Alignment: Overall Summary

Amplify Grade 8 materials fully meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core ELA standards. The materials include instruction, practice, and authentic application of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language work that is engaging and at an appropriate level of rigor for the grade.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

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

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

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

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

Amplify Grade 8 fully meets expectations for Gateway 1. What students read and hear is rich and appropriately rigorous and organized to support student comprehension of grade level material. Questions, tasks, and practice opportunities are connected to texts, and provide students not just consistent literacy development, but also opportunities to leverage what they have learned to demonstrate authentic learning and comprehension. Materials include instruction in grade level writing, speaking and listening, language development, and reading, providing opportunities so students are prepared to engage with 9th grade material after a school year.

Criterion 1a - 1f

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

The instructional materials for Grade 8 fully meet the expectations of quality and complexity. Texts are rich and varied, and students have access to appropriately rigorous texts over the course of the year so students are prepared to enter 9th grade. The materials provide opportunities for depth and breadth of reading in terms of time as well as text types.


Indicator 1a

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

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

The texts and materials included in these units draw from a diverse range of content and authors. The units include classic stories from past centuries, period pieces that allow students to learn about particular eras in time, as well as allowing them to get a glimpse into historical time periods they may not have known about before. Anchor texts include rich language, thought-provoking content and age-appropriate texts that students can identify with on various levels. 

High quality texts found in the materials include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, students read excerpts from Going Solo by Roald Dahl. This is an autobiographical text that describes Dahl’s childhood as well as his exploits as a WWII pilot. Students will find the text engaging with high-interest content as Dahl takes great care to describe his life story in a dynamic and thoughtful way.
  • In Unit 8B, students read the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, written by Frederic Douglass. This classic autobiographical text tells the story of a man who was born enslaved and then escaped. Douglass’s content is a stirring and accessible look at slavery and the African American experience during this time for middle school students.
  • In Unit 8B, students also read “The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln’s speech captures a moment in history and speaks to the ideas of freedom and American responsibility. It includes academic vocabulary in a historical context and some students may be familiar with its most famous lines. Lincoln is a historical figure many students will recognize. 
  • In Unit 8C, students read Excerpts from Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin and Jacky Gleich. This is a book of classic Greek mythology written in a simple, direct way that is appropriate for middle grades. Students will find the plots, characters and the ancient Greek setting to be interesting and engaging.
  • In Unit 8 D, students read Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. This is a classic tragedy by William Shakespeare. It challenges students in an appropriate way with its vocabulary and plot development.

Indicator 1b

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

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

Some units for Grade 8 strike a fairly even balance between literary and informational text, though overall, the units include more informational texts than literary texts. Roughly three-quarters of the texts in Grade 8 are informational texts. There is a selection of dramas, fairy tales, poems, and mythology texts.

The following are examples of literature found within the instructional materials include, but are not limited to:

  • Unit 8A--Davy and the Goblin by Charles E. Carryl 
  • Unit 8B -- "Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman
  • Unit 8C--Gris Grimsley’s Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Gris Grimsley
  • Unit 8D--Romeo and Juliet, excerpts by William Shakespeare
  • Unit 8E-- Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes

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

  • Unit 8A -- "My Mother’s Garden” by Kaitlyn Greenridge
  • Unit 8B--Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass
  • Unit 8C -- "History of US 8: Age of Extremes: 1880-1917" by Joy Hakim
  • Unit 8E-- "Holocaust Memory and Meaning Anthology” by Author Unknown
  • Unit 8F--“The nearly forgotten story of the black women who land a man on the moon”, excerpt from The Washington Post by Stephanie Merry

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis.

The Grade 8 materials typically fall within the 6-8 grade level band (925L to 1185L) in terms of quantitative measures and are within the appropriate rigor range in terms of qualitative measures, which measure elements of language, concepts and themes, and take into consideration the depth of the text itself. When texts fall above or below these bands, there are appropriate accompanying reader and task elements that substantiate the rationale for the text's presence in the yearlong materials.

Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, the overall Lexile levels are 890L-1080L. Novel excerpts and narrative essays are qualitatively complex for this point in the school year. In this unit, students are learning to read like writers and specifically focusing on how authors use key narrative writing skills to convey their ideas.
    • Sub-Unit 3, Lesson 9, Activity 2. Text: “Fish Cheeks” by Amy Tan. Lexile-910. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: Moderate-- students identify the conflict and resolution in the narrative and consider the effects of the author’s choices
    • Sub-Unit 3, Lesson 7, Activity 2. Text: “My Mother’s Garden” by Kaitlyn Greenidge. Lexile-990. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: Moderate.
  • In Unit 8B, the overall Lexile levels are 900L-1500L. Historical essays and documents, memoirs, poetry and a historical speech are qualitatively complex to very complex. In this unit, students explore the powerful words of a range of Americans who lived through the Civil War to discover how their work influenced history. 
    • Sub-Unit 1, Lesson 1. Text: “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman. Lexile-N/A. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: low difficulty--students analyze Whitman’s poetic choices and then write their own version of an autobiographical poem. 
  • In Unit 8C, the overall Lexile levels are 980-1540L. Using different presentations of the Frankenstein story, students wrestle with some of the text’s central themes, such as the ethics of science exploration and the importance of compassion.
    • Sub-Unit 3, Lesson 4. Text: The Innovators by Walter Isaacson. Lexile-N/A. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: moderate--analyze.
    • Sub-Unit 3, Lesson 5. Text: “All Watched Over by Machines with Loving Grace” by Richard Brautigan. Lexile-N/A. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: moderate (analyze).
  • In Unit 8E, the overall Lexile levels are 800-1200L. Students explore memoir and primary source materials and examine key questions raised by the Holocaust. The materials present events from different perspectives--those of perpetrators, survivors, victims, bystanders, and witnesses.
    • Sub-Unit 4, Lesson 1. Text: A Child of Hitler by Alfons Heck. Lexile: 990. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: moderate (close reading).
    • Sub-Unit 4, Lesson 2. Text: Maus by Art Spiegelman. Lexile--NP. Qualitative: moderate. Task Demand: moderate (close reading).
  • In Unit 8F, the overall Lexile levels are 870-1490L. The dramatic story of the Space Race allows students a rich research topic to explore as they build information literacy skills, learn how to construct research questions and conduct research. 
    • Sub-Unit 1, Lesson 1. Text: Excerpt from Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer Hickam. Lexile: 900. Qualitative: Moderate. Task Demand: moderate (analysis).

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations that 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 8 provide students the opportunity to interact with increasingly complex texts as the units evolve throughout the school year. Each unit builds in complexity through the different types of texts that students are asked to interact with. At the start of the school year, students work with texts that are relatively simple and contain ideas that they can relate to in order to build both stamina and confidence in reading. Throughout the rest of the year, the texts that they encounter become increasingly more complex quantitatively as well as qualitatively in order to build their skills as an analytical reader. By the end of the year, students are being asked to engage with texts that are not only written in a more complex way, but that deal with issues, ideas, and emotions that are multi-faceted and challenging.

Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, students work with the anchor text Going Solo in addition to excerpts from novels such as A Bad Beginning, The Glass Castle, and other excerpts. The reading analysis skills focus on drawing readers in through vivid details. All of the excerpts chosen, while challenging for students, are supported through activities and close reading so that students are able to build skills and confidence that they will use in later units.
  • In Unit 8C, students read Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein. The original text is a challenging story written over 100 years ago, so the adaptation into a graphic novel makes the story accessible for eighth graders. The focus of the unit is on the responsibilities of creation and whether or not the monster should be considered human. This gives the students a concrete focus for their reading and thinking and makes the complex ideas in the text more accessible. This clearly builds on the skills that they have learned in the previous units that focus on close reading and evaluating ideas and emotions in the texts.
  • In Unit 8F, students work with materials that focus on the historical aspect of the space race. They read historical documents, analyze images from the time, and do research around cosmonauts and astronauts. While the language and ideas of the texts are often complex and scientific, they are accessible through the connection to the individuals the students are being asked to research. Students are utilizing the reading and analysis skills that they have learned throughout the rest of the units.

Indicator 1e

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

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

The materials provide the Lexile levels for each of the texts for the units and explains what the texts in the units cover and how they are connected as well as what the students will be doing in the units with those texts. In addition to this, there is a Qualitative measure (QT) and rationale that indicates whether the text is at the accessible, moderate, or complex level. The rationale provides the teacher with information about organization, sentence and word complexity, and levels of meaning.  There is also a Reader and Task measure (RT) and rationale that again indicates if the tasks associated with the reading are accessible, moderate, or complex and then comments on what the tasks are asking students to do and how that relates to the quantitative and qualitative measure. The information provided does not explicitly state why specific reading and tasks were placed within the school year.

Some examples of the Lexile and reasoning provided include, but are not limited to:

  • For Unit 8A,  the rationale is on page 26 of the “Grade Overviews” and lists the Lexile for the unit at 890L-1080L. The Unit Summary tells the teacher that students read “three examples of narrative writing—passages from Roald Dahl’s Going Solo, Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks,” and Kaitlyn Greenidge’s “My Mother’s Garden.” The Qualitative Level for the texts are listed as moderate and the rationale tells the teacher that “Text structure is generally straightforward but often implicit” and “Texts may include multiple purposes or be stated implicitly” which will help the students access the more difficult texts on the list. The Reader and Task measure is also listed at moderate. The rationale tells the teacher that “Tasks and activities contain nuance and complexity, balanced with engaging topics; activities often require inferencing; students benefit from the knowledge they have built throughout the unit.” Because the Lexile level of the materials that students are reading is on the high side, it is appropriate in this first unit of the year that the Qualitative Level and Reader and Task measure both land at moderate.
  • For Unit 8D, the rationale on page 29 of the “Grade Overviews” lists the main text, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Because this text is written in prose there is no Lexile listed. The Unit Summary of this fourth unit of the year is “The lessons provide multiple opportunities for students to stage their own performances and recitations and ‘translate’ Shakespeare’s words into more contemporary language.” The Qualitative Level for this text is listed as complex and the rationale states both “Levels of meaning and theme are multiple, ambiguous and/or revealed over the course of the text” and “Language is generally complex in word usage, level of abstraction and sentence complexity” showing that this is a complicated text for students. Because students have the opportunity to act out and work together to do translations, this text is accessible for students. The Reader and Task measure is listed at moderate with the rationale of “Tasks and activities contain nuance and complexity, balanced with engaging topics; activities often require inferencing; students benefit from the knowledge they have built throughout the unit.” The way that this unit is structured and placed within the year, this complex text is accessible to students.
  • For Unit 8F, the rationale on page 31 of the “Grade Overviews” lists the Lexile for the unit at 870L-1490L. The Unit Summary tells the teacher “Throughout these activities, students conduct research to develop a deep understanding of this unique international competition. Each student is assigned a cosmonaut or astronaut from the Space Race era.” In this final unit of the year, students are challenged to use all of the skills that they have learned throughout the year. The Qualitative Level for the texts are listed as complex and the rationale tells the teacher that “Texts include multiple or intricate purposes” and “Language is generally complex in word usage, level of abstraction and sentence complexity.” Students will be using the reading and analysis skills that they have learned throughout all of the other units in this grade as well as the other grades. The Reader and Task measure is also listed at between moderate and complex. While this is a challenging unit to end the year with, students have built the skills for this throughout all of the units of study in this program.

Indicator 1f

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

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

Each unit is centered around a core theme and uses a variety of texts within each unit. In each lesson, students interact with text through either whole-class instruction, reading with a partner, and independent reading or a combination thereof. In addition, for every unit there are Solo activities which allow students to read additional texts that supplement their learning as well as flex days where teachers can assign additional independent reading as an option for student growth. Within the Amplify learning system, there is also an Amplify library where students can download the texts for the unit as well as independent reading materials. The texts included with the program span a wide variety of types and content across both literary and informational text.

Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative,” students read a variety of texts to achieve grade level reading. For example, in Sub-unit 2 there are nine lessons where students are learning about small moments in narrative writing.
    • In Lesson 5, students are asked to read an excerpt from the autobiography Going Solo by Roald Dahl: “The Voyage Out”; and “The Battle of Athens — the Twentieth of April” These sections are used to show students the importance of slowing down and zooming in on a moment.
    • In Lesson 8, students are writing about someone who turned out different from how they were expected to be. For an additional text, they can choose to read Chapter 3 from the novel A Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket.
    • In Lesson 9, students are revising their writing and they are asked to read another excerpt from Going Solo by Roald Dahl: “The Voyage Out."
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” students read a variety of texts to achieve grade level reading. In the first week of the unit consisting of Sub-unit 1 and Sub-unit 2, Lessons 1-3, these texts include selected stanzas from “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman and two chapters of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass. Two lessons are dedicated to close readings of the poem, and three lessons are dedicated to close readings of the autobiography.
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” students read a variety of texts to achieve grade level reading. For example, in Sub-unit 3 there are six lessons.
    • In Lesson 1, students are asked to read the poem “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth as well as excerpts from the graphic novel Frankenstein which was adapted by Gris Grismley. In addition, students  also read an excerpt from the journal A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains by Isabella L. Bird: Letter 8.
    • In Lesson 2, students are asked to read sites of their own choosing, a magazine article, a blog entry, and book excerpts, including one from a Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan. One day is dedicated to reading self-selected materials. On another day, students choose to read and answer questions about one of the four following texts; an excerpt from “And a Dog Shall Lead Them” from A Ball, a Dog, and a Monkey by Michael D’Antonio, “Memorandum for the Vice President” by John F. Kennedy, “What the Moon Rocks Tell Us” from National Geographic by Kenneth F. Weaver, or an excerpt from “President Kennedy's Address” at Rice University, September 12, 1962.
  • In Unit 8D “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” students read selected scenes from the play. In Sub-unit 1, lessons 6-10, students engage deeply with the balcony scene. They view video and listen to audio as well as listening to their teacher reading the scene aloud. They then engage in multiple re-readings for different purposes, such as exploring the figurative language Romeo uses to describe Juliet. They also paraphrase and perform choral readings of select lines. Students also view, listen to, and stage a second scene, Tybalt’s fight with Mercutio. Throughout the week, students continue independent close reading and interpretation of the prologue. One day is dedicated to reading self-selected materials.
  • In Unit 8F “The Space Race Collection,” students read a variety of primary and secondary source materials related to the Space Race. In Sub-unit 2, Lesson 4 and Sub-unit 3, students read short profiles, an eyewitness account by Buzz Aldrin, the speech “Debate on the Frame-Work Bill, in the House of Lords” by Lord Byron. In addition, they could choose to read an excerpt from the non-fiction text A History of US 4: The New Nation, 1789–1850 by Joy Hakim: Ch. 21 or "Yankee Ingenuity: Cotton and Muskets". As a supplemental text they could also read another section from Hakim: Ch. 20, "Telling It Like It Is."

Criterion 1g - 1n

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

The Grade 8 materials meet expectations of being aligned to the standards. Students engage in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and working with language in varied and text-connected ways. Instruction includes multiple methods of student interaction with texts, and also includes practice in collaboration and speaking and listening with peers. Culminating tasks include opportunities for students to synthesize and apply what they've learned in authentic ways.

Indicator 1g

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

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

The materials are divided into six units of study, each with a variety of texts and activities that require students to engage directly with the texts.  Lessons include multiple methods of direct student interaction with the texts. Students are asked to employ strategies such as: “Use the Text," “Select the Text," “Work Visually," “Use the Text as Referee," and “Work Out Loud."

Students are also required to complete text-dependent tasks in unit assessments, culminating writing tasks, and during reading tasks. In addition, text-dependent questions, tasks, and assignments support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year and the teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-dependent writing, speaking, and other activities. Teachers can access students’ written responses immediately when utilizing the online writing tool.  Possible student answers are provided for both written and speaking activities.

Examples of text-dependent/specific questions included in each unit include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1,  Activity 5, students use the Select Text: The Corporal, Card 1:  
    • Look at the Corporal’s words in this dialogue. Highlight two details that show you how the Corporal was feeling.
    • Look at Dahl’s words in this dialogue. Highlight two details that show you how Dahl was feeling.
    • What is one thing you notice when you compare the Corporal’s dialogue to Dahl’s? How does the text distinguish between the Corporal’s and Dahl’s personalities and emotional states?
    • What do you think Dahl was thinking when he said “Don’t say that” (12)?
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1, Activity 3, students are asked to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 of the text Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs. Students are asked to answer 3 questions: 
    • "My grandmother remained in her service as a slave; but her children were divided among her master's children. As she had five, Benjamin, the youngest one, was sold, in order that each heir might have an equal portion of dollars and cents." 
    • “Why was her grandmother’s youngest child sold?” 
    • “What words does Jacobs use to tell us what the youngest child was worth to the slaveholders?” and “Why do you think Jacobs uses these specific words? What does this choice tell you about her point of view and how it differed from the points of view of the people who sold Benjamin?”
  • In Unit 8C, “Science & Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, the students are asked to use various texts to answer the question "Is Victor more focused on life, on death, or on both as he investigates and makes his creation? Explain your answer using specific details from the text or illustrations."
  • In Unit 8C, “Science & Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 3, students are asked to use various selections of texts to answer the question, "What would the speaker in Wordsworth’s poem say to Victor Frankenstein? Use textual evidence from the poem and from one of the Frankenstein passages in your answer."
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 5, Activity 4, students are asked to read a sonnet in Act 1, Scene 5, Lines 90-103. After reading the selection, students are asked to discuss the following questions: “In what parts of the sonnet does Romeo rhyme with himself? In what parts of the sonnet does Juliet rhyme with herself? Where do they begin to rhyme with each other? What are they doing when their lines rhyme with each other's? Why do you think Shakespeare has Romeo and Juliet begin rhyming with themselves and end up rhyming with each other?”
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1, Activity 4, students Discuss the 1936 Opening Ceremony.  Questions for class discussion include:
    • "What do these slightly different details in the newspaper article and the newsreel footage tell us about the purpose of each piece of reporting?"
    • "Do you think the printed news and video footage of the same event can tell two different stories? Why or why not?"

Indicator 1h

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

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

Materials contain sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and activities that build to a culminating task. Each unit has several tasks which include text-dependent questions and activities and then ends with a multi-step writing assignment. The last unit of the year also includes a presentation and a multimedia component. The essays gradually build in complexity, vary in topic, and require students to utilize writing, speaking or a combination of both.The culminating tasks are designed to help students synthesize and apply their learning from the unit in an engaging and authentic way through writing and speaking. 

Examples of tasks that are supported with coherent sequences of text-dependent questions include, but are not limited to: 

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives & Narrative,” Sub-unit 3, students are tasked with developing writing techniques that an author uses as they write narratives. In Lesson 1, students respond to the prompt, “What could you imagine is happening in this moment? Write your version of this moment using dialogue and narration. Use the characters’ actions, gestures, and dialogue to show what they feel without telling the emotion.”
  • In Unit 8A, Sub-unit 4, students gather evidence to write their culminating essay. In Lesson 1, students respond to the Essay Prompt, “Are the mothers featured in 'Fish Cheeks' and 'My Mother’s Garden' role models for their daughters? Why or why not?”
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality”, the culminating task is an essay. The essay prompt explains that students need to choose between two different prompts. The first asks, “How does Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address, try to change what his readers/listeners believe about what it means to be dedicated to the American idea that ‘All men are created equal’?” The second prompt asks, “How does Douglass, in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, try to change what his readers believe about what it means to be dedicated to the American idea that ‘All men are created equal’?” In order to complete this task in Sub-unit 6, Lesson 1, Activity 4, students choose Lincoln or Douglass and then make a claim about how he tries to change what his readers believe. Then, they look through their chosen text and include 2–3 choices he makes with language to try to convince his readers. 
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” students read a graphic novel version of Frankenstein and engage in a series of text-dependent questions and tasks. At the end of the unit, they show their understanding by writing an argument essay addressing Frankenstein’s humanity of lack of it.
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” the culminating task is an essay. Specifically, students are asked, “Did the power of love contribute more to Romeo’s death or were the forces of hatred more of an influence on Romeo’s death, or both?” In order to prepare for this essay, students are asked to review the seven scenes of the play and then “find and highlight some of the places in the text where Shakespeare seems to say that the forces of hate are responsible for Romeo's death and some that suggest that the power of love is responsible for Romeo’s death.” 
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” there are texts in many genres and with many different points of view. Lessons provide students support in making meaning within and across texts. Lessons build toward a culminating activity in which students write an informative essay about the strategies used by the Nazis to isolate, oppress, and control the Jewish population of Europe, and to convince others to go along with their plan.
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” the culminating task is an essay followed by an interactive timeline and presentation. For the essay, students can choose between an argumentative and informative essay topic. The argumentative essay asks, "Was animal testing necessary during the Space Race?" In order to complete the prompt students need to collect evidence and conduct research to prove their point. The informative essay asks students to write about Katherine Johnson and the other key women who worked at NASA during the space race. Once they have completed their essays, students are put into groups to create interactive timelines. They will plot 5–10 key moments in the Space Race from information from the texts and images in the Collection.

Indicator 1i

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

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

Each unit/lesson is set up in the same manner, beginning with a vocabulary lesson. Throughout the lessons there are frequent oral language opportunities to do Think-Pair-Share, peer questioning in groups, and partner talk. Sentence frames are provided to support students who need additional help applying new vocabulary and syntax. In addition to those instances, there are also Socratic seminars, presentations, and performances to support students’ development in practicing language. 

Examples of how materials provide multiple opportunities and protocols for evidence based discussions include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-Unit 2, Lesson 1, students are instructed to watch a video of a passage from A Narrative in the Life of Fredrick Douglass. Before watching the clip, the instructions ask teachers to have students think about the difference between the dramatic reading versus the text. While watching the passage, students reflect on the facts about slavery given in the video and their personal feelings about the clip. After the clip, teachers are instructed to ask the whole class, "Which detail did you think was interesting, powerful, or important in the reading? What ideas, information, or feelings did the actor communicate that you would not have noticed through text alone? and Compare and contrast a piece of text with a dramatic reading of that text. What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages of each?"
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet”, Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, students are introduced to the language of William Shakespeare. In the lesson, students are paired together to work on the memorization strategies they will use to learn The Prologue. The instructions for the partner activity say, “read the line on the card, noting the syllables in bold. With a partner, practice saying the lines as a call-and-response. One of you recites the line on the card, saying the syllables in bold loudly and stomping your foot as you say them. The other responds by repeating the line in the same way.”
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 15, students consider whether or not the peace between the Montagues and Capulets will endure. Students listen as the teacher reads an excerpt from Act 5, Scene 3. Students then individually paraphrase the Prince’s first five lines. Two students are asked to share their responses with the class so that the class may discuss and refine the translations. Students then cast their vote on whether the families will stay at peace or not. After individually answering several text-based questions over the same excerpt, students reconsider whether or not the two families can maintain peace with one another. Finally, the teacher leads a class discussion over the poll results providing an opportunity for students to explain their choice and explain why they did or did not change their mind. 
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” Sub-unit 4, Lesson 2, students prepare for a Socratic Seminar over the Space Race Discussion. The instructions for the teacher say that teachers should “pose the first guided question (or ask for a volunteer to pose a question) and allow a discussion to ensue. Be mindful of keeping the discussion on topic; ask a new question (or invite a volunteer to ask a question) when the discussion seems to have faded or digressed. You may ask simple questions, such as 'What did you think of...?' and 'What did you find interesting?' to focus the discussion and challenge students to extract specific evidence or ask specific questions. This will also allow them time to reference their documents and notes.” There are several guided questions provided in the materials and additional supports for teachers about different ways students should participate and what teachers should do during the discussion. 

Indicator 1j

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

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

Students have multiple opportunities for text-dependent discussions in each unit. Each lesson begins with a vocabulary lesson and then students are introduced to the topic through a discussion. Throughout the unit, the materials offer other opportunities for students to work in pairs or small groups to have discussions centering on the topics presented in the unit. The discussions are consistently text-dependent and the students are instructed to answer questions citing evidence from the text. Videos, audio recordings or photos/images are sometimes used to promote/start the discussion. The materials include dramatic readings, Socratic seminars, and other protocols for teachers to provide students multiple opportunities and ways to build their speaking and listening skills while using the texts as anchors. For students who need additional assistance, there are sentence frames, guiding questions and ideas for teacher support. 

Examples of  multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate what they are reading and researching through varied speaking and listening opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 2, students share their writing and then respond to a peer’s writing. The instructions tell the teacher to “Call on two or three volunteers to share. Each volunteer should call on one to three listeners to comment.” Materials also include Response Starters provided that students can use to aid their discussion. The responses are “I could picture _____ (person, process, idea, action, place) when you wrote _____. When you used the word _____, it helped me understand _____. When you used the evidence about _____, it convinced me that _____. When you explained _____ about the quotation, I realized why you included it.”
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 4, students work on reciting lines from The Prologue from memory. Directions state: “Read the line on the card, noting the syllables in bold. With a partner, practice saying the lines as a call-and-response. One of you recites the line on the card, saying the syllables in bold loudly and stomping your foot as you say them. The other responds by repeating the line in the same way.”
  • In Unit 8F, “Space Race Collection,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, Activity 4, students evaluate websites as credible sources and discuss factors that help them determine a site's credibility. The class discussion points are: “Does the website provide information about the author’s background? Based on that information, does the author seem credible? How do you know? Does the website make any claims? Are claims supported with evidence? What evidence did you find convincing about the author's argument? What evidence did you find questionable? Did the links work? Did they take you to credible websites? What else could you do to check on the credibility of this website? (Check for other websites on the same subject matter.) If you have a class with more advanced students, you may choose to have them discuss why so many students and adults might be fooled by a website like this. What makes the website credible?”

Indicator 1k

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

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

Each unit contains writing tasks and projects which are aligned to the grade level standards. Students write a mix of both on-demand and process writing that gradually increase in complexity as the year progresses. Each unit contains a sub-unit that centers around a process writing task, titled “Write an Essay” in the online program. Throughout the units, there are many on-demand writing tasks that students must complete to show mastery and prepare for the essay assessment. Materials cover a year's worth of writing instruction. Opportunities for students to revise and/or edit are provided. Materials include digital resources where appropriate. 

Writing assignments in the 8th grade units include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative”, Sub-unit 3, Lesson 2, Activity 2, students read an excerpt from the text Going Solo by Roald Dahl. After reading the passage, students write responses to two different questions. The second question asks students to write a more substantial response. Specifically, it says “Does David Coke seem like he will be an important character in Dahl’s story? Explain.”
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction”, Sub-unit 2, students write a “three-paragraph essay about whether Frankenstein’s creature can be considered human” in five class periods. In the first lesson, students write an outline. In the second, third, and fourth lesson, students draft their first, second, and third body paragraph. With the final fifth lesson, students review and revise their essay.
  • In Unit 8D “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet”, Sub-unit 1, Lesson 2, Activity 4, students interpret Shakespeare’s language. They translate several lines into their own words and use details and words from the passage to explain what the lines mean and what they suggest will happen in the play.
  • In Unit 8D “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” Sub-unit 4, students write an essay that addresses the question, “Did the power of love contribute more to Romeo’s death or were the forces of hatred more of an influence on Romeo’s death, or both?” A series of five lessons guide students through the writing process. First, in Lesson 1, they consider both sides of the prompt, analyzing evidence before choosing sides. The second lesson guides students through the development of three body paragraphs, including one which addresses the counterclaim. The third lesson is a “Flex Day” in which students continue drafting and teachers can meet with individuals or small groups of students. In the fourth lesson, students craft introduction paragraphs and refine arguments by adding more description or explanation to their evidence. The final lesson guides students through revising for transitions and concise language, then editing and publishing.
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory & Meaning,” Sub-unit 6, students “draft and polish an essay that analyzes the strategies used by the Nazis to slowly move Germany toward genocidal violence.” In Lesson 1, students collect evidence and write their claim. Students write their body paragraphs in Lesson 2. Lesson 3 is a flex day that provides students an opportunity to “self-assess” their progress and continue the writing process independently and with a partner. In Lesson 4, students continue to revise their essay and write the introduction. In the final day of the sub-unit, Lesson 5, students write their conclusion and finalize their essays to share with the class.
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 1, students learn about how to evaluate credible websites, then independently find additional internet sources for their research. Digital renderings of primary and secondary source documents, and images are included as follows:
    • Primary source: Memorandum for the Vice President, April 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy
    • Secondary source: The Space Race: An Introduction
    • Images: Leonov during first spacewalk; White during first US spacewalk

Indicator 1l

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

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

Students engage in a variety of writing opportunities throughout daily lesson plans, formative, and summative assessments. These writing activities include opportunities to engage in argumentative, informative/explanatory writing and narrative writing when appropriate. In addition, the materials provide opportunities for students/teachers to monitor progress in writing skills. Students perform a variety of tasks throughout the unit centered around the text they are studying within the unit. The materials provide a comprehensive overview, instructions and detailed rubrics for the writing tasks, particularly at the end of each unit, to help guide students through the process. 

Some evidence that materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes of writing is found in the following:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives & Narrative,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 2, students revise a narrative piece of writing they composed in the previous lesson.  In Activity 8, students are instructed to, “1. Find one place in your writing where you can focus more on one small moment. 2. Write two or three more sentences, adding vivid details to capture the feel of your moment.” Students then identify aspects of strong peer feedback in preparation to share their work with one another. 
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-unit 6, students write an informative essay.  Students can choose to write about either Abraham Lincoln or Frederick Douglass, exploring how he tried to change listeners’/ readers’ minds about what it means to be dedicated to the American idea that “All men are created equal”?  They use details from either “The Gettysburg Address” or Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass to support their ideas.
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction”, Sub-unit 3, Lesson 2, Activity 4, students study a speech given by Lord Byron in the House of Lords. After students read the excerpt, they write about the following prompt: “Based on Byron's observations about the impact of the new looms on the mill workers and owners, would you expect Byron to argue that technological innovations (like the new looms) are good or bad for mankind? Substantiate your claim with evidence from Byron's address to the House of Lords.”
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” Sub-unit 2, students write an argumentative essay that addresses the question, “Did the power of love contribute more to Romeo’s death or were the forces of hatred more of an influence on Romeo’s death, or both?”  The essay requires students to incorporate multiple pieces of textual evidence to support their claim and to refute a counter argument.
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory & Meaning”, Sub-unit 5, Lesson 1, students reflect on all of the images and readings they have done regarding the Holocaust. Then they “compose a poem that uses precise words, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language and that draws on the images, events, and passages they examined”

Indicator 1m

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

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

Throughout the units, students engage in many different evidence-based writing activities that range in length, organization, and complexity. Students provide short written responses as they actively read texts and use close-reading skills when responding to many questions in the summative and formative assessments. With the major essays that are present in each unit, students utilize evidence-based writing when planning for the essay and as they draft their ideas. 

Examples of writing opportunities focused on students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with sources include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative”, Sub-Unit 5, Lesson 1, students take a unit assessment. In the assessment, students write a response using evidence from a reading passage. They read the excerpt from Going Solo by Roald Dahl, “The Battle of Athens--the Twentieth of April”. Then, they answer the question, "In what way does the author convey the emotional intensity of his experience in the Battle of Athens? Include at least TWO supporting details in your answer."
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1, Activity 3, provides an opportunity for students to practice evidence-based writing. Students read an excerpt from The Boys War by Jim Murphy. First, students answer three selected-response questions which require close reading. Then they answer two questions which require evidence-based writing, “What feelings do you think Elisha Stockwell was expressing with the words, ‘I would have been glad to have seen my father coming after me’?” and “Why do you think the author writes that the Rebel Yell worked well as an 'emotionally unifying behavior?'" Both tasks require the students to include textual evidence.
  • In Unit 8C, “Science & Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 8, students read Chapters 5-6 from Gris Grimly’s Frankenstein: Volume 2. Students are then asked, “Did your feelings about the creature change from Chapter 5 to Chapter 6? Explain why or why not, using and analyzing evidence from the text. Be sure to explain what each piece of evidence shows. (You may also use evidence from the illustrations.)” This formative writing assessment requires students to write a minimum of 100 words and for “at least 10 minutes” to be scored.
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning”, Sub-unit 2, Lesson 2, Activity 5, students read two brief excerpts from Hitler Youth. They compare and contrast these texts and then write a response. Specifically, the question asks students to "Compare and contrast how Irene Butter and Alfons Heck present the Hitler Youth. What do you understand about the Hitler Youth as a result of reading both interpretations?”
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race,” Sub-unit 5, provides students with an opportunity to learn, practice, and apply evidence-based writing. Students have two choices, an argumentative essay on whether or not animal testing was necessary during the Space Race or an informative essay on how Katherine Johnson and the other women who worked with her at NASA impacted the Space Race. A series of lessons supports students in learning and practicing specific skills as they work through the writing process. In Lesson 1, students are supported in gathering evidence and collecting all the necessary information for their Works Cited page. Then, in Lesson 2, students are guided in writing body paragraphs that include at least two pieces of textual evidence, some description, and an explanation of how the evidence supports their claim. In Lesson 3, students are guided through developing an introduction paragraph that engages and provides the reader with a general sense of the topic, key background information, and the claim. In Lesson 4, students study strong examples of supporting evidence for claims, then revise their own writing to strengthen evidence. In Lesson 6 students create both in-text citations and a Works Cited page to properly document their evidence.

Indicator 1n

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

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

Each unit offers a number of resources to support grammar instruction. Teachers are instructed to use the introductory Unit A to build the foundational writing skills of Focus, Use of Evidence, and Productivity, as well as the writing routines of writing time, Sharing, and working with feedback. These units allow teachers to support students as they progress and gain better clarity in their writing. The Grammar Unit contains self-guided instruction and practice activities to cover the key grammar topics and topics for continued practice and review. The Mastering Conventions One, Two, and Three contain whole-class lessons and drills that provide extensive coverage of remedial and grade-level grammar topics. The Grammar Revision Assignments (found in the section of each Flex Day) provide suggested exercises to support students as they practice key skills in the context of their own writing.

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives & Narrative,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 4: Establishing Tone: "Write about one awful moment from a recent day at school (or one great moment)."
    • Lesson 6: The Just-Right Verb "Write about a moment when you took a risk."
  • Grammar Unit, Sub-Unit 6, Lesson 3: Active and Passive Voice
    • Recognizing Active and Passive Voice
    • Choosing Active or Passive Voice
    • Identifying Passive Sentences
    • Changing from Passive to Active
    • Revision: Verb Moods and Voice 
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality”, Sub-unit 6, Lesson 5, Activity 4 students are writing an essay focusing on texts by Martin Luther King and Fredrick Douglass. At this point in the process, students are revising for appropriate transitions and concise language. Specifically, the instructions explain that students should:
    • Reread your introduction and body paragraphs in their final order.
    • Ask yourself the following questions: When I finish reading one paragraph and begin reading the next paragraph, is the relationship between the paragraphs clear. Do I use words that clearly explain how my evidence is connected to my claim?.....” After this point, several examples are given to students for different styles of transitions. They also instruct students to experiment by adding a new transition within each body paragraph or within a sentence that connects their point to a claim.
  • In Unit 8C, “Science & Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 14, students are prompted to respond to the question, "What has the creature learned from his experiences among men?"
    • Lesson 16: Flex Day 3
    • Grammar Unit, Sub-Unit 2, Lesson 4: Identifying and Fixing Complete Sentences 
      • Identifying Fragments
      • Identifying Fragments in Longer Passages
      • Identifying Complete Sentences
      • Revision: Modifiers and Dependent Clauses
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory & Meaning,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1, students are prompted to respond to the question,  "What message do you think Hitler and the Nazi Party were trying to communicate with the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Olympics?"
    • Grammar Unit, Sub-Unit 6, Lesson 1: Verb Mood
      • Indicative
      • Interrogative
      • Imperative
      • Conditional
      •  Revision: Verb Moods and Voice
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection," Sub-unit 2, Lesson 4, students work on writing an essay about looking at Internet research on this topic. At this particular point, they have a flex day for the teacher to choose topics that students need to work on. Included in the lesson overview is a PDF  of Grammar Revision assignments. One of these activities could be verb tense. For that skill development, the assignment reads: 
  1. Go to My Work and find a recent writing activity (or your teacher will identify one for you).
  2. Copy and paste your writing into this new writing space.
  3.  Reread your writing and underline 3 verbs.
  4.  Skip to the bottom of the writing and rewrite the sentence(s) that contain these verbs, using a different verb tense (past, present, or future).
  • Mastering Conventions Three Unit 2, Lessons 5-8 address gerunds and infinitives.  An example of a lesson topic is Lesson 7, “Identifying Infinitives Used As Adjectives Within a Sentence”.  This sequence of lessons includes 9 Skill Drills which provide practice in skills such as finding and fixing dangling modifiers and finding and fixing split infinitives.
  • Mastering Conventions Three, Unit 3, Lesson 12 focuses on ways writers use active and passive voice for impact.  Three skill drills provide practice in shifting between active and passive voice and in keeping voice consistent within a sentence.
  • Mastering Conventions Four - Spelling, Word List 25 provides instructional resources for teaching the suffixes -able, -ible, -ful, and -less.  Resources include definitions, example sentences, a sorting activity, a fill-in-the-blank activity that requires students to use the words in sentences, and an assessment.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

Amplify Grade 8 instructional  materials meet the expectations of Gateway 2. The instructional materials are designed to build students' knowledge as they develop literacy proficiency across reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. Texts are organized around cohesive unit topics and/or themes. Student writing, speaking, and presentation are connected to demonstrating knowledge of topics and themes, as well as demonstrating integrated skills. Vocabulary instruction is included not just in analysis of texts, but also across texts and units. Writing instruction and research include systemic and cohesive design over the course of the school year, so students demonstrate grade level proficiency through interwoven literacy components.

Criterion 2a - 2h

32/32

Indicator 2a

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

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

Every unit revolves around a specific topic or theme and uses many texts to support the guiding ideas. Throughout all units, students read a variety of genres and texts that relate to the unit goals and overall topic of the unit. Additionally, students display their knowledge in the completion of end of unit tasks that always include writing and/or a multimedia project.

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative,” students are working on reading like writers using passages from Roald Dahl’s Going Solo, Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks,” and Kaitlyn Greenidge’s “My Mother’s Garden” to focus on not just what the writers are saying, but also how they are saying it. Then the unit overview explains that:  “Students respond to writing prompts that alternate between analytic and narrative writing. By the end of the sub-unit, students will write a small personal narrative about a moment in their childhood.”
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty & Equality,” Topic & Theme: The meaning of "all men are created equal." Students read about the beginnings of our country and the documents that guided our nation only applied to some. The lessons allow students to dive into these important texts, with a clear focus on how each writer reflects on this question, and give them many opportunities to reflect on, discuss, write about, and debate ideas of equality, opportunity, justice, and freedom. 
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” students will focus on two women: Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace and how they both looked at the way technology could shape our world. Specifically, the unit goal states that after reading the graphic novel adaptation of Frankenstein by Gris Grimley, students will “write to determine whether or not Victor's creature should ultimately be considered human.” In addition, students will “read two poems, a speech, and excerpts from Chapter 1 of Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators to compare and contrast the ways in which William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, and Ada Lovelace viewed humanity’s relationship with technology.” All of this exploration will help students with the culminating task of the argumentative essay the humanity of Frankenstein’s monster.
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet,” Topic & Theme: Introduction to Shakespearean themes and language, students read five short excerpts from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Students are introduced to the plot of the play as they explore and closely read several of its most famous scenes. 
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” students read a variety of texts to come to a critical understanding of the Holocaust and the responsibility of society to such a tragedy. Students will read from Holocaust: Memory & Meaning Anthology as well as excerpts from Shores Beyond Shores by Irene Butter to achieve the culminating task. This final task asks students to answer the following prompt: The Holocaust did not happen overnight. As the Nazis laid the groundwork for what would eventually become known as the Holocaust, they used a number of strategies to isolate, oppress, and control the Jewish population of Europe, and to convince others to go along with their plan. Choose two of the strategies that stood out to you as you explored this unit. Using examples from the texts and images you analyzed, describe each strategy and the impact it had.”
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” Topic & Theme: The successes and sacrifices associated with space exploration, students read about the dramatic story of the Space Race offering students a rich research topic to explore. Students examine primary source documents and conduct independent research to develop a deep understanding of this unique international competition.

Indicator 2b

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

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

The Grade 8 units provide students with frequent opportunities to practice identifying and studying specific elements of texts, from analyzing words to looking at the structures of paragraphs and the larger text itself. Each unit focuses on how the writer has crafted his/her narrative and students are examining the text for examples. Each lesson includes a list of vocabulary words to use. Questions and tasks help students build comprehension and knowledge of topics and themes, and they build on each other in a coherent sequence so that by the end of the year, items are embedded in students’ work rather than taught directly.  There is an ample amount of written work throughout lessons that allows teachers to gage students’ understanding of each concept. Questions and tasks help students build comprehension and knowledge of topics and themes. 

Throughout the materials, students independently and as a whole group complete questions and tasks that require analysis of individual texts. Students complete multiple reads of text with scaffolds such as read aloud, partner reading, and independent reading. The instructions have students answer questions and/or complete tasks that move from a literal understanding of the text to deep analysis within the texts or multiple texts. This scaffolded progression can be seen across the units, the sections, the lessons, and the assessments.

Examples of materials that contain sets of coherently sequenced questions include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 5, the following sequenced questions and tasks address language and/or word choice:
    • Students identify moments in the story where Tan “zooms in” and slows down to give precise descriptions.
    • Students reread paragraph 3, highlight sensory words and phrases, and analyze how Tan's word choices impact the reader and convey the narrator’s tone.
    • Students respond to a poll and discuss their favorite piece of Tan’s sensory language. 
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-unit 4, Lesson 2, Activity 2, students independently read an excerpt from The Boys’ War. The instructions for this lesson ask the teacher to “Draw students’ attention to the first line of paragraph 3, ‘The biggest fear, however, was of being killed, and not having their bodies identified properly.’ Are those the words of a boy who was fighting or the author of the book?" Then it asks the teacher to, “Draw students’ attention to paragraph 4, ‘The horrors of a battlefield were brought vividly before me...the most woebegone twelve-year-old in America.’ Whose words are these? What does this boy seem to be feeling based on this textual evidence?"
  • In Unit 8C, “Science & Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, students read Volume I, Chapter 1, discuss how the text and images evoke each character, and use a family tree to keep track of how the characters are connected. "Card 1: Students look through the opening of the book and learn more about how the story is structured. Card 2: Students read pages 14–17 and work to identify specific characters and their relationships. Card 3: Students complete a partial Frankenstein family tree to solidify their understanding of key characters and their relationships."
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 2, students analyze and interpret Shakespeare’s figurative language after completing a “Fill-in-the-Bard” activity where students identify synonyms for words in the first three lines of “The Prologue." Students are then asked to refer back to the text and “Choose one of the highlighted pairs of lines. Translate those lines precisely into your own words, then use details and words from the passage to explain what the lines mean and what they suggest will happen in the play.”  Students must write a minimum of 100 words for this formative assessment.
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, students analyze images from 1930 and 1943, explore Holocaust Timeline, Read and analyze “I Cannot Forget” by Alexander Kimmel. In Sub-unit 2,  Lesson 1, students read from memoir Shores Beyond Shores by Irene Hasenberg Butter and analyze a Nazi propoganda poster.  In Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1, Activity 3, questions include:
    • Why does the author include so many numbers? What impression of the ceremonies do these numbers communicate?
    • "Caesar" was a title given to ancient Roman emperors. Why does the author call Hitler "the new Caesar of this era" (3)?
    • Based on your reading, what point of view (impressions, feelings, or ideas) do you think the author is trying to communicate about the opening ceremonies?
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” Sub-unit 5, students write a research essay on the following prompt, "Write an informative essay about Katherine Johnson and the other key women who worked at NASA during the Space Race era. Who were the other key women who worked with Katherine Johnson and what roles did they play? What barriers did they face? How was the Space Race impacted by their work?” For this assessment, students are asked to gather evidence, make a claim and write body paragraph, write a conclusion as well as create citations and a work cited list.

Indicator 2c

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

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

High-quality text-dependent questions and tasks are embedded throughout the sub-units to provide opportunities for students to understand and analyze the texts in order to respond to tasks requiring students to develop, evaluate, and support their claims. The text-dependent questions and tasks are coherently sequenced and structured within each unit and across units to support students’ literacy skills. By the end of the year, the summative essays and tasks integrate knowledge and ideas from throughout the unit.

Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Nature,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 4, students read two passages and then compare the two styles of writing. First, students read an excerpt from The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King. After reading, they answer the prompt, "Copy a moment from the first passage where it feels like time is slowing down. Describe what the author does to slow down the passage of time." Then, students read a second passage from Life of Pi by Yann Martel and complete the same task. Next, they “compare and contrast how the authors use words, sentence structures, or punctuation to slow down the moment.”
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” students read a collection of works by Americans engaged in the debate over equality and liberty during the Civil War time period. A major text in the unit is Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. The text is accompanied by text-dependent questions and tasks that require analysis. One example of a student task is “Frederick Douglass describes the attack on Aunt Hester as 'the blood-stained gate, the entrance to the hell of slavery' (9). How does his telling of the event support this description? Examine Douglass’s description to find details to use in your explanation.” Other examples are “What is one thing that Douglass wants his readers to understand about 'justice' within a slaveholding society?” and “Compare Douglass's statement, 'There were horses and men, cattle and women, pigs and children, all holding the same rank in the scale of being' (2) with the words of the Declaration of Independence. How does the scene that Douglass describes compare with the idea that 'all men are created equal?'” Questions about the readings throughout the unit build students’ analysis of the idea of what equality meant in that time period.
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 3, students read Volume 1, Chapter 4 of Gris Grimsley’s Frankenstein. While reading this particular section, students highlight all the words Victor uses to talk about his creation instead of using a name and then answer the question, "look at the words that you highlighted. How do you think Victor feels about his creation?"
  • In Unit 8D “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” students study five key excerpts from the play. Questions and tasks guide students to put the play into their own words, to notice metaphors, and to trace them through different scenes. An example of one such task is, “Choose one of the highlighted pairs of lines. Translate those lines precisely into your own words, then use details and words from the passage to explain what the lines mean and what they suggest will happen in the play.” Other examples are “How does Romeo and Juliet’s language show that they make a good couple? Develop your reasons with evidence from the text” and “If Romeo gave up his name, would all of his and Juliet’s problems be solved?”
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” Sub-unit 4, Lesson 4, students read an excerpt of the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel after they previously read a selection from the graphic novel Maus by Art Speigelman. After reading the excerpt, students answer the question, "In Maus, you saw how Vladek Spiegelman was affected by the events of the Holocaust. How do you think they affected Elie as an adult?"
  • In Unit 8F, “Scavenger Hunt and Internet Research,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 3, students respond to the question citing text evidence, “Write one or two paragraphs. State your research question as a claim at the beginning of the first paragraph. Include evidence from your sources.”
    • In Sub-unit 3, Lesson 2, students respond to the question citing text evidence, “In character, write at least three blog entries describing your experiences and feelings during your mission. Use the information on your Space Card and your Research Chart to help craft your writing.”
    • In Sub-unit 4, Lesson 3, students respond to the question citing text evidence, “Write one or two paragraphs. State your research question as a claim at the beginning of the first paragraph. Include relevant evidence that you selected and analyzed from your sources that conveys an answer to your research question.”

Indicator 2d

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

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

The materials include culminating tasks that are multifaceted, requiring students to demonstrate mastery of different grade level standards, including writing and presentation of knowledge and ideas. Each unit has questions and activities that increase in rigor and depth and support students in developing an ability to complete a culminating task. Culminating tasks vary for each text and include activities comprised of multiple types of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Examples of high quality questions and assignments that lead to multifaceted culminating tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” the culminating task is for students to write an essay to “explain how Lincoln or Douglass tries to change what his readers/listeners believe about what it means to be dedicated to the American idea that ‘All men are created equal.’” Earlier in the unit, in Sub-unit 2, Lesson 8, Activity 4, students read a passage from the Declaration of Independence and consider how Frederick Douglass would respond to the ideals expressed in it. The three questions asked of students regarding this passage are:
    • 1. What does this passage from the Declaration of Independence say about human beings?
    • 2. What do you think is the most important phrase in the passage?
    • 3. Would Frederick Douglass say that the society of his day had these values? Why or why not?

These questions directly connect with the culminating task topic at the end of the unit. 

  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” the culminating task is an essay exploring whether or not Frankenstein possesses humanity. Sub-unit 1 supports students as they read a graphic novel version of Frankenstein and answer text-dependent questions to aid their comprehension. These lessons consist of a combination of independent, partner, and whole-class work and involve reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. One example is Lesson 7 in which students close read two chapters of the graphic novel and discuss how the creature evolves. Sub-unit 2 supports students in the writing of their essays with lessons on drafting claims, including evidence, transitioning between ideas, revising, and editing.
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” the culminating task requires students to write an essay on the question, “Did the power of love contribute more to Romeo’s death or were the forces of hatred more of an influence on Romeo’s death, or both?”. Earlier in the unit, Sub-unit 1, Lesson 12, Activity 5, students had to read Romeo’s lines from Act 3, Scene 1. After reading they compare Romeo’s first lines before the fight to the lines they have just translated considering the dramatic shift in tone and what it reveals about Romeo. 
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning”, the culminating task is an informative essay about the strategies used by the Nazis to isolate, oppress, and control the Jewish population of Europe, and to convince others to go along with their plan. In the first four sub-units of this unit, students read collections of texts of various genres and from multiple points of view. An example is Sub-unit 2, Lesson 2 in which students read two excerpts, one written by a Holocaust survivor and one written by a Aryan boy who was caught up in the Nazi movement. Students compare and contrast the two depictions of the Hitler Youth. The writing of the essay is supported in Sub-Unit 6 which consists of five lessons in which students are taught to develop a claim, integrate evidence, write body paragraphs, revise, and edit.
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” the culminating task is an argumentative or informative essay and the construction of an interactive timeline on what they have researched on this topic. Earlier in the unit, Sub-unit 4, Lesson 3, students are asked to think back to "the questions you first had about the Space Race. Did the texts answer all of them? What else do you want to know? Use the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) to help you think of a question you’d like to research. You may also look at some of your favorite Space Race texts, images, or seminar notes to find a topic that excites you the most, and brainstorm a list of questions you still have about it." This activity prepares students for the culminating task they complete at the end of the unit.

Indicator 2e

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

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

The materials provide a year-long approach to building students' academic vocabulary, providing them opportunities to master many new words and apply new vocabulary across multiple contexts. The lesson plans include daily support for this goal at the start of each sub unit. Time is allotted at the beginning of each lesson for vocabulary development delivered through the Amplify Vocab App. “Words to Use” are also listed in the daily lesson guide. Teachers are encouraged to use these words throughout instruction along with the activities that utilize that vocabulary. Students complete assessment activities which show their mastery of using the word in context. The app also provides games for students to study morphology, figurative language, dictionary skills, words in context, and synonyms/antonyms.

Examples of how students are supported to accelerate vocabulary learning with vocabulary in their reading, speaking, and writing tasks include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 3, the lesson brief for teachers provides vocabulary information for teachers. There are two sections for teachers to look at. One is the words to use which gives a list of the core vocabulary words that will be used in the sub-unit. The second section is titled “Differentiation” which gives instruction to teachers about the vocabulary in the sub-unit explaining that for Activity 2 teachers should, “Ensure ELL students understand the meaning of “tense” before responding to the poll. For Activity 3,  “Before completing the activities on Card 2, determine if your ELL students understand that the scene takes place in Dahl’s plane. If not, have students identify words in the passage they think reference the plane’s equipment and capabilities." For Activity 3, “review the vocabulary as needed with students individually or in small groups before completing the activity….” Then, for Activity 4, “To assist students in locating vivid verbs in the paragraph, you may want to point out that the verbs are mainly in past tense form or end in “-ing” (past progressive)."
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty & Equality, Lesson 2, students are introduced to using context clues. They first are introduced to defining words from context, “Information about a word’s meaning contained in the sentence or sentences surrounding the word.” Students then learn why they need to use context clues, “Learning to identify context clues to guesstimate a definition can improve your reading AND your vocabulary!” Students are then tasked with steps of Defining words from context: “Step 1. Identify the part of speech; Step 2. Identify the context clues; Step 3. Make an inference; Step 4. Determine a likely definition; Step 5. Check your likely definition.” Students practice using each step with an example paragraph that guides them through each step. 
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 12, students learn the core words: affected, exuberant, malleable, speculation. One way students can work on the core words is in the Vocab App. For example, for the word “exuberant," students can do an activity called “Hashtag." For this activity, the directions explain, “read the status update (which contains the word exuberant) of this oversharer and pick which hashtag best fits this status.”
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet,” Vocabulary Module: Figurative Language, students are tasked with learning figurative language versus literal language. Students are introduced to metaphors, similes, and personification. To practice the figurative language students are asked, “Does the example below use literal language or figurative language?” They are also asked to determine what type of figurative language it is - metaphor, simile or personification. “ Students are then given a new word task, “Come up with your own figurative language (metaphor, simile, or personification) that communicates what it feels like to be envious (jealous). Write a paragraph that incorporates at least one type of figurative language.”
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” teachers are given a specific vocabulary strategy to focus on. In the “Materials” section, which can be found on the Unit Overview, teachers can see a vocabulary guide for a particular area of focus. For this particular unit, the focus is on “Connotations and Denotations”. For example on page 6 of the guide, “words with very similar denotations can have very distinct connotations." Then a few examples are listed.

Indicator 2f

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

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

Writing is used across lesson plans and assessments as an opportunity for learning and as a way for students to express their understanding. Lesson plans are carefully put together and scaffolded so students read and analyze a text in careful, specific detail before having to write thoughtfully about them. Within lessons, students complete smaller writing tasks such as taking notes, responding to short-answer questions, and writing quick reflection responses before they complete a more demanding writing task which is present in every unit. As the year progresses, students produce a number of essays that include a variety of styles and text types, gradually increasing in rigor and complexity. In addition, the final essay requires students to incorporate multimedia components or research. Materials include writing instruction aligned to the standards for the grade level, and writing instruction spans the whole school year.

Instructional materials include well-designed lesson plans, models, and protocols for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality," Sub-unit 6, students write a brief essay and explain how Lincoln or Douglass tries to change what his readers/listeners believe about what it means to be dedicated to the American idea that "All men are created equal." Over the course of five lessons, students decide a claim and gather evidence. Then students decide on the strongest evidence before generating two body paragraphs. Next, students draft an introduction and conclusion before revising and sharing their work.
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet," Sub-unit 1, Lesson 5, students are engrossed in Act 1, Scene 5. Then, in Activity 5 students “develop a claim about key ways Shakespeare uses language in this sonnet to show Romeo and Juliet’s attraction.” The instructions further explain that students need to write for at least 10 minutes producing at least 100 words. Next, the instructions ask teachers to “push [students] to move beyond writing about what the characters are saying to also consider how the words sound and why those sounds might matter.”
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory & Meaning,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 2, students are prompted to respond, "Compare and contrast how Irene Butter and Alfons Heck present the Hitler Youth. What do you understand about the Hitler Youth as a result of reading both interpretations?" Then, in Sub-unit 5, Lesson 1 in the solo reading students are asked to "Create a “witness” poem that will help you share the ideas you chose with others." This builds upon the ideas they explored earlier in the unit.
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection”, Sub-unit 5, students write an informative essay about Katherine Johnson and the other key women who worked at NASA during the Space Race era. Over the course of eight lessons, students make a claim and gather evidence, write body paragraphs and an introduction, revise and write a conclusion, edit and revise their work, create citations and a works cited list, put together an interactive timeline and present their work to their peers. 

Indicator 2g

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

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

Research projects start on a smaller scale in the beginning of the year and then gradually progress to a comprehensive research project at the end. 

Examples of the type of opportunities students have to engage in both short and long projects using language skills to synthesize and analyze their grade level reading include, but are not limited to: 

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty and Equality,” Sub-unit 4, Lesson 1, students examine a variety of sources to build historical context of the Civil War before they begin reading The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy. Students study two different maps, then they read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Boys’ War. Then students discuss causes of the Civil War and the importance of the war. 
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” includes one of the two major research units in the Grade 8 materials. Students read materials in different genres that present events from several different perspectives, including those of perpetrators, survivors, victims, bystanders, and witnesses. The unit contains both shorter and longer projects that provide students with an opportunity to build their research skills. For example, in Sub-unit 2, lesson 2, after reading from a memoir by a Holocaust survivor and another by a former member of Hitler Youth, students compare the two writers’ accounts and descriptions of the propoganda.
  • In Unit 8E, another example of a shorter project is the writing prompt from Sub-unit 4, Lesson 3. As they read Maus I: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman, they write to this prompt: “In Maus, Art Spiegelman tells his father’s story as a survivor of the Holocaust. How did he portray his father: mainly as a victim, mainly as a resister, or something else?” The culminating task for the unit is an informative essay which requires them to synthesize their learning and analyze across texts. Students write an informative essay about the strategies the Nazis used to isolate, oppress, and control the Jewish population of Europe, and to convince others to go along with their plan. They choose two strategies from the texts, then describe each strategy and the impact it had.
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” the culminating assignment is an essay and project. The overview explains that in the unit, “students learn how to tell the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources; determine if a source is reliable; and understand ethical uses of information. Then, students construct their own research questions and explore the internet for answers." After that point, each student is assigned a cosmonaut or astronaut from the Space Race era. They research their cosmonaut or astronaut and write entries into their space blog from their person’s point of view. The next sub-unit is a Socratic seminar in which students rely on their research to examine the complicated issues inherent in the history of the Space Race. As students reach the end of the unit, they synthesize all of the skills they’ve developed to tackle a "culminating research assignment—part essay, part media project." Then students write either an argumentative or informative essay and then create an interactive timeline of events in the space race. 

Indicator 2h

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

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

Lessons include some independent reading followed by text-specific questions and tasks that reflect student accountability. Procedures are organized for independent reading included in the lessons for each unit under the headings of “Extra” or “Solo”. There is sufficient teacher guidance to foster independence for readers at all levels. Students have access to additional texts within the Amplify Library. This library allows teachers to track students’ progress and monitor their choices for reading. Also, each time students read a text independently, there is a tracker for them to monitor their own progress. Assessments are available for the independent reading selections and teachers can assess students formatively during flex days. Student reading materials span a wide volume of texts at grade level (and at various lexile levels within the grade). 

Examples of readings inside and outside of class include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Nature,” Sub-unit 2, Lesson 2 in the Grade 8 Solo Workbook on page 9, students are given the option of independent reading. Specifically, the directions for this activity state, “Go to the Amplify Library and choose a book to read. As you read, highlight and annotate a passage that includes 5–7 sentences focused on the same moment or idea. Write your highlighted sentences below."
  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty & Equality,” students read excerpts of four books, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Ann Jacobs (900L), The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy (1060L), and A Confederate Girl’s Diary by Sarah Morgan Dawson (1030L). Other texts include The Gettysburg Address (1060L); speeches by John C. Calhoun, Francis Watkins Harper, and Sojourner Truth; and the poem “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman. Each day, students read and answer questions. Their written work serves as a tracking system. Interspersed are four days in which students read materials of their own choosing and fill out a tracking form.
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction”, Sub-unit 3, Lesson 5 in the Grade 8 Solo Workbook on page 123, students can be given the option of reading the passage from “Core of an Idea” in Steve Jobs: Technology Innovator and Apple Genius by Matt Doeden. After reading the passage, the directions explain that students should “Note TWO words or phrases that caught your attention and explain what you noticed and think about this place in the text. Then, they are asked five multiple choice questions and one short answer questions about this passage." 
  • In Unit 8D, “Romeo and Juliet,” students closely read five key scenes from Shakespeare’s play, with a focus on interpreting Shakespeare’s language. Each day, students read and answer questions. Their written work serves as a tracking system. Interspersed are four days in which students read materials of their own choosing and fill out a tracking form.
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” Sub-unit 4, Lesson 2 in the Grade 8 Solo Workbook, students are given the option of reading Maus I: My Father Bleeds History, Chapter 4: “The Noose Tightens”by Art Spiegelman. After reading this excerpt, students are asked six different questions. One question asks students to put events from the text in the proper order, and the other are close reading questions that require students to look carefully at the passage. 

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

Amplify Grade 8 materials meet the expectations of Gateway 3. The implementation guidance for teachers is comprehensive and clear, and includes not only information about enacting the materials to support student learning, but also information to grow the teacher's development of the content. Guidance for supporting and differentiating for each student is included, as is a comprehensive assessment system so teachers can analyze data and make appropriate instructional decisions. Technology and personalized learning options are outlined and clear.

Criterion 3a - 3e

8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations of use and design. Lessons and units are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. Guidance for teachers assures the materials can be completed within a regular school year. Alignment documents are included to support instruction, and student materials are organized to maximize learning.

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

There are six units of study that are designed around a collection of texts that support a common idea. For example, students read about how on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik into orbit. The dramatic story of the Space Race offers students a rich research topic to explore. Students examine primary source documents and conduct independent research to develop a deep understanding of this unique international competition. In the lessons on information literacy that begin the unit, students learn how to tell the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources; determine if a source is reliable; and understand ethical uses of information. Having practiced these skills, students are ready to develop and sharpen their sourcing abilities in the next lessons in which they construct their own research questions and explore the internet for answers. Each unit is divided into sub-units that contain lessons. Lessons follow a predictable guided instruction design and have a suggested pacing of 45 to 60 minutes per lesson. There is a Lesson Brief document provided for teachers that helps teachers understand the layout of each lesson. Each lesson launches with a “Vocabulary Activities” section that centers on the Vocabulary App, a “self-guided and adaptive means of learning new vocabulary,” that “introduces students to words that are integral to understanding the texts and key concepts in each unit.” Lessons include whole class, partner or small group, and individual practice with the intended outcomes through the “Present”, “Introduce”, “Connect Text”, and “Discuss” cards. The “Wrap Up” and “Exit Ticket” cards close the class with a review of the lesson and a formative assessment. The “Solo” card provides students with independent practice based on the learning outcomes for the day. Opportunities to differentiate instruction for individual students are available through the lesson. Each unit also includes Flex Days: The Flex Days provide an opportunity for students to receive regular instruction on needed grammar.

Examples of unit set-up, structures, suggested timings, and sub-units include, but are not limited to: 

  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Unit Overview, the following explanation is provided for teachers: 
    • “Frankenstein is a timeless tale that asks universally resonant questions about scientific exploration, the responsibilities inherent in creation, and man’s tendencies toward prejudice and compassion. 
    • As students read Gris Grimly's graphic novel, they will paraphrase key excerpts, unpack Shelley’s language, trace Victor’s and their own responses to the creature, discuss whether Victor should comply with the creature’s request for a mate, analyze how the characters evolve over the course of the book, and debate who ultimately deserves more sympathy.” 
    • Then it adds as another option for teachers: “To keep up the story’s narrative momentum, students will skim rather than read certain nonessential passages." 
    • "The text of the entire graphic novel is available if students want to read skipped passages on their own.”
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” the lessons within Unit are: 
    • Sub-Unit 1, Information Literacy
    • Sub-Unit 2: Scavenger Hunt and Internet Research
    • Sub-Unit 3: Space Blogs and Collection Research
    • Sub-Unit 4: Socratic Seminar and Internet Research
    • Sub-Unit 5: Write an Essay Unit Formative and Summative Assessments
  •  The lesson structure for each lesson appears in the Lesson at a Glance Compilation for the unit of the section as follows:
    • Vocabulary Activities
    • Teacher: Before Class Preparation for Activity
    • Class Activities - Download unit texts
    • Individual - Read: Exploring a Website
    • Class Discussion
    • Class Discussion
    • Partner Discussion
    • Individual - Present
    • Class - Exit Ticket
    • Individual - Solo

Indicator 3b

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

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

The teacher and students in Grade 8 can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding. The Amplify ELA materials include core lessons for 180 days of instruction as well as an extensive amount of supplementary materials that teachers can use at their discretion to support and enrich that experience. Additional instructional experiences have also been created for students to use independently. Working with the pacing guide, teachers see how the biggest parts of the program—units, Quests, and major assessments—can be scheduled over the 180 days of instruction. 

Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • Within the “Planning Your Year” section of the “Program Guide”, the “Pacing and Flexibility” section provides the following information: “Most of the Amplify ELA lessons are designed as a carefully sequenced series of experiences that build students’ skills in order to master the grade-level CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy. Teachers should follow the lessons, one by one, in most units, using Amplify’s formative assessment tools to decide when they can speed up or when they need to slow down. These lessons are generally described as taking around 45-60 minutes, but teachers should monitor student progress, looking in the instructional guide to find out what sorts of mastery to look for before moving on from activity to activity. Certain lessons will span more than one 45-minute block. And most lessons contain enough activities to explore with students for an extended double literacy block if the teacher has that option.”
  • In some units, options are provided to contract or shorten the unit if necessary. Lessons are identified within each sub-unit that might be unnecessary for some students and would be the lessons to eliminate first if there is a need to do so. For example, in “Perspectives & Narrative,"  Sub-unit 2, Lesson 7 could be eliminated. Lesson 7 “provides additional instruction on the distinction between showing versus telling, and on the steps for completing a Revision Assignment.” 
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 5, teachers are instructed to pace the lesson with the following instructions, "Prediction (5 min)Students predict what will happen in the lesson's reading. Discuss: Skim Volume II, Chapter 1 (5 min). Students skim through the chapter, noticing a few key moments. Read: Volume II, Chapter 2 (10 min) Students read the encounter between Victor Frankenstein and the creature. Dialogue Paraphrasing (5 min) Students learn about paraphrasing dialogue and discuss how particular lines of dialogue propel the action, reveal aspects of characters, and provoke decisions. Use the Text as Referee: Group 1 Dialogue Summary (15 min) Group 1 pairs rewrite the encounter between Victor and his creation so that it's easier for a modern-day audience to understand. Use the Text as Referee: Group 2 Dialogue Summary (15 min) Group 2 pairs rewrite the encounter between Victor and his creation so that it's easier for a modern-day audience to understand. Work-Out-Loud Performances (10 min) Students perform their paraphrased scenes, adapting their speech to the demands of the text. Write: Final Words to the Creature (12 min) Students write about what Victor means by his final words to the creature in the scene they've been studying.Share: Writing (5 min) Students share their writing and have the opportunity to respond to a peer’s writing. Exit Ticket (4 min) Students select the evidence that best supports a claim about Victor's beliefs and analyze how a particular line of dialogue reveals aspects of his character. Solo (15 min) Students read Volume II, Chapter 1, and answer questions. Challenge Writing (30 min)"

Indicator 3c

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

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

There are clear, step-by-step directions and explanations for both teachers and students for every phase of the teaching and learning process. Supplemental materials are provided for each lesson and are well-labeled and organized. Each lesson also references the standards addressed and the goal. Throughout most lessons, there are numerous formative assessments built-in to the lesson activities to monitor progress and check for understanding. Each lesson begins with “Vocabulary Activities” that provide differentiated vocabulary support and ends with “Wrap-up” which is a formative assessment that allows students and teachers to monitor learning progressions. “Solo” assignments at the end of lessons provide progress check-ins and practice for standardized testing. Unit assessments gauge the abilities of students to apply what they are learning over the course of the unit by reading, understanding, and expressing their knowledge of a complex grade-level text. Within the lesson plan structure, activities are scaffolded and structured in such a way that students have ample opportunities to practice skills. 

The program has several pieces that provide students with ample review and practice resources, specifically, “Library," “My Work," and “Misunderstanding Notebook”. When students click on the Library tab they are taken to a digital library which contains many digital texts that students can read. The My Work tab shows students copies of all of their previous work done online including those pieces with teacher feedback. Each assignment is organized in the units that have been completed. In the “Misunderstanding Notebook” students can document misunderstandings that have occurred during their learning and then connect it to a particular lesson they have studied.

Examples of resources within the materials include, but are not limited to: 

  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science fiction,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 4, students are asked to read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson. The directions for the lesson explain that students need to do the following, “in paragraph 1, highlight in green any words or phrases that give you a clue about Ada’s personality. In paragraph 2, highlight in yellow any words or phrases that show the side of Ada that came from her father. In paragraph 2, highlight in blue any words or phrases that show the side of Ada that came from her mother. 
  • In Unit 8C, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” Print Edition, Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, page 475, students are asked to “turn to the Holocaust: Memory and Meaning timeline on page 462. Locate image A and image B on the timeline. Follow along as your teacher presents the images in the timeline. Look for connections between the images in the timeline.”

Indicator 3d

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

For Grade 8, instructors are presented with a correlations guide that indicates all standard listed within the CCSS for ELA: Reading literature (RL), reading informational (RI), writing (W), speaking and listening (SL), and language (L). Each sub-standard has the correlated lessons identified with focus “cards” and lessons that most strongly support that standard.

When viewing individual lessons standards appear under the “Focus Standards” section of the Prep portion of the Lesson Guide and the “Other Standards Addressed in This Lesson” section. For “cards” providing opportunities to specifically focus on a standard, there is a “Standards” tab and the focus standard for the activities on that card are identified. For the Unit Assessments a Teacher Rationale document aligning “questions to specific grade level standards and standard strands” is provided.

Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • In each unit, once teachers click on the Unit Overview page, they scroll down below the unit icons to the section labeled “Planning for the Unit." Then, they click on the standards button and all the standards for each of the lessons are listed. For example in the 8C unit “Science and Science Fiction” sub-unit 3, lesson 1 the focus standards are:
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.4--Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.9--Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • The other standards addressed in this lesson are:
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.8.1--Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.10---By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.4.C--Consult general and specialized reference materials (e.g., dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses), both print and digital, to find the pronunciation of a word or determine or clarify its precise meaning or its part of speech.
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.8.4.D--Verify the preliminary determination of the meaning of a word or phrase (e.g., by checking the inferred meaning in context or in a dictionary).
    • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.8.10--Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • In the 8E Unit “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning” print edition, sub-unit 2, lesson 2 page 54, the standards for the lesson are written in the top left corner underneath the words “Lesson 2: Competing Visions of Hitler Youth”. Specifically, they read Standard: RI.8.9

Indicator 3e

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

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

The materials are presented in a digital format that is interactive and easy to navigate. They are designed with a consistent, clear layout so that teachers and students know what to expect for each unit, sub-unit, and lesson. There are drop down menus and tabs that provide access to materials from multiple locations. The lessons are presented in a slide format with a slide dedicated to each step of the lesson. Each slide, or “card” as it is referred to in the materials, includes a limited amount of information and uses bullet points and simple visuals to complement this information. Above each slide, there is an instructional guide and an area to add personalized teaching notes. Other resources for the lesson are also tabbed for easy access. The font, media size, and type are all easy to read. The materials use symbols and images to complement the activities that are being covered in each lesson. There is ample room for student answers on all-digital assessment materials.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8A, “Perspectives and Narrative,” Print Edition, Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, page 16, students are asked to “Focus on a Moment”. Specifically, the instructions ask them to “Think about a time when you were doing something you really enjoyed”. Below those directions is a green background with an image of gears with the title “The Student’s Mindset." Below the title are the following statements, “Take academic and social risks. Write about one thing that grabs your attention. Read carefully, observe closely, and share what you think. Show your classmates the impact they are making. Write with the reader in mind. Read with the writer in mind.” 
  • In Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 6, students are asked to compare two texts from two creators. On the left side of the screen is the text excerpt and on the right is the questions with student response boxes. The questions read:
    • 1. Highlight the words Victor uses to describe his first sight of the creature on pages 82–83.
    • 2. These words show that Victor feels _____________ towards the creature.
    • 3. What does Victor do to the creature?
    • 4. Why do you think his strategy changes?
    • 5. What is at least one other way Victor could have opened his first conversation with his creature? What do you think prevented him from starting the conversation that way?

Print Version: Lesson 2: Activity 3 - WRITING - Write: A Blog Entry

  • Sub-unit 5, Write an Essay, Lesson 3: Writing a Body Paragraph and an Introduction - Lesson Brief, Overview, Preparation, Lesson Objective, Words to Use, Skills & Standards, Differentiation, Materials with icons
  • Grammar - Lesson 1: Recognizing Verbs and Time Markers - Lesson Brief, Overview, Preparation, Skills & Standards

Criterion 3f - 3j

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectations of teacher planning support. The teacher- facing edition is thorough and, where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning. Teacher-facing materials include information to enhance the teacher’s knowledge of content as well as the foundational underpinning of the program itself. Support for stakeholder communications is included.

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

The Teacher Edition provides numerous support materials in multiple formats. The materials can be accessed digitally or in a print version. There are Unit Overviews for each unit and Lesson Guides for each individual lesson.The Unit Overviews provide tips on contracting the unit when necessary, the reading and writing assignments within the unit, applications to be used, differentiation, and assessment information. Additional teacher references are available with standards, vocabulary, and supplemental texts. Within the Lesson Guides, teachers will find an overview of the lesson, the preparation necessary, the objective, key vocabulary, skills and standards addressed, and methods of differentiation.

Examples of materials available to teachers include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty & Equality,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, Activity 2, the Instructional Guide explains to the teacher how to download the unit texts. The Instructional Guide also notes several technology tips and reminds teachers of the sensitive nature of the content of the unit.
  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 2, Activity 3, students are looking at the denotative and connotative meanings of Shakespeare’s language. In the teacher edition’s instructions it explains that teachers should “inform students that Shakespeare is commonly referred to as the Bard, and that a bard is a wandering singer and storyteller.” Also, the end of the instructions explain that “The goal of Fill-in-the-Bard is to have students consider and discuss possible meanings, figurative uses, and connotations of Shakespeare’s original words, phrases, or lines. They do not need to arrive at one 'correct' answer.”
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory & Meaning,” students download the unit texts that they will need. The instructions in the Teacher Edition explain that teachers should tell students to “make sure all students have bookmarked the Amplify Library. Note: Students are able to reset their own PINs when online. When reading a book in the Amplify Library, click the Settings icon in the top right corner, then click 'Reset PIN.' Students do not need to remember their initial PIN to reset it.” The instructions go on to explain: “TIP: You may want to keep a record of each student’s PIN or have them write it down in a designated place. Students will need their PIN to access downloaded texts if they lose connectivity during class. Circulate to guide students through the process.”
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” Sub-unit 5, Lesson 7, the students create a timeline using the myHistro Timeline interactive timeline website. The Lesson Brief prepares teachers for the lesson and provides guidance for differentiating the activity for ELL and below grade level students. The Instructional Guide guides teachers through introducing the activity and explaining to students how to create their own interactive timelines in their small groups.

Indicator 3g

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

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

The Program Guide provides a pedagogical approach to assist teachers in establishing a classroom where students thrive in every area, academically, socially, emotionally, as well as developing age-appropriate skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. 

The Program Guide Pedagogical Approach gives teachers steps in order to design a well-balanced classroom, supporting the needs of all learners. For example, in the Critical Collaboration and Engagement section, it states that it gives students lessons that immerse them in close reading activities and cognitively challenging work that engages them with collaborative, digital and project based learning opportunities. 

In the Program Guide Integrated Approach Targeted Objectives section, it states that it guides students with working through the text using key standards. While reading analytical texts, using evidence based writing, and academic discussion to support their ideas. Text at the center supports teachers in using complex and diverse texts that develop students skills in middle school and beyond.

Examples of materials provided to teachers for their advancement in the subject area include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8D, “Romeo and Juliet,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 1, students read the prologue of the Shakespearean play Romeo and Juliet. In order to assist teachers with Shakespeare the following instructions are provided in the preparation section of the unit overview. "Make sure you know how to add a bookmark on the devices your students are using. Practice reading the Prologue aloud before class. Preview the Viewing Guidelines, provided to display before each video clip. Preview the WordPlay Shakespeare scene. Photocopy the Memorization Cards PDF, one copy per student. If you cannot provide paper copies, students can use the electronic memorization cards provided in Activity 8, but it will make the memorization process more challenging. Students should cut the paper memorization cards apart so that they will see just one card at a time. If you are going to allow class time for this, provide scissors and a one-hole punch. (Optional: Many students stay organized with a ring clip for the cards.). In addition, they provide two video resources for teachers to view and/or show to their students along with specific time codes for the part of the movie that connects with the prologue."
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory and Meaning,” Sub-unit 6, Lesson 2, students develop their reasoning and evidence into body paragraphs for their essay on the Holocaust. To assist both teachers and students, the materials provide teachers with a list of sentence starters, a sample essay and a teacher’s copy of the events of the Holocaust.

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

The Teacher Edition explains the role of specific ELA/literacy standards within every individual lesson, sub-unit and unit as a whole. In addition, there is a Common Core State Standards correlations guide for each grade level and a Common Core State Standards Unit Level Standards Alignment document where educators can see the standards at a glance for each unit. 

Examples of explanations of the role of specific standards include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8D, “Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” page 25 of the Grade 8 Curriculum Map explains that at the culmination of the unit that students “will have learned how to spot and follow an extended metaphor, discovered that they can understand Shakespearean English by putting it into their own words, and become curious about the play in its entirety.” The Unit Summary also indicates that “students write an essay arguing whether the forces of love or hate are responsible for Romeo’s death.”

Indicator 3i

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

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

The Program Guide provides explanations of the instructional approaches of the curriculum as well as the research based strategies included. The Amplify materials have been created based on research around the developmental needs of middle-grade students including their learning, cognition, and how they develop literacy skills.

The guide lists five research-based pillars: 

  1. A focus on middle grade engagement recognizes that middle grade students thrive when they are given collaborative, social and experiential learning opportunities that provide exploratory curricula using varied and diverse teaching approaches.
  2. Text at the center focuses on providing text that is high quality. The curriculum includes text that promotes a range of cultures and experiences that include a variety of texts that appeal to culturally diverse students. Reading, Writing and Vocabulary are emphasized in the Amplify curriculum. Students are engaged in close reading - the intensive analysis of high quality texts, “in order to come to terms with what it says, how it says it and what it means.” This emphasis is a key component of college and career readiness. Amplify also believes that strong writing instruction improves reading comprehension and fluency. Students write routinely for an authentic audience and are given frequent writing prompts to interpret and paraphrase the texts they are reading. Vocabulary knowledge plays a critical role in reading comprehension and overall success and should include frequent, varied, direct, and contextualized exposures to words and extended in-depth instruction in definitonal and contextual information and word learning strategies. They also include encounters with Tier Two vocabulary. 
  3. High expectations and strong supports meet students where they are, while ensuring grade-level rigor. Differentiated instruction is the core instructional model that Amplify uses to provide six levels of activities, designed to support a range of students from ELL, special needs and advanced students. Amplify uses scaffolds such as text previews, word banks, guiding questions and graphic organizers to support reading comprehension.
  4. Active, multimodal, and collaborative learning is the focus of Amplify’s curriculum, since research suggests that active engagement is key and that students thrive when classroom activities are social and varied. Amplify ELA employs a variety of pedagogical styles, multimodal instruction, and ample opportunity for student collaboration. Varied teaching styles are used across Amplify ELA’s curriculum - Explicit instruction, Active learning, Multimodal instruction Collaboration as well as Effective constructivist learning environments all these teaching styles are incorporated into Amplify’s curriculum in order to support middle grade learners.
  5. Feedback and assessment Amplify ELA curriculum incorporates many opportunities for students to receive feedback on their work. Utilizing formative assessment students are provided with feedback about their work. Regular feedback is critical for teachers and students to monitor their performance.”

Indicator 3j

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

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

General strategies for how students, parents or caregivers can support student progress and achievement throughout the year are provided. Unit Background and Context documents are provided for each unit in English and Spanish. These guides can be provided to parents and other stakeholders to support the work being done by students at school and at home. In the digital version of the student edition, students have access to “My Work” which houses all of their work from each unit. A “Feedback” tab provides students access to feedback from the teacher on work they have submitted. Throughout the year, students have the opportunity to revise previous writing pieces as they learn and practice new skills; however, the materials provided do not provide clear suggestions and ELA/Literacy supports that directly inform stakeholders on how they can support their students progress and achievement. There is no direct link to informing all stakeholders on supporting their learner throughout this program. 

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 8C, “Science & Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 1, Lesson 16, Activity 4, students revise a previously submitted writing assignment. Students access the “My Work” section of the program to locate the assignment that the teacher designated for revision. The student is able to access the teacher’s feedback and revise the writing based on the current directions. Students have access to all of their submitted assignments and the related feedback. 
  • In Unit 8E, “Holocaust: Memory & Meaning,” the Unit Background and Context document identifies the core texts and then an introduction to each of them. Background and context information for the Holocaust and topics related to it are also provided. Keywords for the unit are listed. The document is available in English and Spanish.

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation of assessment. Assessment opportunities (both formative and summative) are regularly included and accompanied by guidance on how to interpret data and enact appropriate next instructional steps.

Indicator 3k

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

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

There are varied opportunities for teachers to use both formative and summative assessments that genuinely measure student progress. All of the information can be found in the Assessment document in the Resources section of the curriculum.

For formative assessments in writing, students’ writing skills are automatically scored by Amplify’s Automatic Writing Evaluator, using a 0–4 rubric score, although this can be changed by the teacher. For reading, teachers can view individualized reports and “this daily measure provides teachers with an understanding of their students’ ability to independently read a grade-level text with accuracy”. Finally, teachers can assign exit tickets for each lesson as a quick assessment of student learning on that day. There are also several summative assessments throughout each unit and grade level. These include unit reading assessments, writing assessments and end-of-unit assessments. 

Examples include, but are not limited to: 

  • Within each lesson, students engage in writing assignments related to the text they just read. According to the assessment documentation, “The work students submit is scored and measures their ability to produce sustained writing, focus on one claim or idea, use textual evidence to support and develop that idea or use conventions to communicate in a clear way.”
  • The Assessment document also indicates, “at the end of every lesson, students complete an independent reading activity (“solo”) that measures the accuracy of their answers to auto-scorable reading questions. . .in addition, the reports show where students struggled in the reading, giving teachers and students an opportunity to revisit those portions of the text.”
  • Several summative assessments are located in the program that teachers can assign to their students, including unit reading assessments connected to grade level standards. There are also writing assessments, including one extended response question focused on two nonfiction passages, and end-of-unit essays which cover a range of topics and take multiple days to complete.

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
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Indicator 3l.i

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

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

Within each unit, several sub-units divide a unit’s texts and skills into manageable learning goals. Each unit overview contains a list of the focus standards as well as the other standards that are covered during instruction. 

Examples of how standards being taught are emphasized include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 8D, “Romeo and Juliet,” the final reading assessment addresses many standards which are listed in the unit overview under the subheading “ 

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.1 Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • CSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to the characters, setting, and plot; provide an objective summary of the text. 
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.5 Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.7 Analyze the extent to which a filmed or live production of a story or drama stays faithful to or departs from the text or script, evaluating the choices made by the director or actors.

Indicator 3l.ii

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

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

The assessment brochure provided by the publisher list the variety of ways for teachers to interpret student performance and provide suggestions for follow up. 

  • Students submit their work at multiple places in each lesson including reading responses and selected response items that check for reading comprehension. Data from students responses is populated into reports that indicate if students are comprehending what they are reading. Writing skills are automatically scored by Amplify’s Automatic Writing Evaluator using a 0–4 rubric score, but can also be updated by the teacher.
  • On page 7 of the assessment brochure it explains how “at the end of every lesson, students complete an independent reading activity (“solo”) that measures the accuracy of their answers to auto-scorable reading questions. This daily measure provides teachers with an understanding of their students’ ability to independently read a grade-level text with accuracy. It also gives teachers a picture of progress and challenge with reading comprehension, particularly when a student is working with the same text over multiple lessons. In addition, the reports show where students struggled in the reading, giving teachers and students an opportunity to revisit those portions of the text.”
  • On page 8 of the assessment brochure it discusses the feedback that can be received from the unit reading assessments. In addition, it explains how “the assessment report generates data tied to the most common domains found in standards: Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, and Integration of Knowledge and Ideas”

Indicator 3m

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

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

In the lessons, teachers are able to monitor student progress through the use of formative assessments in the form of Lesson Exit Tickets, Solo Reading Comprehension, Formative Writing also Embedded Assessment Measures that includes auto-scored reading activities. Additional progress monitoring takes place through the use of summative assessments in the form of essays, as well as constructed and selected response questions.

Examples of routines and guidance include, but it not limited to:

  • In Unit 8B, “Liberty & Equality: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl," students evaluate Jacobs’s arguments for abolition in two chapters and develop a claim about which chapter provides a stronger argument, supporting their answer with evidence from the text.
    • Lesson 1: Liberty & Equality Reading Assessment, Constructed Response: Informative, students complete a constructed response using evidence from a single passage. “In Chapter 6 of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Douglass writes about how slavery had a negative impact on both slaveholders and those who were enslaved. Write a well-constructed paragraph that uses evidence from the text to explain how TWO people from this chapter were negatively affected by slavery.”
  • In Unit 8F, “The Space Race Collection,” Sub-unit 2, Solo Comprehension Questions,students are asked to research "How did the author first learn about satellites?"
    • In Sub-unit 5, Write an Essay, Lesson 2: Making a Claim and Writing a Body Paragraph, students write a claim statement about their research topic and draft a body paragraph that uses textual evidence to support their claim.

Indicator 3n

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

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

Students are given opportunities for reading independently at the end of each unit. The Solo activities included within each unit supports students as they prepare to read independently. The materials indicate how students are accountable based on student choice and interest. The Teacher Guide provides support/scaffolds where needed to guide students as they read independently. Each unit culminates in an Independent Reading lesson with a tracking sheet for students to track their progress as they read independently, holding them accountable outside of class. It also includes ideas for where students can select books from and questions that guide them to expound on what they read. The materials also have suggested minutes they should read. They are also asked to show how they felt about what they read. All of this is aimed at encouraging and building interest, stamina and confidence as well as the motivation to read independently.

The Program Guide details how students are assigned the Solo activities at the end of each core lesson. Students apply their learned skills while closely reading a new text independently. Students are tasked with answering auto scored questions in order for teachers to monitor progression of students' comprehension. The Amplify library has an extensive variety of texts including different generes, interests, and readability, allowing students to access a multitude of texts. Students also have the opportunity to read in the research Collections to build upon their content knowledge, and adapting their skills to work with primary and secondary sources. The Collection builds students' skills to interact with texts as they answer research questions, compare articles, gather relevant information from credible sources, in preparation for class discussions and debating topics.  

The Research document also details that the reading collection has an expansive range of over 600 texts to appeal to all interests, cultural backgrounds, and ability levels. Within that collection, there are 15 curated Archives, each including 10–30 textual and multimedia sources focused around a topic for independent study. There are also fictional and informational texts and primary and secondary sources connected to the ideas and topics within the units, and teachers can choose to direct students to explore them at any time.

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

The Grade 8 materials meet expectations for providing support and guidance for differentiation. There are specific appropriate guidelines so teachers can assure students who may need different support to reach grade level literacy are available, as well as opportunities for those students who are ready to engage with above-grade level material. Supports are included for students who are also learning English.

Indicator 3o

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards. The strategies for the program are well-documented in the Amplify ELA Research base. In addition, there are specific strategies to help teachers reach all learners including: differentiated instruction, formative assessments, scaffolded tasks and a variety of active, multimodal and collaborative learning.

Examples include, but are not limited to: 

  • According to page 5 of the Amplify ELA Research base document that can be found in the Resources section of the Amplify ELA curriculum, “Amplify ELA meets students where they are while maintaining grade-level rigor for all. Through its differentiated instruction model, the curriculum is designed to “provide equity of access to excellence for the broadest possible range of learners” (Tomlinson, 2015, p. 203). The document goes on to explain that “this approach follows Vygotsky’s model of support by ensuring that each student is working within their ‘zone of proximal development,’.... In this way, all students are able to work with texts at their grade-band level of complexity and fully participate in classroom culture….Amplify provides six levels of differentiated activities, indicated by a (+) icon in the lessons. For each level of differentiated instructional support, teachers are provided with instructional materials and students are provided with the scaffolds they need in order to complete each classroom activity.” 
  • According to pages 7 and 8 of the Amplify ELA Research base document found in the Resources section, there are several different considerations addressed in the curriculum to support all learners, including explicit instruction, active learning, effective learning environment, multimodal instruction and collaboration. 
  • On page 9 of the Research base document, descriptions of various routines wherein students work together to tackle complex tasks including breaking off into pairs or small groups to analyze texts, compare interpretations, and refine their understanding of the texts. During writing activities, students frequently share their work with peers and provide one another with constructive feedback. Additionally, student-led activities such as Quests, Reader’s Theatre, fishbowl discussions, Socratic seminars, and debates all involve groups of varying sizes and tap into students’ innate need for social interaction. These collaborative activities are situated as part of the classroom culture as determined by the materials.
  • Every lesson has a “Differentiation” tab within the “Lesson Brief” to guide the teacher through the differentiation strategies and techniques available for that particular lesson. Differentiation tips are provided for “Core” students who are on-level and “Substantial, ELL (Dev), Moderate” students who are below-level. Tips range from ensuring the appropriate technology-based accommodations are available to alternate activities within a lesson. For example, if there is an alternate “Solo” available, the “Differentiation” tab will identify and explain the modification and support provided on the alternate version of the “Solo” in contrast to the regular one.According to page 5 of the Amplify ELA Research base document that can be found in the Resources section of the Amplify ELA curriculum, “Amplify ELA meets students where they are while maintaining grade-level rigor for all. Through its differentiated instruction model, the curriculum is designed to 'provide equity of access to excellence for the broadest possible range of learners' (Tomlinson, 2015, p. 203)." The document goes on to explain that “this approach follows Vygotsky’s model of support by ensuring that each student is working within their ‘zone of proximal development,’.... In this way, all students are able to work with texts at their grade-band level of complexity and fully participate in classroom culture….Amplify provides six levels of differentiated activities, indicated by a (+) icon in the lessons. For each level of differentiated instructional support, teachers are provided with instructional materials and students are provided with the scaffolds they need in order to complete each classroom activity.”
  • According to pages 7 and 8 of the Amplify ELA Research base document found in the Resources section, there are several different considerations addressed in the curriculum to support all learners, including explicit instruction, active learning, effective learning environment, multimodal instruction, and collaboration.
  • On page 9 of the Research base document, there are descriptions of various routines wherein students work together to tackle complex tasks including breaking off into pairs or small groups to analyze texts, compare interpretations, and refine their understanding of the texts. During writing activities, students frequently share their work with peers and provide one another with constructive feedback. Additionally, student-led activities such as Quests, Reader’s Theatre, fishbowl discussions, Socratic seminars, and debates all involve groups of varying sizes and tap into students’ innate need for social interaction. These collaborative activities are situated as part of the classroom culture as determined by the materials.
  • Every lesson has a “Differentiation” tab within the “Lesson Brief” to guide the teacher through the differentiation strategies and techniques available for that particular lesson. Differentiation tips are provided for “Core” students who are on-level and other specific materials for students who are below-level. Tips range from ensuring ensure that the appropriate technology-based accommodations are available to alternate activities within a lesson. For example, if there is an alternate “Solo” available, the “Differentiation” tab will identify and explain the modification and support provided on the alternate version of the “Solo” in contrast to the regular one.

Indicator 3p

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

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

The materials provide six levels of differentiated activities, indicated by a (+) icon in the lessons. For each level of differentiated instructional support, teachers are provided with instructional materials and students are provided with the scaffolds they need in order to complete each classroom activity. These supports and modifications are designed to support a range of English Learners and students with special needs. In addition to these differentiated lessons, they also have reading comprehension support, text previews written with simplified language, and other strategies to support students in their comprehension. Embedded in each unit are Flex Days, these are days that allow students to catch up or move ahead with a variety of activities, including Quests, vocabulary, and language work. Students can work on revisions during these days as well, although there is limited specific support for teachers to assure implementation of this differentiation.

The Program Guide entails how the Amplify curriculum provides ELL supports that allows teachers to provide ELL students access to grade level content that their peers are able to access. The supports are designed to “maintain academic rigor and high cognitive demand while scaffolding to support learners at different language levels.” The supports for ELL are available throughout the curriculum and include Vocabulary App, word banks, chunked directions and prompts, reduced amount of text, sentence frames to provide language conventions and support reading comprehension, and graphic organizers. 

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Students have Flex Days as they move through the units. The rationale for the day (which repeat no matter what grade level or unit a teacher is in) explain that “The Flex Days are an opportunity for you to provide students with needed grammar instruction and also support additional practice in a targeted area of reading, writing, or language. Depending on students’ performance during the previous sequence of lessons, you might assign a particular group to work on reading fluency, revise an existing piece of writing, create a new piece of writing, practice close reading and discussion, or work on one of the key reading strands.”
  • Each lesson has a “Solo” activity requiring students to independently read a grade level text, usually one of the core texts, and answer numerous questions. The “Solo” activities are differentiated based on discretion and the Embedded Assessment Measure (EAM) report. Students complete “Solo” activities at the level appropriate for their unique needs. There are five levels ranging from "ELL/Substantial" to "Challenge." The writing prompts within the “Solo” activities are also structured with the assigned level. The “Instructional Guide” and “Lesson Briefs” provide teacher guidance as to the differentiation within each level of each activity.
  • On page 6 of the Amplify ELA Research Base document which can be found in the Resources section of the Amplify curriculum, the authors explain how the curriculum has “text previews as well as varying degrees of simplified language and visual supports for each of its differentiation levels. Text previews are not summaries of texts but rather introductions written at a lower level of complexity that prime students with what to focus on while they are reading.”
  • On page 7 of the Amplify ELA Research Base document which can be found in the Resources section of the Amplify curriculum, there are several supports that are specific to EL learners. For example, the “EL-specific supports include think-alouds, simple Wh- questions, and additional partner work. For EL students, the provision of a think-aloud allows them to model their own thinking within a new language and to build the skills of code switching appropriately while reading complex, grade-level tasks…... Additionally, there is ample research supporting the inclusion of verbal instructional practices for ELs. Amplify ELA therefore includes many verbal experiences for EL students to increase their language acquisition skills to provide a rich educational experience. Last, ELs receive alternative vocabulary instruction during typical instruction time, to include important high frequency words that will appear in texts and may be familiar to native speakers but unfamiliar to ELs.”

Indicator 3q

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

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

The Flex Days, included in every unit, provide time for advanced students to read from the Amplify library and expand vocabulary and language knowledge through the vocabulary app. In addition to these days, there are supplemental texts available in the Amplify library that provide additional reading and engagement for advanced learners. The instructional materials include extensions and advanced opportunities throughout, as well as a Challenge level designed for advanced students.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • According to page 5 of the Amplify ELA Research Base document, the approach to vocabulary instruction supports above grade-level instruction by allowing the teacher to adjust portions of the program to reflect more challenging tasks.

The Challenge level extensions provide opportunities for advanced students to engage in more sophisticated comparisons of text, create counterarguments, find evidence to support both sides of an argument, or to extend their thinking about a text or topic. Additionally, advanced students are given challenging writing prompts, asking them to read a new text and explain how it compares to what they have been reading and learning.”

  • On page 59 of the Program Overview guide, there is a comprehensive overview of the Challenge Level. In addition to differentiated prompts in the challenge level that push students past the core prompt, there are extra activities at the end of many lessons that challenge students to read a new text and form a written analysis. The novel guides for each of the texts read in the curriculum provide reading questions and writing prompts that are an additional layer of challenge. There are two other activities that students can pursue on the challenge level. Finally, there are 17 curated archives that focus on a challenge for independent study. These include topics that are close to the texts being studied. 

Indicator 3r

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

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

Within the lessons, students have many opportunities to work in groups and teachers are provided with guidance on how to organize students. Teachers are encouraged to group students by many different categories including ability, proximity etc. with times for both teacher-selected groupings as well as student-selected groupings.

One example of this is, in Unit 8C, “Science and Science Fiction,” Sub-unit 3, Lesson 1, students read William Wordsworth poem and then share their first impressions with a partner. The instructions direct teachers to put students in pairs and then answer the question, "What stood out to you in your first reading? Tell your partner about the details you noticed."

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

Technology and personalization information is comprehensive and detailed to support implementation. 

Indicator 3s

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

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

The Customer Technical Requirements documentation provides the requirements needed in order to run the digital platform. The supported device requirements and network environments give details about what is needed by schools in order to use the Amplify digital curriculum in the best capacity.

The Supported Device Requirements for the Amplify Curriculum requires the ability to project from a teacher device. They include the following device recommendations iPad 5+, Operating system: iOS 11+, Browser: Safari 11+ PC, 1.4 GHz dual core or greater, 1024 × 768 or higher, 4GB of RAM or higher., Operating system: Windows: 7+

Browser: Chrome – latest 2 versions. The following devices are recommended for optimal performance and experience: iPad, iPad Air 2, iPad 5+, Windows, Windows 7+, Chromebook, Acer Chromebook R11, Samsung Chromebook 3, Dell Chromebook 3189, HP Chromebook x2, Mac, Macbook, Macbook Air, or iMac.

The Network Environment includes minimum requirements for using the digital curriculum, which include Wireless access points 802.11g/n/ac compatible. User devices, connect to Amplify servers via ports 80, 443, and 9933, as well as Whitelist URL’s, in order to ensure that Amplify customers can use the products and services as well as receive important messages.

Indicator 3t

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

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

The digital library is comprised of over 650 classics, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction spanning a wide range of diverse genres that support students as they develop strong literacy skills. Lexile ranges are available for Grades 3-12. Amplify uses custom apps to provide students with interactive experiences in order for them to work with key text elements or skills in new ways. The Vocab App allows students to master core vocabulary words through challenging game-like activities that allow them to decipher meaning through context. Spotlight allows teachers to display student work to the class to foster discussion of strong student work. Quests allow for immersive team experiences, where students collaborate to solve questions using skills based upon core literacy lessons. Along with dramatic readings, interactive questions, polls and Storyboard tools, Quill.org for grammar applications that strongly support student learning within the Amplify Curriculum.

Other examples of technology within the Amplify curriculum that support student learning include:

  • Vocabulary videos
  • Custom apps, storyboards
  • Author videos
  • Video interviews with celebrities sharing ideas
  • Research and website use protocols
  • Visual Adaptations

Indicator 3u

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

Indicator 3u.i

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

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

The Program Guide contains Lesson Briefs that provide the teacher with an overview of the lesson and what types of support they are able to give students within each unit. The Lesson Brief includes Skills and Standards such as the focus and standards covered within the lesson. It also describes differentiated support for the lesson and additional ways to modify student activities.

In the Vocabulary app, teachers are able to assign ELL appropriate vocabulary words from the unit that ask students to interact with the English definition and the Spanish translation, audio pronunciation, and visual definition that align with the vocabulary standards. Writing within each unit is completed by students 2-3 times per week.

Teachers are able to assign writing at 5 different levels to ensure students are working productively. Students write for 10-15 minutes focusing on a claim and providing evidence from the text to support their claim. Teachers are then able to read and respond, giving students targeted feedback electronically. Teachers can assign Exit tickets to gauge student comprehension at the end of a unit. Teachers also have the ability to assign students Solo reading comprehension activities to students at the end of a lesson - where students complete a reading lesson independently. Solos are differentiated to support all levels of learners.

Indicator 3u.ii

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

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

According to the Program Guide, differentiation is applied throughout the Amplify curriculum in order to allow access to every learner. Basing the curriculum on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), teachers are provided access to differentiated materials to meet the needs of every student. These levels are indicated by a symbol for easier recognition of what support level they are for the teacher.

The curriculum is designed at six levels in order to support all students, designated by symbols so each level is identified easily. The Core level is designed using UDL for students that are reading and writing on grade level, incorporating the use of complex texts. The Moderate Level provides strategic support for students who need assistance with vocabulary, language, and complex texts. The supports provided include guiding questions, sentence starters, and simplified writing prompts. The Substantial Level offers support for students with learning disabilities. The lessons are scaffolded and provide supports in the forms of shorter and simplified writing segments, as well as graphic organizers, shortened reading passages and guided questions. The Light Level supports students that are approaching grade level and are able to work independently with vocabulary, language, and complex texts. Supports for this level also include sentence starters. The ELL/DEV level provide supports that includes simplified vocabulary, word banks, visual cues, and shorter writing prompts, along with shortened reading passages, sentence starters and guided reading questions.

The Challenge Level provides students that are reading at their grade level and above. The Core Challenge prompts can ask students to compare two sections of text, and create counterarguments, as well as find evidence that supports both sides of an argument.

Indicator 3v

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

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

Teachers can use technology for student-teacher collaboration. 

Examples of areas where technology is provided for teachers and/or students includes, but is not limited to:

  • During different unit exit tickets at all three grade levels, students work together using the digital curriculum to collaborate. Students frequently work together to discuss text-based questions and to apply questions from the unit to what they have read. With a partner, students can read passages and then digitally highlight words or phrases that illustrate a particular event, text evidence, or sections that support their statements about the text. 
  • On page 11 of the Formative and Summative assessment documents that is included in the Resources section of the curriculum, it describes the use of the Spotlight App. This app allows teachers to “make it easy for teachers to highlight examples of strong student work and project them for instruction or appreciation”
  • The Quests that accompany the curriculum also contain collaborative technology. For example, in the Who Killed Edgar Allen Poe app the description explains “students play in teams of two or three, and each team represents one character. For each chapter, each of the characters has certain information he or she should bring to the group’s attention, and new pieces of evidence are also presented to the character teams.” 
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 06/04/2020

Report Edition: 2019

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Amplify ELA Student Text: Gris Grimly's Frankenstein (single paperback) 978-0-06-186298-4 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Student Text: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass reader (single paperback) 978-1-61700-762-0 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8A Perspectives & Narrative Teacher Edition 978-1-64383-122-0 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8B Liberty & Equality Teacher Edition 978-1-64383-123-7 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8C Science & Science Fiction Teacher Edition 978-1-64383-124-4 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8D Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet Teacher Edition 978-1-64383-125-1 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8E Holocaust: Memory & Meaning Teacher Edition 978-1-64383-126-8 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8F The Space Race Collection Teacher Edition 978-1-64383-127-5 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA G8 Solo Activity Set (Black Line Master) 978-1-64383-128-2 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8A Perspectives & Narrative Writing Journal 978-1-64383-139-8 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8B Liberty & Equality Writing Journal 978-1-64383-140-4 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8C Science & Science Fiction Writing Journal 978-1-64383-141-1 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8D Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet Writing Journal 978-1-64383-142-8 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8E Holocaust: Memory & Meaning Writing Journal 978-1-64383-143-5 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA Unit 8F The Space Race Collection Writing Journal 978-1-64383-144-2 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA G8 Student Edition (single) 978-1-64383-146-6 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA G8 Teacher License (1 year) 978-1-64383-180-0 Amplify 2019
Amplify ELA G8 Student License (1 year) 978-1-64383-188-6 Amplify 2019

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

Please note: Beginning in spring 2020, reports developed by EdReports.org will be using an updated version of our review tools. View draft versions of our revised review criteria here.

Educator-Led Review Teams

Each report found on EdReports.org represents hundreds of hours of work by educator reviewers. Working in teams of 4-5, reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials.

After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The ELA review rubrics identify the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubrics support a sequential review process that reflect the importance of alignment to the standards then consider other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Text Quality and Complexity, and Alignment to Standards with Tasks Grounded in Evidence

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The ELA Evidence Guides complement the rubrics by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

The EdReports rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of alignment to college and career ready standards and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum, such as usability and design, as recommended by educators.

Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators (gateway 1) to move to the other gateways. 

Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment to the standards. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?

Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. 

In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Alignment and usability ratings are assigned based on how materials score on a series of criteria and indicators with reviewers providing supporting evidence to determine and substantiate each point awarded.

For ELA and math, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to college- and career-ready standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

For science, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

For all content areas, usability ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for effective practices (as outlined in the evaluation tool) for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, differentiated instruction, and effective technology use.

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

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