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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 %|
The materials include high-quality texts for ELAR instruction and cover a range of student interests and relevant current events. Students read about topics they can relate to and apply to their everyday life. Well-crafted, publishable texts written by experts in various disciplines represent the quality of content, language, and writing appropriate to the grade level. A variety of texts cover a wide range of genres written by many award-winning authors from diverse educational backgrounds and nationalities. Materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and multicultural texts, including short stories, novels, poems, informational articles, and plays.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This program includes well-crafted and content-rich texts of publishable quality that represent the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. Texts cover a wide range of student interests about people, their communities, diversity, and more. Materials include stories and articles by authors such as Christopher Paul Curtis, Gary Paulsen, Frederick Douglas, and Winston Churchill. Genres of text include the autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass and an excerpt from the fiction novel Flush by Carl Hiaasen. Materials contain a variety of complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts, such as Red Scarf Girl, a memoir by Ji-Ji Jiang; “Mother to Son,” a poem by Langston Hughes; a speech titled “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” by Winston Churchill; the play The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett; and the article ”Climate Change: The Long Reach” by Stephen Ornes.
Materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts.
Reading levels in the text range from Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper with a Lexile level of 550, “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever” by Lori Chandler at 1240L, and “Sometimes, the Earth is Cruel” by Leonard Pitts at 1300L. Materials consider a range of student interests and appeal to students at this grade level and include texts with which they can identify. For example, in Chapter 1, students read an excerpt from the novel Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, an African-American author from Flint, Michigan; the novel is set against the Great Depression. In Chapter 2, students read an excerpt from the memoir My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen, an award-winning American author from Minnesota. In Chapter 5, students read a radio play written by the female radio writer Fan Kissen; in it, the author retells the Ancient Greek story Damon and Pythias. In Chapter 6, students read a nonfiction essay titled “Sometimes, the Earth is Cruel” by Leonard Pitts Jr., an African American newspaper columnist.
Literary texts provide rich characterizations, such as in Chapter 8, in the autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. In this story, students learn of the life of Douglass in slavery and the challenges of diversity. Materials refer students to a documentary and provide a link to biography.com for further study and information about Douglass. Publishers also recommend that students read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriett Jacobs to compare how her experience was similar and different from the experience of Douglass. Additionally, in Chapter 11, students read the poem titled “Words Free as Confetti” by Pat Mora, a Mexican American author.
Materials include increasingly complex and diverse texts, such as the fiction novel titled Flush, in Chapter 16. This text allows students to summarize the sequence of events and discuss what led up to the climax and what happened afterward. Students explore topics related to their environments, such as the danger of illegal dumping and toxic waste. Students can conduct further research on the United States Environmental Protection Agency website (epa.gov). This text brings up community activities, such as recycling projects, allowing students to make further connections.
The language of informational texts reflects the rich vocabulary and language appropriate to the discipline they represent. Chapter 18 contains a nonfiction article called “Saving Our Sea Turtles” by science journalist Elizabeth Preston. Chapter 19 focuses on the article “Climate Change,” written by Stephen Ornes, an award-winning science and math writer. Chapter 20 uses an excerpt from a nonfiction text titled “Silent Spring,” written by Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and conservationist.
The materials contain a variety of text types and genres across content that meet TEKS requirements for this grade level. Literary texts include historical and realistic fiction, adventure, mythology, drama, poetry, a memoir, mystery, and a biography. Informational texts include argumentative, exposition, and nonfiction texts as well as newspaper articles, documents, and historic speeches. Throughout the various stories and articles, a variety of print, graphic features, and pictures support the text.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
In Chapter 2, in the section Project Based Assessment about teamwork, the story contains a picture of a huddle of basketball players.
In Chapter 3, a graphic chart displays the flow of an argument. The chart is a visual representation of how to structure an argument. Chapter 4 uses a Venn diagram to compare and contrast details of two friendships from the article “Reflections on True Friendship” by Andrew O’Hagan.
Chapter 7 includes the poem “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. Lessons focus on the poem’s message, understanding images, and determining how to recognize a tonal shift. A picture of stairs illustrates a line in the poem.
Chapter 8 includes the nonfiction autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass. Lessons support character development, analysis of how chapters develop the author’s ideas, and determining the author’s point of view. A photograph of Frederick Douglass shows his appearance, such as “his hair, beard, formal attire, and somewhat stern, serious face,” to help students better understand the central character.
The program materials include informational texts that reflect various genres. For instance, in Chapter 9, there is the speech “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” by Winston Churchill (1140L). The focus of the lesson is to determine the speaker’s purpose. Lessons also guide students to understand what the speech says and explore rhetoric.
Chapter 13 includes a photograph of Mao Zedong as pictured on Chinese currency. Mao Zedong was the Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and is referenced in “On to Victory in China” by Gloria M. Lannom and in the excerpt from Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang. Lessons use a propaganda poster to assist students in generating thoughts and ideas about the topic.
In Chapter 17, a story includes the graphic feature of a word cloud relating to oil spills. Chapter 19 includes two images from NASA’s ICESat satellite that show the differences in ice cover in the Arctic between 1980 and 2012. Further in the chapter, a graph shows the change in climate over time.
Texts include appropriately challenging texts at an appropriate level of complexity to support students at their grade level based on Lexile levels, reader interest, and task considerations. The publisher does not provide an analysis of text complexity for texts used in the program. Texts are at the appropriate quantitative levels and have the appropriate qualitative features for grade 6.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the Teacher Manual, materials provide “A Note About Text Complexity” but do not include the publisher’s actual text complexity analysis report. The Table of Contents provides Lexile levels for the curriculum’s texts. When considering text complexity, publishers use one of three factors for quantitative evaluation. The texts within the curriculum are grade-level appropriate and include grade-level complexity. The publisher states that computer software compiles “quantitative evaluations, such as Lexile scores, measure numbers of letters in a word, word frequency, and the number of words in a sentence.” A typical range for grade 6 students includes Lexile levels from 855L to 1165L. Materials contain texts ranging from 550L to 1300L, including at least eight texts within this range and other passages without identified Lexile levels. Examples of text and Lexile levels include but are not limited to: Chapter 2, My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen (900L); Chapter 3, “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever” by Lori Chandler (1240L); Chapter 6, “Sometimes, the Earth is Cruel” by Leonard Pitts (1300); Chapter 12, Out of my Mind by Sharon Draper (550L); Chapter 15, The Words We Live By by Linda R. Monk (1180L); Chapter 16, Flush by Carl Hiaasen (840L); and Chapter 20, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1040L).
The second factor for text selection includes a rationale that explains the texts’ educational purpose and grade-level placement. The publisher states, “qualitative factors of a text include such elements as layout, purpose, and meaning, text structure, language features, and knowledge demands.” A third factor the publisher uses is “reader and task,” relying on the “professional judgment of teachers to provide the support needed to ensure the success of their students as readers.” Each text includes chapter goals, correlated TEKS, vocabulary, lesson support, reading strategies, and thought-provoking questions that require critical thinking skills. Each of these factors was “considered as texts were chosen for each unit.”
An example of a text that includes appropriate qualitative features for the grade level involves student work on vocabulary-related tasks. In Chapter 9, for the speech “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” by Winston Churchill, students preview vocabulary before reading and circle unfamiliar words. Students use context clues such as definition, analogy, and examples to clarify and determine the meaning of words during the first read. Throughout the program, students use close reading strategies to complete their work. Another example of tasks that correspond with grade 6 ELAR TEKS is in Chapter 11, where students conduct multiple readings of the poem “Words Free as Confetti” by Pat Mora. Each time students read the material, they analyze and evaluate using a different lesson objective. First, students focus on the theme; for the second read, students focus on analyzing sensory language; during the third read, students focus on analyzing the structure. The close reading strategies directly support students with monitoring comprehension and making adjustments, such as re-reading, using background knowledge, asking questions, and marking annotations when understanding breaks down.
The Teacher Manual explains evidence-based best practices of close reading throughout the program for every piece of text. However, it does not include details or information regarding the research behind it.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. Materials require students to use text evidence and an in-depth explanation of ideas to support answers, claims, and inferences. Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Lessons and activities target reading and comprehension elements, with an appropriate depth and complexity, such as character traits, plot elements, mood, themes, big ideas, and connections across genres. Questions and tasks require students to connect to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them and identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Unit 1 covers the theme “How Are Friendships Built and Broken?” In Chapter 1, students read the novel Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Lessons contain text-dependent questions that require students to examine complex elements of texts; for instance, students cite textual evidence to support inferences and analyze characters and dialogue. Questions include “Why is Bud afraid when he hears a twig snap?” and “How does knowing that Bud sleeps with a knife affect Bugs’ behavior?” After reading, students focus on inferences and lines from the story to answer the question “What can be inferred about Bud’s emotions?” Questions and tasks require careful re-reading. During the second read, students focus on analyzing characters by completing a graphic organizer where they write down characters’ private thoughts, what the character says and does, and what others say about the character. After the third reading, students are given a character and a piece of dialogue to analyze and interpret meaning.
In Unit 1, Chapter 3, students read “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever” by Lori Chandler and connect the text to the world around them with a response to the author’s quote about social media. Students create arguments and debates based on the text and the information gathered from social media conversations. Furthermore, students link the text and the importance of making friends through discussion questions. Students answer the prompt “Do you predict that the number of people you connect with via social media will increase as you move on to high school? College? Adulthood? Why do you think they will increase or decrease?”
Questions and tasks require students to make text-to-text connections. In Unit 2, Chapter 8, students study character development, the relationship between chapters in a book, and point of view; students read the autobiography Narrative of Frederick Douglass’s Life, an American Slave. Students complete a graphic web organizer about Fredrick Douglass with the following components: character traits, thoughts, feelings, actions, characters’ conflict, how they change, and how they solve the conflict. An example question is “Why does Frederick Douglass devote himself to teaching other slaves to read and write?” Students must “provide a quote from the text to support their answer.” Students make connections to personal experiences as they think about “people who struggled before rising to great success.” Students think about these characteristics and generate a list of these character traits. They then consider whether people are “born with these characteristics, or if they learn them.” Students “share thoughts with a partner and summarize their discussions.”
Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. In Unit 3, with the theme “What Power do Words Have?” Chapter 11, students read the poem “Words Free as Confetti” by Pat Mora to determine the theme, analyze sensory language, and analyze the structure. After the first read, students determine the theme by completing a graphic organizer with confetti in one column and words in the second column. After the second read, students analyze sensory language by completing a graphic organizer with a column for each sense. Students then analyze words organized by sense and identify the poem’s color words that communicate emotions. After the third read, students analyze text structure by answering questions such as “Do any of the lines rhyme?” “Which lines are longer and sound smoother?” and “Why do you think the author uses free verse to write about words being free as confetti?”
Most tasks build conceptual knowledge through vocabulary development. In Unit 4, Chapter 19, students read “Climate Change: The Long Reach” by Stephen Ornes. Students define key terms based on the context, identify claims, and integrate information from the text and a graph. Students make connections to the world around them and identify claims by answering questions such as “What claim does the author make about global warming?” and “What can you infer about what the author wants people to think or do?” Students draw on textual evidence to support their learning of explicit facts and inferences in a text. After reading, students answer questions about the article and the graph, such as “What does the graph show about carbon dioxide?” and “How does the graph show support for this claim?”
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. Questions and tasks support analysis of the literary and textual elements. A variety of activities in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking allow students to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose and craft and cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts. Students provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. Lessons and activities require students to examine identical themes across different texts to compare and contrast stated or implied purposes of different authors’ viewpoints on the same topic. Questions and tasks require students to look closely at the author's language choices and how they influence and communicate meaning (in single and across various texts). Additionally, questions require critical thinking skills as students study the language within texts to support their understanding, thoughts, and conclusions with evidence from the text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials allow students to perform a variety of tasks related to literary/textual elements of texts through multiple readings. In Chapter 1, students make inferences and cite textual evidence. For example, in a “Making Connections” activity, students read an excerpt from Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White and explain inferences about how Wilbur characterizes friendship. In Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, students make inferences about the setting, underline words or phrases that support their inferences, and record them in the “My Thoughts Box” section. Students fill in a chart with their inferences, evidence from the text, and knowledge.
Program materials include questions and tasks that require careful re-reading. Students determine and explain the author’s point of view, integrate information from multiple sources, and compare/contrast different authors’ presentations of ideas. Students make connections by examining how an author uses details to express his point of view on friendship. In Chapter 4, students read an excerpt of Reflections on True Friendship by Andrew O’Hagan. After reading, students analyze how the author develops key ideas, who wrote the text and why, and important words and phrases. For example, students “place a star by important questions” the author asks and “think about how he tries to answer” them. Students state their opinion and support it with textual evidence in response to the question “Do you think the descriptions of the author’s daughter and her friends and the two young relatives with more than 1,000 Facebook friends is typical for students at your middle school?” Students answer a question; paraphrase a question and answer it; and complete the sentence stem “The author develops these questions by…,” using one sentence from the text to support their answer. For the second read, students discuss with a partner “how the writer supports his/her purpose” and uses “special types of language and structure.” Students complete a Venn diagram that includes details about the two friendships from the article. In the third read, students focus on “Comparing Ideas Presented in Multiple Texts” and compare this story with the text in Chapter 3, “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever,” “using details from both articles.” Within the two texts, students synthesize the information, compare ideas, and integrate them to build a deeper understanding of technology’s impact on friendship.
Materials contain text-specific/dependent questions and tasks that support students as they analyze grade-appropriate craft and structure. For example, in Unit 2, students write a personal narrative. Students refer to mentor texts Sometimes the Earth is Cruel by Leonard Pitts in Chapter 6 and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass in Chapter 8. Douglass’ varied sentence structures and Pitt’s repetition and similes add style to writing. In Chapter 11, each student group has a different poem by a different author. The teacher cuts up a “poem puzzle” word by word, including punctuation marks, and students put it together to make sense of the poem. Groups notice how the poets have their own style. Each group takes turns reading their poem to the class and discussing each poem’s style and structure.
Program materials allow students to compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic. Students compare an article to the memoir Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang and analyze the information each presents regarding the “start of the revolution, Chairman Mao, the message being shared, the significance of the color red, how the youth and elders felt, and why the revolution ended.” Students discuss questions with a partner, contrasting each author’s purpose and analyzing “how the texts work together” to enhance their understanding of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Students also compare how a memoir and an informational text present details about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, considering the point of view, purpose, and writing style.
Program materials provide questions and tasks that support building students’ analysis of the literary/textual elements studied within the grade level. For example, in Chapter 20, students read a fable to discuss the following questions with a partner: “What is the lesson in the story? How do the setting and events in the story reveal this lesson? Do you agree with this lesson? Why or why not? Why do you think the author is intentionally unclear about what has caused the deaths of the animals and people?”
Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. Instructional materials use various tools and techniques to build academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words authentically and appropriately. Materials provide scaffolds and support for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners through research-based strategies and teacher resources that support English Learners (ELs) and struggling students’ needs.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. Each unit contains a vocabulary activity as a part of daily lessons and instruction, including building and understanding key academic vocabulary both within and across texts. For each chapter, students preview and make note of any unfamiliar academic vocabulary words. Then, the teacher leads a discussion of unfamiliar words. Program materials support the development of academic vocabulary in context through daily instruction. Each chapter includes explanation and application within the lesson using example sentences on the chapter-opening pages. Students preview Tier 2 and Tier 3 academic vocabulary, including definitions, examples, and strategies to determine word meanings. The materials provide word study to reinforce skills and strategies and build a more powerful vocabulary, allowing students to use new vocabulary to communicate meaning. The materials also provide grade-level practice activities that incorporate vocabulary.
Materials include vocabulary essential to understanding the text as well as high-value academic words. The materials’ introduction states that “students learn and practice vocabulary, sentence structure, punctuation, and other language skills within the context of authentic texts.” For example, Chapter 1 contains a preview of vocabulary with Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. Academic vocabulary words include characterization, dialect, dialogue, inference, standard English, and textual evidence. Lessons include opportunities for students to define new vocabulary words and use them correctly in sentences. Culminating tasks prepare students for “The Connect to Testing” sections that provide assessments for students to demonstrate an understanding of academic vocabulary. The Teacher’s Edition includes a preview of features such as practice vocabulary within the context of authentic texts; practice vocabulary to prepare for standardized tests; presentations to support vocabulary instruction; ideas for enhancing vocabulary instruction; and grade-level-appropriate worksheets.
Materials include various scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development. To prepare for instruction on the play in Chapter 5, Damon and Pythias retold by Fran Kissen, ELs receive a lesson where the teacher “uses gestures, examples from online videos, and simple definitions” of types of theater: Readers theater, musical play, nonmusical play, drama, acting class, live play, podcast, and radio play. After teacher instruction in new vocabulary, students pair up and interview each other using sentence frames such as “Have you seen/been in a ...? What was it called?” For remediation, teacher guidance states that students may need help analyzing dialogue for insights beyond literal meanings.
In Chapter 7, “Understanding Poetry,” students read “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. Examples of vocabulary include word meanings related to the text and other contexts with which students might be more familiar. For example, the word crystal is defined for some students who “might find it difficult.” After the first read, the teacher encourages students to use context clues to determine word meanings and “confirm with a dictionary.” Academic vocabulary includes concrete image, dialect, infer, shift, speaker. Examples include definitions of the word and example sentences; for example: “dialect: a form of a language particular to a region or group, sometimes considered “ungrammatical” but has its internal grammar. The Scots’ dialect sounded like another language entirely!” For EL support, the teacher shows pictures of “a glass or crystal staircase, tacks, splinters, torn-up boards, and carpet.”
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. In Chapter 10, students focus on the excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Students who require remediation work within a chart to differentiate between characters, plot, and conflict. The teacher displays the chart for the whole group, and the class fills it together, citing specific drama lines that reveal qualities and traits through words and actions. The teacher explains that sometimes the stage directions or dialogue make qualities or actions explicit, while other times, readers must make inferences to determine information about characters, plot, and conflict.
In the margin, program resources provide examples for teachers that offer suggestions for various free apps for the students to download. In Chapter 11, the “Tech Connect” box suggests a vocabulary app that students can download on their phones or computers to learn ten new words. In Chapter 12, the teacher uses the following vocabulary words to help with the instruction: conflict, dynamic/static characters, exposition, nominative pronoun, possessive pronoun, reflexive pronoun, and subjective pronoun. In the Teacher’s Edition, the teacher can access a PowerPoint presentation to use with students to preview and lead class discussions for vocabulary instruction.
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. Chapter 19 contains a “Remediation” section for the first read of the text “Climate Change: The Long Reach” by Stephen Ornes: “Struggling students may find it helpful to read the article in sections, stopping after each one to summarize the most important information, circle unfamiliar words, and write questions.”
Materials do not include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. Materials do not provide procedures and/or protocols, along with adequate support for teachers, to foster independent reading. Materials do not provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time, and there is no planning or accountability for achieving independent reading goals. The instructional materials offer few text suggestions for students to read to further understand a topic; the majority of suggestions are to finish the text. Although lessons present students opportunities to “read on their own,” they do not provide clear expectations or accountability for students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials do not provide plans for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time, and they do not include planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals. Additionally, materials do not provide procedures and/or protocols nor adequate support for teachers to foster independent reading.
Materials offer some support through the “On Your Own” activities; however, the activities typically reflect further research based on the text related to chapter readings. In the “Own Your Own: Integrating Ideas” sections at the end of each chapter, students have opportunities to read the text independently.
After Chapter 1, students read Bud, Not Buddy or The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, both written by Christopher Paul Curtis.
After Chapter 6, students may read a book about a natural disaster, such as Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, Three Rivers Rising by Jame Richards, or Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse.
In Chapter 8, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas instructs students to “read the rest of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” and discuss the book “with someone else who has read it.” Students “think about how and why Douglass became so famous.”
Materials offer a few examples for teachers to assign independent reading, such as in Chapter 10, after reading an excerpt from the play The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hacket. Materials suggest that students read the autobiography, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, discuss it with a parent or friend, and respond to the question “How is reading the book different from reading the play or watching the film?” Materials also suggest that students read the novel Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. Students read this historical fiction text to determine the characters’ actions.
In Chapter 20, after students read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, suggestions for further reading include the related text “How Silent Spring Ignited the Environmental Movement” on the New York Times website.
Instructional materials do not provide details for procedures and/or protocols that foster independent reading. Program materials do not support the teacher to guide lessons or provide activities related to independent reading of suggested texts for further reading.
Materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Lessons provide opportunities for students to write literary texts to express their thoughts about real or imagined people, events, ideas, and narratives and to express personal feelings and beliefs. Lessons allow students to write informational texts to communicate ideas to specific audiences for specific purposes. Instructional materials allow students to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Additionally, materials allow students to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. Students use the writing process and various writing exercises to systematically practice good writing skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the textbook, there are various writing tasks, including short writing assignments, assessments, and projects. Assignments include full-length writing prompts and shorter writing prompts where students practice writing skills. Students receive opportunities to write grade-level essays for different audiences and for different purposes.
In Unit 1, students utilize the following concepts from the unit: understanding characters, citing evidence to support inferences, integrating ideas, and comparing and contrasting ideas to write informational text. Students write in response to a writing prompt, based on stories they read about friendship and the qualities that make a good friendship. Requirements include three or four different qualities with supporting details and examples.
In Chapter 7 of the “Student Edition Writing,” students begin to write literary texts. They receive a series of prompts to complete a story based on their feelings. The prompts include the time I first enjoyed reading a book, the first time a friend stayed overnight, my first experience with an animal, the chore I dislike most, and the best time I have had with my family. Students brainstorm ideas based on personal experiences. Additionally, in this lesson, students write literary texts by completing a story: They write a possible resolution and outcome. The assignment provides details on the setting, characters, brief descriptions, problem, the first event, and climax. Once the story is complete, students respond to personal questions such as “How did the story make you feel?” and “Were there specific personal experiences that came to mind when you read the story?”
In Unit 2, Chapters 6–10, students read true stories of people who faced misfortune in their lives. Students then write a personal narrative about a challenge that they have faced in their own life. Students respond to a prompt, writing a story from their own life and explaining what they learned from hardship, failure, or heartbreaking loss.
In Chapter 7, in “Characters and Dialogue,” students practice with story elements, setting, and plot. Students “think of a friend or family member who might appear in a story” and complete a set of given sentences. For example, they think of the character’s name, to whom he/she can be compared, physical description, age, and thoughts and feelings. Students “write a paragraph describing this character” and use provided dialogue to “revise, so it seems like a real-life conversation.” Finally, students write a narrative story that includes “resolution, outcome, and dialogue,” using all previous learning.
In Chapter 9, students write for communication in the digital age. Materials instruct to “write an informal letter to a friend in which you refresh your friend’s memory about how you met.” Students are to “demonstrate a sense of closure by ending [their] letter with a statement about [the] friendship.” Lessons include elements of the writing process for students to practice systematically over the school year. Students use a graphic organizer that guides them through the writing process: plan, draft, revise, and send. Other writing opportunities include a friendly letter; a letter thanking a person for a gift received, explaining how they appreciate the gift and how they will use it; an invitation for a surprise party for a friend; and an e-mail in which students register a complaint to an imaginary company because they received an item that was missing two parts. Each exercise includes opportunities for planning, drafting, and revising.
In Chapter 20, after reading an excerpt from Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, students write a fable with a lesson that may be inferred or clearly stated. For ideas about fables, students read a few of Aesop’s fables using many online resources. Students brainstorm ideas for the lesson or moral they want to communicate. They then think about the types of characters to use in the fable. The students’ fable must include a plot with events and character responses that communicate the lesson as well as sensory and descriptive language to engage readers.
In Unit 4, students read a fictional story, two nonfiction articles, a poem, and a fable, all on the topic of protecting the environment and the creatures that live on Earth. As a final project for this unit, students write an argumentative essay to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. The focus of the essay relates to the environment and addresses the following prompt: “Humans realize that all of life on Earth is interconnected. Our actions impact the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the health we enjoy—or the illnesses we suffer from. Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring, wrote, ‘In nature, nothing exists alone.’” Students choose from options such as global warming, clean water or air, and endangered species. Students select the audience, such as state or local community officials, a principal or teacher, classmates, or their family. They must also include information from four reliable, up-to-date sources.
Most written 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. Writing tasks include opportunities for students to make inferences, summarize ideas, analyze point of view, and support their opinions and claims using text evidence. Assignments allow students to demonstrate in writing what they learn through reading and listening to texts. Activities support students as they form opinions based on the text by using charts and organizers, discuss thoughts and ideas with partners, respond to critical thinking questions and use text to justify their responses, and form well-written pieces of writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Unit 1 focuses on the question “How are friendships built and broken?” Students read Joseph Parry’s poem “New Friends and Old Friends” and then complete a writing task that requires analysis and depth of thought. They respond to the following selected quotes: “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” (Ulysses S. Grant) “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.” (Jim Morrison) “No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” (Alice Walker).
In Chapter 2, students read an excerpt from My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulson. After the second read, students write a paragraph to analyze Paulsen’s views toward Dirk, Happy, and the other boys. Students use text evidence to support their ideas. In the end, students respond to the question “Is your point of view similar to or different from Paulsen’s? Explain your answer.”
In Chapter 3, after reading “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever” by Lori Chandler and “Reflections on True Friendship” by Andrew O’Hagan, students write a summary of how technology has impacted closeness and intimacy in friendship. Students use direct quotations from both texts to support their conclusions.
In Chapter 5, students read the poem “Commonplaces” by Rudyard Kipling and respond to the following question: “How do the images of nature reflect the speaker’s mood in this poem?” Students underline lines from the text that support their answer and explain their thoughts in a box below the poem.
In Chapter 10, students read an excerpt from the play “The Diary of Anne Frank,” adapted by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hacket. As part of the assignment, students also view a film version of the scene and fill in a Venn diagram, comparing and contrasting the play with the movie. After the students reflect on their understanding of the scene, they write two clear and concise paragraphs to highlight the similarities and explain the differences. They write a third paragraph using relevant facts and evidence from the text and film to answer the following questions: “What new insights about The Diary of Anne Frank and/or the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands do you have after comparing the film and the text? Do both the film and the play achieve the same ends? How do they differ as a whole?” An additional writing assignment requires students to “write a new ending.” Students “decide what is different” in their new version. Students make sure that “dialogue accurately reflects the tone and language” of the characters. This writing task requires students to use “stage directions” and the “format of the script in the chapter.”
In Unit 4, students learn about writing argumentative texts. In this unit, students read a fictional story, two nonfiction articles, a poem, and a fable regarding protecting the environment and the creatures that live on Earth. As a class, students review the claims made and note the differences between statements that are claims and those that are not. After writing a claim, students ask whether it is debatable. Students learn that an argument needs a claim and an opinion supported by reasons and evidence. The teacher instructs students to consider if a clear, concise claim helps guide the argument. In their writing, students must be sure to identify the audience to guide the tone of their argument and shape the content. The teacher explains that not all claims are appropriate for all audiences. Students consider who might be interested in their claim and whom they want to persuade.
Over the course of the year, materials include the application of composition convention skills that become increasingly complex in context. Students have opportunities to publish their writing. Materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing). Lessons provide opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. Instruction and practice in grammar, punctuation, usage, and editing occur systematically in students’ own writing, both in and out of context, as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students utilize a composition manual to practice writing skills. The beginning of the manual provides students with instruction and guidance on every element of the writing process. The “Writing and Language Handbook” contains chapters regarding the writing process, the craft of writing, writing well-structured paragraphs, and writing effective compositions. The handbook also contains chapters on informational, argumentative, and literary writing. The writing process section covers planning, focusing, organizing, writing, revising, editing, and publishing. Also, the handbook provides samples of well-written sentences, paragraphs, and essays, as well as graphic organizers. The Writing and Language Handbook explains and provides practice with grammar, punctuation, usage, and “other language skills within the context of authentic texts.” Chapter topics cover various writing lessons, including parts of the sentence, adjectives and adverbs, capitalization, and spelling strategies. Materials provide opportunities for practice and application. The “Teacher Edition” guides teaching these skills; many skills include examples and a link to a PowerPoint containing relevant information. Various lessons throughout the program cover, for example, “dialect, informal register, and slang,” verb tenses, punctuating direct quotations, intensive pronouns, punctuation terms through academic vocabulary (brackets, colons, and dashes), commas with an introductory phrase and before conjunctions, sentence fragments, run-ons, and the use of italics.
In Chapter 2, students read My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulson. Materials include lessons in writing out of context. Students combine specific details such as “pairs of sentences into ‘one longer sentence’” and “use the underlined prepositional phrase.” In addition, students complete a project-based assessment where they write a memoir about a significant event in their lives. One part of the rubric includes correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Students revise and edit their memoir for correct grammar and usage.
At the end of each unit, students complete an extensive writing assignment using the writing process. At the end of Unit 1 (Chapters 1–5), students write an informative/explanatory essay that answers the question “What qualities make a good friendship?” Materials provide guiding questions such as “What ingredients do lasting friendships have that allow them to endure, while other friendships fade?” and guidance for expanding writing, such as to “include three or four different qualities of a lasting friendship that you develop with definitions, anecdotes, and examples.” As a class, the teacher and students analyze the writing prompt. Next, students complete a graphic organizer to brainstorm ideas and create an outline of their thoughts. Students use their outline to write a rough draft of their informative essay. After a self-review, students complete a final peer review, checking for correct grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling; they proofread before they draft their final essay. Students publish their final essay on their class website, share with friends and family, or publish to a personal blog.
At the end of Unit 2 (Chapters 6–10), students use the writing process to write “a personal narrative (a story from your own life)” in response to the following prompt: “Everyone endures hardships, from simple failure to heartbreaking loss. Think about a time when you faced a challenging situation.” Materials provide guiding questions: “What did you experience? Think about how you reacted and why. What gave you the strength to get through this difficult time? Try to remember when, where, and who was involved.” Requirements for the narrative include the following: “Use thoughtful description and realistic dialogue so that your reader will understand what happened and how you felt. Make a connection to at least one of the readings from this unit. Compare your response to a challenge with the challenge faced [by a person you read about].”
In Chapter 7, students read Thank You, M’am by Langston Hughes as a model to write literary text following the writing process. Materials provide practice exercises on topic selection, including lessons that address audience and purpose. Students begin by planning; they “think about how the author creates a vivid scene and lively characters,” think of a plot by “brainstorming a list of story ideas based on conflicts [they] have experienced or observed,” and “determine point of view.” Through practice and exercises, students work to “sketch characters” using their own personality or habits and “create a setting” by “determining location and time.” Lessons include exercises for drafting; students make corrections of sentences in a sample paragraph; “create a structure” that best fits their story; and “write a first draft.” The next section focuses on revision: Students rewrite sample sentences. Additionally, students focus on detail and transition phrases. Students revise and edit their short stories and use the “Narrative and Drama Checklist,” which provides questions about organization, development of ideas, use of language, word choice, and conventions.
At the end of Unit 3 (Chapters 11–15), students use the writing process to write a literary analysis, using the prompt “We can learn about our country by analyzing historical documents… Choose a well-known speech and analyze its impact on the world. Research the background of the speech as well as the orator, and learn how the speech fits into history. Think about the immediate and lasting effects. What made the speech powerful, and how did it affect the audience and perhaps even change the world? Your analysis should be two to three pages long.”
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts. Lessons include multiple opportunities for students to speak and listen about the texts they read, allowing them to demonstrate comprehension through discussions with partners, small groups, and the class. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information with well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate knowledge and skills gained through analysis and synthesis.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials include oral tasks that 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. For example, in Chapter 1, students read Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and complete a graphic organizer concerning the characterization of Bud and Bugs, identifying each character’s “private thoughts, what he says, what he does, and what others say about him.” Students talk with a partner to answer, “How would you describe the personalities of Bud and Bugs?” Sentence frames guide the discussion: “Bud is... (character quality) because… (evidence)” and “Bugs is... (character quality) because… (evidence).” Students use specific textual evidence in their responses.
In Chapter 2, students read My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen. After reading, students complete a graphic organizer focusing on characters, conflicts, and resolution to support their understanding of how conflict is resolved and help determine themes. Speaking and listening opportunities focus on the text, allowing students to demonstrate comprehension. Students explore the theme that animals can be best friends and protectors and that friends can come from unlikely places. Students share information from their graphic organizer with a partner. They use the following questions to evaluate their partner’s theme: “Is the theme supported throughout the story’s beginning, middle, and end? Is the theme supported by the characters, conflicts, and resolution? Is the theme a complete sentence? Can you think of another work with a similar theme? (If you can, this means your theme is universal.)”
In Chapter 8, after reading an excerpt from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass, students form small groups of four to six people and discuss their responses to text-based questions like “How does the writer’s tone change from Chapter 7 to Chapter 10?” Students take turns speaking and focus on listening to others’ responses. They build on each other’s comments and find a new or more in-depth understanding of the text together. Materials provide “Steps for a Group Discussion,” which include: “1. Select one person to begin the conversation. 2. Without raising hands, allow the discussion to be free-form, speaking one at a time. Try not to interrupt one another. 3. Relate your comments to another person’s by using his or her name and a phrase such as the following: As…said…; I agree that...because...; or An example of what...said is….”
In Chapter 12, students read an excerpt from Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper and discuss how the excerpt “reveals Melody’s character and the conflict of the story.” Sentence starters guide partner discussion; for instance: Chapter 1 reveals that Melody…; Chapter 3 describes…; This is important because…; Chapter 16 is important to the story because it…; Because..., the conflict…; Melody changes because….”
In Chapter 14, students read “On to Victory in China” by Gloria W. Lannom. In their response journal, students write a summary that clearly states the main idea, include details that support the central idea, and do not include personal opinions or judgments. Students trade paragraphs with a partner, compare central ideas, and discuss differences in their responses.
In Chapter 17, students determine word meanings. Students share their explanations of the words with a partner to demonstrate comprehension. Students use an online or print dictionary to confirm their definitions and discuss how they help them determine the meanings of words in science or math.
In Chapter 18, students read an excerpt from the poem “The Last Ocean” by Jamie Joseph and underline personification examples. With a partner, students share their underlined examples of nonhuman things doing humanlike things and discuss the following question: “How does this make you feel about these nonhuman things?”
In Chapter 19, after reading “Climate Change: The Long Reach” by Stephen Ornes, students work in small groups to discuss whether they find the article’s claims are convincing. During the discussion, they respond to the following questions: “How does the article support the central claim?” “Do the science and the scientists seem believable or credible? Why or why not?” and “Bias is a tendency to believe that some ideas are better than others, which usually results in treating some ideas unfairly. Is there any evidence that the experts in this story have any bias that might affect how they interpret facts?”
The “Teacher Edition” provides implementation support to engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions in formal and informal settings. Instructional materials provide guidance, practice, and other grade-level protocols to engage students in authentic discourse, working with partners, small groups, and the entire class to express their thinking about texts. Lessons allow students to give organized presentations and performance about their findings and analysis, speaking in a clear and concise manner using the conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
At the beginning of Chapter 1, students think about the following questions: “How do two people begin and build a friendship?” and “How have you met your lasting friends?” A lesson includes a chart for students to place a checkmark next to the items that are ways the students met or could meet friends. Then, students discuss their responses with a partner and decide which of the meetings would most likely result in a long-lasting friendship. Additionally, in Chapter 1, students read an excerpt of Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis and discuss “what they know about each character, and why?” Students use sentence frames to guide their discussion; they require students to “use specific traits” and “textual evidence.” Examples of the frames include: “Bud is...(character quality) because...(evidence). Bugs is...(character quality) because...(evidence).”
In Chapter 4, after reading “Reflections on Friendship” by Andrew O’Hagan, students complete a project-based assessment that requires them to interview “an adult in [their] life who has experienced a friendship that has continued for twenty years or more.” Students create a presentation using a teacher-approved app or website. Students must include clips of the recorded interview as well as photos. Students create their own or use questions, such as “How did you first meet?” “What are some activities you have enjoyed together in the past?” “In your opinion, why has this friendship continued for so many years?” Materials provide a rubric for students that includes the criteria for high scores, including proper grammar and language use.
In Chapter 6, students conduct research and create a digital presentation about the 2010 Haiti earthquake. First, students search online for articles that explain in greater detail the events that took place and both short- and long-term effects of the earthquake. Students gather data as follows: a description of the conditions in Haiti just before the earthquake; a list of the immediate effects of the quake on people and communities their responses; details about the recovery efforts made by individuals, governments, and organizations; photographs showing the extent of the destruction; and the success or failure of rebuilding. Students must use three or more sources for the project, including the article’s name, the website, and the date. Finally, students create an interesting and well-organized computer presentation. Instructions include that each slide must have both an image or video and text. Students either narrate their presentation with a live voice or record their words to be played as the slides progress using movie-making software. Requirements for presenting include a demonstration of confidence, eye contact, proper volume, and correct grammar and usage.
In Chapter 13, a student-led round table discussion focuses on the question ”What can we as students in America learn about propaganda from reading Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang?” During the discussion, the leader allows each member a chance to reply to the question. Instructional guidance provides opportunities for the teacher to model expected behaviors for students, both in speaking and listening. Expectations for students’ listening during the discussion include: listen respectfully, look at the speaker, follow text evidence, take notes, and write follow-up questions. Students take notes regarding disagreements or questions during the discussion, writing what was said and who said it. Expectations for students speaking include: participate twice, offer reasons to support your point of view, ask questions, refer to text, and be open to other questions and comments. The leader allows everyone to ask a follow-up question. Students follow this format for continued discussion on another question. English Learners use sentence frames from program materials to support their discussion. For example: “People can learn about propaganda from Red Scarf Girl because….For example,….” Students practice their sentences with the teacher or “in multilevel pairs” before beginning the discussion.
In Chapter 18, students complete a digital presentation about how the Deepwater Horizon spill affected sea turtles and other wildlife. Students research another animal group affected by the oil spill and create a presentation to share with the class. Students create a well-organized presentation using Prezi, PowerPoint, or another presentation program. The presentation must include a description of the bird, fish, or another animal; how this species was affected by the oil spill; what rescue efforts were undertaken to help them; visual images, including photos, maps, timelines, and/or graphs; and background music that is appropriate for the subject.
The materials engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes and research to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources. Materials contain explicit instruction and support identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources and provide lessons about determining and gathering information from reliable sources. In the “Teacher Edition” and the “Student Edition,” a definition of secondary sources differs from Oxford and Webster. Materials support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade-level audience. Students have opportunities to share research in a variety of ways.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials support student practice in organizing and presenting ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research. For example, in Chapter 2, after reading My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulson, in the “On Your Own: Integrating Ideas” section, students “conduct research to discover a true story about a dog making a difference in your local community.” Materials guide: “You may learn how dogs are being used for pet therapy in hospitals and nursing homes, how dogs are trained as support animals for children and adults with disabilities, or how dogs support soldiers and others experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. Write a summary of the story and share it with your class.”
In Chapter 5, after reading Damon and Pythias by Fan Kissen, students complete a project-based assessment, “Friend or Foe of Humankind? Greek gods and goddesses mini-poster.” Students select a Greek god or goddess, conduct research, and identify “three sources to determine if the god was a friend or foe of humans.” Students “create a page-sized poster about a Greek god or goddess” that includes the name and title of god/goddess; a sketch or other images; art and design elements to reflect research findings; use of font styles and sizes to make the poster readable and interesting, and a short summary of a “key myth explaining why the god or goddess is a friend or foe of humankind.”
In Chapter 6, students “conduct research and create a digital presentation about the 2010 Haiti earthquake.” Materials provide students with a list of topics to research for their presentation. Teachers direct students to use reliable sources for their research, such as websites that end with .edu, .gov, or .org, and to refer to websites from news organizations to locate videos and pictures that demonstrate an understanding of the event. Students create a presentation to share with their class using “confidence, eye contact, and proper volume.”
Materials support identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. In Chapter 8, students read an excerpt from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave by Frederick Douglass. Students learn that “Douglass’s memoir is a primary source because it was written by someone who experienced historical events.” Students learn that “a book about Douglass written by another person is a secondary source.” Instructional materials guide the teacher to explain the benefit of using primary sources in research. Students also “discuss the benefits and possible drawbacks of using primary sources for research projects.” Students research online for primary and secondary sources on abolition and civil rights.
In Chapter 13, students read an excerpt from Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang: “Chapter 2, Destroy the Four-Year-Olds!” Students view a primary source—a propaganda poster—from the same time period as the events in the story. Students “examine the poster” and “think about what words and objects remind you of details found in the excerpt.” Students create a digital “poster of protest.” Materials include explicit instruction with research skills. Students “brainstorm two or three ideas” about “an idea or policy that they have a strong objection to” and “select the idea they feel most strongly about and get teacher approval.” Students “think about the audience, who they would like to send a message to, and what they would like them to know about the issue.” Students think about the poster’s purpose and “search online for propaganda posters.” The research includes a study of “famous examples of posters used to influence people” as students “consider how artists use words and visuals to influence people.” Students create a slogan, sketch the poster design and images, and use a computer program to publish. Lastly, students “share their final draft with the class by publishing the poster on the class website.”
At the beginning of Chapter 14, students make connections to “Ji-li Jiang’s memoir about China’s revolution.” Students read a secondary source informational article, “On to Victory in China” by Gloria W. Lannom, published in Calliope, October 2013. Teachers remind students: “Primary sources include letters, artworks, books, advertisements, and other sources written by people who lived through the events being described. Secondary sources are written by people who researched events but did not live during the historical time.” Students respond to the question “What might be the advantages and disadvantages of reading primary and secondary sources?” Materials provide a genre, and students “write a description of what they expect when they read each.” Students “consider the kinds of details included, point of view, purpose, and writing style.” Once students complete this assignment, they discuss their writing with a partner and answer questions: “Which type of text do you think would be most accurate or reliable? Why?” and “Which type of text do you prefer to read? Why?”
Materials contain multiple interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. Lessons include questions and tasks that help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. 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 and across multiple texts. Tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; include vocabulary, syntax, and fluency; and provide opportunities for independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials state: “Following the three reads, project suggestions extend the study of the text to deepen students’ understanding through writing, roundtable discussions, artwork, digital presentations, debate, and much more.” Students begin each chapter with academic vocabulary and an “Essential Question.” Students preview lessons before the main lesson. Students answer questions based on text evidence and personal knowledge and explain their responses. Students make connections about characters in movies and other texts related to the stories they read.
In Chapter 4, students read “Reflections on True Friendship” by Andrew O’Hagan. As the students read a third time, they compare ideas presented in multiple texts, recalling the article “Why We Need Friends More Now Than Ever” by Lori Chandler from Chapter 3. Students complete a graphic organizer, providing information about different technology topics such as “social media’s impact on friendship” and “qualities of a good friend.” Students integrate and record information from each article.
Tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. In Chapter 5, students read an excerpt from Damon and Pythias by Fan Kissen and work with three other students to create a podcast, in which a host interviews Damon, Pythias, and the King for a fictional show called Greece Today. They write an introduction, a summary, a script of the host interviewing all three characters about the events, and a short wrap-up for the end. Students must use a clear, strong voice and professionalism when recording their podcasts. If interested, students can write a commercial selling a product that could have been used in Ancient Greece.
In Chapter 10, students read a drama, The Diary of Anne Frank, which focuses on language, comprehension, communication, author’s purpose, craft, and composition. Students answer text-dependent questions about the passage, such as “Why do you think Anne keeps a diary?” and “Why does Mr. Frank say ‘Now we can live in hope’ in line 152?” After reading, students respond to the question“What do the stage directions tell us about the mood and atmosphere?” and discuss their answers with a partner. Students complete a two-column chart. The first column provides questions specific to characters, plot, and conflict, including “Give basic descriptions of the characters based on the dialogue and stage directions. What are they like? How do they respond to events? What is going on during this scene? Why won’t Mr. Frank answer the phone? What happens at the end? How does the historical setting influence the plot?” In the second column, students provide text-dependent details from the passage.
In Chapter 11, students read the poem “Words Free as Confetti” by Pat Mora. After reading, students write a paragraph summarizing ways the author says “words are like confetti” and discuss with partners using sentence frames: “Pat Mora believes words are similar to confetti because they...” or “Like confetti, words are….” For the second read, students focus on sensory language and follow along as the teacher reads the poem aloud. Students discuss how sensory language contributes to the theme. Students analyze the poem’s structure during the third read, answering questions about line length, repeated words, and rhyme scheme.
In Chapter 14, students think about the word revolution: “What does the word mean or suggest?” “What are some positive and negative aspects of a revolution?” Students record their thoughts, discuss with a partner, and summarize. Students read “On To Victory In China” by Gloria W. Lannom and connect to previous texts of different genres: a memoir/autobiography and informational article. Lessons in the chapter include the color red in literature, identifying the central idea, understanding the author’s purpose, and comparing/contrasting the presentation of events. Students record their thoughts about each topic, participate in discussions, and read the text aloud to their partners. Language skills include reviewing comma rules in lists; students place commas in the correct place given three sentences.
Materials contain tasks that require students to analyze and integrate knowledge and ideas across multiple texts. For example, in Chapter 16, before reading Flush by Carl Hiaasen, students “listen as two classmates read the excerpt, taking turns reading the parts of Noah and Abbey.” Students underline phrases that help make inferences about the two characters’ opinions. Students “think about an interesting character from a story,” “write three or four sentences to describe the character,” and reflect on “why the setting is important to this story.” Next, students read a passage from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and “underline lines from the text that show character qualities of Tom’s aunt.” Students “describe her character in a few sentences,” answer the question “What key event is being explained?” and describe an image that would illustrate their answer. Students “share answers to the graphic organizer with a partner,” make a note of any differences, and “write a summary of the excerpt.” An additional task includes components of syntax and provides opportunities for increased independence. Students read explanations of idioms and view examples. Students write a response to the question, “how does the use of idioms in Flush make the dialogue more realistic?” Students complete a chart with “two more idioms from the excerpt,” decide the meaning, and include two more idioms “from their own research.”
Materials provide spiraling and scaffolding practice. Materials support distributed practice over the course of the year. Design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include a TEKS correlation guide that shows how the TEKS are distributed throughout the program. Materials contain clear teacher guidance about how lessons meet each unit’s standards and chapter. The “Teacher’s Edition” also includes a standards correlation guide showing where to find TEKS in the “Student’s” and Teacher’s Edition. A similar organization of chapters ensures that lessons extensively cover standards per the forward materials. A chapter opener contains chapter goals, a preview of concepts, and making connections. Each chapter contains close reading of complex texts, focusing on skills and strategies. The chapter also includes technology integration and concludes with a project-based assessment and standardized testing practice. The “Teacher’s Guide” features a comprehensive listing of ELA standards at the beginning of each chapter and standard references at the point of use. Throughout the program, students “engage in close reading of complex fiction and nonfiction texts, all related to an Essential Question, build connections by returning to the texts for guided rereadings to gain a deeper understanding, write in response to reading, synthesizing texts and using relevant textual evidence, apply speaking and listening, writing, and language skills as an extension of reading complex texts, and apply English language arts skills through authentic test practice.”
Before reading each of the selections, the teacher pre-teaches tier two and tier three vocabulary. Each lesson begins with an “Essential Question” and provides close reading sections. The materials state: “Three readings of complex texts move students from identifying the key ideas and details to analyzing the author’s style and ultimately to evaluating ideas and connecting themes across texts.” Close readings begin with student practice, close watching, and annotation of text with specific instructions based on the text selection. The first read focuses on “What are the key ideas? What does this say or what does this mean?” The second reading focuses on “How does the writer support his or her purpose?” Students also have opportunities to read and discuss with partners to practice fluency. The third reading focuses on “Why is this text important or meaningful to me—or others?” and provides more text analysis. Each lesson includes opportunities for scaffolding through remediation supports. Examples include “text frames for writing and speaking activities and ideas for further scaffolding activities through modeling and cooperative learning.” Some examples of remediation are further defining terms, extra writing activities, and further analysis of the text.
Chapter 6 focuses on the analysis of the power and purpose of nonfiction using the text “Sometimes, the Earth Is Cruel” by Leonard Pitts, Jr. Chapter goals include determining the central idea of an essay, identifying repetition, understanding the purpose of repetition in a text, and exploring of the effects of certain literary devices within a nonfiction text. Materials include a lesson support section for teachers to scaffold instruction for students. Before students read the text the first time, the teacher shows pictures of Haiti and asks students to share any information they know about the country. Students make predictions about both the title and the text. The teacher pre-teaches the following list of words: fundamental, barren, magnitude, wretchedly, primal, and hamstrung. As students read the text, they circle unfamiliar words, use context to determine the meaning of the words, and check their work with a dictionary. For the first read of the text, students focus on determining the text’s central idea by underlining key sentences. A tech-connect suggestion allows students to see or hear Leonard Pitts by researching online interviews. During the second read, students focus on recognizing the purpose of repetition by circling words and phrases that are repeated; they complete a chart showing the effect of the repetition. Students read the text aloud to help develop fluency and identify the rhetorical effect. Before the third read, the teacher reminds students that “they should answer the question So What?” to analyze the author’s writing goal. “What does the writer want the reader to feel, think, and do?” Students draw boxes around the words that help create visual images for the reader during the third read. Students interpret literary devices, looking for examples of sensory details, personification, similes, and hyperbole. Students look at anaphora in a language activity as an excerpt from the text. Students create a digital presentation for their project-based assessment and then close the chapter with assessment practice over the materials’ standards.
In Chapter 9, students read “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” by Winston Churchill. Lesson support includes: “Before reading suggestions, preview text and setting a purpose for reading.” Students “underline sentences that show [Churchill’s] resolve in making the hard decisions in the face of adversity.” Students “learn and practice vocabulary, sentence structure, punctuation, and other language skills with the context of authentic texts.” They “preview vocabulary” and “circle unfamiliar words while reading, use context to determine meaning, and confirm definitions with a dictionary.” During the first read, students determine “what the speech says.” For the second read, students “explore rhetoric.” For the third read, students “determine a speaker’s purpose.” “Writing, speaking, and listening activities assist students in understanding texts and practicing and applying skills.” After reading, students complete a chart to demonstrate learning. The teacher leads a class discussion with text-based questions to monitor comprehension. “Connect to Testing sections conclude each chapter with a simulated testing format ” and/or “Project Based Assessments.” Students answer multiple-choice questions “based on the reading” to determine if they can identify the author’s purpose.
Chapter 20 follows the same lesson design and organization of skills and tasks. The teacher pre-teaches the following vocabulary words: prosperous, blight, maladies, stricken, moribund, droned, pollination, granular, substantial, specter, and stark. Students read “A Fable for Tomorrow” by Rachel Carson. Using close reading strategies, the students read the text three times: in the first read, identifying a theme; in the second read, analyzing characters; and in the third read, analyzing dialogue.
Materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Instructional materials contain multiple learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills above grade level, allowing them to expand their knowledge through extension activities, different projects, and writing outcomes that integrate ideas, challenge students, and extend their learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials include an “On Your Own: Integrating Ideas” section, which provides extensions to lessons for students and differentiated assignments for teachers to use for students who demonstrate literacy proficiency above the expected grade level. Enrichment options include extra reading materials, research ideas, various mediums for presenting reading and research, writing assignments, and text comparisons with friends. Guidance and support focus across all aspects of literacy in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
On Your Own: Integrating Ideas provides a variety of extensions and activities that focus across all aspects of literacy (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). In Chapter 2, students search for Gary Paulsen online to learn about his life and his books, read the rest of the assigned text, My Life in Dog Years, read other memoirs by the same author, conduct research about dogs in their community, write a summary, and compare works by the same author.
Chapter 3 explores identifying an argument using the text “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever” by Lori Chandler. At the end of the chapter, an extension activity integrates ideas with two additional books for students to read and apply critical thinking questions. In the book The Truth About Truman School by Dori Hillestad Butler, an example question for student response is “Do you think this could ever happen at your school?” Students investigate grade-level content in greater depth with additional books about bullying—Wonder and The Bully Book—then write a review of one of the books to post on the class website. Students also explore alternate ideas such as “relationships that grew out of social media contact” or “online interest groups.”
A “Project-Based Assessment” in Chapter 4 includes an extension activity where students read “Reflections on True Friendship” and respond to the following questions: “What would happen if Andrew O’Hagan and Mark McDonald were reunited?” “Would there be an awkward silence?” Students proficient above grade level write a conversation the characters might have that includes a discussion of some of their adventures in the hills, beaches, or graveyard.
Students who perform above grade level receive multiple opportunities to investigate topics in greater depth. In Chapter 5, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, students read the excerpt from Damon and Pythias. Students who perform above grade level find and read the full play, then compare the King from the play to Dionysus. In Chapter 8, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, advanced students choose from the following tasks: 1) read the rest of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; 2) discuss the book and reflect on how Douglass became famous; 3) watch a movie about Frederick Douglass and write a review; 4) read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs and compare/contrast the two people; or 5) create posters of Frederick Douglass’ famous quotes.
Program materials provide support for student choice to extend and explore new learning. In Chapter 6, students choose from various research ideas. For example, students research an organization that aids in disaster relief (USAID, American Red Cross, or Oxfam) to discover the missions, how and how much money is raised, and where it goes. A second option includes student research about Haiti, where they learn about the people, politics, economy, history, and ecology. Another option is for students to read a fiction or nonfiction book about a natural disaster and work collaboratively to compare ideas with a partner who reads the same book. Suggestions for books include Life as We Knew It, Three Rivers Rising, and Out of the Dust.
In Chapter 15, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, students have access to three activities to extend their learning. In the first opportunity, students review changes to the Constitution over time. In the second activity, students describe the Bill of Rights and explain why it was created. In the third activity, students research the Founding Fathers and Gouverneur Morris to explore their role in creating the document.
Materials provide opportunities for students with proficiency above grade level to engage in more sophisticated work through research. In Chapter 20, students analyze the theme through sensory language. At the end of the chapter, an On Your Own extension activity provides research-based questions for students to explore further. Students read “How Silent Spring Ignited the Environmental Movement” and conduct research on Rachel Carson’s life, providing details as to what happened to her after publication. Another example includes students reading additional Aesop fables and responding to critical thinking questions.
Materials provide teachers with various strategies to work with students demonstrating proficiency below grade level (labeled “struggling students” in teacher guides) to ensure they meet grade-level literacy standards. Teachers receive guidance on planning and learning opportunities for students that support all literacy areas; there are targeted lessons for struggling students. While most remediation activities are available to the general classroom, the activities can be differentiated to support students who perform below grade level. The “Writing and Language” materials offer strategies specially designed for students with various abilities, including struggling learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials provide planning for teachers and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level. Teachers receive guidance to grow literacy skills through strategies that include opportunities for students to work in small groups to read, analyze paragraphs, agree on the central idea, and present their ideas to the class. In Chapter 2, while reading My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen, students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level work with the teacher to determine a purpose for reading and make predictions during their first read to help them follow the plot. Additionally, materials guide teachers with pause points for students to record their thoughts while reading.
Teacher guidance includes strategies to meet the needs of learners struggling to build knowledge, such as providing support with unfamiliar vocabulary. In Chapter 6, while reading “Sometimes the Earth Is Cruel” by Leonard Pitts, Jr., the teacher explains the literal definition of the word hamstring. The teacher shows students that it is located at the back of the knee and thigh. The teacher explains to students that “if a person cuts or tears a hamstring, the results can be crippling.” The teacher explains the word hamstrung in this poem is an example of figurative language. Teachers receive guidance to grow literacy skills with a recommendation to encourage student volunteers to read the poem aloud, “slowly and deliberately.”
Provided strategies help teachers meet the needs of learners so that students can demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards. In Chapter 8, “Connect to Testing,” students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level focus on the first three questions (e.g., “Which of the following best describes Douglass’s emotional reaction after meeting the Irishmen?” “How did learning to read and write affect Frederick Douglass?”) Student responses provide the teacher with evidence of their understanding of character development and point of view. The students read each question and answer choice aloud, then receive support through discussion in a small group to determine which answer is correct.
In the “Remediation” section of the “Teacher’s Edition,” teachers receive guidance to work with students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level. In Chapter 11, they use a Venn diagram to explore similarities and differences while reading the poem “Words Free as Confetti” by Pat Mora. One circle is labeled confetti, and another circle is the other words; those matching both are placed in between. Struggling students pair with another student to track each other’s participation and self-reflect on their participation in a group discussion.
The Writing and Language materials offer strategies specially designed for students with various abilities, including struggling learners. Lesson 3.1 contains a remedial lesson for paragraph writing. Each student writes five sentences on a specific topic and reads them to a partner. The partner uses guided questions to determine if the sentence would be a topic sentence, supporting sentence, or a concluding sentence. Questions are: “If it is a topic sentence, what information would they expect to read in the rest of the paragraph? If it is a supporting sentence, what would the topic sentence of the paragraph be? If it is a concluding sentence, what information would it follow?”
Lessons include strategies within guided instruction. For example, in Chapter 7, the lesson objective is to explore the purpose and functions of creative writing and understand literature. Students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level create a chart with two columns and compare an item in column one to an item in column two. Guidance for the teacher points out that comparisons between otherwise dissimilar items are the most effective.
Guidance and support focus across all aspects of literacy (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, and listening). For instance, program materials provide an activity to help struggling learners better understand the definition of adjective. In Chapter 15, students describe a time they have seen or been on a ship. As the students share their experiences, to improve understanding, the teacher underlines the adjectives they used while telling the story.
In Chapter 27, materials include support for students to learn more about punctuation, specifically how to use periods in different formats. Students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level may make their flashcards with examples and the complete meaning on the back.
Materials include support for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. Materials include accommodations for linguistics commensurate with the various levels defined by ELPS. While there are no adapted texts or translations, lessons include scaffolds such as native language support, cognates, summaries, pictures, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, thesauri, and other modes comprehensible input. Materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English to enhance vocabulary development through a variety of strategies for teaching vocabulary; sentence frames; and multi-level partner practice for speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Instructional materials support students in building and developing vocabulary in connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials provide consistent support for EL students over the course of the year. In the “Teacher Edition,” materials include an “ELL Teacher Resource” that expands support for teachers and students and provides research-based strategies embedded on most textbook pages. At the beginning of each chapter in the “English Language Arts” textbook, teachers receive guidance: “See Teaching Vocabulary in the ELL Teacher Resource for ideas to use for teaching vocabulary.” Lessons include opportunities for teachers to pre-teach vocabulary to ELs to enhance vocabulary development at the beginning of an activity, reading in class, and teaching content through context. Examples of strategies include role-playing, using gestures, showing realia, and drawing pictures on the board. Instructional strategies include language partners reviewing the charts for inferences and evidence and then using sentence frames to help put their ideas together to write sentences in their response journal.
The ELL Resource contains helpful hints for teaching academic vocabulary, such as “Display the word and practice saying the word with the correct pronunciation. Clap the syllables and spell the word.” There are also vocabulary strategies, flashcards, word walls, and concept sorts. Materials provide support for teaching ELs in grades 6–8, including resources such as graphic organizers and revision and proofreading checklists. The Teacher’s Edition guides close reading specifically for ELs: “See Teaching Close Reading in the Connections ELL Teacher Resource...for ideas on adapting this lesson for Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced ELLs.”
In Chapter 1, before reading Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis, the teacher pre-teaches vocabulary to ELs “by role-playing, using gestures, showing realia, and drawing pictures on the board.” While reading, the teacher models how to annotate the text as students listen and follow along. The teacher points out where words in the dialogue seem different from standard English. Students use “Think, Pair, Share” to discuss and infer the meaning of difficult slang, while the teacher introduces the word inference and adds it to the word wall for clarification purposes. Students “review charts for inferences and evidence” from the assignment and have language partners write sentences in their response journal, using “sentence frames to put their ideas together.” For example, to analyze the character Bugs, students use the sentence frame “The dialogue reveals that Bugs is the type of person who….” Additionally, students practice listening “to the spoken words, rhythm of speech, tone of voice, and the speaker’s expressions and gestures.” The teacher places “multilevel language partners in groups of 4” and “ensures each group member understands ‘the difference in phrases and complete sentences.’” One group reads a character’s dialogue, and the other group reads the character’s words. Students discuss “what the character’s words reveal.” The teacher models “metacognitive thinking” about the character’s dialogue and words for students. EL recommendations include EL print or online dictionaries or the use of a dictionary in a student’s native language if necessary.
In Chapter 2, after reading an excerpt from My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen, students learn new language structures, expressions, and basic and academic vocabulary heard during classroom instruction and interactions, using sentence frames such as “At the beginning of the story, Paulsen feels...” “He feels...because...” “As Paulsen shares crackers with Dirk, he realizes….”
In Chapter 4, after reading Reflections on True Friendship by Andrew O’Hagan, students complete a project-based assessment, an interview, and a presentation. Students work in multilevel pairs or groups to write and practice questions for the interview. EL students may interview in their native language and “work in monolingual pairs” to write questions “in their native language” to prepare for an interview of an adult in their life “who has experienced friendship for twenty years or more.”
In Chapter 6, “Sometimes the Earth Is Cruel” by Leonard Pitts, teachers show Haiti pictures during the hurricane and after the earthquake to clarify students’ understanding of hurricanes and earthquakes; they also show the location of Haiti on a world map. Students read the article in multilevel pairs or small groups, pausing after each paragraph to summarize the main ideas and supporting details using a graphic organizer. Teacher notes include to encourage students to take notes and draw sketches in the margins to help them understand each paragraph’s central idea and to encourage students to find sentences in the article with phrases they can use for their writing.
In Chapter 11, students analyze the sensory language and structure of poetry: They determine which emotions connect with different colors and then read the poem “Words Free as Confetti” by Pat Mora. An EL teaching note states: “Preview Concepts: Color connotations are cultural. Pink is not associated with femininity in many cultures. Yellow is associated with death in some Asian and Latin American cultures. White is worn at funerals in some African cultures.” Teacher guidance advises teachers to be careful not to present their own or other non-EL responses as the correct responses. Materials recommend paraphrasing the prompt “What feelings or emotions do these colors give you?” and allowing students time to share reasons for the emotions they associate with each color.
In Chapter 18, “Saving our Sea Turtles,” Elizabeth Preston, EL strategies provide support to help deepen the students’ understanding as they share their native language’s rules for pronouns. Students compare and contrast their usage in various languages to reinforce the rules in English. They work in multilevel pairs or small groups and write example sentences for each kind of pronoun taught. Students use these sentences as models. Beginning and intermediate students draw sketches of their group’s sentences with pronoun labels. Students share their sentences, and the teacher records them on the board and provides feedback.
The materials include assessments that guide teachers to understand and interpret data through answer keys and explanations. Resources include many formative and summative assessments aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. Assessments and scoring information provide some guidance for interpreting student performance. However, materials do not provide sufficient guidance for teachers to track data, monitor progress, and respond to student performance based on data results, nor do they include guidance specifically for administrators to monitor progress or support teachers with data analysis. Materials provide a multitude of assessments that connect to regular content to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials include many formative and summative assessments that align in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. A digital resource includes chapter and unit tests with text-based multiple-choice questions. Extensive assessment resources include pretests, chapter assessments, and end-of-course tests. Assessments reflect Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DoK) with categories of recall and reproduction, skills and concepts, strategic thinking, and extended thinking; TEKS and the Depth of Knowledge are identified for each question. The program includes practice for standardized STAAR exams in the “Connect to Testing” sections, which “assess students’ understanding of the academic vocabulary and skills practiced within the chapter.” Question types and format “mirror those on standardized assessments and represent DoK levels 1, 2, and 3.” They include fictional and informational texts, constructed response questions, and an essay.
The “Writing and Language Handbook Teacher’s Edition” includes “online and print assessments” to “pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses” through quizzes on grammar, usage, and mechanics. Each unit provides performance tasks that “begin with multiple-choice, constructed response, and extended response questions that challenge students to integrate ideas from multiple texts and prepare them for a writing project.” Materials offer student models and rubrics for project-based and writing assessments; there is also information for scoring with some guidance for interpreting responses.
Assessments include connections to the regular content that support student learning. In Chapter 1, after reading Paul Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy, students create a comic strip as a project-based assessment. Students “return to the excerpt” to “mark sections of text” to present in the comic strip.
Information for scoring provides some guidance for interpreting response choices to questions. The Connect to Testing section of the Teacher’s Edition contains answers to each question and explanations for responses. For example, in Chapter 2, the first question asks: “Part A: Which of the following details would most likely be included in a condensed or short summary of the excerpt in this chapter? Choose three. Part B: Explain why the other detail(s) would not be included in a short summary.” The answer response indicates “Part A: A, C, D [6.6.D] [DoK 3]. Part B: Explanation: The other choices are supporting details and may not be included in a short summary. The three chosen details reflect important events. [6.6.B, 6.6.D] [DoK 2]”
In Chapter 3, Connect to Testing, students answer multiple-choice questions such as “Which of the following best explains the article’s central claim?” and “Which two excerpts from the article are evidence that supports the answer to part A?” The Teacher’s Edition includes rationale, TEKS, and DoK. For example rationale for question one states: “Explanation: Choice A is incorrect because although 150 is stated as the maximum number of friendships you can maintain in your life at one time, it is not the central claim. While it is true that as you become older, you tend to have and need fewer friends, this is not a central claim, so choice B is incorrect. Choice D is a correct statement but not a central claim. [6.8.E.i] [DoK 2]”
In Chapter 10, students participate in a project-based assessment that provides an opportunity for research that further extends student learning. Students participate in “reader’s theater” and perform a scene in a group without a costume or a set. Once the groups are in place, students study a script to answer text-based questions. An example question is “What do you know about each character and their relationship to each other?”
In Chapter 11, students determine the poem’s theme, analyze sensory language, how color communicates mood, and how structure communicates a poem’s meaning. In the Connect to Testing section, questions connect to content: “Which of the following lines from ‘Words Free as Confetti’ is the best example of sensory language?” and “Which of the following lines from ‘Words Free as Confetti’ best support the theme of the poem ‘A Word is Dead’?”
A project-based writing assessment comprises multi-part summative assessments where students synthesize ideas, make connections, and perform a writing task. For example, after reading “The Words We Live By” by Linda R. Monk in Chapter 15, students conduct research and create a timeline that “traces the beginning of the Constitutional Convention to the end when the Constitution was signed.”
Program materials lack evidence of guidance and tools for teachers to measure and monitor student progress. Resources do not include teacher guidance to respond to individual students’ needs based on student progress measures appropriate to their developmental level. Assessment guides offer interpretations of answer choices but no clear routines or guidance for responding to student performance. Assessments and scoring information do not offer a variety of resources or teacher guidance on leveraging different activities to respond to student data. Additionally, materials lack guidance for administrators to support teachers in analyzing and responding to data.
The materials include year-long plans through pacing guides and some teacher supports to guide them with instruction and help them identify the needs of students. Materials provide suggestions for differentiation to meet the needs of all learners to ensure comprehension and grade-level success in learning. Materials provide extensive support for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. Comprehensive plans attend to differentiation to support students through various learning opportunities. However, materials lack grouping strategies in response to data. “Teacher’s 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 support student learning and provide assistance for teachers with easy-to-locate materials referenced in multiple locations.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Teacher’s Edition contains a full “Lesson Planner” with a lesson plan template and a guide on integrating technology throughout a school year. The Lesson Planner includes a pacing guide that shows the time and number of days lessons will take for all 20 chapters. Materials state that “pacing guides align lessons from The Essential Guide to specific chapters and lessons, simplifying lesson design and TEKS alignment.” This includes pacing for the main text. The “Writing and Language Handbook” includes the identified TEKS for each lesson.
Instructional materials for each unit/chapter provide teacher guidance through introduction suggestions, explanations of materials, annotated selections, and a list of “Chapter Skill” and “Assessment” resources, which include suggestions for project-based assessments. Lesson supports throughout each chapter include a purpose for reading, suggestions for connecting to the text, discussion questions based on the text, answers, and ways to integrate technology. Comprehensive plans provide differentiation opportunities within the lessons to assist teachers with strategies for struggling learners and English Learners (ELs). At the bottom of each page, the Teacher’s Edition includes EL and remediation support, possible stumbling blocks for students, suggestions for guided and independent practice, learning strategies such as text frames, and suggestions on how to scaffold learning.
The Teacher’s Edition contains the entire “Student Edition” text and features an introduction, lesson support, and assessment. It includes a full teacher wrap with the student book with close reading guidance throughout the text; background information on the authors and selections; suggestions for supporting and extending the lessons in the “Student Book”; text-based discussion questions; answers to all questions and student activities; rubrics for project-based and writing assessments; practice standardized assessments; and a summative unit assessment.
Lessons engage students in multiple grouping arrangements and a variety of student learning strategies. Students work individually, with partners, in small groups, and in whole-group settings. For example, in Chapter 2, students work individually to write down titles of texts that would fit into the memoir, biography, autobiography, and narrative nonfiction genres. Students read an excerpt from My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulson and complete multiple graphic organizers independently. After the second read, students work with a partner to discuss the theme. After the third read, students work with a different partner to discuss points of view and text evidence. For the project-based assessment, students brainstorm milestones in their lives as a class.
Annotations and ancillary materials provide extensive assistance for teachers to support student learning, such as the “Teacher’s Wraparound Edition” of the main text, Teacher’s Edition for the “Writing and Language” text, and “ELPS Teacher’s Edition.” Within each chapter, teachers find links to PowerPoint presentations, academic vocabulary, “Essential Questions,” and strategies and skills for reading and writing. Lessons also provide teachers with guidance for enrichment. For example, in Chapter 4, the Writing and Language text includes a “QuickGuide” for easy reference and location of lessons on writing effective compositions in the Student and Teacher’s Editions.
In Chapter 6, students analyze the power and purpose of nonfiction. The introduction contains chapter goals and a preview of the academic vocabulary, with links to a PowerPoint and the “ELL Teacher’s Resource” for teaching vocabulary. The next page of the chapter includes guidance on assisting students in making connections to the chapter. For the first read, teachers receive suggestions about building background knowledge to prepare students for reading. After the first read, students respond to text-based discussion questions and author information; there is a link to a biography about Leonard Pitts, Jr. Materials provide multiple EL and remediation supports for vocabulary. Throughout the chapter, the Wraparound teacher support includes tech-connect suggestions, answers to questions, graphic organizers, suggestions for speaking and listening, suggestions for writing, and further guidance for projects and assignments.
The unit openers contain suggestions about how to introduce the Essential Question. On the first page of a chapter, the Teacher’s Edition comprehensively lists the standards located at each activity point of use. The beginning of the chapter introduces academic, Tier 2, and Tier 3 vocabulary with page number references and a link to a PowerPoint with additional vocabulary explanations. For example, in Chapter 11, instructional materials recommend: “Explain that images may appeal to more than one sense, such as ‘bitter as old lemons.’ Explicitly, the word bitter appeals to the sense of taste, but the adjective old may also evoke the sense of sight if the read imagines shriveled lemons with bruises, rot, or mold.” Materials include multiple grouping strategies throughout lessons. In this chapter, students work in pairs to answer multiple-choice questions about the reading selection. Once pairs complete questions, they “compare their answers with another pair of students.” Teachers “encourage groups to try to reach a consensus as they discuss reasons for their choices.”
The materials include implementation support for teachers. The “Scope and Sequence,” pacing guidelines, and lesson plans contain TEKS alignment. They outline essential knowledge and skills, which build and connect across grade levels. An informative “Teacher’s Edition” and various resources provide ample supports for teachers to guide instruction, implement lessons, and use materials. These supports can be used by administrators to support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. Materials include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction, with realistic pacing guidance and routines that support both 180-day and 220-day schedules.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The Teacher’s Edition includes a TEKS standards correlation guide that shows the location of identified TEKS, taught and assessed in the Student’s Edition and Teacher’s Edition. The TEKS correlation guide includes links to the various lessons and page numbers associated with the lesson. Additionally, it includes the knowledge and skills statement, student expectations, the breakout, the item type, the citation type, the component ISBN, the page number, and the specific hyperlink to the location. Materials offer a Scope and Sequence/pacing guide and lesson planner within the Teacher’s Edition that maps out the school year.
Instructional materials provide supports to help teachers implement the materials as intended and include “an easy-to-use reference and instructional resources” with a pacing guide to “align lessons to specific chapters and lessons.” Additionally, resources include teacher planning tools, such as a guide on integrating technology, a lesson plan template, a digital English Learner (EL) teacher resource, classroom presentation tools, and various assessments. The textbook editions include wraparound information that provides teacher support, featured standards, vocabulary, lesson support, “ELL/Remediation” support, assessments, teacher planning tools, the digital “ELL Teacher Resource,” and classroom preparation tools. The teacher materials also include a reference for using “The Essential Guide to Writing and Language,” an explanation about using the digital platform, information about the “Power Write Online Writing Assignments,” and tips for close reading and annotating the text. Materials also include information on the side margins, such as text-based discussion questions, key background information, and vocabulary. The bottom of the page includes information for remediation and EL support. Teachers have access to students’ grades and participation scores across assignments.
Materials include an abundance of resources to support teachers with implementing lessons, activities, and data analysis, which can be used to support administrators. For example, the Teacher’s Edition could be used for coaching conversations with teachers specific to summative and formative assessment data, lesson planning, EL planning, etc.
Materials provide realistic pacing guidance and routines that support lessons for 188 days. With the “Language Handbook” implementation, lessons provide for 205 days. The lesson planner estimates the time needed for each lesson and provides the page number in the text and TEKS taught.
The visual design and layout of the “Student Edition,” both print and digital, are neither distracting nor chaotic. Colors, graphics, and font choices complement materials and information. Instructional materials have an appropriate amount of white space that supports student learning; there is sufficient space to annotate the text, respond in writing to questions, and complete graphic organizers. Visuals and graphics support student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials include appropriate white space and design that supports and does not distract from the lessons’ focus. Throughout the instructional materials, the topic and purpose of the work are clear. Titles and headings are prominent, with clearly marked subheadings. Each chapter has a logical progression and follows a similar layout for ease of use. Lessons include appropriate sidebar information and use a visually appealing font and text size, which allows students to focus on the task at hand.
Materials clearly frame important information in the text and provide sufficient space for students to annotate it. Graphic organizers provide enough white space for students to complete tasks and write responses to questions. Text and images fill each page without including excessive and unnecessary information. To complement reading, the Student Edition has white pages with pictures and text in soft shades of blue. The composition student resource has white pages with black font and only a few images and pictures.
Pictures and graphics support student learning and engagement without being visually distracting. The Table of Contents has a single picture representing the theme for each unit; it ties the chapters together. The picture repeats at the start of each chapter, in the unit opener, and in the headline for each chapter. Other pictures throughout the book support the text and do not distract from the lesson or activity. Realistic images are used sparingly to engage students and help them understand and describe the text presented. Materials do not contain visually distracting images that take away from the lesson or interfere with student learning. In Chapter 2, an excerpt from My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen includes a picture of a female basketball team, which connects with the theme of friendship and supports the project-based assessment, “Milestone Map.”
The “Writing Handbook” includes images to complement teaching suggestions with various graphic organizers and charts. Pictures and graphics support student engagement and learning. In Chapter 5, the lesson introduces students to procedural texts. A provided example explains the steps to treat oneself to “a bowl of warm, fluffy popcorn” and includes a color image of popcorn.
In Chapter 8, students read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass. It includes a picture of Frederick Douglass, which allows students to connect with the author.
Chapter 10 includes a picture from Anne Frank’s diary, corresponding with the excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.
Chapter 13 includes an example of a propaganda poster that helps students connect to an excerpt from Red Scarf Girl by Ji-li Jiang.
Materials include technology components that are appropriate for grade level students and provide support for learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include suggestions for the integration of technology throughout the program. The “Teacher’s Edition” provides guidance on “Using Technology in the Classroom” with tips to make the technology meaningful. “Tech-Content Suggestion” sections in the “Teacher Wrap” of the Teacher’s Edition include ideas for teachers to integrate technology into the lessons to enhance student learning. Lessons state that “tech-connect suggestions provide ideas for using technology and media to provide background information and to extend learning.” The materials include various ways for students to use technology to support their learning. Students use software like Google Slides or PowerPoint to create digital presentations and use grammar and spell check to revise and edit writing. Lessons provide tech support through technology connections that engage students through texting, social media, and other online applications.
The materials include a guide to integrating technology, lesson plan templates, a pacing plan, and presentations to support different TEKS. English Learner resources include digital materials to support students at different levels of language acquisition. Throughout the instructional materials, an icon indicates technology resources available in the ebook or those that can be downloaded from the website. Resources include PowerPoint mini-lessons, guided instruction, warm-up activities, differentiation strategies, collaborative learning activities, and workplace applications.
Technology options include digital components with the following assignments: project-based writing, quizzes, assessments, STAAR model exams, and teacher-created writing assignments. Students use various suggested websites: sharondraper.com, poetryfoundation.org, Dictionary.com, the National Geographic website, polleverywhere.com, LibriVox, and vocabulary apps such as Word Twist Search. Students also do online searches for information and images. Additionally, students receive opportunities to publish their work on classroom websites.
In Chapter 1, the Tech-Connect Suggestion encourages students to further explore regional dialects by accessing provided websites. It asks, “Do you drink pop or soda or Coke? The term you use for your carbonated soft drink reflects your regional dialect. Search online to find a map of which parts of the country use the terms pop, soda, or Coke. At popvssoda.com, you can participate in a web-based project to plot the regional variations in these terms.”
The textbook contains suggestions for technology integration. “Tech-Connect activities engage students through texting, tweeting, and online applications.” For example, Chapter 3 contains a Tech-Connect activity where students send their claim statement from “Why We Need Friends Now More Than Ever” by Lori Chandler to polleverywhere.com and compare theirs to their classmates.
In Chapter 5, students participate in a project-based assessment based on a mini-poster on the theme “Friend or Foe of Humankind? Greek Gods and Goddesses.” Students use an app, an online design program, or a word processing program to create a Greek god or goddess poster.
In Chapter 6, students create a digital presentation “with a live voice or record their words that can be played as the slides progress using movie making software.” Instructional materials provide suggestions for online safety and remind teachers to “caution” students “that they may discover disturbing images, and direct them to avoid any that are overly graphic.” Tech- Connect suggests that students use “Google Drive or Dropbox” to save their presentations.
Teachers receive guidance on “Using Technology in the Classroom” in the teacher’s materials for the textbook. This one-page document includes “Tips for Using Cell Phones in the Classroom” and information on “Suggested Tech-Connect Content.” Chapter 9 contains a Tech-Connect activity where students post their favorite sentence from Winston Churchill’s speech “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” to Twitter, Facebook, or a class website.
Chapter 15 contains a Tech-Connect activity where students text, tweet, or post to a class website, responding to the question “Which adults in your life wouldn’t have been part of ‘We the People’ when the Constitution was drafted?”
Read the Full Report for Technology
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Read the Full Report for Professional Learning Opportunities
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Read the Full Report for Additional Language Supports
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