Alignment

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

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Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

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Meets Expectations
Partially Meets Expectations
Does not Meet Expectations
Usability

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Meets Expectations
Partially Meets Expectations
Does not Meet Expectations

Alignment

Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies for Grade 8 meet the expectations of alignment to the standards. The materials provide appropriate texts and associated tasks and activities for students to build literacy proficiency and advance comprehension over the course of the school year. Students engage in writing, speaking and listening, and language tasks to build critical thinking as they grow knowledge and build skills to transfer to other rigorous texts and tasks.

GATEWAY ONE

Text Quality and Alignment to the Standards

MEETS EXPECTATIONS

Overall, the Grade 8 materials meet the expectations for Gateway 1. A variety of high quality, complex texts support students’ growing literacy skills over the course of the year. However, some text types and genres called for in the standards are not represented.

Materials support students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the year using high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards.

Criterion 1a-1f

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  •  18 18
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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.

Overall, the Grade 8 materials meet the expectations for Text Quality and Complexity. The anchor texts (including video, audio, and visual texts) are of high quality, are appropriately complex, and support students’ growing literacy skills over the course of the year, including opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading that will move them toward grade-level proficiency. The materials only reflect a partial coverage of the text types and genres required by the standards.

4/4
Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

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 encompass many text types such as poems, speeches, informational texts, personal narratives, and media (such as newscasts and online sources). Additionally texts exhibit exceptional craft, rich vocabulary and syntax, as well as provide useful information. The materials allow teachers and students an adequate amount of time to spend working with complex texts that are engaging and consider a range of interests. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, students read “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. This poem is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty and conveys the statue’s role of welcoming people to the United States. Students also read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Ch. XI, a personal narrative by Frederick Douglass. This excerpt builds historical knowledge as it recounts Douglass’s escape from slavery and his experiences in New York. This text is found in the Common Core State Standards for ELA Appendix B: Text Exemplars under 6-8 Text Exemplars.
  • In Unit 2, students read “Ain’t I Woman?” by Sojourner Truth. This notable speech is worthy of close reading as it builds historical knowledge not only about slavery, but women’s rights as well. Students also read “Equal Rights of Women” by Shirley Chisholm. This speech also builds historical knowledge as Chisholm calls for a constitutional amendment ensuring equal rights from women.
  • In Unit 3, students read “According Animals Dignity” by Frank Bruni which was published by The New York Times in 2014. This article is engaging and provides insight into the animal welfare movement. Students also read “Caring for Animals May Have Shaped Human Evolution” which was published by Live Science. This article builds content knowledge as it provides scientific information connecting the desire to care for animals and how it affected human evolution.
  • In Unit 4, students read “The Great Immigration Debate” by Patricia Smith. This article was published in The NY Times Upfront Magazine and discusses illegal immigration and policy since 1986. Its photographs, opposing viewpoints, maps, graphics, and timelines make this piece highly engaging while building content knowledge about a current event of national importance. Students also read “The Easy Problem” by David Brooks. This article was published by The New York Times and builds content knowledge about the issue of immigration through the use of statistics and scientific findings.
2/4
Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

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

The core texts include a majority of informational texts and a small number of literary titles. Supplemental texts within the modules are also weighted heavily toward informational texts.

A wide distribution of genres and text types as required by standards to support student literacy development in Grade 8 is not evident. They include, but are not limited to, speeches, historical fiction, non-fiction, articles, videos, photography, websites, and periodicals. To fully meet the expectation of the balance for Grade 8 according to the Common Core State Standards, and to ensure students have opportunities to engage with texts from a broad range of cultures and periods, the teacher would have to add a range of text types to include literature with the following sub genres: adventure stories, historical fiction, mysteries, myths, science fiction, realistic fiction, allegories, parodies, satire, and graphic novels.

The only examples of literature found within the instructional materials for Grade 8:

  • Unit 1, Text 7, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus
  • Unit 1, Text 9, Rebels into Anarchy, Chapter 1 by Marie Ganz and Nat Ferber
  • Unit 1, Extended Reading, “ America” by Claude McKay

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

  • Unit 1, Text 2, “Description of Immigrants Leaving Ellis Island” by Jacob Riis
  • Unit 1, Text 3, “Ellis Island: Deconstructed” The History Channel
  • Unit 3, Text 1, “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth
  • Unit 3, Text 2, “Equal Rights for Women” by Shirley Chishlom
  • Unit 4, Text 1.2, “Immigration” by David M. Reimers
  • Unit 4, Text 2.2, “The Great Immigration Debate” by Patricia Smith
4/4
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.

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 their associated student task.

The Grade 8 texts with provided Lexile levels range from 970L to 1200L which means that 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 their associated student task. Some texts do exceed these bands, but the tasks are designed to make them accessible to eighth graders. The few texts that do not have Lexiles provided qualitatively meet the requirements for this grade level because they serve as introductory pieces for a unit, provide different perspectives on a controversial topic, and build content knowledge. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 1, students read Chapter V of On the Trail of Immigrant. This text measures at 1650L which is well above the Lexile Grade Bands for Grades 6-8. This text has a rich narrative description of the immigrant experience. The text contains longer sentences that will make it challenging for Grade 8 students. The materials provide scaffolds that include students listening to the text being read aloud and focusing on author’s message, tone, and language. Scaffolding also includes a focus on the first four paragraphs. With the scaffolds provided, this text is accessible and appropriate for Grade 8 students. The tasks associated with this texts make it appropriate for Grade 8 students.
  • In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1, students read “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second-Class Champion” by Venus Williams. It has a Lexile level of 1140 which falls within the Stretch Lexile Band for Grades 6-8. While this text will be challenging for students, their knowledge of the subject matter and the author, along with the accessibility of the vocabulary will aid in comprehension. This piece has qualitative value in that the author makes connections between the appearance of Wimbledon's value of men and women and the reality; this text connects the author’s experience with the larger issue of women’s rights. The tasks associated with this texts make it appropriate for Grade 8 students.
  • In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 3, students read the Gale “Animals Rights” Opposing Viewpoints article. This article has a Lexile level of 1160 which falls at the higher end of the Stretch Lexile Band for this grade level. While this article is complex, the text structure of three subheadings and short, direct paragraphs aid in student comprehension. This is also a qualitatively rich text that not only provides background information on the debate of using animals for research but also provides connections between animals and science and medicine. The tasks associated with this text make it appropriate for Grade 8 students.
  • In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, students read “The Great Immigration Debate” by Patricia Smith. This article has a Lexile level of 1310L which exceeds the Lexile bands for this grade level. Even though this text is complex, Grade 8 students should be able to read it due to its journalistic and narrative approach; it was written for a teenage audience and stylistically reflects articles that eighth graders would be familiar with. This text has qualitative value as it builds content knowledge of the issue of illegal immigration, builds historical knowledge of immigration in the U.S., and provides information about laws and policies regarding illegal immigration. The tasks associated with this text make it appropriate for Grade 8 students.
4/4
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.)

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year.

Series of texts are at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band. Skills build on one another, as well as the complexity of the texts to support the thinking and literacy skills. In the units with the text sets, there is a full range of the Lexile stretch band providing opportunities to challenge students by giving them complex texts but also by providing more reachable texts as they are working on analysis and synthesis skills.

Each unit has Questioning Path Tools and a toolbox of graphic organizers that allow students to record thoughts for discussion and build student understanding. Students focus on attending to literacy skills that include attending to details, deciphering words, comprehending syntax, interpreting language, identifying relationships, making inferences, summarizing, questioning, recognizing perspective, evaluating information, delineating argumentation, forming claims, using evidence, using logic, using language, presenting details, organizing ideas, using conventions, publishing, and reflecting critically.

As the year progresses, questions and tasks build literacy skills and student independence. In Unit 1, students read closely for textual details. Students read nine texts and draft a multi-paragraph explanation to show their understanding of the texts they have read. In Unit 2, students begin making evidence-based claims. In Unit 3, students research to deepen their understanding of a topic. At the end of the year, in Unit 4, students are building evidence-based arguments using the skills from each of the previous units to evaluate and write an evidence-based argument.

2/2
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.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 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.

While not all Grade 8 texts have a text complexity analysis, most texts include Instructional Notes and Text Notes. There is clear rationale for the purpose and placement of the texts chosen. The Instructional Notes include a recommendation on how students should read the text (silently and independently, listen to text read aloud, etc.) and the language in the text. In the teacher’s edition, the curriculum explains the purpose and value of the texts in the Text Notes provided for teachers. For example, some texts are chosen for their value in reinforcing literary techniques while others were chosen as appropriate introductions to a particular time period or topic. All texts were chosen because they were appropriate for eighth-grade students while still allowing some flexibility for a variety of reading levels. Quantitative and qualitative measures are discussed in the text notes section.

Examples of Instructional and Text Notes found in Grade 8 materials include the following:

  • Unit 1, Text Notes: “The passage is from Chapter 5 of his 1906 book, On the Trail of Immigrant. Because of longer sentences, it measures above grade level (at 1650L), but its rich description and narration should be accessible to most students with some scaffolding.” Instructional Notes: “knowing that the text was written by a college professor who researched the experiences of immigrants coming to and moving through America will help students think about how this purpose may have influenced the author’s perspective on the scene he is describing.”
  • Unit 2, Text Notes: “The students will make text based claims by moving from literal understanding of the text’s details to simple conclusions or inferences, to claims that arise from and are supported by close examination of textual evidence.”
  • Unit 3, Text Notes: “The imagery of the video and its initial presentation of the topic should stimulate a class discussion of how humans and animals are, and have always been, linked together--and set the stage for some brainstorming about different aspects of the topic that might be interesting for students to research.” Instructional Notes: “In groups of three and then as a class, students summarize what they have noted and thought about as they have watched the video. Have students compare the notes they have taken -- in terms of their content and their approach to notetaking.”
  • Unit 4, Text Notes: “It is intended to provide background information for articles and blog posts about immigration written by CIS Fellows, which are also accessible through the CIS website. The text presents a concise but relatively detailed history of immigration and immigration policy in the United States, moving from historical background in the first three paragraphs to a chronological history of US immigration laws from 1965 (a landmark policy shift discussed by Lyndon Johnson in Text 4.4, a 1965 dedication speech) to 2007. ”
2/2
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.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a broad range of text types and disciplines as well as a volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

Grade 8 materials meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency. Students read a variety of texts including images, informational texts, videos, websites, literary nonfiction, poems, personal narratives, and speeches. Most texts are accompanied by a Questioning Path Tool which provides both text-dependent and text-specific questions that guide them into a deeper reading of the text. Finally, each unit provides various student checklists and teacher rubrics that can be used to monitor progress throughout the year.

Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety of text types and disciplines and also to experience a volume of reading as they grow toward reading independence at the grade level. Evidence is as follows:

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, teachers may choose to read aloud “Description of Immigrants Leaving Ellis Island” and have students follow along or have the students read silently; this depends on students’ previous experiences and reading levels. Before students reread the text independently, students are directed to text-specific questions provided by the Questioning Path Tool.
  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 3, students follow along as they listen to a dramatization of Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” The text is chunked into shorter sections. This allows students to read carefully so that they can make claims about both concrete and abstract ideas presented in the text. In this unit, students also read “Equal Rights of Women” by Shirley Chisholm and “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second-Class Champion” by Venus Williams. The instructional materials provided Questioning Path Tools to help students analyze these speeches on Women’s Rights.
  • In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 2, students use Common Source 2A “Caring for Animals May Have Shaped Human Evolution” as a model text as they begin to think about the topic; it should also open up additional pathways for asking questions and learning within the topic area. “This text provides an opportunity to work on close-reading skills used during independent research project."
  • In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, students read “Historical Overview of Immigration Policy.” The curriculum provides support for the analysis of this text via the Questioning Path Tool. This tool provides both text-dependent and text-specific questions in the levels analyzing, deepening, and extending.

Criterion 1g-1n

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  •  14 14
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Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations of indicators 1g through 1m. The materials support students as they grow their writing skills over the course of the year. High-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks support students as they grapple with materials, actively participate in discussions of content, engage in a variety of writing types, and demonstrate their learning with evidence-supported arguments. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards.

2/2
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).

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 Grade 8 units include questions and tasks that focus on gathering evidence, knowledge, and insight from what students read. Questions and tasks delve systemically into texts to guide students toward extracting the key meanings or ideas found there. Coherent sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and activities are present to ensure text focus and increased reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills.

The program includes a Literacy Tool Box - a collection of adoptable resources designed to increase literacy skills. The toolbox includes handouts, graphic organizers, checklists, and rubrics which are used throughout the program. These instructional materials support scaffolding, include activities that encourage responses that require text evidence, and can be used in many different contexts.

Text-dependent questions and tasks that students encounter in the Grade 8 materials include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 3, students are asked to closely read The Promised Land by Mary Antin and answer text-dependent/specific questions including: “In what ways does the text begin, end, and develop? How do the text’s main ideas relate to what I already know, think, or have read? Which details in the first three paragraphs suggest ‘newness’ to Mary Antin, though they may seem much more familiar to us as readers?”
  • In Unit 2, Part 5, Activity 1, students are asked to read "Ain’t I a Woman?" by Sojourner Truth, "Equal Rights for Women?" by Shirley Chisholm, and "Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second-Class Champion" by Venus Williams. They respond to the following text-dependent/specific questions including: “How can it be that Wimbledon finds itself on the wrong side of history? What evidence can you point to in the text(s) that is the basis for the and supports your observation? What relationships do I discover among the ideas and details presented, the (various) author’s perspective(s), and the language or structure of the text(s)?”
  • In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 2, students are asked to research and read about a topic and answer the following text-dependent questions: “What new ideas or information do I find in the text? What ideas stand out to me as significant or interesting? How do the text’s main ideas relate to what I already know, think, or have read?”
  • In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 3, students read "The Easy Problem" by David Brooks and respond to the following text-dependent/specific questions: "What claims do I find in the text? Which sentences-taken together- best communicate Brooks’s position about immigration? How does on one of these claims relate to his overall argument, and what specific evidence does he provide to support the claim?”
2/2
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).

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and activities that build to a culminating task designed to help students synthesize and apply their learning from the unit in an engaging and authentic way.

The Grade 8 materials include the Questioning Path Tool for many texts and provide both text-dependent and text-specific questions to help students analyze the texts. Each unit also has a Literacy Toolbox with student materials to help guide the students through each task and build to the culminating task. Tasks are developed using the writing process and are rich, scaffolded, and provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do using reading, speaking, and writing.

  • In Unit 2, the culminating writing tasks ask students to analyze three related texts then write several paragraphs about their analysis. Next, students lead a discussion about the three texts. To prepare for this final task, students work through these texts using the Questioning Path Tool and analyze each text by responding to text-dependent/specific questions. These questions help students deepen their understanding of the text. For example, in Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 3, the Questioning Path Tool for Rebels: into Anarchy asks students to answer the question, “How does her mother’s reaction contrast with how she is described by Ganz and with the author’s characterization of her father? What is the impact of this juxtaposition and use of antithesis at the end of the passage?”
  • In Unit 2, students are asked to write an Evidence-Based Claim essay as a culminating task. The activities throughout the unit build on each other and help prepare students for the end task. There are five parts to this unit, each building on evidence-based claims and ending with the development of evidence-based writing. Each part uses Questioning Path Tools to help students analyze the text, identify claims within the text, and eventually create claims of their own. For example, in Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students independently read “Ain’t I a Woman?” and answer questions such as, “What is Truth referring to as her 'cup' in paragraph 3? What point is Truth trying to make about rights with her 'cup' metaphor? Why does Truth ask the question, 'Where does your Christ come from?' in paragraph 4? What point is Truth trying to make about how some view women with her question?”
  • Unit 3 is devoted to research. Students create a Research Portfolio and develop a reflective research narrative using information from their portfolios as a culminating task. After choosing a research topic, students conduct the research process and develop a research portfolio which will then be used to write the research perspective. Throughout the unit, teachers are provided Text Notes to help students analyze the common texts that will be used as sources. For example, the instructional materials provide text-dependent discussion questions as part of the Researching to Deepen Understanding Common Source Set, including “What does the text suggest about the topic area: 'Animals and Humans: How are We Connected?' How credible and relevant is the source as a starting point for further research?"
  • In Unit 4, the culminating task is writing an evidence-based argument. The entire unit focuses on argument beginning with issues, analyzing arguments, taking a position, organizing an argument, and writing their argumentative essays. Throughout the unit, Questioning Path Tools are provided to help students analyze the common texts that will be used as sources for their evidence-based argumentative essays. For example, in Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, the Questioning Path Tool for “Immigration” provides text-specific questions such as “What details and ideas does the text provide about the more recent problem of illegal 'aliens' or immigrants in the United States? What evidence does this text provide that builds my understanding of the issue of immigration and immigration policy in the United States?”
2/2
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.)

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.

Materials provide protocols for evidence-based discussions. Students are provided with multiple opportunities to work with partners, small groups, and when appropriate, large groups, to practice application of academic vocabulary and syntax and to build communication and presentation skills.

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 2, students examine the image(s) in small groups. They use the Guiding Questions Handout from the Literacy Toolbox to help with the task of answering questions, such as “What details stand out to me as I examine this image? What do I think this image is mainly about? How do specific details help me understand what is being depicted in the image?”
  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 3, students participate in a close read of an excerpt of Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Students participate in a whole class discussion and answer the question “What in the text makes you reach your observation or conclusion? Point to the specific words or sentences.”
  • In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 6, students work in pairs and/or groups to discuss their evidence-based claims. Pairs are encouraged to present their evidence-based claims to the class.
  • In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 2, students begin the research process by exploring a topic. Students work in reading teams in which they read sections of the website. They use Guiding Questions Handout from the Literacy Toolbox to help them answer text-dependent questions to guide their close reading. After students summarize, they share with the class what other information that may want to know about the topic, Animals and Humans - How are We Connected?
  • In Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 1, students work on developing skills to write collaboratively and are encouraged to hold informal text-centered check-in discussions with a peer or teacher.
2/2
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.

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.

Grade 8 materials support students’ practice and application of their speaking and listening skills in concert with their practice in reading for understanding. Students are provided multiple opportunities to work with partners, small groups, and when appropriate, large groups, to practice sharing information they have summarized and synthesized and present research they have conducted individually and/or in groups. Students work through various tasks throughout units using provided graphic organizers from the Literacy Toolbox as well as using collaboration and discussions to assist students in refining their work. Appropriate scaffolds help guide students through activities in the units, leading to and supporting the culminating tasks. Speaking and listening work is embedded across the year's instruction to support students increasing skills. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 1, students begin practicing analyzing text 5, “On the Trail of the Immigrant." Working in pairs using a Guiding Question, such as “In paragraph 6, what details does Steiner provide about the Polish woman he encounters, and how do those details evoke feelings in us as readers?” Student pairs discuss the text, answer questions, and compare their annotations. They then meet with another student pair to further discuss their findings and listen to other findings.
  • In Unit 2, Part 2, Activity 4, students develop evidence-based claims. After working in pairs, students present the evidence they have gathered to support their claims and present it to the class. There is a class discussion on how evidence supports claims. The teacher models how to evaluate evidence and then guides the discussion. Students are asked to include text evidence in the discussion. These tasks support students to learn how to write evidence-based claims successfully which is the culminating task for this unit.
  • In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 8, students work with partners or small groups and read their evidence-based claims they have written. The student then listens to the feedback of the group and the group has a discussion about the drafts using specific evidence. The purpose of this activity is to refine student work using peer feedback.
  • In Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 7, students work in collaborative teams to conduct research using a research frame graphic organizer to guide their research. Student teams study similar topics and discuss information gathered on their research frames and share summaries. Teams provide feedback to each other to refine and guide the research process.
  • In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 2, students use the model given to articulate and share their text-based responses and constructive reviewer claims, as if their review partner (or the teacher) has written the model narrative. Students will then be asked to volunteer to present their responses to the whole class, and discuss how the responses are (or are not) specific, constructive, and text-based.
  • In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 7, students write an analysis of one of the following texts: “The Easy Problem” by David Brooks, “Immigration Policy Should Be Overhauled to Take National Identity Seriously” by Amy Chua, “Is This Our America Anymore?” by Pat Buchanan, Remarks at the Signing of the 1965 Immigration Bill by Lyndon B. Johnson, “Shut the Door” by Ellison Durant Smith, and “An Un-American Bill” by Robert H. Clancy. Students work in groups to review and improve their draft analysis.
2/2
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.

The 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.

Materials include a mix of both on-demand and process writing that covers a year’s worth of instruction and includes encouraging the building of knowledge about a topic. Many opportunities for students to revise and/or edit are found. There are digital resources, short and longer writing tasks as well as culminating projects supported and connected to texts and/or text sets. Writing tasks and projects are aligned to Grade 8 Common Core State Standards.

Examples of on-demand writing tasks include:

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 4, students view Ellis Island Deconstructed, The Ellis Island Medical Examination, and Island of Hope-Island of Tears. After viewing the videos several times, students create a two column chart (What was important in the video? in the first column and Why was it important? in the second column). Then students use the two column chart to “write a few sentences explaining something they have learned from the video.”
  • In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 3, students work in pairs to write a draft Evidence-Based Claim. This draft will “focus on less formal, more fluent writing, trying first to get their ideas out on paper so that they and others can examine them.”
  • In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 3, students write a bibliography for their Evidence-Based Perspective. Students use all of their sources to complete the Potential Sources Tool.
  • In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 7, students use their notes from one of the texts that they read for this unit to write paragraphs analyzing one of the arguments. The analysis must include the following:
    • State the author’s position
    • Identify the elements of the argument
    • Make an evidence-based claim about how the author’s perspective shapes the position and argumentation.
    • Use evidence from the text to support analysis

Examples of process writing tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Part 3 Activity 3, students write a comparative analyses of an excerpt from The Future in America: A Search after Realities by H. G. Wells and The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. Students are asked to include a comparative question, sentences explaining analysis of both texts, and sentences that connect the two texts addressing the comparative question. After constructing the paragraph, small groups conduct a peer review and students are given time for revisions.
  • In Unit 2, Part 5, Activity 4, students draft an evidence-based essay that supports a claim. In Activity 5, Students collaborate to revise before presenting final essays in Activity 6.
  • In Unit 4, Part 5, Activities 1-5, students write an evidence-based argument essay as a culminating task for the unit. This is a multi-step process where students make an outline and use some of the graphic organizers found in the Literacy Toolbox to complete their draft. Students revise their drafts collaboratively and present their final copy to the class.
1/2
Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Writing is embedded throughout the curriculum; however, the writing instruction does not fully reflect the distribution of the standards, in particular the various elements of narrative writing. Narrative writing is only included as a follow-up reflection to longer research projects. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 5, students write a short paragraph explaining their analysis of On the Trail of an Immigrant, Chapter 5, "At the Gateway" and reference or cite supporting details. In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 5, students continue the process by using their analysis to independently write a text-based explanation of one of the previously read texts in the unit.
  • In Unit 1, Part 5, Activity 4, students are asked to write an explanatory essay of their analysis of a text as their culminating task, citing evidence to support their analyses.
  • In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 7, students independently complete an Organizing Evidence-Based Claim Tool for the claim they have formed in Activity 5 and draft a one-to-two paragraph evidence-based claim from the text of “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second Class Champion.” In Activity 8, students use the collaborative review process and revise one aspect of their draft evidence-based claims paragraph.
  • In Unit 2, Part 5, Activities 1-6, students are asked to write an evidence-based claims essay as a culminating task for this unit. Students revise their essays by sharing in small groups and receiving feedback from their peers.
  • In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 4, student compile a research portfolio of sources on a topic of Animals. Three possible areas of interest for further investigation are one modeled by teacher, one identified by the class, and one identified by the student. In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 2, students use their portfolios to write a two-page reflective narrative that tells a story about the search, how they came to their perspective on the topic, and their experience of inquiry and conducting research. An extension activity is suggested to support the presentation of this information to the class.
  • In Unit 3, Part 5, Activities 1-4, students write a reflective research narrative explaining their thinking and how their story developed. Students receive feedback from peers to assist in revising their drafts before writing their final copies for the culminating task.
  • In Unit 4, Part 5, students engage in a collaborative, question-based process to develop and strengthen their argumentative essays. Students work with their teachers and peers to draft, revise, and publish their own argumentative essay on Immigration.
  • In Unit 4, Part 5, Activities 1-5, students write an argumentative essay as the culminating task for the unit and the series.
2/2
Indicator 1m

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

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.

Grade 8 materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Writing opportunities are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence.

  • In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 5, students write a short paragraph explaining their analysis of On the Trail of an Immigrant, Chapter 5, “At the Gateway” and reference or list support textual details. In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 5, students continue the process by using their analysis to independently write a text-based explanation of one of the texts read previously in the unit.
  • In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1, students read “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second Class Champion” by Serena Williams. Students complete the Forming Evidence-Based Claim Tool by asking a question from the Questioning Path Tool. Students record “key details, connections, and/or evidence-based claims.”
  • In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 7, students independently complete an Organizing Evidence-Based Claim Tool for the claim they have formed in Activity 5 and draft a one-to-two paragraph evidence-based claim from the text of “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second Class Champion.” In Activity 8, students use the collaborative review process and revise one aspect of their draft evidence-based claims paragraph.
  • In Unit 3, the culminating writing activity involves students researching to deepen their understanding. Students are asked to write a narrative by telling a story about what they have learned, use the notes and claims from previously written assignments, connect ideas, and reflect on what they have learned.
  • In Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 2, students draft their own reflective research narratives, working from the draft narrative and statement of their perspectives they have developed previously, using evidence from their tools, and incorporating claims they have developed in response to inquiry questions.
  • In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 7, students read immigration texts and write paragraphs analyzing one of the arguments that they have read by:
    • Stating the author’s purpose
    • Identifying the elements of the argument
    • Making an evidence-based claim about how the author’s perspective shapes the position and argumentation
    • Using evidence from the text to support the analysis
  • In Unit 4, Part 5, students work with their teachers and peers to draft, revise, and publish their own argumentative essay on “Immigration.” In this argumentative essay, students state a claim and use evidence from texts to support their position.
1/2
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.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially 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 present tables in the initial overview of each unit and sub-sections outlining the alignment to Common Core State Standards. The materials are focused on select standards for the reading, writing, and speaking and listening standards and do not state a direct alignment to the language standards. However, the materials do provide opportunities for students to demonstrate some, but not all, language standards. This occurs in the form of reading and demonstrating understanding of the text and intentions of word choices by the authors. The provided rubrics direct students and teachers to expect standard English language conventions and punctuation to be demonstrated in writing assignments. However, the materials are not as specific for these expectations as specified by the Common Core State Standards for language conventions. The materials do not clearly provide opportunities for students to practice all language and grammar expectations outlined by national college-and-career readiness standards.

The materials promote and build students’ ability to apply conventions and other aspects of language within their own writing. Instructional materials provide opportunities for students to grow their fluency language standards through practice and application. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards. Although using language and conventions are part of the writing skills on the academic habits checklist, no guidance is provided to teachers on how to facilitate this learning in or out of context. Student Skills Checklist include Using Language and Using Conventions. The Skills Lists state, "Using Language: Writes and speaks clearly so others can understand claims and ideas. Using Conventions: Correctly uses sentence elements, punctuation, and spelling to produce clear writing." Students assess their evidence of demonstrating these skills within the context of writing but receive no explicit instruction of grammar or conventions during the unit.

GATEWAY TWO

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

MEETS EXPECTATIONS

The instructional materials meet the expectations of Gateway 2. Texts and tasks are organized around topics and themes that support students' acquisition of academic vocabulary. Comprehension of topics and concepts grow through text-connected writing and research instruction. The vocabulary and independent reading plans may need additional support.

Criterion 2a-2h

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The instructional materials meet the expectations of the building knowledge criteria. Texts and tasks are organized around topics and themes that support students' growing academic vocabulary and understanding and comprehension of topics and concepts. The materials partially support a comprehensive vocabulary plan and independent reading plan over the course of the year. The materials include cohesive writing and research instruction that is interconnected with texts to grow students' literacy skills by the end of the school year.

4/4
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.

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

Grade 8 materials are grouped around topics such as Unit 1’s focus on the immigration experience in the early twentieth century, Unit 2’s focus on women’s rights, and Unit 4’s focus on how animals and humans are connected; this intense focus builds not only literacy skills but students’ content knowledge. The instructional materials allow students to develop a range of reading and writing skills. Texts are set up to increase in complexity both in regards to the reading difficulty, as well as the writing tasks complexity.

  • Unit 1’s topic, “And, above all, we had to learn English,” presents students with “a series of texts related to immigration, and more specifically the experiences of immigrants passing through Ellis Island into the United States in the early twentieth century. Students examine historical photographs, a video, and websites that represent the history of Ellis Island.” Students are provided with a variety of text types at various Lexile levels so that teachers can assign texts based on reading comprehension levels, interests, or developing skills. This flexibility allows teachers to prepare individual students to independently perform a “close reading, questioning, analysis, and summary of one of the three related texts.”
  • Unit 2 asks students to make evidence-based claims through activities centered around the topic of Women’s Rights. “The Footprints of Legends” is centered on three related texts: Sojourner Truth’s 1864 “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, Shirley Chisholm’s 1969 “Equal Rights for Women” speech, and Venus WIlliams’s 2006 Times op-ed “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m a Second Class Champion.” These texts address issues of women’s rights in their distinct historical and cultural contexts and offer students the opportunity to develop familiarity with claims within texts and how authors use evidence to support them. This process builds toward students writing and supporting their own claims.
  • Unit 3 focuses on conducting research to deepen understanding and is centered on the topic “Animals and Humans: How are we Connected?” The instructional materials provide a common text that can be used to build background information for teacher modeling and as the focus for skill development lessons. The sources have been chosen because they are relevant to one of the possible Areas of Investigation that students may be exploring. Unit 3 texts include, but are not limited to:
    • “EARTH: A New Wild” - PBS Trailer
    • “Caring for Animals May Have Shaped Human Evolution” - Jeremy Hsu
    • “Why do we care about some animals more than others?” - NPR Talk
    • “Animal Rights” - Gale Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection
  • Unit 4 asks student to write evidence-based arguments centered on the topic, “E Pluribus Unum.” The instructional materials state, “The topic area and texts focus on the broad area of immigration and more specifically on issues and controversies related to immigration law and policy in the United States, historically and currently.” A common text set is provided. Students will use these texts to move from guided to independent practice for the close reading skills associated with analyzing an argument.
4/4
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.

The instructional 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.

Grade 8 materials contain sets of coherently questions and tasks that require students to analyze the texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics. Consistently throughout the materials, higher order thinking questions are provided in the form of both text-dependent and text-specific questions. These questions are embedded into Questioning Path Tools that are used by students as guides when analyzing texts.

  • Unit 1, students read a variety of texts centered around the topic “And, above all, we had to learn English.” Students analyze these texts via Questioning Path Tools which provides questions that require students to analyze language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure. For example:

Text 5: On the Trail of the Immigrant, Ch. 5 “ At the Gateway”

Text 6: The Future in America, Ch. III

  • In Unit 2, students read a three speeches centered around the topic of Women’s Rights. Students analyze these texts via Questioning Path Tools which provides questions that require students to analyze language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure. For example:

Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?": What is Truth referring to as her “cup” in paragraph 3? What point is Truth trying to make about rights with her “cup” metaphor?

Shirley Chisholm’s “Equal Rights for Women”: What do you notice about how the text is organized or sequenced? According to Chisholm, what are the assumptions of the “calculated system of prejudice” that lie behind the question, “Do you type?”

Venus Williams’s “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second Class Champion”: How does Williams begin her article in the first two paragraphs? How does her beginning relate to the “culmination” she refers to in paragraph 3 and her “disappointment” in paragraph 5? What arguments does Williams present against Wimbledon’s claim that “women’s tennis is worth less”?

  • In Unit 3, students read a variety of texts on the topic, “Water: Why is it so valuable?” The Guiding Questions Handout is used to analyze sources for perspective and includes text dependent questions that require students to analyze language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure such as “What details or words suggest the author’s perspective?”
  • In Unit 4, students read a variety of texts on the topic of modern immigration issues. Students analyze these texts via Questioning Path Tools which provides questions that require students to analyze language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure. For example:

Text 1.2: “Immigration”

Text 4.2: “Immigration Policy Should be Overhauled to Take National Identity Seriously”

In the middle of her text, Chua most clearly states her position, introducing it by saying, “The right thing for the United States to do…” What is Chua’s middle-ground position about immigration? What are her “five suggestions” to respond to the problems of immigration and assimilation in the United States? What evidence does she provide to support these suggestions?”

4/4
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.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials contain text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across texts.

These questions are provided through Questioning Path Tools and the Guiding Questions Handout. These questions guide teachers as they support student growth in analyzing language, determining main ideas and supporting evidence, identifying author’s purpose and point of view, and analyzing structure of text. Both the student work with individual and multiple texts and teacher materials provide support in growing analytical skills of students. .

  • In Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 1, the Questioning Path Tools provides text-dependent questions such as, “In lines 1-6, what details and words does Lazarus use to create a picture of the 'mighty woman with a torch'? Why might Lazarus refer to her as 'Mother of Exiles'?” These questions help student analyze texts as they build content knowledge about immigration.
  • In Unit 2, students examine the speeches by Sojourner Truth, Shirley Chisholm, and Venus Williams which focus on Women’s Rights. Students work across these texts in chunks to make evidence-based claims. Throughout the unit, students encounter several opportunities to respond to text dependent questions and tasks that require them to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across these texts. For example, In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students answer text-dependent questions such as, “In paragraph 2, what four parts of her experience does Truth describe before asking the question each time, 'Ain’t I a Woman?'”
  • In Unit 3, students read a variety of texts and use information from these sources to organize a body of research and write a reflective research narrative that communicates their evidence-based perspective on their area of investigation, which can also be expressed in an optional multimedia presentation. In the Researching to Deepen Understanding Common Source Set section, the instructional materials provide text-dependent questions to help process sources as they build knowledge. Questions include, “What does the website suggest about the topic area: “Animals and Humans: How Are We Connected? What other human and animal connections does it make you think about?”
  • In Unit 4, students read a variety of texts and use information from these sources to write an argumentative essay. The instructional materials provided text-specific questions, via Questioning Path Tools, to help students analyze some of these common sources. For example, in Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, students answer questions such as, “What details and ideas does the text provide about the more recent problem of illegal 'aliens' or immigrants in the United States?”; questions like this one help students see the topic of immigration law and policy from different perspectives.
4/4
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).

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 and/or theme through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

Grade 8 materials include sets of questions and tasks to support students to complete culminating tasks in which they are demonstrating knowledge of topics and/or themes. Each module has several “Questioning Path Tools” that scaffold the material to encourage the successful completion of culminating tasks. The materials contain sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and activities that build to each culminating task. Tasks engage students in speaking, listening, reading, and writing which provide learning through integrated skills. Culminating tasks showcase students' demonstration of topics and themes through a combination of skills, print, and nonprint texts.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Unit 1’s culminating task asks students to write a text-based explanation about one of three final texts, The Promised Land, Rebels: Into Anarchy, and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. In preparation for this writing, students read and discuss the texts, and then analyze the texts independently. Because the focus on this unit is for student to read closely for textual details, the instructional materials integrate the development of explanatory communication skills into the close-reading process and provide Questioning Path Tools to guide students. For example, in Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 2, students participate in structured text-centered discussions in which they examine their first impressions of the texts.
  • In Unit 2, Part 5, Activity 4, students write an evidence-based essay using claims they created based on the texts, “Ain’t I a Woman?”, “Equal Rights for Women,” and “Wimbledon Has Sent Me a Message: I’m Only a Second-Class Champion” as a way to demonstrate their mastery of the unit’s objectives. This activity requires students to express their understanding of the text through writing. In Unit 2, Part 5, Activity 5, “the class discusses final evidence-based claims essays...and reflects on the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits involved in making and communicating evidence-based claims.” This activity asks students to speak about “the process through which they arrived at their claim - how it emerged from their reading of the text and how they honed it.” They also listen as other students share their experience.
  • In Unit 3, students write a reflective research narrative that communicates their evidence-based perspective on their area of investigation centered around the topic, “Animals and Humans: How Are We Connected?” To prepare for this final task, students explore topics, collaborate with peers, pose and refine questions, and organize information. Questions and tasks are designed to help students analyze connections that “aid in comprehension, deepen understanding, and prepare students to express their evolving perspective.” For example, students build their listening and speaking in Unit 3, Part 1 when they are initiating inquiry. Students initially explore a topic and build background knowledge through reading and text-centered discussion, then initiate inquiry by generating questions collaboratively that can frame and direct their research.
  • The final goal of Unit 4 is for students to be able to write an evidence-based argument on the topic, “E Pluribus Unum.” In Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 1, “students learn about the collaborative, question-based approach to developing and improving writing...in the context of talking out a first draft.” This is part of the four components of the Collaborative Workshop. Through this collaborative process, students read each other’s papers and write and edit their own papers. This process is driven through peer editing where students speak and listen about their own writing and the writing of others.
2/4
Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, yearlong plan for students to interact and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.

Grade 8 materials attend to vocabulary essential to understanding the text and to high-value academic words through the inclusion of specific vocabulary words in the Questioning Path Tool and teacher-led discussions regarding those questions meant to deepen student understanding of the text. There is some support to accelerate vocabulary learning in certain tasks, though it is not consistent through all reading, speaking, and writing tasks. Some opportunities are present for students to accelerate vocabulary learning in reading and writing. There are instances when the vocabulary is repeated in various contexts; however, this is not consistent. Academic vocabulary and Academic Habits are included in the instructional materials, and there are vocabulary words glossed in the texts provided.

  • While the curriculum provides opportunities for students to increase their vocabulary, materials do not provide teacher guidance outlining a cohesive, yearlong vocabulary development component. The curriculum states, “Although leaving many decisions about the teaching of vocabulary to the teacher, the program provides opportunities for students to increase their vocabulary in areas related to specific content and fundamentals to overall literacy.”
  • In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, students read Description of Immigrants Leaving Ellis Island. The instructional materials identify and define vocabulary that might be unfamiliar to students. However, the only vocabulary instruction provided comes in the form of questions such as,”What do the author’s words and phrases cause me to see, feel, or think? What details and words does he use to describe what these 'newcomers' experience as they walk down the 'long pathway'?” No guidance is evident to support teachers to extend this for students to learn, practice, apply, and transfer words into familiar and new contexts and across texts.
  • In the Unit 2 overview, there are places where vocabulary is implied in the Literacy Skills, like “Attending to Detail—Identifies relevant and important textual details, words, and ideas,” but there is no explicit yearlong plan for students to interact and build key academic vocabulary words. The textual focus on three speeches centered on the topic, “The Footprints of Legends.” For all three speeches the instructional materials identify and define vocabulary that students might not be familiar with. In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1, the Questioning Path Tool for Venus William’s speech does not specifically highlight words but asks questions such as, “How do specific words or phrases influence the meaning or tone of the text? How does Williams begin her article in the first two paragraphs? How does her beginning relate to the 'culmination' she refers to in paragraph 3 and her 'disappointment' in paragraph 5?” There is no teacher guidance to accelerate vocabulary learning further and across texts and tasks.
  • Unit 3’s texts are centered around the topic, “Animals and Humans: How Are We Connected?", but they are not provided by the instructional materials therefore unfamiliar vocabulary words are not identified or defined. In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 2, the only vocabulary instruction is provided via questions such as, “What details or words suggest the author’s perspective?” No guidance is evident to support teachers to extend this for students to learn, practice, apply, and transfer words into familiar and new contexts and across texts.
  • Unit 4’s texts are centered around the topic, “E Pluribus Unum,” but they are not provided by the instructional materials, therefore unfamiliar vocabulary words are not identified or defined. In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 5, students are asked to explain how words add to the meaning of the text. For example, students are asked, “How does the author’s choice of words reveal his purposes and perspective?” Opportunities for students to learn, practice, apply, and transfer these words, phrases or images into familiar and new contexts are not evident.
4/4
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.

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.

Grade 8 materials meet the expectation for supporting students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year. Students are supported through the writing process in well-designed lessons, models, and protocols for teachers to monitor writing development. Feedback is provided by peers, the teacher, and self-evaluations to ensure that students' writing skills are increasing throughout the year. Students apply their learned knowledge to their writing and continue to build on it to make it strong and meet grade-level expectations following rubrics and standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 5, “students write a short paragraph explaining their analysis of the text and reference (or list) supporting textual details.” In Part 3, Activity 3, “student groups consider a comparative question and individually write an explanatory paragraph using their question.” The writing assignments in Unit 1 lead, guide, and instruct students to the final project, which require students to independently write a text-based explanation by including paragraphs that are drawn from their notes and from one of the three final texts that they have read.
  • In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 3, students work in pairs to write “a paragraph that communicates an evidence-based claim using one of their claims” from previous assignments. In Part 5, Activity 4, students independently draft an evidence-based essay. The writing assignments in Unit 2 lead, guide, and instruct students to the final project which require students to write an evidence-based claim that is one to two paragraphs in length.
  • In Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 5, the teacher models for students how to take notes related to a specific topic through research. In Part 3, Activity 4, “students develop evidence-based summaries and evaluations of relevant sources using their notes and annotations.” The writing assignments in Unit 3 lead, guide, and instruct students to the final project which require students to write a reflective research narrative.
  • In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 5, “students develop and write a multipart evidence-based claim about the nature of the issue.” In Part 2, Activity 7, “students write short essays analyzing an argument.” The writing assignments in Unit 4 lead, guide, and instruct students to the final project which require students to write an evidence-based argument.
4/4
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.

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.

Units 1 and 2 build skills, such as reading closely for textual details and making evidence-based claims, that will be needed to conduct the research projects outlined in Units 3 and 4. Units 3 and 4 encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and sources. Students engage in research projects that require them to analyze different aspects of the topic using multiple texts and source materials.

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 5, students use Guiding Questions to independently explore Scholastic’s “Interactive Tour of Ellis Island.” This activity asks students to “apply close-reading skills in the context of Internet research, but also enrich their understanding of the topic and other texts they will encounter in the unit.” This activity also asks students to share information they acquired through the Internet research with their small groups.
  • In Unit 2, Part 2, Activity 1, “students independently read part of the text...to look for evidence to support a claim made by the teachers.” For this activity, students read and analyze Shirley Chisholm’s “Equal Rights for Women” speech. This activity also helps prepare students for later research by asking them to find supporting evidence from a nonfiction text to support a claim.
  • In Unit 3, students conduct research centered on the topic, “Animals and Humans: How Are We Connected?” Students choose an area to investigate and gather information to deepen their knowledge on the topic using multiple texts and sources. There is a learning progression in this unit to help guide students through the research process. For example, in Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 5, students “annotate sources and record key information, personal impressions, and ideas for further exploration.” In Part 4, Activity 2, students organize evidence and evidence-based claims in preparation for the culminating writing task.
  • In Unit 4, students conduct research centered on the topic, “E Pluribus Unum” and write argumentative essays; students choose an area to investigate and gather information to deepen their knowledge on the topic using multiple texts and sources. There is a learning progression in this unit to help guide students through the research process. For example, in Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 3, “student teams read and delineate arguments and write an evidence-based claim about one position on the issue.” This activity prepares students for the culminating task by asking them to analyze “The Easy Problem” which is an “accessible model argument to begin with for most students.”
2/4
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.

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

Students regularly engage in independent reading after the teacher models Academic Habits and processes guided by the materials. Independent reading, as noted in the evidence, includes opportunities for reading time both inside of class and outside of class in the form of homework. Students independently practice Literacy Skills while reading and analyzing texts. This includes a range of text types - visual-based texts to printed texts of multiple genres. Students do read portions of text independently as close reading activities at various Lexile levels. However, there is no detailed schedule for independent reading--in or outside of class time--to occur. The majority of independent reading occurs during class. The materials do not include direct guidance for students to track their progress and growth as independent readers and their is no accountability system in place. At times, the materials leave the option for outside of class independent reading to take place, but scheduling and tracking of this is left up to the discretion of the teacher.

  • In Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 4, “students independently read texts using Guiding Questions to frame their first reading.” The instructional materials suggest that “this reading...can be done as homework or in class.” A common Questioning Path Tool for 8, 9, and 10 and provide built-in support as they help students focus on certain aspects of the text to foster understanding and analysis. This independent reading helps students prepare to conduct a close reading in Part 4 and to lead a comparative discussion in Part 5. While the instructional materials provide supports/scaffolds that foster independence, they do not include procedures for independent reading, a proposed schedule for independent reading, or an accountability or tracking system.
  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students independently read “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth. The teacher’s edition includes instructional notes that have students read the text independently while considering the first two questions on the Questioning Path Tool. After a brief discussion of the text, students answer the question, “What words or sentences in the paragraphs tell you this information?” While the instructional materials provide supports/scaffolds that foster independence, they do not include procedures for independent reading, a proposed schedule for independent reading, or an accountability or tracking system.
  • In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 3, “students … read sources closely, analyzing them for content, perspective, and relevance.” The Instructional Notes suggest that students conduct an independent close reading of sources by selecting a common source and working independently to read the source closely using both the selected Inquiry Question and the Forming EBC Research Tool. The instructional materials use independent reading throughout this unit and provide guiding questions and text-specific questions to help students move from a literal understanding of the common texts to a deeper analysis; however, they do not include procedures for independent reading, a proposed schedule for independent reading, or an accountability or tracking system.
  • In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, “students read and analyze a background text to develop an initial understanding of the issue.” Students are only required to read and analyze one of three texts, but the Instructional Notes suggests that students be provided with the additional texts so that they can do additional reading if desired. These Instructional Notes also state, “by this unit, student should have begun to develop independence as readers who can approach and initially question any text.” The instructional materials use independent reading throughout this unit and provide guiding questions and text-specific questions to help students move from a literal understanding of the common texts to a deeper analysis; however, they do not include procedures for independent reading, a proposed schedule for independent reading, or an accountability or tracking system.

GATEWAY THREE

Instructional Supports and Usability Indicators

MEETS EXPECTATIONS

The materials provide a clear, useful, standards-aligned teacher edition, including information to bolster the teacher’s understanding of both the content and pedagogy. Additional information outlines the program’s instructional approaches, philosophy, and the research that undergirds the program.

The materials provide information for students about the program, but there are no information or protocols for communicating with families about the goals and structure of the program.

Routines and guidance within the program assist teachers in progress monitoring, though the connections between the assessments and the standards they are measuring is not clear. Sufficient guidance is provided for interpreting student performance, though specific strategies or guidance for remediation for students who are not proficient is not offered.

The materials do not outline a consistent plan for holding students accountable for independent reading. Student choice is often limited within the independent reading options.

Digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers, and are “platform neutral." They follow universal programming style and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The included technology enhances student learning, including differentiation for the needs of all learners. The program does not provide technology for collaboration. The materials can be easily customized for local use.

Criterion 3a-3e

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  •  8 8

Materials are designed with great consideration for effective lesson structure, pacing, and are designed to be completed within a school year, including some flexibility for local academic goals and content. Ample review and practice resources are provided and all materials are clearly labeled and accompanied by documentation that delineates their alignment to the standards. However, the design of the materials is minimalistic (orange, black, and white color scheme) and may not be engaging for students.

2/2
Indicator 3a

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

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

The materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. The lesson structure is built upon four units. Each unit has 5 parts and each part is broken down into 4-8 activities. The activities can be be completed within 1-2 days. At the end of each part, there are formative assessment ideas. At the end of each unit, students complete a culminating project (summative assessment).

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Students are taught how to read closely in Unit 1:
    • Part 1-Understanding Close Reading
    • Part 2-Questioning Texts
    • Part 3-Analyzing Details
    • Part 4-Explaining Understanding
    • Part 5-Discussing Ideas
    • The culminating project for Unit 1 is a reading closely final writing and discussion project. Students study a text by reading it closely, write a text-based explanation, lead, and participate in a text-centered discussion.
  • Students are taught how to make evidence-based claims in Unit 2:
    • Part 1-Understanding Evidence-Based Claims
    • Part 2-Making Evidence-Based Claims
    • Part 3-Organizing Evidence-Based Claims
    • Part 4-Writing Evidence-Based Claims
    • Part 5-Developing Evidence-Based Claims
    • The culminating project for Unit 2 is an Evidence-Based Claim Final Writing Tasks. Students develop and write an Evidence-based claim.
  • Students are taught how to research in order to deepen their understanding in Unit 3:
    • Part 1-Initiating Inquiry
    • Part 2-Gathering Information
    • Part 3-Deepening Understanding
    • Part 4-Finalizing Inquiry
    • Part 5-Developing and Communicating an Evidence-Based Perspective
    • The culminating project for Unit 3 is a Research Written Task. Students write a research reflective narrative.
  • Students learn how to write evidence-based arguments in Unit 4.
    • Part 1-Understanding the Nature of an Issue
    • Part 2-Analyzing Arguments
    • Part 3-Evaluating Arguments and Developing a Position
    • Part 4-Organizing an Evidence-Based Argument
    • Part 5-Developing Writing Through a Collaborative Process
    • The culminating project for Unit 4 is an argumentative final essay.
2/2
Indicator 3b

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

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 materials provide effective guidance and flexibility for teachers to address all the content and supplement with local academic goals and curricula. The materials address intertwined essential skills delineated in four units. Each unit focuses on a Core Proficiency for literacy that builds skills applicable beyond the English language arts classroom. The materials are vertically aligned by consistently addressing the same Core Proficiencies in four units for grades six, seven, and eight.

Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:

  • The materials consist of four units focused on four essential proficiencies that are designed to intertwine the building of knowledge. Each unit delineates standards-aligned Academic Habits into five parts with a varying amount of activities that range from 1 to 3 instructional days as determined by the teachers.
  • The materials recursively focus on 20 essential Literacy Skills and 12 Academic Habits applied to text-centered analysis tasks in order to maximize student understanding of skills. Tasks include reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
  • The materials bundle multiple standards and literacy skills into four Core Proficiencies. Each unit focuses on a different proficiency for students to master. The Core Proficiencies include: Reading Closely for Textual Details, Making Evidence-Based Claims, Researching to Deepen Understanding, and Building Evidence-Based Arguments.
  • The materials provide guidance for structuring yearlong instruction and supplementing with local curricular content based on students’ needs as determined by the teacher.
  • The materials are vertically aligned and follow the same formula and address the same Core Proficiencies from grade-to-grade with increasingly complex texts and opportunities for independent work.
2/2
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.).

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 (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.)

The student resources include texts for Units 1 and 2. There are lists of texts available for Units 3 and 4. All four units include various tools (graphic organizers) to assist students with reviewing, practicing, and completing activities. All of the tools are labeled correctly with clear directions and/or explanations for how to use the tools.

Examples include:

  • Unit 1 includes a list of texts that will be read for the unit. The tools/graphic organizers provide an Approaching the Text Tool, Analyzing Details Tool, Questioning Path Tool, Model Questioning Paths, Reading Closely Graphic, Guiding Questions Handout, Attending to Details Handout, Reading Closely Skills and Habits Checklists, and Final Writing and Discussion Assignment.
  • Unit 2 includes the speeches that will be read for the unit. The tools/graphic organizers provide an Approaching The Text Tool, Analyzing Details Tool, Questioning Path Tool, Modeling Questioning Paths, Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Supporting Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Attending to Details Handout, Guiding Questions Handout, Writing Evidence-Based Claims Handout, Making Evidence-Based Claims Skills and Habits Checklists, and Final Writing Tasks Handout.
  • Unit 3 includes a list texts that will be read for the unit. The tools/graphic organizers provide a Forming Evidence-Based Claims Research Tool, Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Research Tool, Taking Notes Tool, Exploring a Topic Tool, Potential Sources Tool, Research Frame Tool, Research Evaluation Tool, Research Plan Handout, Research Portfolio Handout, Attending to Details Handout, Posing Inquiry Questions Handout, Assessing Sources Handout, Connecting Ideas Handout, Researching to Deepen Understanding Skills and Habits Checklist, Area Evaluation and Research Evaluation Checklists, and Final Writing Tasks Handout.
  • Unit 4 includes a list of texts that will be read for this unit. The tools/graphic organizers provide an Analyzing Details Tools, Questioning Path Tool, Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Delineating Arguments Tool, Evaluating Arguments Tool, Guiding Questions Handout, Connecting Ideas Handout, Evidence-Based Arguments Terms Handout, Model Arguments Handout, Building Evidence-Based Arguments Skills and Habits Checklist, and Final Writing Tasks Handout.
2/2
Indicator 3d

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

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 include publisher-produced alignment documentation of both primary and supporting standards at the following levels: year, unit, and part. Both the Reading Closely: Guiding Questions Handout and the Questioning Path Tools, which are used extensively throughout the instructional materials, are aligned to specific reading and writing standards.

Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:

  • In the Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide, the materials provide an Alignment of Targeted CCSS with OE Skills and Habits chart. This chart provides the CCSS Anchor Standards and the aligned Literacy Skills and Academic Habits.
  • For each unit, the materials provide the CCSS alignment and divide the standards into primary targeted skills and related reading and writing skills from supporting CCSS. In addition, the instructional materials provide the targeted and supporting standards for each part of each unit.
  • Throughout the materials, students use the Reading Closely: Guiding Questions Handout. This handout organizes questions into four areas: Language, Ideas, Perspective, and Structure. The language questions address Common Core State Standards R.4, L.3, L.4, and L.5. The ideas questions address Common Core State Standards R.2, W.3, R.8, R.9. The perspective questions address Common Core State Standard R.6. The structure questions address the Common Core State Standard R.5.
Indicator 3e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially 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.

The visual design, while not distracting or chaotic, does not help students engage with the subject. Materials are printed in black and white with orange headings, very few graphics or pictures are provided, and the graphic organizers do not allow much room for student response. There is no color-coding to help convey structure and speed up visual searching. The materials are not visually engaging.

Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:

  • In the Unit 1 materials, the only visuals provided serve as Text 1 and include black and white images of libraries from the early 20th century; however, the materials do use a video from the History Channel and Scholastic’s “Interactive Tour of Ellis Island” as Texts 3 and 4. As part of Unit 1’s Literacy Toolbox, students are provided with an Analyzing Details Tool; however, there is limited space for students to record supporting details and analysis.
  • In the Unit 2 materials, no visuals are provided. In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students are provided a Questioning Path Tool for “Ain’t I a Woman?” This tool provides eight questions; many questions have multiple subquestions. There is no room for students to take notes or answer questions.
  • In the Unit 4 materials, no visuals are provided. All texts are accessible via the Internet. In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, the Questioning Path Tool for Text 2.1, “Immigration, Illegal,” provides six questions but does not provide any room for students to record notes/answers.

Criterion 3f-3j

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Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

The materials provide a teacher edition with strong support, clear guidance, and abundant, useful instructional notes. Advanced literary concepts are supported with additional information to bolster the teacher’s understanding of both the content and the pedagogy. The standards alignment within the materials is clearly delineated within unit overviews.

The instructional approaches and program philosophy are described within the materials as well as the program’s focus on research-based strategies.

The materials provide information for students about the program, but there are no information or protocols for communicating with families about the goals and structure of the program.

2/2
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.

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.

The Grade 8 teacher’s edition provides annotations and suggestions for how to present the content in the student edition through text and instructional notes. The technology that is embedded to support and enhance student learning include The Odell Education Literacy Toolbox and texts. The Odell Education Literacy Toolbox (www.wiley.com/go/coreliteracy) is an electronic version of the graphic organizers that are included in the teacher and student editions.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, technology includes videos and websites for students to view. An example of a video is Ellis Island: Deconstructed by History Channel. An example of a website is www.scholastic.com. Instructional notes in Part 3, Activity 1 state the following:
    • “Students now engage a new text that presents a different perspective on the topic written in a different genre-as a work of poetry rather than an informational text. As before, student can first read the text silently and independently or listen to the text read aloud; because of the richness of language and imagery in Text 7, the latter approach is recommended for this text’s first reading. Students should be provided with minimal context, but they should be told that the text is a poem written about immigration and a famous landmark that welcomed immigrants to New York. As a poem, the text, its language, and perspective therefore may be different from the previous informational texts they have read.”
  • In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 5, the Text Notes state:
    • “The second text students study is the speech Shirley Chisholm gave to the House of Representatives on May 21, 1969, to introduce the Equal Rights Amendment. Chisholm had become the first African American woman elected to Congress from New York’s twelfth congressional district the year before. Later, in 1972, Chisholm became the first black person to run for the Democratic presidential nomination.”
  • In Unit 3, all of the texts students read “are accessible for free on the Internet without any login information, membership requirements or purchases. Because of the ever-changing nature of website addresses, specific links are not provided. Teachers and students can locate these texts through web searches using the information provided.” An example of Instructional Notes in Part 2, Activity 1 is the following:
    • “This lesson address a Component Skill of research and may be extracted from the instructional sequence of this unit and taught on its own to support students in a different learning context.”
  • Unit 4 states, “the unit generally employs texts that are accessible on the web for free without any login information, membership requirements, or purchase. Some informational texts may, however, need to be accessed through online database portals (e.g., EBSCO, Gale), which are available to teachers and students through their state or district library systems. Because of the ever-changing nature of website addresses, links are not provided. Teachers and students can locate these texts through web searches using the information provided.” An example of Text Notes in Part 1, Activity 2 is the following:
    • “This PBS timeline, which accompanies a lesson plan called ‘Immigration Policy: Past and Present,’ provides a chronologically organized summary of the major events and legislation that have marked the historical development of United States immigration policy from 1790 to 1996. The time line can be used as a general reference for all students as they read texts about immigration, or students can be assigned eras on the timeline for which they can do close reading and become experts, then share what they have learned about immigration history and policy with the rest of the class.”
2/2
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.

The instructional 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.

The Grade 8 teacher’s edition contains a user guide including adult-level explanations and definitions of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject.

The User Guide includes the following: an explanation of the Proficiency-Based Approach to Developing Literacy, a list of definitions for Literacy Skills and Academic Habits (teacher and student versions), The Literacy Toolbox, Question-Based Approach to Reading, Text-Centered Discussions, Text-Centered Writing, A Skills-Based Approach to Assessment and Evaluation, Alignment of Targeted CCSS, Media Supports, and Electronic Supports/Electronic Version of Materials.

2/2
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.

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.

The Grade 8 teacher’s edition explains the role of the literacy CCSS standards for each of the four units. Units are broken down into parts and the literacy CCSS standards are listed for each part.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, the CCSS standards aligned to the 5 activities are RI.8.1, RI.8.2, and RI.8.4.
  • In Unit 2, Part 3, the CCSS standards aligned to the 6 activities are RI.8.1, RI. 8.2, RI. 8.3, RI.8.6, and SL. 8.1.
  • In Unit 3, Part 1, the CCSS standards aligned to the 6 activities are W.8.7, W.8.8, W.8.9, W.8.4, RI.8.1, RI.8.2, and SL.8.1.
  • In Unit 4, Part 4, the CCSS standards aligned to the 4 activities are W.8.1, W.8.5, W.8.9, RI.8.1, and SL.8.1.
2/2
Indicator 3i

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

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

The Grade 8 materials contain instructional approaches of the program and research-based strategies in the User Guide of the teacher’s edition.

The User Guide contains explanations of how to use the graphic organizers/literacy toolbox, text-centered discussions, text-based writing, teacher modeling, read-alouds, rubrics, checklists, and academic vocabulary.

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.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially 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.

While the instructional materials contain strategies for informing students about the ELA/literacy program, there is no evidence that this program is shared with stakeholders, nor are there any suggestions included as to how parents or caregivers can support their student’s progress and/or achievement.

Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:

  • Within the Grade 8 instructional materials, there are checklists and rubrics that give feedback to both teachers and students. For example, in Unit 1, students can use an informal skills-based checklist to self- and peer-assess the literacy skills of Attending to Details, Summarizing, Identifying Relationships, Recognizing Perspective, and Using Evidence. Another checklist is found at the end of Unit 2 that is broken down into Reading Skills, Thinking Skills, Writing Skills, and Essay Content. Each checklist assesses using ranges from Emerging (Needs Improvement) to Excelling (Exceeds Expectations) and leaves room for comments by the teacher as to the strengths and areas of growth observed in the work, as well as areas for improvement in future work. However, while there are many checklists included for student reflection and teacher feedback, there are no strategies for including other stakeholders.

Criterion 3k-3n

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Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.

Routines and guidance within the program assist teachers in monitoring student progress. Regular opportunities to assess student progress are included within the materials; however, the assessments do not make strong connections between what is being assessed and the standards that are emphasized within that assessment. Sufficient guidance is provided to support teachers in interpreting student performance, though specific strategies or guidance for remediation for students who are not proficient is not offered.

The materials do not outline a consistent plan for holding students accountable for independent reading, and student choice is often not an option for the independent reading that is required, though the opportunities for student choice do require students to be held accountable for the selections in order to build stamina and confidence.

2/2
Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

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

The program regularly and systematically offers assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress through formative assessments after every part in every unit and a final project that culminates each unit.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Part 1, the formal formative assessments include the RC Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Rubric. The less formal formative assessments are the Student RC Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Rubric. The summative assessment is the Final Writing and Discussion Assignment. The assignment consists of students becoming text experts by close reading a text, writing a text-based explanation, and leading and participating in a text-centered discussion.
  • In Unit 2, Part 3, the formal formative assessments include Making EBC Literacy Skills Rubric. The less formal formative assessments are the Student Making EBC Literacy Skills and the Academic Habits Checklists. The summative assessment is a Making Evidence-Based Claims Final Writing Task. The task requires students to develop and write an evidence-based claim and a global or comparative evidence-based claim essay.
  • In Unit 3, Part 4, the formal formative assessments include RDU Literacy Skills and the Academic Habits Rubric. The less formative assessments are Student RDU LIteracy Skills and the Academic Habits Checklist. The summative assessment is Researching to Deepen Understanding Final Writing Task. Students are required to write a reflective research narrative that includes a story about what they learned, connect ideas, and reflect on what they learned about researching.
  • In Unit 4, Part 2, the formal formative assessments include EBA Literacy Skills and Academic Habit Rubric. The less formal formative assessment is the Student Checklist. The summative assessment is an Evidence-Based Argument Writing Task. The task consists of students writing a “multiparagraph essay that makes a case for their position.”
Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:

0/2
Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the criteria that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

While the instructional materials do make connections between the assessments and the development of Academic Habits/Literacy Skills, such as Attending to Details and Communicating Clearly and provide checklists for students to use to self-assess these habits and skills, the assessments do not clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. The instructional materials provide alignment for the year, unit, and part, but do not provide alignment at the activity or assessment level.

Evidence that supports this rationale include, but are not limited to:

  • Each unit is divided into five parts and each part has either a formative or summative assessment. The instructional materials do provide targeted and supported standards for each part, but alignment is not clearly provided for assessments. It is not possible to easily determine which standards apply to each part of an assessment.
  • Only the Questioning Path Tools, which can be used as formative assessments, are aligned to specific reading and writing standards, but the instructional materials do not identify which standards are aligned to which questions.
1/2
Indicator 3l.ii

Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.

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

Students are assessed often, via formative and summative assessments, and teachers are provided many tools, such as unit-specific rubrics, to help them interpret student performance; however, the instructional materials do not provide strategies or suggestions for how to remediate students who did not master the skills/habits.

Throughout the instructional materials, unit-specific rubrics are provided as tools to assess Literacy Skills and Academic Habits. Each rubric uses a four-point scale to help teachers and students identify areas of strength, weakness, and growth. Teachers are prompted to consider evidence of the skills/habits and rate accordingly. This system of rubrics allows teachers to compare student performance as the year progresses. The instructional materials do not provide follow-up suggestions for students who do not master the skills/habits.

2/2
Indicator 3m

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.

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 Grade 8 materials include routines and guidance that identify opportunities to monitor student progress. Within a unit, each part culminates with formative assessments so teachers can monitor student progress. At the end of each unit, a final project (summative assessment) is provided to monitor student progress.

Indicator 3n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 partially 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.

There is very little student choice in the Grade 8 instructional materials for independent reading. In the few occasions where there is choice, materials do hold students accountable for their selections and may contribute to their stamina and confidence.

While independent reading is built into earlier units, student independent reading choice is built into only Units 3 and 4. Unit 3 explores how animals and humans are connected and Unit 4 has students analyze opposing positions concerning immigration. Within each unit is a common source set and while students read many of the same texts as their peers, there is some choice, depending on the inquiry path they wish to follow. Within the Student Edition, there are many materials that hold students accountable for this reading--the Exploring a Topic Tool, Potential Sources Tool, Taking Notes Tool, Research Frame Tool, and Research Evaluation Tool. Since Unit 4 is focused on Building Evidence-Based Arguments, the tools to hold students accountable include the Questioning Path Tool, Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tool, Delineating Arguments Tool, and Evaluating Arguments Tool. These tools can support students in building the notes and skills necessary to write the summative assessments at the end of each unit.

Criterion 3o-3r

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

Routines and guidance within the program assist teachers in monitoring student progress. Regular opportunities to assess student progress are included within the materials; however, the assessments do not make strong connections between what is being assessed and the standards that are emphasized within that assessment. Sufficient guidance is provided to support teachers in interpreting student performance, though specific strategies or guidance for remediation for students who are not proficient is not offered.

The materials do not outline a consistent plan for holding students accountable for independent reading, and student choice is often not an option for the independent reading that is required, though the opportunities for student choice do require students to be held accountable for the selections in order to build stamina and confidence.

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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.

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

Teachers determine whether students need more or less scaffolding and time. Differentiation support is integrated into the scaffolding and design of the instructional materials. At times, teachers are reminded to determine whether students need more or less time to develop a Core Proficiency. Most units include supplemental texts. These can be used by the teacher to give students additional opportunities to develop skills. The supplemental texts are categorized as Extended Reading. In addition to this, the materials claim to be designed so schools can use local curricular materials. This flexibility allows for teachers to determine the text complexity appropriate for students.

Examples of general supports found on pages xxxi-xxxii of the teacher’s edition include, but are not limited to:

  • Unit Design and Instructional Sequence: Students encounter visual images and multimedia texts that reinforce the skills of identifying details and making text-based observations from those details. Thus before they ever encounter print texts of grade-level complexity, students begin to develop skills and strategies through visual learning experiences. Then they learn to transfer these skills to the reading of more complex texts.
  • Short Texts, Focused Reading: Many texts are short in length which enables students to focus on sections of the texts. Text-dependent questions included in the Instructional Notes help with more challenging sections of the texts.
  • Read Aloud and Modeling: Students listen to teachers read fluently as they follow along.
  • Guiding Question Framework: This structure helps scaffold students’ thinking as they develop reading skills.
  • Graphic Organizers: The program’s instructional tools provide students with precise and guided processes and scaffolds for interacting with texts.
  • Reading Teams: Students are given opportunities to work on different reading teams or individually. These reading teams can be based on ability, depending on the teacher’s grouping.
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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.

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.

Opportunities to read, write, speak, and listen to grade-level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards are found. The students read the same grade-level texts throughout each unit, with the teacher modeling, scaffolding instruction, or reading aloud during whole group learning. There are general supports built into the series to help make students who are not at grade level and students who speak a language other than English successful with the grade-level text and grade-level standards.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Unit Design and Instructional Sequence: Students encounter visual images and multimedia texts that reinforce the skills of identifying details and making text-based observations from those details. Thus before they ever encounter print texts of grade-level complexity, students begin to develop skills and strategies through visual learning experiences. Then they learn to transfer these skills to the reading of more complex texts.
  • Short Texts, Focused Reading: Many texts are short in length which enables students to focus on sections of the texts. Text-dependent questions included in the Instructional Notes help with more challenging sections of the texts.
  • Read Aloud and Modeling: Students listen to teachers read fluently as they follow along.
  • Guiding Question Framework: This structure helps scaffold students’ thinking as they develop reading skills.
  • Graphic Organizers: The program’s instructional tools provide students with precise and guided processes and scaffolds for interacting with texts.
  • Reading Teams: Students are given opportunities to work on different reading teams or individually. These reading teams can be based on ability, depending on the teacher’s grouping.
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Indicator 3q

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

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.

Materials contain integrated suggestions, Extended Readings, and optional activities to extend learning. The mix of activities offered allow for advanced students to explore texts or more complex texts while practicing the Core Proficiencies skills at greater depth.

Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:

  • The materials suggest teachers consider the needs and background experiences of students before beginning a unit of study. Specifically, if a student has “advanced skills” or “extensive previous experience,” the teacher can expect the instruction to “move more rapidly.”
  • For advanced students, the materials also suggest teachers concentrate time on engaging students with the Extended Reading texts provided in some units and “emphasize more complex topics.”
  • The materials are vertically aligned and utilize the same lists, handouts, and rubrics provided in the Literacy Toolbox. For advanced students and students with previous experience, the materials recognize they will rely less on the Literacy Toolbox supports and are encouraged to “use their own, developing strategies” for analyzing texts.
  • At times, the materials will present optional assessment opportunities for teachers to collect evidence and for students to demonstrate understanding. In Unit 1, Part 5, the Summative Assessment Opportunities offers an optional collection of evidence through a writing task. Multiple pathways to accomplish the writing are provided by the materials. This is done as a supplement to the summative discussion activity. Due to the intentional vertically aligned design of the materials, this option is presented in every grade level.
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Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

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

The materials are designed with collaboration as an essential Academic Habit. Students are provided regular opportunities to work as a class, in pairs, and in small groups. In each variation, students develop literacy skills by completing a Literacy Toolbox resource, analyzing text, and collaborating on writing.

Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:

  • In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 4, after the teacher models the formation of an evidence-based claim (EBC), students practice the skill in pairs with the support of the Literacy Toolbox resources.
  • In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 2, students work in collaborative review teams to “present and explain their claims, citing evidence from one or more of their sources.”
  • In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, “students are placed in expert groups to read and analyze one of three texts. Then...students jigsaw into cross-text discussion to share and compare what they have learned from the text each has read.”

Criterion 3s-3v

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

Digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers, “platform neutral”; they follow universal programming style and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

Effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate is supported. There are multiple opportunities for teachers to differentiate instructional materials for multiple student needs, including supports before, during, and after each selection. The materials can be easily customized for local use. The program does not provide technology for collaboration.

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.

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 (e.g., 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 series provides the materials in the Literacy Toolbox in a digital, as well as print format. They are PDF files that may be edited. Students may type in forms and email their work to the teacher as a digital option” (xxxii). Note: Student work cannot be saved or emailed.

The materials in the digital Literacy Toolbox are all PDF files that can be downloaded and printed. However, if students write on a PDF, no typing can be saved. The publisher recommends students email their work to their teacher. Since students cannot save work, it cannot be emailed, only printed in order to save any work. This also means students must complete what they are working on or it will not be saved to continue working on assignments.

No information was provided on platforms. It was tested on and appears to be compatible with Windows and Apple and is platform neutral. It is web-based and compatible on multiple browsers. It was tested on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. It also worked on iPad and iPhone to pull up the digital material, but was not able to edit PDFs on these devices.

“Many texts throughout the Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Program are available only online. Because of the ever-changing nature of website addresses, specific links are not provided” (xxxii). Most texts for Units 3 and 4 are not provided for students or teachers and they must go online and search for the titles provided.

Indicator 3t

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

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

Many texts are accessible online to build background knowledge and can be used to supplement the anchor texts. Teachers are provided with an opportunity to utilize audio versions of texts available online and in print format for students to follow along with the text. The PDF versions of handouts and graphic organizers are editable and provided by Odell Education; therefore, students can type directly on the handouts and these can be submitted electronically to the teacher. Text Sets include a variety of options beyond print, such as videos, audio recordings, images, and timelines. Teachers could choose to assign independent reading and annotations at home due to the accessibility through both the publisher website with a password and the free resources available online. Key words are provided when web addresses are not to assist teachers and students in locating the resources. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the video reading of “The New Colossus” and audio of the Irish folk song, “Immigrant Eyes,” are both accessible online and are included in the Reading Closely Media Supports.
  • In Unit 2, the Making Evidence-Based Claims Media Supports provide direction for locating the original footage from the 1960s and 1970s chronicling the political career of Shirley Chisholm and her fight for equal rights. Details for the video documentary, Nine IX Venus VS, is also provided.
  • In Unit 3, the Researching to Deepen Understanding Common Source Set provides texts that are accessible for free on the Internet. For example, students and teachers can access the PBS trailer, “EARTH: A New Wild,” and the NPR TED Talk, “Why do we care about some animals more than others?”
Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.

Indicator 3u.i

Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that 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.

Materials include a criteria-based assessment system throughout the four units included in Grade 8. Students utilize handouts and graphic organizers to practice and demonstrate proficiency relating to targeted skills. The graphic organizers and tools can be used as a formative assessment by the teacher and completed digitally by students using the editable PDFs provided by Odell Education. Student annotation and submission for evaluation can take place electronically. The graphic organizers are included as an instructional tool to support English Language Learners and students reading below grade level: “Visually, the tools help students understand the relationships among concepts, processes, and observations they make from texts. In addition, Media Supports are included in the instructional materials: ‘The various media (i.e. videos, audio, images, websites) can be assigned and explored at the student or group level to differentiate experiences for students based on their interests and abilities.’” Students who require more challenging texts have the opportunity to explore topics using texts at higher levels of complexity. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students utilize an Approaching Texts Tool that teachers can use to gauge students’ ability to create guiding questions for the first reading of the text and create text-specific questions to help focus the rereading of the text; the tool can be printed and handwritten or completed digitally using an editable PDF.
  • In Unit 2, Media Supports include an enactment of Sojourner Truth speech of 1851 that can be accessed using an electronic device via YouTube.
  • In Unit 4, Common Source Sets offer a variety of complexity levels from which teachers may choose for exploration by students.“This Common Source should be accessible to students, but it also should provide some additional reading challenges, often by referencing technical information or terminology.”
Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 can be easily customized for local use. The online resources available allow teachers the opportunity to print additional copies for annotation and offer editable PDFs for students to use and submit their work electronically. Teachers have the choice of which texts they would like to use as model texts when presented with Common Source Sets, such as in Unit 4. Also, teachers can differentiate for students and choose specific texts in the Common Source Sets that individual students or small groups will read together. Additional resources are available to allow for further exploration and to allow an opportunity to increase the level of complexity for students who need an additional challenge. The tools provided offer a method for formative assessment, and teachers can make decisions regarding future units based on student performance. The following Instructional Notes are an example of guidance to the teachers:

  • Teachers can use these Common Sources as a model in several ways, depending on the classroom context and emerging student interests.
    • Select a single source for modeling that matches with the direction for investigation that the class is likely to pursue. All students read and work with this single Common Source.
    • Use one source for modeling and a second for guided practice. All students read both sources, working with one as a class and the other in small groups.
    • Use all three sources (and additional ones if helpful), grouping students by possible topic interests and modeling and practicing within groups.
    • Find other, similar Common Source(s) related to the topic and subtopics the class is examining.
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.).

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).

While students are encouraged to collaborate with one another throughout the five units in a face-to-face format, there are no opportunities for students to create group projects or peer assess each other’s work virtually. Teachers would need to seek out these opportunities when planning the lessons outside of the tools offered in the instructional materials. OE offers Professional Development to educators on the website: “Odell Education (OE) collaborates with districts and schools that are implementing the Core Literacy Proficiencies Program. OE works with educators on the foundational principles of the instruction, as well as the integration of the units into their curriculum and the use of the materials in their classrooms.” However, opportunities for teachers to engage online with their colleagues are not present on the website.