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The TRR reports for K–8 and high school science are now available. The new Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) rubrics for K–3 and 4–8 English language arts and reading, K–3 and 4–6 Spanish language arts and reading, and K–12 mathematics are now available for review. Provide public comment through December 15, 2023. Visit the instructional materials webpage to view the slides and recordings from the focus groups.
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. 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 wide 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, plays, magazine articles, and a memoir.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This program includes well-crafted, publishable quality texts that represent the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. They include the following: an excerpt from the science fiction novel Feed by M. T. Anderson; an excerpt from Fallen Angels, a novel by Walter Dean Myers; and a play called Elizabeth Blackwell by Cynthia Mercati. Materials contain a variety of complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts, such as the short story “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield; the poem “Robots Are Slowly Taking Over the Job Market” by Lindsey Pulse; the novel Feed by M. T. Anderson; the short story “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury; and the nonfiction novel Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson.
Content-rich texts cover a wide range of student interests about people, their communities, diverse cultures, and more. Materials include authors like Frank Abagnale Jr., Lois Lowry, and Clive Thompson. The language of informational texts reflects the rich vocabulary and language appropriate to the discipline they represent. For example, in Chapter 2, students read the short story “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy, a Russian author. Chapter 4 contains the magazine article “Vegetarianism” by Judy Krismanic, an author who writes primarily about vegetarian health and nutrition. In Chapter 5, students read an informational text A Plea for Animals, written by Matthieu Ricard, a French writer with a Ph.D. in molecular genetics.
Literary texts provide rich characterizations, as seen In Chapter 6, where students read an excerpt from the memoir Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr., which describes the life of Abagnale and the details of his schemes. The text explores Abagnales’ deceit in tricking people into thinking he was someone that he wasn’t. In the first line of the text, students read the statement, “A man’s alter ego is nothing more than his favorite image of himself,” which sets the tone for the student to imagine the life of Abagnale. The text is rich in description, which allows students to connect with the text and create imagery with the scenes as they read.
Materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts.
Reading levels include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts. Chapter 8 features an article by Glen Kessler, titled “The Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake News.” Chapter 10 introduces students to the science fiction novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, with a 590 Lexile. This text is largely dialogue, which allows students to experience and imagine the various characters while reading; it includes topics of emotion in which students can connect with their feelings. Later, students read “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies” by Dr. Nikolas Kardaras, at 1300L; and “Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs by 2021, Report Says,” by Olivia Solon, at 1350L.
Texts include previously published literary and informational texts written by experts. Chapter 12 includes the poem “The Secret of the Machines” by Rudyard Kipling. In Chapter 13, students read the article “Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs by 2021, Report Says,” by Olivia Solon, a freelance journalist. In Chapter 16, students read an excerpt from the novel The Lions of Little Rock about the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, written by Kristin Levine, an American author. Additionally, Chapter 19 features an excerpt from Fallen Angels, written by the well-known author Walter Dean Myers.
The materials contain a variety of text types and genres across content that meet TEKS requirements for this grade level. Literary texts include realistic and historical fiction, science fiction, short story, memoir, drama, poetry, mystery, mythology, and fantasy. Informational texts include argumentative and nonfiction texts, articles, and a timeline. Throughout the various stories and articles, a variety of print, graphic features, and pictures support the texts.
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:
The program materials include literary texts for specific grade 7 TEKS. Chapter 2 includes an excerpt from the myth “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy. The chapter provides background information about the author. It also includes a photograph of Leo Tolstoy reading to his grandchildren to provide a descriptive image of the author. The photo comes after the following question in the text: “Leo Tolstoy wrote, ‘Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ Do you agree or disagree?” Chapter 4 includes an excerpt from the mystery “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield. The chapter provides a photograph of a dollhouse for reference, to familiarize students with what one looks like in real life and to support reflection questions.
Materials include text types for specific grade 7 TEKS and provide print and graphic features for a variety of texts. Chapter 7 includes an excerpt from Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy Harrison. The end of the chapter provides an image of a human standing under a UFO, which corresponds to the reading. Chapter 10 includes the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry (590L). Lessons focus on how to cite evidence, analyze the interaction of story elements, and analyze points of view. A picture of an open door connects to the unit question, “Can we trust what we see, hear, and read?”
Program materials include literary texts in the genre of realistic fiction and adventure. In Chapter 16, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine (600L) supports student understanding of how story elements shape literature in the novel. The story includes a graphic with a timeline from the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site. Lessons support student understanding and analysis of how setting affects conflict and how point of view affects a story. Students also compare and contrast historical fiction and nonfiction.
Materials include print and graphic features for a variety of texts. A historical fiction story in Chapter 17 has a picture of the reconstructed Shiloh Church in Shiloh, Tennessee, following “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury. In Chapter 18, lessons focus on textual analysis and inference-making and provide a picture of a World War I reenactment.
There are 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. The publisher uses appropriate quantitative measures to choose materials for inclusion in the textbook.
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 the 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.” Typical Lexile levels for grade 7 include Lexiles from 925L to 1235L. Materials contain texts ranging from 590L to 1350L, including at least eight texts within this range and other passages without Lexile levels. Examples of text and Lexile levels include but are not limited to: Chapter 2, “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy, short story (750L); Chapter 5, A Plea for the Animals by Matthew Ricard, informational (860L); Chapter 6, Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr., a memoir (860L); Chapter 9, Debunk It! How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation by John Grant, nonfiction (1260L); Chapter 11, Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson, nonfiction (1040L); Chapter 14, Feed by M. T. Anderson, a novel (1100L); and Chapter 18, “Our Jacko” by Michael Morpurgo (750L).
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 considers 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 was “considered as texts were chosen for each unit.”
The tasks in texts correspond with the grade 7 ELAR TEKS. Students use close reading strategies throughout the instructional materials to complete their work. In Chapter 1, students read “Our Brains Are Wired for Morality: Evolution, Development, and Neuroscience” by Jean Decety and Jason M. Cowell. First, students focus on summarizing the text; during the second read, students understand technical terms (morality, tendencies, culture, genetic); during the third read, students identify claims, reason, and evidence. Close reading strategies directly support students as they monitor comprehension and make adjustments, such as re-reading, using background knowledge, asking questions, and annotating when understanding breaks down. Another example of a text that includes appropriate qualitative features for the grade level relates to student work on oral language development tasks through listening, speaking, and discussion. In Chapter 10, when reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, students follow and give complex oral instructions to perform specific tasks, answer questions, or solve problems.
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 with 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:
Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, and integrate multiple TEKS. The Unit 1 theme is “How do you know right from wrong?” In Chapter 4, the short story “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield targets complex text elements. Questions and tasks require careful and multiple readings. After the first read, students summarize what happens in different sections. After the second read, the lesson focus is on figurative language. When given a line from the poem, students use sentence stems to determine whether it is a simile or metaphor. After the third read, the task requires students to complete a graphic organizer that includes a thought, speech, or action from the short story; students must determine what it shows about how the characters feel about each other.
Questions and tasks require readers to analyze arguments from different texts and produce evidence from texts to support their position or claim. In Unit 1, Chapter 5, students read A Plea for the Animals and “Why I Am a Vegetarian” by Matthieu Ricard and the magazine article “Vegetarianism” by Judy Krizmanic. Students analyze the effectiveness of arguments related to being a vegetarian. Lessons include identifying the author’s purpose by analyzing the purpose of different sections, evaluating arguments by examining different claims, naming a reason and providing text evidence, and comparing/contrasting arguments made in the articles. Students answer questions such as “How is Richard’s purpose different than Krizmanic’s purpose?” and “What similar evidence is used in the two texts?”
Materials allow students to build conceptual knowledge, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. In Unit 1, Chapter 6, students preview goals, cite text evidence to support inferences, analyze the development of point of view, and “compare/contrast the techniques different media use to tell the same story.” Students read two excerpts, “The Art of Money Getting” by P. T. Barnum and “The Decay of Lying: An Observation” by Oscar Wilde, and contrast the authors’ points of view. Questions for discussion focus on important big ideas; for instance, they ask students to “name someone they trust and think about why they trust that person.” Students write their response and include “two details about their interactions,” then share their thoughts with a partner and together “form a definition” of the word trustworthy. For the memoir Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr., students answer questions that relate to the theme: “Does the cashier trust Frank?” and “Does Gary Giles, the pilot, trust Frank?” Materials require inferences with text evidence to support responses. Students analyze point of view by completing a graphic organizer about two points of view of Frank as a pilot; they compare and contrast the film and the memoir; and they compare the points of view people have of Frank and how he sees himself.
Lessons and activities require students to make connections to the world around them. In Unit 3, Chapter 12, after reading “The Secret of the Machines” by Rudyard Kipling, students connect ideas of “transforming nature to transform human society.” Questions and tasks support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas within texts. A lesson focuses on the central idea and addresses poetry elements such as repetition of sounds, structure and meaning, and allusions. Students identify and discuss important big ideas as they think about whether machines are an “appropriate subject for poetry.”
In Unit 3, “How is Technology Shaping Society?” Chapter 13, students work with the articles “Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs by 2021, Report Says,” by Olivia Solon and “Robots Are Slowly Taking Over the Job Market” by Lindsey Pulse. A lesson focus is to analyze the development of central ideas by completing a diagram. Students identify the central idea and add supporting details using textual evidence. Another lesson focus is to compare the articles to a video. Questions about the two articles include “On what report are both articles based?” and “What examples of artificial intelligence do both articles give?” Additionally, students explore media portrayals and analyze presentations. Students watch a video version of an article and compare it to the article. Discussion questions include “What is similar and different about how the text and video express tone? Identify statistics that appear in both articles and more based on comparing the two articles.”
Questions and tasks support building students’ knowledge across multiple texts. In the Unit 4 theme “What Does History Tell Us about Ourselves?” students read from the novel The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site timeline in Chapter 16. Task and activities support student analysis of how the setting affects conflict; students identify types of conflict based on the time, place, and situation. They also analyze how point of view affects the story when given lines from the passage from two different perspectives—Marlee’s and Daddy’s. Tasks support students drawing on textual evidence to support their learning of explicit facts and inferences in a text set. Students compare a historical fiction text to the timeline of actual events using a graphic organizer and a Venn diagram.
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. Instructional materials include a variety of activities in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking that allow students to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose and craft in 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. Additionally, questions require students to apply their critical thinking skills to language within and across various texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials include questions and tasks that require careful re-reading of texts and contain text-specific/dependent questions and tasks that support students as they analyze grade-appropriate detail, craft, and structure. With each text, students perform various tasks for the first, second, and third read. In the first read, students focus on “key ideas,” like what the text is mostly about, who wrote it and why it was written, and the important words and phrases. For the second read, students focus on “how the writer supports his or her purpose.” Students focus on details: the “special types of language and structure” of each text. During the third read, students focus on connecting and learning from the text, connecting the text to other texts through theme and ideas, or improving their writing with mentor texts.
Lessons require students to analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning across various texts. For example, in Unit 1, Chapter 3, students analyze the structure of a nonfiction text, evaluate an author’s point of view, and create a digital presentation or participate in a roundtable discussion to understand the author’s purpose for writing. Students begin by reading an excerpt from Do We Need Zoos? by Weston Phippen and answer a series of questions about the inferences they make throughout the reading. Students underline words and transitions that help them infer the text’s structure. Students then read “Zoo Complicated: Are Captive Animals Happy?” by Kathryn Hulick. After the first reading, lessons focus on point of view and making inferences. Students answer the question “Is life in captivity better for wild animals?” and use textual evidence to support their conclusion. Following the writing prompt, students complete a graphic organizer to infer about the relationship between captive animals and people. After the second read, students focus on the author’s purpose and answer questions such as “What is the purpose of the list of animals contained in the third sentence?”
Materials include questions that require readers to identify and support the author’s purpose, considering both the general topic and the specific author’s literary choice. In Chapter 5, students compare/contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors writing about the same topic: “A Plea for the Animals ‘Why I am a Vegetarian’” by Matthieu Ricard and “Vegetarianism” by Judy Krizmanic. Students respond to questions such as “How is Ricard’s purpose different from Krizmanic’s purpose?” “What type of evidence does Krizmanic use to support her points? Does she include any counter-arguments and evidence against the counterarguments? Is this effective? Why or why not?” and “What similar evidence is used in the two texts?” Students work in small groups to answer “How are the audience for the two passages different?” “Why does Krizmanic use a different type of evidence than Ricard?” and “How are the purposes of the two excerpts different?” Students “synthesize ideas from both tasks to write a few paragraphs analyzing the arguments presented by the two authors.”
Program materials require students to study the language within texts to support their understanding. In Chapter 8, students focus on the author’s purpose and read the excerpt from “The Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake news” by Glenn Kessler from The Washington Post. In the “First Read: Making an Inference,” students analyze what “Kessler assumes about his readers.” During the “Second Read: Analyzing Text Structure,” questions require students to “uncover how a writer communicates his or her ideas by asking the question How?” In this example, students focus on different parts of the article to develop and communicate the main idea. A task requires students to fill in a chart that focuses on the purpose of each section of the article. Lastly, in the “Third Read: Determining Point of View and Purpose,” students answer critical thinking questions about the point of view and the main purpose, supporting their answers with details from the text. Students cite textual evidence to support an inference, analyze how the structure of a text helps develop its ideas, and determine an author’s point of view and purpose for writing a text.
Program materials provide opportunities for students to analyze literary elements of texts. For example, in Chapter 17, students use textual evidence to make inferences, analyze an author’s use of literary devices and language, and compare a fictional account of a historical event with a nonfiction account. Students read A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle and an excerpt of a historical fiction text, The Drummer Boy of Shiloh by Ray Bradbury. Students analyze the author’s use of language, make inferences “about the boy, the general, and the battle,” and provide evidence to support their decisions. In the second read, students analyze the author’s use of language and how it influences and communicates meaning. They complete a chart with words or phrases that are examples of sensory language, metaphors, repetition, and foreshadowing. Students explain the “effect on the reader,” discuss with a partner any “emotions” they felt while reading, and discuss whether the author’s language was “effective at communicating” emotion.
Program 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 include scaffolds and supports 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:
Each unit contains a vocabulary activity as a part of daily lessons and instruction throughout the program. Students practice their understanding and build key academic vocabulary both within and across texts. Each chapter includes Tier 2 and Tier 3 academic vocabulary to preview, including definitions, examples, and strategies to determine word meanings. In the Forward, teachers are guided to explain the vocabulary component of the texts. Program materials allow students to learn and apply academic vocabulary in appropriate contexts.
Each “Chapter Opener” page defines Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary and includes a list of words with explanations, example sentences, and application tasks for each lesson. Each text includes academic vocabulary highlighted for reference. Regular tasks include previewing vocabulary words, noting down and discussing any unfamiliar academic words, and a word study to reinforce students’ skills and strategies to build a more powerful vocabulary and use words to communicate meaning. The program also provides grade-level activities that incorporate vocabulary. The Teacher’s Edition includes 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 related to vocabulary.
Instructional materials provide support for the teacher to identify students’ vocabulary development and understanding of words in and out of context. Students work in multilevel pairs or small groups to look up unfamiliar words using an online dictionary on a website suggested in the Teacher’s Edition. Students discuss vocabulary using the following sentence stems: “The most important word in the passage is…” and “This is the most important word because….” In Chapter 1, students read “Our Brains Are Wired for Morality: Evolution, Development, and Neuroscience” by Jean Decety and Jason M. Cowell; EL support suggests teachers refer to the “ELL Teacher Resource PowerPoint” for ideas to use while teaching vocabulary. To help students learn academic vocabulary, teachers group vocabulary into the following categories: affix, root word, and suffix; claim, evidence, and reason; antonym and synonym. Teachers explain the words and give examples of each term in each category to support understanding (e.g., international: identify inter- as the prefix, nation as the root word, and -al as the suffix.) Then, teachers write words from each category on the board and ask students to identify the prefix, root, and suffix.
In Chapter 8, before reading “Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake News” by Glenn Kessler, students preview high-value academic vocabulary essential to understanding the text (inference, point of view, and purpose); preview the content of identified vocabulary words (legitimate, domain, absurd, debunks, biased, scrutinize, dubious, and fraudster); and circle unfamiliar words as they complete the first read of a text. The teacher then guides students to determine the words’ meanings using the context and encourages them to support their responses with evidence and confirm their initial definitions using a dictionary.
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. In Chapter 11, students read Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson. The vocabulary “Remediation” section states: “The concepts and vocabulary in this passage may be challenging for struggling students. Form groups of four and instruct students to take turns reading the passage aloud in sections as follows: paragraphs 1–3, paragraphs 4–5, paragraphs 6–8, paragraphs 9–11. Have them stop after each section to summarize main ideas, work through confusing concepts, and decipher unfamiliar words.”
Materials support teachers with differentiated vocabulary instruction. For example, in Chapter 15, students read “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies” by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. Tier 2 and Tier 3 words include intuitively, apathetic, agitated, psychotic, and axiom. Program notes indicate that the article’s high-interest topic and controversial argument may motivate struggling students to work through the difficult vocabulary; materials recommend that teachers encourage students to move past unfamiliar words on the first read to maintain focus.
Lessons and tasks support vocabulary development in everyday instruction. For example, in Chapter 20, when reading the play Elizabeth Blackwell by Cynthia Mercati, students choose either to “preview unfamiliar vocabulary” before the first read or “circle unfamiliar words” as they complete the first read. Academic vocabulary includes aside, chorus, conflict, dialogue, domain-specific words, monologue, multiple-meaning words, narrator, and theme. Definitions and example sentences support students’ understanding. For example: “aside: in a play, an actor’s remarks that are not supposed to be heard by others present. Anthony’s aside in the first act reveals his evil intention.” The lesson guide also provides a list of content words, the definition, and an example sentence that some students “might find difficult,” including equality, prissy, determination, balderdash, conviction, disapproval, and criticism. Materials allow students to learn, practice, apply, and transfer words into familiar and new contexts. ELs work in pairs or groups and use sentence frames to determine word meanings. One example is “the words [Using a mocking tone] are important because they tell….”
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; they do not provide planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals. The materials offer few suggestions for texts for students to read to further understand the topic; the majority of the 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:
Instructional 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 suggestions for further reading and activities that typically reflect further research related to chapter texts. For example, the teacher may assign independent reading. For instance, in Chapter 2, in the “On Your Own: Integrating Ideas” section, students receive these options: “Read more of Leo Tolstoy’s stories by searching for his name online at gutenberg.org” and “Read a children’s book titled The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth.”
In the Own Your Own: Integrating Ideas sections at the end of each chapter, students receive opportunities to read the text independently. After Chapter 10, students may finish reading The Giver by Lois Lowry; the more advanced options are to read 1984 or Animal Farm, both by George Orwell, which “depict dystopian societies.” Teacher guidance suggests that students can read more about dystopian literature if it “appeals” to them.
After Chapter 16, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas suggests students may continue reading The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine or Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals.
In Chapter 18, students read “a first-person account by a soldier who served in World War I.” Lesson guidance suggests that students read poetry written by “soldiers who fought in World War I and share with their class.”
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 as well as to express personal feelings and beliefs. Students write informational texts to communicate ideas to specific audiences for specific purposes. Instructional materials also allow students to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Additionally, students write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. They use the writing process and various writing exercises to systematically practice good writing skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Instructional materials include various writing practices to build stamina, which supports students’ ability to transfer skills to other contexts. Throughout the textbook, tasks include short writing assignments, assessments, and projects. Assignments include full-length writing prompts in each unit and shorter writing prompts where students practice writing skills, including grade-level texts for multiple purposes and audiences.
In Chapter 5, after reading “Why I Am a Vegetarian” by Matthieu Ricard and “Vegetarianism” by Judy Krizmanic, students make connections to the texts and write a letter to the editor in response to their reading. Students read example letters to the editor in their local newspaper or an online newspaper. Requirements for the letter include references to the articles, a clear point of view, reasons, and evidence; it must be written in a business letter format. Materials include an image to show students where the heading, inside address, salutation, body, closing, and signature are arranged on a business letter page. Later in the chapter, materials state that the author of “Why I Am a Vegetarian” explains his reasons for choosing vegetarianism and supports these reasons with facts and statistics. Materials ask, “What is an issue you feel strongly about and have a personal connection to?” Students make a claim about an issue, write an argumentative essay, and support their claim with strong, research-based reasons and personal experience. Students must include “a counterclaim and a response to the counterclaim.” The essay must have a “broad audience beyond just your teachers and classmates.” The essay must have a length of three to five pages and be typed and double spaced.
In Chapter 6, mentor texts provide examples for students to learn about text structure, including the title, introduction, thesis statement, body, in-text citation, counterclaim, conclusion, clincher statement, and works cited. Students also learn about claims, counterclaims, facts, and opinions as well as rhetoric, logos, pathos, and ethos. Students follow the writing process to write an argumentative essay regarding a “local or national issue that is important” to them. Additionally, students identify their audience, create a thesis statement, and find and evaluate sources.
In Chapter 7, students “find an idea for a poem,” using “events, scenes, or sensations,” and then write it. Students use “sound devices” like consonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition, and rhyme. The task includes a “poetry checklist” for students to use during the revision of their poem. Additionally, students refer to elements such as “organization, development of ideas, use of language, poetic devices, word choice, and conventions.”
In Unit 2, students read about whether they can trust their senses’ evidence. Students write an informative text describing how a long-held belief about the natural world was proven false by modern science. Students describe a long-held idea that science eventually proved wrong, explain how science disproved that idea, and describe the idea that replaced it. Students develop their descriptions and explanations with facts, details, and examples. Students also use domain-specific vocabulary and provide some definitions for readers. Also, students use graphics, such as a photo or diagram, to illustrate the ideas they discuss.
In Chapter 11, after reading Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson, students write the following narrative: “Imagine it is the year 2099. You are in your favorite class. It could be art, math, science, even some future subject that hasn’t been invented yet—whatever you like best. Your teacher announces, ‘students; our school just got an exciting new technology that will make your learning experience in this class even better.’ What could it be? A shrinking ray? A time machine? A device that lets you talk to animals, plants, or minerals? Because it’s the year 2099, that technology could be pretty wild. Write a narrative (a story) about the day in 2099 that your favorite class gets this new technology.” The narrative must describe the new technology; show the new technology in action; present at least one outcome of using the technology; paint a picture of the setting; depict characters important to the story; and use realistic dialogue, which can also have futuristic slang.
At the end of Unit 3 (Chapters 11–15), students write a story in which the main character confronts a technology problem. Stories must have a vivid setting, the main character, and a depicted problem. The character should confront and try to solve the problem, and the story should depict the resolution with logical outcomes from that resolution. Requirements also include thoughtful description, realistic dialogue, and careful pacing.
At the end of Unit 4 (Chapters 16–20), students choose an interesting historical figure and “research and write a biographical sketch of that person that captures both the actions and the character of the person.” In this writing assignment, students use five good stories that capture basic biographical facts and the event or action that made history. In writing, students also identify a lesson they learned by studying this person’s life.
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 points of view, and support their opinion and claims using text evidence. Assignments provide students with multiple opportunities to demonstrate in writing what they learn through reading and listening to texts. Activities support students as they form opinions through the use of charts and organizers, discuss thoughts and ideas with partners, respond to critical thinking questions using text to justify their responses, and form well-written pieces of writing.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Chapter 2, students read “The Three Questions'' by Leo Tolstoy and complete a graphic organizer regarding the conflict. Students identify a conflict, name the type of conflict, and identify the resolution. After completing this task, they discuss with a partner and respond in writing to the following questions: “How do the different conflicts interact? For example, how does the resolution of the king’s conflict with his enemy impact the other conflicts’ resolution in the story? How does the conflict create suspense?” Students also write a paragraph responding to the following questions: “Does the hermit’s view of the king change during the story? Why does the hermit finally answer the king’s questions?”
In Unit 2, students read excerpts from The Giver by Lois Lowry, Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale and Stan Redding, and Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy Harrison. Students select two texts and write an explanatory essay comparing and contrasting the authors’ purposes for writing and how they addressed the “Essential Question,” “Can you trust what you see, hear, and read?” Students explain how the organization of information in each text helps the authors achieve their purpose and cite textual evidence from each text to support their analysis.
In Chapter 7, students read Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy Harrison and complete a graphic organizer, including the author’s claim along with one piece of evidence from the text. Students must find additional evidence to support the claim and the reasoning behind the claim. In a writing task, students use details from the text to demonstrate knowledge gained. For example, after reading the excerpt, students think about the following questions: “Have you heard the old saying, seeing is believing? What’s your opinion? Do you agree that what we believe affects how we understand events? Do you disagree?” Students write an opinion sentence to declare what they think about the idea that “seeing is believing” The teacher instructs students to ensure their essay clearly states an opinion and includes details that develop and support their opinion. Essays must also be organized using good transitional words; a variety of sentence structures; and correct grammar, usage, and punctuation.
In Chapter 10, students complete a chart after reading The Giver. Materials provide a “Moment in Excerpt” and include the example “When Jonas first thinks about the House of Old.” Students provide “text evidence” and explain “what it suggests about Jonas’s experience with older people.” Materials provide opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they learn. Students share their completed chart with a partner. The teacher listens for discussions that include a response to questions and for students to “speak and listen.” “Students “add or change the information” in their chart based on the discussion.
Materials provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they learn through writing. In Chapter 16, students read an excerpt from The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine and write a few paragraphs explaining how the author develops the points of view of Marlee and Daddy in the story. Students focus on how they view Liz and the events at Little Rock. Students use sentence starters such as “Marlee’s and Daddy’s points of view are…” and “Marlee wants…because she says….” Also, in Chapter 16, students read The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe. After reading, students receive an opportunity to write about what they read in response to the following two questions: “What is the effect of the setting on the conflict the narrator faces?” and “Will this setting be to his advantage or disadvantage?” Students analyze how a story’s setting impacts the characters and conflict.
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) to multiple texts. 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’s Edition guides teaching these skills; for many skills, there are examples and a link to a PowerPoint containing relevant information. Various lessons throughout the program cover, for example, commas to set off nonrestrictive phrases and clauses, direct quotations, commas with coordinate adjectives, complex sentences with subordinating conjunctions and relative pronouns, asyndetons, independent and subordinate clauses, adverb and noun clauses, sentence fragments, and run-ons.
Chapter 1 includes a resource explaining prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Students brainstorm examples and share their meaning with a partner, then practice through the “Sort It!” activity, working together using a set of cards. Materials provide “Steps to Help” students as they write an argumentative essay, arguing “whether humans are by nature more or less moral than animals.” Students follow the writing process and “write a central idea statement, develop an outline, write their essay, ask two classmates for feedback, and check their essay for mistakes in grammar, usage, spelling, and punctuation.”
At the end of each unit, students complete an extensive writing assignment using the writing process. After Unit 1 (Chapters 1–5), students write an argumentative essay. They are reminded that, in Chapter 5, the author of “Why I Am a Vegetarian” explains his reasons for choosing vegetarianism and supports these reasons with facts and statistics. Materials prompt: “What is an issue you feel strongly about and have a personal connection to? Make a claim about the issue in an argumentative essay.” Requirements include: “Support your claim with strong reasons based on research and your personal experience. Include a counterclaim and a response to the counterclaim. Write your essay so that it will appeal to a broad audience beyond just your teachers and classmates.” As a class, the teacher and students analyze the writing prompt. Next, students complete a graphic organizer, brainstorming ideas, analyzing texts from the unit, and then creating an outline of their thoughts. Students use their outline to write a rough draft of their argumentative 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 write an informational essay using the following prompt: “Why does the sun rise? What is fire? Where do mountains come from? Over the centuries, humans developed ideas to explain such natural occurrences. Some of those ideas were reasonable and based on evidence, but they turned out to be wrong anyway. In an informative text, describe one of those long-held ideas that science eventually proved wrong. Explain how science disproved that idea and describe the idea that replaced it. Develop your descriptions and explanations with facts, details, and examples. Because you will be writing about scientific ideas, you will likely use some domain-specific vocabulary. This means you will have to provide some definitions for your readers. And you will likely need at least one graphic, such as a photo or diagram, to illustrate the ideas you discuss.”
At the end of Unit 3 (Chapters 11–15), students write a fictional narrative using the following prompt: “Write a story in which the main character confronts a problem related to a technology.” Guidelines state: “Your narrative: must have a vivid setting, a main character, and a clearly depicted problem; should show the character confronting and trying to solve the problem; and must depict how the problem is resolved (with or without success) and the logical outcomes from that resolution. Your narrative should also make use of thoughtful description, realistic dialogue, and careful pacing.”
At the end of Unit 4 (Chapters 16–20), students write a research paper using the following prompt: “Think of a person from history that you find intriguing.” Students choose from “a charismatic leader, someone who was the first to achieve something, an inventor, or an average person who spoke out against injustice.” Students “research and write a biographical sketch of that person that captures both the actions and the character of the person.” Requirements include “five good sources to use for your research,” “basic biographical facts” with a central focus “on an event or action that made history,” and a conclusion that identifies “a lesson you learned by studying this person’s life.”
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts. Lessons include multiple opportunities for students to speak and listen about the texts they read or information they gather in graphic organizers. Students demonstrate comprehension through discussions with partners, in small groups, and as a 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:
Students have opportunities to speak and listen about texts and demonstrate comprehension. In Chapter 1, students focus on understanding technical terms by filling in a chart; they write down the vocabulary word, what they think the word means based on context clues, and the actual definition. Students discuss with partners and share their definitions and responses to questions.
In Chapter 3, students read “Zoo Complicated: Are Captive Animals Happy?” by Kathryn Hulick. Students analyze text structures for “Lucy” and “Katrina.” Students identify each section’s organizational pattern with their partner and discuss how the structure relates to that section’s purpose. During the reading, students respond to questions such as “Which text structure is the author using in this paragraph?” and “Why does the author begin her entire article with this paragraph?” After reading, students think about the entire article and answer questions such as “What is the purpose of the other two sections: Lucy and Katrina?” and “Overall, which text structure does the author use to present her ideas?”
In Chapter 4, students read “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield and summarize what happens in each section. They trace the characters’ actions and reactions to story events, finishing sentence starters such as “Paragraph 6–8 (lines 41–54) The other little girls...” and “Paragraph 12–16 (lines 67–76) Kezia wonders…; Her mother says….” Next, students share their answers with a partner and discuss the text, using the following questions: “Why do you think Kezia wants to show her dollhouse to the Kelveys?” “Has she changed her mind about them?” “What other reason might she have?” and “How do the characteristics of Kezia and the Kelveys influence the events in the story?”
In Chapter 6, students read an excerpt from Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. and Stan Redding. They provide text evidence to support responses to the following questions: “Does the cashier trust Frank, does the wizened old man trust Frank, and does Gary Giles, the pilot, trust Frank?” Students synthesize their evidence from the chart, draw a conclusion, and answer a final question: “Do people seem to trust Frank?” Additionally, students watch a scene from the movie Catch Me If You Can and compare and contrast the text and the movie as they respond to questions such as “How is Frank presented physically?” “What kinds of things does Frank say to the pilots before take-off?” and “How does Frank feel as the plane takes off? What is the evidence?” Students receive opportunities to speak and listen as they compare their responses in “small groups of three or four classmates” and discuss similarities and differences between the text and the film using “specific sentences and paragraphs in the text.”
In Chapter 8, students read an excerpt from “The Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake News” by Glenn Kessler, from The Washington Post. Students complete a chart with the headings “Article Section” and “Purpose of Section” to support the central idea. Lesson materials include a model with two examples. Once the chart is complete, students notice the subheadings of each article section. Students work with a partner to “discuss the purpose of the subheads and how each section contributes to the author’s central idea.”
In Chapter 10, students read an excerpt from The Giver by Lois Lowry, complete a chart about characterization, and include text-supported claims to demonstrate knowledge. With a partner, students share and evaluate each other’s charts. They respond to the following questions in their verbal evaluations: “Are direct quotes from the text included? Do the quotes provide evidence of Jonas’s experience with older people? Do your partner’s explanations of what the evidence shows seem reasonable? Why or why not?” Students add or change the information in their chart based on their partner’s evaluation.
In Chapter 17, students read an excerpt from “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury and “Drummer Boys” by Stephen Currie and complete a graphic organizer contrasting the representation of details in each text. Students use direct quotations from the text or paraphrases. With a partner, students respond to the question “Should the fact that children were allowed to serve as drummer boys in wars be celebrated or condemned?” and support their opinions with text evidence.
The “Teacher Edition” provides implementation support to engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions using sentence frames and other suggested strategies in formal and informal settings. Instructional materials provide guidelines for expectations, 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 performances about their findings and analysis as well as speak in a clear and concise manner using the conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Chapter 1, students read “Our Brains Are Wired for Morality” by Jason Decety and Jason M. Cowell and participate in a roundtable discussion about the question “Is morality mostly learned from social interactions, or is it built into our genes?” Students sit in a circle, acting as equals with all participants. Teacher materials provide implementation support for productive teamwork and student-led discussions. During the discussion, the leader allows each member the chance to reply to the question. Guidelines for students’ listening during the discussion include: listen respectfully, look at the speaker, follow text evidence, take notes, write follow-up questions, and reflect on what others say. 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, explain and give reasons for your opinions, ask questions, refer to text, use a tone of voice, use language appropriate for the open exchange of ideas, and invite comments. Students continue the discussion by having everyone respond to another question in the same manner. The group closes the discussion by answering the following question: “Which aspects of morality seem to be inborn, and which ones are learned?”
In Chapter 3, students read an excerpt from “Zoo Complicated: Are Captive Animals Happy?” by Kathryn Hulick, conduct research, and create a digital presentation about an issue related to animal rights. Students search online using the term “animal rights.” The teacher provides websites, such as the website of the Humane Society of the United States (humanesociety.org). Students develop a list of issues and choose one they would like to research. Students create an interesting and well-organized digital presentation: They use multimedia in a professional way that is visually and aurally appealing, add images or videos that demonstrate an understanding of all aspects of the issue, and reflect an understanding of the audience and the issue. Each slide must include both text and either an image or a video. Students use a rubric so that they know expectations throughout the assignment. Students practice their presentation before presenting to the class, and if working with a partner, they decide in advance who will share which slides. Requirements for presenting include a demonstration of confidence; eye contact; proper volume; and an absence of grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling errors.
In Chapter 12, after reading “The Secret of the Machines'' by Rudyard Kipling, students prepare a digital presentation about a technology listed. They include the following information: “the primary inventor or inventors of the technology”; “important dates related to the technology, including when it was invented, when it became popular or commonly used, and when it was replaced by a newer technology”; “significant changes to the technology over time, for example, how computers became smaller, or when private companies began launching rockets”; “at least one important effect the technology has had on human society”; and “three sources used for the project: name of an article, website, and date.” Students create a computer presentation using a rubric with grading expectations and information to help them speak concisely and clearly.
In Chapter 15, after reading an excerpt from “Why calling screen time ‘digital heroin’ is digital garbage” by Rachel Becker, students perform a public service announcement. Students “create a 30-second audio PSA to raise awareness of ‘digital heroin’ and what you can do to fight the problem.” Materials provide “guidelines” to “receive the highest score,” which include “clearly and creatively explains the problem, offers a reasonable solution to the problem that people can follow easily, is digitally recorded and is 30 seconds in length, and sounds professional, with clear speech and good vocal variety to communicate ideas.”
In Chapter 18, after reading Our Jacko by Michael Morpurgo, students imagine they are the narrator of the story, then create and give a presentation about Jacko and World War I. In the presentation, students use visual aids and explain “who the notebook belonged to, why the notebook was returned to the narrator’s family, and what the notebook means to the narrator.” The assignment’s goal is to teach students about World War I and describe the notebook and the life events associated with it. The lesson includes a rubric to help students understand grading expectations, including requirements such as “is presented in a professional manner that demonstrates adequate preparation” and “uses correct grammar, word usage, punctuation, and spelling.”
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. 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 their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research. In Chapter 3, after reading “Zoo Complicated: Are Captive Animals Happy?” by Kathryn Hulick, students complete a project-based assessment. They “conduct research and create a digital presentation about an animal rights issue.” Students find topics for their online research at humanesociety.org and other websites that end with .org, .edu, and .gov. Students “check the site’s About tab to find out if it is maintained by a reliable source, such as a university, government agency, research facility, or other reputable organization.” They “develop a list of issues and choose the one you would like to research,” find reliable sources, and gather the following information: “Name and description of the issue; Cause of the issue; What and how animals are affected; Actions are taken in the past to address the issue; Potential solutions to the issue; Three or more sources used for the project: name of article, website, date.” With this information, the students create a computer presentation using the research data; they must include images, videos, and content that shows their understanding of the animal rights issue. Students must also demonstrate confidence, maintain eye contact, and use proper volume to present their research to the class.
Materials support identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. In Chapter 16, students read an excerpt from historical fiction, The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine: “Chapter 15: Talking to Daddy” and the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site Crisis Timeline from nps.gov. Students “work with a partner to compare the Crisis Timeline” to The Lions of Little Rock and “consider purpose, focus, format, writing style, and the point of view in each text.” 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 complete a project-based assessment exploring schools’ integration process in Little Rock for a historical background report. Students reread the excerpt from the novel; take notes about people, places, and events; and write questions the excerpts did not answer. Students then research to answer their questions, using primary sources as much as possible. The teacher explains: “A primary source is an eyewitness account of historical events. Examples include journals, biographies, government documents, and newspaper articles from the time period. Primary sources tend to be more accurate because they were written by people who witnessed the events. For example, a good primary source is The New York Times from September 25, 1957, which can be found online at nytimes.com. Government websites, academic websites, and established periodicals are also good sources for historical research.” Students “write a one to two-page historical companion to the book The Lions of Little Rock” and present information in a way that is “appealing to their audience—seventh graders reading the book.” Students use “text features to support written text,” “use a word processing or design program to make the project visually appealing,” and “include a list of sources.”
In Chapter 17, students conduct research based on the text Drummer Boys by Stephen Currie and write an argumentative essay to support or disprove that the drummer boy was a fictional character. Students use primary sources for information, such as journals, letters, and newspaper articles from a particular time period or even eyewitnesses. Students also use secondary sources from the internet based on the Civil War.
Unit 4 addresses the question “What does history tell us about ourselves?” Teachers introduce this unit with the questions “What written resources help us learn about history? What kind of information does each resource provide?” Students read historical fiction and understand the context as it relates. Students learn that primary sources are written by someone involved in the events or who wrote the material researched. Students learn that secondary sources are not directly involved in the events. At the end of Unit 4 (Chapters 16–20), students brainstorm, gather ideas, write research questions, conduct research, take notes, organize ideas, write the first draft, revise and edit the draft, conduct peer reviews, and then write the final draft. The research paper focuses on the following prompt: “Think of a person from history that you find intriguing. It may be a charismatic leader, someone who was the first to achieve something, an inventor, or an average person who spoke out against injustice. Research and write a biographical sketch of that person that captures both the person’s actions and character. While the paper should include basic biographical facts, the central focus should be on an event or action that made history. In your conclusion, identify a lesson you learned by studying this person’s life. Find five good sources to use for your research.” Teachers explain to the students that research is a time-consuming process, so “it is important to research a historical figure that will keep their interest.”
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.” Materials contain tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across multiple texts. Students preview a lesson before the main lesson. Students answer questions based on text evidence and personal knowledge; explain their responses; and make connections with songs, movies, television shows, etc.
Questions and tasks require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas. In Chapter 2, students read “Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy. Students respond to high-quality text-dependent questions, such as “What does the king’s questions to the hermit show about him?” and “Why did the king likely turn to the hermit for advice?” Students also respond to questions about the types of conflicts in the story, how conflicts are resolved, how conflicts create suspense, and the theme. After the third read, students respond to questions such as “What does the narrator reveal directly about the king’s thoughts and feelings? Based on the king’s actions, what can you infer about him as a person and a leader? Why might the author have used a narrator who does not comment on the king’s thoughts and feelings?” As part of the project-based assessment, students integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking. They rewrite the story from another character’s perspective, using the first-person point of view. Students use a rubric to guide their writing. Students “think about how the characters interact” and how that will influence their feelings and dialogue. For the rewrite, students “add a character’s inner thoughts and feelings,” “make sure the main events of the story remain,” and “stay true to the characters’ personalities and emotions.” Upon completion, they work in small groups to conduct a peer review. They then make any necessary edits and revisions to ensure proper syntax, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
In Chapter 9, students read Debunk It! How to Stay Sane in a World of Misinformation by John Grant. Before reading, the teacher reviews annotation by modeling with the first paragraph. Students continue to annotate as they read the text on their own. The teacher teaches the vocabulary words infectious, intimately, and brainchild. While students read the text, they circle unfamiliar words and use context to determine their meaning, then look up the words in a dictionary.
In Chapter 11, students read Smarter Than You Think by Clive Thompson. Before reading, students read three quotes about education, select the quote that “made the strongest impression,” and “explain why it made the strongest impression.” Lessons include the academic vocabulary point of view and purpose; tasks include focusing on the main idea and purpose of the identified text. Students write to “describe Clive Thompson’s point of view on using videos in math classrooms” and “Thompson’s purpose in writing the text.” Students discuss text structure in response to questions: “Why do you think Clive Thompson used eleven paragraphs to develop his central idea? Could he have just stated it, given several sentences of evidence, and left it like that? What are the pros and cons of both approaches?” Students write responses to questions such as “Who are the people named in the passage?” and “What are their roles or jobs?” Students then share their answers with a partner and discuss “ideas and descriptions of the events” using the “terms people, ideas, and events at least once in their response.”
In Chapter 12, students read “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” by Richard Brautigan and “The Secret of Machines” by Richard Kipling. Students respond to “text-based discussion questions” such as “Who is the speaker of the poem? Explain your response with details from the poem.” “What new idea is presented about the poem in lines 37-44?” Materials include an example of the central idea for “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” and require students to determine the central idea of “The Secret of Machines.”
In Chapter 15, students read two texts: “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies” by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras and “Why Calling Screen Time ‘Digital Heroin’ is Digital Garbage” by Rachel Becker. Students work through the cycle of “Preview Concepts, Making Connections, First Read, Second Read, and Third Read.” Each cycle contains text-dependent questions, speaking and listening activities, and writing opportunities. Tasks offer students a choice to develop a public service announcement or participate in a round table discussion based on information from reading, discussing, and writing about the text.
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 showing where to find TEKS in the “Student’s” and Teacher’s Edition. A similar organization of chapters per the forward materials ensures that lessons extensively cover standards. 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?” and provides opportunities for students to read and discuss with partners, allowing them to practice fluency. The third reading focuses on “Why is this text important or meaningful to me—or others?” and provides more analysis of the text. Each lesson includes opportunities for scaffolding through remediation supports. Examples include “text frames for writing and speaking activities and ideas for further scaffolding of activities through modeling and cooperative learning.” Examples of remediation are further defining terms, extra writing activities, and further analysis of the text. For English Learner support, teachers “support students’ fluency and listening development” by having students “listen and follow along to the story on Youtube.”
Chapter 6 covers understanding different points of view. The focus text is an excerpt from Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale Jr. with Stan Redding. The chapter goals include: cite textual evidence to support an inference about a text, analyze how an author develops and contrasts points of view, and compare and contrast the techniques different media use to tell the same story. For the first read, students practice making inferences. They underline sentences that show Abagnale’s trustworthiness. The tech-connect contains a link to an episode of the game show To Tell the Truth featuring Abagnale. For the second read, students focus on analyzing the point of view, marking evidence that shows other characters’ point of view. For the third read, students view a clip from the movie Catch Me If You Can and compare and contrast presentations. Students choose either an introduction to Frank Abagnale or a character analysis for their project-based assessment and then close the chapter with assessment practice, spiraling the standards used throughout the materials.
Design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. In Chapter 17, the students read “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury, and the teacher uses the lesson support section to scaffold instruction for students. Before the students read the text the first time, the teacher activates “background knowledge by asking students what they know about the Civil War and why it is also called the War Between the States.” The teacher reads the introductory paragraph with the students. As a class, they review the definition of inference. Then a volunteer reads the first paragraph aloud, and the teacher “asks students what clues, or evidence in the text, convey the idea that everything is not right on this April night.” The teacher pre-teaches the following list of words: lunar, solemn, assume, legitimate, and innocents. As the students read the text, they circle unfamiliar words, using context to determine the meaning of the words, and check their work with a dictionary. Before the second read, the teacher refers the students to a chart with the following different literary devices: sensory language, metaphor, repetition, and foreshadowing. The teacher directs students to reread the final paragraph at the end of the selection and analyze the literary devices together. Before the third read, students pair up to discuss the introductory paragraph. The teacher reminds students to keep in mind “the purpose, focus, format, writing style, and point of view.” Additionally, the teacher refers to the description of fiction and nonfiction in the Teacher’s Edition to provide additional help to students. During the third read, the students reread “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” and compare it to “Drummer Boys” by Stephen Currie.
Chapter 20 follows the same lesson design and organization of skills and tasks. The teacher pre-teaches the following vocabulary words: equality, prissy, determination, balderdash, conviction, and criticism. Students read Elizabeth Blackwell by Cynthia Mercati. Using close reading strategies, students read the text three times: in the first read, the students focus on determining the theme; in the second read, analyze the unique format of a play; in the third read, they analyze the purpose of a scene.
Materials include support for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Teachers receive guidance on planning and learning opportunities for students. Instructional materials contain multiple learning opportunities for students demonstrating proficiency above grade level to expand their knowledge through extensions and differentiation, such as through further research and deeper analysis.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Extension activities in “On Your Own: Integrating Ideas” offer student choice that challenges students to further extend and explore new learning through additional research, discourse, and debate. In Chapter 3, students choose to view the website kathrynhulick.com or sciencenewsforstudents.org and read their choice of articles to learn about animal ethics and animal emotions. An optional activity is for students to view Blackfish and then visit seaworldcares.com to read the response to Blackfish from Seaworld. In an activity, students explain whether the director makes a strong case against keeping whales. Additionally, students read an article about Seaworld’s policy change on killer whales and debate/discuss their findings. The third option for students is to research Jane Goodall, a naturalist who made revolutionary discoveries about chimpanzees and their behavior. Students use this information to respond to roundtable discussion questions such as “Should humans ever keep wild animals in captivity? Why or why not?”
In Chapter 1, students read “Our Brains Are Wired for Morality: Evolution, Development, and Neuroscience” by Jean Decety and Jason M. Cowell. Afterward, students choose from two options. One is to ponder the “trolley problem” and imagine a situation where they will have to make a moral decision on whether to sacrifice one life or five. The second is to “question whether morality is more built-in or learned.” They view the video “What Is Nature vs. Nurture” and discuss it with family or friends.
In Chapter 7, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, students extend their learning through reading The Giver and watching the film. Students then write a review of both and compare their reviews to professional published reviews. While the students watch The Giver, they analyze the director’s choices of lighting, sound, music, color, camera angles, and costumes.
In Chapter 9, students learn through a project-based assessment. Students conduct online research and create a digital presentation. The teacher provides students with a breakdown of the assignment, such as a list of due dates for the assignment’s various components. In an extension activity, students conduct similar research to complete a brochure. Students use technology to view a list of the “205 Most Common Illnesses” on ranker.com. An extension to the research in the On Your activity involves three additional questions. Further research options include searching websites supporting and opposing vaccinations and developing a list of arguments for both sides. Students also use technology to search quackwatch.org to research “quacks,” who provide health treatments that are not scientifically based.
In Chapter 12, students analyze repetition and structure in poetry. Students identify poetry concepts through various poems and make connections with critical thinking questions. An extension activity asks students to analyze the effect of rhyme scheme, meter, and graphical elements such as punctuation and capitalization in “The Secret of the Machines” and “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.” In this On Your Own activity, advanced students investigate content at a greater depth by reading Rudyard Kipling’s works and taking notes about his various works’ similarities.
Students have opportunities to demonstrate literacy skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In Chapter 16, students “read the book The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine and visit the author’s website to learn more about the book.” Students read Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Belas. Students extend learning by researching “oral histories” about the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement in Little Rock. Students also use technology to view videos about “the integration of schools” from the Library of Congress website.
In Chapter 20, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, students extend their learning by reading several articles about 19th-century medicine and discuss the advancements they believe to be the most significant. Additional extensions include researching the given list of women pioneers in medicine and then researching current female innovators in STEM and compare the groups. Another extension idea is for students to read or watch Hidden Figures and write a review.
Materials include supports for students who perform below grade level to ensure they meet TEKS grade-level literacy standards. 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. Guidance for teachers includes support and suggestions for remediation. While most remediation activities are available to the general classroom, the activities can be differentiated to support those who perform below grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Program materials provide planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below those expected at the grade level. Materials provide various differentiation strategies for students identified as “struggling students.” For example, the teacher reads each question aloud to struggling students; students restate the question in their own words and review the chapter as needed. The teacher provides sentence stems for students to distinguish between “point of view and purpose,” for instance, “The author feels...about the topic (point of view).” “The author wants the reader to...” (purpose). Writing supports for students include graphics and visuals, such as a visual of a triangle with two horizontal lines. Students label the top space “Central Idea.” They then use an excerpt to identify central ideas and write them in the top space; identify and write three supporting ideas in the next space; and write a fact in the bottom space. This support helps students visualize that “individual facts hold up supporting ideas, and supporting ideas hold up the central idea.”
Materials include guidance and support that focuses on all aspects of literacy (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, and listening). In Chapter 2, “Connect to Testing,” students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level read the questions and responses to a partner before answering.
In Chapter 3, after reading “Zoo Complicated: Are Captive Animals Happy?” by Kathryn Hulick, students complete a graphic organizer. They create a web with their inference in the middle and facts or other key details that support the inference on circles moving out from the center.
In Chapter 5, Connect to Testing, as support, students work with a partner to eliminate incorrect answers on the assessment. Other support includes: For question 1, the teacher explains selfish in context. For questions 5 and 6, the teacher makes sure students reread the paragraphs in question.
In Chapter 7, while reading Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy Harrison, teachers help students experience the author’s lively voice by reading the excerpt aloud as students follow along. Students circle we and you to notice how the author uses pronouns to make the readers feel included in his claim and observations. Recommendations for teacher support is to conduct a second read of the excerpt, because tone can be difficult for the struggling learner.
Throughout the program, teachers receive strategies and support to build knowledge and meet struggling students’ needs. In Chapter 8, students read “The Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake News” by Glenn Kessler. Students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level read the article aloud and summarize the parts they read.
In Chapter 10, students read and discuss The Giver by Lois Lowry. For better comprehension, students who need remediation conduct the third read and speak and write in the characters’ voice in response to questions. The text includes a high-interest topic and a controversial argument that may motivate struggling students to work through scientific concepts and difficult vocabulary.
In Chapter 15, students read “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies” by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. Recommendations include previewing challenging vocabulary before reading. During the first read, students move past unfamiliar words. Afterward, struggling students reread the article and write down unfamiliar words to look up later.
In Chapter 20, students read the drama Elizabeth Blackwell by Cynthia Mercati. To make sure struggling students are following the play format, the teacher reads the opening excerpt aloud with students and asks guiding questions like “Who will speak next? What do these words in parentheses mean?”
In Unit 3 of the “Writing and Language” materials, students explore setting as part of the writing process. The teacher provides a model to help students plan their stories. Students who need remediation also meet with a group and identify the problem, setting, technology, and other story elements. Program materials do not contain a teacher’s edition of the Writing and Language text to gather information about students demonstrating proficiency below grade level.
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, during reading in class, and when teaching content through context. Examples of strategies include role-playing, using gestures, showing realia, and drawing pictures on the board.
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. The materials provide support for teaching ELs in grades 6–8, including resources such as graphic organizers and revision and proofreading checklists. The Teacher 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, students read “Our Brains are Wired for Morality: Evolution, Development, and Neuroscience” by Jean Decety and Jason M. Cowell. To support ELs, teachers explain the passage’s title thoroughly, using gestures and emphasis, so students understand the authors’ main point before reading. Teachers encourage students to write notes in English or in their home language that reiterate the main point. Additional supports include student work in multilevel pairs or small groups. They read the article aloud, identify the main ideas, and write in their own words utilizing the “My Thoughts” column available in the “Student Edition.” In the “Making Connections” section, materials suggest that teachers explain, act out, show pictures, and use realia to review vocabulary words hero, superhero, villain, and nemesis. The guide recommends that teachers model how to turn questions into answers: “Who is your favorite superhero?” Teachers indicate how the pronouns and order of words change when making a statement: “My favorite superhero is….” Teachers group students into multilevel pairs and provide sentence frames such as “The superhero is good because…. The villain is bad because…. The superhero and villain are different because…. A hero must have/be…and because….”
In Chapter 2, with “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy, teachers confirm that students can analyze themes through story elements and understand plot, personalities, and characters. Teachers develop academic vocabulary by giving “simple definitions” (e.g., “plot is the events in a story”) and using the word in a sentence (e.g., “An exciting plot has lots of interesting events.”) The teacher makes connections for students (e.g., personality is the way a person acts and thinks) and gives examples (“I have a calm and happy personality.”) The teacher asks, “Do you have a calm personality? A happy personality? What is your personality?” Before reading the excerpt, the teacher uses “sketch or pantomime” to tell a “few central events” from a “familiar movie or book” to demonstrate the word plot and asks students to “name the characters” from a previously discussed book. During the “Making Connections” activity, teachers check for comprehension as students act out the story during a read-aloud. A specific EL support strategy has students create a “comic strip version of the story.” Students sketch an image of what is happening in each scene. The teacher confirms “key plot points of each paragraph” to guide students and reinforce the previous vocabulary. Students refer to their comic strip to respond to various questions: “Who and what causes the problem?” “Who has the problem, and how is it solved?” “What does this show about the kind of person the king is?” “What is the main idea the author is developing through this story?”
In Unit 2, students write an informational text. The Teacher Edition links to an “Informational Writing Revision Checklist” from the ELL Resource for students to review each other’s drafts. To support ELs with a lesson objective of consistent verb tenses, teachers create a two-column chart with the headings present and past verbs. The teacher writes the present and past tense verbs from the text. Guidance states to provide a model, then have volunteers identify the present tense verbs and their past tense counterparts, including examples of verbs in the paragraph, both singular and plural forms. Students use the chart to help correct the paragraph. Advanced students compare English conjugations with conjugations in their native language and then explain the differences to beginning learners.
In Chapter 14, as EL support, in “Make Connections,” students read four quotes about boredom. The teacher gestures and pantomimes to support understanding of what boredom means. Students work in groups to read and paraphrase each quotation. Once students understand the content of each quotation, they write about one using a sentence frame such as “The quote by...means….” “I agree/don’t agree with this quote because….”
In Chapter 19, after reading Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers, students complete a personal interview. Students work in multilevel pairs or groups to write and practice questions for the interview. ELs may interview in their native language and work in monolingual pairs or small groups to practice their first language for improved comprehension.
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 and responding to 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.
Information for scoring provides some guidance for interpreting response choices to questions. The “Connect to Testing” section in the Teacher’s Edition contains answers to each question and explanations for responses. For example, in Chapter 2, students read an excerpt from “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy. A question asks, “What is the best summary of this passage?” The answer response indicates “C. A summary should accurately explain the central ideas of a text. Choice A is not true according to the details of the passage. Choice B is not entirely accurate because it is the injured man who learns about forgiveness. Choice D is true, but it is a supporting detail and not a central idea. The best choice is C. [7.6.D] (DoK 2)”
In Chapter 7, students read an excerpt from Think: Why You Should Question Everything by Guy Harrison and examine the development of central ideas in a text; determine the figurative, connotative, and technical meanings of words; analyze the effect of word choice on meaning and tone; and evaluate the quality of an argument. Additionally, students participate in a project-based assessment and receive specific instructions to write an essay responding to the idea that seeing is believing. Students also participate in a peer review to assist with revisions.
The Teacher’s Edition Connect to Testing section provides answers and rationale to each question. In Chapter 8, students read “The Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake News” by Glenn Kessler and answer questions such as “How does the author structure the passage to develop the central idea?” and “In the passage, the author refers to a website named Snopes. Which sentence from the passage most clearly shows the author’s actual point of view about Snopes?” The assessment connects to regular content to support student learning. In Unit 2, students read short excerpts from Chapters 7, 8, and 9 and respond to multiple-choice questions based on the texts. The materials provide a graphic organizer to show students the “organizational pattern of their essay” and reference TEKS 7.12D, 7.12F, 7.12H.i., 7.12J. Students “write an explanatory essay comparing and contrasting” author’s purpose and how authors addressed the unit “Essential Question.” Students “cite text evidence to support” their analysis.
In Chapter 12, students determine a poem’s central idea, analyze the repetition of sounds in a poem, examine how a poem’s structure contributes to its meaning, and learn about allusions to myths, the Bible, and literature. In the Connect to Testing section, students respond to questions like “What is the main idea of this stanza?” and “What is the impact of the repetition of ‘we were’ at the beginning of each line?” Questions address grade-level appropriate TEKS.
Project-based assignments include multi-part summative assessments that require students to synthesize ideas, make connections, and perform a writing task. In Chapter 13, students read “Robots Will Eliminate 6% of All US Jobs by 2021, Report Says” by Olivia Solon. Students research the question “What is the proper role of government, if any, in helping large groups of workers replaced by robots?” to further extend learning and write an “opposite to the editorial page” essay.
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, suggestions on how to scaffold learning based on modeling and cooperative learning, and links to extensive support in the digital “ELL Teacher Resource.”
Materials include annotations and support with guidance for implementation embedded across the materials to engage students in the lessons. The Teacher’s Edition contains the entire “Student Edition” text and features an introduction, lesson support, and 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 the main types of conflict in a story, with examples. Students make connections with a partner or small group as they analyze the conflict in a short excerpt from “The Wise King” by Kahlil Gibran. Then they read an excerpt from “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy and complete graphic organizers independently about the plot and conflict. 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 work individually, with a partner, or in small groups to rewrite “The Three Questions” from a different character’s point of view.
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 the chapters, 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 understand different points of view. 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 introduction contains the chapter goals and introduces academic, Tier 2, and Tier 3 vocabulary with page number references, a link to a PowerPoint with additional explanations of the vocabulary, and the ELL Teacher 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 this first read, students respond to text-based discussion questions, author information, an explanation of confessional literature, and multiple EL and remediation supports for vocabulary. Throughout the chapter, the Wraparound teacher support includes tech-connect suggestions, answers to questions and graphic organizers, suggestions for speaking and listening, suggestions for writing, and further guidance for projects and assignments.
In Chapter 7, 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.” Annotations and ancillary materials provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers. In the Chapter 7 tech-connect suggestion, instructional materials recommend that teachers “remind students that many word processing programs include grammar-checking functions that will highlight potential errors with commas and adjectives but that they should never accept changes without making their judgments.”
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. For example in Chapter 2, “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy includes a picture of Leo Tolstoy telling a story to his grandchildren; this helps students imagine the author as they read his works and aligns with a question on the page about family.
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 focuses on an informative essay. Instructional materials provide a chart with the “types of details used in informative essays.” The chart is organized into three columns and five rows for a total of 15 examples.
In Chapter 7, the reading selection Think: Why We Should Question Everything by Guy Harrison includes a UFO picture that corresponds with the article.
Chapter 8 includes a diagram of an inverted pyramid structure for students to refer to when writing an investigative report.
Chapter 14 includes a picture of the Shiloh Church with the excerpt from “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh” by Ray Bradbury.
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: Gutenberg Press, openculture.com, worldatlas.com, elephants.com, and katherinemanfield.com. Additionally, students receive opportunities to publish their work on classroom websites.
The textbook contains suggestions for technology integration. “Tech-Connect activities engage students through texting, tweeting, and online applications.” For example, Chapter 2 contains a Tech-Connect activity for “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy: Students post, text, or tweet their response to the question “What is the story mainly about? What further questions do you have after reading?”
In Chapter 4, students participate in a project-based assessment and create a pictorial presentation based on “The Doll’s House” by Katherine Mansfield. Students use PowerPoint, a video, or a hand-drawn storyboard. Tech-Connect suggests for students to use an online comic or storyboard maker to create their presentation.
In Chapter 7, instructional materials suggest students use “polleverywhere.com to cast their votes for Most Revolutionary Technology.” Teachers use “the real-time chart feature to display the results.”
Chapter 12 contains a Tech-Connect activity where students write in their journals and share a digital copy of their reflective response to the poem “The Secret of the Machines” by Rudyard Kipling. Students then post their reflection on Poll Everywhere, and a volunteer makes a graph or display based on the results. Students also read two other students’ responses and leave a positive comment and a suggestion for each.
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 18 contains a Tech-Connect activity where students post their ideas on the classroom website, writing about the author’s purpose in “Our Jacko” by Michael Morpurgo.
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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