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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 %
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Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include high-quality texts for ELAR instruction and cover a range of student interests. The materials include well-crafted texts representing the quality of content, language, and writing that experts in various disciplines produce. The materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and culturally diverse texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The publisher’s selection of high-quality texts for sixth-grade ELAR instruction reflects a rich and diverse group of texts from multiple genres, author’s backgrounds, and accessibility for students, including works by multiple award-winning and recognizable authors. The materials contain a variety of high-quality, engaging, and relatable texts from various experts and acclaimed authors from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds, exposing students to the various genres and kinds of writing offered in well-arranged thematic units. With a Lexile range stretching from 730–1010, most of the texts in Unit 1 fall between 730L and 960L, a perfect starting point for seventh graders. Additionally, the vocabulary, sentence structures, text features, content, and relationships between ideas make these texts accessible to seventh-graders, enabling them to grow as readers by interacting with such appropriately challenging texts. For unit 6, the Lexile range is a broad 710–1360, with most texts falling between 1060L and 1110L. This academic progression demonstrates increasingly complex, traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts throughout the year.
Unit 1 includes the realistic fiction short story “Thank You, M’am,” by award-winning writer, poet, and leader of the transformational Harlem Renaissance, Langston Hughes. The story is about a teenage boy who learns a powerful lesson about tough love and forgiveness after stealing an older woman’s purse. The content displays how the setting of the story influences changes in the characters. The open-ended outcome is unclear and serves as an engaging moment for middle school students as they make the personal connection to their lives being unclear as well. Unit 1 also includes the contemporary essay, “In the Year 1974,” a non-fiction text by Mexican-American author Oscar Casares. In his essay, Casares paints an illustrative display of language as he discusses the generational gap between him and his parents, a topic that resonates with middle school students.
Unit 2 contains a variety of well-crafted, diverse, contemporary pieces of literature that appeal to a range of student interests. For example, “Museum Indians” by Susan Power and Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. This classic story contains Ebenezer Scrooge, a multi-dimensional character who experiences a journey of transformation. The unit also includes the classic poem, “Annabel Lee,” written by Edgar Allan Poe. The well-crafted text, rich in imagery, challenges students while it piques their fascination with love.
Unit 3 presents a display of informational texts that contain rich vocabulary and language that spans across the curriculum of multi-content areas. For example, the scientific informational nonfiction, “Machines, Not People, Should be Exploring the Stars for Now” by acclaimed research physicist Don Lincoln, Ph.D., argues how it is more beneficial to send robots instead of humans to space. Unit 3 also includes the well-crafted informational literature piece entitled “Letter to Harriet Tubman,” written by an African-American author, Frederick Douglass.
Unit 4 contains a mixture of scientific informational texts and diverse and contemporary journalism related to topics that appeal to middle school students: Players’ Tribune written by basketball coach Holly Warlick; Randal Munroe’s infographic essay “The Last Human Light”; “Hitting big-league fastball ‘clearly impossible’” by science journalist Paul Recer; and “No Dream too High,” a text about US Olympic gymnast Simone Biles that features graphics and a nonlinear structure.
Unit 5 is composed mainly of literary texts in the fiction genre and informational texts that consider various student interests. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; “The Cruel Tribute,” a fictional short story by award-winning author James Baldwin; and “The Third Elevator” by Aimee Bender are examples of fictional and contemporary short stories that contain rich vocabulary and linguistic content.
In Unit 6, students read literary excerpts from award-winning authors. For instance, they read The Giver, written by two-time Newbery Award-winner Lois Lowery. This science-fiction tale chronicles life in a dystopian society where a “Committee” makes all major decisions. Nikki Giovanni, the recipient of 25 honorary degrees and award-winning poet, writer, and activist, gives voice to social justice and identity issues in her poem “Choices.” Students study the thematic topic of persevering and remaining positive despite challenges .
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the requirements of the TEKS for each grade level. Literary texts and informational texts include those outlined in grade 7 TEKS. The materials include print and graphic features of a variety of texts.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphic features include but are not limited to:
The instructional materials provide print and graphic features to accompany the selections. Each literary and informational selection is accompanied by a preview video. Many of the selections also include color-coded highlighted sections of text with embedded explanatory note boxes, bolded subheadings, text bullets, and embedded graphic organizers.
Because of the online platform’s nature, every text includes bolded vocabulary, often linked to interactive vocabulary activities. For example, in Unit 1, in both the first read and close read lessons for Woodsong by Gary Paulsen, the word “gulled” is bolded. In a close read lesson, under the vocabulary tab, students complete a chart by choosing vocabulary word definitions and using them to construct sentences.
The instructional materials provide a split-screen mode option to access text and instructional content while completing various tasks easily. For example, in Unit 3, students can enable the split-screen mode easily to have the text, “The First Americans” by the Grand Council Fire of American Indians, on the screen simultaneously as the quiz and short answer questions over the material. In Unit 6, “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives” in North Korea by Barbara Demick contains a video with images of North Korea and its citizens to provide clarity and organizational structure of details for readers.
The materials include appropriately challenging texts and are at an appropriate level of complexity to support students at grade level 7. Texts are accompanied by a text complexity analysis provided by the publisher at the beginning of each text. The analysis clearly explains the text’s grade-level appropriateness and includes both a quantitative measure and many qualitative descriptors.
Evidence Includes but is not limited to:
The Lexile levels of texts range from 730L to 1270L. The majority of the texts fall within the 970L–1120L range, ideal for seventh grade. The texts’ qualitative features reflect the skills and concepts required for seventh-grade students. The units tend to build toward more complex texts requiring inferential thinking and background knowledge essential for understanding and may contain more archaic, unfamiliar, or allusive language. The three components defining text complexity are the quantitative elements such as Lexile, length, and publication of the text. The qualitative elements are the structural, linguistic, and contextual qualities that determine easier or difficult readability and the reader and task expectations, such as how the reader interacts with the text.
Unit 1 texts fall between 730L and 960L. The qualitative features of the texts in Unit 1 are “accessible,” according to the materials. The first text in the unit, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling, is the unit’s most challenging reading at 1010L and over 5,000 words. The materials note the number of skill lessons to offset reading the text’s complexity. For example, some lessons teach background skills, such as annotation, context clues, reading comprehension, interpretation of the text, and collaborative conversations, to support students as they read the text. Although the initial range of the bulk of texts in Unit 1 is lower than the 970L to 1120L recommended for seventh grade, these skill sets support students as they follow up with two nonfiction pieces of higher text difficulty (e.g., Woodsong by Gary Paulson [940L]). “In the Year 1974” by Oscar Casares (960L) is an informational text with a word count of 2,416. The students can practice sentence structure and compound-complex, and descriptive phrases in the narration. The materials progressively challenge students so that most texts fall between 1060 and 1110L at the upper end of the recommended range by the final unit.
Unit 3 offers the pairing of two texts: a biographical portrait of “Harriet Tubman” by Ann Petry, with an accessible Lexile level of 970 along with a “Letter to Harriet Tubman” by Frederick Douglass, which though brief, is more challenging at 1240L. It requires closer reading due to its style and structure. For example, the vocabulary and usage of complex sentence structure with multiple modifiers and clauses present challenges for student comprehension.
Unit 4 emphasizes nonfiction, although there is fiction and poetry included within the unit. The selections fall in a Lexile band of 690–1270, with most texts residing in the 800–1020 range. While various texts reinforce skills in earlier units, authors develop informational writing throughout the lessons. Unit 4 includes the poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. Some students may find the content-specific vocabulary and poetic structure challenging, along with lessons on inferences and figurative language. Features such as organizational patterns/text structures and connections to other texts become challenging qualitative measures for students.
Unit 5, Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (Translated by George Fyler Townsend), has qualitative features that students may find challenging, including complex sentences with multiple phrases and clauses and antiquated titles such as “cottager” and “miser.” Unit 5 also pairs an excerpt from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games (1000L) with an analytical piece by Barry Strauss on the historical references in the novel series. The lesson’s notes on the novel excerpt remind teachers that the dystopian setting may be a challenge to students; for instance, dystopian fiction tends to use neologisms. The accompanying essay’s analytical nature also challenges students with its complex syntax and references to classical literature.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Questions and tasks require students to connect to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them and identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials’ structure allows multiple opportunities to practice conceptual knowledge and deeply interact with texts. Most lesson groups are structured with a “first read” introduction to a text, then a skill lesson, then a “close read” lesson of the same text. Those lessons often link to additional lessons for independent reading, in which students practice the same skill or concept with another text or multiple texts linked by theme, topic, or concept, often from different genres.
In Unit 1, Oscar Casares’ “In the Year 1974” tasks students with writing a personal narrative in which they link their personal experiences to those from the text. The material states, “Think about an epiphany of your own that you had when you were a little younger. In the structure and style of Casares’s essay, write a 250-word narrative about your own experience and how it was formative to you.” Students analyze the narrator’s perspective and the situation he encountered to make a text-to-self connection to compose the essay effectively.
In Unit 2, with an emphasis on poetry, the teacher guides students through introductory lessons on the elements of poetry as well as the Unit’s guiding question, “What do we learn from love and loss?” Then, students read the poems “Elena” by Pat Mora and“My Father Is a Simple Man” by Luis Omar Salinas. During the lesson, students interact with each other and the texts by answering “text talk” questions, such as “Why does her husband frown at the speaker’s desire to learn English?” After-reading questions in the “Think” section of the lesson include “Explain the disagreement between the speaker and his father over pomegranates. What can you infer about the speaker based on his comments?” After students have read and discussed both poems, they complete a short writing assignment considering the connections between the two texts: “Both ‘Elena’ and ‘My Father Is a Simple Man’ are about the love between parents and children. Compare and contrast the speakers in the two poems and how they interact with their family, and their tone to describe their family relationships. Write a response of at least 250 words. Remember to support your ideas with evidence from the texts.”
Unit 2 also includes the poem “I, Too, Sing America” by Langston Hughes. Students build conceptual knowledge by watching a video preview and reading the introduction in pairs before reading. Students answer text-specific questions like, “What do you think the term segregation means?” Students continue to build content knowledge by making predictions about vocabulary. The teacher models and highlights context clues with the following inference prompt where students must make an educated guess regarding what the word means in the paragraph: “In line 2, focus on the line that uses the word darker.” The activities integrate multiple grade-level TEKS.
In Unit 4, students read the poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer. After reading the poem, they write a short analytical response to the poem, “In the poem, Casey is revered by his fans. How does the poet's use of figurative language reveal Casey’s power over his fans? Find examples of figurative language in the poem that demonstrate this power.”
In Unit 6, students analyze the tone in Maya Angelou’s biographical essay, “New Directions.” Students answer questions and complete tasks to build conceptual knowledge about “how tone is conveyed through elements of style and connotations of words and phrases.” The students watch an instructional video about tone and follow up with a turn and talk using the following questions to discuss tone: “What is the tone of your favorite TV show, movie, or book? What’s an example of a show or story with an informal tone? What’s an example of one that has a formal tone?” The materials provide a video of students reading and discussing excerpts of the text and modeling how to evaluate the tone’s details. The materials provide a list of guiding questions to help students analyze how the writer’s use of language contributes to tone: “What words has the writer or speaker chosen to use that are interesting and stand out? Do these words have positive, negative, or neutral connotations? How does word choice reveal the writer’s or speaker’s attitude about the subject matter? Does the writer or speaker use figurative language? How does figurative language reveal the writer’s or speaker’s attitude about the subject matter?”
The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. The questions and tasks support students’ analysis of the literary and textual elements of texts. Students analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author's purpose in cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. They compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic and analyze the author's choices and how they influence and communicate meaning (in single and across a variety of texts). Materials ask students to study the language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students complete a close read of an excerpt from Gary Paulsen’s memoir Woodsong. Before the first read, they complete a lesson on the metacognitive skill of asking questions, which they use during their initial reading of the story, focusing on comprehension. The lesson that follows focuses on the author’s purpose and message by modeling and pointing students back to specific text elements to ask questions and determine the purpose. One prompt asks students to connect what they have learned in both skills lessons: “What kinds of questions can you ask yourself as you read that will help you determine the author’s purpose and message? Explain why you think the author uses these short lines.” Finally, students reread the selection closely, examining details for how they convey the author’s purpose and answering guided questions, “Identify details that describe the doe and the wolves. Explain how these descriptive details reflect the author’s purpose and message.” Lastly, students write an analytical response to the following prompt: “In this excerpt from his memoir, Gary Paulsen describes wolves attacking a doe in the forest. What is the author’s purpose, and what message do you think Paulsen conveys by recounting this experience? Write a response of at least 250 words. Use evidence from the text to support your response.”
In Unit 2, students read “Museum Indians,” an autobiographical essay by Susan Power. The students explore how the author uses figurative language to achieve a specific purpose. The students watch a StudySync skills video about how authors use figurative language to communicate meaning. The materials provide discussion prompts to deepen students' understanding. For example, “How does Dakota’s pizza metaphor help him understand the language an author uses for descriptive effect?” The materials provide a model text to support students’ analysis of the author’s choices and communicate meaning. For example, “How does the figurative language help the reader understand the relationship between the author and her mother?” Later, in Unit 2, students compare and contrast the stated or implied purposes of different authors’ writing on the same topic. For example, “My Mother Knew” by Wing Tek Lum and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens are texts that contain a skill of compare and contrast; the teacher models for students and engages them in a discussion about several texts recently read. The teacher asks questions such as, “How did the reader find similar situations in the three texts? How did the reader compare the father in ‘My Mother Knew’ to Scrooge, the uncle in A Christmas Carol?” Students also discuss how they used their comparisons to learn more about the other texts and how this analytical way of thinking has a literary impact when comparing and contrasting other texts in the future.
In Unit 4, students analyze how text structure contributes to the author’s purpose. Students read excerpts from the memoir “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” by William Kamkwamba, a 14-year-old boy from the poverty-stricken nation Malawi in Africa who dreamed of studying science at the country’s top boarding school. Students watch a skills video about text structure and discuss “How is understanding signal words an important part of identifying an author’s purpose and text structure?” Students read an excerpt from the memoir that includes highlights and annotations exploring the connection between text structure and the author’s purpose.
In Unit 6, students study the language within texts to support their understanding. For example, as they read “New Directions,” an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s memoir, a second time to examine its figurative language, they annotate the text using prompts such as “Identify clues that reveal the tone, or attitude, Angelou expresses regarding her grandmother. Explain how those clues develop the author’s tone” and “In an extended metaphor, an author compares at length two or more things in order to express an idea. Identify and explain how Angelou introduces and develops the extended metaphor in the last two paragraphs of the text.” This lesson caps the group of lessons focused on this text that begins with the first read for comprehension and a skills lesson on tone.
The materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary in and across texts. Materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts, and include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Students “encounter new vocabulary in each reading selection found in the Core ELAR Program and the StudySync Library.” Each selection in the core program includes vocabulary instruction and student practice, with the “aim of building vocabulary knowledge and improving students’ ability to access complex texts.” Each unit contains a Novel Study section, which provides reading guides for several novels that connect to the unit’s theme and an introductory lesson that explicitly presents academic vocabulary. The Novel Units provide Reading Guides that preview key vocabulary, providing definitions. Students gain vocabulary knowledge during the First Read lessons, albeit in a limited context. The pre-selected, presumably unfamiliar words are highlighted in bold, but they are not defined. Practice questions in the “Think” section for each First Read “help students strengthen their vocabulary through various strategies—including using context clues, identifying Greek and Latin roots and affixes, and using print and digital resources—to determine the possible meanings of two of the selected vocabulary words.” The materials include additional support, specifically for English Learners and students whose skills are “approaching” grade level. Students also have access to a visual glossary, which adds a photo or illustration to each word and its definition.
In Unit 1, the materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. For example, students read and discuss definitions of academic vocabulary. The teacher reads aloud a sentence with a vocabulary word and asks questions to give students practice using the word in context. For instance, for the word available, “If someone were trying to figure out what to cook, how would having a list of available fruits and vegetables be helpful?”
In Unit 2, the materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. For example, students in small groups “act out a short scene that demonstrates the meaning of” an assigned word. Students work with the words individually through a scaffolded sequence of activities, including completing charts of examples and non-examples, progressing to sentence completion, and finally, sentence generation. “Academic Vocabulary Skill” lessons introduce students to the academic vocabulary within the unit. The materials identify the TEKS and ELPS for the targeted vocabulary. For example, in Unit 2, the Skill lesson addresses tone. The StudySync video provides literary examples and definitions of tone, attitude, and connotation. The materials include a visual glossary to support approaching learners. The students complete a word/definition matching activity. In “Museum Indians” by Susan Power, the words command, endurance, integral, maturity, reservation, timid, and utmost are in the initial Vocabulary drag/drop activity and in bold in the text. This differentiation tool supports all learners as it provides students with vocabulary words that are key to understanding the selection.
In Unit 3, the materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. For example, students read the letter “The First Americans” by The Grand Council Fire of American Indians. Before reading, students make predictions about bolded academic vocabulary words using context clues. Students annotate, and the teacher models first with scripted cues from the materials.
In Unit 5, the materials include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners. For example, “The Invisible One” (Algonquin Cinderella) by Traditional Algonquin, collected by Idries Shah, includes the following dotted underlines: lodge, rawhide, wigwam, moccasins, and wampum. Students can build upon their knowledge of unfamiliar words used in a given context by clicking on the definition of a word highlighted within the text. The students can save their annotations per word and access them later within the platform. Supports include photos and illustrations of words, Spanish cognates and translations, and other scaffolded supports. For example, in Unit 5, during the first reading lesson of “The Invisible One” by Idries Shah, the materials offer prompts for locating context clues. Later, during the “Think” portion, teachers can again select scaffolded support for students who may need help completing the questions, such as “Which context clues helped you determine the meaning of the word flexible as it is used in paragraph 7? Write your definition of flexible and identify which words or phrases helped you understand its meaning.” In the support portion, students can read the context directly without having to locate it. Then, the materials ask questions pointing students to the “object” in the quotation and prompting students to connect it to the meaning of the word.
The materials include a clearly defined plan to support and hold students accountable as they engage in independent reading. Procedures and protocols, along with adequate support for teachers, are provided to foster independent reading. The materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time, including planning and accountability for achieving independent reading goals.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Every teacher has access to StudySync’s Library of texts with “hundreds of short stories, poems, excerpts of novels and dramas, essays, speeches, and primary source documents, including a wide selection of full-length novels and dramas, as well as an array of Spanish language texts.” New texts added monthly support teachers with ongoing resources; also, students can access the complete library from any device, at any time, so assigning independent reading practice is doable. A “Self-Selected Blast” is provided to the students at the end of each unit. Students answer a unique driving question and learn a strategy they can use when they self-select a text. The materials provide online resources of various texts in the StudySync library for their self-selected reading with information about the theme and Lexile range for that particular unit; this range ensures the students’ text options are appropriate. A Self-Selected Response lesson is included after the Blast, where a writing prompt gives students the opportunity for deep thinking about the self-selected text to hopefully develop lifelong readers.
The materials offer multiple opportunities for structured and supported independent reading in every unit. Independent reading lessons are linked with related readings that follow the first-read, skill lesson(s), and close-read sequence and provide opportunities for comparing and contrasting, making connections across texts, and examining how different authors and text structures approach similar topics or themes. All units include at least three independent reading lessons. While students read and annotate the text selection independently, the lesson includes multiple opportunities for engagement about the reading with others, including teacher-led portions. Independent reading lessons begin in the same way as first-read lessons: with an initial introduction video and discussion, vocabulary preview activities, and opportunities to apply related comprehension skills. Students read and annotate the text independently in the digital platform and then discuss the reading with the teacher and other students in a section of the lesson plan called “Text Talk.”
In Unit 1, teachers foster independent reading by providing independent reading selections “alongside a core text that receives full instructional support,” providing literary analysis skills and reading strategies applied to independent reading. The materials support teachers in creating independent readers by offering independent literary suggestions for students and intrinsic motivations. For example, in Unit 1, with “Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli, the Independent Read Lesson Plan includes a task in which the students write a personal narrative using evidence from the text to support their understanding of the independent read.
In Unit 2, teachers guide reading selections “alongside a core text that receives full instructional support.” For example, students independently read the poem “Elena” by Pat Mora and “demonstrate understanding by responding to comprehension questions, participating in a collaborative conversation, and writing a personal response.” The students independently read the poem, annotating in preparation for the post-reading discussion and writing assignment. After reading “My Father Is a Simple Man” by Luis Omar Salinas, students prepare a written response addressing how the speaker in each text feels about his or her family relationships.” To further foster independent reading, the materials provide two independent texts that students read simultaneously with a text that received full instructional support. These independent reading assignments “provide an opportunity for students to practice and apply their knowledge of comprehension skills, response skills, multiple genres, and author’s purpose and craft.” Students respond to a comparative writing prompt during the Close read of the core text.
In Unit 3, students read an excerpt from Ann Petry’s biography of Harriet Tubman, Harriet Tubman: Conductor On The Underground. After reading, students discuss their initial vocabulary predictions with a partner, and the class regroups to check for comprehension and connection with collaborative questioning. Finally, students complete a multiple-choice quiz to check for individual understanding, as well as a short narrative about a typical day in Harriet Tubman’s life when she was six years old. At the end of Unit 3, students complete a “Blast” lesson to help them set a purpose for reading and consider the role of reading critical reviews to determine what to read. The materials recommend several titles, offering links to the materials’ library excerpt of the text and descriptions and a handout with a brief teaser for each text to help students “research” their choices.
In Unit 4, students learn how to use the “The Goldilocks Principle” in finding a text right for them. Students read the first few paragraphs in a text and use probing questions to categorize the text to determine if the self-selected text is appropriate for them. The categories include Too Easy, “Have you read this text before? Do you understand the story very well?”; Too Hard, “Are there more than five words on a page that aren’t familiar? Are you confused about what is happening in most of the text?”; and Just Right, “Is the text new to you? When you read, are some places smooth and some choppy?” These questions help students determine an appropriate self-selected text.
The materials provide support for students to develop composition skills across multiple text types for a variety of purposes and audiences; opportunities to write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas; opportunities to write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes; opportunities to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues; and opportunities to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. In Unit 1, students reflect on the author’s purpose after reading Gary Paulson’s Woodsong. Students examine an excerpt from Paulson’s memoir where he describes wolves attacking a doe in the forest. Students write a literary text expressing their ideas about “the author’s purpose and what message do you think Paulsen is trying to convey by recounting this experience?” Students must use textual evidence to support their responses.
In Unit 2, students write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. For example, the poem “Elena” by Pat Mora is told from the mother’s point of view. After reading, students write a poem in which they respond to the mother from one of the children’s perspectives. Also, in Unit 2, students write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure. For example, the autobiographical essay “Museum Indians” by Susan Power describes the topic of home and its contrasting perspectives between the narrator and the mother. Students work with a classmate to develop a conversation between the narrator and mother, stating from their perspective why they each prefer their home. Students cite textual evidence from the essay and write comments and explanations before developing the conversation.
In Unit 3, students write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. For example, after reading “Machines, not people, should be exploring the stars for now” by Don Lincoln, students create a flyer about investing in space technology and exploration to gain support for America. Students select points from the article to include on a flyer in order to persuade their readers to invest in their cause. Students write the text for the flyer using information from the article and, if necessary, other sources. Students include a claim and a counter-argument to show their audience their stance and consider an opposing view.
In Unit 4, the materials provide students opportunities to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. For example, a cross-genre writing prompt asks students to consider the “multiple modes of communication used to describe and help the audience visualize the difficulty of hitting a major league fastball.” Students analyze how “the modes work together to convey information and enhance the meaning of the selection” and use evidence from the text and video as support.
In Unit 5, students write literary texts to express their ideas and feelings about real or imagined people, events, and ideas. For example, after reading a Traditional Algonquin folktale, “The Invisible One,” collected by Idries Shaw and selections from Aesop’s Fables, students compose a fable that demonstrates a clear theme as their version of a Cinderella story. Their fables must include an explicit lesson and animal characters with human traits. The materials guide students to structure their story by applying “the rule of three.” Unit 5 also includes opportunities to write informational texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. For example, students read informational texts “No Dream Too High” by Alex Shultz and an informational excerpt of the non-fiction book, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. Then students compare and contrast the author's purpose and message in each text: “how each author makes their purpose and message evident to the reader; and how the author's purpose and message are similar and different in each text.”
Unit 6 provides students opportunities to write argumentative texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. For example, this unit includes the argumentative text, “Reality TV and Society” by Study Sync resource. Students discuss whether reality television is good or bad for society. Students write a claim with three reasons, using evidence from the text and their own lives as support. Students include one rhetorical device (repetition, direct address, rhetorical question) to ensure their argument is adequately persuasive. The materials also provide students opportunities to write correspondence in a professional or friendly structure in Unit 6. For example, students read excerpts from Jonathan Harr’s book A Civil Action, which “tells the real-life story of Anne Anderson, who fought to raise awareness about the link between water-borne viruses and cases of childhood leukemia in Woburn, Massachusetts.” Students imagine that they are Anne and prepare a written statement for a court trial that outlines reasons and evidence to support why they suspect water contamination in their neighborhood. The court trial’s written statement uses a formal and respectful tone and contains factual evidence from the excerpt.
Most written tasks within the materials require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and text synthesis. The materials provide opportunities for students to use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims and to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts.
Evidence Includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, three selections discuss the dynamics of conflict between young people and older adults: the short story “Thank You, M'am,” by Langston Hughes; the personal essay “In the Year 1974,” by Oscar Casares; and the poem “Mad” by Naomi Shihab Nye. After reading the three selections, students analyze by comparing and contrasting the character lessons due to conflict in “Thank You, M’am” to a character gaining knowledge and understanding through conflict in one of the other texts, supporting their ideas evidence from the selections. The materials also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. For example, in Unit 1, students prepare for a debate after reading an excerpt from Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. The materials prompt students to imagine being one of the text’s primary characters who wants to persuade the other character to change their minds. Students “choose the persona of either Nimona or Blackheart” and prepare points for a debate to convince the other character to fight according to their chosen style while using evidence from the text to support their points.
In Unit 2, after reading “The Walking Dance” by Marcela Fuentes, students demonstrate what they have learned in writing by explaining how “Fuentes uses plot elements such as climax, falling action, and resolution to convey the theme of this story.” Students identify one theme and use text evidence to support their response. Unit 2 also provides opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. For example, in the selection “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe, students provide a written response to the question, “How does the poetic structure—including the rhyme scheme, meter, and graphical elements—help the reader understand how the speaker feels about Annabel Lee?” Students use specific examples from the poem to support their responses. With this literary analysis, students show their understanding of poetic elements in written form by discussing genre characteristics, craft, and explicit and implied meaning.
In Unit 3, students use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. For example, after reading an excerpt from a biography on “Mother Jones” by Judith Pinkerton Josephson, students respond to the following: “Do you think Mother Jones was an effective leader?” Students provide a written response to the question while citing evidence from the text to support their understanding. Students also demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts in Unit 3. For example, this unit includes an excerpt from the novel, Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez. In a Close Read Activity, students answer the following literary analysis written response question: “Although Papi says ‘Everything will be fine’ regarding the secret police (SIM), Alvarez describes a feeling of omnipresent terror in the Torres household. Identify and analyze how the setting shows that Papi and the others are afraid and/or have something to fear.” Students use textual evidence to support their responses.
In Unit 4, students demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. For example, students demonstrate their understanding of the author’s purpose by writing a literary analysis in response to the StudySync text, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope,” by Bryan Mealer and William Kamkwamba. Students explain why the windmill was so important in Malawi and how this knowledge helps readers understand the author’s purpose for writing the text.
In Unit 5, students demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts. For example, after reading the African American folktale, “The People Could Fly,” students reflect on the following questions: “Why do you think it’s important to read folktales from different cultures and times? What can you learn from reading folktales in addition to studying history and informational texts about the same cultures and periods?” Students write down notes to prepare to discuss these questions and use examples from the text and other myths and folktales they have read to support their points.
In Unit 6, students use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. This unit includes the speech “Remarks at the UNESCO Education for All Week Luncheon” by Laura Bush. After the First Read of the speech, students provide a written answer to the questions: “What skill does Bush see as the foundation of a good education?” Here, students cite places in the text where Bush emphasizes this bedrock of learning. In addition, they answer, “Name two nations where Bush is attempting to promote her goals.” Again, students provide evidence from the ways Bush’s initiatives directly impact these countries.
Over the year, composition convention skills are applied in increasingly complex contexts, with opportunities for students to publish their writing. The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process elements (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose multiple texts. The materials also provide opportunities for practice and application of academic language conventions when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context, and materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process elements (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. Each grade 7 ELAR unit contains an Extended Writing Project and Grammar section that guides students through writing multi-paragraph essays in one of the following forms: Narrative, Informational, Argumentative, Correspondence, Research, and Oral Presentation. The Extended Writing or Oral Project draws on the texts studied during the unit. It facilitates students through the writing process elements (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. The lesson begins with planning activities that review the targeted genre’s characteristics, examine the writing prompt, and provide an opportunity for students to summarize their writing plans. The lesson’s draft portion focuses on developing ideas and organizational skills as the students compose their rough draft. In the revise portion of the project, the materials provide specific skill lessons on style, format, and elaboration. The edit and publish phase of the project contains skill lessons on targeted grammar skills that the writer can apply before publishing. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context, and materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are not included in the daily lessons. Instead, the grammar skills are taught in context through embedded lessons within the Extended Writing Project in each unit. The materials provide similarly formatted skill lessons that include model texts and explanations of targeted grammar skills. Students answer multiple-choice questions demonstrating their understanding of the information and edit their writing accordingly. The Extended Writing project in each unit focuses on different grammar skills.
In Unit 1, the materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process elements (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. For example, the materials offer a series of lessons to support students in writing a fictional narrative. For instance, a planning lesson reviews the elements of fiction students have studied throughout the unit’s reading lessons. Drafting lessons focus on developing ideas, organizing the narrative, and using models and collaboration to draft their narrative. In the next set of writing lessons, teachers target exposition, details, and dialogue to help students revise their narratives. Finally, students edit and publish in the final lesson of the sequence. In general, publishing appears to be submitting the final copy of the composition for evaluation to the teacher through the online platform. In Unit 1, grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically, both in and out of context, and materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues. For example, the groups of lessons in each extended writing project are revising and editing sections that include explicit grammar lessons, generally connected to the genre in which students are writing. For example, in Unit 1, the materials provide lessons on writing and punctuating dialogue and revising for clarity and word choice during the fiction writing project, when these conventions are most relevant. Later, after focused lessons on commas, capitalization, and spelling, students edit their drafts.
In Unit 2, the materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process elements (planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing) to compose text. In this unit, students write a literary analysis about two or three selections. Students begin the planning stage of their essay with the following prompt: “What do we learn from love and loss?”
In Unit 3, the materials provide opportunities for practice and application of academic language conventions when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. Revise and Edit lessons in the Extended Writing Project and Grammar provide practice and application of language conventions when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. For example, in Unit 3, the Revise Skill lessons address transitions, run-on sentences, and comma misuse. The Edit and Publish portion of the lesson provides direct instruction on complex sentences and subordinating conjunctions. Each lesson includes a StudySync Skills video that addresses the convention, a model text, a section with multiple-choice questions to assess student learning, and a write section where students can apply the targeted skill to their narrative. After the skill lessons, students apply the knowledge to their correspondence letters.
In Unit 6, the materials provide opportunities for practice and application of academic language conventions when speaking and writing, including punctuation and grammar. For example, each extended writing project includes an editing section in which students apply the grammar lessons from the unit to editing their own work. Students edit their extended projects, which they also present orally. The materials offer a set of lessons on conjunctive adverbs, consistent pronoun use, and correlative conjunctions. Then, in the editing section, students edit their work in response to their peers’ feedback and an editing checklist that applies the grammar concepts they have studied during the project. For example, “Have I followed all the rules for conjunctive adverbs? Do pronouns agree with their antecedents? Have I followed all the rules for correlative conjunctions? Do I have any sentence fragments or run-on sentences? Have I spelled everything correctly?”
The materials support students’ listening and speaking about texts. The speaking and listening opportunities are focused on the texts being studied in class, allowing students to demonstrate comprehension. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts.
Evidence Includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, during a first read lesson of The Hitch-Hiker by Lucille Fletcher, students have multiple opportunities to discuss the text. After students read the text and test or confirm their predictions, they “share examples of predictions they made,” explaining to the class “how they corrected or confirmed their predictions.” Later, students discuss their overall comprehension of the text as a whole group in the lesson’s Text Talk section. The teacher offers specific questions about the text to help students monitor and clarify their understanding.
Unit 2 includes the essay “Museum Indians” by Susan Power. Students work with a partner and discuss the following: “In this personal essay, the narrator and her mother feel at home in very different places. The mother feels at home on the plains. The narrator, on the other hand, is a ‘city child.’ Work with a partner to prepare a conversation between the narrator and her mother about why they prefer their home. To prepare for this conversation, write down comments and explanations from your character’s perspective, using evidence from the text. As you prepare your conversation, be sure to work with your partner to provide and accept constructive feedback.”
In Unit 3, in small groups, students closely read and discuss an excerpt from Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez. Students use Skills Focus prompts, in their discussion, such as “Identify a detail that supports the idea that staying in the compound is worth it despite its inconveniences and dangers.” Students explain whether they agree or disagree that the idea of staying loyal to family members is worth taking risks. Later in the lesson, in groups, students discuss the writing assignment prompt using the annotations they generated in the earlier group discussion. In preparation for the “collaborative conversation,” the teacher reminds students to “provide and accept constructive feedback,” which “consists of helpful comments that can help improve or clarify one’s ideas about the text.” The teacher then offers some sentence frames that students might use to offer constructive feedback, such as “Would you explain your idea that…in greater detail,” and “I don’t agree with your statement…because….” and “what text evidence supports your statement that…?” Finally, the teacher encourages students to “review and think again about the text in light of” the constructive feedback they receive, then “explain their original idea with greater detail or adjust their response.” Also, Unit 3, “All Together Now” by Barbara Jordan, includes a First Read Lesson Plan that suggests students watch a Video Preview introducing the selection. Then students practice speaking and listening by participating in a Read and Discuss Introduction activity, “Have students read the introduction in pairs and make connections to the video preview. Ask students to discuss: Why do you think it is important to learn about this person?”
In Unit 4, after reading “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Thayer, students engage in a small group discussion using their text annotations to demonstrate their knowledge of the poet’s use of figurative language to convey meaning. The students discuss the Close Read prompt: “In the poem, Casey is revered by his fans. How does the poet's use of figurative language reveal Casey’s power over his fans? Find examples of figurative language in the poem that demonstrate this power.”
Unit 5 includes a selection of seven fables from Aesop’s Fables by Aesop. Before completing a writing task, students break down prompts and engage in a collaborative conversation in small groups, answering the following questions: “What text evidence does Aiden use to argue that the stories are outdated? What steps do the students take to understand the lesson in ‘The Hen and the Golden Egg.’” Also, in Unit 5, for “The Cruel Tribute” by James Baldwin, students break into small groups to discuss the close read prompt using their annotations: “Explain to students that during collaborative conversations, it is important to provide and accept constructive feedback. Constructive feedback consists of helpful comments that can help improve or clarify one’s ideas about the text.” Students are given sentence frames to give proper constructive feedback effectively. Students prove their understanding by writing independently, answering the prompt using textual evidence as support.
The materials engage students in productive teamwork and student-led discussions in both formal and informal settings. The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to express their thinking and provide opportunities for students to give organized presentations/performances and speak clearly and concisely using the conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, the materials provide an introductory lesson that defines collaborative conversation and collaboration and provides a video of students modeling the discussion process. Students watch a SyncSkills Video of two students discussing the appropriate protocol of collaborative discussions, including listening carefully, responding thoughtfully, using respectful language, encouraging participation, and being careful not to shut down ideas. The materials also provide specific strategies to guide students in participating in grade-level discussions to express their thinking, such as asking questions or making comments to elicit discussion from the group; building on others’ ideas; responding to others with relevant evidence, ideas, and observations; identifying points of agreement or disagreement; refocusing the discussion if necessary; and taking notes while others are speaking.
Unit 2 includes an excerpt from the novel Tangerine by Edward Bloor. In small groups, students participate in a Collaborative Conversation to discuss the writing prompt: “Think about what makes someone a good teammate and why. Are the football players in this excerpt good teammates? Why or why not? Support your answer with examples from the text as well as your own experiences.” English learners receive discussion guides and speaking frames as scaffolds.
Unit 3 includes an Extended Oral Project for ELLs. Students plan, write, and present their position using the prompt, “Imagine your school is deciding between expanding its sports extracurriculars or creating a drama club. Is it more important to support students’ health or creativity? Prepare to debate this topic with your classmates using debate points to strengthen your position.” Students deliver their oral presentations to the whole class. After each presentation, students have the opportunity to share feedback with their peers using the following Oral Presentation Prompt and Checklist:
The teacher reviews the checklist with students and clarifies any questions. In Unit 3, students construct dramatic scenes about key quotes or historical elements of the informational texts they have read. In this unit and the preceding unit, the Beyond the Book activities ask students to write and then perform a poem after reading a poem and even participate in a poetry battle.
In Unit 4, the materials also provide Lesson Plans, including optional Beyond the Book activities. Students prepare to create an advertisement and share their ideas with peers. For example, in Unit 4’s “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury, “Put students in groups for this creative activity. Then ask students to discuss the following questions in their groups: Why would humans want to leave Earth to live on Venus? What are they trying to escape? What does Venus offer?” Once they have clear answers gathered from their conversations, they choose their medium to create the advertisement.
Unit 6 includes the Oral Presentation extended project, in which students present a critique of a literary work, film, or dramatic presentation to convince classmates to watch or read it. The set of lessons in which students prepare their presentations includes individual skill lessons on planning, organizing, drafting, and revising an oral presentation. It also has lessons on communicating ideas effectively and considering audience and purpose. Students learn and practice strategies that demonstrate the use of appropriate register, vocabulary, tone, and voice for a specific audience and purpose. After this set of lessons, students edit and present a draft of an oral presentation using standard English conventions to check for commonly confused words, parentheses and brackets, and the use of commas, elements from previous grammar lessons.
The materials engage students in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes to confront and analyze various aspects of a topic using relevant sources. Materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources and support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade-level audience.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 2, the materials support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade-level audience. In a Unit 2 lesson, students research “the impacts of social media on all ages” to prepare for a debate about social media’s effects after reading “Elena” by Pat Mora. Throughout the program, students can engage in informal collaborative research and present their findings through various optional “Beyond the Book” activities embedded within each unit; these connect to the ideas and themes presented in the readings. The lessons provide a basic overview of the activity and do not include explicit instructions for the teacher or student. The activities require students to work in small groups to conduct informal research on a topic and present their findings to the class. In Unit 2, students research current fire safety regulations or commercial buildings. Students select three factors that led to the death of workers in the Asch Building fire, considering how these deaths could have been avoided if certain current safety standards had been in place. Students produce, publish, and record a five-minute exposé “that exposes the shocking details of the Asch Building fire and explains how this tragic event could have been avoided. The exposé should be visually interesting and contain reliable research.”
In Unit 3, students engage in informal collaborative research and present their findings throughout the program through various optional Beyond the Book activities embedded within each unit, which connect to the ideas and themes presented in the readings. The lessons provide a basic overview of the activity and do not include explicit instructions for the teacher or student. The activities require students to work in small groups to conduct informal research on a topic and present their findings to the class. For example, students research presidential campaign slogans in American history. Students select one interesting slogan to investigate further researching: what the slogan meant, how it was relevant to the period and what voter concern it was designed to address.
In Unit 5, the materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. Under the Extended Writing and Grammar tab, there is a skill lesson plan, “Evaluating Sources,” which focuses on preparing to write a research paper by examining sources for reliability, credibility, bias, and faulty reasoning. Unit 5 also includes a Primary and Secondary Sources Skills Lesson. Students prepare to write a research paper by differentiating primary and secondary sources. Students watch a Concept Definition video and read the definition for Primary and Secondary Sources. Students discuss the importance of primary and secondary sources in understanding a topic during a Turn and Talk Activity. Vocabulary words primary source and secondary source are reviewed through a drag-and-drop activity. Students read a model text and answer questions to differentiate between primary and secondary sources, annotating to highlight key points and ask questions. Students complete a primary and secondary source drag-and-drop activity. Students complete a Writer’s Notebook activity to close the lesson where they think of an important event they have experienced or read about. Students write a one-paragraph, first-hand account of the event as it would appear in a diary or personal letter, then write a one-paragraph, second-hand account of the same event as it would appear in a textbook or newspaper.
The Extended Writing Project skill-based lesson plan titled Research Writing Process Draft allows the teacher to monitor students' understanding of the research process as they work independently. The materials give educators follow-up questions to check for comprehension and implementation of activities, “What is your thesis statement or controlling idea? What are your main ideas about the topic? How do those ideas support your thesis statement or controlling idea? How will the organization of your essay help readers understand your ideas?” Based on student responses, teachers can assist students as they work. One of the Extended Writing Project and Grammar activities in Unit 5 is a formal research project. The Skill lessons provide instruction and modeling on planning research, book features, evaluating sources, primary and secondary sources, research and notetaking, and steps in the writing process. The informative information provided in each grade level is the same. However, the texts used to model differ by grade level. Each Skill lesson follows the standard format of an introductory informative StudySync Skills video, a model text with rationale annotations, and a Your Turn activity that provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding. The materials provide steps to identify and gather information and guidance for synthesizing information from sources while taking research notes. The steps include: “1. Read a source and take notes to gather relevant information about your research topic. 2. Read another source. 3. Identify any new relevant information that you find in this source. 4. Ask yourself: How does this new information change or refine what I have learned from other sources? 5. Write down notes about how your understanding of your topic has changed or improved through your reading of a variety of sources.” The materials include model source and note cards. Students follow the steps presented to conduct their research, create note or source cards, and write a short paragraph that “details how you plan to synthesize the information from at least two sources.”
The materials contain 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 materials contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts. Tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; include components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency, as needed; and provide opportunities for increased independence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a Vocabulary Workbook by grade level in which the students get to practice various linguistic components to acquire new vocabulary and use it extensively. For example, in Unit 1, students learn synonyms for the words agile, divulge, erratic, propel, and trivial. Students learn to differentiate multiple-meaning words by using context clues to clarify the meaning; application of Greek and Latin roots to determine the meaning of vocabulary words; word families for portable, deport, paternal; and using reference skills from the dictionary such as guide words, pronunciation, spelling, entry, definitions, and sample phrase or sentence to determine the meaning of grade-level academic vocabulary.
In Unit 2, the poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allen Poe includes several language domain opportunities. During the “First Read,” students “perform an initial reading of a text using the reading comprehension strategy of visualizing, us[ing] context clues to define new vocabulary, and demonstrat[ing] comprehension by responding to questions using text evidence.” During a “Close Read,” students “explain how the speaker idealizes his lost love for Annabel Lee” via a short, constructed written response: “How does the poetic structure—including the rhyme scheme, meter, and graphical elements—help the reader understand how the speaker feels about Annabel Lee? Write a short response to this question. Remember to use specific examples from the poem to support your response.” This unit also integrates reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking; includes components of vocabulary, syntax, and fluency, as needed; and provides opportunities for increased independence. Students engage in Visualizing and Adjusting Fluency lessons and the concept of Poetic Structure using the poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. Students discuss vocabulary before their first reading and then apply their knowledge in the poem’s second reading. They practice applying the skills lessons as they read, annotate, and discuss each text. In the final lesson, students respond to a prompt that draws on the set of concepts and skills they have practiced during the lessons: “How does the poetic structure help the reader understand how the speaker feels about Annabel Lee?” Students write a short response to this question and use specific examples from the poem to support their response.
In Unit 4, the materials provide high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across texts. Students read a biographical essay, short story, and novel excerpt that explore “moments in which a person’s outlook is dramatically changed because of the influence of a mentor.” Students independently read “The Voice in My Head” by Holly Warlick, annotating personal responses as well as connections to other texts. Students participate in a small group “Collaborative Conversation” about the personal response writing prompt: “Why do you think it's important to have mentors in your life? Write a response in which you answer this question. Use examples from the essay ‘The Voice in My Head’ to support your response.” Students complete the writing assignment using text evidence to support their responses and apply the Rubric guidelines for Independent Read. Unit 4 also contains questions and tasks designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. In Unit 4, after reading a set of related texts, including Holly Warlick’s personal essay “The Voice in my Head,” Leo Tolstoy’s short story “The Three Questions,” and an excerpt from Viola Canales’s The Tequila Worm, students prepare by reading and annotating the texts, as well as making notes in preparation for the discussion. The materials provide a more open prompt for this discussion: “These three texts relate to the idea of mentorship. Who is the mentor in each text, and what do they teach? How do they help others see the world differently?”
The materials provide spiraling and scaffolded practice and support distributed practice over the year. The materials’ design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. Earlier units introduce TEKS-based concepts with direct instruction in videos of students explaining literary concepts and modeling literary analysis through text-based academic discussions. The materials support students with written models of analysis through text annotation. As students progress through the units, the materials provide opportunities for students to apply the skills. For example, in Unit 1, the materials introduce and explain interpreting text through a StudySync Skills video, annotated model, and text excerpts that require students to complete a chart explaining the explicit and implicit meaning of several brief excerpts from “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling.
The materials provide distributed practice over the course of the year. For example, the materials provide multiple opportunities throughout the year for students to explore themes. In Unit 1, the “Skill” lesson provides a “StudySync Skills” video that defines and provides examples of themes. The “Skills TV” video provides a model of students discussing text to determine the theme of a selection as well as a list of guiding questions to help determine the theme of a text, such as: “How does the title give a clue about the story’s theme? What themes can I infer from how the plot is laid out? What are the topics dealt with in this literary work and how do they work as clues towards the story’s theme? How do the characters and their actions suggest the story’s theme?” Students read an excerpt from Langston Hughes’ poem “Thank You, Ma’am” and answer multiple choice questions about the theme. In Unit 2, students read “The Walking Dance” by Marcela Fuentes and write a response to the following prompt: “How does Marcela Fuentes use plot elements such as climax, falling action, and resolution to convey the theme of this story? Write a short response in which you specify one theme and explain how those plot elements help to convey it. Use text evidence to support your response.” In Unit 5, students read several of Aesop’s Fables answering “Skills Focus” questions about themes in individual fables as well as comparing and contrasting themes from different fables. Finally, students apply their knowledge of themes by writing an original fable that demonstrates a clear theme. Students must state a lesson at the end of their story that reflects their chosen theme. In addition, students must incorporate fable characteristics such as animal characters with human traits. The materials provide a writing rubric that clearly defines the standards for theme as well as language and conventions.
In Unit 3, the materials support distributed practice over the year. Grade 7 Core ELAR Units “take students through literary and nonfiction texts that explore individual people facing crucial decisions, learning from their responses, becoming a better version of themselves.” This unit includes an excerpt from Barbara Jordan’s keynote speech, “All Together Now.” The lesson begins with a “Blast” activity where students “explore background information and research links in order to answer the driving question: What does Barbara Jordan's life story reveal about the power of words?” Students perform an initial read of the text via a “First Read” activity and “us[e] the reading comprehension strategy of generating questions, use context clues to define new vocabulary, and demonstrate comprehension by responding to questions using text evidence.” Two Skills lessons follow Arguments and Claims and Reasons and Evidence. The lesson concludes with a collaborative close-read of the text, providing an opportunity to “discuss how to bring students in [their] community together in a positive way.”
In Unit 4, the materials support distributed practice over the year. For example, students revisit the skill of making inferences and Figurative Language’s concept again in focused lessons, which connect to their reading of “Casey At the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. At the end of their close reading lesson for this poem, students write a response to the following prompt focusing on figurative language: “In the poem, Casey is absolutely revered by his fans. How does the poet’s use of figurative language reveal the power that Casey has over his fans? Find examples of figurative language in the poem that demonstrate this power.” Later in Unit 4, students read “New Directions” by Maya Angelou and study tone. They apply their understanding of figurative language when they write about the text: “Maya Angelou doesn’t directly tell the reader what she thinks and feels about her grandmother, Annie Johnson. A reader must infer the author’s tone from her choice of words and phrases and use of figurative language. What do you think is Maya Angelou’s attitude toward her grandmother? Why do you think she tells her grandmother’s story? Write a response to these questions, using evidence from the text to support your response.” Unit 4 also includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. For example, in “No Dream Too High: Simone Biles'' by Alex Shultz, the activities interconnect and build upon other integration of literacy skills. Simone Biles’ article is a multimodal text, using both written words and images to convey information. Students demonstrate the integration of literacy skills by responding to the question, “What other multimodal feature, such as a drawing, a picture, an audio clip, or a video, could you add to enhance this selection?” Students identify and describe the content of a new multimodal feature that could enhance the article and explain how the new feature improves the content.
Unit 6 includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year. This unit includes the poem “Choices” by Nikki Giovanni. As an introduction to the text, students “watch [a] video preview and...read the introduction in pairs to make connections to the video preview.” All English Learners (ELs)are “pair[ed] with on-grade-level peers to read and discuss the introduction,” using speaking frames as an available scaffold. Before reading, students make vocabulary predictions about each bold vocabulary word based on context clues. Teacher models with the first bold vocabulary word. Beginning and Intermediate ELs “scan the text to find and highlight the vocabulary words and teacher call[s] attention to the Spanish definitions for Spanish-speaking students, and allow non-Spanish-speaking students to look up word meanings in their native language, using a visual glossary as a scaffold.” Advanced and Advanced High ELs work together and use a vocabulary guide to make vocabulary predictions.
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities (including extensions and differentiation) for students who demonstrate literacy skills above that expected at the grade level. The materials provide mostly for whole-class instructional engagement with opportunities for above-grade-level students to craft activities that reflect above-grade-level literacy skills expected at the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Every reading selection is accompanied by a minimum of one planning and learning opportunity for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. The textbook uses the term “Beyond” to indicate differentiated or extension materials for students performing above grade level. These extensions are provided in the lesson plan’s optional section. The extension activities focus on all aspects of literacy (e.g., reading, writing, speaking, and listening).
In Unit 1, before reading “Nimona” by author Noelle Stevenson, the teacher activates students’ prior knowledge about supervillains with a list of brainstorming ideas on the topic. The instructional materials provide a Beyond extension activity for students who demonstrate literacy skills above grade level. In this differentiated task, above-grade-level students conduct informal research about supervillains, comparing and contrasting them to other textual knowledge they have on the topic. The students demonstrate proficiency by sharing research-based knowledge audibly with the class.
In Unit 2, students complete a vocabulary chart matching words and definitions and write sample sentences using words. The Beyond extension for above-grade-level learners differentiates this activity by having above-level learners write a paragraph about their role, using the target vocabulary words. In Unit 2, students who demonstrate skills above grade level consider connections between the whole-class reading and additional related readings. In one lesson, the materials suggest having students read the nonfiction piece by Anand Giridharadas entitled “India Calling: An Intimate Portrait of a Nation’s Remaking,” and prompts teachers to “Remind them to look for connections to this text as they read [the short story] by Susan Power entitled, ‘Museum Indians.’”
In Unit 3, students above grade level go Beyond and craft a writing response in correlation with a prompt found in the materials. The students conduct a free write in the Writer’s Notebook, explaining how history books would be different “if they were written from the perspective of Native Americans.”
In Unit 5, on-level students match vocabulary words with their definitions and write sentences using the words. In the Beyond extension activity, students who demonstrate skills above grade level create a vocabulary quiz that “requires students to apply their understanding of the vocabulary by matching the terms with synonyms and antonyms.” After creating the quizzes, the students test each other by trading quizzes. In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” all students read an excerpt from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Beyond-grade-level students lead the discussion about relationships between siblings with their peers. Students have equal opportunities to share, discuss, and generate a list (on the board or paper) of their peers’ responses. In Unit 5, the materials suggest another paired reading by the author, O. Henry; students read the “After Twenty Years” for enrichment, making connections to the whole-class text “A Retrieved Reformation.”
The materials include supports for students who perform below grade level to ensure they meet the grade-level literacy standards. Planning and learning opportunities, including extensions and differentiation, are evident for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade 7 level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Materials provide scaffolds such as visual glossaries, question and annotation guides, and writing supports to address the needs of approaching-grade-level learners who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at grade level. The materials provide a proficiency tab for each activity. The teacher selects Approaching to reveal the sidebar pop-up that provides scaffolds and differentiation for many activities. These scaffolds help approaching-grade-level learners access complex texts, increase comprehension, and streamline written language production.
In Unit 1, students revise their narrative pieces in a revision lesson. The revision guide for the whole class includes a list of revision recommendations; students approaching grade-level focus specifically on word choice. The standard revision guide asks students to identify “to be” verbs that could be rewritten as action verbs. In contrast, the scaffolded step asks students to choose words that should be replaced with “a stronger synonym” and provides a chart for brainstorming “stronger words.”
In Unit 2, all students read the poem “Elena” by Pat Mora. All students participate in a “Text Talk” using questions from the text. A built-in, clearly titled strategy for approaching-grade-level students consists of scaffolded speaking frames and a paragraph guide.
In Unit 4, students work with word parts in an academic vocabulary lesson, and by the end of the lesson, they choose the correct root for each word in a list of words and then explain how the root helps them remember the word’s meaning. The lesson plan instructs teachers to pair students whose skills are below grade level with other students to complete this activity. Unit 4 also includes supports such as a visual glossary, annotation guide, discussion guide, prompt guide, prewrite scripted activities, sentence starters with differentiated response length, peer review, and sentence starters. For example, “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope” by William Kamkwamba outlines student support for those approaching proficiency. The following discussion speaking frames are one example for students: “William finds the textbook when __. Check paragraph 5. The windmill reminds William of __. Check paragraph 8.” Students discuss the text with a partner about key events in the text; the teacher provides the speaking frames with clues that guide students to re-read the paragraph that has the answer.
In Unit 6, the materials provide scaffolds and differentiation to support approaching-grade-level learners; students complete the oral project prompt “What literary work, film, or dramatic production would you recommend to your classmates?” The materials provide a visual glossary to support students' understanding of the vocabulary in the assignment directions.
The materials include supports for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. Accommodations for linguistics commensurate with various levels of English language proficiency as defined by the ELPS are included. Materials provide various scaffolds, such as Spanish translations of each unit’s essential components and cognates for unit vocabulary. Students are encouraged to use their first language as a means to linguistic, affective, cognitive, and academic development in English. Vocabulary is developed in the context of connected discourse.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a grades 6–12 “Newcomer EL Support Guide” to help students build their listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in English. The “Start Smart” introduction focuses on developing students’ knowledge of the alphabet and phonics, basic greetings, geometric shapes, and numbers. Also included in the support guide are songs/chants and other progress monitoring tools, and newcomer cards provided for extra visual support. Every text selection offers a summary, and students can select from languages diverse as Cantonese and Haitian Creole for a translation and audio reading of the summary. 25–30 texts for grades 6–8 are available in Spanish in the library.
Each unit contains twenty lessons that are developed around two texts; lessons provide scaffolded practice using high-frequency words in a variety of contexts. Beginning ELs complete the “Your Turn #1” activity, matching “structural and thematic models of authentic texts.” These are written at four levels of proficiency: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced High. EL lessons modify the routines used with texts in the “Integrated Reading and Writing” section by pairing EL students with on-grade-level peers, giving students the option to annotate in their native language and share their responses with a partner before participating in the group discussion. All StudySync lesson plans contain a section that lists the TEKS and ELPS per activity under Standards Instruction/Application.
In Unit 1, graphic novels such as Nimona by Noelle Stevenson offer images and a short text beneficial for EL students.
In Unit 2, all students read an excerpt from Tangerine by Edward Bloor. Proficiency-leveled summaries, summaries in multiple languages, and audio and audio text highlighting are available digitally. Beginning and intermediate ELs make predictions about vocabulary by scanning the text to highlight vocabulary words. The teacher calls attention to Spanish-speaking students’ Spanish definitions and allows non-Spanish-speaking students to look up word meanings in their native language. A visual glossary serves as a comprehensible input scaffold.
In Unit 3, materials develop vocabulary in the context of connected discourse. Students engage in conversational discourse using sight vocabulary and high-frequency words. The “Extended Oral Project” in each unit also provides an opportunity for students to engage in connected discourse. For example, students participate in an oral debate in response to the prompt, “Is it more important to support students’ health or creativity?” The materials provide speaking frames and word banks to assist ELs in academic discourse.
In Unit 4, for a close read lesson on an excerpt from Viola Canales’s novel Tequila Worm, the during-reading questions for the whole class ask students to find examples of foreshadowing in the first half of the reading and “explain how these examples work to move the story forward.” The scaffolding tab directs students to specific paragraphs for identifying foreshadowing and then offers the following prompts to help them explain its effects: “How does it lead to a next step in the story? Why is it important? Highlight an example of foreshadowing in the text. Write a sentence explaining how it affects the story later.”
In Unit 5, the materials support vocabulary learning in each reading through visual glossaries and additional prompts for understanding vocabulary in context. Specifically, during a lesson focused on an excerpt from The Miracle Worker, beginning and intermediate English learners have access to simple definitions of and illustrations connected to bolded words from the text and a text synopsis. Keywords from the synopsis are also bolded; materials provide definitions and Spanish translations for these words.
In Unit 6, all students read the drama “Cuentos de Josefina” (“Josephine’s Tales”) by Gregory Ramos. Advanced and advanced high ELs use sentence starters as a comprehensible input tool to learn about introductory clause “culture and current events” in response to the text-dependent driving question: “Have you ever seen a play that taught you something about the real world? Tell what you learned from the play.”
The materials include assessment and guidance for teachers and administrators to monitor progress to interpret and act on data yielded. Formative and summative assessments are aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. Assessments and scoring information include sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. Assessments connect to the regular content to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Assessments and scoring information provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. The program overview states that the materials provide “mastery tracking and reteaching tools to help teachers guide every student toward achievement.” The program overview states that “progress monitoring charts” detail which standards are covered in each instructional sequence, identify standards tested on state assessments, and guide teachers toward resources for reteaching and remediation.
In Unit 1, formative and summative assessments align in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. For example, during a first read of an excerpt from Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, the materials introduce TEKS: 7.7(C) (analyze plot elements, including the use of foreshadowing and suspense, to advance the plot) in a comprehension assessment. One quiz question asks students to order events; a “Think” question asks students to summarize a key plot event. The materials note that if students “struggle to respond to” the annotation prompts, the teachers ask the following guiding questions: “How does Nimona respond to events in the plot? How does Blackheart respond to events in the plot? How are Nimona and Blackheart similar? How are Nimona and Blackheart different?” In the standardized summative assessment at the end of the unit, multiple questions assess students’ understanding of the concept of plot.
In Unit 3, formative and summative assessments align purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. For example, this unit includes the First Read of an excerpt from the autobiography We Beat the Street by Sharon M. Draper, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins. In a “Text Talk” activity, students engage in a TEKS-aligned, formative assessment task by discussing the following questions in a teacher-led format (the teacher receives an answer key): “What does Miss Johnson tell her class about Shakespeare? What does Miss Johnson tell George to do after the woman talks to him? What does George think about college?”
In Unit 4, formative and summative assessments align in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. This unit includes a formative assessment in the form of TEKS-aligned writing prompts specific to the unit’s content. If teachers feel they need to assess reading comprehension through writing, the StudySync online platform’s Write tab gives prompts. For example, “Casey At the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer includes library prompt one, which asks, “It’s been said that baseball is a game of failure, where if a player bats .300, he’s doing well. Is the mighty Casey still a hero even if he strikes out? What position does this poem suggest? In 250 words, discuss these questions, citing relevant sections of this poem and from baseball history.” The materials reference TEKS alignment TEKS 7.11C (Compose Argumentative Texts), and 7.5G (Evaluate Details), and 7.7A (Infer Multiple Themes).
In Unit 5, assessments are connected to the regular content to support student learning. The End-of-Unit Assessments “mirror the genre focus of the unit, speak to the unit’s essential question, and are written to complexity levels appropriate to the grade level.” For example, in Unit 5, students read various myths, using text evidence to identify themes and analyze the importance of setting and events to the plot. The End-of-Unit Assessment contains several myths and questions that address the specific skills addressed in the unit’s texts. For example: “Why is Agamemnon’s killing of the stag important to the plot? Which best states the theme of the myth? Why is the elephant’s generosity important to the plot? Setting the folktale on the property of a king is important to the plot because it…?” Unit 5 also includes assessments connected to the regular content to support student learning. For example, each set of lessons includes multiple-choice comprehension and skill assessments and ends with student writing to assess the skills and concepts from those lessons. Each unit ends with a standardized assessment aligned to the TEKS addressed in that unit. In this unit, students read “The People Could Fly” by Virginia Hamilton and “Icarus and Daedalus” by Josephine Preston Peabody. In the set of lessons connected to these paired readings, students review the concept of setting in a focused skills lesson. The set of lessons offer multiple short assessments on the concept of setting, including the “Your Turn” quiz at the end of the setting lesson and the annotation prompt “Identify descriptions of the setting. Explain how these details affect the characters and plot” during the close read lesson of “Icarus and Daedalus.” At the end of the set of lessons, students write a response “comparing and contrasting the settings of ‘The People Could Fly’ and ‘Icarus and Daedalus,’” in which they “explain how the different settings influence characters' actions and plot development” using text evidence as support.
The materials provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance in various ways. The materials provide mastery tracking and reteaching tools to help teachers guide every student toward achievement. Teachers are provided with progress monitoring charts that detail which standards are covered in each instructional sequence, identify standards tested on state assessments, and guide teachers toward resources for reteaching and remediation. Additionally, assessments can be used to inform subsequent instruction, aid in making leveling and grouping decisions, and point toward areas in need of reteaching or remediation. Assessments are provided with instructions that guide teachers on how to administer and score the various assessment components, use student assessment data in designation and grouping decisions as well as determining which assessments to use, and review the assessment with students to have them self-correct incorrect responses. The teacher uses the results to determine reteaching or enrichment opportunities based on the needs of the students. Finally, administrators are provided with the Administrator Assessment Database with exclusive access to passages and questions to create three additional tests that mirror Texas state assessments.
The materials include year-long plans and supports for teachers to identify students’ needs and provide differentiated instruction to meet a range of learners’ needs to ensure grade-level success. Materials support teachers in addressing the needs of approaching- and beyond-level learners. Materials provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping structures. Plans provide differentiation to support all levels of students via many learning opportunities. Teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials. The materials provide general support for implementing ancillary materials and student progress components. Lesson plans for the core instructional materials contain comprehensive annotations to support student learning and assistance for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials. They support implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. The materials provide minimal guidance to support teachers in implementing the ancillary resources. The units’ lesson plans do not address when and how the teacher should embed the ancillary resources into the daily lessons to support student progress.
Annotations and ancillary materials provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers. The program overview document has additional resources in the library through its search functions. Teachers can access it on the page labeled “Additional Resources.” The library of additional readings and a limited number of “spotlight” skill lessons is available and searchable by skill, standard, and concept. Other ancillary materials, including workbooks and additional practice materials for vocabulary, grammar, spelling, foundational skills, and test preparation, are available in the materials’ additional resources section. However, the relationship between these two different sets of “Additional Resources” is unclear. The pacing guide for each unit also contains a column called “Additional Program Lessons for Reteaching.” It includes connected lessons in other units as well as additional skills lessons called “Spotlight Skill Lessons,” which teachers can use to review any skills or concepts with which students may be struggling. The vocabulary and spelling workbook includes a Student Progress Chart to track students' scores on the 30+ worksheets, unit review, and unit test. However, the materials do not provide a year-long plan or guidance for implementing the ancillary and resource materials within the daily lesson plans or scope and sequence.
Additionally, the Strategies Glossary, located in the additional resources section of each grade level, is a tool for educators that includes thoroughly detailed, research-based strategies. The Strategies Glossary is divided into five sections, each focused on a different domain or type: Vocabulary, Speaking and Listening, Reading, Writing, and Formative Assessment. The strategies in this document can be used for a variety of lessons and learners within the classroom. They are flexible and adaptable, allowing educators to differentiate lessons seamlessly.
In Unit 1, the teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials; there is support for implementing ancillary and resource materials and student progress components. For example, both the included lesson plans and the Teacher Edition tab connect to each lesson and include annotations for teachers to support progress monitoring and scaffolding. In the first read lesson for “Seventh Grade” by Gary Soto, the teacher edition and lesson plan prompt teachers to “Check for Success” during a partner activity. While students preview key vocabulary, the teacher edition materials note that if students are unable to make predictions about word meaning, teachers are to revisit the Identification and Application section of the Grade 7 Context Clues lesson with the class. After revisiting, teachers guide students to make predictions about the next bold word in the text’s coinciding paragraph. The Check for Success prompt for teachers in this section of the lesson plan directs teachers to “[a]sk small groups to provide examples of questions they have generated and why they asked them.” The teacher projects exemplar questions as a model for students as they continue reading. If students struggle to generate meaningful questions, they can show and discuss examples using the instructional model.
In Unit 4, the materials provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. Plans are comprehensive and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. This unit includes an optional activity in The Big Idea Blast section, “Jigsaw Research Links.” In this activity, all students are divided into five small groups. Each group discusses information found in different research sources. In the Skills lesson for Academic Vocabulary, the teacher reads a list of academic vocabulary and definitions, pairs students, and assigns each pair a word from the list. In the First Read of the poem “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, students work in small groups and practice making inferences with the poem’s first four stanzas. There is no overarching year-long plan for these grouping opportunities.
In Unit 6, the materials provide an overarching year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. Plans are comprehensive and attend to differentiation to support students via many learning opportunities. The materials offer teachers opportunities to conduct a Unit First Read on “Choices” by Nikki Giovanni. The peer-review and reflect activities, which are other forms of grouping, are sometimes presented to teachers as an option, such as: “Instruct students to use the peer review instructions and rubric to complete two peer reviews.” Afterward, students reflect on their feedback.
The materials are accompanied by a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills taught in the program, the order in which they are presented, and how knowledge and skills build and connect across grade levels. The materials include supports to help administrators support teachers in implementing the materials as intended. Materials include a school year’s worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing guidance, routines, and support for a 180-day schedule, but there is no pacing option for a 220-day schedule.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials provide a TEKS-aligned scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills taught in the program broken down by unit. The Scope and Sequence includes the TEKS alignment for all the elements covered in each unit, including Academic Vocabulary, Genre, Text Selections, Blasts, Extended Writing Project, and Novel Studies. The Scope and Sequence shows if the activities are “Practice/Application Only” or “Instruction and Practice/Application.” The program guide’s appendix includes scope and sequence documents for all grade levels in the grade band; these are arranged with each TEKS student expectation listed across the top by letter and number. Each expectation addressed in a given lesson is marked as either Practice/Application Only or Instruction And Practice/Application. Charts provide pacing suggestions, along with guidance on opportunities for practice and reteaching to standards mastery. However, the materials do not provide a Scope and Sequence that demonstrates how the TEKS connect across grade levels.
The materials provide explicit guidance with both digital and print supports to ensure teacher success. The resources help teachers provide instruction that builds both the essential student skills and knowledge, as listed in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and English Language Proficiency Standards. This guide outlines every aspect of the curriculum and product support afforded teachers, including working collaboratively with other content-area teachers to develop student literacy. Each unit includes a pacing guide which “outlines the scope and sequence of texts and skills” included and addressed in the unit. The pacing guide includes columns indicating “Days for suggested pacing,” titles and grouping of readings, the targeted skills lessons paired with each text or group of texts, “Spotlight Skill” lessons, and texts in future units that teachers can use to review any skills or concepts with which students may be struggling. There is also a list of lessons that review material previously taught in other units. The pacing guide also previews both the extended writing project and end-of-unit assessment, breaking down the assessment by reading passage title, genre, Lexile level, length, and the corresponding TEKS and skills addressed in the assessment’s questions.
The Core Program Guide states that the “Administrator Assessment Database provides administrators exclusive access to passages and questions to create three additional tests that mirror Texas state assessments.” Also, the guide states that “Regularly scheduled public webinars are offered for teachers and administrators. These webinars are an ideal environment for asking questions, connecting with other users, and discussing best practices.” If teachers or administrators need “immediate assistance,” the materials recommend contacting Customer Support, who will provide quick solutions for a successful implementation. The overview document mentions a responsive team of curriculum experts who will work with teachers to offer advice on learning, implementing, and customizing the curriculum.
Materials include a school years’ worth of literacy instruction, including realistic pacing guidance and routines and support for a 180-day schedule. The materials provide a thematic Unit Pacing Guide that outlines the scope and sequence of texts and skills taught in the units based on a 180-day schedule. The program overview document states the materials meet the “challenges of the latest Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for English Language Arts and Reading as well as the English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) with 180 days of instruction broken into six Core ELAR units at each grade.” The guide includes suggested pacing, along with guidance on opportunities for practice and reteaching to standards mastery. The guide provides additional program lessons for reteaching as well as identifying spiraling skills. A 220-day schedule including realistic pacing guidance and routines and support is not evident within the materials.
The student edition’s visual design (whether in print or digital) is neither distracting nor chaotic. The materials include appropriate white space and design that supports and does not distract from student learning. Simultaneously, pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The overall visual design is clean and easily navigated, with an appropriate amount of white space on all borders to focus readers on each screen center. The student pages’ design for each lesson makes the content easy to read. The page format, margins, and empty spaces are consistent throughout the lessons. The lesson pages make good use of white space, bold-faced font, bullets, and line spacing to create a clean design that is easy to navigate and free from distractions. Fonts and graphics are simple and accessible, drawing the eye to the text, reading, or concepts students focus on each screen. The materials use a standard font, using boldface and darkened text boxes with white lettering to draw attention to the lesson’s subtitles and sections. The navigation path is user-friendly and straightforward, easily identifiable, and visually appealing through the student preview of each lesson. Every unit receives ample space and has a predictable structure: Unit Overview, Integrated Reading and Writing, Extended Writing Project and Grammar, ELL Resources, Novel Study, and End-of-Unit Assessment.
Images within the student lesson pages support student learning by directing attention towards important information, clarifying content, and breaking up text into digestible chunks. The images are crisp, using contrast and faded images to highlight text within the image. The images are appropriate and relatable for the intended audience’s age, grade, and experience level. The images effectively highlight and connect to the content. Images are clean, crisp, and free of clutter. Text is of appropriate size and clear font. However, it is unclear if the web-based graphics with text are legible when scaled down for viewing on a mobile device. Images are balanced, representing a wide range of people, locations, topics, and cultures.
The pictures and graphics provided in the materials support student learning and are not visually distracting, such as video introductions, drag-and-drop charts, and student library novel titles. The color, narration, and pace of each text introduction video often mirror the text’s content. For example, the video introducing the concept of the plot begins with a student telling another student a story. They stop and tap the screen, which fades them into the background and brings the word “plot” to the forefront in large print, followed by the word’s definition. Then, they take turns explaining and defining elements of the plot, pausing briefly to point to their print versions on the screen. Video images fade into the background long enough for students to read the text but briefly enough to be engaging.
Technology components included in the materials are appropriate for grade-level students and provide support for learning. The technology supports and enhances student learning as appropriate, as opposed to distracting from it, and includes appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials reviewed are an online platform, so technology is the primary support and publication mechanism for the materials, though PDF printing is an option. For example, teachers and students can print the hard copies by selecting the Actions tab. The materials are user-friendly and support navigation in multiple areas through searching and clicking on relevant tabs and links. The digital materials support and enhance student learning with an organized, visually appealing, and easy to navigate design. The students have a top of the webpage per selection of four buttons; the first one controls the Audio with options to highlight the text as it is being read or slow the speech. The digital materials provide clear tabs to support ease of navigation through the materials. The materials also offer multiple redundant lists and outlines for ease of navigation. Teachers and students access readings, activities, and assessments through the online platform, which provides opportunities for annotation, differentiation, and peer review. Program features are designed to mimic the style of communication on social media, encouraging student engagement. There are various online student learning opportunities, including Blasts, where students complete an online QuikPoll and online Drag-and-Drop activities in the Your Turn section. The videos embedded in each lesson are relevant to the materials, good quality, and clearly labeled. The interactive writing tools are simple to use with clear instructions and action tabs. The editable charts, annotation boxes, and drag-and-drop interactive features are easy to navigate and free from distracting extraneous information. Additionally, the materials provide educators’ professional development through videos, relevant articles, and other aids to meet the classrooms’ changing needs.
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