Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not meet the criteria for alignment. While texts partially meet some expectations, the majority of work done in reading, writing, speaking, and listening do not meet the expectations of the indicators. The materials do not include support for building students' knowledge and academic vocabulary.

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Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
20
37
42
22
37-42
Meets Expectations
21-36
Partially Meets Expectations
0-20
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
2
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
0
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

Grade 3 StoryTown materials partially meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the standards.

Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
13/20
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed partially meet the criteria that anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading/listening and consider a range of student interests and reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards. Materials have the appropriate level of complexity and support students’ literacy skills over the course of the school year. The instructional materials reviewed partially meet the expectation of supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year and partially meet the criteria for range and volume of reading to support students' reading at grade level by the end of the school year.

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 partially meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

Anchor texts in the majority of lessons and across the year-long curriculum are of publishable quality. Anchor texts are well-crafted, content rich, often award winning titles, and include a range of student interests, engaging students at the grade level for which they are placed. However, many texts include excerpts that may be missing information needed for students to understand the text. In some texts, much background knowledge is needed for students to engage with the materials. For example:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, students read “Ruby the Copycat” by Peggy Rothmann. This award winning realistic fiction text is an engaging, age/grade appropriate text, which contains strong academic vocabulary, is worthy of multiple reads, and includes vibrant illustrations.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, students read “Aero and Officer Mike: Police Partners” by John Plummer Russel. This award winning nonfiction text is an engaging, age/grade appropriate text, which is worthy of multiple reads and includes vibrant illustrations.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, students read “A Tree is Growing” by Arthur Dorros. This award winning nonfiction text is an engaging, age/grade appropriate text, which includes strong content and academic vocabulary and modern, informative graphics.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, students read “Me and Uncle Romie” by Claire Hartfield. This award winning historical fiction text is an engaging, age/grade appropriate text, which contains strong academic vocabulary, and cultural, vibrant illustrations.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 24, students read an excerpt from “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary. This award winning realistic fiction text is a classic, age/grade appropriate text, which is worthy of multiple reads.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 26, students read an excerpt from “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White. This award winning fantasy text is a timeless, age/grade appropriate text, which contains strong academic vocabulary and is worthy of multiple reads.

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 3 meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Anchor and paired texts include a mix of informational and literary texts. Each of the six Themes for the year integrates various genres to support student’s understanding of the Theme. Additional self-selected reading selections are suggested as part of the classroom library to support the Themes. Text types include: fantasy, nonfiction, realistic fiction, travel journal, informational narrative, science fiction, fairy tale, play, historical fiction, folktale, interview, advice column, photo essay, mystery, biography, and news script.

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

  • Theme 1 - The Day Eddie Met the Author by Louise Borden
  • Theme 2 - The Babe and I by David A. Adler
  • Theme 3 - A Pen Pal for Max by Gloria Rand
  • Theme 4 - Lon Po Po by Ed Young
  • Theme 5 - Chestnut Cove by Tim Egan
  • Theme 6 - Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

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

  • Theme 1 - “Schools Around the World” by Margaret C. Hall
  • Theme 2 - How Animals Talk by Susan McGrath
  • Theme 3 - One Small Place in a Tree by Barbara Brenner
  • Theme 4 - “Backstage with Chris and Casey” Interview
  • Theme 5 - Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies
  • Theme 6 - “Spiders and Their Webs” by Darlyne A. Murawski

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 3 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.

The majority of texts are at the appropriate quantitative level. Texts that are above or below grade level quantitative bands have qualitative features and/or tasks that bring it to the appropriate level for students to access the text. Within the series, quantitative texts levels range from 500L-900L, with some texts above and below the current grade level Lexile band. Books identified for small group instruction are noted as below level, on level, advanced, and intended for ELL students.

Examples of texts that are above the quantitative measure, but are at the appropriate level based on qualitative analysis and associated tasks:

  • "Spiders and Their Webs" by Darlene A. Murawski, an expository nonfiction selection, above the Current and the Stretch Band Level at 900L, is included in Theme 6. This title is still appropriate to use because the topic is something with which all students would be familiar and is of interest to them. Tier 2 vocabulary is practiced prior to the reading and highlighted throughout the selection. Text features such as titles, subtitles, photos with captions, and sidebars with facts, support students, and the Monitoring Comprehension questions asked by the teacher throughout the reading provide a scaffold to understanding. Reading strategies and differentiation are in place to support readers who may struggle. It’s placement near the end of the school year will allow more students to access it independently.
  • “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary, an excerpt from a realistic fictional book, above the Current and Stretch Band Level at 860L, is included in Theme 5. This title is still appropriate to use because it is a classic, timeless, age-appropriate, highly engaging story to which third graders will relate. Tier 2 vocabulary is practiced prior to the reading and highlighted throughout the selection. Monitoring Comprehension questions asked by the teacher throughout the reading provide a scaffold to understanding. Reading strategies and differentiation are in place to support readers who may struggle. It’s placement near the end of the school year will allow more students to access it independently.

Example of text that is below the quantitative measure, but is at the appropriate level based on qualitative analysis and associated tasks:

  • “Ruby the Copycat” by Peggy Rathmann, a realistic fiction selection below the Current and Stretch Band Level at 500L, is included in Theme 1. This award winning title is appropriate because of its placement at the beginning of the year, the content of the story, and the associated tasks. This text is paired with a read aloud, “First Day Jitters,” also addressing the beginning of the school year, includes study of robust vocabulary, and requires students to interpret characters’ feelings, draw conclusions, make predictions, analyze cause and effect, interpret character’s emotions, analyze characters and setting, and summarize, all of which support students’ understanding.

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 3 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.)

The instructional materials reviewed partially meet the expectation of supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. As the year progresses, students read texts at a variety of complexity levels. For each text, the routine for reading and analyzing the text is similar and does not change based on text complexity. Scaffolding remains the same with no gradual release of responsibility and very little increase in expectations. Culminating tasks do not require an increase of skills across the year and do not lead to proficiency in reading independently at grade level at the end of the school year.

While there is a variety of text complexities across the year, and most texts increase in difficulty throughout the year quantitatively, scaffolding remains the same with no gradual release of responsibility and very little increase in expectations.

There are very few opportunities for independent practice with the text and no gradual release of responsibility provided students through the course of the year. While the rigor increases quantitatively, the task considerations remain consistent, with most being teacher directed. For example, in the middle of the year, in Theme 5, students are taught Cause and Effect in Lesson 23, Day 1 with the teacher introducing the skill explaining that good readers look for cause-and-effect relationships, and doing a Think Aloud, “As I read, I ask myself, ‘Why did that happen? What did that cause?’” Students are provided a graphic organizer during guided practice to record cause and effect relationships found in their reading. The skill is re-taught, reinforced, or extended during small-group instruction in Lessons 23 and 24, and reviewed daily throughout these two lessons with the teacher providing the same instruction with no gradual release of responsibility. By Theme 6, Lesson 28, Day 4, the skill is reinforced with the teacher reminding students that a cause is what makes something happen and an effect is what happens. Students are directed to return to the text and respond to three questions, “What is I.C. Cube worried about in the first email? Why is I.C. Cube melting? What clue word for cause and effect is used in Dr. Fix-It’s response to I.C. Cube’s first email?”

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.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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.

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are not accompanied by a text complexity analysis or a rationale for educational purpose and placement in Grade 3. The publisher identifies anchor text by genre and leveled readers are suggested by Below-Level, On-Level, and Advanced. Texts are identified as Below-Level, On-Level, and Advanced no specific complexity level or rationale is provided.

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.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 partially 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.

There are opportunities for students to read a range and volume of texts. The materials provide some experiences with independent reading. Teacher materials lack explicit directions to help students build their skills to read on grade level independently by the end of the year, and weekly lessons have minimal time dedicated to students reading independently.

In each lesson, students interact with a getting started story, a read-aloud, a whole-group vocabulary selection, anchor text, paired text read, and a self-selected text read during center work. Leveled readers are provided for small-group, differentiated work. Resources are provided to offer students a variety of texts of different lengths and genres. There are longer main selections, which often are excerpts from complete literary or informational books for children. There are paired selections, shorter in length, provided as a companion text, so students can compare and contrast characters, genre elements, text features, content, and other aspects of the texts.

A Reading Adventure: Student Magazine is used for supplemental lessons to extend the Common Core. Additional texts related to the themes are provided as leveled reading selections. These selections are suggested in the Resources section of the Teacher Edition on pg. R9.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
5/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed do not meet the criteria that questions, tasks, and assignments are text-based, requiring students to engage with the text directly. Materials do not contain questions sequence that build to a culminating task. Materials provide some protocols for discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax, but do not provide adequate opportunitiy for evidence-based discucssion. Materials partially meet the criteria for including a mix of on-demand and process writing and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate. Materials offer some opportunities for students to engage in writing tasks across the text types required in the standards. Materials do not include frequent opportunities for evidence based writing. Materials do not 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.

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 3 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

The materials reviewed contain questions and tasks in multiple locations that require students to engage with the text directly and to draw on textual evidence to support answers. Questions asked include those which require both explicit answers and inferences from the text. Materials include questions requiring students to engage with the text in multiple sections including Check Comprehension, Monitor Comprehension, and Making Predictions. Students must engage with the text to answer questions and complete activities. Examples of text dependent/specific questions, tasks and assignments include:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, Day 2, after reading the text, Ruby the Copycat by Peggy Rathmann, students answer the following questions in the Think Critically section in the Student Edition, “What is Ruby like at the beginning of the story? What is she like at the end? How do you know that the author believes that everyone has something special to share? In what ways are Ruby and Angela the same: In what ways are they different? Use details from the story to explain your answer.”
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, Day 2, after reading A Tree is Growing by Arthur Dorros, students are asked to respond to the question, “What changes happen to a tree as it grows? Use examples from the text to support your answer.”
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, Day 2, during the Reading Section, students are asked to read Me and Uncle Romie by Claire Hartfield while the teacher monitors for comprehension every two pages. Questions include “How is Uncle Romie and Aunt Nanette’s home different from the boy’s home? How does the author let you know that the boy is still scared of Uncle Romie?”
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, Day 2, while reading Chestnut Cove by Tim Eagan, the teacher is provided formative questions to monitor student comprehension. Students are asked, “Think about the things the villagers are doing. How do you think they feel about their town and their neighbors? Why do you think the villagers are so ready to help one another? How does the watermelon-growing contest change the villagers?”
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, Day 2, after reading “The Planets” by Gail Gibbons, students respond to the following questions: “What clues help readers make predictions about the sequence of 'The Planets'? What causes Venus’s brightness? What causes Neptune to appear blue?”

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).
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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).

At the end of each lesson, students answer questions which can be either personal response or text-dependent as they read each text selection. Reading selections are directly or loosely tied to the unit’s overarching theme. At the end of each main selection, students discuss or write responses to five Think Critically questions about their reading, but these questions do not build to a culminating task to integrate skills.

The Reading-Writing Connection, identified as Theme Writing, takes students through the steps of the writing process leading to a final written product and ending with an on-demand piece of the same genre. While the process piece is not dependent upon questioning from the lessons’ anchor texts, there is a text used to teach the writing genre or analyze a specific writing trait. Daily, weekly, and theme planning do not provide teachers with time allotment or suggestions for how and when the Theme Project and Reading-Writing Connection are to be completed.

Materials are divided into Themes. Each of the six Themes includes a culminating Theme Project related to the Theme but not necessarily to the Theme’s text. These projects follow the same routine of Building Background and Following Project Steps leading to a final project. The final project may include a writing component. The Theme Projects can be completed without reading or understanding the text selections within the Themes. The projects do not integrate skills developed during instruction throughout the unit. For example:

  • In Theme 1, “School Days,” the Theme Project is to create a school map. Students brainstorm locations outside the classroom, research maps and the locations, work in small groups to make and label sketches of the map, and finalize the map. They follow up with a paragraph to explain what they did to make the map and what they learned from the experience. While all anchor texts are related to the theme, this project could be completed without reading or responding to the texts in any of the lessons from the Theme.
  • In Theme 5, the Reading-Writing Connection is an explanatory composition. Students reread pages 164-167 of “Antarctic Ice” by Jim Mastro and the teacher discusses elements of explanation using the text. With the teacher’s direction, students analyze a student model of explanatory writing and proceed to choose their own topic to explain. The completion of this Theme-long piece is not dependent upon the reading of the anchor text or deep understanding of the Theme.

Indicator 1i

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidencebased discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. (May be small group and all-class.)
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 partially meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

The curriculum provides opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based discussions but not all are rich and rigorous. The opportunities offer limited protocols to support vocabulary and syntax throughout each unit or within lessons. Materials include practices to build robust vocabulary and application of content words, but not academic vocabulary and syntax. Themes provide limited information on how teachers can provide support and scaffolds with collaborative conversations. Most discussions are whole group with limited opportunities for small group or peer-to-peer discussion.

Each Theme has a Speaking and Listening page that provides minimal scaffolding of instruction for students to prepare and share their writing. Although speaking and listening tasks are included in various spots throughout the year, there is limited instruction to support students’ mastering of listening and speaking skills. The opportunities do not adequately address the mastery of grade-level speaking and listening standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In each lesson, the Warm-Up Routines include objectives such as “listen attentively and respond appropriately to oral communication" and to write and speak in complete sentences. There are some basic directions about communicating with words and without words. Two discussion questions are included after each warm-up read aloud.
  • At the beginning of each Theme, there is a Theme Project. For example, in Theme 6, students work in groups to develop a report about a modern-day explorer. Students are provided with tips for Listening and Speaking, such as “Make sure there is never more than one person talking at a time.”
  • While reading the anchor text for each lesson, the teacher is monitoring comprehension through questioning the whole-group. While the expectation is that students are reading and responding to the whole-class discussion, no supports are provided to model and encourage the use of academic vocabulary. On Day 4 of each lesson, there is a Speaking and Listening mini-lesson. For example, in Theme 4, Lesson 19, Day 4, students are asked to tell a folktale they know or the one they are writing. Students are provided with some Speaking and Listening Strategies.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 10, Day 5, students are provided with presentation strategies and a Performance Checklist. There is a Presentations rubric available in the Teacher Resource Book.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 28, students are asked to respond to literature through discussion or writing. There are no protocols provided to support discussions.
  • Evidence-based discussions do not encourage the development of academic vocabulary. In the supplementary Teacher Support Book, Theme 6, Speaking and Listening, pg. 66, the teacher provides students tips for Reporting on a Topic, referring to pg. R2 in the Teacher Support Book, Instructional Routines - Discussions and Presentations. The teacher reviews the following rules for discussion: "Speak one at a time, Speak loudly and clearly so that everyone can hear, Use correct English and speak in complete sentences, Listen carefully when others are speaking, If you have something to add to the discussion, signal that you wish to speak, or wait for a pause to add your comment." Students are also reminded to use formal, correct English and to listen quietly and attentively. While these protocols are provided, they do not adequately support students in mastering speaking and listening standards.

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.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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.

Some grade appropriate speaking and listening opportunities are provided over the course of the year. Students have opportunities to ask classmates and their teacher questions and answer questions about ideas presented. The curriculum includes minimal protocols and graphic organizers to support academic discussions. Anchor text for each lesson are read by students with the teacher asking whole-group discussion questions throughout the reading to monitor comprehension. Teachers are not provided direction or protocols for these discussions. Each theme has a “Speaking and Listening” page that provides very little scaffolding of instruction for students to prepare and share their writing or how to gather evidence from text to include in discussions. Although speaking and listening tasks are included in various spots throughout the year, there is limited instruction to support students’ mastering of listening and speaking skills. Many discussions do not require students to return to the text or provide evidence for their thinking. Students will often be asked to speak about something they have written, but do not have many opportunities to speak about what they have read.

The materials contain some activities for students to engage in speaking and listening activities but do not provide many opportunities for follow up questions, supports, or appropriate feedback. Questioning opportunities are provided but do not provide frequent opportunities for students to engage in peer conversations to develop answers. Many discussions do not require students to return to the text or provide evidence for their thinking. Examples include:

  • Each Theme has a related project including tips for Listening and Speaking. The project for Theme 2 is to “...develop a flowchart showing how workers in their community keep the neighborhood running and help each other do their jobs.” Students will work in groups to research using their prior knowledge or conversation with adults how workers help the community run. The teacher gives the following suggestions: “Make sure everyone in the group has a chance to speak and respond to speakers. Respond to ideas politely and give helpful suggestions for improvement. Take notes on important things that group members say. Listen carefully to what others say and politely ask questions if something is not clear.” Student do not have to return to texts to provide evidence for these projects.
  • In Theme 5, Theme Project, students create an advertisement to “sell their community.” Students perform their advertisements for the class. However, no peer feedback and/or questioning is indicated. Students do not have to return to the text to prepare for the discussion.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, Day 4, as part of the Skills and Strategies instruction, students are to give an informational speech on a topic they know well. Prior to the speech, the teacher shares the following organizational, speaking, and listening suggestions: “Write your main points on note cards. Only state facts, not opinions. Think about including props or pictures to illustrate a point. Practice sharing your presentation. Use intonation that tells the audience when you are moving from one point to the next. Give the speaker your full attention. Make notes about the topic. After each presentation, ask questions about something you found interesting.” These protocols and practice appear approximately three times within each five-week unit. These protocols do not require students to return to a text to provide evidence or support their thinking.

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.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 partially 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.

Within each lesson, students read paired texts. Following these readings, a writing prompt requires students to use their knowledge of the texts to complete an on-demand writing task. As part of the daily, small group instruction, students have a short writing assignment aligned with the whole-class writing activity for that lesson. In each lesson, students are asked to work through the writing process to produce a short piece of writing. Day 1: Introduce, Day 2: Pre-write, Day 3: Draft, Day 4: Revise/Edit, and on Day 5: Revise/Share.

Each Theme includes a Reading-Writing Connection that spans the entire five week Theme incorporating the stages of the writing process: prewrite, draft, revise, proofread, and publish. Materials include both on-demand and process writing with opportunities for students to edit and publish pieces. Each process writing is completed within one week. While there are many opportunities for writing, there is little evidence to suggest students write routinely over an extended time frame as required by the writing standard, W.3.10.

Writing opportunities exist for on-demand writing at the end of each selection with a timed writing. Writing prompts include some guidance for students but lack pacing guidance. Students writing opportunities frequently do not require textual evidence. There is no provision for utilizing digital resources in writing. On-demand writing opportunities include prompts, such as the following:

  • Each lesson includes a Think Critically writing prompt. There is a text-dependent on-demand writing task included with the question set following each main reading selection. For example, in Theme 1, Lesson 1, following Ruby the Copycat, question 5 asks “In what ways are Ruby and Angela the same? In what ways are they different? Use details from the story to explain your answer.”
  • In Theme 1, Lesson 2, Day 3, page T167, after reading “The Day Eddie Met the Author” by Louise Borden and “Surprise” by Beverly McLoughland, students complete the following on-demand writing task: "Plan a narrative about a day something happy and exciting happens at school. Make sure to describe the characters well and include a clear setting. Describe the events that make the day exciting." The Student Edition includes a writing checklist and a graphic organizer to support students’ planning.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, page S36, on-level and advanced students compose an on-demand paragraph that explains. On-level students meet in small groups to discuss the following questions, using the ideas generated to write their paragraph: What are school assemblies? Why does the school have assemblies? How should students act when they are in the assembly? Advanced students think of their favorite sport, hobby, or other activity, then partner with a student who does not know about their topic. Students then write a paragraph of explanation for that person about their topic.
  • Once during each Theme, students are asked to complete one 45-minute on-demand piece of writing in response to a prompt. Students prewrite, organize ideas using a graphic organizer, draft, revise and proofread.

Writing opportunities also exist for process writing during each five week Theme. Writing prompts include guidance for students but lack pacing guidance. Literary selections are utilized as mentor texts but writings do not require textual evidence. There is no provision for utilizing digital resources in process writing. Process writing opportunities include prompts, such as the following:

  • In Theme 3, the focus traits are Voice and Sentence Fluency. A literature model is provided, and students self-select their topic within the form being taught. For example, in Theme 3, students write a friendly letter to a person of their choice. Students plan, draft, revise for specific craft elements, edit, and publish. Pacing or time allocations for this process piece is not clear.
  • In Theme 4, the process writing tasks include: personal narrative, response to literature, friendly letter, story, explanation essay, and research report.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 22, Day 1, page T135, students are introduced to writing a summary. On Day 1, students begin by writing an animal fact in a sentence. On Day 2, students make a list of as many connective words as they can in their notebooks. On Day 3, students use prewriting ideas gathered on Day 2 to write a first draft. On Day 4, students revise and edit their summaries, and on Day 5, students proofread their work. A rubric is provided in the Teacher Edition on page R8 that teachers can provide students.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 partially meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

The Reading-Writing Connection ties a process writing task to the anchor text in Lesson 1 of each theme. The writing genres for each of the six Reading-Writing Connections are: Personal Narrative, Response to Literature, Friendly Letter, Story, Explanation, and Research Report. Weekly lessons partially support students’ skill development to complete the Reading-Writing Connection. Genres for the weekly lessons include: descriptive paragraph, interview, biography, paragraph that compares, explanation paragraph, cause/effect paragraph, fantasy, character sketch, summary, how-to paragraph, play scene, and directions. The writing prompts are balanced between informative and narrative with few opportunities for opinion writing. There are limited monitoring and modeling sections that will help guide students with their independent writing time. While materials provide sufficient opportunities for a year’s worth of writing, materials lack the rigor to support students in meeting the standards for writing.

Materials lack instructional writing support for students and teachers. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Theme 4, Lesson 16, Day 3, students are drafting a character sketch. One teacher monitoring technique is suggested under the heading “Confer with Students": “If students are having trouble, help them brainstorm a list of descriptive words or phrases that tell how their characters look, sound, and act." The directions do not provide specific scaffolding instructions for students to monitor their work and then make necessary changes rather it has the teacher “helping."
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, Day 5, students are proofreading their paragraph in efforts to monitor their writing. However, there are limited teacher directions to support this task. Directions state, “After students have proofread their paragraphs have them read each other's work. Tell students to use the characteristic of a paragraph that contrasts as a checklist." The directions provided lack the information to properly monitor students' own work or their partners' work.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 16-20, a teacher information page is provided on how to “monitor progress.” This page has 3 sections: Monitor Progress, Theme 4 Tested Skills, and Online Assessment. In the section Monitor Progress, the support refers to only literacy skills. For example, under the heading “Below-Level: Reteach such points are to use intensive intervention program."

There does exist a balance of types of writing, but writing tasks do not build in rigor throughout the year. Examples include:

  • Theme 1 – Reading Writing Connection: Personal Narrative; On Demand Writing – personal narrative – saving for an item
  • Theme 2 – Reading Writing Connection: Response to Literature; On Demand Writing – Response to Literature
  • Theme 3 – Reading Writing Connection: Friendly Letter; On Demand Writing – write about an experience
  • Theme 4 – Reading Writing Connection: Narrative Story; On Demand Writing – story about a 5th grader who becomes famous
  • Theme 5 – Reading Writing Connection: Explanation; On Demand Writing – essay on helping out at home
  • Theme 6 – Reading Writing Connection: Research Report; On Demand Writing – an important person in history

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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 frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing skills. The materials provide some evidenced-supported writing in one question at the end of each main selection. Although questions are provided for discussion during the reading of the main selection, there is not support or scaffolding to infuse writing into daily routines. The first 4 lessons in each of the 6 Themes contain a Paired Selection in which students compare the anchor text in that lesson with an additional, shorter text, often of a different genre but on the same topic or a related topic. The questions are Text to Self, Text to Text, and Text to World connections which do not require careful analyses, and many can be answered without returning to the text. Students are not prompted to answer these questions in writing.

Each paired text also includes a written response, but these responses do not require analysis of how the texts approach similar themes. There are times when students are directed to reread a section or paragraph of a text, but the questioning following this is class discussion containing no written component and no careful analyses or well-defended claims. Lessons do not routinely require responding in writing with a close reading of text. Daily writing prompts, Reading-Writing Connection extended writing, on-demand writing, and most paired-selection writing tasks do not require students to engage in text-dependent analysis. There are very few opportunities for students to write opinion pieces supported with reasons. Examples of writing tasks showing a lack of consistent evidence-based writing include:

  • In Theme 2, students are asked to write a narrative about getting lost in a strange place in 45 minutes. This piece of writing is not connected to a specific text.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 17, students are asked to write about “a time when you did something that was hard for you.” In Theme 6, Lesson 26, students, “Describe a time when you tried to do something new with the help of others.” These writing prompts are not connected to a specific text, does not require evidence, and does not require any textual analysis.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 24, Day 1, students are to select three topics and write two opinions people might have for each. The examples given are: “Homework is boring, and Homework is educational.” On Day 2, students are to brainstorm a list of topics about which they feel strongly and choose one on which to write. They are to use a chart to write their topic sentence and reasons to support their opinion. On Day 3, students are directed to return to the anchor text, Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, and identify Ramona’s topic sentences and supporting reasons. This is their model for opinion writing using reasons to support their opinions; however, they are not required to use textual evidence in their written response.

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.
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for StoryTown Grade 3 do not 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 do provide some out of context direct instruction for the standards articulated in this indicator; however, teachers will need to create new engagements for in-context application to ensure students can apply and demonstrate these standards in their work.

The Teacher Edition materials include a five-day lesson sequence for spelling, grammar, and writing for every lesson in each of the six themes. In each theme, the final lesson includes a five-day sequence lesson that reviews the skills taught in spelling, grammar, and writing. Review lessons provide opportunities for students to practice the skills both in and out of context. Grammar and convention lessons provide opportunities for modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. There is evidence to support an increasingly sophisticated context for learning language and grammar standards; however, there are objectives within instructional lessons that include lessons for language skills from Grade 1. In addition, opportunities are missed to address all Grade 3 grammar and convention standards such as instruction in superlative conjunctions. The Extending the Common Core State Standards supplement provides additional grammar and convention lessons, however, opportunities for students to progress toward mastery are limited since the Extending the Common Core State Standards are singular lessons. Opportunities are missed for students to practice grammar and convention skills in varying contexts.

Materials include instruction of some grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. Opportunities are missed for students to learn about using commas in an address, choose words and phrases for effect, and recognize and observe differences between the conventions of spoken and written standard English.

  • Students have opportunities to explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. Examples include:
    • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, Day 2, students participate in a lesson where the objective is to recognize that singular pronouns replace singular nouns and to identify singular pronouns.
    • In Theme 4, Lesson 16, Day 2, students participate in a lesson where the objective is to define and identify adjectives that tell what kind.
    • In Theme 4, Lesson 19, Day 2, students participate in a lesson where they identify action verbs and use action verbs in written sentences.
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, Day 2, student use adverbs in sentences.
  • Students have opportunities to form and use regular and irregular plural nouns. For example:
    • In Theme 1, Lesson 5, Day 4, during Word Work, the teacher models how to form plural nouns with -s, -es and in nouns that must change y to i.
    • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 2, on pages T22-T23, the students form and use irregular plural nouns. Students complete an activity sheet where they identify the irregular plural noun.
  • Students have opportunities to form and use the simple verb tenses. For example:
    • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, Day 2, students identify and use verb tenses properly. Students identify the present-tense verb in each sentence that is written on the board. Students write three present-tense sentences.
    • In Theme 5, Lesson 24, Day 1, students identify present, past, and future tense verbs in speech and written work. Students identify verb tenses in a list of sentences as either past or future-tense verbs.
  • Students have opportunities to capitalize appropriate words in titles. For example:
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, Day 3, the teacher explains that titles have a capital letter for the first word and every important word.
  • Students may have opportunities to use commas and quotation marks in dialogue. For example:
    • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 3, pages T36-T37, students use commas and quotation marks in dialogue. Students work independently to complete an activity where they revise dialogue with the correct punctuation.
  • Students have opportunities to form and use possessives. For example:
    • In Theme 3, Lesson 11, Day 5, students use singular and plural possessive nouns. Students participate in guided practice to add an apostrophe and an s to the singular possessive noun and an apostrophe to form the plural possessive noun.
  • Students have opportunities to use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness). For example:
    • In Theme 1, Lesson 2, Day 2, the teacher reviews with students how to change verb forms by adding -ed and -ing. The students are guided to add -ed and -ing to root words: ride, take, chase, love, like, and shine.
    • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, Day 4, students write words with suffix -ly. The students write words with the suffix -ly in their notebooks and mark the syllables for the suffixes, underlining the root and writing the definition next to the word.
  • Students have opportunities to consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings. For example:
    • In Theme 1, Lesson 5, Day 5, the teacher guides students to understand how to use a dictionary to clarify pronunciation, spelling, and meaning of a word.

Materials include some opportunities for students to demonstrate application of skills both in- and out-of-context. For example:

  • In Theme 2, Lesson 10, the teacher reminds students that common nouns name people, places, or things. The teacher reminds the students that proper nouns are usually capitalized. In guided practice, the teacher writes person, place, or thing on the board. Students think of proper nouns that fit each category. In independent practice, students use one proper noun and one common noun from the list to write a sentence. Students then write another sentence replacing the common noun with a proper noun and the proper noun with the common noun.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, Day 2, students participate in a lesson where the objective is to recognize that singular pronouns replace singular nouns and to identify singular pronouns. The teacher reminds students that a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun and explains that a singular pronoun places a singular noun. Students are guided to identify the singular pronoun in a sentence and what noun the pronoun could replace. Then students rewrite sentences, substituting pronouns for underlined nouns.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 22, Day 4, students identify and use main and helping verbs correctly in writing. The teacher reviews the definitions of main and helping verbs with the students Students identify the verb that will complete the sentences written on the board: I ______ a party. All my friends ____. It _____ fun.

Criterion 1o - 1q

Materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards.
4/6
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Criterion Rating Details

The materials reviewed 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. Materials 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. Materials meet the criteria for 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.

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.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Story Town Grade 3 partially meet the criteria that 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.

Teacher Edition materials provide a five-day instructional sequence that focuses on phonics. The students are introduced to the phonics skill on Day 1. In subsequent days, the students use knowledge of the phonics skill to determine word meaning and to spell words. Instructional materials provide explicit instruction in phonics and word recognition and grow in complexity throughout the year. Weekly tests include the assessment of the phonics skill from the lesson. There is also a Theme Test for each of the six themes which includes phonics. However, instructional materials include instruction from previous grades and provide limited instruction in irregularly spelled words and decoding multisyllabic words.

Materials contain explicit instruction of phonics and word recognition consistently over the course of the year. For example:

  • Students have limited opportunities to identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes. For example:
    • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, the teacher introduces suffixes by reading the chart containing the suffixes -er, -est, -ly, -ful. The teacher reads the word and thinks aloud to identify the -er suffix and the words meaning. Students read the article on page 85 and discuss the word biggest. Students then copy the chart and fill in using words from the article.
  • Students have limited opportunities to decode words with common Latin suffixes. For example:
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 28, there are five daily phonics lessons that teach students -able, -ible, -less, -ous during word work and spelling. The teacher reminds students that a suffix is added to the end of a word and helps readers pronounce and understand words. Students divide words into its root word and suffix defining the word. Students write the remaining underlined words and defines them.
  • Students have opportunities to decode multisyllable words. For example:
    • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, phonics is taught daily with a focus short vowel sounds. On Day 4, students read the VCCV pattern. The teacher models how to read napkin explaining that the word is easier to read if the reader splits the word into syllables.
    • In Theme 2, Lesson 6, phonics is taught daily with a focus on compound words. On Day 1, the teacher writes flagpole, cornfield, toothbrush, and raincoat on the board. Volunteers circle the words that make up the compound word and read them. On Day 3, the teacher displays Transparency R40, and students build as many real compound words as possible.
    • In Theme 3, Lesson 14, phonics is with a focus on v/cv and vc/v syllable patterns. On Day 1, the teacher writes tiger, begin, lady, robot, and tulip on the board. The teacher guides students to recognize the first vowel is a long vowel sound. The teacher reads begin, lady, seven, and river working with students to divide the syllables and identify the vowel-consonant-vowel pattern.
    • In Theme 5, Lesson 24, during Word Word, the teacher writes alone, silent, stencil, reason, until on the board and pronounces the words. Students learn that different vowels can stand for the same sound. In words with two or more syllables, the unaccented syllable is often a schwa sound.
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, during Word Work on page T134, students are reminded that words are made of syllables. The teacher displays Transparency R182 reading lion and point. Students repeat the words and clap for each syllable. The teacher states that two vowels together usually stand for a long vowel sound, but some words are divided into syllables between the vowels.
  • Students have limited opportunities to read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words. Instruction on irregularly spelled words includes prompts for teachers to help students memorize words. For example:
    • In Extending the Common Core State Standards, page R5 in Resources, the routine to guide students in using different strategies to spell high frequency words is provided. For each unit, there are five words that may be useful in the writing assignment of each theme. The teacher writes the word, says it slowly and spells it aloud letter by letter followed by a sentence for each word. The teacher helps students memorize each word.
  • All tasks and questions are sequenced to application of grade-level work (e.g., application of prefixes at the end of the unit/year; decoding multi-syllable words). For example:
    • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, the phonics skill focuses on prefixes: pre-, mis-, in-. On Day 1, students are introduced to the prefix pre- to determine word meaning and to spell words. On Day 2, students review prefixes as syllables. On Day 3, students use knowledge of the prefix mis- to determine meaning and to spell words. On Day 4, students use knowledge of the prefix in- to determine meaning and to spell words. On Day 5, students use the knowledge of all three prefixes to decode words, determine meaning, and to spell words.
  • Multiple 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. For example:
    • In Theme 1, pages A2 through A5, materials include Using Assessment to Inform Instruction pages for Lessons 1 through 5. Assessment pages include the tested skills for the lesson. Materials also include Reteach pages each of the Phonics skills that were tested.
    • In Theme 1, page S2, students participate in Small-Group Instruction: Lesson 1. In this lesson students practice and apply knowledge of short vowels /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/ and /u/, which was the phonics focus for Lesson 1 of this theme. After the students participate in the lesson, the teacher is instructed to determine if the students are able to identify and sound out words with the short vowels and if they are able to recognize the CVC and VCCV patterns. If the students are not able to do this, the teacher is instructed to see the Strategic intervention Resource Kit for additional support.
    • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, Day 5, students participate in a posttest to assess the students’ use of prefixes: pre-, mis-, in- to spell words.
  • Materials contain explicit instruction of word solving strategies (graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words. For example:
    • In Theme 1, Day 2, Lesson 5, students participate in a phonics and spelling lesson. Students are reminded that words are easier to read if they are broken into word parts. Students pronounce words and identify the root word and ending (sanded, gliding, mopped).
    • In Theme 3, Lesson 11, Day 5, students participate in a phonics lesson to read words with a final -le. The teacher writes the words pebble, tumble, and gentle on the board. The teacher reviews that the words are divided into syllables so that a consonant and -le form the final syllables. The teacher reminds students that when there are two consonants before the letters -le, the vowel sound in the first syllable is short.

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.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Story Town Grade 3 partially meet the criteria that materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.

Core materials include Leveled Readers and a reading selection for each lesson. The Leveled Readers are provided on three levels: Below-Level, On-Level and Advanced and include the Robust Vocabulary words from the lesson. Opportunities are missed for students to practice or apply word analysis skills in connected text. In addition, there is limited evidence in the core materials that students are assessed in their ability to use word analysis in context.

Limited opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills in connected texts and tasks. For example:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 4, page T356, Leveled Readers are provided for students on three levels: Below-Level, On-Level and Advanced. Leveled Readers include the Robust Vocabulary words from the lesson: talented, apply, research, invention, hinder, and disappointed.
  • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, students learn how to recognize and blend short vowel sounds. On Day 2, the teacher writes sentences on the board with short vowel sounds. On Day 3, students read sentences on Transparency R6 and write sentences with spelling words. On Day 4, students read Transparency R8 using the CVC and VCCV pattern.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 6, students read The Babe and I, which contains sixteen compound words. The phonics lesson includes decoding multisyllabic words, compound words.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, page T280, Leveled Readers are provided for students on three levels: Below-Level, On-Level and Advanced. Leveled Readers include the Robust Vocabulary words from the lesson: fondness, emotion, ridiculous, disgraceful, decent, inherit.

Materials include few word analysis assessment to monitor student learning of word analysis skills.

  • The Benchmark Assessments contain three tests (Beginning-of-Year, Mid-Year, and End-of-Year), which contain word analysis assessments. For example:
    • In the Beginning-of-Year Assessment, students answer the following question about the same vowel sound as the underlined letters and completes the sentence:
      • Disobey The feather feels ______. Gentle, instead, weightless, friendly

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.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for StoryTown Grade 3 meet the criteria for 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.

Fluency is addressed weekly and alternate between lessons that focus on accuracy, intonation, pace, expression, reading rate, and phrasing. Students listen to the teacher model reading fluently, and students participate in choral reading, echo reading, and partner reading. Students are provided the opportunity to practice reading fluently during Literacy Centers, Differentiated Instruction, and Readers’ Theatre. In addition, students participate in Strategy Focus lessons that include instruction in ways to monitor comprehension by rereading and reading ahead to clarify. Fluency skills are assessed in the Weekly Test and Theme Test. Small group instruction lessons are available for teachers to use to reteach the fluency skill for those students that score Below-Level.

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:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, Day 3, students participate in a fluency lesson focusing on accuracy. The teacher reminds students that readers make sure they read slowly enough to be accurate and say the correct words. The teacher echo reads the first page of “Ruby the Copycat,” modeling reading accurately. Students then reread a favorite page from “Ruby the Copycat” as the teacher gives feedback about their reading and guidance to improve. Partners then reread the passage three or four times and give feedback on their accuracy.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, Day 4, the teacher reminds students that good readers pay attention to the way they read aloud. The teacher explains that natural pauses and breaks are necessary when reading so the listener knows when one phrase ends and the next begins. The teacher tells students to choose a page from the selection and read the page to themselves several times. The teacher circulates to listen to the students read and offers encouragement and feedback.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, Day 5, students participate in Readers’ Theater of “A Tree is Growing.” Students listen to the teacher model reading fluency and intonation. In groups of four to five students, students read the selection together. Then students select different sections and read aloud with intonation and expression.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 17, students can self-select from the leveled classroom library a book to read independently such as Find the Titanic by Robert D. Ballard and Pinky and Rex and the School Play by James Howe.

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. For example:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 3, Day 2, students participate in a fluency lesson where students practice reading at an appropriate rate. The teacher models reading with appropriate rate and students practice applying the skill. Students work in pairs to practice reading with appropriate rate.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 6 during fluency, the teacher reminds students that when good readers read aloud, their speech sounds natural. The teacher reads part of “The Babe and I” thinking aloud how readers pay attention to punctuation and phrasing. Students then look at the text and identify natural pauses between phrases.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 11, Day 3, students participate in a fluency lesson that focuses on expression. The objectives are to build fluency through rereading, to read with expression, and to read in a manner that sounds like natural speech. The teacher models reading with expression. The teacher reminds students that when good readers read with expression they change their tone of voice to show feelings or important actions. The teacher models reading the text aloud. Students then echo-read after the teacher. The students participate in guided practice as they read “Loved Best”.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 16 during fluency, the teacher models reading “Lon Po Po” slowly enough to make sure that words are pronounced correctly, sounding natural as if talking.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 21, during fluency, the teacher reminds students that good readers read at a comfortable rate. The teacher models reading a page of “Antarctic Ice.” The teacher then reads page 172 of “Antarctic Ice” as the students echo-read. Students then work in partners, read page 173 and provide feedback as to the rate.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, during fluency, students are reminded that good readers try to sound natural when they read and make the meaning clear by paying attention to the punctuation. As the teacher reads “Spiders and Their Webs,” students track the print. Students then echo read the text using the same expression as the teacher.
  • In Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 4, the teacher reviews poems with students and discusses its elements. The teacher discusses characteristics of fluent reading. The students read, “Abuelita’s Lap.” The teacher models how to read the poem fluently, at a steady pace, and pausing when appropriate. In the Guided Practice portion, students engage in a choral reading of “I Sailed on Half A Ship.”

Materials 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). For example:

  • Students have opportunities to use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 6, students participate in a lesson where the objective is to use the strategy of rereading. The teacher informs students that rereading is a useful strategy for reading nonfiction and that rereading will help students make sure they do not miss any important facts or details.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, Using Context Clues, the teacher reminds students that they can often figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words by looking for clues.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 22, as students read “Bat Loves the Night,” they stop on page 200. The teacher explains that readers can reread to find the meanings of unfamiliar words or to clarify information.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 28, students participate in a lesson where the objective is to use the strategy of read ahead. The teacher explains that if students have trouble understanding something in a story, that reading ahead may help them.

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. For example:

  • In Theme 3, page A2 through A5, the Weekly Test for Lessons 11 through 15 shows that fluency is a tested skill. In Lessons 11 and 12, the fluency focus assessed is Expression. The Reteach lessons for Expression can be found on pages S4-S5 and S16-S17. In Lessons 13 and Lesson 14, the fluency focus assessed is Intonation. The Reteach lessons for Intonation can be found on pages S28-S29 and pages S40-S41.
  • In Theme 3, page S4, the Fluency small group reteach lesson objective is to use expression to read fluently. Students that scored “Below-Level” on this skill. If the students are not able to read their Leveled Reader with appropriate expression, teachers are directed to see the Strategic Intervention Resource Kit for additional support. There is an ‘Echo-Reading’ activity to reinforce this skills for those that are considered ‘On-Level’ and a ‘Partner Reading’ activity to extend the skill for those that are considered ‘Advanced’.
  • In Theme 5, page A2 through A5, the Weekly Test for Lesson 21 through 25 show that fluency is a tested skill. Reading rate and expression are assessed. If students are not at grade level, there are Prescriptions for Reteach.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Does Not Meet Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

Grade 3 StoryTown materials do not meet the expectations for building students' knowledge and vocabulary to support and help grow students’ ability to comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. The instructional materials build knowledge through integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.

Criterion 2a - 2h

2/32

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.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not meet the criteria for texts being organized around a topic to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

Each unit is organized around a central theme with a theme introduction entitled Build Theme Connections provided at the beginning. This section introduces the big idea or theme, and includes a poem and brief discussion. Unit themes are broad and do not focus on specific vocabulary or knowledge across daily lessons. Students are not supported in accessing texts and build conceptual knowledge throughout the five-week theme. The series of texts in each lesson are sometimes cohesive and related to the central theme, but there are limited opportunities embedded for students to build expertise on specific topics so that they can increase their knowledge and vocabulary.

Materials do not provide teachers with guidance to help connect the texts to broader concepts. Sufficient time is not always allotted for students to refine their knowledge in order to access and comprehend future complex texts proficiently. Examples include:

  • In Theme 3 the overarching idea is As We Grow, which revolves around the idea of how experiences shape students’ lives. The overarching idea in Theme 3 is very broad. Texts are centered around the idea of experiences students, have, but there is no focused line of inquiry to connect texts back to the central theme. In Lesson 11, students answer the following questions after they read or listen texts:
    • Day 1: Question of the Day: Have you ever performed or given a speech in front of a group? How did you feel? Texts: “The Speech” (read aloud during the Warm-Up Routine) and “Evie and Margie” (listening comprehension from Read-Aloud Anthology
    • Day 2: Question of the Day: If you were going to put on a show or a play, what would it be about? Texts: “A Good Play” (poem read aloud during the Warm-Up Routine), “Jacob’s Journal” (building robust vocabulary), and “Loved Best” (main selection)
    • Day 3: Question of the Day: If you were part of a talent show, what talent would you share with the audience? Texts: “The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf” (paired selection poem)
    • Day 4: Question of the Day: Have you ever helped someone feel better? What happened? Text: “A Case of Nerves” (read-aloud during Warm-Up Routines)
    • Day 5: Question of the Day: What have you done that, at first, you thought you couldn’t do? Text: “A Case of Nerves (read-aloud during Warm-Up Routines)
  • In Theme 6, all texts are loosely organized around the topic of exploring, experimenting, and discovering. There are five literary pieces and five informational pieces centered around the topic.Though centered around a topic, texts do not build knowledge about the topic. There are few vocabulary terms shared between texts and students do not bring knowledge gained from one text to access another. In Theme 6, Lesson 29, Day 2, the anchor text is “The Planets” by Gail Gibbons, expository nonfiction explaining the solar system. The paired text on Day 3 is a poem, “Jeremy’s House” by Lois Simmie about a boy with no roof on his house so he can watch the stars. The leveled readers used with small group instruction in Lesson 29 are: “Earth’s Moon” by Kia Winston, explaining the moon’s orbit around the Earth; “Star Patterns in the Sky” explaining the constellations; and “The Sun and the Stars” by Scarlett Jones, explaining the sun as the Earth’s closest star and its relationship.

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.
0/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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.

After reading the core text for a lesson, students either discuss or write responses to the Think Critically questions. However, there are very few examples of questions requiring students to determine author’s purpose for the use of specific language or craft, and these were found in the separate Teacher Support Book. Questions often ask about key ideas and details, but rarely addresses language, craft, or structure of texts.

Additionally, the sequence of questions lacks coherence. Teachers could select any of the six themes to start with and see the same approach is used in every lesson, which does not provide sufficient growth of rigor. Throughout the materials, students independently and as a whole group complete questions and tasks that require analysis of individual texts. Lessons also teach these skills discretely and they are not embedded within the lessons. Students are asked questions during whole group instruction as the teacher monitors comprehension. Examples include:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, Day 2, students are asked to analyze key details about character and setting in “Ruby the Copycat” in the following questions: “What is the setting of the story? How can you tell? What does Ruby do and say that lets the reader know that she wants to fit in and be liked?”
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 8, during the Listening Comprehension read aloud, the teacher edition includes a think-aloud that helps students identify the text selection, “Weird Friends”, as nonfiction. “ Students are directed to listen for facts and explanations.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, Day 2, students analyze key details of “A Tree Is Growing” by responding to the following questions: “How do people use the bark of a cork tree? What are xylem and phloem? Why are they important?
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 16, Day 2, in the text Lon Po Po, author’s craft is addressed in the question, “The author says the wolf is cunning. What details support this idea?”
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 25, Day 1, students analyze details of “The Robodogs of Greenville” in the question, “What details tell you that the story takes place in the future?”
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, Day 2. Students are asked, “What does the author think about the way the villagers change during the contest? How do you know?”
  • In Theme 6, Day 2, Lesson 29, before reading The Planets, students learn about the elements of expository nonfiction, and are taught to use a KWL chart.

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 partially meet the expectations 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.

The units are organized into six themes that span the school year. Each theme includes an overarching idea with text selections that directly or loosely connect to that concept. Each weekly lesson has a new topic connected to the unit theme, but it does not build knowledge or ideas. Some questions and tasks support students’ analysis of ideas, but most build students’ literal comprehension of text.

As a theme progresses, students may come to understand more about the theme’s big idea, but the overarching concept is broad, and deep comprehension or integration of ideas would often be incidental, not intentional. Tasks and/or culminating tasks are often disconnected from a thematic study. The amount of class time allotted to each text and question set may not be sufficient to provide the time needed for students to analyze texts and gain knowledge and ideas. The teacher’s edition contains little direction for how teachers support students' engaging in a deep analysis of and across texts.

Within each weekly lesson, text-specific questions appear in the “Think Critically” section. There are typically 5 questions following each selection. Examples of questions and tasks that meet the expectations are:

  • In Theme 1, School Days, in Lesson 3, Day 2, after reading the anchor text, “Schools Around the World” by Margaret Hall, students orally respond to the question, “What are some things that children learn about at school?” Students complete an on-demand writing task, “How is your school similar to other schools you read about? How is it different? Use information and details from the article to support your answer.” After completing the paired text on Day 3, a poem, “Keys to the Universe” by Francisco X. Alarcon, students respond orally to “In what ways is the living room in “Keys to the Universe” like the schools described in “Schools Around the World?" There are no instructional directions for teachers to support students’ engagement nor scaffolding to encourage the integration of knowledge across texts.
  • In Theme 3, As We Grow, in Lesson 12, Day 2, after reading the anchor text, “A Pen Pal for Max” by Gloria Rand, students orally respond to the question, “How can you tell that the author thinks a pen pal in another country is a special kind of friend?” Students complete an on-demand writing task, “What important events happened because Max put a letter in the box of grapes?”After completing the paired text, “Postcards From Around the Globe”, sample postcards, students orally respond to the following: “How are the pen pals in “A Pen Pal for Max” and “Postcards from Around the Globe” alike? How are they different?” Students are not directed to use text evidence to respond.
  • In Theme 5, A Place for All, focusing on community, in Lesson 24, Day 2, after reading the anchor text, “Ramona Quimby, Age 8” by Beverly Cleary, students orally respond to the question, “How does the author let readers now that Ramona is creative?” Students complete an on-demand writing task, “Write about a time you did something funny or creative.” After completing the paired text, “Slam Dunk Water” ban advertisement, students respond orally to the following: “How is Ramona’s book report like an advertisement? How is it different?” Students are not directed to use text evidence to respond.

Each theme is followed by a Theme Wrap-up in which teachers guide students in making connections across the texts in the theme by asking whole-group discussion questions. These questions do not require an analysis of ideas to complete.

  • In Theme 1, School Days, the question is, “In what ways do the selections in this theme tell about school days?” Although all selections are centered on things that happen at school, there are no discussion questions throughout the Theme addressing this topic that would prompt students to analyze this question.
  • In Theme 3, As We Grow, the question is, “Of the many changes that occurred in this theme, which changes were for the better?”
  • In Theme 5, A Place for All, the question is, “In what ways do the selections in this theme tell about being a part of a community?”

Students return to the graphic organizer started at the beginning of the theme to include information about all the selections read. Most of the graphic organizers do not support students in a deep analysis of multiple texts.

  • In Theme 1, the graphic organizer is a who, what, when, where chart including information about the theme selections.
  • In Theme 3, the graphic organizer is a chart with the headings, ways things grow and how things change. The teacher is instructed to have students complete the chart to show what changes can happen as they grow.
  • In Theme 5, the graphic organizer is a cause/effect chart organizing information about the community in one of the selections they read.

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).
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

Each Theme has a big idea that aims to tie the unit together. Texts and discussions, directly or loosely, connect to the big idea. Each Theme also includes a Theme Project. Theme Projects do not consistently integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening, nor do they require close reading and comprehension of the texts read. Question sets that accompany texts within the Theme do not support students in integrating skills required for the Theme Project. For example:

  • In Theme 1, the teacher introduces the theme, "School Days," and the Reading-Writing Connection task is a personal narrative of a personal experience the students choose. However, the writing lessons across the theme are: Lesson 1-Descriptive Paragraph, Lesson 2-Interview, Lesson 3-Informational Paragraph, Lesson 4-Biography, Lesson 5-Student Choice: Revise and Publish. While some of the daily writing supports students in completing the culminating task of a personal narrative, they do not build the student’s knowledge of the Theme. Students are asked to use “online and print resources,” art materials, poster board, and props from an extracurricular activity to create a map of their school and choose a special area to highlight and write directions for getting there. Students can complete this task without reading any of the selections during the week and speaking and listening is not included in the task.
  • In Theme 3, the teacher introduces the theme, "As We Grow," and the Theme Project is to conduct an interview of school staff members and organize the information in an oral and visual presentation. Students brainstorm staff they want to interview, plan questions to ask, interview staff, publish in multimedia slide show or on posters. It is unclear how this culminating task helps students demonstrate acquired knowledge about the theme, “As We Grow,” and completion of this project can be achieved without reading or analyzing the anchor text. Students are asked to use a computer, pencil, paper, poster board, and crayons or markers to create a multimedia slide show or poster after interviewing a staff member at their school. Students can complete this task without reading any of the selections during the week.
  • In Theme 5, the teacher introduces the theme, "A Place for All," and the Theme Wrap-up and Review provides teachers the following questions to help students make connection across the texts: “In what ways do the selections in this theme tell about being part of a community? Why do you think “Bat Loves the Night” was included in this theme? Which character from the theme selections best show the qualities of being part of a community?” Students then complete a cause/effect graphic organizer to organize information about the community in one of the selections they read and listened to. Students are given the option to respond with what they have learned about communities by writing a reflection or using their reading log. These tasks are not multifaceted nor do they require students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards for third grade.

Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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.

The materials do not include a cohesive, year-long plan that allows for repeated exposure and use of different types of vocabulary or for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words across texts throughout the year. Some vocabulary is repeated before texts and within the anchor texts but not across multiple texts. Vocabulary is repeated before texts and within the anchor texts but not across multiple texts. Attention is paid to vocabulary essential to understanding the text and, although key academic vocabulary is used in discussion, it is not taught directly. Students are provided minimal opportunities to accelerate vocabulary learning by using vocabulary in their speaking and writing tasks.

Within each weekly lesson, students have the opportunity to interact with 10 target words. Words are introduced in context. On Day 1, two words are introduced during the read aloud. On Day 2, 6 words are introduced prior to reading the main selection, and 2 additional words are introduced after reading the main selection. On Day 3, words from that week are reviewed in a new context. On Day 4, students interact with that week’s vocabulary words in different contexts. On Day 5, there is a Cumulative Review of words from the current and previous week. Words are encountered in two of the reading selections for that week, a passage specifically written to introduce the words, and the main selection. Robust vocabulary also appears in Small Group Instruction where it is reintroduced to below-level students, reinforced with on-level students, and extended with advanced students. Literacy centers include a “Word Work” center instructing students to write sentences using each vocabulary word, then write a star sentence that includes two words. For example, in Theme 2, Lesson 9:

  • On Day 1, students read The Read Aloud selection, “Soup in China,” is read and students are introduced to the words, dense and reaction through discussion and student-friendly explanations.
  • On Day 2, the teacher introduces the anchor text vocabulary, generous, banquet, gaze, agreeable, curiosity, and famine, having students read the “Build Robust Vocabulary” selection in their books and responding to discussion questions: “Would it be generous of your friends to share their lunch with you? Would you gaze at a colorful sunset? Explain. Why would a neon blue cat be a curiosity? Explain.” After reading the anchor text, “Stone Soup” by Jon J. Muth, the teacher introduces two more words from the read-aloud selection, ingredients and momentum, and participate in a discussion about them. Students create a list of ingredients for a soup and tell about a time when an idea of theirs gained momentum.
  • On Day 3, after reading the paired text, “The Legend of Johnny Appleseed” by Eric A. Kimmel, students work with a partner placing vocabulary words on a ‘word line’ between the words Happy and Sad based on the following statements: “Your friend was generous with his snack. You are invited to a banquet. You received a gift that was a curiosity to you.” Students review all the vocabulary directly taught in the lesson as part of a class discussion responding to questions: “What is the reaction of ice to heat? How would most people feel if they are in the midst of a famine? Does the group of desks in this classroom look dense?”
  • On Day 4, students review vocabulary by drawing different things that are dense, acting out a reaction of something that might happen to a piece of paper, and acting out adding ingredients to soup. Students respond in whole-group discussion to questions: “How do you feel if someone gazes at you? Why? Which would make a more agreeable lunch, a bowl of soup or a bowl of worms? Why? Name food you think might be served at a banquet.”
  • On Day 5, students use a graphic organizer to list vocabulary words from Lessons 8 and 9 and different situations when the word could happen. They also respond to questions for review.

Indicator 2f

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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.

The materials reviewed offer prompts and performance tasks, and students practice writing in each lesson; however, materials do not increase the student’s writing skills over the course of the school year. Students write to address multiple topics and genres across the year with limited cohesiveness in placement throughout Themes. Rubrics are provided to help students self-assess their writing, but are general in nature and do not address specifics required by the standards. The teacher edition has limited development in well-designed models, protocols and support for teachers in helping students meet the writing standards for third grade.

There are options for daily prompts provided each day in the Suggested Lesson Planner, but no instruction is provided for these. A weekly writing task is built into the instruction; these writing forms are not connected to the overall Theme writing mode.The Teacher’s Edition includes several lesson plans for the Reading-Writing Connection process piece in each Theme, but no pacing time frames are suggested. A 45-minute on-demand writing task connects to the extended writing mode.

Each Theme includes writing activities in each of the 5 Lessons that are a mix of on-demand and process writing. For example, at the end of the Reading-Writing Connection in Theme 2, the culminating writing activity is an on-demand, timed expository composition. Students analyze the prompt as a whole-group with teacher support. The teacher leads a discussion on word choice, organization, and budgeting time. Students respond to the prompt, “Everyone has a favorite sport. Think about how to play your favorite game or sport. Now write to explain how to play your favorite game or sport. Include the rules, where it is played, how many people are needed, and other details.” Students are given a copy of a rubric to self-evaluate their writing. The rubric does not assess student writing as required by the writing standards. At the end of the Reading-Writing Connection in Theme 6, students are given the same type of assignment, an on-demand, timed expository composition, with the same teacher supports. Students responds to the prompt, “We all learn things from a variety of people and sources. Think about the most important thing you have ever learned. Then, write to explain why this is the most important thing you have ever learned.” There is no release of responsibility from the beginning of the year to the end, and the rigor required by the standards is not present.

  • In Theme 3, Lesson 11, Day 5, students and teachers are not provided with a well-designed protocol for teachers to implement and students to progress monitor. Students are asked to write a Compare Paragraph. On day 5, students need to “revise/edit” their work. The teacher directions say, ”Have pairs or small groups read each other’s work. Tell students the characteristics of paragraph that compare as a checklist....Have students revise their paragraphs.” The information for teachers does not provide examples of what this may look like or sound like when completed properly. The scoring rubric provided is on a 6-point scale measuring conventions, support, organization, and focus. The rubric is generalized for any paragraph and does not provide the support students would need to effectively offer feedback for each other’s Compare Paragraph.
  • In Theme 2, the Reading-Writing Connection writing mode is Response to Literature, the on-demand writing task is an expository composition on how to play a favorite sport or game, and the weekly writing lessons include the following forms of writing within Theme 2. Examples of the multiple writing topics, tasks, and prompts students encounter during a 5-week period of study include: Lesson 6: Character Sketch, Lesson 7: How-To Paragraph, Lesson 8: Description, Lesson 9: Summary, Lesson 10: Revise and Publish choice piece.

Daily prompts for Theme 2, Lesson 6 include:

  • Write about a way a member of your family looks, sounds, or acts.
  • Write a topic sentence for your character sketch in three different ways: a declarative sentence, an interrogative sentence, and an exclamatory sentence.
  • Write your opinion of Babe Ruth based on what he says and how he looks on page 178 of “The Babe and I."
  • Choose a section of “The Babe and I” and write about how it describes the characters.Revise a sentence for your sketch so that it is either a question or an exclamation.

Teacher guidance for weekly writing lessons lack specificity and do not include direction or questions to support individual or small group writing conferences. All instruction is intended for whole-class delivery. For example, in Theme 2, Lesson 6, Day 1, students are writing a character sketch. They are briefly introduced to a character sketch, led to brainstorm words that tell how Robert’s father in “Pop’s Bridge” looks, sounds, and acts, then conclude what he is like. For individual practice, the guidance is “Have small groups choose a person to write about and create a list of words that describe how he or she looks, sounds, or acts.”

  • In Theme 6 the Reading-Writing Connection writing mode is Research Report, the on-demand writing task is an expository composition on why a specific insect is most interesting. The weekly writing task is to develop a set of directions on how to do something.

The required time the weekly lesson would take, along with the amount of writing students are responsible for, is not indicated in the materials. Students do not have time to adequately refine and reflect on their writing before moving on to a new topic. Different forms and modes of writing are introduced throughout the year without in-depth instruction, and without spiraling back to build previously introduced skills. Students will not demonstrate proficiency by the end of the school year.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not meet the expectations of including 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.

Each unit includes a Theme Project. This is outlined at the beginning of each theme, and teachers decide when and how to integrate it into the flow of the theme. The materials do not include a progression of focused lessons or engaging topics to research, nor do they provide students with robust instruction, practice, and application of research skills as they employ grade-level reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills. The research skills that are directly taught minimally build to student independence. Materials lack the direction and support for teachers to facilitate these projects. Research skills for Theme Projects do not follow a clear progression; it is unlikely that students develop deep knowledge on a given topic.

Theme Project research topics are often broad, may employ print or online resources, and almost always involve art supplies. In Theme 6, Research Report is the focus of the Reading-Writing Connection. This incorporates a purpose and audience for writing, more of a writing process progression, a checklist for elements of a research report, and a 4-point scoring rubric; however, the topic does not develop students’ knowledge of multiple text or source materials or require investigation of different aspects of a topic. For example:

  • The Theme 1 Project is to create a school map for an oral and visual presentation. The teacher is directed to help students find maps in the library or online to use for reference, and to guide students to research the facility they will map, learning about the features and what happens there. There is a disconnect between this project and the unit theme of “School Days” and does not require students synthesize and analyze multiple texts and source materials to complete the project.
  • The Theme 3 Project is to conduct an interview and organize the information for an oral and visual presentation. There is not a research component to this project, and there is a disconnect between this project and the unit theme, “As We Grow,” identifying the way things grow and how they change.
  • The Theme 5 Project is to work in a small group to develop an advertisement to “sell” their community. The teacher is directed to have groups use the school library to research books and articles about their community and guide students in organizing their ideas. There is a loose connection between this project and the unit theme, “A Place for All,” as they both relate to communities; however, the project does not require students to synthesize and analyze multiple texts and source materials to complete the project.
  • In Theme 6, the Reading-Writing Connection is a research report on a topic of their choice. While there is instruction on skills, such as locating information and using reference sources, earlier in the school year, this is the first opportunity to write a report. Students are guided through the writing process of Pre-Write, Draft, Revise, Proofread, Evaluate/Publish. Within each of these lessons there is modeling, guided practice, and independent practice. Students are required to develop questions they would like answered on their topic and work with a partner to determine the purpose and audience for their report. There is very little guidance for how teachers support students during the process.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 3 do not 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.

Students read a main selection and paired selection each week as part of the reading program. They also read a short passage with each week’s Build Robust Vocabulary lesson. Additionally, a Leveled Reader is included each week as a way to differentiate instruction and reinforce skills introduced in whole group. However, the materials offer few ways to support students who struggle with grade level texts, nor do they provide instructional scaffolds that lead readers toward independence. A weekly independent reading objective is included with the suggested literacy centers at the beginning of each weekly lesson, but the routine provided is simplistic, with no suggested time allotments, accountability, or goal-setting components. There are no procedures for independent reading at home and/or while reading core texts, and no independent accountability system that is appropriate for in- and out-of-school independent reading. While opportunities for independent reading exist, they are minimal and do not build students’ reading abilities or their knowledge base and vocabulary.

  • Each theme contains suggested titles for additional related reading by “Easy, Average, Challenge”; however, teachers are not given suggestions on how to set up the classroom library or how to help students select an independent reading book in the teacher edition.
  • Each anchor text has “Options for Reading” suggesting that below-level students read in small group, on-level students read in whole group or with a partner, and advanced students read independently.
  • In Theme 1, Lesson 3, Day 2, prior to reading “Schools Around the World” by Margaret C. Hall, teachers are instructed to preview the selection with below-level students in a small group and model how to use the preview and genre to set a purpose for reading; to use the Monitor Comprehension questions as on-level students read the selection in whole-group or partner-read and complete Practice Book page 2; and have advanced students read the selection independently using the student Practice Book page 2 to monitor their own comprehension.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, by the end of the year, the suggestions given to teacher in “Options for Reading” are the same.
  • During “After Reading” language arts instruction, students are often directed to reread specific sections to respond to questions.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, Day 2, after reading “A Pen Pal for Max” by Gloria Rand, students are prewriting a realistic story. The teacher directs them to reread page 350 to identify how the author uses words to convey ideas and feelings. Students use this model to complete a story map.
  • Theme 3, Lesson 13 , the student objective during a literacy center rotation titled “Author’s Purpose” is to “identify the author’s purpose.” The Management support system states, “While you provided direct instruction to individuals or small groups, other students can work on these activities.” No evidence of a clear protocol or accountability system is in place other than student directions to reread a core text indicated on the center board and “write what you think is the author’s purpose….”
  • Theme 5, Lesson 22 students objective during a literacy center rotation titled, “Read and Respond,” students are asked to “organize information from a text using a graphic aid.” The Management support system states, “While you provided direct instruction to individuals or small groups, other students can work on these activities.” No evidence of a clear protocol or accountability system is in place other than student directions to copy a chart, reread “Half - Chicken,” and fill in chart provided.
  • Students work in 15-minute centers during guided reading when they are not meeting as a small group. Literacy Centers include a reading center instructing students to choose one of the additional theme books and use their reading log to keep track of their independent reading. Teachers are not provided direction on helping students select a book or how to record in their reading log. There is no direction for how teachers are to follow up with students on their independent reading log.
  • The Reading Literacy Center includes one objective: to select and read books independently. The reading log routine is as follows:
    • Look for these books about working with others to solve a problem: Thimbleberry Stories by Cynthia Rylant; Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear by Lensey Namioka; Unwitting Wisdom: Ships of the Air by Lynn Curlee.
    • Select one that you find interesting.
    • Keep track of what you read each day in your Reading Log.

This simple routine and log is repeated with each weekly lesson, with the three book suggestions being the only difference. No time allocations for independent reading are included. Other than a reading log form, no guidance for goal-setting or accountability is included.

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

Criterion 3a - 3e

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0/8

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
0/2

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
0/2

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.).
0/2

Indicator 3d

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.
0/2

Indicator 3e

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

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.
0/8

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.
0/2

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.
0/2

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.
0/2

Indicator 3i

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
0/2

Indicator 3j

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

Criterion 3k - 3n

Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
0/8

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
0/2

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
0/2

Indicator 3l.ii

Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.
0/2

Indicator 3m

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.
0/2

Indicator 3n

Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.
0/0

Criterion 3o - 3v

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards.
0/10

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.
0/2

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.
0/4

Indicator 3q

Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.
0/2

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
0/2

Indicator 3s

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Indicator 3s3v

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Indicator 3t

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Indicator 3u

0/

Indicator 3u.i

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Indicator 3u.ii

0/

Indicator 3v

0/

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

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.
0/0

Indicator 3t

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.
0/0

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
0/0

Indicator 3u.i

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

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
0/0

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.).
0/0

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: Thu Apr 12 00:00:00 UTC 2018

Report Edition: 2008

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Storytown Student Edition Twists&Turns Level 3-1 Grade 3 Twists & Turns 978-0-1534-3175-3 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Student Edition Breakng Nw Grnd Level 3-2 Grade 3 Breaking New Ground 978-0-1534-3176-0 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Twists&Turns Level 3-1 Thm 1 Grade 3 Twists & Turns 978-0-1535-3683-0 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Twists&Turns Level 3-1 Thm 2 Grade 3 Twists & Turns 978-0-1535-3688-5 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Twists&Turns Level 3-1 Thm 3 Grade 3 Twists & Turns 978-0-1535-3689-2 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Breakng Nw Grnd Level 3-2 Thm4 Grade 3 Breaking New Ground 978-0-1535-3692-2 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Breakng Nw Grnd Level 3-2 Thm5 Grade 3 Breaking New Ground 978-0-1535-3693-9 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Breakng Nw Grnd Level 3-2 Thm6 Grade 3 Breaking New Ground 978-0-1535-3696-0 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Storytown Reading Adventure Teacher Support Book Grade 3 978-0-5476-8564-9 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Storytown Reading Adventure Student Magazine Grade 3 978-0-5476-8587-8 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012

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.

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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