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The TRR reports for K–8 and high school science are now available. The new Instructional Materials Review and Approval (IMRA) rubrics for K–3 and 4–8 English language arts and reading, K–3 and 4–6 Spanish language arts and reading, and K–12 mathematics are now available for review. Provide public comment through December 15, 2023. Visit the instructional materials webpage to view the slides and recordings from the focus groups.
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Support
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials meet the criteria for including high-quality texts for ELAR instruction and cover a range of student interests. The texts are well-crafted, representing quality content, language, and writing produced by experts. The resources include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse multicultural texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, texts include content that engages students and represents various cultural settings, characters, and authors within increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts. Some of the texts in the materials are published books with awards and distinctions. They cover a range of student interests, including animals and space. While there are traditional and classical texts, the bulk of texts are both contemporary and diverse. Texts engage students through intentional illustrations, language components and figurative language, plot structures suitable to the target audience, and meaningful insights into diverse cultures and historical periods. Each unit combines whole-class read-aloud titles, leveled readers, chapter books, trade books, and mentor texts for various reading and writing workshop mini-lessons.
Can You Guess My Name? By Judy Sierra is a collection of traditional tales from many different cultures around the world. The tales are grouped by familiar tale types such as “The Three Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “Rumpelstiltskin.” Vivid illustrations from Stefano Vitale made from painting on wood evoke the visual traditions of the tales’ varied countries of origin, which include Japan, Scotland, Argentina, and Sri Lanka. This text engages students by giving them a chance to explore traditional literature from all over the world and realize that, although the characters, settings, and plot events can be different, the themes are universal.
Newbery medal winner Cynthia Rylant’s version of “Pandora” from The Beautiful Stories of Life breathes fresh life into a classic tale. Rylant’s understated, lyrical prose gives students an introduction to Greek myths.
Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow by award-winning author and poet Joyce Sidman combines poetry riddles with science knowledge. Readers explore different parts of life in a meadow through Sidman’s use of both poetry and prose.
Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins is a contemporary story of a young Bangladeshi girl who challenges women’s traditional roles in her village to help her struggling family in hard times. This story allows readers to learn about another culture and connect with the determination of a young girl simply wanting to help her family. This text has received five awards; four awards in 2008 from Jane Addams Children’s Book Awards, Skipping Stones Honor Awards, CCBC Choices, Notable Books for a Global Society, and one award in 2019: We Are Kid Lit Collective Summer Reading Lists.
Esperanza Rising, a notable and award-winning realistic fiction by Pam Muñoz Ryan, is a heartwarming story of a young girl who learns the importance of love and sacrifice for family and friends and a lesson in the cultural and personal struggles that immigrants and farm laborers often experience. Readers will connect to the characters and poetic language.
Paddle-to-the-Sea, an award-winning diverse historical fiction by Holling Clancy Holling, is full of lush descriptions of nature as readers follow a wooden carving's journey through the Great Lakes.
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy Holling tells the history of the Mississippi through the adventure of Minn, a snapping turtle, as she travels downstream. This fictional text was awarded the John Newbery Medal honor in 1952, and it provides information on the life cycle of turtles, geology, history, and geography. The text engages students by using the turtle’s journey to teach many cross-curricular components from science to social studies.
Trashing Paradise by Rukhsana Khan is an informational text about the island of Bali’s former beauty that is now trash due to plastics and litter from people. The text follows the story of two sisters who convince the people of Bali to change their ways, raise awareness, and move on to a plastic-bag-free environment. Readers can connect to these young sisters and learn how every choice and change can have a lasting impact.
The materials meet the criteria for including a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the TEKS requirements for grade 4. The literary texts include folktales, fables, legends, myths, tall tales, drama, poetry, and realistic and historical fiction. Informational texts include information, exposition, argument, procedures, and a variety of documents as outlined in the TEKS. Materials include various print and graphic features that enhance the text.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, both literary and informational texts include varied structures, and students have the opportunity to interact with print and graphic features within a variety of genres and formats.
Examples of narrative texts include:
Examples of informational texts include:
Examples of supportive print and graphic features include:
The materials meet the criteria for including challenging text at an appropriate level of complexity. There is a text-complexity analysis provided; texts are both qualitatively and quantitatively relevant for grade 4.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
All aspects of the program continuously focus on text complexity. The materials provide an article detailing text complexity systems within their professional development component for teachers. The article outlines the two most widespread systems used for establishing text complexity; both a qualitative system, Guided Reading levels, and a quantitative method, Lexile Framework. The article describes the systems and clarifies how each system supports teachers to increase students’ capacity as readers. The myView Literacy component includes a Text Complexity Chart for all of the shared read selections in the order in which they appear. Each text is broken down into several categories: recommended placement, quantitative measures, complexity level, qualitative measures, and reader and task considerations; however, this section does not include a grade-level baseline for comparison. The quantitative measures include Lexile level, average sentence length, word frequency, and word count. The qualitative measures are shown on a color spectrum with complexity levels ranging from simple to very complex and include levels for meaning/purpose, text structure, language conventionality and clarity, and knowledge demands. Reader and task considerations are organized by English language (EL), intervention, and on-level/advanced student populations, and they provide overarching information about the text that may be relevant to each group.
Although not all units increase in complexity through the course of a unit, all selections are placed below the grade 4–5 complexity band, in the grade 4–5 complexity band, or in the upper level of readability for grade 4, with the exception of poetry and drama texts as text complexity is not generated for these genres. Shared reading texts are above the complexity level of what on-level grade 3 students can read independently. The teacher's guide includes a table of contents that lists the shared read for each of the five weeks, the weekly question, title, author, and genre.
The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez has a Lexile level of 700L and an average sentence length of 11.846 words, putting the text slightly below the grade 4–5 complexity band. The text has one main storyline that is told chronologically, and the photographs help readers relate to the narrator’s family and work.
The Secret of the Winter Count by Jacqueline Guest has a Lexile level of 840L with an average sentence length of 12.728. The word frequency is 3.686, and the word count is 3,373. The text is placed in the grade 4–5 complexity band based on these quantitative measures. Using the qualitative measures, students might need additional support with compound-complex sentences and figurative language (language) and setting (text structure).
Planet Earth, an informational text by Christine Taylor-Butler, has a Lexile level of 860L, which is in the grade 4–5 complexity band. Meaning and structure are simple, but the knowledge demands of the text rate “very complex.” Materials state, “Students . . . will need some background knowledge of scientific concepts such as Earth’s atmosphere and the difference between a liquid, a solid, and a gas. Students may need help with references to cultural events and the names of missions and equipment.”
Thunder Rose by Jerdine Nelson is a tall tale of an African-American child born on a stormy night. The quantitative features of this text are Lexile Level 940L in the grade 4–5 complexity band. Qualitative features to consider include Illustrations to support the literal understanding of the text’s exaggerations. The sentences are complex and compound with conversational vocabulary and some colloquial words and phrases. Students may need background knowledge of tall tales and life on a ranch, but the scene of everyone having special talents that can be used to solve problems should be familiar to students.
Can You Guess My Name? is a traditional tale by Judy Sierra with a Lexile level of 1060L, which suggests that this text is at the upper level of readability for grade 4. The text has a simple plot, and illustrations and maps support the text structure. Knowledge demands are very complex; materials state, “the tales include experiences and characters that will be unfamiliar to students but can be easily discerned through the description…but each tale is from a different culture, which could confuse students.”
“Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow” by Joyce Sidman is a poem used as a shared read within the materials. This text has a complex text structure as it combines poetry and prose to explore life in a meadow. Each poem contains many poetic elements as well as figurative language and domain-specific vocabulary.
The materials meet the criteria for containing questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. Most build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Both questions and tasks require students to make connections to self, other texts, and the world; plus, students are asked to identify and discuss important ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students have multiple opportunities to interact with a variety of texts throughout all lessons and answer text-dependent questions during mini-lessons. Students have listening comprehension opportunities, close reading opportunities of shared reading texts, individual conferences about independent reading texts, and responding to text opportunities. Each unit has an essential question, and within the unit, each week has an additional question for students to reflect on as they read various texts. Questions and tasks given during the shared read/close read are text-specific, and many target more complex elements of the texts. Later in the week, questions and tasks integrate multiple TEKS and make connections across multiple texts or genres. Each week within the unit follows the same structure. Lesson 1 focuses on the weekly question, theme, and genre; it includes a pre-reading page that reviews the definition of important vocabulary from the story and names four reading strategies. Lesson 2 is the shared read, where the class is reading for enjoyment and understanding using first read strategies; questions and think alouds during the first read focus on these reading strategies, such as noticing, generating questions, and connecting. Lessons 3 and 4 are the close read, where students return to the text to learn strategies that deepen comprehension and knowledge; during these readings, the callout boxes have the Close Read title and include a short think aloud or explanation of a story element or structure, a question to ask students, and possible responses, as well as objectives and TEKS alignment. Lesson 5 allows students to compare texts by connecting what they experienced and learned in the text to their world in oral and written responses. The student interactive contains comprehension questions that build on what is covered in the class discussion. Students record their answers in the student interactive; the student text includes shortened summaries of the teacher's think-alouds to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. Questions and tasks build in rigor over the year.
In Unit 1, one selection is Twins in Space by Rebecca Boyle. After finishing the shared read, the teacher uses the suggestions to prompt students’ initial responses to the selection. The prompts are “Discuss and Brainstorm,” with questions such as, “What did you think about Twins in Space? How did analyzing the structure and evaluating details in Twins in Space help you better understand the topic?” After the discussion, students complete comprehension questions to check for their understanding of the text, including “How is a magazine article different from a narrative nonfiction text? Explain the author’s purpose in Twins in Space. How does the ‘My Older Younger Brother’ section support that purpose?” The close reads for Twins in Space focus on the strategies of “Analyze Text Structure and Evaluate Details.” When students revisit the text, there are prompts for students to underline or highlight specific details, while the teacher’s edition includes questions that the teacher can ask using these details. Student prompts to analyze text structure include, “Underline the main, or central, idea developed in the text. Underline words and phrases that help you understand how the heading ‘Home and Away’ relates to the way Rebecca Boyle organized the text in paragraphs 22–24.” Questions for the teacher to ask include, “What is the central idea of the text? What sentence tells you the central idea? What text structure do the paragraphs and the heading suggest? What evidence supports your choice?” Students use their close read notes to complete a chart identifying the main idea, comparing details that support the main idea, and contrasting details that support the main idea.
In Unit 2, the Essential Question of the Unit is “How do living things adapt to the world around them?” while the question of the week is, “How do adaptations make animals unique?” The shared read consists of two informational texts, one of which is called The Weird and Wonderful Echidna. Think-alouds during the first reading that focus on the Generate Questions strategy include “...I generated some questions about the echidna's other name, the spiny anteater. I can use the information in paragraphs 16 and 17 to answer those questions.” “ I have questions about how all these different body parts work together to help the echidna find food and avoid predators.” A think-aloud that focuses on “Connections” states, “I think the echidna in this picture looks like a porcupine. What does it look like to you?” Close Read prompts to help students synthesize information include “Which details here support an idea in paragraph two?” “What is unique about the echidna's body temperature? How does it compare to that of other mammals? Why is this adaptation useful?” The student edition includes shortened summaries of the teacher's read alouds to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. After the story, there is a comprehension page that checks for understanding by asking questions about the text and permitting students to look back at the text to answer the questions. Questions include, “What features of [the texts] tell you it is an informational text?” “Synthesize what you learned about monotremes from both texts.”
In Unit 3, the Essential Question is “How can we reach new understandings through exploring diversity?” Within that, the Week 5 question is “How do people with interests different from ours help us grow?” To launch the question for the week, students interact with an infographic and answer text-dependent questions such as “How do the images in the infographic add to your understanding of poetry? What is it about poetry that makes it so good for sharing aloud? Why do you think poetry continues to be meaningful to people today?” This infographic allows students to answer questions based on the text, as well as make connections between ideas and the real world.
In Unit 5, students read several informational texts about why it is important to understand our planet. Questions and tasks require students to go deeper with what they know about earth, building on knowledge gleaned within the unit. Students read Seymore Simon’s Volcano and cite central ideas Simon presents in the text, giving specific examples of details that support the central idea. Students make connections between the text and the world around them; students write about the advantages that outweigh the dangers of living on or near a volcano. Materials direct students to “synthesize information from the text and what you already know about why people live in certain places.”
The materials meet the criteria for including questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. In cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts, these questions and tasks ask students to analyze, make inferences, draw conclusions about the author’s purpose, and provide evidence to support their understanding. Students compare and contrast the stated or implied purpose of different authors’ writings on the same topic; students analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning in single texts or across various texts. Students study the language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, materials contain text-specific/dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze details and how they support the author's craft and text structure. Each unit consists of a theme and a related essential question. Each week of the unit has an overarching question that supports the unit’s essential question and theme. Students read a variety of genres throughout the unit to see how each author approaches the theme. Students engage in a close read of a shared reading text; during this lesson, students answer various questions related to the author’s purpose and craft. Questions and tasks require students to identify and support the author's purpose by making notes as they read and citing text evidence in written and oral responses, and ask students to study specific language within texts. In the reading-writing workshop bridge for every unit, a specific mini-lesson explicitly explains the strategy of analyzing the author’s message and purpose. The teacher’s edition provides several callouts titled “Read Like a Writer/Author’s Craft” that offer teaching tips and discussion points about the author’s craft within a specific text; the student edition includes shortened summaries of the teacher's think-alouds to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. Students apply the mini-lesson to shared reading texts. Students analyze the author's craft with various texts in the student interactive component and use that analysis to apply elements to their own writing. Students also can apply the author's purpose and craft mini-lessons to their independent texts. After the story, a comprehension page checks for understanding by asking questions about the text and permitting students to look back at the text to answer the questions.
In Unit 1, questions and tasks include asking students to make inferences about the author’s purpose and provide evidence from the text. When reading Reaching for the Moon, students “Underline one or more sentences that show why Buzz Aldrin begins his story talking about his childhood.” The teacher asks, “What can the reader infer about why Adrin begins with a story from his childhood?” Students later identify and underline an anecdote in the selection. Students infer the author’s purpose using the evidence they underlined with the teacher prompt, “Why did the author include this anecdote? How does this anecdote relate to the author’s purpose for writing Reaching for the Moon?”
In Unit 2, the essential question of the unit is, “How do living things adapt to the world around them?” while the question of the week is, “How do adaptations make animals unique?” The shared read consists of two informational texts, one of which is called The Weird and Wonderful Echidna. During the first reading of the text, callout boxes titled “Respond” direct students to mark central ideas and key details. Think-alouds with this title include, “The author says a lot about the echidna’s beak, so I know it must be important.” “When I read the word hibernate in paragraph 26, I think of bears that hibernate in the winter when there is not enough food. I think this is an important idea, so I’m going to mark it.” Prompts for vocabulary in context ask students to find context clues to understand the meaning of the word dingo.
In Unit 4, students analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning. Students read the selection Thunder Rose and find an example of an exaggeration. The teacher asks, “What does the exaggeration emphasize about Rose, and why is it humorous?” Also, in Unit 4, students read The Secret of the Winter Count and identify a simile. The teacher explains why authors choose their words carefully and how the word like helps them recognize similes. The teacher asks students to “tell how they pictured Emma’s father as they read those words.”
In Unit 5, when conducting a close read on the shared reading text Volcanoes by Seymour Simon, students read the anecdotes that the author uses at the beginning of the text, and students consider why the author began the text by telling stories about volcanoes that we now know are not true. Students discuss how the text would have been different if the author had chosen to go straight into an explanation of how volcanoes are formed instead of using anecdotes.
The materials meet the criteria for including a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build academic vocabulary in and across texts. The plan includes ways to apply words in context as students build their vocabulary. There are scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, the professional development center has teacher videos defining the generative approach to vocabulary instruction and describing how to start teaching with a generative vocabulary approach. Unit and weekly academic vocabulary is directly taught and then used and applied to student tasks, class and small group discussions, and student writing. The program overview describes how developing academic word knowledge with generative vocabulary focuses on teaching words as networks of ideas instead of single unrelated words. Within the process, the first step is to introduce academic vocabulary at the beginning of the unit. The second step is for students to generate more words connected to the unit academic vocabulary through instruction and practice. Finally, the third step is for students to practice and apply the words learned throughout the unit in the writing and research project-based inquiry. As for a year-long plan, the materials include an instructional path for many lessons based on anticipated student learning. Many lessons can be reordered to accommodate the learning and progress of students.
The materials give scaffolds and supports with vocabulary development prompts, strategic small groups, and English Learner (EL) targeted support for different proficiency levels; these are in the teacher's edition and in callout boxes that include think-alouds for understanding words. There are differentiated vocabulary supports for ELs as well. The interactive student edition provides opportunities for students to learn words within the context of the shared read and apply or transfer word meetings in other stories or workbook pages that ask them to either define the words or create new sentences that demonstrate their meaning. In addition, there are language routines and vocabulary activities, and games in the Language Awareness Handbook. During guided reading, there are prompts to focus on developing vocabulary, such as, “What context clues can help you know the meaning of the word ___? What is the word’s definition? What does the word ___ tell us about the setting of the text?” The reading workshop includes a mini-lesson bank that supports the development of different writing genres and skills such as specific figurative language, sensory details, or conventions like transition words to enhance writing. After explicit vocabulary mini-lesson instruction following shared reading texts, students have formative assessment opportunities to show their understanding of developing vocabulary. Each week during the “Reading-Writing Bridge,” there is an opportunity to practice with the unit vocabulary.
In Unit 1, materials direct teachers to begin an academic vocabulary word wall to display unit vocabulary and student-generated terms related to unit vocabulary. After reading Twins in Space, a teaching point script reminds students that knowing the meanings of domain-specific words can help them understand ideas in scientific texts. During Week 6, students complete a culminating project for the unit in which students apply unit vocabulary; students review word forms, synonyms, and antonyms of unit terms, and then add more related words to a given chart in the workbook. Students conduct a research plan to write a brochure designed to convince readers that a particular place in their community should be designated a historic landmark; students are to use the unit academic vocabulary words in their brochures.
In Unit 3, during a close reading of the shared reading text Mama’s Window, there is a possible teaching point to teachers focused on academic vocabulary and synonyms. In this teaching point, the teacher uses the word dedicated to explain how readers can use synonyms to determine what a word means. Then, during the “Reading-Writing Workshop Bridge,” there is an explicit mini-lesson on context clues. The teacher uses the academic vocabulary word expanded to model the strategy of determining what a word means by looking at the words around it. Students then apply the strategy to other academic vocabulary words within the “Interactive Student Edition.”
In Unit 4, the vocabulary words are reveal, traditional, illustrate, interpret, and predict. An expand and ask question includes, “Expand: To interpret a story, identify what characters learn. Ask: What clues are in a text to help you interpret unfamiliar words?” The teacher begins an academic vocabulary word wall and adds to it as new vocabulary is generated related to the unit’s theme. Cognates of the vocabulary words are available, along with EL targeted support for each proficiency level during the oral vocabulary routine. Students turn, talk, and share; students read the words and definitions, use each word in a question and answer with space to write them down in the Interactive Student Workbook, and share those questions and answers with a partner. Next, the teacher begins the weekly launch with a selection, and the Teacher’s Edition includes prompts in Week 1 such as, “What is one way to reveal a secret? Why do you think secrets are found in so many traditional stories? Emphasize that these words will be important as students read and write about the essential question.”
The materials include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable and engaged in independent reading. There are procedures, protocols, and support for teachers to foster independent reading. Resources provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time; this program includes planning and accountability for reaching reading goals.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Within the program overview, a component of the reading workshop, the materials include independent reading. An article written about the reading workshop states, “Supported independent reading is an essential part of the workshop. The amount of independent reading time depends on readers’ varying levels of proficiency. However, the amount of time must be sufficient for readers to engage meaningfully in reading.” In each unit, the materials give a suggested amount of 20–30 minutes for students to engage in either small group learning or independent/collaborative learning, including independent or partner reading. The teacher can support students with their independent reading by helping students set goals for their reading and track progress toward their goal; reminding them to ask and answer questions before, during, and after reading to better understand the text; checking with students to make sure they still find their independent reading selection interesting; and recording the time they read each day to encourage them to increase their daily reading time.
Every week, when providing support to teachers related to small group instruction, there is information for what students should be doing during independent reading. Within the student actions, there are independent reading, partner reading, and book clubs. Students can read a self-selected trade book, read or listen to a previously read leveled reader or selection, begin reading their book club text, or read from a list of suggested titles in the teacher edition. If students choose to read a book from the leveled reader library, they can read books online, in the app, or using physical texts. For book club, there is a list of several titles in each unit for students to select from; most texts relate to the main text selections for the unit. Book clubs meet twice a week during small group time, and the book is to be read independently across ten days. Teachers guide the clubs by helping students pace the book to clearly define reading expectations before each book club meeting. Teachers confer with three students daily about their independent reading texts for three to four minutes; teaching points and possible conference prompts for teachers directly relate to the week’s mini-lessons and focus of instruction. The materials include step-by-step instructional support that includes implementation options and strategies as well as discussion charts for group conversations to help students think about their reading. Student materials incorporate tips and reminders for selecting books, and strategies for independent reading are provided for students, along with a reading log to be used throughout the unit. The reading log allows students to track the date, book, genre, pages read, minutes read, and give a rating out of five stars.
At the beginning of the program, there are several reading logs and bookmarks for both fiction and nonfiction for student accountability during independent reading. The first nonfiction bookmark is called “What I Learned," and it has blanks for the student to write the title, author, important ideas, key details, and what surprised the reader. The second bookmark, “Questions for the Author," includes blanks for the students to write the title, author, and three questions. The third bookmark, “Key Words and Vocabulary," provides blanks for students to write the title, author and keywords, and any new words. The first of the three fiction bookmarks, “What I Think," has blanks for the students to write the title, author, best part of the book and why, the worst/most boring part of the book and why, as well as what is surprising and why. The second bookmark, “Questions for the Author," is similar to the nonfiction bookmark with the same title. The third fiction bookmark, “Interesting Language," includes blanks for the students to write the title and new or interesting words/phrases. A “Genre Log” lists nine genres and has two charts for students to track and set a goal for how many works to read in each genre and unit. The reading log includes blanks to add titles, authors’ names, minutes spent reading, and the number of pages read in each sitting; plus a place for parent and student signature.
In Unit 1, after introducing the narrative nonfiction genre, materials give several leveled text suggestions teachers can use for guided reading or student self-selected reading. Resources provide possible teaching prompts to use during the conference, which include, “What is the text mostly about?” and “How did you use what you know about narrative nonfiction to understand the story?”
In Unit 2, the Student Interactive provides support to students about establishing a purpose for reading. Students ask themselves questions such as “Am I reading for enjoyment? Am I reading to find out about a topic? Do I want to read more by an author?” to determine their purpose for reading. The Student Interactive also guides students through the process of setting a personal goal for independent reading.
In Unit 4, the Student Interactive provides support for students to build their reading stamina. Students use their previous reading logs to reflect on how many pages they read in one setting as well as the length of time they spent reading independently. Students use tips from the Student Interactive to set a goal using the sentence frame “When I read (book title) __________ I will build my reading stamina by _________.”
In Unit 5, the focus is on asking questions. Students ask questions to help them select a book and continue asking and answering questions as they read. After reading, students respond by writing a summary or book review and share it with a classmate. When learning about context clues and academic vocabulary, there is support for the teacher to ask students to explain how they used context to figure out the most relevant meanings of the unfamiliar words they encountered.
The materials meet the criteria for including support for students to develop composition skills across multiple types and for a variety of purposes and audiences. There are opportunities to write literary text to express ideas and feelings about real or imagined characters, events, and ideas. Resources include chances to write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for particular purposes. Materials provide activities where students write argumentative texts to influence a specific audience’s attitudes or actions for certain issues. There are opportunities to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, the writer's workshop structure is well organized; the 35–50 minute block follows the steps of beginning immersion, developing elements, developing structure, and revising and editing before publishing. These daily opportunities provide students the opening to develop composition skills authentically. The units include five-week structures for writing within the unit’s particular genre. Week 6 concentrates on applying the learned skills through project-based inquiry writing. Week 6 allows students to write for different audiences and purposes and moves away from traditional stories and essay writing. There are opportunities to write literary, informational, argumentative, and correspondence texts in the forms of personal narrative, realistic fiction story, poetry, a travel brochure, an informational poster, and an argumentative letter. There are options for teachers regarding mini-lessons and prompts for conferring topics within the materials, such as craft, structure, writing elements, or process. The mini-lessons follow the structure of teaching point and model and practice, including the teacher reading books from the mentor stack to further expose students to the genre they write. After the daily mini-lessons, students write independently and apply their learning to their own writing. During this time, the teacher assesses students’ understanding of the writing task using conference prompts and support. The interactive student edition has questions and graphics organizers in the Writing Workshop section of each unit assist students in brainstorming and adding details to their writing, editing their writing, or understanding the genre’s elements. Students not only write during the writing workshop but also for assessment pieces and during the end-of-unit research projects. There is a “Share Back” portion at the end of the block.
In Unit 1, during the workshop, students learn the elements of a personal narrative, read a variety of personal narratives to see how authors write them, and begin planning their narratives. Lessons include developing the narrator’s voice, including sensory details, effectively expressing thoughts and feelings, and sharing a meaningful experience. The project-based inquiry research requires students to research historic places in their community to create a brochure to argue that a place should be made a historic landmark. Lessons include identifying features of argumentative texts, researching primary and secondary sources, and revising sentence structure.
In Unit 2, students compose travel articles. During Week 1, students study the genre by reading sample travel articles to see how authors use a lead paragraph and photographs to engage readers. Students begin to plan their travel articles, choosing places of interest. In Week 2, students begin to draft introductions and conclusions while also focusing on developing relevant details. In Week 3, students develop structural elements by composing a headline, body paragraphs, and purposeful multimedia to convey information in new ways. During Week 4, students focus on using precise language and vocabulary in their writing and editing their travel articles for conventional use of adverbs, coordinating conjunctions, and correct capitalization. Students edit drafts for complete sentences during Week 5 before they publish and share their writing. When students write correspondence with the business email, the materials include a mini-lesson titled “Analyze Student Model” before students begin their emails. The mini-lesson’s teaching point is to strengthen writing by composing correspondence to request information from an expert with a business email.
In Unit 3, students use elements of literary text to write a realistic fiction story. Students begin the unit by introducing and immersing themselves in the realistic fiction genre while identifying parts of a plot and elements of fiction. Students brainstorm ideas and plan their story before composing external and internal characters, choosing a setting, and establishing a problem and solution. As students develop structure, they compose with a point of view, an event sequence, dialogue, and plan illustrations. In the Unit 3 assessment, students write a realistic fiction story about a character who reaches a new understanding. Students construct characters, a setting, a problem, and a resolution while incorporating dialogue. During the project-based inquiry week, students extend their understanding of the theme of diversity by following a research plan and writing an argumentative letter to the school principal advocating for accessible playground equipment on school property. Students explore mentor texts and use search engines to research before writing and editing their formal letter to the principal.
In Unit 4, students use elements of opinion writing to write an opinion essay or argumentative text during the workshop. The mini-lessons in Week 1 include writing an opinion essay, developing a point of view, and developing reasons for information. Week 2 mini-lessons continue to develop a topic, opinion, and reasons supporting facts and details, and a concluding statement. Week 3’s mini-lessons consist of composing an introduction and conclusion, organizing reasons and supporting details, and using transition words and phrases. The teaching point for the “Compose the Introduction and Conclusion” mini-lesson is to ensure the positions on their topics are as clear as possible. The model and practice have the teacher model summarizing opinions in an introduction and reasons to create a conclusion. Prompting questions include, “What is the main opinion of your essay? How can you work the main opinion into the beginning and end of the piece? How can you repeat your reasons in as few words as possible?” Finally, Week 5 gives students opportunities to edit, proofread, and present their final drafts. The opinion essay assessment prompt is, “Think about events that significantly impacted the development of your state. Write about one person or event in the history of your state that played an essential role in making it the state it is today. Describe how a person or event shaped the state’s history.” Students write correspondence with a blog post during the Project-Based Inquiry. For the project, students research the origin of an American tall tale, then write an explanatory blog post. The materials include a mini-lesson titled “Analyze Student Model” before students begin their own blog posts. The mini-lesson’s teaching point is to review some of the characteristics of a blog post, including the topic, a clear central idea, media elements, a title, and informal language.
The materials partially meet the criteria for including written tasks that require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-support claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts. There are clear directions for students to identify text evidence; however, there are limited opportunities for students to develop these skills independently. Students do demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to text; however, the scaffolds control most of the activities so that students do not analyze or synthesize separately from the modeled claim.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Within each unit, each week includes five lessons. After each close reading mini-lesson in the Reading Workshop, students have the opportunity to apply the strategy they have learned directly to Independent Text. For example, in the “Apply” step of the mini-lesson, Option 2 directs students to use sticky notes to mark places within the text that indicate proof of evidence. Lesson 1 introduces students to the genre with a listening comprehension activity. Lesson 2 is the Shared Read, where students read for enjoyment and understanding. Lessons 3 and 4 are the Close Read, where students return to the text to learn strategies that deepen comprehension and knowledge. Lesson 5 allows students to compare texts by connecting what they experienced and learned in the text to their own world in oral and written responses. This lesson includes a “Respond to Text” opportunity. Throughout each weekly lesson scaffold, materials direct students where to look for evidence, and students highlight or underline the same information. Students complete the activities in whole group, and students answer with the same information. During the weekly shared read, the materials direct students to highlight and underline parts of the text during the second and third close read. The “Student Interactive Edition” includes questions and graphic organizers that ask students to use these notes as text evidence to support their opinions and claims. During Lesson 5 Respond to Text, students reflect on the various texts from the weekly reading at the end of each week, which lends itself to independent analysis. Students complete “Check for Understanding” and “Write to Sources” activities within the Student Interactive Edition that allow them to write their opinions and thinking while citing evidence from the texts. The Write to Sources activities give students the opportunity to use multiple texts in their opinions and analysis. Even though materials offer students daily opportunities to underline certain parts of the mentor text and use this evidence in follow-up tasks, tasks do not grow in sophistication over the year. While scaffolding with text evidence at the beginning of the year is appropriate, materials continue to offer the same types of support through the end of the year.
In Unit 1, after reading Barbed Wire Baseball, the various comprehension pages have questions that ask students to use text evidence to support their opinion and write about what they have learned. In this case, identifying the genre of biography and author’s purpose: “What characteristics tell you that Barbed Wire Baseball is a biography?” “Use the parts you underlined to complete the chart and explain how the text structure reveals the author's purpose.” The “Reflect and Share” page points out that Zeni had used resources around him to build a baseball field; then asks students to think what other uses of resources have been shared in texts they read. Students share opinions about whether they were as creative as Zeni’s. The sentence starters include, “In the text____, I read about____. This information supports my opinion because….” The page includes a note that says to cite evidence accurately, quote directly from the text, and use page numbers.
In Unit 3, students read Trombone Shorty, an autobiographical text. The sidebar supports making personal connections, prompting students to underline related details throughout the text, such as “Highlight statements in paragraphs 30 and 31 that you can relate to your own experiences with friends or with after-school activities." Students complete a graphic organizer about personal connections to the text. Students go back to the Close Read notes and “highlight the parts that you connected with personally,” even though students have already done so from the sidebar support instructions in several spots.
In Unit 4, after reading Thunder Rose, the “Check for Understanding” page presents questions that ask students to use text evidence to support their opinion and write about what they have learned. In this case, students identify the genre of tall tales: “How are characters in a tall tale different from those in realistic fiction? Give two examples from Thunder Rose to illustrate the differences.”
In Unit 5, students respond to the question, “Why do some people take the risks involved to explore the landforms of Earth?” Directions given to students include, “Use evidence from the texts you have read this week to write and support an appropriate response.”
The materials meet the criteria for including composition convention skills applied in increasingly complex texts, with opportunities for students to publish their writing over the year. The resources facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process to compose multiple texts, including planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. There are opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing; grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, in and out of context, and materials allow for editing practice in students’ own writing as the year progresses.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, there are explicit mini-lessons in the “Reading-Writing Bridge” and the “Writing Workshop,” activities in the “Student Interactive Workbook,” and, during Week 6’s inquiry, authentic applications for the writing process to build students’ abilities. Materials facilitate an in-depth use of the writing process throughout each unit, with frequent opportunities for students to collaborate with peers and their teachers as they compose their writing. Students practice grade 3 conventions first orally and then apply them to sample writing and then to their own writing. Within the Reading-Writing Bridge, the mini-lessons connect to skills learned in the current or previous units. After the daily mini-lessons, students write independently and apply their learning to their own writing. During this time, the teacher assesses students’ understanding of the writing task by using provided conference prompts, guides students through each step of their writing in smaller chunks, and ensures students are on the right track, offering support as needed. The Student Interactive Workbook has questions and graphics organizers in the Writing Workshop section of each unit that assists students in brainstorming, adding details, and editing their writing. After learning particular grammar, punctuation, or usage lessons as a whole group, students have the opportunity to peer edit within their own writing for the examples of the given topic, i.e., proper/common noun. There is a large focus at the end of the week on editing and peer review of their products. There is a checklist in the Student Interactive Workbook that lists conventions students must look to correct.
In Unit 1, students compose personal narratives. During Week 1, students study the personal narrative genre by reading sample personal narratives focusing on what sets personal narratives apart from other narrative nonfiction, such as biography and autobiography. Students begin to plan their personal narratives in the writing club as they brainstorm together in a small group. In Week 2, students develop elements such as narrator, setting, and events as they draft their narratives and focus on developing how they portray people and settings through concrete words and phrases in their narratives. Week 3 has students develop structural elements by composing an introduction and conclusion for their narratives and focusing on developing dialogue; teacher’s conference prompts specifically relate to the week’s structural elements of focus. For example, suppose students are working on composing an introduction. In that case, the teacher conference prompt directs the teacher to help students who need additional support by analyzing the introduction of a stack of mentor texts. If students show understanding, materials direct teachers to ask, “How will your introduction lead into the first event?” During Week 4, students focus on editing narratives for coherence, clarity, and conventional use of adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns. Students edit drafts for conventional use of irregular verbs and punctuation during Week 5 before publishing and sharing their writing. Week 6’s inquiry directs students to research historic places in their community and create a brochure to argue that a place should be made a historic landmark. Students examine argumentative writing and conduct field research. Students collaboratively read a student model of argumentative text, identifying features of the genre. Students incorporate media into their brochures, revise sentence structure (independently or with a peer), and edit for conventions. Students publish their brochures, share them with the class, and reflect on their own work.
In Unit 2, a lesson in the Reading-Writing Bridge in Week 5 uses the weekly academic vocabulary to practice identifying parts of speech. As part of the introduction, the teacher uses one vocabulary word at a time, which has been studied in other lessons, then uses it in different sentences to change the part of speech. For example, the sample sentence uses time as a noun, as in “A year is a long time,” then as a verb in the sentence “The referee will time the runners.” The Interactive Student Edition has students underline the form of the academic vocabulary words in a given sentence, identify the part of speech, and then write their own sentence using the same word as a different part of speech. This lesson allows students to listen, speak, read, and write as they apply vocabulary in grammar rules.
In Unit 3, students work through the writing process over five weeks to produce a realistic fiction story. In the first week, the teacher immerses students in the genre as they analyze mentor texts for parts of a plot and elements of fiction. Students brainstorm and plan their realistic fiction stories. In Week 2, students develop elements, such as composing external and internal characters, a setting, a problem, and a resolution. During Week 3, students develop structure as they compose a point of view, event sequence, and dialogue along with planning illustrations. Weeks 4 and 5 focus on revising and editing for punctuation, prepositional phrases, coordinating conjunctions, pronouns, and capitalization; students spend part of Week 5 publishing and celebrating their writing.
In Unit 4, one lesson is comparative adjectives. Lesson 1, “Spiral Review: Adverbs,” focuses on reviewing the concept, modeling, and practicing by identifying adverbs in sentences and the type of information they add. Students apply this lesson to writing their own sentences with adverbs, exchanging papers with a partner, and identifying the adverbs and the words they modify. Lesson 2, “Oral Language: Comparative Adjectives,” begins with defining comparative adjectives and reading examples aloud. Students apply this lesson by working with a partner to create two sentences, one with an adjective and the other with the comparative form. Students read their sentences aloud and discuss the comparative adjectives. For Lesson 3, “Teach Comparative Adjectives,” the teacher reminds students that adding the -er ending is a common way to make comparative adjectives, along with adding the word more for words with more syllables. This idea is modeled and practiced using a sample paragraph read aloud and having students insert the comparative adjectives from the given answer choices.
In Unit 5, the editing checklist includes spelling, punctuation, capitalization of names and places, quotation marks around ideas quoted from research, and correct comparative superlative adjectives. The revision checklist focuses on having strong and clear claims and organized evidence.
Materials fulfill the TEKS requirement for the grade level even though there is no formal procedure for assessing the students' handwriting. However, there are informal opportunities for handwriting assessment.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Grade 4 materials contain a Handwriting Practice for All resource for grades K–2 students. Lessons include pencil grip, posture, and letter formation. Materials also contain a handwriting model that displays print and cursive models, including D'Nealian, for each letter of the alphabet. The materials include practice for students to write legibly in cursive; however, there are few mini-lessons and cursive handwriting resources. Instead of instruction in letter formation, the program includes practice in cursive handwriting with individual letter formation practice pages. The writing workshop has an editing checklist to remind students that writing should be easy to read or legible so that others can learn from their ideas. The list tells students to form letters carefully, leave proper spacing between letters and words, write with a slight slant, and maintain proper letter size. To practice, students read a paragraph and then write the paragraph on a separate sheet of paper in their most legible cursive.
Occasionally in Units 1–4, materials direct teachers to remind students to use cursive handwriting, but only once. It is only mentioned when students complete a self-reflection activity during Week 5.
In Units 1–4, students publish their genre writing of the unit and then complete a page in the student interactive to reflect on their published writing. As they complete the sentences to reflect on their writing experiences, they write legibly in cursive.
In Unit 4, one teaching point of the mini-lesson explains the importance of checking over their work before publishing. The teacher explains that students publish work by making a written, legible copy in cursive or typing their essay. Though cursive writing is mentioned in this mini-lesson, it is only an option for publishing.
In Unit 5, as students prepare for a poetry writing celebration, they write their poems in cursive and revise them as needed to create a final copy of the poem for publication. There is a checklist for students to use to make sure their poetry is complete. This checklist includes a bullet for writing a clean copy in legible cursive.
The materials meet the criteria for including support for students’ listening to and speaking about texts. Opportunities focus on the texts studied in class and allow students to demonstrate comprehension. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate their knowledge through analysis and synthesis of the assigned texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Each unit starts with an essential question and a unit video, followed by a “Turn, Talk, and Share” opportunity. After the unit introduction, the materials begin the “Weekly Launch” with a lesson where students read a selection from a specific genre with text or graphic features. Students move on into the reading workshop with a listening comprehension activity in which teachers read aloud a short text in the same genre as the main mentor text. During “Spotlight on Genre,” the teacher introduces students to the genre they focus on with the shared and close read. The teacher shares the characteristics of the genre. Students have various opportunities for oral tasks completed within a teacher conference, in pairs, small groups, or whole group. Before the first reading of the shared read, the materials include a pre-reading page that names four reading strategies. After the shared read, students can respond and analyze the text with teacher questions to prompt students’ initial response to the shared read. Sidebars integrate academic vocabulary with the unit’s close read strategies; however, some of the subsequent readings’ questions do not require students to defend answers with text evidence. Questions and think alouds during the first read focus on these reading strategies, such as noticing, generating questions, and connecting. During the second and third readings, callout boxes in the teacher’s edition have the title, close read passage, a shorter think-aloud, explanation of a story element or structure, a question to ask students, and possible responses. The strategies apply to close reading and focus more on analysis and comparisons and discussing the author’s craft or purpose. The student text includes shortened summaries of what the teacher demonstrates in the think-aloud to explain text structure and story elements, as well as definitions of bolded vocabulary words. Materials provide discussion questions in the teacher’s edition for use during the first read, and most discussion questions require students to first scan the text for evidence before answering a question. There are opportunities to listen and speak about texts with the book club to discuss their noticings, connections, and wonderings about the text with other students in their club.
In Unit 1, students discuss what they learned about networks. Questions to guide their discussions include, “What was the most memorable image from the video?” and “What surprised you when listening to the video?” While reading Barbed Wire Baseball, the sidebars in the teacher’s edition for the first read are all think-alouds except for two prompts about making connections: “Have you ever come up with an idea and worked hard for many days in a row to make your idea come to life?” “What connections can you make to the text and illustrations on this page?” Some questions support students using text evidence in a written response but not an oral response; teacher directions include, “Ask students to find and underline a part of the text on p. 167 that tells what the problem was. Then ask them to find and underline the part of the text that explains how the problem was solved...ask them to highlight key information about building the bleachers that they would include in a summary of the text.”
In Unit 2, the listening comprehension activity directs teachers to explain to students that they “should listen actively, paying careful attention to facts and how information is organized” before reading aloud “Primates of Madagascar.” Materials provide sidebar supports for teachers as they think aloud; the first teacher think-aloud points out the headings as a text feature while the second think-aloud models how to use the headings to relate back to the title to understand the scope of the informational text. After the read-aloud, the teacher assesses comprehension as students discuss facts about each type of lemur. Students use a four-square graphic organizer to record facts from the discussion. As students explore the infographic, questions to guide students’ discussion are, “What adaptations help the animal you chose survive? What is the difference between a behavioral adaptation and a physical adaptation? How does the environment in which an animal lives affect the adaptations it needs to survive?” After the discussion, the teacher reviews the weekly question, and students make additional annotations on the infographic. This activity is followed by students sharing their ideas about how an animal they know has adapted and why it adapted.
In Unit 3, students read the text The Hero Two Doors Down, and they start by discussing the question, “What do you think will be the setting and plot of the main story that follows?” As students read, they discuss the details in the text they notice, the connections they are making, and the things they wonder about. Conversation starters are provided for students, such as “How would you describe Steve or his father? What do you think of these characters? If Steve had not mentioned any years, how could you tell that the story is not set in the present day?”
In Unit 4, students read the myth Race to the Top. Materials direct teachers to have students use context clues to define terms from the paragraph that may be unfamiliar, such as emanating and succumbing. Teachers ask how this language contributes to the narrator’s voice; students then identify other descriptive words and images in the paragraph.
In Unit 5, students read a selection about Earth. The prompts are, “Brainstorm: What would you like to learn more about? Discuss: How did reading Planet Earth help you understand Earth?” When students revisit the text during the close read, there are teacher prompts for speaking opportunities where text evidence is required. Some examples include, “Have students underline text details that relate to the diagram,” and “Ask students to explain how these details are illustrated by the diagram.” As students read Trashing Paradise, materials direct students to scan and underline details within the text that explains why people on Bali litter and highlight text that explains the effects of plastic litter. As a group, students discuss reasons and effects. Students read the text Geology: The Study of Rocks for the book club. They start by discussing the essential question for the unit, “Why is it important to understand our planet?” and how they think this book relates to that question. They discuss the details that catch their attention in the texts, the connections they make to their lives, other texts and the world, and interpretations, insights, or further questions they have about the text. There are conversation starters for students, such as, “What do you think about the topic so far?” “What did you already know? What did you learn?” and “What features help you better understand the text?”
The materials meet the criteria for including engagement in productive teamwork and student-led discussions, both formally and informally. The resources provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussions that express their own thinking. Students have opportunities to give organized presentations or performances and speak clearly and concisely using appropriate oral conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, protocols are set for discussions. Resources include an academic vocabulary “Expand and Ask” routine for students to practice using academic vocabulary with a partner. The teacher previews unit vocabulary at the beginning of the unit through an “Oral Vocabulary” routine. Teachers read definitions of unit vocabulary, and students respond to the Expand and Ask questions (script provided) using the newly acquired vocabulary and then complete a speaking task with a partner to follow up. The materials provide five speaking and listening lessons to foster collaborative conversations among students. These lessons focus on how to have a conversation, how to distinguish fact from opinion, how to present information as a group, how to follow and give instructions, and how to retell a story. For example, when discussing facts and opinions, students prepare ahead of time by gathering relevant information from several sources and then distinguishing the facts from opinions. Students present the topic to their partners/group. Materials direct students to “Speak coherently about the topic, presenting facts and opinions, then give your opinion about the topic.” Students include one or two reasons to support their opinions and listen actively to others’ reactions and responses; they record in the space given, including any notes to help them remember others’ opinions and reasons. Week 6 in every unit is a performance-based inquiry project. Students conduct research to write a final project or presentation to be shared with the class. Materials provide a rubric for teachers to evaluate the student’s language and vocabulary in the project and the delivery of the presentation; these sections are always scored, though the wording for each unit’s rubric varies slightly. A high score of “4” includes clear and precise language with appropriate use of conventions, and an effective delivery includes appropriate eye contact, speaking rate, volume, and enunciation.
Two routines for listening and speaking are in the Language Awareness Handbook. These routines are titled “Prepare for Discussions” and “Have a Discussion.” The purpose of Prepare for Discussions is to help students prepare for and engage in one-on-one, group, and teacher-led discussions; the purpose of Having a Discussion is to provide a frame for conducting accountable discussions. The “Small Group Guide” gives support in various aspects of small group time. One page explains the benefits of students working with a partner. It explains the difference between three partner work strategies, “Turn and Talk,” “Think Pair Share,” and “Mix and Mingle.” A chart at the bottom of the page lists the following rules for working with partners, “Review the work you need to do. Share the work. Restate what your partner said to be certain you understood. Make eye contact. Give each person time to talk. Praise and encourage each other. Disagree politely. Speak in a voice that only your partner can hear.” Callout boxes throughout the teacher’s edition direct students to turn and talk with partners; some boxes remind teachers to add the direction to follow “agreed-upon rules and norms (ways of talking).” Each book club planning page shows the same discussion chart in all units for the teacher to display so students may copy them in their notebooks; it is a three-column chart with the headings Noticings, Connections, Wonderings. The materials direct teachers to offer students examples of how to phrase their ideas productively and respectfully with sentence frames such as, “I understand your point, but I think _____,” “Why did you say that?” and “Can you repeat what you said?”
In Unit 1, as students analyze an infographic and share their ideas within the student interactive, there is a turn and talk opportunity for students to compare how Iceland is different from where they live. Additionally, the student interactive states, “engage in a one-on-one discussion with your partner. Listen actively so that you can respond to and build on your partner’s comments.” Students “expand” on the word contribution, and the teacher defines it as, “When you give something, you contribute.” The “ask” question for the same term is, “What would you ask each group member to contribute as you work on a project together?” Students read the words and definitions in the student interactive workbook. They use each newly acquired academic vocabulary word in a sentence to show its relationship to another word or concept with a partner.
In Unit 2, students create an informational poster about an endangered animal. Before students formally present their work, students practice and show their posters to another team and describe their work. The teacher models to demonstrate the best ways of presenting students’ posters. The best ways include making eye contact when speaking, connecting with the audience, and using a normal speaking rate. After the teacher models, students practice and make necessary changes to their presentations based on their classmates’ questions, comments, and reactions. Students have at least one more opportunity to practice before giving their final presentations, and the teacher scores student presentations and projects using a provided rubric. For students to receive all four points for language and vocabulary, the project must include the following, “Language and vocabulary are clear and precise. Language conventions are present throughout.” For students to receive all four points for delivery, the delivery must include the following, “eye contact, referring to information on the poster, and tone and volume of voice are effective.”
In Unit 3, after reading a shared text, students engage in a “Reflect and Share” activity about asking questions and making pertinent comments. Students ensure that they ask questions when something does not make sense or they need additional information, share ideas that are on topic, and build on others’ comments and ideas. The teacher provides students with sentence starters that help with the English language conventions, such as “I agreed with you when you said….” and “I am glad you brought that up because….”
In Unit 5, sentence frames repeat previous examples from earlier units but also add, “I'm not sure I understand. Can you say more?” For the Week 6 inquiry project, students write an opinion article arguing that a particular type of storm or other environmental event is the single most dangerous one. When it is time to present their opinion article to classmates, the student interactive provides tips on how to give an effective presentation. Students decide if their presentation will be oral, multimodal, or a video. Students remember to make eye contact with their audience and speak at a natural rate and volume as they present. Students listen to their audience’s comments and ask relevant questions after their group finishes.
The materials meet the criteria for including short-term and sustained inquiry processes to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources; they support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. Resources aid student practice in organizing and presenting appropriate grade-level ideas and the research’s assigned purpose.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, recursive inquiry is directly related to the unit and weekly essential questions. Within the research, students have multiple opportunities to learn and determine the difference between primary and secondary sources and apply that learning within the reading, writing, and researching. There is explicit instruction in the research skills, such as analysis and synthesis of information, as well as conducting and refining research. Children generate questions and use those questions to guide their research within short-term opportunities, and they engage in a week-long project-based inquiry at the end of each unit, which relates the essential question to a relevant topic in students’ lives. Many research projects include collaboration components. Students work independently in each unit to create the finished real-world project. There are opportunities for demonstrating inquiry and synthesis of research skills since many of the projects require a summary of findings and students' opinions based on evidence from their research. Small groups or partners discuss and decide the purpose, structure, audience, and research plan for their projects, building on their knowledge of informational text and symbiotic relationships developed in the unit. For each project, students have pages in the interactive workbook to plan their research, along with space to conduct and record research. A student model allows students to see an example of a finished product and analyze its components. It highlights the characteristics and structures of the project and provides a checklist for students. Materials direct students to develop their topics by “searching for information, such as facts, definitions, and details.” Using a library database and trade books, students gather information. Materials encourage students to change keywords to find more specific information. The teacher edition directs teachers to “be sure that they can identify their topic, the evidence to support their topic, and the text features they will use.” A research project checklist containing a four-point research project rubric is broken down into five areas: Focus, Research, Organization & Development, Language & Vocabulary, and Delivery. The delivery section focuses on their presentation skills. Students are rated on how well they maintain eye contact, speaking rate, volume, and enunciation.
In Unit 1, during the project-based inquiry week, students engage in a lesson about comparing and contrasting primary and secondary sources. In this lesson, the teacher explains the difference between primary and secondary sources and shows that both primary and secondary sources may be reliable or unreliable and must be evaluated. Students engage in a critical analysis activity where they read an article and find the information directly from primary sources. Students consider how the article would have been different if the authors had left out the text’s primary sources. Students also use their knowledge of sources to identify one primary source and one secondary source for their research project. Additionally, when peer-reviewing brochures at the end of the week, students identify which sources the other students used are primary and secondary.
In Unit 2, the essential question is, “How do living things adapt to the world around them?” Students use library databases to gather information on their research topic for this unit. Examples of primary resources students use are images (photographs of the animal, especially in its native habitat) and documents (descriptions of the animal by naturalists who observed them in the wild). Students research animal adaptations and create a poster about an endangered animal. In a lesson on using library databases, the materials list primary sources that students may use in their project: Images or Documents. The student workbook walks them through the search function in an online library database. When editing their final projects, the editing checklist reminds students to either paraphrase or use a direct quote from their sources.
In Unit 3, the essential question is, “How can we reach new understandings through exploring diversity?” Students research the need for inclusive playground equipment and write a letter to the school principal, arguing that inclusive play equipment should be on the school playground. Students gather research using a search engine. Examples of primary resources students can use are oral or written descriptions of what it feels like for a child to be unable to use ordinary playground equipment, photos of accessible playground equipment, and photos of children with disabilities playing on inclusive playgrounds.
In Unit 4, students use a poem within the “Student Interactive” to generate questions on how being different can help develop one’s talents or leadership abilities. Throughout the week, students conduct individual research about one question they generated. At the end of Unit 4, students engage in a week-long project inquiry to follow a research plan to generate and clarify questions about an American tall-tale, folktale, or legend. Students explain the origin of that tale for a blog post and begin reading an article and generating questions using academic vocabulary. Students study informative writing and apply the text’s characteristics to request information online and use tools to research. They develop a bibliography and revise and edit their main idea and details, and before presenting their blog post, students incorporate language, images, and sounds into their writing, and then they peer review their work.
In Unit 5, students study features of the earth, focusing on why it is important to understand our planet. Students read informational texts about the earth, volcanoes, and the Himalayas, an argumentative text about best ways to reduce waste, and a paired text with an informational video about plastic bag pollution in Bali. Students build knowledge throughout the unit about earth’s features; each text relates uniquely to the first text, Planet Earth, thus helping students understand at a deeper level what the connections are between features, processes, and environmental issues. Students read the research article “Living Near a Volcano” and star information directly from people who have lived near a volcano. They discuss, in pairs, how the article would have been different if it relied only on secondary sources. The Student Interactive workbook includes a bulleted list of examples of both types of sources. Students read a short article about Stephen Bishop, a cave explorer, and identify which sources are primary and which are secondary. Students suggest examples of other secondary sources the author of the article might have consulted and discuss how the most reliable and interesting sources are often primary sources. For a culminating project, students research extreme weather to create an opinion article about the most dangerous environmental event.
The materials meet the criteria for including interconnected tasks that build student knowledge and provide opportunities for increased independence. Questions and tasks are designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The resources provide coherently sequenced, high-quality, text-dependent questions and activities that require students to analyze and integrate their knowledge and ideas within individual texts and across multiple texts. Students integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; they include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency as needed while building appropriately increased independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Across all units, there is cohesion in the form of organized protocols for activities, questions, and growth toward independence. The unit themes and essential questions are interconnected with the assignments related to that topic and require students to utilize all of their language arts and reading skills, including thinking, integrating knowledge (prior and learned), and analyzing information. The essential question relates to questions, tasks, literature, and research-based inquiry throughout the unit, and each week includes a focus question that adds to the unit essential question. Questions and tasks build in complexity throughout the unit with a final analysis of each text in the unit and its relation to the unit theme. While the beginning of the week is teacher-led, by the end of the week, students engage in deeper levels of thought and discussion so that by the end of the unit, they can apply learning to a real-world situation to research or solve. Materials contain interconnected tasks within each unit that build student knowledge. There are various texts to use within small group instruction, and each text aligns to the essential question for the unit and the week. Students have listening, speaking, reading, and writing tasks aligned to the essential question that allow students to make connections across themes and texts. Many tasks in the Student Interactive integrate tasks, such as reading a text and writing a constructed response, practicing with a partner both listening and speaking a new vocabulary word, or sharing one’s thoughts about a text during book club. Students revisit the text during the close read, have an opportunity to reread parts of the text while thinking about specific close read strategies, and make annotations through discussions using teacher prompts and questioning. Students then use these annotations to independently complete a chart on the close-read strategies. During the “Writing Workshop,” mini-lessons range from focusing on the writing process steps to enhancing vocabulary, syntax, and word choice in different genres. At the end of each unit, students have an opportunity to integrate knowledge and ideas across all texts from the unit in the launch of the “Project-Based Inquiry,” which includes student research, reading and writing related to topics covered in the unit, and application of unit vocabulary in order to create a final product that is presented to the class or a group.
In Unit 1, students study the theme of “networks” and how a place can affect how we live. Students read biographies and informational texts about people who have had amazing interactions with places, such as Buzz Aldrin’s trip to the moon and Mary Annings’ archeological finds in England. In Week 6, students independently create a brochure arguing that a place should be made a historical landmark. Students read and discuss the article “Historic Landmarks” and then generate research questions about historical places in their community and plan how they will include unit vocabulary in their brochures. Students also read and discuss “Save Our Theater,” analyzing the features of argumentative writing in order to apply to their own writing. Students read a student model of writing, again identifying characteristics of argumentative text for their own writing. Students integrate their learning about both genres into their brochures and incorporate media to support their claims.
In Unit 2, during the close read, many of the questions are text-dependent and require text evidence. In The Weird and Wonderful Echidna, teachers ask, “How does the echidna find food? Why do you think the author added the note “Can you find me?” to the picture on page 378? Which text detail does this picture support? Which sentence and signal words help you note key facts about the echidna’s claws?” Students analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within the text by completing a chart to synthesize information. The chart directs students to write what they thought before reading, what they learned from reading the selection, and what they think now. After students view an infographic about why animals adapt, guiding discussion questions include, “What adaptations help the animal you chose survive? What is the difference between a behavioral adaptation and a physical adaptation? How does the environment in which an animal lives affect the adaptations it needs to survive?” Following the discussion, students read the infographic in the Student Interactive and complete a “quick write” about an animal they thought of that has adapted to its environment, how it has adapted, and why it has adapted. Students share their responses with the class.
In Unit 3, the essential question is, “How can we reach new understandings through exploring diversity?” and the Week 2 question is, “How do our experiences help us to see the world differently?” Students begin the week by analyzing a poem and engaging in a discussion using questions such as, “How can you tell the speaker of the poem and Amir are from different cultures? How does the speaker’s experience relate to the weekly question?” Students engage in an activity within the Student Interactive where they write and illustrate a descriptive paragraph to show a custom that they have learned about or would like to teach a friend. The materials review the theme of “diversity” as students reflect on the texts read during the week and discuss how character traits show the role that diversity plays in the lives of the text subjects. Students review the weekly question and texts used to support those questions and make connections to ideas in other texts or the world. Students extend their understanding of diversity by following a research plan and writing an argumentative letter to the principal advocating for accessible playground equipment on school property.
In Unit 4, students explore impacts and “Turn, Talk, and Share.” Students get a sentence connected to each text from the unit. Working with a partner, students “review the selection and write a question for each “answer” sentence…. Talk to your partner about how the answer relates to the theme impacts.” The teacher provides questions to ask students to help them compare across texts. A question includes, “How are the characters Thunder Rose and Pandora similar and different?”
In Unit 5, students collaborate to determine why it is important to understand the planet. They read different types of informational and argumentative texts, and they write about why some people take risks to explore the landforms of Earth using evidence from the text they have read. In the “Reading-Writing Workshop Bridge,” the materials teach students to understand Greek and Latin root words and how they can change parts of speech. In the writing workshop, students study elements of poetry so they can write their own poems. Mini-lessons focus on rhythm, alliteration, assonance, similes, metaphors, and stanzas arrangement.
The materials meet the criteria for including spiraled and scaffolded practice. The resources contain distributed practice over the year, and the design scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral throughout the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, there are spiraled and scaffolded skills that repeat throughout the year. Materials provide teachers with a detailed “Scope and Sequence” for the grade level and also a comprehensive TEKS K–8 vertical alignment document that outlines how skills build and spiral across grade bands. Every day, there are multiple opportunities for students to read, think, write, speak, comprehend, and practice literacy skills; objectives connect between reading, writing, language, and grammar. This connection is primarily made through the workshop model, which includes small group and whole group reading, a writing workshop, and a combined “Reading-Writing Workshop Bridge” that focuses on word study, spelling, and grammar. Materials state, “Each unit is a multi-genre text set designed to teach how to read while developing content knowledge around a content-related theme and an essential question.” At the beginning of each week, students hear about the genre they will be reading during the “Listening Comprehension” and then learn more specifics about the genre in the “Spotlight on Genre.” Connections continue through read/think alouds, shared reads, close reads, and student activities that revolve around the same text. Every unit has mini-lessons covering a variety of topics; these mini-lessons follow a scaffolded structure that releases the work from the teacher to the student. Each unit focuses on multiple genres of reading so students can compare text structure and features, and the theme offers a purposeful way to tie in writing and grammar topics. The materials have a distribution of writing opportunities across the year to pen literary, informational, argumentative, and correspondence texts. The “Language Awareness Handbook” provides scaffold instruction that targets English Learners, but the included strategies, routines, sentence frames, and lessons support all students. The teacher supports students through teacher modeling, partner and small group collaboration, and a “Quick Check,” which also serves as a formative assessment for the teacher. If students apply the skill easily, materials include an extension task. If students need extra practice, materials provide additional small group and practice opportunities. At the end of each week’s lessons, students have a “Respond to Text” opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the texts read throughout the week. There are scaffolds such as sentence starters, questions, and reminders to support students discussing and responding to the prompt and weekly questions.
In Unit 1, one of the weekly objectives is for students to develop language knowledge to make connections between reading and writing. Using academic vocabulary introduces the four basic parts of speech, and students identify nouns in a set of sentences and write their own sentence using the same base word but as a different part of speech in each sentence. A weeklong set of lessons focus on prefixes mis-, en-, em-; the teacher defines each prefix and models their use with various root words. Students begin with oral practice on the different words they can make. A page in the student interactive book requires students to apply yesterday’s learning to write definitions of words listed on the page; students extend their thinking on an additional resource page that requires students to write sentences for both the root word and the word with the prefix and pay special attention to whether the part of speech changes.
In Units 1, 2, and 5, analyzing main ideas and details spirals through the units to support students' ability to apply their knowledge to new genres or texts. Students first practice this in Unit 1 when reading the biography Rare Treasure. In Unit 2, students revisit this skill with the informational text Feathers: Not Just for Flying, then in Unit 5 with the informational text Volcanoes. With each of these selections, students use a graphic organizer to practice identifying the main idea and three support details.
In Unit 3, students engage in a mini-lesson about analyzing characters. The lesson begins with a focus on strategies; the teacher explicitly teaches how to learn about the changes in a character by noticing their words, thoughts, feelings, actions, and interactions with other characters. The teacher models and practices with students as they use the student interactive to analyze a character and determine the type of detail given. Students engage in the “my turn” component where they use the strategies of analyzing characters independently; they either complete the student interactive by making additional analysis of characters from the text Out of My Mind or use sticky notes to mark places where they can analyze a character in their independent text. Students continue to use character analysis within their daily reading of shared, independent, and book club texts.
In Unit 5, students create poems using different literary and metric techniques to apply to their poetry. Teachers model writing using a think-aloud to show students how to approach a specific challenge and write in a way that incorporates what they have learned, such as composing a rhythm or using repetition. Materials direct teachers to offer detailed and explicit explanations to “help students move beyond their impasses.” Materials include detailed mini-lessons for choosing similes and metaphors, and for repetition work in poems. Teachers and students jointly create word walls and use sentence frames to assist in composing with alliteration, assonance, and rhyming words.
The materials meet the criteria for including the systematic instruction and practice of foundational skills, including phonics and word analysis skills. There is a research-based sequence of grade-level foundational skills instruction and opportunities for student practice to achieve mastery. Resources include a system to develop knowledge of grade-level phonics patterns and word analysis as outlined in the TEKS for grade 4. Grade-level word recognition skills options promote automaticity, and students practice and apply word analysis skills both in and out of context. Spelling knowledge is built according to TEKS requirements, and specific supports are available for students in need of remediation.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, the program’s approach is research-based; for instance, the materials include two white papers. “Building a Strong Foundation for Successful Reading'' by Sharon Vaughn describes the importance of building foundational literacy skills and phonemic awareness and phonics early on in order to achieve comprehension. “Learning to Read and Write in English—It’s Complicated” by Pat Cunningham, explains that the process of learning to read is a combination of learning rules and patterns, as well as the rule expectations. It explains that research supports a comprehensive, well-rounded literacy program that encompasses a variety of instructional approaches. The “myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide” notes that the program utilizes a gradual release of responsibility to facilitate skills mastery and cites Fisher and Frey’s research for this approach. Materials explain that skills should be taught in context and refer to literacy expert Tim Shanahan’s position that “engaging and motivating context allows for effective reading instruction.” There is also a research bibliography. Systematic instruction and distributed practice of foundational skills, including opportunities for phonics and word analysis skills, are included. The lessons include a sequential approach to concepts that build on one another and allow students to practice foundational skills. The resources support the development of grade-level phonics patterns, word analysis skills, and spelling knowledge as identified in the TEKS, with each week’s lesson focus on word study and spelling in alignment. Word study lessons include five lessons for the week, with Lessons 3–5 as flexible options to support intervention or remediation. The spelling and word work lessons are aligned to reinforce each other. Opportunities to practice high-frequency words, word analysis skills, and spelling knowledge are provided through word study lessons, shared reading experiences, and writing workshops. The scope and sequence summarizes TEKS and breaks them into categories by strand. Materials provide sufficient guidance and materials for remediation of foundational skills. A resource called the “Language Awareness Handbook” states that it intends teachers to use these linguistically accommodated lessons during small group time with students. The teacher determines if they need additional scaffolded instruction. The handbook has models of scaffolded instruction, strategies, and routines for both reading and writing workshops. The program “provides a clear sequence of discrete lessons that cover the full range of Foundational Skills, as identified in national and state standards, that are critical to reading success.” The myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide includes a “Foundational Skills Trace” that shows when concepts are introduced in the program and how they develop and expand across the grade band and consist of a four-day lesson plan following the same weekly routine. Day 1, the teacher introduces, models, and teaches the skill (“I do” portion); the three following days include practice and monitor progress portion for each day (“We do”) and then conclude with an independent practice at the end of Day 4 (“You do”). The myFocus Intervention resource includes 12 intervention lessons and periodic assessments for groups of related skills.
In Unit 3, lessons are related words, r-controlled vowels, final stable syllables, syllable patterns V/CV and VC/V, and silent letters. The second week’s focus is on r-controlled vowels. Lesson 1 begins by describing an r-controlled vowel as a vowel followed by the letter r. All vowels are written with an r added to each one. Each syllable is read aloud as a class: ar, er, ir, or, and ur. Students make observations about how the r changes the vowel sounds. The teacher explains that the ar sound in an r-controlled vowel produced by a and r and gives the samples star and guard, and students come up with additional examples. As a class, students decode the er sound in the word herd and create a list of three multisyllabic words that contain the same sound. Students use a dictionary to confirm the pronunciation of the r-controlled vowels. In Lesson 2, students complete an activity for decoding r-controlled vowel words from a list and write three sentences using the words. In Lesson 3, the teacher shows board and boat, beat, and bear to explain the difference between r-controlled vowels and vowel pairs. For the related spelling lessons, students begin with an assessment of their prior knowledge of words with r-controlled vowels with words such as discard, purchase, and confirm. For students who understand how to form and spell words with r-controlled vowels, challenge words include deterrent, oratory, and affirmative. In Lesson 2, the teacher shows her, marvel, and confirm. Students read the words aloud and identify the r-controlled vowels. Students complete the activity in the student interactive where they read, spell, and alphabetize the week’s spelling words. In Lesson 3, the teacher reviews the pronunciation of r-controlled vowels and reads the example sentences. Students work in pairs to identify and spell the multisyllabic words with r-controlled syllables or r-controlled vowels using the sentences: “Too much waiting makes me nervous. Alex needs to rehearse her speech.”
In Unit 5, students study suffixes -en, -ent, -ence during the “Reading-Writing Bridge” word study lessons. Teachers explicitly explain how each suffix changes the meaning of the base word and review the meaning of each suffix. For example, adding -en to the word “length” would form the word lengthen, which means “to cause to be longer.” Teachers display words that contain suffixes -en, -ent, -ence, and students identify the base word and suffix for each. Teachers guide students to identify the changes made to the base words when adding the suffixes. Students make a list of words containing suffixes -en, -ent, -ence and sort them by part of speech. Later in the week, students read sample sentences from the mentor text about volcanoes, identify the words with the suffixes, and write the definition. An example includes, “They studied the violent eruptions of the past.” At the end of the week, teachers provide the words sharpen, transparent, experience, prominence, and quicken to assess students’ understanding of reading words with suffixes. Students decode each word and identify each word’s suffix, part of speech, and definition. For in-context practice, students practice applying knowledge about suffixes in the leveled reader, Fruitful Friendships, Level S. The teacher’s guide directs teachers to use the words abruptly and confidently to remind students that adverbs explain a verb, adjective, or another adverb. They model how adding the suffix -ly to the adjectives changes the meaning of the word. Students find adjectives in the text, such as narrow, free, and comfortable, and add the suffix -ly to each word, making changes to the base word when necessary. Students read the word aloud and explain how the suffix changes the meaning of each word.
The materials partially meet the criteria for including diagnostic tools that assess student mastery, in- and out-of-context, at regular intervals, and providing opportunities for teachers to make instructional adjustments. Most tools and assessments focus on comprehension, vocabulary, and writing as opposed to foundational skills; there are foundational skills assessments sprinkled in throughout the materials. There is teacher guidance on specific data points and materials provide some guidance on how to inform instruction based on these assessments. There are few explicit lessons provided to teach students to self-monitor, use context to confirm or correct understanding, or reread when appropriate.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There is phonics, decoding, and spelling assessment sprinkled throughout myView. In the “Reading-Writing Bridge” of the “Teacher’s Edition,” there is a five-lesson plan for instruction on both phonics and decoding (with the label “Word Study”) and spelling. The fifth lesson focuses on assessment. The “Assess for Understanding” on Day 5 feature appears in every week of instruction in myView. The “Assessment Guide” at each grade provides teachers with guidance on informing instruction based on assessment data. The Assessment Guide is available in print and on the “Realize” course. There are two parts to the Assessment Guide. Part 1 is all about guidance for the teacher on collecting and using assessment data. The first chapter specifically focuses on the types of data gathered from various assessments and how to use that data to inform instruction. The other chapters in Part 1 provide additional support for the teachers on many aspects of what to assess, how to assess, and how to inform instruction based on the assessment data. Part 2 of the Assessment Guide at each grade level provides teachers with tools to support the assessment of student growth by using the “Reading Behaviors Checklist.” In addition, the “Reading Strategy Assessment Checklist” can be used to support teachers when working with students on critical reading behaviors and self-monitoring skills.
In this program, the “Baseline Test” is a diagnostic assessment that helps teachers determine specific student areas of strength and need at the beginning of the school year; the Middle-of-the-Year Test assesses student progress towards mastery of skills in Units 1–3, while the End-of-the-Year Test assesses progress on skills taught throughout the year. “Cold Read Tests” help teachers determine each student’s word count per minute (a measure of fluency), vocabulary acquisition, and comfort with comprehension. The “Weekly Standards Practice for Word Study” includes one slide with a TEKS practice question in a STAAR-like format. These assessments assist teachers in determining the appropriate instructional grouping for each child. Teachers use this data to group students of similar needs together during small-group instruction and mini-lessons. The materials state that teachers can use “several well-known leveling systems—including DRA™ and Fountas & Pinnell (F&P) Text Level Gradient™” (not included with the materials)—to find a student’s specific reading level. Teachers can pair this data with the materials’ “myView Cold Reads” (a fluency and word recognition assessment tool) to assess student progress. The “Summative Assessments” includes the “Remediation Opportunities” table for each unit test and the Middle-of-Year test using the “myFocus Intervention” resource; this resource provides the teacher with scripted, step-by-step lessons, with 19 lessons total for foundational skills. Materials assess grade-level phonics within each unit assessment, and a weekly “Progress Check” assesses phonics and word study in five out of 14 test items. This checklist provides an opportunity for the teacher to observe and make notes on student mastery of various foundational skills. For example, the teacher analyzes the student’s ability to decode multisyllabic words with closed syllables or decode multisyllabic words with vowel teams, including digraphs and diphthongs. The teacher can mark yes or no based on student mastery and make comments, but no specific follow-up instruction is provided with the checklist. Grade 4 materials include leveled readers at levels O–T and a “Leveled Reader Teacher Guide,” containing the instruction of specific skills related to word study in addition to vocabulary and comprehension. There are few specific supports for teachers when working with students to self-monitor, use context to confirm or self-correct understanding, and employ rereading when appropriate. However, when appropriate, students use these strategies through a “close read” mini-lesson in Units 2 through 5, focusing on students monitoring their comprehension using rereading and background knowledge, asking questions, and annotating the text. Callout boxes prompt the teacher to give fluency practice during the shared read and allow students to self-monitor or self-correct their reading with a partner.
In Unit 1, the materials suggest conferring about analyzing text structure and asking students to identify the text structure and explain how it relates to the author's intent. One of the possible conference prompts includes, “What is the overall text structure? What signal words helped you identify it?” The teacher explains that it is important to read at a rate that is appropriate to understand the text fully, and the student interactive reminds students to read at a rate that is slow enough not to skip words but the same speed they would normally talk. While the lesson addresses the foundational skill of fluency, it does not help students self-correct and self-monitor.
In Unit 5, the materials suggest conferring about using text evidence to explain concepts by asking students to share what they have written on their sticky notes. One of the possible conference prompts asks, “What led you to focus on this evidence? How does the evidence explain the concept?” Students practice monitoring their comprehension and deciding how to make adjustments. Students fill in a table by identifying challenging text, including words not defined, difficult text, unclear mental images, and unanswered questions. Students find examples of these challenging texts and decide which monitoring strategy can help them in making an adjustment to gain understanding. There were no examples of foundational skills support found.
The materials meet the criteria for including opportunities for students to practice and develop oral and silent reading fluency while reading a variety of grade-appropriate texts, including rate, accuracy, and expression that supports comprehension. Materials provide grade-level texts to make meaning and build foundational skills and include explicit instruction in fluency, including phrasing, intonation, expression, and accuracy. There are routines for teachers to monitor and provide corrective feedback on these fluency skills.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide guidance and routines for teachers to monitor student progress in oral reading fluency, especially in the small group guide and throughout the teacher’s edition in various callout boxes and mini-lessons. Small group opportunities focus on fluency both during leveled readers and specific small group instruction based on fluency. Teachers have options to regularly monitor and provide clear, corrective feedback using the “Cold Reads for Fluency and Comprehension” resource. These five weekly options, containing a short passage with multiple-choice and short answer questions (based on TEKS and previously learned skills), are available in each unit at three levels: developing, on-level, and advanced. Teachers can administer them independently or in a small group. As the student reads the text aloud, the teacher records any miscues or errors the student makes during the reading and then stops the student after one minute. There is scoring information on how to score the assessment for words correct per minute (wcpm), expression, prosody, reading rate, and comprehension. For wcpm, the teacher counts the total number of words the student read, subtracting the number of errors, and then calculates the words correct per minute. There is a chart with suggested wcpm data for various stages in grade 4 to guide teacher understanding. Students engage in listening comprehension as the teacher reads a text aligned to the week’s genre; after the read-aloud routine, the teacher provides explicit instruction on different components of fluency and has students practice the skill with the same text. Fluency is one of the “teacher-led options” for small groups for Lessons 2–4 weekly in the reading workshop and allows for practice and assessment. During practice, students work with a partner and take turns reading a passage from the text or a leveled reader; the teacher reminds students of the fluency skill focus of prosody, rate, or accuracy, and if needed, the teacher models the skill. The teacher assesses students on “Oral Reading Rate and Accuracy,” using the specific pages and passages in the cold read resource. There are lessons in the digital reading workshop lesson called “Spotlight on Genre” for each of the literary genres that include a subsection called “Be a Fluent Reader.” There is a fluency rubric for the teacher to score students from 1–4 on volume and expression, syntax/prosody, accuracy, and rate. The leveled readers include fluency components for teachers to monitor and provide corrective feedback, and students have the opportunity to interact with grade-level texts as they make meaning and build foundational skills related to fluency.
In Units 1, 3, and 5, there are reminders in the “Spotlight on Genre” to practice fluency in the close read; the mini-lessons for the close reads focus on prosody, accuracy, and appropriate rate.
In Unit 1, there is a listening comprehension lesson about narrative nonfiction. The materials direct the teacher to project the passage and reread a section, modeling expression and intonation and directing students to pay attention to the teacher’s prosody. The teacher models reading fluently the short text “Sally Ride,” and the teacher asks students to pay attention to prosody, or how the words are read, explaining how fluency is about reading for meaning, not speed. Directions have the student select a section to read to each other with expression; partners can choose a listening comprehension section to practice reading. The materials include a note to remind students of the importance of reading with expression or intonation. The teacher models reading aloud a short section of the text Defying Gravity and asks students to pay attention to how the teacher reads punctuation and the text; partners practice reading a section of the text to each other. Students work in pairs and choose a short passage from the shared text or a leveled reader and take turns reading the passage with high accuracy, sounding out any unfamiliar words, and listening to each other. Partners make sure they do not skip any words or mistake similar-sounding words. If needed, the teacher models reading with accuracy.
In Unit 3, students read sections of dialogue from Mama’s Window with appropriate phrasing. Students consider the speaker’s emotions when they speak the dialogue. Teachers model, monitor, and adjust instruction based on observations. Students choose a short passage from the week’s text or a leveled reader during the Independent/Collaborative portion of the literacy block. In pairs, students take turns reading the passage with appropriate phrasing. The teacher models reading using appropriate phrasing and then tells students to read the punctuation and make their reading sound like talking.
In Unit 5, the teacher explains to students that argumentative texts often include quotations, which are direct references to another person’s speech or writing. They should be read with expression as if the person is actually speaking. Students practice silently reading quotations before reading quotes from the argumentative text aloud. Students continue to practice reading fluently in pairs during the Independent/Collaborative portion of the literacy block. Materials direct teachers to have student pairs practice reading a short passage “with the appropriate intonation” or to have student pairs practice reading a short passage “smoothly.”
Leveled readers are in all units. While reading the leveled text “Landmarks of the World,” the teacher explains the importance of reading accurately to retain meaning. The teacher models accurate reading, then students practice reading the page, focusing on breaking down unknown words into syllables and reading for accuracy. In “Homes in Early America,” the teacher tells students, “sometimes words that are complex or new to us can make us hesitate or slow down as we read. Did that ever happen to you when you were reading Homes in Early America?” Students turn to a page where they think they were reading at their slowest and read the page aloud to a partner a few times until they are comfortable reading all the words on the page. The listening partner tells the reader if the partner notices any change in the reading pace, and then partners switch roles. In the reader “Rosy’s Journey,” the teacher explains to students, “When you are reading, it’s important to read each word accurately so that you can recognize its particular meaning.” Students listen as the teacher models accuracy by reading page 15 aloud. Students choose a page that they find challenging and practice reading the page with a partner, who checks for accuracy. The teacher reminds students that understanding the meaning of the sentence is also important to reading accurately. When reading the text “Rainforest Retreat,” the teacher models how to read the dialogue, focusing on changing the voice and tone to reflect different characters. Then, students practice reading dialogue on a page, using a unique voice for each character, and paying attention to punctuation and other text clues that add tone or inflection to the dialogue.
The provided materials meet the criteria for including supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade-level. Resources include extensions and differentiation in planning for teachers and learning for students.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout all units, the “Small Group Guide” includes a section addressing modifications for students who need enrichment or more advanced work. Materials state that “Every learner can learn a skill at a deeper, more complex level…. Rather than focusing on more advanced skills, help students become masters of the skills using a variety of more complex texts.” The whole class shared-reads include questions in callout boxes titled either “First Read” or “Close Read,” the latter for use on the second reading of the text. The Close Read questions are marked with the depth of knowledge (DOK) levels and range throughout all four levels. Though the questions are used in a whole-class setting, teachers may make use of questions marked with higher DOK levels to engage above-level students. Small group reading, literacy stations, shared reading texts, and project-based inquiry offer sidebar suggestions on supporting above-level students. The materials include a “Text Complexity Chart” for all of the “Shared Read” selections during the “Reading Workshop.” During the Reading Workshop, teachers model a strategy or skill using a text within a mini-lesson. Students practice the skill with a whole group text or an independent text. Materials provide teachers with specific look-fors in the “Quick Check Notice and Assess” portion of the Reading Workshop. If students show understanding, materials provide specific tasks for an extension. “Quick Checks” are formative assessments. Some of the Quick Checks state that if students “show understanding,” they continue practicing the learned strategies in small groups. Additional extension activities from the “Resource Download Center” include nonfiction and fiction bookmarks, genre logs, book recommendations, and reading logs. The bookmarks give students space to write about what they learned, questions for the author, keywords and vocabulary, what they think, and engaging language.
In Unit 1, students engage in a fluency literacy station focused on reading with expression, which is identical for all students, regardless of level. Students work with a partner at the advanced level to take turns reading a page from their selected book, using the words on the page and punctuation to help read with expression and provide feedback to their partner.
In Unit 2, students explore animal adaptations in an informational text. Students practice using informational text characteristics to identify the main idea of the text, generate questions about animal adaptations, and choose one to investigate throughout the week. Extension activities for the unit include a “Share Menu” in which students can choose how they want to share their research, such as creating an infographic or a skit to dramatize what they have learned. In Unit 3, students explore characteristics and purposes for reading fiction in the whole group portion of the Reading Workshop. Materials offer several leveled readers from varying fiction subgenres, including texts at a higher Lexile. Students that perform above grade level can read and discuss The Ruby Amulet, a fantasy Level T text. Discussion questions in the teacher’s guide include a conversation about how their feelings about the character Glubstump changed throughout the story. Students discuss how the change in Glubstump and the way the elves came to respect him reflects the theme of the story.
In Unit 4, a weekly spelling activity focuses on prefixes. The first spelling lessons direct teachers to assess prior knowledge by using spelling sentences. The materials state, “For students who understand that the spelling of prefixes is the same, include the following Challenge Words,” with a list of three additional words. The lessons for the rest of the week include activities for students to “apply” spelling words in other activities such as worksheets or working with a partner to create and solve a word scramble, but the above-level students practice with the same ten words that they have already demonstrated mastery of during the first lesson. In Unit 4, students read The Secret of the Winter Count. The on- or above-grade-level consideration is to focus on “Knowledge Demands.” The teacher probes the students by asking, “What do you know about droughts? What might people do during a drought? What do you know about Native American traditions?” Students discuss, with a partner, what they know about droughts; then use online sources to research Native American traditions.
In Unit 5, during a small group lesson, the teacher conducts a strategy group that reviews how critical readers think about the different ways authors present similar ideas. The teacher works with students to select two texts and create a Venn diagram to show how ideas about biodiversity and preservation are the same and different. Students that demonstrate skills on- or above-grade-level complete an inquiry activity. Students organize their findings on preserving biodiversity into an effective format and discuss their findings. In Unit 5, a Quick Check asks students to identify informational media. If students can do this and show understanding, they continue to practice these strategies in small groups. An advanced option is available, titled “Inquiry: Question and Investigate.” Students use an infographic to generate questions about what we throw out and where it goes. During the week, students research answers to the questions.
The materials meet the criteria for including support for students who perform below grade level to ensure they meet grade-level literacy standards. The resources provide opportunities for teachers to plan and students to learn when they demonstrate literacy skills below the grade-level expectation; there are both extensions and differentiation assessments and activities.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, materials state, “While working on the same skills as other students, you may need to adjust the amount of support and scaffolding based on needs. The goal is to have all students master the grade-level expectations.” Strategies such as modeling, small group, and partner work meet the needs of struggling learners. This resource works with core whole and small group instruction. There are opportunities for teachers to assess student learning through informal assessments and Quick Checks. The materials provide teachers with specific look-fors in the Quick Check “Notice and Assess” of the Reading Workshop and allow teachers to diagnose students' needs and determine groupings for daily workshop lessons. Literacy stations allow students to practice strategies and improve skills during small group time. This practice includes fluency, word work, reading for meaning, writing, words to know, and spelling. Each activity has specific options for students who demonstrate literacy skills below grade level.
The “Language Awareness Handbook” states that these linguistically-accommodated lessons be used during small group time with students that the teacher has determined need additional scaffolded instruction. The handbook has models of scaffolded instruction, strategies, routines, and teacher prompts for both reading and writing workshops. When working with students struggling with a skill, the teacher identifies the related sub-skills they have mastered and builds from there. The suggested sequence for an intervention lesson includes introducing the skill and explaining how mastering it helps students to become better readers and writers, modeling and teaching a strategy for approaching the skill, providing supportive prompts when guiding practice, providing anchor charts that clearly lay out the steps as well as adding visuals to the chart and highlighting keywords, having students practice the strategy on texts they can read, and finally working with students to add the strategies to a strategy journal. This resource includes scaffolded writing. The lessons include introducing the type of writing and understanding its purpose, providing model and practice opportunities for each step of the writing process, and using graphic organizers to organize the writers’ ideas. Within each area of writing, the prompts refer to either “If students need additional support…” or “If students show understanding….” Sidebars in the materials refer teachers back to the bank of mini-lessons for writing. Teachers use observations, conference notes, student work samples, informal progress checks, and formal assessments to determine if students’ literacy skills are below that expected at grade level. The “Small Group Guide” includes a section addressing modifications for students who need intervention.
In Unit 1, students engage in a “words to know” literacy station focused on synonyms and antonyms. At the below-grade level, students choose three word cards and write a synonym and antonym for each word. Students then write a sentence for each word. This practice is different from activities provided to students on- and above-grade level both in the number of words selected and the requirements for the sentences.
In Unit 2, after a mini-lesson on the structures of informational texts, a sidebar in the teacher's edition directs teachers to notice and assess, “Can students effectively recognize the structures of informational texts?” The materials state that if students struggle, the teacher should revisit the information in a small group lesson that lists text features, such as illustrations, diagrams, maps and headings, and directs teachers to explain their purpose in understanding the texts. Then the teacher reviews the anchor chart for informational texts.
In Unit 2, the materials in the conference prompts state, “If students need additional support, then review stack texts and discuss their introductions,” but they give no example of student work. Materials do include a “Writing Support” sidebar for teachers within the mini-lesson that breaks the skill into Model, Shared, and Guided writing. Materials direct teachers to first do a Think Aloud with a stack text about its introduction, highlighting what makes it appealing or surprising, but with a different text.
In Unit 3, one of the Quick Checks asks if students can identify realistic fiction stories. If students struggle, the Intervention Activity provided from the “myFocus Intervention Teacher’s Guide” resource focuses on fiction. The activity includes three selections and prompts the teacher to introduce the fiction genre and model, identifying the beginning, characters, setting, and problem in context within a specific section of a passage. The teacher then explains the skills modeled before guided practice opportunities are available for students. During guided practice, the teacher monitors student progress through a formative assessment to determine student proficiency and next steps.
In Unit 4, a Quick Check directs teachers to notice and assess, “Can students identify traditional literature?” The materials state that if students struggle, the teacher should revisit the information in a small group lesson that lists text features and directs teachers to explain their purpose in understanding the texts. The teacher reviews the anchor chart. The Intervention Activity is from a separate resource guide that provides two traditional literature passages and directs students to look for specific aspects of characters, settings, and events as they read. The guide also includes discussion questions for the teacher: “Who are the characters? What is the problem? How does Zeus propose to solve the problem?” Additional support activities include creating a cause and effect chart that summarizes the events in one of the passages.
The materials meet the criteria for including support for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level expectations. There are clearly communicated, sequenced, and scaffolded accommodations for linguistics commensurate with all English proficiency levels defined by the ELPS. The resources include adapted text, native language support, cognates, summaries, and pictures. Materials encourage strategic use of students’ first language as a means to develop their English: linguistically, affectively, cognitively, and academically. Vocabulary is developed through connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, materials provide all students, including those who read, write, speak or listen in a language other than English, with opportunities to work with grade-level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards. The bulk of supports are tailored for teachers rather than ELs. The materials contain “ELL Observational Assessment Checklists'' for reading, writing, listening, and speaking within the assessment guide. There are differentiated supports for every EL level: beginner, intermediate, advanced, advanced high. Scaffolds include adapted text, cognates, summaries, graphic organizers, sentence frames, connecting or providing background knowledge, gestures, and using strategic talking partners. However, leveraging students’ first language is usually limited to identifying cognates. Only Spanish cognates are mentioned within the units; there are no supports specifically tailored for ELs such as translations, realia, glossaries, bilingual dictionaries, or thesauri. Photos or drawings are not in hard copy, but digital resources are available. There are sidebars for “ELL Targeted Support” in every literacy block phase, and there are the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS). The materials include a “Guide to the ELPS” chart that supports each ELPS with tips to clarify the standard, suggested examples of the standard, sentence frames for student understanding, and suggested activities for teaching the standard. The “Language Awareness Handbook” is a supplemental resource that includes scaffolded strategies, routines, sentence frames, and lessons to help ELs. The “Linguistic Contrastive Analysis Chart” identifies common errors made between the student’s native language and English. There are lessons for ELs to support the mini-lessons, small group strategy lessons, shared reading opportunities, reading and writing workshop bridges, writers workshop conferences, and project-based inquiry. Vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse tied to texts included for whole group, small group, and partner readings.
In Unit 1, during the “Introduction,” students discuss definitions for terms such as significant, habit, and contribute. The teacher reads an “Expand” statement such as “When you give something, you contribute,” and then asks a question using the same vocabulary, such as “What would you ask each group member to contribute as you work on a project together?” Within the same section, materials provide EL-targeted support for the same academic vocabulary, which is differentiated by ELPS. In Unit 2, students read Defying Gravity, a biography. Materials provide an EL language transfer callout that directs teachers to point out the Spanish cognates in the unit’s academic vocabulary. Examples include gravity/gravedad, trampoline/trampolin, garage/garaje, and space/espacio.
In Unit 3, students work on writing a realistic fiction story. Conference support for ELs is provided for each proficiency level. Supports include using modeled writing to help students plan a realistic story for beginner ELs and intermediate ELs, using guided writing to help students brainstorm and plan their writing for advanced ELs, and using guided writing to teach characteristics and structure of realistic fiction for advanced high ELs. The EL mini-lesson support in this unit gives the option to focus on recognizing elements of realistic fiction or brainstorming a topic. Each option includes activities for each proficiency level, along with additional writing support found in the “Language Awareness Handbook.”
In Unit 4, the materials spend a week on inferring themes to connect traditional literature. To launch the genre and theme of the week, the teacher reviews the essential question of the unit, “How do stories shape our world?” The weekly opener includes a multimodal video that uses sound and pictures. The sidebar for EL-targeted support focuses on the summary as partners use sentence frames to summarize content from the weekly opener video. In the whole class lesson for the unit’s Academic Vocabulary, a callout box for EL-language transfer includes the Spanish cognates for the five vocabulary words. In the whole class lesson spotlighting the genre of tall tales, the EL-targeted support sidebar includes sentence frames to use accessible language via sentence frames to summarize the weekly opener. During the reading workshop, the strategy group works on identifying common elements of tall tales by reviewing the whole class anchor chart.
In Unit 5, before reading the text, Deep Down and Other Extreme Places to Live, the class previews vocabulary terms in order to support understanding. To support English learning students, the teacher provides illustrations to help students remember the words. The teacher writes the sentence, “This flower attracts butterflies,” sketches a picture to illustrate the sentence, and talks about how the picture models the meaning of attracts. For ELs at the beginning and intermediate levels, students pair up and complete sentence frames with the correct vocabulary word. Students illustrate their sentences. For ELs at the advanced and advanced high levels, student pairs use vocabulary words to write and illustrate their own simple sentences.
The materials meet the criteria for including assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor student progress, including interpreting and acting on the data. Formative and summative assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. There is sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance, and assessments are connected to the regular content to support learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
For all units, the formative and summative assessments, available in both print and digital form, include a baseline diagnostic test, unit tests, middle-of-the-year (Units 1–3) and end-of-year tests (Units 1–5), weekly standards practice, and progress check-ups. In grade 4, the skills and standards addressed are comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. Specific TEKS practice is provided surrounding revising, editing, and written comprehension to support students for the grade 4 writing State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. The assessments and scoring information provide guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance and help teachers inform the whole group and small group instruction. A 192-page “Assessment Guide” explains the program’s assessment philosophy, best practices, and descriptions and locations of all the assessments in the program. It covers topics such as how teachers can use assessment and data to inform instruction, data-based decision making, how to use all kinds of assessments to drive instruction, when to use each type of assessment, how to facilitate ongoing assessment using the myView classroom, and how to assess student writing in a writer’s workshop format. The baseline test helps teachers determine each student's starting profile to guide and inform instruction; the accompanying item analysis chart displays each question’s focus or skill, the depth of knowledge (DOK) level, and the aligned TEKS. There are suggestions for instruction based on students’ overall scores on the test. There is fluency support based on miscue types. A “TEKS Practice Assessment” mirrors the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test format, and selections and questions in the unit tests become progressively more difficult from Unit 1 to Unit 5 to reflect the increasing sophistication of materials. The unit tests monitor progress on skills and standards taught within a unit and typically focus on comprehension, conventions, word study, and writing. These assessments include clear purpose, intended use, and the emphasized TEKS and literacy goals, and they connect to the regular content to support student learning. At grade 4, students participate in a multiple-choice reading test consisting of thirty-four multiple-choice questions and a writing test consisting of one written composition prompt and twenty-four multiple-choice writing questions, with each item aligned to the TEKS. Progress check-ups are formative assessments that provide the teacher with information each week about their students’ ability to use the skills and standards taught in class. Other formative assessments happen during lessons that are used to inform instruction, including turn-and-talk opportunities, “Quick Checks” during reading workshop mini-lessons, checks for understanding within the student interactive, individual conferences during reading and writing workshops, and “my turn” opportunities after mini-lessons for word study and spelling. The Quick Check formative assessment provides teachers with an “if/then” response to student data within the reading workshop, with two options. For one of the options, the materials describe what the teacher looks for and the next steps to do if students struggle or if students show understanding; this description helps to assess, differentiate, and determine small group instruction using choices from the “Teacher-Led Options.” All modes of assessment are to be used comprehensively: “Combined, your observations, running records, inventories, small-group conferences, surveys, student self-assessments, and ‘Weekly Progress Check-Ups’ results will help to inform your understanding of where your students are and how they are progressing.” During Week 6 of each unit, materials provide a project-based inquiry project related to the unit theme. This assessment encompasses several TEKS skills, such as comparing across texts, inquiry, and research; listening and speaking; and reading and writing.
In the Unit 1 assessment, one question aligned to TEKS 4.10.C analyze text structure asks, “Which sentence from the selection is illustrated by the diagram?” On a weekly assessment, five of the multiple-choice questions ask students to find a synonym for an underlined word in a given sentence. Five multiple-choice questions ask students to select a word with the correct verb tense that best completes a sentence. The last five questions connect to a short passage. There are three multiple-choice comprehension questions, one short answer response, and one longer response asking students to write a short personal narrative piece. These questions are all directly related to TEKS and to lessons from the materials throughout that week. Students study features of biographies. Students describe a text they have read about a historical or important person in pairs, using a provided anchor chart about the genre to help them explain specific features of a biography. To formatively assess whether students recognize common features of biographies, materials provide teachers a response pathway to the skill. Materials state that if students struggle, teachers are to “revisit instruction about biography in ‘Small Group’ on p...,” and if students show understanding, teachers can “have them continue practicing the strategies for reading biographies using the ‘Independent Reading and Literacy Activities in Small Group on p....”
In the Unit 3 assessment, one question aligned to TEKS 4.10.E Compare and Contrast Point of View asks, “Which sentence from the selection best shows that the narrator is speaking from a first-person point of view?” Two questions relate to examining poetic elements and align with the TEKS 4.9.B. If a student misses both of those questions, the teacher understands the skill that needs to be retaught, the aligned TEKS, and they use lesson 18 from the myFocus remediation opportunities. Teachers direct students to “write a realistic fiction story that features one way people communicate through a form of art, such as dance or poetry. Write your story on a separate sheet of paper.”
The materials meet the criteria for including year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify students’ needs and provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of a range of learners for grade-level success. Materials provide an overarching year-long plan to engage students in multiple groupings. Plans are explicit for on-level students. There are additional options for students who perform above or below grade level. However, there do not appear to be entry or exit points for individual differentiation needs. Teacher edition materials include annotations and supports for engaging students and implementing ancillary and resource materials that support student learning and teacher direction. There are no specific plans to differentiate for students that are below or above grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The program has an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping structures with the provided instructional model and daily plans found at the beginning of the teacher’s edition (TE) and in the “Program Overview.” The TE has multiple sidebars with differentiated support for teachers as well as information and support found within ancillary materials. The TE and “Small Group Guide” also include annotations and support for student learning and engagement and assistance for teachers in implementing ancillary/resource materials and student progress components, including reference to lessons or page numbers in the handbooks. There are multiple grouping strategies for teachers to implement flexible groupings, such as whole group, small group, partner work, individual work, and turn and talk opportunities. The overall plan describes learning for a typical on-level student and is not differentiated for various student needs. Most differentiated instruction occurs in small groups, with intense small group time for remedial students and independent reading or worksheets for advanced students, with no specific guidance for differentiated pacing and timing.
The “Getting Started with myView” component provides teachers with a detailed scope and sequence, a TEKS correlation, and a table of contents. These documents clearly show how the materials build student knowledge throughout the year while connecting to content that has been previously learned in the current and previous grade levels. These materials do not include a year-long plan for grouping, but they do include a variety of grouping strategies within different components. Students frequently engage in turn and talk opportunities during the unit introduction, when interacting with genre sources, during formative assessment opportunities based on reading strategies, and during reading conferences.
While there is not a year-long plan of instruction, the materials include both a “Unit of Study” plan and a “Unit Overview,” which lists the main title for the shared read and learning goal, titles, social-emotional learning goals, daily goals, and a summary of the Week 6 inquiry and research project. The “Skills Overview” page lists the skills and TEKS in the lesson bank for each phase of the workshop blocks and in the Week 6 project. The “Workshop Overview” page lists observable behaviors, in the form of question stems, for each part of the literacy block. These help teachers guide their “observations of students' literacy behaviors and to identify responsive teaching points out the unit.” The final page in the unit overview lists titles and levels in the leveled readers library and directs teachers to use the “Leveled Reader Teacher’s Guide” or the “Small Group Guide” for support to incorporate reading into small group time.
The reading block’s daily plan includes beginning with whole group instruction to focus on word work, genre, theme, comprehension, and time to reflect and share. Following the whole-group lesson is small group, independent, collaborative action time, all of which support differentiation. Small-group can be used for guided reading, strategy groups, intervention, on-level and advanced activities, EL targeted support, conferring, and fluency. During the student independent and collaborative action time, students participate in partner reading, independent reading, “book club,” literacy activities, or word work. The reading workshop ends in a whole group with an opportunity for a “share back.” Students share their observations or reflections from their small group, independent work time, or collaborative time.
The teacher forms a strategy group based on the support needed for a specific skill. Materials state, “Strategies are actions or steps used to help readers and writers accomplish a skill or task; instructions for these strategies are explicit and focused.” In an on-level small group, the teacher works with students to teach strategies or guide the practice of skills introduced during mini-lessons. With intervention groups, the teacher works with students struggling with a skill. Materials support teachers by identifying related subskills students have mastered to build from that point; these activities are tiered, specific, and scripted. For advanced groups, materials state, “Rather than focusing on more advanced skills, [enrichment groups] help students become masters of the skills using a variety of more complex texts.” For English Learner (EL) groups, teachers are to “focus attention on individual language strengths and make modifications as needed.” Lessons provide support for students in each stage of EL proficiency.
During the writing workshop block, the daily plan includes beginning with whole group instruction using mini-lessons. Following the whole group lesson, students engage in independent writing and individual conferring, allowing the teacher opportunities to differentiate instruction. The writing workshop ends with “share back.” Students share their observations or reflections from their small group, independent work time, or collaborative time.
The materials meet the criteria for including implementation support for teachers and administrators. A TEKS-aligned scope and sequence shows the essential knowledge and skills taught, the order they are taught, and how they build and connect across grade levels. Materials include additional support to aid teachers in the implementation of the materials. The program provides enough lessons for 180 or 220 days and allows for flexibility. Pacing includes directions to guide teachers in how to pace the lessons, including pacing of remediation, extensions, or deletion of lessons.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This program contains five units with six weeks of instruction in each unit and a five-day lesson each week for 150 days worth of lessons. The first five weeks are spent on literacy instruction, with the sixth week as a research and inquiry week. The “Baseline Test,” unit tests, Middle-of-Year, End-of-Year, TEKS Practice tests add another nine days for these assessments, totaling 159 days, allowing for some flexibility for the weekly progress check-ups, remediation after assessments, and STAAR preparation; the provided mini-lesson banks for each workshop contain lessons that can extend days of instruction from 180 to 220. Through “Realize,” administrators can customize and differentiate their dashboard, focusing on teacher support. Among other things, these options allow educators to view standards mastery and usage across the classroom, create teacher PD and training plans, and streamline school data analysis.
The combined time for the reading and writing workshop ranges from 70–105 minutes daily. This time includes the “Reading-Writing Bridge” lessons. The Bridge consists of one lesson per week for “Academic Vocabulary,” “Read Like a Writer,” and “Write for a Reader,” and five lessons per week for “Word Study,” “Spelling,” and “Language and Conventions.” Materials suggest 5–10 minutes for each bridge lesson which presents a full amount of content, suggesting an adjustment to pacing. Materials state a “flexible option” next to some bridge lessons, but no guidance is given for which lessons are mandatory or optional. Likewise, in the “Unit Skills Overview,” all listed reading and writing mini-lessons are labeled in the “Minilesson Bank”; no guidance is given for which lessons are mandatory or optional. The lessons have time recommendations for each component and suggested breakdowns for each component of the literacy block, totaling 120 minutes for the reading and writing workshop block, include Reading mini-lesson or shared reading: 10–20 minutes, Reading workshop bridge: 5–10 minutes, Small group/Independent reading: 20–30 minutes, Writing mini-lesson: 5–10 minutes, Independent writing: 30–40 minutes, and Writing workshop bridge: 5–10 minutes.
The materials meet the criteria for including print and digital visual design that is neither distracting nor chaotic. There is an appropriate use of white space and design that does not divert students’ attention; the pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without distraction.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Throughout the program, pictures and graphics are easily identifiable by students and supportive of student learning. The teacher’s edition is user-friendly, and sidebars and callout boxes for think-alouds, discussion prompts, and small group support are consistently in the same place. Tables, charts, and other graphic organizers in the workbook are clear, concise, purposeful, not distracting, and large enough for students to label or write in. The interactive student workbook includes all whole group/shared read texts with ample sidebar and line space for students to annotate. All texts include either illustrations or photographs. Images on the pages align to the instruction and are typically those within the shared reading texts. There are anchor chart examples for genre information, which are clearly designed and supportive for student learning. There are cartoon figures throughout the student materials, as well as icons and common phrases that denote a routine, such as “Turn and Talk” or “My Turn.” Some handouts in the “Resource Download Center” consist of practice for the components of “Language and Convention,” “Word Study,” and “Spelling”; all of these handouts begin with notes or definitions at the top of the page, then a My Turn section where students complete practice on the lines, space, or table. Digital components of the student interactive mirror the print version, so white space and graphics have the same productivity. There is a drop-down menu for each week; therefore, students can toggle back and forth between the components of reading, reading and writing bridge, and writing workshop. The student edition flipbook allows students to turn a page, as in a traditional hardcopy book. The digital edition in the “Realize Reader” presents the shared read as a continuous scroll with a nearly two-inch header at the top; depending on the device’s size, a student may struggle to scroll through the correct place as they read.
In Unit 1, there is an anchor chart on narrative nonfiction. The anchor chart includes the purpose of the genre, its features, and narrative nonfiction types. The selection Twins in Space has photographs of the twin astronauts inside their space shuttles and views of Earth from space.
In Unit 2, an anchor chart on informational texts defines the purpose, lists the features, and shows visuals for each type. Cause and effect are shown with an illustration of a ball being kicked and a broken vase. The problem and solution are demonstrated with the broken vase and a vase glued back together; compare and contrast shows the two vases placed next to each other on a table. Classification indicates different items sorted into groups. The text Animal Mimics utilizes clear, close-up photographs of animals mimicking the appearance of their environment.
In Unit 3, an anchor chart describes the different parts of a story’s plot, including the introduction, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. An excerpt from Mama’s Window has realistic, detailed illustrations of people, scenery, and a stained glass window.
In Unit 4, there is an anchor chart for myths. The term myth is defined, and a description is given for the characters, setting, and style of the genre. La Culebra is a drama that shows large illustrations taking up both pages and using shades of white, green, and brown.
In Unit 5, an anchor chart on Informational Text shows different text features, a brief description, and a visual. The text features are headings and subheadings, diagrams, photographs, maps, tables, and charts. The excerpt from Planet Earth has a variety of graphic features, including a diagram of the earth’s layers, an illustration of the water cycle, photographs of meteoroids, and a map of the time zones.
The materials include technology components that are grade-level appropriate and support learning. The supports enhance learning, and there is appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
This program incorporates technology for students that enhances student learning. The digital “Student Interactive” includes all mentor texts and student activities, which are easy to navigate, complete, and submit to the teacher. Students annotate texts digitally. Assessments are available for students to complete digitally and are easy to navigate. Question prompts and directions are in logical places. A “Notebook” button allows students to type questions, thoughts, ideas, and responses. Some pages, such as the unit opener, include a clickable response option for ranking progress toward learning goals. The Student Interactive also includes unit-launch video shorts students can view, pause, and repeat. Each page also includes an audio feature that provides an audio reading of the text on the page; this feature is on student activity pages as well as mentor text readings. The videos relate to the essential question and are engaging in vocabulary activities. Students fill in a digital reading log and engage in all components and activities related to the reading workshop, writing workshop, and reading and writing workshop bridge. The materials include a “Student Interactive Flipbook”; it is identical to the physical copy of the student edition and includes various features that enhance student learning such as a search function, full text, brush tool, bookmark sticky note, and the ability to project. The search function allows users to search for a word or phrase, with results yielding all page numbers where the word or phrase is found. Only the text on the page is shown on a white background with all images and colors removed when the full-text feature is enabled. The leveled readers are available online, and many include a video to build background knowledge and a list of important vocabulary words. All text can be read from the screen, or the student can push a play button to have the words read to them; there is a separate button to turn the left or right page of the book. The materials include teacher guidance with the “Digital Walkthrough” document for the online platform found in the “Getting Started with myView” section of the online resources. In this document, there are step-by-step directions on how to assign content and activities to students.