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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:
The Unit 1 theme “The Challenge of Heroism” frames a rich tapestry of texts that explore the archetypal hero's journey and prepare students for the embedded assessment where they write and illustrate an original hero adventure. There are texts by well-known authors such as Ray Bradbury, Walt Whitman, and Fredrick Douglass. Ray Bradbury’s The Drummer Boy of Shiloh is a time-period piece that takes place right before the Battle of Shiloh and is told from the point of view of a 14-year-old boy who deals with an internal conflict of fear versus duty. Many students identify with the feeling of having to make a choice between two conflicting issues, making the text extremely engaging. Next, students progress to the hero’s initiation with the Cyclops’ episode excerpt from Homer’s classical epic poem The Odyssey, translated by A. S. Kline. Later unit text selections celebrate humanity’s resilience with the poem “A Man” by Romanian-American Nina Cassian, which provides a study in poetic shift and contrasts with contemporary writer Gale Fiege’s newspaper article about a wounded warrior titled “Soldier Home after Losing His Leg in Afghanistan.” These selections, along with the reflection “Where I Find My Heroes,” by Oliver Stone, Vietnam vet and acclaimed film director, explore multiple perspectives from which students build an understanding of what makes a hero.
In Unit 2, The Challenge of Utopia, one of the unit’s goals is for students to analyze a novel for the development of the theme. The materials contain The Giver by Lois Lowry, which at first glance appears to be set in a utopian society, but as the story progresses, it reveals a dystopian setting. The point of view is limited omniscient, as Lowry narrates the story from the perspective of a 12-year-old boy named Jonas. Readers are limited to Jonas’s thoughts and feelings, which provide a limited view of the society he lives in. Students can grapple with the themes of individuality and freedom of choice because many middle school students are struggling with the same choices that Jonas faces in the novel.
Unit 3 frames Holocaust literature using “The Challenge to Make a Difference” as a theme.
Text selections bring together primary source voices from across the world, creating a multi-faceted examination of history. A central text includes an excerpt from the memoir Night by concentration camp survivor and 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel. In the novel, Elie loses his family and his home, but through it all, Elie retells his journey through the eyes of his 15-year-old self. The themes of innocence and death run rampant throughout the novel, but many middle school students can engage with the novel because the story is told through the eyes of a boy not too much older than they are. Its vivid language and imagery evoke intense emotions and questions about the Holocaust and its impact on the world. Materials seek to provide a young person’s perspective with a novel excerpt from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, described by author John Boyne as a fable. Fictional accounts move to factual with an excerpt from a stage adaptation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl, written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, whose writing won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1956. An excerpt of “The Nobel Acceptance Speech Delivered by Elie Wiesel” closes the Holocaust unit with the call to action: “Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.” From here, Unit 3 materials segue into contemporary world issues, providing students with examples of advocates and their deeply personal causes. For example, an excerpt from a pathos-rich speech titled “Address by Cesar Chavez, President, United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO” issues a call to nonviolent action to combat the impact of pesticide use on the lives of farmworkers.
Six “Close Reading Workshops” supplement the core ELA textbook with additional multi-genre texts and skills practice. Close Reading Workshop 1 includes two complex texts where world leaders set a tone for a response to adversity with Winston Churchill’s inspiring 1940 war era speech “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1933 Depression-era “First Inaugural Address.” Both speeches use powerful language to tap into their audience’s emotions and issue a call to action.
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 8, Close Reading Workshop” include the following:
Examples of informational text include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts from the “Grade 8, Close Reading Workshop” include but are not limited to the following:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
The epic text excerpt from The Odyssey has bolded subheadings with a synopsis of the story segment, such as “Book IX: 360–412 Odysseus Tells His Tale: Blinding the Cyclops.” Purple boxes in the margin define challenging words like whelp, fuddled, or treachery, which the publisher glosses in matching purple within the text. At the end of the epic text passages, the publisher adds illustrations to revisit particular parts of the epic, such as color litho illustrations of Odysseus’s men lifting the spear to blind the Cyclops and another with the Cyclops fumbling to find Odysseus and his men among the rams. A black and white image titled “The Cyclops Polyphemus Tosses Rocks at the Fleeing Odysseus and his Crew” completes the collection.
The autobiographical excerpt from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass closes with a color lithograph showing readers that Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln conversed during the Civil War.
In his information text “Fear Busters—10 Tips to Overcome Stage Fright!,” Gary Guwe uses the acronym FEAR BUSTER to outline each of his points. The publisher has used orange bolded text to distinguish each letter and lead phrase of the acronym such as “U—Understand the Audience.”
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 8 Text Complexity Rationales” document with 37 entries encompassing core texts from four units. The Grade 8 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 8 Text Complexity Rationales document or in each English Language Arts—Grade 8 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. The grade 8 text Lexile levels range from 700L to 1590L.
Unit 1 includes the short story “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury. The text complexity notes state the text is Overall: Very Complex, Lexile: 960L, Qualitative: Moderate Difficulty, and Task: Challenging (Evaluate). The Snapshot for an excerpt from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle reveals the text as Overall: Complex, Quantitative: 770 Lexile, Qualitative: Moderate Difficulty, and Task: Moderate. As students read this text independently, the lower Lexile keeps the task demands moderate for grade 8 students. A qualitative comment states that the “use of figurative language and unfamiliar words” garners this text the Moderate Difficulty classification. The Qualitative Considerations Levels of Meanings warns that abstract language and advanced vocabulary obscure the otherwise clear story themes. Structure calls attention to shifts in time within an otherwise straightforward structure. Task Considerations state that students gather textual evidence of the Hero’s Journey archetype. Additionally, notes acknowledge that this lesson prepares students for the Embedded Assessment narrative writing task.
In Unit 2, Activity 2.6, students read the article: “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read” from the American Library Association. The overall complexity of the text is complex Lexile: 1590L, Qualitative: Low Difficulty, Task: Accessible. The compare-contrast essay “Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts” by Bruce Catton includes the Quantitative information of 1110 Lexile. Qualitative comments in the Summary describe the complex text as suitable for grade 8 students because they utilize previously practiced essay analysis skills at the close of Unit 1. The Qualitative Considerations Purpose directs the teacher to paragraph two, which clearly showcases Catton’s perspective. Structure highlights the purpose of footnotes, possibly prompting teachers to review these prior to instruction. The Language section mentions some dated expressions that margin definitions clarify. Knowledge Demands confirms that students need no prior knowledge of the Civil War to digest this text.
The Unit 3 excerpt from Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists is listed as Overall: Accessible, Quantitative: 820 Lexile, Qualitative: Low Difficulty, and Task: Accessible. Summary notes add few qualitative details but describe the text as user friendly and topically relevant. Qualitative Considerations Purpose notes acknowledge how point-of-view reveals the text goal while Structure acknowledged that subheadings make reading easy. Language observes that the conversational and literal tone and familiar vocabulary target a student audience. Knowledge Demands recognize the text as informational, and Task Considerations cue teachers that this text lays a foundation for later work on the Embedded Assessment, where students design and share a multimedia campaign.
While the detailed Grade 8 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, for the Close Reading Workshop 1.1 speech “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” by Winston Churchill, the Text Complexity annotation lists the quantitative data piece of 1240 Lexile along with a qualitative note of Moderate Difficulty. Context notes provide the historical significance of this speech, explaining that it rallied the British in their battle against Nazi Germany, a piece of information vital to students’ understanding of the relevance of the text.
In the Close Reading Workshop 5.3, the Text Complexity annotation for the “Letter to the Library of Congress” by Woody Guthrie lists Overall: Complex, Quantitative: 1190L, Qualitative: Moderate Difficulty, and Task: Moderate (Analyze). Context notes that students gain a full understanding of text features that significantly impact the tone and do not appear in the reformatted copy for student analysis by studying the primary source document.
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 8 instructional materials highlight the theme Challenge. Units 1–4 inspire students to think-pair-share their thoughts and big ideas about real-world experiences connected to the theme.
Unit 1 frames texts and tasks around the theme “The Challenge of Heroism” and the hero's journey archetype. Lessons use a consistent pattern of close reading strategies. For example, before reading an excerpt from Homer’s Odyssey, students use their knowledge of the epic genre and the hero’s journey archetype to pose questions about potential obstacles Odysseus might face on his journey home. During “First Reading,” students focus on making annotations that support their text comprehension and encourage their curiosity. After reading the Odyssey excerpt, students recap major characters and actions, followed by contrasting the italicized prose summary descriptions with the main story's poetic translations. Students take a deeper text dive to examine the character of the archetypal hero as he confronts challenges. Text-dependent questions include “How does Odysseus’s behavior influence the resolution to the conflict?” Students complete a character analysis of Odysseus using a tri-column graphic organizer. Students isolate different elements of character such as actions, add textual evidence of the character’s actions, and then analyze the impact of the character’s action on the plot. In closing the lesson, students review three illustrations that correlate to the Odyssey excerpt, choosing one as the most representative and express their opinion of why it represents the archetypal hero and his journey.
In Unit 2, students study informational texts in a variety of ways. Students compare and contrast two Civil War heroes using the essay “Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts” and apply their knowledge to what they already understand about the concept of heroism. Prior to reading the essay, students brainstorm a list of different school topics that would require them to write a compare/contrast essay. Students discuss how and why they would organize their thoughts for their essay in such ways as Subject by Subject and Feature by Feature, and explain why they would choose to use one organizational structure over another. Students read the selected essay and answer questions such as “Why is the footnote in paragraph 6 located after that particular sentence?” “Choose a sentence from paragraphs 5 and 6 and one from paragraphs 7 and 8 to illustrate the central contrast between Grant and Lee. Explain your choice.” “Which of the essay’s paragraphs explicitly moves the discussion from the differences between Lee and Grant to their similarities? How does it do this?” Students create a Venn Diagram in preparation for writing their own compare and contrast paragraph about the similarities and differences between the two civil war heroes.
Unit 3 students preview an excerpt from Do Something! A Handbook for Young Activists, noting text features, a skill they practice throughout Unit 3. Additionally, students have the opportunity to discuss what content they anticipate encountering in such a resource. Students’ annotation work during the first reading focuses on tagging words or phrases that signal the targeted audience. The excerpt includes activities in a sub-section titled “Young Activists.” Here student partners analyze campaign descriptions, identifying the issue (what), student activist’s motivation (why), and the student’s action and outcome (how). Students reflect on the examples, finding which one they identify with and respect the most. Next, students generate a list of potential issues relevant to them, selecting one to explore more deeply. In keeping with the three-step analysis of sample campaign descriptions analyzed earlier in the lesson, students use a graphic organizer to identify the what, why, and how of their selected issue. Students then develop and present this issue in a multimedia campaign.
Unit 4 frames texts and tasks around the theme “The Challenge of Comedy” or, more aptly stated, how comedy helps us overcome challenges. Lessons use a consistent pattern of close reading strategies. In 4.9 “Setting a Purpose for Reading,” pre-reading tasks for “Mooses” by Ted Hughes involve students viewing an accompanying image of two mooses, describing their appearance, and then sharing their descriptions with classmates. Students focus on making annotations by marking hyperbole and alliteration examples with an exclamation mark and circling unfamiliar words or phrases during the first reading. Immediately following this initial reading, students participate in a brief collaborative conversation to reflect on their emotional response to the poem and discuss a memorable image. “Returning to the Text” takes students back for a deeper dive into meaning. For example, one question has students move beyond recognizing alliteration to evaluating its purpose. Another question has students evaluate and explain how hyperbole amuses readers. “Working from the Text” sends students back through Unit 4 to find and discuss other examples of hyperbole using a graphic organizer to record examples.
“Close Reading Workshop 3” analyzes how authors use different language to shape the tone and message of a poem. In Activity 1, students read “The Defence of Fort McHenry” and answer questions such as “In the opening lines, the poet juxtaposes two times of day—’the dawn's early light’ and ‘the twilight's last gleaming.’ How is the changing time of day significant to the poem? What does the sight of the flag symbolize in the second stanza? By the end of the poem, the speaker suggests that America has struggled and triumphed over the enemy. To what does the poet attribute this victory?” Finally, students complete the writing prompt: “Based on your current understanding of the poem, explain how Francis Scott Key uses diction, imagery, syntax, or structure to develop a theme.”
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:
Unit 1 uses the poem “Ithaka” by C.P. Cavafy for students to create an image in their mind of the sights, smells, and sounds the author describes. This exercise begins to set the purpose for reading. Once students have read the poem, they answer questions such as “What emotions might someone be feeling while reading this poem? What is the mood of the poem? How do you feel after reading it? Explain how the author’s use of language contributes to the mood? Focus on the words you highlighted and think about the imagery the poet uses. What is the message about life he is trying to tell readers? Write a statement about the theme in your Reader/Writer notebook.” As the unit progresses, students continue their study by reading a poem and an informational text. Students repeat a “Setting the Purpose for Reading” activity by circling any unfamiliar words in the poem “A Man” before reading and defining them to facilitate understanding and jotting notes of any similarities between the poem and the article “Soldier home after losing his leg in Afghanistan” in their notebook. As students read both texts, they pay careful attention to the shifts in language and perspectives each author uses. After analyzing each text for these shifts, students explain the author’s purpose for writing the article and how the structure of the article contributes to the purpose, as well as describes how the poem and article are similar. Finally, students answer, “What message does each text reveal about the concept of heroism? Write a summary that supports your interpretation using evidence from both the poem and the article.”
In Unit 2, students use their understanding to analyze argumentation techniques in two contrasting texts. After reading “The Promise of a Post-Driver Life” by Edward Humes, a “Returning to the Text” question has students explain how a particular rhetorical appeal bolstered the author’s claim and describe how it made a significant impression upon them. Students find additional examples of evidence/appeal that support the author’s claim, charting them in order and paraphrasing each one to show their understanding. They repeat this charting activity with the contrasting editorial “It’s Time to Tap the Breaks on Self-Driving Cars” by The Times Editorial Board. Students choose to review the technique and effectiveness of either the Humes’ essay or Times editorial, analyzing audience, claims and counterclaims, and appeal.
Unit 3 prepares students to participate in Literature Circles as they make thematic connections between two literary texts in different genres. Students read an excerpt from the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel and answer questions such as “What details do you notice about the narrator, Elie Wiesel? What does the use of pronouns they and we in paragraph 2 suggest about the narrator’s point of view? How does this point of view reflect the theme of the excerpt?” Students read the poem “First They Came for the Communists” by Martin Niemoller and answer questions such as “How does each stanza contribute to a developing sense of doom? Which words does the poet use to build the mood in the poem? Why do you think the poet ends the poem with a two line stanza instead of a three line stanza like the rest of the poem? How does this change in the stanza’s length reflect the message?” Students participate in the literature circle discussion to compare and contrast the text structure of the two texts read, as well as the mood the authors create in each by the language used. Finally, students determine that the two texts have similar themes and messages, though the authors used very different techniques to reveal their messages.
In Unit 4, students conduct multiple studies of the elements of humor across multiple texts where they examine things such as comic character, situations, poetic devices, and wordplay. Students examine comic characters and situations with “A Day’s Work” from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Students show their understanding of humor by evaluating how Tom cleverly manipulates his friends by trading work for “treasures,” which Twain describes in ridiculously absurd detail. Questions have students examine how irony and point of view increase the humor. As a lesson in how poetic devices add a comedic tone to the text, students identify examples of hyperbole and alliteration as they read “Mooses” by Ted Hughes. “Returning to the Text” takes students back for a deeper dive into meaning and effect, asking students to evaluate the purpose of alliteration and the effect of hyperbole. “Is Traffic Jam Delectable?” by Jack Prelutsky serves as an example of humorous wordplay. Students study the childlike turn of phrases and explain why readers would find them amusing. Students analyze how the author’s repeated use of puns impacts readers’ reception of the poem.
“Close Reading Workshop 2” presents students with three different argumentative nonfiction texts, including speeches and political cartoons. For each activity, students use the SOAPSTone strategy (for reading texts) and the OPTIC strategy (for systematically analyzing visual texts) to understand the author’s craft and determine the texts’ overall impression. Students answer questions such as “What do we know about the speaker? What is her background with the subject? What is the immediate occasion? Why is this occasion an effective choice to present the argument in this speech? Who did the author anticipate would hear this speech? What is the reason behind the creation of this piece of writing?” After reading an additional speech, students write about how the three authors used different language and techniques as their calls to action.
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 8 “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.
In Unit 1, students familiarize themselves with the words hero and heroism by reviewing a visual prompt illustrating a soldier and American flag and journaling or discussing what words it prompts. Students read a passage from “Ithaka” by C. P. Cavafy that orients their thinking on the words hero and heroism. Finally, students participate in a think-pair-share to generate examples of heroic individuals from life or fiction. “Language Workshop 1A,” Activity 3 provides instruction on words or phrases such as conflict, point of view, protagonist, and setting with students demonstrating their level of familiarity using a QHT rating system. Teacher Wrap notes provide options to select from depending on the English language proficiency levels of their students. For example, teachers “[r]ead 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.” Later in Unit 1, students analyze the structure and techniques in a narrative. The vocabulary list includes words such as ruffle, helter-skelter, and resolute. As students read “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh,” the vocabulary words are underlined with a hyperlink for the definition. Students use the words in their responses to show mastery. The Vocabulary Box explains the meaning of “point of view” to assist students in answering the text-dependent questions.
In Unit 2, materials blend multiple vocabulary instruction strategies with a study of the short story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. Teacher Wrap notes specify that instructors review previously introduced unit concepts utopia and dystopia, and a Word Connections pink box features a roots and affixes word study of the two terms. Word Connections next to the first paragraph familiarizes students with the verb to handicap, essential to understanding the short story “Harrison Bergeron.” Challenging vocabulary such as symmetry, consternation, and gamboled correlates to definitions in the margins to support students’ reading comprehension with vocabulary study. Students annotate the text as they read, recording unfamiliar words for later study. In an after-reading task, students use the words utopia and dystopia to discuss the societal-individual conflict shown in “Harrison Bergeron.”
In Unit 3, in “Dangerous Diction,” Teacher Wrap notes suggest reviewing the previously learned terms diction, connotation, and denotation, before introducing euphemism. Additional supports include a Vocabulary box for euphemism’s academic meaning and another examining its etymology. Students use a graphic organizer to examine the denotation and then Holocaust context for euphemisms used by Nazi Germany, such as relocation and The Final Solution. Students analyze the difference between the denotation and the connotation of the words. Students demonstrate their understanding of the Holocaust euphemisms by using them in a variety of sentence types. Differentiation notes for Beginning ELs recommend the use of the Spanish/English glossary for lesson academic vocabulary.
In Unit 4, students participate in a Socratic Seminar to explain how authors use universal truths through humor. There is a vocabulary list with words such as unbeknownst, tedious, and pacifist. There are underlined hyperlinked definitions when responding to text-dependent questions or during the seminar. Students create their own questions of varying degrees to propose to their classmates as they analyze these humorous texts.
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.
A Unit 1 Planning Independent Reading box has students reflect on their reading preferences and select an unabridged narrative that tells of a hero’s journey. Students use class time to familiarize themselves with their selections, and they create a reading plan in their Reader/Writer Notebook. Students add a graphic organizer with the stages of a hero’s journey to their notebooks which they complete as they read. An “Independent Reading Checkpoint” assesses students' understanding by having them write about the protagonist’s accomplishments and author’s description as well as detail any personal connections they discovered with the story. A final Independent Reading Checkpoint has students use the hero’s archetype as a point of comparison between Tristan Seger, from the article “Soldier Home after Losing His Leg in Afghanistan,” and the protagonist in their self-selected text to demonstrate their understanding of the archetype.
Unit 2 contains eight Independent Reading Link and Checkpoint activities. One activity questions students about the protagonist in their independent reading and what challenges they face in the plot. Students also answer how these challenges illustrate a dystopian society. An Independent Reading Link sets students up for an independent and parallel study of the texts related to the core unit work with a science fiction novel that pits the hero against a societal challenge. Students seek out personal reading choices from “news articles, narrative nonfiction texts, or contemporary short stories,” which feature ways individuals endeavor to address real-life challenges. Students consider the primary concern of their nonfiction reading choice and then form a “debatable claim.” Students determine the validity of each other's claim during a pair-share with partners evaluating if the evidence supports the claim before a full class shares out.
In Unit 3, students make a literary connection during an Independent Reading Link activity by identifying examples of flashback and foreshadowing and writing a short explanation of how their examples represent the device. Later, students examine tone shifts in the drama version of The Diary of Anne Frank. The Independent Reading Link asks students to find and discuss the language of tone shifts in their self-selected narratives.
In an Independent Reading Link activity, students recognize anecdotes as an element of humor by identifying and discussing an example from their independent reading selection, explaining how it resonated with them as a reader. Students practice levels of questioning with the core lesson and then practice their skills as part of the Independent Reading Link activity. Students write questions at the literal, interpretive, and universal/theme level questions for a humorous text of their choosing. They use their level three questions for a collaborative discussion.
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 demonstrating 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.
In Unit 1, a film, poem, short story, epic, and novel with instruction leads students through the Hero’s Journey archetype narrative stages along with a study of writers’ craft. After reviewing several genre examples in early Unit 1 lessons, students use exposition elements such as setting, character, and conflict to brainstorm a story about an original archetypal hero. Students begin drafting their story, using the Departure Stage archetype as a framework for their original narrative. Next, as students read text selections that feature different stages of the Hero’s Journey archetype, they expand their original story to include the various stages. Finally, students participate in a writing workshop to develop a final draft of their Hero’s Journey narrative, incorporating peer feedback. “Writing Workshop 4: Narrative Writing” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce short story elements. Useful tools like a plot diagram graphic organizer, characterization bubble map, and rubric further assist students’ short story drafting. Students practice skills such as adding transitions to lead readers through the story.
In Unit 2, students study the idea of a dystopian/utopian society and read different texts to explain these societies’ elements. After reading the essay “Private Eyes” by Brooke Chorlton, students have the assignment to determine a technology topic with two sides that can be argued. After brainstorming a list, students choose a claim that is most interesting to them and could be considered interesting to peers. Students support their claims by asking themselves, “Why do I believe this?” If students struggle to answer the question, they revise their claim. This practice happens throughout the remainder of the unit and concludes with students forming a debatable claim and supporting it with research to persuade classmates as they present.
In Unit 3, students collaboratively create a multimedia campaign “that informs your peers about an issue of national or global significance and convinces them to take action.” Students deploy skills developed in the first half of the unit to research their issue, using rhetorical appeals in the presentation language and images to target their audience. “Writing Workshop 6: Research Writing” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce understanding of the research process and product with particular attention to use and documentation of a variety of credible sources to communicate effectively with an audience.
Unit 4 blends a craft study of humor and monologue with genre sets ranging from comedic television monologues, humorous essays, and comic poems. Instruction focuses on anecdotes, raw truth in 4.5, satire, characterization, and wordplay as students move toward writing an analysis of a humorous text. Students use their understanding of comedic elements to write an essay where they “Compare and contrast the two humorous poems, ‘Mooses’ and ‘Is Traffic Jam Delectable?’” and “Explain how each poet uses comedic language to express a universal truth.” To organize their thoughts, students use graphic organizers to ensure their draft identifies multiple humorous elements with text examples and includes a discussion of the comedic effect of each. Materials also include an essay format guide, sample student essay, writing checklist, and rubric. At the end of Unit 4, students collaboratively compose a monologue representing one character’s take on the conflict in an excerpt from Paul Fleischman’s novel Seedfolks. A Role/Audience/Format/Topic (RAFT) pre-writing organizer guides students as they plan and draft their monologue. Monologue writing practice segues into a study of characterization in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “Writing Workshop 9: Script Writing” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce elements of a script by ultimately writing a modern script for A Midsummer Night’s Dream scene. Instruction and student practice examine how diction, imagery, mood, and comedy engage audiences. Useful tools like a Script Revision Checklist and rubric further assist students’ monologue drafting.
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 of English Language Arts, students analyze narratives to write a narrative of a hero’s journey. Students read The Drummer Boy of Shiloh and answer text-dependent questions. The Embedded Assessment for this activity returns students to the text as students use the elements learned and begin to create their own hero. Once their hero is created, a draft is started answering the question, “What might your hero experience in the departure stage of his or her journey?” Students must include a hook, narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, and description to develop experiences, events, or characters, and details and imagery to create the mood. Students continue their study in the unit, adding to their narrative drafts as they gain knowledge. Students also use their Reader/Writer Notebook to reflect on how a familiar film of their choosing incorporates the Hero’s Journey archetype, tracing the plot pattern in their entry.
Unit 2 has students comparing and contrasting two Civil War heroes, Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. As students analyze the organizational pattern used in the mentor texts, they also determine key ideas and details. As a “Check For Understanding” activity, students write a short compare/contrast paragraph after completing a Venn Diagram. Students use text evidence to support their ideas and logically organize their writing, as analyzed in the mentor texts. In a flexible novel lesson, students reflect on a character’s perspective from either The Giver or “Fahrenheit 451” and write a response where they “Briefly explain your own perspective and how it contrasts with the character’s perspective.”
Unit 3, “The Challenge to Make a Difference,” includes but is not limited to a drama piece, poetry, and novel excerpts. Written tasks include “What can you tell about Bruno and Shmuel from their conversation about food in paragraphs 44 through 53? Use text evidence to support your response.” The unit also includes a film excerpt in which students answer questions about the theme. Written tasks for the film include “One of the themes of Life Is Beautiful is the ability to find the good in a very difficult situation. Write a draft of an informational essay that describes some of the ways Holocaust victims found hope in the dark reality of their lives. Make sure you use at least two examples from the movie and/or the texts in your writing. Be sure to: Begin with a meaningful topic sentence that responds to the prompt. Provide two or more examples from the movie and/or texts.” At the end of the unit, students write a brief unbiased recap “of the excerpt from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, including its theme and how the characters, setting, and plot relate to the theme,” supporting their summary with direct quotes and story details.
In Unit 4, students classify Jon Scieszka’s tone in an excerpt from Brothers, and they cite examples of words and phrasing from the story that the author uses “to create his distinct voice and convey his personality in the text.” At the end of the unit, students use their understanding of comedy gained in the unit study to reflect on Act 3, Scene 2 of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and “Explain how this scene is intended to be comical on stage.”
In “Close Reading Workshop 2,” students read texts to summarize and determine key details. After reading the speech, “To The National American Woman Suffrage Association,” students complete the task of choosing a sentence they think is important to understand the author. Students must explain in their own words what the sentence means and why it is important to understand the passage, being sure to include text evidence to support their opinion.
In “Close Reading Workshop 3,” students use the text to support their opinion for the task, “based on your current understanding of the poem, explain how Johnson’s use of language contributes to the poem’s tone. Use text evidence, such as diction, imagery, syntax, or structure, to support your ideas. Be sure to: Write a topic sentence that identifies the poem’s tone. Include several pieces of appropriate text evidence. Explain how each piece of evidence contributes to the poem’s tone.”
After reading two texts about plate tectonics in “Close Reading Workshop 8, Grade 8, Close Reading of Informational Texts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” students write a reflection where they explore the question “How might a writer’s use of domain-specific vocabulary and connotative diction in a scientific text affect an audience?”
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 introduces students to the knowledge needed to write a hero’s journey narrative. Students begin brainstorming an idea to write their own hero’s journey narrative in Activity 1.6 after they have viewed Big Hero 6 in previous activities. Students create a sketch of their hero and label it to help them guide their writing. Students continue writing to the prompt throughout the next three activities. Students peer edit and revise each other’s narratives to strengthen the characterization and events. Finally, in Embedded Assessment 1, students complete the writing process as they orally share their narratives with classmates. The teacher can also allow for the use of technology to publish students’ writing. In “Language Checkpoint 1.8: Understanding Sentence Boundaries,” students identify complete sentences, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences. Students complete the “Quickwrite,” answering questions such as “What effect do the fragments create?” from an excerpt from A Wrinkle in Time. Students work through the section revising sentences, fragments, and run-ons. Students examine the drafts of their hero narrative and specifically focus on the correct usage of complete sentences with correct punctuation.
A Unit 2 Language Checkpoint focuses on using subject-verb agreement. Students get a definition and sentences from the text used previously in the unit. Students underline the subject of the sentences and circle the verbs. The teacher provides the explanation of when the subject is singular, an s is added to the verb, and when the subject is plural, the verb changes. A read-aloud happens using another excerpt, and students circle the subjects found within. Using a graphic organizer, students determine how the verb changes. This structure is continued with longer sentences, and students complete an editing paragraph out of context practice. Students return to their own writing to edit and revise for subject-verb agreement.
In Unit 3, students revisit active and passive voice verbs and use active voice verbs where possible in their academic informational and argumentative writing. The Embedded Assessment 1 informational text writing prompt checklist specifies that students “Write in active voice unless the passive voice is specifically needed.” Students participate in editing sessions where they use a checklist to “ensure use of appropriate voice” and a rubric that verifies that they convey “a consistent academic voice” and have “command of conventions.” Supplemental materials such as the Grammar Handbook include Part 3: Style section on “Using Active Voice” with instruction that has examples and explains the reasoning for the preferred use of active voice in student writing. “Grammar Activities,” Lesson 3: Active and Passive Voice, has explicit instruction and samples of revised usage. In out-of-context practice, students revise sentences by replacing passive voice verbs with active voice verbs. In an in-context practice, an “Independent Reading Link” has students find examples of passive voice in their independent reading selection and revise them to active voice.
“Writing Workshop 4, Narrative Writing: Short Story” has scaffolded instructional support for the writing process. After reading and reviewing the model short story “Priscilla and the Wimps” by Richard Peck, in Activity 2, the whole class brainstorms “ideas for a new story by putting an original twist on a familiar story.” The class works on drafting each part of the essay using a plot diagram, visualization techniques, and a characterization graphic organizer. Next, the class drafts the story, incorporating suggestions from all and role-playing dialogue. After revising to add things like figurative language and foreshadowing elements, the class edits the draft, checking things like the punctuation of dialogue and taking cues from the scoring guide rubric. In Activity 3, students repeat this writing process with peers as they create another twist on a familiar story. In Activity 4, students independently begin the writing process by creating an idea web by brainstorming another twist on a familiar story or pulling an idea from their writing portfolio. Students use graphic organizers for plot diagrams, characterization, and setting. They participate in a writing group where they give and receive revising and editing feedback.
The instructional materials provide a Grammar Handbook which lists out important mechanics and conventions of writing. Students have opportunities to practice grammar skills in the “Grammar Activities.” Students use the Grammar Handbook to reference grammar rules. Students reference a punctuation chart along with a chart that features common proofreading marks. The “Editor’s/Writer’s checklist” provides students with editing rules and examples, such as but not limited to capitalization, subject-verb agreement, spelling, and punctuation. Teachers have a scoring guide to assess student essays. Lesson 5, “Check for Understanding,” asks students to create simple, compound, and complex sentences by applying conventions learned in the lesson.
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 Challenge of Heroism,” students read an excerpt from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. While reading the excerpt, the instructional materials guide the teacher to lead class discussions over text-dependent questions, such as “What is the meaning of the word animated in paragraph 50? Cite textual evidence in your response.” After reading, the teacher pairs students up to discuss the “Making Observations” questions and to evaluate their comprehension of the text. The questions include “Who do we meet in the excerpt? What is a detail you noticed that someone else might miss?” Students must provide text evidence to support their synthesis of the text. Students also participate in a discussion group to reflect on the excerpt from The Odyssey and representative images and “Discuss why that particular event in the poem’s narrative is significant enough to deserve an illustration.” Students also talk about how the story events and images communicate a particular Hero’s Journey archetype stage.
In Unit 2, students read the fake news story “Representative Urges Action on the Media” and develop a stance for and against the prompt “Should the government restrict media usage for anyone under the age of 18 to two hours a day on weekdays and three hours a day on weekends?” In their debate, students defend their point of view with reasons and evidence, countering with sentence starters such as “I agree with your point about…, but it is also important to consider....” Students take turns reading aloud the informational text “Five Challenges for Self-Driving Cars” by Laurel Hamers in a later activity. An active reading strategy suggests that after the introduction, students reflect and then share how the article hook contrasts with previous unit texts on the same topic. During the after-reading “Making Observations,” students share “[o]ne new detail you learned about the challenges of self-driving cars?” Students collaboratively discuss and answer “Returning to the Text” questions, such as “What impact could hackers have on self-driving cars?” demonstrating their comprehension of text.
Unit 3, “Previewing the Unit,” maximizes speaking and listening as a way to introduce students to unit big ideas and vocabulary. After reviewing the unit title “The Challenge to Make a Difference,” a visual prompt of public art featuring an urban field of grey tomblike rectangles, and a brief but poignant recollection by Elie Wiesel in his “Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech,” students participate in a think-pair-share to discuss two essential questions: “Why is it important to learn about the Holocaust?” and “How can one person make a difference?” Later, students use discussion strategies learned in a previous unit activity to participate in a Literature Circle, where they share how Holocaust vocabulary appears in unit texts studied thus far. Students support their discussion contributions using close reading strategies such as vocabulary study and double-entry journal reflections.
In Unit 4, as part of a unit-wide study of “The Challenge of Comedy,” students develop text-based literal, interpretive, and universal questions after analyzing the humorous techniques deployed by Dave Barry in the essay “I’ve Got a Few Pet Peeves about Sea Creatures” and participate in a Socratic Seminar discussion. In a later activity, to activate student understanding of comic characters and caricatures, students view the opening of a show like The Simpsons or a political cartoon and “Discuss what truth (theme) the caricatures convey.” Students participate in a discussion group to analyze how an individual character’s looks, words, or actions convey the gist or even a stereotype of the character.
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 8 materials provide an overview and brief descriptions of productive teamwork and student-led discussions in ELA Grade 8 “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, including 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, students analyze various quotes that connect to the word Challenges. Students work with a group to categorize the quotes as “an obstacle, a difficult task, or an opportunity.” The materials instruct students to use a graphic organizer to track their thinking and ideas of the quote. The teacher assigns groups speaking parts for a presentation using elements in the materials. For example, speaking parts ask the speaker to “(a) Fluently read the quote and explain the meaning (b) Provide specific examples from life or literature (c) Explain the group’s categorization of the quote (d) Explain how the quote connects to the concept of heroism.”
In Unit 2, students read an excerpt from “Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read” by the American Library Association and engage in a Socratic Seminar to discuss the question “What do you think our country would be like if the government could ban books?” The teacher introduces the Socratic Seminar strategy with an overview of process and purpose. Guidance establishes the goal of creating a deeper understanding through student exploration of “a complex question, topic, or text” in a dynamic exchange of ideas. Textbook guidance advises students to “Be a frog, not a hog or a log,” and Teacher-to-Teacher notes suggest cards or chips can serve as a way to ensure equitable participation. Teacher Wrap notes also recommend modeling seminar dynamics, stating, “It is important to show students how to build off of others’ ideas, transition between ideas, and achieve a balance among speakers.” Students create speaking and listening goals to demonstrate their understanding of Socratic Seminar methodology. Materials include seven sentence starters such as “I agree with your idea relating to..., but it is also important to consider….”
In Unit 3, students practice presenting in Literature Circles with two questions “How old do you think someone should be when they first learn about the Holocaust? Why would someone write a children’s book about such a disturbing subject?” Prior to participating, students use a double-entry journal to organize their thoughts before sharing them. Embedded guidance reminds students to actively listen and take notes to build on these ideas by adding to the discussion and asking clarifying questions. Guidance reminds students, “As you respond to others, use an appropriate register, vocabulary, tone, and voice. If any key issues come up, vote in a democratic fashion.” A later activity uses the think-pair-share protocol to begin discussing the Holocaust’s setting and its importance to a Holocaust narrative. Students participate in a guided research activity in which the teacher provides a website for students to use to determine a topic and their talking points. Students present their talking points to their group before presenting to the class. There is a chart to help students evaluate their presentations as they rehearse and includes areas such as enunciation, pitch, volume, and tempo.
In Unit 4, students view and analyze examples of anecdotes using the Tone, Word choice, Imagery, Style, and Theme or TWIST analysis strategy before writing and presenting one of their own. Students use a blank TWIST graphic organizer to plan out their anecdotes. The TWIST organizer has prompts that guide students with questions such as Tone “What is the author’s attitude about the topic?” and Style “How does the author use language to create humor?” Delivery preparation tips include holding a dry run of their performance with a partner incorporating feedback as needed and possible. Afterward, peers “provide feedback relating to his or her ideas, organization, and language and the humorous effect.” As part of a unit-wide study of “The Challenge of Comedy,” students develop text-based literal, interpretive, and universal questions after analyzing the humorous techniques deployed by Dave Barry in the essay “I’ve Got a Few Pet Peeves about Sea Creatures” and participate in a Socratic Seminar discussion using routines established in Unit 2. Embedded instructions remind students to speak formally, addressing the author by his last name. Additional notes specify the use of “precise verbs” to elaborate on the author's purpose and textual evidence for support.
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 1, after reading of Oliver Stone’s essay “Where I Find My Heroes,” a “Working from the Text” activity has students collaboratively complete an “informal inquiry task” about one of the ten heroic figures mentioned, evaluating how that individual supports Stone’s thesis that heroes result from “everyday people acting heroically.” The teacher models using the KWL strategy prior to the students generating research questions. Equipped with their research questions, groups use the Internet to see if their person meets Stone’s criteria, and the students share their results with the class.
In Unit 2, students move through the writing process steps to form a research plan and generate preliminary research questions. The lesson includes instruction on finding and evaluating sources, with particular attention to having students distinguish between primary and secondary sources followed by practice. Students evaluate how citing an expert's ideas strengthens an argument. After extensive teacher modeling and student practice on making a debatable claim, gathering evidence, and considering audience counterclaims, students work independently to form their own claims. They gather and cite evidence, which they use to complete the Argumentative Essay Outline. Students participate in writing groups, use a writer’s checklist, and review a scoring guide as part of the writing process to produce an argumentative essay.
In Unit 3, prior to a study of Holocaust issues and literature, students use the website for United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to gather research from primary and secondary sources on a range of topics, such as “Prisoners of the Camps” and “German Rule of Occupied Europe,” summarizing their findings into talking points. The materials have multiple tools to facilitate research, such as grouping plans, a topic list, graphic organizers, and presentation guidelines. Students “[c]hoose a specific Holocaust victim and gather relevant biographical information about him or her through research” by specifically seeking primary source artifacts from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C website. Students also search for ID cards with secondary source information which they summarize in a graphic organizer.
Teachers can use four “Writing Workshop 6, Grade 8, Research Writing” activities to guide student practice. Activity 1 sets a learning target for students to “gather relevant information” with a description of the research writing process, including “Relevant, credible, and reliable primary and/or secondary sources.” In Activity 1, students evaluate a sample student research presentation, “Banning Soda in Schools—Is It Enough?” to identify key parts of research writing and identify primary and secondary sources. In Activity 2, students consider the advantages and disadvantages of using primary or secondary sources, and the class jointly creates a research plan where they identify potential sources from teacher-provided primary and secondary sources. The teacher discusses sample primary and secondary sources to help students recognize “situations in which each type of resource would be most appropriate for specific research topics.” The teacher models all parts of the research process, which Activity 2 breaks into 12 steps with instruction and practice. Students practice paraphrasing and directly quoting, create source cards, and review the research plan to fill in gaps. Activity 2, Step 12, has 11 bullets detailing how to write a presentation. Teachers choose a reporting format from the learning target, which specifies that students “Publish or present completed work using written, oral, or multimodal forms of presentation.” Depending on the format assigned, teachers may provide students with more guidance for the product created in group and individual work. This additional guidance may be found in correlating ELA Grade 8 units. When students move into Activity 3, a group research presentation, Teacher Wrap notes advise the instructor to monitor student primary and secondary source selection. Students make copies of sources which they “mark and annotate” prior to incorporating them into their research writing. In their writing groups, students work collaboratively to determine which primary and secondary sources provide “the most authoritative and reliable” information using the “Evaluating Online Resources” checklist.
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:
Unit 1 focuses on the challenge of heroism. Students begin by discussing what defines a hero and how the hero’s archetype appears in stories over time. Students complete a quick write answering, “When you hear the word challenges, what comes to mind?” The teacher puts students into fours to analyze a given quote, such as “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” Students write their group’s summary and present it to the class. Later in the unit, students view the film Big Hero 6 and complete a graphic organizer showcasing the steps of the hero’s journey. Students create a plot diagram and label each step. Students continue their study through poetry and determine the theme of the poem “Ithaka” and how imagery contributes to the poem’s mood. Students complete the Embedded Assessment, where they write a hero’s journey narrative while considering all the heroes they have encountered in real life and various texts. The focus is on how to use dialogue and details to create an original, believable hero.
Unit 2 organizes a series of exemplar argumentative texts to progressively build students’ understanding of the genre and subject as they gradually research and write their own argumentative essay for Embedded Assessment 2. Students read and analyze exemplar argumentative texts to internalize how to write an effective argumentative essay. Students review the elements of an argument and use this knowledge to evaluate “Private Eyes” by Brooke Chorlton. “Working from the Text” questions have students review Chorlton’s essay, marking each element of the argumentative essay, as well as identifying audience and purpose. Students build on the technology subject of the essay by creating a list with a “technology-related topic that has two sides that can be argued” for which they write preliminary claims. After instruction over rhetorical appeals, students examine the effectiveness of logos in “The Promise of a Post-Driver Life,” by Edward Humes and “It’s Time to Tap the Brakes on Self-Driving Cars,” by The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board. Students continue their study of rhetorical devices, claims, and counterclaims by reading the paired text “It’s Time to Tap the Brakes on Self-Driving Cars.” After reading, “Returning to the Text” questions have students evaluate rhetorical appeals to determine the type used as well as identify how the author supports claims and counterclaims. Students go back to the preliminary claims created to select one for development using a coherent sequence of steps.
In Unit 3, collaborative groups preview seven Holocaust-themed texts from the Literature Circle Text Collection, and each student writes a business letter to the teacher expressing their thoughts about their top three preferences. There are a sample student letter and a letter-writing framework to support students’ understanding of how to write a business letter. Partners examine the sample letter, and they talk about its format and purpose. “Writing Workshop 10: Procedural Texts: Business Letters” supports student learning using a model of whole class practice, peer practice, and independent practice to reinforce understanding of format, coherence, and audience when writing a business letter.
Unit 4 instruction reviews point of view prior to students reading Paul Fleischman’s narrative Seedfolks. Students reflect over texts they have read across the school year, and they “Activate prior knowledge of point of view by having students think-pair-share about various types of point of view.” After reading, small groups answer questions such as “Identify the points of view that are used in this excerpt” and “What effect does the point of view of the narrative have on the reader?” In a “Working from the Text” activity, students show their understanding of the literary concept, point of view, by writing a series of four questions from that character’s point of view. Collaborative groups use the guiding questions in a Role/Audience/Format/Topic (RAFT) graphic organizer to write an original monologue from the point of view of a Seedfolks character assigned by their teacher. Student groups write their monologue using “diction, syntax, and punctuation to create a persona and a dramatic effect.” Students fully internalize their understanding of point of view when they perform their monologue with presentation notes reminding them, “When you are delivering a monologue from someone else’s point of view, you are adopting a persona. Become that person!”
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 8 Scope and Sequence documents: “Curriculum Map,” “Grade at a Glance,” and the “Grade 8 Correlations by Standard.” ELA Grade 8 “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 8 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 8 Table of Contents. The ELA Grade 8 “End Matter” also has an Index of Skills categorized by Literary, Reading, Writing, Media, Speaking and Listening, Language, and Vocabulary.
In Unit 1, after reading the poem “Ithaka” by C. P. Cavafy, the students return to the text to answer and solve text-dependent questions in pairs or small groups. The teacher scaffolds the more difficult questions while moving between the groups/pairs with varied word choices. Students are in small groups to read paired selections about famous historical figures. There are two specific questions in the differentiated portion: “In the first six lines, circle all of the uses of the words ‘it’ and ‘thing.’ What is ‘it’? How is it described?” and “Review the tributes to Douglass. What cause did your chosen historical figure champion? What impact did he have on others?”
Unit 2 looks at argumentative texts and the concept of a Utopian society. Students read the novels Lois Lowry’s The Giver or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to discover conflicting perspectives and determine how themes are developed through character interactions. Students answer questions such as, “Conflict among people or between people and society is a result of conflicting perspectives. Support this idea by identifying a topic that has created the most important conflict so far in the story and contrast two different perspectives about the topic. Which characters are questioning society? Analyze how the theme is developed through the interaction between these characters?” Students then identify the two perspectives and how these perspectives highlight the conflict in the story in an informational paragraph essay. Later in the unit, students apply their knowledge of different perspectives to argumentative texts as they explore the art of debate and the essential elements of an effective argument. Students learn to support a claim using anecdotes, illustrations, or analogies, using effective research practices. Evidence is gathered, and ultimately students write their own argumentative essay to present to the class.
Unit 3 brings together thematically related Holocaust multi-genre works (memoir, poetry, film, drama, novel, diary) before moving to informational and persuasive text. Students write increasingly sophisticated sentences as the school year progresses through spiraling “Language and Writer's Craft” lessons dispersed across Unit 3. Students combine sentences, moving from basic compound sentences with coordinating conjunctions to employing subordinating conjunctions in more sophisticated complex sentences. Materials encourage students to use these more sophisticated sentences when speaking and writing. Students also revise sentences, experimenting with active voice and passive voice to determine which has the greatest impact. They apply these skills to a narrative writing prompt where a writer’s checklist specifies, “Use active and passive voice effectively.” Students create speaking notes for the Embedded Assessment 1 panel discussion; a mastery check in the rubric specifies that exemplar performances “demonstrate deep command of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and language (including active/passive voice).”
In Unit 4, students study a variety of humorous texts and media clips with a focus on the writer’s technique and overall message before Embedded Assessment 1, where they “Write an essay that explains how an author creates humor for effect and uses it to communicate a universal truth.” Lessons disperse practice, building understanding and skills. At the beginning of the unit, students respond to the unit's essential question, “How do writers and speakers use humor to convey truth?” After the teacher tells students a joke, students “Think about the type of humor that makes the joke funny (or attempts to).” Next, students use the TWIST strategy to analyze “tone, word choice, imagery, style, and theme” in an excerpt from Jon Scieszka’s “Brothers” with the lesson increasing the rigor by having them write an original anecdote using TWIST as a graphic organizer. Lessons continue with repeated opportunities to practice analyzing humorous techniques and messages, culminating with an exemplar student essay before students write their own analysis of a humorous text.
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 8 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 8 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 2, Activity 3, students read the Accessible story “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut with a small group. The Leveled Differentiated Instruction Extend strategy has students move beyond simply defining the word utopia to working with a small group to investigate and write about places such as Shangri-La, the Garden of Eden, and the Promised Land. Materials do not state how students report this research.
In Unit 3, the Planning the Unit section gives teachers the option to supplement the materials with the Close Read Workshop 5: Informational Texts in Social Studies/History, in which students analyze how language is used to achieve a specific purpose and tone, based on an intended audience. Students read the biography This Land Was Made for You and Me: The Life and Songs of Woody Guthrie and the song lyrics of “This Land is Your Land” to determine how the language used in each text conveys the tone intended for the audience. Activity 4 of this workshop provides three different avenues in which students can showcase their understanding, such as responding to a writing prompt discussing how the issues presented in the initial texts studied are still relevant today, engaging in a debate about a given quote, or creating a presentation of another song that criticizes an aspect of society or government.
In Unit 4, Elements of Humor: Comic Wordplay, students examine wordplay in “Is Traffic Jam Delectable?” by Jack Prelutsky. While the general population simply analyzes the poem, an Extend activity engages students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level with the opportunity to write on their own and share with the class an original poem using idiom wordplay as shown in the Prelutsky poem.
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. In Activity 4, students learn about irregularly spelled words such as favorite and restaurant. Students receive instruction and unscramble letters to create the irregularly spelled word. Students read sentences with the words spelled incorrectly, and students must correct the spellings.
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, students analyze and synthesize texts to make their own definition of the word hero. The teacher has clips from the movie, Big Hero 6, to document the hero’s journey and character archetypes. Students who demonstrate below-grade-level proficiency receive support as they complete the “Hero’s Journey Archetype Chart” by using a “conferencing” graphic organizer to discuss the hero’s journey with a partner and fill in any gaps of understanding.
Unit 2 has students develop a deeper understanding of the world by studying utopian societies and argumentation. Students use direct quotes to support an idea. In the Adapt notes, for students who struggle to complete this activity, they can return to the text, underlining three direct quotes that support how the character in the text knows there is a problem. Students identify dialogue and conflict to support a character archetype. For struggling students, the Adapt teacher notes allow students to work with a partner and review other classmates’ summaries of the class discussions. Students use these notes to describe the hero’s journey of unconditional love.
In Unit 3, there are supports for students, such as sentence frames and graphic organizers. Students analyze an informational text and create annotations as they read. Students who demonstrate below-grade-level proficiency receive support to understand the order of events in Wangari Maathai. Students use the “Sequence of Events Time Line” graphic organizer to take notes as they read. Teachers guide students to chunk the text to comprehend what is happening in the informational text. There are sentence frames, such as “This paragraph is about...,” to guide discussions with partners about the text.
In Unit 4, the goal for students is to develop a response to a humorous text. The materials provide support, such as graphic organizers and teacher examples. Students read the short story, The Open Window, by Saki (H.H. Munro) and then answer text-dependent questions. Students who demonstrate below-grade-level proficiency complete the “Notes for Reading Independently” graphic organizer to help them understand the story. Using the graphic organizer, students write a summary of the text using sentence frames.
Many of the “Close Reading Workshop 1 Informational and Literary Nonfiction Texts” Adapt suggestions propose differentiations that take students back to the text. For example, when students determine speaker purpose, the “Close Reading Workshop 1.1” Adapt strategy sends students back into Winston Churchill’s speech “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” to make annotations about every paragraph, slowing down reading for a more accurate analysis. Adapt notes suggest teachers redirect students to the SOAPSTone strategy questions. “Writing Workshop 3 Informational Writing: Compare and Contrast” Activity 3 assigns student groups an essay comparing and contrasting modes of transportation. The Adapt note suggests teachers provide sentence stems for topic sentences and supporting sentences but does not provide specific examples of these stems. During Activity 4 Revising and Editing, the Adapt tip specifies that if students encounter particular drafting issues, teachers pull script samples from groups and provide reinforcing instruction by making revisions while talking through the thinking process.
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. English Language Grade 8 “Planning the Unit” includes the table “Activity Features at a Glance,” enabling teachers to quickly see which specific lessons have the purple ELL circle icon, indicating embedded strategies for ELs. It includes a unit-specific “Cognate Directory,” and the guide suggests teachers use it for a word wall, using the 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 7 instruction, maintain grade-level content with Leveled Differentiated Instruction support that strategically incorporates 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 8 “End Matter” includes an English-Spanish Glossary of academic language and unit-specific vocabulary, such as controversy, euphemism, rhetorical question, target audience.
In Unit 1, after a read-aloud of “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury, the “Teacher Wrap” notes address various English language proficiency levels as defined by the ELPs. These notes facilitate students’ writing a summary of the short story’s central idea supported by text evidence. Accommodations for Intermediate ELs include providing a model of central idea statements and assigning small groups to work collaboratively to find and blend evidence into a written response with teacher modeling steps as needed. Advanced ELs work with partners to gather evidence before writing and revising their responses in one or more simple sentences. Advanced+ ELs work on their own to draft a single text-supported complex sentence that communicates the short story’s central idea.
In the Unit 2 study of “Five Challenges for Self-Driving Cars” by Laurel Hamers, students assess how images support the informational text content. Leveled Differentiated Instruction supports ELs’ comprehension and understanding by creating groups of four who use the Round Table Discussion graphic organizer to facilitate a collaborative conversation. Students pass this graphic organizer around the table as they each contribute their understanding of how images reinforce text content before engaging in a conversation. As an accommodation for Intermediate ELs, teachers provide yes-no questions, which use basic vocabulary like safe and self-driving, to guide responses written on the graphic organizer and in the small group discussion. For Advanced ELS, the students complete the graphic organizer using teacher-provided literal questions, which use academic vocabulary like ethical dilemmas to guide graphic organizer completion and small group discussion. Advanced+ ELs respond to teacher questions that solicit their opinion, using complex vocabulary like autonomous and colloquialisms such as roll-out and facilitating the completion of the graphic organizer and small group discussion.
Unit 3 engages students in a discussion about the Holocaust using newly acquired vocabulary. Students learn how the Nazis used language carefully to disguise actions. As students define the words using word origins, syllabication, and pronunciation, there is a discussion to determine the meaning of the word and how it affected others’ lives. Unit 3 establishes protocols for Literature Circle Roles by having each student write a résumé representing which role best suits their skills. The lesson includes a résumé template for all students to complete, adding sentence stems to support Intermediate and Advanced ELs. The Intermediate sentence stems account for the level of language skill with explicit wording that prompts one-word responses. In contrast, the Advanced EL sentence stems’ phrasing encourages extrapolation with the word because.
In Unit 4, students read an Act 3 excerpt from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Activity 1 genre focus engages ELs in “Quick Conversations” to discuss their understanding of comedy-drama, demonstrating their understanding by using genre-specific vocabulary to complete sentence stems for summary statements. In Activity 2, students read, with assistance as needed, an informational text summary of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which they then use to complete a graphic organizer of plot events as well as a play summary. The activity supports summary writing by having students write a summary of a familiar book, movie, or play. There is a language resources chart with a variety of time expressions to show beginning, middle, and end, for example. Activity 4 previews story-specific vocabulary like maypole or shrewishness with student pairs who unpack meaning through context clues or with reference materials before using them in ordinary sentences. Teachers can supply Spanish or Haitian Creole language supports to Beginning ELs with fully translated text and accommodate tasks using the student version “Language Workshop 4B, Grade 8 Spanish Activities” resource.
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 8 lesson quizzes and unit assessments have scoring information that provides sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. Each core lesson has a formative evaluation quiz, and the units have two summative Embedded Assessments and two summative Unit Assessments. 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. Found in the “End Matter” of the materials, a description of the various collaborative strategies used in the materials is provided. These strategies are identified and explained further in each unit as they are utilized.
Materials assist teachers with “Teacher Wrap” annotations referring to “Planning the Unit,” which features recommended titles; “Resources,” which has “Independent Reading Log”; and Graphic Organizers, such as “Notes for Reading Independently.” Students repeat a similar pattern of unpacking Embedded Assessments at the beginning and the halfway point of every unit throughout the school year.
ELA Grade 8, “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.
The ELA Grade 8 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.
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 8 Curriculum Map,” “Grade 8 Grade at a Glance,” and “Grade 8 2020 Prioritized Curriculum Map,” as well as a “Grade 8 Correlations by Standard” document. Teachers can download and edit the 19-page Grade 8 Curriculum Map spreadsheet to design instruction based on their district’s unique student population and needs. The Grade 8 Curriculum Map Excel spreadsheet covers all four core ELA Grade 8 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 15 days by choosing the first half of the traditional two-part unit for a focused study. For example, materials identify ELA Grade 8, Unit 1, Activities 1.10–Embedded Assessment 2 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 8 Correlations by Standard document lists each standard in TEKS order, aligning each by Focus Standard and Additional Standard coverage location in ELA Grade 8 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 uses genre characteristics and craft to compose multiple texts that are meaningful,” across multiple units and lessons in ELA Grade 8, 1–3; Close Reading Workshop 4–6; Writing Workshops 2–3 and 4–6; and Language Workshops 1A, 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 accessing 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 8” guides with enough content to span an entire school year. ELA Grade 8 Unit 1 has 35–38 days, Unit 2 has 35.5–38.5 days, Unit 3 has 36–40 days, and Unit 4 has 45–48 days for a year-long range of 151.5–164.5 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 clearly 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 in videos, screenshots, and written explanations to explain the material’s various features and functions.
Each ELA Grade 8 unit opens with a three-quarter page thematic visual 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 pictures and graphics related to the information found in the text to support understanding. The excerpt from “White House Funeral Sermon for Abraham Lincoln” by Dr. Phineas D. Gurley closes with a historical illustration titled “Lincoln’s Deathbed,” which conveys the sorrow of Lincoln’s family and government cabinet. The autobiographical excerpt from The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, by Frederick Douglass closes with a color lithograph showing readers that Frederick Douglass and President Lincoln conversed during the Civil War. A blue line graphic of the Star of David and a swastika illustrate the opening scene excerpt from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne to help clarify content in story descriptions of Jewish armband and Nazi uniform patch. At the end of passages from the Odyssey, the publisher reinforces students’ understanding by revisiting particular scenes from the epic using images such as color litho illustrations of Odysseus’ men lifting the spear to blind the Cyclops and another with the Cyclops fumbling to find Odysseus and his men among the rams. A black and white image titled “The Cyclops Polyphemus Tosses Rocks at the Fleeing Odysseus and his Crew” completes the collection. The essay “Made You Laugh” by Marc Tyler Nobleman captivates the students’ imagination with bold, vivid text and vibrant, colorful pictures.
The technology components are appropriate for grade 8 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, which 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 teachers’ scoring rubrics. 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, 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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