Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Puzzle Piece Phonics partially meet the criteria for alignment to standards and research-based practices for foundational skills instruction. Materials provide limited instructional support in general concepts of print. Materials provide systematic, explicit instruction in phonological awareness and phonics. Students have opportunities to build/manipulate/spell and encode grade-level phonics and materials provide opportunities for application and encoding of phonics in activities and tasks. Materials provide limited opportunities for students to practice decoding phonetically regular words in a sentence. Materials provide limited systematic instruction of high-frequency words and opportunities to practice the reading of high-frequency words to develop automaticity. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials explicitly teach word analysis strategies based on the requirements of the standards and provide limited practice opportunities for students to apply word analysis strategies. Materials provide limited systematic and explicit instruction and practice in fluency.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Standards and Research-Based Practices

0
29
52
60
40
52-60
Meets Expectations
30-51
Partially Meets Expectations
0-29
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Implementation, Support Materials & Assessment

0
25
46
52
29
46-52
Meets Expectations
26-45
Partially Meets Expectations
0-25
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Alignment to Standards and Research-Based Practices for Foundational Skills Instruction

Partially Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet expectations for alignment to standards and research-based practices for foundational skills instruction. The materials partially meet the criterion for materials and instruction provide embedded support with general concepts of print, and systematic and explicit instruction and practice for letter recognition. Students have opportunities to practice forming all 26 upper- and lowercase letters; however, there is no explicit instruction on letter formation included within the materials. There are also limited print concepts opportunities. The materials meet the criterion for materials emphasize explicit, systematic instruction of research-based and/or evidence-based phonological awareness, as well as phonics. The materials partially meet the criterion for materials and instruction support students in learning and practicing regularly and irregularly spelled high-frequency words. Materials provide limited systematic and explicit instruction and practice in fluency.

Criterion 1a - 1b

Materials and instruction provide embedded support with general concepts of print, and systematic and explicit instruction and practice for letter recognition.
2/4
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide explicit instruction to print and to practice forming the 26 letters (uppercase and lowercase). Materials partially meet the criteria for materials provide instructional support for general concepts of print and connect learning of print concepts to books and provide cumulative review of print concepts, letter identification, and printing letters.

Indicator 1a

Letter Identification
0/0

Indicator 1a.iv

Materials provide explicit instruction to print and to practice forming the 26 letters (uppercase and lowercase).(K-1)
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide explicit instruction to print and to practice forming the 26 letters (uppercase and lowercase).


Students have opportunities to practice forming all 26 letters in both uppercase and lowercase forms through sentence writing, dictation, and spelling words. Additionally, students write words and letters using multimodal activities in order to learn and practice the formation of letters; however, the formation of uppercase and lowercase letters is not explicitly taught. 

Materials do not include clear directions for the teacher concerning how to explain and model how to correctly form each of the 26 letters (uppercase and lowercase). 

  • No evidence found. 

Materials do not include frequent opportunities for students to practice forming all of the 26 letters (uppercase and lowercase).

  • No evidence found. 


Materials include frequent opportunities for students to practice forming letters using multimodal and/or multisensory methods. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 11, Puzzle Piece Review, students write the spellings in the air with their fingers. Students form the letters d, t, and m.
  • In the Teacher Guide, page 67, Puzzle Piece Review, students write the spellings on their partner’s backs with their finger. Students form the blends “sh” and “ph”.

Indicator 1b

Materials provide instructional support for general concepts of print and connect learning of print concepts to books (K-1) and provide cumulative review of print concepts, letter identification, and printing letters. (K-early Grade 1)
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide instructional support for general concepts of print and connect learning of print concepts to books (K-1) and provide cumulative review of print concepts, letter identification, and printing letters. (K-early Grade 1).


The materials do not contain explicit instruction for students to learn about the organization of grade-level print concepts such as capitalization or punctuation. The program does not provide instructional activities around the distinguishing features of sentences, such as capitalization of first word and use of ending marks. Students read fluency passages and poems in the correlated Fluency Notebook, but teachers are not instructed to discuss print features. Blending routines are used to reinforce left-to-right progression in decoding words. 

There are limited opportunities for teachers to have students examine print concepts as students progress throughout the course of the program. 

Materials include sufficient and explicit instruction for all students about the organization of print concepts (e.g. recognize features of a sentence). 

  • No evidence found

Materials include frequent, adequate lessons, tasks, and questions for all students about the organization of print concepts (e.g. recognize features of a sentence). 

  • No evidence found

Materials include a variety of physical books (teacher-guided, such as big books) that are suitable for the teaching print concepts.

  • No evidence found

Materials include sufficient and explicit instruction about the organization of print concepts (e.g. recognize features of a sentence) in the context of a book.

  • No evidence found

Materials consistently include opportunities for students to engage in authentic practice using print concepts in the context of student books. 

  • No evidence found

The materials contain limited periodic cumulative review opportunities during which the teacher reminds students about previously learned grade-level print concepts, and students practice the print concepts. Examples include:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide page I-40, “What To Watch For,” teachers are instructed to hold students accountable for using punctuation and capital letters when they complete the Super Sentences activity.
  • In Concept 10, Week 2, Day 3, page 327, students complete the sentence, “I read the newspaper to my dad.” As part of the Dictation portion of the lesson, the teacher is prompted to identify June as the name of a month and explain it should be capitalized.

The materials do not contain periodic cumulative review opportunities during which the teacher reminds students about previously learned letter naming, and students practice identifying previously learned letters.

  • No evidence found

The materials do not contain periodic cumulative review opportunities during which the teacher reminds students about previously learned letter formations, and students practice forming the letters.

  • No evidence found

Criterion 1c - 1e

Materials emphasize explicit, systematic instruction of researched-based and/or evidence-based phonological awareness.
12/12
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria that materials have frequent opportunities for students to engage in phonological awareness. Materials provide explicit instruction in phonological awareness through systematic modeling across the K-1 grade band and provide practice of each newly taught sound (phoneme) and sound pattern across the K-1 band.

Indicator 1c

Materials have frequent opportunities for students to engage in phonological awareness activities during Kindergarten and early Grade 1.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The Grade 1 materials reviewed meet the expectation that materials have frequent opportunities for students to engage in phonological awareness activities through Kindergarten and early Grade 1.

Students have opportunities to engage in oral language opportunities to practice phonological awareness. There are a variety of activities including blending, segmenting and manipulating sounds in grade-level standards. The program outlines daily lesson activities provided in the phonemic awareness exercises in the Teacher’s Guide with models provided and examples for use in the instructional presentation. However, the daily lesson activities provided in the phonemic awareness exercises often employ “choice” responses that do not require the students to manipulate or produce sounds or syllables allowing students to respond correctly 50% of the time by chance. The skills that are taught are introduced in simplified contexts but are not often incorporated into more complex tasks. 

Materials include a variety of activities for phonological awareness. For example: 

  • Rhyming exercises are not taught in the Grade 1 program. When practicing “rhyming," students are told to change the initial sound of a word to another specific sound to create a rhyming word, as part of the Quick Switch Routine, Teacher's Guide, page I-22 through I-23. Students are not required to devise rhyming words of their own.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 7, the phonemic awareness exercise requires students to identify the initial sound found in a group of three CVC words that was presented orally by the teacher. Students are asked to isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in words.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 67, students segment short CVC words and CCVC words into their respective sounds.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 87, the teacher says words and the students identify the number of syllables they hear in the words; however, in each of these examples, the teacher says the word and the student counts the syllables. Students are not given a word and asked to break it down and “say” the syllables themselves. 

There are frequent opportunities for students to practice phonological awareness. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 315, students find a partner and tell the partner the names of the pieces and the sounds of this week’s pieces. Then, students tell a partner the spellings of this week’s pieces. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 175, students participate in a phonemic awareness activity in which the teacher says a word and the students sit if they hear a short vowel or stand if they do not hear a short vowel.

Indicator 1d

Materials provide explicit instruction in phonological awareness through systematic modeling across the K-1 grade band.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials provide explicit instruction in phonological awareness through systematic modeling across the K-1 grade band.

The materials provide the teacher with systematic, explicit modeling for instruction in syllables, sounds (phonemes), and spoken words. The teacher models each new phonological skill, and students practice with teacher support. The lessons are brief and are done daily. The lesson plans provide multiple opportunities for students to manipulate sounds. 

Materials provide the teacher with systematic, explicit modeling for instruction in syllables, sounds (phonemes), and spoken words. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 84, the teacher guides students through identifying if a word has a long or short vowel sound. The teacher says the words grace, snap, cast, awake, Abby, fate, stain, lace, back, waist, tuck and students use finger movements to identify whether the vowel sound is long or short. 
  • Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 126, the teacher tells students they need to listen for the blends /tr/, /dr/, or /cr/ and do the motions of the blends they hear. The teacher then says dran, draft, trinket, crank, drive, crazy, dropped, trusting, drain, crane, and crumb. Students respond by identifying the blend and doing the motions of the blends heard.
  • Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single-syllable words.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 11, the teacher tells students a word and asks students to identify the beginning sound. The teacher models with the word bat. Students are then given 10 words to practice.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 18, the teacher guides students through identifying the sound at the beginning of a word. “For example, if I say ‘bat, ball, bubble,’ you say ‘/b/.’”
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 42, the teacher says a group of words and asks the students what sound is heard at the end of all the words.  The teacher models with the words tin, ran, and sun. Four groups of words are provided as practice for the students.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 207, the teacher says a word and asks students to identify the vowel sound heard by doing the motions. This is related to the sounds already learned and the new pieces,  feet and team. The teacher then says the words steam, fleece, hand, west, sneeze, hear, rest, bed, knee, and gleam.
  • Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes).
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 67, the materials provide a model to the teacher for segmenting words into sounds (i.e., “For example, if I say ‘hit’, you say ‘/h/ /i/ /t/.’”) prior to having students complete the task. Modeling is not included for review items after initial instruction has occurred. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 78, the teacher says a word and asks students to say all the sounds heard in the word. The teacher models with the word hit. The teacher provides seven words for students to practice.

Materials provide the teacher with examples for instruction in syllables, sounds (phonemes), and spoken words called for in grade level standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 29, materials for the Big Reveal outline examples for teachers for the /i/, /l/, and /u/ sounds. 
  • Each phonemic awareness skill is taught using a specified instructional format with follow-up activities provided through the Learner’s Notebook. Each of these daily instructional lessons provide the teacher with examples to use when teaching the routines and activities specified in each lesson. Teachers are encouraged to add more examples, if necessary, for individual or groups of students in order to differentiate instruction. Examples of these activities are:
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 18, the materials provide the groups of words (e.g., nest, not, new for /n/, yea, yell, yuck for /y/, please, pig, pup for /p/, and sale, sizzle, sip for /s/) for the teacher to use in the task. The teacher says a word and the students make the sound that they hear at the beginning of each word.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 67, the materials provide the list of words (cap, cash, set, shed, shop, and sip) for use in the task. The teacher says a word and the students say all the sounds that they hear in the word. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 219, the materials provide the list of words (float, hot, roast, rain, mat, snail, waist, pot, goat, and wait) for use in the task. The teacher says a word and the students listen for the vowel sound. If the word uses a vowel team, students are directed to link arms with a buddy. If the word does not use a vowel team, students are directed to stand alone.  

Indicator 1e

Materials provide practice of each newly taught sound (phoneme) and sound pattern across the K-1 band.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials provide practice of each newly taught sound (phoneme) and sound pattern across the K-1 band. 

The materials provide practice for different phonemes. Practice is provided on a daily basis through the Phonemic Awareness Routine. The teacher models, and then students practice. In most activities, students respond orally to the teacher’s question/direction.  

Materials include systematic, explicit instruction on new phonemes and provide ample opportunities for students to learn and practice each new phoneme called for in grade level standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 115, the teacher says a word and asks students to break the word into individual sounds. The teacher models with the word bat.  The teacher then provides five practice opportunities for students to respond orally.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 190, the teacher says a word and then asks students to change the medial sound to make a different word. The teacher models with the word mop, changing the word to top. The teacher provides five practice opportunities for students.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 271, the teacher says two words and asks students to give a thumbs up if the two words rhyme or a thumbs down if the two words do not rhyme. The teacher provides five practice opportunities for students.  

Materials include a variety of multimodal/multisensory activities for student practice of phonological awareness. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 134, students complete the phonemic awareness listening activity in which the teacher reads words. If the students hear a short u sound, they stand up, and if they do not, they sit down. 
  • In some activities, students are asked to do the “motion” for the sound instead of saying the sound or to do the motion in combination with saying the sound. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 206, the teacher says, “If you hear a long e, stretch all the way up to the ceiling and say /eee/. If you hear a short e, crouch down to the floor and say     /ĕ/.”
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 247, the teacher says, “Tell me the number of syllables in the word. You can tap it out, clap it out, or use your jaw.”
    • In Teacher’s Guide, page 207, the teacher says, “I am going to say a word. Your job is to tell me the vowel sound you hear in the word. Do the motion of the sound you hear.” In other activities, the students are asked to “tap it out, clap it out, or use your jaw” or stand up or sit down, depending on how many syllables or which sounds they hear. 
  • In the Learner’s Notebook, page 69, during the Weekly Sort (ending sounds -nk, -ng, -mp), students sort pictures based on their final blend.

Criterion 1f - 1j

Materials emphasize explicit, systematic instruction of researched-based and/or evidence-based phonics.
18/20
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials emphasize explicit phonics instruction through systematic and repeated modeling. Materials include frequent practice opportunities for students to decode words that consist of common and newly-taught sound and spelling patterns and provide brief daily opportunities for students to review previously taught phonics skills. Materials meet the criteria for materials include frequent practice opportunities for students to build/manipulate/spell and encode grade-level phonics, including common and newly-taught sounds and spelling patterns and provide application and encoding of phonics in activities and tasks. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials provide frequent opportunities for students to practice decoding phonetically regular words in a sentence.

Indicator 1f

Materials emphasize explicit phonics instruction through systematic and repeated modeling.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials emphasize explicit phonics instruction through systematic and repeated modeling.

Students participate in sound sorts where they read and tap out the words, and then place the words under the correct heading. Materials also include a Spell It Out activity in which a picture is on the left-hand side of the page in their Learner’s Notebook, and students use their knowledge of sounds to write out the words. Students have opportunities to read the sounds in their Fluency Notebooks, as well as during activities such as Read and Trade and Act It Out. The Teacher’s Guide structures lessons each day throughout the program. 

Materials contain explicit instructions for systematic and repeated teacher modeling of all grade-level phonics standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 66, the teacher displays words on the board and facilitates a discussion about blending. The teacher displays weekly sight words and sentences and supports students in blending the vowels in the sentence. The teacher discusses examples of ph in the sentence.
  • Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 18, students participate in the Big Reveal. The teacher holds up the puzzle piece hat with short a. Then, the teacher and students make up a list of words with short a in them. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 40, the teacher introduces the clock puzzle piece.  The teacher explains that if the /k/ sound is after a short vowel, it is spelled -ck. Students practice making their arm swing like the hand of a clock.  The class makes a list of words that have a short vowel -ck sound in them using words found around the room.  
  • Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 175, the teacher writes the following words on the board: cake, Pete, time, bone, hike, cube, lake, cute, eve, ice. The teacher guides students through discussion to discover the Puzzle Piece Family: Vowel_e. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 207, the teacher guides students through reading words with vowel teams ee and ea. Words include: week, weak, weekend, hear, near, nearly, squeeze, sneeze, trees
  • Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of syllables in a printed word.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 234, students learn about open syllables. The teacher writes the words on the board: table, resell, donut, icicle, paper, unit, begin, tiger, universe, go. The teacher draws a dotted line in between syllables. The teacher facilitates a discussion to lead students to discover the Puzzle Piece Family: Open Syllables. Throughout Concept 8, students learn about open syllables and that each syllable must have a vowel. 
  • Decode two-syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 237, the teacher guides students through drawing a line between the syllables in the words beginning and story. 
  • Read words with inflectional endings.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 278, the teacher discusses the    -er in faster. Students read words with inflectional endings -er and -ed. Words include: follow, followed, high, higher, tighter

Lessons provide teachers with systematic and repeated instruction for students to hear, say, encode, and read each newly taught grade level phonics pattern. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 18, students listen to a list of words that have different sounds. After the teacher says the list of words, the students say what sound they heard. For example, the teacher says ball, bat, bubble. Students say /b/.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 93, students listen for words with /st/ in them. If they hear words with /st/ in them they stand up, and if they hear words that don’t have /st/ in them they sit. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 292,  students have opportunities to hear newly taught phonics patterns through the:
    • Phonemic Awareness Routine: “I am going to say a word. Your job is to listen for the last sound in the word.”
    • The Big Reveal Routine in which the teacher introduces the new focus element, models how to say it, and says, “Let’s make a list of words that have the cry sound at the end of them.”
    • Students then read the list of words provided in the Blending Routine section of the lesson.
  • Dictation activities occur almost daily and spelling tests occur weekly to provide students an opportunity to practice encoding the focus pattern when writing words. Encoding is also practiced in the Super Sentences routine.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 150, the materials reference the Learner’s Notebook, page 97, to have the student complete the Quick Switch activities in which students write related words that are dictated by the teacher.
    • In the Teacher‘s Guide, page 154, during the weekly Spelling Check, the teacher calls out a list of words, and the students write the words as they are dictated. Students also practice writing a focus sentence that has been practiced throughout the week. 
    • In the teacher’s Guide, page 330, students complete fluency practice reading poems with the sounds of the week which are irregular vowels, oo, eu, ue, and u_e.

Indicator 1g

Materials include frequent practice opportunities for students to decode words that consist of common and newly-taught sound and spelling patterns and provide opportunities for students to review previously taught phonics skills.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials include frequent practice opportunities for students to decode words that consist of common and newly-taught sound and spelling patterns and provide opportunities for students to review previously taught phonics skills.

Materials include opportunities for students to decode words daily. The Teacher’s Guide provides daily activities to decode words in both decontextualized and contextualized practice activities. Blending activities require the students to put the words back together after decoding each sound. Fluency Notebooks provide contextualized practice on a daily basis. In addition, students are provided a number of independent activities to practice the focus elements presented in each lesson.  

Lessons provide students with frequent opportunities to decode (phonemes, onset and rime, and/or syllables) words using newly taught grade-level phonics pattern. Evidence includes, but is not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 10, students participate in the Sorting with Combined Picture and Word Cards Sort. Students remove the headers from their word bag that they created. Students look at the picture/word and tap out the sounds in the word. Then, students say the word out loud to themselves and put the word under the correct header. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 76, students read the words and discuss the silent letters and contrast vowel sound contained in them. They practice the sight words for the week and two sentences for contextualized practice. Students then read the corresponding selections from the Learner’s Notebook, page 53 (Group 1) or page 55 (Group 2). Students are instructed to keep reading until the teacher says stop.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 188, students participate in the Blending Routine in which the teacher writes the list of words on the board. The teacher puts his/her finger under the first sound and says, “Sound.” Then s/he puts his/her hand under the middle sounds and prompts students to read the words. The list for this week consists of /o/ spelled o_e and /i/ spelled i_e.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 283, students read the words and discuss the categories and their endings (singular and plural nouns). They then practice the sight words for the week and two sentences for contextualized practice.The students read the corresponding selections from the Learner’s Notebook, page 221 (Group 1), or page 223 (Group 2). Students are instructed to keep reading to their partner until the teacher says stop.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 513, students read the words, discuss the contractions and the words they are made up of, and the formation of the contraction. Students then practice the sight words for the week and three sentences for contextualized practice. Students read the corresponding selections from the Learner’s Notebook, page 411. Students then read the corresponding selections from the Fluency Notebook, page 415 (Group 1) or page 419 (Group 2). Students are instructed to keep reading to their partner until the teacher says stop.

Lessons provide students with frequent opportunities to read complete words by saying the entire word as a unit using newly taught decoding grade-level phonics. Evidence includes, but is not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-28, Sorting with Words Routine, students repeatedly say, hear, and read the focus patterns of the week. Students build mastery of the focus patterns through repeated practice. The goal is for students to quickly recognize and sound out the weekly focus patterns wherever the patterns appear. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 104, in the Sort, students follow the Sorting with Words Routine.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 189, students complete the Color-Code Writing activity in which they take out words from their bag. They begin the activity by reading the word and then writing the word. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 253, students complete the Word Hunt in which they look around the room and other texts for words with long vowel spelling patterns i, o and u. Once students have found a word, they write it on their paper under the appropriate header.  

Lessons provide frequent opportunities for students to apply grade-level phonics when decoding common sound and spelling patterns. Evidence includes, but is not limited to:

  • Students are taught the letter/sound patterns for each of the phonetic elements and common spelling patterns and are then provided daily practice on the focal element for that week’s lessons. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 217, students follow the Sorting with Words Routine. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 343, students complete the quick switch activity in which they change words from one word, decoding the word to change a vowel or spelling pattern to make a new word. The list of words for this concept is south changed to sound, sound changed to found, found changed to flour, flour changed to flower, flower changed to flow which is changed to low. Low is changed to clownand clown is changed to gownand gown is changed to grouch. 
  • In the Learner’s Notebook, page 83, the weekly sort for Group 2 is a perforated page. Students cut out individual words to sort into categories (long e spelled e, y, and ey). Words for the sort include:  even, fever, remember, retell, before, beside, being, chimney, alley, monkey, honey, hockey, keyboard, valley, risky, antsy, bakery, quickly.  Students use these words in daily sorting activities.

Indicator 1h

Materials provide frequent opportunities for students to practice decoding phonetically regular words in a sentence.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide frequent opportunities for students to practice decoding phonetically regular words in a sentence. 

Materials provide explicit routines for teachers to use in blending words. During each day’s blending lesson, students have the opportunity to practice decoding phonetically regular words in a sentence. Correlated readings in the Fluency Notebook provide examples of words containing the week’s focal elements. Each day, students practice reading the passage in the Fluency Notebook. Although the materials provide frequent decoding practice opportunities for students, the program does not provide teachers with explicit instruction on teaching students how to decode words in context. 

Materials provide explicit, systematic practice for decoding phonetically regular words in a sentence. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-18, the Blending Routine instructs the teacher on how to explicitly model the blending of words. On page I-19, it further instructs the teacher on introducing the sentence of the day with the following guidance: “Review any challenging words with the students, modeling word attack strategies (e.g., the blending routine).” The teacher then instructs students to silently read the sentence before cuing students to “chorally read the sentence while touching below each word.” 
  • The sentence practice included in the Teacher’s Guide and the Fluency Notebook provides limited correlation to words presented in the daily Blending Routine lesson. There is generally one sentence practiced within the presentation of the Blending Routine lesson. Students do not read phrases with decodable words. Other sentences are practiced in the Learner’s Notebook and the Fluency Notebook, but the words in these exercises are not always correlated to the focus elements. For example:
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 53, the program incorporates instruction on reading a sentence. The focus elements are /c/, /h/, and /ch/ for the entire week of the program. 
      • Starting with page 54, the Teacher Guide introduces the sentence,”I get chips at lunch,” followed by Day 2, “I get a cut of chicken.” The sentence for Day 3 reads, “I chop the ham,” and the Day 4 sentence is, “Chicks and cubs are not big.”  
        • In the Spelling Check on Day 5, the lesson differentiates the sentences for Group 1, “I go get a cup,” and for Group 2, “The children clap.” However, this is encoding, and students do not directly practicing decoding.
        • Decoding words in a sentence consists of one sentence per day, with four examples of /ch/, two of /c/ words and one /h/ word. 
        • On Day 5, the lesson references the Learner’s Notebook, page 34, which provides additional practice in decoding phonetically regular words in sentences. 
        • Each of these lessons, Days 1-5, references pages 9-10 in the Fluency Notebook. Students practice reading sentences with the ch sound.
        • No instruction is provided to the teacher in terms of how to teach students to read in context. The materials direct the teacher to have students read the page and to have students read to a partner or to pull a group of students together if they need additional help. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 406, one sentence is introduced during the Blending Routine to practice short a and a_e words: I have a cape. A sentence is also introduced in dictation practice: I have a cap and a cape. 
    • On Day 2, the sentence is, “I ate with Kate!”, followed by Day 3, “The man ate a cake.”  
    • On Day 4, the sentence is, “What will we name the pet snake?” 
    • Each of these lessons references the Fluency Notebook, page 42, and students read poems that focus on the focal element of the week’s lesson.
    • There is no sentence reading practice in the correlated Learner’s Notebook, Group1, page 291, or Group 2, page 293.

Lessons provide students with frequent opportunities to decode words in a sentence based on grade level phonics. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages 18-24, the materials provide one sentence reading exercise during the Blending Routine. The focus elements are short a and short e.
    • Day 1 has the sentence, “I am a vet.” The Day 2 sentence is “I am in bed.”  The sentence for Day 3, “Sam sat on a mat,” does not contain an example of short e; however, the sentences for Days 4 and 5 do (“Jan set a hat on the bed” and “The man has a jet”.). 
    • During the Fluency Routine on Days 1-4, materials reference the Fluency Notebook, page 3, and ask students to read the poems. The same passages are read each day for the entire week.  
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages 292-299,  students read the sentences, “I had to carry my silly puppy to the bathtub,” ‘My family sang happily at the party,” “Jimmy sleepily replied, ‘Do I have to get up?’”, and “The dragonfly was flying quickly from tree to tree.”
  • During the Fluency Routine on Days 1-4, the materials reference the Fluency Notebook, pages 45-46, and direct the students to read the poems. The same passages are read each day for the entire week.

Indicator 1i

Materials include frequent practice opportunities for students to build/manipulate/spell and encode grade-level phonics, including common and newly-taught sound and sound patterns.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials include frequent practice opportunities for students to build/manipulate/spell and encode grade-level phonics, including common and newly-taught sounds and spelling patterns.

Students have a varying number of routines that allow them daily practice for building, manipulating, and encoding grade level phonics. Each lesson in the Teacher’s Guide provides opportunities for students to spell/encode words through spelling dictation activities and the Quick Switch Routine. On Day 5 of each week, students complete a spelling check to assess their encoding skills. The lessons incorporate independent activities that require students to practice writing words. The materials contain teacher level instruction for building, manipulating, spelling, and encoding words using newly taught spelling patterns in grade level phonics. Routines included as part of the Puzzle Piece Phonics materials that provide students practice of grade-level phonics include: Dictation Routine, Quick Switch Routine, Partner Spell, Color-Code Writing, Super Sentences, Read it/Hide it/Write It/Check It, Rainbow Write, and Spelling Checks. Teacher modeling is included.  

The materials contain teacher-level instruction and modeling for building/manipulating/spelling and encoding words using common and newly-taught sound and spelling patterns grade level phonics. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 7, students see the following words written on the board: dog, mug, mouse, dinosaur, tiger, title, door, mixer, tooth, and tug. Students discuss the patterns they see, and then the teacher facilitates a discussion that leads them to discover the Puzzle Piece Family Consonants d, t, and m
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 150, Quick Switch: Manipulate Your Words, students write dictated words and use the correlating Learner’s Notebook, page 97, to complete the quick switch activities in which students write related words that are dictated by the teacher: (worst→world→word→heard→learn→ earn→turn→burn→her→never).
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 161, students participate in the Big Reveal, in which the teacher shows students the arm piece and tells students it says /ar/ like in the word arm. Then the teacher holds up the fork piece and says this says /or/.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 297, Quick Switch: Manipulate Your Words,  students write dictated words and use the correlating Learner’s Notebook, page 200, to complete the quick switch activities where students write related words that are dictated by the teacher: (cry→try→trying→time→dime→ dizzy→fizzy→funny→sunny→runny).
  • Weekly spelling checks are included in the Day 5 activities to assess the student’s ability to apply skills and encode words with the focus elements.

Lessons provide students with frequent opportunities to build/manipulate/spell and encode words using common and newly-taught sound and spelling patterns grade level phonics. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-33 through I-48, independent activities give students additional opportunities to build/manipulate and spell or encode words from the day’s lesson.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 77, the teacher presents words along with a sentence and facilitates a discussion about reading the words. Students read the blending words, sight words, and the provided sentence.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 92, Quick Switch Routine, students start with the given word and then change letters as directed to write new words (cast-fast-last-blast-blank-blanket-blend-stand-stamp).  
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 205, students follow the Color-Code Writing Routine in page I-36. Students write given words using colors. The teacher circulates and supports as needed.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 225, students have a list of words. The teacher says the word with a particular spelling pattern, and students write the word. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, Practice, page 267, students follow the Partner Spell Routine on page I-37. Students spell the words with a partner while the teacher circulates and supports, as needed.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 314, students participate in the Glue Words and Read it, Write it, Check it Routines. Students listen to the teacher say the first word. Students cover up the list of words using a strip of paper. They write the word, then check to see if they spelled it correctly. Then, they write it again. 
  • In the Learner’s Notebook, page 209:  Weekly Spelling Patterns: Irregular Vowels (/oo/, /u/), on Day 1, students encode words dictated to them by the teacher from page 309 (wood, food, cook, shoot, three).  On Day 2, students encode words using the Quick Switch Routine from page 310 of the Teacher’s Guide (foot-->food-->wood-->hood-->hoot-->hoot-->shoot-->shook-->look-->hook-->hoop).

Indicator 1j

Materials provide application and encoding of phonics in activities and tasks. (mid K-Grade 2)
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials provide application and encoding of phonics in activities and tasks (mid K-Grade 2).

The Teacher’s Guide provides several routines for weekly practice of encoding words with the focus elements as well as with sight words. Writing sentences occurs in the Dictation Routine. There are spelling checks that include writing a sentence incorporated into Day 5 of each week’s lesson. Students complete independent practice activities in which students generate their own sentences during the lesson.

Materials include explicit, systematic teacher-level instruction of teacher modeling that demonstrates the use of phonics to encode sounds to letters and words in writing tasks. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-18, Blending Routine, the teacher writes the sentence on the board. Students read the sentence as the teacher places his/her hand below each word. Then, the students give a thumbs up.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-20 through I-23, the materials describe two encoding routines practiced throughout the program:
    • The Dictation Routine is completed weekly on Days 1 and 3 of each concept taught. Students use their Learner’s Notebook to write sounds, words, and sentences dictated by the teacher. 
      • The explicit routine on page I-21 instructs the teacher to: “Say the word. Say it in a sentence. Repeat the word. Tell the students to tap out the sounds they hear in the word. Point to the puzzle piece sounds they hear while saying each sound. Tell the students to write the word.”
      • The teacher uses this model for the first two words on the list.
      • Other words are said aloud to the students and repeated in a sentence. Then, students are told to use the strategy on their own and write the word. 
      • Sentences are repeated slowly, one word at a time with pauses in between, so students can be “mindful of sight words, focus patterns, and writing conventions introduced so far.” 
    • The Quick Switch Routine, page I-22, is completed weekly on Days 2 and 4 of each concept taught. Students write a list of related words dictated by the teacher. 
      • The routine specifies that the teacher should model the first change: Say the word. Prompt the students to segment the word. Have students tap out the sounds. Then write the sounds they hear. Record the correct spelling of the first word. Then ask, “How can we change __ to __?” Call on a student to answer, and then state, “To change ____ to ____, we change ___ to ____.” (e.g., To change tag to bag, we change t to b.”)
      • The students then complete words three through five as the teacher calls out the word.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-29, the materials describe the routine for spelling checks. Spelling checks are completed on Day 5 of each instructional week and are identified as formal assessments for the encoding of words using the week’s focus elements. Spelling Checks also include writing a sentence which contains words that align to the focus elements. In some lessons, there are differentiated spelling lists for Group 1 and Group 2. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 69, the Spelling Check section provides words for Group 1 (e.g., shot, ship, cash, phone, shell, push, graph, wash, shed, shin and the sentence, “I had cash.”) and for Group 2 (e.g., shift, brush, phone, shack, graph, wishing, pushed, shopping, elephant, shock, and the sentence, “Dad was washing his hands.”).
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 392, the Spelling Check section provides words for Group 1 (e.g., small, palm, caught, bought, walk, fall, fought, salt, taught, cough and the sentence, “I caught a fish again!”) and for Group 2 (e.g., recall, coughing, smallest, calming, afterthought, daughter, talking, taught, fought, chalkboard, and the sentence, “My dogs fought each other in the yard.”). The focus of the week’s lesson is irregular vowels /au/ (aught, ough, al, all)   
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 65, students write five words (e.g., set, shed, ship, phone, and had) related to the day’s blending practice (sh, ph) and then write the sentence, “I got a shot.”
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 294, students practice the Quick Switch Routine in which students write the word dry then change it to: fry→try→tricky→sticky→silly→hilly→happy→handy→candy. The teacher is instructed to “Help students segment the words and reference puzzle pieces as necessary.”
  • The Partner Spell activity, found in the Learner’s Notebook and explained on page I-37 of the Teacher's Guide, has students work in pairs. One partner calls out a word and the other orally breaks it down into the sounds heard. The partner identifies the response as correct or tells the student to try again if s/he gets it wrong. When students have correctly broken apart the word orally, they write the word under a header, categorizing it according to a focus element. Partners take turns spelling and calling out words. 

Lessons provide students with frequent activities and tasks to promote application of phonics as they encode words in sentences, or in phrases, based on common and newly taught grade level phonics patterns. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In theTeacher’s Guide, page I-39, the Super Sentences Routine provides an independent activity for students to use their weekly words in context. Students are instructed to look at their words for the week, select a word, and orally construct a sentence that contains the word. Students then record the sentence on a sheet of paper and circle the weekly word used.
    • The first instance of this activity’s use occurs on Teacher’s Guide, page 23, during the second week of the school year and appears occasionally throughout the year. The Super Sentence Routine appears as an independent activity again in the Teacher’s Guide, page 165. It does not appear during Concepts 10 or 11, during the final 13 weeks of the school year.
    • The last 13 lessons for Grade 1 use practice activities such as Highlighter Hunt, Color Coding Writing, Sorting with Words, and Partner Spell.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 46, students complete the comprehension check by writing sentences to answer the questions using words they have learned.
  • There is one sentence included in the daily encoding activities described in the Dictation Routine that appears on Days 1 and 3 of each week throughout the program. For example:
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 113, the teacher presents spelling words that contain the focus elements -nk, -ng, -mp (i.e, bring, think, chimp, sunk) and one sentence (That is the wrong thing to do.). 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 295, the teacher dictates a sentence that contains the focus elements: “The little teddy is fuzzy.”

Criterion 1k - 1m

Materials and instruction support students in learning and practicing regularly and irregularly spelled high-frequency words.
4/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials include systematic instruction of high-frequency words and opportunities to practice reading of high-frequency words to develop automaticity. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials provide frequent practice opportunities to read and write high-frequency words in context. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials explicitly teach word analysis strategies based on the requirements of the standards and provide frequent practice opportunities for students to apply word analysis strategies.

Indicator 1k

Materials include systematic instruction of high-frequency words and opportunities to practice reading of high-frequency words to develop automaticity.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials include systematic instruction of high-frequency words and opportunities to practice reading of high-frequency words to develop automaticity.

The Grade 1 Teacher’s Guide provides a clear scope and sequence chart for the introduction of sight words in the program. Materials also include a Sight Word Routine for introducing the words as part of the Blending Section of each lesson. Words are introduced on Day 1 of each week and practiced for the five days of the week in which they are introduced. Students then practice spelling the words during the dictation portion of the lesson. Fluency Notebook selections corresponding to the lessons do not provide consistent or systematic contextual practice of the sight words. The materials do not identify which high-frequency list was referenced when developing the scope and sequence for introduction of sight words. While there is some slight variation among the different high-frequency word lists, they are fairly consistent in what they identify to be the 300 most common words in English usage. Of the 95 high-frequency words taught in this level of the program, 25 do not appear on any example list of the first 200 high-frequency words in English. The Teacher’s Guide provides explicit instruction on approximately 50% of the first 200 words. 

Materials include systematic and explicit instruction of sight-based recognition of irregularly spelled words. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Materials include a Blending Routine completed with students during each day where students receive explicit instruction of high-frequency words. An explanation of the Blending Routine is included on pages on I-17 through I-19 of the Teacher's Guide. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-19 and I-20, the materials provide a Sight Word Routine with a rationale for teaching and instructions on how to model and teach each word. The guide indicates that sight words are introduced during the Blending section of the lesson. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-52 and I-53, the materials provide a scope and sequence chart for the introduction of sight words organized according to the different concepts and instructional weeks in the program.
  • The high-frequency words are reviewed for Days 1-5 of the week they are introduced. They are also reviewed in dictation when students have the opportunity to practice spelling the focus words.
  • Three words are introduced each week for 32 weeks of the instructional calendar.  The final three weeks are spent reviewing a different set of three words each day for 15 days.
  • The words also appear sporadically in reading selections in the Fluency Notebook passages incorporated within the lessons; however, the inclusion of these words is not systematic.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 223, Blending Routine, the teacher says the high-frequency words, students repeat the words, and then students spell the word. During this lesson, the sight words include: down, my, there.

Materials include frequent opportunities for the teacher to model the spelling and reading of high-frequency words in isolation.

Students practice identifying and reading high-frequency words in isolation.

Materials include a limited quantity of new grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words for students to make reading progress. Examples include:

  • Students are taught three high-frequency words a week beginning in Concept 1 and ending in Week 3 of Concept 11. During Weeks 4-6 of Concept 11, students review sight words. The word and is duplicated during Weeks 1 and 3 of Concept 2. All other sight words are introduced once. At the end of first grade, students should have learned a total of 96 words. 
  • The Teacher’s Guide does not indicate which high-frequency list was referenced when deciding which words to introduce (e.g., Dolch, Fry) While there is some variation among word lists, the lists are fairly consistent in what they identify as the 300 most frequently used words in English.
  • The Teacher’s Guide introduces 95 sight words over 32 weeks.
    • 16% of these words are reviewed from the Teacher’s Guide 
    • Approximately 20% of the first 100 high-frequency words are not explicitly taught in either the Kindergarten or Grade 1 materials.
    • Of the next 100 (200 total) high-frequency words, 21 were taught in First Grade and six were taught in Kindergarten, leaving approximately 50% of the first 200 high-frequency words not explicitly introduced by the end of Grade 1. 
    • Seventy out of the 95 words (74%) that are introduced in the Teacher’s Guide appear in combined lists of the first 200 most frequently used words.
    • The words introduced are often phonetically regular, and the students would have the skills to read them because they had already acquired the letter/sound patterns and the blending strategy. However, other phonetically irregular high-frequency words are not explicitly taught (e.g., school, thought, through, around, laughed).

Indicator 1l

Materials provide frequent practice opportunities to read and write high-frequency words in context (sentences).
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide frequent practice opportunities to read and write high frequency words in context (sentences).

Materials provide some opportunities for students to write grade-level high frequency words in sentences in the regular Dictation Routine on Days 1, 3, and 5. Students have opportunities to read grade-level high frequency words in the regular Blending Routine on Day 2 and in the weekly Spelling Check on Day 5. Materials do not frequently provide opportunities for practicing high frequency words in other segments of the program. The fluency passages students practice do not contain the focus sight words for the week. There is limited practice for students to write irregularly spelled words in tasks to promote automaticity with irregularly spelled words. There is no evidence that students read irregularly spelled words in sentences.

Lessons provide students with limited opportunities to read grade level irregularly spelled words in a sentence. Examples include:

  • Words are repeated for each day’s lesson within the week but are not explicitly modeled or reviewed after the week in which they were introduced.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 53, the sight words introduced include get, so, and of. The word of then appears in the Dictation section after it has been introduced. In Dictation, the teacher says the word, says the word in a sentence, and asks the student to write the word. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 58, the sight words do not appear in the Spelling Check. The word of appears twice in the Comprehension Check exercise on page 34 of the Learner’s Notebook and get and of each appear once in the Fluency Notebook, Concept 3, pages 9-10. So is not practiced in any of these activities.

Lessons provide students with frequent opportunities to write grade-level irregularly spelled words in tasks (such as sentences) in order to promote automaticity in writing grade-level irregularly spelled words.

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 135, students complete the Dictation Routine in which the teacher says the sentence, “Can I have some pizza?” The word some is a high-frequency word. Students write the sentence following the Dictation Routine. 
  • Only words on the scope and sequence of sight words are introduced and practiced in the Blending Routine or incorporated into the spelling activities. However, students are expected to read many other words by sight that have not been formally introduced or practiced prior to reading them in their Fluency Notebook and for which they have not learned the letter-sound patterns.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 149, students read passages from the Fluency Notebook, pages 9 and 10, that have a focus on the ‘digraph ch.’ The week’s sight words, get and of, each appear once throughout the four short passages. The week’s sight word so does not appear in any of the sentences. Many other words that are used in the passages contain letter-sound patterns that the students have not been taught, so students would not have the skills to decode them. Words that are not introduced as sight words before practicing them in context include: train, dance, tunes, thrill, chocolate, cookies, quickly, swiftly, brother, instantly, rapidly, laugh, giraffe, funnies, children, and weird. The words are not systematically reviewed in later lessons.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 154, Spelling Check, the teacher dictates the following sentence:  Group 1: “I like to play with his sister.” Group 2: “His pet bird likes to chirp at him.” Students write on page 99 of the Learner’s Notebook using the Spelling Check routine on page I-29 of the Introduction. The sight words for that week include: play, him, his
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 295, Dictation, the directions state, “Have students turn to page 200 of the Learner’s Notebook. Follow the Dictation Routine on page I-20 of the Introduction to dictate the following words:  1. stink 2. stinky 3. fun 4. funny." The sentence for dictation is, "The little teddy is fuzzy." The sight words for the week include: jump, little, old. 

Indicator 1m

Materials explicitly teach word analysis strategies (e.g., phoneme/grapheme recognition, syllabication, morpheme analysis) based on the requirements of the standards and provide students with frequent practice opportunities to apply word analysis strategies.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials explicitly teach word analysis strategies (e.g., phoneme/grapheme recognition, syllabication, morpheme analysis) based on the requirements of the standards and provide frequent practice opportunities for students to apply word analysis strategies.

The Teacher’s Guide explicitly teaches phoneme-grapheme relationships for consonant digraphs, long vowels with various spelling patterns, irregular vowels, r-controlled vowels, and long vowels in open syllables. The materials have infrequent explicit instruction on phoneme recognition and grapheme recognition within long vowels. There is instruction during Concept 10 for irregular vowels; however, the materials do not provide adequate systematic and explicit instruction on inflectional endings and how they affect spelling and word meaning. While the materials provide instruction in which the teacher breaks words into syllables, there is little or no practice requiring the students to perform this task in order to decode unknown words. The program does not explicitly teach that there is “one vowel sound” per syllable or how to identify syllables based on the number of vowel sounds heard in the word. While there are opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply analysis strategies, the types of strategies are limited to tapping out the words for open vowels, closed vowels, and vowel combinations. Students complete a variety of activities such as writing super sentences, reading passages with words in them, and completing sorting activities with the vowel pairs. 

Materials contain limited explicit instruction of word analysis strategies (e.g. phoneme-grapheme recognition, syllabication, morpheme analysis). Examples include:

  • The Teacher’s Guide includes instruction on phoneme-grapheme relationships including consonant digraphs, blends, the schwa sounds, r-controlled vowels, final -e rule, vowel teams, open syllables, consonant help syllables, and irregular vowels. However, it does not include a sequence for the systematic introduction of inflectional endings, moving from least difficult (spelling of root word does not change, just the ending is added) to most difficult (requiring doubling of the final consonant, dropping of the final ‘e’/silent ‘e’, or changing the y to i before adding -es).
  • The scope and sequence does not delineate when syllabication skills are introduced or expanded upon; it only indicates when the concept of open syllables is introduced.
  • The Teacher’s Guide includes regular lessons for practicing decoding one-syllable words.  For example, the Teacher’s Guide, page 23, teaches the Blending Routine using the following sets of examples: pan/pet/hat, yes/Jan/set, and bet/yam/tan. Students decode the focus sentence: Jan set a hat on the bed.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages 52-80, the materials include instruction on the consonant digraphs ch, sh, ph, th, and wh. The Teacher’s Guide, page 53, introduces the definition of a digraph as being two letters that make one sound. It instructs the teacher to help students connect digraphs to -ck and -dge and also uses multiple letters to represent one sound. However, materials are not provided to explicitly teach that -ck and -dge have silent letters but you actually say the sound that one of the letters makes as opposed to a digraph that makes a totally different sound from that of the individual letters contained in it. 
  • The Teacher’s Guide includes regular lessons for practicing decoding two-syllable words. For example, in the Teacher’s Guide, page 87, students are expected to count syllables during the Phonemic Awareness routine  when the teacher gives a word. In this routine, the teacher writes a dotted line to indicate the syllable breaks in each word before having students identify and blend the sounds together into a word. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 176, students complete the blending activity for long vowel e words. The teacher is prompted to explain and have a discussion with students on this vowel sound. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages 195-226, students learn vowel teams ee, ea, oa, and ai
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 278, students complete the Phonemic Awareness Routine. The teacher says a word, and students listen for the last sound in the word. Then, the teacher facilitates a discussion to see which words have a consonant help pattern. 

Materials contain limited explicit instruction of word solving strategies (graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words. Examples include:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide the Concept 1 overview indicates that a goal is for students to recognize that every word contains a vowel. From Week 1, Day 1, page 7, to Week 1, Day 5, page 12, there is no explicit instruction to meet this goal. Concept 2, page 18, instructs students to identify examples of short vowels in the words and sentence presented in the blending routine, but students do not receive instruction about how every word has to have a vowel sound or that every syllable has a vowel sound.
  • In the Teacher's Guide, Concept 4, page 87, during the Phonemic Awareness Routine, the teacher states, “I am going to say a word. Your job is to tell me the number of syllables you hear in the word.” This is only an oral exercise and does not practice decoding of syllables.
  • In the Teacher's Guide, Concept 4, page 99, in the Phonemic Awareness Routine, students are instructed as to what a syllable is: “A syllable is a break in a word…” However, there is no mention that a syllable must contain a vowel sound. Students are instructed to find the number of syllables in words, but there is no explicit instruction on what a syllable is or how to break words into syllables.

Opportunities are provided over the course of the year for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis strategies; however, students are not provided adequate practice in applying the identification of syllables to the decoding of new words. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Word analysis skills are applied to contextual practice, but there are no explicit routines described for teachers to guide students in applying them within the Fluency Notebook. Students are instructed to open the book and start reading, and teachers are instructed to circulate around the room and listen to students read.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, each daily lesson contains a blending activity in which students are expected to read groups of words with that week’s focus element. They are also expected to apply word analysis skills to read words during their independent work that includes different sorting activities, such as Color Code Writing and Word Hunt. However, in some activities, they are not directly practicing word analysis skills to decode and read new words. Instead, students review words introduced in instruction and sort or categorize them according to a focal element. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 9, students complete the Quick Switch Routine, where there is a list of words and they change the vowel sound to make a new word. For example, students go from dog to dig, and dig to dim. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 68, students write “super sentences” using words from their word list. The teacher is guided to ensure that the students are writing super sentences that give details. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 152, students complete the Blending Routine. A list of words is on the board, and the teacher places her finger under the first vowel or two fingers under the vowel pair. The students say the sound, the teacher runs her finger under the word and says the word, and students blend the word. 

Limited opportunities are provided over the course of the year for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis strategies. Examples include:

  • Students complete word sorts, quick switch routines in which they change a vowel, reading fluency passages in which they read words with long vowels, and blending routines in which they apply word analysis strategies to reading for long vowel words. 
  • The same activities are used repeatedly over the course of the year for students to practice word analysis skills. There are many word sort activities, but the other word analysis strategies are not varied.

Criterion 1n - 1q

Materials and instruction support students in learning and practicing regularly and irregularly spelled high-frequency words.
4/16
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for students to engage in decoding practice focused on accuracy and automaticity. Materials do not meet the criteria for instructional opportunities are built into the materials for systematic, evidence-based, explicit instruction in fluency. Materials partially meet the criteria for varied and frequent opportunities are built into the materials for students to engage in supported practice to gain oral reading fluency. Materials do not meet the criteria for materials provide teacher guidance to support students as they confirm or self-correct errors and emphasize reading for purpose and understanding.

Indicator 1n

Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in decoding practice focused on accuracy and automaticity in K and Grade 1.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for students to engage in decoding practice focused on accuracy and automaticity in K and Grade 1.

The materials provide poems, alliteration, and chant fluency routines designed to help students build automaticity. There are also a choral reading fluency routine and a passage routine. However, the materials include limited systematic and explicit instruction with these routines to help build fluency. The Teacher’s Guide provides several routines to teach students how to accurately read words; however, these routines are not integrated into reading in context, and teachers are not provided explicit instructions for their use in sentence reading. There are no specific correction procedures recommended for use when students do not read accurately in context. Fluency selections are reread throughout the week to build automaticity, but daily rereading of the passages is not incorporated into the lessons. There is a limited amount of teacher modeling of fluent reading.

Materials provide limited systematic and explicit instruction and practice in fluency by focusing on accuracy and automaticity in decoding

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-15 through I-20, the materials provide the Blending Routine, the Sight Word Routine, and the Fluency Routine to assist students with building accuracy in word reading by modeling blending and sight word reading.
    • The Supported Blending and Blending Routines provide explicit routines for the teacher to assist students in accurately decoding words. These routines are incorporated into each day’s lesson, beginning first with Supported Blending in which students produce some of the sounds within a word and the teacher supplies the rest, followed by students blending the sounds together to read the word. This routine appears in Concept 1 on Days 1-4.
      • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 7, students identify the initial sound of d, t, or m. The teacher says the remainder of the word, and students blend or say the whole word (i.e., dig→student identifies d→ teacher says ig→student says dig).
    • Blending begins in Concept 2 and continues throughout the remainder of the program. Students identify all of the sounds/spelling patterns within the word and then put them together to read the entire word. 
      • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 55, the materials introduce c, h, and ch words. Students apply their knowledge of sounds to decode and blend the words.
      • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 470, students practice the Blending Routine while discriminating between long vowel sounds in open syllables and vowel teams, as well as the vowel_e spelling pattern. Students blend words like earthquake, silent, and float.  
    • The Sight Word Routine, Teacher’s Guide, pages I-19 and I-20, provides explicit instruction for sight words that are introduced on each day’s lesson in order to build fluency with reading words. Lessons introduce three sight words per lesson beginning on Week 1 and continue for the remainder of the year. Students are also introduced to reading a sentence at the end of the blending and sight word instruction. 
      • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 90, the materials introduce three sight words (i.e., me, with, this) and one sentence (Who will stand with me?).
  • The Fluency Routine, Teacher’s Guide, page I-29, leads students to read the passage three times. After the first three readings, students continue to read the poem until they have achieved fluency. The materials state that students can return to other poems to maintain fluency. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 11, during the Fluency section, students read one of the four poems. The teacher is prompted to circulate among groups or to pull a small group for students who need additional support. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 341, the materials introduce now, our, and out as sight words and the sentence, “I browse through books in the library to see which one I want to check out.”

Materials provide limited opportunities for students in Kindergarten and Grade 1 to engage in decoding practice focused on accuracy and automaticity.

  • The Teacher’s Guide has selected poems and passages contained in the Fluency Notebook that are correlated with the instructional lessons and practiced daily each week. However, there are no explicit instructions as to how to use the Blending Routine within the context of reading these selections or what to do if students are unable read them. 
    • No instructions are provided to the teacher as to how the students should be led through these poems or taught sight words prior to trying to read them in context. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 90, the materials reference the Fluency Notebook, pages 15 and 16, and instructs the teacher to “...have the students read one or more of the poems. Circulate and listen to students read or gather a small group of students who need additional support.” No further instructions are given. 
      • The same instructions are provided in the Teacher’s Guide, page 473. Students are instructed to turn to the Fluency Notebook, Concept 11, pages 69 and 70, and read one or more of the poems. The teacher is instructed to circulate and listen to students read.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 15, students in Group One read “Pancake,” and “Cat!” in their Fluency Notebooks and Group 2 reads, “The Red Hen” and “Bedtime.” The fluency passages are based on short vowels a and e.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 218, students read the fluency poems “Have you Ever?,” “The Perfect Pair,” “Ratin,” or “The Boat That Will Not Float,” depending on whether they are in Group 1 or 2. 

Indicator 1o

Instructional opportunities are built into the materials for systematic, evidence-based, explicit instruction in fluency. (Grades 1-2)
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for instructional opportunities are built into the materials for systematic, evidence-based, explicit instruction in fluency (Grades 1-2). 

During the Fluency Routine, there is no explicit instruction, and there is minimal evidence of the teacher modeling appropriate fluency for students. The fluency passages for reading included in the text include short fluency passages; no other grade level text is included. The Teacher’s Guide does not provide explicit instruction on fluency or the elements of fluency. The teacher is not explicitly instructed to model phrasing, intonation, expression, or rate. Some tangential teaching of punctuation is included, but explicit modeling of how to address punctuation in oral reading of a passage is not provided. No criteria for mastery are indicated and there is no systematic collection of fluency data to indicate whether or not students are successful at mastering the elements of fluency.

Materials do not include opportunities for explicit, systematic instruction in fluency elements using grade-level text.

  • Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.
    • No evidence found. 

Materials provide limited opportunities for students to hear fluent reading of grade-level text by a model reader. Examples include:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 147, the Tips for Fluency state that the teacher should model reading with expression by reading “Hello’s” and “The Caterpillar” for students.
  • Students do not explicitly have the opportunity to hear fluent reading of grade-level text by a model reader.  

Materials do not include a variety of resources for explicit instruction in fluency. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The Fluency Notebook provides passages for reading correlated to the daily lessons. However, repeated readings take place over the course of four days with no data collected to indicate either accuracy or fluency. When students read the poems or passages provided, there is no fluency or accuracy goal or criteria set for them to measure their performance. No repeated measures are taken to indicate student progress in the acquisition of these important elements of fluency.
  • The section Fluency: Reading Like You’re Speaking does not provide explicit instruction on how to read fluently. Teachers are provided with the instruction to “circulate and listen to students read or gather a small group of students who need additional support.”

Indicator 1p

Varied and frequent opportunities are built into the materials for students to engage in supported practice to gain oral reading fluency beginning in mid-Grade 1 and through Grade 2 (once accuracy is secure). (not scored for K and early Grade 1)
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for varied and frequent opportunities are built into the materials for students to engage in supported practice to gain oral reading fluency beginning in mid-Grade 1 and through Grade 2 (once accuracy is secure).

There are frequent opportunities built into the materials for students to engage in supported practice to gain oral fluency. In the Teacher’s Guide, there are two sources for contextual reading materials, the Learner’s Notebook, and the Fluency Notebook. While the Teacher’s Guide provides oral reading texts for students to engage with, students are expected to reread the assigned poems three times in one day and then repeat the same readings for the following three days. This provides frequent practice, but it is not varied. Materials lack guidance and feedback suggestions to the teacher for supporting students’ gains in oral reading fluency.

Limited opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to gain oral reading fluency. Examples include:

  • The Learner’s Notebook contains a passage that students read on Fridays each week.
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-31, materials state that passages in the Learner’s Notebook are read on Fridays each week and used for comprehension checks. The stated purpose of these texts is for students to complete a cold read of a text and apply the weekly focus patterns within new words as well as sight words and previously taught patterns. These texts are included in the Day 5 lessons throughout this level of the program.
    • The Teacher's Guide states that the comprehension checks can be used as a formal assessment, but the materials do not provide explicit instructions for how to accomplish that or any criteria for measuring. The passages are read individually by students during independent practice activities. 
  • The Fluency Notebook selections are repeated daily for four days each week and read orally. It is not clear whether students are reading orally to themselves or to a partner. There are no instructions provided to the teacher other than, “Circulate and listen to students read or gather a small group of students who need additional support.”
    • These selections do not vary. Students read the same texts from Day 1 through Day 5 of the concept week.
    • Correction or modeling procedures are not provided. Students are told to read the poems out loud at least three times. 
    • While text reading is done daily, it is not varied in terms of the words used in context, the type of materials read (only poems, no narrative passages), or in how they are practiced (e.g., whisper reading, choral reading, small group, whole group)
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 431, students read one or more of the following poems: “Identity,” “I’m Deathly,” “Afraid of Pythons,” “Sublime Time,” and “Pie.” Students read one or more of these poems during the entire week. 

Materials contain opportunities for students to participate in repeated readings of a grade-level text to practice oral reading fluency. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Repeated readings of the poems occur daily. Students are instructed to read them at least three times, and the poems are repeated for four days during the week.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 30, students are introduced to the poems, “Drip in the Sink,” “The Kitten I’m Getting,” “What’s for Dinner?,” and “Home Run.” Students read these poems during Days 1 - 4.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 339, students are introduced to the poems, “Trout the Grouch,” “Mouse in the House,” “Race to Home Plate,” and “The Frowning Princess,” based on the group they are in. Students read these poems on Days 1 - 4 of the week. 

Materials include limited guidance and feedback suggestions to the teacher for supporting students’ gains in oral reading fluency. Examples include:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 147, in the section Tips for Fluency, the teacher is told that students can go on a Highlighter Hunt in their Fluency Notebooks for words with er, ir, ur, or, and ear word patterns. The materials state the teacher should encourage students to read with expression. 
  • No specific feedback is provided to students regarding their accuracy, fluency, expression, or phrasing, and there are no criteria set for how to measure whether students are improving in any of these elements across the repeated readings.  There are no instructions to the teacher in how or when to provide feedback or what kind of feedback is needed in order to ensure students develop fluency.

Indicator 1q

Materials provide teacher guidance to support students as they confirm or self-correct errors (Grades 1-2) and emphasize reading for purpose and understanding.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials provide teacher guidance to support students as they confirm or self-correct errors and emphasize reading for purpose and understanding.

Materials do not include explicit lessons for students to learn to confirm and self-correct errors and emphasize reading for purpose and understanding. Additionally, no evidence is present for students to practice self-correction of errors. The Teacher’s Guide does not address the self-correction of errors when students are reading for fluency. The instructional lessons do not provide opportunities for students to self-correct and then reread the sentence to develop increased fluency.  No routines are provided to teach students how to ‘chunk’ words together and read phrases in order to self-correct and increase reading rates. 

Materials do not provide explicit lessons for the teacher in confirming and self-correcting errors in fluency. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The Teacher’s Guide does not provide teachers with routines for teaching students to self-correct when reading for fluency. It does not provide explicit instructions on how the teacher is to correct errors or how to teach students to self-correct errors. 
  • The instructions provided in the materials are for teachers to circulate and listen to students read, but no indication is given as to how errors should be corrected or strategies to teach students how to self-correct.

Materials do not provide opportunities for students to practice using confirmation or self-correction of errors. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • While the materials provide opportunities for oral reading, there is no formalized routine for students to learn self-correction skills.

Multiple opportunities are provided over the course of the year for students to read on-level texts (Grades 1-2) for purpose and understanding.

  • No evidence found. 

Materials contain explicit directions and/or think-alouds for the teacher to model how to engage with a text to emphasize reading for purpose and understanding.

  • No evidence found. 

Gateway Two

Implementation, Support Materials & Assessment

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet expectations for implementation, support materials, and assessment. The materials meet the criterion for materials are accompanied by a systematic, explicit, and research-based scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills that are taught in the program and the order in which they are presented. Foundational skills lessons are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. The materials meet the criterion for program includes work with decodables, following the grade-level scope and sequence to address securing phonics; however, the fluency passages within the materials do not include the high frequency words that are addressed each week. The materials do not meet the criterion for materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards. There are missed opportunities for regular and systematic assessment opportunities that measure student progress in phonological awareness and fluency. The materials do not meet the criterion for materials support effective use of technology and visual design to enhance student learning; however, the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.


Criterion 2a - 2e

Materials are accompanied by a systematic, explicit, and research-based scope and sequence outlining the essential knowledge and skills that are taught in the program and the order in which they are presented. Scope and sequence should include phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, fluency, and print concepts.
18/20
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials contain a teacher edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student materials. Materials contain full, adult-level explanations and examples of the foundational skills concepts included in the program so teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary. Materials contain full, adult-level explanations and examples of the foundational skills concepts included in the program so teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary. Foundational skills lessons are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. Content can reasonably be completed within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding. Materials partially meet the criteria for scope and sequence clearly delineate the sequence in which phonological awareness skills are to be taught, with a clear, evidence-based explanation for the expected hierarchy of phonemic awareness competence. Materials include a scope and sequence that clearly delineates an intentional sequence in which phonics skills are to be taught, with a clear explanation for the order of the sequence. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the Foundational Skills program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.

Indicator 2a

Materials contain a teacher edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials contain a teacher edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.

Puzzle Piece Phonics provides a well-defined Grade 1 Teacher’s Guide for content presentation including detailed lesson plans for each concept to be taught, the number of weeks of instruction on each concept and lessons for each day of every week designated for instruction on that concept. Assessment measures, along with scoring procedures, are provided for both pre- and post-assessment of skills. The Teacher's Guide includes detailed descriptions of foundational skills content (i.e., phonological awareness, phonics, high-frequency words, word analysis, decoding). Foundational skills content descriptions include the purpose of teaching each component. Explicit instructional routines that help the teacher to effectively implement each lesson are delineated in the Guide. Instructions include how long the routine should take to complete and when it is introduced within the program. There are online resources to provide support and guidance for the teacher referenced at the beginning of the week’s lesson and again on Day 5 at the close of the week’s lessons. 

Materials provide a well-defined, teacher resource (teacher edition, manual) for content presentation.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I10-I48, there are instructional routines that outline how the teacher should conduct each instructional routine throughout the week.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, Introduction, page I-7 through I-12, How to Display the Puzzle Pieces, the Puzzle Piece Routines are described for linking the pieces and how to teach using The Puzzle Pieces Routine.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, Introduction, Sort Your Own Way Routine, page I-44, the routine is described (purpose, what to watch for, modifications, extensions). A photograph of a student completing the sort is provided.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-17, materials indicate the Blending Routine takes 10 minutes or less to teach and is taught on days 1-4  during each week of instruction and continues through the end of the program’s lessons (Concept 11, Week 6, Day 4, page 474).  

The teacher resource contains detailed information and instructional routines that help the teacher to effectively implement all foundational skills content (i.e. phonological awareness, phonics, irregularly spelled words, word analysis, fluency).  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-36, there is an instructional routine for students to complete the activity Color-Code Writing. It identifies the purpose of the activity, what to watch for, modifications, and extensions. Under the purpose, there are eight steps that outline what the teacher and/or students do during each step of the activity. The purpose of this routine is to help students learn the focus spelling patterns and to make them stand out.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 53, during the Phonemic Awareness routine, the teacher gives the directions, “I am going to say a group of words. Your job is to tell me the sound you hear at the beginning of all of the words. For example, if I say, ‘bat, ball, bubble,’ you should say /b/.”
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-13 and I-14, the directions stipulate that pre-assessments are administered during Concept 1, Concept 5, and Concept 9. Post-assessments are administered at the end of Concepts 5, 9, and 10, and during instruction on Concept 11.

Technology pieces included provide support and guidance for the teacher and do not create an additional layer of complication around the materials.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 290, Online Resources are referenced in the section Preparing for Your Week under Tips for Management and Differentiation. It states a teacher may refer to this section and to resources.corwin.com/puzzlepiecephonics-grade1 for resources and ideas. Materials restate the reference under Weekly Celebration, page 300.

Indicator 2b

Materials contain full, adult-level explanations and examples of the foundational skills concepts included in the program so teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials contain full, adult-level explanations and examples of the foundational skills concepts included in the program so teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.

In the Teacher's Guide, Introduction, pages I-15 through I-48, the materials provide adult-level explanations of each of the routines and student practice activites. On the Puzzle Piece website is a paper entitled “Puzzle Piece Phonics Research Base Alignment: A Summary of Salient Research and Description of Program Alignment.” Full, adult-level explanations of concepts such as phonemic awareness, phonemes, morphemes, semantics, syntax, and explicit and systematic instruction are available within this resource. The paper defines each of the salient terms, provides research that supports the rationale for teaching, and describes how the terms are incorporated into the design of Puzzle Piece Phonics. However, there is no reference to this article mentioned in the teacher materials.

Materials provide full adult-level explanations and examples of the foundational skill concepts included in the Puzzle Piece Phonics program.  

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-5, explanations are provided for the color codes of the Puzzle Pieces used for display. The code includes: red--consonants; blue--short vowels; muted blue--short a vowel families, short e vowel families, short i vowel families, short o vowel families, and short u vowel families; orange--digraphs; purple--blends, and green--long vowels. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-10, explanations are provided for how the puzzle pieces are used on the reference wall, match the weekly word sort, and appear in the Learner’s Notebook.  “Each puzzle piece represents one sound/spelling pattern. The puzzle pieces show the spelling, a picture of one word that has that spelling, and the written word of that spelling. The focus pattern appears in bold and is color-coded within the example word. There is a motion for each puzzle piece that helps students remember the example word on the puzzle piece. The motions engage learners and aide retention. The reference Puzzle Pieces only have the lowercase letter(s) representing the focus sounds(s).” Additional information is provided regarding the major patterns of phonics. The pieces are created in a way to fit together and illustrate those patterns.
    • “Vertically: The spellings of a particular sound connect vertically. Students will see these vertical connections in first and second grade. For example, the a_e, a, ay, and ai patterns can all be used to represent the long a sound. They snap together vertically. This helps students understand that the long a sound can be represented in any of those ways.”
    • “Horizontally: Similar patterns connect horizontally. For example, all of the pieces in the vowel _e family connect horizontally. This helps students understand that the vowel _e rule applies to long a, e, i, o, and u.”

Additional information is provided in the Teacher’s Guide, page I-10, to help further explain the times when various patterns may be applied. Examples include:

  • “Spellings that are only used at the beginning of a word have a straight edge on the left side. No pieces can be physically placed before that spelling. This helps students recognize that those spellings (such as tr and dr) always come at the beginning of a word.”
  • “Spellings that are only used at the end of a word have a straight edge on the right side. No pieces can be physically placed after that spelling. This shows that these spellings (such as at, ap, and ag) can only come at the end of a word.”
  • “The vowel _e spellings have an opening at the top.  The bottom side of a consonant piece sticks out and can be inserted into the opening to create a vowel _e pattern (e.g., the bottom of the no piece snaps into the top of the bone piece to form the one spelling in the word bone.)”

Adult-level explanations are provided for the various routines included in the materials.  Explanations include specific information regarding the following:

  • What is it?
  • Learning Outcomes
  • Purpose
  • Basic Routine

Explanations are provided in the Teacher’s Guide Introduction for the specific foundational skills concepts, including:

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Word or Letter? Routine
  • Supported Blending
  • Blending
  • Sight Words Routine
  • Letter Formation
  • Dictation
  • Quick Switch 
  • Fluency Routines

Indicator 2c

Foundational skills lessons are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. Content can reasonably be completed within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for foundational skills lessons are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. Content can reasonably be completed within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding. 

The Puzzle Piece Phonics Grade 1 Teacher’s Guide provides a clear overview of the rationale for the instructional routines and detailed instructions for explicit teaching of each of the concepts. Each lesson component and its expected learning outcomes and the purpose of the activity is defined.  A routine for teaching each lesson component is provided that includes the expected amount of time to allocate for teaching it. The Teacher’s Guide provides a scope and sequence chart for pacing of concepts and lessons and indicates the phonetic elements that are the focus of each week of instruction. At the introduction of each new concept, teachers are provided an overview of the skill to be taught, the resources they need to prepare for the week, and tips for managing and differentiating instruction. These overviews refer to the specific pages that explain the various routines in the Introduction section of the Teacher’s Guide facilitating teachers' access to the information. Each concept overview refers to the additional student resources that can be found online and these references are repeated in the Weekly Celebration section of the Day 5 lesson for each week. Daily lessons are composed of activities that follow consistent formats which are repeated throughout the program. Lessons clearly refer to other student materials that are required for the day’s lesson.  There are 35 weeks of instruction, which is roughly 175 days of instructional material. There are 35 weeks of instructional content, and each concept has varying amount of weeks allocated to it. Each week contains five days of instructional material. The material is mapped out in a way that creates clear activities for students to complete in order to learn the material. 

Lesson plans utilize an effective, research-based lesson plan design for early literacy instruction.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-3, materials discuss how research supports the methodology for the research-based approaches to word study. The materials state that a take-home spelling list is not included in the program because, in a balanced literacy environment, “word study should not be taught in isolation.”
  • Lesson plans utilize an effective, research-based design for early literacy instruction by incorporating modeling, explicit teaching, and guided and independent practice activities. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, Concept 8, page 237, the teacher models identifying open syllables through an oral exercise. The lesson then requires the teacher to review previously taught sounds and provide guided practice on identifying syllables and decoding multisyllabic words. 

The effective lesson design structure includes both whole group and small group instruction.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 322, Preparing for Your Week, there are specific words designated for each group for the spelling check activity.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 323, The Big Reveal Instructional Routine is conducted whole group.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 415, during the fluency activity, the teacher can complete this activity in small group.
  • The effective lesson design structure includes both whole group and small group instruction. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 237, the teacher begins the lesson with whole group instruction, followed by the students practicing the prescribed Spelling Routine with a partner, and ending with independent reading. Students are then divided into word study groups for differentiated instruction on page 131 of the Learner’s Notebook and given independent work to complete on page 132 of the Learner’s Notebook.

The pacing of each component of daily lesson plans is clear and appropriate.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-15, the PhonemicAwareness Routine has a suggested time of two minutes and is completed each day.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-15, the supported Blending Routine takes 10 minutes or less and is completed on Days 1 - 4. 
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-22 indicates that the Quick Switch Routine takes seven to ten minutes and is completed on Days 2 and 4 of each concept.
    • In Concept 6, Week 1, Day 2, page 177, the teacher can estimate that the Blending Routine format should take seven to ten minutes to teach for that lesson.

The suggested amount of time and expectations for maximum student understanding of all foundational skill content (i.e. phonological awareness, print concepts, letters, phonics, high-frequency words, word analysis, decoding) can reasonably be completed in one school year and should not require modifications.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • There are 11 Concepts in the Grade 1 materials, and each week has five days of instruction.
  • The 11 concepts have a different number of weeks depending on the concept.
    • Concept 1, Consonants and Introducing Word Study, has one week. 
    • Concept 2, Short Vowels, has three weeks. 
    • Concept 3, Digraphs, has three weeks.
    • Concept 4, Blends, has four weeks. 
    • Concept 5, Controlled Vowels, has three weeks.
    • Concept 6, Vowel_e, has two weeks.
    • Concept 7, Vowel Teams, has two weeks.
    • Concept 8, Open Syllables, has two weeks.
    • Concept 9, Consonant Help Syllables, has two weeks.
    • Concept 10, Irregular Vowels, has six weeks. 
    • Concept 11, Long Vowel Review, has six weeks.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-9, the materials state there are approximately 35 weeks of instruction, approximately 175 days of instruction.

Indicator 2d

Order of Skills
0/0

Indicator 2d.i

Scope and sequence clearly delineate the sequence in which phonological awareness skills are to be taught, with a clear, evidence-based explanation for the expected hierarchy of phonemic awareness competence. (K-1)
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for scope and sequence clearly delineate the sequence in which phonological awareness skills are to be taught, with a clear, evidence-based explanation for the expected hierarchy of phonemic awareness competence (K-1).

The Puzzle Piece Phonics First Grade Level Teacher’s Guide provides an overview of phonemic awareness and a list of outcomes for students. There is a clear hierarchy of a scope and sequence for phonemic awareness, noted on page I-15 of the Teacher’s Guide. A more in-depth description of the skills to be taught and a rationale for their inclusion is presented in an article, “Puzzle Piece Phonics Research Base Alignment,” published on the program's companion website. The program provides a detailed scope and sequence chart for the introduction of letter-sound correspondences but does not delineate, in a similar fashion, the scope and sequence for phonemic awareness skills to be taught. Phonemic awareness skills are briefly referenced in the list of outcomes with no other delineation of the sequence of introduction or amount of review and practice provided. 

Materials contain a clear, evidence-based explanation for the expected hierarchy for teaching phonological awareness skills. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-15, a definition of phonemic awareness, the purpose of phonemic awareness, the learning outcomes, and a basic routine for teacher phonemic awareness is provided.
    • Grade 1 Learning Outcomes for Phonemic Awareness include:
      • segment initial sounds in words
      • segment medial sounds in words
      • segment final sounds in words
      • orally break words into syllables
      • listen for consonant sounds
      • listen for short and long vowel sounds
      • listen for irregular vowel sounds
  • On the Companion Website an article entitled “Puzzle Piece Phonics Research Base Alignment” provides a clear definition for phonemic awareness (page 3) and a detailed description of the research-base supporting the routines (pages 9-11) used in the Puzzle Piece Phonics program to teach phonemic awareness.

Materials contain a phonemic awareness sequence of instruction and practice based on the expected hierarchy. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-49 through I-52, materials provide a scope and sequence chart that delineates 35 weeks of instruction, organized under 11 concepts, with each week focusing on specific letter/sound correspondences. However, the scope and sequence does not reference the sequence of phonemic awareness skills. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-15, while the “learning outcomes” listed on page I-15 correspond to the level of tasks for phonemic awareness, there is no actual scope and sequence chart provided for the introduction of the different phonemic awareness tasks (i.e., rhyme, sound comparison, phoneme segmentation, phoneme manipulation). 

Materials have a cohesive sequence of phonemic awareness instruction based on the expected hierarchy to build toward students’ application of the skills. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • A phonemic awareness exercise, which provides oral/aural practice, is included in each lesson throughout the program. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide Contents pages, there is a sequence of phonemic tasks. Concept 1 is consonants. Concept 2 is short vowels. Concept 3 focuses on  digraphs. Concept 4 is blends, and Concept 5 is controlled vowels. Concepts 6-10 focuses on Vowel_e, Vowel Teams, Open Syllables, Consonant Help Syllables, and Irregular Vowels. Concept 11 is a long vowel review.  

Indicator 2d.ii

Scope and sequence clearly delineate an intentional sequence in which phonics skills are to be taught, with a clear explanation for the order of the sequence.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for scope and sequence clearly delineate an intentional sequence in which phonics skills are to be taught, with a clear explanation for the order of the sequence. 

The Teacher’s Guide provides a chart indicating the scope and sequence used to introduce letter/sound patterns throughout this level of the program. The companion website provides a research paper, “Puzzle Piece Phonics Research Base Alignment,” which provides a broad overview of the research on the need to incorporate explicit and systematic phonics instruction in the early grades. The paper then highlights several research findings that guide the design of their program.

Materials clearly delineate a scope and sequence with a cohesive, intentional sequence of phonics instruction and practice to build toward application of skills. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • There is a clear scope and sequence on the Contents pages of the Teacher’s Guide. The scope and sequence moves from consonants, short vowels, digraphs, blends, controlled vowels, different types of long vowels, and then to irregular vowels. There is an intentional sequence of phonics instruction which builds on skills.
  • The Teacher’s Guide, pages I-49 through I-52, provides a scope and sequence chart that is organized under different concepts and instructional weeks. It delineates the order in which the skills from the Kindergarten level are reviewed in the first four weeks of school and the order in which new skills are introduced throughout the remaining 31 weeks of instruction. 

Materials have a clear research-based explanation for the order of the phonics sequence.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In an article, “Puzzle Piece Phonics Research Base Alignment,” published on the companion website, the research supporting the material's  approach to reading instruction is explained. 
    • The materials cite Blevins’ (2017) research that indicates instructional programs should sequence high-utility sound/spelling patterns before the introduction of less useful patterns. 
    • The instructional sequence spends five weeks teaching consonant blends and the schwa sounds before introducing r-controlled vowels.  

Indicator 2e

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the Foundational Skills program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement. 

The Teacher’s Guide includes a Weekly Celebration on Day 5 of each instructional week. The teacher is instructed to display a celebratory message identifying the puzzle pieces that have been introduced during that week, and students copy the message onto a weekly certificate. A copy of the certificate is included in the online program resources. These certificates are taken home to show parents what the student has been learning. The Learner’s Notebook consists of perforated pages that can be torn out and sent home at the end of each week so that parents or caregivers can be informed the concepts that are being practiced. However, there are no specific strategies or suggestions for how stakeholders could support progress and achievement by working with students at home. The materials do not provide stakeholders with strategies and activities for practicing print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, and fluency that will support students in progress towards and achievement of grade-level foundational skills standards. There are two sections that suggest the materials should be shared with families in the Grade 1 Teacher’s Guide: (1) page I-3 under the assessment heading and (2) the Weekly Celebration section. 

Materials contain jargon-free resources and processes to inform all stakeholders about foundational skills taught at school.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-3, Easy Ongoing Assessment, the assessment resource states that assessments and Practice Pieces can be shared with families so that they are able to see student progress.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-3q, students complete the Glue Words activity and take it home for continued practice.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-32, Weekly Celebration Routine, students complete a celebration certificate for the word study mastery. They take the certificate home and share it with their families.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 181, students copy a celebratory message on their certificates: “Piece of Cake! You learned the cake, Pete, and cube puzzle pieces!” 

Materials do not provide stakeholders with strategies and activities for practicing phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, fluency, and print concepts that will support students in progress towards and achievement of grade-level foundational skills standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The Teacher’s Guide, as well as the companion website, does not provide resources or information for stakeholders to use to support foundational skills or practice phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, fluency, or print concepts at home.

Criterion 2f - 2f.ii

Program includes work with decodables in K and Grade 1, and as needed in Grade 2, following the grade-level scope and sequence to address both securing phonics.
4/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials include decodable texts with phonics aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and opportunities for students to use decodables for multiple readings. Materials do not meet the criteria for materials include decodable texts with high-frequency words aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and opportunities for students to use decodables for multiple readings.

Indicator 2f

Aligned Decodable Texts
0/0

Indicator 2f.i

Materials include decodable texts with phonics aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and opportunities for students to use decodables for multiple readings.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for materials include decodable texts with phonics aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and opportunities for students to use decodables for multiple readings.

The materials contain fluency passages that work on a specific phonics skill based on the word list students are reading and practice. Students read the decodable texts securing the phonics sound they are working on. The Teacher’s Guide includes decodable texts that are aligned with the focus elements incorporated in each lesson. The decodable texts often include one or two words containing the focus element. The text reading is repeated for five days. 

Materials include decodable texts to address securing phonics. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The decodable texts provide opportunities to practice the focus elements taught in the lessons. 
    • The Teacher’s Guide, page 55, focuses on the digraph ch and single consonants c and h. The corresponding pages 9-10 in the Fluency Notebook incorporate the following words for the students to read: “cookies (inflectional endings), chocolate (multisyllabic/irregulare vowel_e pronunciation), plate (final_e rule, not taught yet), brother (irregular sound), instantly and rapidly (multisyllabic words), and treat (long vowel e, not taught yet).” Students are instructed to read the selections.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 205, students read the fluency passages from their Fluency Notebook which contain decodable texts “Creepy Mr. Lee,” Easy, Peezy, Lemon Squeezy,” “Dreams,” and “Meal by the Sea.” Each one of these includes words with the focus pattern on them. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 235, students read the decodable fluency passages “Wet,” “The Baby,” “Bacon,” and “My Pet Ladybug” which are based on the open syllable patterns word list they are reading for the week. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 273, students read the decodable texts ”Follow Me!,” “Light, Bright, Night,” “Grow, Grow, Grow,” and “Crows in a Row,” which focus on the consonant help syllables, ow and igh.

Decodable texts contain grade-level phonics skills aligned to the program’s scope and sequence. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 106-108, students are working on focus patterns nk, ng, and mp. The Fluency Notebook passages, “Boing...Boing...Boing…,” “Sing, Bird, Sing,” “That Stinks,” and “Camping” are based on the focus patterns they are working on. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 143-145, students practice schwa sounds /er/, /ir/, /ur/, /or/, and /ear/. Students read the decodable passages, “Hellos,” The Caterpillar,” The Spooker,” and “The Missing Teacher.”
  • Decodable texts are aligned to practice the skills listed in the program’s scope and sequence.
    • In The Teacher’s Guide, page 180, the focus elements are listed as a_e e_e, and u_e. The students are referred to pages 29-30 in the Fluency Notebook for the text reading selections.
      • In the e_e selection there are two examples: Gene, Eve
      • In the a_e selection there are three examples: bake, cake, make
      • In the u_e selection there are four examples: huge, mule, cute, rude.
      • In the final selection, the examples are as follows: brave, face, stage, wave, snake, games, lake, quake, race, place, plane, ice, skate, sake, and wake.

Indicator 2f.ii

Materials include decodable texts with high-frequency words aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and opportunities for students to use decodables for multiple readings.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials include decodable texts with high frequency words aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and opportunities for students to use decodables for multiple readings. 

Fluency passages included in the materials do not include the high frequency words that are addressed each week. While the Teacher’s Guide provides a scope and sequence chart for words introduced in the sight word routines, materials do not provide a scope and sequence chart for all of the high-frequency words used within the decodable texts.  

Materials do not include decodable texts that utilize high-frequency words. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Many high frequency words are regularly included in the Fluency Passages; however, there is not a complete list of high frequency words or a scope and sequence provided for when they are introduced. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 32, students choose to read one of the following poems: “Drip in the Sink,” “The Kitten I’m Getting,” “What’s for Dinner,” and “Home Run''; however, the sight words for the week, in, it, and is, are not included in the poems. 

Decodable texts do not contain grade-level high-frequency/irregularly spelled words aligned to the program’s scope and sequence. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • There is a scope and sequence of words introduced as sight words within the lessons, but there is not a complete list of all high-frequency words introduced in the decodable texts.

Criterion 2g - 2i.iii

Materials provide teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards. Materials also provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that students demonstrate independence with grade-level standards.
7/24
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress through mastery of print concepts, letter recognition, and printing letters.  Materials do not meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of phonological awareness. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of phonics.  Materials partially meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of word recognition and analysis. Materials do not meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress in fluency partially meet the criteria for materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment and assessment materials clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. Materials do not regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen in a language other than English with extensive opportunities for reteaching to meet or exceed grade-level standards. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade-level with extensive opportunities for reteaching to meet or exceed grade-level standards. Materials partially meet the criteria for materials regularly provide extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade-level.

Indicator 2g

Regular and Systematic Opportunities for Assessment
0/0

Indicator 2g.i

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress through mastery of print concepts (K-1), letter recognition (K only), and printing letters (as indicated by the program scope and sequence) (K-1).
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress through mastery of print concepts (K-1), letter recognition (K only), and printing letters (as indicated by the program scope and sequence) (K-1). 

Assessments that evaluate students’ knowledge of print concepts for Grade 1 do not address the standards that are required in this grade, such as organization of print concepts and recognizing the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation). 

No materials or assessments measure students’ progress toward printing letters. The materials lack assessments that measure student progress in letter formation; therefore, materials do not support teachers in instructional suggestions to help students make progress toward mastery in letter formation.

Materials regularly and systematically provide a variety of assessment opportunities over the course of the year to demonstrate students’ progress toward mastery and independence in letter formation.

  • No evidence found

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with information concerning  students’ current skills/level of understanding in letter formation. 

  • No evidence found

Materials support teachers with instructional suggestions for assessment-based steps to help students to progress toward mastery in letter formation.

  • No evidence found

Indicator 2g.ii

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of phonological awareness (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (K-1)
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of phonological awareness (as indicated by the program scope and sequence).

There are three pre-assessments and four post-assessments administered to students during certain Concepts, but there are no test items that measure phonemic awareness. The program does not contain systematic assessment opportunities to genuinely measure student progress through mastery of phonological awareness. The materials do not contain record keeping materials for data (anecdotally, on daily or weekly lesson performance) on the phonemic awareness skills taught. Student responses requested for assessment items are choice responses (i.e., “Tell me if these words rhyme”) causing students to have a 50/50 chance of getting an item correct. 

Materials do not regularly and systematically provide a variety of assessment opportunities over the course of the year to demonstrate students’ progress toward mastery and independence in phonological awareness. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, there are three pre-assessments and four post-assessments given to students throughout the school year. However, these assessments address phonics skills and do not measure students’ progress in phonological awareness.

Assessment materials do not provide teachers and students with information concerning  students’ current skills/level of understanding of phonological awareness. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • None of the pre- or post-assessments directly measure oral phonemic awareness skills. They do measure phonemic awareness skills indirectly but would not allow for any error analysis. For example, a student could understand the phonemic awareness concept, identify the medial sound, but get the item incorrect because the skill is tested through a sound-symbol correspondence task instead of through oral means.

Materials do not support teachers with instructional suggestions for assessment-based steps to help students to progress toward mastery in phonological awareness. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-13, the program states that the pre-assessments help the teacher identify which patterns students know and which ones they need to work on. There is also a suggested word grouping list based on which spelling patterns students make mistakes on. 
  • Each of the lessons contain a phonemic awareness exercise; however, there is no corresponding assessment on the Day 5 lessons, as with the letter-sound correspondence spelling assessments.

Indicator 2g.iii

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of phonics in- and out-of-context (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (K-2)
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of phonics (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (K-2) 

The Teacher’s Guide provides three pre-assessments and four post-assessments throughout the 35-week instructional program. Assessments measure letter-sound relationships and spelling pattern knowledge but with limited applicability. Spelling Checks administered on a weekly basis provide feedback on student’s encoding abilities. Assessments include limited opportunities for encoding within context. The program states that the results will be used to group students by word lists, but there are no other suggested interventions.

Materials provide resources and tools to collect ongoing data about students’ progress in phonics. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 113, students complete the Partner Spell Routine, and the teacher walks around the room. Students take a word out of their their partner’s bag and then read it. The partner writes the word. Then, the other student says whether the partner spelled the word correctly or not. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 135, students write the words metal, shovel, jingle, pickle and her, during the Dictation Routine. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 361, students complete the Spelling Check. The teacher says a word and students write the words based on their list, irregular vowels oi, oy.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 3, the Pre-Assessment 1, Initial Spelling Check, is given at the beginning of the program. According to the Guide, it measures one-to-one letter-sound correspondences, knowledge of consonants, digraphs, blends, short vowels, and long vowels. There are no items that measure phonemic awareness through oral formats. 
  • Pre-assessments One and Two (Teacher’s Guide, page 129 and Teacher’s Guide, page 257) state that the pre-assessments are spelling checks that focus on spelling patterns, knowledge of short, long and r-controlled vowels, and knowledge of syllable breaks. None of these checks provide direct assessments of encoding in context of sentences.
  • The Teacher’s Guide provides four post-assessments. The post-assessments are labeled as a spelling check to test knowledge of letter-sound correspondences, knowledge of consonants, digraphs, blends, short and long vowels, r-controlled vowels, and knowledge of syllables. 

Materials offer limited assessment opportunities to determine students’ progress in phonics that are implemented systematically. Examples include:

  • Students complete spell check assessments on a regular basis during each week of the concepts. In the Teacher’s Guide, page 194, students write the words with the spelling pattern, vowel_e words. There are two different groups of words based on the students’ levels.

Limited assessment opportunities are provided regularly for students to demonstrate progress toward mastery and independence with phonics. Examples include:

  • The Concept 9 post-assessment is administered to evaluate the students’ needs concerning knowledge of consonants, irregular vowel spelling patterns, syllable breaks, and the understanding that each syllable contains a vowel. 
  • Besides the spelling checks, which include a limited sample of words and one sentence in dictation, there are no regular assessments of encoding skills or for generalization to words not previously taught. Some activities provide opportunities to practice but no data is recorded to indicate whether students are mastering the skills being practiced.

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with limited information about students’ current skills/level of understanding of phonics. Examples include:

  • In the Concept 5 post-assessment, students demonstrate knowledge of short vowels, digraphs, blends, and controlled vowels during a spelling check. The last two words contain the focus pattern for the week. The teacher is prompted to tell the students they should spell words on the post-assessment correctly because these are words from previous weeks. 
  • There is no data collected and analyzed based on the spelling assessments given each week. 

Materials provide limited opportunities to measure students’ progress to support teachers with instructional adjustments to help students make progress toward mastery in phonics. Examples include:

  • The Guidelines for Concept 9 post-assessments tells the teacher that if students can quickly meet the first grade standards for irregularly spelled words, they should be moved to Group 2. 
  • Results of the assessments are not used to make instructional decisions regarding progression or reteaching.
    • Students are not required to apply knowledge of syllables and letter-sound relationships to encode lists of words; therefore, teachers would not be able to collect any running records or complete miscue analysis of student work.

Indicator 2g.iv

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of word recognition and analysis (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (K-2)
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress of word recognition and analysis (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (K-2) 

The Teacher’s Guide provides three pre-assessments and four post-assessments throughout the 35-week instructional program. Assessments measure letter-sound relationships and word recognition skills but with limited applicability. Assessments do not provide immediate information on when concepts need to be retaught or reviewed and do not provide any direct measures of decoding skills. Opportunities are missed for students to be assessed on high frequency words or students’ ability to utilize word analysis skills in writing words. 

Materials provide limited assessment opportunities over the course of the year to demonstrate students’ progress toward mastery and independence of word recognition (high-frequency words or irregularly spelled words) and analysis. Examples include:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 3, the Pre-Assessment 1, Initial Spelling Check, is to be given at the beginning of the program. According to the Guide, it measures one-to-one letter-sound correspondences, knowledge of consonants, digraphs, blends, short vowels, and long vowels. 

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with limited information concerning students’ current skills/level of understanding of word recognition and word analysis. Examples include:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide on page 128, during Concept 5, teachers give a pre-assessment to students in which the teacher says the word and students write what sounds they hear. The intent of this assessment is to determine which long vowel sounds  students know prior to Concept 6 to adjust their word list. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 286, the teacher gives a post-assessment to determine students’ knowledge of long vowels prior to moving into the next unit. 

Materials provide limited support to teachers with instructional suggestions for assessment-based steps to help students to progress toward mastery in word recognition and word analysis. Examples include:

  • Pre-assessments are included throughout the materials and "are given prior to the start of a new concept." After students have taken the pre-test, there are suggested word lists for the teachers to use with students, based on what they did during the assessment. 

Indicator 2g.v

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress in fluency (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (1-2)
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that measure student progress in fluency (as indicated by the program scope and sequence). (1-2)

The Teacher’s Guide does not provide assessment measures for students' progress in fluency. While students complete repeated readings of passages or texts, no fluency measures are recorded to determine whether fluency is improving with the repeated readings. No criteria are specified for reading rate or accuracy.

Assessment opportunities are not provided regularly and systematically over the course of the year in core materials for students to demonstrate progress toward mastery and independence of fluency. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 41, during the fluency portion of the lesson, the teacher walks around and listens to students as they read fluency passages. The teacher pulls a small group of students if additional support is needed. 

Assessment materials do not provide teachers and students with information about students’ current skills/level of understanding of fluency. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • There are fluency passages that students read and the teacher walks around to listen to students read. There is no evidence of the teacher using the fluency passage as an assessment. 
  • There are no assessment materials provided that compare students' fluency performance to a criterion or goal. 

Materials do not support teachers with instructional adjustments to help students make progress toward mastery in fluency. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 176, when the students read the fluency passage, the teacher is prompted to walk around and pull small groups, but there are no instructional routines that go along with pulling small groups that would allow the teacher to adjust for struggling readers. 
  • Since there is no formal or informal assessment of fluency that provides information regarding a student’s progress, there are no instructional adjustments that can be targeted to improve that performance.

Indicator 2h

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment and assessment materials clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment and assessment materials clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

There is a document on the companion website for Puzzle Piece Phonics that identifies the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics and word recognition, fluency, conventions of standard English, and vocabulary acquisition and use) that align with Grade 1 of Puzzle Piece Phonics. However, there is no alignment to CCSS provided by the publisher to indicate which standards are being addressed by specific questions, tasks, assessments, or routines. 

Alignment documentation is not provided for all tasks, questions, and assessment items.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-4q, during Concept 2 in Weeks 2-4, there is a scope and sequence which states which concept, such as short i, short o, or short u, will be covered in that section.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 3, on the Pre-Assessment Initial Spelling Check, in order to evaluate the assessment, the teacher looks for one-to-one letter correspondence, knowledge of consonants, digraphs, blends, short vowels and long vowels.

Alignment documentation does not contain specific standards correlated to specific lessons.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The alignment document provided on the companion website for Grade 1 Puzzle Piece Phonics lists the standards addressed but does not connect them to a specific lesson, task, or instructional routine included in any of the lessons.  
  • The Teacher’s Guide, Introduction, pages I-1 through I-71, does not reference CCSS in terms of specific tasks or routines.

Materials do not include denotations of the standards being assessed in the formative assessments. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-13, the materials delineate three pre-assessments used as formative assessments throughout the program. They are given prior to the start of a new concept and challenge students to write words with patterns that have not yet been formally taught. The guide states that the information can help teachers form student groups for word sorting , etc., and help determine the focus of lessons for each group; however, the materials do not identify which standards are being addressed in these formative assessments.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 3, the materials provide the first pre-assessment which covers one-to-one letter-sound correspondence, knowledge of consonants, digraphs, and blends, and short and long vowel sounds. The instructions tell teachers what to look for and provide tips for scoring but do not link this assessment to any standards.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 129, the materials provide the second pre-assessment which covers one-to-one sound correspondence and knowledge of consonants, long vowel spelling patterns, syllable breaks, and that each syllable contains a vowel. The pre-assessment is not correlated to any standards.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 257, the materials provide the third pre-assessment, and this assessment evaluates the same skills as the second pre-assessment. It provides what to look for, tips for scoring, and suggestions on how students can be grouped based on the assessment, but it does not specify correlation to specific standards. 

Materials do not include denotations of standards being assessed in the summative assessments. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-14, the materials delineate four post-assessments used as summative assessments throughout the program. The Teacher's Guide states that the information can help teachers determine if students have mastered the spelling patterns that have been formally introduced. While the Teacher's Guide states that each post-assessment tests the Grade 1 spelling patterns, it does not identify which standards are being addressed in any of the assessments.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 155, the materials provide the first post-assessment which covers knowledge of short vowels, digraphs, blends and controlled vowels. The instructions tell teachers what to look for and provide tips for scoring but do not link this assessment to the standards being assessed.
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 287, the materials provide the second post-assessment which covers vowel teams used in the middle of a syllable, open vowels/open syllables, and consonant help syllables, but the post-assessment is not correlated to any standards.
  • Post-assessments 3 and 4 are structured using the same format as post-assessments 1 and 2. The materials provide what to look for, tips for scoring, and suggestions on how students can be grouped based on the assessment but do not specify correlation to specific standards. 

Indicator 2i

Differentiation for Instruction: 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 grade-level standards.
0/0

Indicator 2i.i

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen in a language other than English with extensive opportunities for reteaching to meet or exceed grade-level standards.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen in a language other than English with extensive opportunities for reteaching to meet or exceed grade-level standards. 

There is no mention in the program of what teachers should do to support ELL learners. There is no mention of ELL students and modifications or opportunities for reteaching that might address their needs for additional practice on skills. Skills introduced on Day 1 are practiced through Day 5 of a concept week providing some opportunities for reteaching and review. However, with no criterion for performance specified at the end of the Day 5 lesson, teachers are not instructed as to when a concept needs to be retaught before moving on to the introduction of new skills. After Day 5, the materials move on to the next week’s focus element without assessing students’ level of comprehension. Beginning in Concept 3, there is some differentiation in the word lists and fluency readings with students assigned to Group 1 (below grade level) and Group 2 (on or above grade level). 

Materials do not provide support for ELL students. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-9 through I-48, the materials describe the teaching routines and practice activities that make up each day’s lesson. There is no mention of modifications that could be made for students who speak a language other than English.  
  • Throughout the lessons for Days 1-5, there is no specific mention of modifications, extended practice, extended modeling, or remediation for students who are experiencing difficulties as second language learners. During the Fluency section of lessons teachers are told that they should “Circulate and listen to students read” or “gather a small group of students who need additional support.” 
  • There is no criterion for student performance specified with any section or routine included in the lessons that would indicate when a teacher needs to provide reteaching or additional practice on skills.

General statements about ELL students or few strategies noted at the beginning of a unit or at one place in the teacher edition are then implemented by the materials throughout the curriculum. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Other than generalized statements as to how groups can be flexible depending on student performance, there is little information that would lead to differentiation that could assist ELL students.

Indicator 2i.ii

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade-level with extensive opportunities for reteaching to meet or exceed grade-level standards.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade-level with extensive opportunities for reteaching to meet or exceed grade-level standards. 

During Step 3 of each lesson's Fluency portion, the teacher is prompted to pull a small group. Some scaffolding occurs within a lesson and across the weeks’ lessons from sounds first being introduced in the phonemic awareness section of the lesson, moving into Supported Blending and Formation: Writing of Letters, followed by sorting activities, and finishing in Fluency Notebook readings. Skills introduced on Day 1 are practiced through Day 5 of a concept week providing some opportunities for reteaching and review. Fluency Notebook reading passages are repeatedly practiced over the five day period; however, all students receive the same level of instruction. 

Materials provide some opportunities for small group reteaching.  Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, pages I-9 through I-48 describe the teaching routines and practice activities that make up each day’s lesson. There is no mention of modifications that could be made for students who might need extensive opportunities for reteaching in order to meet grade-level standards.. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 92, when students are engaged in the fluency passages, the teacher should circulate and pull small groups, if needed. 
  • At the beginning of each week’s lesson plan, the Teacher’s Guide provides a section called Tips for Management and Differentiation. The tips provide broad guidelines for accommodating students who might need additional practice:
    • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 27, the materials include a section called Tips for Phonemic Awareness, which instructs the teacher, “If you notice your students need additional practice with identifying initial sounds, you can extend the activity with similar words. If students are proficient at identifying initial sounds, then challenge them to segment full words. Use these phonemic awareness activities to assess your students’ mastery of these consonants and extend the activities in whole or small group as needed.” 
    • Throughout the lessons for Days 1-5, there is no specific mention of modifications, extended practice, extended modeling, or remediation for students who are experiencing difficulties in mastering grade-level standards. During the Fluency section of lessons, teachers are told that they should “circulate and listen to students read” or “gather a small group of students who need additional support.” 

Materials provide some guidance to teachers for scaffolding and adapting lessons and activities to support students who read, write, speak, or listen below grade-level in extensive opportunities to learn foundational skills at the grade-level standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-29, Fluency Routines, the materials state there are two poems per week in the Fluency Notebook. Two of the poems are geared toward Group 1, and two of the poems are geared toward Group 2. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-39, in the modifications section of the Glue Words activity, the materials state that the teacher can create the glue line to help the students.
  • Modifications in the Super Sentence activity include giving students a cloze sentence. The materials provide a list of sentences where there is one word missing. Students look at their weekly words, and insert the word that is missing.
  • Differentiated instruction comes at the end of the lessons during the independent practice word sorting activity and the fluency passages. 
    • Beginning in Teacher’s Guide, page 54, practice activities in the Learner’s Notebook and the Fluency Notebook introduce differentiated words lists and passages for Group 1 and Group 2. 
    • Focus elements are the same for each group with different words included in their sorting activities or reading selections.
  • Other than generalized statements as to how group membership can be flexible depending on student performance, there is little information that would lead to extensive opportunities for reteaching that could assist students who are falling below grade-level and failing to master the standards. 

Indicator 2i.iii

Materials regularly provide extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade-level.
2/4
+
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 partially meet the criteria for materials regularly provide extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade-level. 

There are opportunities for students who are advanced to engage in activities; however, they complete the same activities as their peers with a different list of words. The whole group routines that students complete every day, including the Blending Routine and the Dictation Routine, are completed with the same words for all students. The fluency passages, spell checks, and the independent weekly sorts are completed with the student word list that is representative of where individual skill levels indicate. There are minimal extension activities embedded in the other routines for students. There are two sets of weekly sorts for each week, but there is very little difference in difficulty level between the two sets.  While there are also two sets of fluency passages for each week, there is little difference in difficulty.

Materials provide some opportunities for advanced students to investigate grade-level foundational skills at a greater depth. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-39, on the extension part of the Glue Words Routine, the materials state students are to create a plan for practicing the words at home. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page I-42, during the Read It, Hide It, Write It, Check it Sort, students in the extension section are encouraged to recall words from their weekly sort that are not included in the activity. 

There are some instances of advanced students simply doing more assignments than their classmates. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Fluency Passages, page 15, students have options from two different poems depending on which word list they are utilizing. Students who are reading Group 1 words, read the poems, “Pancake” and “Cat!” and students who are reading Group 2 words, read the poems, “The Red Hen” and “Bedtime.”
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 253, students complete the spelling check. The teacher reads the words from each group's list. The materials state that students should only write down the words from their group. 
  • In the Teacher’s Guide, page 120, Tips for Sorting Routine, the teacher discusses the vocabulary words that are included in the student sort. Sort 1, includes drag, drift, trap, trust, and crunch. Sort 2  includes draft, dread, drank, trinket, trumpet, credit, and crop
  • There is no indication that advanced students are given more or different assignments from their classmates.

Criterion 2j - 2n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for digital materials (either included as a supplement 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. Materials do not support effective use of technology to enhance student learning and do not meet the criteria for digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.  Instructional materials cannot be easily customized for local use. Materials meet the criteria for the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.

Indicator 2j

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for digital materials (either included as a supplement 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. 

There are no digital materials available for teachers to use with this program. There are references that are highlighted for teachers to look up online; however, these are references or blackline masters that can be used by teachers. There is no digital curriculum included in this program.

Indicator 2k

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning.
0/0
+
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning. 

There are no digital materials available for teachers to use with this program. There are references that are highlighted for teachers to look up online; however, these are references or blackline masters that can be used by teachers. There is no digital curriculum included in this program.

Indicator 2l

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

There are no digital materials available for teachers to use with this program. There are references that are highlighted for teachers to look up online; however, these are references or blackline masters that can be used by teachers. There is no digital curriculum included in this program.

Indicator 2m

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 do not meet the criteria for materials can be easily customized for local use.

There are no digital materials available for teachers to use with this program. There are references that are highlighted for teachers to look up online; however, these are references or blackline masters that can be used by teachers. There is no digital curriculum included in this program that can be customized for local use.

Indicator 2n

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 1 meet the criteria for the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject. 

There are no digital materials available for teachers to use with this program. There are references that are highlighted for teachers to look up online; however, these are references or blackline masters that may be utilized by the teacher. The Puzzle Piece Phonics puzzle pieces provided with the Grade 1 Teacher’s Guide provide simple picture prompts for each letter/sound pattern that is introduced in the program. These are intended to be posted on classroom walls and used as reference points during the daily lessons and to review previously taught letter/sound patterns. The same visual prompts are repeated in the Fluency Notebook and the Learner’s Notebook. The visual prompts create student engagement without distracting from the lessons.

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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 11/13/2019

Report Edition: 2018

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Puzzle Piece Phonics: Student Resource Kit 978-1-544331-88-1 Puzzle Piece Phonics 2018
Puzzle Piece Phonics: Teacher's Resource Kit 978-1-544337-52-4 Puzzle Piece Phonics 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 Foundational Skills Rubric and Evidence Guides

The ELA foundational skills review rubric identifies the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubric supports 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.

The ELA foundational skills rubric evaluates materials based on:

  • Alignment to Standards and Research-Based Practices for Foundational Skills Instruction
  • Implementation, Support Materials & Assessment

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.

NOTE: The ELA foundational skills rubric contains only two gateways. The structural pieces that we normally review as a part of Gateway 3 (e.g. differentiation) in our comprehensive reviews are critical to the success of a program, and are, therefore, interspersed and combined with other indicators in Gateway 2.

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