Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The StudySync instructional materials meet expectations for alignment in all three gateways. The materials include rich and rigorous texts used with reading, writing, speaking, and listening work that builds students' knowledge while developing their overall literacy. The materials include support for students to practice and apply research skills, integrating multimodal texts throughout the year. The materials include supports for teachers to implement for specific classrooms. In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
36
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
32
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

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Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
34
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

Materials meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the standards. The instructional materials include texts that are worthy of students' time and attention and provide some opportunities for writing about texts to build strong literacy skills. Materials include text-dependent and text-specific questions, and tasks that help prepare students for the each unit’s Extended Writing Task, which integrates writing, speaking, or both. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are taught as integrated skills. Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level. Materials provide explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
20/20
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Criterion Rating Details

Materials meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading. Students engage in a range and volume of reading in service of grade level reading proficiency, and consistent opportunities are provided for textual analysis. Students use textual evidence in independent writing assignments such as argumentative essays. The materials meet the criteria for text complexity and for support materials for the core text(s) provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to support their reading at grade level by the end of the school year.

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

Texts selected for the materials are worthy of careful reading, and include a range of topics that are of high-interest and age-appropriate for Grade 8. Topics include suspense, the immigrant experience, and the Civil War. Many of the core texts are timeless classics, CCSS exemplar texts, and are written by award-winning authors. The texts contain rich vocabulary, both academic and content-specific. Examples of texts include, but are not limited to, complete texts or excerpts from the following:

  • In Unit 1, students read Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. This novel is engaging, has strong content and ambiguous dialogue (many untagged speakers). The complex characterization creates a challenging text. Vocabulary includes British slang of the time period.
  • In Unit 1, students read “The Monkey’s Paw”, by J.J. Jacobs. This short story is engaging with well-developed characters. It provides a strong example of the literary elements of foreshadowing, mood and suspense.
  • In Unit 1, students read A Night to Remember, by Walter Lord. This challenging text has complex organization with changing point of views. It also contains rich language that paints a suspenseful picture of a disaster.
  • In Unit 2, students read The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. This play is a CCSS exemplar text and contains vivid and emotionally honest details worthy of close reading. This age-appropriate text contains rich language to which students can relate.
  • In Unit 2, students read “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat”, by Winston Churchill. This speech is a CCSS exemplar text. Specific features of the speech include unique tone, a well-defined purpose, and compelling emotion. This speech also provides age-appropriate historical context for World War II.
  • In Unit 2, students read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable, by John Boyne. This novel is historical fiction and allows students to analyze how point of view and character shape theme. This novel also provides age-appropriate historical context for World War II.
  • In Unit 3, students read “A Celebrations of Grandfathers”, by Rudolfo Anaya. The essay explores the lessons and values the author learned from his grandfather and other ancianos (elderly people) within the context of the Mexican-American community and its history and culture.
  • In Unit 3, students read “Abuela Invents the Zero”, by Judith Cofer Ortiz. The short story examines how a teenage girl who was raised in the United States handles the culture clash that she experiences when her traditional Puerto Rican grandmother comes for a visit. Many students can relate to this story. It is high interest, engaging and provides cultural information about the people of Puerto Rico.
  • In Unit 3, students read “Home”, by Anton Chekhov. The short story finds universal truths in subtle domestic situations. In this story, a father needs to discipline his son, and readers are given insight into the comic complexities of this seemingly simple task. This story is engaging, high interest, and many readers have been in the son’s situation.
  • In Unit 4, students read the “Gettysburg Address”, by Abraham Lincoln. This is one of the most well known inspirational speeches in American history. Abraham Lincoln dedicates a cemetery to fallen Union Soldiers, while urging the nation to continue the hard work of fighting for equality. It has historical context and rich language.
  • In Unit 4, students read “O Captain! My Captain”, by Walt Whitman. The poem uses the metaphor of a ship and its captain to convey the poet’s response to the end of the Civil War and the tragedy of Abraham Lincoln’s death.
  • In Unit 4, students read “Civil War Journal” by Louisa May Alcott. This journal gives details of the author’s real-life experiences as a nurse during the Civil War. It has historical context and is told from first-person point of view. This text is also rich in academic vocabulary.

Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Texts include a mix of informational and literary texts. There is a wide array of informational and literary anchor texts for every unit. Additional supplementary texts are included, resulting in a wide distribution of genres and text types as required by the standards. Literary texts include historical fiction, short stories, novels, poetry, drama, and fables. Informational texts include autobiographies, memoirs, journals, speeches, and persuasive essays.

The following are examples of literature found within the instructional materials:

  • In Unit 1, students read “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs, Cujo by Stephen King, and “The Bells” by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • In Unit 2, students read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable by John Boyne, and The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play by Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich.
  • In Unit 3, students read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, “Abuela Invents the Zero” by Judith Cofer Ortiz, and “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes.
  • In Unit 4, students read “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, and “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman.

The following are examples of informational text found within the instructional materials:

  • In Unit 1, students read “Let ‘Em Play God” by Alfred Hitchcock, A Night to Remember by Walter Lord, and Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly.
  • In Unit 2, students read “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” by Winston Churchill, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, and Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
  • In Unit 3, students read “A Celebration of Grandfathers” by Rudolfo Anaya, “Born Worker,” by Gary Soto, and Essays from Mandatory Volunteer Work for Teenagers.
  • In Unit 4, students read the “Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln, “House Divided” by Abraham Lincoln, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and An American Slave by Frederick Douglass.

Indicator 1c

Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to the associated student task.

The instructional materials for Grade 8 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate range of complexity for the grade level. Texts range from 570L to 1370L. Most texts fall within either the Current Lexile Band or the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 6-8. The texts are appropriate for Grade 8 according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to the associated student task. Some texts do exceed these bands but the tasks are designed to make them accessible. Examples of texts that have the appropriate level of complexity for Grade 8 include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read “The Monkey’s Paw” which has a Lexile level of 940L. This level falls within both the Current Lexile Band and the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 6-8. This text has qualitative value in that the author creates suspense through foreshadowing, mood, and dialogue. The elements of the genre are reflected in the challenges of the text.
  • In Unit 2, students read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. This text has a Lexile level of 1080L which exceeds the Current Lexile Band and but falls within the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 6-8. This text has qualitative value in that contains many references to real places and events, such as WWII and Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp complex established by the Nazis.
  • In Unit 3, students read “Home” by Anton Chekhov. This text has a Lexile level of 1020L which exceeds the Current Lexile Band and but falls within the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 6-8. However, the text is appropriate. The Teacher Edition states that the text, “takes the perspective of the parent and places high demands on students’ cultural literacy, including knowledge of dialect and specific vocabulary, as well as knowledge of the writing forms, so scaffolding is provided to help students access prior knowledge and build appropriate background to support an understanding of the qualitative dimensions.”
  • In Unit 4, students read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave. This text has a Lexile level of 1080L which exceeds the Current Lexile Band and but falls within the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 6-8. In this excerpt, Douglass’s situation is embodied in the rich figurative language of the text. The text also has qualitative value in that it is a strong example of both problem/solution and cause/effect text structure.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)

The instructional materials provide a variety of texts appropriate for the grade band. Texts increase in complexity as the units progress. While some texts fall at the high end of the grade level, students also read less complex selections as they learn to analyze texts. Along with increasing text complexity, demands in writing also increase in complexity. Students are asked to read texts, analyze these texts, and respond to them in writing.

Each unit contains an Access Path where teachers can find resources scaffolded for English Language Learners. This Access Path includes handouts that provide support for handling text complexity in the areas of purpose, genre, organization, connection of ideas, sentence structure, specific vocabulary, and prior knowledge.

Each unit focuses on the use of textual evidence to support student analysis. This skill helps students evaluate information within texts, organize ideas, make inferences, create claims, and use evidence within their own writing. By the end of the year, students are using textual evidence in independent writing assignments such as argumentative essays. Examples of increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Skill section on Inference for Sorry, Wrong Number, students go through a lesson that focuses on using textual evidence to support an inference. The lesson states, “Whether you’re making inferences from a short passage or drawing conclusions based on an entire text, textual evidence is the most important tool for helping you explain your ideas.” After defining inferences, using evidence to support an inference is modeled, and students practice with a series of multiple-choice questions.
  • In Unit 2, in the Skill section on Reasons and Evidence for the Hitler Youth: Growing up in Hitler’s Shadow, students read and analyze why people behaved the way that they did during this era of history by examining the evidence the author provides. This lesson provides follow-up questions to help teachers guide students toward a usable, repeatable method for uncovering reasons and evidence.
  • In Unit 3, in the Close Read of “Mother to Son,” students use textual evidence to compare the tone and theme from the poem to another text within the unit. Students are prompted to use textual evidence as the prompt states, “Analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style. Support your writing with evidence from both texts.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Extended Writing Project, students write an informative/explanatory essay. Students use textual evidence to support their writing. The prompt states, “Use ideas and information expressed in at least two unit texts to reinforce your analysis.” During the writing process, students are encouraged to “develop their informative pieces in such a way that the thesis statement is supported by the key details. Students should use reasons and evidence to support the thesis.”

Indicator 1e

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.

Most texts include instructional notes and text notes. These are all found in the ELA Grade Level Overview booklet. At the beginning of each unit, there is an overall explanation of the unit. This includes the balance of literary to informational texts, the essential question, and an analysis of the text complexity of particular texts. In response to texts that are above the recommended Lexile band, the publisher provides scaffolds to assist all students in accessing the text. Quantitative, qualitative, and reader task information is included for most texts. Qualitative features such as Scaffold Instruction to Access Complex Text (ACT), ACT features, publication date, and genre. Quantitative features such as Excerpt Lexile, Full-text Lexile, and Word Count are also provided. In response to texts that are above the recommended Lexile band, the publisher provides scaffolds to assist all students in accessing the texts. Examples of texts being accompanied by text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read “The Monkey’s Paw.” The story opens with the White family spending a contented evening together at home. They are visited by Sergeant-Major Morris, who tells stories of his world travels and gives the family a mummified monkey’s paw that is said to grant wishes.” The Lexile Level is 940L. W.W. Jacobs creates suspense as readers begin to suspect what will happen through foreshadowing, mood, and dialogue. The elements of the genre are reflected in the challenges of the text. In addition, students may need help linking story details to determine the theme.
  • In Unit 2, students read The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play. This Common Core Exemplar text “addresses the unit task demands of analysis of dramatic elements, such as the role of dialogue to reveal character, the development of theme, and the way a filmed production of a drama remains faithful to or departs from the source text. These task demands, combined with the complex intertextual references, make the literary texts meaningful but challenging selections for students.” The Lexile level is 790L. Materials encourage students to label acts and scenes as well as the purpose of stage directions.
  • In Unit 3, students read “Abuela Invents the Zero.” This text takes a look at the cultural divide between first generation immigrant adolescents and their grandparents. While the story appears to be humorous, students need to realize that it is meant to teach a moral. The Lexile level is 970L. “The qualitative dimensions, reader characteristics, and task demands of the selections in this unit make it an accessible but appropriately challenging set of texts for eighth grade readers as they move up the staircase of increasing complexity for the recommended quantitative dimensions (as measured by the Lexile® Framework) for Grades 6-8."
  • In Unit 4, students read Narrative of the Life of Frederick: An American Slave. This Common Core Exemplar text shows how important learning to read was in the author’s life while also revealing the negative effects of slavery. The Lexile level is 1010L. “The text may be more challenging for readers without a background knowledge of slavery and the particular time in history in which the narrative is set.”

Indicator 1f

Anchor text(s), including support materials, provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations that the anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of texts to achieve grade level reading.

Each unit exposes students to high-quality texts that cover a variety of genres, time periods, and cultures with a balance of literary and informational texts. Reading is done independently, as a whole class, aloud, and silently. All of the anchor texts and supporting materials revolve around a central theme and essential question for each unit. Reading materials increase in complexity as the year progresses, and teacher interventions are gradually released in order to enable the students to achieve grade-level reading independently. Examples of students engaging in a range of texts include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students begin the unit on day one by reading the Blast background and materials included in several research links. The next day the students participate in the First Read of “Let ‘em Play God,” in which they read and annotate the text. Day three includes skill work on Author’s Purpose and Author’s Point of View as well as Word Meaning. Students read both the definitions and model sections associated with the skills. Students then complete a Close Read of “Let ‘em Play God,”, including a detailed reading and annotation of a selection. On the final day, the students complete First Read of “The Monkey’s Paw,” which includes reading the introduction and reading and annotating the text itself.
  • In Unit 2, students complete a first read and a close read of Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow. Students also complete two skill lessons, one on informational text elements and one on reasons and evidence. They use excerpts from Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow to practice the skills. Students also complete a Blast where they read background information regarding propaganda messages during war times. In Unit 2 there are two full text studies: The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play and Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Throughout Unit 2, students read additional texts including All Quiet on the Western Front, All the LIght We Cannot See, Stepping on the Cracks, The Devil’s Arithmetic, The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club, and Farewell to Manzanar.
  • In Unit 3, the anchor text, The Adventure of Tom Sawyer, meets expectations for Grade 8. The Overview explains that this unit prompts students to consider the complexities of morality. It opens with “Abuela Invents the Zero,” a short story by Judith Ortiz Cofer that chronicles a teenage girl’s struggles with her traditional Puerto Rican grandmother and the culture clash it represents. Other selections delve into rich characters and character-building situations as created by Anton Chekhov, Langston Hughes, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Gary Soto, Rudolfo Anaya, William Blake, and Pablo Neruda. Students explore the complexities of how people become who they are as well as investigate ways to realize their potential in the world.
  • In Unit 4, students complete a First Read and a Close Read of Across Five Aprils. Students also complete a skill lesson on point of view and character, and use excerpts from Across Five Aprils to practice the skills. In Unit 4, there is one full text study on Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. Throughout Unit 4, students read additional texts including House Divided Speech, “Paul Revere’s Ride”, Speech to the Ohio Women’s Conference: And Ain’t I a Woman, “Sullivan Ballou Letter”, Civil War Journal, The Red Badge of Courage, Gettysburg Address, Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, and “O Captain! My Captain!”

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
16/16
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Criterion Rating Details

Materials meet expectations for alignment to the standards with tasks and questions grounded in evidence. Materials include both text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that help prepare students for the each unit’s Extended Writing Task, which integrates writing, speaking, or both.The instructional materials provide multiple opportunities for evidence-based discussion that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and support student listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching. The materials include frequent opportunities for different genres and modes of writing. Materials meet the expectations for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context. Materials reviewed provide many tasks and opportunities for evidence-based discussions and writing using evidence from texts to build strong literacy skills.

Indicator 1g

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly. Grade 8 is broken into four units of study that include a variety of texts and activities. The majority of the questions and associated tasks require students to engage with the text directly. The Think tab of the each First Read section includes a series of constructed response questions that require textual evidence in a response. The Your Turn portion of the Skill sections contain multiple-choice questions that refer specifically to the text. The Close Read sections require an extended writing task. This task requires students to synthesize text details and to cite textual evidence. In addition to answering text-dependent questions about written text, students answer text-dependent discussion questions tied to various media accessed via StudySyncTV. When answering these text-dependent questions, students are provided directions on where to look for details and what kind of information should be mentioned in their answers. Sample exemplar answers are provided for all questions. Examples of questions, tasks, and assignments that are text-dependent/specific include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of Lord of the Flies, students are asked text-specific questions such as, “What has happened that has caused the boys to be where they are? Explain your inferences about where the boys are, and what happened, using textual evidence.”
  • In Unit 2, in the First Read of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play, students use text-specific sentence frames to help them look for textual evidence to answer the Think Questions. An example of these sentences frames is “Mr. Frank breaks down crying because….”
  • In Unit 3, in the Skill section on Character for “Abuela Invents the Zero”, students are asked a two-part multiple choice question such as, (A) “Which statement best explains what readers learn about Constancia from the dialogue in this excerpt?” (B) “Which detail from the passage best supports your answer?”
  • In Unit 4, in the First Read for “Paul Revere’s Ride”, students are asked to “identify and list textual evidence (quotes, details, and examples) from Paul Revere's Ride that you can use to answer these questions as you watch the SyncTV episode.” As students watch the video, they then answer text-specific questions such as, “ At 1:12 in the video: Students are discussing whether the poem is just for kids, or whether the author has a more adult purpose in mind. One of the students recites the catchy first few lines and recalls having to memorize the passage. Brainstorm other evidence in the poem that suggest Longfellow wrote it for children, adults, or both.”

Indicator 1h

Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for having sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

Materials include both text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that help prepare students for the each unit’s Extended Writing Task. These culminating tasks integrate writing, speaking, or both. There are questions that prompt thinking, speaking, and writing tasks that focus on the central ideas and key details of the text. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are taught as integrated skills. The Extended Writing Tasks ask students to explore the theme and essential question of the unit in more depth as they reconsider what they have learned through analyzing texts, conducting research, and contemplating their own life experiences. Each unit has a different mode of writing so that over the course of the year, students demonstrate proficiency in constructing long-form argumentative, argumentative literary analysis, informative/explanatory, and narrative works. Once submitted, these writing assignments can be adapted and delivered as oral presentations. Examples of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks that build to a culminating task include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the Extended Writing Project focuses on the narrative form. As students work to develop an original suspenseful narrative, they probe the unit’s central question, “What attracts us to stories of suspense?". The unit’s fiction and nonfiction selections about classic stories of suspense, real-life suspenseful situations, and how suspense is created and employed in print, on the airwaves, and on film provide a context for students as they begin writing their narratives. In the Close Read of “The Tell-Tale Heart, students answer questions such as, “Authors of Gothic tales such as 'The Tell-Tale Heart', often use symbols to help develop the theme of a story. The 'vulture eye' and 'the beating heart' are examples of two key symbols used in this way. Highlight several instances of the author's use of these symbols. Make annotations to interpret the significance of these symbols and describe how they contribute to the story's theme.”
  • In Unit 2, the Extended Writing Project is an argumentative essay that addresses the following prompt: “Carefully consider the selections you have read in this unit, including their themes and the ideas they offer about war and conflict. Pick two of the selections from the unit and write an argumentative essay that presents a claim in answer to the following question: how can people best respond to conflict? Along with information from the selections, include research from at least three other credible print and digital sources to support your claim and develop your argument.” Students must reflect on prior analysis of two of the texts in the unit. They are asked to supplement these texts with three reliable outside resources to construct a claim, support their claim with relevant evidence, use transitions to show the connection of ideas, and produce a Works Cited page.
  • In Unit 3, the Extended Writing Project helps students access the knowledge of argumentative writing they developed in Unit 2 in order to explore literary analysis. Students probe the unit’s central question, “How can our life experiences shape our values?”, as they develop an original literary analysis about how experiences can change a person’s values for the better or for the worse. The unit’s selections include such foundational works as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Langston Hughes’s “Mother to Son.” These texts feature a wide range of both fictional characters and real-life people who are separated by vast differences in culture and time period but who all exhibit the profound influence of experience on personal values and thus provide a context for students as they begin writing their literary analyses. Students answers questions such as, “List the five types of supporting details included in the Definition section. Why are supporting details important in an argumentative essay?” and “What happens if an author includes irrelevant or incorrect supporting details?”
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project focuses on informational/explanatory writing. The unit’s essential question, “How did the War Between the States redefine America?”, is developed through fictional and nonfictional texts that explore a wide range of perspectives and experiences in connection with the American Civil War. The Extended Writing Project requires students to write an informative/explanatory essay about how the war changed Americans and their ideas about freedom. In the Skills: Arguments and Claims activity for The Gettysburg Address, students watch the Concept Definition video. Students then read the definition of argument and claim. In small groups or as a whole class, students are provided questions that aim to spark discussion related to argument and claim. An example of a question provided in this activity is, “What are some of the arguments made in the texts you have read or the movies and videos you have seen this year?"

Indicator 1i

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidencebased discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. (May be small group and all-class.)
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

Each of the four units provide frequent and varied opportunities for students to engage in whole class, small group, and peer-to-peer discussion that reference the text under study and incorporate the understanding and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. A Speaking and Listening Handbook provides teachers with explicit instructions on teaching and modeling collegial discussions. Strategies and handouts guide students as they practice and assess evidence-based discussions. Checklists and graphic organizers are offered to students to help them prepare for the discussions. Rubrics are provided for peers and teachers to assess the academic conversations. Examples of how materials meet the criteria of this indicator include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of “The Tell-Tale Heart,” instruction includes a StudySyncTV video that shows students discussing the text. The Teacher Edition includes a lesson plan for class discussion of the StudySyncTV video. In this plan, the teacher stops the video at 0:52 and asks the whole class, “From what point of view does the narrator tell the story? How does this point of view affect the reliability of the narrator's story?”
  • In Unit 2, in the text study of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play, students are given a section of text to read and annotate. The Teacher Edition suggests that students break into pairs or small groups to discuss the inferences made while reading. There are four questions provided to guide discussions, including this example: “What was Anne's attitude about the Annex where her family hid? What does she mean by an “annex”? Cite details from the text in your answer.”
  • In Unit 3, in the First Read of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the Teacher Edition suggests that students answer the questions located under the Think tab and then answer the questions individually. Next they use the peer review instructions and rubric to complete two peer reviews of the answers to the questions. The Think section includes eight text-dependent questions such as, “What does Tom learn about the difference between work and play at the end of the excerpt? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Close Read of The Red Badge of Courage, students are introduced to vocabulary in the text and provided a series of Skills Focus questions. The teacher uses a model that is provided to lead the class in a discussion to answer these questions. An example of the questions includes the following: “In paragraph 12 of Chapter 7, Henry feels that his actions had been full of strategy. He thinks ‘they were the work of a master's legs’. What does he mean by this figure of speech? How is Henry attempting to convince himself that his actions were praise-worthy? Support your answer with textual evidence.”

Indicator 1j

Materials support students' listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

Students are given frequent and varied opportunities to engage in speaking, listening, and presenting activities surrounding their study of texts and the associated reading, writing, and research tasks. The opportunities for speaking, listening, and presenting can be found throughout the unit in the Blasts, First Reads, Skills, and Close Reads.

Speaking and listening are also important aspects of the Research Project students complete in each unit. After sharing and discussing the results of individual members’ research findings, each group plans and delivers a formal presentation in narrative, argumentative, or informative mode using multimedia elements such as videos, graphics, photos, and recordings to reinforce main ideas.

The Speaking & Listening Handbook is utilized during the Research project by students, who will be required to respond critically and constructively to the work of their peers. This handbook also provides teacher support in the form of lesson plans, handouts, checklists, rubrics, and formative assessments. These tools help teachers teach and assess the Speaking and Listening standards.

Examples of speaking and listening tasks, relevant follow-up questions, and supports include but are not not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Blast of the Big Idea section, students are introduced to the driving question for the unit, “Why do we love suspense?” After students read background information about the unit and answer guiding questions, they are asked to create and publish their own blast of 140 characters or fewer (similar to a tweet). The blasts are seen by all students, and students are encouraged to respond to each other’s work.
  • In Unit 2, in the First Read of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play, students are assigned to heterogeneous groups and are given one of the following prompts to discuss: “What are the challenges of dramatizing a diary entry? How does the story of Anne's diary change by focusing the drama on her father, Otto?” Students model their discussions after the StudySyncTV episodes they have seen. Teachers stress the importance of using academic language correctly and citing textual evidence in their conversations to support their ideas.
  • In Unit 3, in the Research section, students are placed in small groups to create a research project on a series of suggested topics. Groups review, discuss, and assemble their research, then present their findings. One example of a suggested topic is altruism. Questions to stimulate research include, “Does altruism—selfless concern for the well-being of others—really exist, or are all actions, in some way, motivated by self-interest?” and “Why are some people altruistic while others are not?” Students investigate articles and studies about altruism to help answer these questions.
  • In Unit 4, in the First Read of “Paul Revere’s Ride”, students engage in a jigsaw activity. Student are placed in small groups and given a stanza from Longfellow's poem, “Paul Revere's Ride”. Students read their stanza and discuss it using the following questions as support: “What action takes place in the passage?”, “What imagery does Longfellow use to make his point?”, “How does the rhythm of the verse increase the tone and meaning of the poem?". The materials suggest that teachers remind students that Longfellow was wrote this poem just before the Civil War. Students also respond to the question, “What can you infer about Longfellow's purpose for writing the poem based on the time period in which it was written?”. Each group has an opportunity to present their ideas and inferences.

Indicator 1k

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing and short, focused projects. Each unit of study asks student to engage in both on-demand writing and process writing. Students engage in on-demand writing via Blasts and Think questions that are part of Close Read assignments. In addition to shorter, on-demand writing, the students complete an Extended Writing Project at the end of each unit. Each of the four units covers one of these essential writing forms: narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. These Extended Writing Projects take students through the writing process including the following: prewriting, planning, drafting, revising, and editing/proofreading/publishing. Students explore different aspects of the writing process and are given a variety of writing practice opportunities to hone their skills and enhance their understanding of each unit’s particular writing form. Examples of on-demand and process writing include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of Cujo, students engage in an on-demand writing activity where they respond to five Think questions, such as, “Based on the descriptions and events in this excerpt, what can you infer about the title character, Cujo? Use textual evidence to explain your inferences.” After answering the questions, students complete two peer reviews using the peer review instructions and rubric.
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Read of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable, students complete an on-demand writing task. The prompt states, “How can point of view and character shape the overall theme of a text? Identify the theme of "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Fable" and discuss how character and point of view contribute to the theme. Include textual evidence to support your writing.” Students begin by brainstorming individually or as a group and then write a response to the prompt.
  • In Unit 3, in the Research section, students develop research presentations on the topic, “Students will investigate the different ways we work to be better people, and the way this work is described in literature, film, and other arts, as well as by the sciences.” Student are instructed to use precise language and domain specific vocabulary. They write brief explanations of the facts they uncovered, create a bibliography, and write the content of the presentations. After the presentations are done, students write about what they learned about the presentations by “listing three things they know now that they didn’t know before and b: writing a paragraph explaining how the presentations informed their understanding of becoming a better person.”
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project asks students to respond to the prompt: “The Civil War was a turning point in American history, one that helped define who Americans are today. Why did so many people feel it was necessary to fight? How did their efforts help redefine what it means to be an American? Write an informative essay analyzing how the Civil War changed Americans and their ideas about freedom.” Students complete research for this task and complete each step of the writing process.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing. The materials provide for a variety of writing tasks across the school year that vary in length and depth, tie to classroom texts and “Big Ideas,” and represent equally narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing.

Students engage in writing activities throughout each unit. Students write short constructed responses as part of each Close Read lesson for each text in the unit. This informal writing allows students to demonstrate understanding of the specific text while practicing the featured type of writing. Students engage in informal writing through the annotations that students create as they closely read the various units in the text.

In addition to these shorter, less formal writing opportunities, each of the four units of study contains an “Extended Writing Task” that takes place at the end of the unit. These writing prompts are linked to the unit texts; throughout the unit, students are given opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing types addressed in the standards. StudySync also provides guidance and support from peers and adults, to develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. Students are given opportunities use digital sources for research and presentation. Examples of opportunities to address different text types include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the Extended Writing Project focuses on narrative writing. Students write a narrative in response to this prompt, “You have been reading and learning about stories of suspense, in addition to studying techniques authors use to generate a feeling of suspense in readers. Now you will use those techniques to write your own suspenseful narrative based on real or imagined experiences and events.”
  • In Unit 2, the Extended Writing Project focuses on argumentative writing. Students write an essay based on this prompt, “Carefully consider the selections you have read in this unit, including their themes and the ideas they offer about war and conflict. Pick two of the selections from the unit and write an argumentative essay that presents a claim in answer to the following question: how can people best respond to conflict? Along with information from the selections, include research from at least three other credible print and digital sources to support your claim and develop your argument.”
  • In Unit 3, the Extended Writing Project helps students access the knowledge of argumentative writing they developed in Unit 2 in order to explore literary analysis. Students write an essay in response to the prompt, “As the selections you have read in this unit show, people are shaped by their individual life experiences. People make choices, some of which are mistakes, but they often learn and grow from their experiences. Choose two selections from this unit and think about the main character or the narrator in each one. What does the main character or narrator value most, and how do the characters’ experiences shape or even change their values? Write a literary analysis that shows how personal experience can change people for better or sometimes for worse."
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project focuses on informative/explanatory writing. Students write an essay based on the prompt, “The Civil War was a turning point in American history, one that helped define who Americans are today. Why did so many people feel it was necessary to fight? How did their efforts help redefine what it means to be an American? Write an informative essay analyzing how the Civil War changed Americans and their ideas about freedom. Use ideas and information expressed in at least two unit texts to reinforce your analysis.”

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

The materials provide students with writing activities that vary in length and purpose in response to a variety of texts. The First Read lesson for each text requires students to complete short answer questions that are text-dependent. The Close Read lessons at the end of each text include an extended writing prompt that requires students to synthesize all of the close reading and skills work that they have done with the text. At the conclusion of each Full-Text Unit, there are two opportunities for long-form writing responses that are connected to an anchor text. One of these is always analytical in nature and requires an argumentative or informative/explanatory response to the whole text. Lastly, the Extended Writing Project requires students to return to the texts they have read over the course of a thematic unit in order to draw evidence from and analyze these mentor texts. Examples of evidence-based writing to support careful, well-defended analyses include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of “The Tell-Tale Heart”, students watch the SyncTV episode and identify textual evidence, such as quotes, details, and examples, from “The Tell-Tale Heart" that they can use to respond in writing to questions such as, “Olivia says, ‘Yeah, or maybe he's trying to convince himself that he's awesome, which might mean he is actually insecure.’ Do you agree or disagree with Olivia's interpretation? Why or why not?”
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Read of Dear Miss Breed, students work on understanding how point of view may change the interpretation of a story. Students then respond to the following writing prompt: “What makes first-hand accounts of historical events more interesting and exciting than descriptions by people who weren’t present at the scene? How do first-hand accounts help you visualize places and events in the past in a way that second-hand accounts do not? Support your writing with evidence from the text.”
  • In Unit 3, in the Full Text Study of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, at the conclusion of reading the text, students write an analytical essay in response to the following prompt: “Readers of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer have often observed the novel’s spiritual overtones. Most of the action of Tom Sawyer takes place in St. Petersburg, a name with religious connections, where characters pray a lot, attend church and Sunday School, and seem very concerned with the differences between good and evil. Could this town, based on Twain’s boyhood hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, be a kind of heaven to the author? By contrast, other crucial scenes take place in a dark underworld. What do you think Mark Twain is up to? Are there characters who stand for good or evil, or a combination of both? Is there a heaven and a hell in the book? What part does religion play? Drawing from characters and events in the novel as well as from pertinent additional readings, write an essay of at least 500 words about morality in Tom Sawyer. What statement is Mark Twain making about good and evil? Is it supported or contradicted by the added readings?”
  • In Unit 4, in the Close Read of The Red Badge of Courage, students respond to the following writing prompt: “How does the point of view Stephen Crane uses in The Red Badge of Courage help you understand the thoughts, reactions, and feelings of Private Henry Fleming? How does the use of personification contribute to the text? Use your understanding of point of view and personification to determine the themes that emerge in this excerpt. Support your writing with evidence from the text.”

Indicator 1n

Materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

The materials include a student edition and an annotated teacher edition of the Grammar, Language, and Composition Guide. The guide can be used for students who need more instruction and support either in a small group or a tutorial setting. The lessons can be used for pre-teaching or reteaching. The second part of the Grammar, Language, and Composition Guide focuses specifically on grammar and usage, with each chapter focusing on a specific grammar or usage skill. The lessons provide instructions, practice, and review. Grammar and usage instruction and practice is also embedded in each of the units of study in the First Read Section of several texts. These lessons and tasks build in complexity.

The teaching of grammar, usage, and mechanics happens throughout the Core Program and is designed to help students develop a complex understanding of language that they can use to enhance their comprehension of texts. The grammar strand is structured around instruction, practice exercises, and student application. After receiving direct instruction and completing a practice handout on the lesson’s grammar, usage, or mechanics concept, students are prompted to analyze the use of this concept in a given text and answer questions about the purpose and effect of the concept. They may also be prompted to practice the skill through short revision tasks. Core concepts are revisited with opportunities for application throughout a grade level. Language instruction is also provided strategically throughout a unit’s Extended Writing Project, which gives students the immediate opportunity to apply grammar, usage, and mechanics concepts to their own writing, by revising their drafts to incorporate the concept and editing their drafts to apply it correctly. Examples of explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of “Let ‘em Play God,” students learn about and practice spelling with suffixes -ible and -able. After completing the grammar handout practice exercise, students apply what they have learned by analyzing the use of the suffixes -ible and -able in “Let ‘em Play God” by answering questions such as, “In the first sentence of the eleventh paragraph of “Let 'Em Play God”, what does the word plausible mean? Is it a noun, verb, adjective, or adverb?”
  • In Unit 2, in the First Read of Parallel Journeys, students work with active and passive voice. First, students review the use of active and passive voice as explained in the StudySync grammar handout. “Students then apply what they have learned by analyzing the use of active and passive voice in Parallel Journeys , inappropriate shifts between active and passive voice, as well as how using either active or passive voice can change the emphasis of a sentence.” Students reread the selection and answer questions such as, “What is the difference between active voice and passive voice?”, “Why is active voice often preferable? When is passive voice useful?” and “Read and display this sentence: "Many people found the events awful, but it was to be the way of life from now on." How does the writer of this sentence make an inappropriate shift from active voice to passive voice? How can you fix it?”
  • In Unit 3, in the First Read of “Born Worker,” students learn about and practice how to use commas to signal pause or separation. After completing the grammar handout, students apply what they have learned by analyzing the use of commas to indicate a pause or break in “Born Worker.” Students read the first four paragraphs and answer questions such as, “What is the purpose of commas?”, “How are commas used in this selection? Please provide examples from the selection,” and “How are commas separating items in a series important to the story?”
  • In Unit 4, in the First Read of “House Divided” speech, students practice using commas, ellipses, and dashes to indicate a pause or break. After completing the practice exercise, “students to apply what they have learned by analyzing how commas, ellipses, and dashes are used in the "House Divided" speech.” Students read the speech and answer questions such as, “What is the purpose of the commas in the first two sentences of the "House Divided" speech?”, “What is the purpose of the dashes in the 8th paragraph?”, and “What do the ellipses after the 10th paragraph indicate?”

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

Materials meet expectations for building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. The instructional materials support the building of knowledge through repeated practice with appropriate grade-level complex text organized around a topic. The materials consistently include a coherently sequenced set of questions requiring students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. Materials include models and protocols for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Materials provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in research activities and present their findings. Students regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class, and an accountability system is provided as an additional support.

Criterion 2a - 2h

32/32

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The instructional materials are organized around themes and build students' reading comprehension of complex texts. The curriculum for Grade 8 explores the trials and tensions, great and small, of the human experience. The themes of the four units are as follows: “In Suspense,” “In Time of War,” “A Moral Compass,” and “The Civil War.”

Each unit provides fiction and nonfiction selections to build student content knowledge. Students are required to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. At the beginning of each unit, students consider the “Big Idea” or essential question of the unit, and when they read and analyze texts in the unit, they face further questions and discussions about the essential question. The reading, writing, and discussion tasks ultimately lead to a culminating task that requires students to synthesize what they have learned about the texts as they relate to the overarching idea of the unit. Examples of texts centered around topics to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts include but are not limited to:

  • The theme of Unit 1 is “Suspense.” Students read a variety of texts written by Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King, and Edgar Allan Poe to build student knowledge and narrative writing skills. After reading classic thrillers, such as “The Monkey’s Paw,” Lord of the Flies, and “The Tell-Tale Heart,” students try their own hands at the genre, applying what they have learned about suspense to their own narrative writing projects. Other selections include Sorry, Wrong Number, an excerpt from Cujo, “Annabel Lee,” and “The Bells.”
  • Unit 2 combines several selections to build student knowledge around the theme “In Time of War.” Students explore the complexities of wartime morality as it existed during World War II. The unit opens with a powerful speech, “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat,” delivered by Winston Churchill as the United Kingdom entered into the war against German fascism. Other selections explore the hope and despair created by war, as expressed by Anne Frank, John Boyne, Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors, young people in Germany, Japanese Americans, proponents of peace, and prisoners of war. Students explore brave, critical, and illuminating choices that those in immersed in extreme conflict are forced to make, and the implications of their choices.
  • The theme of Unit 3 is “A Moral Compass.” This unit encourages students to consider the complexities of morality. The unit opens with “Abuela Invents the Zero,” a short story by Judith Ortiz Cofer. It chronicles a teenage girl’s struggles with her traditional Puerto Rican grandmother and the culture clash it represents. Other selections delve into rich characters and character-building situations as created by Anton Chekhov, Langston Hughes, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Gary Soto, Rudolfo Anaya, William Blake, and Pablo Neruda. Students explore the complexities of how people become who they are and investigate ways to realize their potential in the world.
  • Unit 4 combines several selections to build student knowledge around the theme is “The Civil War.” Students learn about this time period (1861–1865) through fiction, journals, nonfiction narratives, speeches, letters, and poetry. The unit begins with an excerpt from the Newbery-award–winning novel, Across Five Aprils. It lays out the main arguments for and against the war, and moves more deeply into the lives of characters who experience the war. Other selections share the words of President Abraham Lincoln, novelist Stephen Crane, activist Sojourner Truth, poet Walt Whitman, as well as soldiers and other historical figures. Students explore the impact of the Civil War from a variety of perspectives. They also research the effects of civil conflicts around the world that continue to this day.

Indicator 2b

Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.

The materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that provide students with multiple opportunities to analyze language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make and build understanding within each thematically-based unit. The Cold Read activity for each texts encourages students to refer to pre-defined vocabulary and contains higher order thinking questions in the form of both text-dependent and text-specific questions; this type of activity is designed to help students make meaning of what they are reading as they prepare for the Close Read’s Extended Writing Prompt that asks students to more closely analyze the text using evidence. Examples of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Close Reading of “The Monkey’s Paw,” students analyze craft and structure as they answer the prompt: “How do the story elements of character, setting, and plot contribute to the theme of “The Monkey’s Paw”? Use your understanding of story elements to determine the theme of the short story.”
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Reading of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play, students respond to the prompt: “How does political or national conflict influence individual families? How does The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play explore this theme? What elements of the play help you understand this influence? Support your answer with text evidence from the selection.”
  • In Unit 3, in the Close Read of “Abuela Invents the Zero,” students analyze keys details as they answer the prompt: “How does the theme of “Abuela Invents the Zero” help you understand a larger lesson about how life experiences can shape our values? Use the details you have compiled from examining the conflict between the characters, as well as the characters’ thoughts, dialogue, feelings, and actions, to identify the theme of the story and analyze how it is developed over the course of the text. Remember to support your writing with evidence and inferences from the text.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Close Read of “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: An American Slave,” students analyze the author’s use of language when they respond to the prompt: “In some informational texts, authors try to persuade readers to accept a specific point of view about a subject. In what way does Frederick Douglass use elements of figurative language to express the anger and torment that he feels, and help readers understand it? How does the use of these figures of speech strengthen his argument against slavery? Use your understanding of figurative language and informational text elements to determine how successfully Douglass uses them in his narrative. Support your writing with evidence from the text.”

Indicator 2c

Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.

The materials provided students multiple opportunities, through questions and tasks, to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. Each unit contains texts that are represented in more than one format, several texts that explore/represent one theme, and several argumentative prompts that give students the opportunity to state and claim and use evidence from the various texts to support their claim.

Throughout the year, students thoroughly read, write about, and discuss numerous reading selections. Each unit includes prompts for informational, argument, and literary analysis writing tasks that require students to cite evidence from multiple texts. Each unit also includes a Research Project.

Instruction begins with a First Read Lesson, designed to emphasize meaning making and content comprehension. First Read lessons include StudySyncTV, which models critical thinking with collaborative passages that students are reading, and end with a series of short answer text-dependent questions. Students are then introduced to Skill Lessons and Close Read Lessons to support knowledge building, and culminate with a short constructed response that synthesizes their work. Each unit also contains a Full Text Study which comes with companion texts. This text set becomes the resource for the final activity for the Full Text Study, where students are asked to complete sustained writing tasks in response to prompts that require them to compare and contrast two or more of the texts in the set. Examples of coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Close Read for Cujo, students read an excerpt of Stephen King’s novel and then watch the same excerpt of the film version. Then students will complete the following task: “Watch the 1983 film version of this scene. Then reread the excerpt. How did director Lewis Teague stay true to the original novel? What liberties did he take with the script? What inferences did you make in the text passage that are retained or abandoned in the film version? In about 300 words, analyze the choices the film director made and the effects these changes have on your perception of the characters as well as the film’s level of suspense.” To further knowledge building, in the Close Read section, students are asked to annotate using the following prompt that deeps their understanding of the text by identifying evidence that helps explain one of the main character’s reactions to the suspenseful setting: "In the twenty-fourth paragraph, after all Donna has been through - hearing the dog growl, catching her first glimpse of Cujo's blood soaked fur, getting into the car and securing the door - Stephen King writes simply that "she screamed." Use text evidence to explain why Donna finally lets loose with this expression of terror, even though she is now in relative safety inside the car."
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Read of “Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech” students compare the text to watching Elie Wiesel give his speech. Students respond to the following prompt: “How does the experience of reading the text of Elie Wiesel's “Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech” differ from the experience of watching the video of the speech? How do the visual and audio components of the video affect the message of the speech? Support your writing with evidence from both the video and the speech.” A Build Background component is included at the beginning of this lesson to supplement to provide context and more support for students to assure comprehension and meaning of the texts.
  • In Unit 3, the Full Text Study is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. After reading the novel, students are asked to analyze the text in an essay according to the following prompt: “Most of the action of Tom Sawyer takes place in St. Petersburg, a name with religious connections. Could this town, based on Twain’s boyhood hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, be a kind of heaven to the author? By contrast, other crucial scenes take place in a dark underworld. What do you think Mark Twain is up to? Are there characters who stand for good, evil, or a combination of both? Is there a heaven and hell in the book? What part does religion play? Drawing from characters and events in the novel as well as from pertinent additional readings, write an essay of at least 500 words about morality in Tom Sawyer. What statement is Mark Twain making about good and evil? Is it supported or contradicted by the added readings?” These linked questions encourage re-reading and demand students marshall evidence from the text.
  • In Unit 4, in the Close Read of “Sojourner Truth: Speech to the Ohio Women’s Conference,” two accounts of the speech are presented. Students read both accounts and respond to the following prompt: “Consider Sojourner Truth’s statement in the first account: “If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?” What does she mean by “cup, pint, and quart?” How does Robinson present this idea in the second account, and how is the meaning of Sojourner Truth’s statement changed slightly in Robinson’s account? Write an explanation of the analogies that Truth makes and compare and contrast the two accounts of the speech and how they present these analogies. Then write an answer to the second question, comparing the two presentations. Use textual evidence to support your answer.”

Indicator 2d

The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

Most culminating tasks support knowledge building. Examples of tasks that have students demonstrate building knowledge through integrated standards-based skills include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 2, in the Extended Writing Project, students wrestle with the complexities of wartime morality during World War II and write an argumentative essay where they reflect on two of the reading selections and pull in information from outside sources to address the issue of the best way that people can respond to conflict. Student look closely at the choices people are forced to make during these trying times and how these choices impact others. Each of the reading selections in the unit features individuals who face complex wartime challenges, and students are asked to closely consider the circumstances of these challenges and the decisions that were made, such as in the Close Read of “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” when students respond to the following prompt: “According to Churchill's speech, what will war mean for the British people, and why should England be involved? How does the main idea of Churchill's speech reveal his response to conflict, and what does this say about him? Support your writing with textual evidence from the speech.”
  • In Unit 3, in the Extended Writing Project, students explore the complexities of morality and write a literary analysis in order to examine the values of two of the characters in the unit and how their values are shaped by their experiences.The texts in the unit illustrate the human experience and how it shapes who we are and how we approach the world. Each of the texts in the unit and their associated activities relate to this idea of human experience, action, and morality, such as in the First Read of “Abuela Invents the Zero” when students answer the following question: “How does Constancia respond when Abuela becomes lost in the church? Describe her reaction, and support your answer with textual evidence.”
  • In Unit Four, there are a variety of texts and materials that deepen students’ knowledge about the causes of and events surrounding the American Civil War. The research links found in the Blasts provide diverse insights into this historical conflict, providing a framework for students to write an informative text about the effects the Civil War had on Americans and their views of freedom. In Instructional Path, The Big Idea, Blast: The Civil War, Teacher Resource Lesson Plan, students use technology to produce and publish writing. Under Research Links, Core Path, Question three is as follows: “In "Born a Slave, Now a Soldier" it is clear that many white citizens and soldiers did not believe that African Americans would make good soldiers, but they were proved wrong. What were some of the reasons they had for doubting the black forces? Why do you think the black soldiers fought as hard as they did? What was different about their cause for war than their fellow white soldiers?”

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic and domain-specific vocabulary words in and across texts.

Language instruction in the StudySync core program provides systematic vocabulary instruction as well as repeated opportunities for practice and application in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students will encounter vocabulary-building opportunities across all three lesson types: First Reads, Skill lessons, and Close Reads.

Students are exposed to the challenging vocabulary in the text. They are given opportunities to use context clues and analyze word parts in order to understand the meaning of the words, and teachers are encouraged to model these types of strategies. The materials focus on language development by having students use context clues, word placement, and common Greek and Latin affixes and roots to figure out the meaning of words. The lesson plans for each text focus on academic and domain-specific vocabulary, and students are exposed to these vocabulary words through a variety of media. The vocabulary words are explained by other teens through a video, and there is a written explanation and examples for each term below the video.

Students are also provided with a Vocabulary Handbook. In the vocabulary handbooks, in each unit, students have lessons on topics such as synonym, context clues, base words, and prefixes. Instructional presentation, practice activities, and assessments are included for each unit. Examples of opportunities for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of “The Monkey’s Paw,” students make predictions about vocabulary. There are five bold vocabulary words in the text. As students read the text, they make predictions about what they think each bold vocabulary word means based on the context clues in the sentence. Students then use the annotation tool to make their predictions.
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Read of Boy in the Striped Pajamas, students complete sentence frames using the vocabulary words. Some of the vocabulary words are included in the questions and some are included in the answers. Two examples of vocabulary used in questions include, “In anatomy class today, we studied how the skeleton supports the human __________.” and “The secret to Dad's Thanksgiving stuffing is the fresh __________ leaves he adds to it.”
  • In Unit 3, lesson 28 focuses on building Academic Vocabulary. Students learn words such as access, amend, and consult. The goal of this lesson is to help students incorporate the academic vocabulary words into their vocabulary so that they can better understand academic texts. As the final step in the lesson, students answer questions such as, “Which of these is most likely to be objective—a news report telling exactly what happened or a speech supporting a candidate?”
  • In Unit 4, in the First Read of Across Five Aprils, students think about the meaning of each vocabulary word. Students use the meaning of the word to answer questions such as “A __________ was added to the price of steel imported from Asia to protect American steel producers.” and “An abolitionist is someone who wants to __________ a practice or institution, such as the institution of slavery.”

Indicator 2f

Materials support students' increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students' writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.

The materials supports students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the school year..To achieve this goal, instructional materials include well-designed lesson plans, models, and protocols for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Direct instruction on the writing process builds as the year progresses. Within the unit, students write in response to driving questions in Blasts, comprehension questions in First Reads, and discussion questions in Close Reads. These informal writing opportunities prepare students to write more formally as part of each unit’s Extended Writing Project and Research assignments. For Research, students discuss, plan, research, write, and deliver presentations. In the Extended Writing Project, students complete a writing project in one of the three primary modes of writing with the help of a student model, graphic organizers, rubrics, and extensive scaffolding of writing skills. The students engage in all phases of the writing process. Examples of materials supporting students’ increasing writing skills over the school year include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the Extended Writing Project focuses on the narrative form. The Student Model is used to help students better understand how narrative elements work together to create a suspenseful story, analyze how the model employs specific skills to keep readers at the edge of their seats, examine the process the writer used to develop the narrative through graphic organizers and story road maps, and identify how the model might, like their own narratives, benefit from revision. Direct instruction is provided on narrative techniques and sequencing, descriptive details, and writing dialogue in preparation for this final writing task.
  • In Unit 2, the Extended Writing Project focuses on the argumentative form. The Student Model is used to help students better understand how argumentative elements work together to create a convincing argument, analyze how the model employs specific skills, such as effective organization, strong supporting details obtained from credible sources, and accurate citations of these sources, examine the process the writer used to develop the argumentative essay through graphic organizers and roadmaps, and identify how the model might, like their own essays, benefit from revision. Direct instruction is provided on Research and Note-Taking, Organization of Argumentative Writing (State a claim and provide appropriate convincing evidence), and Sources and Citations (including a Works Cited page) in preparation for this final assignment.
  • In Unit 3, in the Close Read Section of “Ode to Thanks,” students complete an extended writing assignment according to the following prompt: “In “Ode to Thanks,” how does poet Pablo Neruda invite readers to appreciate the concept of gratitude? In an essay of at least 300 words, explain how the poetic structure, as well as the poet’s use of connotative word meanings and figurative language, help you understand the poem’s message. If you were to write your own ode in the style of Pablo Neruda, what would you praise, and why?” Once students complete their writing assignment, they submit substantive feedback to two peers and use their peers' feedback to improve their writing.
  • In Unit 4, in the Full Text Study of The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, students write an analytical essay that synthesizes the study of the main text and the accompanying texts, as seen in the following example: “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass does not read as a manual of how to escape or end slavery. Douglass’s path to freedom is fraught with hardship, suffering, setbacks. By most accounts his well-earned independence is improbable, given the circumstances. How is freedom best obtained? Consider Henry David Thoreau’s essay urging citizens toward civil disobedience, or nonviolent protest. Evaluate Thoreau’s recommendations in the context of Douglass’s presentation of American slavery. Claim a position on whether violence is a useful and/or necessary tool for obtaining freedom. Draw on several sources from the unit as well as your own ideas and cite textual evidence from Douglass’s Narrative and Thoreau’s essay to support your argument.”

Indicator 2g

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

Each of the four units in the Grade 8 materials include multiple opportunities for students to engage in research activities and present their findings. Each unit begins with a Big Idea Blast that gives students their first opportunity to draft a response to the driving question of the unit. The Blast includes multi-media research links that are related to the theme, and as students interact with the research links in the Blasts throughout the unit, they formulate a broader understanding of the theme, the texts in the unit, and the issues that surround them. The First Read of each selection in the unit includes a Build Background activity that asks students to work collaboratively on a small scale research inquiry that complements the text they are reading.

Each unit also includes an extensive, multi-step Research Project that is related to the unit’s theme and is a culmination of the skills that the students have practiced over the course of the unit and the knowledge they have gained. After sharing and discussing the results of individual members’ research findings, each group plans and then delivers a formal presentation in either the narrative, argumentative, or informative mode using multimedia elements such as videos, graphics, photos, and recordings to reinforce its main ideas.

If students are working on a topic that is informative, they present evidence to develop the subject matter. If students are working on a topic that involves presenting an argument in support of a claim, they use evidence that both supports their opinion and answers opposing viewpoints, or counter arguments. The Speaking & Listening Handbook is of critical importance during this phase of the Research project both for speakers and for listeners, who are required to respond critically and constructively to the work of their peers. Each unit provides suggested topics for each research project. Examples of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students research examples and impacts of suspense in mediums such as radio stories, articles, films, and documentaries. One example of suggested topics is as follows: “How do film, text, and radio versions of the same story treat the elements of suspense and horror in different ways? For example, what differences become clear after listening to the radio version of Sorry, Wrong Number and watching the film version? How does the medium affect the content and impact of the story?”
  • In Unit 2, students research a particular person or group of people affected by World War II. Students explore various mediums, including diaries, letters, speeches, interviews, informational videos, historic articles, contemporary analyses, reference book entries, and images, in order to gather information about the experience of their chosen person or group. Then, students use the information they have assembled in order to create an original historical fictional narrative to be read aloud and performed as a five- to seven-minute dramatic scene, in the style of Reader’s Theater. One example of a suggested topic is as follows: “Explore the experiences of young Germans during World War II, on which Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow sheds some insight. In what ways were their lives impacted by rise of Hitler and the Nazi party? What pressures did they face? In what different ways did they respond? How did the Holocaust and the loss of the war shape their future lives?”
  • In Unit 3, students investigate the different ways we work to be better people, and the way this work is described in literature, film, and other arts, as well as by the sciences. They explore different media, print and online resources. One example of a suggested topic is as follows: “What are some books, films, photographs, TV shows, or other art forms that depict people giving selflessly when they themselves have very little? How do these works continue to affect us?”
  • In Unit 4, students research different ways authors have addressed these momentous events of history. They trace the wars’ development and effects through various mediums, including speeches, interviews, informational videos, historic articles, contemporary analyses, reference book entries, images, and propaganda. One example of a suggested topic is as follows: “How do different nonfiction accounts of the American Civil War represent the events leading up to the conflict? Look at several different sources of information, including letters, journals, speeches, and articles, and explain how they differ in their presentation of the run-up to the war. How do these differences affect your interpretation of what actually happened just before the fighting started?”

Indicator 2h

Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

The Core Program Overview includes a structured guide titled “Building an Independent Reading Program.” This section provides an overview of why independent reading is important, and it gives details on how to set up such a program in the classroom. Teachers are also given a five step plan to implement an independent reading program that provides choice for students to select texts and read independently at home and at school. This includes referring students to the StudySync Library where they can explore other titles in the library that share the same themes as addressed by the units.

Suggestions for accountability include reading logs, notebooks, online reflections, and informal conversations. Accountability suggestions also include having students complete end-of reading activities such as filling out a Google Form, pitching books, producing movie trailers, writing reviews on GoodReads, designing movie posters, and participating in a book club style chat. Examples of opportunities for students to regularly engage in a volume of independent while being held accountable include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of A Night to Remember, the lesson plan states, “Read and Listen Individually or as a class, read and listen to the Introduction for A Night to Remember. The introduction provides context for the excerpted chapter.” Students will use the information to form predictions on the KWL chart on this text. The Core Program Guide states, “In addition to the time you spend reading in class, it’s important to set clear expectations for independent reading outside of the classroom. Students should read outside of class for a set amount of time each day. As students become stronger readers, the time spent reading outside of class should also increase.”
  • In Unit 2, students read texts related to the theme In Time of War. Students are given opportunities to read independently inside and outside of class. The Core Program Guide suggests that teachers “Designate a specific time for independent reading in the classroom that is consistent each day.” The StudySync Library provides additional texts related to the unit’s theme including All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn, and The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen.
  • In Unit 3, students are encouraged to read texts from the StudySync Library on the theme of A Moral Compass during independent reading. Additional texts include “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “A Retrieved Reformation” by O. Henry, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Students are encouraged to complete a Google Form shared by the teacher to share the information learned in the text. Students also complete their independent reading logs.
  • In Unit 4, students are encouraged to read texts on the theme of The Civil War during independent reading. The Core Program Guide states, “Your independent reading program should be ongoing, so it’s important to set up a system for recording what students are reading. This can be easily done using a Google Form to create an online reading log. As students finish each text, they should complete a form providing basic information about their book, a rating and a written review.” The pacing guide gives suggestions for further and independent reading including texts such as “American Literature and History: “The Civil War Era” by McGraw Hill Education, “Bull Run” by Paul Fleischman, and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations for being well-designed and taking into account effective lesson structure and pacing. The materials offer resources that connect the Common Core State Standards to the elements of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Digital features are interactive and simple. In each lesson plan, teachers are provided full explanations and examples of the more advanced literary concepts in the following sections of the Teacher’s Edition section entitled, “Instructional Path.”

The Core Program Guide explains that assessments available in StudySync ELA allow for monitoring student progress, diagnosing possible issues, and measuring student achievement in relation to their understanding of previously-taught skills. In the Core Program Guide, the publisher provides components for a successful independent reading program. Along with the scaffolds that differentiate instruction for English learners in the Access Path, teachers locate differentiation suggestions for beyond grade-level learners that stretch their thinking, adding more opportunities for collaborative and creative engagement.

In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and several features of the program were designed to model the communication style utilized on social media.

Criterion 3a - 3e

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8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations for being well-designed and taking into account effective lesson structure and pacing. The materials meet the expectations for the teacher and student reasonably being able to complete the content within a regular school year with the pacing allowing for maximum student understanding. The materials, through an integrated approach that combines reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting, along with instructional routines that are predictable and easily understandable, provide students with activities and opportunities to practice what they are learning. The materials offer resources that connect the Common Core State Standards to the elements of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Digital features are interactive and simple. The layout is consistent throughout the materials, following the same format depending on the type of activity and assessment the students complete.

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.

Each lesson is designed for a fifty-minute period. The year-long instruction is broken into four units. Each unit is broken into forty-five lessons, totalling 180 days of instruction. Each unit follows a similar structure, and a Full Text Study is provided for each unit. Most lessons begin with a First Read, then a Skill lesson, followed by a Close Reading activity. Each lesson includes detailed lesson plans for the teacher, as well as online materials for the students. Each lesson plan has clear guidelines for a core path as well as an access path that may include categories for beginner, intermediate, advanced, and approaching. Units 1 and 3 contain an alternative pacing guide that incorporates core instructional units with English language development lessons.

Each unit also includes a Pacing Guide that helps teachers utilize the resources offered in each StudySync Core ELA and English Learner unit. The pacing guide weaves lessons from every segment of this Core ELA unit: the Instructional Path, Extended Writing Project, Research Project, and Full-Text Study. An additional column helps the teacher align Core ELA unit content with lessons from its companion English Learner unit.

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.

The pacing guide for each unit divides the unit into forty-five days in order to be able to complete the curriculum in an 180-day school year. Instructional days often contain more than a single task. Pacing is based on fifty-minute instructional days, but teachers may need to modify the suggested pacing to fit their scheduling needs. This can easily be accomplished through selection of the ten to twelve available texts in each unit. Examples of pacing allowing for maximum student understanding and the ability to complete the content within a regular school year include but are not limited to:

  • In order to meet the needs of individual schools, the Pacing Guide provides a Shortcuts section, which highlights areas where teachers can trim the unit to ensure that they are covering the most important sections.
  • Suggestions for for shortening a unit include the following: “replacing the Research Project with a Crowdsourcing Activity: Instead of a 12 day research project, you can make the research component of this unit an informal exploration using a crowdsourcing activity, and eliminate Repeated Author’s Purpose and Point of View Skill Lessons: Each unit focuses on developing specific skills. Some of these skills are repeated throughout the unit to ensure students have plenty of practice with those skills. If you are in a rush and looking to cut some of the content in a unit, you can eliminate one or two of these skill lessons and feel confident your students will still be exposed to the information they need about author’s purpose and point of view.”

Indicator 3c

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (eg. visuals, maps, etc.)

The materials, through their integrated approach that combines reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting, along with instructional routines that are predictable and easily understandable, provide students with activities and opportunities to practice what they are learning.

The unit components offer clear explanations and directions, teacher and student models, and a variety of instructional routines and opportunities to practice and apply skills. Student writing and text annotations are saved to an electronic binder where students can receive peer and teacher feedback. With more than 40 short, constructed responses over the course of a grade level, the materials provide frequent opportunities for on-demand writing practice.

The teacher’s lesson instructions are clear, and the lessons are detailed. For example , in Unit 1, students study the skill of Author’s Purpose and Author's Point of View while reading “Let ‘Em Play God.” As an introduction to the skill, students are provided with a definition of the skill, both in written form and through an informational video. Next, students dive deeper by observing the application of the skill through further explanation and a model. During this model section, students have the option of using an annotation tool and/or listening to the audio version of the text. As a last step, students have the opportunity to practice what they learned through the “Your Turn” section. In this section, students read a short passage, analyze the text, and answer two multiple-choice questions.

Indicator 3d

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.

The materials offer resources that connect the Common Core State Standards to the elements of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The Scope and Sequence document provides a grid that shows where all of the informational and literature standards are covered within each unit - specifically where they are introduced as practice/application only or instruction along with practice and application. Every assignment that the students complete has information at the bottom of the page that connects the task to the Common Core Standard being addressed. Every lesson comes with a detailed lesson plan that outlines the objectives and lists the Common Core Standards that are covered in the lesson. Every step of the lesson plan is provided in detail and mentions the relevant connections to the CCSS.

All of the sections and handouts in the Speaking and Listening Handbook contain references to the Common Core State Standards being addressed, as well. For example, in Unit 2, in the First Read of “Miss Breed,” students answer Think questions that are aligned to Common Core State Standards. For example, students answer the following question: “Describe the conditions at the Poston Relocation Center. What made living there so difficult? Use specific details from Dear Miss Breed in your answer.” This question aligns to CCSS.RI.8.1. In the Close Read of “Miss Breed,” students answer the following writing prompt: “Louise Ogawa, Babe Karasawa, Don Elberson, Chiyoko Morita, and Jack Watanabe all provide first-hand accounts of the relocation camp in Poston. What makes first-hand accounts of historical events more interesting and exciting than descriptions by people who weren’t present at the scene? How do first-hand accounts help you visualize places and events in the past in a way that second-hand accounts do not? Support your writing with evidence from the text.” This prompt aligns to RI.8.1, RI.8.7, W.8.10, W.8.4, W.8.5, and W.8.6.

Indicator 3e

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.

Digital features are interactive and simple. The layout is consistent throughout the materials, following the same format depending on the type of activity and assessment the students complete. There is space for the students to record their answers. The font, media size, and type are conducive to reading. There is blank space on each page, and the margins are of adequate size. The graphic organizers and handouts that are provided for students are easy to navigate.

The First Read of each text shows the title of the story with a small visual. Underneath, the information is presented using the design of a web page, with tabs for each of the phases of the assignment: Intro, Read, and Think. Some texts have an additional tab for StudySync TV. Each type of activity also has an associated symbol that can be found throughout the materials.The font size, titles, and media are an adequate size for viewing. There is sufficient space for the students to write their short answer responses to the text questions.

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.
8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and ancillary materials. In each lesson plan, teachers are provided full explanations and examples of the more advanced literary concepts in the following sections of the Teacher’s Edition section entitled, “Instructional Path.” The materials meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. The materials provide a document in the Core Program Guide entitled, “Research-Based Alignments.” The document provides a summary of key research findings and recommendations for best practices of instruction in English Language Arts, focused on Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, Media and Technology. Educators are encouraged to provide parents with a general overview of StudySync, as well as send home the Student User Guide, Grade Level Overview documents to familiarize caregivers with StudySync, and individual student reports.

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.

Detailed lesson plans are provided for each text within each unit. Access Paths, Blasts, First Reads, Close Reads, and Skill Lessons are provided along with detailed instructions, activities, and answer keys for each task suggested in the lesson plans. Embedded technology includes Tech Infusions, which are extension activities that incorporate technology such as Padlet, Diigo, PollEverywhere, etc. Another technological feature is Blast activities. This feature allows students to participate in a classroom version of social media, beginning with a driving question and a shared reading of background on a topic. This is followed by responding to the driving question in a public forum, participating in a poll, and reviewing live research links to learn more about the Blast’s topic. Blast responses go live in real time, allowing students to give each other feedback, select favorite responses, and reflect on the driving question again in light of the words of their peers. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Close Read of Sorry, Wrong Number, the teacher is provided with the following instructions and guiding questions for a class discussion: “In small, heterogeneous groups or pairs, ask students to share and discuss their annotations with a focus on the point of view presented in the selection. You can provide students with these questions to guide their discussion: Besides the dialogue, what else gives us information as we read this text? What Mrs. Stevenson's mood before she overhears the two men talking? How does her mood change by the end of the excerpt? What causes the change?”
  • In Unit 2, in the First Read of “Dear Miss Breed,” the teacher is provided with the following instructions to lead a class discussion: “In small groups or pairs, have students discuss the questions and inferences they made while reading. Which details help you develop a mental picture of the living conditions Japanese-American families find at Poston? How do Louise Ogawa's descriptions of the scenery through which she traveled serve to create a sense of irony? How do you think Babe Karasawa and his brothers felt about living in the barracks apartment he describes? Which details in Babe's description help you visualize what that first day was like for them?”
  • In Unit 3, in the Close Read of “Ode to Thanks,” the teacher is provided with the following embedded technology activity: “Students can create concept maps online using Bubbl.us. Google drawing can also be used to design a concept map.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Close Read of Chasing Lincoln’s Killer, the teacher is provided with the following embedded technology activity: “Have students create their own crossword puzzles using words from the text. Students can create their crosswords on paper or using an online tool, like Puzzle Maker. Then students can post the puzzles and solve them.”

Indicator 3g

Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.

In each lesson plan, teachers are provided with full explanations and examples of the more advanced literary concepts in the following sections of the Teacher’s Edition section entitled, “Instructional Path.” The Access to Complex Text section provides teachers with information to access the complex text by providing the actual literary concepts and examples found in the featured text. The Overview section provides teacher with a summary of the text identifying the literary concepts included in the featured text. Answer Keys are provided with all activities in each lesson plan of each text along with Access to Complex Text features for each text to assist the teacher is scaffolding instruction for the students, so that they all can access the complex text. This text includes a Teacher’s Glossary in each unit which includes linguistic, grammatical, comprehension, and literary terms that may be helpful in understanding reading instruction. Examples of explanations and examples include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in Grade 8 ELA Overview for “Let em Play God,” the teacher is provided with the following information: “To help students understand Hitchcock’s theory, use the following ideas to provide scaffolded instruction for an initial reading of the more complex features of this text. Although Hitchcock discusses abstract ideas such as suspense and letting an audience ‘play God,’ he provides concrete examples to explain this thinking. However, because students are likely to be unfamiliar with the example of Rope, it may be difficult for them to understand.”
  • In Unit 2, in the First Read of “Blood, Toils, Tears and Sweat,” the teacher is provided with the following background information about vocabulary so that the teacher can provide scaffolded instruction: “The British system of government may confuse some students. At this time, Britain was a monarchy led by King George VI. (You may wish to point out that George VI's daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, is the current monarch.) Point out that the phrase “His Majesty" is in reference to the king. Explain that Parliament is a two-chamber system comprised of the House of Lords, whose members inherit their seats, and the House of Commons, who members are democratically elected.The Parliament is presided over by a Prime Minister who, in consultation with the king, leads the nation. Students will most likely be unfamiliar with Churchill's references to the political parties that comprised the British government at that time. Point out that Labour, Opposition, and Liberals refer to various parties of differing viewpoints among themselves as well as with Churchill's Conservative Party.”
  • In Unit 3, in the Grade 8 ELA Overview for “Home,” the teacher is provided with the following background information about vocabulary so that the teacher can provide scaffolded instruction: “Some difficult vocabulary may present a challenge to readers. Terms such as headmaster, governess, and other terms that pertain to upper-class Russian life may need to be defined...The thirteenth paragraph contains a sentence in French that is not translated for students. Explain that the governess is telling Seryozha that his father is calling him, and he should move quickly. You may wish to point out that this phrase in French is textual evidence allowing students to infer that, even at age 7, Seryozha is receiving lessons in foreign language.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Skill Lesson: Connotation and Denotation” for “Paul Revere’s Ride,” the teacher is provided with the following information to aid in class discussion: “To help these students participate in the discussion, prompt them with questions that can be answered with a few words, such as: What type of meaning do words have beyond dictionary definitions? What does the denotation of a word refer to? What does the connotation of a word refer to? What do writers use denotative meanings for? What do writers use connotation for?”

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.

StudySync’s Program Overview states, “The core program was built from the ground up to fully align with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. The program’s instruction targets requirements of these standards.” The program offers a variety of high-quality texts. The selections presented in each unit and grade offer a balance of literary and informational texts. These texts offer complex themes and ideas as well as compelling characters and language.The alignment is evident in the Scope and Sequence. In this chart, texts are listed in order by unit. For each text, the materials identify which standards are being practiced and which ones are being taught and practiced. This is indicated by an “o” and an “x” respectively. At a glance, teachers can tell which Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language standards are being addressed by each text.

Indicator 3i

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain a explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research based strategies.

The materials provide a document in the Core Program Guide entitled, “Research-Based Alignments”. In this document, the publisher provides an overview of the research upon which the instruction in StudySync was built. The document provides a summary of key research findings and recommendations for best practices of instruction in English Language Arts, focused on Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, and Media and Technology. The document summarizes key research findings and research-based recommendations related to effective reading instruction from several key sources. Some of the key sources are as follows:

  • Reading Next-A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy: A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York 2nd Edition (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Written in conjunction with staff from the Alliance for Excellent Education, this document describes 15 key elements of effective adolescent literacy programs. Designed to improve adolescent achievement in middle and high schools, the elements are subdivided into instructional improvements and infrastructural improvements.
  • Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices: A Practice Guide (Kamil, Borman, Dole, Kral, Salinger, & Torgesen, 2008). This report provides clear and evidence-based recommendations for enhancing literacy skills in the upper elementary, middle, and secondary levels. An analysis of the quality of the evidence supporting each claim is provided.
  • Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension (2002). This review of the research on reading comprehension instruction was conducted by the Reading Study Group for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Research and Improvement.
  • Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading. A Report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (Graham & Herbert, 2010). This document provides a meta-analysis of research on the effects of specific types of writing interventions found to enhance students’ reading skills.
  • Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools. A Report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (Graham & Perin, 2007). This report provides a review of research-based techniques designed to enhance the writing skills of 4th to 12th grade students. Additionally, specific findings have been incorporated from other recent, reputable research related.

Indicator 3j

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.

Educators are encouraged to provide parents with a general overview of StudySync: the philosophy behind the program, the types of assignments and assessments students will complete, the skills they will learn, the expectations for students using a digital program, and how caregivers can support students at home. Teachers may choose to conduct a StudySync curriculum night to introduce parents to the program, as well as send home the Student User Guide and Grade Level Overview documents to familiarize caregivers with StudySync. In order to view and analyze their child’s progress, teachers should present to parents individual student reports. These printable reports contain every StudySync assignment given and completed by the student, including student’s responses, average review scores from peers, and specific feedback and scores from teachers. Student reports can inform teachers and caregivers of areas in which students need additional support.

Criterion 3k - 3n

Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. The Teacher Introduction portion of the Core ELA Assessments document describes the assessments’ key areas of focus. At the culmination of each unit, students are assessed on key instructional concepts and their ability to write to prompts. The information that these assessments reveal informs future instruction, leveling and grouping, and the need for remediation and/or reteaching. The Core Program Guide explains that assessments available in StudySync ELA allow for monitoring student progress, diagnosing possible issues, and measuring student achievement in relation to their understanding of previously-taught skills. In the Core Program Guide, the publisher provides components for a successful independent reading program; instructions to utilize the StudySync library; suggestions on taking a trip to the library; methods to set up time to read, reflect, and discuss; ways to stay organized using a reading log and Google forms; and ideas for students to share their independent reading books with others.

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

The materials contain both formative and summative assessments that can be used to measure student progress. There is a placement test that can be given at the beginning of the unit. Each unit has a summative assessment that tests comprehension, skills, vocabulary, and writing. Teachers use the responses in the First Read, the Skills lessons, Close Reads, Blasts, and Extended Writing Projects to conduct ongoing formative assessments. These formative assessments contain a variety of assessment types including multiple choice, short answer, discussion, and extended response. Formative assessments are found throughout the unit, and the End of Unit summative assessments are found in the Core ELA Assessment materials.

The materials provide Placement and Diagnostic Assessments, which are typically given at the beginning of the school year. These assessments focus on fluency and spelling, including an upper-level spelling inventory. The materials also provide oral reading and maze fluency assessments.

In the final portion of a Skills lesson, students respond to two short questions about a different passage of text from the First Read. These assessments provide teachers with immediate feedback on student performance, and the program contains guidance to teachers on how to alter instruction based on that performance.

Throughout each unit, students are assessed on their understanding of key instructional content along with their ability to write to sources. The results of these summative assessments provide teachers with data to track year-long progress and inform instructional decisions.

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
0/0

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

Formative assessments are built into each unit through Blasts, First Reads, Close Reads, and Skills Activities. Each formative assessment includes notations of the standards that are being addressed. The Teacher Introduction portion of the Core ELA Assessments document describes the assessments’ key areas of focus. The answer key at the end of each downloadable paper copy of the assessments provides item-specific information such as content focus/skill, Common Core State Standard, and Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level. The online version of the assessments offers the same metadata for each item along with tech-enhanced item functionality.

For example, in Unit 1, in the Skill lesson on Theme for “The Monkey’s Paw,” students define theme, participate in a whole group discussion that helps them understand how to identify theme in a work of fiction, and independently answer the following questions in the Your Turn section of the lesson: “Which of the following states an important idea that may be the theme of the selection? Which sentences or phrases from the passage best supports your answer?” These questions serve as a summative assessment and support teachers to identify mastery of Common Core State Standards RL.8.1 and RL.8.2.

Indicator 3l.ii

Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow up.

At the culmination of each unit, students are assessed on key instructional concepts and their ability to write to prompts. The information that these assessments reveal informs future instruction, leveling and grouping, and the need for remediation and/or reteaching. These end-of-unit assessments also generate reports for students and parents on skill strengths, skill deficiencies, standard and skill proficiency levels, and across-unit growth. Students take end-of-year assessments that indicate their readiness for state testing.

At the end of the final assessment for Unit 3, the materials guide the teacher in how to modify instruction based on outcomes such as, “Students score less than 7 on the Performance Task full write for unit assessment...then reteach the following skill lessons from the Extended Writing Project as needed, using the Access 4 Handout and the Approaching instructional scaffolds in the Access Path: Thesis Statement, Organize Argumentative Writing, Supporting Details, Introductions, Transitions, Conclusions, Style, Sources and Citations.”

Indicator 3m

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.

The StudySync materials provide for ongoing review, practice, and feedback. The Core Program Guide explains that assessments available in StudySync ELA allow for monitoring student progress, diagnosing possible issues, and measuring student achievement in relation to their understanding of previously-taught skills. The assessments included within the program help teachers gather data to address students’ instructional needs, and they measure the critical components of reading. The assessment options are grounded in research. Each unit has a Research and an Extended Writing Project, which include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress in writing. Routines and guidance include but are not limited to:

  • Teachers are provided with placement and diagnostic assessments that support their decision-making regarding appropriate instructional levels for students. These assessments serve as a baseline and help teachers to monitor student progress throughout the school year.
  • Each Unit provides teachers with lesson plans that “point teachers toward minute-to-minute formative assessment opportunities.” First Reads, Skills, Close Reads, and Extended Writing Projects offer “medium cycle assessment opportunities for students and teachers to chart progress toward key learning outcomes. End of unit assessments and performance tasks test key skills and measure progress summatively.”
  • Each chapter of the Language and Composition Handbook focuses on a specific grammar or usage skill. Each chapter begins with a pretest, followed by instruction and practice, and ends with a post test.

Indicator 3n

Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.

In the Core Program Guide, the publishers offer a general plan for an independent reading program. In this section, the publisher provides components for a successful independent reading program; instructions to utilize the StudySync library; suggestions on taking a trip to the library; methods to set up time to read, reflect, and discuss; ways to stay organized using a reading log and Google forms; and ideas for students to share their independent reading books with others. In each Unit’s pacing guide, a “Suggestions for Further and Independent Reading” section is provided to offer suggestions for texts that are related to the Core ELA program texts by theme, author, setting, etc. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, the Guide suggests that “Students wishing to read more about Anne Frank, the Holocaust, and those who helped the Jews elude capture, will find many books excerpted in the Fulltext Unit for The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play. They bear reading in their entirety, beginning with Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. Miep Gies’s memoir, Anne Frank Remembered provides the perspective of a friend who directly helped the Franks and Van Daans. The letters and diaries of Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman living in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, offer a basis of comparison in An Interrupted Life. The story of Hana Brady, another victim of the Holocaust, is carefully uncovered by a Japanese teacher and her class in Hana’s Suitcase. The efforts of non-Jews on behalf of Jews is chronicled in two books, The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diana Ackerman and Milton Meltzer’s Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust.”
  • In Unit 4, the Guide suggests that “Students will find many books and collected readings for further enrichment about slavery and pre-Civil-War America in the StudySync Full-text Unit for The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. In his famous essay “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau argues in favor of resisting laws and governments that counteract a moral order; his essay was motivated in part by his own opposition to slavery. Walt Whitman’s poetry collection Leaves of Grass, published several years before the beginning of the Civil War, is a celebration of life and humanity that echoes the tribute to freedom in Frederick Douglass’s narrative.”

Criterion 3o - 3v

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards.
10/10
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies to meet the needs of range of learners so content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding grade-level standards. The materials provide access supports for the reading of texts such as Audio Options, Audio Text Highlight Tool, Audio Speed controls, Video Content with Closed Captioning, Text Enlargement, and Keyboarding. The materials provide supports for students who are full English language learners, and they provide supports for students who are learning Standard English. Along with the scaffolds that differentiate instruction for English learners in the Access Path, teachers locate differentiation suggestions for beyond grade-level learners that stretch their thinking, adding more opportunities for collaborative and creative engagement. Throughout each instructional unit, students are encouraged to learn in groups.

Indicator 3o

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.

Throughout each instructional Unit, differentiated lessons are provided for the teacher to use. This Access Path provides differentiated lessons that are classified as emerging, intermediate, advanced, and approaching. The lesson plans provide a column to offer suggestions for the teacher to use in order to adequately differentiate the lesson. Student grouping is suggested in many lessons. Differentiated worksheets are provided. ELL students may be provided with more sentence frames while receiving access to the same materials.

Each lesson includes a full complement of Access Handouts. Access Handouts are differentiated through the use of sentence frames, graphic organizers, glossaries, and many other activities. Access handouts provide students with support to complete core assignments alongside their on-grade level classmates.

Teachers can create multiple online classes and custom learning groups. This allows teachers to assign texts and weekly Blast based on Lexile levels. Teacher can customize the directions and requirements for entire classes, smaller groups, or individual students. Teachers can “modify prompts, turn on audio readings, and extend due dates” to help students meet learning goals.

Indicator 3p

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.

Students read grade-level texts through the support of teacher modeling and scaffolded instruction. Students work as individuals, in small groups, and as a whole class. Student Models of interactions with texts are provided via multimedia introductions. Reading skills are supported by explicit grammar and vocabulary instruction. The instructional materials provide guidance on how to adapt instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners.

For each Unit, teachers can choose the Core unit or EL Unit. The EL Unit contains materials and assessments for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. All lessons contain a Core Path and an Access Path for teachers along with Access handouts for students to support the instruction in the Access Path. The program provides instructional materials that can be used for pre-teaching, reteaching, remediation, and small group instruction. Documents include the following: Grammar, Language, and Composition Workbook, Vocabulary Workbook, Spelling Workbook, Standard English Learners Handbook, and Foundational Skills.

The materials provide access supports for the reading of texts such as Audio Options, Audio Text Highlight Tool, Audio Speed controls, Video Content with Closed Captioning, Text Enlargement, and Keyboarding. The materials provide supports for students who are full English language learners, and they provide supports for students who are learning Standard English, such as Contrastive Analysis Drills, Translative Drills, and Discrimination Drills.

Indicator 3q

Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.

There are activities in the Access path in each of the four units that are offered for beyond grade-level students. These activities are designed to take above grade level students further into the core path content should they complete the activity before other students. Along with the scaffolds that differentiate instruction for English learners in the access path, teachers locate differentiation suggestions for beyond grade-level learners that stretch their thinking, adding more opportunities for collaborative and creative engagement. While core path questions may exercise reading comprehension strategies as well as inference techniques and the application of textual evidence, the beyond activity asks students to brainstorm how two characters might talk their way out of trouble.Technology can be leveraged to support these students.

For example, in Unit 2, in the First Read of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Play, the Access Path provides advanced students with an opportunity to summarize. Students “complete the Summarize activity on the Access 3 handout to summarize the first two paragraphs of the excerpt.” Students then exchange their work with a partner to review each other's answers. Teachers check for understanding after the activity is complete.

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

Throughout each instructional unit, students are encouraged to learn in groups. Students participate in collaborative conversations about texts, watch StudySyncTV group discussions which serve as models, and receive instruction in whole group, small group, and one-on-one settings.

Throughout every instructional unit, the lesson plans provide a column to offer suggestions for the teacher in order to adequately differentiate the lesson. Student grouping suggestions are provided in many lesson plans. Differentiated worksheets are provided. ELL students may be provided with more sentence frames while still receiving access to the same materials. For example:

  • In the Close Reads for each text, students express their ideas in collaborative conversation groups before planning and writing a short constructed response.
  • The Access Path guides teachers to leverage technology tools, such as Closed Captioning and Audio Text Highlight to engage and instruct learners. Additionally, the Access Path guides provide suggestions for alternating between whole group, small group, and one-on-one instruction.
  • At each grade level, the Speaking and Listening handbook is divided into four sections: Collaborative Discussions, Critical Listening, Research Using Various Media, and Presentation Skills. Each section is comprised of a comprehension lesson plan, including student handouts, checklists, and rubrics. Each section contains formative assessments that can be used and repeated for the following activities: engaging in small or large-group discussions, listening critically and responding to information and ideas shared by others, conducting research and assembling findings, and presenting in the narrative, informative, and argumentative modes using multimedia elements.

Indicator 3s

0/
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (ie., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The StudySync materials are accessible online and can be printed for student use. Teachers can log in to StudySync from any computer with internet access. The program is compatible with multiple internet browsers, such as, but not limited to, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome. The program is well-adapted to the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The materials include a “complete and comprehensive cross-curricular English Language Arts literacy curriculum in an easy-to-use digital format.” StudySync uses technology to create a digital learning environment that is available 24/7 from any desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

Indicator 3s3v

0/
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers, “platform neutral,” follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals. StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and several features of the program were designed to model the communication style utilized on social media.

Indicator 3t

0/
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

In addition to being delivered entirely online, many components of the program provide for multimedia experiences to promote increased engagement for students. Teachers can customize the learning experience of students based on their needs by customizing texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site.

Texts include digital tools, such as annotation and audio tools, to enhance the reading process and make it more accessible for students. Each Unit contains video and audio for classroom use to support text accessibility and comprehension. StudySyncTV and SkillsTV videos provide models of students engaged in collaborative discussion. Students can integrate multimedia components into their presentations.

Within Blast activities, students complete social-media style activities, including the composition of a 140-character response to a guiding question and participating in a digital poll. Students can view and interact with the immediate results from their blasts and their classmates’ blasts along with poll participation.

In First Reads, students have access to technology tools that allow them to digitally annotate text; these digital annotations are saved in each student’s reading and writing binders. Students have access to audio recordings of text. These recordings support students with fluency and building phonological awareness.

Indicator 3u

0/

Indicator 3u.i

0/
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers can manipulate learning experiences for students, and materials can be differentiated based on individual students’ needs.

  • Teachers use technology to scaffold assignments based on students’ interests and reading abilities. Teachers can assign one of four digital Access Handouts depending on a student’s ability. Teachers can customize the directions, expectations, and due dates for a whole class, a small group, or an individual student.
  • Teachers have access to a library of content, texts, and excerpts. This allows teachers to target specific skills and choose texts based on Lexile levels.
  • The materials include audio, closed captioning, and vocabulary support for students.

Indicator 3u.ii

0/
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials can be easily customized for local use.

Materials can be easily customized for local use. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. The Core Program Guide states that every lesson contains resources and guidance for teachers to both scaffold instruction for three levels of English learners and approaching grade-level learners, and enrich and extend activities for beyond grade-level learners. Every lesson plan is divided into two parts: the Core Path, for core instruction and the Access Path, for scaffolded instruction.

Assignments can be customized. Teachers can choose which Access Handout to include, add teacher notes or directions, decide whether or not to include audio, limit the number of Think questions, and select a suggested writing prompt or include their own. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals.

  • In Unit 1, the Pacing Guide states, “The pacing guide presents a suggested plan of attack that will help you cover the content in this unit, while making the connections between the anchor text and the StudySync selections clear for your students. Although this is a suggested outline of lessons, you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize the lessons to best meet the needs of your students. You may do all of this in class or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Ultimately, you are in the best position to decide what is manageable for your classes given the time constraints you are working within.”

Indicator 3v

0/
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.)

StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language; teachers have the option to print materials. To ensure student are engaged in learning, “several features of the program were designed to mimic the style of communication on social media.” Students complete Think questions, Skills Focus questions, and writing prompts online; this allows for peer review where students are encouraged to provide and receive feedback.

  • In Unit 3, in the Blast for “A Poison Tree,” students pretend that they are reading a story about present-day life, and that they come across the following sentence: "Sometimes she felt like the speaker in William Blake's poem 'A Poison Tree.'" Students can use a backchannel medium such as TodaysMeet or Twitter to exchange brief messages to answer the following question: "What meaning or theme might the allusion to 'A Poison Tree' bring to the story?" For additional involvement, students can brainstorm plot or character elements that could be in such a story.
  • In Unit 4, in the Blast for Civil War Journal, students share their responses in accordance with the following guidelines: “As students explore the links, allow them to crowdsource their findings using a backchannel tool like TodaysMeet. Students can post the research they find individually or in groups to share with the class.”

Criterion 3s - 3v

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms.
0/0
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers, “platform neutral,” follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals. StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and several features of the program were designed to model the communication style utilized on social media.

Indicator 3s

Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (ie., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The StudySync materials are accessible online and can be printed for student use. Teachers can log in to StudySync from any computer with internet access. The program is compatible with multiple internet browsers, such as, but not limited to, Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome. The program is well-adapted to the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The materials include a “complete and comprehensive cross-curricular English Language Arts literacy curriculum in an easy-to-use digital format.” StudySync uses technology to create a digital learning environment that is available 24/7 from any desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

Indicator 3t

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

In addition to being delivered entirely online, many components of the program provide for multimedia experiences to promote increased engagement for students. Teachers can customize the learning experience of students based on their needs by customizing texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site.

Texts include digital tools, such as annotation and audio tools, to enhance the reading process and make it more accessible for students. Each Unit contains video and audio for classroom use to support text accessibility and comprehension. StudySyncTV and SkillsTV videos provide models of students engaged in collaborative discussion. Students can integrate multimedia components into their presentations.

Within Blast activities, students complete social-media style activities, including the composition of a 140-character response to a guiding question and participating in a digital poll. Students can view and interact with the immediate results from their blasts and their classmates’ blasts along with poll participation.

In First Reads, students have access to technology tools that allow them to digitally annotate text; these digital annotations are saved in each student’s reading and writing binders. Students have access to audio recordings of text. These recordings support students with fluency and building phonological awareness.

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
0/0

Indicator 3u.i

Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers can manipulate learning experiences for students, and materials can be differentiated based on individual students’ needs.

  • Teachers use technology to scaffold assignments based on students’ interests and reading abilities. Teachers can assign one of four digital Access Handouts depending on a student’s ability. Teachers can customize the directions, expectations, and due dates for a whole class, a small group, or an individual student.
  • Teachers have access to a library of content, texts, and excerpts. This allows teachers to target specific skills and choose texts based on Lexile levels.
  • The materials include audio, closed captioning, and vocabulary support for students.

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials can be easily customized for local use.

Materials can be easily customized for local use. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. The Core Program Guide states that every lesson contains resources and guidance for teachers to both scaffold instruction for three levels of English learners and approaching grade-level learners, and enrich and extend activities for beyond grade-level learners. Every lesson plan is divided into two parts: the Core Path, for core instruction and the Access Path, for scaffolded instruction.

Assignments can be customized. Teachers can choose which Access Handout to include, add teacher notes or directions, decide whether or not to include audio, limit the number of Think questions, and select a suggested writing prompt or include their own. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals.

  • In Unit 1, the Pacing Guide states, “The pacing guide presents a suggested plan of attack that will help you cover the content in this unit, while making the connections between the anchor text and the StudySync selections clear for your students. Although this is a suggested outline of lessons, you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize the lessons to best meet the needs of your students. You may do all of this in class or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Ultimately, you are in the best position to decide what is manageable for your classes given the time constraints you are working within.”

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.)

StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language; teachers have the option to print materials. To ensure student are engaged in learning, “several features of the program were designed to mimic the style of communication on social media.” Students complete Think questions, Skills Focus questions, and writing prompts online; this allows for peer review where students are encouraged to provide and receive feedback.

  • In Unit 3, in the Blast for “A Poison Tree,” students pretend that they are reading a story about present-day life, and that they come across the following sentence: "Sometimes she felt like the speaker in William Blake's poem 'A Poison Tree.'" Students can use a backchannel medium such as TodaysMeet or Twitter to exchange brief messages to answer the following question: "What meaning or theme might the allusion to 'A Poison Tree' bring to the story?" For additional involvement, students can brainstorm plot or character elements that could be in such a story.
  • In Unit 4, in the Blast for Civil War Journal, students share their responses in accordance with the following guidelines: “As students explore the links, allow them to crowdsource their findings using a backchannel tool like TodaysMeet. Students can post the research they find individually or in groups to share with the class.”

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: Thu Apr 12 00:00:00 UTC 2018

Report Edition: 2017

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 1-year 978-0-0767-8473-8 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-0767-8474-5 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 2-years 978-0-0790-0308-9 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 3-years 978-0-0790-0311-9 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 4 years 978-0-0790-0314-0 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 5-years 978-0-0790-0316-4 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 6-years 978-0-0790-0319-5 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 7-years 978-0-0790-0321-8 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 8-years 978-0-0790-0324-9 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 2-years 978-0-0790-0385-0 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 3-years 978-0-0790-0388-1 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 4-years 978-0-0790-0390-4 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 5-years 978-0-0790-0393-5 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 6-years 978-0-0790-0395-9 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 7-years 978-0-0790-0398-0 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 8-years 978-0-0790-0401-7 Copyright: 2017 McGraw-Hill Education 2017

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