Alignment: Overall Summary

LearnZillion Guidebooks meet the expectations of alignment to the standards. The materials include engaging and appropriately rigorous texts that demonstrate the balance of text type and also support students' knowledge building through organized sets and sequences. 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. Students have access to consistent and coherent vocabulary building, writing instruction, and speaking and listening over the course of the year.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
35
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
31
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

Materials include high-quality texts, worthy of multiple reads, appropriate for Grade 8. These materials grow in complexity over the course of the year to support students’ increasingly sophisticated skills. Students respond to text-based questions and tasks both orally and through a variety of writing modes as outlined by the standards.

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.
19/20
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Criterion Rating Details

The LearnZillion materials for Grade 8 include high-quality texts, worthy of multiple reads. Students are exposed to a wide variety of grade-appropriate texts, including, science fiction, poetry, myths, and short stories that grow in complexity over the course of the year to support students in engaging in a range and volume of reading that will support their developing literacy skills.

Text complexity information is provided for all anchor texts but is not made available for all texts in the units.

Indicator 1a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading.

Materials include a mix of informational and literary texts, consider a range of student interests, and are relevant for a variety of purposes. Authors of the anchor texts are accomplished writers in their various fields. Selections are content-rich and range in topic, based on each unit goal, from the history of sugar usage to human interaction with animals and nature. Texts directly support students as they seek to address each unit goal through various formative and summative activities.

Anchor texts and text sets include a mix of genres including novels, verse novels, informational texts, speeches, biographies, and excerpts from larger works:

  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, students read the short story, “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, which is a science fiction short story that won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1960. Keyes was awarded the Author Emeritus honor by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in the year 2000. This text is a canonical piece of literature studied in middle and high school grades.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, students read the nonfiction text, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos. This nonfiction text references and follows the history of sugar to its use in the 21st century to create ethanol. Aronson is an American writer, editor, publisher, speaker, and historian; and Marina Budhos is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction author.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students read the poetic short story, “The Tell-Tale Heart,” by Edgar Allan Poe, which is narrated by an unnamed speaker who attempts to convince readers of the narrator’s “sanity” while also detailing a murder.
  • In “Conservation” Unit, students read the speech Conservation as a National Duty, by Theodore Roosevelt. This U.S. document represents the unit goal as Roosevelt discusses the “beauty of the natural world and the duty of mankind to leave resources for future generations.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, students read the fiction novel, The Call of the Wild by Jack London. The canonical text is an adventure novel set in Yukon, Canada, during the Klondike Gold Rush; sled dogs were in high demand during this time period. Students must empathize with the protagonist and sled dog, Buck. London is a renowned author.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards.

Core texts include a mix of informational and literary texts. There is a wide variety of texts integrated throughout every unit. Texts include science fiction, poetry, informational texts, myths, and short stories. The distribution of texts is 53% literary and 47% informational.

The following are examples of literature:

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 1, a Greek myth, “The Story of Prometheus”, by James Baldwin.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 30, a poem, “Sugar Cane”, by Alfred Corn.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 9, a chapter, "Good Form", from the novel, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 1, a short story, “Autumntime” by A. Lentini.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 17, a short story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London.

The following are examples of informational text:

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 42, an informational article, "Does IQ Test Really Measure Intelligence?" by Denise Mann.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 16, a video, “Louisiana Sugarcane Farmer” by America’s Heartland.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 9, an editorial, "A Million Little Pieces Revisited: Can the Truth Ever Set James Frey Free?" by Daniel Honan from Big Think.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 21, a biographical article, “The Conservationist” by Theodore Roosevelt Association.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 5, an essay, “The Other Animals” by Jack London.

Indicator 1c

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

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

All anchor texts have a range of Lexile levels. The publisher provides a “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” for all anchor texts that ranks each text according to the following categories: Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose, Text Structure/Organization, Language Features, and Prior Knowledge Demands. The categories are rated with the following scale: Slightly Complex, Moderately Complex, Very Complex, and Exceedingly Complex. The Potential Reader/Task Challenges section within the “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” provides information regarding challenges students may face with the anchor texts, considering the amount of time spent with anchor texts. Lastly, in the “How do the materials support all learners?” Guidebook under the “Reading” section, “Texts for each unit are purposefully selected to support knowledge building. Each unit includes text analyses, which identify the knowledge building connections among the units and texts.”

While supplemental texts do not provide a “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis,” supplemental texts are chosen based on the unit goal. Some of these texts are not accompanied by Lexile scores, provided via the publisher or via the Lexile Framework, but they are still considered at or above grade level considering the concepts, text type, language, and grammar used throughout.

Almost all anchor texts are within grade-appropriate Lexile bands:

  • Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science (nonfiction), by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, "Sugar" Unit. Based on the text complexity analysis provided, the Lexile is 1130L and is ranked based on the following categories and ratings: Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose moderately complex; Text Structure/Organization moderately complex; Language Features moderately complex; and Prior Knowledge Demands slightly complex. The Potential Reader/Task Challenges reference that “Navigating complex sentences and ideas, alongside academic language, that requires drawing upon prior knowledge and context to decipher” might be difficult, and “Understanding how the graphics, maps, and inserts work alongside of, supplement, and enhance the text” could cause issues, and “Untangling any deeper ideas, conflicting viewpoints, or paradoxes that are presented” will take dedicated time from students to process.
  • The Call of the Wild (novel), by Jack London, "Call of the Wild" Unit. Based on the text complexity analysis provided, the Lexile is 1120L, and is ranked based on the following categories and ratings: Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose moderately complex; Text Structure/Organization very complex; Language Features very complex; and Prior Knowledge Demands moderately complex. The Potential Reader/Task Challenges reference that “Some frontloading on the setting may be needed, particularly the location of the Yukon and the gold rush of the late 1800s,” and “Some may have difficulty with the ​third-person, limited omniscient narrator’s focus being Buck’s perspective.”
  • “The Ransom of Red Chief” (short story) by O. Henry, "Tell-Tale Heart" UnitWhile this short story does not have a Lexile provided, the text is canonical used within middle school grades. This supplemental text also reinforces the Unit Goal: “Students read literary and informational texts to understand the role of the narrator and point of view. Students also understand how the narrative voice of a text can blur the line between fact and fiction. Students express their understanding through writing in different points of view and examining motives and bias in various media.” And, the summary provided by the Lexile Framework represents complex ideas and worldly issues: “Bill and Sam arrive in the small American town of Summit with only two hundred dollars, but they need more and Sam has an idea for making a lot of money. When things start to go very wrong, both men soon regret their visit-- and their idea.”
  • “Flowers for Algernon” (fiction short story), Daniel Keyes, "Flowers for Algernon" Unit. Based on the text complexity analysis provided, the Lexile is 840L, and is ranked based on the following categories and ratings: Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose moderately complex; Text Structure/Organization very complex; Language Features very complex; and Prior Knowledge Demands very complex. The Potential Reader/Task Challenges reference that “Students may struggle to decipher some of what Charlie says in his writing due to the lack of punctuation and awkward diction in his early and late progress reports, point of view and irony complexity could provide comprehension challenges for readers. Readers may feel challenged by the complex thinking presented in [Charlie’s] progress reports. There are many subject-specific references to intelligence that may be challenging for the reader.”
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” (short story), by Edgar Allan Poe, “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit. Based on the text complexity analysis provided, the Lexile is 820L, and is ranked based on the following categories and ratings: Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose very complex; Text Structure/Organization moderately complex; Language Features extremely complex; and Prior Knowledge Demands slightly complex. The Potential Reader/Task Challenges reference that “Some students may find the description of the murder as gruesome; the narrator’s point of view is somewhat like a conversation where he asks questions repeatedly of the reader. Students may be unfamiliar with this type of narration.” Also the Potential Reader/Task Challenges reference that the syntax is challenging, and the sentence structure and punctuation will be unfamiliar for many.

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that materials support students’ literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).

The materials consist of five units of study, and all units have a distinct beginning, middle, and end. This is evident as supports are removed throughout the unit so that students are gradually responding to and completing increasingly complex materials and text to develop complete independence through Cold Read tasks and through independent reading assignments, such as the build up to literature circles. All anchor texts and supplemental texts are considered increasingly complex, even if provided with a Lexile level below grade band or with no Lexile present; all texts engage students with complex ideas and situations. Though the quantitative measure of the texts over the course of the year may not appear to grow, the qualitative features of the texts grow increasingly complex and the gradual release of responsibility employed through the phases of each unit place a greater cognitive load on students, requiring them to engage with texts in increasingly more sophisticated ways. For example:

  • “Flowers for Algernon” (fiction short story), Daniel Keyes, "Flowers for Algernon" Unit
    • Lexile: 840L
    • Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose: moderately complex
    • Text Structure/Organization: very complex
    • Language Features: very complex
    • Prior Knowledge Demands: very complex
    • Potential Reader/Task Challenges: Charlie’s grammar and punctuation may present challenges for comprehension, point of view and irony complexity could provide comprehension challenges, other subject-specific references may be confusing.

Students “analyze Charlie’s character based on the content and structure of the text, write a summary of Progress Reports 1-3, including at least 2 quotations which reveal aspects of Charlie’s character, and explain in your summary what the quotations reveal." Later in the unit, “students compare and contrast the structure of ‘Flowers for Algernon’ and the excerpt from Frankenstein to determine how each contributes to similar meanings.” Students will “analyze an allusion to determine how Charlie’s interactions with Fanny Girden contribute to the development of a theme,” and then “compare the structure of ‘Flowers for Algernon’ and the excerpts from Frankenstein to determine how each contributes to the development of a theme.” In Lesson 30, students complete the Culminating Writing task: “Consider how Charlie has changed from the beginning of ‘Flowers for Algernon.’ How does the surgery improve or worsen his quality of life? Write an argument in which you state and logically support a claim about the impact of the surgery on Charlie’s life and distinguish your claim from opposing claims. Be sure to use proper grammar, conventions, spelling, and grade-appropriate words and phrases. Cite several pieces of relevant textual evidence, including direct quotations with parenthetical citations.”

  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” (short story), by Edgar Allan Poe, “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit
    • Lexile: 820L
    • Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose: very complex
    • Text Structure/Organization: moderately complex
    • Language Features: extremely complex
    • Prior Knowledge Demands: slightly complex
    • Potential Reader/Task Challenges: the content of the text may be distasteful to some students, unfamiliar narration style (narrator asks questions repeatedly of the reader), challenging/unfamiliar syntax and punctuation

Students are introduced to the unit goal: “understand how authors use narrator and point of view to influence our perspective and understanding; examine the point of view of a painting, The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte;  begin reading one of two independent reading novels, Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing but the Truth by Avi; and discuss 'Who is the narrator? Is he or she reliable? What points of view or perspectives are portrayed in the text? How do they relate to and/or contrast one another?'" In Lessons 14 and 15, students read and analyze the narrator in a text of increased complexity, “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O’Henry: “From where is the story being told? How many narrators are there? How much does the narrator know? How reliable is the narrator? What is the narrator’s orientation?” In Lesson 30, students begin the Culminating Writing task, where they use their knowledge of narration and point of view to write a multi-paragraph essay in answer to this prompt: “Identify what Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing But the Truth by Avi says about truth, perception, and/or reality and explain how the concept is developed in the novel. Then compare the structure of your independent reading novel with another unit text of your choice. How does each text develop the concept differently?”

  • The Call of the Wild (novel), by Jack London, "Call of the Wild" Unit
    • Lexile: 1120L
    • Meaning/Central Idea/Purpose: moderately complex
    • Text Structure/Organization: very complex
    • Language Features: very complex
    • Prior Knowledge Demands: moderately complex
    • Potential Reader/Task Challenges: historical knowledge will be needed to understand the context, narrator point-of-view may be unfamiliar to students

Students listen to a teacher read-aloud the first part of The Call of the Wild and engage in discussion in order to work with a partner to answer text-dependent questions. Students read the short story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, which has similar ideas and themes about human-animal relationships and the wild. In this lesson, they analyze the setting, examine how words and phrases establish tone and mood, and analyze what a character’s decisions reveal about his character. This requires students to read and synthesize information from two complex texts. At the end of the unit, students complete a Cold Read task where they independently read “Susan Butcher” from Louisiana EAGLE, then answer text-dependent questions. This text is complex for a Grade 8 student and students must be able to read and understand the text independently in order to answer the questions correctly.

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

Each unit contains a “Text Access” section that includes a table that lists text titles, excerpt or full text, the author/source, text type, how it is used in the unit, and the access type. This page also includes a link to the “Reading Guide,” which is an explanation of the process by which texts were selected for each unit. This is an overview and does not contain information about specific texts.

Each unit also contains a link to a text complexity and text analysis page which provides information on the anchor text, including the complexity of the meaning/central idea/purpose, language features, text structure/organization, language features, prior knowledge demands, and potential reader/task challenges. There are no text analyses for the other selections included in the unit. In the “Understanding LearnZillion Guidebooks Language Arts” section, on the “How do the materials support all learners?” page, the publisher states, “Texts for each unit are purposefully selected to support knowledge building. Each unit includes text analyses which identify the knowledge, building connections among the units and texts.” However, a text complexity analysis is given for only the anchor text. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the “Tell Tale Heart” Unit, the anchor text is the “Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. The materials provide a detailed analysis of the text. It has a Lexile of 820. Qualitative information provided for this text includes:
    • The meaning, central ideas, and purpose are very complex due to several central ideas.
    • The text structure and organization are moderately complex because of the frenzied, rushed pace of the narrator’s thoughts.
    • The prior knowledge demands are slightly complex due to a possible unfamiliarity of insanity and some British spellings of words.
    • The language features are extremely complex due to the amount of archaic language and vocabulary, sentence structure and syntax, repetition, pacing, and unfamiliar punctuation.
    • The potential reader and task challenges are the short length, a description of a murder, the narrator asking questions of the reader, and the syntax.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, the anchor text is Call of the Wild by Jack London. The materials provide a detailed analysis of the text. It has a Lexile of 1120. Qualitative information provided for this text includes:
    • The meaning, central ideas, and purpose are moderately complex due to several central ideas.
    • The text structure and organization are very complex because the story is told through the perspective of a dog.
    • The prior knowledge demands are moderately complex because of the need for knowledge of the Yukon Territory and the Gold Rush of 1896.
    • The language features are very complex because the story is told by a third-person limited omniscient narrator, references to dog sledding, dialect, and slang.
    • The potential reader and task challenges are unfamiliarity with the setting and narration.
  • In the Flowers for Algernon" Unit, students read the literary anchor text (short story), “Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes. Within the “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” document, the Lexile is 840L. While Flowers for Algernon is not within the band for Grade 8 students, the “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” document indicates the following:
    • Overall meaning, central idea, and purpose is moderately complex.
    • The text structure, organization, and prior knowledge demands are also sees as very complex. As Charlie’s intelligence changes, the narrator is inconsistent.
    • Language features are pegged as very complex as the language is frequently figurative and descriptions are dense with high level vocabulary.
    • Prior knowledge demands are very complex. There are several biblical allusions, references to other texts, and cultural elements that may be unfamiliar to students.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, students read the informational anchor text, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos. Within the “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” document, the Lexile is 1130L. The “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” document indicates the following:
    • Overall meaning, central idea, and purpose is moderately complex.
    • The text structure, organization, and prior knowledge demands are also sees as moderately complex. “Text features, such as headers, captions, and sidebars, and graphics, such as maps, photographs, drawings, and diagrams, support and enhance understanding of the content and are mostly supplementary. These features are helpfully outlined and labeled in the table of contents.”
    • Language features are pegged as moderately complex as the language is frequently figurative and descriptions are dense with high level vocabulary.
    • Prior knowledge demands are slightly complex.

Indicator 1f

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

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

The materials contain five units and unit design language informs the consumer that a full academic year consists of four Guidebook units, thus giving teachers some options for instruction by including an additional unit. Each unit has a title that represents an anchor text or topic, and the selections within each unit are related to the main text or topic and the unit goal, which is thematic in nature. Over the course of a week, students encounter multiple high-quality texts across a variety of genres. Students read, discuss, and write about these texts as a whole class, in small groups, and independently. The lessons also often include rereading activities to further promote understanding. The readings and the activities that accompany them vary in purpose and length. Additionally, the “Supplemental Resources” section at each grade level includes a collection of five-day close reading exercises focused on one text.

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lessons 6-10, students read the informational text, “What is an Inkblot? Some Say, Not Much” by Erica Goode, summarize it, examine its academic vocabulary, and discuss the controversial nature of its topic. Then, they apply their new knowledge to their prior reading of the anchor text to make a claim about the character, Charlie, by writing the answer to the question, “How useful are projective tests in determining Charlie’s suitability for the experiment?” On the final day, the students work with a peer to evaluate and strengthen the written responses they crafted, making sure “to incorporate relevant evidence form both texts, acknowledge an opposing claim, and use words, phrases, and clauses to clarify claims and counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.”
  • For the "Call of the Wild" Unit, students complete a whole-text study of The Call of the Wild over the course of eight to nine weeks. During the unit, students read a variety of text types and lengths as they work to “understand how authors portray animals to serve a purpose and make a comment about human interactions with animals.” Students also read the literary story, “To Build a Fire” by Jack London, and excerpts from a variety of informational texts: "How Smart are Dogs?" and "How Smart are Dolphins?" from PBS, "Animal Minds" from National Geographic, "The Other Animals" by Jack London, and "Do Animals Think and Reflect" by John Burroughs.
  • In “The Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students read a variety of texts in order to “understand the role of the narrator and point of view. Students also understand how the narrative voice of a text can blur the line between fact and fiction. Students express their understanding through writing in different points of view and examining motives and bias in various media.” The “Tell-Tale Heart” is the anchor text for this unit and students read and reread this short story in Lessons 20-23 where they summarize the story and analyze the narrator’s point of view. The students keep a reading log throughout the unit. Students also independently read the novels Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing but the Truth by Avi. Both these novels support the question around the reliability of the narrator in text.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, students read the anchor text, “Conservation as a National Duty” by Theodore Roosevelt to explore “the beauty of the natural world and the duty of mankind to leave resources for future generations. Students understand and express their understanding of how the various authors use language, devices, and connections between ideas to motivate others to take up the conservation cause.” Students begin reading the anchor text in Lesson 2 with a teacher read-aloud and then independent reading. In Lesson 4, students reread and examine the claims made in the anchor text and the short story, “Autumntime” by A. Lentini.

Criterion 1g - 1n

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

The majority of questions and tasks given to students are grounded in the text, requiring students to engage with the text repeatedly, and to support their ideas and statements with text evidence. Students are required to demonstrate their skills and knowledge through integrated tasks that require both writing and speaking to express their learning.

Through the use of prompts and protocols, students learn to engage in collaborative, text-based conversations with peers that support them as they learn to communicate about what they are learning and appropriately incorporating new vocabulary into their discussions.

The materials provide instruction and opportunity for students to write daily in a variety of modes for multiple purposes and audiences in both on-demand and extended tasks. Students receive explicit grammar instruction and opportunities to practice their grammar both in and out of context to support 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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

The materials are divided into five units, each with a variety of texts and activities that require students to engage directly with the texts. Activities include different ways for students to interact directly with the texts: “Let’s Read!,” “Let’s Write!,” “Let’s Discuss!,” and “Let’s Work with Words!” Lessons conclude with a text-dependent formative activity called “Let’s Express Our Understanding!” Students are also required to complete text-dependent tasks in section quizzes, Culminating Writing tasks, and Cold Read tasks.

Examples of these types of questions, tasks, and assignment include, but are not limited to:

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lessons 38 and 39, Cold Read task, students read “200 Years of Progress in the Louisiana Sugar Industry: A Brief History” by Dr. Charley Richard. Then they answer text-dependent questions: "How does paragraph 6 of the passage refine the idea of growth in the sugarcane industry?" Then they watch a video titled “State of Sugar” from This Week in Louisiana Agriculture, and answer questions such as “What aspects of the video 'The State of Sugar' best reveal the author’s purpose? Write a multi-paragraph essay that explains in detail what Mr. Simon means by this statement and how this idea is conveyed in both '200 Years of Sugar' and 'The State of Sugar.' Cite evidence from both the video and the passage to support your response."
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 37, students are introduced to the Extension task: summarizing “Do Animals Think and Reflect.” Students will write an essay in response to the question: “Should Jack London be considered a nature faker?” Students work in groups to summarize a specific paragraph that they are assigned (Card 7). From the group, they should come up with a subclaim by the author. On Card 9, the students must write a paragraph answering, “What claim about animals’ abilities to think and reflect does Burroughs make in the text? and How does he support this claim? Choose two pieces of text evidence as support."
  • In “The Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 8, “Let’s Express Our Understanding” (Card 8), students compare text structures and meaning by examining The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte and “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato. The students are asked to record the answer to the following question in their reading logs: “How do The Treachery of Images and 'The Allegory of the Cave' convey ideas about truth, perception, and reality? Cite evidence from both texts to support your response.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 1, students contemplate the essential questions of the unit then study Jack London’s epigraph in The Call of the Wild. They then complete this activity: "Consider the epigraph and our unit essential questions. Write a paragraph in which you explain the purpose of the epigraph and what it suggests about The Call of the Wild. Be sure to use evidence from the epigraph to support your response."

Indicator 1h

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

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

Each unit is organized around a topic or text and includes a goal for the students for what they will learn and how they will demonstrate their understanding. The Culminating Writing task for each unit connects to the unit goal and incorporates the skills that the students have learned throughout the unit as defined in the unit goal. The lessons include sequences of text-dependent questions that guide their understanding of the selections in the unit and build to the Culminating Writing task. Lessons leading up to culminating tasks require the demonstration of various skills, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

In “The Tell-Tale-Heart” Unit, students complete a Culminating Writing task responding to the prompt, “Identify what Monster by Myers or ‘Nothing But the Truth’ by Avi says about truth, perception, and reality and explain the concept in the novel. Then compare the structure of your independent reading novel with another unit text of your choice. How does each text develop the concept differently?” This culminating task connects to the unit goal: “Students read literary and informational texts to understand the role of the narrator and point of view. Students also understand how the narrative voice can blur the line between fact and fiction. Students express their understanding through writing in different points of view and examining motives and bias in various media.”

Previous tasks and questions that support the culminating performance task include, but are not limited to:

  • Discussion of their previous reading of “The Allegory of the Cave” by Plato with focus questions, such as “What do the characters and events of the allegory symbolize? What is Plato’s likely purpose for writing ‘The Allegory of the Cave’? What moral, philosophical, or political meaning is he trying to impart to the reader? What is the deeper meaning?”
  • Exploration of the idea of how a different narrator could provide a different point of view by discussing their previous reading of “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O’Henry.
  • Examination of the narrator's reliability through a teacher-facilitated class discussion to respond to the prompt, “Is the narrator reliable or unreliable? How do you know?”

In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, the Culminating Writing task requires students to analyze the anchor test and write an argument using a logically-supported claim that is distinguished from opposing claims about the impact of surgery on the main character Charlie’s life. This Culminating Writing task relates to the goal of the unit as students “express their understanding...by exploring how authors draw on traditional stories and develop characters and themes to teach us about ourselves and others.”

Tasks and questions that support the culminating performance task include:

  • Analysis of characters’ actions and development
  • Examination and analysis of an argument
  • Composition and revision of a written response to defend a claim about a literary text

In the "Sugar" Unit, the Culminating Writing task requires students to write an essay about how the authors of the anchor text convey their perspective or purpose in writing the text. The Culminating Writing task relates to the unit goal that students “express their understanding by exploring conflicting information about sugar through research, determining text credibility, and comparing and contrasting texts to make informed claims.”

Previous lessons that support the culminating performance task include:

  • Use of search terms to effectively gather sources
  • Analysis of author’s purpose in an informational text
  • Examining authors’ responses to conflicting evidence and viewpoints
  • Evaluating author’s claims in an informational text

In the “Conservation” Unit, the Culminating Writing task requires students to write an essay in response to the prompt, “How does Roosevelt make connections between conservation and the progress, patriotism, and morality of the American people?” This task can be connected to the unit goal that “students understand and express their understanding of how the various authors use language, devices, and connections between ideas to motivate others to take up the conservation cause.”

Tasks and questions that lead up to and support the culminating performance task include:

  • Analysis of key academic and non-academic vocabulary
  • Identification of claims and tracking of supporting evidence
  • Examination of language to determine points of view
  • Identification and analysis of connections between texts
  • Analysis of conflicting information in texts

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.)
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that materials provide 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.

In order to support the use of discussion in the classroom, the materials include a Resource Library. Documents outlining protocols for speaking and listening included in the Resource Library include:

  • Teacher Talk Moves helps students clearly express their ideas, listen carefully to others’ ideas, provide evidence to support their claims, and establish new ways of thinking.
  • Conversation Stems offers students with listener prompts and speaker responses.
  • Discussion Reflection allows students to rate themselves and their peers on the quality of their participation.
  • Conversations Guide provides teachers with a step-by-step guide for preparing for productive classroom conversations.
  • Student Discussion Tracker gives students a format for recording the development of a conversation with a peer.
  • The Resource Library also includes instructional strategies and procedures for classroom discussion constructs such Accountable Talk, Gallery Walk, Philosophical Chairs Debate, and Student-Led Discussions such as a Fishbowl and Socratic Seminar.

Examples of opportunities for evidence-based discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax include, but are not limited to:

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 4, students are paired for a discussion on how "personification, symbolism, and tone contribute to the theme of the poem.” The protocol for the partner discussion is located in the Teacher Notes section. Each student has an opportunity to serve as speaker and listener. The students are given the Conversation Stems to help guide their discussions. The activity is concluded with a discussion by directing students to work with their partners to complete the last section of the theme handout.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 8, students engage in a Fishbowl Discussion to connect ideas across two texts of the unit thus far: Chapter 1 of The Call of the Wild and “The Other Animals.” The Fishbowl Discussion takes the form of a Socratic Seminar. In the Teacher Notes, there is a link to the resource tab to explain how a Socratic Seminar/Fishbowl should be conducted. Cards 5-9 gives directions for conducting a Socratic Seminar.
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 15, students conduct a Socratic Seminar after analyzing how irony impacts their understanding of Charlie and the events of Flowers for Algernon and gathering evidence in preparation for the Socratic Seminar. The teacher discusses the protocol for Socratic Seminar included in the Teacher Notes. They then discuss these questions using the Conversation Stems: "How does the surgery change Charlie? How do the author’s choices contribute to your understanding of those changes and their impact on Charlie?" Teachers are provided with an option to use a “BackChannel” chat, a tool that is great for increasing students’ participation in classroom discussions and helping teachers informally assess students’ knowledge on the selected discussion topic, located in the Teacher Notes section.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 2, students analyze key academic vocabulary in “Conservation as a National Duty.” Students are directed to reread Chapters 1-19 silently. Teachers then “Direct students to silently reread paragraphs 1-13 of ‘Conservation as a National Duty.’ Direct students to circle any unfamiliar words as they reread. After reading, conduct a whole-class discussion to determine what words that students circled." Protocol for the whole-class discussion is located in the Teacher Notes section. Students are encouraged to use the Conversation Stems in their discussions, which are also located in the Teacher Notes section.

Indicator 1j

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

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

Within the individual lesson design, students are often asked to engage in discussions specifically through the “Let’s Discuss!” portion of the lesson, but conversation opportunities can also be found throughout the sequence of activities in a lesson. Students use their speaking and listening skills throughout the culminating tasks in each unit, particularly for the Extension tasks where students are required to deliver a presentation to the class.

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, students complete six lessons to create a research essay on intelligence. In Lesson 36 Extension task, students participate in paired discussions about the role of intelligence in Flowers for Algernon to help prepare them for the Extension task. The students respond to the prompt: “Describe the moments in Flowers for Algernon when Charlie’s understanding of intelligence evolves. Why are these moments important?” They share and switch roles and then respond to the prompt: “What do you know about intelligence, and how does that impact your understanding of Flowers for Algernon? Use evidence from Charlie’s experiences and emotions in Flowers for Algernon in your response.” The teacher concludes the discussion by asking students to record their partner’s idea for each discussion question and reflect on how their partner’s idea supports or challenges their response for each discussion question.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students conduct research around these questions: “What is truth? How do point of view and perspective shape our understanding? How does our perception influence our reality? How does our reality influence our perception?” In Lesson 35, students work with a partner to explore credibility with guidance from the teacher. The teacher conducts a whole-class discussion to connect the Extension task goals to the unit goals. The teacher begins the discussion with the question, “What does this practice example reveal about the credibility and truth of what we see and read?” The teacher prompts students to use the Conversation Stems learning tool during the discussion. The teacher concludes the discussion by asking: “What did you learn from this practice example that you will need to make sure to pay attention to as you work independently?” In Lesson 41, the students present their presentations.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 31, students deliver multimedia presentations as the first step of the unit’s Extension task following these directions: “Investigate the influence of sugar on our lives today. Gather appropriate advertisements, songs, and popular cultural references with a group. Then create a multimedia presentation.” Aside from delivering their own presentations student give feedback on the rest of their classmates’ presentations in the form of a discussion following this guide: 3 things your group did well, 2 things your group could improve on, and 1 key takeaway from the presentation.
  • In the Conservation Unit, Lesson 39, students work collaboratively to research a modern conservation group (e.g., the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the National Park Service) that uses research and exploration to conserve wildlife. After researching, each group will deliver a multimedia presentation about the goals of your organization and the importance of your work in our community today.
  • In "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 39, students work with a partner to read and discuss Chapter 6 of the novel then answer questions on the split-page notes. Then students find another pair and briefly summarize the internal conflict Buck experiences in Chapter 6. Students discuss the claim on the slide and find three pieces of evidence from the chapter to support that claim or evidence which supports a counterclaim.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

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

Each unit has a Culminating Writing task that is text-based, an Extension task that is narrative or research writing, and a Cold Read task that includes a multi-paragraph essay on a new text. Both the Culminating Writing task and the Extension task include multiple steps, scaffolding, and supports to take students through the writing process, and the Cold Read task requires on-demand writing.

Examples include:

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 35-37, students follow up a multimedia presentation with the Extension task of writing an argumentative research-based essay in which they make a claim about the role of sugar they studied. They should argue what impact that role of sugar had on the world at the time in the history and defend their claim using credible and relevant evidence. Students are provided lessons on making claims, collecting and citing evidence, organizing an argumentative essay.

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lessons 36-41, students complete an Extension task where they research the development of humans’ understanding of intelligence and write an argumentative essay highlighting two different theories on the topic: "Throughout 'Flowers for Algernon,' Charlie’s understanding of intelligence evolves. How has our understanding of intelligence changed over time? Write an informative essay in which you explain how our understanding of intelligence has changed over time. Present at least 2 different theories of intelligence and explain why each theory is or is not widely accepted today."

  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lessons 27-33, students complete a Culminating Writing task after participating in a Socratic Seminar on their independent reading novels. “Identify what Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing But the Truth by Avi says about truth, perception, and/or reality and explain how the concept is developed in the novel. Then compare the structure of your independent reading novel with another unit text of your choice. How does each text develop the concept differently? Write a multiparagraph essay addresses the task. Be sure to use proper grammar, conventions, spelling, and grade-appropriate words and phrases. Cite several pieces of textual evidence, including direct quotations and parenthetical citations.”

  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 1, students complete a four-corners activity and then practice analyzing and paraphrasing the epigraph in The Call of the Wild. Students then complete an on-demand writing task; the prompt states, "Consider why the author might begin the book with this epigraph. Then answer the question: What does this epigraph suggest about The Call of the Wild? Be sure to use evidence from the epigraph for support in your response." The instructor is provided with an exemplar response in the format of a paragraph with direct evidence.

Indicator 1l

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

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

Students engage in a variety of writing opportunities throughout daily lesson plans, formative, and summative assessments. These writing activities are a blend of on-demand and process writing pieces that help students learn and express their understanding. Each unit includes three culminating tasks that represent a variety of argumentative, informative/explanatory, narrative, and literary analysis text types. For Culminating Writing tasks, “Students synthesize the topics, themes, and ideas of the unit into a written product such as an essay, narrative, or article.” For Cold Read tasks, “Students read a new text or two related to the unit topic and answer multiple-choice questions as well as respond to a writing prompt." For Extension tasks, “Students extend what they have learned in the unit to make connections between their learning and their lives through a narrative or personal essay or between their learning and the world through research about a related topic.” The materials provide exemplars and rubrics for the culminating activities to help guide students through the process.

Examples include:

  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 39, students complete a Culminating Writing task which is a group activity by writing a summary of an argument. The teacher states, “We’ve read two articles and watched a video about animal cognition and reasoning skills. In your group, summarize both sides of the argument in writing. Conclude your writing by explaining what makes each side of the argument strong and weak.”
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, students address different text types of writing. At the end of Section 2, after Lesson 12, students complete a quiz. The last questions require the students to write a paragraph response to the following prompt: “Write a paragraph explaining how 'Requiem for a Nest,' 'Birdfoot’s Grampa,' and 'A Parable for Sauntering' support Roosevelt’s central claim in 'Conservation as a “National Duty.' Be sure to use evidence to support your answer.” In Lesson 17, students write the first draft of the Culminating Writing task which is an explanatory essay. The students have to write an essay that explains how these connections are made to support Roosevelt’s cause of conservation. In the essay, they have to cite several pieces of textual evidence. In Lessons 42-43, students complete the Cold Read task and write an extended response to analyze the role that perspective plays in understanding a situation According to “Zoo” and “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” Students also include how this idea is developed through characters, setting, and plot in both the story and the poem and cite evidence from both texts to support their response.
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, the Culminating Writing task is an argument essay: "Consider how Charlie has changed from the beginning of ‘Flowers for Algernon.’ How does the surgery improve or worsen his quality of life? Write an argument in which you state and logically support a claim about the impact of the surgery on Charlie’s life and distinguish your claim from opposing claims.”
  • In “The Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students complete the following Culminating Writing task: “We examined the concepts of truth, perception, and reality through various unit texts. Identify what Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing But the Truth by Avi says about truth, perception, and/or reality and explain how the concept is developed in the novel. Then compare the structure of your independent reading novel with another unit text of your choice. How does each text develop the concept differently? Write a multiparagraph essay addresses the task. Be sure to use proper grammar, conventions, spelling, and grade-appropriate words and phrases. Cite several pieces of textual evidence, including direct quotations and parenthetical citations.” Students compose a comparative literary analysis, where they choose between a whole class read texts, Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing But the Truth by Avi, and compare to an independent reading text.

Indicator 1m

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

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

Throughout the materials, students participate in a variety of evidence-based writing activities with differing length and organization. Students take notes on the texts they are studying by using organizers such as character evidence charts and character analysis charts. Students use reading logs, reading journals, and field journals to record answers to text-based questions that are part of the daily lesson plans in order to understand reading through writing. Students answer questions about what they read on post-reading questions handouts. They synthesize what they learned through writing as one of the kinds of activities in the “Let’s Express Our Understanding!” portion of the lessons. Examples include:

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 18, students participate in a lesson on “Determining the strongest text evidence to support an idea and recognizing irrelevant evidence.” In this lesson, students learn how to use the RCR or “Racer” (strategy to evaluate evidence). The RCR strategy has students ask, "Does the evidence relate to the claim? Does the evidence cover all parts of the claim? Does the evidence represent the most important reason why the claim is true?"
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 8, students compare different mediums in the following assignment: “In your reading log, write a response to the question. How do 'The Treachery of Images' and 'The Allegory of the Cave' convey ideas about truth, perception, and reality? Cite evidence from both texts to support your response.”
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 10, students participate in a lesson on “Tracing Supporting Evidence in “Conservation as a National Duty.” Students listen to the section and discuss, “How does this section of the text provide evidence supporting Roosevelt’s claim regarding morality and conservation?” In Lesson 12, the students continue locating claims: “Use your sticky notes to identify any support for Roosevelt’s claim that it is our moral obligation to conserve resources." Then in Lesson 14, students complete the task, “With your group: Use the text to answer the questions on your discussion preparation handout. Identify and explain textual evidence that supports your answer.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 14, students participate in a lesson “Supporting a claim with logical reasoning and relevant evidence.” In this lesson, students are given instruction on making a strong claim and choosing logical and relevant evidence. At the end of this lesson, students practice by working with a partner to make a claim and gather evidence to answer this prompt, “What enables Buck to survive and thrive in the wild?”

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

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

In the Guidebooks, specifically “How are the materials designed for the classroom?”, there are many Interactive WriteAlong videos listed that match the Language/Grammar Common Core Standards devoted to this grade level. Materials also include student practice sheets for students to complete while watching the Interactive WriteAlong videos. Within all Extension task and Culminating Writing task directions and rubrics for grammar and conventions are considered but not always explicitly taught. For example, some limited directions state for students to “revise and edit” within these tasks directions without clear instruction in revising and editing addressing specific grammar and conventions. Most grammar and conventions instruction is located in the “Teacher Notes” within the slides in each lesson or in the “WriteAlong” videos.

  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students reread part of the text and analyze the meaning of words: “Compare the narrator’s language from the beginning of the text (quotation on the left) to the end of the text (quotation on the right). Pay attention to the sentence structure, sentence length, and punctuation use. How is the language different? What is the effect? What does the difference in language reveal about the narrator?” Instruction is provided in the Teacher’s Notes.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 5, students participate in a lesson to “Recognize and Correct Inappropriate Shifts in Verb Voice.” Teachers facilitate the lesson: 1-Independently revise your response to “Conservation as a National Duty” and “Autumntime.” 2-First, circle the subjects and underline the verbs in your response. 3-Then, look for inappropriate shifts in active and passive voice and revise accordingly. Teachers are given additional instructions in the Teacher Notes to provide additional support for struggling students in small groups or individually. “Use this time to work individually with students or pull together small groups of students to conduct a writing or grammar mini-lesson. This can also be done as a whole class if additional writing support is needed for all students. Choose an approach that matches the level of support your students need.” In the Teacher Notes, teachers are instructed to tell students how this lesson prepares students for another lesson and/or the end-of-unit assessments.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 36, students use a rubric to edit their final draft of their essay. 1-Identify 1-2 skills to focus on for this essay, such as using punctuation (comma, ellipsis, dash) to indicate a pause or break. The ELA Guidebook Grammar Guide provides suggestions for different grammar mini-lessons. 2-Then prompt students to edit their drafts based on the provided mini-lesson. They can do this independently or in small groups.
  • In the Guidebook there is a section for supplemental resources. In this section, there are “Interactive WriteAlong videos for targeted writing and grammar interventions, as well as other short (3-10 minute) videos intended for teacher and student use focused on targeted concepts and skills. Organized by topic.” These topics include, but are not limited to capitalization, tenses, and parts of speech.
  • In the “Flowers for Algernon Unit, Lesson 34, as part of the Culminating Writing task, students edit and publish the final draft of their literary analysis. The Teacher Notes suggest that the teacher consult the “Grammar Guide” and select one to two skills based on observations of weaknesses in the students’ work. After receiving instruction on the chosen skills, students are required to “Maintain a formal style and use grade-appropriate grammar and language” for their final drafts.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The Grade 8 LearnZillion materials build students’ knowledge and skills as they grapple with complex text and engage in texts analysis within and amongst multiple texts. Carefully and intentionally-sequenced questions and tasks scaffold student learning, allowing them to successfully demonstrate their newfound knowledge and skills as a part of a culminating task. Vocabulary is taught explicitly and reinforced within and across texts in a unit. The materials support students in learning and deploying research skills to build deep knowledge of a topic. Students read and incorporate multiple sources into their research. The materials also support students with a comprehensive plan to engage in independent reading.

Criterion 2a - 2h

32/32

Indicator 2a

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

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

All units provide students and teachers with a unit goal, which is located within the “Unit at-a-glance” box. All texts are centered around each unit goal, as students must complete Extension tasks, Culminating Writing tasks, Cold Read tasks, and various other formative assessments. The topics include, but are not limited to intelligence, conservation, and the interaction of humans and animals.

  • In "Sugar" Unit, the unit goal is, “Students read literary and informational texts to understand the impact that sugar production and trade had on the economic and social course of world history. Students express their understanding by exploring conflicting information about sugar through research, determining text credibility, and comparing and contrasting texts to make informed claims.” Throughout the unit, students read fiction and nonfiction texts that relate to this goal, such as information about sugarcane farming and how its production changed the world, poems about sugarcane, and an image of cane cutting. The Culminating Writing task and Extension tasks refer back to the anchor text of the unit, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom, and Science.
  • In “Conservation” Unit, the unit goal is, “Students read various informational and literary texts about the beauty of the natural world and the duty of mankind to leave resources for future generations. Students understand and express their understanding of how the various authors use language, devices, and connections between ideas to motivate others to take up the conservation cause.” Throughout the unit, students read fiction and nonfiction texts that relate to this goal, such as information about Theodore Roosevelt, John James Audubon, and John Muir as conservationists and stories like “Requiem for a Nest” and “Birdfoot’s Grampa.” The Culminating Writing task and Extension tasks refer back to the anchor text of the unit, “Conservation as a National Duty.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, the unit goal is, “Students read literary and informational texts about human interaction with animals and nature. They understand how authors portray animals to serve a purpose and make a comment about human interaction with animals. Students then explore scientific and personal accounts of animal cognition to express their understanding of Jack London’s portrayal of Buck and his interaction with humans in The Call of the Wild.” Throughout the unit, students read fiction and nonfiction texts that relate to this goal, such as information about the intelligence of animals and the ways of nature, and stories like “To Build a Fire.” The Culminating Writing Tast and Extension tasks refer back to the anchor text of the unit, The Call of the Wild.

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 8 meet the expectation 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.

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

In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 22, students complete a Cold Read practice with the text, “Flowers for Algernon.” Students are given 25 minutes to reread a section from the text and answer the following multiple-choice questions:

  • Part A: Which of the following sentences describes the response and the reason for the people at the restaurant’s reaction to the dishwasher breaking the dishes?
  • Part A: What do the words vacant and vacuous mean as used in the passage?
  • Part A: Charlie feels ashamed in the scene at the restaurant. What does this moment reveal about Charlie?
  • Part A: What is the main claim Charlie makes in the report from May 20?

In the "Sugar" Unit,  Lesson 38, students complete a Cold Read task. Students have 25 minutes to complete three questions and 15 minutes to view a video and answer two questions. The article comes from “200 Years of Progress in the Louisiana Sugar Industry: A Brief History” by Dr. Charley Richard. Questions include:

  • What is the main idea of the “200 Years of Progress in the Louisiana Sugar Industry: A Brief History?”
  • Which statement from the passage best supports the answer to Part A?
  • How does paragraph 6 of the passage refine the idea of the growth in the sugarcane industry?

In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit,  Lesson 14. students begin reading “The Ransom of Red Chief,” and they define words in context and analyze how words, phrases, and details reveal aspects of a character. Students listen to the first fourteen paragraphs of the story and mark the words, phrases, and/or sentences that reveal information about the narrator, his partner, Ebenezer Dorset, and Ebenezer’s son (the kid or “Red Chief”). Students complete a close reading of two sentences and then answer these questions: "From where is the story being told? How many narrators are there? How much does the narrator know? How reliable is the narrator? What is the narrator’s orientation?"

In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 6, students practice point of view and meaning in “Requiem for a Nest.” Students read the poem and make a prediction: “Consider the title and make a prediction about what the poem is about.” Students are then paired based on similar language abilities and are required to complete the following questions:

  • Paraphrase: Put the poem into your own words. Make sure you tell what is happening at the beginning, middle, and end. Tell what is really happening, not what the poet is figuratively saying.
  • Connotation: Look at the poem beyond the actual events. Look for figurative language, imagery, etc.
  • Attitude (Tone): What is the speaker’s tone? Is there more than one attitude or tone in different parts of the poem?
  • Shifts: Are there any changes in the speaker or attitude? Look for keywords, time change, punctuation.
  • Title: Look at the title again. Why is the title important to the poem?
  • Theme: What is the theme about? What is the poet saying about the subject? What message is the poet trying to send?

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation 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.

Students have frequent opportunities to think about, discuss, and write about multiple texts within the daily lesson structure and as part of culminating activities and assessments. Students are often asked to reflect on texts as they relate to one another and revisit their understanding of texts after they have experienced new selections. Cold Read tasks, Culminating Writing tasks, and Extension tasks often include writing prompts that ask students to synthesize understanding across texts.

  • In “The Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lessons 42-43, students complete a Cold Read task where they respond to questions and demonstrate their knowledge through a task. Questions are: “What is the meaning of the word 'wonderment' as it is used in paragraph 2? Which sentence from the story best supports the answer to Part A? How does the difference in point of view between Professor Hugo in “Zoo” and the reader create irony?” The task is: “According to 'Zoo' and 'The Blind Men and the Elephant,' what role does perspective or point of view play in understanding a situation? Write an extended response that analyzes how this idea is developed through characters, setting, and plot in both the story and the poem. Cite evidence from both texts to support your response.”
  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, Lessons 6-8, students read and analyze the informational article, “What’s in an Inkblot? Some Say, Not Much” by Erica Goode. In Lesson 9, students use the knowledge they gained from reading the article and “Flowers for Algernon” to make a claim about Charlie’s suitability for the experiment.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 1, students read, summarize, and make inferences about the short story, “Autumntime” by A. Lentini. In Lessons 2-3, they read and analyze “Conservation as a National Duty” by Theodore Roosevelt. In Lesson 4, students explain in a written response how “Autumntime” represents the claims in Roosevelt's speech, citing evidence from the text.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, in Lessons 37-41, as part of the Extension task, students synthesize the knowledge they gained from reading several selections: excerpts from “Do Animals Think and Reflect?” from The Ways of Nature by John Burroughs, “How Smart are Animals” from PBS, “Animal Minds” by Virginia Morrell, and the portrayal of Buck in The Call of the Wild. After reading, they write an argumentative essay in response to the question, “Given Jack London's characterization of Buck in the novel and your understanding of animal cognition, should he be considered a ‘nature faker’? Why or why not?”

Indicator 2d

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

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

The materials contain lessons and tasks that build to culminating activities. Each unit has an established goal that is described for the teacher in the introduction to the unit and to the students in the first lesson of the unit. The students are also informed in the opening of the first lesson how they will eventually demonstrate that they met the goals of the unit, which is their successful completion of the culminating tasks. Each unit contains three culminating tasks: a Culminating Writing task, an Extension task which is either narrative or research in nature, and a Cold Read task. For each of the culminating tasks, the materials provide student directions, rubrics, and exemplars.

  • In the “Conservation” Unit, the unit goal is “Students read various informational and literary texts about the beauty of the natural world and the duty of mankind to leave resources for future generations. Students understand and express their understanding of how the various authors use language, devices, and connections between ideas to motivate others to take up the conservation cause.” At the conclusion of the “Conservation” Unit, students complete an Extension task where they “work collaboratively to research a modern conservation group (e.g., the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, the National Park Service) that uses research and exploration to conserve wildlife.” They are instructed to follow these steps: "Write an expository, research-based essay in which you explain how the group’s values and goals support the conservation movement of today. Explain what impact that organization has had on wildlife conservation and support your ideas using credible and relevant evidence. Properly cite and quote sources, avoiding plagiarism. After researching, each group will deliver a multimedia presentation about the goals of your organization and the importance of your work in our community today.”
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, the unit goal is “Students read literary and informational texts to understand the role of the narrator and point of view. Students also understand how the narrative voice of a text can blur the line between fact and fiction. Students express their understanding through writing in different points of view and examining motives and bias in various media.” For the Cold Read task, students read a new selection: “Zoo” by Edward Hoch. They answer a series of multiple choice questions, followed by a writing section where they respond to the prompt: “According to ‘Zoo’ and ‘The Blind Men and the Elephant,’ what role does perspective or point of view play in understanding a situation? Write an extended response that analyzes how this idea is developed through characters, setting, and plot in both the story and the poem. Cite evidence from both texts to support your response.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, the unit goal is “Students read literary and informational texts about human interaction with animals and nature. They understand how authors portray animals to serve a purpose and make a comment about human interaction with animals. Students then explore scientific and personal accounts of animal cognition to express their understanding of Jack London’s portrayal of Buck and his interaction with humans in The Call of the Wild.” For the Culminating Writing task, students write a literary analysis in response to the question, “What central idea or theme about humans’ treatment of animals does The Call of the Wild convey?” In order to answer this question, they are instructed to “Select key incidents from the novel in which Buck interacts with his various owners. Describe Buck’s point of view about the incident and his owners’ traits. Examine the outcome of each incident and how each owner’s treatment and Buck’s point of view impacted the outcome. Determine a central idea or theme of The Call of the Wild based on London’s depiction of Buck’s relationship with his many owners and the outcomes of their various interactions.”
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, the unit goal is “Students read literary and informational texts about knowledge and intelligence to show what happens when humans manipulate the minds of others and how our understanding of intelligence has evolved over time. Students express their understanding of these ideas by exploring how authors draw on traditional stories and develop characters and themes to teach us about ourselves and others.” In the Extension task, students write an informative essay to explain how the understanding of intelligence has changed over time. In order to do complete the task, students have to participate in a discussion and research the history of the work on intelligence. Some possible places for the students to research are listed.

Indicator 2e

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

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

The Resource Library for each unit includes a “Vocabulary Guide” that includes words and phrases to teach, words and phrases to define, and two whole-class instructional strategies for teaching vocabulary: semantic mapping and word displays. Each unit contains a text complexity and vocabulary analysis document. The vocabulary analysis portion provides a list of vocabulary words and where they appear in the anchor text. The words are categorized by whether they can or can not be determined in context and whether they demand less or more teaching time. “Section Supports” outline a protocol for explicitly teaching vocabulary and provide specific “Vocabulary Tasks” and “Mentor Sentence Language Tasks.” Within the lesson plan structure, the “Let’s Work With Words!” section focuses on the development of vocabulary and language through explicit instruction and formative practice.

  • In the “Vocabulary Guide,” teachers examine their vocabulary instruction across the year and throughout all lessons and units. Suggestions are given to teachers to speed up vocabulary growth for all students, including, but not limited to “reading aloud texts that are written at a level above the students’ independent reading levels, or prompting students to read a series of texts on the same topic.”
  • In the "Christmas Carol" Unit, “Section Supports” provide additional support for teachers including “Protocols for Explicitly Teaching Vocabulary.” In these section, teachers are given steps to explicitly teach the word “conclusions.” The steps include teacher presentation, definition, explanation, connections, and application.
  • In the Sugar" Unit, Lesson 15, students complete a “Let’s Work With Words!” section within the lesson. Students are presented with the word “indulgence,” and given a sentence stem: “The word ‘indulgence’ means…” Students are placed in pairs, and this section of the lesson ends with a whole classroom discussion: “Conclude the discussion by asking pairs to complete one of the following sentence stems to help explain how they determined the meaning of ‘indulgence.’ ‘Another way to say ‘indulgence' is…’ ‘I made meaning of the word/phrase by looking at other words and/or phrases in the sentence, such as...’ ‘I looked at...’ ‘I noticed that...’”
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 6, students complete a TP-CASTT (title, paraphrase, connotation, attitude/tone, shifts, title, and theme) handout. Specifically, students practice identifying connotation (C): “Direct students to highlight the words or phrases from the poem that stick out to them using the following key: Yellow highlighter for words or phrases with a positive connotation; blue highlighter for words or phrases with a negative connotation.” Students are then instructed to “take a look at the words you highlighted and let me share what I highlighted with you.” Then, students must write the two sets of words on the C: Connotations portion of the TP-CASTT organizer. Students should be sure to separate the positive and negative connotations on the handout.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 3, students complete a “Let’s Work With Words!” section. Students read an excerpt from the anchor text and focus on the word, “metamorphosed”: “What does the word 'metamorphosed' mean? Why is this word choice significant?” Students complete these questions with a partner. The teacher is provided with the following instructions: “After 4 minutes, engage the class in a brief discussion to refine their definitions until you reach an accurate definition. Prompt students to share the context clues that helped them refine their definition. As needed, give the definition to students for each word...Have students write the word and definition in their vocabulary chart. If time permits, they can complete the row of the chart or do so for homework. Engage students in a whole-class discussion about the significance of the word ‘metamorphosed.’ If needed, use the prompting questions below to spark discussion and support student understanding.”

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 8 meet the expectation 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.

Writing is used across lesson plans and assessments as a learning tool and as a way for students to express their understanding. Lesson plans are scaffolded so that students develop their understanding of texts thoroughly before having to write thoughtfully about them. Within lessons, students complete smaller writing tasks such as taking notes, filling in graphic organizers, and writing quick responses to guiding questions before they are asked to complete more demanding writing tasks for more complex selections at the end of the unit. Classroom discussion is used as a regular tool to prepare students for writing assignments, and more in-depth writing assignments are broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks to prepare students for writing the rough draft. Students learn the components of good writing on a smaller scale through language tasks that focus on sentence-level meaning and writing structures. Each unit concludes in a multi-draft Culminating Writing task that synthesizes the students’ understanding of the texts. Additionally, Extension tasks are included for either narrative or research-based writing.

For example:

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 4, students engage in a class discussion to analyze the myths of Prometheus and Pandora then express their understanding of the lesson by writing a paragraph in response to the questions: “What is a theme of ‘The Story of Prometheus’? How do Prometheus’ and Jupiter’s actions develop a theme of the text?”
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 23, students evaluate the reliability of the narrator of “Tell-Tale Heart.” They discuss the question “How would “The Tell-Tale Heart” change if the story were told from another point of view?” Students then write a response to the same question in their Reading Logs to show their understanding of the lesson.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 26-29, students write a multi-draft essay in Culminating Writing task in response to the prompt: “What is the author’s perspective or purpose for writing Sugar Changed the World and how do they respond to conflicting viewpoints?” They are instructed to "Write an essay that explains how the authors convey their perspective or purpose in writing Sugar Changed the World, including how they respond to conflicting viewpoints."
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lessons 32-36, students complete a Culminating Writing task where they write a multi-draft literary analysis in response to the question, “What central idea or theme about humans’ treatment of animals does The Call of the Wild convey? Select key incidents from the novel in which Buck interacts with his various owners. Describe Buck’s point of view about the incident and his owners’ traits. Examine the outcome of each incident and how each owner’s treatment and Buck’s point of view impacted the outcome. Determine a central idea or theme of The Call of the Wild based on London’s depiction of Buck’s relationship with his many owners and the outcomes of their various interactions."

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation 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.

Students engage in lessons and activities where they gather information from sources for the purposes of research and to supplemental understanding of texts. They draw evidence from literary and informational selections to discuss the texts and support claims they make about the texts. Students also complete larger research projects at the end of units that require them to obtain information from multiple credible sources and synthesize that information to convey their understanding of a topic or task.

For example:

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 5, students participate in a lesson to “analyze how the authors’ make connections among individuals, ideas, and events in history.” This skill is necessary to conduct research and is needed for the research task later in the unit: “Students write an argumentative, research-based essay that (1) makes a claim about the role of sugar, (2) argues what impact that role of sugar had on the world, and (3) defends the claim using evidence.”
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lessons 36-41, Extension task, students research how the understanding of intelligence has changed over time. Students are provided with a list of possible resources and are required to present at least two different theories of intelligence and explain why each theory is or is not widely accepted today.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lessons 34-41, Extension task, students create a multimedia presentation on an issue that they researched to illustrates how others try to influence perspective in order to shape what people believe to be true.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lessons 33-39, students work in small groups to research a modern conservation group that uses research and exploration to conserve wildlife. They write a research-based expository essay about how the group’s values and goals support the conservation movement. Then students create a multimedia presentation about the goals of the chosen organization and the impact of its work.

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

Students have frequent opportunities to engage in independent reading through scaffolded lessons and self-selected materials. Students read portions of the anchor text independently after the teacher reads the text to them and after students read in pairs. Students also reread selections independently after having listened to them or read them in pairs. Students are held accountable through the use of reading logs, discussion, formative, and summative assessments. For Cold Read tasks, students read selections independently and complete multiple choice questions and writing tasks to show their understanding. Each unit comes with a “Family Resource” document with a suggested book list to deepen students’ knowledge of the topic being studied. It also provides suggestions for how parents can plan and encourage independent reading activities at home. For the independent reading project, the teacher materials include a letter to parents that outlines and encourages student accountability.

  • In “The Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 2, students are introduced to their independent reading for the unit. Students choose form Monster by Walter Dean Myers or Nothing but the Truth by Avi. They are given a reading log and are encouraged to create an independent reading schedule. In Lessons 27 and 28, they prepare and conduct a literature circle discussion based on their independent reading.
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 11, students read Progress Reports 4-8 of “Flowers for Algernon” and analyze Charlie’s character and the author’s use of irony to develop meaning. Students continue reading to learn more about Charlie before and after the surgery. Students are directed to “read Progress Reports 5-8 independently and continue adding to their before/after surgery chart while they read.”
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 10, students continue reading Part Two of “Sugar Changed the World” and annotate the text to identify the main ideas. Students also close read the text and use a graphic organizer to record the central idea and analyze the relationship between the central idea and supporting ideas in the text. On Card 11 (Homework) students read Part Two of "Sugar Changed the World" (pages 63-70).
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lessons 22 and 23, students complete a practice Cold Read task where they independently read an excerpt from Chapter 5 of Call of the Wild and answer questions to determine their understanding of the text.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The Grade 8 instructional materials meet the expectations of Gateway 3. The materials provide clear and consistent guidance for implementation and teacher support, including useful digital tools and assessment information to monitor student progress. The materials provide support for differentiation, especially for students who struggle, although extensions and guidance for students who perform above grade level are inconsistent.

Criterion 3a - 3e

8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding. Supplemental materials are provided for each lesson and are well-labeled and organized. Each lesson also references the standards addressed and the goal. Materials include clear alignment information and scope and sequence documents. Digital interface materials are navigable and designed with a consistent layout.

Indicator 3a

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

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

The materials contain five Guidebooks or units of study, including “Flowers for Algernon,” "Sugar," “Tell-Tale Heart,” “Conservation,” and “Call of the Wild.” These units are designed around a collection of texts that support a common idea. Each unit is divided into sections that contain lessons. Lessons follow a predictable backward design model and have a suggested pacing of 50 minutes per lesson and also includes a plan for 90 minute block classes. There is a Roadmap document provided for teachers to complete and share with students that helps teachers and students understand the purposeful layout of the lessons. Each lesson launches with a “Let’s Review!” section, so students can reflect on what they learned leading up to that lesson, and a “Let’s Prepare!” section so they know the learning outcomes of the lesson, what materials they will need for the lesson, and how they will demonstrate their understanding at the end of the lesson. After teachers launch the lesson, they guide students through a series of tasks that build their understanding of the targeted skills. These tasks are focused on reading (“Let’s Read!”), vocabulary and language (“Let’s Work with Words!”), speaking and listening (“Let’s Discuss!”), and writing (“Let’s Practice!). Each lesson concludes with a “Let’s Express Our Understanding!” section which is a formative assessment of what the students learned during the lesson. Finally, the “Let’s Close!” section at the end of the lesson reminds the students what they accomplished during the lesson.


  • In the "Flowers of Algernon" Unit, Lesson 25, the teacher launches the lesson by reminding students that they recently finished reading "Flowers for Algernon.” The teacher then shares the activities for the lesson: "Determine a theme of 'Flowers for Algernon' and analyze how the theme is developed through the characters, structure, and plot. The teacher also points out what materials the students will need for the lesson. The students then perform a series of tasks which include reading, speaking, listening and writing skills.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 1, the teacher launches the lesson by giving an overview of the unit: “We will read literary and informational texts about the beauty of the natural world and the duty of mankind to leave resources for future generations. We will evaluate how the various authors use language, devices, and connections between ideas to motivate others to take up the conservation cause.” The teacher then shares the unit assessments the students will complete. Next, the teacher lists the activities for the lesson: "Read and summarize the short story 'Autumntime' by A. Lentini, and participate in a class discussion to determine the story’s theme. The teacher also points out what materials the students will need for the lesson. The students then perform a series of tasks which include reading, listening, speaking, and writing.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, the teacher is given suggested pacing for each part of a lesson. For example, in Lesson 1 the suggested pacing for the “Let’s Prepare!” section is two minutes. Later the students participate in a jigsaw activity that has twenty minutes as the suggested time. The end of the lesson has a three minute suggested time for students to summarize the reading from the lesson. 
  • In the “Tell Tale Heart” Unit, Lessons 27-28,  students participate in two lessons in order to prepare for literature circles:
    • Lesson 27: Students analyze different aspects of their independent reading novel in preparation for a literature circles discussion.
    • Lesson 28: Students participate in a collaborative discussion of their independent reading novel. They also gather evidence from their independent reading novels for a Socratic seminar about how the unit texts comment on the unit focus questions.
  • In the Call of the Wild Unit, there are 43 lessons and five quizzes designed in a sequential order.

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

All information regarding pacing and content can be found within the “What’s in the Curriculum?” Guidebook and “How do I prepare to teach guidebooks?” Guidebook. Also, instructors are presented further pacing overviews through the “Assessment Overview” in every unit. This allows instructors to see the backwards design implemented in every unit. Each lesson equates to roughly fifty minutes, and a full academic year contains four units; however, there are five units included, depending on individual instructor pacing. The units are as follows:  Flowers for Algernon, Sugar, Tell Tale Heart, Conservation, Call of the Wild.

  • In “What’s in the Curriculum?” Guidebook, "Suggested Pacing" provides the following information regarding “how long a slide might take; however, this is a suggestion, not a mandate. The pacing for each lesson totals no more than 50 minutes, but teachers will likely find they need to spend more time on some lessons depending on the needs of their students. Thus, teachers can adjust the lesson timing as needed given their school schedule and students’ needs. When adjusting the pacing, consider the ratio of time. Pacing is a meaningful signal about where the focus of a lesson is--the biggest chunk of time often signals the most important part of the lesson and where teachers should think first about what scaffolding needs to be in place to ensure productive struggle. A full academic year includes four Guidebook units.”
  • In the “How do I prepare to teach Guidebooks?” Guidebook, the following design is indicated: “The units use a backwards design model, which means the lessons and sections build students’ knowledge and skill in preparation for the unit assessments. The unit assessments are aligned to end-of-year expectations and grade-level standards.” The Guidebook gives the following two examples: 1). “In a section, students might read the same text multiple times across several lessons or students might read several texts to extract evidence and ideas to complete a task, such as writing an essay, delivering a formal presentation, or engaging in a Socratic seminar.” 2). “In a lesson, students engage with one or more unit texts to build the knowledge and skills they will need for the unit assessments.”
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, “Assessment Overview,” students complete the following major tasks: Daily Formative Assessments, Section Quizzes, Culminating Writing task, Extension task, Cold Read task.

Indicator 3c

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

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

Each lesson ends with “Let’s Express Our Understanding!” which is a formative assessment that allows students and teachers to monitor learning progressions. Digital quizzes at the end of sections provide progress check-ins and practice for standardized testing. Unit assessments gauge the students’ ability to apply what they are learning over the course of the unit by reading, understanding, and expressing their knowledge of a complex grade-level text. In the lesson plan structure, activities are scaffolded and structured so students have ample opportunities to practice skills. There are clear step-by-step directions and explanations for both teachers and students for every phase of the teaching and learning process. Supplemental materials are provided for each lesson and are well-labeled and organized. Each lesson also references the standards addressed and the goal.  

In all Units, clear directions and explanations are included in each lesson design.  Each lesson starts with “Let’s Review!” and “Let’s Prepare!” and ends with an assessment of student learning through “Let’s Express Our Understanding!” and “Let’s Close!” Each lesson includes at least one or more tasks focused on reading (“Let’s Read!”), vocabulary and language (“Let’s Work With Words!”), speaking and listening (“Let’s Discuss!”), or writing (“Let’s Practice!”).  In the “Let’s Close”, the students are provided a summary of the lesson they just completed.

Indicator 3d

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

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

In every unit, instructors are presented with a scope and sequence that indicates all CCSS standards for ELA: reading literature (RL), reading informational (RI), writing (W), speaking & listening (SL), and language (L). When viewing individual lessons, standards appear under the title of the lesson. When accessing lessons, the standards still appear in list format at the top of the lesson above the slides; however, when instructors hover over the standard, a detailed description from CCSS is provided.

  • In each unit, a Scope and Sequence document is included which identifies which Common Core Standards are addressed in each section of the unit. For example, in the "Call of the Wild" Unit,  the literature standards covered in Section 1 are RL 8.1, RL 8.2, RL 8.3, RL 8.4,RL 8.10. There are no informational standards covered as the students are reading only literature.  
  • For each Cold Read task, the answer key provides the CCSS for each questions. For example, in the “Conservation”  Unit, the first question of the Cold Read task measures mastery of CCSS: RI.8.1, RI.8.4, RI.8.10.  
  • In each lesson, the standards addressed in that particular lesson are listed on each page of the Lesson Plan.  For example, in the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 14 covers these standards RL.8.1, RL.8.10, RL.8.3, SL.8.1a, SL.8.1b, SL.8.1c, SL.8.1d, SL.8.3, SL.8.4, W.8.9b   A task within this lesson incorporates standard RL 8.1: “With your partner, read paragraphs 15-29. Then write and complete these sentence stems: We never feel worried for the kid because . . . We never feel worried for the kid, but . . .We never feel worried for the kid, so..."  A task that incorporates the standard SL 8.1a is as follows: “Direct students, in their reading log, to complete the sentence stems in writing: The word ‘imp’ means…. The word ‘dote’ means….  After 2-3 minutes, ask several students to share how they determined the meaning of the words, using one of the following stems.  Another way to say ‘imp’ or ‘dote’ is…. I made meaning of the word by looking at other words/phrases in the sentence, such as…. I looked at….  noticed that….”
  • In the "Sugar" Unit,  there are Section quizzes with the standards listed for each question in the Teacher’s Notes. For example, the Section 1 quiz, Question 1 measures Standards RL.8.2, “What is the theme of the poem?’

Indicator 3e

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

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

With the exception of a few selections from each grade level unit, the materials are presented in a digital format that is interactive and easy to navigate. They are designed with a consistent, clear layout so that teachers and students know what to expect for each unit and lesson. The lessons are presented in a slide format with a slide dedicated to each step of the lesson. Each slide, or “card” as it is referred to in the materials, includes a limited amount of information and uses bullet points and simple visuals to complement this information. Alongside each slide, there are extensive, detailed teaching notes. The font, media size, and type are all easy to read. The materials use symbols and images to complement the activities that are being covered in each lesson. Handouts and graphic organizers are well-designed and easy to read. There is ample room for student answers on all digital assessment materials.

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 1, in the student view, students see the title of the lesson and each individual card. Card 1 shows the outcomes for the unit: “By the end of this unit, we will read literary and informational texts about knowledge and intelligence. We will examine different theories of intelligence and explore how authors draw on traditional stories and develop characters and themes to teach us about ourselves and others.”
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 1, in the teacher view, the teacher sees the lesson title and related standards; the lesson plan, additional materials, and “about this lesson” section; teaching notes; and a scrolling table of contents. Card 1 shows the same content as the students see but also has a box that includes the teaching notes to the right of it: "Suggested Pacing: ~1 minute. Directions: Before teaching the unit, review the unit assessments and exemplars to determine what students must know and be able to do by the end of the unit. Share the connections between the lessons and these assessments throughout the unit. Briefly explain to students what they will learn over the course of this unit."
  • Student Look-Fors: The following words and their word families are important to the unit focus. Throughout the unit, students will read these words in multiple texts and learn the meaning of them. Students should also be using these words in their conversations iand written responses.
    • intelligent, intelligence, intel, intellect, intellectual
    • ignorant, ignorance
    • capable, capacity, incapable, incapacitated
    • conceive, conceivable, inconceivable, concepts, conception
    • limit, limited, limiting, limitations
  • knowledge, knowledgeable, know, known, knowing
  • vacant, vacuous, vacancy

Criterion 3f - 3j

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

The teacher edition materials include useful implementation support, including detailed lesson plans, extra examples (that are educative when appropriate), and supporting materials for in-class instruction. The rationale for placement and use of the standards and instructional moves are included, as are community- and parent- facing materials to further support implementation.

Indicator 3f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials.

The materials provide detailed lesson plans for every step of the instructional process. The lessons are designed as slideshows, and as the students view each slide (“card”), the Teacher’s Edition lists detailed directions for explaining the content of the card and the instruction that goes along with it. Along with directions (“Teaching Notes”), the materials list “student look-fors,” “supports for differentiation,” “guiding questions and prompts,” and “additional notes.” The “Teaching Notes” also include links to numerous instructional strategies that can be used in the lesson. In the additional resources section for each unit, teachers have access to “Let’s Set the Context Videos" that can be used “for students who need extra support with the content and texts in advance of the unit.”

  • In the “Sugar” unit, Lesson 3, Card 4, the teaching notes list these directions for the teacher: “Locate directions for accessing the text and painting.
    • Determine a method for getting students access to the digital texts based on your individual situation. For example, students may go to a computer lab to access the text, or if you have 1-to-1 technology or a laptop cart, have students access the text in the classroom. Another option is to project the text and read it aloud as students follow along.
    • Access a blank and completed OPTIC handout.
    • Distribute copies of the handout.
    • Ask students to locate their analyzing theme handout.
    • This lesson uses OPTIC. Access the strategy one-pager to learn more about OPTIC.”
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 6, Card 8, the “Teaching Notes” list these directions: “Tell students, ‘Let’s take a look at the words you highlighted and let me share what I highlighted with you.' Instruct students to write the two sets of words on the C: Connotations portion of the TP-CASTT organizer. Students should be sure to separate the positive and negative connotations on the handout."
  • In the “What’s in the Curriculum?” Guidebook, “Support is central to the design of LearnZillion Guidebooks. Each LearnZillion Guidebooks unit comes with approximately 40 classroom-ready daily lessons. Because the lessons include everything you need to teach, teachers can focus on adjusting the lesson supports so all students meet the lesson and unit assessment goals, instead of spending time creating whole-class lessons to teach. Each lesson follows a common structure, which creates consistency across all grades and lessons. This helps both students and teachers stay on track.”
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, there are three additional videos that teacher can watch or assign to support struggling student. These videos are found in the “Section Resource” in the “Let's Set the Context Videos.” “These instructional videos are for students who need extra support with the content and texts in advance of the unit. Assign one or more videos to those selected students to watch on their own on any device.”
  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, Lesson 29, students participate in a Socratic Seminar/Fishbowl Discussion. The detailed steps and resources needed are included in the lesson, and also found in the “Resource Library.”

Indicator 3g

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

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

Instructors are presented with a large body of supporting materials to improve knowledge of the subject including all “Understanding the Curriculum” Guidebook supports. “Teaching Notes” accompany every lesson included within the unit, including prompting, explanations, and tips. Within the “Teaching Notes,” teachers are provided with how-to guides, research, examples for certain reading /discussion strategies. Each lesson includes student exemplar responses, especially for larger, writing projects so that instructors understand the task and the level at which students should perform.

  • In the “Understanding the Curriculum” Guidebook, instructors see the following supports: “What’s in the curriculum?” “How are the materials designed for the classroom?” “How do the materials support all learners?” “How do I prepare to teach Guidebooks?” and “How do I customize the curriculum to meet my districts unique needs?” All Guidebooks include teaching strategies and research-based approaches on how to deliver content to students. Instructors are also presented with a “Unit at-a-glance” per every unit, and within this section of the unit, instructors are presented with the following supports: Unit goal, scope and sequence, assessment overview, text access, and text complexity and vocabulary analysis.
  • In each individual lesson, “Teaching Notes are formatted in a bullet point list. For example, in the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 26, the “Teaching Notes” for slide four state, “Conduct a whole-class discussion of student’s first reactions and observations. Ask, ‘What do you notice about the painting?’ Ask, ‘What thoughts/questions first enter your mind as you view the painting?’ Ask, ‘What appears to be the subject or main focus of the painting?’ Ask, ‘Look very closely at all that is going on in the painting. What do you make of the perspective of the painting?’”
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 11, on Slide 4, in the “Teaching Notes,” teachers are given supplemental information on each instructional strategy presented: Accountable Talk and Reading Log. The strategies are hyperlinked to an explanation, implementation steps, research to support each strategy and other supplemental information such as videos to show the strategy being used in a classroom. This information would be helpful if teachers are not familiar with the strategies being used.
  • In each lesson, there are tabs above the presentation: “Lesson plan,” “Additional materials,” and “About this lesson.” In the “Additional materials” tab, instructors are often presented with complete, exemplar student examples so that instructors are able to evaluate student performance as students complete assignments. This is even referenced in the “Teaching Notes” to the right hand side of the presentation within the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 26: “Throughout the lesson, compare students’ responses and work to the student look-fors to determine the students who need additional support with reading, understanding, or expressing their understanding of complex, grade-level texts. During this lesson or before the next lesson, support those students individually or in a small group using the Additional Supports for Diverse Learners.”
  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 5, on the right side each card, “Teaching Notes” are included with directions for teaching the lesson, a suggested pacing guide, supports for diverse students, and students look-fors. There are even scripted questions and statements that the teacher may follow: "Ask: What event led or prompted the author to write this article? Allow students to respond quickly. Then say: I’m going to read the first part of this text aloud. As I read, I want you to think about the debate over the Rorschach and other projective tests. What is the claim of each side of the debate? Read aloud the first section of the text (paragraphs 1-18; from the beginning until 'A History of Controversy') as students follow along."
  • In the “Tell Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 15, on the right side of the card, “Teaching Notes” are included with directions for teaching the lesson, a suggested pacing guide, supports for diverse students, and students look-fors. There are even scripted questions and statements that the teacher may follow: "Say: 'Ain’t it awful, Sam? Do you think anybody will pay out money to get a little imp like that back home?’ ‘Sure,’ said I. ‘A rowdy kid like that is just the kind that parents dote on.’ Then direct students, in their reading log, to complete the sentence stems in writing: The word ‘imp’ means…. and The word ‘dote’ means….”

Indicator 3h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the expectation that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.

The materials state that “The goal for the LearnZillion Guidebook units is to ensure that all students read, understand, and express their understanding of complex, grade-level texts…[and] for all instruction to meet the standards in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language.” The materials provide extensive supports for teachers in the “Understanding LearnZillion Guidebooks” section. These support materials include “What is in the curriculum?” which details the unit and lesson designs; "How are the materials designed for the classroom?” which outlines the instructional framework, including approaches to whole-class instruction, small-group instruction, and independent reading; “How do the materials support all learners?” which offers guiding principles for diverse learners and identifies supports for reading, writing and language, and speaking and listening for all students during whole-class instruction and small group instruction; “How do I prepare to teach Guidebooks?” which provides step-by-step instructions, a roadmap template for instruction, and a resource library; and “How do I customize the curriculum to meet my district’s unique needs?” which explains how to modify the content of the materials to suit one’s needs.

The Scope and Sequence document for each unit lists each of the Common Core State Standards for the appropriate grade span and indicates each section that each of the standards is included. Each lesson includes a list of standards. The standards are listed by code, but the teacher can hover his/her cursor over each code to reveal the wording of the entire standard.

  • In the “Unit Design” section, the materials state: “In a section, students might read the same text multiple times across several lessons or students might read several texts to extract evidence and ideas to complete a task, such as writing an essay, delivering a formal presentation, or engaging in a Socratic seminar. In a lesson, students engage with one or more unit texts to build the knowledge and skills they will need for the unit assessments.”
  • The “English Language Arts Framework” states that “Students engage in assigned WriteAlong lessons to address teacher identified skill gaps or misconceptions in their writing. These student managed video lessons allow teachers to differentiate across a class with a diversity of needs all at the same time. Students complete and hand in the associated Student Practice Sheet so teachers can gauge mastery easily with the answer key.”

Indicator 3i

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

In the “Understanding the Curriculum” section, instructors are have  the following Guidebook supports: “What’s in the curriculum?”, “How are the materials designed for the classroom?”, “How do the materials support all learners?”, “How do I prepare to teach Guidebooks?”, and “How do I customize the curriculum to meet my districts unique needs?” All of these resources include explicit explanations of the instructional approaches of the program. The research-based strategies included in the curriculum are listed and cited throughout the program. All units within the program utilize a backwards design approach and teach to CCSS. Explanations include research-based strategies of whole class, small group, and independent reading. Also, supplemental texts and anchor texts are provided with “Text Access” that includes a Reading Guide paired with works cited and a “Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis” per anchor text. Within the Teaching Notes of each lesson, research-based instructional strategies are included in which they are hyperlinked for easy access for the teacher with explanations, implementation steps, research, and videos of the strategy being used.

  • At the end of “What’s in the curriculum?” section, a list of writing and reading resources are made available to represent how this Guidebook was created to support the strategies listed within the Guidebook. For example, one of the reading resources is as follows: “Beers, K., & Probst, R. (2012). Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. Heinemann.”
  • In the “What’s in the Curriculum” section, “Unit Design” section, the rereading strategy is explained in the following statement: “In a section, students might read the same text multiple times across several lessons or students might read several texts to extract evidence and ideas to complete a task, such as writing an essay, delivering a formal presentation, or engaging in a Socratic seminar.”
  • In the “How do the materials support all learners?” section, research supports that all learners must “regularly engage with rich, authentic grade-appropriate complex texts. Instructional supports should not supplant or compromise rigor or content.”
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 11, Slide 4, Teaching Notes, teachers are given supplemental information on each instructional strategy presented: Accountable Talk and Reading Log. The strategies are hyperlinked to an explanation, implementation steps, research to support each strategy and other supplemental information such as videos to show the strategy being used in a classroom. This information would be helpful if teachers are not familiar with the strategies being used.

Indicator 3j

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

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

The “How do the materials support all learners?” Guidebook offers extensive assistance for teachers inside and outside of their classroom when dealing with stakeholders. Also, the “Family Resources” section informs parents of what their students are learning about and how they might help their children in the home gain skills, read independently, and discuss topics happening within the ELA classroom. Teachers also have the autonomy to print materials, utilize G Suite, or use the LearnZillion platform to assign materials and assignment to students; so, parents have easy access to all documentation.

  • In the “How do the materials support all learners?” Guidebook, the following goal is presented: “The goal of LearnZillion Guidebooks Language Arts is for all students to read, understand, and express their understanding of complex, grade-level texts. To ensure that all students, including those who struggle, are able to reach this goal, a teacher must support students throughout the instructional process.”
  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, a section is included in the “More resources for this unit” labeled “Flowers for Algernon: Family Resources” that provide “family-friendly supports aligned to the unit.” For example parents are given questions to discuss throughout the unit, such as “Can knowledge or intelligence be gained over time?”
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, a section included in the “More resources for this unit” labeled “ Conservation: Family Resources”, provides “family-friendly supports aligned to the unit.” For example parents are given an overview of the student assessments. For example, “Culminating Writing Task​: Your child will bring together all her learning near the end of the unit by writing an essay in response to the prompt: ​How does Roosevelt make connections between conservation and the progress, patriotism,and morality of the American people?”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, a section is included in the “More resources for this unit” labeled “Call of the Wild: Family Resources” that provides “family-friendly supports aligned to the unit.” For example parents are given additional text suggestion relating to the topic of the unit. For example, in this unit Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros and Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman are listed as possible additional texts for independent reading.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, a section is included in the “More resources for this unit” labeled “ Tell-Tale Heart: Family Resources” that provide “family-friendly supports aligned to the unit.” For example parents are given additional text suggestion relating to the topic of the unit and an explanation of what independent reading should look like at home. “Prioritize reading: Protect time every day for reading (weekends and school breaks too!). Before bedtime is a great time to read.”

Criterion 3k - 3n

Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
7/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress, incorporating varying levels of formative assessment opportunities and types, culminating tasks in writing and reading, and extension tasks that are identified to support specific standards as they are taught, practiced, and applied. Routines and materials for monitoring progress are also included. However, the materials only partially support teachers in unpacking and using this information once students demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Indicator 3k

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

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

Each of the five units is broken into sections and lessons, and assessments are built in at each level. Each lesson ends in a formative assessment called “Let’s Express Our Understanding!”, and teachers can use the outcomes from these written tasks, handouts, or discussions to inform their instruction moving forward. Digital quizzes at the end of sections assess the knowledge that students have accumulated, and the format of the quizzes provide practice for the students on the structure of standardized tests. At the end of each unit, students complete three assessments: a Culminating Writing task, a Cold Read task, and an Extension task. For the Culminating Writing task, “students synthesize the topics, themes, and ideas of the unit into a written product such as an essay, narrative or article.” The Cold Read task requires that “students read a new text or two related to the unit topic and answer multiple-choice questions as well as respond to a writing prompt.” For the Extension task, “students extend what they have learned in the unit to make connections between their learning and their lives through a narrative or personal essay or between their learning and the world through research about a related topic.”

  • In “Conservation” Unit, after Lesson 15, students take a Section 3 quiz. The quiz “assesses students’ retention of knowledge based on what was taught and read in Section three of the Guidebook unit Conservation. The quiz is designed to look backwards at the end of a section, so it is up to the teacher to give students access to the text(s) or not when administering the assessment.” Options for teachers are also left “up to the teacher to give students access to the text(s) or not when administering the assessment. Similarly, the teacher can decide whether or not students may use their filled in graphic organizers from this section.”
  • In "The Call of the Wild" Unit, Lessons 42-43, students complete a Cold Read task, in which, “Students read 'Susan Butcher: Renowned Musher.' Then students answer a combination of questions.”
  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, Lessons 31, students begin a Culminating Writing task in which they “continue the writing process by creating a first draft to answer the prompt: Has Charlie fundamentally changed from the beginning of 'Flowers for Algernon'? Is his life improved as a result of the surgery?”

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

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

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

The following assessments are included in all units: Daily formative assessments, section quizzes, culminating writing tasks, extension tasks, and cold read tasks. Within every unit, an assessment overview is included detailing and overviewing the purpose for all types of assessments, including writing rubrics with CCSS language dictating the scoring categories. Also, when clicking on the drop down menu for each section of lessons, under each individual lesson lists specifically which standards are learned and utilized. When clicking on each individual lesson, hovering over the standards offers the full CCSS description for instructors. This is standard for all lessons; however, this also occurs for lessons that include assessments--including larger assessments that span over the course of entire sections (e.g. culminating writing task, extension task, etc.).

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Section 5 quiz, every question on the quiz is connected with a particular standard. The Standard(s) are denoted in the teacher notes section on each slide. Card 3 of 8 is Question 1 and the standard that the question addresses is RI.8.4.
  • In “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 24, students practice the Cold Read task in which “Students read the article ‘John James Audubon’ by Mary Stoyell Stimpson and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of the text. The standards being addressed are as follows: L.8.3, RI.8.1, RI.8.10, RI.8.2, RI.8.3, RI.8.4, RI.8.5, RI.8.6, RI.8.8.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 37 , students begin the Extension task to write an essay in response to the question: “Should Jack London be considered a nature faker?” Students will read, summarize, and identify Burroughs’ argument in “Do Animal Think and Reflect?” Standards that are addressed is as follows: RI.8.1, RI.8.2, RI.8.6, RI.8.8, SL.8.1a, SL.8.1c, SL.8.1d, W.8.10, W.8.4

Indicator 3l.ii

Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

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

Teachers receive guidance within each lesson through the Teaching Notes which include student look-fors that teachers can use as models of quality grade-level responses. Student exemplars and rubrics are provided for Culminating Writing tasks and Extension tasks. Although teachers can assess the answers to quizzes and Cold Read tasks, it is unclear how teachers assess the results of the students’ completion of these tasks, how this information is organized, and whether it is easy for teachers to use the information to interpret student performance and therefore inform instruction. In the “HELP” section, reports are provided which show the percentage correct. Teachers are not provided with “next steps” if students do not meet the standards.

  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, Lesson 7, students are given a quote from the text “What is an Inkblot? Some Say, Not Much” by Erica Goode: “While the Rorschach and the other projective techniques may be valuable in certain specific situations, the reviewers argue, the tests' ability to diagnose mental illnesses, assess personality characteristics, predict behavior or uncover sexual abuse or other trauma is very limited.” Student are asked to copy this sentence in their reading log and complete the stem: “This sentence means . . .” The Teaching Notes provide these student look-fors: "1-Students should understand that 'limited' means few, restricted, or only available for a short time or in small amounts and that projective tests have limited or few/restricted uses according to reviewers. 2-Another way to say this sentence is 'While projective tests can be valuable in some situations, the reviewers argue that projective tests are often used in situations where they are not valuable.'”
  • In the “Tell Tale Heart” Unit, Section 3 quiz, students are asked to think about the texts “A Million Little Pieces Revisited: Can the Truth Ever Set James Frey Free?” by Daniel Honan and “Good Form” by Tim O’Brien and “write a paragraph that explains what both James Frey and Tim O’Brien believe about the nature of truth. How are their beliefs reflected in their writing?” In the Teaching Notes, teachers can click on the phrase “view scoring guidance” which opens another window that contains the exemplar student response.

Indicator 3m

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

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

The materials provide teachers a multitude of guidance and opportunities to monitor student progress. Each unit provides daily formative assessments, as well as section quizzes, a Cold Read task, a Culminating Writing task and an Extension task. When considered as a whole unit, students are assessed in a variety of methods including, multiple choice, short answer, extended response, essay writing, and performance task. Rubrics and student exemplars are often included in the teacher and student materials. The online quizzes upload to a teacher report that can be used to monitor student progress. Daily lessons have “Look-Fors” in the “Teaching Notes” for teachers to monitor daily instruction and provide extra scaffolding if needed.

  • Each lesson can be assigned to a student or many students by clicking on the “Quick Assign” button in the Learnzillion Teacher’s Guidebook. Once students have completed an assessment, the teacher can view the results. The results are color coded to indicate proficiency.
  • Each unit is designed to provide formative and summative assessments, including daily formative assessments, section quizzes, Cold Read task, Culminating Writing task, and Extension task.
  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, Lesson 25, Teaching Notes, the Student Look-Fors instruct the teacher to “compare students’ responses and work to the student look-fors. Determine the students who need additional support with reading, understanding, or expressing their understanding of complex, grade-level texts. During this lesson or before the next lesson, support those students individually or in a small group using the Additional Supports for Diverse Learners.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, every section ends with a type of assessment. This creates a variety of assessments for the unit’s CCSS. Sections 1, 3, 4, and 5 end with a section quiz. Sections 2, 6,7, and 8 end with a task. Sections 9 ends with a Cold Read task.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 4, at the end of the lesson, students answer this question in their reading log: “Write a brief summary of Part One of 'The Allegory of the Cave'.”
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, an Extension task and Culminating Writing task are provided. Also an exemplar for the writing task and the 6-8 writing rubric is included.

Indicator 3n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 meet the expectation that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation. Both Guidebooks, “What’s in the curriculum?” and “How are the materials designed for the classroom?” present supports for giving students choice including independent reading. The texts were “selected for Guidebook units based on three main criteria: diversity, authenticity, and complexity.” A “Reading Guide” is also provided through “How are the materials designed for the classroom?” that reinforces “accountability for independent reading is necessary, but it should also not be cumbersome for students, as one of the goals of engaging students in independent reading is to increase their enjoyment in reading.” In many lessons, independent reading is accompanied by a graphic organizer such as a Split-Page Note Catcher or a Vocabulary Log. In all research lessons and sections throughout all units, students must choose texts from a teacher provided list or research different texts and resources on their own; many independent reading choices support Extension task efforts. Also, students, instructors, and especially parents are presented with a family resources guide specific to each individual unit that reinforces independent reading within the home; a list of fiction and nonfiction texts are presented that connect to the unit goal for students to read to deepen understanding and promote stamina, confidence, and motivation within the classroom.

  • In the Reading Guidebook which is available to teachers, a section on “Volume of Reading” list ways to support independent reading. This section supports the idea that “it is essential that students are engaged in reading lots of texts throughout their K-12 experience, both during class and on their own.” Included in the “Resource Library” are resources for implementing a “Reading Log” for independent reading, including tips for implementation and videos.
  • Each unit has a PDF form that list ways families can support learners at home. In this “Family Resource” there is a section on “What does independent reading look like at home?” This section list suggestions for finding time to read, choosing books to read, and how to discuss the independent reading with their student. This section informs parent that independent reading with help “build your child’s confidence with reading, her reading stamina and reading achievement, and will help her do better in school.” In this resource is also a list of potential additional texts that support the topic of the unit. For example in the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, the text To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is listed as a potential additional text.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, students are given a “Note Catcher” and a “Vocabulary Log” to use during reading to hold students accountable for their reading of the text. These graphic organizers hold students accountable for their reading in class.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students participate in literature circle and writing task around an independent reading choice. The two choices for the independent reading task are Monster by Walter Dean Myers and Nothing but the Truth by Avi. Students discuss and write about how their novel “reveals about truth, perception, and/or reality and compares how the development of the concept is different from another unit text.”
  • In "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, Lesson 36, students write an informative paper about two different theories of intelligence and explain why each theory is or isn’t accepted based on today’s norms. Students are given a list of possible texts and sources, but are not limited to the list. Possible sources include, but are not limited to the following: “Intelligence” from Psychology Today, “History of Intelligence Testing” Kendra Cherry, “Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences” by Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at Northern Illinois University, “Reframing the Mind” by Daniel T. Willingham from Education Next.
  • In Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, in the “More resources for this unit” tab, LearnZillion provides “Hatchet: Family Resources.” Within this PDF guide, parents, students, and teachers are given a suggested independent reading book list: Caramelo, by Sandra Cisneros; Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, by Paul Fleischman; and Everything you need to Know about Fake News and Propaganda, by Carol Hand. Also, the following section is presented within the PDF support guide: “What does independent reading look like at home?”

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.
8/10
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials meet expectations for supporting learners who may struggle and /or need alternate inputs, although extension supports for those who demonstrate above level proficiency inconsistent. The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the expectation that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

Indicator 3o

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

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

Each unit includes “Let’s Set the Context” Videos that are designed to support students who need help understanding the content and texts before beginning a unit. Each video is paired with a handout that students use to record their understanding of the video. The “Teaching Notes” for lessons often provide “Supports for Differentiation” that guide teachers in knowing how to respond when students are not “providing answers similar to the Student Look-Fors.” Units also include a page titled “Additional Supports for Diverse Learners” which contains information on how to support learners before reading the text with foundational skills, reading fluency, and knowledge demands and during reading the text with support for language, engaging in academic discussions, expressing understanding in writing, and developing language proficiency.

  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 6, students learn how to analyze word choice and its impact on meaning in an informational text. During the lesson, the teacher reads aloud from the anchor text, Sugar Changed the World, while students follow along and mentally take notes on events they can add to a timeline they are developing. In the “Teaching Notes”, there is a section labeled “Supports for Differentiation (ELL, SPED, etc.)” that reads: “During the read aloud, provide a synonym or student-friendly definition for difficult words. Possible words for this text/section: balk: hesitate, Subcontinent: small part of a continent. To keep students actively involved during the read aloud and to practice their reading fluency, engage students in choral reading or echo reading.”
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, in the “More resources for this unit” section, there are three videos that are designed to help students who need additional support understand the context of the anchor text. Each of the videos is paired with a handout that students use to record their understanding at key points in the video. The topics for the “Conservation” unit include “President Theodore Roosevelt,” Persuasion and Rhetorical Appeals,” and “Conservationism and Environmentalism.”
  • For those students needing more support outside the grade-level lesson, LearnZillion recommends a small-group structure in addition to the main lesson. “This may be intervention for students below grade level and/or additional time and supports for diverse learners. Groups should be flexible and change size and composition often based on students’ needs.” Suggestions for the small groups included, but are not limited to engage in independent reading on their instructional level or language, engage in targeted reading or writing foundational skills or participate in additional instruction.
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 20, there is a section when the students move to group work that gives these additional instructions: Supports for Differentiation (ELL, SPEd, etc.): "Project a blank sentence expansion handout. Say: 'When we write, we need to think about what the reader might or might not know about the topic. When the reader might need more information, we should expand our sentences to provide more information for the reader.' Read aloud the first kernel sentence: 'He was not suspicious.' Explain that this is a sentence because it has a subject and a predicate, but it provides little information to the reader. Ask each question under the kernel sentence (i.e., Who was not suspicious? What was not suspicious of? When was he not suspicious? Why was he not suspicious?), and record student responses. Explain to students that when they see dotted lines, they should only write keywords and phrases, not complete sentences. They should use abbreviations and symbols when appropriate. Then, expand the kernel sentence by adding students’ answers to the question words."
  • Additional Resources are provided for teachers to work with students that need more support. An audio of many of the text are provided. In every Unit, there is a Text Complexity and Vocabulary Analysis that provide teachers the information on where the complexity lies in the text, and possible vocabulary to instruct. In every unit is a section called “Let’s Set the Context” with videos to provide additional background knowledge for students who need that type of support. There are “Section Supports” within the units that provide foundational support for students. There are also additional writing and grammar instruction available in the “ELA Instructional Videos: WriteAlong and more.”

Indicator 3p

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

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

The “How do the materials support all learners?” Guidebook provides many big picture approaches to how instructors can support diverse learners in whole class instruction and small group instruction with reading, writing, language, and speaking and listening. Each section provides a “Section Supports” specific to each section within the unit that includes language and fluency supports requiring students to reread texts or read ones that represent the same ideas as the unit goal. “Teaching Notes” include additional assistance and direction for diverse learners and are presented under the section titled “Supports for Differentiation (ELL, SPED, etc).” Also, “Let’s Set the Context" Videos may be viewed by students who need extra support with the content and texts before starting the unit. Teachers may assign one or more videos to those selected students to watch on their own on any device. Students encounter stopping signs across the video when they pause to complete part of a handout. Students need a printed handout for each video.

  • In the “Flowers for Algernon” Unit, Lesson 16, students must analyze character development and irony in the short story, “Flowers for Algernon.” On a slide provided, students are instructed to “Read April 21-May 18 of Progress Reports 10 and 11 from ‘Flowers for Algernon.’ As you read, continue completing the before/after surgery chart and irony tracker.” Within the “Teaching Notes,” the following support is listed under the section titled “Supports for Differentiation (ELL, SPED, etc)”:
    • If students need support with the vocabulary of the text, give students access to a visual dictionary for "Flowers for Algernon."
    • If students need support reading the text, pair students with different reading abilities together to engage in paired/partner reading or pull together a small group of students to engage in choral reading or echo reading.
    • As needed, read aloud the text. During the read aloud, provide a student-friendly definition or synonym for difficult words. For example, provide a synonym in context while reading aloud the word or phrase. Students are also given a list of words they may encounter and possible definitions. And, instructors are given potential questions to pose to diverse or reluctant learners If students are not completing their handouts.
    • Additional supports include: Students are also given a list of words they may encounter and possible definitions. And, instructors are given potential questions to pose to diverse or reluctant learners If students are not completing their handouts.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Section 3, the instructor is presented with “Section Supports” with the following supports are outlined and detailed for instructors: “Before the Section,” which includes support for foundational skills and support for reading fluency. “During the Section”:
    • Support for Language
    • Support for Meaning: See the "Additional Materials" section of specific lessons.
    • Support for Engaging in Academic Discussions: Use related supports from the Supports Flow Chart.
    • Support for Expressing Understanding in Writing: Use related supports from the Supports Flow Chart.
    • Support for Developing Language Proficiency: Use related supports from the Supports Flow Chart.
    • “Fluency Task,” which lists seven steps, some of the following include: “5. Throughout the week, direct students who need fluency practice to read the passage at least 3 times a day for a week for a fluent reader, who documents the student has read aloud the text; 7. At the end of the week, ask students to read aloud the [Section 1 Fluency Task] for an audience of their peers.”
  1. In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, Lesson 11, students practice “analyzing incidents that propel action and build suspense.” On one slide, students are presented with the following directions: “Follow along in your copy of The Call of the Wild while I read aloud paragraphs 7-11 of Chapter 3.” The following support is listed under the section titled “Supports for Differentiation (ELL, SPED, etc)”: “To keep students actively involved during the read aloud and to practice their reading fluency, engage students in choral reading or echo reading.”

Indicator 3q

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 8 do not meet the expectation that materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.

The “Family Resources” document provides information for families about each unit, including a list of suggested reading if parents would like to “deepen your and your child’s knowledge on the topic being studied.” Other than the information on the “Family Resources” document, there are no apparent opportunities for students to engage in extensions of their learning.

  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, the “Family Resources” document provides parents with a list of suggested texts if they would like to “deepen your and your child’s knowledge on the topic being studied”: “Caramelo” by Sandra Cisneros, “Eyes Wide Open: Going Beyond the Environmental Headlines” by Paul Fleischman, “Everything you need to Know about Fake News and Propaganda” by Carol Hand.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, the “Family Resources” document provides parents with a list of suggested texts if they would like to “deepen your and your child’s knowledge on the topic being studied”: “Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and the Science of Ocean Motion” by Loree Griffin, “The Frog Scientist” by Pamela S. Turner, “Project Seahorse” by Pamela S. Turner, “Going Blue: A Teen Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, and Wetlands” by Cathryn Berger Kaye.

Indicator 3r

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

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

Within both Guidebooks, “How are the materials designed for the classroom?” and “How do the materials support all learners?”, grouping strategies are presented to instructors including small group, whole group, pairs, and individual settings. Within every lesson, instructors are presented with “Teaching Notes” that include specific grouping strategies and reference helpful documentation, such as the conversation stems learning tool.

  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, Lesson 3, students discuss their independent reading novels. After the teacher introduces the lesson, students read their independent reading novels for 20 minutes and record their progress in their independent reading logs. Then students work in pairs to discuss the reliability of the narrator in each of their novels.
  • In the “Conservation” Unit, Lesson 6, students study point of view and meaning in the poem, “Requiem for a Nest.” Students work in pairs to paraphrase the first two lines of the poem. Students continue to work with their partners to complete portions of a TP-CASTT handout on the poem. The group comes back together for a whole-class discussion of the poem, and after the discussion, they return to their pairs to complete the TP-CASTT handout.
  • In the "Sugar" Unit, Lesson 26, in the “Teaching Notes,” teachers are directed to divide the class into pairs and instruct them to use the SODA strategy to assess claims: (Is the claim SPECIFIC? Is the claim ORIGINAL? Is the claim DEFENSIBLE? Is the claim ARGUABLE?).

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

The Learnzillion materials operate on multiple platforms, and utilize technology to enhance (rather than detract from) student learning. Options for customizing the materials for local use are available, although specific personalized learning supports aren’t present. Digital collaboration is not fully integrated into this program for peer-to-peer nor teach-to-class engagement.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

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

The materials are accessible on multiple platforms and devices. The program is compatible with the browsers Microsoft Edge, Mozilla firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari. It is compatible with Microsoft, Apple, and Google operating systems. It will function on Apple iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch models, Google Android devices, Chromebook devices, and windows tablets.

All digital material including documents, slide decks and videos were accessible on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices. The digital format is clear and easy to read. The navigation on all devices were smooth and straightforward.

Indicator 3t

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

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

The LearnZillion platform is almost exclusively online, which presents opportunities to provide effective use of technology to enhance the learning process. The “How are the materials designed for the classroom?” Guidebook includes WriteAlong videos for support for students. All lessons are presented via a slideshow that include various photos, such as novel covers, various types of media--photos included--and, cartoon images of students participating that cover a wide range of student ethnicities and cultures. Students also can access “Let’s Set the Context" Videos; and, students also are able to utilize audio read-alongs for anchor texts and various supplemental texts.

  • In the Guidebook, “How are the materials designed for the classroom?”, instructors are presented with “interactive WriteAlong videos for targeted writing and grammar interventions, as well as other short (3-10 minute) videos intended for teacher and student use focused on targeted concepts and skills. Organized by topic.”
  • The “Let’s Set the Context" Videos "are for students who need extra support with the content and texts in advance of the unit. Assign one or more videos to those selected students to watch on their own on any device. Students encounter stopping signs across the video when they pause to complete part of a handout. Students need a printed handout for each video.”
  • In the “Tell-Tale Heart” Unit, students read supplemental texts: “An audio recording of Monster by Walter Dean Myers is available and an audio recording of Nothing But the Truth by Avi is available.” The audio recording is hyperlinked to each lesson throughout the unit that requires the instructor or students to reference the anchor text.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, at the end of Section 9, there is a Section Quiz which covers Sections 8 and 9. This can be assigned to students, they can respond online, and their answers are sent directly to the teacher.

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
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Indicator 3u.i

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

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

Aside from a small portion of the texts being available via audio or video, the materials do not provide any other opportunities for personalized learning through adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers are able to “quick assign” tasks to a whole class or individual students.

  • In the "Flowers for Algernon" Unit, two video recordings are included from the 1968 movie, "Charly," based on the book, Flowers for Algernon. The video links take the student to an outside movie website.
  • In the "Call of the Wild" Unit, an audio recording of The Call of the Wild is available through a link to an outside website.
  • In all Units, teachers are able to “Quick Assign” by clicking on any lesson, selecting the pink “Quick Assign” button in the top right corner next to the lesson title. The LearnZillion code and assignment URL appears. Teachers are able to copy the LearnZillion code or the assignment URL and share it with students by class or individually.

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
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Indicator Rating Details

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

In the “LearnZillion Guidebooks” tab, the Guidebook, “How do I customize the curriculum to meet my district’s unique needs?”, provides examples of how school districts can customize for local use to meet district initiatives and priorities. Through the almost exclusively online platform, materials remain up to date and adaptable.

  • In the section “How do I customize the curriculum to meet my district's unique needs?” districts can “add, edit, rearrange or remove pages, lessons, slides, documents and more with just a few clicks.” In this way, any priority can be added into existing content.
  • Videos that show district teachers engaging in a learning strategy or protocol can be uploaded. “A regular stream of new videos can spotlight teachers who have newly mastered the teaching strategy and use it effectively with their students.”
  • Any additional content can be added into the lesson, so teachers do not need to go to an additional place to see the additions. “Revised lessons and the associated teaching notes that actually embed this instructional strategy at the right moment, providing teachers with an active learning context that is consistently reinforced over the course of a Guidebook.”
  • Additional resources from LearnZillion can be used in order for teachers to “leverage this opportunity by using their ability to customize the LearnZillion Guidebooks.”

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.).
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Indicator Rating Details

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

The materials do not include a collaboration platform but do include directions on integrating LearnZillion into Google Classroom. No directions are given on using Google Classroom as a collaborative tool, but Google Classroom does have a collaborative tool as a discussion board (stream) in which students have the ability to comment and/or communicate with each other. A teacher has the ability to assign, share and grade an assignment that he/she has given to students using a LearnZillion code or link. This code can be placed in any browser and work. LearnZillion does not allow students to collaborate within its platform but does integrate in other technology platforms.

  • Outside Technology Integration
    • Sync your SIS classes/roster through Clever
    • Integrate LearnZillion with your LMS
    • Integrating LearnZillion with D2L Brightspace
    • Integrating LearnZillion with Canvas
    • Integrating LearnZillion with Schoology
    • Integrating LearnZillion with Blackboard
    • Creating a Common Cartridge on LearnZillion
    • Import Content from Common Cartridge into your Canvas Course
  • Under the “Help” tab, teachers can click on “Assignments and Reporting” and under that tab can find “ How do I assign, share and grade an assignment.” When teachers clicks this hyperlink, step-by-step directions are provided.
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 04/02/2019

Report Edition: 2018

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
LearnZillion Guidebooks English Language Arts Curriculum Student Unit Reader Grade 8 978-1-5066-9921-9 LearnZillion 2018
LearnZillion Guidebooks Student Handouts - Grade 8 978-1-5939-9520-1 LearnZillion 2018
LearnZillion Guidebooks Curriculur License Grade 8 - 1 Year 978-1-9492-3366-7 LearnZillion 2018
LearnZillion Guidebooks Curriculur License and Student Handouts Grade 8 - 1 Year 978-1-9492-3384-1 LearnZillion 2018

About Publishers Responses

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

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

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

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

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