffolding questions to support students as they identify the conflict.
In Unit 2, students read Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. For students who demonstrate below-grade-level proficiency, the teacher reads the text to the class and models how to analyze diction. Students with literacy skills below grade level ask and answer questions related to the characters and their voice. Students also compare and contrast two characters from the Chapter 5 novel excerpt. Adapt notes suggest a Venn diagram “if students need help.” The notes recommend repeating this character analysis activity after students read the Chapter 6 excerpt of Walk Two Moons to reinforce the understanding of students with literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
In Unit 3, students respond to the prompt “Write three things you learned about an argument and two hot topics that interest you and why.” The Adapt notes suggest that for students who struggle to brainstorm their own hot topic, a list of topics could be provided to the student to pick from as well as a “Hot Topic” board. When students are to provide supporting evidence for their claims, the Adapt section states students can research with a group using news articles and editorials to find examples of claims and share with the class.
In Unit 4, students research a poet’s life and create an informational text from the knowledge gained while doing research. For students who demonstrate below-grade-level proficiency, the “leveled differentiated instruction” guides teachers to support students in selecting research sources by providing a list of online sources that students can choose from. Students work in pairs to discuss whether or not their research source is credible or not.
Most lessons in Grade 6, “Close Reading Workshop” resources include Adapt in the teacher margin notes. For example, in Close Reading Workshop 6.3, students identify and evaluate shift, tone, and theme in a study of “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long” by Nikki Giovanni. An Adapt strategy for the lesson is paired or small group work. An alternate strategy suggests students share their responses prior to doing the Writing Prompt. For students with incomplete topic sentences, an Adapt differentiation for the Writing Prompt activity suggests teachers supply a topic sentence stem or exemplar.
The Grade 6, “Writing Workshop 3, Informational Writing,” suggests differentiation throughout the instruction and independent practice. For example, the Adapt note for Activity 2 directs teachers to find an alternate shorter sample informational text with less detail but equally strong organization. Another Adapt strategy suggests teachers supply sentence stems to guide students as they draft topic sentences and elaborate on supporting ideas.
The materials include supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. There are accommodations for linguistics (communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded) commensurate with various English language proficiency levels as defined by the ELPs. There are scaffolds such as adapted text, translations, native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, and other modes of comprehensible input. Materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English (e.g., to enhance vocabulary development). Vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials devote attention to explaining its plan for EL Leveled Differentiated Instruction. There are general guidelines for instructional strategies in each of the four units and offer various support levels for EL students. Differentiation is centered around six levels which include Beginning (BGN), Intermediate (INT), Advanced (ADV), and Advanced High (ADV+). English Language Grade 6 “Planning the Unit” includes the table “Activity Features at a Glance,” enabling teachers to see which specific lessons have the purple ELL circle icon, which indicates embedded strategies for ELs. There is a unit-specific Cognate Directory, and the guide suggests teachers use it for a word wall, creating a primary language as a bridge to English. “Language Workshop” Front Matter specifies that its lessons, which correlate to half of the regular English Language Grade 6 instruction, maintain grade-level content with Leveled Differentiated Instruction support strategically incorporate opportunities for students to make progressive strides in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. The “Foundational Skills Workshop” launches Beginning ELs with sight word and word study activities. The Language Workshop front matter continues with a Sequence for Foundational Skills Workshop and concludes with descriptions of tools and resources suitable for a range of EL language skills. Vocabulary instruction focuses on academic vocabulary with opportunities to preview and practice, additionally aided by multimodal activities, language resources, and glossed academic vocabulary. English Language Grade 6 End Matter includes an English-Spanish Glossary of academic language and unit-specific vocabulary, such as body paragraph, purpose, conflict, graphic novel.
Unit 1 EL support begins with opening materials, including a brief description of Leveled Differentiated Instruction found in specific lessons. For “Creating a Narrative,” the preview description states that students use an Idea Connector graphic organizer to write cohesive sentences. The “Teacher Wrap” details additional support. Support suggestions include a gradual increase in sentence writing complexity with Intermediate ELs focusing on connecting sentence ideas with “basic transitions such as and, but, and or.” Advanced ELs transition use by incorporating “because, in order to, and even though,” and Advanced+ ELs expand their transition choices to using “while, although, and in spite of.” Teacher’s edition Language Workshop 1A features tasks centered around the personal narrative genre and exemplar text “The Jacket” by Gary Soto. Activity 1 introduces students to the genre using visual prompts and quick conversations before students complete a graphic organizer to demonstrate their understanding. Additionally, students add their newly learned academic vocabulary to sentence stems, creating a summary of the personal narrative genre.
Unit 2, “Questions and Discussions,” states that EL students use a Collaborative Dialogue graphic organizer to pre-plan their text-based discussion about the unit novel, Walk Two Moons. Within the lesson, the Teacher Wrap details the Leveled Differentiated Instruction by explaining that ELs may benefit from working with a partner or small group to prepare questions for the literary discussion activity. Specific Leveled Differentiated Instruction suggestions include Intermediate ELs supplement the Collaborative Dialogue graphic organizer with Discourse Starters. Advanced ELs use the Collaborative Dialogue graphic organizer with notes suggesting the teacher call their attention to the five Wh’s prompts of Who? What? Where? When? and Why? Advanced+ ELs collaborate with partners or work in a small group without other supports, focusing on a wider range of literal and interpretive questions about the text. Advanced+ ELs interact more actively by contributing feedback to partners.
The preview for Unit 3, “A Graphic Is Worth a Thousand Words,” suggests the Unknown Word Solver to support EL student analysis of style and tone in particular words used in the various types of graphics analyzed as part of the lesson. Grade 6 Language Workshop Activity 3 provides instruction on words or phrases such as figurative language, incident, metaphor, personal narrative, point of view, and reflection, with students demonstrating their level of familiarity using a QHT rating system. Teacher Wrap notes provide detailed, almost script-like instructional steps, providing teachers with a full range of options to select from depending on their students’ English language proficiency levels. For example, “Read each term in the chart and its definition aloud, modeling the pronunciation of the words.” Students use “cognates, word parts, and context, as well as reference materials, to determine the meaning of words.”
Language Workshop Activity 4 leads students through previewing and practicing with vocabulary words they will encounter in Activity 5, “Close Reading of an Anchor Text.” For practice, students use context clues and reference materials to determine word meaning. They reinforce meaning by drawing and discussing illustrations of some of the words’ meanings. One activity has them hold “Quick Conversations,” utilizing some of the vocabulary in the context of connected discourse: “Use these four vocabulary words to have a conversation with your partner about a sport or game you have played: hurled, ground, bob, embarrassed.” Another activity has them choose which vocabulary word matches which photograph.
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress, including interpreting and acting on data yielded. Formative and summative assessments align in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. Assessments and scoring information provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. Assessments are connected to the regular content to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Formative assessments connect to the regular content to support student learning as they drive toward the summative Embedded Assessment product and Unit Assessment tests. Each unit has a “Planning the Unit” document which provides an overview of unit assessments and a clear path to assess and monitor students’ progress. Within this document, a two-column “Unpacked Embedded Assessments” chart lists the Skills and Knowledge needed for each unit Embedded Assessment. The “Teacher Wrap” notes for each formative assessment in the unit contain information on key elements students complete, as well as the “Adapt” section. This section of information provides additional guidance on meeting the needs of students who may not have met the requirements or need additional assistance. Each unit has two Embedded Assessments, one at the midpoint and the other at the conclusion. Each Embedded Assessment has a scoring rubric in which the teacher can provide feedback to each student. Throughout the materials, there are several other formative assessments to ensure students are on track. These include the following: “Returning to the Text includes TEKS-aligned text-dependent questions that guide students to develop and demonstrate their comprehension and analysis of a text. Check Your Understanding Tasks occur at key moments in the instructional sequence when it is appropriate for students to demonstrate learning before moving on to subsequent work. Focus on the Sentence provides a quick but worthwhile opportunity for teachers to assess students’ understanding of key concepts or comprehension of texts, films, discussions, or visuals.” There are Unit Assessments (or summative assessments) for each unit. They include open and closed response questions and reflect the types of questions students encounter on assessments such as the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) and the SAT. The blue Help button tab for “Using Administrator Account” leads to the page “Using an Administrator Account — Assessments,” which shows that teachers can “create and share assessments with school and/or district,” “compare [Program name] assessments to other district or high-stakes assessments,” and use them to “Support teacher team planning by establishing expectations around common formative and summative assessments.”
The materials also contain “Zinc Reading Labs,” in which students are assigned levels reading assignments and quizzes. These assignments align with the units of the materials to support the texts presented in the materials. The Zinc Reading Labs provide reports for the teacher to monitor students’ progress and determine appropriate assignments.
ELA Grade 6 lesson quizzes and unit assessments have scoring information that provides sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. When students take the digital form of quizzes or unit assessments, data goes to an individual and group Progress Report for teacher review. The Progress Report features a bar graph to show overall performance measured by percentage. The Item Analysis provides a drill down to the question-level feature, which shows the correct answer, a rationale, and the standard. This item analysis uses color-coding to provide teachers with a visual reference with green for success, yellow for warning, and red for struggling. Teachers can view the Item Analysis by individual students or the whole class with the option to export the report to an Excel spreadsheet. The Progress Report also includes a Standards Analysis Report. After teacher review, the teacher can release data to students who can view their Progress Reports in the digital interface. If teachers embed quizzes or assessments in the learning management system, like Canvas, Schoology, or Google Classroom, teachers must input data manually to populate the Progress Report; however, by embedding the assessments in these learning platforms, instructors can avoid this extra step. Embedded Assessments use a score point rubric with the digital Turnitin Revision Assistant tool providing preliminary and the instructor supplying final feedback. Materials suggest students keep a digital or paper Writing Portfolio.
All program adopters receive the Turnitin Revision Assistant tool. Both the [Program name] ELA 2021 Edition Overview video and Using [Program name] for ELA Instruction Webinar explain basic features and functions. Students work on Embedded Assessments in Turnitin Revision Assistant. This tool supports students during the writing process by listing the prompt and giving feedback based on the scoring guide and student exemplars. After students draft a sizable amount of text, they click Signal Check to receive feedback based on the scoring guide and student exemplars. Signal check generates feedback in categories that match the Embedded Assessment Rubric.
The materials include year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify students’ needs and provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners to ensure grade-level success. An overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures is provided. Plans are comprehensive and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. Teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials, as well as support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. Annotations and ancillary materials provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“Front Matter” states materials address differentiation with “tools, resources, and supports,” which “lets teachers adapt their instruction for all students.” In a Front Matter section subtitled “Research-based,” the program states that the lesson design, informed by American Institutes for Research, has “its focus on students moving through multiple levels of cognitive engagement: progressing fluidly from comprehension and understanding, to analysis, and ultimately to synthesis and the creation of new content.” The teacher has autonomy for “facilitation and flexibility” per the research of instructional design expert Charlotte Danielson. The Front Matter section, subtitled “Instructional Guidance,” explains the “Plan, Teach, Assess, and Adapt” lesson framework. Instructors “Plan” by making decisions about “pacing and materials.” “Teach” components include guidance “for how to conduct close readings, how to group students, and when to check for understanding.” Teachers “Assess” using a variety of methods before following up with responsive “Adapt” strategies as needed. A description of the various collaborative strategies used in the materials is found in the “End Matter.” These strategies are identified and explained further in each unit as they are utilized.
In the Professional Learning Texas Module [Program Name] ELA Foundational Modules, a “Purposeful Planning 2020” document matches the program philosophy of “begin with the end in mind,” and it features the four quadrants: Get the Big Picture, Internalize Outcomes, Analyze an Activity, and Design Daily Instruction. “Design Daily Instruction” prompts teachers to make “proactive adjustments” to Process, Content, and Product by considering student strengths and weaknesses related to activities. Process decisions consider pacing, scaffolds, and supplemental materials, such as using related “Language Workshops” to supplement ELA Grade 6 lessons. Content decisions review instructional materials from ELA Grade 6, “Close Reading Workshops,” “Writing Workshops,” and Language Workshops as listed in the instructional flow lineup of the “Planning the Unit” document. Product decisions examine ELA Grade 6 after reading activities, including “Graphic Organizers, Text-Dependent Questions, Check Your Understanding, Writing to Sources/Writing Prompt,” with “Teacher Wrap” notes suggesting a variety of grouping structures and scaffolded support. As part of a key Design Daily Instruction step, teachers determine, “What proactive adjustments would you make to the activity for your students? Why?” Teachers identify points of potential difficulty and determine how to “support student learning.” Teachers also consider “How will I expedite or extend the learning?” for those students who have already mastered a “concept or skill.” Materials assist teachers with Teacher Wrap annotations, which refer to Planning the Unit and feature recommended titles and Resources, including an “Independent Reading Log” and Graphic Organizers such as “Notes for Reading Independently.” Each unit has a Planning the Unit document, which has an overview of unit assessments and a clear instructional path using materials such as the ELA Grade 6 core curriculum, six scaffolded Close Reading Workshops, ten scaffolded Writing Workshops, four Language Workshops, “Grammar Activities,” and a comprehensive “Foundational Skills Workshop.”
“Instructional Pathways” provides a pacing timeline for on-grade-level instruction. “Language Development Pathway” states that teachers can “Consider using some or all of the Language Workshop and Foundational Skills Workshop activities with English Learners or with any student who would benefit from extra support with academic English.” The “Language Development Pathway” places Language Workshops within the on-grade-level Instructional Pathway sequence and includes suggested pacing. The Language Development Pathway suggests scaffolding each Embedded Assessment. Planning the Unit also lists the sequence and pacing for the Foundational Skills Workshop, with the specification that this workshop happens in small-group instruction. Small-group instruction times range from ten minutes for Activity 2: Recognizing Words by Sight to 35–40 minutes for Activity 8: Reading Multisyllabic Words or Activity 9: Reading Informational Text with Purpose and Understanding.
ELA Grade 6, Close Reading Workshops, Writing Workshops, Language Workshops, and Foundational Skills Workshop all include Teacher Wrap annotations to support the delivery of content, instruction, and activity completion. Materials clearly indicate which product resource to use where and for what purpose. Teacher Wrap notes emphasize that teachers support student engagement by discussing “how cultural information (such as family traditions, work, and beliefs) and historical information (such as real-world and political events) can contribute to setting.” Teacher Wrap notes sometimes provide a variation on an activity. For example, in one Unit 1 activity, Teacher Wrap notes indicate that teachers “Assess” mastery of narrative elements such as the sequence of events using the “Check Your Understanding” task, which has students retell a well-known story using the vocabulary of lesson narrative elements. For this exit check, Teacher Wrap notes suggest an Adapt differentiation of using guided questions.
The ELA Grade 6 teacher edition includes annotations and ancillary materials that provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers. Every lesson supports students’ learning with color-coded boxes that highlight critical lesson information. For example, “Learning Targets and a Preview” appear in a blue box at the beginning of each lesson. In the right margin, materials list Learning Strategies in a red and vanilla box and lesson-related Vocabulary in a purple box. The Learning Strategies box alerts teachers and students to five strategies: Graphic Organizer, Previewing, Note-taking, Quickwrite, and Double-Entry Journal. The first time materials introduce these strategies, embedded instruction walks students through them with a how-to-do mini-lesson. Teacher Resources houses the ancillary document “Learning Strategies,” which names and defines each strategy and identifies the intended users and purpose. The document also divides strategies into classification, such as Reading, Writing, Speaking/Listening, and Collaborative. Grammar instruction embedded in ELA Grade 6 includes detailed annotations, which sometimes direct teachers to supplemental resources.
The materials include implementation support for teachers and administrators. They are accompanied by 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. There are additional supports to help teachers and administrators implement the materials as intended. Materials include a school years’ worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing guidance and routines and support for both 180-day and 220-day schedules.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials contain a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence as noted in the Teacher Resources Front End Matter. This document is titled Curriculum Map and provides information such as length of the unit, TEKS covered, vocabulary, goals, and assessment opportunities for the unit.
The materials include scope and sequence documents, such as “Grade 6 Curriculum Map,” “Grade 6 Grade at a Glance,” and “Grade 6 2020 Prioritized Curriculum Map,” as well as a “Grade 6 Correlations by Standard” document. Teachers can download and edit the 19-page Grade 6 Curriculum Map spreadsheet to design instruction based on their district’s unique student population and needs. The Grade 6 Curriculum Map Excel spreadsheet covers all four core ELA Grade 6 units, and each unit begins with a one-page summary that allows teachers to preview the unit at a glance, followed up by an instructional sequence listing timing and content. Content on the one-page snapshot summary includes but is not limited to unit title and recommended duration, Essential Questions, Embedded Assessments, and correlating standards. Materials in pre-populated instructional sequence pages reflect lesson length and title, materials for potential differentiation for student needs, along with a customizable final column for district expectations, and opportunities for additional instruction. Teachers can edit the spreadsheet to reflect local implementation. The document color-codes unit elements using program-consistent colors, such as blue for core content lessons, purple for Language Workshops, and orange for Independent Reading Links.
In response to Covid-19, the materials also include a scope and sequence called “Texas 2020 Prioritized Curriculum Map,” which compresses the unit to 20 days by choosing the first half of the traditional two-part unit for a focused study. For example, materials identify ELA Grade 6, Unit 1, Activities 1.1—Embedded Assessment 1 for prioritization. This planning document leverages assessments to determine students’ current knowledge and readiness. In addition, blank columns provide an area for teachers to list decisions regarding “Differentiation for Student Needs” and “Planning for Distance Learning.”
The Grade 6 Correlations by Standard document lists each standard in TEKS order, aligning each by Focus Standard and Additional Standard coverage location in ELA Grade 6 core textbook, “Close Reading Workshops,” “Writing Workshops,” and “Language Workshops.” The document features a chart with four columns, including Standard Code, Knowledge and Skill Statements, Student Expectation, and Where Addressed. Teachers and administrators can see how lesson coverage spirals through standards. For example, “The student recognizes and analyzes literary elements within and across increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse literary texts” across multiple units and lessons in ELA Grade 6 1, 2, and 4; Close Reading Workshops 3 and 4; Writing Workshop 8; and Language Workshops 1B and 4A.
The materials include professional development videos that support a variety of topics, such as “Introduction to Springboard,” “The Story of the Unit,” and “Springboard in Action.” Teachers can access these videos at their leisure to support their understanding of the materials.
Each unit includes an explanation of additional supports/materials intended to support students. This information is in the “Planning the Unit” section “Flexible Pathways,” where teachers can supplement the basic materials with additional materials, such as the Language Workshop, Writing Workshop, and Close Reading Workshop.
The Blue Help Box on any landing screen contains the topic “Using an Administrator Account,” offering a video tutorial for additional topics such as assessments, teacher resources, and access to the ebook. These video tutorials explain to administrators how to support teachers in implementing the materials as well. Underneath the videos, the materials also provide written instructions on how administrators can use their access to support teachers.
Materials provide timing and pacing guidance within four Planning the Unit, Grade 6 guides with enough content to span an entire school year. ELA Grade 6 Unit 1 has 37–40 days, Unit 2 has 33.5–37.5 days, Unit 3 has 30–33 days, and Unit 4 has 37–40 days for a year-long range of 137.5–150.5 days.
The visual design of the student edition (whether in print or digital) is neither distracting nor chaotic. Appropriate use of white space and design supports and does not distract from student learning. Pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports student learning. The materials mark titles and headings, and the area around the text contains white space as not to distract from the text or task. Throughout the materials, different sections are color-coded and remain the same color consistently throughout all units. For example, the vocabulary section is purple and remains purple throughout the materials. The organization of the materials is in a logical manner that flows and remains consistent throughout. For example, the units begin with the “Planning the Unit,” Activities, Checkpoints to assess student learning, and embedded assessments at the end of each chunk of learning. Materials include adequate space for filling in “quickwrites,” graphic organizers, or written responses. The student version has ample blank margin space for highlighted vocabulary and student annotations. Spacious graphic organizers facilitate student responses, but questions have less generous space for student responses. The teacher edition shrinks the text and adds the “Teacher Wrap,” standards, and sample correct responses.
The program’s digital interface uses navigation icons and tabs to facilitate the user's experience. A help button accommodates users with different skill levels by adding videos, screenshots, and written explanations to explain the material’s various features and functions.
Each ELA Grade 6 unit opens with a three-quarter page thematic photograph or watercolor visual prompt. Most texts have an “About the Author” box with a full-color headshot portrait of the selection’s writer. Texts throughout the materials contain culturally relevant and engaging pictures and graphics related to the information found in the text to support understanding. Walter Dean Myers’ short story “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” has colorful watercolor illustrations, such as a Harlem tenement scene, which illuminate students' understanding of the story setting, and another of the story “treasure,” a harmonica.
Real-life photographs predominantly accompany nonfiction texts and serve as a way to enhance students’ understanding. For example, a photo of Temple Grandin with horses supports the Unit 3 informational pieces about her life and work. Some graphs and tables accompany the informational text. “Close Reading Workshop,” Activity 2 allows students to evaluate a black and white picture, graphic, or cartoon.
The English-Spanish Glossary of grade-level academic and literary vocabulary does not feature illustrated definitions.
The materials include technology components appropriate for grade 6 students and provide support for learning. Technology supports and enhances student learning as appropriate, as opposed to distracting from it, and includes appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The publisher delivers materials in print or digital form. Districts can integrate the digital interface with their learning management systems, such as Canvas, Schoology, and Google Classroom. The familiar learning management system wraps around and frames the embedded grade-level ELA eBook, “Close Reading Workshop,” “Writing Workshop,” “Language Workshop,” Grammar Handbook, “Grammar Activities,” or other digital resources. Districts can import student accounts and add login credentials using their single sign-on access tools, such as Clever or Classlink, so students can log in more easily while at school or home.
“Zinc Reading Labs” is a personalizable reading platform in which teachers can assign reading passages based on levels and content interest of students, and students can complete comprehension quizzes to showcase their understanding. Found in the blue Help box on any landing page, it contains the teacher guidance. A video and a written script of the video are available to explain how to access and use the component, as well as a frequently asked questions section.
Teachers can learn about the functions and features of the program’s digital resources by going to the Professional Learning tab on their digital interface and viewing “Using [Program Name] Digital for ELA Instruction Webinar.” For quick help, the program interface provides FAQs in a Help button that appears on every landing page. Teachers can select from sixteen tabs for point-of-need information about topics like Assessments, Teacher Resources, Turnitin Revision Assistant, or Zinc Reading Labs. Each tab breaks the topic down into five to ten sub-topics. Each subtopic page begins with a description, table of contents, and a short 1–5 minute video, followed by screenshots and a transcript of steps with brief explanations.
Another technology component in the materials is “Quill.” Students can be assigned writing practice activities that support writing instruction within the main materials. The Help section contains the teacher guidance on how to assign the practice and how to monitor the progress of students.
All program adopters receive the Turnitin Revision Assistant tool, and both the “[Program name] ELA 2021 Edition Overview” video and “Using [Program name] for ELA Instruction Webinar” explain basic features and functions. The “Revision Assistant” technology component allows students to submit their writing assignments and have immediate feedback based on scoring rubrics submitted by teachers. This tool supports students during the writing process by listing the prompt and giving computer-generated feedback based on the scoring guide and student exemplars. Text boxes where students write responses have the most frequently-used features for word processing, teachers’ scoring rubrics including insert link, font, bullets, bold, italics, underline, undo, redo, and trash. After students draft a sizable amount of text, they click “Signal Check” to receive feedback based on the scoring guide and student exemplars. Signal Check generates feedback in categories that match the Embedded Assessment Rubric.
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