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The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include high-quality texts for ELAR instruction and cover a range of student interests and relevant current events. Students read about topics they can relate to and apply to their everyday life. Well-crafted texts of publishable quality 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; they are 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, a speech, 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. Content-rich texts cover a wide range of student interests about people, their communities, diversity, and more. Materials include stories and articles by award-winning authors such as Sandra Cisneros, Senator Barack Obama, and James Cross Giblin. Genres include a speech, fiction and nonfiction novels, poetry, excerpts from short stories, reports, and a memoir.
Materials include increasingly complex texts with a range of Lexile reading levels, such as an excerpt from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, with a 580L to 1440L; and the text “Nixon Resigns” by John Herbers, with a 1440 Lexile level. Materials include traditional, classical, and contemporary texts, such as an excerpt from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow titled “Paul Revere’s Ride”; the novel The Postman by David Brin; and an excerpt from Pandora’s Box: How Curiosity Unleashed Evil Into the World by Spencer Kayden. Texts also include an excerpt from Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s memoir How I Came to Be a Writer, about successes and failures; and an informational text by Malcolm Gladwell titled “The Locked Door,” which compares the unconscious levels of the brain to a locked door.
Materials include increasingly complex and culturally diverse texts. For example, in Chapter 1, students read Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, who was born in Saigon and came to the United States in 1975. Literary texts provide rich and complex characterizations. In Chapter 2, students read a fiction novel narrated by a young Mexican-American female: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. In the novel, she expresses her feelings about her neighborhood, growing up poor, the women in her family, and her hopes and dreams. The novel depicts the struggle of the family and the cultural differences the child faces. Students are able to connect with the narrator and explore their personal feelings. Chapter 3 includes an excerpt from “Kimchee and Cornbread,” an article by Helie Lee, a Korean American author, and Stephanie Covington, a pioneer in the area of women’s studies.
Texts consider a range of student interests and include topics with which they can identify. In Chapter 4, the students read an excerpt of the speech “A More Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama. The speech takes place at The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and focuses on a heated statement on race relations. In it, Obama speaks of the differences between people and the same goal that he has for everyone. The speech touches on topics such as racial injustice and discrimination. Students are able to read the speech and read about the passion Obama has for both the African American and white people. Students are able to engage in both the political and diverse aspects of this text.
Texts include previously published literary and informational texts written by experts that reflect the rich vocabulary and language appropriate to the discipline they represent. Chapter 5 features two articles: “Assimilation Nation No More” by Ed Feulner, who is credited with establishing The Heritage Foundation; and “Common Arguments Against Immigration,” by Alex Nowrasteh. Nowrasteh is the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. In Chapter 7, the students read an excerpt from the novel The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow, a science fiction writer, and Charles Stross, a science fiction and fantasy writer. Additionally, Chapter 10 includes the informational text “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes” by Marianne Lavelle, a reporter for Inside Climate News. Chapter 18 features Richard Nixon’s resignation speech, “I would have preferred to carry through.”
The materials contain a variety of text types across content that meet TEKS requirements for this grade level. Materials contain a diverse variety of literary and informational texts as well as print and graphic features that enhance the reading selections. Genres of literary texts include historical and realistic fiction, science fiction, humor, a memoir, drama, poetry, and fantasy. Informational texts include argumentative and nonfiction texts as well as articles, a report, and a speech. Throughout the various stories and articles, a variety of print, graphic features, and pictures support the text.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Informational texts include texts of information, exposition (persuasive), argument, procedural texts, and documents, as outlined in the TEKS.
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
Program materials cover literary genres specific to grade 8 TEKS and include print and graphic features in a variety of texts. In Chapter 1, with the poem “Inside Out and Back Again” by Thanhha Lai, lessons provide support for students to make inferences as well as analyze symbolism, the theme, and how structure contributes to meaning. The text includes a photograph of a papaya tree, which relates to the poem and allows students to visualize while they read.
In Chapter 2, when students read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a photograph helps them visualize the home described by the character. The photograph assists students with reflection in response to questions based on the text.
In Chapter 4, lessons include an analysis of the structure of a speech, when students read “A More Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama (March 18, 2008). Lessons help students determine the central idea, analyze the organizational structure of text, and explore various points of view. A picture of then-Senator Barack Obama at the beginning of the speech assists students in making connections about President Obama before he was elected president.
Chapter 5 includes Ed Feulner’s commentary piece “Assimilation Nation No More.” There is a symbolic image of students with their hand on their heart, looking at the American flag; it represents schools in this country and illustrates the assimilation of immigrants when they move to America. Chapter 5 contains two articles on immigration. A photograph of the Statue of Liberty follows the second article, “Common Arguments Against Immigration,” by Alex Nowrasteh. Materials include print and graphic features for a variety of texts. In Chapter 10, after an article on global warming, there is a graphic showing CO2 levels. Chapter 12, when students read the historical text Jeremiah’s Song by Walter Dean Myers, includes a photograph of someone playing a guitar; this helps the students make a connection to the importance of music in the grandfather’s life in the text.
Texts include appropriately challenging texts at an appropriate level of complexity to support students at grade level, based on Lexile levels, reader interest, and task considerations. The publisher does not provide an analysis of text complexity for texts used in the program. Texts include appropriate quantitative measures used by the publisher 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 an actual text-complexity analysis report by the publisher. The Table of Contents provides Lexile levels for the curriculum’s texts. When considering text complexity, publishers use one of three factors for quantitative evaluation. The texts within the curriculum are grade-level appropriate and include grade-level complexity. The publisher states that computer software compiles “quantitative evaluations, such as Lexile scores, measure numbers of letters in a word, word frequency, and the number of words in a sentence.” Typical Lexile levels for grade 8 include Lexiles from 985L to 1295L. Materials contain texts ranging from 580L to 1440L. Materials include at least six 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 House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, a novel (580L); Chapter 3, Kimchee and Corn Bread by Helie Lee and Stephanie Covington, an article (970L); Chapter 4, “A More Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama (1330L); Chapter 7, The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross, a novel (1110L); Chapter 8, “SmartThings Future Living Report” by Maggie Adrien-Pocock, Arthur Mamou-Mani, Toby Burgess, Linda Aitken, and Els Leclercq, a report (1330L); Chapter 10, “Global Warming is a Myth” by Edmund Contoski (1190L); Chapter 12, “Jeremiah’s Song” by Walter Dean Myers (720L); Chapter 16, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, a novel (620L); and Chapter 18, “Nixon Resigns,” a New York Times article by John Herbers (1440L).
A second factor for text selection includes a rationale that explains the text’s educational purpose and grade-level placement. The publisher states, “qualitative factors of a text include such elements as layout, purpose, and meaning, text structure, language features, and knowledge demands.” A third factor the publisher uses is “reader and task,” considering and relying upon 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 the texts correspond with the grade 8 ELAR TEKS. Students use close reading strategies throughout the instructional materials to complete their work. In Chapter 9, students read The Postman by David Brin. First, students analyze an incident in a novel; during the second read, students interpret an allusion to a song; during the third read, students compare the text to the film version. 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 involves student work on tasks related to genre characteristics and craft to compose meaningful texts. In Chapter 17, “Pandora’s Box: How Curiosity Unleashed Evil into the World” by Spencer Kayden, students perform a missing scene from the text.
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. They 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:
Across each unit, questions and tasks require that students make connections as they respond to the Unit 1 “Essential Question”—“What are the benefits and challenges of living in a diverse society?”—and connect the texts in each chapter. Materials contain text-specific/dependent questions that build conceptual knowledge. In Chapter 1, after reading “Inside Out and Back Again” by Thanhha Lai, questions support student examination of symbolism, a complex text element. For example, “What might the sandals symbolize in line 22?” “What might the Golden River symbolize for Ha’s mother in line 30?” and “What might the black seeds symbolize in line 64?” Tasks require students to identify and write the excerpt’s theme and support their response with evidence from the text.
Tasks require students to identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details. For example, students read three quotations from Martin Luther King Jr., Patrick Henry, and President Abraham Lincoln. Students think about the qualities of a speech that can “inspire, motivate, or change the world,” generate a list of qualities that a great speech has, and discuss with a partner. Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge. For example, in Unit 1, Chapter 4, students read the speech titled “A Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama. After reading the speech, students complete a graphic organizer that requires examining each speech’s paragraph to determine the central idea. Questions require students to analyze the “organizational structure” of paragraph 3, the development of ideas in paragraphs 4–8, and transitions between ideas. After reading the speech, tasks require students to reflect on the “idea of a perfect union” and determine if it is important, if it is achievable, and if there are obstacles.
Stories and activities build students’ knowledge within texts and across multiple texts. In Unit 2, Chapter 10, students analyze conflicting interpretations, using the report “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes” by Marianne Lavelle and the article “Global Warming Is a Myth” by Edmund Contoski. Students analyze the central idea, evaluate arguments, and analyze conflicting interpretations. Materials support students as they draw on textual evidence to support their learning of explicit facts and inferences and produce evidence from texts to support their position or claim. Students complete a table to pinpoint the articles’ differences and similarities and respond by responding yes or no to each question. Questions include “Does the article state that: the planet is currently getting warmer? Are human actions increasing carbon levels in the atmosphere? Increased carbon in the atmosphere causes Earth to warm? Does warming Earth cause increased carbon levels in the atmosphere? A warming Earth could affect life-forms across the world? A warming Earth could benefit life-forms across the world?”
In Unit 3, “Why Do We Tell Stories?” students work with different texts in Chapter 12, such as the short story “Jeremiah’s Song” by Walter Dean Myers. Tasks require students to integrate multiple TEKS as they complete a graphic organizer to analyze dialogue and determine how it affects or reveals character. Text-based discussion questions about setting and characterization include “What do you learn about the family from the setting? The narrator says, ‘Grandpa Jeremiah’s face was skinny and old looking, but his eyes looked like a baby, they were so bright.’ (lines 16-18) What does the narrator’s description suggest about Grandpa Jeremiah?” In another graphic organizer, students focus on figurative language, analyze how dialogue reveals character, and determine how dramatic irony influences meaning. Additionally, students identify the role of minor characters by summarizing frames.
Materials require students to identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details. In Unit 4, Chapter 16, students analyze an excerpt from Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and the poem “The Drum” by Nikki Giovanni. The unit theme is “What Informs Your Decisions?” Questions and tasks require students to analyze character interactions and determine and compare themes. After students read the texts, they analyze character interaction and determine what different pieces of the text reveal about the character; they complete a graphic organizer describing the characters and their opinion of Stargirl. Then, students determine the theme and compare the themes of the two texts, responding to questions such as “How are the two themes similar? How are they different? Additionally, tasks require students to make connections to personal experiences and apply texts to the real world in the reflection question “Have you ever been the new kid at school? What was it like?”
Materials build conceptual knowledge and target complex elements of the texts. In Unit 4, Chapter 18, students focus on the analysis of a primary source for tone and point of view from the speech titled “I Would Have Preferred to Carry Through” from Richard M. Nixon’s Presidential Resignation and the article “Nixon Resigns” The New York Times August 9, 1974, by John Herbers. Objectives focus on the analysis of central ideas, the impact of word choice on tone, and comparing points of view in primary sources. Tasks include a chart that reveals an analysis of the points of view presented in the sources. Text specific/dependent questions in the chart include: “How does each source differ in its interpretation of the following ideas?”
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’ writing 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:
Within the program, students read texts multiple times. Re-reads create opportunities for students to perform various tasks related to the readings. Questions and tasks allow students to analyze literary/textual elements of texts. For example, in Chapter 1, students make inferences about the characters’ personalities and motivations, the theme, and the author’s purpose. Lessons also include determining the theme of a text, analyzing how an author uses symbolism and structure to develop the theme, and creating a brochure about the traditional food of a foreign country or writing a poem about the experience of being a refugee. Students read an excerpt from Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai and record inferences and textual evidence in a chart. In Chapter 3, students analyze the author’s point of view and purpose. Specifically, students analyze how allusions in a text contribute to the main idea, determine authors’ points of view, and analyze the purpose of an entire text and how small sections contribute to the overall purpose. Students read, reflect, and record the author’s purpose in an excerpt from A Narrative of Mrs. Mary Jemison’s Life by James E. Seaver. Students then read Kimchee and Cornbread by Helie Lee and Stephanie Covington and use critical thinking skills to analyze the text regarding the author’s point of view and purpose. Students take turns reading and summarizing the text with a partner. When complete, they discuss and determine the authors’ purpose(s).
Lessons and tasks provide opportunities for students to compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic. For example, in Chapter 5, students read the article “Assimilation Nation No More” by Ed Feulner and underline “key terms the author uses in his argument.” After reading, students analyze specific terms, decide if Feulner uses them negatively or positively, and record their thoughts on a chart. Students read the excerpt “Common Arguments Against Immigration” by Alex Nowrasteh and underline information in the article that conflicts with Feulner’s article. After reading, students use critical thinking skills to examine Nowrasteh’s claim and evidence, respond to open-ended questions, and record responses on a chart. For instance, they “describe the two authors’ conflicting points of view about immigration assimilation.”
Lessons include questions and tasks that require careful re-reading. For example, in Chapter 6, students read the article “Are the robots about to rise? Google’s new director of engineering thinks so...” by Carole Cadwalladr and use close reading strategies. After the first reading, students discuss questions such as “How does the author characterize Kurzweil in the second paragraph (lines 3-12)? What might be her purpose in including this idea?” Students complete a writing assignment where they “describe how Kurzweil seems different from most people you or the author know.” After the second reading of the text, students analyze the author’s tone and word choice. Students answer questions such as “What is the tone of the excerpt? What words or phrases tell you this?”
Program materials provide opportunities for students to analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning across various texts. For example, in Chapter 11, students use close reading strategies with The Wrath and the Dawn, “The Mountain of Adamant,” by Renee Ahdieh. After reading, students study specific language in the text and examine dialogue to determine “how it affects the plot or reveals character.” After the third read, students “write a summary of the Agib story that Shahrzad tells.” They then answer the questions “What does the Agib story reveal about Shahrzad and the caliph?” and “How does The Wrath and the Dawn draw upon ancient storytelling pattern of the frame story, and One Thousand and One Nights in particular, and make it seem new?”
Questions and tasks support students as they analyze literary/textual elements; analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author’s purpose in cultural and historical contexts; and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. For example, in Chapter 17, students read the historical play “Pandora’s Box: How Curiosity Unleashed Evil into the World” by Spencer Kayden. Students “examine lines of dialogue” to discover the plot, characters, and character motivation. After reading, students use a chart with specific lines from the text to show how those lines “reveal character motivation and how the motivation results in an action.” Tasks require students to study the language within texts to support their understanding. For example, in Chapter 18, students analyze the effect of word choice on tone. Students read Nixon’s Resignation Speech and circle words and phrases that help them understand Nixon’s tone or attitude toward the subject matter. The teacher explains that students need to understand denotative and connotative meanings to understand the author’s tone.
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:
Materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. Throughout the program, each unit contains grade-level practice activities as a part of daily lessons and instruction for students to build key academic vocabulary and practice their understanding both within and across texts. Each chapter includes Tier 2 and Tier 3 academic vocabulary to preview definitions, examples, and strategies to determine word meanings. Lessons allow students to note down any unfamiliar academic vocabulary words, which is followed by a teacher-led class discussion. Additionally, materials include word study that allows students to reinforce skills and strategies for building a more powerful vocabulary and use words that communicate meaning. The Teacher’s Edition states that “students learn and practice vocabulary, sentence structure, punctuation, and other language skills within the context of authentic texts.” Resources include practice vocabulary to prepare for standardized tests, presentations to support vocabulary instruction, ideas for enhancing vocabulary instruction, and grade-level appropriate worksheets to build vocabulary.
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. In Chapter 1, students read Inside and Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. The materials indicate that students will need to understand that diacritical marks, appearing in line 109 and defined in the footnote, can completely change the meaning of words in certain languages, including Vietnamese. They explain that the mark on the word changes the voice inflection that dictates the word’s meaning and that the same word may have multiple inflections and different meanings. Instructional materials include ways for students to apply words in appropriate contexts. The “Connect to Testing” section assesses students’ understanding of academic vocabulary. Chapter 1 contains a vocabulary preview for work with Inside Out and Back Again. Academic vocabulary words include free verse, meter, point of view, rhythm, structure, symbolism, theme, and verbals. Teachers lead a class discussion using a link to access a PowerPoint to preview the academic vocabulary. In Chapter 1, students read and mark unfamiliar words. Content vocabulary words include flecked, clusters, purify, compromise, and retrieve.
Materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. In Chapter 4, students read A Perfect Union by Senator Barack Obama. Materials state that students who need remediation benefit from a second discussion. Teachers ask questions for critical thinking, such as “How is writing a good speech like building a good school?” Teacher guidance indicates that the more students explore the comparison, the richer it will become and the more useful it can be to them as writers.
In Chapter 7, the students read “The Rapture of the Nerds” by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross. Students who need remediation may struggle with terms and phrases such as incurious, curmudgeonly, spam, and chromosomal hackery. The teacher forms groups of three to five students to read the passage. The students alternate reading the passage aloud in sections—“paragraphs 1–2, 3–6, 7–9, 10–12, and 13–14”—and pause after each section to clarify words and phrases they do not understand and summarize what they read for each section.
Materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. In Chapter 12, before reading from “Jeremiah’s Song” by Walter Dean Myers, students preview academic vocabulary words: character, dialogue, figurative language, lateral, a minor character, protagonist, and standard English. Support includes the definition and an example sentence. One example is “literal: matter of fact, basic. The literal meaning of break a leg is different from the idiom that is a wish for ‘good luck.’” Before reading, students choose to “preview unfamiliar from the text vocabulary or circle as they complete the first read.” The teacher guides students to determine word meaning from context clues. Students confirm the meaning using the dictionary. Words some students “might find difficult” are urban, smothered chops, and shelling butter beans. Materials define: “shelling butter beans: taking the shells off the beans” and provide a sentence: “We were shelling butter beans to prepare them for dinner.” The teacher explains to EL students that “the characters speak in dialect” and “different from standard English.” Students read the “dialogue to get a basic understanding of what the characters are saying.”
In Chapter 15, reading How I Came to Be a Writer by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, students preview the section and mark unfamiliar words. The teacher uses a list of academic vocabulary (character analysis, dramatic irony, evidence, situational irony, and verbal irony) to lead a discussion. In the Teacher’s Edition, teachers have access to a PowerPoint presentation for vocabulary instruction.
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.
In the “Own Your Own: Integrating Ideas” sections, students receive opportunities to read the text independently at the end of each chapter. After Chapter 1, independent reading suggestions include Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard.
Program materials do not include procedures and/or protocols nor adequate support for teachers to foster independent reading. In a few examples, the teacher may assign independent reading. For example, in Chapter 3, the On Your Own: Integrating Ideas section suggests students read New Boy by Julian Houston. Upon completing the novel, the students answer the questions “How do the main character’s experience relate to the topic of diversity?” and “Consider any personal connection you have to the main character.” Teachers do not support lessons or activities that address texts assigned for independent student reading.
After Chapter 6, suggestions or further reading include Nanobots for Dinner: Preparing for the Technological Singularity by David Filmore or a more challenging text, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil.
After Chapter 11, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas suggests students may finish reading The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh. Students think “about their favorite character” and what they think will “happen in the sequel, The Rose and the Dagger.” Suggestions for more advanced options include 1984 by George Orwell or an excerpt from Arabian Nights translated by Sir Richard Burton.
After Chapter 20, students may read “Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests Miss” by Keith E. Stanovich on the Scientific American website.
Instructional materials do not provide details for procedures and/or protocols that foster independent reading. Program materials do not support the teacher to guide lessons or provide activities related to independent reading of suggested texts for further reading.
Materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Lessons provide opportunities for students to write literary texts to express their thoughts about real or imagined people, events, ideas, and narratives and to express personal feelings and beliefs. Lessons allow students to write informational texts to communicate ideas to specific audiences for specific purposes. Instructional materials allow students to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Additionally, materials allow students to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. Students use the writing process and various writing exercises to systematically practice good writing skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Instructional materials include various writing practices to build stamina; this 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; these include grade-level texts for multiple purposes and audiences.
In Chapter 5, students write an informational text. Students review examples of writing that “explains or informs,” including “an online encyclopedia, a newspaper article, or a family genealogy tree.” Students use informational writing structure as they use an outline to plan their essay by identifying the “occasion, purpose, genre, audience, and topic of their writing task.” Students gather and organize information and details about their topic, then “draft the introduction and thesis statement.” They refer to a provided mentor text for examples as they draft the body and conclusion using suggested strategies (e.g., “summarize the body of the essay, and restate the thesis into new words”).
Unit 1 (Chapters 1–5) includes articles and stories related to diversity, ethnicity, and immigration. At the end of the unit, students use what they have learned to write an argumentative text about an “issue related to diversity in the United States.” In writing, students make a claim that clearly expresses a point of view, support their claim with strong reasoning and evidence based on research, and include “a counterclaim and a response to the counterclaim.”
In Chapter 6, mentor texts include examples of 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 and review the “rhetoric of persuasion, logos, pathos, and ethos.” Students select a topic to write an argumentative essay regarding “an issue on which people hold very different views.” Students identify their audience using provided questions to “analyze their audience.” Additionally, students learn to use “their voice.” Students “find sources” and evaluate using the information provided in the materials. They use the “Argumentative Writing Checklist,” which includes questions about organization, structure, focus, content, development, style, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.
At the beginning of Unit 2, students write time-traveling letters to get them thinking about the future. Students select the audience to “either write a letter to their future selves, or to a child who will be born in the future.” Materials state: “The letter should address students’ hopes and fears for the future. It should also describe how they will contribute to a promising future or what they will change to make sure their fears will not come to pass.” At the end of Unit 2 (Chapters 6–10), students write a comparative essay. They “locate two nonfiction texts that make predictions about some aspect of the future.” Materials require: “The texts must share the same broad topic—for example, the future of computing, of work, of medicine, or another topic of your choosing.”
In Chapter 7, students “write a scene for a play.” Students learn about stage directions and read a scene, using Romeo and Juliet as a mentor text. To prepare for writing, students “imagine how they would say the dialogue.” Students “choose a conflict, sketch characters, and decide on a setting” using “dialogue and stage directions” to create their scene. Also in this chapter, students respond to the following prompt: “For this project, imagine that you are the SmartCloud. You’re writing a formal letter to the people of Earth. You’re trying to explain—as clearly as a super-intelligent SmartCloud can to primitive humans—why you send us plans for technologies that can “emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems.” Students should include their reasons and what they hope the results will be, using a business letter format.
In Chapter 9, students write an “informal letter, a social letter such as an invitation, thank-you, letter of regret, a business letter, and a letter of complaint.” Students use the writing process and the correct structure for each style.
In Unit 3, Chapters 11–15, students read various fictional stories, a narrative poem, an informational text, and an excerpt from a memoir. At the end of the unit, students participate in writing a personal narrative, responding to the following prompt: “Our ideas come from the experiences in our lives; the stories we write are often the stories we live. Think of an event in your life that made an impact on you, something that frightened you, saddened you, excited you, or made you proud. Write a personal narrative that shows how the experience impacted you.”
At the end of Unit 4 (Chapters 16–20), students write a research paper. The informational texts in the final two chapters focus on how the brain affects decision-making. Students use the ideas from these texts to “write a research paper related to how the brain impacts human behavior in some way,” including a description of “the biology of how the brain works and the influence of the brain on actions and feelings.” In this writing assignment, students include a works cited page and at least three direct quotations from the research sources.
Written tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and text synthesis. Writing tasks include opportunities for students to make inferences, summarize ideas, analyze point of view, and support their opinions and claims using text evidence. Assignments 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 4, students read the speech “A Perfect Union” by then-Senator Barack Obama and use close reading strategies. Also, students watch a video of the full speech online. The teacher directs students to pay attention to how Obama speaks, his facial expressions, and his body movements. Students reflect on how listening and viewing the speech affect their understanding and appreciation of the speech. The students write about whether the speech was more effective based on delivery format.
In Chapter 6, as students read “Are the Robots About to Rise? Google’s New Director of Engineering Thinks So...” by Carole Cadwalladr and a paragraph describing Kurzweil’s place within the category of technologists. Students use details from the article to support their ideas, using terminology such as “for example” and “for instance.” Students also read an excerpt of Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus (1818) by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. After reading, students complete a writing exercise related to texts that addresses the prompt “popular culture often depicts scientists as dull lab rats or wild-eyed rule-breakers.” Students respond in writing to the questions “Does the scientist in the excerpt above fit easily in either group? Why or why not?”
In Chapter 8, students read “SmartThings Future Living Report” by Maggie Adrien-Pocock, Arthur Mamou-Mani, Toby Burgess, Linda Aitken, and Els Leclercq and write a paragraph about what the authors think the future of humanity will be like. Students support their statement with at least three pieces of evidence from the text and include a sentence that summarizes what the evidence shows, using the sentence stem “All of this evidence indicates that the authors….” Students also write a “literary essay” to “respond to a piece of literature.” They “gather evidence” to support their thesis statement; “skim the literary work from start to finish, looking for details”; and note details and page numbers. Students end with a writing task that includes a “brief note” about why the detail is important.
As part of the Unit 2 assessment (Chapters 6–10), students respond to the “Essential Question” “What does humanity’s future hold?” Students write an argumentative essay in which they make a claim about whether, one hundred years from now, life for humans will be better or worse. Students must use textual evidence and refer to at least three sources from the unit to support their claim. The teacher guides students to read the prompt a few times and underline keywords and phrases that present the essay’s focus. Materials indicate the teacher should encourage students to develop an original claim that does not have to rely exclusively on the passages but includes their knowledge, experience, and opinions. The teacher reminds students to keep their claims in mind as they revisit the selections and other material to target the most relevant evidence.
In Chapter 12, students read an excerpt from Jeremiah’s Song by Walter Dean Myers. In a few carefully composed sentences, students explain the importance of storytelling according to Grandpa Jeremiah. They practice embedding a quotation from the text into their sentences.
In Chapter 13, students read the narrative poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and compare and contrast the poem with the excerpt from Jeremiah’s Song by Walter Dean Myers. Students write a paragraph in response to the question “How does the structure of a narrative inform its meaning?” They think about why it makes sense to have Jeremiah’s Song be written as a short story and “Paul Revere’s Ride” as a poem. Students also consider structural elements of poetry and prose in their responses.
In Chapter 19, the students read the short passage “Changing Brains Mean that Adolescents Act Differently Than Adults” from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website. After reading, they answer the following questions: “What claim does this passage make?” “What evidence supports this claim?” and “Does the evidence seem convincing? Why or why not?”
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 compose 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. Chapters in the composition manual provide examples and practice opportunities for the entire 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 provides explanation and practice of 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, sentence fragments, run-ons, capitalization, and spelling strategies. Materials provide opportunities for practice and application. The Teacher’s Edition guides teaching skills; for many skills, there are examples and a link to a PowerPoint containing relevant information. Various lessons throughout the program include but are not limited to proper use of italics; denotation and connotation; nonstandard verbs; verb tenses; verbs such as action, transitive, intransitive, linking, and helping verbs; “omitting conjunctions that would normally be used in clauses and phrases”; and “phrases” and “misplaced modifier.”
In Chapters 2 and 3, students focus on the writing process. Students learn about the craft of writing and well-structured paragraphs, focusing on sentence structure; creating sentences; details within sentences; and beginning, middle, and concluding sentences. Materials include activities for student practice, such as examples to correct as well as the opportunity for students to write their own sentences and paragraphs. In Chapter 5, students read “Assimilation Nation No More” by Ed Feulner. They focus on punctuation when quoting sources; for example, using “quotation marks, colons, and commas” when citing direct quotes from the text. Materials provide students with a detailed description of punctuation rules when quoting sources and examples, in chart form. Students practice by finding sentences from the texts and using the correct placement of commas and colons with direct quotes.
At the end of each unit, students complete an extensive writing assignment using the writing process: They brainstorm, gather ideas, write research questions, conduct research, take notes, organize ideas, write a first draft, revise and edit the draft, conduct peer reviews, and then write the final draft. After Unit 1 (Chapters 1–5), students write an argumentative essay using the following prompt: “Choose an issue related to diversity in the United States. Then make a claim about the issue in an argumentative essay. Write a claim that clearly expresses a point of view. Support your claim with strong reasons and evidence based on research. Include a counterclaim and a response to the counterclaim.”
In Chapter 6, students imagine that they could “use technology to radically transform one of your five senses.” Students must “use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation” and follow guidelines to write a short essay, identifying what sense they want to transform, explain why they want to transform it, specifically describe how they would want technology to transform it, and explain how everyday life would be different because of that technology.
In Chapter 9, students read The Postman by David Brin and then “write a short essay (three to four paragraphs) comparing and contrasting the textual and filmed versions of the incident in The Postman,” using information from a story element chart as the materials for the essay.
At the end of Unit 2 (Chapters 6–10), students write a comparative essay using the following prompt: “Locate two nonfiction texts that make predictions about some aspect of the future (Texts may include an article or a chapter in a book about the future). The texts must share the same broad topic—for example, the future of computing, of work, of medicine, or another topic of your choosing. Your goal is to clearly compare what the texts have in common and where they differ.” Throughout the writing process, guidance instructs students to proofread their work for punctuation and grammatical errors. In the final draft proofread, students specifically check for standard grammar, correct punctuation, and spelling mistakes.
At the end of Unit 3 (Chapters 11–15), students write a personal narrative using the following prompt: “Our ideas come from the experiences in our lives; the stories we write are often the stories we live. Think of an event in your life that made an impact on you—something that frightened you, saddened you, excited you, or made you proud.” As a class, the teacher and students analyze the writing prompt. Next, students complete a graphic organizer as they brainstorm ideas, analyze texts from the unit, gather and evaluate sources, and then create an outline of their thoughts. Students use their outline to write a rough draft of their personal narrative about “a story from your own life—in which you show how the experience impacted you.” Materials prompt: “Think about how the experience affected the way you see yourself, others, or the world around you. Use thoughtful description, realistic dialogue, and careful pacing so that your reader will understand the emotion behind your story.” Students use a checklist to conduct the self-review and peer review; they correct grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling and 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.
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:
Program materials include opportunities for students to speak and listen about texts, allowing them to demonstrate comprehension. In Chapter 2, students read an excerpt from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and compare it with Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai in Chapter 1. Students analyze and discuss “how the structure of this novel differs from other novels and how the unique structure reveals the theme.” Throughout the discussion, students use the words structure and theme and refer to specific lines from the excerpts to support their conclusions. After each question, students summarize their discussion.
In Chapter 3, students read “Kimchee and Corn Bread” by Helie Lee and Stephanie Covington. With a partner, students take turns reading the paragraphs. Students write brief notes to remember key ideas in the paragraph as they listen to their partner read. Students then write a paragraph that summarizes Lee’s and Covington’s “conflicting points of view of the other’s culture” and “explain how they learn to accept each others’ differences.” Students share with partners, telling each other what worked well in the paragraph and providing one suggestion to improve.
A lesson in Chapter 8 provides a description of connotation and denotation. Students analyze sentences to determine whether the underlined connotations are positive or negative. Students read a set of words and rank them from the most negative to the most positive. Students then share their results with a partner and discuss their word rankings using provided questions.
In Chapter 9, students read an excerpt from The Postman by David Brin and “work together to identify the conflict, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution of this incident.” Students refer to specific details to support their conclusions and take notes during their discussion to use in a writing assignment.
In Chapter 10, after reading “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes” by Marianne Lavelle and “Global Warming Is a Myth” by Edmund Contoski, students discuss the following facts about carbon dioxide: “It makes up just 0.035 percent of the atmosphere. It accounts for only 3 percent of Earth’s natural greenhouse effect. It is a weak greenhouse gas compared with water vapor and other carbon-containing gases.” Students synthesize the information to determine if these facts mean the predictions of “Crocodiles and Palm Trees” are wrong and “why or why not.” In another activity, the author includes quotations from two people, Myles Allen and Scott Wing, from the article “Global Warming Is a Myth.” Students discuss “why the author found it important to contact these people and include statements from them,” noting their jobs and whether their career choice qualifies them as climate experts. Students then brainstorm other fields that could be relevant.
In Chapter 13, students read “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and respond to questions about the poem’s cultural context. Students share their answers in groups of three or four. They comment appropriately on new information and focus on the evidence, using sentence starters such as “I like the idea that…” “I hadn’t thought about how…” “It’s interesting to think about why.…”
In Chapter 20, students analyze the development of ideas. Students discuss how authors develop key ideas in various ways. With a partner, students share their answers to the exercise. Materials indicate that if there is disagreement, students should discuss their ideas and develop one key idea they can both agree on.
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 2, students research the topic of women’s suffrage. As students compile their data, they collect ideas, quotes, and images to create a well-organized presentation and insert photos and/or videos to make it more engaging. Lesson materials include a rubric type that states students must explain key facts about the suffrage movement in the United States; professionally use multimedia; include visual aids such as photos or videos; make a connection to the suffrage movement and women in American society today; and use correct grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.
In Chapter 4, students read Senator Barack Obama’s speech “A More Perfect Union,” write a speech as if they are running for class president, present it to others, and upload it to their class webpage or YouTube. Students limit their speech to 4 or 5 minutes and practice before they record. Guidelines include for students to use good eye contact and a natural speaking rate, clearly enunciate words, and use good volume in their recording,
In Chapter 6, students read “Are the robots about to rise? Google’s new director of engineering thinks so...” by Carole Cadwalladr. Students create “a digital presentation comparing an early version of a common technology with a recent version of that same technology.” Students who choose a technology that they like or use often search online using relevant terms, consult reliable sources, and gather the following information: “a definition of the technology that accurately describes the main function of the old and recent versions,” “how the old and recent versions are similar,” “how the old and recent versions are different,” “how the changes to the technology are improvements over the older version,” and “whether you feel all the changes are improvements or something important has been lost by progress.” Students create an interesting and well-organized digital presentation that includes words and pictures/videos on each slide. Lesson materials include a rubric of grading criteria: “use multimedia (images, audio, video) in a professional way that is appealing to both see and hear; contain information that clearly compares and contrasts the old and recent versions of the technology; display images or videos that are appropriate and helpful for understanding the content of your presentation; demonstrate confidence, eye contact, and proper volume when you are speaking to the class; and use correct grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.” Students practice before presenting to the class and if working with a partner, decide in advance who will share which slides. Also in Chapter 6, students participate in a class discussion regarding the following: “Sometimes, authors completely reject viewpoints that disagree with their own. Does Cadwalladr do this? Or is her approach different? And how do you know this?” Students use hand signals to indicate when they want to talk during this discussion. Thumbs-up means they want to share something new. A peace sign means they have something to add to the last person’s statement. At the end of the discussion, students conclude the following question: “How does Cadwalladr respond to viewpoints that don’t agree with hers?”
In Chapter 10, after reading “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? News Report Suggest Yes” by Marianne Lavelle and “Global Warming Is a Myth” by Edmund Contoski, students participate in a roundtable discussion regarding the following question: “Which article does a better job supporting its predictions about the future of Earth’s species: ‘Crocodiles and Palm Trees’ or ‘Global Warming Is a Myth’?” Students review notes for evidence they may use to support the discussion before the discussion. As students participate in the discussion, they keep track of the details and write how it supports their opinion. The second round of discussion allows for deeper thinking and sharing of ideas. The group closes the discussion by answering the question “Did your opinion change during the roundtable discussion? Why or why not?”
In Chapter 11, after reading an excerpt from The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, students “research a folktale from any region and present a retelling of it to younger students.” Materials include guidelines for students to follow “to receive the highest score”; they include “accurately retells a folktale, adapts speech to the context and task by using appropriate volume, gestures, tone, and language”; “shows an understanding of the original tale”; and “attempts to engage the audience with voice inflections and body language.”
In Chapter 19, the students read “Embarrassed? Blame Your Brain” by Jennifer Connor-Smith and participate in a roundtable discussion based on the following question: “Should the government always treat teenagers the same as it does adults?” Students find and read two other reliable sources to discuss the question. Lesson support includes a chart for students to record details and support their conclusion. Each student answers the question while the others take notes to reply. As students participate in the discussion, they keep track of the text they use and write how it supports their opinion. The group closes the discussion by answering the following question: “In what areas should the government treat teenagers as adults, and in what areas should teenagers be treated differently? Explain your answer with evidence from multiple texts.”
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; 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 and the appropriate grade-level audience. In Chapter 1, students read from Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. After reading and analyzing a poem, students research the refugee experience to “understand the political situation, the unique cultures of refugees, the reasons for fleeing their home country, and the challenges refugees encounter as they arrive in a new place.” Based on learning and research, students write a poem about the life and experience of being a refugee.
In Chapter 4, students read “A More Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama. Teachers choose between two tasks to assign for student work. In the “On Your Own: Integrating Ideas” section, students “search online for information about civil rights laws.” They then choose one of these laws and research how effectively it is working: “Has it truly made a difference?” There is a second option: “Research where the phrase ‘a more perfect union’ originally comes from. What is the significance of the original use of this phrase in the context of Obama’s speech?”
At the end of Chapter 8, students write an essay about a problem they see in the future related to technology or automation. After determining a problem, students propose a well-developed resolution. Students research information and ideas relevant to their solution to help readers understand. Students get feedback from a friend about their problem and solution and revise their essay based on teacher and peer feedback.
In Chapter 13, students read “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. At the end of the chapter, students stage a debate based on the question “Was Paul Revere a hero?” Students research their side of the debate and include at least two reliable sources to find facts that support their argument using relevant evidence. They create a chart in their “Reader’s Journals” to record their research. Students pose their arguments during the debate and speak with appropriate volume, clarity, and formality. The teacher provides a checklist for students to prepare: “research, build a case, identify evidence in favor, anticipate counterarguments, write an opening statement, practice.” Rules are as follows: “Have another student or your teacher be the moderator. The moderator’s job is to keep debaters on task and keep the debate running smoothly. This person will ask for opening and closing statements and call on each side when it is their turn to speak. Prepare an opening statement (1–3 minutes) that includes your position and provides a brief summary of the supporting evidence. As you listen to the opposing side, take notes to form your closing statement, in which you will restate your position with a fresh perspective and argue against the other side’s points. The ‘pro’ side speaks first for both the opening and closing statements….” Guidelines include: “Be respectful and formal in your tone and behavior; Do not interrupt or put down other people; Listen attentively and think about how you will respond; Speak only when the moderator tells you to do so….”
Materials support identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. In Chapter 18, students focus on “Analyzing a Primary Source for Tone and Point of View.” As an introductory activity, students “imagine an author was going to write a story of their life,” complete a chart with examples of “primary sources and secondary sources,” and consider “which sources would show the most bias about their life.” The text explains: “Historical documents created by people who witnessed events in history are called primary sources. Primary sources are different from secondary sources, created by people who were not directly involved in the events.” The “Preview Concepts” section guides teachers to preview primary and secondary sources using the following definition: “Primary sources might include diaries, report cards, letters, original artwork, photographs, or awards. Secondary sources might include letters written by other people about them or teachers’ comments written about them.” Materials instruct teachers: “Help students understand that primary sources hold less bias because they do not interpret, analyze, or offer opinions; they simply reflect the creator and the time and place (historical context).” Students “read an excerpt from Ronald Reagan’s March 1987 speech” following the Iran-Contra affair regarding the sale of weapons to Iran to “gain the release of hostages.” Students write a response to “What is Reagan’s purpose for giving this speech?” Students also read “Nixon Resigns” by John Herbers, published in The New York Times, August 9, 1974, the day after Nixon resigned. They compare word choice and tone between the two pieces of text. Students write “several paragraphs” analyzing how this primary source compares to one read previously in the materials. Students “find another primary source from the Watergate affair” to analyze and compare/contrast to Nixon’s resignation speech. Students identify “type of document, unique physical characteristics of the document, date, author, audience, and document information.” As students complete the three readings of “Presidential Resignation Speech” by Richard Nixon using close reading strategies, they identify and analyze the central idea, analyze the impact of word choice and tone, and compare primary sources’ points of view. Students write a “primary source evaluation” to identify questions from the lesson. Students consider important things the author said, the purpose of the document, evidence to show the purpose, information from the time period, and any biases.
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 and integrate knowledge and ideas. Students preview a lesson before the main lesson. Students write about details such as the scene, descriptions of people and how they talk, and more. Each lesson includes a cycle of “Preview Concepts; Making Connections; First, Second, and Third Read.” Cycles contain text-dependent questions, speaking and listening activities, reading aloud with a partner, writing opportunities, and peer editing.
In Chapter 2, students read The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. First, students read the section “My Name,” followed by an excerpt from Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, recalling text from Chapter 1. Students examine each text using the following questions: “What is the mood of the text? What emotions does the language create in the reader? How does the author organize his/her story? Is the plot structure traditional and centered on events that rise to a climax? Is the structure organized around something other than plot, such as different characters’ perspectives? Is there a single narrator telling the story or are there multiple voices speaking? Does the story utilize a unique structure, such as a novel told in verse?” Students compare/contrast The House on Mango Street and Inside Out and Back Again. Students identify “Type of literary text (genre); Structure of chapters; Writing style/voice/tone/mood; Main characters (Hà and Esperanza); Themes that relate to name/identity; Add another element that you would like to compare and contrast.”
In Chapter 4, students read “A Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama three times. After each read, students respond to questions, each with a different focus. They determine the central idea: “According to Obama, what are the ‘common hopes’ that all Americans share? Who were Obama’s parents, and why were they important to his success? How does Obama suggest that Americans might ‘move beyond some of our old racial wounds’?” They analyze the organizational structure and point of view: “When does he use ‘we’ to refer to African American?” Students also research the context and impact of the speech and write an essay in response to questions: “What events led Obama to make the speech?” “Why was making a successful speech on this topic so important to Obama?” “What was the effect of the speech?” “What were people’s reactions to it?” “How did it affect people’s views of Obama?” and “How did it change political history?” In the essay, students write an argument for or against whether Obama was effective in accomplishing his purpose.
In Chapter 7, students read an excerpt from The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross. After reading, students either write a formal letter or create a pastiche. For the formal letter, students imagine that they are the SmartCloud: “You’re writing a formal letter to the people of Earth. You’re trying to explain—as clearly as a super-intelligent SmartCloud can to primitive humans—why you send us plans for technologies that can ‘emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems.’ Tell us your reasons and what you hope the results will be.” For the pastiche, students add on to The Rapture of the Nerds to demonstrate their understanding of the authors’ style by mimicking their use of vocabulary and their unique voice.
In Chapter 10, before reading the excerpt “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes” by Marianne Lavelle (National Geographic), students preview academic vocabulary: central idea, claim, evaluate, evidence, interpret, mood, reasoning, supporting idea, and voice. Students make connections by reading excerpts about climate change and “summarize the different views” of each. While reading, students “underline the central idea” and circle key ideas that support the central idea. Students fill in a diagram of key ideas and details focusing on the central idea of the text. With a partner, students discuss “quotations from two people” and talk about “why the author found it important to contact these people and include statements from them.” From the discussion, students write “a paragraph explaining why the author took the time to get statements from Myles Aleen and Scott Wing.”
In Chapter 14, students read The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone: Key to Ancient Egypt by James Cross Giblin. Before reading, the teacher models annotation. Students annotate as they read the text on their own. The teacher pre-teaches the following vocabulary words: granite, colossal, slab, decipher, and aspect. While reading, students circle unfamiliar words, use context to determine the meaning, and then look up the words in a dictionary. To check comprehension, the teacher poses questions such as “Why couldn’t the Greeks in the 7th century A.D. find out the meaning of the hieroglyphs?” “How was the French general Napoleon involved with the Rosetta Stone?” and “Why might the author have begun the chapter with a description of the two statues followed quickly with a description of the Rosetta Stone?” Other topics of focus in the chapter include developing a central idea, analyzing connections between events and people in a text, identifying the writer’s point of view and purpose, and reviewing em-dash rules with examples. Students record their thoughts within each topic and participate in discussions with partners. Additionally, students may read the text out loud to their partners.
Materials provide spiraling and scaffolded 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 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 2 and 3 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? and asks 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 giving them the opportunity to practice fluency. The third reading focuses on “Why is this text important or meaningful to me - or to 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.” Remediation is in the form of further defining terms, extra writing activities, further analysis of the text, and more.
Chapter 6 focuses on examining connections and distinctions by reading an excerpt from “Are the Robots About to Rise?” by Carole Cadwalladr. Chapter goals include analysis of how a text makes connections and distinctions within categories; examination of word choices in a text; analysis of how the author responds to other viewpoints; and using roots, prefixes, and suffixes to determine meanings of words. Students analyze categories, such as technologist and entrepreneur, for the first read. For the second read, students focus on word choice and tone, underlining sentences that show the author’s tone and writing about it. In the tech-connect activity, students share their paragraphs in Google drive, where other students can comment. Students analyze how the author responds to other viewpoints for the third read, looking at pictures and text links. Students look at prefixes, suffixes, and roots for words pulled from the text in the language activity, such as predict and inflexible. Students choose either a personal essay or a digital presentation for their project-based assessment and then close the chapter with assessment practice through spiraling standards used throughout the materials.
In Chapter 13, the students read “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The teacher uses the lesson support section to scaffold instruction for students. Before the students read the text the first time, the teacher previews narrative poetry with the students “by explaining the purpose of stanzas and that students “should think of each stanza as a short paragraph” drawing lines to separate the stanzas. Students “jot down a summary of each stanza” as they read. The teacher pre-teaches the vocabulary words: aloft, muffled, moorings, hulk, muster, tread, somber, encampment, saddle-girth, and emerge. As students read, they circle unfamiliar words, use context to determine the meaning, and check their work with a dictionary. Students practice “vocabulary and language skills with the context of authentic texts” using “verbals” and the text to complete a chart with an example of a participle, gerunds, and an infinitive. The teacher reminds “students that during the first read of the close reading process, they should focus on the key ideas of a passage” and “summarize narrative poetry.” Before the second read, the teacher asks students “to tune in to Longfellow’s language as they listen to the poem.” The teacher encourages students to pay attention to the characters, settings, and plot as they read. An additional lesson focus includes “comparing and contrasting narrative poetry and prose.” Before the third read, students “take turns reading one stanza aloud with a partner.” Partners find and discuss figurative language in the stanza. Then students“place a story into a cultural context” and “read the poem to determine what the poem says about the rider, the developing country of America, and the Revolutionary War.” Additionally, the teacher supports students by reading the entire poem with a partner and annotating the text together. After reading, teachers lead a class discussion using text-based questions to determine student comprehension. Students write a one-sentence statement that accurately depicts its purpose and use the sentence starter, “The poem “Paul Revere’s Ride celebrates….” After reading, students work with a partner or team to debate this question “Was Paul Revere, a hero?” Students research, find facts from sources and record their research.
Chapter 20 follows the same lesson design and organization of skills and tasks. The teacher pre-teaches the following vocabulary words. The students read the text three times using close reading strategies - the first read, the second read, and the third read. The teacher pre-teaches the following vocabulary words.
Materials include support for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Teachers receive guidance on planning and learning opportunities for students. “On Your Own” sections contain enrichment activities and learning opportunities that challenge students to expand their knowledge, including extensions and differentiation with further research and deeper analysis.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
“On Your Own: Integrating Ideas” sections provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate above-grade-level proficiency through extension activities and differentiated lessons. To extend learning in Chapter 1, students explore the benefits and challenges of our country’s diversity. To investigate grade-level content at a greater depth, students research the word diversity and answer questions such as “How does diversity affect companies and their employees?” and “What laws in the United States are related to diversity?” The third option for extension is student research of different religions and writing a compare/contrast paper. Also in this chapter, students write a free verse poem that communicates the experience of being a refugee. Students who demonstrate literacy skills above grade level read the book Drita, My Homegirl by Jenny Lombard, compare the experiences to those of Kim Hà, and respond to the following questions: “What challenges do they face as newcomers to this country?” “How are they treated at school?” and “What lessons can the reader take from Drita’s and Kim Hà’s experiences?”
In Chapter 4, students analyze parts of a speech using “A More Perfect Union” by Senator Barack Obama. Students integrate ideas through On Your Own activities at the end of the chapter. One activity is for students to watch another speech by Barack Obama and compare the similarities and differences. Another extension activity instructs the student to find internet articles on recent cases showing racial discrimination, as noted in a section from the Obama speech. Teachers encourage students to research various related topics and determine what these situations suggest about diversity challenges in our country. Students engage in more sophisticated work through an additional extension activity and watch the movie A Raisin in the Sun, based on Lorraine Hansberry’s play. Students respond to the question “How much has changed for race relations in the time based on the movie and now?”
Guidance and support focus across all aspects of literacy in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. In Chapter 5, students read “Assimilation Nation No More” by Ed Feulner. In the On Your Own: Integrating Ideas section, students interview an immigrant about their journey and reasons for immigration. They ask questions about the similarities and differences between their home country and the United States. Students record the interview and either transcribe or summarize parts of it.
In Chapter 9, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, students finish reading The Postman or another book by David Brin. On Your Own activities offer several suggestions to integrate ideas through student choice. Students can research the important role a reliable postal service had during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries and how it impacted communication. They can also research stamps, specifically the first stamp—the Penny Black—using the National Postage Museum database (arago.si.edu). Additionally, students form collaborative reading groups to explore new learning and discuss The Postman or another David Brin novel.
Students demonstrate literacy skills and critical thinking in Chapter 10, On Your Own: Integrating Ideas, as they research global warming and humans’ impact. Students investigate the idea of balance fallacy and how it applies to media discussions of global warming and climate change. To extend the lesson and build on this idea, students investigate other logical fallacies and explain how to dispute those arguments. Finally, the students watch various TED Talks about climate change. In Chapter 13, students read the picture book The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere to younger students and practice keeping readers engaged with their voice. Students visit the website paul-revere-heritage.com to“view a map and portraits of Paul Revere.” Students learn about “inaccuracies in Longfellow’s poem.” Students think critically about how “textbooks have changed their portrayal of Paul Revere and why readers are resistant to that change.” In Chapter 14, students research Rosetta Stone then answer critical thinking questions about Egyptian hieroglyphics and Greek letters, inscriptions on the stone, and how the French found the stone. Students learn about the Hellenistic period, the Greek role in the Roman Empire, and “how language, art, and science spread.”
The 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. Lesson guides support teachers with 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 the expected grade level. Materials provide various differentiation strategies for students identified as struggling learners. Teachers receive guidance and support as well as suggestions for remediation. For example, students compare making an inference to adding numbers to “make a sum.” Students “add up” the details in a text and add their prior knowledge and create a “sum” or an inference for their reading.
In Chapter 1, in Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, teachers explain how diacritical marks, mentioned in line 109 and defined in the footnote, can completely change the meaning of words in certain languages, including Vietnamese. Teachers explain that the mark on the word changes the voice inflection and dictates the word’s meaning; the same word can have multiple inflections and different meanings.
Lessons include graphic organizers to provide teachers with strategies and support for meeting learners’ needs to demonstrate independent comprehension and critical thinking with grade-level TEKS standards. In Chapter 3, students read Kimchee and CornBread by Helie Lee and Stephanie Covington. Students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level listen to the teacher read lines 1–93 aloud. While the teacher reads, students list details on a chart with columns labeled “What We Learn About Helie” and “What We Learn About Stephanie.” Once the students understand those lines’ main idea, the teacher continues to read the rest of the poem, and students continue to add details to the chart. Finally, students record similarities and differences between the two women on a Venn diagram.
Materials meet the needs of learners struggling to build knowledge through building summarization skills, identifying the main idea, and developing vocabulary. In Chapter 5, students read Assimilation Nation No More by Ed Feulner. Students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level read paragraphs in chunks, summarize each paragraph, and identify the main idea during the first read. Additionally, texts include high reading levels that may be a challenge for struggling readers. Teachers provide support by reading the articles to students paragraph by paragraph. Students identify the main idea for each paragraph.
Lessons include specific guidance for teachers to support students with vocabulary. In Chapter 10, students read “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes” by Marianna Lavelle. The guidance indicates that science terminology and difficult vocabulary may pose a challenge for struggling students. For remediation and support, students form groups of three to five to read the passage; materials offer strategies for all students to understand the reading.
In Chapter 18, students read Richard Nixon’s Presidential Resignation Speech. The speech is dense and covers a lot of emotional and political territory. Struggling students read it paragraph by paragraph, while volunteers paraphrase key points. This strategy allows students to identify the connections between the paragraphs.
In Chapter 19, the students read “Embarrassed? Blame Your Brain” by Jennifer Connor-Smith. Students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level write a topic sentence that summarizes the relationship between a teen’s brain development and their behavior and then provides three supporting pieces of evidence from the text.
In Chapter 20, students focus on determining central ideas and supporting details. Students read The Locked Door by Malcolm Gladwell. For support and remediation, students receive support in small groups, use a graphic organizer, and receive assistance completing the graphic organizer and writing a summary. Lesson guides instruct the teacher to consider reviewing students’ answers before they work on their summaries; teachers check for comprehension and suggest revisions where necessary.
In Unit 2, “Writing and Language,” teachers provide struggling students with a series
of check-ins at key stages in developing first drafts. Examples of check-ins are after they complete an organizational chart or when they finish the introductory paragraph. 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 reread Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Li, analyze and examine mood, and complete a graphic organizer to match the verb with different mood types. ELs work in multilevel pairs or groups to rewrite the following sentences to show the change in mood: “One day I’ll own my own house, but I won’t forget who I am or where I came from.” “Someday she would like to go to the ballet.”
In Chapter 3, after the students read Kimchee and Cornbread by Helie Lee and Stephanie Covington, they complete a project-based assessment: creating a public service announcement (PSA). Students may locate and use PSAs in their native languages to use as models. Materials include specific strategies for EL support through modifications within assignments. An alternative activity to support ELs allows them to practice their speaking skills by audio recording a short piece of writing. If students choose to create an essay, the teacher should consider shortening the length and allowing students to respond with pictures, words, phrases, and sentences. Students work in multilevel pairs or groups to write essays or create, practice, and present their PSAs. Instructional materials include an “Argumentative Writing Revision Checklist” from the ELL Teacher Resource to help students finalize their drafts.
In Chapter 6, students examine connections and distinctions. In “ELL Support: Preview Concepts” and “Making Connections,” the teacher provides simpler definitions of scientist and technologist from an EL dictionary, their own definitions, or definitions from a volunteer. The teacher explains that -ist means “person who studies, works with, or understands.” Then, students work in multilevel pairs or groups to discuss and define futurist, using the sentence frame “A person could be a futurist by….” Students remain in these groups to read the excerpt from Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, discuss, and answer questions using the following sentence frame: “Yes/No, the scientist does/does not fit into a group because….”
In Chapter 12, before reading “Jeremiah's Song” by Walter Dean Myers, the teacher uses “sketches or images to make sure students understand the characters.” Students read in multilevel language pairs and “take notes and draw sketches in the margins” to remember “key details.” The teacher explains the meaning of metaphor and “gives examples of metaphors.” Students find examples of figurative language in the text. In Making Connections, students read this quote by Phillip Pullman: “After nourishment, shelter, and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” For EL support, students discuss storytellers and the quotation. Teachers ensure students understand that sustenance means “support for living” or “things necessary for living” and provide a sentence frame for students to use as they discuss the quotation: “Stories can be as important as housing and food because they….” In Chapter 12, students should “understand what dialogue means.” They read the first line of dialogue from a chart, and the teacher models a “think aloud” to show students how to analyze a character with the passage lines. Then the teacher uses sentence frames to analyze information: “The narrator says...this shows that the character is….” Materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. After reading “Jeremiah’s Song,” students interview an elder. Students who receive EL support may consider interviewing their elders in their native language. The guidance recommends that students can record their interviews using a phone. Teachers provide a written reflection model on the board or chart paper. Students work in multilevel groups to write their reflections. When students finish their drafts, the “Narrative Writing Revision Checklist” and “Proofreading Checklists” help them finalize their reflections.
Chapter 17, “Pandora’s Box: How Curiosity Unleashed Evil into the World” by Spencer Kayden, materials advise students to work in multilevel groups to retell a myth. Teacher guidance indicates that students should retell myths they know from their own cultures or read linguistically accommodated versions of myths found online or in library databases. While students create a draft, the teacher encourages students to tell the story aloud in their native language first and guides them to translate it to English, using gestures and circumlocution as needed.
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.
Assessments connect to regular content to support student learning. In Chapter 7, students analyze how a text makes connections and distinctions within categories; examine the word choices in a text; analyze how an author responds to other viewpoints; and use roots, prefixes, and suffixes to determine the meaning of words. In the Connect to Testing section, students respond to questions like “According to the article, Ray Kurzweil has been an important and influential advocate of artificial intelligence and what it will mean. The prefix ad- means “for,” the root voc means ‘speak,’ and the suffix -ate means ‘a person who.’ What is the meaning of advocate as it is used in the article?” “How does Kurzweil make a connection between his current predictions about AI and the predictions of other AI experts?”
Project-based assignments include multi-part summative assessments that require students to synthesize ideas, make connections, and perform a writing task. In Chapter 9, students read “The Postman” by David Brin and rewrite part of the excerpt. Students change the third-person point of view to the first-person point of view of Gordon or one of the townspeople. Students must include “a character’s inner thoughts and feelings where appropriate” and “make sure the main substance of the story remains, as well as the characters’ personalities and emotions.”
Information for scoring provides some guidance for interpreting response choices to questions. In Chapter 10, students answer multiple-choice questions based on the chapter selection. An example question asks, “What is the central idea developed in ‘Global Warming is a Myth?’” Materials include an explanation for each response to the multiple-choice questions. For question three, the explanation reads: “Choice B is a claim made in ‘Global Warming is a Myth.’ Choice C was true, but new evidence snuffs out such hop. Choice D is a result but not the main claim.” Additionally, students participate in a round-table discussion as a project-based assessment. Students “prepare for the discussion” by reviewing all of their notes, charts, and annotations for the chapter’s text.
Assessments provide opportunities for research that further extends the learning from the text.
In Chapter 11, students participate in a project-based assessment to retell a folktale. Students research to find a folktale from anywhere around the world. Guidelines provide students with specific details to include in their story. Once complete, students perform the folktale in front of peers or younger students in the school.
In Chapter 12, students learn how dialogue reveals character, recognize figurative language, analyze its significance, identify minor characters’ purpose, and read and understand a complex text. In the Connect to Testing section, students respond to questions like “Which of the following best characterizes Grandpa Jeremiah’s relationship with the narrator?” and “What conclusion can be drawn about Macon?” Questions address grade-level-appropriate TEKS.
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 answer questions about their name, such as “Do you like your name? Why or why not?” Students then work with a partner to answer the question “Why are our names so important to us?” Students complete the first read of an excerpt from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and complete a graphic organizer independently about the theme, showing how text structure affects character. After the second read, students work with a partner to discuss their findings. After the third read, students work with a small group to compare and contrast The House on Mango Street and Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. For the project-based assessment, students work individually or with a partner to create a digital presentation.
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 examine connections and distinctions. 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’s Resource” for teaching vocabulary. The next page of the chapter includes guidance on assisting students in making connections to the chapter. For the first read, teachers receive suggestions about building background knowledge to prepare students for reading. After this first read, students respond to text-based discussion questions; discover author information; and complete a tech-connect, where they tweet or text their favorite sentence from the text and explain why they chose it. There are 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 a group to “agree about the meaning of each phrase in the completed chart.” Student groups “discuss the reading strategies used to comprehend the text and unfamiliar words.”
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. 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’s 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’s 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, Chapter 1 includes a picture of a tree in Vietnam before the text Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. At the beginning of Chapter 4, an image of Senator Barack Obama connects to the speech “A More Perfect Union” and supports the lesson’s text.
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 6, students learn rhetoric in writing. Students read about “inductive reasoning and generalizations.” Instructional materials provide examples for “specific facts” and a “general conclusion” about the weather. Materials provide an image of a scene with trees drenched in the rain.
Chapter 8 includes a picture of a futuristic house before the text “SmartThings Future Living Report” by Maggie Adrien-Pocock, Arthur Mamou-Mani, Toby Burgess, Linda Aitken, and Els Leclercq.
In Chapter 12, the students read “Jeremiah’s Song” by Walter Dean Myers. The “Connect to Testing” section includes a picture of a person playing a guitar that aligns with the selection.
Chapter 14 includes a picture of the Rosetta Stone before an excerpt from The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone: Key to Ancient Egypt by James Cross Giblin.
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: poetryfoundation.org, YouTube, and Immigration and Citizenship. Students conduct online searches for a map of ancient Egypt, the film version of My Antonia, and Toastmasters International. Additionally, students receive opportunities to publish their work on Twitter or class webpages.
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.” The textbook contains suggestions for technology integration. For example, Chapter 1 contains a Tech-Connect activity where students post on their classroom website, responding to the “First Response” question “Describe the speaker in the excerpt from Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai and refer to specific lines of text to support your inferences about Hà. Also, make an inference about how the headers help you understand the text.”
In Chapter 2, students complete a digital presentation based on The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Students collect ideas, quotes, and images and create a well-organized presentation using PowerPoint or their chosen technical program.
In Chapter 7, as a Tech-Connect, students post their “summary on their class website or another online platform as instructed by the teacher.” Students respond to two other summaries by giving “each summary a positive comment and then one comment to help each student improve the summary.”
The textbook contains suggestions for technology integration. “Tech-Connect activities engage students through texting, tweeting, and online applications.” For example, Chapter 10 contains a Tech-Connect activity after students read “Crocodiles and Palm Trees in the Arctic? New Report Suggests Yes” by Marianne Lavelle. With this assignment, students write a sentence stating whether or not they believe in global warming and post it to their class website.
Chapter 15 contains a Tech-Connect activity about blogs. Students search online for humorous blogs for teenagers and post a list of blogs they recommend to their classmates.
Read the Full Report for Technology
(pdf, 310.48 KB)
Read the Full Report for Professional Learning Opportunities
(pdf, 190.51 KB)
Read the Full Report for Additional Language Supports
(pdf, 241.02 KB)