Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 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.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
20
37
42
21
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 4 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 4 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 2, students read “Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen” by Marissa Moss. This award winning biographical text, is a classic, age/grade appropriate text, which contains strong content and academic vocabulary and vibrant illustrations.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 6, students read an excerpt from “On the Banks of Plum Creek” by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This award winning historical fiction text is engaging, age/grade appropriate, and worthy of multiple reads.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, students read “Mountains” by Seymour Simon. This award winning nonfiction text is challenging and age/grade appropriate. This text contains strong content and academic vocabulary, vibrant photographs, and informative graphics.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 19, students read “Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn’t Tell a Lie” by Joe Hayes. This award winning, folktale text is classic and age/grade appropriate. This text is thought-provoking and contains vibrant illustrations.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, students read and excerpt from “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden. This award winning, fantasy text is classic and contains strong academic vocabulary.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 28, students read “The Bunyans” by Audrey Wood. This award winning, tall tale text is classic and age/grade appropriate, and it contains vibrant illustrations.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Anchor and paired texts include a mix of informational and literary texts. Each of the six Themes for the year integrates various genres. Additional self-selected reading selections are suggested as part of the classroom library. Text types include: realistic fiction, poetry, biography, expository and narrative nonfiction, historical fiction, play, fairy tale, magazine article, fantasy, atlas entry, how-to article, autobiography, folktale, fable, diary entry, science experiment, encyclopedia article, and tall tale.

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

  • Theme 1 – Kai’s Journey to Gold Mountain by Katrina Saltonstall Currier
  • Theme 2 – Three Little Cyberpigs by Jane Tesh
  • Theme 3 – The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Theme 4 – Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Lie by Jerdine Nolen
  • Theme 5 – The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden Theme 6 – The Bunyans by Audrey Wood

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

  • Theme 1 – Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen by Marissa Moss
  • Theme 2 – Weaving a California Tradition by Linda Yamane
  • Theme 3 – “Mimicry and Camouflage” by Mary Hoff
  • Theme 4 – “Make a Movie Machine” by Nick D’Alto
  • Theme 5 – “Mangrove Wilderness” by Bianca Lavies
  • Theme 6 – “Mammoth Cave National Park” by Mike Graf

Indicator 1c

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

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

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 620L-1040L, with some text above and some 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 task:

  • "Weaving a California Tradition" by Linda Yamane, a nonfiction narrative above the Current and the Stretch Band Level at 1020L, is included in Theme 2. This title is appropriate to use because prior to the reading the anchor text, the read-aloud selection, “Native Ways” by Malcolm Margolin, and the Build Background instruction help students understand traditional crafts of modern-day Native Americans. While much of the language and vocabulary will be unfamiliar to students, terminology specific to the craft of basket weaving is defined within the reading, and tier 2 vocabulary is practiced prior to the reading and highlighted throughout the selection. Additionally, photographs with captions provide support for students, and the Monitoring Comprehension questions asked by the teacher throughout the reading provide a scaffold to understanding.
  • "Mimicry and Camouflage" by Mary Hoff, an expository nonfiction selection above the Current and the Stretch Band Level at 1040L, is included in Theme 4. This title is still appropriate to use because, prior to the reading the anchor text, the Focus Skill taught is on cause and effect in text structure, preparing students for the anchor text. Tier 2 vocabulary is practiced prior to the reading and highlighted throughout the selection. Additionally, photographs with captions provide support for students, sidebars with addition facts provide additional interest, and the Monitoring Comprehension questions asked by the teacher throughout the reading provide a scaffold to understanding.

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

  • “Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World” by Mildred Pitts Walter, award winning author, a fictional story below the Current Lexile Level at 620L, is included in Theme 2. This title is appropriate because it is scheduled near the beginning of the year, and is a quality text aligned with the theme, “Getting the Job Done”. Throughout the text, students are synthesizing, analyzing author’s craft, purpose, plot, and character’s motivations, making comparisons, and determining cause and effect, all of which support students’ understanding.
  • “The Hot and Cold Summer” by Johanna Hurwitz, a realistic fiction selection below the Current and Stretch Band Level at 640L, is included in Theme 1. This award winning title is still appropriate to use because of its placement at the beginning of the year, the content of the story, and the associated tasks. This text includes study of robust vocabulary, and requires students to interpret characters’ emotions, make judgements, analyze character’s traits and motivations, compare and contrast characters, make inferences, 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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

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

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. Expectations from beginning to ending units don't seem to increase significantly. Most comprehension skills or strategies so not spiral back during the year, and don't necessarily increase in rigor or increase students' skill development. 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 beginning of the year, in Theme 2, Lesson 8, students are taught the comprehension strategy of summarization. Using a transparency from the teacher materials, the teacher models how to read, pause, and summarize important ideas doing a “think aloud”. There is guided practice as students read aloud and practice summarizing, then students work in pairs selecting a passage from a fiction book and taking turns reading and summarizing each paragraph. Throughout the year, while students are reading anchor texts, the teacher is instructed, in the “Apply Comprehension Strategies” section of the Teacher Edition, to remind students that good readers pause while they read to summarize sections of text, such as in Theme 3, Lesson 11, page T41. The teacher then does a think aloud to demonstrate and reminds students to pause and summarize what they have read. By the end of the year, in Theme 6, Lesson 26, Page T32, the teacher is teaching summarization as the comprehension strategy, telling students that pausing to summarize will help them better understand what they read. The teacher models with a think aloud, students practice reading and jotting down main points, then work in pairs selecting a short nonfiction passage and take turns reading and summarizing. There is no release of responsibility leading to independence.

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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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 4 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.
4/16
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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).
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially 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 some questions and tasks requiring students to engage with the text directly and draw on textual evidence to support answers, but the teacher will need to supplement many to assure students in Grade 4 have strong grade-level text-focused questions over the course of the school year. Some 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. However, many of the questions and tasks do not meet the expectations of the Grade 4 standards. There are some quality examples provided in the Extending the Common Core State Standards Teacher Support Book, but only a few examples are included for each theme.

Examples of how the program uses questions, tasks, and assignments with texts include the following:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 3, Day 2, the teacher is provided formative questions to monitor student comprehension. Students are asked, “Why is the heading on page 87 ‘The Bad Good-bye?’”
  • In Theme 1, Lesson 3, Day 2, after reading the selection, students are asked to respond to the question, “How does Zuri feel before she reads Danitra’s first letter? How does she feel after she reads it?”
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, Day 3, after reading “Hats Off to the Cowboy” by Red Steagall, students are asked to respond to the poem: “What is Brewster Higley’s perspective on, or opinion of, the plains?” This question requires students to engage with the text while making inferences based on the tone of the poem.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, after reading two paired texts, students are asked to “Compare and contrast the descriptions of Mount Everest in Mountains and in “To the Top of the World”.” Additionally, students complete a writing task in which they choose a cause-and-effect relationship seen in Mountains: “Draw a picture that illustrates the effect. Then write a caption to describe each picture.”
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, students are asked to find answers to the questions in the Monitor Comprehension section. Students are required to use the story from the Anthology text, “Grand Canyon, a Trail Through Time.” Students are asked, “What is the main idea of the final paragraph? How do you think the riders and hikers felt about the experiences of descending to the bottom of the cave?”

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 4 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 that integrates 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 4, the Reading-Writing Connection is a persuasive composition. Students read “You Want to Be an Inventor?” by Judith St. George and the teacher discusses persuasive writing. With the teacher’s direction, students analyze a student model of persuasive writing and proceed to choose their own topic for a persuasive composition. The completion of this theme-long piece is not dependent upon the reading of the anchor text or deep understanding of the theme.
  • In Theme 6, “Exploring Our World,” the Theme Project is to design a walking tour of their community that people can take to visit and learn about historic sites. Students identify sites, write about them, map a route, create a walking tour guide, and present. 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.

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
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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 provide 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’ mastery 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.
  • 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.
  • In some discussions, directions lack any reference to returning to the text or using evidence from the text in their discussions such as in Theme 2, Lesson 7, pg. T131, following the reading of Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World, students are to complete the Think Critically section in their book. The teacher has the option to assign students to either discuss or write their responses to the questions. This pattern is followed after the reading of each anchor text for each lesson. Some of the questions include: “Why does Justin feel guilty after he has breakfast with Grandpa? Why doesn't’ Justin want to do the chores around the house when he visits Grandpa? How does the author show that the conflict in the selection has been resolved?”
  • Activities in the Leveled Reader routine pages do not contain a protocol to support evidence-based discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.
  • Some instructions for discussion protocols are present, but no specific directions are provided on how to use these protocols in a reading discussion. For example, in the supplementary Teacher Support Book, Theme 2, Speaking and Listening section, the teacher is teaching and modeling how to participate in group discussions. “Explain that group members take on roles, or special jobs, to help discussions run smoothly.” Students use the supplementary student magazine, Reading Adventures, to practice participating in a group discussion with the following scenario: “Imagine that you are a group of chefs who want to make improvements at a restaurant. As a group, choose your roles. Then decide on a topic, such as menu choices or restaurant decor. Begin your discussion. Be sure to listen carefully and respond politely.” While this practice prepares students to be effective members of a discussion group, there are no protocols for using this to discuss text or the use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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 frequently 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. 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:

  • At the beginning of each Theme, there is a Theme Project. For example, in Theme 2, students work in groups to develop a small business plan. Students present their business plans as if pitching the idea to investors. Students are encouraged to prepare, and practice presentation skills such as making eye contact. There is a Presentation Rubric available to evaluate their work. Students do not return to texts to complete this project.
  • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, Speaking and Listening, students read their character description writing piece from a previous lesson to the class. The audience then is instructed to ask questions to clarify anything they didn’t understand.
  • Discussion directions often lack reference to returning to the text or using evidence from the text in their discussions such as in Theme 2, Lesson 7, following the reading of “Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World,” students are to complete the Think Critically section in their book. The teacher has the option to assign students to either discuss or write their responses to the questions. This pattern is followed after the reading of each anchor text for each lesson. Questions include: “Why does Justin feel guilty after he has breakfast with Grandpa? Why doesn't’ Justin want to do the chores around the house when he visits Grandpa? How does the author show that the conflict in the selection has been resolved?”
  • Students are provided with opportunities for evidence based discussions such as in Theme 3, Lesson 11, Comprehension Strategy, students work in pairs and read a selection from either their science or social studies book. Students then determine the text structure of the selection and choose a graphic organizer to record the information they find. Partners share and discuss their results with the class.
  • The Listening Comprehension component asks students to listen critically to oral communication. Students are also asked to listen for a specific purpose. For example, in Theme 4, Lesson 17, as students listen to a magazine article, they are asked to listen to what made the surrealists’ art special.

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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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.

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 a one week time frame. While there are many opportunities for writing, there are few opportunities for students to use technology to produce and publish writing as required by standard W.4.6. Additionally, thematic projects are only partially aligned to the grade-level standards, and there is little evidence to suggest students write routinely over an extended time frame as required by the writing standard, W.4.10.

Within each lesson, students read paired text, followed by an on-demand writing task that requires students to use their knowledge of the texts. 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.

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. Student 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:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 2, page T148, students write a description of a setting, analyzing the mentor text, Mighty Jackie The Strike-Out Queen by Marissa Moss, to determine how the author lets the main character’s personality come through.
  • Think Critically: There is a text-dependent on-demand writing task included with the question set following each main reading selection. For example, in Theme 5, Lesson 12, following Mountains by Seymour Simon, question 5 asks “Different types of mountains form in different ways. Use information and details from the selection to explain: how dome mountains form, and how dome mountains are different from volcanic mountains.”
  • 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 Reading-Writing Connection for Theme 3, following lesson 1, pages T78-T93 indicates students will analyze an explanatory essay, generate questions to plan an explanatory essay, learn and apply outlining skills, draft the essay, revise by rearranging sentences, proofread, self-evaluate and publish. There is no guidance for pacing, except that the teacher is to adjust the pacing to meet students’ needs. The Lesson Planner for Lesson 1, page T20-T21, does not dedicate any time for the Reading-Writing Connection, nor do any of the other weekly lessons in the theme.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, students have the opportunity to write a week long writing task of a biography. On Day 1, students are introduced to the writing task, on Day 2, students begin writing brainstorming their biography, on Day 3, students prewrite, on Day 4, students draft, and on Day 5, reflect and revise. This writing task can be used if the student selects this as their final work to review, revise, edit, and then publish during Lesson 30.
  • In the Teacher Support Book, an extra writing lesson is provided for each Theme. For example, for Theme 3, there is a lesson on Adding Support in an Explanatory Text. Students use a piece of text from the Student Magazine as a model for the topic of the lesson. For example, for Theme 3, students use examples from an article on service dogs to learn how to add quotations from reliable sources.

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

The 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, Explanatory Essay, Persuasive Essay, Story, and Research Report. Weekly lessons partially support students’ skill development to complete the Reading-Writing Connection. Genres for the weekly lessons include: narrative poem, journal entry, cause/effect essay, letter, diary, adventure scene, autobiographical composition, fable explanatory paragraph, and tall tale. The writing prompts are balanced between informative and narrative with few opportunities for opinion pieces. 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 3, Lesson 11, students write a cause and effect paragraph as the writing task for the week. Students analyze the mentor text, “Mimicry and Camouflage” by Mary Hoff and the student writing model to determine the cause and effect clue words used by the authors. Students then address the prompt, “Think about a plant or animal that depends on mimicry or camouflage to survive. Now, write a composition that describes this plant or animal’s type of trickery.” students are instructed to think about audience, purpose for writing, and the causes and effects they want to show. They draft their composition using the following steps: Introduce the topic, organize the information using clue words to connect ideas, conclude by restating the topic sentence, check for complete sentences, correct capitalization, and correct punctuation. The rubric used by student pairs to discuss their writing does not address Standard W.4.2. and the instruction needed to be proficient in informative/explanatory writing.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 9, Day 5, students have an opportunity to monitor their work. The teacher directions are insufficient to support effective self-monitoring of the student's progress when writing an explanatory paragraph. The directions state, "Have partners use this checklist to check their paragraph." There is a lack of scaffolding to ensure that students know what each of the components are in the rubric. Students have a limited amount of time to work on parts of the paragraph throughout each lesson.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 30, Day 2, the teacher instructions are insufficient support to effectively monitor student progress when writing a review. The directions state, “Remind students that good writers carefully organize their ideas to help readers understand their writing.” While students are not explicitly taught what “a clear beginning" looks like, sounds like, or feels like, some additional guided statements are offered to help support the writer, such as:
    • Ideas are organised in a logical order
    • The compositions has a clear beginning
    • Events are described in a logical order.

A balance of types of writing exists, but writing tasks do not build in rigor throughout the year as shown by:

  • Theme 1 – Reading Writing Connection: Personal Narrative; On Demand Writing – personal narrative – saving for an item you wish to buy
  • Theme 2 – Reading Writing Connection: Response to Literature; On Demand Writing – Response to Literature
  • Theme 3 – Reading Writing Connection: Explanatory Essay; On Demand Writing – essay about chores you do at home
  • Theme 4 – Reading Writing Connection: Persuasive Essay; On Demand Writing – persuasive essay
  • Theme 5 – Reading Writing Connection: Story; On Demand Writing – story about two children at a park
  • Theme 6 – Reading Writing Connection: Research Report; On Demand Writing – essay about a hobby

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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.

Writing prompts do not frequently provide the opportunities for students to produce evidence-based writing. The materials sometimes address evidenced-supported writing in one question at the end of each main selection. When students are required to return to the text to answer a writing prompt, there are no clear teacher directions for how to support students in this exercise. While reading the main selection, questions are included for discussion, but no support or scaffolding is provided to infuse writing into daily routines.

The first four lessons in each of the 6 Themes contains 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. Questions follow each pairing, but there is no clear direction requiring students to respond to these questions in writing. The questions are Text to Self, Text to Text, and Text to World connections that do not require careful analyses, and many can be answered without returning to the text. Each paired text includes a written response, but these responses often 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 frequently class discussion with no written component and no careful analyses or well-defended claims. Lessons do not routinely require writing after 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, Lesson 7, questions from the Think Critically section that follow each main selection include text-dependent questions but do not require student to write in response. For example, students are asked to discuss the questions: "Justin learns some things while visiting his grandfather. Use information from the story to explain: what Justin learns about his grandfather, and what Justin’s grandfather teaches him about household work." There is no provision for students to write in response to this questions.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, students read “Firestorm” by Jean Craighead George and “Flame Busters” by JR.G. Schmidt and respond to the following questions: “What can you learn from Axel’s rafting trip that may help you when you face a challenge? Compare what Axel learns about fire to what teens learn at the fire academy. Describe a time when you had to 'sit still and wait for a solution' as Axel did.” Students then complete a writing assignment to write a newspaper article of an interview done with a fire scene witness. These questions do not require drawing evidence from the text to support analysis or reflection in how these texts approach similar themes.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, after reading Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life by Jerdine Nolen, students write a persuasive paragraph using the text as a model and writing to the following prompt: “Hewitt Anderson proved that he could do things even though he was small. Think about the different ways Hewitt Anderson proved that he could take care of himself. Now, write a persuasive paragraph to convince Hewitt’s parents that they should stop worrying about him.” Students are reminded that all reasons should stay focused on the argument and are given the following steps to write their draft: "State the argument, include reasons that support the argument, use strong, persuasive words, make a call to action." Teachers are not provided protocols for instructing students in returning to the text to write well-defended claims based on textual evidence.

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 4 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 for Grade 4 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 skill both in- and out-of-context. Grammar and convention skills increase in sophistication; however, there are many instances of grammar and convention skills that overlap with previous grade level language standards. For example, in Grade 4, Theme 1, the grammar focus includes declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences which are introduced in the Grade 1 Language standards. In addition, the grammar lessons in Theme 2 include simple and compound sentences which are introduced in the Grade 3 Language standards. While the majority of the language standards are covered in the materials, several of the standards are not covered in the main materials of the program, but rather in the Extending the Common Core State Standards. In this supplement, students do have the opportunity to learn the skill through modeling, guided practice, and independent practice; however, these are single lessons and do not follow the five-day sequence of the lessons contained in the main materials. Additionally, opportunities are missed for students to practice grammar and convention skills in varying contexts and tasks.

Materials include some instruction of grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. However, opportunities are missed for students to choose punctuation for effect.

  • Students have opportunities to use relative pronouns and relative adverbs. For example:
    • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 2, page T24, students participate in a lesson to identify and use relative pronouns and relative adverbs. Students write an email to a friend, using at least two sentences that include relative pronouns or relative adverbs.
  • Students have opportunities to form and use the progressive verb tenses. For example:
    • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 5, page T60, students participate in a lesson to form and use progressive verb tenses. The teacher explains progressive verb tenses and tells about the three simple progressive tenses. The teacher models determining which progressive tense to use in sentence frames.
  • Students have opportunities to order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns. For example:
    • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 4, page T48, students participate in a lesson where they learn how to order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns. Students work to describe a house using the adjectives old, big, and red.
  • Students have opportunities to correctly use frequently confused words. For example: In Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 3, page T33, students participate in a lesson to correctly use frequently confused words.
  • Students have opportunities to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence. For example:
    • In Theme 3, Lesson 14, the teacher explains that a compound sentence is made up of two or more simple sentences joined by a coordinating conjunction: and, or, or but.
  • Students have opportunities to spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed. For example:
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, students participate in a five-day lesson progression to correctly spell words that contain Greek and Latin word parts.

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

  • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 5, pages T60-T61, students participate in a grammar lesson to form and use progressive verb tenses. The teacher explains progressive verb tenses and tells about the three simple progressive tenses. The teacher then models determining which progressive tense to use in sentence frames. Students are guided to complete sentence frames with the correct progressive verb tense. Students complete a worksheet independently where they must use progressive verb tenses. Students work in pairs to review one of their pieces of writing and revise to correct errors in verb tenses. Students are given a verb and must write three sentences: one using its present progressive form one using its past progressive form, one using it past progressive form, one using its future progressive form.
  • In the Extending the Common Core State Standards, Theme 4, T48, students participate in a grammar lesson to order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns. The teacher reminds students that adjectives are words that describe nouns or pronouns. The teacher models deciding how to use adjectives to describe in the correct order. Students practice ordering adjectives independently using a worksheet. Students work in pairs to describe a classroom object using two or more adjectives in the correct order. Students check for the correct use of adjective order when they edit their writing. Students write a description of an artist they read about and include at least one sentence with two or more adjectives used in the correct order.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, students participate in a grammar punctuation review where the objective is to use commas correctly in writing. In the five-day sequence, the teacher introduces commas as a way to separate a list, using a comma before the conjunction and using a comma to set off the interjection: Yes. Students practice using commas correctly in written sentences.

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

Teacher Edition materials provide a five-day instructional sequence that focuses on spelling words correctly using a spelling pattern. Each lesson includes Decode/Word Attack instruction that explicitly teach students to use structural analysis to decode and read unknown words connected to the focus of the lesson. Instruction is provided out of context and not connected to students’ reading and lessons include instruction from previous grades. Students take a weekly test and a theme test for each of the six themes. However, assessments do not include phonics and word recognition. In addition, opportunities are missed to provide instruction in irregularly spelled words.

Materials contain limited explicit instruction of irregularly spelled words, syllabication patterns, and word recognition consistently over the course of the year. For example:

  • Students have opportunities to use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context. For example:
    • In Theme 1, Lesson 1, during Decoding/Word Attack Closed Syllable Pattern, the teacher writes summer and sandwich on the board and a volunteer reads them aloud, identifies how many syllables and where the words should be divided. Students work independently finding four multi-syllabic words in their Student Edition.
    • In Theme 2, Lesson 6, during Decoding/Word Attack Syllable Patterns: Consonant + le, the teacher writes the word cattle on the board and a volunteer reads it aloud. Students work independently looking in their content area text books for five words with the consonant plus -le pattern.
    • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, during Decoding/Word Attack Structural Analysis: Prefixes: re-, un-, non-, the teacher writes the word rebuild on the board. Students identify how many syllables and where the word should be divided. Working in small groups, students look in their content area text books to find six words with the prefixes re-, un- and non- write them sorting by prefix and circling the root word.
    • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, during Decoding/Word Attack Structural Analysis: Word Parts: over-, under-, sub- , the teacher writes the word overlooking on the bard and reads it aloud. The teacher breaks the word apart and blending these parts together to read the whole word. Partners look in content area textbooks to identify words with over-, under- and sub-. They list the words, sorting by beginning part.
    • In Theme 5, Lesson 24 during Decoding/Word Attack Structural Analysis: Suffixes in Combination, the teacher writes the word helpfulness on the board and reads it aloud. Students identify how many syllables and where the word should be divided. Students complete a chart that breaks four words into syllables and identifies the suffix. Students look in their content area text books to find words with suffix combinations, then write them circling the suffix and reading the words aloud.
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 27 during Decoding/Word Attack Structural Analysis: Greek and Latin Word Parts, the teacher writes the words visitors and visa on the board and asks students to identify the syllable that is the same. The teacher writes a chart on the board and guides students to decode each word in the chart by identifying the Greek or Latin root. Students look through their textbooks for five examples with these Greek or Latin roots

Limited 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. Phonics is assessed through the weekly spelling tests. For example:

  • In Theme 4, beginning on page A2 and going through A5, there are Using Assessment to Inform Instruction pages for Lessons 1 through 5. These pages show the tested skills for the lesson. None of the spelling skills are listed as a tested skill.
  • In Theme 4, on page A6, tested skills are listed from the Theme 4 Test. Spelling is listed as a tested skill and Spelling Practice Book pages are listed for extra practice.
  • In Theme 4, pages S2 through S36, students participate in Small-Group Instruction lessons. Lessons do not include the Spelling/Phonics skill as a reteach.

Materials contain explicit instruction of word solving approaches (graphophonic and syntactic) to decode unfamiliar words. For example:

  • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, page T205, students participate in a Decoding/Word Attack lesson to use structural analysis to decode longer words.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 29, page T267, students participate in a Decoding/Word Attack lesson to identify common prefixes and suffixes and to use structural analysis to decode longer words.

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

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. Independent activities ask students to find examples in their content area text books. In addition, there is no 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 1, during Decoding/Word Attack, students practice decoding closed syllable patterns. Two of the six words are from the core text, The Hot and Cold Summer. Students look through their Student Edition to find four examples of multisyllabic words with closed syllable pattern.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, during Decoding/Word Attack Syllable Patterns: Same Medial Consonants, the teacher writes pepper, shallow, and fluffy on the board modeling breaking the word between two consonants. The class practices by decoding the syllables and blending them to read four words on the board. Partners look in magazines for five longer words that have the same medial consonants and list the words. Partners switch lists, break the words into syllables and read the words aloud.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 24, 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: advantage, extract, remarkable, stealthy, suitable, withstand.
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 17, page T148, 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: ancestors, brilliant, exotic, graceful, mischievous, participate.

Materials include limited 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. Some tests contain word analysis questions such as:
    • In the End-of-Year, students answer the following question:
      • Read this phrase from the article: “10 pieces of unlined white paper” What does the prefix un- suggest that the word unlined means in this sentence? Below the lines, having many lines, between the lines, not having lines

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 4 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 2 in Fluency: Accuracy, the teacher models reading the passage, fluently and accurately while students follow along. The teacher reads it a second time as students follow along with their finger under the words. Students choral-read the passage. The teacher reads the passage again as students echo read. Students then work with partners to read the passage providing feedback about accuracy.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 8 in Fluency: Phrasing, the teacher models reading the first three paragraphs of the passage fluently and accurately while students follow along. The teacher reads it a second time as students follow along with their finger under the words noting how the teacher uses punctuation to direct phrasing. Students choral-read the passage. The teacher reads the passage again as students echo read. Students then work with partners to read the passage providing feedback about accuracy.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 10, students participate in Readers’ Theater of “Emerald’s Eggs.” For intonation, students are reminded to read the punctuation correctly. “Explain that exclamation points show that a character is excited; an excited character would likely speak quickly, loudly, and in a higher-than-normal pitch.”
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 13, students can self-select from the leveled classroom library a book to read independently such as Togo by Robert J. Blake and The Disappearing Island by Corinne Demas.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 27, students participate in a fluency lesson where the objective is to read aloud with accuracy. The teacher models fluency accurate reading while students follow along. Students then chorally read the passage with the teacher. Students then echo-read the selection, being sure to: put their finger on the beginning of the first sentence and track the print while the teacher reads aloud and then read the sentence aloud, tracking print and pronouncing each word accurately. Students continue to read the passage until they read fluently and with complete accuracy.

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 3, Lesson 13 during Fluency Practice, students work in small groups reading “Fire Storm” as if it was a movie script. Each person in the group reads the dialogue for one of the characters. Students practice reading the lines several times remembering to match the expressions to the feelings of the characters.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 21 in Fluency: Intonation, the teacher models reading a passage with appropriate intonation while students follow along noticing how the teacher’s tone changes to reflect whether the narrator or Miss Franny Block is speaking. Students choral-read the passage. The teacher reads the passage again as students echo read. Students then work with partners to read the passage providing feedback on the reader’s intonation.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, students participate in a lesson to read aloud at an appropriate reading rate. The teacher models an appropriate reading rate by reading the passage. Students choral read the passage with the teacher. Then students echo-read the passage. Students are directed to put their finger on the beginning of the first sentence and read the sentence aloud as students track the print. Students read the sentence aloud, matching the teacher’s reading rate.
  • In Theme 6, Lesson 28, students participate in a fluency lesson where the objective is to demonstrate characteristics of fluent, effective reading and to read aloud with prosody using appropriate expression. The teacher models expressive reading and tells students to pay attention to the volume and tone they use to communicate the characters’ feelings and the overall mood of the passage. Students choral-read the passage with the teacher. Students echo-read the passage.

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. For example:
    • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, students participate in a lesson on rereading to better understand conflicts, plot events, and resolutions.
    • In Theme 4, Lesson 18, students participate in a lesson to monitor comprehension and self-correct when understanding breaks down.
    • In Theme 6, Lesson 28, during Comprehension Strategy Monitor Comprehension, students are reminded that readers when readers come across things that are unclear, they stop to clear up their confusion by rereading.

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 show that fluency is a tested skill. In Lessons 11 and 12, the fluency focus is pace. In Lessons 13 through 15, the fluency focus is expression. There are Reteach lessons suggested.
  • In Theme 5, page A2 through A5, the Weekly Test for Lessons 21 through 25 show that fuency is a test skilled. In Lessons 23, 24 and 25, the fuency focus assessed is reading rate. The Reteach lessons for reading rate can be found on pages S23 and S33.
  • In Theme 5, page A6, the Theme 5 Test shows that Fluency is a Tested Skill. The Reteach lessons for Fluency can be found on S7, S15, S23, and S33.
  • In Theme 5, page S23, the Fluency small group reteach lesson objective is to improve reading rate through repeated readings. There are lessons for students that scored Below-Level, On-Level and Advanced. The teacher is directed to the Strategic Intervention Resource Kit for additional resources if students do not demonstrated improved reading rate.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Does Not Meet Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

Grade 4 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
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed 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. Materials 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, nor do they 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. Materials 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. There is no cohesive, year-long plan provided for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. Materials do not 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 and do not 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.Materials do not provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

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 4 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 1, the overarching idea is Facing Challenges, which revolves around the idea of drawing on inner strengths and abilities to overcome challenges. The overarching idea in Theme 1 is very broad. Texts are directly or loosely connected around the idea of overcoming challenges, but there is no focused line of inquiry through paired questions that connect texts back to the central theme. In Lesson 1, students answer the following questions after they read or talk about the texts:
    • Day 1: Question of the Day – In the first paragraph of a story, you learn that a man who lives near a swamp is building a wall around his house. What are some different reasons why he might be doing this? Texts: “Be a Friend” (poem read aloud during the Listening Comprehension) and “Trading Chores” (Build Robust Vocabulary)
    • Day 2: Question of the Day – Which character from “The Hot and Cold Summer” would you most like to have as a friend? Text: “The Hot and Cold Summer” (main selection)
    • Day 3: Question of the Day – Have you ever made a pact with a friend? What was it? Text: “Secret Talk” (paired selection poem)
    • Day 4: Question of the Day – What are some synonyms for annoyed? What are some antonyms?
    • Day 5: Question of the Day – If you could start a summer business venture, what would you do or sell?
  • In Theme 3, all texts are organized around the topic of natural change. There are three literary pieces and seven 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 3, Lesson 14, the anchor text is “The Stranger” by Chris Van Allsburg, about a stranger who visits a family and brings Autumn with him. The paired text is, “A Place in the Sun” from Scholastic Weather Atlas, explaining how the sun affects Earth’s seasons. The leveled readers used with small group instruction in Lesson 14 are “Finky’s Mysterious Spots” by Linda Diaz, the story of a dog’s spots that change with the snow; “The Wisdom of the Wind” by Fred Gerson, about a boy who helps on his farm with advice from the wind; and “The Mysterious Growing Moon” by Chris Powell, about a boy finding a strange white rock and placing it in his window, making the moon grow.

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

he instructional materials reviewed for Grade 4 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, as students are reading the selection, the teacher is asking the following questions of the whole group to monitor comprehension: “What kind of person is Derek? How can you tell?”
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, the Listening Comprehension read-aloud Bill Pickett includes a brief genre study on biography. Students are then advised to listen to the read aloud for a specific purpose
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 12, the teacher asks the following questions of the whole group to monitor comprehension: “What is the main idea of the final paragraph on page 329? What are some details that the author used to support this idea?”
  • In Theme 4, Lesson 16, before reading So You Want to Be an Inventor, students learn about the elements of narrative nonfiction, and are taught to use a fact and opinion chart.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 23, after reading the selection, students are to complete the following questions: “Why did Chester eat the two-dollar bill? Which character is more honest – Chester Cricket or Tucker Mouse? Be sure to include details and information from the story to support your answer.”
  • Theme 6, Lesson 27, the narrative nonfiction selection, Grand Canyon, asks students to analyze sentence variety.

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

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

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 are focused on building students’ literal comprehension of texts versus building knowledge.

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 2, Getting the Job Done, focusing on working together, in Lesson 9, after reading the anchor text, “Weaving: A California Tradition” by Linda Yaymane, students orally respond to the question, “How has the law against setting fires affected the California Indian basketweavers?” Students complete an on-demand writing task, “Summarize the events that take place at the California Indian Basketweavers Gathering. Use details and information from the selection to support your answer.” After completing the paired text, a magazine article, “Wonder Weaver” by Ellen Holtzen, students respond orally to, “What do these stick weavings tell you about the artist who created them?” There are no instructional directions for teachers to support students’ engagement, or scaffolding to encourage the integration of knowledge across texts.
  • In Theme 4, Imagination at Work, focusing on solving problems creatively, in Lesson 19, after reading the anchor text, “Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn’t Tell a Lie” by Joe Hayes, students orally respond to the question, “Why do you think Araceli asks Juan Verdades for all of the fruit from el manzano real after she falls in love with him?” Students complete an on-demand writing task, “Araceli and her father, don Arturo, think of a plan to win the bet with don Ignacio. Use information and details from the selection to explain their plan.” After completing the paired text, “Hard Cheese” by Helen Ward, students orally respond to the following: “How are the themes in “Juan Verdades: The Man Who Couldn’t Tell a Lie” and “Hard Cheese” alike? How are they different?” Students are not directed to use text evidence to respond.
  • In Theme 6, Exploring Our World, focusing on exploration, in Lesson 26, after reading the anchor text, “Dragons and Dinosaurs” by Meg Moss, students orally respond to the question, “Does the author think that paleontologists have an easy job? Explain your answer with details from the selection.” Students complete an on-demand writing task, “What are some ways in which computers have helped paleontologists learn about dinosaurs? Use details and information from the selection to support your answer.” After completing the paired text, “Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp” by Carol Diggory Shields, students respond orally to the following: “Compare the information in “Dragons & Dinosaurs” and the poem “Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp.” What is the author’s purpose in each text?” 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 questions. These questions do not require an analysis of ideas across texts to complete:

  • In Theme 2, Getting the Job Done, the question is, “Why do you think this theme is called “Getting the Job Done?” Although all selections are centered on people working together to get work done, there are no discussion questions throughout the theme addressing this topic.
  • In Theme 4, Imagination at Work, the question is, “In what way do the selections in this theme tell about creativity?”
  • In Theme 6, Exploring Our World, the question is, “In what way do the selections in this theme tell about exploration?”

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 2 the graphic organizer is a web showing ways in the selections people worked together.
  • In Theme 4 the graphic organizer is a web showing ways in the selections people used creativity to solve problems.
  • In Theme 6 the graphic organizer is a chart that students complete of why people explore, traits of explorers, and places or things that can be explored.

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 4 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 3, the teacher introduces the theme, "Natural Changes," and the Reading-Writing Connection task is an explanatory essay on a topic of their choice. The writing lessons across the Theme are: Lesson 1-Cause and Effect Paragraph, Lesson 2-Informational Paragraph, Lesson 3-Letter, Lesson 4-Pourquoi Tale, Lesson 5-Student Choice: Revise and Publish. While some of the daily writing supports students in completing the culminating task of an explanatory essay, they do not build the student’s knowledge of the theme. Students are asked to use paper, pencils, almanac, atlas, encyclopedia, and computer with Internet access to create a visitor’s guide that shows how climate impacts the ecosystem and outdoor activities. Students can complete this task without reading any of the selections during the week.
  • In Theme 4, the teacher introduces the theme, "Imagination at Work," and the students plan, test, and evaluate an invention that will make classroom life easier as the Theme Project, pages T12-T13. The teacher leads a discussion on inventions to build background knowledge and students follow the project steps: Brainstorm ideas, research inventions already created to fill similar needs, work in small groups to make a blueprint for their invention, build, experiment, evaluate, revise, and present their inventions. Completion of this project can be achieved without reading or analysis of the anchor text and, it fails to demonstrate comprehension and knowledge of the theme.
  • In Theme 6, pages T14-T15, the teacher introduces the theme, “Exploring Our World,” and helps students access prior knowledge by leading a discussion about a time students explored a new place. Students develop the theme by beginning a chart of: “Why People Explore, Traits of Explorers, and Places or Things That Can Be Explored.” Students will add to this chart as they read the theme selections. At the end of the five week theme on page T332, the teacher leads discussion of the Theme Wrap-up asking the following questions: “In what way do the selections in this theme tell about exploration? What do you think is the most important thing that John Muir learned on his exploration? Name one place that you would like to visit and explore. What do you think it would look like? What kind of things would you need to take with you on the exploration?” Students review and revise the chart started at the beginning of the Theme and respond by reflecting on and writing about what they learned about exploration. These tasks are not multifaceted, nor do they require students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards

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 4 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. Opportunities are present for students to learn, practice, apply, and transfer words into familiar and new contexts such as centers, discussions, and partner work.

Within each weekly lesson, students have the opportunity to interact with 8 target words. Words are introduced in context. On Day 1, the 6-8 words are introduced in a contextual setting. On Day 2, students review the words in the Connections: Comparing Texts section. This section follows the paired selection. On Day 3, words from the week are revisited by answering a question about each word. On Day 4, students extend word meanings answering critical thinking questions related to each word. 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. The words are not found in the paired selection or Leveled Readers. For example, in Theme 2, Lesson 7:

  • On Day 1, the teacher introduces the eight vocabulary words for the week using student-friendly explanations, reluctant, rumpled, surge, inspecting, taut, untangled, resounded, and lurked, and asks questions such as: “Which would you be more reluctant to do, clean your room or play outside? Why? What surge of emotion might you feel if you found a lost pet? How could you untangle a fishing line?” Students read the Vocabulary passage, “Just Another Day” and respond to questions such as: “Why were Terry and his father inspecting the fence? Why weren’t all the fence wires taut? What animals lurked in the hills?” In the Word Detective section, students are encouraged to find vocabulary words outside the classroom this week looking in a magazine or book, or hear them on TV. They write them in their vocabulary journal and tell where they found it and how it was used.
  • On Day 2, after reading the anchor and paired texts, students complete a word-web for two vocabulary words adding words and/or phrases to the web that are related to the vocabulary word and explain how they are related.
  • On Day 3, students reinforce word meanings by responding to questions about the anchor text such as: “Why was Justin reluctant to do any chores? Why were Justin’s shirts rumpled? What noises resounded across the prairie as Justin and Grandpa rode through the tall grass?”
  • On Day 4 students extend word meanings by answering questions that include vocabulary words such as: “Compare an animal that lurks with an animal that runs. Name something that needs to be untangled. What might cause someone to have a surge of fear?”
  • On Day 5 students complete a cumulative review from Lessons 6 and 7 by answering questions in a group discussion.

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 4 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 fourth 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's 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 five lessons that are a mix of on-demand and process writing. Example unclude:

  • In Theme 1, Lesson 4 after reading the text, “My Japanese Sister” by Emily Bernier, students are instructed to write an on-demand composition about where they would take an exchange student to introduce him or her to their community, and what parts of American culture they would share. Teachers are not provided protocols for instruction or assessment for persuasive writing. Later in the year, in Theme 4, the unit long Reading-Writing Connection focus is persuasive writing. Students use a mentor text and student model to identify the features of persuasive writing and complete a process writing piece. Students are to choose a topic that interests them. Throughout the unit, the teacher models narrowing the focus, generating questions to make an outline, adding supporting reasons, combining sentences, and reviewing for punctuation. Students publish their process writing piece by writing a persuasive speech or a letter to the editor, with little support for what these forms should look like. The rubric provided does not assess student writing as required by the writing standards.
  • In Theme 3, Lesson 14, 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 revise/reflect on their Pourquoi Tale. Next a series of questions are bulleted that may be helpful for students to use when discussing their written work. However, the directions do not state how to use these questions nor suggest using them during student revise/reflect time. 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 a their Pourquoi Tale.
  • In Theme 5, Lesson 21, 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 revise/reflect on their Narrative. Next a series of questions are bulleted that may be helpful for students to use when discussing their written work. However, the directions do not state how to use these questions nor suggest using them during student revise/reflect time. 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 a their Narrative.
  • In Theme 2 the Reading-Writing Connection writing mode is Response to Literature, the on-demand writing task is a timed response to a book, story, or other piece of literature. The weekly writing lessons include the following forms of writing within Theme 2 include Lesson 6: Summary Paragraph, Lesson 7: Narrative Paragraph, Lesson 8: Email, Lesson 9: Explanatory Paragraph, Lesson 10: Revise and Publish choice piece. Daily prompts for Theme 2, Lesson 6 include:
    • Everyone has learned a new skill. Think about a time when you learned a new skill, such as how to ride a bike. Now, explain what you learned when you acquired the new skill.
    • Everyone follows or has followed some kind of routine. Think about the subjects you study and the activities you take part in each day at school. Now, write a paragraph that tells what you do in a day at school.
    • Most people have a favorite book or movie. Think of a book or movie that you enjoyed. Now, write a summary of the book or movie.

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 write a summary. They are introduced to the task, writing a summary of an episode from On the Banks of Plum Creek, led to review a student model, guided to use a story map, draft their summary and go through a peer checklist.

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 4 do not meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

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:

  • In Theme 1, the project is to develop a guide to healthy summer activities available in a community. Students consult newspapers, community websites, brochures published by the park and recreation department, and ask friends to find options for summer activities. There is a disconnect between this project and the unit theme of “Facing Challenges” and does not require students synthesize and analyze multiple texts and source materials to complete the projects.
  • In Theme 2, the project is to create a business plan for summer business. Students are to conduct “market research” by brainstorming a list of goods and services they think their community needs, choose two or three, and conduct a survey to find out whether each product is likely to have customers. This project is loosely connected to the unit theme of “Getting the Job Done” but does not require students synthesize and analyze multiple texts and source materials to complete the project.
  • In Theme 6, the project is to develop a walking tour of historically and culturally important sites within a community. Students research historic sites in their community and design a walking tour. This project is loosely connected to the unit theme of “Exploring Our World” but does not require students synthesize and analyze multiple texts and source materials to complete the project.
  • In Theme 6, the Reading-Writing Connection is a research report. While there is instruction on skills, such as finding information and 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 apply to writing. Students are required to take notes, categorize information, and provide a list of sources as directly taught during whole group instruction.

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 4 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 allotment, accountability, or goal-setting component. The are no procedures for independent reading at home and or while reading core texts, and there is no independent accountability system 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 1, prior to reading “Cold Summer” by Johanna Hurwitz, 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.
  • In Theme 2, Lesson 7, after reading “Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World” by Mildred Pitts Walter and poems “Home on the Range” by Brewster Higley and “Hats Off to the Cowboy” by Red Steagall, students are reviewing conflict and resolution. The teacher directs them to reread specific selections and answer questions.
  • In Theme 1, Lesson 2 , the student objective during a literacy center rotation titled “Reading Log” is to “select and read books independently." The Management support system states, “While you provided direct instruction to individuals or small groups, other students can work on activities.” No evidence of a clear protocol or accountability system is in place other than recording their reading in a reading log.
  • Teacher Support Book, Extending the Common Core State Standards Companion states, “After completing each theme in StoryTown, The Teacher Support Book builds on and extends the instruction in that theme to meet the Common Core State Standards.” However, there are no instructions and/or protocols that support and/or encourage independent reading.
  • An Additional Resource section is included in each Theme unit. Additional resources do not provide any support or resources to encourage at home independent reading.
  • 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 - 3r

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

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 Winning Catch Thm 1 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1534-3177-7 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Winning Catch Thm 1 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1535-3697-7 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Winning Catch Thm 2 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1535-3700-4 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Winning Catch Thm 3 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1535-3701-1 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Winning Catch Thm 4 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1535-3704-2 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Winning Catch Thm 5 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1535-3705-9 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Storytown Teacher's Edition Winning Catch Thm 6 Grade 4 Winning Catch 978-0-1535-3708-0 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2008
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Storytown Reading Adventure Teacher Support Book Grade 4 978-0-5476-8565-6 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Storytown Reading Adventure Student Magazine Grade 4 978-0-5476-8589-2 Copyright: 2008 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2012

About Publishers Responses

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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

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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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