Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Reach for Reading Grade 4 partially meet expectations of alignment. The Grade 4 instructional materials partially meet expectations for Gateway 1. The materials partially meet the criteria that texts are worthy of students' time and attention, of quality, and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for the grade level. The materials partially meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. The materials partially meet the criteria for materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards. The Grade 4 instructional materials partially meet expectations for Gateway 2 and provide some opportunities for students to build knowledge through integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.

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Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
20
37
42
32
37-42
Meets Expectations
21-36
Partially Meets Expectations
0-20
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
24
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

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

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The Reach for Reading Curriculum for Grade 4 partially meets the expectations that high-quality texts are the central focus of lessons, are at the appropriate grade level text complexity, and are accompanied by quality tasks aligned to the standards of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in service to grow literacy skills. Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade; however, not all of the text selections support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the year. Materials provide some opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. The instructional materials miss some opportunities for explicit and systematic instruction and diagnostic support in phonics, vocabulary development, morphology, syntax, and fluency. 

Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
17/20
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that texts are worthy of students' time and attention, are of quality and are rigorous, and support students' advancing toward independent reading. Anchor texts are of publishable quality and reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards. Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade; however, not all of the text selections support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the year. Materials expose students to a broad range of text types and disciplines and include a volume of reading so students can achieve grade-level reading proficiency by the end of the year.

Indicator 1a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

Many of the anchor texts found throughout the program are of publishable quality. Texts represent a variety of different cultures and many of the literary pieces are multicultural. In addition to classic tales, students also read more modern texts that support their content knowledge. While this indicator is met, it is important to note that many texts that are quality, popular, and worthy of close reading are found in the small group reading section. Not all students will be exposed to some of these texts. These texts include Hoot, Black Stallion, My Side of the Mountain, Tuck Everlasting, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Examples of publishable texts found throughout the curriculum include:

  • In Unit 2, students read Animal Smarts by Leslie Hall, which is a high-interest text that is age appropriate and contains beautiful animal photographs and contains academic vocabulary.
  • In Unit 3, students read How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz, which is a Caldecott Medal winner, has beautiful illustrations, is an inspiring, thought-provoking story, and is multicultural.
  • In Unit 4, students read Dona Flor by Pat Mora, which is a Golden Kite Award Winner and contains rich language, multiculturalism, and vibrant illustrations.
  • In Unit 6, students read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, which is a classic text but in a high-interest play form with striking illustrations.
  • In Unit 7, students read What’s Faster Than a Speeding Cheetah by Robert E. Wells, which was published in 1997 and contains strong academic content and vocabulary in math and science with rich text features.
  • In Unit 8, students read The Key Holders of Kabul by Fredrik Hiebert, which contains strong social studies content with high-interest photographs and provides geographical and multicultural awareness.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level. The whole group and read aloud texts include a mix of nonfiction and fictional texts with a variety of genres including folktales, science articles, plays, poems, historical fiction, and poems. Students are exposed to various texts throughout the entire program.

Examples of fiction texts include:

  • Unit 1: Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy - folktale
  • Unit 2: Love and Roast Chicken by Barbara Knutson - trickster tale
  • Unit 3: "Tortillas Like Africa" by Gary Soto - poem
  • Unit 4: Dona Flor by Pat Mora - tall tale
  • Unit 5: The Fungus That Ate My School by Arthur Dorros - science fiction
  • Unit 6: Today is the Day by Margaret Schult - play
  • Unit 7: The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston - realistic fiction
  • Unit 8: Buffalo Music by Tracey E. Fern - historical fiction

Examples of informational texts include:

  • Unit 1: Shaped by Tradition: Michael Naranjo by Patricia Milliman - biography
  • Unit 2: "Animal Smarts" by Leslie Hall - science article
  • Unit 3: "Chile: Where Nature Goes to Extremes" by Nathan Sanchez- magazine article
  • Unit 4: Water: The Blue Gold by Alexandra Cousteau - persuasive essay
  • Unit 5: Putting Ants on Ice by Kayla Handler - laboratory journal
  • Unit 6: "Real Pirates: Untold Story of the Whydah" by Barry Clifford - history article
  • Unit 7: "What’s Faster Than a Speeding Cheetah?" Robert E. Wells - math article
  • Unit 8: The Key Holders of Kabul by Frederik Hiebert - personal narrative

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.

Students read a variety of texts throughout the program within the grade band Lexile of 740-1010; however, several books are outside of this band, both below and above. There are also books for small group reading below, at, and above the Lexile band; however, in small group reading instruction, students receive tailored instruction.

Examples of texts that students read during shared reading that have appropriate quantitative and qualitative measures include:

  • In Unit 2, students read How Pan Caused Panic which has a Lexile of 790 and middle low qualitative features.
  • In Unit 3, students read Chile: Where Nature Goes to Extremes by Nathan Sanchez, which has a Lexile of 930 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 4, students read Saving Giants by Jason Chapman, which has a Lexile of 820 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 6, students read The Mary Rose which has a Lexile of 930 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 7, students read The Lunar Landing, which includes accounts of Neil Armstrong,  Walter Cronkite, and Edwin Aldrin, has a Lexile of 930 and is qualitatively middle low.

Examples of texts that students read during shared reading that have Lexiles outside of the band include:

  • In Unit 1, students read Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy, which has a Lexile of 610, but is qualitatively middle high. They also read Reviving an Ancient Tradition by Ellen Wayne, which has a Lexile of 1030 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 2, students read Love and Roast Chicken by Barbara Knutson, which has a Lexile of 840, though it is listed as having a Lexile of 520. The qualitative features are middle high.
  • In Unit 3, students read Extreme Earth: by Beth Geiger, which has a Lexile of 660 and is qualitatively middle high.
  • In Unit 4, students read Water: The Blue Gold by Alexandra Cousteau, which has a Lexile of 700 and is qualitatively middle high.
  • In Unit 5, students read The Fungus That Ate My School by Arthur Dorros, which has a Lexile of 540 and is qualitatively middle high. Later in the unit, students read Aliens from Earth by Mary Batten which has a Lexile of 1140.
  • In Unit 6, students read Make a Treasure Map from New England Pirate Museum Website which has a Lexile of 750 and a qualitative measure of middle low.
  • In Unit 7, students read Moon Over Stars by Dianna Hutts Aston, which has a Lexile of 760 and is qualitatively middle high.
  • In Unit 8, students read The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter, which has a Lexile of 640 and is qualitatively middle high. They also read Saving Sonoran Pronghorns by Scott Whiteman, which as a Lexile of 1130 and has middle low qualitative features.

An example of a text students read in small groups that is in the higher range is in Unit 6 when students read Alien Invaders by Jane Drave & Ann Love, which has a Lexile of 1190. The majority of the texts for the higher level small group texts are still within the grade level band.

Examples of some texts students read in small groups that are in the lower level include:

  • In Unit 1, students read Diego by Jonah Winter, which has a Lexile of 420.
  • In Unit 2, students read Pioneer Snake Safari, which has a Lexile of 380.
  • In Unit 4, students read Really Wild Life! By Robin Raymer and Dan Pine, which has a Lexile of 490.
  • In Unit 6, students read Fun Fungi by Darlyne A. Murawski, which has a Lexile of 760.
  • In Unit 7, students read Living it Up in Space by Nancy Finton, which has a Lexile of 510.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)

Throughout the year students read a variety of texts and genres; however, not all of the text selections will help students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the year. The qualitative measures are in the middle low range and eventually go to middle high. Over the course of the year, the texts do not build in quantitative measure, nor do the tasks associated with the texts increase in rigor. The complexity of texts are scattered throughout the year, with some lower leveled, less complex texts in the second half of the year through the last unit. There are  20-40 minutes a day of whole group reading to read complex texts.

Examples of how the materials support and do not support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the year include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 2 students begin by reading Shaped by Tradition by Patricia Millman, which is labeled qualitatively middle high and has a Lexile of 690. Then students read Reviving an Ancient Tradition by Ellen Layne, which is labeled qualitatively middle low and has a Lexile of 1030. Both of the texts are labeled for teaching author’s purpose and preview and predict. The second text, is identified as a close reading text, and students work to examine the text structure from chronology.
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, students read two texts that are considered qualitatively middle high. In "Tortillas Like Africa" by Gary Soto, students use details from the text to make inferences and ask questions about simile and metaphor. "Travel" by Robert Louis Stevenson is used as a close read to understand elements of a poem. Students then use the magazine article "Chile: Where Nature Goes to Extremes" by Nathan Sanchez, which is qualitatively middle low and has a Lexile of 930 and is used to teach details.
  • In Unit 5, Week 4, students read two laboratory journals by Kayla Handler for close reading. They are both qualitatively middle low. Putting Ants on Ice has a Lexile of 830 and Snails! Who Needs Them? has a Lexile of 740. Questions ask students to explain the relationships among concepts, and they use a chart to compare.
  • In Unit 7, students read a variety of texts about space. Texts vary qualitatively between middle low and middle high, but all of them have Lexiles of 700-900, which is the same range in the beginning of the year. Most of them are nonfiction texts including a blog, "Ask an Astronaut" by Jamal Holmer (Lexile 760), "Building for Space Travel," which is a science article by Anastasia Suen (Lexile 790), and The Lunar Landing (Lexile 930), which are first and secondhand accounts by Neil Armstrong, Walter Cronkite, and Edwin Aldrin.

Indicator 1e

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.

The materials provide a qualitative measure in the form of Complexity Rubrics found under the Resource list tab; however, the rubrics do not share the rationale for why the specific text was chosen. Additionally, the qualitative measure provided is very broad such as middle low, with no explanation of what makes the text qualitatively middle low. The program materials give a general rationale for why all of the texts were chosen for the program, but none are specific. The materials state that the Student Edition include National Geographic content and authentic literature worth reading and rereading and that the units are four weeks long, built around a science or a social studies topic.

Indicator 1f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a broad range of text types and disciplines as well as a volume of reading to achieve grade-level reading proficiency.

Throughout the year, students engage in a broad range of text types and disciplines as well as a volume of reading to achieve grade-level reading proficiency. Throughout the week, students read anchor texts in their anthology and participate in small reading groups with leveled texts. There is also Learning Station Time where students participate in various reading and writing stations or participate in independent reading.

In addition, students are exposed to a broad range of text types and disciplines throughout the year during whole group instruction, small groups, learning centers, and independent reading. Units have a shared reading and a close reading pairing each week with additional supplemental texts. There are also leveled readers related to the topic of each unit for small group and independent reading.

Examples of the various disciplines a student might read include:

  • In Unit 2, students read:
    • Love and Roast Chicken by Barbara Knutson - trickster tale
    • "Animal Smarts" by Leslie Hall - science article
    • "The Clever Chimps of Fongoli" by Elizabeth Sengel - science article
    • "What Pet is Right for You" by Michael Peska - blog
  • In Unit 4, students read:
    • "Wind at Work" by Beth Geiger - science article
    • Water: The Blue Gold by Alexandra Cousteau - persuasive essay
    • Saving Giants by Jason Chapman - persuasive text
    • Dona Flor by Pat Mora - tall tale
    • Myth Talk by Cassandra Troy - myth
  • In Unit 6, students read:
    • Treasure Island adapted by Mark Falstein - play
    • Make a Treasure Map from the New England Pirate Museum Website - instructional text
    • Today is the Day! by Margaret Schultz - play
    • "Real Pirates: The Untold Story of Whydah" adapted by Barry Clifford - history article
    • "The Mary Rose" - online article
  • In Unit 8, students read:
    • Buffalo Music by Tracey E. Fern - historical fiction
    • Saving Bison from Extinction by Dorothy Young - report
    • "Protecting Asian Elephants" by Charles Smolar - online article
    • The Key Holders of Kabul by Fredrik Heibert - personal narrative
    • The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter - historical narrative
    • The Two Brothers retold by Arman Khan - proverb

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
12/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills. Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-based and require students to draw on textual evidence to support both what is explicit, as well as valid inferences, from the text. Some of the culminating tasks refer back to the texts in the unit and require integration of knowledge, while others ask students to make connections or share personal histories or knowledge that may not require comprehension and completion of the preceding questions and tasks. The materials provide practices and protocols for opportunities to discuss and interact with the curriculum content and vocabulary. Students have daily opportunities to practice speaking and listening; however, the practice opportunities are not always connected to the read-aloud text. Materials include multiple opportunities for both on-demand and process writing tasks that span the year’s worth of instruction and opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply narrative, opinion, and expository writing are provided; however, the majority of the writing lessons focus on expository writing and many of the writing prompts reference the texts read but do not require students to use textual evidence. Materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for the grade level.

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria of most questions, tasks, and assignments being text- dependent/specific, which require students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

Students are asked text-dependent questions during and after reading the texts throughout the program. While some questions are retell questions, others are text-specific that require the students to analyze and make inferences and conclusions based on what they read.

Examples of text-dependent questions found include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 1, while reading the interview, “A Musical Journey,” students are asked what problem Mr. Ponte had when trying to record Gabonese music and why an elder’s death is like a library burning.
  • In Unit 2, Week 1, while reading Love and Roast Chicken, students are asked what Cuy does or says that shows him to be a clever character or trickster.
  • In Unit 3, Week 3, while reading Extreme Earth, students are asked how the Grand Canyon and Lechuguilla Cave are alike and why the weather in Mawsynram India is considered extreme.
  • In Unit 4, Week, 1, after reading Water: The Blue Gold, students are asked what the author and grandfather have in common and what they learned about the author from the caption on page 240.
  • In Unit 5, Week 3, while reading Aliens from Earth: When Animals and Plants Invade Other Ecosystems, students are asked how animal migration is different from plant migration and what problem is discussed in the first paragraph on page 325 and some examples of this problem.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, while reading the play Treasure Island, students are asked why Billy collapses and what happens in the inn later that night.
  • In Unit 7, Week 2, while reading the science report, “Building for Space Travel”, students are asked questions based on the text what they can conclude about the risk of space travel and how Transhab is different from a traditional spacecraft.
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, after reading The Librarian of Basra, students are asked why Alia removes the books from the library and what questions they would like to ask Alia about her decision to protect the books in the library.

Indicator 1h

Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for having sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

The culminating tasks are Unit Projects, some of which are in relation to the texts read throughout the unit; however, some are connections and other projects that do not require comprehension of the unit materials. Students are given choices at the end of each unit to demonstrate their understanding of the unit Big Question. The options include Write It! which addresses the writing standards, Talk About It! which addresses the speaking and listening standards, and Do It! which also addresses the speaking and listening standards. Examples of these project choices include:

  • In Unit 2, students can design and build a maze and explain how the maze might test animal intelligence, decide on the smartest animal and research it and share findings in a group, write a comic strip that tells a trickster tale, or make puppets for the characters in Love and Roast Chicken and then perform a puppet show.
  • In Unit 3, students learn about different places and can show their understanding by writing an advertisement for a place they think is amazing, build a model of an amazing place they have learned about, play a guessing game by giving each other clues about famous places, or write a pretend postcard for a friend about an amazing place. These activities do not all require students to have answered a set of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions to build to the task that integrates skills.
  • In Unit 4, students can choose to create a poster to try and persuade people to conserve water using evidence of what happens when you do and do not conserve, review sensory details, and then make notes or a map of their favorite park. Students describe the park to a partner, watch a weather report and discuss the importance of visuals in the report, or review figurative language and then write poems using figurative language. Many of these project choices involve skills learned in the unit.
  • In Unit 5, students are given the choice to write a short play based on the story, The Fungus That Ate My School, plant different kinds of seeds and log which one grows the fastest, make-up a story about an invasive plant or animal, or write instructions for an experiment and include drawings. Not all of these choices require understanding and integration of the material or content presented in the unit.
  • In Unit 7, students learn about space and write a story about a fast moving creature, give step-by-step instructions to show how the Earth moves around the sun, give an interview pretending they were the first person on the moon, or write a packing list as if they were going to the moon for a week. Some of these choices are text-based options, while others require no understanding or integration of skills from the unit.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

The materials provide practices and protocols for opportunities to discuss and interact with the curriculum content and vocabulary. The Best Practices Routines, which are the speaking and listening protocols are located in the front of the Teacher Guide. There are protocols for partner discussions, group conversations, and presentations. Clear directions and protocols are provided and supported by the Academic Talk Flip Chart. Group conversations are scaffolded with roles that are clearly defined and supported with sentence stems to help students fulfill their role in the discussion.

The partner discussion protocol includes sentences stems and opportunities for each partner to talk. The group conversation protocol includes roles for each student including a facilitator, encourager, timekeeper, and note taker. There are also sentence stems to help students with the discussion. At the end of the discussion, the class comes back together and a few students share what their groups discussed.

The presentation protocols are outlines for students and include criteria such as stand up tall, speak clearly and loud enough for everyone to hear, and introduce the presentation. The protocols also include directions for listeners and includes listen attentively, ask questions if you do not understand something, and make eye contact. However, the materials provide no clear opportunity for students other than English Language Learners to engage in oral presentations.  The Cooperative Learning suggestions in the text also provide support for partner and group discussion configurations that can be used with the protocols.

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

  • In Unit 2, Week 2, the teacher reviews the protocol for reviewing whole group discussions. The teacher models how to have this discussion with a volunteer by thinking about their statement in regards to the Big Question and then connecting ideas. There is then a step-by-step protocol presented for using think, pair, share to discuss the Big Question.
  • In Unit 5, Week 3, the teacher leads the students through a review of previewing a nonfiction text by reading the headings, looking at the illustrations, and reading the captions. Then the teacher guides the students in teams to use Team Word Webbing strategy to make predictions about Aliens from Earth.
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, the teacher reviews the goals, actions, and outcomes of two jobs in The Librarian of Basra. The students are guided step by step to use a Three-Step Interview to share ideas about the author's’ purposes for writing the text, using Key Words.

Indicator 1j

Materials support students' listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

Students practice their speaking and listening daily, though it is not always connected to the texts that they hear in read alouds. Some of the specific opportunities come before the text is read during a vocabulary lesson or during an opportunity to make predictions. There is also a Speaking and Listening Learning Station that does use texts, but not the anchor texts from the unit.

Examples of opportunities for students to practice their speaking and listening, though not always in conjunction with a text include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 2, students work with a partner to report on a biography. They use the practice master to guide their oral report.
  • In Unit 3, Week 4, during the Speaking and Listening Learning Station, one option is for partners to paraphrase parts of Photographing the World. One student chooses a paragraph and reads it aloud and then the partner paraphrases the paragraph.
  • In Unit 5, Week 1, during the Speaking and Listening Learning Station, one option is for partners to summarize a video about snails. One student summarizes the first half of the video while his or her partner listens, and makes corrections. Then the second student summarizes the second half while the other listens and makes corrections.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3, students use a plot diagram from the text in order to retell a favorite story to a partner.

Indicator 1k

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

Materials include multiple opportunities for both on-demand and process writing tasks that span the year’s worth of instruction. Throughout the day, students participate in power writing, daily writing skills, writing lessons, and practice writing during learning stations daily. Students also write on Day 5 of small group reading time. In addition, students participate in a week-long writing project each week that takes them through the writing process.

There are many opportunities for students to participate in on-demand writing. This includes timed writing to improve stamina, writing lessons, and writing in response to texts that are read.

Students participate in power writing each day. This writing is a timed one minute, on-demand quick write. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 1, Day 1, the power writing prompt has students write as much as they can and as well as they can about things to see at a fair.
  • In Unit 4, Week 3 Day 4, the power writing prompt has students write as much as they can about the term, tall tale.

Students practice daily writing skills. This is a week-long lesson that addresses a writing objective for the week. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 4, the writing objective is for students to identify context for formal or informal language. The Daily Writing Skill lesson plans give short lessons to teach the skill, daily practice options, and review and assessment. The students then work in groups of three to write three topic sentences and rewrite sentences using both formal and informal language.
  • In Unit 7, Week 1, the writing objective is for students to identify big concepts and integrate information from multiple sources. The daily writing skill lesson plans give short lessons to teach the skill, daily practice options, and review and assessment. Students then explain how to gather and integrate information in order to write about a topic by filling in a Cloze paragraph using a word bank.

Writing lessons, often based on the texts read, are included each day. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 3, Day 5, after reading the text, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Agra Deedy, students write about whether they would tell a friend to read this story.
  • In Unit 2, Week 3, the writing lesson provided includes writing about the main idea and details, writing about connections, writing about photos and captions, writing about a smart animal, and writing about animal smarts.

Students write on Day 5 of small group reading time. Students are given three options to choose from. For example:

  • In Unit 4, Week 3, students read the text, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Abbott, and are given three options:
    • Map - students draw a map showing Tree Gap, the Foster’s home, the spring, and Tuck’s house in the forest. In each location, they can write a caption about what happens there.
    • List of Pros and Cons - students write a list of pros and cons related to the story's central question:
    • Journal Entry - students write about a time they were offered an important choice and what decision they made.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3 students read the text, Star Jumper by Frank Asch, and are given three options:
    • Description - students describe one of Alex’s inventions and tell what it shows about him as a character.
    • Blog Post - students write a blog post as Alex that tells how to make a useful invention for exploring space.
    • Journal Entry - students predict what will happen to Alex when he finishes building Star Jumper.

Students also write during daily Learning Station time. For example:

  • In Unit 5, Week 1, the two learning station writing options include “What’s in a Name?” and “Sounds like Science.” In the station, “What’s in a Name?”, students choose five jobs and make up a funny character name to match. In the “Sounds like Science” station, students write an eight-paneled comic strip about a science experiment that goes wrong.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, the two learning station writing options include “Write a Letter” and “Cheer for Heroes.” In the “Write a Letter” station, students write a letter to someone they think that could help them with something important. In the “Cheer for Heroes” station, students write a brief essay about the heroes in  "Saving Bison from Extinction.”

Process Writing opportunities include students participating in a week-long writing project each week. Students are given a prompt, study a model, prewrite, draft, revise, edit, proofread, publish and present. One week per unit, students participate in a week-long Research Project that often has students plan, research, organize, draft, and present ideas. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 3, students author an extra scene of a story that they like for their classmates. Throughout the five days, students prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish and present.
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, the students write a poem about a made-up place for a children’s magazine. Students read a poem to study a model and then prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish and present.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, students write an adventure story about a treasure seeker. Throughout the five days, students study a model, prewrite, draft, edit and revise, and publish and present.
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, students write a literacy response to one of the stories or articles in the unit. Students go through the writing process to complete this project.

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

The materials provide opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply narrative, opinion, and informative/expository writing; however, the majority of writing prompts focus on expository writing, and the teacher may need to supplement to assure students have comprehensive practice with other types. Students are often asked to respond to the text. Narrative writing focuses on process writing and students have few opportunities for opinion writing. Materials provide tasks for students to use different modes of writing. Students write arguments, opinion pieces, persuasive essays, informative texts, interviews, letter or emails, reports, procedural texts, explanatory texts, narratives, stories, character sketches, poems, tall tales, myths, trickster tales, folktales, science fiction stories, and responses to texts. The instructional guide provides supports for teachers to assist students as they progress throughout the year, such as graphic organizers, checklists, and rubrics.  

Each week focuses on a different writing genre, appropriately aligned to the text. Mini-lessons are scaffolded throughout the week in order to support student outcomes. Model writing samples and other instructional supports accompany each unit.

Students write narrative writings such as:

  • In Unit 2, Week 1, students write a trickster tale. The writing project prompt explains to students that they are writing a short story for a magazine and they must include a sketch of their main character.  
  • In Unit 4, Week 4, students write a tall tale about someone who battles a force of nature.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, students write an adventure story about a treasure seeker over the course of five days.
  • In Unit 8, Week  1, students write a realistic fiction story.

Students write expository writings such as:

  • In Unit 1, Week 1, students write a biographical paragraph about a partner and his/her favorite kind of music by developing a set of questions, interviewing the person, and then preparing a presentation after writing the paragraph.
  • In Unit 3, Week 3, students write a research report. The writing project prompt explains that students will report about one of the most extreme places in the United States.
  • In Unit 4, Week 1, student write about natural energy by choosing either solar energy, hydropower, or wind power, and sharing three facts about how people use that energy.
  • In Unit 5, Week 2, students evaluate how well the text and the features work together to help their understanding of what they should do and what they should expect during the experiment.
  • In Unit 6, Week 3, students write a paragraph using their timelines and sequence of events from the story.
  • In Unit 7, Week 1, students write an informational essay about an animal of their choice using at least three sources.

Students write opinion writings such as:

  • In Unit 4, Week 2, students write a persuasive article. Students are prompted to write an article for a school newspaper to convince students to help protect the environment.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, students write a persuasive essay about either their favorite animal, plant, or place and try to persuade other students to agree with them.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

Materials do not consistently provide opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. Many writing prompts are related to the texts, but do not require students to use text evidence. Additionally, many prompts use the text as a model or they may use the reading skill as the writing skill such as if the author uses a lot of dialogue in their writing, then the writing assignment will be to incorporate dialogue in a paragraph.

Daily writing skills and writing lessons are not consistently evidence-based writing opportunities. For example:

  • In Unit 2, Week 1, students review the weekly writing skill by collaborating with a partner to write a short passage that includes two characters. Students include both dialogue and actions that give clues to each character’s traits. This requires no text evidence.
  • In Unit 4, Week 3, the writing skill introduced is introductory sentences. Students use a model of an introductory sentence, practice introductory sentences using sentence stems, and work together to write introductory sentences for an original story.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, students write a paragraph about the character in their character map.
  • In Unit 7, Week 2, students write their response to the idea of living in a spaceship such as TransHab for months or years.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, after reading Saving Bison From Extinction, students write their opinions about whether they think the bison would have been left alone if the railroad had not come.

Most weekly writing projects are not connected to texts and do not require students to provide evidence to support analysis or claims. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 3, the writing project has students write an extra scene from a story that they like. While this takes some understanding of a text, it does not require text evidence.
  • In Unit 5, Week 4, the writing project has students write an essay that persuades people to take action on an important issue.

Some writing prompts during small group reading ask students to find text evidence; however, most choices do not require students to return to the text for evidence. In addition, not all students receive the same small group instruction  For example:

  • In Unit 3, Week 2, students read the text, England: The Land by Erinn Banting. Student options include writing an e-mail to a student in England where they share interesting information they learned about the country, ask questions, and give details about their own lives, or write a creature brochure that highlight historic, mysterious, or industrial England, or write a journal entry describing a job they would like if they grew up in England.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, students read the text, The Stowaway by Kristiana Gregory. Student options include write a message that Carlito might put in a bottle that he sets afloat on the sea, write a journal entry from the perspective of a character, or write about their favorite adventure movie or story.

Weekly learning stations include a writing station. These stations rarely ask students to find evidence from texts. Examples include:

  • In Unit 7, Week 4, students are given the options of writing a few lines of dialogue for a given picture or writing what would happen if they were the first humans to walk on the moon.

Indicator 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

The materials contain Daily Grammar practice throughout all eight units. During Days 1-3 of a week, students play a game to practice using the new grammar or punctuation skill. On Day 4, students complete a Practice Master to show their knowledge from the previous three days of instruction. On Day 5, there is a review of the skill and then an assessment of the skill. Each week also includes Daily Spelling practice throughout all eight units. On Day 1, there is a pretest. On Days 2-4, the students play games using the spelling words with the spelling skill as a focus. On Day 5, there is a spelling assessment given.

Students have opportunities to use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why). For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 3, Day 2, the teacher introduces relative pronouns and explains that who should be used if the subject is doing something, whom if it is receiving action, and whose to show possession. On Day 3, the teacher introduces additional relative pronouns in the use of dependent clauses. On Day 4, the students use editing and proofreading marks to correct errors with dependent clauses and relative pronouns.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3, Day 1, the teacher introduces relative adverbs and explains that a relative adverbs relates a dependent clause to a noun in the main clause and introduces the relative adverb when. On Day 2, the teacher introduces the relative adverbs where and why. On Day 4, the students edit and use proofreading marks to correct errors with relative adverbs when, where, and why.

Students have opportunities to form and use the progressive (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking) verb tenses. For example:

  • Unit 4, Week 1, Day 3, the teacher introduces the use of present progressive using the verb be and explains that present progressive verbs tell about an action as it is happening. They contain a helping verb am, is, or are and a main verb that ends in -ing. The helping verb is a form of the verb be. The helping verb always agree with the subject. On Day 4, the students edit and use proofreading marks to correct errors with present tense, subject-verb agreement with forms of be and present progressive.

Students have opportunities to use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions. For example:

  • In Unit 4, Week 4, students learn about helping verbs could, should, and would. The teacher displays a chart with sample sentences containing the helping verbs. Students then play a game called, Answer the Question.
  • In Unit 8, Week 3, students learn about the helping verbs can, could, may, might, must, and should. The teacher displays a chart with the rules and sample sentences. Students then generate sentences with helping verbs.

Students have opportunities to order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag). For example:

  • In Unit 5, Week 3, Day 1, the teacher uses the Anthology to point out examples of ordering adjectives. The teacher then explains the correct order of placement.

Students have opportunities to form and use prepositional phrases. For example:

  • In Unit 7, Week 4, Day 3, the teacher uses the Anthology to teach prepositional phrases. The teacher explains a phrase and a prepositional phrase. On Day 4, the students edit and use proofreading marks to correct errors with prepositions and prepositional phrases.

Students have opportunities to produce complete sentences, recognize and correct inappropriate fragments and run-ons. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 1, Day 4, students use editing and proofreading marks to correct errors with complete sentences, subject-verb agreement, capitalization, and end punctuation.
  • In Unit 1, Week 2, Day 1, the teacher introduces sentence fragments and explains that a sentence fragment is not a sentence. On Day 2, the teacher introduces dependent clauses and explains that a dependent clause has a subject and predicate but is not a sentence because it depends on the other part of the sentence for meaning. On Day 4, the students use editing and proofreading marks to correct sentence fragments and errors in capitalization and end punctuation.
  • In Unit 2, Week 4, Day 1, the teacher reviews run-ons and explains that you can correct a run-on sentence by separating the clauses with a comma and the words and, but, or, so. On Day 4, the students edit and use proofreading marks to correct errors with run-ons, complex sentences, compound sentences, and punctuation.

Students have opportunities to use correct capitalization. For example:

  • In Unit 1, Week 1, Day 4, students use editing and proofreading marks to correct errors with complete sentences, subject-verb agreement, capitalization, and end punctuation.

Students have opportunities to use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text. For example:

  • In Unit 2, Week 2, Day 2, the teacher introduces quotation marks and the use of commas. The rules explain that a comma comes before the first quotation mark and inside the last quotation mark, and if the speaker’s name interrupts the quotation, use commas to set it off. On Day 4, students edit and use proofreading marks to correct errors with negative sentences, quotation marks, and end punctuation in different sentences.

Students have opportunities to spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. For example:

  • In Unit 8, Week 3, students spell words with syllables types -le, y and a-. Students take a pretest on Day 1. On Day 2, the teacher explains that when the last syllable of a word ends in -le, y, or starts with a-, the syllable is not stressed. Students write each spelling word on an index card and check a dictionary for the syllable break. The students cut the word so that the unstressed syllable is separated from the rest of the word. Students play games on Days 2-4 that require them to notice the spelling pattern. On Day 5, students take a spelling test.

Criterion 1o - 1q

Materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards.
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards. Foundational skills across Grades 3-5 contain a focus on similar skills rather than focusing on skills for the grade level standard. Students have opportunities to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills in connected tasks, but opportunities for students to apply word analysis skills in connected texts are limited. Materials include few word analysis assessments to monitor student learning of word analysis skills. While fluency practice opportunities are regularly included, some days of practice lack an explicit focus on fluency.

Indicator 1o

Materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.

Foundational skills across Grades 3-5 contain a focus on similar skills rather than focusing on skills for the grade level standard. For example, in Unit 3 of all three grade levels, there is a focus on long vowel and making plural words with -s and -es. While the level of the word gets longer, the skill is similar in all three grade levels.

Materials contain phonics and word work instruction based in prior grade level phonics learning rather than providing explicit instruction in Grade 4 phonics and word recognition. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, students are taught short vowel sounds in multisyllabic words and students learn commonly misspelled words.
    • In Week 1, the teacher shows the word background and emphasizes the short /a/. The teacher states, “When a syllable with one vowel ends with a consonant, the vowel is usually short.” Students write the 15 words on index cards, cut out the letters, and mix-up the letters for a partner to put the words back together.
    • In Week 3, the teacher displays inspire and humble. The teacher circles the short vowels and pronounces each word. The teacher states, “When a syllable with one vowel ends with a consonant, the vowel is usually short.” Students write the 15 words on index cards and sort the cards into words with short /i/ and words with short /u/.
  • In Unit 2, students are taught short vowel sounds in multisyllabic words, digraphs, and consonant blends.
    • In Week 2, the teacher displays the words flock and flourish. The teacher circles the digraphs ck and sh and reads aloud each word. The teacher explains what a consonant digraph is. Students write the words on strips of paper and categorize the words by digraph.
    • In Week 4, the teacher displays ascend and brilliant. The teacher circles the letters nd and nt and reads each word aloud. The teacher explains a consonant blend. Students write the 16 spelling words on index cards and read the words to a partner. The partner spells the word and identify the consonant blend.
  • In Unit 3, students are taught long vowels and plural words with -s and -es.
    • In Week 1, the teacher displays the word meter and circles the e and pronounces the word. The teacher states, “When the first vowel sound in a word is long, you divide the word after the first vowel.” Students write the 15 words on index cards with different colors for the first vowel in the word.
    • In Week 4, the teacher displays the words rivers, passes, and rushes. The teacher underlines the s and es and explains when to add -s or -es. Students write the words on index cards.
  • In Unit 4, students are taught long vowels with vowel combinations, and students are taught verbs with endings.
    • In Week 2, the teacher displays defeat, evergreen, and boast. The teacher circles ea, ee, and oa and pronounces each word. Students write the spelling words.
    • In Week 4, the teacher displays cultivating, scar, and scarring and states, “When a word ends in a silent e, drop the e before adding -ing. Usually, when a word with a short vowel ends in a single consonant, double the consonant before adding -ing” Students write the words with -ing and cut the words apart at the ing.
  • In Unit 5, students are taught long vowels with vowel combinations, and students are taught r-controlled vowels.
    • In Week 1, the teacher displays blight and circles igh. The teacher shows tiebreaker and circles ie. The teacher explains that igh and ie make the long /i/. Students write the words on index cards to use the the cards for a practice game.
    • In Week 2, the teacher displays bruise, circles ui, and pronounces the word. The teacher displays avenue, circles ue, and pronounces the word. Students write the spelling words on card leaving out the ui or ue
  • In Unit 6, students are taught r-controlled vowels, words with y, words with oi, oy, ou, ow, and words with oo, ew, au, aw, al, all.
    • In Week 1, the teacher shows words with r-controlled vowels. The teacher circles each r-controlled vowel and states, “When a vowel is followed by an r, the vowel blends with the r to make a new sound.” Students write the r-controlled words on index cards and then sort the cards by the r-controlled vowel.
    • In Week 3, the teacher displays hoist and annoy. The teacher circles each vowel digraph and explains, “A vowel digraph is two vowels that together make one sound.” Students sort words into two groups.
  • In Unit 7, students are taught words with hard and soft /c/ and /g/, words with oo, words with VCV pattern and VCCV pattern, and multisyllabic words with VCCV pattern and VCCCV pattern.
    • In Week 1, the teacher displays circuit and circles each c and states, “When the letter i, i, or y comes after c, c has a soft sound: /s/. When a, o, u, or a consonant comes have c, the c has a hard sound: /k/. Students write words on index cards in order to play a game.
    • In Week 4, the teacher displays attitude and underlines a, l, t, i and circles the two consonants. The teacher explains, “When two consonants come between vowels, you usually divide the word between the two consonants.” Students print the spelling words in order to focus on the VCCV pattern.
  • In Unit 8, students are taught words with prefixes and words with suffixes. Students also learn about syllable types and multisyllabic words.
    • In Week 3, the teacher displays abandon, treaty, and gentle. The teacher states, “When the last syllable of a word ends in -y or -le, or when the first syllable is a-, that syllable is not stressed. The teacher pronounces each word, and students echo the word.
    • In Week 4, the teacher explains, “In multisyllabic words, some syllables are stressed, or given more emphasis. You can use a dictionary to check which syllable is stressed.” Students write the words on index cards and draw vertical lines when syllable breaks should be.

Some tasks and questions are sequenced to application of grade-level work (e.g., application of prefixes at the end of the unit/year, decoding multisyllable words). Examples include:

  • In Unit 3, Week 2, Day 2, during Vocabulary Practice, students learn to read words with the roots popul, equa, graph, cycl. Students use a chart to talk about how the meaning of the root gives a clue to each word’s meaning.
  • In Unit 6, Week 2, Day 2, during Vocabulary Strategy, students learn the prefixes inter-, multi-, and un-. Partners use the chart to talk about how the prefix gives a clue to each word’s meaning.
  • In Unit 8, Week 1, Day 2, during Daily Spelling & Word Work, students learn words with un- and re-. Students write the words on index cards and practice identifying the prefix.
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, Day 2, during Daily Spelling & Word Work, students check a partner’s work on syllable breaks. Students use a dictionary to help them break multisyllabic words into syllables.

Minimal assessment opportunities are provided over the course of the year to inform instructional adjustments of phonics and word recognition to help students make progress toward mastery. Examples include:

  • In the Reach for Phonics Foundations, there are the following assessments: Placement/Summative Test and Mastery Progress Checks.
  • The materials contain a Phonics and Decoding Test for reading placement.
  • At the end of a week, there are spelling tests for assessing the phonics and word work skill for the week. If students need additional practice, there are reteach opportunities.

Materials contain some explicit instruction of word solving strategies (graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words in the Reach into Phonics Foundations. Examples include:

  • In Script 1: Lessons 1-6, during Guided Practice 1, students identify letters and letter sounds in a word. During See it Say it Hear it Read it, partner B states the sounds of each letter and blends the letters into a real word.
  • In Script 3: Replacement for Lessons 18-19, the teacher explains the schwa vowel sound. The teacher displays letter tiles for Word 1 and divides the word into syllables. Students use the schwa sound to decode the word.

Indicator 1p

Materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.

Opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills in connected tasks. Opportunities for students to use word analysis skills are limited for applying the skills to connected texts.

Examples of students using word analysis in connected tasks are:

  • In Unit 1, students are taught short vowel sounds in multisyllabic words  and students learn commonly misspelled words.
    • In Week 1, students write silly sentences commonly misspelled words from the Watch-Out Words.
    • In Week 3, students participate in an activity to called Oh No! After writing the 15 spelling words that contain short /o/, students shuffle cards, select a card, read the card, and have a partner spell the word on the card.
  • In Unit 2, students are taught short vowel sounds in multisyllabic words, digraphs, and consonant blends.
    • In Week 2, students participate in activities to practice ck and sh in words.
    • In Week 4, students practice activities to learn consonant blends, such as nd, st, lt, mp, nt, fr, sm, sn, sl, cl, tr, pl, and dr.
  • In Unit 3, students are taught long vowels and plural words with -s and -es.
    • In Week 1, students participate in activities to practice long /e/, /i/, and /o/.
    • In Week 4, students practice making plurals with words such as jacket, porch, and desert.
  • In Unit 4, students are taught long vowels with vowel combinations, and students are taught verbs with endings.
    • In Week 2, students participate in activities with long /a/, such as ai and ay. Students write a dialogue using spelling words that contain ai and ay.
    • In Week 4, students participate in adding the ending -ing to verbs. Students create a slogan using one of the spelling words.
  • In Unit 5, students are taught long vowels with vowel combinations, and students are taught r-controlled vowels.
    • In Week 1, students practice words with long /i/ using ie and igh. Students create a song using words with ie and igh.
    • In Week 2, students practice words with long /u/ that contain ui and ue such as fuel and hue. Students write and perform a skit with the spelling words with ui and ae.
  • In Unit 6, students are taught r-controlled vowels, words with y, words with oi, oy, ou, ow, and words with oo, ew; au, aw, al, all.
    • In Week 1, students write spelling words with ar, er, ir, or, ur into a poem.
    • In Week 3, students learn words with ou and ow. Students write a letter using spelling words with ou and ow.
  • In Unit 7, students are taught words with hard and soft /c/ and /g/, words with oo, words with VCV pattern and VCCV pattern, and multisyllabic words with VCCV pattern and VCCCV pattern.
    • In Week 1, students create comic strips using spelling words.
    • In Week 4, students do a word sort with a partner using the spellings words with VCCV and VCCCV patterns.
  • In Unit 8, students are taught words with prefixes and words with suffixes. Students also learn about syllable types and multisyllabic words.
    • In Week 3, students write act out the spelling words that contain the -le, -y, and a- syllable types.
    • In Week 4, students write and perform skits using the multisyllabic words.

Students practice using prefixes and suffixes from Units 6 and 8 in connected tasks. Students learn about word origins in Unit 3. For example:

  • In Unit 3, Week 2, Day 2, during Vocabulary, students learn the origin and meaning of part, imag, geo, bord, rangier. Students answer the two questions: “Which word has something to do with Earth? Which word has something to do with carrying an object?”
  • In Unit 6, Week 2, Day 1, during Vocabulary Strategy, the teacher introduces three new prefixes: dis-, micro-, re-, and under-. The teacher is to model how to use the chart and context clues to determine the meaning of decompose.
  • In Unit 6, Week 2, Day 2, during Vocabulary Practice, the teacher shows students more prefixes: inter-, multi, and un-.
  • In Unit 6, Week 2, Day 2, during Read and Comprehend, the students do the following: “Read the first sentence. What do you think the word uninhabited means? What clues help you know the meaning of the word?"
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, Day 1, during Vocabulary Strategy, students learn -al, -ation, -ist, -ly. Students practice figuring out the meaning of the works in sentences.
  • In Unit 8, Week 1, students practice un- and re- by write and perform a skit about a natural habit using the un- and re- words from the spelling list.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, students learn three suffixes: -ly, -less, -ful. Students classify words into the following categories: common words and rare words.

Materials include few word analysis assessments to monitor student learning of word analysis skills. During the weekly vocabulary tests, students usually fill in a blank with a missing spelling word. This does not require students to analyze word parts. In Units 6 and 8, students do need to use prefixes and suffixes to analyze word parts to answer the assessment. For example, in Unit 6, Week 4, students are asked the following question: “What does bimonthly mean? This magazine is published bimonthly.” Students select from the following answers: in a short month, in under a month, every two months, at the end of the month.

Indicator 1q

Instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for instructional opportunities being frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.

Fluency is included almost daily, although some days the fluency practice lacks an explicit focus on fluency especially on Days 3 and 4. On Day 1, students hear the teacher model a fluency aspect, such as expression, phrasing, accuracy, and intonation. On Day 2, the teacher has partners read aloud a text while the teacher circulates and listens for fluency such as expression. On Day 3, students read the whole group text while the teacher monitors their expression, accuracy, and rate. On Day 4, students read the whole group text while the teacher monitors their expression, accuracy, and rate. On Day 5 of Weeks 1 and 3, students use the Comprehension Coach to practice reading fluently or students can use a Practice Master to read.

Multiple opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to demonstrate sufficient accuracy and fluency in oral and silent reading. For example:

  • Students have opportunities to read grade-level text with purpose and understanding. For example:
    • In Unit 1, Week 1, Day 3, a student reads aloud the following purpose statement: “Find out why music and nature are important to the cultural traditions of Gabon.” The class discusses the purpose.
    • In Unit 3, Week 1, Day 3, a student reads aloud the following purpose statement: “A family must leave home. Find out what happens.” The class discusses the purpose.
    • In Unit 8, Week 1, Day 3, the teacher reads aloud the introduction and states: “Find out what ‘buffalo music’ means to the narrator of this story.”

Materials support reading or prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary. Explanation to the teacher as to how to teach expression is not always specific besides general directions such as model expression and listen for intonation.  For example:

  • In Unit 3, Week 3, Day 1, the teacher explains intonation: “Intonation is the rise and fall of your voice as you speak or read. Sometimes you voice is softer and sometimes it’s louder.” The teacher models reading aloud “Ethan’s Travels” and models intonation. Students practice intonation as they read aloud “My Travels.”
  • In Unit 4, Week 3, Day 5, students can practice fluency by reading Practice Master 4.22. The teacher can assess expression, rate, and accuracy.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, Day 3, the teacher circulates and listens as students read a play. The teacher is to monitor students’ expression, accuracy, and rate.
  • In Unit 8, Week 1, Day 4, the teacher circulates and listens as students read the main text. The teacher is to monitor students’ expression, accuracy, and rate.

Materials do not consistently support students’ fluency development of reading skills (e.g., self-correction of word recognition and/or for understanding, focus on rereading) over the course of the year (to get to the end of the grade-level band). Opportunities are limited to Phonics Games in Intervention and the instruction is not connected to texts.

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with information of students’ current fluency skills and provide teachers with instructional adjustments to help students make progress toward mastery of fluency.

  • During Day 5 of Week 1 and 3, there are opportunities for students to be assessed in fluency. Students can use the Practice Master to read and show fluency. The teacher evaluates expression, rate, and accuracy.
  • In each unit, a teacher can use the Oral Reading Assessment to document student fluency. If a student needs to be retaught, the manual points the teacher to the Fluency Routines.
    • In Fluency Routine 1, the focus is Choral or Echo Reading/Marking the Text. The teacher is directed to select a short passage. The teacher is to model reading the text or use an audio CD or MP3 format. Students mark the passage for the reader’s phrasing and intonation. Students chorally read the text or echo read the text. Students read the text multiple times with a partner until they can read the passage fluently.
    • In Fluency Routine 2, the focus is Paired Reading. The teacher is directed to select an appropriate text. Students are paired with a partner or an adult. Partners alternate reading sentences. The teacher is to encourage students to read with prosody.
    • In Fluency Routine 3, the focus is Recording and Tracking. The students use the Comprehension Coach to record and analyze their readings. Student are to re-recorded as needed. Student note their accuracy and rate.
    • In Fluency Routine 4, the focus is Timed Reading. Students use the Comprehension Coach to record their reading. “The Comprehension Coach encourages students to read carefully and thoughtfully, repairing miscues, thinking about vocabulary, and actively comprehending. Students graph their WCO on a graph each time they use the Comprehension Coach.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the expectations for Gateway 2. Some unit texts are organized around a topic to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently and other unit texts are organized around the development of a specific strategy or skill. Coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts are included and students have opportunities to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. Some questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills. The materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary and words in and across texts. Writing instruction and tasks do not consistently increase in complexity or lead to students independently demonstrating grade-level proficiency by the end of the year. The materials provide opportunities for focused research projects that encourage students to develop knowledge by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and sources. While the materials include a design for independent reading, a plan for how independent reading is implemented and a system for accountability for independent reading both inside and outside of the classroom are not present.

Criterion 2a - 2h

24/32

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The eight units contain themes and topics. Over the course of four weeks per unit, students participate in listening, reading, writing, and discussing around a science or social studies topic and Big Question. The science units help to build knowledge, but the social studies units are more skill-based and focus around a theme instead of a topic. There are National Geographic videos to build background knowledge for the unit.

The following units explore science content and each week of the unit has a different topic related to the overarching topic. 

  • In Unit 3, the overall topic is “Amazing Places” with a Big Question of “Why learn about other places?”. Over the four weeks, students read a fiction tale, poems, a social studies article, a profile, and a magazine article to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn about the following skills: theme, visualize, compare figurative language, elements of a poem, make connections, main idea and details, compare text features, and explain with details and examples. To wrap-up the unit, students share their ideas about answering the Big Question through writing an advertisement, building a model, playing a game, or writing a postcard. The following topics are focused on each week: Week 1: Imagining the World, Week 2: Imagining the World, Week 3: Distant Lands, and Week 4: Exploring Earth’s Extremes.
  • In Unit 4, the overall topic is “Power of Nature” with a Big Question of “How do we relate to nature?”. Over four weeks, students read a science article, a persuasive text, a persuasive essay, a tall tale, poems, and a myth to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn the following skills: cause and effect, ask questions, compare genres, explain uses of reasons and evidence, problem and solution, compare figurative language, and mythical word origins. To wrap-up the unit, students share their ideas about answering the Big Question through writing a poster, giving a weather report, talking about parks, or writing a poem. The following topics are focused on each week: Week 1: Weather, Week 2: Water, Week 3: People and the Environment, and Week 4: People and the Environment.
  • In Unit 5, the overall topic is “Invaders!” with a Big Question of “When do harmless things become harmful?”. Over the four weeks, students read science fiction, a science experiment, a persuasive text, a science text, a journal, and laboratory journals to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn about the following skills: plot, make inferences, compare author’s purpose, explain persuasive purpose and language, problem and solution, ask questions, compare figurative language, and explain relationships among concepts. To wrap-up the unit, students share their ideas about answering the Big Question through writing a play, planting seeds, talking about invasive plants and animals, or writing about a science experiment. The following topics are focused on each week: Week 1: Scientific Investigations, Week 2: Scientific Investigations, Week 3: Ecosystems and Change, and Week 4: Animals in Ecosystems.
  • In Unit 7, the overall topic is “Moving through Space” with a Big Question of “What does it take to explore space?”. Over the four weeks, students read a math article, a science report, a blog, realistic fiction, a biography, and firsthand and secondhand accounts to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn about the following skills: compare and contrast, synthesize, compare fact and opinion, explain uses of reason and evidence, plot, compare fiction and biography, and compare and contrast accounts. To wrap-up the unit, students share their ideas about answering the Big Question through writing a story; modeling the Earth, Sun, and Moon; giving an interview; or making a packing list. The following topics are focused on each week: Week 1: Forces and Motion, Week 2: Moon, Space, and Stars, Week 3: Exploring Space, and Week 4: Exploring Space.

Other units that are the social studies texts focus more on skills and strategy and are centered around a theme. Examples of text sets focused on thematic learning that support students skills and strategy development, but do not build knowledge on a topic or set of topics include:

  • In Unit 1, the overall theme is “Living Traditions” with a Big Question of “How important are traditions?”. Over four weeks, students read an interview, biographies, a folktale, a magazine article, and a personal narrative to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn the following skills: main idea and details, preview and predict, author’s purpose, plot, monitor and clarify, and setting. To wrap-up the unit, students can share their ideas about answering the Big Question through starting a new tradition, sharing a game or song, writing a column, or making a time capsule.
  • In Unit 6, the overall theme is “Treasure Hunter” with a Big Question of “Why do we seek treasure?”. Over four weeks, students read plays, an instructional text, a history article, and online articles to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn the following skills: characters, determine importance, compare texts, compare oral and print information, sequence, compare media texts, and explain features. To wrap-up the unit, students share their ideas about answering the Big Question through making a comic book, making a time capsule, creating a talk show, or writing a pirate journal.
  • In Unit 8, the overall theme is “Saving a Piece of the World” with a Big Question of “What’s worth protecting?”. Over four weeks, students read historical fiction, a report, online articles, a personal narrative, a historical narrative, and proverbs to address the Big Question. Students use the texts to learn the following skills: goal and outcome, choose reading strategies, determine main idea, fact and opinion, use reading strategies, and proverb. To wrap-up the unit, students share their ideas about answering the Big Question through write a letter, sharing a superhero fantasy, making an ad, or having a debate.

Indicator 2b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.

Throughout the program students are asked a series of questions to help them analyze the details, key ideas, craft, language, and structure of individual texts. Many questions are analysis questions and some ask students to compare different aspects of the text or to make inferences.  

Students are asked a variety of questions throughout the program that require them to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 3, students read the Meet the Author section for Carmen Agra Deedy and answer several analysis questions, such as: "How does the author’s encounter with the cockroach in the gym help you understand the author better? How can you tell that the author speaks both English and Spanish?"
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, during small group discussions about Passport to Wonder by Marylou Tousignant, students answer a series of analysis questions to build understanding of the text. The questions begin by asking why the author calls the Taj Mahal the labor of love and build towards students answering why they think the Wonders of the World are so important to so many people.
  • In Unit 4, Week 4, students analyze language by identifying and explaining the figurative language in their book. Also, during small group discussion for the text Really Wild Life by Robyn Ramer and Dayn Pyne, students answer a series of questions that build on each other to help build understanding. Questions begin with asking why Mattias Klum is so passionate about photography and build towards students answering what the people of Borneo need and why is it difficult for Klum to find certain animals.
  • In Unit 5, Week 1, students read the science fiction text, The Fungus That Ate My School by Arthur Doors, and answer the structure question, “What point of view is the story written?”
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, students read the play, Treasure Island based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. Students describe how the character changes and why the pirates are fighting.
  • In Unit 7, Week 1, students read the math article, “What’s Faster than a Speeding Cheetah” by Robert E. Wells, and answer language questions, such as: "Why did the author include the phrase ‘shed some light on the subject’ at the end of the page?" Students also answer key idea questions, such as: "What can they conclude about sound and altitude? Compare and contrast the speed of a meteoroid with a speed of a beam of light."
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, students read the report, Saving Bison From Extinction by Dorothy Young, and answer synthesis questions, such as: "What is the conclusion of this report? What do the maps on pages 522 and 523 show?"

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.

Throughout the year, students read a variety of texts that help them build science and social studies knowledge. Students answer a series of text-dependent questions that require them to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. Examples of this include:

  • In Unit 2, Week 4, students reflect on the Big Question about how smart animals are and explain how the authors of the texts, Animals Smarts, The Clever Chimps of Fongoli, and Which Pet is Right for Youall focus on evidence that pets are smart. Students answer what they can learn from the readings about animals.
  • In Unit 4, Week 1, students read the science article, “Wind at Work” by Beth Geiger. Students describe the cause and effect relationship between trade winds and ships and explain why they think the number of wind farms is growing. Students also think about how electricity is made from wind and what questions that might bring up as well as how wind is converted into electricity.
  • In Unit 5, Week 2, students read the science experiment,“Mold Terrarium” by The Science Explorer, and answer a series of text-dependent questions to build knowledge: "What is the sequence of events that occur when mold grows? What does the author mean by saying that mold is a natural recycler?"
  • In Unit 6, Week 3, Day 3, students read the history article, “Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah” adapted from a book by Barry Clifford, and answer questions: “What is the main reason people become pirates? What communication challenges pirates overcame?”  
  • In Unit 7, Week 1, students read the math article, “What’s Faster than a Speeding Cheetah?” by Robert E. Wells, and answer how a cheetah’s speed compares with the speed of a human and what students can conclude about the effect of Earth’s gravity on a jet. The questions build upon one another to integrate knowledge through analyzing details within the text to determine conclusions.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, students read Saving Bison from Extinction by Dorothy Young and answer, “Why do you think Hornaday took bison from private herds and not in the wild? What was the goal of the American Bison Society?”
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, students read the historical narrative, The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter, and answer a series of questions to build knowledge: "How do Alia and Anis remind them of the key holders of Kabul? What principles do you think Alla bases her decision to stay in the library to protect the books on?" Students also compare this text to The Key Holder of Kabul and answer how the description of war in this text compares to the description of war in The Key Holder of Kabul.

Indicator 2d

The questions and tasks support students' ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

At the end of each unit in Grade 4, students complete unit projects. Students have a choice of four different projects that they can choose from; however, only some of the projects require students to demonstrate knowledge of a topic through integrated skills. Students have choice in which project they complete and students may elect the projects that do not require knowledge from the unit.

For example:

  • In Unit 1, students learn why traditions are important; however, many of the choices require students to discuss or write about traditions in their own family, which require background knowledge, and not knowledge from the unit. Project choices include:
    • Students tell a partner about a new tradition they want to start in their family.
    • Students share a game or song that they have learned from an older family member. They teach it to their classmates.
    • Students write how someone could be a good husband or wife in an advice column. Students include advice for choosing the right person to marry.
    • Students make a time capsule for younger family members. They write and draw to teach them about the family’s most important traditions. 
  • In Unit 3, students learn about other places and why it is important to learn about other places. Some choices students could use background knowledge to complete the tasks. Project choices include:
    • Students write an advertisement for a place they think is amazing. They describe the place and give people reasons to visit. It does not specify that the place has to be from the unit.
    • Students give clues about a famous place and classmates have to guess what the place is.
    • Students build a model of an amazing place that they learned about in the unit.
    • Students pretend they are visiting an amazing place and create a postcard about it for a friend. They draw a picture on the front and write a note on the back.
  • In Unit 5, students learn when harmless things become harmful. Before beginning the project choices students discuss the Big Question and write a paragraph about one way that harmless things become harmful. Some of the project choices require an integration of skills to demonstrate knowledge, but other projects do not require skill or knowledge from the unit. Project choices include:
    • Students write a short play based on the text, The Fungus That Ate my School.
    • Students plant different kinds of seeds and keep a log to see which ones grow fastest.
    • Students make up a story about an invasive plant or animal. They tell their story to a partner and then retell their partner’s story to the class. This choice integrates reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
    • Students make up a science experiment to test an idea. They write instructions for the experiment and include drawings.
  • In Unit 7, students learn what it takes to explore space. The whole class begins the culminating task by writing a note to a friend explaining whether they would like to explore space and why, which does not necessarily require students to demonstrate their knowledge of the topic. The following project choices include some options that require demonstration of knowledge and others that do not. Project choices include:
    • Students write a story about a fast-moving creature by thinking about how the creature uses speed to do things.
    • Students imagine they are the first person on the moon and give an interview to tell about their experience.
    • Students work with a small group to show how the earth moves around the sun. They then show how the moon revolves around the earth.
    • Students create a packing list for a trip to the moon and must include things they would need for personal reasons and to study the moon.

Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.

Five to 10 new vocabulary words are introduced each week and are integrated throughout the week with stand alone activities, in texts, in questions and answers, as well as in some writing assignments. The Tier II words are weaved into the year-long curriculum and students regularly interact with them each week. Some weeks students learn words that are in the text, and other weeks students focus on vocabulary learning skills such as using context clues or breaking apart a word.

The Teacher Edition includes a vocabulary section in the prefatory material that provide routines for vocabulary practice throughout the week. Routine 1 includes activities for identifying a word when it is unknown, definitions of words, and practice discussions with new words. Routine 2 includes expanding word knowledge with graphic organizers. Routine 3 includes activities for paired work with new words. Routine 4 includes more complex graphic organizers to extend and possibly reteach words (options and samples are provided). Routine 5 includes “Text Talk Read Aloud” to teach text specific vocabulary after a selection has been read aloud. These include sentence frames and stems. Routine 6 is for reteaching with some guidance for direct instruction.

Following these routines is a selection of possible vocabulary games and activities to incorporate into class time. The section also includes activities and games for vocabulary practice from vocabulary bingo and whole group to other partner and individual activities.

In the individual units, after learning the words, the words appear in the text for the day. The comprehension questions following the text also include the words or the answers require the use of the vocabulary words. The Teacher Edition also provides information on how to reteach words if they are using them incorrectly. Examples of vocabulary words and/or lessons within the materials include:

  • In Unit 2, Week 1, students learn the science vocabulary words, adaptation, defend, predator, preytrait, using Routine 1. Students then complete a writing assignment where they describe their character’s traits. These words plus an additional five words are found throughout the student materials, including the texts. On Days 3 and 4, students do Routine 3 by creating sentences with their words. On the final day of the unit, students play vocabulary Bingo with the key words by the teacher giving clues about the word and the students seeing if they have that word on their Bingo chart. The end of unit assessment includes a vocabulary section.
  • In Unit 4, Week 2, students learn how to use context clues to help learn and understand vocabulary words in sentences. Students begin by learning the words, renewable, resource, available, and pollutant, by using context clues. They then read and discuss a text with these words. Students then learn four different types of context clues and practice using them daily. Students also discuss how wind and water affect daily lives by using evidence from the texts and the key words. The Teacher Edition includes a a guide for how to reteach context clues, and the end of week assessment has a vocabulary section.
  • In Unit 6, Week 3, students use Routine 1 to learn new words, such as archaeologist, artifact, currency, galleon, trade, and merchant. Texts throughout the week include these vocabulary words. Questions about the texts include the key word, trade: "How does the map on page 396 help explain the triangular trade?" At the end of the week, the students play Around the World, where students go head to head to identify the word key when clues are given.
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, students learn about homographs. Students learn about the homographs, wind and record, and then read a passage with multiple sets of homographs. Students learn how to use context clues to help them determine the correct meaning of a homograph.

Indicator 2f

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that materials support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.

Materials include multiple and varied opportunities for both on-demand and process writing tasks that span the year’s worth of instruction. Students write daily through multiple means, such as one minute power writing, writing about what they read, and writing to improve grammar.  Students also write on Day 5 of small group reading time. Students participate in a week-long writing project each week; however, not all writing tasks increase in rigor from the beginning to the end of the school year. Week-long writing projects are introduced during the fourth week of every unit, but the same routine happens each week, with a different writing prompt. Each writing project begins with students studying a model, prewriting and completing a RAFT, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.

Daily writing skills lessons do not consistently increase in rigor or lead to students independently demonstrating grade level proficiency by the end of the year. The same guidance and supports are provided throughout the year. Each week students write each day, but the progression of writing lessons do not increase in rigor, and at times the skills do not connect across the days to support increasing independence. Examples include:

  • In Unit 2, Week 1, students write a paragraph about a character’s traits. On Day 2, students write a paragraph about how a connection helps them understand the story. Then on Day 3, students write another paragraph about a character’s traits and on Day 4, students write an animal description. On Day 5, students revisit pictures in the story and write an email giving their opinion with reasons.
  • In Unit 5, Week 3, Day 1, students write about an environmental problem. On Day 2, students write about inferences they make when they read. On Day 3, students write a paragraph about a plant or animal found near the school using a topic sentence, while on Day 4 students write about an invasive species. Then on Day 5, students generate four research questions they would like to know the answer to about an invasive species.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, Day 1, students begin by writing advertisements of a product of their choice. On Day 2, students write their opinions about the text, Saving Bison from Extinction. On Day 3, students focus on using past-tense verbs, both regular and irregular, while they write using as many Key Words as possible about the way the people in the texts work to save the bison. Students then spend Day 4 writing a paragraph that compares the main idea of Protecting Asian Elephants with the Big Question of the unit, but no emphasis is placed on the previous day grammar lesson. Finally, on Day 5, students write a comparison among the main ideas of Buffalo Music, Saving Bison from Extinction, and Protecting Asian Elephants. This writing prompt is supported by the writing assignments on Days 2 and 4 but not Days 1 and 3.

Indicator 2g

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

In every unit, there is a week-long research project. Students are introduced to the concept and skills of research in Unit 1, and this is revisited in each unit. Students research a variety of topics including energy sources, places, animals, and different people. Students present their research in a variety of means including oral presentations, multimedia presentations, and formal research papers. Throughout the projects, students are taught to plan by choosing a topic, asking research questions, taking notes from a variety of sources, and then making a draft before a published copy. The topics researched and the means to present research increases in complexity within each unit. Examples of research projects include:

  • In Unit 1, students interview a partner about his or her favorite kind of music. They focus on something specific from the interview and narrow their topic. Students then develop a set of questions about the topic and interview their partner again. They gather the information in an oral report and share it with a small group of classmates.
  • In Unit 2, students choose an animal from the unit and then locate sources to learn more about the animal. They use what they find to create a short oral presentation explaining why this animal would make a great animal acrobat.
  • In Unit 3, students choose a place outside of the United States and use reliable sources to find three facts about the place they would like to visit. They present the facts in a two-minute electronic slide show and have to share how they know the sources are reliable.
  • In Unit 4, students help create a website about renewable energy. They choose either solar energy, hydropower, or wind power and then find three facts about how people use that form of energy. Students use one print source and one digit source. They present their findings in a sample Web page.
  • In Unit 5, students research an invasive species and use their research notes to create an oral presentation for the class.
  • In Unit 6, students choose a treasure hunter and gather information about him or her. They create a poster using facts, images, and questions from the research.
  • In Unit 7, students choose an animal to research. They gather information about the animal from three or more different sources and use that information to write a research report. Students add digital images and audio visuals to their report and present it to the class.
  • In Unit 8, students research a trade route from long ago and post a report about it online for classmates to read.

Indicator 2h

Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

Independent reading is mentioned in this program; however, materials do not include a plan for how it is implemented and a system for accountability for how students will engage in a volume of independent reading both inside and outside of the classroom. While all the information for independent reading is found in the Small Group Reading Guide, materials do not explain when this should occur in or outside of the classroom nor for how long each day. There is no recording device provided nor accountability for how much students read or how well students read.

The Teacher Edition provides an independent reading routine, but it does not include specific information. It suggests that teachers select topics and provide a rich collection of books to choose from, though teachers need to select these books. Recommended Books for each unit are listed in the Teacher  Edition and are identified by fiction and nonfiction, and are connected to the overall unit and topic/theme. It is suggested that the books include known texts, classroom favorites, and picture books. Students should be supported in selecting their books of interest for independent reading according to the Teacher Edition, but how a teacher should do this is not explicitly stated. After independent reading, materials suggest that students should share their reading experiences and summarize what they read. Teachers are encouraged to extend the independent reading by giving extension activities such as rewriting the story with a different ending or writing a letter to the author.

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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

Criterion 3a - 3e

Indicator 3a

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

Indicator 3b

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

Indicator 3c

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

Indicator 3d

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

Indicator 3e

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

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

Indicator 3f

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

Indicator 3g

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

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
N/A

Indicator 3i

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

Indicator 3j

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

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

Indicator 3k

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

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

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

Indicator 3l.ii

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

Indicator 3o

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

Indicator 3p

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

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

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

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

Indicator 3s

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

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

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

Indicator 3u.i

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

Indicator 3u.ii

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

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 10/02/2019

Report Edition: 2017

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.

The publisher has not submitted a response.

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

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

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