Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies for Grade 12 fully 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.
Text Quality and Alignment to the Standards
Overall, the Grade 12 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/genres called for in the standards are not fully represented.
Materials support students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the year using high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks, though some writing types called for in the standards are not present. Students may need additional support with speaking and listening activities. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards.
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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.
The Grade 12 materials meet the expectations for Text Quality and Complexity. Students engage with rich texts that support their growing literacy skills as they read closely, attend to content in multiple genres and types (including multimedia platforms). Texts are organized to support students' close reading and writing, and guidance around quantitative, qualitative, and placement considerations is provided for teachers should they introduce other texts into the materials.
NOTE: Indicator 1b is non-scored and provides information about text types and genres in the program.
Anchor/core texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading, and for considering a range of student interests. The anchor texts are of publishable quality and provide opportunities for rich analysis and modeling of the literacy skills focus for each unit. Student interest is subjective and the materials attempt to consider a range of interests by providing a variety of text types - multimedia video, audio, visual, printed text - to engage multiple learning styles in the topic focus for the content.
Anchor texts in the majority of chapters/units and across the yearlong curriculum are of publishable quality. Evidence is as follows:
- In Unit 1, students read the “First Amendment to the US Constitution” and Letter to the “Danbury Baptists by President Thomas Jefferson” as well as “Dhammapada, Ch. 24: “Thirst,” by Buddha.
- In Unit 5 Text Set 1 includes the following: “Audrey Hepburn’s Statement to Members of the United Nations Staff” (speech), “The State of the Poor: Where are the Poor, Where is Extreme Poverty Harder to End, and What is the Current Profile of the World's Poor?’ (report), and “Wealth Inequality in America” (video).
- In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 2, students read Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love,” chosen in part because the author’s “content and style make it engaging and accessible reading for twelfth-graders, and provide an excellent context for deep analysis of literary technique.” (345).
- The inquiry-based research activities in Unit 4 are centered on a diverse set of text types--multimedia videos, visuals, as well as printed text--to allow for a range of accommodations for students’ learning and engagement styles. Texts are not included in the materials, but published in various professional sites and locations accessible through the Internet. The topic of the unit is the influence of design and a range of texts is provided as a starting point for research. These include texts from professionally recognizable publishing companies--Bloomberg Business, Fast Company, New York Times--and professional career publications in the business of design--Dezeen Magazine, the Landscape Architecture Foundation, and the Institute for Design at Stanford. The focus on anchor texts from a specific career field and the research on how it influences daily life should capture a wide range of student interests.
Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
*Indicator 1b is non-scored (in grades 9-12) and provides information about text types and genres in the program.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 include the broad range of text types identified as essential for college-and-career readiness expectation according to the standards.The text topics and types including, but not limited to, printed texts, interactive websites, audio, and multimedia video are appropriate for engaging students in close reading and the development of evidence-based claims. Over the course of a school year, instruction is dominated by informational and literary non-fiction genres. The materials include few opportunities for extensive literature and fiction content. Examples of text types and genres that are provided, include but are not limited to:
- Unit 1 contains dominantly informational texts--an engraving, government documents, letters, videos, websites, speeches, Supreme Court documents, and academic texts. The materials include one text to represent the literature requirements of national college-and-career readiness standards: the poem, ”Church and State” by W. B. Yeats--as an Extended Reading support. The materials do not require this as an anchor text for any activities. Instead, the materials suggest that students with, “more advanced skills or extensive previous experience… can move more rapidly [during instruction and should] concentrate more on extended reading” texts. The supporting media are also informational. The materials lack inclusions of literary genres and the types of texts are varied.
- Unit 1b provides students with extensive opportunities to engage in close reading with a variety of text types, including comic strips, visual art and sculpture, websites, documentaries, speeches, and printed text--philosophical treatises. This is appropriate for meeting national college-and-career ready expectations set by such guidelines as the Common Core State Standards by providing students with the opportunity to integrate and evaluate information in diverse formats. The materials for Unit 1b lack a balanced presence of genres as the unit includes one poem as part of its anchor texts--Emily Dickinson’s “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark”--and a painting and comic strip that contain literary elements. Informational text and literary non-fiction are the dominant choices of anchor texts for Unit 1b.
- Unit 3’s anchor text is a short story: Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” The materials also provide multimedia supports--an audio recording of the story and film that references the short story--but these are not required to teach the unit. Unit 3 texts are literature based, however, the distribution of informational texts and literary non-fiction is very high in other units included in the materials.
- Unit 4 provides the opportunity to practice an inquiry-based research skill using common source texts. Students research articles about the concept of design as a major influence. All common source texts are informational and opinion articles accessible online.
- Unit 5 distributes texts into bundled sets throughout the unit. The text types are diverse--print, video, visual, and audio. The text genres remain informational and literary non-fiction, but does include a poem as the only inclusion of literature.
Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade level (according to quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 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. Most grade 12 texts have the appropriate level of complexity according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task. Anchor texts are placed at the appropriate grade level. Texts that are quantitatively above the stretch band are accompanied with appropriate supports (e.g. close reading and instructional notes to guide the teacher) and are appropriate for grade 12. Texts that are quantitatively below the grade level stretch band are paired with tasks that require students use higher order thinking skills. Qualitative analysis of the texts supports placement at this grade level. According to CCSS, by the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
- In Unit 1, students read a series of texts related to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; these texts include but are not limited to the following:
- First Amendment to the United States Constitution (Government document): 1000L
- Letter to the Danbury Baptists (Letter): 1830L
- Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (Supreme Court opinion): 1390L
- Union Square Speech (Speech): 1560L
- Democracy in America: 1841L
- The accompanying tasks allow students opportunities to develop their abilities to read closely for textual details. Texts that are quantitatively above the stretch band for grade 12 are preceded by texts that are below the students’ quantitative stretch band to allow them to access the text and read
- In Unit 1b, students are provided with a series of texts sets for additional practice of reading closely for textual details. These texts include but are not limited to the following, and Lexile levels are included for these texts by the publisher (177 -178):
- Man’s Search for Meaning: “A Case for a Tragic Optimism” (Informational text): 1250L
- Dhammapada, Ch. 24: “Thirst” (sacred text): 1190L
- Excerpt from “The Examined Life” (Speech): 1070L
- Excerpt from Meditations on First Philosophy, “Meditation IV: Of the True and the False” (Philosophical treatise): 1620
- Excerpt from The Genealogy of Morals (Philosophical treatise): 1230L
- Unit 2’s central texts are two speeches used to model and then develop EBCs. A complexity measurement is provided by the materials; Reagan’s speech is given a Lexile measurement of 1090L, placing it in the 9-10 grade level range, and Clinton’s speech is given a 1340L, placing it in the higher 11-CCR range. The texts provide opportunities for the students to read closely for persuasive details in the form of ethical arguments, facts, and data organized by the orators, Hillary Clinton and Ronald Reagan. The materials expose students to complex, domain-specific vocabulary--for example, bulwark, special interest groups, and paradigm. Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 3, tasks students to identify the claim or argument of Clinton’s speech followed by two supporting points in the text and citing the explicit evidence that supports the points. Students read to understand the relationships between rhetorical elements in the speech as it stands alone and to make connections between the two texts. The texts are lengthy and dense enough for students to incorporate a variety of evidences on the included Organizing Evidence-Based Claims Tool.
- Unit 4 texts are intended to be used as a Common Sources Set of texts for students to practice research skills. A complexity measurement is not provided by the materials. The texts are purposefully chosen for the teacher to model the thinking behind a “particular Area of Investigation” that helps students understand the thinking process necessary for research skills. The materials do not provide copies of the texts. Guidance is provided to locate copies of the texts on the internet. Texts in this unit include complex animations directed by transitioning color schemes and texts, but not narrated vocals. Other texts include professional business articles and university publications. The vocabulary is very specific to the business industry and articles are geared to professionals in this career field.
- In Unit 5, the text sets are utilized for students to build evidence-based arguments. The texts include informational texts, political cartoons, seminal arguments, and additional arguments. In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, though below the stretch band of CCSS quantitatively at 1060L, the text “The Duty of Hope” by President George W. Bush is part of Text Set 2 for additional background and the tasks that are connected with the text allowing students to use higher order thinking in relation to the texts. Qualitative analysis indicates the text is appropriate for students at this level. The Questioning Path Tool will allow students to deepen their understanding of the text and connect their learning to the other texts they have read in relation to the topic. For example, “What evidence does this text provide that influences my understanding of the issue of poverty and how or whether society should work to address the problem? In what ways” (605). The following are example of texts in Unit 5 within the CCSS grade level stretch band:
- “The State of the Poor: Where Are the Poor, Where Is Extreme Poverty Harder to End, and What Is the Current Profile of the World’s Poor?”: 1380L
- “The Why and How of Effective Altruism”: 1220L
- “The American Welfare State: How We Spend Nearly $1 Trillion a Year Fighting Poverty—and Fail”: 1370L
- In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 5, students are presented with a text “The Gospel of Wealth” that is quantitatively above the CCSS stretch band for grade 12 at a 1140L. Qualitatively the complexity is related to language features, such as sentence complexity and vocabulary. The Questioning Path Tool is designed to assist students in thinking more deeply about the text and the Text Notes for the teacher share that the “text might be broken up between students and then jigsawed between student discussion groups.” By completing the activities as included in the materials, students should be successful in accessing the text.
- Notably, the Teacher’s Edition states regarding topic and texts, “It is not required that students read all texts in all text sets in order for them to develop the skills associated with the unit or learn about the unit topic. This gives greater flexibility to teachers and students as they make decisions about student reading levels (texts have different complexities), student groupings and time limitations.” (581).
Materials support students' literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 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.
Students utilize the close reading skills first developed in Unit 1 and honed to target specific purposes in following units--for writing and discussing EBCs to analyze informational texts, literary techniques, and research. As students become increasingly experienced with EBCs, complexity increases in the texts used for close reading. The texts provided include a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band. Guidance is provided to teachers and students to allow all readers to access the texts at a higher level of complexity through the use of a Questioning Path Tool and discussions. The materials provide opportunities for student growth and to support students in reading independently at grade level by the end of the year as required by the CCSS.
The complexity of anchor texts students read provides an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to increase across the year, encompassing an entire year’s worth of growth. Evidence is as follows:
- Unit 1, Part 5, Activity 3, tasks students with leading a text-centered discussion. For this culminating unit, students focus on applying close reading and analysis skills they have practiced in previous activities with three texts--two speeches and an “academic text.”
- Unit 3, Part 5, Activity 4, tasks students with independently drafting an evidence-based essay about literary technique. Appropriately, the anchor text for this unit is Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” This is the first and only unit focusing on Literature genre. The short story is appropriate and relevant for the activities--students develop an essay focusing on analyzing a writer’s literary technique. The materials assess students’ uses of supporting evidence in writing and collaborative conversations. This is an ideal sequence to follow the previous unit-- Unit 2, students focus on EBCs and Unit 3 is an appropriate follow-up because it narrows the focus to literary technique and is the only unit dedicated to Literature and Fiction.
- Unit 5, Part 5, Activity 4, focuses on integrating and citing evidence from multiple sources to support an argument in writing and in discussion. This activity requires a culmination of skills developed and built upon by each preceding unit. Teachers assess the final, peer-reviewed argumentative essay. The provided rubric requires teachers to look for evidence of argumentative writing in four categories--Reading Skill Criteria, Developing An Evidence-Based Position, Evidence-Based Writing Criteria, and Final [General] Assessment Criteria.
The complexity of anchor texts support students’ proficiency in reading independently at grade level at the end of the school year as required by grade level standards.
- The texts in Unit 1 are of high complexity for the grade level--the first text measures at a 1320L, appropriate for the grade level, and the second text, Dorothy Day’s “Union Square Speech” measures at a 1560L ranking it beyond the 12th grade level suggested by national expectations recommended in the CCSS. This increase in complexity is appropriate for the task as students have had the opportunity to practice with, at this point, six model texts. The six texts are also of various text complexity measurements appropriate for introducing and developing the skills sets necessary for this unit’s culminating task and future units in the materials. Students are now using close reading and analysis independently with complex tests.
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students engage in an independent and close reading of President Ronald Reagan’s Inaugural Address, paragraphs 1-12. The complexity of the text is listed as measuring 1090L which is below the text complexity band for grade 12. The question-based approach to the text and level of complexity allows students to access the text and think more deeply regarding the political and economic issues in Reagan’s speech. The Questioning Path Tool provides opportunities for students to dive deeper into the text with both text-dependent and text-specific questions.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the expectations 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. Texts and lesson materials are accompanied by an analysis of the associated metrics and rationale for determining text placement. Additionally, there are included tools and metrics to assist teachers in making their own text placements should they need to introduce a new text or text set into the materials. The curriculum provides quantitative information (lexile levels) for both anchor texts and text sets excluding photographs, videos, and websites. In the teacher edition, the curriculum explains the purpose and value of the texts in the Text Notes. 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. All texts were chosen because they were appropriate for 12th grade students while still allowing some flexibly for a variety of reading levels.
Examples of how the materials explain how texts are placed include the following:
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, the Text Notes preceding Text 2: First Amendment to the US Constitution and Letter to the Danbury Baptists by President Thomas Jefferson, include information regarding educational placement: “These two texts are excellent places to start the unit because they are important and challenging yet relatively short and accessible for most students. They provide ample opportunities to apply close-reading skills and acquire vocabulary associated with the unit’s topic” (18). Text notes are provided consistently throughout the first unit. Lexile levels are provided by the publisher. The Lexiles are listed in the teacher’s edition following just prior to the copies of each text. For example, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (Government document) is listed as a 1000L by the publisher.
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, Text 1.1 is preceded by Text Notes for “Audrey Hepburn’s Statement to Members of the United Nations Staff” that include a rationale for educational placement: “The speech from the UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn not only provides background information on the global issue of childhood hunger, poverty, starvation, and death, but also presents the context in which these issues play out." The complexity level is included by the publisher as “1480L mostly because of specific medical terminology but is highly accessible to twelfth-graders” (594).
Anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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. Units include a wide range of text types - including multimedia video, audio, interactive websites, and printed texts - addressing multiple learning styles of students. Texts present diverse experiences and the literacy skills associated with each activity recursively build on each other as the year progresses. Text complexity also adjusts and increases as students continue through the curriculum over the course of a school year although the materials do provide opportunities for teachers and students to incorporate additional texts.
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 4, students read texts independently using the Questioning Path Tool to guide their thinking. The teacher’s edition includes further instructions: “Note that the Guiding Questions now span all four domains of questioning, enabling various approaches to initial close reading.”
- Unit 2 focuses on students’ abilities to make Evidence Based Claims (EBC’s) using two speeches. The text choices are accompanied by media supports-- video formats of the pair of speeches. In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students begin independently reading the first speech, “Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address.” The materials present the Questioning Path Tool as a support for students engaged in reading various text types.
- In Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 1, students read paragraphs 3-11 of Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” to find supporting evidence. The Supporting EBC Tool is utilized to “look for evidence to support a claim made by the teacher." The teacher’s edition emphasizes that “It is essential that students have opportunities to read the text independently at various points in the unit. All students must develop the habit of perseverance in reading” (356).
- Unit 4 provides a set of informational texts focused on the influence of design to use as models for developing research skills. Texts include short and longer length blog posts, professional documents, and multimedia videos to name a few. Each document is sequenced in a way to provide students with increasingly complex details about design and its influence.
Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
Overall, the instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially meet the expectations of indicators 1g through 1n. The materials support students as they grow their writing skills over the course of the year. High-quality, text-dependent questions and task support students as they grapple with materials, participate in discussions of content, engage in a variety of writing types, and demonstrate their learning with evidence-supported arguments. However, speaking and listening protocols are not fully outlined throughout the materials to support teachers and students. Teachers may also need to add additional instruction to cover the full range of writing standards required for narrative writing. Materials do not include explicit instruction targeted for grammar and convention standards.
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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific and consistently support students’ literacy growth over the course of a school year.
The instructional materials include questions and tasks that require careful reading over the course of a school year, during which students are asked to produce evidence from texts to support claims. Materials introduce the text-dependent, inquiry basis called the Questioning Path Tool, which provides opportunities for students to ask and use questions to guide their close examination of the text. The Tool progresses from intensive practice and support in developing text-specific questions to gradual release of responsibility as students learn to develop high-quality questions on their own, deepening their understanding of the text. These questions require students to return to the text for evidence to support their answers to questions about the roles of specific details, the meaning of specific phrases, character development, and vocabulary analysis. The process supports a text-centric curriculum and approach to multiple literacy skills.
Students work independently and collaboratively to respond to and generate text-specific questions. Also, writing tasks provide the opportunity for students to conduct more text-dependent work. Models can be modified for existing content (i.e., novels) owned by a district.
Appropriate support materials for teachers to plan and implement text-dependent questions, tasks, and assignments are included in the curriculum.
The tasks and assignments asked of students are appropriately sequenced and follow a consistent routine. The materials require students to closely read the text, drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text. The following are examples of this evidence:
- In Unit 1b, The Questioning Path Tool is utilized, and students are provided more opportunities to deepen their understanding of the texts. For example, in Unit 1b, Part 1, Activity 3: Reading Closely for Details, the teacher’s edition includes the following question to deepen understanding of Text 2—Man’s Search for Meaning, “A Case for a Tragic Optimism”: “In response to Freud, Frankl writes, ‘Thank heaven, Sigmund Freud was spared knowing the concentration camps from the inside. His subjects lay on the couch designed in the plush style of Victorian culture, not in the filth of Auschwitz.’ How does this inform me of Frankl’s perspective? How does it begin to reveal Frankl’s idea of human nature?”
- The materials also include text-specific questions:
- In Unit 1b, Part 1, Activity 2, the Questioning Path Tool for the text, “Sorrow Teeming with Light (Painting), Calvin and Hobbes (Comic Strip) and Construint (Sculpture), provides text-specific questions: “How does the sidewalk influence Calvin’s thinking? What change occurs between the third and fourth frame and how does this change relate to Calvin’s questions?”
- In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 1, students work with Raymond Carver’s “What We Talk about When We Talk About Love.” An example text-dependent question is “Using evidence from the text, hypothesize why everyone sits motionless and silent in the dark at the end. Why might Carver have chosen to end the story with this image?”
- In Unit 4, Part 4, Activity 3, the task is centered around evaluating possible sources to support research. This process is supported by the Research Evaluation Tool in the Literacy Toolbox. This tool acts as a checklist for students to evaluate texts and support their evaluations with textual evidence.
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, there are text-specific questions to accompany “Wealth Inequality in America?” such as, “How does the narrator structure the information in the video? How does this help clarify and understand the information and ideas about wealth distribution in the United States?” Additional Extending Questions are posed as examples: “What evidence does this text provide that influences my understanding of the issue of poverty and how or whether society should work to address the problem? In what ways?”
Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-dependent questions, tasks, and assignments. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1, Part 4, Activity 2, “students read three related texts and discuss them as a class.” Teachers are provided support via the Instructional Notes section. For this activity, the curriculum provides summaries of each text which gives the teacher valuable background knowledge that will help the teacher lead discussion and clarify understanding. The curriculum also gives specific instructional tips through statements: “It will also be helpful to view the video recording…” and “It will be a particularly appropriate text for students...who are skillful readers ready for a college-level text.”
- In Unit 1b, students read texts that look into various aspects and questions about human nature. The instructional materials provide further guidance for teachers, such as the following: “As noted, this unit consists of an abbreviated format of the Reading Closely unit that includes model Questioning Path Tools for each text and is organized by part and activity so teachers can better orient when students analyze each text if following the original Reading Closely unit lesson plan.”
- In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 1, students are provided with text-specific questions through modeling by the teacher. For example, in the teacher’s edition, Instructional Notes are provided to guide teachers as students make evidence-based claims about literary technique, including, but not limited to, the following:
- “The text notes and text-dependent questions are designed to emphasize these targets techniques, but teachers and students are also encouraged to extend beyond or outside of the unit's models into the study of other literary techniques, themes, and meanings that transcend what is suggested here.
- As students move to analyzing, however, the questions become more focused on specific authorial choices and aspects of literary craft. For this unit, those choices, and techniques involve the following domains of literary analysis specific to fictional narratives.”
Materials contain sets of sequences of text-dependent/ text-specific questions with activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials containing sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent and text-specific questions with activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding.
The materials include quality culminating tasks which are supported with coherent sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks and are present across a year’s worth of material. The following are examples of this evidence:
- In Unit 2, Making Evidence-Based Claims: “We Have Every Right to Dream Heroic Dreams,” students will write an EBC essay and participate in a class discussion of the final EBC essays. Questions included in the Questioning Path Tool will assist students to deepen their understanding of the text, and develop a claim based on the texts they have read independently. For example, in Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1: Independent reading and forming EBCs, the “five text-specific questions in the Deepening section of the Questioning Path Tool are again designed to move students from concrete details and literal understanding of the speech to a more critical analysis of the text itself." As each question is discussed students are asked to follow it up by asking, “What in the text makes you reach your answer or conclusion? Point to specific words and sentences.” Examples of text-specific questions are included in the Questioning Path Tool relating to “Remarks to the APEC Women and Economy Summit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton”: “How does ‘the evidence’ presented in paragraphs 11-13 contribute to the persuasiveness of Secretary Clinton’s claims about women and the economy? In paragraphs 11-20, how does Clinton further develop the claim that a ‘transformation’ regarding women’s role in the economy is needed? How does she define ‘the problem,’ and what further evidence does she provide to support her implied claim that ‘a major realignment in our thinking’ is necessary?”
- In Unit 4, Research to Deepen Understanding: “Design: How Does It Influence Innovation and Progress?" students compile an organized portfolio. In the Literacy Toolbox, Researching to Deepen Understanding—Final Tasks, upon completion of the portfolio, students are asked to “share what you’ve learned in a short analytical research narrative. Your narrative should clearly express your understanding of the topic and report how you have developed your new knowledge and perspective.” Provided in the instructions for the Final Writing Task: Analytical Research Narrative, students are provided guidance for the task: “Think of several ways you and your classmates have come to understand the topic of ‘Design: How Does it Influence Innovation and Progress?’ based on the texts you have read; a. Select one or two of these ideas that match your own understanding, and return to the question: What do I think about this aspect of the topic of Design and how it influences innovation and progress; b. Your response to this question is the basis for your evidence-based perspective, which you will work into your narrative. Through the process of questioning various sources during the research process, it will assist students to be successful when writing the analytical research narrative: ‘How does the author’s perspective influence the text’s presentation of ideas or arguments? How does the author’s perspective and presentation of the text compare to others?’”
Evidence that sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks throughout each unit prepare students for success on the culminating tasks is as follows:
- In Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 5, the culminating task concludes with relevant information and summaries of texts for students to include in their research portfolio. Although the research portfolio is one culminating task for the end of the unit, the focus here is evidence of a student’s ability to gather information for research purposes. The provided Taking Notes Tool is designed to be driven by an Inquiry Question generated after close reading a text using the Questioning Path Tool.
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 2, students independently gather background information about an issue from multiple texts. The culminating task assesses a student’s ability to approach texts with purpose and without predetermined guiding questions. The materials note, “students have been [previously] provided with comprehensive sets of text-dependent questions [via the Questioning Path Tool]” and by this culminating unit, should begin to independently use text-dependent questions similar to the Guiding Questions and Assessing Sources handout. Teachers can provide an abbreviated Questioning Path Tool for students to complete for the culminating task.
The culminating tasks are varied and rich, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do in speaking and/or writing. The following are examples of this evidence:
- In Unit 2, the final assignment consists of developing and writing an evidence-based claim and writing and revising a global or comparative evidence-based claim essay. This essay is based on two texts: “First Inaugural Address, President Ronald Reagan, January 20, 1981” and “Remarks to the APEC Women and the Economy Summit,” Secretary Hillary Clinton, September 16, 2011. Part 3 of Unit 2 helps students prepare for this essay by providing a Questioning Path Tool for the second text. This tool provides both text-dependent and text-specific questions that assist students in analyzing this text that is, in part, the basis for the culminating writing task.
- In Unit 5, the culminating writing task is to develop, write, and revise an evidence-based argumentative essay based on a collection of informational texts and arguments related to the unit’s issue which focuses on social responsibility, poverty, and charity. To be able to accomplish the final writing task, students must be able to analyze arguments. Part 2 of Unit 5 provides several text sets including political cartoons, seminal arguments, and additional arguments for analysis. The curriculum also provides Questioning Path Tools for texts 4-4.5. These questions are designed and sequenced to prepare students for the final assignment.
Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols to engage students in speaking and listening activities and discussions (small group, peer-to-peer, whole class) which encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially 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.
The materials promote twelve Academic Habits along with Units in addition to standards-aligned Literacy Skills. The materials intend for students “to develop, apply, and extend” Academic Habits “as they progress through the sequence of instruction.” Academic Habits include mental processes and communication skills sets such as, but not limited to, Preparing, Collaborating, Completing Tasks, Understanding Purpose And Process, and Remaining Open. Each Academic Habit is accompanied by general descriptors and most units include rubrics designed for teachers to conduct observational assessments of Academic Habits, thus providing another opportunity for assessment. By comparison, the twenty Literacy Skills articulated by the materials are focused on reading and writing skills; Academic Habits are mental and communication-based processes.
In the teacher’s edition, the text addresses the importance of students learning how to communicate ideas effectively to others. The publishers explain that text-centered discussions are embedded throughout the program and that students have the opportunity to participate in discussions almost daily. Also, the publisher includes a description of academic habits related to reading closely, speaking, and listening, and explains that within the curriculum are formative assessment opportunities that can serve as diagnostic tools for teachers to gauge how well individuals and the class as a whole can share ideas and actively listen to each other. Furthermore, the publisher shares that with the Text-Centered Discussion there are three fundamental principles: “(1) using guiding or text-based questions to examine the writing, (2) applying clear criteria when determining and discussing its strengths and weaknesses, and (3) citing specific evidence in response to questions and in support of claims about the writing.”
Students are provided frequent opportunities to participate in evidence-based discussions. Many activities and some culminating tasks focus on students leading and participating in text-centered discussions. These discussions allow students to listen to other students’ summaries, ask questions, and discuss textual evidence to support their thinking. The curriculum also allows flexibility for how students are grouped for these discussions. Some discussions are started in expert groups and finished in new discussion groups. Other discussions are completed in pairs, with some being led by the teacher. All discussions are connected to the units’ texts. While discussions are evidence-based, teachers and students are not provided with protocols or models for conversation. Also, evidence shows that conversation itself is not the goal of this curriculum. Conversation is a tool used throughout the curriculum, but is not ever explicitly taught or assessed.
The consistent and formulaic design of the curriculum provides a focus on using textual evidence and contains sequenced tasks for most discussions to support the demonstration of academic vocabulary and analysis of syntax. This is maintained by the consistent use of a formulaic questioning path system and explicit modeling instructions for teachers to follow with students. The modeling instructions and handouts are text-specific, but can be used with other texts. Some texts are not immediately available and extra guidance is provided to pull materials from the internet. Although opportunities for consistent explicit guidance for teachers or students to use academic vocabulary and syntax to occur do exist, this guidance is not always evident.
Also, evidence shows that the instructional materials do not provide students with sufficient practice to demonstrate proficiency in the strategic use of multimedia during presentations. As 21st-century learners, students need tasks to be required and embedded throughout the academic school year, including both formative and summative assessment of presentation of knowledge and ideas with the successful integration of multimedia to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. For example, in Unit 4, the Instructional Notes list an informational presentation incorporating text, graphics, and multimedia, as optional or an alternative, as opposed to requiring all students to engage in these uses of multimedia.
Materials provide multiple opportunities and questions for evidence-based discussions across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials. Examples of this evidence are the following:
- As part of the final assignments in Unit 1, students are asked to lead and participate in a text-centered discussion. This discussion is text based; 3b says, “Reread the other two final texts so that you are prepared to discuss and compare them.” During the process, students will meet with their expert group, join a new discussion group, listen to other students’ summaries, pose questions, and ask students to present evidence from the texts to support their thinking. Unit 1b’s final assignment is set up in similar fashion.
- In Unit 5, Part 3, Activity 1, students, in reading teams, use the Evaluating Arguments Tool and review process to evaluate an argument they have read thus far in the unit. Each group shares and discusses their ratings with the class. Students are then asked to support their evaluations with textual evidence.
- Unit 5, Part 5, Activity 1 continues the familiar process of peer discussions for the editing and revising writing process. This process includes an active listening phase for students to look for evidence to support their feedback. Guiding questions are also provided to keep conversations text-centered.
The opportunities provided do not always adequately address and promote students’ ability to master grade-level speaking and listening standards. The following are examples of this evidence:
- The User Guide section of the materials includes an alignment to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. This is a master list of the “anchor” standards that are the focus for the materials, and the beginning of each Part within Units includes the specific “anchor” standards aligned to Activities. The materials claim alignment to only one of the six Speaking and Listening standards in the Common Core State Standards - SL.1, Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, “students follow along as they listen to the second half of the speech and discuss a series of text-specific questions.” As students listen to the speech, they will record details on the provided Evidence-Based Claim Tool. Students will then participate in a class discussion comparing the details they recorded. In Activity 4, the class discusses evidence located in Activity 3. Pairs volunteer to present their evidence to the class; the teacher guides students by asking them to provide textual support to support their claims. Speaking and listening are not the focus of the activity nor are these skills assessed. Instead, this activity uses speaking and listening to support reading and analyzing text.
- In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 3, “students follow along as they listen to the first section of the text and discuss a series of text-specific questions.” The teacher leads a class discussion based on the provided text-dependent questions. The curriculum suggests alternatives for discussion including grouping students to focus on a few questions. Each group would have a different set of questions and would be responsible for sharing their observations/findings with the class. Speaking and listening are not the focus of the activity nor are these skills assessed. Instead, this activity uses speaking and listening to support reading and analyzing text.
Grade-level-appropriate opportunities occur for evidence-based discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax within the materials, but the materials and supports within the curriculum do not always utilize the opportunities. The following is evidence of this:
- In Unit 4, Part 3, Activity 3, the tasks conclude with a discussion about student findings for the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Research Tools. Students provide evidence through discussion to explain how their claims meet specific criteria. Students are instructed to use the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Research Tools as a reference. At this point in the curriculum, and with modeling provided by the teacher, students could appropriately use academic vocabulary when providing feedback. The opportunity is there, but the materials do not explicitly require students to use the vocabulary in their feedback. It could happen naturally but is not directly stated as an expectation by the materials and, therefore, the teacher.
- In Unit 4, students walk through the inquiry and research process, but much of the work within this unit is done independently. By Part 5, students should be able to develop and communicate an evidence-based perspective. Activity 2 allows for students to have a text-centered review and discussion with peers and while this discussion has to be grounded in text-based support, there is no protocol or explicit instructions as to using academic vocabulary or syntax.
Materials support students' listening and speaking (and discussions) about what they are reading and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for the materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and evidence.
Materials embed evidence-based academic discussions focused on listening and speaking skills in reading and writing processes. Students are often asked to engage in discussions about texts through activities such as note taking, annotating texts, and capturing what their peers say. Students then transfer the practice to their own writing through collaborative revision workshops with peers.
Speaking and listening instruction is applied frequently over the course of the year and includes facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers. Evidence of this is as follows:
- Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 1 focuses on analyzing textual details and provides the opportunity for students to compare the identified “Connecting Detail statements” in small group or whole class discussion. This is supported by the question-based Analyzing Details Tool which students complete prior to discussions. Relevant follow-up questions are suggested to be generated by the teacher or students and the materials provide text-specific questions that can be used via the included Questions Path Tool.
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 3, students participate in a read aloud and class discussion; this discussion is led by the teacher and is guided by text-dependent questions. Students will either listen to the teacher read President Ronald Reagan’s speech or watch an online video of the President delivering his speech. Students will participate in an open discussion of first impressions of the author’s perspective. After the initial reading, students will use the Questioning Path Tool to deepen their understanding.
- In Unit 4, Part 4, Activity 3, students are tasked with evaluating research to include in their research portfolios and reflective research narrative essay. Students engage in discussion opportunities by reflecting and completing the Research Evaluation Tool. Students use their completed Tool to review and receive feedback in teacher-student conferences that coincide with student peer-review teams of three. The intent is to gain insight from multiple perspectives through discussions using a common tool.
- In Unit 5, Part 3, Activity 1, students engage with listening as the teacher models the supports provided by the Evaluating Arguments Tool. The teacher models follow-up reflection questions aloud to evaluate an argument: “How accurate and current is the explanation of the issue?” (642). With guidance provided by the handout, students and the teacher discuss other questions that can help analyze elements listed from the handout. Students eventually work in reading teams guided by the Modeling Practice and the Evaluating Arguments Tool to evaluate other arguments and the textual evidence used to support it. The handout contains extensive relevant follow-up questions for students to use and respond to during the task.
Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing grade-appropriate writing (e.g. grade-appropriate revision and editing) and short, focused projects.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.
The materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing. Activities are increasingly independent compared to previous grades with more opportunities for independent on-demand writing. Student choice is more frequent than in previous years’ materials. Students are required to produce short, informal writings and longer, formal essays. On-demand writing tasks consist of completing the worksheets/handouts/tools from the Literary Toolboxes and evolve into students composing sentence-length evidence-based claims and paragraphs. The on-demand writing tasks build skills for students to use in independent process writing tasks.
Students are continuously asked to work in writing pairs or groups of four to improve their work by reading aloud, analyzing each other’s pieces, and offering objective criticism and suggestions. During the editing process, students are asked to focus on evaluating and improving the content or quality of claims and evidence and to focus on improving organization and expression and clarity of their writing.
Examples of on-demand writing tasks include:
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 2, students will write a caption as a summary of a visual text. As a follow-up, students continue to work on reading for detail in Activity 3 and paraphrase their understanding in writing after independently reading a text. By Activity 4, students evaluate and explain in writing the concepts learned from a multimedia text.
- Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 4, includes a task where small groups of students discuss and collaboratively write the key details of a video.
- In Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 3, “students draw from their notes, tools, annotated texts, and sentences from earlier activities to construct a paragraph that addresses their comparative question.”
- In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 3, “students develop a paragraph that communicates an evidence-based claim…In this first phase, students should focus on getting their ideas down on paper so that others can review them. Students will work with peers and with the teacher on sentence structure and grammar “to effectively incorporate textual details while maintaining their own voice and style.”
- In Unit 4, students write an Analytical Research Narrative. Students address their stances and provide a reflection of their inquiry processes. Students maintain an independent research journal during this unit. As a model, the materials recommend various mainstream podcasts to serve as examples for students “to understand how reporters not only report on a story but also report on their own experiences.”
- In Unit 5, Part 3, Activity 5, students complete a cumulative on-demand writing task to respond to opposing positions. The prerequisites are multiple process writing tasks necessary for students to have evidence-based argumentative stances as the focal texts for this activity. Appropriate text-dependent questions are provided to guide student discussions and work.
Opportunities for process writing tasks include:
- For the final writing of Unit 2, instructions for students are, “On your own, plan and draft a multi-paragraph explanation of something you have come to understand by reading and examining your text.” Students use these to lead and participate in a text-centered discussion, which could then lead to revision.
- As part of Unit 3’s Final Writing Task, students will write “a multi-paragraph essay that presents a global claim about the cumulative effects of techniques Carver uses.” Students are encouraged to use a collaborative process to review, revise, and improve their essays. Their revision is focused on their arguments, the unity and sequence or organization, the use of evidence, and the clarity of their writing.
Materials include digital resources where appropriate. Examples include:
- The Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide provides information relating to Electronic Supports and Versions of Materials; the teacher’s edition states that all handouts, tools, and checklists are available as digital files. This enables students and teachers to work either with paper and pencil or electronically according to their strengths and needs.
- Unit 1B, Part 1, Activity 5 directs teachers and students to the website of the magazine, Life. Not only does the website include thousands of photos organized by topics and decades, but many parts of the site include explanatory texts, which would serve as models of the type of writing expected by students.
Materials provide opportunities for students to address different types/modes/genres of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Writing opportunities incorporate digital resources/multimodal literacy materials where appropriate. Opportunities may include blended writing styles that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing (yearlong) that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
Within the Grade 12 curriculum, there are two areas of limitation: the range of genres/modes of writing and how much instructional time is dedicated to teaching new writing skills. In particular, opportunities to write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events is not represented in this curriculum. Writing is embedded throughout the curriculum and provides multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply most standards. However, the writing does not fully reflect the distribution of the standards, in particular the various elements of narrative writing, even though narrative writing is at times included as a follow-up reflection to longer research projects. The 9-12 standards state within narrative writing that students write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequence. In particular, students are to use narrative techniques such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters. Students are not provided opportunities to engage in narrative writing tasks allowing sufficient practice for specific narrative techniques as required by the standards.
The curriculum provides a variety of unit-specific checklists and rubrics so that students and teachers can monitor progress in literacy skills (including writing) and academic habits such as collaborating and clearly communicating. This curriculum is based in reading grade-appropriate texts and responding to these texts in both formal and informal writing.
A student’s ability to include EBCs is required in each form of writing and ensures all student writing work is connected to a set of texts in different formats. The common source sets allow for students to practice and track their understanding as well as helps the teacher effectively assess even large classes of students.
By design, the materials maintain consistency with the previous grade levels. There is an extra unit for reading closely for textual details, Unit 1b. Activities remain paced with increasing independence and collaborative review processes for teachers to track and assess progress and students to self-assess.
Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
- The writing tasks focus on evidence-based, multi-draft, multi-paragraph informational/explanatory and argumentative writing. This is achieved through the recursive use of literacy skills and habits, specifically close reading combined, question-based discussions, and inquiry-based research. Students are not provided the opportunity to engage in a dedicated narrative writing opportunity to the full fidelity of national college-and-career ready expectations. The materials blend organizational elements of narratives--”well-structured events sequence”-- into other modes of writing. For example, Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 2, isolates this element of narrative writing--the use of “a basic chronological organization”-- into a requirement for producing a blended, research-based essay--an “analytical research narrative.” The materials do not adhere to other significant narrative elements identified by national college-and-career ready expectations. This includes the use of “effective technique” that is narrative specific and “well-chosen details,” expectations that are outlined in detail as sub-bullet points, a-e, in the Common Core State Standards but not included in the materials. This expectation of narrative writing repeats each grade level. Many times the wording in the teacher’s edition is exactly the same from year to year.
- Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 2, students write an analytical research narrative as the culminating task using their research portfolios. The materials reference national standards and expectations for narrative writing, but the unit does not fully align or meet all expectations outlined by the standards for narrative writing. The provided instructions focus on developing real experiences using narrative chronological order as an approach for sequencing a reflective research paper, meaning students write in order to “talk out” their thought process and “explained the story of how it developed...so that a reader will understand how their perspective has emerged.” The provided material, the Academic Habits Checklists, acts as an assessment option for students to self-reflect, peer evaluate, and for teachers to use when observing collaborative discussions. Based on the included Final Tasks: Skills and Habits To Be Demonstrated section, the Organization aspect of narrative writing is the only element focused on when assessing students’ writings. The materials do not incorporate the full scope of essential narrative techniques identified by national standards, such multiple plots lines or sensory language to convey a vivid picture of characters.
- In Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 2, the Instructional Notes emphasize the importance of teacher modeling and ask the teacher to “Prepare a model analytical research narrative that analyzes the class’s overall research process, reports an analysis of the topic, and that communicates an evidence-based perspective that may have emerged through class research.” A model is not provided for the teacher and will need to be prepared ahead of time. Finally, relating to the narrative, the instructional notes state, “Because this may be the first time in the Developing Core Proficiencies program sequence that students have written a narrative, they may want to consider the specific expectations of CCSS W.3 at twelfth grade” and list these standards for the teacher. There is no additional guidance to assist teachers and ensure students have practiced and reached proficiency of all narrative techniques for the grade level.
Materials provide opportunities for students/teachers to monitor progress in writing skills.
- Unit 2 tasks students with writing EBC essays using the common text sets provided. Students have the opportunity to develop in writing multiple evidence-based claims in pairs and independently. Teachers track progress through collaborative reviews and teacher editions of rubrics and formative assessments requiring students to share their Literacy Toolbox handouts.
- In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1, students read “the opening section of the second speech in the unit, Remarks to the APEC Women and the Economy Summit, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, guided by a Guiding Question(s) from the model Questioning Path Tool and use the Forming EBC Tool to make a claim and support it with evidence.” Following the reading, “students record key details, connections, and an initial evidence-based claim on the tool.” Instructional Notes provide teachers with reminders in Part 3: Formative Assessment Opportunities, “Students should now be beginning to develop more complex claims about challenging portions of the text. Their Forming EBC Tool should demonstrate a solid grasp of the claim-evidence relationship, but do not expect precision in the wording of their claims.” Tools are provided to both teachers and students to assess Academic Habits.
- In Unit 5, the instructional materials provide a Building Evidence-based Arguments Literacy Skills and Academic Habits rubric. This rubric allows the teacher to assess skills in four areas: Reading Skills, Developing and Evidence-Based Position, Evidence-Based Writing, and Final Assignment Criteria (703). Various checklists also appear in the other units and are modified to the skills being assessed in that unit.
Where appropriate, writing opportunities are connected to texts and/or text sets (either as prompts, models, anchors, or supports).
- As part of Unit 1b’s final assignments, student are asked to write a multi-paragraph “explanation of something you have come to understand by reading and examining your text.” Students are expected to use one of three final texts and present and explain the central idea, use quotations and paraphrases to support the central idea, explain how the central idea is connected to the author’s purpose, and explain a new understanding.
- Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 5, students write a short paragraph of several clear, coherent, and complete sentences that state and explain something from their analysis of Text #5.
- To end Unit 2, students engage in a Class Discussion of Final EBCs: “The class discusses final evidence-based claims essays of student volunteers and reflects on the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits involved in making and communicating evidence-based claims.”
- In Unit 4, Part 3, Activity 3, after teacher modeling of claims, students create their own that presents a straightforward summary of the text’s information and presents an interpretation of the author’s perspective—both in relationship to the Inquiry Question being considered.
Materials include sufficient writing opportunities for a whole year’s use.
- Materials include numerous writing opportunities that span the entire year. Each final writing task includes formal, usually multi-paragraph essay writing. Students also write throughout each unit in preparation for these final writing tasks. These shorter, informal writing tasks can be found in the form of independent writing, writing a text-based explanation, writing EBCs in pairs, and independent writing of EBCs.
- Unit 1 tasks students with the creation of a multi-draft, multi-paragraph explanation of the text sets studied. The final summative assessment includes a classroom discussion connecting to the students’ essays as the guiding text. The students’ essays address a central idea and an explanation of how the author’s purpose for writing influences the perspective or interpretation by the reader. This skill set will carry over to other units and other writing tasks.
- Unit 5 culminates into an argumentative essay. The unit is consistent with the collaborative review processes from previous units and grades. The teacher rubrics provided look for evidence of reading and thinking that accompanies the students’ writings.
Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support sophisticated analysis, argumentation, and synthesis.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for research-based and evidence-based writing to support analysis, argument, synthesis and/or evaluation of information, supports, claims.
Instructional materials include frequent opportunities for students to write evidence-based claims (EBCs) relating to various topics and in response to text sets organized around the topic. Students are asked to analyze text, develop claims, and support those claims with evidence from the text. Tools, such as Questioning Path Tools, Approaching Text Tools, and Analyzing Details Tools, are provided to help student analyze and organize text to be used in later writing. The checklists and rubrics also include criteria for Using Evidence which asks students to support explanations/claims with evidence from the text by using accurate quotations, paraphrases, and references. Opportunities for writing to sources include informal writing within the units and formal writing in the form of culminating tasks.
Writing opportunities are present in the daily activities as the materials progress. Early units rely on daily writing opportunities to be present in the form of worksheets from the Literacy Toolbox. These are not stand-alone writing tasks. They are intended to provide students with sequenced guidance and support for extended writing to take place. The early Literacy Toolbox handouts in the introductory units provide necessary scaffolding that leads up to research-based and evidence-based reading and writing skills.
Texts include a variety of sources (print and digital). Materials meet the grade-level demands of the standards listed for this indicator.
Materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Examples of this are as follows:
- Unit 1 includes a variety of texts with which students work to analyze and to mine supporting evidence. These include a historical engraving, documents from the Library of Congress, PBS videos, Supreme Court opinions, and poetry.
- In Unit 1b, Part 4, the objective states, “Students learn how to summarize and explain what they have learned from their reading, questioning, and analysis of texts. Students read and analyze three related texts.” The Targeted Literacy Skills for Part 4 include Attending to Details which focuses on “identifying relevant and important textual details, words, and ideas” and Identifying Relationships where students identify important connections by analyzing key ideas within text and across texts.
- In Unit 5, Part 1 “students apply their close-reading skills to understand a societal issue as a context for various perspectives, positions, and arguments.” In Activity 2, students read and analyze numerous texts, such as “Audrey Hepburn’s Statement to Members of the United Nations Staff," to develop an initial understanding of the issue. In Activity 5, students write a multi-part EBC about the issue. This writing serves as the culminating activity for Part 1. It serves as an assessment of whether or not students can use evidence to explain their understanding.
Writing opportunities are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence. Examples of this are as follows:
- In Unit 3, Part 4, Activity 8, the formative assessment focuses on the students’ development of a revised EBC paragraph. In Parts 2 and 3, students receive extensive practice and guidance identifying and analyzing EBCs. With that background, they are expected to independently develop a short writing that analyzes an author's writing technique. Students practice using common text sets.
- In Unit 3, Part 5, the teacher is provided summative assessment guidance for Assessing Literacy Skills utilizing an EBC Writing Task Rubric: “Students’ final EBC essays, having gone through peer review and revision, should provide evidence of each student’s development of the Literacy Skills targeted in the unit—especially the reading and thinking skills that have been the focus of instruction and that are involved in making the evidence-based claim about a literary text.”
- In Unit 4, Part 4, Activity 2, “students review and organize their research and analysis, establishing connection to all the Inquiry Paths of their Research Frame.” The Instructional Notes indicate that after students have experienced organizing and writing EBCs, they will write multiple claims to address some of their Inquiry Paths.
Materials provide opportunities that build students’ writing skills over the course of the school year. Evidence is as follows:
- In the instructional materials, the teacher’s edition shares the Unit Design and Instructional Sequence: students are presented with a topic and “begin learning to read closely by first encountering visual images, which they scan for details, and then multimedia texts that reinforce the skills of identifying details and making text-based observations from those details” (xxxii). Therefore, students are provided an opportunity to learn about the topic before exposure to the more complex grade-level texts and then move forward to more challenging texts.
- Unit 4 provides extensive opportunities for students to conduct research-based writings. The summative writing assignment is a reflective research narrative. Leading up to this, students are guided to maintain a research journal of all the sources evaluated to include in their research. Relevant sources are compiled in a research portfolio to accompany the summative reflective narrative.
- In Unit 5, Part 1, Activity 5, as a formative assessment and a building block for their final argument (in Part 5), students write a one-to-three paragraph explanation of their multi-part claim about the nature of the issue being explored.
- In Unit 5, Part 3, Activity 3, in reading teams, students review and evaluate an argument previously read in the unit. When finished, students compare and discuss their summary evaluations and opinions about whether the argument is convincing.
Writing opportunities are varied over the course of the year. Evidence is as follows:
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 1, students are introduced to the topic through an analogy from another field. Examples listed are as follows:
- Compare the process of close reading to the analytical processes used by experts in other fields, such as musicians, scientists, or detectives.
- Present a CSI video that demonstrates how a detective asks herself questions when first approaching a crime scene
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 2, students are presented with an opportunity to access the topic through the use of a historical cartoon. In the Instructional Notes, teachers are asked to “scan the cartoon and then assign specific visual details to groups or individuals for closer analysis.”
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 3, students are presented with two short texts: one is meant to introduce students to the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the other allows students to explore Thomas Jefferson’s letter to a group of Baptists in Connecticut., both of which will be used for close reading and assist students in furthering their understanding of the topic.
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 4, students watch a video series and “look closely for details in multimedia text, 'God in America',” a five-minute PBS “Extended Preview.”
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 5, students explore a multimedia website and answer guiding questions.
- All the activities in Unit 1, build to a two-stage culminating activity. Students will do the following: 1) Analyze one of three related texts and draft a multi-paragraph explanation of their text, and 2) Lead and participate in a comparative discussion about the three texts. Students are writing informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. In addition, students are drawing evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
- In Unit 1, Part 4, the summative assessment is a synthesis essay tasking students to demonstrate close reading for details. It requires students to synthesize the reading and writing of details based on text-dependent questions to develop the essay. The essay must include the central idea of the text, observations about the author’s purpose and perspective, explain what was learned from the text, and support each of these with reference to textual details. Although it is not inherently research-based or evidence-based, students must support their explanations with textual details.
Materials include instruction and practice of the grammar and conventions/language standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application in context.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially meet the criteria for materials including instruction of the grammar and conventions/language standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application 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.
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 of all grammar and conventions standards for Grade 12, and the instructional materials do not include Conventions of Standard English, Knowledge of Language, or Vocabulary Acquisition and Use as specific CCSS Anchor Standards Targeted in Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Units.
Evidence to support this rationale is as follows:
- In the teacher’s edition, the Alignment of Targeted CCSS with OE (Odell Education) Skills and Habits in Grade 12 materials, includes “the anchor Common Core State Standards that are targeted within the five Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies units and indicates the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits that are derived from or are the components of those standards” (xxx). Using Language and/or Using Conventions is tied to writing standards (W.3, W.4, and W.5). CCSS for language are not listed as targeted specifically in Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Units.
- Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 1, students analyze details in a text that presents a dissenting opinion from texts read in previous units. Again, the materials do not make explicit alignments to language and grammar expectations set by national standards for college-and-career readiness. However, the materials include Guiding Questions to use for close reading and class discussions and provides explicit alignment to some of the language standards in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
- Unit 1b, Part 2, Activity 2, continues to use the Questioning Path tool to analyze texts with increasing independence and depth. The purpose of Unit 1b is to provide teachers with the option to give students another opportunity to practice close reading for details with more complex texts. Like the previous unit, the materials provide comprehensive Guiding Questions support with explicit alignment to the language standards in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 3, students listen to a text being read aloud and the teacher facilitates a discussion in relation to the text-specific questions. A question posed is as follows: “How does the author’s choice of words reveal his purposes and perspective? Thinking about this questions, students mark and annotate key details about the speaker’s language he uses to develop his purpose and point of view” (232). An example included in the Text Notes—Ideas for Discussion is as follows: “Where and how does President Reagan use charged language to characterize the primary cause of America’s ‘present crisis’? How does this language compare with the language he uses in paragraph 12 to explain ‘this administration’s object’ and its potential results for ‘all Americans’?” (234). There is no explicit instruction and notes to ensure students practice and eventually demonstrate command of standards of English grammar and usage when writing or speaking as required by the CCSS.
- In Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1, students complete an independent reading of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Remarks to the APEC Women and the Economy Summit. The teacher’s edition includes texts notes to share that “students may struggle with the domain-specific language and discipline-specific knowledge in the speech. Consider helping students link Clinton’s concrete evidence or examples to the larger economic concepts she discusses as ‘cultural norms.'” The materials include guidance for the teacher to assist students in acquiring and using accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases.
- Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 3, tasks students with close reading and discussing the details of a section of the anchor text, Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” The unit focuses on students reading in order to develop evidence-based claims about an author’s literary style and there is not explicit alignment to the language standards and grammar conventions expected in the Common Core State Standards. However, the activities in the unit do provide opportunities for students to “apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts” as stated in the language standards to comprehend and analyze the author’s style. This is guided by the Questioning Path Tool and the materials provide the teacher with clear guidance and expectations to lead discussions. For example, multiple text-specific questions are focused on the author’s use of language conventions--”decisions regarding word choice, sentence structure, description of setting, or other literary elements”--affect the tone. This close reading activity aligns to the language standards expectations for “understanding figurative language, word relationships, and nuances...in context and [to] analyze their role in the text."
- In Unit 4, Researching to Deepen Understanding: Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Literacy Toolbox, students create a research portfolio and write a reflective research narrative (550). When completing a final writing task, students are asked to “Use a clear narrative structure to sequence sentences and paragraphs and to present a coherent explanation of the perspective” and “Use an informal narrative voice (first person) and effective words and phrases to communicate and connect ideas”; students are not asked to demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing specifically during the writing process. Instructional materials do include that students can “Complete any additional drafts and peer reviews of your paper as instructed” (551). The Researching to Deepen Understanding Literacy Skills and Academic Habits Rubric is included in the teacher’s edition to assess the following: Reading Skills, Research Process Skills and Habits, Evidence-Based Writing, and Final Assignment. The rubric does not include an assessment of students’ ability to use conventions as included in the CCSS.
- Unit 5’s cumulative task, a final written multi-paragraph, argumentative essay, is intended to be an opportunity for students to demonstrate Skills and Habits that includes the use of language and conventions, such as the correct and appropriate inclusion of academic and domain-specific vocabulary as well as clarity of word choices. This aligns with the expectations in the Common Core language standards to “demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage” and “use accurately general academic and domain-specific words.” Like in previous units, the materials do not explicitly present a direct correlation to any grammar and language expectations. In previous units, this occurs in the Close Reading for Details phase of the sequence and Unit 5 continues to incorporate this skill, but it is focused on analyzing the anchor texts for supporting evidence, rather than language and conventions of usage.
Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks
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 to engage students over the whole school year as they build toward college- and career- level independence with literacy skills.
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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.
Texts are organized around a topic/topics or themes to build students' knowledge and their ability to comprehend and analyze complex texts proficiently.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic/topics or themes to build students’ knowledge and their ability to read and comprehend complex texts proficiently. The materials are structured to build on to Literacy Skills and Academic Habits which provide students practice in learning to read closely a variety of high-quality and challenging literary and informational texts over the course of a school year. This cycle begins with close reading for details, transitions into using this skill to analyze supporting details for research essays, and culminates into reading for details to support opposing sides of an argument in the final unit. The texts are chosen to specifically address the skills and each unit organizes anchor texts around a topical focus. The materials provide five units with a different topical focus and appropriately aligned texts for each. Within each unit, students work toward independence in their work and using texts to complete increasingly complex tasks.
Evidence that the materials meet the criteria is as follows:
- The anchor texts in Unit 1 are specifically chosen and sequenced for students to develop their ability to close read for textual details. The unit topic, the separation of religion and government, is accompanied by an appropriate selection of texts that include government and court documents and speeches, articles, and speeches that present dual positions on the topic. Over the span of the unit, students build upon literacy skills. Unit 1, Part 1, contains activities introducing the concept of close reading and, with the guidance of Literacy Tools, gradually increases complexity of tasks and texts to build student proficiency. By Unit 1, Part 4, students are independently developing a multi-paragraph essay explaining their understanding of a text. By Unit 1, Part 5, students are expected to demonstrate proficiency by participating in a Text-Centered Discussion. Each activity includes opportunities for students to close read more and increasingly complex texts focused on a perspective of the topic.
- Unit 1b presents another opportunity for students to hone their close reading skills introduced in Unit 1 with more complex texts now centered on the topic of “human nature.” The texts span a range of visual comic strips and videos to sacred and philosophical printed texts to support growing complexity. The sequence of activities mirror Unit 1.
- Unit 3 is centered around a single literary text, Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” This unit is intended to provide the opportunity for students to analyze literary technique rather than exploring a specific topic. By comparison, other units contain multiple texts focused on a central topic used to build reading and writing skills. The material does not specify a central topic as a focus for this unit. Instead, it suggests “there are many avenues for extending the work...in a variety of directions” based on teacher and student interests.
- Unit 5 provides sets of texts to accompany each part in the sequence of learning. The texts focus on the topic of poverty and charity, or “social responsibility.” As the final unit in the materials, it appropriately incorporates skills taught in previous units by applying each to develop an argumentative essay. The text sets and aligned activities are scaffolded so that work is independently conducted. For example, students are already familiar with EBCs, and in Unit 5, Part 1, the activities build on this by introducing the concept of evidence-based argumentation. Textual details are provided as supports for an argumentative claim.
Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.
The materials recursively use inquiry-based tools and habits to analyze texts, outline writing tasks, and self- and peer-assess writing. Questions and tasks are consistently presented in a way to inform the next step of process to culminate in a final essay for each unit. For example, Unit 1 introduces the inquiry process for analyzing texts and each subsequent unit builds on this tool by including a new concept or focus. Students are also guided to develop original guiding questions and not be dependent on the questions provided by the materials. Unit 3 addresses this as students determine an aspect of an author’s literary technique and must use the inquiry process to develop an inquiry-based approach to reading, rereading, and analyzing a text to develop an original evidence-based writing. The questions help students increase and clarify their understanding of concepts within and between texts. In the evidence documented, students applied the inquiry process during multiple activities to analyze and understand language, ideas, and the details informing such concepts. Inquiry was also used for students to plan and understand the expectations of craft and structure for their individual culminating writing task.
The instructional materials include opportunities for students to analyze language or author’s word choice for most texts. In addition, students analyze key ideas and details, structure, and craft according to grade-level standards for most texts. By the end of Grade 12, most items are embedded in students’ work rather than taught directly, thereby increasing student independence. Finally, the questions and tasks will assist students to make meaning and build an understanding of texts and topics.
Evidence that supports this rationale:
- Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 5 provides the opportunity for students to use the Questioning Path Tool to independently explore and analyze a multimedia text. The task is sequenced to proceed after students become familiar using this tool in isolation with a visual text, a political cartoon, followed by a print text, and concluding with a video text. The multimedia text, a website, combines the various text formats for students to analyze. The materials intend for students to recognize how an inquiry-based close reading for language, ideas, perspective, and structure can span a range of text types. The Questioning Path Tool intentionally focuses on these four domains - language, ideas, perspective, and structure - as a method for students to comprehend texts.
- Unit 1b, Part 2, Activity 1 is intended to help students develop original guiding questions to consider when initially close reading a text. Students are provided models to base the development of their questions and this helps to align inquiries to analyze an author’s language, ideas, perspective, and structure. This activity begins by asking students to recognize or seek out details about the author and use this understanding to develop a question to consider while conducting a first read of the text. A second, more specific question is then developed for a reread of the same text. The intended outcome of this activity is to help students become increasingly independent in their close reading and eventually develop original questions for a Questioning Path Tool.
- In Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students independently read paragraphs 1-12 of President Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address. Text-dependent questions are included to assist students in focusing on the author’s purpose and structure of the text, such as the following:
- "What do I think the text is mainly about—what is discussed in detail?
- In what ways does the text begin?
- How does the author’s choice of words reveal his purposes and perspective?
- What seems to be the author’s attitude or point of view?" (231)
In addition, students consider the author’s perspective and use of language. Text-specific questions are provided to assist students in deepening their understanding of the text, such as the following:
- "Where and how does President Reagan express his opinions about 'government'?
- What evidence does President Reagan present to explain and support his claim that 'government is not the solution to our problem: government is the problem'?
- Where and how does President Reagan use charged language to characterize the primary cause of America’s 'present crisis'?" (231)
- In Unit 3, Part 4, Activity 5, students independently complete the remainder of the short story text for this unit and “determine an [inquiry] approach” and “identify Guiding Questions” with the intention of developing deeper questions in a blank Questioning Path Tool. The materials intend for students to continue using the Guiding Questions Handout presented in the introduction to the unit to fulfill the Question and Analysis sections of the Questioning Path Tool. Their approach has been provided by the materials; students read with the intention of analyzing an author’s literary technique, including the craft and structure of a text. Previous activities provide model questions to help students build understanding of the text and topics. The development of a student-generated extending question in the final phase of the Questioning Path Tool builds into the final task of this activity; students record their question in the Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool and reread for details to develop and support a claim about the author’s literary techniques.
- In Unit 4, Part 3, Activity 2, students analyze a source perspective using the Common Sources provided: “When they have analyzed previous texts in other units and used the LIPS [Language, Ideas, Perspective, Structure] domains from the Guiding Questions Handout, students will have considered the author’s perspective and how it is conveyed within a text. Students will now apply what they have learned about analyzing perspective” (503). The Instructional Notes include that students will need to compare the perspectives of multiple sources. Common Sources can include Source #5A Embracing the Economic Case for Sustainable Design,” Source #5B “Sorry green design, it’s over,” Source #5C “Reframing the Argument for Sustainability,” and Source #5D “Debating Sustainability.” The Instructional Notes recommend that teachers model one of the texts in the Common Sources and students will read at least one other Source of the four options. Therefore, there is flexibility in the texts that are chosen to compare perspectives. Questions are provided to assist students in analyzing a source’s perspective, such as the following:
- "How does the author’s perspective influence the text's presentation of ideas or arguments?
- How does the author’s perspective and presentation of the text compare to others?
- How does the author’s perspective influence my reading of the text—and my use of the text in research?" (505)
- Unit 5, Part 5, Activity 1 incorporates a collaborative, “question-based approach” to the revision and editing process in writing. The Collaborative Workshop model presented by the materials are organized in the following sequence: Modeling, Guided Writing, Text-Centered Discussion, and Read Aloud. Students also incorporate text analysis work from Part 4, Activity 5 to frame their argument. Previous work is conducted using the Literary Tools handouts and organizers. Part 5’s culminating summative assessment incorporates a student’s analysis of the language, ideas, perspective, and structure of the texts into an argumentative essay and presentation. The process begins with planning through discourse and the materials provide general open-ended questions for small groups or pairs: “What do I know and think about this topic or issue?” and “How can I help others understand my thinking?” As students begin to write, they revisit the questions and consider more text-centered responses focused on their organization and approach to the topic. This recursive reflection process is intended to help students build understanding of the text and their own writing, but the collaborative discussion also provides varying perspectives for them to consider as they continue to write and revise.
Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
The materials are designed with a formulaic, inquiry-based approach centered around the included texts and this can be applied to texts not included in the materials. Every task begins with a question or set of questions to guide reflective thinking and discussion about a topic that is connected to the texts. Questions move from general, broad sharing to text-centered to text-specific in order to guide students’ thinking and develop extended written essays to demonstrate understanding. The inquiry process is guided by multiple handouts and documents included in the Literacy Toolbox. Although the basis for each remains consistent throughout each unit--the Questioning Path Tool is used in every unit--Tools are adjusted to meet the increase in complexity of tasks and texts--the Evidence-based Claims Tool is adjusted for students to format their original EBCs through writing. In addition, the materials provide guidance to teachers in supporting students’ literacy skills. By the end of Grade 10, integrated knowledge and ideas is embedded in students’ work. Finally, the questions and tasks included in the instructional materials provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts as well as within single texts.
Evidence that supports this rationale:
- Unit 1, Part 5, Activity 2 is focused on students preparing for a text-centered academic discussion. Students will have already developed a final text-based explanation essay demonstrating their understanding of a text analyzed in class. The discussion is the culminating assessment task for the unit. Requirements for the discussion include presenting a student-generated, comparative text-specific question to facilitate discussion and then students describe their text’s “relationship between...other texts” analyzed in this unit. The materials guide this planning with the Analyzing Details Tool. At this point, students are already familiar with this Literacy Tool having completed it for other texts. Now they complete it using the text they chose as the anchor for their writing and discussion task. The Analyzing Details Tool is set up by establishing a Purpose and a Question about the text. Students read closely for details based on the purpose and question determined before reading. This is built off the students’ previous experiences working with the Questioning Path Tool and Guiding Questions handout.
- Unit 1b, Part 1, Activity 2 provides additional experience with the anchored inquiry-based reading, writing, and discussion process that will carry over and grow throughout the course. Students are provided with a Questioning Path Tool to set a focused purpose for the reading followed by general text-centered questions provided by the Guiding Questions handout. For this activity, the texts are visuals and the questions are adjusted accordingly, but remain text-centered and general: “What details stand out...as I examine this collection of images?” This question may be applied to any visual texts and encourages students to analyze across multiple visual texts. The questions are aligned to the four domains of focus for the materials - language, ideas, perspective, and structure of texts. This process becomes text-specific in the Deepening phase of inquiry: “How does the sidewalk influence Calvin’s thinking?” Students learn to independently develop original text-specific inquiries in proceeding activities.
- In Unit 2, Part 2, Activity 2, students listen to paragraphs 13-29 of President Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural Address. A Questioning Path Tool is provided, and students will approach the text by focusing on Reagan’s perspective and ideas first. Instructional Notes are provided as additional guidance through the steps, such as the following: “Students will initially read this section of the speech by thinking about two Guiding Questions in the second model Questioning Path Tool related to Reagan's perspective and the texts’ ideas (‘What details or words suggest the author’s perspective’ and ‘What claims do I find in the text?’ and a related claim presented by the teacher (e.g ‘Reagan believes that through its struggles, America will lead by example’). Considering the questions and claim, students should search first for literal details about Reagan’s beliefs about America and its role in the world and discuss them as a class or in small groups before they engage in a second reading” (242).
- Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 4 is the second opportunity for students to develop an EBC using the inquiry-based close reading process. The teacher models this in Activity 3 and students now apply the process independently in small groups starting with a group discussion focused on text-specific questions from the Questioning Path Tool. The materials provide a check of the intended elements students should have analyzed at this point for teachers. Each text-specific question is taken from the Deepening phase as students should have already addressed the initial text-dependent questions in the Questioning and Analyzing phase of the process. The questions are provided to help students develop a “global claim” about the author’s literary technique and further questions are provided at the conclusion of the activity to support students and teachers.
- In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, Instructional Notes are provided to assist in Introducing a Topic—Opening Avenues for Inquiry. Guidance provided includes the following: “Using the Guiding Questions Handout (located in the RC Literacy Toolbox), have the class select several questions that they think might help them view and think about the video more actively. Alternately, narrow the list for students and have them select from among these applicable 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?" (458). Students have the opportunity to explore various sources and engage in discussions relating to individual texts and connections can be made across these texts relating to the unit’s overarching title and question: “Design: How does it influence innovation and progress?” (459).
- Unit 5, Part 2 transitions from comprehending the texts to recognizing and analyzing the various perspectives or controversies of the issues presented. The materials instruct teachers to allow students to brainstorm a list of initial questions focused on the controversies and provides example questions with elaboration to demonstrate the intended expectations for student-generated questions by the point in the course of the materials. The materials also explicitly provide three expectations for framing the questions; for example, “suggest multiple ways of responding.” The main focused literacy skill for this unit is to support students’ understanding of an argumentative position. The brainstorm of questions lead to this with the inclusion of the visual text, i.e. political cartoons. Teachers model how to build background knowledge and understand a stance using the political cartoons and students respond to final Guiding Questions in small groups. The Guiding Questions are general text-dependent questions that are typically incorporated in the initial phases of the Questioning Tools Handout. The questions revolve around specific details and structures of the visuals, including printed text (language), that require students to uncover implicit ideas or messages.
The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
The materials are designed from grade-to-grade with the same goals and intended outcomes based on standards for college-and-career readiness addressed at the onset of each unit. The materials state that the units do not necessarily require a linear following, but the skills between units do build upon each other and lead to culminating tasks within the unit and across the curriculum. For example, Unit 2 builds off the close reading skill by focusing on reading for evidence-based claims (EBCs) and utilizing the technique in writing. Unit 4 incorporates close reading by adding a new layer of focus--close reading for evidence to incorporate into academic research writing and discussions. Questions and tasks provide the teacher with usable information about the student’s readiness to complete the culminating tasks. The culminating tasks are multifaceted, requiring students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards at Grade 12; in addition, these culminating tasks provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate comprehension and knowledge of a topic through integrated skills and throughout the course of each unit.
Speaking and listening are also prevalent in each unit as a way for students to demonstrate knowledge of the topics in the materials. Class discussions about the findings from close readings, an essential stage in the collaborative writing process, are used frequently.
The following is evidence to support that the materials meet the criteria:
- In Unit 1, in the Reading Closely for Textual Details Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Literacy Toolbox, the culminating task provides students with opportunities to demonstrate proficiency of skills practiced throughout the unit “as an investigator of texts” (123). Students have practiced the following:
- "Ask and think about good questions to help you examine what you read closely
- Uncover key clues in the details, words, and information found in the texts
- Make connections among details and texts
- Discuss what you have discovered with your classmates and teacher
- Cite specific evidence from the texts to explain and support your thinking
- Record and communicate your thinking on graphic tools and in sentences and paragraphs" (123)
The final writing and discussion task will help students: 1) Become a text expert, 2) Write a Text-Based Explanation, and 3) Lead and Participate in a Text-Centered Discussion. The Instructional Notes include, “These skills and habits are also listed on the Student RC Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Checklist, which you can use to assess your work and the work of other students” (125).
- In Unit 1b, “students learn about, practice, develop, and demonstrate foundational skills necessary to read closely, to participate actively in text-centered questioning and discussion, and to write text-based explanations.” The Targeted Literacy Skills include the following:
- Attending to Details
- Identifying Relationships
- Interpreting Language
- Recognizing Perspective
In addition, students will apply and develop Literacy Skills and learn Academic Habits to participate in text-centered discussions, such as the following: Preparing, Collaborating, and Communicating Clearly (142). The texts students are provided include Questioning Path Tools to assist them in analyzing and deepening their understanding of the text, followed by a discussion of the texts. For example, after reading closely for details of Dr. Viktor Frankl’s “A Case for a Tragic Optimism,” which is the final entry of Man’s Search for Meaning, students will consider the questions of others and answer the following questions:
- "How does the phrase ‘swine and saints’ further develop Frankl’s view of human nature?
- To whom does Frankl refer to as ‘saints’?"
In Unit 1b, Part 5, Activities include the teacher guiding students in reflective conversations about productive, text-centered discussions, students preparing for a text-centered discussion, and students leading a text-centered discussion (176).
- Unit 2’s culminating task is a final, multi-paragraph, evidence-based essay demonstrating students’ ability to independently close read for EBCs and form their own in writing. The materials’ anchor texts for this unit are centered around the topic of the economy. Unit 2, Parts 1 and 2 model close reading for evidence with the first anchor texts, and Parts 3 and 4 present the second anchor text with which students work with increasing independence as they begin to develop and discuss evidence to incorporate into the final written summative assessment. Questions leading up to the task begin by asking students to identify “words that suggest the author’s perspective.” After establishing this academic skill, students are explicitly asked to state the author’s perspective or point of view in the next text selection. This first question allows students to begin to develop a recognition of the elements of perspective and the second provides the opportunity to command this skill.
- In Unit 3, in the Making Evidence-Based Claims About Literary Technique Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Literacy Toolbox, the culminating tasks will include students completing the following: 1) Developing and Writing an EBC and 2) Writing and Revising a Global Evidence-Based Essay. Students have been practicing making text-based claims about literary techniques and how to prove them with evidence from the text which will prepare students for the culminating task (422-423). Students will demonstrate with the following skills:
- Attend to Details
- Interpret Language
- Identify Relationships
- Recognize Perspective
- Make Inferences
- Form a Claim
- Use Evidence
- Present Details
- Organize Ideas
- Use Language
- Use Conventions
Students will have an opportunity to reflect on habits they have developed, including the following:
- Engage Actively
- Communicate Clearly Listen
- Understand Purpose and Process
- Remain Open
Questions provided in the Questioning Path Tool and tasks students complete throughout Unit 3 will provide the practice of skills necessary to be successful with the culminating tasks. Guiding questions assist students to analyze and deepen their understanding of the texts, as well as learn how to pose their own questions when reading texts in the future. In addition to class discussions of student EBCs and text-specific questions, in Unit 3, Part 2, the Formative Assessment Opportunities section provides Support EBC Tools for teachers to assess students’ understanding of the relationship between claims and textual evidence.
- Unit 4’s culminating Summative Assessments focus on producing a research portfolio, research narrative, or similar research-based product with the intent of students demonstrating an understanding of academic research skills and habits, such as generation of ideas and organization of work according to the materials. Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 4 incorporates speaking and listening by tasking students with the development of a multimedia presentation to “communicate their perspective” on the research topic - the impact and influence of design. The materials follow an inquiry-based approach to research that includes a series of questions for assessing sources for specific criteria. Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2 initially uses inquiry to explore a topic but the materials become more specific to criterias of research. Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 4 introduces the Area Evaluation Checklist with guiding questions to help students determine a research path with broad questions: ”What is the Area of Investigation?” and “What do I need to know to gain an understanding of the Area of Investigation?” Unit 4, Part 2, Activity 4 uses inquiry to assess criteria such as Accessibility and Interest Level: ”Am I able to read and comprehend the text easily?” and “Which Inquiry Questions does the text help me answer? How?”
- In Unit 5, in the Building Evidence-Based Arguments Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Literacy Toolbox, students’ final writing task includes Building Evidence-Based Arguments: “The assignment will also represent your final work in the Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies' sequence and should demonstrate all that you have learned as a reader, thinker, and writer this year” (682). The culminating task asks students to develop, write, and review an evidence-based argumentative essay. Students can use the Delineating Arguments Tool that they have utilized previously to assist them in planning the essay. For example, in Unit 5, Part 4, Activity 3, the teacher models “the use of an Organizing EBC Tool or a Delineating Arguments Tool for a teacher-developed argument related to the unit’s issues or problem." Teachers can utilize the students’ completed Delineating Arguments Tools during Formative Assessment and prior to students writing their final arguments in Part 5. The Texts students read throughout Unit 5 are accompanied by Questioning Path Tools to assist in students deepening their understanding of the text and pose questions, such as the following when reading Text 4.5 Book of Luke, Chapter 6: “What evidence does this text provide that influences my understanding or perspective of the issue of poverty and how or whether society should work to address the problem? In what ways?” (633). Instructional Notes are provided in the teacher’s edition to guide discussions of the texts, including the Guiding Questions Handout and Delineating Arguments Tool. (634)
Materials include a cohesive, consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and build academic vocabulary/ language in context.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 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, and that materials include a consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and build academic and figurative language in context.
The instructional 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.
The materials do not provide a yearlong plan for extensive figurative language instruction. Figurative language is most prevalent in Unit 3 where students are given the opportunity to explore EBCs about an author’s literary technique.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- In Unit 1, Part 2, Activity 1, text-specific questions are posed using the Questioning Path Tool that turns student focus to specific vocabulary in the text as it is used in context, such as with the following questions: “In the context of the amendment, what does the word abridging mean? Why is this word a key to understanding what the amendment guarantees? How is Jefferson’s statement about “restor[ing] to man all his natural rights’ related to this wording in the amendment?” (34). After students complete a close reading of the text they will engage in a Pairs-Check: Comparing Approaching Text Tools and Annotations. Students will move from pairs into groups of four. They will use the Approaching Text Tools and share their annotations with others, including answers to “text-specific questions they have considered” (35). Therefore, an opportunity presents itself for students to use specific vocabulary deemed important in various contexts, such as the reading of the text which glosses the term “abridging: to reduce” and during the dialogue that takes place in small groups. In relation to Formative Assessment and Feedback, the teacher’s edition includes the following guidance: “The pairs-check activity they have just completed presents an opportunity to reflect on their use of Academic Habits specifically how clearly they are Communicating Ideas and supporting them with references to the text.” Therefore, the teacher materials attend to vocabulary essential to understanding the text and academic vocabulary is utilized and assessed with the RC Literacy and Discussion Habits Rubric and Student RC Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Checklist.
- Unit 2 incorporates inquiry-based close reading strategies in the Questioning Path Tool that include analysis questions for language. Students apply knowledge of language to understand deeper elements of the text. Questions are focused on the function of words and how this impacts meaning. For example, in Unit 2, Part 1, Activity 2, students independently close read and analyze how President Ronald Reagan’s word choices “reveal his purposes and perspective.”
- In Unit 3, Part 2, Activity 4, students are provided an opportunity to “reflect on their participation in class and pair discussions by considering how well they have used and developed the Academic Habits of Engaging Actively, Collaborating, and Communicating Clearly. A reflective discussion or self-assessment could be guided by these questions:
- "In what ways have I paid attention to and worked collaboratively with other participants in the discussions?
- How might I further develop this habit of collaborating in future discussions?
- How clearly have I communicated my ideas and supported them with specific evidence?
- How might I further develop this habit of communicating and supporting my thinking in future discussions?” (362).
Academic Habits are included consistently throughout the grade level materials. The unit text, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” by Raymond Carver, includes glossed vocabulary words, such as “seminary: educational institution for education students in theology and divinity.” However, there is no specific teacher-guided instruction in relation to the vocabulary glossed in the text, nor is it included in the Deepening Questions of the Questioning Path Tools.
- Unit 4, Part 5, Activity 4 incorporates vocabulary as students are “Reflecting Critically.” Students incorporate research vocabulary, or “terms,” in discussion and the development of the summative assessment. The materials do not include evidence of extensive direct instruction of figurative language, grammar, or vocabulary.
- In Unit 5, “critical disciplinary vocabulary and concepts are built into instruction. Students are taught words such as claims, perspective, position, evidence, and criteria through their explicit use in the activities. Students come to understand and use these words as they think about and evaluate their own analysis and that of their peers. The handouts and tools play a key role in this process. By the end of the unit, students will have developed deep conceptual knowledge of key vocabulary which they can transfer to a variety of academic and public contexts” (584). In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 2, students are introduced to the elements of argumentation. Terms are provided to the teacher in the Instructional Notes, including the following:
- Relationship To Issue
- Chain of Reasoning
- Evidence-Based Claim
The students will practice identifying these elements “and using the academic vocabulary associated with those elements” (619).
Materials contain a year long, cohesive plan of writing instruction and practice which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain a yearlong, cohesive plan of writing instruction and tasks which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.
Within every unit, students practice writing and speaking from sources. The mode of writing they practice, the process they use and the independence varies based on the focus of the unit and where the unit is placed in the year. Students use graphic organizers to develop short sentences and paragraphs that communicate their thinking as they read texts. Students write formal paragraphs and short expository essays. Students then break claims into component premises and develop arguments. By the end of the year, students plan, write, and publish thesis-driven academic arguments, making the case for a position related to texts and their content.
The collaboration workshop is a question-based approach for developing writing. Students work through a process that is collaborative, question-based, and criteria-driven. Students are taught to think of essays as a process rather than a product and that conversation, contemplation, consideration, and revision are part of the process.
The following learning principles are used to facilitate student writing development:
- Independence: Students are encouraged to be reflective and develop their own writing process rather than following the writing process in a rote and mechanical way.
- Collaboration: Students are encouraged to seek and use constructive feedback from others.
- Clear Criteria: Criteria is provided to describe the essential characteristics of a desired writing product.
- Guiding Questions: Students are expected to use guiding and text-based questions to promote close reading and developing their drafts.
- Evidence: Students use and integrate evidence through references, quotations, or paraphrasing.
Each writing activity includes a teacher demonstration lesson and class time is dedicated for student to free write, experiment, draft, revise, and edit their writings. Students engage in discussions surrounding their writings and ask and answer questions about their writing. Students are also given multiple opportunities to read aloud and share their writings throughout the process to receive feedback. The writing process moves through an increasingly focused sequence of activities, such as: getting started, thinking, organization, evidence, connecting ideas, expression, final editing, and publication.
In Grade 12 the yearlong plan of writing instruction builds from Unit 1 where students are writing a text-based explanation focused on the topic of the US Constitution and the separation of religion and government in the United States to Unit 3 where students write an evidence-based claims essay based on Raymond Carver’s short story, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” Unit 5 ends the year with an evidence-based argumentative essay focused on the topics poverty and charity.
Materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to develop and synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.
The materials provide multiple opportunities involving elements of research, although only Unit 4 explicitly addresses a research process. The instructional materials for Grade 12 include research projects with a progression of research skills that build to student independence. Students read to gather specific details from multiple texts to support or respond to a claim in speaking and listening activities and writing. For example, students close read and evaluate sources to the purpose of a task and identify details that will support a summative writing task in each Unit. Each step is facilitated by the Literacy Tools resources used repeatedly in each unit. The processes are intentionally designed for students to also incorporate texts not included in the instructional materials. At points, the included texts are intended only for modeling purposes and the materials provide the opportunity for students to independently use the Habits in outside texts.
Teacher guidance is provided to assist in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of different aspects around a topic. Students are provided opportunities to apply reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills to synthesize and analyze multiple texts and source materials about a topic. The instructional materials provide resources for student research to aid instruction, and projects are varied throughout the course of the year.
- In Unit 1, Reading Closely for Textual Details “A Wall of Separation,” students read multiple texts relating to “the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the separation of religion and government in the United States” (2). Throughout the unit, students are provided an opportunity to engage in close reading of the texts; in Activity 5, Instructional Notes are provided for students to complete a short research task: “The recommended website (Text 4) is PBS’s God in America. This site provides full episodes of the series, as well as timelines, interviews, and articles about faith in the United States. Of particular interest is the series on the religious beliefs of US presidents, “Gods in the White House.” Students can also scroll through the “Timeline: Faith in America” and read interesting thumbnails of key people and events in American religious history” (26). The source is provided in the instructional materials.
- In Unit 1b, the instructional materials provide a text set relating to a common topic about human nature. In Unit 1b, Part 1, Activity 5, students will complete an independent reading and short research task using the website and source, Life, provided in the instructional materials. In Unit 1b, Part 5, students prepare to lead a text-centered discussion “with other students who have analyzed different texts” (176).
- Unit 2, Part 2, Activity 4 is a collaborative task providing the opportunity for students to discuss supporting textual evidence for the claim established in the preceding activity. Students will have already worked in pairs to identify evidence in the texts. The materials provide guidance and support for the teacher to model the evidence-based discussion process in the Literacy Tools, specifically the EBCs Tool. The materials support students’ synthesis and understanding of the topic by directing the discussion to focus on “evaluating how each piece [of textual evidence] supports the claim.” Stating direct quotes demonstrates only surface level understanding of the texts and Literacy Skill of Using Evidence. Students must elaborate and synthesize their reasoning with the evidence and the claim.
- In Unit 3, Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique: “I could hear everyone’s heart” resources for students to research, students read a short story by Raymond Carver, “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love.” Students are provided an opportunity to write EBCs about literary technique, and teacher modeling takes place relating to organization of the EBCs in Part 3, Activity 3. In Part 1, Activity 1, Guiding Questions are provided relating to Language Use:
- What is the range of word choice?
- What language features stand out?
- What is the significance or effect of words being repeated in the story?
- What motifs are developed throughout the story?
- How do specific words and phrases express the motifs?
- How do the motifs contribute to the overall theme? (344)
- Unit 4, Part 4, Activity 4, functions as a checkpoint for the research process. Students evaluate feedback about the development of their research and determine the degree to and how their inquiry path should be refined and extended. Unit 4 is the only unit explicitly addressing research skills. In this particular activity, students synthesize the feedback of peers and the teacher with their current progress. The materials provide explicit support for three paths a student could determine to progress toward or determine the need to incorporate a combination of the three. These paths include the following:
- Refining investigation
- Extending research
- Reading and analyzing new sources with details about the function of each
The material’s Literary Tools provide aids for teachers and students depending on which path or combination of paths a student determines is necessary.
- In Unit 5, the Unit Overview provides information relating to the Topic and Texts; the texts “focus on our duties to others, or our ‘Social Responsibility,’ specifically concerning the issues of poverty and charity” (581). Throughout the unit, students are provided with an opportunity to engage in close reading of the texts and write their own argumentative essays incorporating academic and disciplinary vocabulary (584). In Part 5, Activity 2, students have the opportunity to participate in a text-centered discussion as “their first criterion- and question-based review of their writing. This initial review team conference is structured and facilitated by the teacher based on the modeling and practice just completed with the draft paragraph. Protocols are provided for the discussion and include Listening skills: Listen fully to what readers have observed; Consider their ideas thoughtfully; Wait momentarily before responding verbally" (667).
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 12 partially meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class. 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 outside of class and shorter periods of independent reading to provide an initial understanding or focused analysis of specific literary techniques. 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, but general approximations for specific purposes. The majority of independent reading occurs during class. Student accountability occurs during class discussions and the materials provide an Academic Habits checklist to support the student and teacher during text-centered discussions. The materials provide Academic Habits checklists for students to self- and peer-assess during academic discussions following independent reading tasks, but the materials do not include direct guidance for students to track their progress and growth as independent readers. 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.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- In Unit 1, Part 3, Activity 1, students engage in a close reading of Text 6—Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe by Chief Justice Rehnquist. A Questioning Path Tool is provided to guide students in focusing on the author’s language, ideas, and the text structure. Example questions are as follows:
- "How do specific words or phrases influence the meaning or tone of the text?
- How do the text’s main ideas relate to what I already know, think, or have read?
- In what ways are ideas and claims linked together in the text?" (48)
Deepening questions and Instructional Notes are provided to the teacher to guide students through the discussion: “In reading paragraph 2, students may naturally focus on the word prophesy and how it characterizes the Court’s majority decision (as presented by Justice Stevens). If not, help them hone in by considering a Deepening text-specific question set such as set #5:
- "How does Rehnquist characterize the majority decision of the Court in paragraph 2?
- What claims and arguments does Rehnquist present in paragraphs 3 through 5 to explain why he says the Court ventures ‘into the realm of prophecy’?”(49
In Unit 1b, the Unit Overview provides guidance in the sequencing of Unit 1b in the Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies Program: “Using the prior Reading Closely for Textual Details unit, ‘a wall of separation,’ as a template, teachers can use this unit’s text set and model Questioning Path Tools to further challenge students and develop their close-reading skills” (138). There is no proposed schedule or accountability system for independent reading outside of the academic setting. To reach grade level proficiency of the CCSS, a range of reading is necessary as well as a level of complexity. The Reading Closely for Textual Details Unit Texts provided in Unit 1b do include a variety of Lexile Levels, and Instructional Notes provided can assist teachers in making decisions regarding how to approach the unit based on the skills progression of students and the thematic elements of the Grade 12 units.
Unit 2, Part 3, Activity 1 tasks students to independently read a section of the second anchor text for this unit. Students independently read sections and analyzed the first text in previous activities. This is sequenced in order to allow students to comparatively analyze the texts. Independent reading is accompanied by teacher guidance and discussion activities that are used as formative assessments opportunities. An Academic Habits checklist provides guidance for teachers and students to self-assess their discussion. The materials continue to provide the Questioning Path Tool as a scaffold for close reading. This tool acts as a guide to direct students’ independent close reading.
In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 3, “The teacher models organizing evidence to develop and explain claims using student evidence-based claims and the Organizing EBC Tool” following an independent reading and forming of EBCs and comparing of EBCs as a class. The Instructional Notes guide teachers to model and support students’ independence in a flexible and differentiated manner: “The first few questions might be used with less experienced readers, the latter questions with students who are developing more sophisticated claims.”
In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 2, students explore a topic for research and the materials explicitly state the need for time to research or read about the topic or issue “in and outside of class.” Although there is no detailed schedule for this level of independent reading to occur, the materials suggest it should include “several days.” The focus Literacy Skills for the unit are modeled and practiced on the provided Common Source Set. Reading occurs independently after some modeling by the teacher. Independent reading can be further extended because the materials state that the provided texts are intended to “inform students’ initial research and practice independent reading and research skills” as a model and students or the teacher may determine another topic and set of texts be used for the summative research narrative essay.
In Unit 5, text sets are available “to develop the skills associated with the unit...This gives greater flexibility to teachers and students as they make decisions about student reading levels (texts have different complexities), student groupings, and time limitations” (581). In Unit 5, Part 2, Activity 3, Instructional Notes guide teachers to support students in reading complex text independently and proficiently. “Students first read the argument independently, consider general Guiding Questions, such as ‘What claims do I find in the text?’ Guiding Questions might focus on ideas or structure because the argument in this text is clearly organized and presented. Introduce a set of text-specific questions to drive a closer reading and analysis of the texts’ argument; then have students follow along as the text is read aloud or presented to them.” Though Unit 5 is the final unit in Grade 12, instructional supports are included to foster independence.
Instructional Supports and Usability Indicators
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, “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.
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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. The design of the materials is minimalistic (orange, black, and white color scheme) and may not be engaging for students.
Materials are well-designed (i.e., allows for ease of readability and are effectively organized for planning) and take into account effective lesson structure (e.g., introduction and lesson objectives, teacher modelling, student practice, closure) and short-term and long-term pacing.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. Each unit is divided into five parts, with each part divided into activities. Not only does each part within a unit build in complexity, the units also become more complex as the year progresses. This intentional design helps students develop necessary skills before advancing to the next activity or unit. Also, by dividing each part into activities, the instructional materials are able to provide a realistic estimated time frame for completion.
In Unit 1b, the instructional materials provide an overview of the activities for Part 1:
- Introduction to the Unit
- Attending to Details
- Reading Closely for Details
- Attending to Details in Multimedia
- Independent Reading and Research
This lesson structure moves students from a teacher-direction introduction and guided analysis of text to an independent reading and research activity. The materials suggest that this Unit 1b, Part 1 should take two to three days to complete.
In Unit 3, Part 3, the materials outline the following activities:
- Independent Reading and Forming EBCs
- Comparing EBCs
- Model the Organizing of EBCs
- Deepening Understanding
- Organizing EBCs in Pairs
- Class Discussion of Student EBCs
This lesson structure moves students through the process of developing and explaining EBCs by providing opportunities for independent reading with the support of teacher modeling and a cooperative feedback process. Unit 3, Part 3 should take two to three days to complete.
In Unit 5, the materials provide an overview of the activities for Part 3:
- Evaluating Arguments
- Developing a Perspective and Position
- Deepening Understanding
- Using Others’ Arguments to Support a Position
- Responding to Opposing Arguments
This lesson structure is designed to help students through the process of evaluating arguments and synthesizing information to establish their own positions which is a vital step in the research process as students prepare to write an evidence-based argumentative essay. The materials do not provide an estimated time of completion for Unit 5, Part 3.
The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 five 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 five units in each proceeding grade.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- Grade 12 is distinct from Grades 9-11 because it includes an additional unit that provides the opportunity for students to develop Reading Closely for Textual Details literacy skills with new texts.
- The materials consist of five 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.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (eg. visuals, maps, etc.) Student materials at Grade 12 include a variety of tools for students to practice the targeted skills in the instructional materials. The Reading Closely for Textual Details Literacy Toolbox includes, but is not limited to the following handouts: Reading Closely Graphic, Guiding Questions Handout, Attending to Details Handout, and Reading Closely Final Writing and Discussion Task Handout. In addition to the handouts, students are provided with a variety of tools to practice targeted Core Literacy Proficiency Skills, such as the Approaching the Text Tool, Analyzing Details Tool, Questioning Path Tool, and Model Questioning Path Tools. Checklists are provided to support peer- and self-review. Texts are included in the Student Edition and Additional Resources in the Topic Area are included in the Student Edition with guidance regarding where to locate online resources. Images are labeled appropriately.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- In Unit 1, nine texts are provided in the student edition as well as four Extended Reading opportunities including the following: 1) “I Have Been to the Mountaintop” by Martin Luther King Jr., 2) “Divinity School Address” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3) “Church and State” by W.B. Yeats, and 4) “What Does the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause Really Mean” by Tom Head. These texts are located prior to Part 1 in the student edition. Text 1 consists of an image that is printed with an appropriate label on the right: “Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, 1871.”
- In Unit 4, Additional Resources in the Topic Area are included in the student edition prior to the Literacy Toolbox. Guidance is provided for students to access all these resources, though a teacher will need to ensure the address is correct first and point out if there are typos so that the student can correct in their student edition. For example, “‘By Design: A Crystal-Crusted Gown Made with a 3-D Printer’ by Brooke Hodge, June 10, 2013—available on Tmagazine.blogs.ntimes.com [sic].” It should be listed as Tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com; otherwise, using the link included in the student edition will take the student to a different website published by edupang.
- In Unit 5, Part 2, Analyzing Arguments, students are provided with Questioning Path Tools to assist them in approaching the text. Clear instructions are included directly on the Questioning Path Tool, including the following: “I determine my reading purposes and take note of key information about the text. I identify the LIPS domain(s) that will guide my initial reading.” Prompts are provided on the side to remind students to identify Purpose, Key Information, and LIPS domain(s).
Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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, and R.9. The perspective questions address Common Core State Standard R.6. The structure questions address the Common Core State Standard R.5.
The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 visual provided serves as Text 1 and includes a black and white image entitled “Church and State - No Union Upon Any Terms;” however, the materials do use the video Gods in America by PBS. As part of Unit 1’s Literacy Toolbox, students are provided an Approaching Texts Tool; however, there is very little space to reflect on prior understanding or knowledge of the text and to record guiding and text-specific questions.
- In the Unit 1b materials, the materials provide three visuals that serve as Text 1. The materials also use videos and online photos as Texts 3 and 4. In Unit 1b, Part 2, Activity 2, students are provided a Questioning Path Tool for Text 5. This tool provides eight questions. There is no room for students to take notes or answer questions.
- In the Unit 4 materials, no visuals are provided; however, the unit does provide a common course set that suggests texts such as videos and TED talks that are accessible on the internet. This unit provides many tools that can be used during research. Unlike many other tools, the Taking Notes Tool allows ample room for students to organize information from sources and record personal comments.
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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.Materials meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. The 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 neither instruction nor protocols for communicating with families about the goals and structure of the program.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 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.
Because of the tool-based organization, the teacher’s edition includes ample and useful instructional notes which offer suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Also included is teacher guidance for the places where technology is used to support and enhance student learning.
The teacher’s edition begins with a User Guide for Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies that spells out a proficiency-based approach to developing literacy. It also lays out the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits that will be referred to in the Student Edition and the language used throughout the program. It specifically refers to the Literacy Toolbox which is made up of three types of materials: handouts, tools, and checklists/rubrics of which the student edition is primarily comprised. At the end of the User Guide is a section titled “Media Supports” which specifically addresses multimedia to support teaching and learning.
- In Unit 1, Part 1, Activity 2, Instructional Notes focus on the extending part of the Questioning Path Tool in the student edition materials and suggest that if time allows, students explore extending questions through internet research, i.e. finding more about Thomas Nast, Harper’s Weekly, Lady Justice, Lustitia, Themis, or any of the religions represented in the cartoon.
- In Unit 3, Part 1, Activity 3, the Instructional Notes give an overview of the goal of the unit, which is to make global EBCs about literary technique, and direct students to the Making EBCs about Literary Technique - Final Writing Tasks Handout included in the student edition.
- In Unit 5, Part 3, Activity 2, the Instructional Notes encourage teacher modeling with the Delineating Arguments Tool in the student edition, specifically in demonstrating how to move students two ways in their thinking - inductively and deductively.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 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. Teacher editions provide adequate guidance for preparing each unit of study in a year-long course. The materials provide clear and multiple examples and explanations to support a teacher’s understanding of the texts and literacy skills for effective modeling to occur during class time.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- Teacher editions of rubrics and Academic Habits include guidance to use as classroom formative assessments.
- The Literacy Toolbox includes teacher and student editions. Teacher editions are accompanied with more details and examples for teachers to use during instruction to help them know what to recognize when observing student discussions for formative assessment.
- Each unit includes extensive preparatory details for the teacher to schedule instruction with suggestions for differentiation and optional tasks.
- Units include extensive Text Notes to support teachers to deliver instruction in a coherent and consistent approach. Text Notes include details about the content and examples for the teacher to use when modeling skills or for teachers to observe students.
- Teacher editions include guidance and justification for the text choices of the materials. For example, justifications note why a particular work is an ideal introduction to Core Proficiencies such as Making Evidence-Based Claims and pinpoint text-specific examples for teachers to understand and acknowledge when modeling this skill. In addition, the materials will provide an explanation justifying a companion text choice and why it is appropriately sequenced.
Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 teacher’s edition includes a Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide which includes a table listing the anchor Common Core State Standards that are targeted throughout Grade 12. The instructional materials also include a Unit Overview for each unit, including an explanation of the learning progression. In addition, a Common Core State Standards Alignment is included in the teacher’s edition in the Unit Overview for each unit and the description is specific to the instructional focus of the unit.
Evidence to support this rationale is as follows:
- The Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide includes the following guidance for the teacher: “The following table lists the anchor Common Core State Standards that are targeted within the five Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies units and indicates the Literacy Skills and Academic Habits that are derived from or are components of those standards. This cart can be used to walk backward from the OE [Odell Education] criteria used in assessments and rubrics to the CCSS, especially if students are also trying to track student performance specific to the standards.” Specifically, R.1-R.10, W.1-W.9, and SL.1 are included in the table with aligned Literacy Skills and Academic Habits.
- In Unit 2, the Unit Overview includes the Learning Progression for the unit activities which are organized into five parts. The teacher’s edition states, “The sequence of learning activities supports the progressive development of the critical reading and thinking skills involved in making evidence-based claims.”
- In Unit 4, Part 1, the teacher’s edition includes Alignment to CCSS that are targeted standards and supporting standards specific to the instructional focus of the unit. For example, a targeted standard is in relation to “CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7: Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question…” and a supporting standard is as follows: “CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9.- 10.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.”
Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies. The Grade 12 materials contain a clear explanation of the instructional approaches and philosophy of the program and clear identification and focus on research based strategies.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- Each of the instructional materials begin with Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies User Guide which breaks down the Proficiency-Based Approach to Developing Literacy into five units:
- Reading Closely for Textual Details
- Making Evidence-Based Claims
- Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique
- Researching to Deepen Understanding
- Building Evidence-Based Arguments
Also included are a list of Literacy Skills and Academic Habits, both teacher versions and student versions. As another component of the User Guide, it is explained that at the heart of the Odell Education approach is an iterative process for questioning which lays out the essentials tools:
- Reading Closely Graphic
- Guiding Questions Handout
- Questioning Path Tool
- Approaching the Text Tool
- Analyzing Details Tool
- Forming Evidence-Based Claims Tool
Research based strategies are aligned with CCSS W.7--”Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation,” W.8--”Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism,” and W.9--”Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.”
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 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:
- Throughout the materials, checklists and rubrics that give feedback to both teachers and students. For example, at the end of Unit 1, there is a Reading Closely Literacy Skills and Discussion Habits Rubric that can be used by both students and teacher to give feedback on the skills of reading, thinking, and text-centered discussion ranging from emerging to excelling.
- Another formative assessment opportunity, at the end of Unit 3, Part 1, uses students’ Approaching Texts Tool and Forming EBC Tool to get an initial assessment of students’ grasp of the relationship between claims and textual evidence. However, while there are many checklists included for student reflection and teacher feedback, there are no strategies for including other stakeholders.
Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
Materials partially meet the criteria for 3K to 3n. 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.
Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress. Throughout the instructional materials, both formative and summative assessments are used to measure student progress. Formative assessments are intentionally placed at the beginning of each unit so that teachers can ensure that students are prepared for the activities leading up to the culminating writing activity.
Each unit consists of five parts; each part ends with either a formative assessment or a summative assessment. Formative assessments consist of work samples including Approaching Text Tools, Analyzing Details Tools, annotations of texts, answers for Questioning Path Tools, written explanations of text analysis, and group/class discussions. Formative Assessments can also include completed Forming Evidence-Based Claims (EBCs) Tools, Supporting EBCs Tools, and Organizing EBCs Tools. Summative Assessments are more formal and consist of multi-paragraph rough drafts and culminating writing tasks.
The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 is as follows:
- 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.
Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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.
Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress. There are routines and guidance in place throughout Grade 12, as well as the 9-12 curriculum, which allow for opportunities to monitor student progress.
Each grade level is divided into five units:
- Unit 1--Reading Closely for Textual Details
- Unit 2--Making Evidence Based Claims
- Unit 3--Making Evidence-Based Claims about Literary Technique
- Unit 4--Researching to Deepen Understanding
- Unit 5--Building Evidence-Based Arguments
Each part within each unit culminates in a formative assessment opportunity and Part 5 in a summative assessment opportunity, embedding many opportunities within each unit to monitor student progress. Beyond these assessment opportunities are tools, such as the Questioning Path Tool, that allow teachers to guide and monitor students’ progress.
Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 12 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.
Student independent reading choice is built into only Unit 4 and Unit 5. Unit 4 explores Design: How Does it Influence Innovation and Progress? and Unit 5 has students reflect on Social Responsibility. 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 5 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.
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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.
Materials offer teachers the ability to personalize the materials for all learners. The program provides the opportunity for all learners to work within grade-level text, including those whose skills may be above or below grade level, or whose English proficiencies may provide additional challenges as they engage with the content. All students have extensive opportunities to read, write, speak, and listen to grade level text and meet or exceed grade level standards. Lessons provide whole class, small group, and independent learning opportunities throughout the school year.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that digital 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.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- Instructional supports for English Language Learners and students reading below grade level are integrated and scaffolded into the explicit instructions for each activity. Each activity follows a progression moving from scaffolding and support to independent application.
- The sequence of instruction and supporting tools are the same for all students. However, the materials note that the tools and activities can be applied to alternative or supplemental texts not included in the materials.
- In order to help students understand the content, the materials will suggest making analogies or allotting more time to tasks. For example, the materials suggest comparing the process of close reading to analytical processes used by experts (scientists, detectives, etc.) in other fields. The materials also suggest for teachers to skip the Introductory Analogy if students are sufficiently familiar with the close reading skill.
- “Extended Reading” refers to supplemental, optional texts teachers can incorporate if students need more opportunities to develop literacy skills.
- Text choices are bundled in order to effectively increase in complexity over the course of a unit. In each unit, the first text is a visual and is followed by a text with a Lexile measurement below grade level to allow access for all students. By the end of the unit, students are reading texts at or above grade level independently and in small groups. The small group discussions intend for students to self- and peer-assess understanding.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 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. By design, the materials provide all students with the opportunity to interact with grade-level texts. The materials allow teachers to determine when to incorporate texts above grade level. In units where students engage with multiple texts, the materials do not require all students to read every text. The materials provide suggestions for organizing small groups to support English Language Learners and students reading below grade level.
Evidence that supports this rationale is as follows:
- The materials include a section dedicated to helping teachers understand the support structures integrated in the sequence of activities. This section describes the seven routines designed to support all students, including English Language Learners and below-grade-level readers. Following this progression, according to the materials, provides all students with the opportunity to interact with texts at grade-level complexity. The seven supports are as follows:
- Intentional Unit Design and Instructional Sequence
- Short Texts, Focused Reading
- Read-Alouds and Modeling
- Guiding Question Framework
- Graphic Organizers
- Reading Teams
- Academic Vocabulary
- The Unit Design and Instructional Sequence includes visual texts for students to practice Core Proficiency skills before transferring the skill to grade-level printed texts.
- When presented with a series of texts or common source sets of multiple texts to analyze, the materials state that students should not be required to read all texts. This allows for the teacher to provide text choices at a student's current reading level. Additionally, the activity includes a small group discussion and suggests students be grouped by reading level and assigned texts at their current level.
Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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.
- Grade 12 materials offer a complete additional unit for students to develop close reading for evidence with additional texts. Unit 1b provides an additional text set to “further challenge students.” The materials direct teachers to use Unit 1 as a template.
Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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. With this in mind, 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 1b, Part 5, Activity 2, students share their text-specific explanations in small groups to demonstrate and clarify understanding of the texts.
- In Unit 2, Part 4, Activity 8, students work in editing teams or pairs to elicit feedback and revise their first draft evidence-based essays using the material’s collaborative writing protocols.
- In Unit 3, Part 3, Activity 3, in pairs and then to the class, students share revised claims and supporting textual evidence in preparation to organize and draft a multi-paragraph essay on literary technique.
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”, 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 for before, during, and after each selection. The materials can be easily customized for local use. The program does not provide technology for collaboration.
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. This qualifies as substitution and augmentation as defined by the SAMR model. Materials can be easily integrated into existing learning management systems.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 include digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) that are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (ie., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
The instructional materials provide many of the texts in print format and these are included in the teacher’s edition and student’s edition. Handouts included in the Literacy Toolbox can be accessed online and additional copies can be printed for the purpose of annotation. The Developing Core Literacy Proficiencies: User Guide preceding Unit 1 in the Grade 12 materials provides additional guidance for teachers in relation to Electronic Supports and Versions of Materials. For example, “The Odell Education Literacy Toolbox files, including handouts, tools and checklists, are available...as editable PDF forms. With the free version of Adobe Reader, students and teachers are able to type in the forms and save their work for recording and e-mailing.” The resources can be located using a website and password provided in the instructional materials.
Notably, there are texts utilized in the instructional materials that are accessible online only. The instructional materials state, “Because of the ever-changing nature of website addresses, specific links are not provided. Teachers and students can locate these texts using provided keywords (e.g. article titles, authors, and publishers).” The online texts are available for free access using the resource information provided by the publisher. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- In Unit 1b, a table labeled Reading Closely Media Supports includes a TED Talk as a resource available online: “What Makes Life Meaningful: Michael Steger” at TEDxCSU.
- In Unit 3, Making Evidence-Based Claims About Literacy Technique Media Supports include: Raymond Carver Reads “What We Talk about When We Talk about Love” published by PRX, from Tell Me a Story in an audio format.
- In Unit 5, Building Evidence-Based Arguments Unit Texts, a table lists all the Text Sets included in the unit and the instructional materials state, “The unit uses texts that are accessible for free on the Internet without any login information, membership requirements, or purchase.”
Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate and providing opportunities for modification and redefinition as defined by the SAMR model.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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. Texts 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 2, the “Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981” is available in video format through the Reagan Foundation, including a transcript.
- In Unit 4, an additional resource students can access online is “Don’t Build Your Home, Grow it, “ a TED Talk by Mitchell Joachim which is available on the TED Talk website.
- In Unit 5, the facts listed in the Building Evidence-Based Arguments Unit Texts table provide enough information to access the correct argument online - "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce," by Slavoj Zizek and published by RSA Animate.
Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 include a criteria-based assessment system throughout the five units. 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 a Reading Closely graphic that teachers can use to gauge students’ ability to use questions to help them investigate important aspects of the text and question further to analyze the details they notice and determine their meaning or importance; the tool can be printed and handwritten or completed digitally using an editable PDF.
- In Unit 2, Media Supports include video footage of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s 2011 APEC Address, published by the US Department of State, which can be accessed using an electronic device.
- In Unit 4, Common Source Sets offer a variety of complexity levels from which teachers may choose for exploration by students. In Unit 4, Part 1, Activity 3, “This Common Source should be accessible to students, but it also should provide some additional reading challenges, often by referencing technical information or terminology.”
Materials can be easily customized by schools, systems, and states for local use.
The materials reviewed for Grade 12 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.
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 materials reviewed for Grade 12 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 is not present on the website.