Alignment: Overall Summary

Common Core Code X partially meets the expectations of alignment to the standards. The materials include quality texts that encompass the balance of text types required by the standards and also support students' knowledge building, though some texts may require additional consideration due to level of complexity. The majority of questions, tasks, and activities in which students engage are text-focused, attending to the depth of close reading and analysis called for in the standards. There is a cohesive writing plan across the year that engages students in a variety of tasks and writing types that meet the expectations of the standards. However, opportunities for consistent and coherent vocabulary building, research, and culminating tasks that demonstrate knowledge and skills learned in the units, are inconsistent or absent from the materials.

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Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
30
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
22
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
N/A
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

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The Grade 6 materials include high-quality texts that reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards, though some texts are significantly above grade level either in readability or subject matter/content and supports throughout are not sufficient to move students toward grade-level proficiency. Questions and tasks build toward demonstration of students’ mastery of content and skills. Students are presented with many opportunities to engage in text-based discussions, however protocols and teacher guidance for those discussions are limited. There are many opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based writing that meets the expectations of the standards. Students are provided with explicit instruction of grammar and conventions and are expected to apply those skills in their writing.

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.
15/20
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Criterion Rating Details

The Grade 6 materials include high-quality texts that reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards and enable to students to engage in a range and volume of reading. While some texts are at the appropriate level of complexity for this grade, some texts are significantly above grade level either in readability or subject matter/content and supports throughout are not sufficient to move students toward grade-level proficiency.

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 Course 1 (Grade 6) materials meet the expectation that anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading. The texts are authentic and timeless and include a mix of classic and contemporary selections written by both male and female authors. Topics are relevant to students’ lives and experiences; texts are worthy of students’ time and attention to support the thematic focus of the units, exposing students to a variety of text types/genres. The texts include excerpts from novels, nonfiction works, poetry, magazine, journal articles, memoirs, essays, and biographies. They are rich in vocabulary and structure and align well with content areas such as science and social studies appropriate to Grade 6. Examples of anchor texts that meet the criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read the short story, “Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer. The text is engaging; written about topics with which students can easily associate. The text is thought-provoking, teaches a lesson, and contains rich and descriptive language.
  • In Unit 2, students read an excerpt from the autobiography, The Life You Imagine by Derek Jeter with Jack Curry. The text focuses on a well-known athlete who chased his dreams and achieved them despite challenges. The content is engaging and instructive for students. The text connects well with the age group and provides a challenging read.
  • In Unit 5, students read the poem “City” by Langston Hughes. This short poem contains rich figurative language. It is worthy of students’ time and attention in analysis.
  • In Unit 7, students read the article “New Discoveries in Ancient Egypt” by Bryan Brown. This article from Junior Scholastic is engaging and age-appropriate. It correlates well with sixth grade social studies topics and would be of high interest to students.

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 Course 1 (Grade 6) materials meet the expectation that texts reflect a distribution of types and genres required by the standards.  The texts include a variety of informational and literary texts so students are exposed to different modes of writing. A sample of text types include short stories, poems, folktales, novel excerpts, articles, essays, biographies, graphic novels, speeches, and memoirs.

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

  • Unit 1:  “Tuesday of the Other June,”a short story by Norma Fox Mazer
  • Unit 5:  “City,” a poem Langston Hughes
  • Unit 7: “Tale of a Wealthy Man,” a folktale of the Togo people

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

  • Unit 1: “Dirk the Protector,” an excerpt from the memoir My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen
  • Unit 2: From Dreams of My Father, a memoir by Barack Obama
  • Unit 3: “Talking About World Wonders,” and interview by Joy Nolan
  • Unit 5: from Reading Lolita in Tehran, a memoir by Azar Nafisi
  • Unit 6: “Curse of the Pharoahs,” historical nonfiction by Zahi Hawass

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.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

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

Texts that are moderate in complexity are accompanied by tasks that increase the level of rigor by demanding higher order thinking skills and analyses from students. However, there are several examples of texts that are significantly above the text complexity level appropriate for the grade level both in Lexile and content complexity. Also, some texts might be readable, but the content and/or subject matter is well above the grade level. Some texts include highly sophisticated domain-specific language as well as sophisticated rhetorical techniques. Texts consistently fit the topical or thematic focus, but are inconsistent in grade level rigor.

Examples of texts that are above complexity level (1010L) include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read from Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama with a Lexile of 1270. The qualitative complexity is listed as Moderate 2, in which the reader does not need any specialized knowledge, though familiarity with the memoir genre would be helpful. It is a good example of a text in which an author familiar to most students shares memorable childhood incidents that affected him.
  • In Unit 3, students read from “World’s Wonders, Worn Down?” by Cody Crane with a Lexile of 1090. The qualitative complexity is Moderate 1. The reader must make sense of complex syntax and the demands of reading a scientific magazine article by knowing/understanding domain-specific words and challenging academic vocabulary.
  • In Unit 4, students read from Of Beetles & Angels by Mawi Asgedom with a Lexile of 960. This memoir is listed as Complex 1. This texts includes complex syntax and tonal shifts. Readers may need some knowledge of Africa/African culture, specifically Ethiopia.
  • In Unit 7, students read the African folk tale, “Tale of a Wealthy Man” retold by Dianne Stewart with a Lexile of 950. The text complexity is listed as Moderate 2. The text is organized in chronological order with an embedded compare and contrast structure, which is appropriate for an end of the year text.

Examples of texts that are below complexity level (860L) include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read “Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer with a Lexile of 750. This is the first text students encounter in the program. While the quantitative measure is on the low side, the qualitative measure is Complex 1 due to the reader encountering multiple themes and figurative language.
  • In Unit 2, students read “Peak Performance” by Samantha Larson from Teen Vogue with a Lexile of 710. This article is engaging for students, and the associated tasks ask student to identify several purposes, some of which are not explicitly stated.
  • In Unit 4, students read from Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas with a Lexile of 830. This memoir is listed as Complex 1. Students will need to identify shifts in tone that might be subtle, such as ironic, humorous, and sarcastic.

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.)
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations for materials supporting 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).

While the materials offer texts and text progressions that have a variety of Lexile levels and text complexities throughout each unit and across the year, there is no explanation for the placement of these texts and no progression of complexity of texts or skills through the school year. The course does not have a coherent structure or a clear plan for how the texts are leveled to build toward independence over the course of the year. In addition to this, the supports provided to teachers do not change from Unit 1 through Unit 7. Tasks, lessons, and routines are repeated and organized in the same pattern for each unit, as is the planning and pacing of each unit. There are several texts that are not at grade level by Lexile or content and are not accompanied by supporting scaffolding to assure students will engage with the full comprehension.

Most texts and accompanying tasks and lessons are significantly scaffolded with little-to-no gradual release, and there is no instruction for teachers on how to provide gradual release, thus limiting opportunities for students to develop independence of grade level skills. Overall, there is no change in routines and expectations for students to develop independence over the course of the year.

Examples of how materials offer various complex texts, but do not increase in complexity include, but are not limited to:

  • In the beginning of the year, the students read materials that range from 750L Complex 1 in Unit 1 through 1270L Moderate 2 in Unit 2.  
  • In the middle of the year, students read materials that range from 1090L Moderate 1 to 1340L Moderate 2 in Unit 3, and 830L Complex 1 to 960L Complex 1 in Unit 4.  
  • By end of year, students read materials that range from 1100L Moderate 2 in Unit 6 to 950L Moderate 2 in Unit 7.

Examples of teacher instruction that do not release responsibility toward independence include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1 for the First Reading of the first anchor text, the Teacher Edition instructions state: “Read the entire short story and have students orally summarize...Use Routine 4: Reading to read the entire text aloud, or ask students to read in pairs or independently.” For the Second Reading, students read chunks of the text “to dig deeper into the language and ideas.” For the Third Reading, students are directed to “reread the text” and complete the Identifying Evidence Chart. Each anchor text includes guidelines and scripts for teachers to use while students engage in their close readings, as well as which routines the students should use during each reading. This pattern for First, Second and Third Reads continues throughout the materials and does not change.
  • In Unit 7 for the first read of the final anchor text, the Teacher Edition instructions state: “Read the entire folktale and have students orally summarize...Use Routine 4: Reading to read the entire text aloud, or ask students to read in pairs or independently.” This final reading has a 950L, a text students should be able to easily read independently, but the First Reading instructions to the teacher never change through any 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.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations that anchor 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.

All texts are accompanied by a qualitative text analysis and quantitative Lexile level (except poetry); however, there are inconsistent rationales or purposes for why individual texts were chosen and placed in the particular grade level. Text complexity rubrics are found in the Teacher Edition for the three anchor texts in each unit. Rubrics are scored in four categories: Purpose, Structure, Language Conventionality and Clarity, and Knowledge Demands. A five-point scale, with one indicating easiest and five indicating most complex, is used to rate each category along with a narrative close reading focus. This close reading focus provides the teacher with the purpose of the text.  Based on the total points in each category, texts are rated as Moderate 1, Moderate 2, or Complex 1.

All texts in the program have qualitative and quantitative text analysis like the following example:

In Unit 1, students read “Dirk the Protector” from My Life in Dog Years by Gary Paulsen with a quantitative measure of 950L. The overall rating according to the Code X qualitative rubric is Moderate 1. The qualitative descriptions are as follows:

  • Purpose: “The reader encounters one relatively clear purpose, implicit in the genre of memoir (to tell about one’s life; in this case, about surviving on one’s own, without parental help, as a teenager), as well as a second implicit purpose (to honor the memory of a stray dog that once protected the author from a group of menacing boys).”
  • Structure: “The reader encounters a fairly standard chronological structure for memoir (opens in the present time with the author clearly reflecting back on a moment from his past), with some use of foreshadowing (e.g., And then I met Dirk).”
  • Language Conventionality and Clarity: “The reader encounters some figurative language that is set up with plenty of context and is easy to unpack (e.g., ...what might be called a rough element, ...they hunted the streets at night, ...built like an upright freezer) and some that are more challenging (e.g., ...their favorite target in this dark world).”
  • Knowledge Demands: “The reader would benefit from everyday knowledge and familiarity with the genre of memoir.”

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 6 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

Throughout Code X, students engage in a range and volume of texts to achieve grade level reading. The materials facilitate reading using the range of texts to help students build knowledge, vocabulary, and proficiency with reading selections of varying lengths and genres. The texts range in complexity and Lexile from at grade level to above grade level that allow students to read at both their independent level as well as stretching to texts above grade level with support. Texts provided also span from classic literature and canonical texts to contemporary texts written and published in the last ten years. Each unit contains two Unit texts and one or more additional (optional) texts for further study of theme or topic. Each reading is designed to be taught within a typical 45-50 minute class period, but the materials do offer some guidance for a 90 minute block. The unit texts are to be used daily via multiple close readings, discussions, and writings about the literature. There is a Literature Circle option to complement the units. These Literature Circle texts are “Leveled” books that students choose. To help students select books for Literature Circles, teachers are encouraged to take into consideration each student’s On Demand Writing responses, conferences, and Lexile measures. Students are to have 4-8 monthly Literature Circle meetings during each unit or before or after each unit. Additionally, teachers can provide “Accountable Independent Reading Books” that are also leveled. With these, students use Daily Reading Logs and H.O.T. resources and Reading Counts Quizzes. The materials offer grade level novel studies that are to be completed after Units 3 and 7. Across the units, text types include personal essays, news articles, short stories, excerpts from novels, memoirs, poems, biography excerpts, and folktales. In the independent reading section at the end of each unit, there are additional titles provided in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, novels, films, TV, websites, and magazines. There is a strong emphasis on nonfiction

Examples of anchor and supporting texts that provide opportunities to achieve grade level proficiency include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read “Tuesdays of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer. This is a short story with a Quantitative Lexile of 750 and overall Text Complexity of Complex 2. The next text is the poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou, with no (NP) Quantitative Lexile level, but is rated Moderate 2 in overall Text Complexity. The third text “Dirk the Protector” by Gary Paulsen is an excerpt from the memoir with a Quantitative Lexile of 950 and overall Text Complexity of Moderate 1. For the first reading, the teacher is instructed to use the Reading Routine to read the entire text aloud or ask students to read in pairs or independently. In the second reading, the teacher is to model close reading, and close reading questions are embedded in the margins of the text.
  • In Unit 4, the first anchor text is Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas, which is an excerpt from a memoir with a Quantitative Lexile of 830 and an overall Text Complexity of Complex 1. Next, students read “Of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom, an excerpt from a memoir with Quantitative Lexile of 960 and overall Text Complexity of Complex 1. The third text is “1905: Einstein’s Miracle Year” by John Schwartz, a science article with a Quantitative Lexile of 1280 and overall Text Complexity of Moderate 2. The fourth text is an excerpt from Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York 1880-1924 by Deborah Hopkinson with a Quantitative Lexile of 970 and overall Text Complexity of Moderate 1. First and second readings follow the same pattern as Unit 1.
  • In Unit 7, the first text is “Tale of a Wealthy Man,” a folktale of the Togo people by Dianne Stewart with a Quantitative Lexile of 950 and an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 2. The second text is  “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking” by Emily Dickinson, a poem with no (NP) Quantitative Lexile level and an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 1. The third text is an excerpt from Ryan and Jimmy and the Well in Africa That Brought Them Together by Herb Shoveller with a Quantitative Lexile of 800 and an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 1. Finally, the fourth text is a book excerpt from Marina Silva: Defending Rainforest Communities in Brazil by Ziporah Hildebrandt with a Quantitative Lexile of 860 and an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 1.
  • In each grade, students read two full-length novels to build reading volume and stamina. For 6th grade, these novels are Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and  I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly by Joyce Hansen. The novel topics are different from the unit texts, which allows students to practice close reading skills with new content.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
15/16
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Criterion Rating Details

The materials include high-quality, text-dependent or text-specific questions and tasks that build toward a culminating task that allows students to demonstrate their mastery of content and skills gained in the unit. While opportunities are present for students to engage in text-based discussions, the protocols that support those discussions are limited and provide little support for the teacher to effectively implement these content-based discussions.

There are many opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based writing about texts they have been reading through both on-demand and process writing that meets the expectations of the standards. Students are provided with explicit instruction of grammar and conventions and are expected to apply those skills in their writing.

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 Course 1 (Grade 6) materials meet the expectations that the majority of questions and tasks are text-dependent or text-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 student materials contain close reading questions in the margins of each anchor text. These close reading questions are text-specific, directing students to key areas of the text, often naming paragraphs. Questions are identified by skill, such as key ideas and details, academic vocabulary, writing, and text structure. After the reading selection, students complete a scaffolded exercise called “Identify Evidence,” during which they must provide text evidence and an explanation that supports a question connected to the text. Students fill out a chart with the headings, evidence, source, page, and explanation. In most of the charts, there is some modeling in the evidence category, and then students have to find additional evidence on their own. The next exercise is called “Key Ideas and Details.” Here, students are presented with additional open-ended, text-dependent questions. Finally, there is a section of “Craft and Structure” questions. Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation by providing exemplar answers as well as scripted instruction for the teacher to use.

Examples of the text-dependent questions  include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 2, students read an excerpt from The Life You Imagine by Derek Jeter with Jack Curry and answer text-dependent questions. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • While reading, students answer text-dependent questions found in the margin of the student edition: “Why does the author use the metaphor twigs to describe his arms and legs in paragraph 5? Why did Jeter feel envious in paragraph 5? Find evidence that supports your answer. Identify where Jeter uses cause and effect in paragraphs 5 and 6. How does this strategy help the reader understand Jeter’s goal?”
  • In the “Identify Evidence” activity, students are presented with this task: “Jeter uses a variety of strategies to describe his early experiences, challenges and goals. How does he illustrate and elaborate on his experiences using these strategies?” Students are instructed to “record important details for the text that show Jeter’s experiences, challenges and goals.” Students complete a chart including an explanation for each piece of evidence.
  • Additional text-dependent questions are found in the “Key Ideas and Details” and “Craft and Structure” sections such as: “List 3 key individuals that Jeter introduces in this excerpt. Explain why each individual is important to the central idea. How does Jeter begin this excerpt from his biography. What details does Jeter include to illustrate and support the main idea?”

In Unit 3, there are several magazine articles; each is accompanied by text-dependent questions in the margin while students read.  Some of the questions focus on explicit understanding of the text while others focus on inferencing.

Examples of questions that focus on explicit understanding include, but are not limited to:

  • In the article, “World’s Wonders, Worn Down?," one “Text Structure” question is “Identify the heading and two subheadings on this page, what does each one tell you?”
  • In the article, “How to Save the Taj Mahal?,” the “Academic Vocabulary” question is “Describe what is causing the white marble to ‘deteriorate’ in paragraph 4.  Why is this deterioration described as a ‘casualty’?”
  • In the article, “The Rise and Fall of China’s Great Wall: The Race to Save a World Treasure,” the “Key Ideas and Details” question asks “How did the Ming Dynasty make the wall a more permanent and effective structure?”

Examples of questions in which students are asked to infer include, but are not limited to:

  • In the article, “World’s Wonders, Worn Down?,” the “Academic Vocabulary” question asks “What can you infer about the top contenders for the New Seven wonders based on the author’s use of fate in paragraph 3?”
  • In the article, “How to Save the Taj Mahal?,” the “Text Structure” question is “Why does the author shift away from the descriptions of his personal journey in paragraph 4?”

In Unit 4, students read Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. Examples of text-dependent questions include, but are not limited to:

  • Students encounter text dependent questions in the margin such as: “Describe two details about Iran that Americans were mistaken about according to the author. How does the author’s tone change in paragraph 7? Use text details to support your analysis. How does Dumas react to her classmates’ curiosity? Compose an answer using at least two examples from the text.”
  • In the “Identify Evidence” activity after reading, students are presented with this task: ”Reread the excerpt from ‘Funny in Farsi,’ identifying the strategies Dumas uses to write about her early experiences and her perspective on America. How does she introduce and describe individuals, events and ideas?” Students fill out a chart with these details, explaining how these events reveal the author’s perspective.
  • Additional text dependent questions are found in the “Key Ideas and Details” and “Craft and Structure” sections such as: “What is the central idea of the text? Use evidence. Describe the different perspectives in paragraphs 5 and 6. What is Dumas’ conclusion about the Americans she met when she immigrated?”

In Unit 7, students read “Tale of a Wealthy Man,” a folktale of the Togo People. Examples of text-dependent questions include, but are not limited to:

  • Students encounter text-dependent questions in the margin such as: “Describe Kaddo’s character. Which words and phrases reveal his characteristics? How do the villagers react to Kaddo’s words? Cite examples from the text that support your answer. Review paragraphs 7-13. Why does the folktale repeat the name Kaddo so often?”
  • In the “Identify Evidence” section, students are presented with this task: “Reread ‘Tale of a Wealthy Man’ identifying the values that the folktale describes and explains.” Students complete a chart with a value, the individual, and text support to support.
  • Additional text-dependent questions are found in the “Key Ideas and Details” and “Craft and Structure” sections, including: “List two character traits that describe Sogole. For each trait provide a quote. What is the central conflict in the folktale? What is the turning point? How does Kaddo’s death support the purpose of the folktale?”

Indicator 1h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for having sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks that build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination). In addition to this, the speaking and listening task at the end of every unit is practice for the culminating writing task linked to the texts in the units. Students may present speeches or debates in the Collaborate and Present section of each unit, and they perform some research tasks (after reading Texts 3 and 4).

Throughout each unit, speaking and writing tasks include questions that focus on key ideas and details and craft and structure in texts. These questions require short, on-demand written responses. Performance Tasks are presented in a variety of modes (argumentative, informative, literary analysis, fictional narrative/short story). The culminating tasks and activities often ask students to compare/contrast texts that have been presented as sets or series, or to synthesize the meaning, themes, or central ideas of the text sets. Overall, the culminating activities and the tasks and activities that lead to them allow students the opportunity to demonstrate what they know using both writing and speaking skills.

Examples of sequenced questions and tasks that build to a culminating task include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 1, the Writing Performance Task prompts students to write a short story in which a character from one of the two texts faces another challenging experience. The anchor texts are a short story, “Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer, and a poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou. Prior to completing the Performance Task, the Collaborate and Present speaking task has students work in small groups to identify examples and write a two-minute speech about how June and the Other June interact with each other throughout “Tuesday of the Other June.” Questions and tasks included with the reading of the short story include:

  • What details does Mazer include to show that the conflict between June and the Other June is ongoing?
  • Synthesize the details in paragraphs 52-54 and describe how June changes once swimming classes are over.
  • What information from earlier in the story explains why June doesn’t tell her mother about the Other June?
  • The Identify Evidence task asks students to specifically highlight “examples and events that Mazer offers to describe June’s challenging experiences with the Other June."
  • The tasks students complete in the Collaborate and Present directly correlate with the Performance Task at the end of the unit as it has students analyze how the author creates a challenging experience for the character. Students will apply this knowledge to their own writing as they write a short story about a challenging experience.

In Unit 3, the Writing Performance Task prompt states,“Make an argument for the value of preserving one of the world wonders and support your claim with clear reasons and evidence.” The anchor texts for this unit are “World Wonders, Worn Down?” by Cody Crane and an excerpt from How to Save the Taj Mahal by Jeffrey Bartholet. Through model texts and analysis of the texts, students are given many opportunities to support their writing of an argumentative essay.

Questions and tasks while reading the selections include:

  • In the Identify Evidence section, students fill out a graphic organizer identifying the wonder, problem, solution, and argument for saving using the text, “World Wonders, Worn Down?”.
  • In the Read the Model section, students read the argumentative essay, “Preserve the Great Wall for Future Generations” by Alicia Milos, and use a graphic organizer to identify parts of the argument such as introduction, thesis, reasons and evidence, and the conclusion.
  • In the Writing Performance Task, students complete graphic organizers and step-by-step tasks to support writing an argumentative essay.

In Unit 4, the Writing Performance Task is an informative essay:Write an essay to compare and contrast the authors’ purposes and perspectives, and explain the strategies they use in their writing.” Students read an excerpt from Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas and an excerpt from Of Beetles & Angels by Mawi Asgedom. The Collaborate and Present task builds to the Performance Task by having students evaluate strategies used in these memoirs: “work with a partner to plan and write a two-minute speech about the effectiveness of humor or reflection in either Dumas’s or Asgedom’s memoir.” Questions while reading the texts focus students' thinking on the authors' purposes, perspectives and strategies. They include:

  • What does the author want the reader to know about her experience coming to America? Explain your answer.
  • Is Dumas’s overall opinion of America positive or negative? Explain your answer and elaborate with one or two supporting details.
  • In what way do the two memoirs differ in their purposes?
  • How does Dumas react to her classmates’ curiosity? Compose an answer using at least two examples from the text.
  • What details does the author include in paragraphs 16 and 17 to support the importance of helping others?

In Unit 6, the Writing Performance Task is an informational essay: “Compare and contrast how the writers convey the historical importance of recent discoveries, and show how the writers support their perspectives.” As students read “New Discoveries in Ancient Egypt” and an excerpt from Curse of the Pharaohs, they focus on the authors’ perspectives on why the discoveries are important and how each author conveys the historical importance of the discoveries. Questions and tasks while reading the texts include:

  • What important information about the grave site a Abydos does the author save for the last section? What might his purpose have been in doing so?
  • List three details that tell about the historical context for what was found at the graveyard of Abydos. Explain why each detail is important to the central idea.
  • Determine the author’s perspective on archaeologists. Why might he be biased in his assessment?
  • Use Hawass’s perspective to analyze why learning about history matters. Why would Hawass think it’s important to study ancient culture? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.

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.)
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The Course 1 (Grade 6) materials partially meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Each of the seven units provides opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions that incorporate academic vocabulary and syntax. These protocols include Think (Write)-Pair-Share, Idea Wave, Academic Vocabulary, and Socratic Seminar. Protocols are outlined in the Teacher Edition and include purpose, a description of the routine, and implementation support. However, the protocols and strategies that are offered for teachers are limited, and their suggested use is vague. In the implementation support section, sentence frames are provided for the teacher to help guide students in their discussions, yet there is minimal guidance and support for students struggling with these skills.

Each unit begins with engaging students through a discussion introducing the unit. Throughout the units there are opportunities for large and small group discussions around academic vocabulary and text analysis. Checklists and graphic organizers are provided for students to use in preparation for discussions and oral presentations. Some guidance is provided in the Teacher Edition for modeling and explaining evidence and modeling text-based responses. While the daily structure expects students to participate in small or pair discussion every day, the directions in the Teacher Edition could be hard to follow. There is little differentiation between which lessons are intended for whole group or small group discussion. Overall, structures are in place to encourage teachers to use collaboration, small group, and pair discussions to support growing academic vocabulary and student use of civil discussion; however, the implementation could be difficult for a teacher without additional training.

Examples of speaking and listening opportunities and protocols that meet the expectations include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 2, students have multiple opportunities while reading an excerpt from the novel, The Life You Imagine, by Derek Jeter:

  • Before reading, students use the Academic Vocabulary routine to learn the meaning of academic vocabulary connected to the text. As part of this routine, students pronounce the word, rate their understanding, explain the meaning, discuss at least two meaningful examples of the word, work in pairs to apply the word using a sentence starter provided by the teacher, and review the words the following day. This activity is used before each text in all units.
  • In the Identify Evidence section, the teacher is instructed: “Model Identifying and Explaining Evidence.” A script is provided for the teacher to model a think aloud to help students explain evidence.
  • In the Key Ideas and Details exercise, teachers again are provided a script and directed to “[m]odel explaining the significance of a particular individual and event from The Life you Imagine in small groups.”
  • In the Collaborate and Present activity at the end of the unit, students plan and deliver a speech. They are instructed to use Think (Write)-Pair-Share routine to share their answers to the analysis questions including, “What challenge did the author face and did he overcome it? How So?”

In Unit 5, students have multiple opportunities while reading poems and excerpts from novels:

  • Before reading the poems “City” by Langston Hughes, “Song of the Builder” by Jesse Willmore Murton, and “Our City” by Francisco Alarcon, students use both the Academic Vocabulary routine and the Idea Wave routine to learn the meaning of academic vocabulary tied to the poems. Students follow the same routine used in previous units. They also use the Idea Wave routine to practice using the different meanings of “rivet” in a sentence.
  • After reading the poems, students analyze key ideas and details of the poems using the Think (Write)-Pair-Share routine to determine central idea. The teacher script says, “Think back to your answers to the close reading questions for each poem. How did each poet describe the city in his or her poem? Hughes uses personification in his poem to describe his city. How does this use of figurative language add to Hughes’s overall message about the city?” Then students use Idea Wave routine to share responses about how a poem may not explicitly state a key idea. Teachers are instructed to “Model explaining the significance of a particular detail in ‘City’.”
  • During a close reading of an excerpt of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, the Teacher Edition suggests conducting a Socratic Seminar about students’ inferences regarding life in the City. The routine is described in the Instructional Routines section of the Teacher Edition, including a 7-step Implementation Support guide.

Examples of evidence that do not meet the expectations for opportunities and protocols include, but are not limited to:

In the Instructional Routines section at the back of the Teacher Edition, the routines themselves are not well explained and may be hard to follow. Examples include:

  • In Think (Write)-Pair-Share, the purpose is clearly indicated along with background on why it should be used, but the protocol itself is not explained in a way that a person who had never used it before could effectively implement the protocol. There are stems, frames, and suggestions made throughout, but there is no clear indication of the steps of the protocol.
  • For Idea Wave, teachers are told to “choose a student to share, then continue around the class in a wave-like fashion with each student in turn providing a quick oral response.” Later in the directions the teacher is told to “allow for a few comments from students who were not part of the wave.”  It is unclear how to choose students, what the wave-like fashion looks like, or how students are chosen to report out.
  • For Socratic Seminar, teachers are told that a “leader” should ask an “open-ended question or present a focused task,” but they are only given a generalized example of how to do this. There is an example of what the Socratic Seminar could look like in action, but it does not show how to incorporate the steps from the Instructional Routines directions into that example. While the Instructional Routines section includes directions for how to run a Socratic Seminar, the example shown does not illustrate these stepsThe examples given for each step show the teacher modeling specific language, but they do not provide support in how to get students to utilize that language as they build skill through various seminars.

Indicator 1j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 over the school year to demonstrate what they are reading and researching through varied speaking and listening opportunities in tasks labeled Close Reads, Identify Evidence, Key Idea and Details, Craft and Structure, Collaborate and Present tasks, Writing tasks, and Extended Reading instruction. Students are provided opportunities to work with partners, small groups, and large groups; to practice sharing information they have summarized and synthesized; and to present research they have conducted individually and/or in groups.

Each unit includes a speaking and listening task in which students demonstrate comprehension of the text at hand. Discussions, including Socratic Seminars, are tied to reading selections that require students to marshal evidence from the texts and sources. Teacher guidance includes routines and sentence frames to guide students in increasing skills over the year. All of the speaking and listening opportunities throughout the text require students to go back into the text or to utilize their understanding from the text to build upon it through outside research in order to participate in the small-group, pair, and whole-group speaking activities.

Examples of speaking and listening activities that are connected to what students are reading and/or researching include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, after reading the short story “Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer, students work in small groups to identify and write a two-minute speech about how June and Other June interact with each other throughout the text. Students are given questions to consider as they examine examples of how the characters interacted in the story and discuss why these examples are effective. Students use a presentation checklist to self-evaluate their presentation skills. Teacher guidance includes sentence frames to facilitate partner work using the Think (Write)-Pair-Share routine.
  • In Unit 3, after reading from the magazine article “How to Save the Taj Mahal?” by Jeffrey Bartholet, students work with a partner to gather evidence supporting an assigned stance on the issue of whether or not to save the Taj Mahal. Then, they debate a team assigned to the opposing stance. Students are instructed to complete a chart with evidence, claim, and counterclaim and discuss with their partner why their evidence is strong. Teacher guidance includes sentence frames to facilitate partner work using the Think (Write) Pair Share routine.
  • In Unit 4, while working with a partner, students plan and write a two-minute speech about the effectiveness of humor or reflection in either Dumas’ or Asgedom’s memoir. In the Student Edition, students are provided a chart requiring examples of humor or reflection from the text and their thoughts on the effectiveness to support their discussion while planning for the body of their speech.
  • In Unit 6, after reading an excerpt from the novel, Curse of the Pharaohs by Zahi Hawass, students work in groups to create a website, PowerPoint, or poster giving more information about the tomb of Inty-Shedu. They must include an annotated map, relevant images, and informational captions. Students are provided a “Collaborate and Present Checklist” to help guide them in comprehension and collaboration, evidence and reasoning, and presentation of knowledge and ideas.
  • In Unit 7, after reading the Togo folktale, “Tale of a Wealthy Man” retold by Dianne Stewart, students work in a group to choose a scene from the story and create a short skit exaggerating and dramatizing the relationships between the characters. They consider questions: “Which scenes best show how people relate to each other? Which characters do you need in order to create your skit? What multimedia elements will you include in your skit?” Students use a presentation checklist to self-evaluate their presentation skills. Teacher guidance includes sentence frames to facilitate group work.

Indicator 1k

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

A range of writing activities and tasks are provided with writing instruction, including shorter, on-demand writing routines to help students build stamina and increase rigor that lead to extended writing tasks. There are a variety of short, on-demand writing responses within texts and text sets. Occasionally, the on-demand writing occurs as a Wrap-Up question and is used to synthesize key content-area ideas. The Wrap-Up responses connect to one or more selections in the text sets. The written responses throughout the units vary in mode and do occasionally offer opportunities for revision and peer feedback.The materials also include a specific Writing Process Routine protocol that is used in each unit’s writing Performance Task and includes purpose, description of the routine, and implementation support. The student materials include models, prewriting graphic organizers, peer review rubrics to revise and edit, and steps to publish. Digital resources are used in both the publishing step of the extended writing and in some of the writing tasks.

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

  • The Performance Task section in each unit starts with Analyze the Model in which students are provided a model of the writing task and a process to analyze how the model fulfills the assignment. After this step, they are walked through a multi-stepped process to write the task:
    • Step 1 - Generate Ideas: students are provided with a graphic organizer that fits the needs of the task and supports providing information for the writing.
    • Step 2 -- Organize Ideas: students are provided with a graphic organizer to help them organize the ideas specific to the task they are writing.
    • Step 3 -- Draft: students are provided with processes to look at Language Study and Conventions Study.
    • Step 4 -- Revise and Edit: students are provided with a checklist for both themselves and a partner to read their writing and to provide feedback.
    • Step 5 -- Publish
  • In Unit 1, the writing Performance Task is a narrative: ”Write a short story in which a character from one of the unit texts faces another challenging experience.” Students "Generate Ideas" while reading and analyzing a model. They"Organize Ideas"using three graphic organizers to outline story elements from the model, generate ideas, and outline their narrative story. Students "Draft"using sentence frames to describe a character, and they use a rubric to "Revise and Edit" with a partner.
  • In Unit 5, the writing Performance Task is an argumentative essay: “Choose one writer. Argue which narrative strategies best convey the author’s perspective about the city.” Students "Generate Ideas"reading and analyzing a model argument; they "Organize Ideas" using a graphic organizer to gather evidence and organize ideas; they"draft" by completing a language study to evaluate how claims are defended, and completing sentence frames to help them make and defend their claim. A rubric is provided to "Revise and Edit"their draft with a partner.
  • In Unit 7, the writing Performance Task is an informative essay: “In these texts, what techniques are used to describe and explain relationships between individuals and the world?” Students read and analyze a model essay to "Generate Ideas"; they use graphic organizers to gather evidence and "Organize Ideas." To "Draft," they complete a language study in which they choose details that best support, prove, or explain generalizations, and then they apply this skill to create generalized topic or thesis statements supported with specific sentences. A rubric is provided to "Revise and Edit" their draft with a partner.

Examples of on-demand instruction include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Instructional Routines section of the Teacher Edition, the On Demand Writing Routine provides a four-step frame to support student analysis of a prompt:
    • “Analyze the prompt: Provide tasks and sentence frames to help students unpack the writing prompt.  Ask students to orally restate the prompt using the frames below.
    • Identify Audience: Determine the audience for this assignment.
    • Find Evidence: Select the evidence necessary to address the prompt.
    • Write Response: Allow students approximately ten minutes to write their responses.”
  • In Unit 1, while reading “Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer, students use the On Demand Writing Routine to answer questions such as, “Why does June try to ‘slow down time,’ as she describes in paragraphs 35-36? Summarize the internal conflict with which June is struggling.”
  • In Unit 5, students read the poems, “Our City” by Francisco X. Alarcon and “Song of the Builders” by Jessie Wilmore Murton, and an excerpt from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. They use the On Demand Writing Routine as they answer questions: “How is Baum’s description of the “dazzling’ city similar to the description Alarcon give in his poem? How does Baum’s description of the workers in paragraph 3 contrast with the workers in ‘Song of the Builders’?”
  • In Unit 7, students read “Tale of a Wealthy Man,” a folktale from Africa, and “If I can Stop One Heart From Breaking,” a poem by Emily Dickinson. They use the On Demand Writing Routine to answer questions such as: “What lesson is the folktale supposed to teach? How does the folktale’s final line support the theme? What is the author’s perspective about how people should relate to others? How does she convey her perspective?”

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.  

Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Students have the opportunity to write a fictional narrative, four informative essays, and two argumentative essays. At the end of each unit, students complete a writing Performance Task that is tied to the texts that are studied in the respective units. The writing instruction includes skill introduction, practice, application, and refinement, thus supporting students’ literacy development in writing.  

Examples of different types of writing include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students write a fictional narrative, focusing on character development. They use a character from one of the anchor texts and create a short story in which that character faces another challenging experience.
  • In Unit 3, students write an argument for the value of preserving one of the world wonders, supporting their claim with clear reasons and relevant evidence. As students read the texts in this unit, they are prompted to collect evidence that is used later to support their claim in a chart in the “Identify Evidence” exercises.
  • In Unit 6, students write an informative essay comparing and contrasting how writers convey the historical importance of recent discoveries. They also explain how each writer supports their own perspective. Students read and analyze a model essay and are provided with graphic organizers to help them gather evidence and plan their essays.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

Students are offered multiple opportunities across the school year to learn, practice, and apply evidence-based writing in connection with the texts they are reading. Students are asked to provide evidence for all short response and long form writing. Each text is accompanied by close reading questions and an exercise called Identify Evidence, in which students complete a chart answering analysis questions about the text with evidence, source, page number, and explanation. In order to complete the summative Performance Tasks, students revisit one or more texts to find evidence. They complete various tasks that analyze the material and support a claim with evidence.  As students work through units, frames, sentence stems, and other supports are gradually removed, so students move toward independence at the end of the school year.

Examples of opportunities for evidence-based writing include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, using either Derek Jeter’s or Barack Obama’s text, students develop a short speech: “Explain the strategies these writers use to convey their experiences, challenges, and goals.” Students use the support of two charts to compare and contrast the writing of the two authors. One example is provided in the first chart to support students. The charts require students to determine a strategy that the author used and find text evidence that illustrates that strategy.
  • In Unit 3, students analyze a model argumentative essay and follow the writing process routine using evidence from the texts in the unit.
  • In Unit 5, students choose one writer from the unit texts and argue which narrative strategies best convey the author’s perspective about the city. Students use graphic organizers as support to analyze each of the four texts and organize their ideas. The first graphic organizer is Gather Evidence, the second is Organize Ideas in which students support two reasons with text evidence.
  • In Unit 7, students read “Tale of a Wealthy Man,” an African folktale. Students answer close reading questions that require evidence: “What lesson is the folktale supposed to teach? How does the folktale’s final line support the theme?” In this unit, there are no sentence frames or examples in the close reading questions that guide students’ writing. In the Identify Evidence section, students fill in a chart with evidence that identifies details that support the themes of the story. The first three themes are provided, the students must determine three more and add text evidence to supports these themes.  In the Performance Task, students make a claim about what techniques are used in the texts to describe and explain relationships between individuals and the world. Students must use text evidence to support their claim and a graphic organizer is provided as support for students while gathering and organizing 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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

The grammar instruction and support are presented in an increasingly sophisticated sequence consistent with the demands of the standards. While grammar and conventions are rarely addressed within the reading instruction, each of the seven units does contain one grammar and conventions lesson per unit. The conventions lesson is taught prior to and is linked to the culminating Performance Task, and the Performance Task rubric often references the grammar lesson.  Throughout the year, previous grammar lessons are revisited in later grammar lessons. The Teacher Edition includes instructions to guide students through conventions lessons. These instructions often refer to additional resources that are only found in the online edition. Conventions lessons follow a See It, Try It, Apply It sequence and are taught both in and out of context. In the Revise and Edit step of the Performance Task, the student checklist refers to the conventions skill so that students’ attention is called to the application of the new skill. Conventions lessons build upon each other and require students to practice in isolation, in a model essay, and in their own essay.

Examples of conventions instruction include, but are not limited to:

In the Performance Task at the end of every unit, a Conventions Study connects to the mode of writing required in the essay. The convention skills are as follows:

Unit 1:  Using Pronouns

Unit 2: Pronoun Antecedents

Unit 3: Vary Sentence Patterns

Unit 4: Transition Words and Phrases

Unit 5: Clarifying with Words, Phrases, and Clauses

Unit 6: Using Pronouns with Collective Nouns

Unit 7: Correcting Vague Pronouns

  • In Unit 1: Using Pronouns, students are given explicit instruction on pronouns and then practice identifying where the author used pronouns to avoid repetition and what subject is emphasized by the use of an intensive pronoun. Students follow up with rewriting sentences using a pronoun for underlined words.
  • In Unit 3: Vary Sentence Patterns, students learn that sentence patterns describe how the parts of a sentence are organized and that writers should vary their sentence patterns in order to add variety and avoid repetition in their writing. In the See It and Try It sections, students find the different sentence patterns in one paragraph of the model essay. In the Apply It section, students rewrite sentences to add variety and avoid repetition. As students revise their writing, they use a checklist to evaluate how they varied ”sentence patterns for meaning, reader interest, and variety”.
  • In Unit 5: Clarifying with Words, Phrases, and Clauses, students learn that writers use words, phrases, and clauses to connect claims, reasons, and evidence. This particular lesson only has a See It section: “Find the words, phrases, and or clauses the writer used in example sentences from the writing model.” Students are asked how the words, phrases, and clauses help them understand how the reasons relate to the claim. Then, they are told to choose a paragraph from their own essay to revise, being sure to include words, phrases, and clauses that show the relationship between their claim, reasons, and evidence. Students use a checklist to evaluate their revisions and edits. Conventions skills from earlier lessons also appear in the checklist.
  • In Unit 6: Using Pronouns with Collective Nouns, students are given explicit instruction on collective nouns and when to use them. Students practice by reading examples and identifying singular, plural, and collective nouns. They also evaluate whether the sentence is written using the correct noun. The students return to their essay draft to identify whether their nouns and pronouns agree in number.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The materials are organized around topics or themes that helps students to grow their knowledge and skills to read and comprehend complex text. Questions and tasks throughout guide students through analysis of texts, including all elements of texts and how knowledge and ideas are represented within and across texts. However, the culminating tasks for each may not require a demonstration of the skills and knowledge students have gained throughout the unit and can sometimes be completed in the absence of these skills.

Vocabulary instruction in the materials is provided in a limited context and is not applied across multiple texts or units.

The materials provide a comprehensive plan to grow students’ writing skills over the course of the year. Though there is a lack of instruction in and opportunities for, organized research opportunities.

A systematic plan for independent reading, including accountability structures are included in the materials.

Criterion 2a - 2h

Materials build knowledge through integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.
22/32

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 6 meet the criteria that texts are organized around topics and/or themes to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

Each unit is organized around a topic and guiding question that help students to access the ideas in the texts. The topics are engaging, relatable, and grade-level appropriate. Students focus on a topic through connected texts, allowing them to build knowledge and vocabulary to comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. The texts build on one another and share enough common ideas that the more complicated texts are comprehensible for students based on scaffolded knowledge. Each unit includes an overview that explains the topic and introduces the accompanying texts. Additionally, the Student Edition includes a Unit Introduction that provides background knowledge on the texts students will be reading.

Examples of how units and texts are organized around topics include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 1, the topic is Stories of Survival. The Essential Question is “How are people shaped by the challenges they face?” This topic is relatable to students, and, as the unit is introduced, students are asked to do a Think (Write)-Pair-Share: “Tell about a time when you faced a challenge or a fear. What happened? How did the experience affect you?” Anchor texts include:

  • “Tuesday of the Other June,”  a short story by Norma Fox Mazer, describes the ordeal of being the target of a bully.
  • Maya Angelou’s poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” declares how she uses her inner strength in the face of terrors.

In Unit 3, the topic is World Wonders. The Essential Question is “Do we have a duty to preserve world wonders for future generations?” The informative articles provide opportunities for students to consider the challenges facing some of the world’s greatest monuments. Anchor texts include:

  • “World’s Wonders, Worn Down?,” an article by Cody Crane from Science World, details the threats that could destroy Wonders of the World and what is being done to protect them.
  • An excerpt from “How to Save the Taj Mahal,” an article by Jeffrey Bartholet from Smithsonian, examines the slow decay of the Taj Mahal and the struggle to preserve it amid current economic realities.
  • An Extended Reading text, “Talking About World Wonders” by Joy Nolan, is an interview with a writer and arts advocate examining the history and future of architectural wonders.

In Unit 5, the topic/theme is Cities of Gold. The Essential Question is “Why does place matter?” Students read several poems that paint a picture of cities, an excerpt from a classic novel, an essay about the largesse and anonymity a city provides, and a memoir about a woman’s relationship with her home. Anchor texts include:

  • Poems: “City” by Langston Hughes, “Song of the Builders” by Jessie Wilmore Murton, and “Our City” by Francisco X. Alarcon
  • A novel excerpt from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • An excerpt from the essay “Here is New York” by E.B.White
  • An excerpt from the memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

These questions and tasks are clearly labeled with the particular skill they are addressing. Students are given 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. Close reading questions and tasks found in the margins of each text ask students to analyze writing, text structure, words and phrases in context, academic vocabulary, and literary devices. In the “Identifying Evidence” section, students analyze characters, events, and ideas with evidence and explanations from the text. Additional questions and tasks focus on Key Ideas and Details and Craft and Structure. The questions and tasks for the texts in each unit build upon each other and lead the students through the steady increase of skill to understanding larger topics and themes.  All of the questions first teach and then utilize grade appropriate understanding of language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of the texts.

Representative samples of questions and tasks that support this indicator are:

In Unit 1, students read the short story “Tuesday of the Other June” by Norma Fox Mazer and answer questions. Examples of questions that require students to demonstrate their understanding of language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of the texts include, but are not limited to:

  • Words and Phrases in Context: Explain what June’s mother means when she begs her daughter in paragraph 1 to “turn the other cheek.”
  • Writing: How does Mazer depict June’s relationship with her mother?
  • Text Structure: How are paragraphs 8 and 9 different from the surrounding paragraphs?
  • Academic Vocabulary: What is the effect of using the word “torment” in paragraph 39? What does this word tell you about how June is dealing with the bullying at swimming class?
  • Literary Analysis: How is June seeing the Other June in paragraph 63 an example of irony?
  • Key Ideas and Details: Use evidence you collected to summarize the key idea of Mazer’s short story. What is the central idea of the text? Use evidence.
  • Craft and Structure: Make a list of significant events that build the conflict in order.

In Unit 3, the questions throughout the texts build upon each other and lead the student through a systematically deeper reading of the text.  In the first reading selection from a magazine article, “World’s Wonders, Worn Down?,” students read about updating the list of Seven Wonders of the World and consider what Wonders they would put on the list.  In the beginning, students are asked questions about the text structure and academic vocabulary, such as:

  • Why does the writer begin the text with the question, “how do you decide what places to visit when you go on vacation?”
  • Identify the heading and two subheadings on this page. What does each one tell you?
  • Find details in the text that suggest it is possible to preserve the statues.

All of these questions require the students to go directly back to the text and find the answers.

Later in Unit 3, students read an interview titled “Talking About World Wonders” and are given more difficult questions and tasks, such as:

  • What are the key reasons that DuPre believes the George Washington Bridge is a great wonder?"
  • DuPre calls the Statue of Liberty 'the most avant-garde structure [of its time] in the United States.' Determine the meaning of this phrase.

In Unit 6, the materials that students are asked to look at build upon what they have been asked to read and understand in Unit 3. They are again given a selection of nonfiction reading that includes magazine articles and nonfiction excerpts. The questions they consider also increase in complexity as they apply their understanding to the new material. They are asked questions at the start of the unit in the magazine article “New Discoveries in Ancient Egypt” such as:

  • Why does the author choose to use the word “ancient” in paragraph 3?
  • Explain what was startling about the discovery in the ancient graveyard. Use details from paragraph 4 to support your answer.

In both of these questions, students are asked to find specific details, and then apply those details to analysis or inference.

Later in Unit 6, in the nonfiction excerpt, “from Cities of the Dead,” students are asked questions that are similar but increase the difficulty such as:

  • What is the purpose of the subheadings in this text? Why is the first heading different than the others on pages 264 and 265?
  • Why are the last sentences of paragraphs 20-21 in italics? What does the author achieve with this effect?

In both of these examples students are asked to use prior learning from earlier sections about text structure such as subheadings and the use of italics, to identify the use in the text, and then analyze the author’s use of those structures to affect the text.

Indicator 2c

Materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.

All tasks in each unit build upon the topic of the unit to support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas. Questions, end-of-text activities, Collaborate and Present activities, and the Performance Task build upon the same knowledge and ideas across the unit.  Questions require students to cite evidence from the assigned text, make inferences, access prior knowledge, and synthesize ideas. Questions and tasks cover analysis, drawing conclusions, making inferences, evaluating, and identifying author’s purpose. Students are also given On Demand writing prompts and analysis/synthesizing charts that are connected to the texts. The Collaborate and Present activity and the Performance Task require students to refer to at least one text from the unit, and often multiple texts in the unit in order to complete the task.

The Teacher Edition provides guidance to teachers in supporting students’ skills. While there is a cohesiveness to the questions and tasks, it is more of a repetitive cohesiveness as all units have the same structure. By the end of the year, there is no evidence that integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded into independent student work.  While all of the work in the Performance Tasks and in the Collaborate and Present activities are directly related to one or both of the anchor texts of the units, students receive the same level of support through similar types of charts and graphic organizers across the year. The level of support and modeling provided by the teacher also stays the same throughout the units across the year.

Examples of how the units contain coherently sequenced questions, but do not require students to analyze ideas across multiple texts with growing independence include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, students consider the Essential Question, “What does a dream reveal about the dreamer?” After reading an excerpt from The Life You Imagine by Derek Jeter, students record important details from the text that show Jeter’s experiences, challenges, and goals in the Identify Evidence exercise. In the Key Ideas and Details section, students determine the central idea of the text. The Teacher Edition suggests the central idea should be “To reach your dream you must begin by setting goals.” Next, students read an excerpt from Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father. Questions that support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas include “Interpret the meaning of the phrase ‘affirm a common destiny’ in paragraph 3. What does this line reveal about the author’s perspective?” Students record important details from the text that show Obama’s experiences, challenges, and goals in the Identify Evidence exercise. In the Performance Task, students write an essay explaining the strategies both writers used to convey their experiences, challenges and goals. Support for students include a model essay, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers for students to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft.
  • In Unit 4, students consider the Essential Question “What do experiences with others teach people about themselves?” They have discussions on author’s purpose, text type, and the content strand, History/Geography and People/Culture, related to the setting, Iran and Ethiopia respectively. Students read anchor texts that share the topic “Coming to America.” While reading excerpts from the memoirs Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas and Of Beetles and Angels by Mawi Asgedom, students answer, in writing, text-based questions during the close read that support students' analysis and knowledge of ideas. After reading a text, they answer questions based on key ideas and details and craft and structure. The tasks build on each other ending in a performance writing task in which they write an informative essay on the prompt: “Compare and Contrast the authors’ purposes and perspectives. Explain the strategies they use in their writing.” Again, support for students include a model, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers for students to use to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft. As the supports remain the same throughout each unit, there is no release for students to demonstrate their independent knowledge of the topic.
  • In Unit 6, students consider the Essential Question, “How can ancient history teach us about our world today?” Students read anchor texts that share the topic “History Lost and Found.” While reading the magazine article “New Discoveries in Ancient Egypt” by Bryan Brown, students answer close-reading questions that support students' analysis and knowledge of the texts such as, “Explain what was startling about the discovery of the ancient graveyard. Use details from Paragraph 4 to support your answer.” While reading an excerpt from Curse of the Pharaohs by Zahi Hawass, students answer close-reading questions such as, “Use the evidence you collected to summarize the key idea of this excerpt. Record two specific details that show what archaeologists do to help increase our knowledge of the past.  Explain how each detail supports the central idea of the text.” In the Performance Task, students write an essay for the prompt: “Compare and contrast how these writers convey the historical importance of recent discoveries. How does each writer support his perspective?” The Essential Question is not addressed or answered by the texts, the Collaborate and Present activity, nor the Performance Task. The texts center around thinking about and explaining how these discoveries are important for history, but not how they help understand the world today. Also, support for students include a model essay, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers for students to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft.
  • Overall, by the end of the year, there is no evidence that integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded into independent student work. For example, in Unit 6, students are provided with a compare and contrast chart that is nearly identical to the compare chart in Unit 3. They must list the source of the evidence, the page, and explain the evidence. The Teacher Edition directions state to walk students through understanding the chart, though they have completed similar charts throughout other units in the text. To help students “Revisit Author’s Strategies,” teachers are given similar instruction in Unit 3 and in Unit 6:
    • Unit 3: “Revisit the strategies the authors used to support their claims; structure, claims, language.”
    • Unit 6: “Revisit strategies the authors use to convey their perspectives, drawing upon conversations you had during the Close Reading of the texts.”

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).
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially 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 theme through integrated skills (e.g., combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening). Each unit begins with an Essential Question that connects to the topic, anchor texts, and culminating task. At the end of each unit, the culminating task, or Writing Performance Task, is connected to a specific big idea or topic from the unit texts.

Many of the writing tasks, practice, and discussion questions support the students in working towards the skills required to complete the culminating task. However, some tasks do not require demonstration of the specific skills and knowledge practiced before and can be completed without them. In these instances, the teacher may need to supplement to assure their inclusion in the schedule is supportive of the overall knowledge and unit objectives.

Examples of questions and tasks that support students’ ability to complete the culminating task and demonstrate knowledge of a topic include, but are not limited to:

In Unit One, in the Collaborate and Present section, students work in a small group to “identify and write a two-minute speech about how June and the Other June interact with each other.” Students complete a chart with two examples of how the two characters interact. In this example, students have to have an in-depth understanding of the text itself and the skills practiced around presentation.

In Unit 3, the topic is World Wonders. Students read informational articles considering some of the world’s greatest monuments and the challenges of protecting them. The Essential Question is “Do we have a duty to preserve world wonders for future generations?” The Performance Task prompts: “Make an argument for the value of preserving one of the world wonders. Support your claim with clear reasons and relevant evidence.”

In Unit 5, the topic is Cities of Gold. Students read three poems and an excerpt from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to discover how cities, real and imagined, define individuals and communities. The Essential Question is “Why does place matter?” The Performance Task is to choose one of the writers from the unit and argue which narrative strategies best convey the author’s perspective about the city.

In other tasks, the culminating activities are not clearly articulated to demonstrate knowledge. Some examples representative of this include (but are not limited to):

In the Collaborate and Present section at the end of Unit 5, students prepare a two-minute speech describing a city or memorable place they have visited or known. They are to include sensory details and personal reflections. In this example, while the work is cohesive, students are able to complete the two-minute speech and task without use of the text.

Students read a short story and poem that have characters who successfully confront their fears. The Essential Question is, “How are people shaped by the challenges they face?” After having read both anchor texts, students move on to the Performance Task: “Write a short story in which a character from one of the Unit texts faces another challenging experience.” Questions that support the students’ building f knowledge to support the culminating tasks include:

Although these questions may support the student, the guidance in the culminating task do not explicitly require that students demonstrate knowledge of topic or theme, nor provide close textual evidence.

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially 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.  While vocabulary instruction is given appropriate time and importance within the overall materials and is emphasized as an important skill, it falls short in the isolation of the academic vocabulary words themselves and in the lack of assessment. Within each unit, there are multiple activities that provide vocabulary instruction: Academic Vocabulary Routine, Target Words (high-frequency, portable academic words highlighted before reading), a Word Study (strategy boxes in margins of text) and Words to Know (content-area words encountered while reading the text). The Words to Know are only listed and defined at the bottom of each page. Additionally, there are very few Academic Vocabulary questions within the texts. The Teacher Edition includes an Academic Vocabulary Routine that follows a six-step process: pronounce the word, rate student knowledge of the word, explain the word meaning, discuss at least two meaningful examples of the word that demonstrate the definition, coach students by having them work in pairs to apply the word in a meaningful context, and review the words the next day.

The materials do not meet the expectation of instruction of vocabulary for a variety of reasons. The vocabulary is only taught within the text it is originally introduced; there are minimal references to, practice with, or assessments of new vocabulary within the unit in either the Collaborate and Present activity or the Performance Task. Also, the ways students engage with vocabulary is repetitive and lacks variety across all units. Materials do not include a consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and to build academic and figurative language in context.  Further, work with vocabulary appears before and in texts, but not across multiple texts.

Examples of how vocabulary instruction partially provides opportunities for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, teachers are instructed to use the Academic Vocabulary Routine to teach the meaning of recite, rigid, torment, adjust, mocked, and devoted. There is a short Word Study lesson on context clues in which students use inferences to determine the meaning of words in context. While students close read “Tuesday of the Other June,” they answer only three academic vocabulary questions: “What is the effect of using the word “torment” in paragraph 39? What does this word tell you about how June is dealing with bullying at swimming class? What is Tilly concerned about when she asks in paragraph 67, ‘do you think she’ll adjust all right?’ How is June’s perspective different from Tilly’s or her mother’s?” New terms are introduced and follow the same procedure for the second anchor text, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me.” There is no review of earlier terms, and students are not prompted to use their new terms in the Collaborate and Present task or the Writing Performance Task at the end of the unit.
  • In Unit 3, teachers are instructed to use the Academic Vocabulary Routine to teach the meaning of toll, fate, canyon, translucent, corrosion, and durable. There is a short Word Study lesson on references where students use dictionary entries to find information on meanings, parts of speech, and other forms of a word. While students close read “World’s Wonders, Worn Down?,” they answer only one academic vocabulary question: “What can you infer about the top contenders for the New Seven Wonders based on the author’s use of fate in paragraph 3?” Additional Tier 3 terms are defined in the margin of the text, such as weathering, preserved, colossal, and tombs. New terms are introduced and follow the same procedure for the second anchor text, “How to Save the Taj Mahal.” A short Word Study lesson in which students explore root words is included.   There is no review of earlier terms, and students are not prompted to use their new terms in the Collaborate and Present task or the writing Performance Task at the end of the unit.
  • In Unit 6, teachers are again instructed to use the Academic Vocabulary Routine to teach the meaning of reveal, contain, ancient, unite, eternal, and conquest. There is a short Word Study lesson on connotation and denotation in which students use and rate the connotation of similar words. While students close read “New Discoveries in Ancient Egypt,” they answer three academic vocabulary questions: “Why does the author choose to use the word ancient in paragraph 3? Explain why ‘waves of conquests’ ended Egyptian rule.” New terms are introduced and follow the same procedure for the second anchor text, an excerpt from Curse of the Pharaohs.  Again, there is no review of earlier terms, and students are not prompted to use their new terms in the Collaborate and Present task or the writing Performance Task at the end of the unit.

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year. There is a cohesive writing plan in the Teacher Edition Implementation Guide that identifies the movement from daily On Demand and Summarizing writings to the culminating Performance Task. Students are provided with a consistent, basic framework for process writing and apply the framework to a variety of tasks. The writing tasks span the year and match with the expectations of writing in the CCSS.  Writing instruction supports student growth over the course of the year by introducing increasingly more difficult prompts for the Performance Task. Each Performance Task provides students with a model, process for analyzing the model, writing protocols for all of the steps of the writing process, and checklists and rubrics to monitor student growth over time. Throughout the year, both teacher and peers provide feedback to ensure writing skills are increasing. The Teacher Edition instructs the teacher to have the students discuss the rubrics with classmates, guide student self-evaluation, and conference with the students using the rubrics to provide feedback.


Examples of activities that support students’ increasing writing skills include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students write a fictional narrative in which a character from one of the unit texts faces another challenging experience. They follow the writing process steps in separate activities: Gather Evidence, Organize Ideas, Language Study, Convention Study, Revise and Edit, and Publish. After analyzing the model text, teachers are instructed: “Use Routine 9: Writing Process to engage students with what they will be working on over the next several days.” The Teacher Edition has ample teacher guidance as students work through the writing process.
  • In Unit 4, after reading an excerpt from Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas, teachers are instructed to “Use Routine 6: On Demand Writing to have students record responses.” Students answer: “How does Dumas react to her classmates’ curiosity? Compose an answer using at least two examples from the text.” This example is illustrates a common writing task over the course of the school year. 
  • In Unit 7, as a culminating Performance Task, students review a model essay and begin writing an informative essay: “In these texts, what techniques are used to describe and explain relationships between individuals and the world?” They follow the writing process steps in separate activities. After analyzing the model text, teachers are instructed to “Use Routine 9: Writing Process to engage students with what they will be working on over the next several days.”

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.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not 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.

The materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of a topic via provided resources; however, the materials do not offer a complete or thorough progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials or learn research habits. There are minimal supports for Grade 6 students to practice research skills over the course of the school year. The materials do not offer a year-long progression of research skills that align to CCSS. The standards ask that sixth grade students “[g]ather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source, and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.” There is minimal instruction for either students or teachers to fulfill this standard, as there is little, if any, consideration for students to learn research habits and engage with source material. When research is assigned, students are given some instruction and strategies to support their research via Collaborate and Present and Performance Tasks, but the materials do not organize research projects in a way that fosters independence in students’ research abilities.

One opportunity to do research beyond the provided anchor texts is offered and that occurs in a Collaborate and Present task. An optional Research Connection task is mentioned in the Extend section of the Teacher Edition at the end of each unit after the extended reading. This task merely asks students to research particular questions, but offers no purpose or guidance on what the teacher or student should do with that information. Also, there is no variety of short and long research projects across the school year. Research tasks are often short and rarely, if ever, provide opportunities for students to negotiate multiple sources. Additionally, the materials offer minimal assessments for research-focused tasks in the way of end of unit projects and are not provided throughout the year. Finally, teacher direction and support in instruction around research-based tasks are not mentioned in the implementation guide nor in the planning pages.

Examples of how units do not provide research opportunities include:

  • In Unit 1, there are no research references or activities.Students write a narrative in the culminating Performance Task and are only asked to examine how the characters and events are described in the anchor text. The Collaborate and Present task only refers to the anchor text, “The Other June.” No further research is indicated. In the extend activity at the end of the unit, the Research Connection asks students to “study the life of Gary Paulsen. Find out what happened to him after this section of his memoir ends. How did he become an author? What is a common theme in the books he writes?” There is no guidance or instruction for how to do this research or what to do with the information.
  • In Unit 2, there are no research references or activities. Students write an essay in the culminating Performance Task and are only asked to explain the strategies the authors of the anchor texts used to convey their experiences. No further research is indicated beyond the anchor texts. In the extend activity at the end of the unit, the Research Connection asks students to “study the dangers of mountain climbing by researching the 2006 Everest tragedy that Larson mentions in her text. Find out what happened. What were the conditions like? How many people died?” There is no guidance or instruction for how to do this research or what to do with the information.
  • In Unit 3, there is one research opportunity. In the Collaborate and Present task, students plan and hold a debate. They gather evidence with a partner supporting an assigned stance on the topic of whether the Taj Mahal should be saved. Again, they are directed to the anchor texts only. In the writing Performance Task, they make an argument for the value of preserving one of the World Wonders, but again only refer back to the anchor texts to gather evidence. No outside research is asked of students. In the extend activity at the end of the unit, the Research Connection instructs students: “Visit the World Monuments Fund at www.wmf.org and pick a new monument that has not been discussed in the Unit so far. Research how this monument was created, why it needs to be preserved, and what is being done to preserve it.” No instruction is provided for what students should do with the information.
  • In Unit 6, there is one research opportunity. In the Collaborate and Present task, students use a web browser or library database to find additional information about the tomb of Inty-Shedu. They look for sources that contain images and maps; then, they copy the images and maps into their own presentation document attributing them to their sources. A graphic organizer is provided for students to capture the URL, author of the content, information, and whether it is trustworthy. This is the first time students formally research beyond the anchor texts and complete a task connected to the research. This is also the only task that provides students and teachers with guidance. This example is not sufficient to meet the CCSS research standards for Grade 6.

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.
At the end of each of the seven units, the independent reading section includes a design and procedures for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class. This “Independent Reading” page includes a list of “Literature Circle Leveled Novels,” as well as Independent reading “Fiction, Nonfiction, and Novels,” and Films, TV, Websites, and Magazines that are thematically related to the unit. Students choose their books and meet with teachers and peers to ask questions, lead discussions, and deepen comprehension of texts. The Teacher Edition suggests that these are scheduled as daily homework, with weekly teacher-monitored assessment. The Teacher Edition includes an appendix section on Literature Circles with information on planning independent reading. This page includes information on text complexity.  Additional resources tied to the novels are found in the online Teacher Edition. Though the materials meet the expectation, the feasibility of implementation should be a consideration for adoption of the curriculum. While there are opportunities for teachers to provide students with independent reading and literature circle reading, there is no direct support for teachers to implement this reading in a 45-50 minute class period with the structure provided. In the 90 minute block - the time period suggested by the curriculum - there is time built in for teachers to implement the outside independent reading.
Examples of the structures and instructions provided to teachers for independent reading in all units include:

  • In the Literature Circle section of the Teacher Edition, teachers are provided instruction and guidelines for successful literature circles. The content of the questions and associated writing tasks differ by novel, but the overall protocol is the same. The following guidelines are included in the Planning pages under specific headings: Teacher’s Role, Student’s Role, Planning, Scheduling, Supporting, Pacing, and Setting up the Classroom. Other guidance for teachers includes:
    • “Author File”- information about the author.
    • “Resources” - a box of the downloadable resources available for each novel.
    • Literature Circles in Action page - which includes information under the headings: Literature Circle Steps, Forming Groups, and Implementation.
  • In each unit, specific Guidelines for each Literature Circle novel are provided under the following headings: Before Reading - Create Interest, Build Background Knowledge, During Reading - Pre-teach Academic Vocabulary, Talk About It - Identify Key Ideas, Support Discussion, Write About It (students are given prompts and use Routine 6: On Demand Writing), After Reading - Connect to the Essential Question (Questions are provided at the Personal, Textual, and Cultural level).
  • In the Assessment and Grading page of the Teacher Edition, teachers receive information under the headings: What and How to Evaluate, Grading Literature Circles, Refining the Process, as well as an Evaluation Methods grid which lists the downloadable resources (Observation Checklist, Student Self-Evaluation, and Student Group Evaluation) and a Scoring Guide matrix. This section also includes daily reading logs, Higher Order Thinking Resources and Reading Counts! Quizzes.


Examples of the texts offered as literature circle or independent reading texts, student activities, and teacher guidance (all units offer similar activities and guidance) include, but are not limited to:
Unit 1:

Literature Circle Leveled Novels: Each novel has a 1-2 sentence description and Lexile level.

  • Bone: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith
  • Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Fiction, Nonfiction, and Novels: Each text has a 1-2 sentence description and Lexile level.

  • Nory, Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • The Worst-Case Scenario: Survival Handbook by Joshua Piven
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins Scott O’Dell
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
  • Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World Jennifer Armstrong
  • SAS Survival Handbook by John Lofty Wiseman


Independent Reading student activities:

  • Teachers are prompted to encourage students to use the activities provided (all are downloadable Code-X resources)
    • Write a Book Review Activity
    • Explore the Essential Question Activity
  • Additional Resources for tracking and vocabulary
    • Reading Log Resource
    • Vocabulary Log Resource


Teacher Edition instructions to introduce Literature Circles:

  • Teachers are prompted to remind students that Literature Circles offer them opportunities to “talk meaningfully with other students about literature that relates to the Essential Question of the Unit.” (script provided)
  • Teachers are prompted to “create interest by previewing Literature Circle titles.”
  • Teachers are prompted to help students “form effective Literature Circles by choosing books based on interest and Lexile measure or Text Complexity.”
  • Teachers are prompted to “facilitate and guide Literature Circles using instructional resources provided in the Literature Circle tab” as well as the following guidelines (guidelines listed).


Teacher Edition instructions to introduce Independent Reading:

  • Introduction: Teachers are prompted to remind students of the importance of practicing specific reading strategies (script provided).

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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Gateway Three Details
This material was not reviewed for Gateway Three because it did not meet expectations for Gateways One and Two

Criterion 3a - 3e

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

Indicator 3a

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

Indicator 3b

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

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.).
N/A

Indicator 3d

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

Indicator 3e

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

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

Indicator 3i

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

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.
N/A

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

Indicator 3k

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

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
N/A

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
N/A

Indicator 3l.ii

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

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.

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.
N/A

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.
N/A

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

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

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

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.
N/A

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
N/A

Indicator 3u.i

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

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
N/A

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.).
N/A
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 04/22/2019

Report Edition: 2014

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Common Core Code X Student Edition Course I 978-0-5456-2351-3 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014
Common Core Code X Teacher's Edition Course I 978-0-5456-2355-1 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014
Common Core Code X Assessment Guide Course I 978-0-5456-2359-9 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014

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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.

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