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ELARGrade 7 | 2018
Publisher: Think CERCASeries includes:
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
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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. Texts are well crafted, representing the quality of content, language, and writing that is produced by experts. The materials include complex traditional, contemporary, classical and multicultural diverse texts at various Lexile levels, such as very easy, moderate, to very challenging, throughout the units for the whole school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, students read an article that was originally published in The Washington Post titled Civil Liberties Groups Think This Tennessee School District's Tech Policy Is Unconstitutional by Andrea Peterson. This contemporary piece is of high interest to students since the topic is about school administration searching and monitoring student devices, such as cell phones and laptops, and describing restrictions on what students can post or interact with outside of school hours. This piece is defined as a very challenging read with a Lexile level of 1560. Later in the unit, students read contemporary informational texts that have been published in the Los Angeles Times. “Appeals Court Finds Nevada School’s Uniform Policy Unconstitutional” discusses a popular student debate regarding schools’ uniform policies.
In Unit 3, students dissect the informational text “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” written by Thinkcerca, which outlines the pros and cons of banning junk food in schools. In a CNN article, “Smartphones Aren’t a Smart Choice in Middle School,” by Delaney Ruston, students analyze the text to determine if the author supported the assertion that cell phones should not be allowed in classrooms.
In Unit 4, students read a short story titled “Seventh Grade” by American Book Award-winning and well-known author of adolescent literature, Gary Soto. The story was first published in the collection titled Baseball in April and Other Stories in 1990. This contemporary and diverse piece showcases the first day of seventh grade through the words, thoughts, and actions of a young Hispanic boy. Students relate to the same experiences of having a crush, embarrassment in front of peers, and the struggle to maintain good grades in all subjects. The reading is a 990 Lexile level and is defined as easy for students. Later in the unit, students read “Thank You, Ma’am,” a classical and diverse text written by Langston Hughes, a component figure in the Harlem Renaissance’s literary movement. The text is well-crafted in capturing the language of the era. Students also read “Ode to a Pair of Socks,” a poem written by Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize for Literature-winning author of publishable quality and unique writing quality.
In Unit 5, students read informational texts in the form of essays and news articles such as the essay “Zhan Haite and the Case for Change” by Katherine Majewski and ponder what rules in their school or community disagree with and how they might change the rule. Later in the unit, the students apply the genre’s language to analyze the organizational patterns in the news article “Misty Copeland Says the Ballet World Still Has a Race Problem and She Wants to Help Fix That” by CNN reporters Poppy Harlow and Dalila-Johari Paul. This article appeals to students’ interest as it aligns with current real-world issues, i.e., Black Lives Matter.
In Unit 8, students read a short informational article Malala Yousafzai: A Girl with a Voice, co-written by Ms. Yousafzai and Gretta Hermes. The article is of high interest to students, especially girls, because it relates to the struggle of obtaining an education in Pakistan, despite the life-threatening actions of terrorist groups. The selection is labeled as an easy read with a Lexile level of 990.
In Unit 9, students consider conflict, tone, and point of view as they read the essay written by the ThinkCERCA editors titled “The Real Problem” and the classic short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. In “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W Jacobs, students analyze how the author’s language contributes to the short story’s mood and voice.
In Unit 10, students read “The Raven,” the classical, complex poem by Edgar Allan Poe. The vocabulary and language are challenging for the grade level, and the text offers students an experience of classical literature by one of the world’s most notable authors. Poe’s antiquated language of the 19th century leads students through the topics of death and despair.
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across the academic year; however, they do not meet all TEKS requirements at this grade level, specifically in the genres of dramas, mysteries, and myths. Additionally, some print and graphic features are evident throughout the texts.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 5, Trickster: Native American Tales edited by Matt Dembicki-graphic novel collection. Dembicki combines graphic illustrations with Native American Folklore.
In Unit 6, Little Things Are Big is set in a New York City subway station and contains a subway photo and the city skyline as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge.
Unit 7 features oversized text images portraying an example lesson taught in a one-room schoolhouse and an image depicting a newspaper article reading, “Wanted: Who Destroyed the Maine?” The reward poster supports content material.
In Unit 8, there are two photographs of the author of Malala Yousafzai: A Girl with a Voice.
In Unit 10, students read the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, which provides a photo of an actual raven with the text. Students also read the poem “The Coming of Fox” by Lucille Clinton, where they are provided a photo of a fox to support the poem.
There were instances where a graphic feature would have further enhanced student understanding. Some examples of this include the text for the “Energy Screams,” which describes the physics behind the thrill of roller coasters, yet there is no graphic depicting or labeling the parts of a roller coaster contained in the text. In Unit 8, students analyze an excerpt from Joe Camel, “A Giant in Tobacco Marketing is Dead at 23.” The article does not contain a graphic depicting Joe Camel’s image, which would have increased student comprehension of the material.
The materials contain various challenging texts at the appropriate level of complexity. The texts are accompanied by a text-complexity analysis that provides the quantitative Lexile level and qualitative features that provide insight into the rigor level that students will encounter when reading the text. Texts are at the appropriate quantitative levels and qualitative features for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In every unit, the Teacher Edition provides a “Text-Complexity Analysis” for each text used within the modules. The analysis consists of the text’s Lexile level and an explanation detailing how the rating was achieved. Each module features a sidebar that lists levels as very easy, easy, moderate, challenging, and very challenging for the readability of text, corresponding task, and overall rating of the text and task. A very challenging text will be combined with an easy or moderate task to provide balance, or a very easy text will be combined with a challenging activity.
In Unit 2, students read “Uniform or Dress Code: There is a Difference” by the publishers of these materials; the article has a Lexile of 840L, grade 5, and rates on the scale as an easy read. The task consideration also rates as easy as students identify the elements of effective argument, then craft an argument using the evidence they feel best supports their claim. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is easy. Later in the unit, students read “Civil Liberties Groups Think This Tennessee School District’s Tech Policy is Unconstitutional” by Andrea Peterson, which has a Lexile of 1560L, grade 12 or higher, and rated as very challenging. This is a longer text with challenging vocabulary and more complex sentence structures. The analysis task has an easy rating. Students apply the reasons and evidence presented to their argument. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is moderate.
In Unit 3, students read “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” by the publishers of these materials. The article has a text complexity rating of easy and a Lexile level of 940L. The corresponding task is more complex as students compare the reading to their own experiences. Later in the unit, students read “Smartphones Aren’t a Smart Choice in Middle School” by Delaney Ruston. The text is listed as very challenging with a Lexile level of 1210L. This text contains challenging sentence structures, but the content is appropriate and interesting for students in Grade 7.
In Unit 6, students read Little Things Are Big by Jesus Colon with a Lexile of 740L, grade 4. The text’s language is described as familiar, conversational, and readable with “ambiguous themes and abstract metaphors” and multiple layers of meaning, making the task more challenging. The unit also contains an excerpt from the short story “The Million Pound Bank Note” by Mark Twain, with a Lexile of 770L, grade 4. Although the Lexile is low, students may struggle to understand the unfamiliar language and the implicit themes.
In Unit 7, students read “Remember the Maine” by Katherine Majewski. The text has a text complexity rating of very challenging and a Lexile level of 1220L. The text presents complex connections between the political history of the Spanish-American War and yellow journalism. Later in the unit, students read Alaska Gold Rush by Meg Moss and The King of Mazy May by Jack London. The paired texts are listed as very challenging, with a Lexile level of 1140L. The first short text summarizes the Yukon Gold Rush history, giving students the background knowledge needed to understand the second text. The short story has a straightforward plot, but its antiquated expressions and vocabulary make it challenging to follow.
In Unit 8, students read Malala Yousafzai: A Girl With a Voice by Gretta Heimes and “Excerpt From a Speech to the United Nations” with a Lexile of 990L, grade 7. The text is rated easy, but the subject matter is deemed potentially challenging. The reading selection has a 990L, easy for the end of year Grade 7. The analysis task has a moderate rating. Students create their definition and then apply it to what they read. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is moderate. Later in the unit, students read “The Teenage Brain” by Amanda Mascarelli, a Lexile of 1040L, grade 8. The text discusses scientific concepts about the brain in student-friendly language, which aids comprehension. The analysis task has a moderate rating. Students use evidence from the text to support an argument about the topic. The overall rating for the paired reading and analysis task is moderate.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. The materials contain questions and tasks that build conceptual knowledge, are text-dependent, target complex elements, and integrate multiple TEKS. The questions and tasks have students connect to personal experiences and the world around them while interacting with major themes in each module.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In every unit, the writing tasks are supported by activities that build background knowledge, reinforce vocabulary, and provide comprehension practice and writing practice that build conceptual knowledge while focusing on complex elements and integrating multiple TEKS. Most questions in these activities are text-dependent and build upon students’ knowledge through reading and writing.
In Unit 2, students explore the balance between ensuring student safety and protecting students’ privacy. Students read the article “Civil Liberties Groups Think This Tennessee School District’s Tech Policy Is Unconstitutional” by Andrea Peterson. First, students connect with the text by reflecting on the question, “How do you use social media? Who is your primary audience, and how would you feel about teachers seeing your posts?” Students then analyze the text for a counter-argument and audience and apply the skill of using reasoning and text evidence in their argument. The lesson culminates in the Rules of Discussion to answer the class discussion question, “To what extent should students be allowed to exercise free speech?” Multiple TEKS are integrated into this lesson.
In Unit 3, students analyze text for claims and evidence, apply inferencing skills to support their understanding, and participate in a class debate to formulate their opinions and substantiate their claims based on text evidence. The materials prompt students to work with partners and participate in whole-class discussions to build conceptual knowledge about the mentor text essay’s theme, “Government Role in Healthy Eating.” Students engage in a class discussion with questions to consider, such as “What is regulated in your life by adults…?” “How do these rules and regulations help you?” or “Do you ever have conversations about changing those regulations? Why or why not?” Additionally, the materials engage students in reflecting on describing lunch on a normal school day versus lunch on a non-school day. Students share what impacts their eating choices with the class. Students read the essay “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” and make inferences based on evidence from the text. Students then analyze their evidence, select the best supporting evidence, and share with a partner why they chose that evidence.
In Unit 4, students read “Seventh Grade” by Gary Soto. First, students connect with the text by answering the prompt “Write about a time when you or someone you know tried to create a new identity at the beginning of a school year. Did you or the person you are writing about buy new clothes, get a new haircut, try a new sport, or align with a new group of friends? Jot down some aspect of this experience.” Students explore how showing courage can help form their identities. They analyze the text for the plot, word choice, and details. Then students apply the skill of analyzing story structure to their arguments and informational pieces. The lesson culminates in a Collaborating to Find Evidence discussion to answer the class discussion question, “How does courage benefit individuals and society?” Multiple TEKS are integrated into this lesson.
In Unit 5, students analyze text for central ideas and connections and participate in a Socratic Discussion. In addressing the theme, Social Entrepreneurship, students share “what they think of first when they read the word ‘entrepreneurship.’” Then, students make predictions about the title of the magazine article, “Forty Kids and Counting?” by Adrienne Vogt and discuss with a partner what they expect to read in the text. During a class discussion, students ponder questions like “Do you consider yourself to be creative?” or “Is being creative and being artistic the same thing?” In building conceptual knowledge, students engage in a student-led discussion on issues their generation will need to address, their career choices, and how their future career and the needs of their generation overlap. Later, students independently determine and trace the central idea through details and analyze connections of the evidence to the central idea within the informational text. Students re-read the text for more evidence as needed. With a partner, students make connections with other texts they have read about someone who tries to address a societal problem. Finally, students select a historical period to research and write a play about how people solved a problem.
In Unit 8, students explore the impact of the Civil War on American families. They analyze two texts with shared ideas and themes: The Picket-Guard by Ethel Lynn Beers and “The Last Letter from Major Sullivan Ballou” by Major Sullivan Ballou. The first text contains abstract themes and has several layers of meaning accessible through background knowledge about the historical era. The second text contains complex sentence structures and difficult vocabulary but is short in length. Before reading the paired texts, students make connections by writing a very brief response describing when they were willing to go through something very difficult because they knew it was the right thing to do. After reading, students apply transitions to their informative essays that compare the texts’ viewpoints. The lesson culminates in the Socratic Discussion to answer the class discussion question: “How does art help us process and make sense of tragic events?” Multiple TEKS are integrated into this lesson.
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. The materials contain questions and tasks that provide students opportunities to analyze literary elements of texts by inferring the author’s purpose with textual evidence, analyzing the author’s choices, communicating meaning, and asking students to study the author’s language to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 3, students read the editorial “Smartphones Aren’t a Smart Choice in Middle School” by Delaney Ruston to identify the claim and evidence the author provides. Students analyze the author’s counterarguments and rate their effects on the claim. Additionally, students complete a graphic organizer where they list reasons and the related evidence and reasoning the author uses to support the claim. Finally, the “Direct Instruction Practice” provides students additional practice in completing a counterarguments chart. Students construct a reason and provide evidence to complete the counterargument. In another activity, students underline the reason and circle the reasoning for a text piece. Students also explain how reasons and reasoning are different.
In Unit 4, students read the selection “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. Students complete comprehension practice that supports the analysis of the literary elements, characters, plot, setting, point of view, conflict, and theme. Students have to provide textual evidence when answering questions about these elements over three activities in the student workbook. Students read “Ode to a Pair of Socks” by Pablo Neruda and prepare with a writing prompt and discussion question that students will answer to analyze for the author’s choice in language and diction. The writing prompt is, “How does Neruda use figurative language to help us understand his views on art?” and the discussion question is, “How do poets use language to help their communities understand and appreciate their experiences and values in ways no one else can?”
In Unit 5, students read and respond to key questions related to the author's purpose. For example, questions such as “Which words, details impact meaning, tone, and mood?” and “What does the [specific phrase] suggest about the author’s feelings?” Later in the unit, students read the article “Zhan Haite and the Case for Change” by Katherine Majewski. Students answer the questions, “How does the author’s attitude toward Zahn Haite affect the information presented?” and “What words/phrases could have been used to show a different attitude?” The student workbook provides activities for students to identify the author's purpose, identify text features, and how the text features help the author meet the purpose. Later in Unit 3, students read the news article, “Misty Copeland Says the Ballet World Still Has a Race Problem and She Wants to Help Fix That” by Poppy Harlow and Dalila-Johari Paul. The students determine the author’s purpose with supporting evidence and share their findings with a partner. Tasks also include students discussing with a partner the rhetorical devices the authors use and the effect or impact the devices have on the authors’ claims. Additionally, students identify the central idea of the article. The materials support students analyzing text features the authors use to help their readers understand and navigate the main text. Using examples from the text, students describe the images given in the text and respond to the question, “How do [the images] support the reader’s understanding of the topic?” They also address the questions: “Why did the authors choose the text features in this article?” and “Why are they important?” Students re-read the article, identify how the ideas are presented, and determine which text structure they will use to respond.
In Unit 6, students read the selection “Little Things Are Big” by Jesus Colon. Students begin with the discussion question, “How do authors convey themes about important moments of change in their lives to their readers?” Students prepare to discuss comprehension activity over characters, points of view, and perspective. Students analyze the author’s story development choice, which influences the text’s meaning.
In Unit 7, Module 1, students read the essay “Alaska Gold Rush” by Meg Moss and a short story, “The King of Mazy May” by Jack London. The materials support students making connections by presenting the question, “How does Jack London’s fictional story help readers understand the opportunities and challenges of the historical Yukon Gold Rush?” Students also respond to questions such as “What is an important idea explored in both pieces of writing?” “How does the nonfiction piece ‘Alaska Gold Rush’ convey this important idea to readers?” “How does Jack London’s piece of historical fiction convey this important idea to readers?” and “Which piece is more effective at portraying this important idea to readers? Why?”
In Unit 8, students read the selections “The Picket-Guard” by Ethel Lynn Beers and “The Last Letter from Major Sullivan Ballou” by Major Sullivan Ballou. Students discuss the question, “How do the poem and the letter use the theme of family to present two different views on fighting in the Civil War?” which allows students to compare and contrast the purposes of different authors’ writings on war and how their choices communicate meaning through the idea of the theme of family.
The materials provide a cohesive, year-long plan for students to build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. There are lessons for direct vocabulary instruction to build academic vocabulary and prompts and requirements woven into other activities for students to apply new vocabulary terms. The vocabulary lessons offer scaffolding and differentiation for students of various literacy levels and support teachers in assisting vocabulary development for all students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide teacher guidance in the “Vocabulary Connection” note to prompt students to use academic vocabulary throughout the year and model this throughout future lessons. Teachers receive guidance on differentiation for instruction to support students using vocabulary during the comprehension activities. For bilingual students, teachers provide dictionaries to serve as models for their vocabulary notebooks that they complete throughout the year. Students in need of extra support write vocabulary terms on the front of flashcards and the back note the part of speech, pronunciation, unit, and definition. Students in need of support receive instruction to create quick visualizations or picture cues for vocabulary terms. Students then compare their illustrations with a partner or small group and discuss how it helps indicate the definition.
In Unit 2, students complete a vocabulary practice word drawing activity. Students choose two vocabulary words, draw a picture that illustrates the word, then write a caption for the picture using the word in the caption. Students also complete a Frayer Model, defining the word, using the word in a sentence, and giving a synonym and antonym for the word. In the Teacher Edition, “Differentiation” sidebar, the materials suggest that the teacher model how to “consider the word’s connotation in their pictorial representations of their vocabulary words.
In Unit 3, the Teacher Edition provides support for academic vocabulary instruction. In the Vocabulary Practice activity, Frayer Model, students are given eight vocabulary words to analyze in a Frayer Model. Students provide the definition, antonyms, and synonyms and use the word in a sentence. For bilingual students and students that need support, it is recommended that teachers place students in groups to develop actions that demonstrate the word. The groups then come together to teach the word using actions and ideas.
In Unit 5, students complete a Frayer Model using vocabulary from the featured text. Students are given the list of vocabulary words and select two to use on the graphic organizer. Students write the term definition, synonyms, and antonyms and use the word correctly in a sentence. Differentiation is offered with this vocabulary activity, including teacher-peer collaboration, using the graffiti strategy where students post as much information about a word as they can on a sheet of poster paper and adding an illustration of the sentence used to depict the meaning of the word.
In Unit 6, in the Teacher Edition, under Vocabulary Connection, the teacher reviews the academic vocabulary relative to literary elements such as characters, setting, plot, rising action, climax, and theme. Students link this vocabulary to the text. For additional support, the Teacher Edition recommends that teachers have students act out the word meaning, have students teach their partner or small group their physical representations, or have students create collages to illustrate their words.
In Unit 9, Word Wall’s vocabulary activity prompts students to use a list of words from the text for a small group task. Students decide on categories to sort the words from the list as long as two words fit into each category. Some words are allowed to be listed under multiple categories. Differentiation support is offered for this activity in several forms, including teacher-suggested prompts for categories and extending vocabulary development using all the words in a given category in a sentence or paragraph.
In Unit 10, the blue teacher tips in the Teacher Edition suggest prompting students to make predictions about the poem based on the vocabulary words. Students read the vocabulary words aloud to connect the word’s sound with their meaning. For example, the word “ominous sounds ominous when spoken aloud.” Students complete a Frayer Model in the Differentiation sidebar and then develop hand motions for each.
The materials contain a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. Students are given the option to self-select texts and are given time to read independently, both in class and elsewhere. Students are held accountable for independent reading through reading practice logs and writing or discussing what they have read.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each unit contains a list of novels and longer informational texts connected to the unit theme and are suggested for independent reading. Teachers assign students a particular novel, or students choose based on their interests. In the sidebar of the Student Edition, the “Extend the Reading” shows students a list of theme-related text for independent reading. There is also space for students to generate questions before, during, and after reading.
Students use the Reading Practice logs in the Student Edition to take notes and track their reading progress. Time is provided during Extend the Reading for reading and discussion in class. Teachers are given options to have students write about or discuss the books they are reading. Suggestions for activities include: Students determine why and how the author organized the text’s parts into a structure to achieve a purpose. Students keep track of the elements of the writer’s language and word choice. Students write their pieces in a similar style as the author. Students create annotations using sticky notes by stopping and jotting what they think about the writing. Students create a calendar of the pages and chapters they will read each day. Students create their discussion questions.
In the “Teacher Toolkit,” there is a section titled, “Implementing ThinkCERCA Using a Stations Model 3 Days a Week,” which suggests teachers set up three rotations with one of them being an “Island Station” where students can read silently. The times set for the rotation stations are 18–30 min, an explicitly stated sustained reading time is absent.
The materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences. Direct instruction is provided to craft literary, informational and argumentative texts. Students are provided examples of each writing type throughout the entire school year through selected text readings. Although writing correspondence is minimal, students are provided with ample and consistent opportunities to write in other genres.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 3, students write and analyze evidence for two different text claims after reading the essay, “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” by the authors of the materials. Then, using the prompt “Would banning junk food in schools teach kids how to make healthy eating choices?” students write an argumentative essay based on their personal experiences and evidence on one of the claims they collected from reading the text. Later in the unit, students read and record three clues to the intended audience using the essay “Smartphones Aren’t a Smart Choice in Middle School” by Delaney Ruston. Students respond to the prompt, “Does the author present enough evidence to support fully banning cell phones in all middle schools?” by writing another argumentative essay that supports their claims. The goal is to write a response that answers whether the author presents enough evidence to fully ban cell phones in all middle schools. Students highlight the advantages and disadvantages of a no smartphone policy in the classroom as they gather evidence to support their claim.
In Unit 4, students create an informative writing piece. They read three texts and use evidence from each to support a clear purpose. The writing must have a central idea with explanations to understand the topic presented. Additionally, teachers can access several lessons on writing informational text apart from the units. Materials for these lessons can be found in the “Writing Informative Texts” section of the web page under “Direct Instruction and Skills Lessons.”
In Unit 5, students read the essay “Zhan Haite and the Case for Change” by Katherine Majewski. Students analyze and list the contribution to the author’s attitude for the connotations of specific phrases such as migrant workers, freedom, being deprived, locust, and pest. Afterward, students write an informational essay as a response to the prompt “How did Zhan Haite work to change China’s policy on where students could attend high school?” Students focus on the introduction and supporting details.
In Unit 6, students read examples of literary texts in the form of narratives. Students use these texts to craft their narratives that will contain clear story elements such as characters, plot, and setting. Students write a personal narrative that describes a single moment in which they made an important decision. Students also write a personal narrative about a time when they unfairly judged someone or were unfairly judged themselves.
In Unit 7, students read the text “The King of Mazy May” by Jack London and respond to the writing prompt “How does Jack London’s fictional story help readers understand the opportunities and challenges of the historical Yukon Gold Rush?”
In Unit 8, students read an article on school start times. Students then write a letter to school leaders expressing their point of view on when school should begin each day. Students are asked to consider their letter’s tone, either formal or informal, for their corresponding audience. A similar activity is included in Unit 2, where students are prompted to write a letter to a respective audience around changing a policy in which they disagree.
In Unit 9, students complete the end of the unit projects. In one activity, students write a letter. They research a list of commonly banned books, read their descriptions, and select one book to read. Then students write a letter to a school district encouraging them to allow the book if it was not justified being banned or to validate a book’s banning if it was justified. In another activity, students write an interactive short story where the character faces a conflict. Afterward, the students write three different resolutions on how the character responds to the conflict.
The materials provide several opportunities for students to use clear and concise evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. These opportunities present themselves with activities related to longer works and short passages. Students are asked consistently to refer back to the text to support their reasoning. The materials also provide ample opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. Questioning and tasks are almost always linked to what the students have read.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, students read a text concerning school dress codes. After reading the text, students complete a web graphic organizer. Students write the claim that the article’s authors are making about which school dress policy creates a more positive school environment in the center of the web. Then, in each of the squares surrounding the central claim, students write one piece of evidence the writers use in their essay to support the claim. Later in the unit, students work on summary skills by comparing and contrasting two summaries from the same text. Students explain which summary they think is better and use evidence from the summary in their argument.
In Unit 3, after reading the essay, “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” by the authors of the materials, students write and analyze evidence to support a claim “in favor of a ban on junk food” and the claim that it is “a student’s right to make their own eating choices” from the text. Students decide which claim has the most convincing evidence and record key details. Later in the unit, students read and record three clues to the intended audience using the essay “Smartphones Aren’t a Smart Choice in Middle School” by Delaney Ruston.
In Unit 4, students complete a reading comprehension practice activity on making inferences. Students make three inferences from the story and write them on a graphic organizer. Students then provide text evidence to support each of their inferences. Later in the unit, students complete another practice activity where students analyze characters and setting in the story “Thank You, Ma’am" by Langston Hughes. Students provide text evidence to support their claim of which character in the story is the protagonist and which is the antagonist. Students also use text evidence to support inferences about a character that lacks money.
In Unit 5, students analyze the text “Misty Copeland Says the Ballet World Still Has a Race Problem, and She Wants to Help Fix That” by Poppy Harlow and Dalila-Johari Paul. Students gather evidence to develop a response to the prompt “Has Project Plie or Raven Wilkinson had more influence on Misty Copeland’s work to change the perception of black women in ballet?” Later in the unit, students read the essay “Zhan Haite and the Case for Change” by Katherine Majewski. Students analyze and list the contributions to the author’s attitude for the connotations of specific phrases such as migrant workers, freedom being deprived, and locust, pest. Later in the unit, students read and record clues about the intended audience using the news article “Forty Kids and Counting” by Adrienne Vogt to determine the author’s purpose.
In Unit 7, students analyze the text “Remember the Maine!” by Katherine Majewski. Students use evidence from the text to support their response to the prompt “How did the way the media reported on the sinking of the Maine, with large illustrations and splash headlines, affect the way American people perceived the Spanish-American War later?” Students look at the large illustration and splash headlines in the essay. Working with a partner, students write notes about how the illustrations and captions may have affected the American people’s thoughts about the Spanish-American War.
In Unit 8, students investigate the author's bias as they read an excerpt from a speech by an activist given at the United Nations. Students analyze the speech to answer questions such as, “List evidence and reasoning from the speech. Does the reasoning link back to the claim? Does the author offer any unsupported or insufficient evidence? How is the author’s bias visible in the evidence that has been included?" Later in the unit, students analyze a short piece of informative text to gather evidence to support a claim.
Composition convention skills are applied in increasingly complex contexts with opportunities for publishing over the course of the year. The materials for each unit facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process, such as planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing to compose text. Students learn and practice these skills in relation to the selected texts they are reading in class. The materials also provide opportunities in each unit for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar, both in and out of context with reading selections. There is a separate module in each unit where grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically. Materials also provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the elements of the writing process (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. In the ThinkCERCA (claim, evidence, reason, counterargument, audience) resources within the “Teacher Toolkit” section, an article, “implementing a Writing Lesson with Engagement Strategies” provides a writing plan for teachers to use as they direct students through the writing process in each unit of study along with suggested interactive strategies. Before planning their essays, students engage in scaffolding activities that position them to think critically about each unit’s writing prompt. Afterward, students engage in the writing process by using the information they have accumulated in their work with the topic. The steps include the topic overview, vocabulary building, Step 1: Connect, Step 2: Read, Step 3: Engage with the Text, Step 4: Summarize, Step 5: Build an Argument, and Step 6: Create your CERCA. The topic overview activates students’ background knowledge and builds buy-in for the topic. Vocabulary is embedded in the writing lesson to ensure a greater understanding of the text and focused concepts. Step 1: Connect allows students to respond to a personal connection question to build relevance for the topic. Step 2: Read and Step 3: Engage with Text allow students to read the text and find evidence in the text that responds to the writing prompts in each unit. Step 4: Summarize requires students to summarize the text using academic language. Then, in Step 5: Build an Argument, students begin to construct their response to the writing prompt. Finally, in Step 6: Create your CERCA, students create their CERCA and collaborate with classmates for peer editing. In the “Review and Revise” section, built into every module in each unit, students also use the writing rubrics and checklist to review and revise their essays before submission to their teachers. Additionally, the materials provide direct instruction and skills lessons that build sequentially in writing arguments, narratives, and informative text.
In Unit 1, the materials focus on a process for writing. Students choose their topic, purpose, and audience and then have a choice to write an opinion or argument, an informative or explanatory essay, a narrative or story, or a poem or song. Direct writing instruction for this unit involves planning the first draft, organizing with structure, developing ideas with details, and revising clarity.
In Unit 2, students are given the prompt, “Which school dress policy creates a more positive school environment: uniforms or dress codes?” students follow the writing process to write an argumentative essay. As students analyze the article, students will use the CERCA framework, their summary of the article, facts, and quotes to craft their essay. Students then use the argumentative writing rubric to revise their argument. The unit project requires students to create an editorial that expresses their peer’s or family member’s opinion. Students publish and share their editorial with others.
In Unit 5, in the “Grammar, Usage, and Mechanical Skills” section, grammar skills are isolated from the text. This practice is isolated from the text. The grammar skills that students practice are superlative adjectives, identifying adverbs in a sentence, the difference between comparative and superlative adjectives, comparing with adjectives and adverbs, compound adjectives, and types of adjectives. Students practice these elements by completing sentences, identifying correct terms, and generating correct terms.
In Unit 9, the Teacher Edition guides students through the writing process of the prompt, “How does the narrator’s insistence that he is sane and wise shape the tone and pacing of the story?” Students begin by reading the selection “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. In the Comprehension practice of Analyzing the Prompt, students prepare to plan their writing by paraphrasing the prompt and completing the Before Writing activity. Students plan for their writing by summarizing the text then develop their essays. Students discuss their responses and then draft their essays. Students finalize their essays by individually reviewing and revising their essays and conducting a peer review. The reviews consist of students following the Argumentative Writing Rubric that provides expectations on the claim, organization, audience-appropriate language, evidence, reasons, reasoning, and English conventions. Later in the unit, students receive embedded instruction on informative and argumentative writing alongside the selected reading texts. Students also receive direct instruction in writing and grammar skills such as capitalization and abbreviations, declarative, interrogative, and exclamatory sentences, usage of semicolons, using direct quotations, using indirect quotations, commas used to offset introductory phrases, editing practice in avoiding comma splices, capitalization of proper nouns including abbreviations, initials, acronyms, and organizations, punctuation marks including commas in complex sentences, transitions, and introductory elements.
In Unit 10, students write an essay in response to whether reading aloud or reading silently helps the reader understand the speaker’s experience. Students follow the writing process and use the argumentative writing rubric to revise their argument. Students then use the argumentative writing rubric to revise their argument. At the end of the unit, students practice Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics skills.
The materials provide opportunities that support students’ listening and speaking about texts. Each unit requires students to analyze the text, form discussions and arguments based on text evidence, and share the information with classmates. Students use information from the text to state their claims or synthesize information to present new arguments. Speaking and listening skills are interwoven with text studies and targeted, stand-alone lessons to practice those skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There are stand-alone, targeted lessons on enhancing speaking and listening skills in the materials. These lessons focus on specific elements such as the rules of positive discussion, how to deliver oral presentations, and understanding your audience. These lessons are found on the grade-level page under the heading “Direct Instruction & Skills Lessons” on the tab titled “Speaking and Listening.”
In Unit 2, Module 1, students read the essay “Uniform or Dress Code: There’s a Difference” by the authors of the materials and complete a web organizer by writing one piece of evidence in each square to support the author’s claim in the text. After completing the web, students analyze the piece of evidence they think most strongly supports the claim. Then, taking turns with a partner, they share the evidence they selected and explain why.
In Unit 3, students prepare to make an oral presentation. Students listen to oral presentations in the form of TED Talks and analyze the presentations by asking themselves, “Is the presenter making a clear, accurate, and supportable claim? Has the presenter provided relevant evidence from accurate and credible sources to support reasoning? Is the presenter organizing the reasons and evidence clearly and including multimedia components? Are there appropriate and varied transitions to create cohesion?” Lessons embedded within the unit use the selected text as source material students use to prepare for their oral presentation at the end of the unit. The lessons involve various stages, including planning, identifying sources, reading and notetaking, composing, determining presentation aids, and practicing presentation techniques.
In Unit 4, students read the article “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes and analyze the text’s characters and setting. Students respond to questions such as “Who is the protagonist? Explain your thinking with evidence.” “Who is the antagonist? Explain your thinking with evidence.” and “What is a piece of evidence from the story that shows Roger undergoes a significant change as a result of his interaction with other characters?” Additionally, students make inferences about the main character’s physical appearance and analyze the setting’s importance. Afterward, students reflect on how Luella handled the situation with Roger. They share their thoughts with a partner about what surprised them about Luella’s actions.
In Unit 7, students read the selection “Alaska Gold Rush” by Meg Moss and “The King of Mazy May” by Jack London. Students review the definition of point of view while referring to their notes in the previous Analyze step. Students read the instructions, use the texts to complete their activity in the workbook, and discuss their responses with a partner. After completion, the class discusses the point of view noted from the two selections. Later in the unit, students read “Seventh Grade” by Gary Soto. Students then use evidence from the text to support a claim to the prompt, “How does courage benefit individuals and society?” In pairs, students share their claims. Students then join another pair to form a group of four and share, clarify and expand each other’s ideas. Students then share with the class to create a class answer.
In Unit 8, students read the biography Malala Yousafzai: A Girl with a Voice by Gretta Hermes and the text “Excerpt from a Speech to the United Nations” by Malala Yousafzai. Students examine the biography for the author’s bias by identifying one key claim made by the author and why the author uses it to support the claim. Additionally, students analyze the evidence and reasoning the author employs to determine if they link to the author’s claim using the speech. Students also share with a partner their understanding of how the author’s bias helps them analyze the argument Malala Yousafzai makes in her speech.
In Unit 9, students read the selection “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. Students review the definition of tone and examples of words used to describe tone. Students read the instructions and use their notes from the Analyze step to complete the activity with a partner. After completion, the class discusses the tone’s effects on the story’s language.
The materials engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions. The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to express their own thinking in numerous ways. Each module features several opportunities built within lessons and activities that require students to discuss their thinking with peers in partnerships, small groups, and the whole class. Many culminating projects in the materials feature student-organized presentations that require students to speak clearly and concisely using language conventions.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 3, the Teacher’s Edition guides the Debate Game with the discussion question, “What is the best way to learn in the 21st century?” One student reads the question aloud, and the teacher provides examples to help students think of their own. Students list options and post them in the classroom, then decide which answer they agree with the most. Students complete each step in the activity workbook that requires students to give a reason, evidence, and reasoning for their claim and a counterargument. After students complete their work, they play the Debate Game as a whole class activity, which allows each small group to share their thinking.
In Unit 4, students work with a partner to answer the question, “How can acts of kindness change the world?” Students use the Collaborating to Find Evidence protocol and provide supporting evidence from the article “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes.
In Unit 5, students read about cultural bias in ballet. After reading, students consider the discussion question, “How are people’s experiences affected by others’ perception of their culture?” Then they pair up with a partner and blend their ideas into one central idea. The classmates team up with another pair of classmates and repeatedly share, discuss, and combine central ideas. The student groups then summarize the important ideas from their small group discussions and share them with the larger class. The summaries help the class create a class answer to the discussion question.
In Unit 6, students engage in a gallery walk to answer the discussion question “How do authors convey themes about important moments of change in their lives to their readers?” as a class. Teachers remind students of the guidelines for collaborative discussion. Students respond to prompts placed around the room. Students brainstorm responses with their group as they move from prompt to prompt. Students return to their original prompt and summarize. Students share their summaries with the class.
Unit 7, the Teacher’s Edition, guides the “World Cafe” with the discussion question, “How can a powerful image create change?” One student reads the discussion question aloud, and the teacher informs students that the World Cafe Strategy’s objective is to answer the question as a class. Students form several small groups and nominate a leader to take notes and summarize the discussion. The teacher visits groups and encourages students to use evidence from the text and their personal experiences. After crafting the collective response, group members stand and join a leader from a different group. The new groups will nominate a new leader and conduct the same process again of creating a collaborative summary. This forming new group is done three more times until all summary boxes are completed on the Student Workbook page dedicated to the Class Discussion. The teacher conducts a discussion with the whole class where students orally share summaries and note similarities and differences. The teacher guides students to craft a class answer using the summaries shared aloud.
In Unit 8, Module 1, students work in small groups to answer the question, “How do individuals stand up and take responsibility for changing their societies?” Students use the Socratic Discussion protocol supported by their personal experience and evidence from the biography Malala Yousafzai: A Girl with a Voice by Gretta Hermes and the text “Excerpt from a Speech to the United Nations” by Malala Yousafzai. Additionally, in completing the Unit 8 project titled Strength in Struggle, students work in groups to create a poster about a person or group that stood up to a more dominant group. Using the Oral Presentation guide, students present their posters to the class.
In Unit 9, the Teacher’s Edition guides the Essential Question Class Discussion activity, “Collaborating to Find Evidence,” with the question, “How do our families help shape the people we become?” One student reads the question, and the teacher guides students through Step 1, which they complete independently. Students use evidence from the texts and their own experiences to complete this step. Students then form groups and share their thinking and make connections between ideas. Then, students form another group and summarize important ideas from their prior discussion. Students share their small group ideas aloud with the class and create a class answer to the Essential Question.
The materials engage students in short-term and sustained recursive inquiry. The materials support identification and summarizing high-quality primary and secondary sources by using articles directly from sources such as newspapers or magazines in most of the units focusing on informative texts. The materials also 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 a unit specifically dedicated to the research process.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. In the “Direct Instruction and Skills Lessons” section under Writing Informative Text, lessons provide students guidance on research skills, selecting and evaluating evidence, sources in informative writing, and citing and documenting resources. Additionally, the materials provide opportunities for students to practice organizing and presenting their ideas.
In Unit 2, one culminating activity is for students to create a persuasive petition. Students research the dress code of a school in which they disagree. Next, students write a persuasive letter expressing their disagreement. Then, students share their letters and collect signatures to create a petition requesting the policy be changed.
In Unit 3, the Student Workbook provides guided practice on Oral Presentation. Students begin with creating a presentation plan to identify the topic and purpose and provide presentation tasks. Among the tasks, the first task is to select and evaluate sources. Students analyze their sources and determine if they are credible, unbiased, and relevant. Students then prepare by developing note cards for the speaker’s notes and develop presentation aids. Students recite their presentations while receiving peer feedback based on the provided criteria that consist of content, speaking volume, eye contact, visual aids, posture, phrasing, and audience participation.
In Unit 5, the Student Workbook provides instructions on completing the Unit Projects’ task. The Unit Project Activity 1 Task is “Write a play.” Students begin with thinking of historical periods that they deem interesting. They select a specific period to write on that contains a problem. Students then research sources of the period and establish if they are credible. Students identify the solution to the problem through their researched sources. Lastly, students write a play based on their research and perform the play with peers.
In Unit 6, students participate in a self-study. They keep a diary of their feelings for at least a full week. Each day students write two entries in their diaries describing their feelings and mood. At the end of the week, students create a graph or pie chart of their moods with a written explanation about their chart. Students present their findings to their peers.
In Unit 7, students use the selected texts as primary and secondary sources and sources found by themselves to complete two research projects. The first project, called Then and Now, requires students to create a research paper to share their findings of a particular historical period. Students complete the Writing the Research Paper Module online and use the Writing a Research Paper pages in the student workbook to support their preparation, planning, creation, and delivery of their final research paper. Another project called Coming of Age requires that students use research skills to gather materials for a scrapbook. Students complete the Writing the Research Paper Module online and in the student workbooks to support their scrapbooks’ planning.
In Unit 8, students make a poster in response to Malala Yousafzai’s most heroic quality. First, they research a historical example of one person or group that stood up to a more dominant group. Information students obtain how the person or group made a stand, the work results, and the lessons learned from the struggles. Then, students create an example of a poster the person or group might have made to advocate for those rights. Finally, students share their posters with their classmates.
The materials contain interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. The materials include questioning and tasks designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The materials also contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. Students are also given tasks to integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency, as needed; and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials focus on the foundational skills. Students learn about the reading processes through activities that explore pre-reading, active reading, and connections. Students also learn about the writing process and how to revise for clarity, develop and organize their writing, and the art of maintaining style through word choice. Students continue to build and apply knowledge of the foundational skills throughout the curriculum. Moreover, students integrate ideas and learned concepts to analyze various texts and share their thinking with peers throughout the materials.
In Unit 3, students analyze text for claims and evidence, apply inferencing skills to support their understanding, and participate in a class debate to formulate their opinions and substantiate their claims based on text evidence. The materials prompt students to work with partners and participate in whole-class discussions to build conceptual knowledge about the mentor text essay’s theme, “Government Role in Healthy Eating.” Students engage in a class discussion with questions such as “What is regulated in your life by adults…?” “How do these rules and regulations help you?” or “Do you ever have conversations about changing those regulations? Why or why not?” Additionally, the materials engage students in reflection by describing lunch on a typical school day versus lunch on a non-school day. Students share what impacts their eating choices with the class. Students read the essay “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” by authors of the materials and make inferences based on evidence from the text. Students analyze their evidence, select the best supporting evidence, and share why they chose that evidence with a partner. Another activity requires students to interview a person in the community regarding a specific community issue and create an illustration that demonstrates their unique perspective.
In Unit 4, students read stories and a poem that shows how words, interactions, thoughts, and feelings impact how people connect. Students analyze literary elements, word choice, and figurative language and write several informative pieces and an argumentative piece in response to writing prompts. Students also use a method called Collaborating to Find Evidence to challenge, confirm, and expand ways of thinking about how people’s behavior affects their relationships. Culminating activities for the unit require students to write a poem, short play, or narrative that explores an important object or event.
In Unit 7, students analyze informational text and historical fiction as they explore the essential question centered around the impact of understanding the past on decisions made in the present. Students integrate skills across multiple texts. For example, students read “Alaska Gold Rush” by Meg Moss and “The King of Mazy May” by Jack London. Students compare/contrast the two texts to determine how “Jack London’s fictional story helps readers understand the opportunities and challenges of the historical Yukon Gold Rush.” Students use the World Cafe strategy to discuss the question, “When are tempting rewards worth the risk?” Additional support is provided through direct skill lessons and written practice.
In Unit 9, students analyze text for word choice, details, and themes and apply composing conclusions to their arguments. In addressing the theme, “Family and Influence,” students respond to various questions, including “How does your family influence what you think, do, and believe? Then, students discuss with a partner how the image in the title might connect to a monkey’s paw. Students read the short story “The Monkey’s Paw” by W. W. Jacobs and independently describe the impact of the author’s word choice on the mood. Students explain how analyzing the mood at various points in the text helps them determine its theme. Afterward, students work with a partner in discussing other possible themes. Finally, students reread the text’s conclusion and explain how it reveals the author’s view on the impact of temptation.
In Unit 10, students read poems about the interactions between nature and humanity and human existence’s plight. Students analyze literature, poetry, connotations, and sound devices. Students are required to write an informative piece and an argument using text evidence in response to a writing prompt, “Does reading aloud or reading silently do a better job of helping the reader understand the speaker’s experience?” Students use the Socratic Discussion method to think about, discuss, and respond to questions such as “How does our experience of literature change when it is delivered in different mediums?” to build understanding individually and in groups. As a culminating activity, students listen to and then write a poem using sound elements.
Students are given an End-of-Year Assessment at the end of the materials. The assessment consists of text-dependent questions where students have to answer based on the assessment reading. Students are then provided a rubric that guides them independently completing a CERCA. The requirements of completing a CERCA are taught over the year, with different elements scaffolded throughout various lessons.
The materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice. The materials support distributed practice over the course of the year. Students get repeated and consistent practice with a large variety of grade-level standards. The materials also include scaffolds for teachers to implement with students of various literacy levels to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide integrated literacy skills that spiral over the academic year. In each writing lesson, students are guided through a six-step process that begins with a topic overview and a personal connection prompt to gauge students’ thinking about a question that is linked to the text. Students read an authentic text and answer five text-dependent questions. Students analyze the text as it relates to the essential question as they build an argument. Students highlight evidence to support the text’s claims and counterarguments, as well as evidence they use to build their own arguments. Students use the information from the text to craft an argumentative essay.
In Unit 1, the Teacher Edition contains instructions for the Module 1 Lesson: A Process for Writing. Students begin with an opening activity that builds on their background knowledge before the vocabulary activity where they match terms with definitions for vital terms to argumentative writing such as argument, counterargument, claim, reason, evidence, reasoning, and audience. Students complete two comprehension activities, “What is CERCA?” and “The Reading Process,” which establish the foundation for future lessons in the materials. In the “Teacher Toolkit,” teachers are provided a Scaffold Scope and Sequence that provides guidance for scaffold lessons in different writing modules. In the writing module, “Role of Machines,” students get scaffold practice of Claims in Arguments and Selecting and Arranging Reasons. In the writing module, “Sports and Society,” students get scaffold practice of Integrating Evidence and Supporting Claims with Evidence. In the writing module, “Government Role in Healthy Eating,” students get scaffold practice of Reasoning. In the writing module, “School Policy,” students get scaffold practice of Organizing Arguments and Counterarguments. In the writing module, “Video Games,” students get scaffold practice of Introductions and Conclusions of Arguments. In the writing module, “Social Media,” students get scaffold practice of Audience and Transitions in Arguments.
In Unit 3, students distinguish between implied and explicit information. Students complete a graphic organizer by making three inferences from the essay “Should Junk Food Be Banned in Schools?” by ThinkCERCA Editors and providing text evidence that supports their inferences. Students further practice inferencing skills in the “Direct Instruction Practice.” Students read a short passage and underline words that can be used to infer the author had a positive experience speaking with Sarah Green, an experienced sailor. In Unit 5, students read the news article “This Startup Wants to End World Hunger with Solar-powered Irrigation” by Madison Roberts. Students complete a graphic organizer by inferring the author’s purpose for each section in the text and record how the author made them feel. Also, the “Direct Instruction Practice” provides students with practice in inferring the author’s purpose for each short passage presented. Another activity has students inferring the connotation of words by identifying words that convey an anxious tone. Moreover, in Unit 9, students read the essay “The Weight of the World” by Meg Moss and the poem “Atlas” by Kay Ryan. Students analyze and infer the way each retelling of Atlas’s story uses imagery and mood to develop the theme of carrying burdens. Questions include “What is the mood of ‘The Weight of the World’? How is the mood created by the imagery?” and “What is the mood of ‘Atlas’? How is the mood created by the imagery?” Additional practice in the “Direct Instruction Practice” provides students with more opportunities to infer the mood of an excerpt from “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. Students underline words in the passage that create imagery to infer the mood of the passage.
The materials include a variety of supports for students that demonstrate proficiency above grade level. The materials provide planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation for these students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include activities at the beginning of each unit on the “Extend the Reading” page, where students read associated works, both long and short pieces, and connect the reading to written and verbal discussions. Additionally, extension activities involving various English Language Arts Skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) are tied to lessons under the “Challenge” title and are readily available for the teacher.
In Unit 1, the Teacher Edition provides differentiation activities for students to synthesize their background knowledge of the writing process. In the introduction of the lesson, students create a K-W-L chart to explore what they know and want to know about the process of writing. The Challenge assignment provides activities for students that are above grade level. Students extend their learning by summarizing the larger themes captured in their chart and provide the summaries for classmates to view collectively. Later in the unit, students match the correct term with its definition. For an extension to this activity above grade level, students will plan and justify a physical action that is associated with a given vocabulary term.
In Unit 2, students read the article “Uniform or Dress Code: There is a Difference” and create a one-word summary of each paragraph and a one-word summary of the entire text. The activity is differentiated for students above grade level; students gather additional viewpoints about uniforms and dress codes by interviewing their school leaders or composing a letter to the legislators who have created the rules.
In Unit 3, students read various texts about oral presentations. They synthesize the reading to plan and produce their own oral presentation. Students above grade level will create their own questions to measure the comprehension level of the text by other classmates. There are prompting questions involved for students to consider the understanding of their peers.
In Unit 4, students explore literary elements and inferencing through short stories and a poem. Students read the short story “Thank You, Ma’am” and think about what type of impact acts of kindness have on others. Students working above grade level write two different versions, one to the older person who influenced them and the other to an influential peer.
In Unit 5, the Teacher Edition provides differentiation activities for students to demonstrate their understanding of text features. In the lesson, students are provided the model text “Zhan Haite and the Case for Change” by Katherine Majewski. They begin with analyzing the writing prompt and its relationship with the module theme, writing an informative essay, and completing a Word Web activity. The Challenge assignment provides activities for students that are above grade level. Students extend their learning by creating a new version of the model text read in the lesson by adding new text features and presenting them to the class.
In Unit 6, students read and analyze literary texts in preparation for crafting a personal narrative. The Teacher Edition provides extensions to support students who demonstrate literacy skills above grade level by challenging students to connect themes with real issues that were important to the author. Students use evidence from both the text and their research of the author. Later in the unit, students analyze the excerpt from “The Million Pound Bank Note” and are challenged to find more than one theme in the story and discuss how the same details can support multiple themes.
In Unit 7, students receive a list of vocabulary words related to the reading. Students work in small groups to sort the words into suggested categories. As a challenge for students who are above grade level, the categories are self-generated by the students before receiving the words. Then, the students sort the vocabulary words according to the self-made categories. Finally, the students create new categories and re-sort the words while offering contrasting evidence of the two methods.
In Unit 9, the Teacher Edition provides instructions to extend learning above the grade level. Students extend their research on topics presented in the modules and learn about additional conflicts and complications surrounding their communities with the support of questions and prompts throughout the unit.
The materials provide a variety of supports for students that perform below grade level. The materials provide planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation for these students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, all students read “Uniform or Dress Code: There is a Difference,” then complete a graphic organizer using the text to find six pieces of evidence to support a claim made in the article. “Extra Support” is offered for students below grade level by having them select the number of pieces of evidence they should list from the article. These students act as “Evidence Detectives,” focusing on the best examples to list rather than the quantity of evidence. Later in the unit, teachers provide differentiated instruction for supporting students with vocabulary development; students complete the “Vocabulary Practice Activity”: Word Drawings. The Extra Support assignment provides supported teacher activities for literacy skills below grade level. Teachers are to create and project a shape that students should incorporate into their word drawings.
In Unit 3, the Teacher Edition provides a graphic organizer for students to use as they identify three examples of inferences in the article “Should Junk Food be Banned in Schools.” Students who need support with this activity will work with a partner to complete the graphic organizer. Then teachers will allow time to discuss how their inferences help them understand specific ideas in the text.
In Unit 5, students work independently to comprehend the central theme and locate supporting evidence and details. Individually or in small group settings, teachers work with students performing below grade level to find a single paragraph’s main idea. Teachers ask guiding questions about the main idea’s location, the structure of the paragraph, and the supporting details. Teachers ask, “Does the main idea of the first paragraph persist into the second paragraph?” A vocabulary activity requires students to use the Frayer Model using synonyms and antonyms as two of the categories. The differentiated support for students performing below grade level has the teacher modeling: examples and non-examples in place of synonyms and antonyms.
In Unit 6, teachers introduce Module 1 in the Student Workbook, where students interact with the text title “Excerpt from the Million Pound Bank Note” by Mark Twain and prepare for their Module writing prompt. The Extra Support instruction provides supported activities for students with literacy skills below grade level. Students first explain the literary elements of the story, including characters, setting, and plot. Teachers provide the theme of the text, and students complete the activity with this in mind.
In Unit 7, students participate in a discussion using the “World Cafe” strategy. The differentiated support for students performing below grade level provides students with a consistent peer buddy to circulate throughout the groups, extra time to share information gained across group discussions, and join group leaders to record and present the summary together. Later in the unit, students analyze text for abstract and concrete thought. Struggling learners read through their notes about concrete and abstract thoughts, then students highlight with colored pencils examples of abstract thought in one color and concrete in another. The teacher engages in targeted questions to ensure students who struggle with the reading understand. Students respond to questions such as “Did you learn something new from reading the text?” and “How does it connect to what you have already read?” As a wrap-up, to support learners, students create a visual representation of their journey through the unit. The teacher asks targeted questions for reflection. This activity will help guide thoughts and prepare for a Socratic discussion.
In Unit 8, all students read Malala Yousafzai: A Girl with a Voice to create a summary. Extra Support is offered to students who demonstrate below-level literacy skills. The teacher meets with individual students or a small group. The teacher then models finding key ideas and details from the text and determining whether they should be included in a summary. The student uses these examples to create a summary of the article.
In Unit 10, all students read and analyze a poem then complete a graphic organizer on the details of animal descriptions in the texts. Students below grade level in literacy skills use color-coded highlighting to ensure a variety of details are present in their animal descriptions. Students include details about how the animals look, act, sound, smell, and assign a different color to each detail type. If a type of detail is missing or underrepresented, students can add more of that type of detail to their lists. Later in the unit, students read “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe and prepare for their Module writing prompt. The Extra Support instruction provides supported teacher activities for literacy skills below grade level. Teachers stop students after each stanza and have them summarize the stanza. The summarizations progress from literal to figurative with teacher-supported questions that are provided.
The materials include limited support for English Learners (EL) to meet grade-level learning expectations. The materials include some accommodations for linguistics with various levels of English language proficiency. Materials include scaffolded activities, translations, cognates, glossaries, and bilingual dictionaries for support. Vocabulary development is not isolated but evident in whole class lessons and activities. The materials did not include the strategic use of a student’s native language to develop proficiency in academic English.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In each unit, the materials include a “Differentiation” section. Although the English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS (beginning, intermediate, advanced, and advanced high) is not specifically listed, the Differentiation section includes “Developing Bilinguals,” “Extra Support,” “Support,” and “Challenge.” These supports benefit all students as needed; however, the various support levels are not provided consistently throughout the units’ progression.
The materials also include “Unit Resources,” consisting of a Student Packet, Teacher Guide, Student Vocabulary, and Spanish Student Resource. The materials contain an “Introduce the Summary” written in both English and Spanish. The Spanish Student Resource consists of academic vocabulary and definitions that are translated into Spanish. The list is a bilingual glossary that includes translations from English to Spanish and cognates between the two languages. The CERCA question and summary of the text are provided in English and translated to Spanish.
The Teacher Guide for each core text includes sentence stems in the “Expanding” and “Bridging” sections. Additionally, the “Student Engagement” section provides more avenues for student verbal discourse to enhance learning and to build vocabulary, including and not limited to background knowledge, checking for understanding, gallery walk, think-pair-share, and last student standing. At the beginning of each vocabulary section, the materials provide the teacher instruction on developing the vocabulary, checking for understanding, and encouraging students to share their work in partner/small group/whole group settings. Additionally, the “Vocabulary Connection” section provides prompts to help the teacher build their vocabulary and encourage the use of those words in students’ writings.
In Unit 1, in an introductory lesson on writing, EL students are supported with listening and speaking skills. The teacher reviews questions aloud and asks students to repeat the question aloud before they provide their responses. The vocabulary is introduced to the class, but EL students create their vocabulary notebooks. The vocabulary notebooks are modeled after an actual dictionary provided by the teacher. The teacher also ensures students place new vocabulary in alphabetical order throughout the year.
Unit 2, Developing Bilinguals, has students identify examples of the author’s purpose. To support Bilinguals, the teacher creates cloze sentences for the students. For example: “The sentence that begins ‘According to the text’ is an example of...because it provides a text reference that explains the reason.” The Differentiation sidebars suggest students draw pictures to represent vocabulary words; students draw what happens in the personal narrative “Little Things are Big” and use the drawings to retell the story. Finally, the teacher asks students to participate in a summarization discussion. The Unit Resources tab for each unit contains a teacher guide supporting levels 3‒4 expanding and levels 4‒5 bridging and gives scaffolds such as sentence frames. However, absent are accommodations that consider beginner ELs. It also allows for audio listening in both English and Spanish. For Developing Bilinguals, the teacher model the vocabulary activity using a familiar word the students know. Students collaboratively guide the teacher through the next word and work independently or with a partner to create additional word drawings. For extra support, students create their word lists to revisit and reuse in their writings and conversations. For Support, students analyze each word’s detonation and connotation by creating a word drawing. For Challenge, students create short video clips demonstrating the meaning of each word. Later in the unit, students complete a Frayer Model for the vocabulary words. Developing Bilingual accommodation allows students to explain or narrate each component of the Frayer Model using a common word or a vocabulary word from a previous module. Students are to talk through their thought processes as they think of synonyms and antonyms.
In Unit 4, Developing Bilinguals, students make categories based on how word parts sound, determine the number of syllables in each word and find instances in which the same letter makes different sounds (conviction/scowl). For Extra Support, students receive support in developing categories that offer multiple ways of thinking about words. For Challenge, students select a category and write a sentence or paragraph using all the words from that list.
In Unit 5, all students use a word web graphic organizer to list vocabulary words, including the definition, antonym, synonym, and sentence use. A vocabulary development extension is included for the EL student for this lesson. EL students play Two Truths and a Lie with vocabulary terms by creating two statements about a true vocabulary term and one false statement. In pairs or small groups, the student reads their three statements aloud in any order, and the partner or group members try to guess which statement is the lie.
In Unit 6, Developing Bilinguals describe their word drawings. The teacher models how to consider the connotation of the word in the drawing and caption. For Extra Support, students consider acting out the word meanings using their bodies or searching for other ways to depict the word. For Support, students use magazines or other images to create collages to illustrate their words. For Challenge, students represent two vocabulary words in a one-word drawing.
In Unit 7, a whole class vocabulary activity involves creating a word sort from a given list of 16 words. Accommodation is made for EL students by reducing the list of vocabulary words in half and have students make categories with only eight words. EL students receive additional support from the teacher. The teacher explains that word drawings can help students make connections between reading a word and visualizing it. Students are then guided toward creating word drawings to help them comprehend the text, such as bullying, tragedy, ostracized, ideologies, and empowerment. Later in the unit, the teacher supports EL students with their Unit Project by reading the descriptions aloud to students. The students paraphrase the descriptions to demonstrate their understanding. EL students are then provided with sentence stems from asking clarifying questions, such as “I’m not sure what you meant when you said ...,” or “Can you repeat the part about...?”
In Unit 8, students analyze texts for the author’s biases. For Support, student pairs choose one of two texts to read and take notes to teach the other student. Materials suggest providing organizers as needed. Students make connections between the two texts to synthesize understanding.
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress. The materials contain both formative and summative assessments aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. The assessments and scoring information in the materials provide sufficient guidance for teachers and administrators to interpret and respond to student performance. Unit assessments are connected to the regular content taught and practiced within each unit to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Formative assessments include a baseline writing assessment, found at the start of the curriculum, before any units. Students answer ten reading comprehension questions about the article and then write an essay supporting evidence from the text. Each assessment under the sessions is given a 45‒60 minute time limit. Students take two more writing assessments, one at mid-year and another at the end of the year, on different topics. As students draft their essay, teachers assess via conference, offering comments based on preset student growth focus areas. Teachers score writing through individual components based on a five-point rubric, including descriptors representing beginning, developing, and mastery of each category of the rubric. Scores on the rubrics add up to an overall score on a 100-point scale.
Another formative assessment included in the materials is leveling assessments which indicate a student’s literacy level. Students receive three texts from reading and answering multiple-choice questions. Students are automatically assigned one text at their grade level, one text at one grade level above, and one text at one grade level below. Teachers can manually adjust these levels if necessary. Teachers use the data from these assessments in lessons to make adjustments or accommodations for students who are below, at, or above grade-level literacy.
Summative assessments are found at the end of each unit and consist of gauging the mastery of skills taught within the unit. These unit assessments typically contain two reading passages similar in genre and content to the unit’s reading passages. The questioning structure is set up to assess the texts individually, as well as how they connect. Additional questioning focuses away from the passages and more towards specific skills.
Teachers also assess by having students complete exit tickets for understanding core skills and using writing and oral presentation rubrics. Guidance is given throughout each unit to leverage activities to respond to student needs. Differentiated strategies provide extra support for students who are above, on, and below grade level.
Teachers and administrators have access to the data provided by these assessments in the Data Analysis Portal. This portal allows the viewer access to lesson usage, grading progress, and reading and writing growth. Access to this information allows teachers to do a deep dive of the data and create actionable next steps and supports to guide student mastery of literacy skills. Reports provide scoring information and performance by strands. Students’ assessment data falls within consistent mastery greater than 85%, proficient between 70%‒85%, not yet proficient, less than 70%, or inactive, which is zero engagement. The Resources section provides a Data Analysis Protocol graphic organizer, which provides information about the data, interprets the data, the implications for practice, possible strategies to implement based on the data analysis, and the next steps for teaching, re-teaching, and/or assessing. Located in the Admin Toolkit is the Implementation Checklist for District Administrators, Principals, and Instructional Coaches. This information contains a screenshot of the Data platform where Administrators can monitor student performance. There is a PowerPoint that provides administrators with the five steps of the ThinkCERCA Data Analysis protocol. The checklist provides the administration with a timeline for implementation and action items to prepare for a successful launch of ThinkCERCA. The timeline consists of planning, implementation, and reflection, which includes data analysis protocol. Resources also include an administrator dashboard that provides bi-weekly administrator progress reports to help guide instructional practice.
The materials lack support in providing year-long plans to promote student learning and provide differentiated instruction. The materials do not provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers. However, they provide some suggestions for engaging and introducing the text and giving students multiple grouping structures such as small groups and partners. The materials include suggestions with most lessons to differentiate activities to support students, but no separate lesson or learning structure is provided. The materials include annotations and support for teachers to follow on how to engage students in the materials. However, limited evidence was found for supporting the implementation of ancillary and resource materials and student progress components.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Plans for student engagement are included in the front-end materials of the Teacher Edition for each unit. Icons delineate a plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping structures. A key is included at the bottom of the plan, which identifies the icons and explains each reference’s type of student participation. The plans align with the materials’ layout; however, they are not comprehensive or content-specific. Each plan is a simple overview of the unit without detailed instructions or activities. The materials offer some teacher support on meeting students’ needs: discussing content, building background knowledge, questions and prompts for extending students’ thinking, and developing bilingual scaffolds. Additionally, teachers are provided with several models of rotation stations for working with students in small groups. The materials also provide a Scope and Sequence with a guide to focus on skills and writing. However, there is no Scope and Sequence for the reading components. Lesson plans are included for six weeks of argumentative writing lessons and four weeks of narrative writing lessons for teachers’ usage. However, there are no lesson plans provided for the other components.
For example, in Unit 4, there is an overview in the Teacher Edition of the 20-day plan of instruction and activities for the unit. This overview provides teachers with a quick, at-a-glance guide on what students are expected to do and how they are to engage with the materials. Grouping structures for engagement listed in the unit overview include whole-class instruction, whole-class discussion, small group discussion, partner activity, and solo activity. However, instructions or guidance on how to group students is not readily evident. There was no evidence to support grouping based on literacy level or instructional need. Suggestions for differentiation are included with most lessons, but there are no ancillary materials other than suggested support activities for ELL students in the unit resources for differentiated learning.
In Unit 5, guidance is given in the Teacher Edition for teachers to review the definition of text features and ask students to list examples. Subsequent sidebars provide differentiated strategies for engaging struggling learners and challenges for students above grade level. The front matter of the materials contains support for implementing additional resources such as longer readings and novels. Guidance is also given for differentiation and unit projects. The “Extend the Reading” component provides additional reading practice to discuss and write about the texts. The resources tab in each unit provides support for ELLs. Product Support provides teachers access to lessons, assessments, grading, data, and reports to track student progress. Later in the unit, an essential activity focuses students on working independently to comprehend the central theme and locate supporting evidence and details. Individually or in small group settings, teachers work with students performing below grade level to find a single paragraph’s main idea. Teachers ask guiding questions about the main idea’s location, the structure of the paragraph, and the supporting details. The teacher asks, “Does the main idea of the first paragraph persist into the second paragraph?”
In Unit 7, students participate in the overarching unit discussion surrounding the prompt, “What impact does understanding the past have on decisions people make in the present” while using the “World Cafe” strategy. The differentiated support for students performing below grade level provides students with a consistent peer buddy to circulate throughout the groups, extra time to share information gained across group discussions, and join group leaders to record and present the summary together.
In Unit 8, the second module begins with the module’s introductory activity with a class discussion led by the teacher on taking risks. The Teacher Edition includes steps to the activity that guide the teacher on how to introduce the text and give a preview of student expectations for learning throughout the module. Included are discussion prompts for both whole group and partner discussions. Later on in the module, annotations guide the teacher in a step-by-step process of developing an effective paragraph using a graphic organizer.
The materials provide implementation support for teachers. The materials contain a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills taught within each unit and module. The materials also include additional support to help teachers implement the materials as intended and additional support to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. The materials provide a school years’ worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing guidance and routines.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The online platform section Resources consists of the following four options: “Training Courses,” “Online Support,” “Teacher Toolkit,” and “Admin Toolkit.” The Teacher Toolkit has a link for the Scaffolded Scope and Sequence. This Scope and Sequence is solely based on the Argumentative writing lessons that are throughout the materials. The columns consist of information pertaining to the Skills Lessons, Student Engagement, Feedback on Student Writing, and Student Output samples. The Scope and Sequence are in order by themes of the Module Lessons. The information provided is essential to guiding teachers on how knowledge and skills build in Argumentative Writing over the course of the year. For example, at the beginning of Unit 5, the Instructional Overview includes a list of skills taught and assessed. Next to each skill on this list is a reference to the TEKS addressed. For example, Participate in Discussions 1(D), Determine Word Meanings 2(A), Use Context Clues 2(B). On the introductory page for the third module, there is a sidebar on the right side of the page listing the TEKS addressed in the module, written in the same manner as they were in the unit’s opening pages. At the bottom of some of the lesson pages, a box can be found listing additional lesson TEKS. These are written again with the skill, followed by the TEKS code. In the teacher resource section, teachers are prompted to download a Scaffolded Scope and Sequence. This document does contain links to skills across a wide array of grade levels, connected by topic or theme. However, the TEKS are not mentioned in this document.
The Teacher Edition provides annotations and support for engaging students in lessons. Teachers’ support on meeting students’ needs includes discussing content, building background knowledge, questions and prompts to extend students’ thinking, and developing bilingual scaffolds. Additionally, teachers are provided with several models of rotation stations for working with students in small groups. The materials also include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress, including interpreting and acting on data yielded.
Materials include additional supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. Under the Resource Tab, the For Admin Toolkit provides ways for engaging families, training courses to become familiar with the materials, and an administrator checklist of action items to prepare for a successful launch and implementation of the program. The Planning section consists of links on the following topics to support implementation: Curriculum Alignment and Planning, Administrator and Technology Facilitator Checklists, Understanding Bi-Weekly Administrator Progress Reports, and Reports Available to Administrators. The Implementation section consists of links on the following topics to support implementation: Creating a Positive CERCA Culture, Data Analysis Protocol, and Learning Walk Toolkit. The dashboard provides several reports such as license activation, lesson usage, grading progress, and reading and writing growth. Further, a data analysis protocol provides administrators a method for taking a deep dive into the data and creating actionable next steps with the professional learning communities to ensure students’ academic success.
Although materials do not include a table, calendar, or pacing guide for a 180-day or 220-day schedule, the lessons in the materials support an academic year of instruction. In the Teacher’s Edition, each Unit consists of a section titled “Planning the Unit.” It provides the suggested amount of days that a teacher should instruct per the unit. The plans range from 5 days to 26 days and entail focus and group structure per day.
The visual design of the student edition is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include visually appropriate use of white space and design that supports student learning without being a distraction. Pictures and graphics within the units support student learning and engagement without being overwhelming or visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The online instructional materials’ visual design promotes student learning. The information is presented in manageable chunks in a slide presentation mode throughout the materials rather than one larger document. There is sufficient white space on each page, and across all units, the layout of information is consistent, where students can easily navigate through the materials. Pertinent information is aligned on the left-hand side. This information includes the unit number and title, the unit essential question, and the unit goals. On the right side of the page are suggestions for extended reading materials. The page’s background has a calming effect with a yellow heading filled with lighter shades of yellow polka dots. Major headings and subheadings are written with the easy-to-read blue colored font on a white background. The other text on the page is written using a black colored font with the goals bulleted and the titles of extended readings bolded. The articles in each unit are in readable font size. A button is available for students to expand the page if they want to allow for more text on the screen. Additionally, unit projects are identified with a light blue background. At the beginning of each module, the reading genre is contained in a blue box, and the writing type is contained in a green box. Directions for instructions are written on the left side of the page, and icons are used to distinguish different aspects of the online tools. For example, the computer icon is used to provide students instructions to complete steps in the learning process. The workbook icon lets students know their work is to be completed in the workbook. The screen projector lets know that they will engage in online skill instruction, and the pen and paper let students know they will engage in a writing lesson. The building blocks denote a skills lesson, and the person reading a book lets students know they will engage in reading practice.
Each unit in the Student Edition consists of pictures and graphics that support student learning without distracting students visually. Readings are paired with thematically linked visuals, and students are provided graphic organizers that support their comprehension throughout the modules. As students read the text selections, tools are available for students to highlight and make annotations. They are also able to have text read to them by an authentic speaker.
Each unit is introduced with pictures that correlate to the reading selections’ topic with the corresponding theme. The pictures and graphics are appealing and engaging to students because they are relevant to students’ interests and the topic being discussed. The graphic organizers help students to organize their thoughts in a structured format. The instructional videos provide an authentic voice, images, and graphics related to the topic under discussion. Students are given information on the Speaking and Listening opportunity and the Unit Writing assignment. Students are then given a synopsis of the Unit project options students will complete at the end of the unit.
The technology components are appropriate for grade-level students and provide learning supports. The materials utilize technology that enhances student learning as appropriate, and the materials include appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In each unit, students access the material via the online platform. Direct instruction lessons are presented in a slideshow format, with a combination of pictures or graphics and text in small, manageable chunks. Students have the option of scrolling through the presentation at their own pace and reading the content on each slide, or they can choose to have the slides narrated with additional support or an automatic advance feature. A small assessment to check for comprehension is found at the end of the lesson presentation. Skills lessons are presented differently as students are asked questions throughout the lesson presentation and receive immediate feedback from their responses. The writing lesson pages contain several interactive features. Students are presented with a menu that allows them to choose a topic overview, selection vocabulary, the featured text, and evaluation criteria rubric and highlights on the far left side of the screen. To the right of this menu, the featured text is presented. Students have the option to widen the text, or they may choose text narration. On the far right of the page, students have access to the assessment questions. Students have the option of keeping the text open on the left side of the page, which can assist with providing text evidence in their responses. Reading practice lessons are set up similarly to the writing lesson pages. The end of unit assessments is also structured in this manner since they are familiar with navigating through the material in the same way.
The materials online platform contains literacy software and curriculum to help educators facilitate instruction to meet diverse learners’ needs. Lessons are thematically organized and leveled, and differentiation tools are present to auto-assign lessons to students based on their readiness levels. The online platform also provides tools for teachers to monitor students’ growth and to provide feedback. These supports include standards-aligned grading rubrics, analyzing student work protocols, and real-time data to track students’ progress.
Additionally, the platform provides reading aids for students. These supports include in-text vocabulary and audio, discipline-specific highlighting and summarizing practice, and automated assessments for comprehension. Moreover, students develop their essays through the online platform. There are discipline-specific writing prompts, interactive graphic organizers, and writing scaffolds and sentence stems to assist students through the writing process. The online platform provides direct instruction lessons for language and literacy skills, the writing process, and the writing framework for students to access as needed or assigned by their teachers. Resources for facilitating speaking and listening activities are also available to students through the online platform. Examples of the resources include Feedback Loop, Rules of Discussion, and How to Deliver an Oral Presentation.
The materials also include teacher guidance through embedded professional development. In the Resources tab, teachers are provided 13 training courses divided among four chapters to acclimate the teacher with the writing framework. After each chapter, teachers take a certification quiz and must score 80% or higher to receive certification in the designated area.
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