Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Reach for Reading Grade 6 partially meet expectations of alignment. The Grade 6 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 Grade 6 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
17
32
36
30
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
26
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

+
-
Gateway One Details

The Reach for Reading Curriculum for Grade 6 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.  

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 6 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 6 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

Students are exposed to a variety of texts that are worthy of careful reading including texts that are written by published authors and have won major literary awards. The nonfiction texts include articles and texts with engaging photographs, strong academic vocabulary, and text features worthy of engagement.

Examples of publishable, high-quality texts include:

  • In Unit 1, students read an excerpt from Does My Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdell-Fattah, which is an age-appropriate first-person story about the challenges a Muslim student faces in school. It addresses stereotypes, social pressures, and identity from a female teen perspective. It contains rich language.
  • In Unit 2, students read the Newbery Award-winning novel, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, which is a high-interest fictional novel about survival.
  • In Unit 5, students read an excerpt from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, which is a Newbery Award-winning author and book with high interest and a relevant and important theme.
  • In Unit 6, students read an excerpt from Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. This is Golden Kite Award winner and an ALA Best Book for YA winner. It is high interest, diverse, relevant, and has relatable characters.
  • In Unit 8, students read an excerpt from Journey to the End of the Earth by Jules Verne, which is a science fiction text that is of high interest and contains rich language.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6  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 fiction texts with a variety of genres including fantasy, science fiction, plays, memoirs, historical fiction, and poems. Students are exposed to various texts throughout the entire program.

Examples of fiction texts include:

  • Unit 3: The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw - historical fiction
  • Unit 4: Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French - realistic fiction
  • Unit 7: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin - fantasy
  • Unit 8: So, You’re Going to Mars  by Arthur C. Clarke - science fiction

Examples of informational texts include:

  • Unit 1: Facing the Lion by Joseph Lemasolal Lekuton - autobiography
  • Unit 4: What Good is Diversity? By Phillip Hoose - persuasive essay
  • Unit 5: Rosa Parks: My Story - by Rosa Parks - memoir
  • Unit 6: Irrigation Pumps by Sandra Postel - persuasive essay
  • Unit 7: "A Silent Army" by Jacqueline Ball and Richard Levey - history article
  • Unit 8: "Here, There, and Beyond" by Glen Plelan - science article

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 several texts throughout the program within the grade band Lexile of 925-1185; 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.

Texts that are appropriately in the grade band range include:

  • In Unit 5, students read Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry, which has a Lexile of 1000, though listed as having a Lexile of 1060 and has middle high qualitative features.
  • In Unit 7, students read The Emperor’s Silent Army by Jane O’Connor, which has a Lexile of 1040, though listed with a Lexile of 1090, and has qualitative features that are middle low.
  • In Unit 8, students read Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, which has a Lexile of 1030.

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

  • In Unit 1, students read Racing the Lion by Joseph Lemansolal Lekuton, which has a Lexile of 720, though listed with a Lexile of 790. The qualitative features are qualitatively low. They also read A Work in Progress by Aimee Mullins, which has a Lexile of 960 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 2, students read Arctic Adventurer by Delores Johnson, which has a Lexile of 660 and is qualitatively middle high. They also read Deception: Formula for Survival by Robert Sisson, which has a Lexile of 1140 and has qualitative features that are middle high.
  • In Unit 3, students read The Journal of Nakhi by Richard Platt, which has a Lexile of 930 and is qualitatively middle low. They also read The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, which has a Lexile of 1120.
  • In Unit 4, students read Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French, which has a Lexile of 700.
  • In Unit 5, students read Iqbal: A Novel by Francesco D’Adamo, which has a Lexile of 730, though listed as having a Lexile of 710 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 6, students read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman, which has a Lexile of 710, though listed as having a Lexile of 650, and has middle low qualitative features.
  • In Unit 7, students read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, which has  a Lexile of 810 and is qualitatively middle low.
  • In Unit 8, students read So You’re Going to Mars by Arthur C. Clarke, which has a Lexile of 1180. The qualitative features are middle high.

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

  • In Unit 1, students read Celebrate Cultures by Daphne Liu & Marylou Tousignant, which has a Lexile of 710.
  • In Unit 2, students read Deep Freeze by Sandra Markle, which has a Lexile of 690.
  • In Unit 3, students read The Revenge of Ishtar by Ludmila Zeman, which has a Lexile of 660.
  • In Unit 4, students read Penguin Parents by Sharon Katz Cooper, which has a Lexile of 610.
  • In Unit 5, students read Rosa Parks by Maryann N. Weldt, which has a Lexile of 670.
  • In Unit 6, students read the Big Catch by Gare Thompson, which has a Lexile of 700.
  • In Unit 7, students read Everyday Kids: Then and Now: China by Jean Bennett, which has a Lexile of 780.
  • In Unit 8, students read Earth Inside Out by Beth Geiger and Glen Phelan, which has a Lexile of 630.

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

  • In Unit 2, students read The Red Devils by Rob Waring, which has a Lexile of 1160.
  • In Unit 4, students read Saving the Amazon Together by Rob Waring, which has a Lexile of 1200.
  • In Unit 6, students read Living in the Slow Lane by Rob Waring, which has a Lexile of 1200.
  • In Unit 8, students read Space Walk by Rob Waring, which has a Lexile of 1280.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 increase in quantitative rigor, 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 2, students read the poem, “Lichen We” by Joyce Sidman, which is qualitatively middle high, and in Week 4, they read the biography, Arctic Adventurer by Dolores Johnson, which has a Lexile of 660. It is a survival story used to discuss key ideas and how authors of informational text use examples for elaboration. This is far below the the quantitative features for Grade 6.
  • In Unit 4, students read the realistic fiction story, Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French, which is qualitatively middle low and has a Lexile of 760, which is still below grade level expectations. This story is told by a series of emails sent back and forth between the characters, using a mixture of formal and informal language. Questions ask readers to predict, consider character viewpoints, and make personal connections to the text.
  • In Unit 6, Weeks 3 and 4, students read persuasive articles and essays, which are all considered qualitatively middle high. "Feed the World" by Peter Winkler, Kathleen Simpson, and Jonathan Foley has a Lexile of 1060 and "How Altered" by Jim Richardson and Jennifer Ackerman has a Lexile of 1010. Both articles focus on analyzing arguments and making inferences. Students also read Irrigation Pumps by Sandra Postel, which is a level 1000.
  • In Unit 8, students read a combination of articles and science fiction texts. The complexity varies within this unit: some are higher than previous units and others more similarly complex to earlier units and below grade level expectations. Students read So You’re Going to Mars by Arthur C. Clarke, which has a Lexile of 1180 and is considered qualitatively middle high. However, they also read Journey to the Center of the Earth over the course of two weeks. In the first week, the text is labeled as 790L and qualitatively middle low. The second week, the qualitative features increase in complexity to qualitatively middle high and 1150L.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 a 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 includes 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that support materials for the core text(s) provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to support their reading at grade level by the end of the school year.

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. Students read fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, and media texts with varying Lexiles. 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 disciplines a student might read in units include:

  • In Unit 2, students read:
    • "Deception: Formula for Survival" by Robert Sisson - science article
    • Living Nightmares by Lynn Brunelle - science feature
    • "Lichen We" by Joyce Sidman - poem
    • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen - adventure chapter book
    • Survival Story: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Juliane Koepcke Diller - personal narrative
    • Arctic Adventurer by Dolores Johnson - biography
  • In Unit 4, students read:
    • A Natural Balance by Nora L. Deans - environmental report
    • "Mireya Mayor" by Mireya Mayor - online article
    • What Good is Diversity by Phillip Hoose - persuasive essay
    • Operation Redwood by S. Terrell French - realistic fiction story
    • The Super Trees by Joel Bourne - essay
    • “Transplanting Trees” by Joseph Bruchac - poem
    • “Endangered Species” by Phillip Carroll Morgan - poem
  • In Unit 6, students read:
    • Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman - realistic fiction chapter book
    • "Soup for the Soul" - interview
    • "Dwaina Brooks: from It’s Our World Too!" by Phillip Hoose - social studies article
    • "Feeding the World" by Peter Winkler, Kathleen Simpson, and Jonathan Foley - persuasive article
    • Irrigation Pumps by Sara Patel - persuasive essay
  • In Unit 8, students read:
    • "Finding Mars on Earth" by G.K. Gilbert - science article
    • "Here, There, and Beyond" by Glen Phelan - science article
    • So, You’re Going to Mars by Arthur C. Clarke - science fiction text
    • Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne - science fiction text
    • Deep into Darkness by Beth Geiger - science feature

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
13/16
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 are in relation to the texts read throughout the unit; however, some are projects that do not require comprehension of the unit materials nor completion of the preceding equations 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. Materials provide opportunities that are varied and build writing skills over the course of the school year; however, materials do not consistently provide opportunities for students to learn to write careful analyses, well-defended claims, or clear information. 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 6 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 actions of characters or analyze the word choice of the author.

Examples of text-dependent questions include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 1, after reading Facing the Lion, students name two main ideas in the first paragraph on page 12 and analyze how Lekuton feels about being at the cattle camp.
  • In Unit 2, Week 2, after reading Living Nightmares, students explain why the author uses the words "watch food squeeze through its guts" when describing the glass frog’s body.
  • In Unit 3, Week 3, after reading an excerpt from The Journal of Nakti, students explain how Nakti responds to the robbers’ actions and look at the dates of the journal entry to describe what time of year it is based on the evidence from the text.
  • In Unit 4, Week 4, students read The Super Trees and explain why the author opens the essay with a question and explain what Muir means when he says "every good thing, great and small, needs defense."
  • In Unit 5, Week 1, students read the history article, “The Civil Rights Movement," and explain what the heading tells them about the section and how segregation keeps people apart. They also determine the author’s viewpoint about the separate but equal rule using evidence from the text.
  • In Unit 6, Week 2, after reading an interview called “Soup for the Soul”,  students explain why they think the title of the interview is “Soup for the Soul" and to explain why the gourmet food services for busy families benefit the needy.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3, after reading an excerpt from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, students determine which details describe the fields where the family works and explain why Minli’s life might be difficult.
  • In Unit 8, Week 4, after reading Deep into Darkness, student analyze a photo and then, using what they read about the rock cycle, describe how the pit formed.

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 6 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 projects that do not require comprehension of the unit materials or skills taught. Students are given choices at the end of each unit to demonstrate their understanding of the big unit 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, project choices include writing a letter to thank a friend of something he or she did recently, preparing a skit with a partner about a choice that one might have to make, preparing a mock interview with real people in the text, or writing a "choose your own adventure story". The options do not require students to integrate reading, writing, or speaking and listening skills from the unit.
  • In Unit 4, students can research an animal and write a speech with evidence and claims, do additional research to create a presentation about the importance of redwoods to the environment, use a problem-solution graphic organizer to brainstorm the ways  the family could solve the problems they were having in the unit text, or review an article about Mireya Mayor and write stories incorporating the theme of diversity.
  • In Unit 5, students are asked why people take a stance and to show their understanding of the question they can research one of the leaders from the Civil Rights Movement and write a biography of the person’s life, create a presentation about important events from the Civil Rights movement, debate about an important problem or issue in the school, or write a letter to Cassie from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry regarding the situation in the book.
  • In Unit 6, students can research a list of inventions that have improved farming practices and present their findings, write a song about hunger and what can be done to end it, draw a map where a community garden can go in their area, or write a blog entry about a project or organization that is working to end hungry. These project options do not all require students to integrate knowledge and skills from the unit.
  • In Unit 8, after learning about Earth and the solar system, students can create a presentation that compares and contrasts the different planets; use the text, Finding Mars on Earth, to write a blog entry about whether they think scientists will find life on Earth; create a TV story line with a small group of students; or write poems using figurative language about poems. The project choices do relate to the texts and skills taught in the unit, but do not necessarily integrate skills.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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, though there is not much evidence for these protocols being used within the program. 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 sentence 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 different students share what their group 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 1, Week 4, the teacher uses a Fishbowl protocol to have students discuss the Big Question in relation to the readings. The teacher models asking clarifying questions. Students sit in a close circle with others seated around them and then practice summarizing and asking clarifying questions.
  • In Unit 4, Week 2, students use information they have written in Venn diagrams to discuss the value of diversity and sustaining a natural balance on Earth. The teacher facilitates a think-pair-share for students to think and discuss how the texts address the value of diversity and sustaining a natural balance on Earth. Partners then share their ideas with the class.
  • In Unit 7, Week 4, the teacher leads a discussion of the Big Question by reviewing that restating an idea means to put it into their own words. The teacher guides the students through a Three-Step Interview to discuss the Big Question in relation to the Week 3 reading.

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 6 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 predict what the text will be about by previewing the photos and captions with a partner.
  • In Unit 3, during the Speaking and Listening Learning Station, students conduct research about architectural wonders and share with a partner what made these structures so extraordinary. They work with a partner to list seven modern wonders of the world and present their findings to the class.
  • In Unit 5, Week 1, the teacher and students echo read two paragraphs from The Freedom Riders and then the teacher asks questions. Then partners read the rest of the article and pause to discuss the main ideas and related supporting details.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3, at the end of the week, the teacher asks what is the life lesson that the students feel is very important. They share their answers with a partner and talk about ways to convey their messages in short folktales.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

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. 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 5, Week 4, students write as much as they can about the word, indignation.
  • In Unit 7, Week 2, students write as much as they can about the word, empire.

Students complete daily writing activities that lead to a week-long objective. For example:

  • In Unit 2, Week 1, students work on elaborating on a topic.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3, students work on writing a strong ending.

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

  • In Unit 1, Week 2, students read the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, and write about how the stanzas affect the meaning of the poem.
  • In Unit 4, Week 3, students read the text, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Abbott, and write about how the characters communicate, how this story would be different if the characters had a conversation instead of exchanging emails, and how this story would be different if the narrator told the story.

Students write on Day 5 of small group reading time. Students are given three options that are different for each of the leveled readers. For example:

  • In Unit 3, Week 1 the students in the below level group can either draw a few of the hieroglyphics shown in the book and write what they mean, write a dialogue between Jean-Francois and his brother, or write about something they would like to be the first to do in the world.
  • In Unit 7, Week 2, the students in the above level group can either write a brief news article describing the methods that Albert Yu-Min Lin uses to find artifacts and tombs, write a review of the book by summarizing what happened and stating whether they would recommend it to a friend, or write about what it would be like to live in the Gobi in a ger, or yurt.

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

  • In Unit 1, Week 2 students can choose to write a dialogue.
  • In Unit 3, Week 1, students can choose between writing a journal entry or keeping notes while researching Cleopatra’s Needles and then writing about it.

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, publish, and present. One week a unit, students participate in a week-long research project that often has students plan, research, organize, draft, and present ideas. For example:

  • In Unit 2, Week 2, students write a research report on animal adaptations.
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, students write a social studies article on an aspect of how archaeologists use data to understand the past. This takes place over five days.
  • In Unit 6, Week 2, students research a local or national food bank or community kitchen program and write a report about it, including graphics and multimedia elements, in order to make a presentation.
  • In Unit 8, Week 2, students develop a print ad or a TV commercial to convince investors to buy the right to explore one planet.

Indicator 1l

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

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

Materials provide a progression of multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply narrative, opinion, and informative/expository writing. The daily writing lessons support students in the weekly writing project, which provides students the opportunity to write narratives, informational, and argumentative pieces. The 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,  and responses to texts. The instructional guide provides supports for teachers to assist students as students progress in writing skills 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 instruction support accompany each unit.

Examples of narrative writing include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 4, students write a personal narrative about a time when they had to make a choice.
  • In Unit 2, Week 3, students write an adventure story about a rescue operation for a local newspaper.
  • In Unit 3, Week 3, students pretend they are an archaeologist who has made a discovery, and they write a personal narrative that describes what they saw, heard, touched, and smelled during the exploration.
  • In Unit 6, Week 1, students write a short story episode for the novel, Seedfolks, by introducing a new character, using dialogue, and developing a plot that tells how the characters respond to issues.
  • In Unit 8, Week 3, students write a story about an interesting place they have visited.

Examples of expository writing include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 2, students write a blog entry to tell about how the para-athletes are alike and what central or main idea unifies their profiles.
  • In Unit 2, Week 1, students write an animal article based on an amazing animal that they have observed or have read about.
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, students write a social studies article about how archaeologists use data to understand the past.
  • In Unit 4, Week 2, students write an information pamphlet about the redwood forests that is geared toward young visitors.
  • In Unit 5, Week 2, students write about key events in the anecdotes in the story.

Examples of argumentative writing include:

  • In Unit 4, Week 4, students write an argument that persuades people to find a way to help an endangered species. 
  • In Unit 5, Week 4, students write a persuasive speech to convince people to take action.
  • In Unit 6, Week 4, students write letters to the editor arguing the benefits of eating fresh food and why it should be available to all people.
  • In Unit 7, Week 2, students collaborate with a partner to write an online editorial about the qualities of a good leader.

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 provide opportunities that are varied and build writing skills over the course of the school year; however, materials do not consistently provide opportunities for students to learn and practice careful analyses or write with well-defended claims or clear information. Many writing prompts are related to the texts but do not require students to find evidence.

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

  • In Unit 1, Week 2, students write a blog entry to tell about how the para-athlete are alike and what central or main idea unifies their profiles.
  • In Unit 3, Week 3, students write a paragraph explaining how asking themselves questions while reading helped them clarify their understanding of A Day in the Life of a Scribe. This writing task requires students to reflect on a reading strategy instead of writing about a text.
  • In Unit 5, Week 4, students write a paragraph to explain why Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry is still a book that people read today. They need to express feelings about it and give reasons and evidence to explain those feelings.
  • In Unit 7, Week 1, students write a paragraph about the conclusions they made while reading.
  • In Unit 8, Week 1, students write a paragraph about how a reading strategy helped them understand a science article. This does not require text evidence.

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

  • In Unit 2, Week 3, students pretend they are writing for a local newspaper that wants an adventure story about a rescue operation for the newspaper. Students read adventure stories and use them as a model, though no text evidence is required.
  • In Unit 7, Week 2, students write an online editorial about the qualities of a good leader, using Qin Shihuang as an example from their text.

Some small group reading writing prompts ask students to find evidence; however, at least one choice does not require students to return to the text for evidence. For example:

  • In Unit 4, Week 1, students who are reading on grade level have the option of writing a persuasive sentence based on what they learned in the book in order to urge others to do what they can to save animals, write questions they would like to ask one of the scientists mentioned in the book, or explain which of the scientists’ methods for protecting animals most surprised them and why.
  • In Unit 5, Week 1, students who are reading below grade level have the option to write a letter to one of their grandparents and include the same information about their lives that George does in the book Letters from Hillside Farm, write five interview questions they would like to ask George’s grandmother about her life growing up on a farm, or write about a time when their family moved or when they changed schools or classes.

Weekly learning stations include a writing station. These stations rarely ask students to find evidence from texts in the class. The majority of the learning stations for writing involves individual research projects, where students do need to gather evidence; however, direct instruction is not provided.

  • In Unit 3, Week 2, students research and report on mummies.
  • In Unit 8, Week 3, students research a time period online.

Indicator 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

The 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. Students often practice the skill through editing a paragraph. On Day 5, there is a review of the skills and then an assessment of the skill.

Students have opportunities to ensure that pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, possessive). For example:

  • In Unit 2, Week 1, the teacher introduces the subject pronoun and explains that a pronoun can take the place of noun as the subject of a sentence. On Day 2, the teacher introduces pronoun agreement in gender and teaches the rule: he refers to a male, she refers to a female, and it refers to a place or thing. On Day 4, the students edit and use proofreading marks to correct errors with subject pronouns and agreement.
  • In Unit 2, Week 2, the teacher introduces subjects and objects in a sentence and teaches the rule for simple subject, direct object, and the typical sentence pattern.
  • In Unit 2, Week 4, the teacher introduces possessive pronouns and uses example sentences to explain the difference between possessive pronouns and possessive adjectives.

Students have opportunities to use intensive pronouns (e.g., myself, ourselves). For example:

  • In Unit 6, Week 4, students learn about reflexive pronouns. The teacher introduces the rules for reflexive pronouns and students play the Reflexive Pronoun Challenge for practice.

Students have opportunities to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun number and person. For example:

  • In Unit 7, Week 2, the teacher reviews pronoun agreement in number. On Day 3, the teacher explains that the pronoun must agree with its antecedent in number and person. The teacher works through examples with the students. On Day 4, the students edit using proofreading marks to correct errors in pronoun agreement in gender, person, and number.

Students have opportunities to recognize and correct vague pronouns (i.e., ones with unclear or ambiguous antecedents). For example:

  • In Unit 5, Week 5, the teacher introduces ways to avoid pronoun confusion and teaches the rule: to make sentences clear, match the pronoun and the antecedent. The lesson also specifies the pronoun to be used with singular nouns and plural nouns.

Students have opportunities to use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive/parenthetical elements. For example:

  • In Unit 4, Week 4, the teacher introduces using commas to separate participial phrases and appositives. Students then divide into two teams to play the game, Combine My Sentences. Students also practice editing a paragraph to combine sentences with participles and appositives.

Students have opportunities to spell correctly. For example:

  • In Unit 6, Week 3, there is a five-day Daily Spelling & Word Work sequence to focus on spelling words with ch/k/ and ph/f/ in multisyllabic words that have Greek origins.

Students have opportunities to vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style. For example:

  • In Unit 8, Week 4, students learn about concise writing. The teacher displays two example sentences of concise writing and then displays a chart with examples. Students then practice rewriting sentences to eliminate wordiness.

Students have opportunities to maintain consistency in style and tone. For example:

  • In Unit 4, Week 3, students learn about voice and style in an email story. The teacher displays the model email story and students compare the differences in the voice and style of two email stories.

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 6 partially meet the expectations for Gateway 2. Unit texts are organized around a topic or theme to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. 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

26/32

Indicator 2a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic or theme to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The text sets within each unit that the whole class reads build students’ knowledge in the science and social studies topics. The same topic or theme is addressed in small group reading. The eight units contain topics or themes about science or social studies content. Over the course of four weeks per unit, students participate in listening, reading, writing, and discussing around a science or social studies topic and a Big Question.

The following are examples of units throughout the program that are organized around a topic and/or theme:

  • In Unit 1, the overall theme is choices and students focus on the Big Question: "How do choices affect who we are?" Over the course of four weeks, students read autobiographies, a speech, poems, a myth, and a piece of realistic fiction. Throughout the four weeks, students read about society and choices, risk and choices, and identity choices. Texts include: Facing the Lion by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, A Work in Progress by Aimee Mullins, Does My Head Look Big in This? By Randa Abdel-Fattah, and King Midas retold by Jennifer Tetzloff.
  • In Unit 3, students read about the topic of digging up the past and focus on the Big Question: “How can we bring the past to life?” Over the four weeks, students read magazine and history articles, an explorer journal, a diary, and a piece of historical fiction. Students read about Ancient Egypt, ancient cultures, and ancient perspectives. Examples of texts in this unit include: Valley of the Kings by Dr. Kent R. Weeks, Sarah Parcak Explorer’s Journal by Sarah Parcak, The Journal of Nakht by Richard Platt, and The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.
  • In Unit 5, students read about why people take a stand. Students read a history article, a memoir, a biography, biographical fiction, historical fiction, and a persuasive essay to figure out why people take a stand. Over the course of the four weeks, students read about standing up for civil rights and making a difference. Texts in this unit include: The Civil Rights Movement by Kevin Supples, Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry, Iqbal: A Novel by Francesco D’Adamo, and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor.
  • In Unit 7, students learn about Ancient China. Over the four weeks, students read two history articles, an essay, a fantasy, a play, and a profile to address the Big Question: "Why should we study ancient cultures?" Students study change and continuity and diverse lives. Texts in this unit include: The Emperor’s Silent Army by Jane O’Connor, A Silent Army by Jacqueline Ball and Richard Levey, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, and Christine Lee: Bio-Archaeologist, a profile.

Indicator 2b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.

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 texts. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 3, students read the realistic fiction text, Does My Head Look Big in This?, learn about figurative language, and answer question: "Why does Amal say there is something X -Men like about her hijab?" Students then learn how to identify, analyze, and write using analogies.
  • In Unit 2, Week 4 students read the personal narrative, Survival Stories: The Girl who Fell from the Sky, and answer a set of questions to build comprehension: "How do you know that Diller is telling the story? How does the collage help you predict what the story is about?"
  • In Unit 3, Week 1, students read the magazine article, “Valley of the Kings”, and are led through a series of questions to help comprehension skills for the genre: compare and contrast, using text features, and making inferences. Examples of questions include: “What does the amount of land tell you about Ramses II? How does the photograph help you to better understand the tomb? What would it be like to dig out a tomb as large as KV 5 with only homemade hoes and baskets made from tires?”
  • In Unit 5, Week 2, students read the memoir, Rosa Parks: My Story, and learn to connect across texts while recalling what they know about Rosa Parks from reading The Civil Rights Movement. The series of questions include questions about which passengers most likely got off the bus to ask for transfers by citing evidence, what did they learn about Rosa Parks in the two texts, and how is the memoir different from the historical article.
  • In Unit 8, Week 1, students read the science article, "Finding Mars on Earth", and answer a series of questions about the diagrams. They are asked how the labels help them get more information and how questions help students see how infographics connect to the text.

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 materials, students build knowledge of various topics throughout the year, including Ancient China, Earth, and the Civil Rights Movement. Students answer a series of questions about the texts in order to integrate knowledge both in individual and multiple texts. Students compare and contrast texts within units to build knowledge. Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Week 4, students read the autobiography, The Jacket from the Circuiti. Students are asked to recall events and the character from the realistic fiction story, Does My Head Look Big in This, which they read the week prior, to make connections between the two texts about choices people have to make.
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, students read Animals Everlasting and Valley of the Kings. The teacher leads a discussion about reading multiple texts on the same subject. Students complete a chart comparing what they learned and engage in Academic Talk about the discoveries made in each text.
  • In Unit 5, Week 4, students review and compare the themes in Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry and Iqbal. Students review the discussions of the texts from previous lessons and complete a comparison chart. The teacher points out that people can take a big stand in small ways. The teacher models by thinking aloud about the way characters in both texts took a stand.
  • In Unit 7, students learn about Ancient China. In Week 1, they watch a video about Ancient China and answer a series of questions about the images in the video about the spread of China’s influence through the Silk Road and the impact of trade on western civilizations. Then throughout the rest of the unit, students read additional texts about ancient China, including the biography Emperor Qin and history article The Emperor’s Silent Army, to think about the spread of China’s influence.

Indicator 2d

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

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

At the end of each unit, students complete Unit Projects. Students have a choice of four different projects; 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 they may elect the projects that do not require knowledge from the unit.

For example:

  • In Unit 1, students learn about how choices affect who we are. Before picking a project choice, each student writes a short story that includes two people or characters from two of the text selections in the unit. The students include what they know about the characters’ traits and personalities to describe what the choices might be. This integrates skills from the unit, but not knowledge; however, not all of the project choices require a demonstration of knowledge from the unit or an integration of skills.
    • Students write a thank you letter to a friend for something s/he did recently. The letter includes an explanation of how the choices the friend made affected them personally. 
    • Students role play the real people in the unit by preparing interview questions about the different choices the person made and how the decisions affected their lives in positive and negative ways.
    • Students brainstorm a list of scenarios in which a choice needs to be made. They work with a partner to choose one and prepare a skit to perform for the class.
    • Students work with a partner to write a short, "choose your own adventure" story.
  • In Unit 3, students study how we can bring the past to life. Every student is required to choose something about ancient Egypt that interests them and write a blog entry that explains what they learned about this topic or person. This task demonstrates knowledge and an integration of skills.  However, not all of the project choices require a demonstration of knowledge from the unit or an integration of skills.
    • Students pretend they are an archaeologist and write about discovering their first mummy. They must describe the tomb and what artifacts they found that gives clues about ancient Egypt.
    • Students find pictures online of objects that tell about life in ancient Egypt. They create a photo-essay slideshow and write a few sentences about each object.
    • Students conduct interviews with a character from The Journal of Nakht and The Golden Goblet and discuss what the characters might say to each other about living in ancient Egypt. They perform the interviews in front of the class. This choice requires integration of reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
    • Students write a list of modern day objects that they would want archaeologists to find years from now.
  • In Unit 6, students think about how we can feed a growing planet. Project choices may require students to demonstrate knowledge from the unit; however, some students can use their background knowledge to complete a project choice.
    • Students write a blog entry that features projects and organizations that help to end world hunger. The projects and organizations may come from the texts in the unit or from their own knowledge of the community.
    • Students give a speech about inventions that have improved farming practices. Students do research to complete this project, and they are not required to use the texts from the unit.
    • Students draw a map of their town that includes a community garden. They plot out what they would grow in each section.
    • Students write a song, rap, or chant about why it is important to end hunger. Students can use the texts to help them complete this project choice, but it is not required.
  • In Unit 7, students study why we should study ancient cultures. Students begin the culminating task by thinking about what they learned about China and the Chinese culture and write a story to describe how the Old Man of the Moon from Where the Mountain Meets the Moon might interact with another person or character from the unit. This task requires an integration of skills but not necessarily a demonstration of knowledge of a topic; however, not all of the project choices require a demonstration of knowledge from the unit or an integration of skills.
    • Students write a new scene for Mu Lan about her return home. This demonstrates knowledge of the story but not necessarily knowledge of a topic or theme.
    • Students work with a partner to find information and photos about important events in China during Qin’s lifetime.
    • Students work with a small group to find photos online that show artifacts from ancient China. They present their findings to the class, but this project does not demonstrate knowledge, even though students are integrating skills.
    • Students write a journal entry that describes what work would be like as an archaeologist working to uncover the terracotta soldiers.

Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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. Specific examples of vocabulary words and or lessons within the materials include:

  • In Unit 2, Week 2, students focus on learning how related words will help them learn new words. They begin by learning deception and discuss other words that have to do with trickery, such as deceive. They practice defining several of their key words using this strategy. The key words are found throughout the texts read during the week. Comprehension questions also contain the words, such as "Why is the adaptation of camouflage so important to the ghost shrimp and glass frogs?"
  • In Unit 4, Week 3, students learn 10 new academic and science- related vocabulary words using Routine 1. The teacher incorporates the vocabulary words in discussions and think alouds. For example, the teacher is prompted to say, "I will write what Leon does and what that conveys about his viewpoints, with convey being the key word." Sentence frames are provided throughout various activities for students to use the key words correctly when answering questions about texts. Routine 2 is used as students continue to practice the vocabulary words by drawing pictures of the words, using the words in context, and writing out the definitions. Students are quizzed on their understanding of the vocabulary words at the end of the week.
  • In Unit 6, Week 4, students practice using context clues to figure out the meaning of multiple-meaning key words. The words are used throughout the unit in directions, the texts, questions, and reteaching strategies. The words are also used as the teacher builds background knowledge of the topic. Comprehension questions also require the students to use the key words in their answer. Students practice using the words in sentences by sharing sentences for all the meanings of the words.
  • In Unit 8, Week 1, students learn 10 new science and academic vocabulary words using Routine 1. The words are found in the texts and comprehension questions include the words, such as "What geological features do Earth and Mars share and how would this help us learn about the terrain?" Additional questions are placed throughout the week to help students who need reteaching, such as asking them which word means to change (transform). Students play the game Picture It toward the end of the week to solidify the vocabulary words for the students.

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
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 Week 4 of every unit, but the same routine happens each week, with only a difference in the 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, Week 4, students begin by writing paragraphs explaining how an author introduces, illustrates, and elaborates on key events on Day 1. On Day 2, students write a note to the character Francesco from the perspective of Arthur from The Jacket from the Circuit. Then on Day 3, students write a paragraph using at least two key words and sentences with singular, plural, and compound subjects to reinforce the grammar skill, but on Day 4 the focus is on writing an explanatory paragraph to explain what the author states explicitly and what inferences can be made. On Day 5, students write paragraphs to compare what two characters learned about themselves and others because of the choices they made.
  • In Unit 4, Week 2, students begin by writing an email with a partner to a friend that conveys their viewpoint about Mireya Mayor and her work. On Day 2, students write their viewpoints about the work of Mayor and the impact on preserving diversity and the balance of animals and plants. Then on Day 3, students write paragraphs about endangered species with a focus on color-coding adjectives and adverbs, which is not addressed at any other point in the week. On Day 4, students write to explain Philip Hoose’s claim and the reasons and evidence he gives to support it, while on Day 5, students write to express their opinion about which author’s claim is the most effective, and what makes the reasons and evidence so compelling.
  • In Unit 7, Week 3, Day 1, students begin by writing an embedded story. On Day 2, students write generalizations they formed while reading. On Day 3, students write about the fantasy elements embedded in the story, but then on Day 4, students write dialogue for a story they already know. In the final lesson, students work with a partner to write dialogue about a story.

Indicator 2g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 space exploration, countries, animals, and ancient cultures. Students present their research in a variety of means, including oral presentations, multimedia presentations, and formal research papers. Throughout the week-long research 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. These research projects include:

  • In Unit 1, students choose a country outside of the United States. They find out about its customs and traditions. They then imagine that they have visited the country and share one custom or tradition that they learned during their “visit.”
  • In Unit 2, students present a multimedia report about an amazing animal adaptation. Students begin by writing three or four research questions, gathering the information, and then organizing the information before drafting their ideas and publishing their reports.
  • In Unit 3, students complete a research project about ancient Egypt. They research an ancient Egyptian archaeological site and prepare an oral presentation. Students include the site’s top points of interest, conservation efforts, or some other related aspect.
  • In Unit 4, students research and then give a speech on an endangered species. Their research and speech must include information on why the species is endangered, how humans impact it, and their viewpoint on ways to protect the animal. In this five-day project, students plan, research for two days, organize, and then present their speech.
  • In Unit 5, students research and write a short biography about a civil rights activist. They include a discussion of this person’s beliefs and accomplishments in the biography.
  • In Unit 6, students research organic versus non-organic foods in order to create a poster to inform people about the pros and cons of organic versus non-organic foods. This research project includes argumentative writing as they are assigned to convince people to start eating organic food.
  • In Unit 7, students research, write a report, and present on important inventions from ancient China. They choose at least one major Chinese invention for the report.
  • In Unit 8, students research about a current space exploration project. Their research and report integrates information from different sources to describe one current space exploration project.

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
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Indicator Rating Details

 The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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, 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

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

Criterion 3a - 3e

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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