Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The StudySync instructional materials meet expectations for alignment in all three gateways. The materials include rich and rigorous texts used with reading, writing, speaking, and listening work that builds students' knowledge while developing their overall literacy. The materials include support for students to practice and apply research skills, integrating multimodal texts throughout the year. The materials include supports for teachers to implement for specific classrooms. In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs.

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Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

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

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
30
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

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Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
32
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

Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests. Students engage in a range and volume of reading in service of grade level reading proficiency, and consistent opportunities are provided for textual analysis. Materials include both text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that help prepare students for each unit’s Extended Writing Task. Each unit provides frequent and varied opportunities for students to engage in whole class, small group, and peer-to-peer discussion that reference the text under study and incorporate the understanding and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. The materials provide for a variety of writing tasks across the school year that vary in length and depth, tie to classroom texts and Big Ideas, and represent equally narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. The Grammar and Composition Handbook focuses specifically on grammar and usage, with each chapter focusing on a specific grammar or usage skill. The lessons provide instructions, practice, and review, and the lessons and tasks build in complexity.

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.
16/16
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests. Students engage in a range and volume of reading in service of grade level reading proficiency, and consistent opportunities are provided for textual analysis. The materials meet the criteria for text complexity and for support materials for the core text(s) provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to support their reading at grade level by the end of the school year.

Indicator 1a

Anchor/core texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.

Texts consider a range of topics that are high-interest and age-appropriate for Grade 9. Topics include the plight of migrant workers, epic poetry, women’s rights, and the power of love. Many of the core texts are CCSS exemplar texts, written by award-winning authors, and contain rich vocabulary, both academic and content-specific. Texts are worthy of careful reading. Examples of these texts include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, students read the following texts that are worthy of especially careful reading:
    • Students read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This coming of age, first-person novel is a CCSS exemplar text that contains enduring themes along with rich language that illustrates the characters’ life experiences.
    • Students read “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, which won the Gwendolyn Brooks Price for Fiction. This first-person short story tells the tale of a 14 year old African American young woman coming of age during the Great Depression. Students can relate to both the age and experience of the main character, as Collier provides a first-person account of the main character’s impulsive reaction to a situation, which is followed by her regret over her response.
    • Students read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. This selection is a CCSS exemplar text, filled with rich figurative language.
  • In Unit 2, students read the following texts that are worthy of especially careful reading:
    • Students read 1984 by George Orwell. This British text contains academic language, strong content, and enduring themes.
    • Students read “Farewell Address” by George Washington This speech is a CCSS exemplar text and contains complex sentence structure along with formal word choice.
  • In Unit 3, students read the following texts that are worthy of especially careful reading:
    • Students read The Joy Luck Club, a CCSS exemplar text that portrays complex characters and a mother/daughter relationship. Students can glimpse into Chinese immigrant culture and relate to the daughter who has a goal that differs from that of her mother.
    • Students read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a CCSS exemplar text by the acclaimed poet Maya Angelou. Students read about the author’s childhood in Arkansas along with the racial issues in American history. The text is filled with rich figurative language.
    • Students read “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” a speech by John F. Kennedy. This speech draws on students cultural knowledge of American history and illustrates an excellent model of persuasive speaking.
  • In Unit 4, students read the following texts that are worthy of especially careful reading:
    • Students read Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. One of Shakespeare’s most well-known and oft-referenced plays, students read the famous balcony scene and analyze Shakespeare’s skillful language.
    • Students read Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, a Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography. Students read about McCourt’s impoverished childhood in Ireland. This text contains complex sentence structure and academic vocabulary.

Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
*Indicator 1b is non-scored (in grades 9-12) and provides information about text types and genres in the program.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 include an appropriate distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Texts include a mix of informational and literary texts. There is a wide array of informational and literary anchor texts for every unit. Additional supplementary texts are included, resulting in a wide distribution of genres and text types as required by the standards. Literary texts include novels, poems, epic poetry, graphic novels, short stories, dramas, and scripts. Informational texts include speeches, articles, autobiographies, memoirs, essays, court opinions, obituaries, videos and transcripts and .

The literary texts found within the instructional materials include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, students read “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, and The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance.
  • In Unit 2, students read “The Lady or the Tiger” by Frank Stockton, “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1984 by George Orwell, and The Odyssey by Homer.
  • In Unit 3, students read “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, and “Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
  • In Unit 4, students read “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, and The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare.

The informational texts found within the instructional materials include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, students read “Statement on the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Robert F. Kennedy, “The Harvest Gypsies” by John Steinbeck, and Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • In Unit 2, students read “Thanksgiving Proclamation” by George Washington, Ancient Greece: A Political, Social and Cultural History by Sarah Pomeroy et. al., and “Mandatory Military Service in America” an Op-Ed.
  • In Unit 3, students read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, “The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and The Struggle for Equal Rights” by Russell Freedman, and United States v. Susan B. Anthony: Justice Ward Hunt’s Court Ruling by Justice Ward Hunt.
  • In Unit 4, students read Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt, “Frank McCourt, Whose Irish Childhood Illuminated His Prose, Is Dead at 78” from The New York Times, and “Romantic Love: Reality or Myth?” a pro/con op-ed.

Indicator 1c

Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade level (according to quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis).
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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 instructional materials for Grade 9 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade. Most texts fall within either the Current Lexile Band or the Stretch Lexile Band for grades 9-10. Texts range from 680L to 2100L; most texts are appropriate for Grade 9 according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. Some texts do exceed these bands but the tasks are designed to make them accessible. Examples of texts that have the appropriate level of complexity for Grade 9 include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, of the nine texts that have readability levels that can be measured, five fall within the span for this grade and four fall below. Some texts are clustered together on the same topic. This exposure to these topic connected texts helps students build the knowledge of the topic and equip them to handle the complexity. “Harvest Gypsies,” Lexile 900, and The Grapes of Wrath, Lexile 680, both fall below the band. The Grade 9 ELA Overview explains the use of these three texts at this grade level: “These three texts will provide multiple perspectives on the Great Depression and the conditions farmers and their families endured as they were displaced by the Dust Bowl to California. text. The three texts focusing on the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the plight of migrant workers in California represent a gradual increase of text complexity, intertextual references, and demands on the cultural/literary knowledge of ninth graders. While the quantitative dimensions for Endangered Dreams is higher than the other two texts, this historical account of the migrant-worker.”
  • In Unit 2, students read George Washington’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation,” Lexile 2100, and his “Farewell Address,” Lexile 1540, which both reach above the recommended grade band. However, the Grade 9 ELA Overview claims that “qualitative dimensions, reader characteristics, and task demands make these two texts accessible to ninth-grade students, enabling them to grow in skill by interacting with such appropriately challenging texts.” The lesson plan for the “Farewell Address” tells teachers to scaffold the reading and instruction of this text by looking at purpose, specific vocabulary and sentence structure. In regard to “Purpose,” teachers tell students the primary and secondary purpose of his speech and lead students to discuss “what issues seem to worry the departing president and why based on the comments in the address.” For “Specific Vocabulary,” teachers encourage students to paraphrase when necessary. Teachers model how to use context clues to understand difficult vocabulary with the five bold vocabulary words chosen for further study. Students are also given a “Text Glossary” in the Access handouts on which are listed unfamiliar words or idioms and their definitions as well as additional blanks so students may add more. “Sentence Structure” has the teacher provide topics/questions on the Access handout for summarization that will help students make sense of the lengthy sentences. In addition to that, students are given sentence frames to aid them in answering the Think Questions.
  • In Unit 3, students read “The Case of Susan B. Anthony.” The Lexile level is 1510 which exceeds the Current Lexile Band. The two Susan B. Anthony texts are appropriate for this level. This unit includes another text on Anthony that is within the appropriate level. The cluster of these three texts should provide students with sufficient exposure to this topic for them to be successful.
  • In Unit 4, of the seven texts that have readability levels that can be measured, five fall within the Current Lexile Band or the Stretch Lexile Band, and two fall below. Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love by Helen Fisher has Lexile of 1210, which is appropriate for 9th grade students. Students focus on informational text structure with this text as this text uses multiple like cause-and-effect, sequential, and section headings. “The Gift of the Magi,” with a Lexile of 880, is below the current band, but is included on the CCSS Text Exemplars. Also, the task requires students to analyze theme, which is a complex task.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for supporting students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)

The instructional materials provide a variety of texts appropriate for the grade band. These texts increase in complexity as the units progress. While some texts fall at the high end of the grade level, others are more accessible in order to provide stronger support for students as they learn how to analyze text. Along with increasing text complexity, the students’ writing demand also increases in complexity.

In order to increase students’ literacy skills, each text has students complete a First Read lesson, Skill lesson(s), a Close Read lesson which includes a constructed response for each text.

  • The First Read has specific protocols for students to follow in order to develop the reading skills necessary to read that type of text as well as to gain a basic understanding of what the text states and how it is conveying that information.
  • The Skill lessons contain specific skills activities that will help students read deeper into the text. These lessons include videos that allow students to see models of other students practicing that skill. The students are then lead through the process of applying that skill to the reading selection through both a model and a practice session. The Skill lessons that students are exposed to throughout the year get increasingly more in-depth as appropriate to the literature. Students may practice the same skill multiple times; however, they are practicing those skills with different reading materials and the skills change slightly according to the material and the skill level of the students.
  • The Close Read lessons provide students with an opportunity and the structure to read the selection for a second time. There are guided reading practices for the teacher to walk the students through and specific questions for the students to answer in order to increase their reading skills. Students are expected to go deeper into the text during these readings to look at what the reading means and what that reading causes students to think. The questions and activities accompanying these close reads support students in doing this. After the close read, students complete a constructed response which “asks students to synthesize their work in First Read, Skill, and Close Read lessons by providing textual evidence to support analysis of the text."

To ensure student success and support literacy growth, each type of lesson contains four Access Paths in which teachers can find resources scaffolded for English Language Learners as well as differentiated for different levels of learners. Access 1 are the emerging learners; Access 2 are the immediate learners; Access 3 are the advanced learners, and Access 4 are the approaching learners. These Access Paths provide handouts that offer support for handling text complexity in the areas of purpose, genre, organization, connection of ideas, sentence structure, specific vocabulary, and prior knowledge. The lower level Access Paths also supply Sentence Frames for the Think Questions in the First Read, Guided Reading prompts for the Skill lessons, and a detailed planning outline for the constructed response after the Close Read.

There are multiple assessment opportunities throughout the year for teachers to assess student learning and performance in order to adjust instructional strategies as needed. Teachers use the Placement and Diagnostic Assessments at the beginning of the year. In addition, there are summative assessments that will help teachers track students progress. The formative assessments vary “in type and duration . . . [and] help teachers adjust instructional strategies, measuring individual student progress at strategic points over regular intervals."

Each unit focuses on the use of textual evidence to support student analysis. This literacy skill helps students evaluate information within texts, organize ideas, make inferences, create claims, and use evidence within their own writing. By the end of the year, students are using textual evidence in independent writing assignments such as argumentative essays.

Examples of increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year include but are not limited to:

  • The First Read lessons focus on comprehension and vocabulary. In the First Read lesson for To Kill a Mockingbird in Unit 1, students begin by accessing their prior knowledge of social injustice and race relations in the South through discussion and free writes. The Access Path offers more direction as students are guided through a group discussion that has them imagine themselves in a situation in which someone has been treated unjustly. The Access Path has students paired with more proficient readers and has them do additional practice with each vocabulary word and provides a Text Glossary chart on the handout that allows students to note the definition of the bold words as well as any other unfamiliar words or idioms they find in the text. Before students read the text, they are taught a comprehension strategy. In this particular lesson, students learn “Asking and Answering questions,” which is asking and answering questions of oneself before, during and after reading. Teachers model this strategy with a Think Aloud of the first paragraph by saying such things as, “When I read the first line of the selection, I ask myself what the expression ‘raised on fish food’ means and what it says about the boy Walter Cunningham." After modeling, students read independently and annotate the excerpt. Core students are given general instructions like, “ask questions about passages of the text that may be unclear or unresolved.” Access Path students are provided more support. They listen to the audio of the text and follow the detailed Annotation Guide on the Access handout, which contains instructions such as, “Highlight at least two sentences or passages that you have questions about. Enter your questions as annotations.” After reading, students talk part in a small group or partner discussion about the their questions, their answers and the text evidence the found to support their answers. Finally, students answer the Think questions. Core students answer the questions and use a rubric to complete two peer reviews. Access Path students are given Sentence Frames on the handouts, “Walter’s use of words and expression, such as ___________and “he pizened ‘em,” tell me about his character. I think he grew up in _____________________, and he probably did not _____________ at school.” Approaching students on the Access Path are provided a “Find the Evidence” chart that gives them specific tips for how to answer the “Think” questions, “Look at paragraphs 6 and 8 for examples of Walter’s manner of speaking. What do you notice about his choice of words and expressions? How does his language shape your ideas about him?”
  • The Skill lessons in the Grade 9 curriculum get increasingly more in depth. Informational text elements is a skill learned and practiced in all four units. Included here is an analysis of the lessons in Unit 1 and Unit 2. In Unit 1, the lesson objectives are that students will learn the definition of information text elements- details, events, people and ideas - and practice using concrete strategies for analyzing these elements. After reading the Model text, students are asked how the Model begins to analyze events; what point does the author make after the description of the family’s living condition; how the conditions and the effects of the conditions make it difficult for the mother and father to work; and how the series of events are connected. This lesson requires students to identify the elements and recognize how they affect one another. The Unit 2 lesson objectives are to learn the definitions of informational elements - important ideas and key details - and practice using concrete strategies for identifying the elements. Students also determine which elements in an informational text help readers find the most important ideas, and how readers can conclude which details are critical and which are less so. This lesson asks students to identify the elements and then delineate them as key or nonessential.
  • The Close Read lessons have students looking deeper into the text at what it means and makes the reader think as well as synthesize their learning from the First Read and Skill lessons. In the Close Read lesson for “The Raven” in Unit 4, students begin by comparing their prediction of the bold vocabulary words with the precise meaning. Then, the teacher models a close reading of the first few stanzas by modeling annotation strategies that ties the text to the focus skill and shows students what they looking for while they read. Students are then to read and annotate the rest of the poem after reading the “Skills Focus” questions, which ask the students to not only fine the skill focus but also explain it. For example, “How does the poet use rhyme, rhythm, and repetition in the first half of the poem to establish a mood, or feeling? How does that mood change by the end of the poem? Highlight evidence of repetition and rhyme at the beginning and at the end of the text, and use the annotation tool to explain how they contribute to the different moods.” Access Path students are given a “Complete the Sentences” exercise on the handout to aid them in this process. For example, “The poet uses rhyme and repetition to create an insistent, driving _________ for this poem. The repetition of certain words like rapping and tapping creates _________. At the end of the poem, the rhythm and rhyme scheme have remained _________, but now the repetition includes entire __________. This repetition combines with the steady rhythm and rhyme to create a mood of ______ and a feeling of ____________” (Unit 4 Close Read:“The Raven” Access 1). After reading and annotating, teachers lead a whole class discussion about the Skills Focus questions. Access Path students work in small groups or pairs to share and discuss their annotations. The final element to the Close Read lesson is the constructed response, which has students synthesize their learning from the First Read, Skill: Poetic Structure, and Skill: Connotation and Denotation lessons. For “The Raven,” students are to “Write an essay in which you explore the poem’s structure and language, and explain how these elements suggest that Poe was making careful choices in his writing. Use your understanding of poetic structure and connotation, and how both can contribute to a poem’s theme and mood, when answering the question. Support your ideas with evidence from the text.” Students brainstorm clues to Poe’s intentions and choices as a whole class or in small groups, and then begin planning their essays. Access Path students complete the prewriting activity on the handout that helps them shape the essay with sentence starters and labels to make sure all requirements are met. After planning, students read through the rubric and write their final response.

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.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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.

Most texts include instructional notes and text notes. These are all found in the ELA Grade Level Overview booklet. At the beginning of each unit, there is an overall explanation of the unit. This includes the balance of literary to informational texts, the essential question, and an analysis of the text complexity of particular texts. In response to texts that are above the recommended Lexile band, the publisher provides scaffolds to assist all students in accessing the text. After this report, each text in the unit gets detailed instructional notes that include information on the author, qualitative features, quantitative features, and reader and tasks. The Author section includes the name, gender, nationality and, if needed, translator. The Qualitative Features component contains the publication date, genre, Scaffold Instruction to Access Complex Text (ACT), which is a short summary of the text, and ACT features, which is broken down into three subjects that vary depending on the text, but includes such things as organization, prior knowledge, specific vocabulary, sentence structure and purpose. The Quantitative Features provides the Excerpt Lexile, Full-text Lexile, and Word Count. The Reader and Tasks lists the skill lessons for that text, the close read prompt and the writing form.

Examples of texts being accompanied by text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement include but are not limited to:

  • In the text complexity analysis for Unit 1, one of the texts it discusses is Living to Tell the Tale. For this text, students identify and interpret textual evidence to support comprehension and strengthen inferences. The excerpt Lexile is 1260. The Grade 9 ELA Grade Level Overview states, “Although the last informational text in the unit, Living to Tell the Tale, an example of literary nonfiction, reaches toward the high end of the recommended quantitative dimensions for grades 9-10,its thematic relevance, relationship to García Márquez’s short story “Tuesday Siesta,” and rich qualitative dimensions make it a valuable addition to the unit. A focus on textual evidence in the accompanying Skill Lesson and in the Close Read questions ensures that students challenged by the vocabulary and cultural context in García Márquez’s autobiography will have a path through the selection. Understanding the linguistic and cultural challenges of the text may be difficult for some English learners. Therefore, vocabulary instruction and text summaries will help them with the cultural context and specific words and phrases.”
  • The text complexity analysis in Unit 4 examines three selections toward the end of the unit: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, “Frank McCourt, Whose Irish Childhood Illuminated His Prose, Is Dead at 78,” and “Angela’s Ashes Author Frank McCourt Dies at 78.” The rationale states, “The three texts that focus on McCourt’s life represent a gradual increase of text complexity, intertextual references, and demands on the cultural/literary knowledge of ninth graders. While the quantitative dimensions for the New York Times obituary is higher than those of the other two texts, this article, which focuses on McCourt’s childhood, will draw on familiar experiential knowledge that renders it an appropriate selection for ninth-grade students. To address all three texts’ prior knowledge demands, the Build Background section of the First Read lesson plan in the obituary asks students to work with small groups to use online resources and primary and secondary sources to research McCourt’s childhood during the Great Depression and the socioeconomic conditions in Ireland at the time. Understanding McCourt’s difficult childhood may be challenging for some English learners, so the First Read lesson plan in all three selections is scaffolded with print and audio opportunities for EL students of differing English-language proficiencies. In addition, vocabulary instruction, including Access handouts for EL students, will help them understand unfamiliar words from the texts, while providing them with sentence frames, grammar supports, and opportunities for discussion.”

Indicator 1f

Anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the expectations for the anchor and supporting texts to provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of texts to achieve grade level reading.

Each unit exposes students to high-quality texts that cover a variety of genres, time periods, and cultures with a balance of literary and informational texts. Reading is done independently, as a whole class, aloud, and silently. All of the anchor texts and supporting materials revolve around a central theme and essential question for each unit. Reading materials increase in complexity as the year progresses, and teacher supports are gradually released in order to enable the students to achieve grade-level reading independently.

In the 9th grade curriculum, students read a variety of genres and authors from the classics to modern texts. Students read fiction (short stories and novels), poetry, and non-fiction (essays, articles, autobiographical excerpts, speeches). The authors are drawn from a worldly pool including authors from the United States, South America, Europe, and the United Kingdom. Diverse authors are included within materials.

Examples of students engaging in reading a range of texts include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students begin the first week’s first lesson by reading the Blast background and materials included in several research links. The next day the students participate in the First Read of “Marigolds,” in which they read and annotate the text, and a Skill lesson on Character, during which students read both the definition and model sections associated with the skill. Day three includes the skill lesson on Greek and Latin Affixes and Roots, in which students follow the same process as the previous skill lesson: read both the definition and model sections associated with the skill. Students then complete a Close Read of “Marigolds,” including a detailed reading and annotation of a selection. On the final day, students complete a First Read of To Kill a Mockingbird, in which they pay close attention to comprehension while annotating the text.
  • In Unit 2, over the course of five weeks, students complete a full-text study of The Odyssey and read thirteen other partial texts that are a balance of fiction and informational texts. The texts are all related to the unit title of “Leadership.” Informational texts include Apollo 13, Universal History, The Longitude Prize, Into Thin Air, Down These Mean Streets, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Life of Alexander, and No-Man’s Lands: One Man’s Odyssey Through The Odyssey. Fiction texts include The Iliad, Book of the Dead, Sea Fables Explained, The Odyssey Graphic Novel, and “Ulysses.” Students have opportunities to interact with these texts through whole class read-alouds, individual silent reading, First Reads, and Close Reads.
  • In Unit 3, students complete a First Read and a Close Read of “Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros. Students also complete a skill lesson on informational text elements, and then complete a Close Read of the essay to practice the skills. Students also complete a Blast in which they read information about women and whether or not they have a difficult time pursuing their career and life dreams. In Unit 3, there are two full text studies: Of Mice and Men and The Joy Luck Club. Throughout Unit 3, students read additional texts including “The Necklace,” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, “The Case of Susan B. Anthony,” and “We Choose to Go to the Moon.”
  • In Unit 4, students complete a First Read and a Close Read of “The Raven.” Students also complete two skill lessons, one on poetic structure and one on connotation and denotation, and then complete a Close Read of the poem to practice the skills. Students also complete a Blast in which they read information about the ingenuity of birds. In Unit 4 there is a full text study on The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir.. Throughout Unit 4, students read additional texts, including “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet,” “The Gift of the Magi,” “Frank McCourt, Whose Irish Childhood Illuminated His Prose, Is Dead at 78,” “Angela’s Ashes Author Frank McCourt Dies at 78,” and “Sonnet 73.”

Criterion 1g - 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly. Materials include both text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that help prepare students for each unit’s Extended Writing Task. Each unit provides frequent and varied opportunities for students to engage in whole class, small group, and peer-to-peer discussion that reference the text under study and incorporate the understanding and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. A Speaking and Listening Handbook provides teachers with explicit instructions on teaching and modeling collegial discussions, and strategies and handouts to guide students as they practice and assess evidence-based discussions. Students engage in on-demand writing via Blasts, constructed response questions that accompany the Close Read lesson of each text, as well as in the ELA Assessment PDF that is part of each grade level. The materials provide for a variety of writing tasks across the school year that vary in length and depth, tie to classroom texts and Big Ideas, and represent equally narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. The materials provide students with writing activities that vary in length and purpose in response to a variety of texts. The Grammar and Composition Handbook focuses specifically on grammar and usage, with each chapter focusing on a specific grammar or usage skill. The lessons provide instructions, practice, and review, and the lessons and tasks build in complexity.

Indicator 1g

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).
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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; this may include work with mentor texts as well).

The materials provide a consistent format for students to engage with text-dependent questions and tasks. Questions, tasks, and assignments are evident in each of the unit’s three sections: First Read, Skill, and Close Read. Within the units, each text begins with a First Read in which the teacher is modeling reading and thinking aloud using comprehension text-dependent questions. Then students complete the first read using text dependent questions either individually or in a small group. Then, the teacher completes the Skill lesson using text-dependent questions. Finally, during the Close Read, the teacher models how to do a close read of the text using text-dependent questions that are focused on the skills taught and require students to analyze the text at a deeper level. Text-dependent questions are to be completed verbally or written in the student’s journal. Each unit provides scaffold-approach to text-dependent and text-specific questioning. Students are required to provide support from the text in most of the work they complete within the unit.

The Harvest Gypsies in Unit 1 contains text-dependent questions found in the Student Preview of the Close Read. Under the Read tab, students find Skills Questions. Five questions accompany The Harvest Gypsies. Students encounter text-dependent questions such as the following:

  • “In paragraphs 5-6, Steinbeck writes that when the father and mother saw that their four-year-old boy had eyes that were ‘feverish,’ they gave ‘him the best place in the bed. But one night he went into convulsions and died,” and “[i]t was one step down.’ What does Steinbeck mean by the phrase, ‘one step down”? What comparisons can you make between the first and second families the author describes that explains what he means when he talks about the middle and lower classes of the squatters’ camp, and why this tragic event is ‘one step down’? Support your answer with specific textual evidence.
  • “In addition to the actual horror of physical death, Steinbeck describes the stages a family goes through before reaching the lower class, and compares it to a kind of death. Evaluate his claim that falling from middle-class prosperity and self-sufficiency into poverty is a kind of dying. Highlight evidence from the text that supports this idea.”

In Unit 1 during the Skill lesson of “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, the focus is on Textual Evidence. Within this section, teachers use the following questions to ask students to look for examples of textual evidence:

  • “According to the Model, what is the role of the wall in Frost's poem?”
  • “How does the author describe the wall? What textual evidence helps you understand what kind of wall it is?”
  • “What textual evidence does the Model mention to support the inference that the speaker and his neighbor have met at the wall many times?”
  • “What statement does the Model make about the text as a whole? Do you agree with the Model's interpretation, based on the textual evidence? Why or why not?”

In Unit 3, following the First Read of Mice and Men, students practice using textual evidence. First, they read a definition of textual evidence. Then, they see a model of using textual evidence. In the Your Turn tab, students practice the skill. Students encounter practice questions such as the following:

  • Part A - Which statement best describes George’s feelings about retelling the story?
  1. George is extremely proud that he has taught Lennie to tell the story.
  2. George never gets tired of delighting Lennie with the story.
  3. George is growing impatient with retelling the story and wants Lennie to tell it.
  4. George is as excited as Lennie about the prospect of raising rabbits.
  • Part B - Which evidence from the text best supports your answer?
  1. “No, you. I forget some a’ the things. Tell about how it’s gonna be.”
  2. “O.K. Someday—we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna have a little house and a couple of acres an’ a cow and some pigs and—”
  3. “An’ live off the fatta the lan’,” Lennie shouted. “An’ have rabbits.”
  4. “Whyn’t you do it yourself? You know all of it.”
  • In Unit 3 Dreams and Aspirations from the reading “After Being Convicted of Voting the 1872 Presidential Election,” the close read section includes a writing prompt that asks students to:
    • “Write a persuasive (or argumentative) speech in which you convince your audience that Susan B. Anthony’s argument builds with each paragraph of her speech. Note how her word choice, especially her use of words with strong connotations and her use of technical language, mainly legal terms, contribute to this forward movement of her argument. Quote passages from the text to support your claims. Provide a concluding statement that follows from and supports the argument you present.”

Indicator 1h

Materials contain sets of sequences of text-dependent/ text-specific questions with activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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).

Materials include both text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that help prepare students for each unit’s Extended Writing Task. These culminating tasks integrate writing, speaking, or both. There are questions that prompt thinking, speaking, and writing tasks that focus on the central ideas and key details of the text. Reading and writing (and speaking and listening) are taught as integrated skills. The Extended Writing Tasks ask students to explore the theme and essential question of the unit in more depth as they reconsider what they have learned through analyzing texts, conducting research, and contemplating their own life experiences. Each unit has a different mode of writing so that over the course of the year, students demonstrate proficiency in constructing long-form argumentative, argumentative literary analysis, informative/explanatory, and narrative works. Once submitted, these writing assignments can be adapted and delivered as oral presentations. Examples of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks that build to a culminating task include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the Extended Writing Project focuses on argumentative writing. Students probe this unit’s central question, “How does human compassion inform our understanding of the world?”, as they write an argumentative essay that identifies an individual from the unit who, in the writer’s opinion, best evoked compassion or empathy in an audience to inspire action or change. In the Close Read lesson for “Mending Wall,” students are given the writing prompt: “Why do you think the speaker of the poem helps to repair the wall every year? How do the poet’s descriptions, including figurative language, help express the speaker’s feelings about it? If you were in the speaker’s position, would you help repair the wall each year? Why or why not?” The guiding questions throughout the prompt help the students to analyze and evaluate what the speaker in the poem is talking about in order to write an argumentative response explaining whether or not they think the speaker should help repair the wall. This allows the students to put themselves in the place of the speaker, in other words, live empathy for the speaker’s situation and then support that position with evidence from the text. This is directly leading the student to the final culminating task of the unit.
  • In Unit 2, the Extended Writing Project focuses on literary analysis and addresses the following prompt: “What do the authors of these texts have to say about leadership, and how well do they say it? How does each author present and support his or her claims? Do the authors you have selected agree or disagree about the role of and responsibilities of a leader?” The students must draw upon what they learned about the responsibilities of power throughout the unit to make a claim about leadership and support that claim with reasons and relevant evidence from the cited texts. Tasks throughout the reading help students build to the culminating task. While reading the text History of the Peloponnesian War: Pericles’ Funeral Oration, students respond to the following discussion question and have a conversation around this questions in small groups: “According to Pericles, how does Athens compare to other city-states? What information does he offer to support his comparisons? What inference can you make about Pericles’ motivation for making this comparison? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.”
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project focuses on the narrative form. Students probe the unit’s central question, “How are we affected by the power of love?”, as they write a narrative about real or imagined events about love - sacrificing for love, pursuing love despite differences, longing for unfulfilled love, or mourning the loss of love. In the Extended Writing Project skill lesson, Narrative Techniques and Sequencing, students, either individually or as a class, read the Define section of the lesson. In small groups or as a class, they use these questions to spark discussion with classmates about narrative techniques. One example of a question provided is, “How do you think writers can manipulate a story’s pacing?” This will assist students in writing their own narratives for the culminating task.

Indicator 1i

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols to engage students in speaking and listening activities and discussions (small group, peer-to-peer, whole class) which encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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.

Each unit provides frequent and varied opportunities for students to engage in whole class, small group, and peer-to-peer discussion that reference the text under study and incorporate the understanding and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. A Speaking and Listening Handbook provides teachers with explicit instructions on teaching and modeling collegial discussions, and strategies and handouts to guide students as they practice and assess evidence-based discussions. Checklists and graphic organizers are offered to students to use in preparation for the discussions and rubrics are provided for peers and teachers to assess the academic conversations. Examples of how materials meet the criteria of this indicator include but are not limited to:

  • Teachers are provided with language, structures, protocols, graphic organizers, and clear connections to the CCSS in The Speaking and Listening Handbook. This is found as a link that appears on each grade level under the heading “Additional Resources.” The handbook provides aid for teachers as they support students’ speaking and listening skills. The tool provides videos of model discussions and opportunities for students to practice different discussion skills.
    • In Unit 1, in the First Read of To Kill a Mockingbird, the students will watch the SyncTV video on To Kill a Mockingbird in a whole group setting. Teachers will distribute the Collaborative Discussion Strategies handout, then the teacher will pause the video at key moments to reflect on how the students in the video demonstrate collaborative discussion strategies. For example, at 00:36 “Allison starts the discussion by questioning, “Who would want to kill a mockingbird?” After Spenser reminds them that Atticus said it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, the group makes connections to what they know in order to make sense of Atticus’s comment. What two strategies does this mainly demonstrate?”
    • Teachers are also provided with structures to discuss register with students and a guiding handout that compares the different registers appropriate for different audiences. Students are asked to participate in several sample discussions that will allow them to experience different registers in a non-threatening scenario. An example of this is: “Distribute the Formality of Speech handout. Explain to students that the language they use in any speaking situation depends on their audience and purpose. Some audiences and purposes are formal and demand formal language, or language that follows the conventions of standard English usage. For example, you would use formal language in an interview with a college admissions committee. Other audiences and purposes are informal and allow for informal language. For example, you would use casual expressions, shorter sentences, and maybe even slang when telling your close friends about your college admissions interview” (“Speaking and Listening Handbook” 5). By practicing these registers, students begin to understand the differences in the expectations for their language with different purposes. All of the above activities are supported with handouts that will help students to organize their thinking and self and peer assess.
  • The First Read lesson in each unit provides teachers with opportunities for students to conduct numerous discussions either in small groups, as a whole group, or with a partner. This happens continuously through the process of preparing to read through the first read. Students are given numerous opportunities to explore the ideas and the texts through speaking and listening with their peers and the model discussions provided. An example of this can be found in Unit 3, during the First Read of the Joy Luck Club. Students discuss the questions and inferences they made while reading. They are to refer to Collaborative Discussions in the “Speaking and Listening Handbook” and answer questions like: “Why does the mother choose Shirley Temple as a model for her daughter to follow?”
  • Throughout the skill sections of each lesson, students are provided with at least two or more opportunities to discuss how the skills they are learning can be applied to the text. They either apply it to a discussion around the skill itself, or they apply it to a discussion of how the skill is applied to the model text. In Unit 3, during the Skill: Compare and Contrast lesson of Romeo and Juliet, students apply their understanding of the skill with reasons and evidence in small or whole group discussion. An example of a discussion that focuses on the skill is the following: “After watching the Concept Definition video, have students read the definition of comparing and contrasting. Either in small groups or as a whole class, use these questions to engage students in a discussion about comparing and contrasting.” An example of a whole group discussion that focuses on the modeled text is: “As students read the Model, use these questions to guide their understanding of how to compare and contrast two passages . . . What similarities does the Model identify between Brooke’s version of Romeus and Juliet, and Shakespeare’s…”
  • During the Close Read lesson in each unit and text, students are provided another opportunity for students to use collaborative discussion strategies, and also encourages and models academic vocabulary. “Project these instructions for the peer review onto the board and review them with your class, so they know what they are looking for when they begin to provide their classmates with feedback. [1] Has the writer clearly expressed his or her central claim or argument in the opening sentences? [2] How well did the writer’s choice of figurative language support his or her main idea? [3] Did you agree with the writer’s interpretation of the figurative language? Why or why not? [4] Were you convinced or persuaded by the writer’s argument by the end of the response? Why or why not? [5] What additional suggestions can you offer that would help strengthen the writer’s response to the prompt?”

Indicator 1j

Materials support students' listening and speaking (and discussions) about what they are reading and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

Students are given frequent and varied opportunities to engage in speaking, listening, and presenting activities surrounding their study of texts and the associated reading, writing, and research tasks. The opportunities for speaking, listening, and presenting can be found throughout the unit in the Blasts, First Reads, Skills, and Close Reads.

Speaking and listening are also important aspects of the Research Project students complete in each unit. After sharing and discussing the results of individual members’ research findings, each group plans and then delivers a formal presentation in either the narrative, argumentative, or informative mode using multimedia elements such as videos, graphics, photos, and recordings to reinforce its main ideas.

The Speaking & Listening Handbook is utilized during the Research project by students, who will be required to respond critically and constructively to the work of their peers. This handbook also provides teacher support in the form of lesson plans, handouts, checklists, rubrics, and formative assessments that help them teach and assess the Speaking and Listening standards.

In addition to those, the Extended Writing Project at the end of each unit contains various opportunities for whole group, small group and/or peer to peer discussions throughout the different lessons: Extended Writing Project, lessons that cover the writing process (prewrite, plan, draft, revise, edit, proofread and publish); Skill/Skills, lessons that incorporate elements students will need to include within their project; and Blasts, lessons that have a driving question focused on a technique.

Examples of speaking and listening tasks, relevant follow-up questions, and supports include but are not not limited to:

  • The First Read lesson for each text contains an introduction to the text prior to the First Read. Students are asked to participate in different types of discussion, sometimes small group, sometimes whole group, sometimes peer to peer, in order to help them activate prior knowledge that will best support them in accessing the text being read and analyzed in that particular set of lessons. This changes throughout but always includes a discussion element. An example of this is found in Unit 1, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The teacher is directed to separate students into small groups and ask them to generate a list of “information and previous knowledge the group members may have about how Africans were sold into slavery in America, where and how they worked, how they were treated, and how they responded to their situations.
  • After the first reading in the First Read section of the lesson, students are then asked, again to work in some group arrangement that will require them to verbally process through what they have just read and to pinpoint some specific information that is imperative to understanding the text more deeply. An example of this is found in Unit 3, Of Mice and Men. The teacher lesson plan directs the teacher to discuss students’ responses to the questions from the first readings of this text after practicing the skills of summarizing and annotating the text. Under the heading Discuss, teachers are provided with the following suggestion: “In small groups or pairs, have students discuss the questions they asked and inferences they made while reading. To help facilitate discussions, refer to Collaborative Discussions in the Speaking & Listening Handbook.”
  • During the Skill lesson for each text, students are introduced to a new skill they will practice with the text. There is a video explanation of the skills, a written explanation that supports the video, and a model discussion of a group of students discussing how that skill is applied to the text they are studying. Students are asked to participate in different types of discussion, sometimes small group, sometimes whole group, sometimes peer to peer, in order to Skill: Rhetoric lesson for “Washington’s Farewell Address.” Teachers are directed to separate students into small groups and use the provided questions to facilitate a discussion about rhetoric. Questions such as: “Why do you think rhetoric is such an important part of persuasive writing?” and “What types of rhetoric have been used in other works that you have read this year?”
  • Students then engage in a Close Read of the text being studied. The text offers extensive support for the teacher to model how to apply the skill to the text being read and follow up questions are provided in the lesson plans. Students are offered the opportunity to work in different types of collaborative situations in order to discuss their close read of the text and to delve deeper into their findings. This is seen in the Unit 4 Close Read for The Gift of the Magi.” Teachers are told to use the sample responses to the Skills Focus questions at the bottom of the lesson to discuss the reading and begin identifying the themes using questions like: “Explain how the author uses the first three paragraphs to indicate Della’s feelings about the poverty the couple is experiencing. Highlight evidence from the text and make annotations to explain your choices.” and “In paragraphs 43-45, Jikm realizes that both gifts are now useless. How does Jim’s reaction to the situation support the specific theme of the story? Use inference skills to answer the question. Highlight evidence from the text and make annotations to support your answer.”
  • The Blasts lessons contain short informational passages, research links to deepen content knowledge and a driving question that students respond to in one hundred and forty characters or less. Students discuss the driving question and context in different collaborative situations: large group, small group and/or peer to peer. An example of this is found in Unit 1, “The Harvest Gypsies.” Teachers are instructed to lead a whole class discussion about the title and the driving question for the Blast, “How do writers evoke compassion from their readers?” After students draft their initial responses to the driving question, they are separated into pairs and given questions like the following to discuss: “Can you think of anything you have read that has moved you to tears?” and “How do words such as ‘filth’ and ‘tatters’ convey a more emotional meaning than the word ‘dirty’?”. Then students look at the “Number Crunch” section of the Blast. The teacher breaks them into pairs and has them make predictions about “what they think the number is related to.” After they click on the number, the students discuss in a large group “if they are surprised by the revealed information.”
  • Further opportunities for speaking and listening are also found in the Research Tab within each unit. In Unit 3 of Grade 9, students research the creation and pursuit of goals as the process is portrayed in various mediums, including radio, recordings, photography, film, television, and print. As students research they determine if they want to present their research as an informative or argumentative presentation. Depending on their choice, students are directed to resources from the Speaking and Listening Handbook. As students consider and plan their research, the teacher reviews the Big Idea Blast and Unit Trailer, and leads a large group discussion about the subject of the research in relation to the unit texts with questions like: “What is the most interesting or surprising lesson this unit has taught you about the pursuit of dreams and goals?” and “In the fiction and nonfiction selections you read in this unit, how have elements such as an emphasis on point of view, or the interaction between characters, helped you to understand the importance of the pursuit of dreams and goals?” Once students have reviewed and discussed the subject, they are separated into small groups and are either assigned or self-select a topic. While researching, students are given the opportunity to review and discuss their sources and research in order to amalgamate their information into one presentation.
  • In Unit 1, the Extended Writing Project is Narrative Writing . In the Skill: Organize Narrative Writing lesson, there is a whole class or small group discussion about the organizational structure in narratives with questions such as, “How does the narrator [in the model text] introduce the problem in this story?” and “How can reader’s determine the narrator’s point of view in this story?”. During the Extended Writing Project: Plan lesson, the teacher is instructed to lead a whole class discussion that reviews the characteristics of narrative techniques and sequencing with questions, such as “What should the exposition of a story contain in order to generate the reader’s interest?” and “What is the purpose of a story’s climax?”

Indicator 1k

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing grade-appropriate writing (e.g. grade-appropriate revision and editing) and short, focused projects.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing and short, focused projects. Each unit of study asks student to engage in both on-demand writing and process writing in a variety of forms, including full-length essays, short constructed responses, peer reviews and Blasts.

Students engage in on-demand writing via Blasts, constructed response questions that accompany the Close Read lesson of each text, as well as in the ELA Assessment PDF that is part of each grade level. The Blasts are 140 character writing responses to modern media connections to the literature and themes students are studying. The constructed response questions demonstrate students’ understanding of the reading and language skills and additional experience with the featured mode of writing. Within the ELA Assessment PDF, teachers are provided with multiple on demand writing opportunities that students can complete in correlation with each unit in the year. These assessments include all three modes of writing (explanatory, narrative and argumentative) in a format that mimics the on-demand writing expectations of the state required tests.

Process writing is found in the Extended Writing Project at the end of each unit. Each of the four units covers one of these essential writing forms: narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. These Extended Writing Projects take students through the writing process including the following: prewriting, planning, drafting, revising, and editing/proofreading/publishing. Students explore different aspects of the writing process and are given a variety of writing practice opportunities to hone their skills and enhance their understanding of each unit’s particular writing form.

Examples of on-demand and process writing include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, during the close read of “In the Time of the Butterflies,” students engage in a multi-step constructed response to the following prompt: “Do our memories of past events determine, or have a controlling effect on, our future actions? Write an argumentative essay in which you agree or disagree with the idea of how memories of the past can determine how we act in the future.” Students brainstorm a list of example memories individually or in pairs. Next, the students write using a rubric to guide the process, and once finished, they participate in two peer reviews of each other’s writing.
  • In Unit 1 of the ELA Assessment PDF, students complete an Argumentative Performance Task: “You have been learning about argumentative writing in class. Your school newspaper would like you to write an essay about extreme sports, focusing on mountaineering. Before you begin, you will read two persuasive articles about mountaineering on Mount Everest. After you read these articles, you will answer some questions about them. Briefly scan the articles and the three questions that follow. Then, go back and read the articles carefully to gain the information you will need to answer the questions and write an argumentative essay.”
  • In Unit 3, the Extended Writing Project focuses on informational writing. Students probe the unit’s essential question, “What makes a dream worth pursuing?,” as they write an informational/explanatory essay that looks at the impact of dreams on the lives and relationships of the people and/or characters within the texts they studied in Unit 3. Other lessons on the Extended Writing Prompt include skills lessons on research and note-taking, thesis statements, the organization of informative writing, supporting details, body paragraphs and transitions, and sources and citations. Short constructed responses that accompany all Close Read lessons in the unit help students demonstrate understanding of the writing skills necessary to complete this project. Some examples include, but are not limited to: writing a brief informative/explanatory essay that includes a “clear topic sentence . . . progression of ideas . . . [and] specific textual evidence” after “Sympathy,” explaining why the mother’s dream is worth pursuing after reading The Joy Luck Club, and explaining how the informational text structure of “The Case of Susan B. Anthony” helped express the author’s point of view.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different types/modes/genres of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Writing opportunities incorporate digital resources/multimodal literacy materials where appropriate. Opportunities may include blended writing styles that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing. The materials provide for a variety of writing tasks across the school year that vary in length and depth, tie to classroom texts and Big Ideas, and represent equally narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing.

Students engage in writing activities throughout each unit. Students write short constructed responses as part of each Close Read lesson for each text in the unit. This informal writing allows students to demonstrate understanding of the specific text while practicing the featured type of writing. Students engage in informal writing through the annotations that students create as they closely read the various units in the text.

In addition to these shorter, less formal writing opportunities, each of the four units of study contains an Extended Writing Task that takes place at the end of the unit. These writing prompts are linked to the unit texts; throughout the units, students are given opportunities across the school year to learn, practice, and apply writing types addressed in the standards. StudySync also provides guidance and support from peers and adults to develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. Students are given opportunities to use digital sources for research and presentation. Examples of opportunities to address different text types include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Extended Writing Project, students write an argumentative essay. Students are asked to, “Choose two selections to write an argumentative essay that makes a claim about who in the unit best evokes compassion or empathy in an audience to inspire action or bring about a deeper understanding of the world: a writer of fiction or nonfiction text, a poet, a playwright, a photographer, or a politician?” A rubric is provided to help monitor student progress.
  • In Unit 2, the Extended Writing Project focuses on literary analysis, a form of argumentative writing. Students write an essay in response to the following prompt: “Write a literary analysis of two selections from this unit in which you examine the theme of leadership and the ways in which each author conveys his or her message about the role and responsibilities of a good leader. What do the authors of these texts have to say about leadership, and how well do they say it? How does each author present and support his or her claims? Do the authors you have selected agree or disagree about the role and responsibilities of a leader? Analyze how effectively each text communicates its author’s message.”
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project focuses on narrative writing. Students write a narrative in response to the prompt, “You have been reading and learning about demonstrations of love in different literary genres, as well as the techniques authors use to communicate the experience of feeling and falling in love. Now you will use those techniques to write your own narrative about love—either a short story or a narrative poem about real or imagined events. As a starting point, choose one of the following demonstrations of love explored in Unit 4: sacrificing for love (ex. ‘The Gift of the Magi’), pursuing love despite differences or disapproval (ex.The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story), longing for unfulfilled love (Angela’s Ashes), or mourning the loss of love (‘The Raven,’ ‘Sonnet 73’).”

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support sophisticated analysis, argumentation, and synthesis.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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.

The materials provide students with writing activities that vary in length and purpose in response to a variety of texts. The First Read lesson for each text requires students to complete short answer questions that are text-dependent. The Close Read lessons at the end of each text include an extended writing prompt that requires students to synthesize all of the close reading and skills work that they have done with the text. At the conclusion of each Full-Text Unit, there are two opportunities for long-form writing responses that are connected to an anchor text. One of these is always analytical in nature and requires an argumentative or informative/explanatory response to the whole text. Lastly, the Extended Writing Project requires students to return to the texts they have read over the course of a thematic unit in order to draw evidence from and analyze these mentor texts. Examples of evidence-based writing to support careful, well-defended analyses include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of “Tuesday Siesta,” students are asked a short answer question that will require them to access the text in order to answer the question: “Identify details from paragraphs 1-3 to explain to what social class the mother and daughter belong. Why might the author want us to know about their social class?” The question requires them to go back into specific areas of the text, use details to answer a basic comprehension question, and then apply that information to an analysis question that cannot be directly found in the text, but which builds on discussions had throughout the first read of the text.
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Read of In the Time of Butterflies, students are asked to argue how memories of the past affect future actions: ‘Dede’s memories of the past have left her with a fear of the future because “she doesn’t want to be the only one left to tell . . . [her family’s] story.’ What do you think? Do our memories of past events determine, or have a controlling effect on, our future actions? Write an argumentative essay in which you agree or disagree with the idea of how memories of the past can determine how we act in the future.”
  • In Unit 3, in the Full Text Study of Of Mice and Men, at the conclusion of reading the text, the students read a companion text: John Steinbeck: A Biography. They then complete a compare and contrast essay in response to the prompt: “What other relationships can you find between Steinbeck’s life and his writing, in particular Of Mice and Men? Do further research into a biography or biographical article on John Steinbeck and find other influences of his own life on the characters, setting, events and tone of his novella or other writings. Present your findings in an essay of 200-300 words.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Close Read of “The Raven,” students respond to a prompt asking them to examine the author’s choices and how they contribute to the theme and mood. The prompt states, “Poe claimed to have written “The Raven” very logically and methodically. Write an essay in which you explore the poem’s structure and language, and explain how these elements suggest that Poe was making careful choices in his writing. Use your understanding of poetic structure and connotation, and how both can contribute to a poem’s theme and mood, when answering the question. Support your ideas with evidence from the text.”
  • The Extended Writing Project in Unit 2 requires students to access the texts within the unit by having students write a literary analysis essay. “What role should a leader play? What are the responsibilities of leadership? In this unit, you have been reading texts by or about political leaders and others who hold power in a society. Write a literary analysis of two selections from this unit in which you examine the theme of leadership and the ways in which each author conveys his or her message about the role and responsibilities of a good leader. What do the authors of these texts have to say about leadership, and how well do they say it? How does each author present and support his or her claims? Do the authors you have selected agree or disagree about the role and responsibilities of a leader? Analyze how effectively each text communicates its author’s message.”

Indicator 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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 include a student edition and an annotated teacher edition of the Grammar, Language, and Composition Guide. The guide is separated into two parts: Grammar and Language Workbook and the Grammar and Composition Handbook. The Grammar and Language Workbook offers lessons to provide additional instruction and practice of specific grammar or language needs and can be used by the teacher for whole class, small group, or individual practice depending upon students’ needs. The lessons can be used for pre-teaching or reteaching. The Grammar and Composition Handbook focuses specifically on grammar and usage, with each chapter focusing on a specific grammar or usage skill. The lessons provide instructions, practice, and review, and the lessons and tasks build in complexity.

Grammar and usage instruction and practice is also embedded in each of the units of study. Under the Overview tab, there is a section called Key Grammar Skills which lists all of the in-context grammar lessons contained in each text in the unit and where they can be found. Not only can students practice specific grammar/language convention skills, they have opportunities to apply them in context in both reading (First Read) and in writing (Extended Writing Project).

The teaching of grammar, usage, and mechanics happens throughout the Core Program and is designed to help students develop a complex understanding of language that they can use to enhance their comprehension of texts. The grammar strand is structured around instruction, practice exercises, and student application. After receiving direct instruction and completing a practice handout on the lesson’s grammar, usage, or mechanics concept, students are prompted to analyze the use of this concept in a given text and answer questions about the purpose and effect of the concept. They may also be prompted to practice the skill through short revision tasks. Core concepts are revisited with opportunities for application throughout a grade level. Language instruction is also provided strategically throughout a unit’s Extended Writing Project, which gives students the immediate opportunity to apply grammar, usage, and mechanics concepts to their own writing, by revising their drafts to incorporate the concept and editing their drafts to apply it correctly. Examples of explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards include but are not limited to:

  • The Grade 9 StudySync Grammar and Language Workbook is divided into five parts: grammar, usage, mechanics, vocabulary and spelling and composition. Each part has units that cover specific skills. For example, in Part 1 Grammar, Unit 2 focuses on parts of the sentence and includes four lessons about subjects and predicates: simple, complete, compound and order, and two lessons on complements: direct and indirect objects and subject and object complements. Part 5, Composition, “contains lessons on basic writing skills such as writing effective sentences, building paragraphs, and paragraph ordering, areas some students may benefit from additional instruction as they develop their writing” (StudySync Core Program Overview 6-12. 59)
  • The Grade 9 StudySync Grammar and Composition Handbook is divided into four parts: ready reference, grammar, usage and mechanics, composition, and resources. Each part has chapters that are “targeted to a specific grammar or usage skill. The chapter begins with a pretest, is followed by instruction and practice, then ends with a post test” (StudySync Core Program Overview 6-12 59). For example, in Part 2, Grammar, Usage and Mechanics, Chapter 10 focuses on “Capitalizing” and contains three lessons on capitalizing sentences and quotations, letter parts and outlines, and proper nouns and proper adjectives. Students are given a pretest and told to “rewrite any incorrect sentences, correcting errors in capitalization.” Then the students go through the three lessons practicing the rules for each skill. After the lessons, students take the posttest and has them again “rewrite any incorrect sentences, correcting errors in capitalization” with 25 new sentences.
  • The “Key Grammar Skills” under the Overview tab for Unit 3 show that grammar lessons appear in the First Read lessons of The Joy Luck Club, “Only Daughter” and “Letter to the Editor: Susan B. Anthony, and in the Extended Writing Project lessons Draft, Revise and Publish. The First Read of “Only Daughter” by Sandra Cisneros has students complete a lesson on parallel construction and then has them “read through "Only Daughter," searching for examples of sentences put together with parallel construction.” The Draft lesson in the Extended Writing Project focuses on adjective and adverb phrases and clauses. Students learn about them and then analyze their usage in the student model essay. Then, students reread their own essays and look for a variety of phrases and clauses and that they punctuated them correctly. If needed, students are encouraged to combine phrases and clauses to “create a variety of sentence structures and add interest to their writing.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials are organized around themes and build student’s reading comprehension of complex texts. Most questions are higher order and ask students to engage with the text directly. The materials provided students multiple opportunities, through questions and tasks, to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. Materials include models and protocols for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Materials provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in research activities and present their findings. Students regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class, and an accountability system is provided as an additional support.

Criterion 2a - 2h

30/32

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a topic/topics or themes to build students' knowledge and their ability to comprehend and analyze complex texts proficiently.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that texts are organized around a theme to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The instructional materials are organized around themes and build student’s reading comprehension of complex texts. The curriculum for Grade 9 is organized under a thematic umbrella focused on our humanity and how we affect and are affected by others. The themes of the four units are as follows: “Empathy,” “Leadership,” “Dreams and Aspirations,” and “All for Love.” The texts within the thematic units are mostly aligned, but they do not have a clear connection to one another when comprised as a whole throughout the instructional year. Although most texts are aligned with the essential question, the supports that are provided may not be robust enough to assist all students in making meaning of the essential questions as they consider the texts together. For example, the Unit 4 text sets support the essential question, “How are we affected by the power of love?” with examples such as Romeo and Juliet, “The Gift of the Magi,” and West Side Story. The teacher may need to provide extra support to connect the Frank McCourt selections to the rest of the unit texts.

Each unit provides both fiction and nonfiction selections to build student content knowledge; students are required to read and comprehend the complex texts independently and proficiently. At the beginning of each unit, students consider the Big Idea or essential question of the unit, and when they read and analyze the texts in the unit, they face further questions and discussions about this essential question. The reading, writing, and discussion tasks ultimately lead to a culminating task that requires students to synthesize what they have learned about the texts as they relate to the overarching idea of the unit. Examples of texts centered around themes to build student’s ability to read and comprehend complex texts include but are not limited to:

  • Unit 1 combines several selections to build student knowledge around the theme of “Empathy.” Students explore how compassion informs our understanding of others from a variety of perspectives, as they read fiction, poems, a play, a speech, a song, literary nonfiction and an informational text. Three of the texts in the unit - “Harvest Gypsies,” an excerpt from The Grapes of Wrath, and Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California - illustrate different views of the Great Depression. Students get a look into the struggles of migrant workers.
  • Unit 2 studies the theme of “Leadership.” Students explore the responsibility of power; students read fiction, an epic poem, a graphic novel, a sonnet, novel excerpts and informational texts. The unit begins with the short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger,” which has the students considering the power held by both the king and the princess. Other selections share stories of leaders in history, including two seminal U.S. documents in the 9-10 complexity band, the epic poem The Odyssey, and informational texts about ancient Greece and Pericles. Throughout this unit, students explore how power can be used both positively and negatively.
  • Unit 3 combines several selections to build student knowledge around the theme “Dreams and Aspirations.” Students explore what makes a dream worth pursuing. The unit begins with the short story, “The Necklace,” which showcases the high price for pursuing a materialistic dream. Other selections focus on Susan B. Anthony and her fight for women’s rights. The texts look at different perspectives of the movement: a speech delivered by Anthony, a letter to the editor in defense of Anthony, and the ruling that details Anthony’s conviction.
  • Unit 4’s theme is “All For Love.” Students explore a variety of texts that celebrate the highs and lament the lows of love. The unit begins with the narrative poem, “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet,” which is the primary source material for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Students read the poem first and then move into a study of the play. While reading, students analyze characters and how they are affected by the power of love. Other selections tell more stories of love. These include “The Raven,” an excerpt from Angela’s Ashes, and “The Gift of the Magi.”

Indicator 2b

Materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.

The materials offer students several opportunities to use evidence pulled directly from the text as well as make inferences while reading in order to help make meaning of the of the texts provided. Most discussion questions and tasks cover comprehension, summarizing, clarifying, drawing conclusions, making inferences, evaluating, synthesizing ideas, and analyzing and identifying literary devices. Most questions are higher order and ask students to engage with the text directly. The materials do include a range of text dependent questions and tasks throughout each unit, and questions and tasks cover a wide continuum of standards and strategies. Each text in the unit has a sequence of reading opportunities- guiding students in how they should approach each reading of the text. Approaches to reading individual texts within each unit include, but are not limited to: First Read, Skill, Close Read. The First Read is a reading of the text with very little front loading and is more of a surface read of the text and might include tasks and questions that ask students to make inferences and predictions and/or summarize. The Skill reading focuses on a particular skill to think about while re-engaging with the text. Questions and tasks covered in the Skill sections vary and include, but are not limited to: figurative language, argumentation, rhetorical analyses, and technical language. The Close Read brings the student back to the text and often includes questions and tasks that require students to re-engage with the text deeply- citing textual evidence, synthesizing ideas, and/or analyzing author’s purpose/craft.

In Unit 1, “Empathy” one of the exemplar texts is “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song written by James Weldon Johnson and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson. The following text dependent tasks/questions can be found in the “First Read: Discuss.” In this part of the lesson, students are put into small groups to discuss questions they identified while reading. The following questions are included in the teacher’s edition to help facilitate discussions:

  • “What are the people in this song ‘rejoicing’? How do the lyrics make this clear?”
  • “What do you think is ‘the place for which our fathers sighed’? Why does the song ask whether they have not come there?”
  • What are the subjects asking for in the third verse? Why do you think this is so important to the subjects of the song?

After students discuss the song in small groups or pairs, they move onto the “First Read: Think,” in which they answer short answer questions like the following:

  • “Reread the first section of the song. What do you think the song is celebrating? What is the ‘new day’ the songwriter refers to in this section?"
  • “Reread the second section of the song. Using textual evidence to support your answer, what can you infer about the journey forward from the ‘dark past’?”

In the Skill portion of this lesson, students learn three different skills: determine the tone of song lyrics, making inferences and citing textual evidence to support them, and identifying, analyzing, interpreting and appreciating figurative language in a song and poem. Within this section, a skill is defined; a model of how a text is analyzed for that skill is shown; and, finally, students answer text dependent questions that illustrate their understanding of the skill. A detailed example is explained here from the Skill: Tone lesson. Students are taught in the Identification and Application section how the tone of a song is affected by different things like form or structure, subject and theme, point of view, songwriter’s attitude about the theme, the connotations of words, and the use of sound devices. Then they are asked to read and annotate the Model text by highlighting key points, asking questions, identifying the places where the Model is applying the strategies laid out in the Identification and Application section, noting unfamiliar vocabulary and commenting on the effect that an analysis of tone has on the meaning of the text. After reading the Model text, teachers lead a whole-group discussion using the following questions:

  • “What’s the first step this Model uses to begin looking for the song’s tone?”
  • “What contrast does the Model set up to help you understand why this song’s tone is mostly serious?”
  • “After looking at a song’s poetic structure, what else should help you find the tone of the song?”
  • “Give a brief explanation of what the Model means by connotations, citing examples from the Model and the song.”
  • “According to the Model, how do the final four lines of the first verse shift the tone?”

At the end of the discussion, students are told to answer a multiple choice question which will assess their understanding of the skill. A section of the song is written on the left side of the screen, and the following questions are on the right:

  • “Part A: Which of the following accurately describes the tone of the lines?”
  • “Part B: Which words from the song help you identify the lines with the sad or serious tone?”

During the Close Read portion of the lesson, students are given the opportunity to explore figurative language and tone in greater detail. Students begin by working with vocabulary found in the text. Then, the teacher models how to close read the text using annotation strategies provided. After modeling, the teacher reads over the Skills Focus question, so the students understand what they should pay close attention to while reading. Then students read and annotate the rest of the text; discuss the Skills Focus question in a large group; and, finally, answer a writing prompt. The Skills Focus questions from this lesson, Close Read: The Life Every Voice and Sing, include:

  • “As you reread the text of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ think about the subject of the song. How does the language change over the course of the song, and how does that change impact the tone? Compare the tone of the first verse to the tone of the second verse. Remember that word choice, sound devices, the song’s subject, and the songwriter’s point of view all contribute to the tone. Highlight evidence from the text to support your answer.”
  • “A songwriter can use figurative language to appeal to readers’ and listeners’ senses and create emotional impact. In the second verse, the songwriter writes, ‘Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.’ What kind of figurative language is being used? What does this image mean, and how does it add to the overall meaning of the verse? What other evidence from the text supports the meaning of the verse?”
  • “In the third verse, the writer includes the words Thy, Thou, and Thee for the first time. How would you describe effect of these words on the tone in the final verse? What other words or phrases influence the tone? Highlight textual evidence and annotate to explain your ideas. How does this verse relate to the rest of the song?”
  • “What does the songwriter mean by the phrase, ‘drunk with the wine of the world’ in the third verse? Explain how the phrase is an example of figurative language. What is the songwriter calling on God’s help to avoid? Look at the context of the song lyrics for text evidence to help you explain its meaning. Cite this evidence in your explanation.”
  • “In the second verse, the songwriter writes, ‘Bitter the chast’ning rod.’ Look at the context of the word chast’ning, (a short form of “chastening”) and the use of the word rod. How does the context of the line in which the word appears help you understand its meaning? What does the songwriter mean by a chast’ning rod? How does this choice of words in the song help to develop a reader or listener’s empathy for the people being described?”

The text-dependent writing prompt for this lesson is:

  • “Think about the title of the song 'Lift Every Voice and Sing'by James Weldon Johnson. What is the difference between 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' and, for example, 'Lift Your Voice and Sing?' How does that affect the appeal of the song? How does the writer use figurative language and tone to explore his subject and create meaning? Write a short literary analysis in which you analyze the tone and language of the song and craft an argument about whether they are effective in expressing the songwriter’s meaning. Use what you have learned about finding and citing textual evidence to support your claim and explain your ideas.”

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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 materials provided students multiple opportunities, through questions and tasks, to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts. Each unit contains texts that are represented in more than one format, several texts that explore/represent one theme, and several argumentative prompts that give students the opportunity to state and claim and use evidence from the various texts to support their claim.

The reading, writing, research, and discussion tasks throughout the four units of study require students to complete a thorough, detailed examination of every reading selection. The culminating task for each unit is an Extended Writing Project; the prompts for the informational, argument, and literary analysis writing tasks demand that students cite evidence from multiple texts in the unit. Each unit contains a Research Project that requires that the students put the skills of reading and analyzing texts that they learned throughout the unit into practice. Each unit also contains a Full Text Study which comes with companion texts. This text set becomes the resource for the final activity for the Full Text Study, where students are asked to complete sustained writing tasks in response to prompts that require them to compare and contrast two or more of the texts in the set. Examples of 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 include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students compare and contrast an experience from the short story “Tuesday Siesta” with a real-life event the author describes in his autobiography Living to Tell the Tale. The prompt asks students to “analyze what is emphasized or absent in each account . . . [and] compare and contrast the order of events presented in the autobiography with the order of events presented in the plot structure of the short story.” Before writing, students annotate the text thinking about the following: “which account . . . is better supported by facts; analyze the author’s purpose for writing . . . each account; make connections among the setting, individuals, events, and central ideas.”
  • In Unit 2, in the close read of The Odyssey (A Graphic Novel), students respond to a writing prompt comparing this text to Book XII of Homer’s The Odyssey translated by Butler. The prompt is as follows: “[compare and contrast] this graphic novel segment . . . with the same section from Book XII of Homer’s The Odyssey . . . Analyze the positive or negative features of the graphic novel compared with the Book XII version. Think about such categories as story, character, setting, and tone as you compare and contrast. ” Students need to use evidence from both texts to support their answer.
  • In Unit 3, students are provided with one of the the Full Text Studies Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. In the Teacher’s Edition of the reading guide, each chapter has a section titled, “Comparative Texts.” Different types of texts and media that can be compared in some way with the chapter, whether thematically or topically, are included. For example, for chapter 5, the “Comparative Texts” lists an excerpt from the opening chapter of The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. “Students will compare how Steinbeck and Faulkner use their characters to create a particular tone or perspective.”
  • In Unit 4, students compare and contrast “media to determine how they differ in the delivery of similar (or the same) content” while studying the “Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet”, Act II Scene II of Romeo and Juliet, and a scene from West Side Story - both the script and the movie clip. In the Close Read of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II), students compare and contrast the Shakespeare excerpt with the Arthur Brooke poem. “Summarize the similarities and differences you see in plot, characterization and language - particularly figurative language. Why do you think Shakespeare’s version is considered ‘better’?” Both texts need to be cited within the response. In the Close Read of West Side Story, students are instructed to reread and watch the balcony scene from West Side Story and read Act II, Scene II from Romeo and Juliet. Then, they will “compare and contrast the scenes across each version and each medium.” Students need to cite specific evidence from both texts and the film.

Indicator 2d

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).
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a theme through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

The materials provide questions and tasks that support students’ ability to complete each unit’s Extended Writing Project in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic or theme through a combination of skills; this culminating activity is designed to deepen content knowledge as students return to texts they have already analyzed. The materials achieve this goal by tying the questions that are asked in the Extended Writing Project to the essential questions and theme of the unit. Each unit provides questions that prompt thinking, speaking and writing that focus on the central ideas and key details of the text. Reading and writing (and speaking and listening) are taught as integrated skills. Students are required to read, annotate, argue, discuss, write about, and share their thoughts about each of these texts in multiple ways. Examples of questions and task that support student’s ability to complete culminating tasks include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read fiction, articles, autobiographies, songs, plays, and poetry that feature different human experiences that demonstrate the importance of having compassion for others. The unit’s Extended Writing Project requires students to write an argumentative essay that makes a claim about who in the unit best elicits empathy from an audience. The questions and tasks for each of the texts in the unit support this ultimate goal, such as the following question from the First Read of “Marigolds” found in the Teacher Edition: “How does Lizabeth change as the story develops?”
  • In Unit 2, students study classic works of literature and informational texts as they learn about leaders who used their influence for good and those who abused their power. The culminating task asks students to write a literary analysis essay that requires them to analyze two texts from this unit and examine the theme of leadership. The lesson plan for the Extended Writing provides structured supports to help the students complete this writing. Discussion questions like the following are offered: “What specific things should you consider as you write your essay?” These questions will provide the teacher with information needed to determine the students’ readiness to complete the assignment.
  • In Unit 3, the Extended Writing Project requires students to write an informative/explanatory essay that “analyzes the impact of dreams and aspirations on the lives and relationships of the people and characters in these texts.” The questions and tasks for each of the texts in the unit support this ultimate goal, such as the following question from the First Read of Joy Luck Club: “How are their versions of the American Dream similar and different?”
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project focuses on the narrative form. Students write a narrative about love. In preparation for the culminating writing activity, students practice skills necessary for narrative writing. For example, in the Skill: Introductions lesson, students are given characteristics of introductions and a student model. In small or whole group, students read the model and identify the different components of the introduction. Questions, such as “how does the author reveal the setting?” are included in the Teacher Edition to activate thinking. After reading the model, students are instructed to write the introduction to their narrative, share with a partner and give feedback.

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and build academic vocabulary/ language in context.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic and domain-specific vocabulary words in and across texts.

Language instruction in the StudySync core program provides systematic vocabulary instruction, as well as repeated opportunities for practice and application in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Students will encounter vocabulary-building opportunities in the Vocabulary Workbook, the Academic Vocabulary link on the Unit Overview page, and across all three lesson types: First Reads, Skill lessons, and Close Reads.

Students are also provided with a Vocabulary Workbook. This gives “students additional opportunities to build and expand their vocabulary” (Study Sync Core Program Guide: Grades 6-12 60). There are twelve units; each unit contains three to four lessons; each lesson consists of ten words related by a concept or theme. The lessons are on topics such as using context clues, prefixes, word families, synonyms, Latin roots, suffixes, Greek Roots, reference skills like using a thesaurus, and reading skills like word parts. Lesson structure, practice activities and assessments are included for each unit.

On the Unit Overview page of each unit, there are a list of readings, key skills and Common Core standards which the unit covers. Within this list, is the heading Academic Vocabulary, which contains links to two to three academic vocabulary lessons. Each lesson contains ten words that are related topically. The lesson is separated into three sections: Define, Model, Your Turn. Define lists the words, their form, their meaning and other meanings in a chart. The Model lesson gives students a sample context and then uses the words in sentences. Your Turn has the students complete an assessment that is self-assessed.

In the First Reads, students are exposed to the challenging vocabulary in the text. They are given opportunities to use context clues and analyze word parts in order to understand the meaning of the words, and teachers are encouraged to model these types of strategies. The materials focus on language development by having students use context clues, word placement, and common Greek and Latin affixes and roots to figure out the meaning of words.

The Skill Lessons focus on domain-specific vocabulary, and students are exposed to these vocabulary words through a variety of media. The vocabulary words are explained by other teens through a video, and there is a written explanation and examples for each term below the video.

The Close Read lesson has students look at the precise meaning of the academic vocabulary and compare it with their initial predictions from the First Read. Misunderstood words are reviewed and students discuss why the context clues or other tools did not help them define the word. Students are then to complete the vocabulary worksheet associated with the lesson.

Examples of opportunities for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 10 of the Grade 9 Vocabulary Workbook, there are four lessons: Lesson 35: Using Synonyms, Lesson 36: Using Context Clues, Lesson 37: Prefixes That Tell When, and Lesson 38: Using Reading Skills: Connotation and Denotation. The words in Lesson 35 are all related to the “attitudes and tools we can use to respond to life’s mysteries” ; in Lesson 36, all are related to the emotions and how people react differently to the same situation; in Lesson 37, all words contain the prefixes pre-, post-, or mid-; in Lesson 38 students evaluate whether a word has a positive or negative connotation and why (232-238).
  • On the Unit 2 Overview Page, the Academic Vocabulary heading has three links: Academic Vocabulary Lesson 33, Lesson 34 and Lesson 35. Lesson 33 contains ten words that will “help [students] discuss economic concepts,” like allocate, incentive and subsidy. Students read the definitions on the “Define” page, such as “fee, noun, a fixed charge for a privilege or for professional services.” Then, they read the words in example sentences on the Model page - “A professional such as a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant will charge a fee for providing services.” Finally, they complete three questions in the Your Turn section that can show immediate feedback, like question one that asks students to “drag and drop the visual that matches the sentence and the vocabulary word that correctly completes the sentence.”
  • In the Unit 3 First Read lesson of “The Case of Susan B. Anthony,” students are told to make predictions about the five vocabulary words found in the text based on context clues. The teacher models this skill with the word “ostensibly” by thinking aloud and asking questions - “This is a long, difficult sentence, so it might help to paraphrase it and the two sentences that precede it in the paragraph to better understand the context. The sentence in which the word appears says that the suffragists were "ostensibly" treated as criminals, but that in reality, most of the people who were prosecuting them were ashamed of doing so. What clue does this sentence and the two preceding sentences provide about the treatment of these women?” Students then predict the rest of the words on their own, with a partner or in small groups.
  • The Skill Lesson for the poem, “Sonnet 73,” in Unit 4 includes a Concept Definition video that defines poetic structure terminology - stanzas, line breaks, rhyme schemes, sonnets, villanelles, theme, tone, mood, poetic structure, haiku, limerick, and open form. After the video, there is a small group or whole class discussion about poetic structure with questions like, “What makes a poem a poem?” Students are then taken to the model and asked to look for the following on their own - “comment on the effect the elements of poetic structure have on the text’s meaning.” After an individual analysis, the teacher leads a whole group discussion that helps “students understand how to identify elements of poetic structure. . .”. Finally, students are asked a comprehension question to assess their understanding of the domain specific vocabulary associated with poetic structure - “What aspect of the poetic structure changes significantly in this section?”
  • The Unit 1 Close Read of “Tuesday Siesta” has the teacher “project the vocabulary words and definitions onto the board or provide students with a handout so they can copy the vocabulary into their notebooks . . . [have] students compare the precise meaning of a specific word with their vocabulary predictions from the First Read. Review words defined incorrectly to understand why students were unable to use context clues or other tools to develop usable definitions.” Once this exercise is completed, students complete the vocabulary worksheet attached to the lesson.

Indicator 2f

Materials contain a year long, cohesive plan of writing instruction and practice which support students in building and communicating substantive understanding of topics and texts.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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 supports students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the school year. To achieve this goal, instructional materials include well-designed lesson plans, models, and protocols for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Direct instruction on the writing process builds as the year progresses. Within the unit, students write in response to driving questions in Blasts, comprehension questions in First Reads, and discussion questions in Close Reads. These informal writing opportunities prepare students to write more formally as part of each unit’s Extended Writing Project and Research assignments. For Research, students discuss, plan, research, write, and deliver presentations. In the Extended Writing Project, students complete a writing project in one of the three primary modes of writing with the help of a student model, graphic organizers, rubrics, and extensive scaffolding of writing skills. The students engage in all phases of the writing process. Examples of materials supporting students’ increasing writing skills over the school year include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the Blasts, comprehension questions in First Reads and writing prompts in the Close Reads scaffold throughout the texts as students are asked to complete more advanced understanding of the topics and texts through their writing. To start with, students are introduced to the big idea and theme of the unit. In the case of unit 1, they are asked to examine the emotion of empathy. In the Blast that introduces the unit, they are asked to participate in some research, a discussion, and then write a Blast that they create using 140 characters or fewer answering the following: “How do we develop empathy for others?” The first short story, “Marigolds,” starts with a question in the First Read that requires students to answer a comprehension question that focuses on using details from the text to support the answer: “How do we know that Lizabeth is on the verge of becoming an adult? Refer to several details from the text.” This is the first prompt in a series of short answer prompts that support them in developing a more thorough understanding. The writing prompt for the Close read then builds on this initial writing prompt by asking the following: “In Marigolds, a grown-up Lizabeth tells a story about her adolescence from the perspective of her adult self. Analyze the character of Lizabeth, both as an adolescent and an adult. Which key words and phrases that the author uses best describe Lizabeth’s changing character? How does Lizabeth’s adolescence affect her decisions and actions in the story? Identify specific textual details that shows this. How can we tell that the adult Lizabeth has learned something from this experience? Be sure to use textual evidence in your response.” Taking what has already been asked of the students in regards to knowing that Lizbeth in the story is on the edge of becoming an adult, the essay that they are asked to write has the students analyzing the text through a series of questions to lead the students through the process of the literary analysis it is asking them for. This is a clear scaffold to support students in accessing essay writing at the start of unit one.
  • In Unit 2, the Extended Writing Project focuses on a literary analysis argumentative writing, and instruction focuses on an introduction to this form. The Extended Writing Project provides a Student Model that contains the essential features of the literary analysis essay and offers an example of a structured academic grade-level response to the prompt. The Student Model is used to help students better understand how the elements work together to create an effective literary analysis, to identify and label the seven features of literary analysis writing (clear thesis, clear organizational structure, supporting details/textual evidence, effective transitions, formal style and objective tone, proper citations, and a concluding statement), and to think about how they can apply these ideas to their own writing. Direct instruction is provided on writing thesis statements, organization, supporting details, introduction, body paragraphs and transitions, conclusions, and sources and citations.
  • In Unit 3, the Extended Writing Project is an informative piece. It provides a Student Model that contains the essential features of the informative/explanatory form and offers an example of a structured academic grade-level response to the prompt. The Student Model is used to help students better understand how the elements work together to create an effective essay, to identify and label the eight features of informative writing (clear thesis, clear organizational structure, supporting details from reliable sources, clear and varied transitions, precise language and domain specific vocabulary, formal style and objective tone, citations of sources, and a concluding statement), and to think about how they can apply these ideas to their own writing. Direct instruction is provided on research and note-taking, thesis statements, organization, supporting details, body paragraphs and transitions, and sources and citations.
  • In Unit 4, the Extended Writing Project focuses on narrative writing. Analysis of characters, theme, word choice and tone are key task demands. Since this is the last unit of the school year, these skills are more advanced than simply identifying elements of a narrative, but they build on the knowledge students have gained about narrative writing through the earlier units. For example, lessons focus on story structure in the study of Unit 1’s short story, “Tuesday Siesta,” but advance to story structure and figurative language in the study of Unit 2’s short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?” This illustrates the ample scaffolding as the analysis becomes more sophisticated across the units. The recommended Unit 4 model text for this project, “The Gift of the Magi,” which is also one of this unit’s Common Core Appendix B exemplar texts, emphasizes the analysis of story structure and theme. By the time students have reached the final literary selections in the unit, they will be prepared to address the more complex ideas of theme, tone, word choice and complex characters and begin to incorporate these elements into their own writing.

Indicator 2g

Materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to develop and synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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 of the four units in the Grade 9 materials include multiple opportunities for students to engage in research activities and present their findings. Each unit begins with a Big Idea Blast that gives students their first opportunity to draft a response to the driving question of the unit. The Blast includes multi-media research links that are related to the theme, and as students interact with the research links in the Blasts throughout the unit, they formulate a broader understanding of the theme, the texts in the unit, and the issues that surround them. The First Read of many selections in the unit includes a Build Background activity that asks students to work collaboratively on a small scale research inquiry that complements the text they are reading.

Each unit also includes an extensive, multi-step Research Project that is related to the unit’s theme and is a culmination of the skills that the students have practiced over the course of the unit and the knowledge they have gained. After sharing and discussing the results of individual members’ research findings, each group plans and then delivers a formal presentation in either the narrative, argumentative, or informative mode using multimedia elements such as videos, graphics, photos, and recordings to reinforce its main ideas.

If students are working on a topic that is informative, they present evidence to develop the subject matter. If students are working on a topic that involves presenting an argument in support of a claim, they use evidence that both supports their opinion and answers opposing viewpoints, or counter arguments. The Speaking & Listening Handbook is provided during this phase of the Research project both for speakers and for listeners, who are required to respond critically and constructively to the work of their peers. Each unit provides suggested topics for each research project. Examples of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area include but are not limited to:

  • The Big Idea Blast in Unit 2 has students considering the unit’s essential question, “What are the responsibilities of power?” Included in this are research links that have the students explore different leaders: Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Adolf Hitler and King Leopold II. This research introduces students to the idea that power can be used for both positive and negative gains.
  • An example of Build Background can be found in the First Read of Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II) in Unit 4. The students work in pairs or small groups to “research different aspects of Shakespearean drama.” Each group of pair is assigned a topic from the following: Shakespeare’s biography, the Globe Theater, conventions of Shakespearean drama, categories of Shakespeare’s plays, and modern adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays.
  • The Research Project in Unit 3 has students researching “the creation and pursuit of goals as the process is portrayed in various mediums, including radio, recordings, photography, film, television and print.” There is a suggested list of topics for the small-group research project and provided links are found in the Blasts throughout the unit. This is a multi-step project that includes reviewing and discussing the topic, conducting the research, presenting the research and responding to the presentations.This research can be used as a resource for the Extended Writing Project, which is an informative essay about how dreams can negatively and positively affect people’s lives and relationships.

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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.

The Core Program Overview includes a structured guide titled "Building an Independent Reading Program." This section provides an overview of why independent reading is important, and it gives details on how to set up such a program in the classroom. Teachers are also given a five step plan to implement an independent reading program that provides choice for students to select texts and read independently at home and at school. This includes referring students to the StudySync Library where they can explore other titles in the library that share the same themes as addressed by the units.

Suggestions for accountability include reading logs, notebooks, online reflections, and informal conversations; having students do end-of reading activities such as filling out a Google Form, pitching books, producing movie trailers, writing reviews on GoodReads, designing movie posters, and participating in a book club style chat. Examples of opportunities for students to regularly engage in a volume of independent while being held accountable include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the StudySync Library includes several additional texts related to the theme Empathy. Additional texts include In Our Neighborhood by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, Material Dreams: Southern California Thought the 1920s by Kevin Starr, Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith, Whirligig by Paul Fleishchman, Speak by Laurie Halse-Anderson, A Death in the Family by James Agee, Nobel Peace Price Acceptance Speech by Malala Yousafzai. For each of these texts, there is a mini unit that includes an Overview, an Introduction to the text, Vocabulary found in the text, an excerpt to Read, Think questions to aid comprehension, and Write prompts that require deeper analysis and practice with skills taught in the unit.
  • In Unit 2, the pacing guide offers outside reading selections related to the theme, Leadership, as well as the archetype, Hero’s Journey. “To begin with, students may enjoy the prequel to The Odyssey, Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, also available in Butler’s prose translation on Gutenberg.com. Students can get a taste of Homer’s poetry in Robert Fagles’s poetic translation of both epics. Another exciting ancient classic is the Babylonian/Sumerian poem Gilgamesh, predating The Odyssey by a thousand years. This epic journey of a grieving king may well have influenced Homer’s Odyssey. The theme of the hero’s journey has inspired thousands of books, including a vast number of Young Adult titles. These include Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Ursula K. Leguin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, Christopher Pacini’s Eragon, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, Neil Gaiman’s InterWorld, and Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie, just to name a few” (16). These independently read comparative texts are specifically referenced in the Teacher’s Reading Guide for the full text study of The Odyssey, which is divided into sections covering each Book of the epic poem. At the end of the reading guide are two writing prompts that revisit The Odyssey and reference the comparative texts.
  • In Unit 3, the theme is Dreams and Aspirations. Students are expected to read independently both in school and at home. The Core Program Guide states, “In addition to the time you spend reading in class, it’s important to set clear expectations for independent reading outside of the classroom. Students should read outside of class for a set amount of time each day. As students become stronger readers, the time spent reading outside of class should also increase.” Teachers are encouraged to request parent signatures on a reading log or ask students to keep an ongoing log of their reading in their notebooks or online where they reflect on their reading each week. Questions should be provided to direct student reflections. The Core Program Guide stresses that it is important for a teachers to decide on an amount of time appropriate for independent home reading for their student population, then communicate that expectation clearly to both students and parents.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 are clearly designed and include detailed lesson plans for the teacher, as well as online materials for students. The pacing guide is designed for 50-minute instructional days and divides each unit into forty-five days in order to be able to complete the curriculum in an 180-day school year. Digital features are interactive and simple. In each lesson plan, teachers are provided full explanations and examples of the more advanced literary concepts in the following sections of the Teacher’s Edition section titled, Instructional Path.

The Core Program Guide explains that assessments available in StudySync ELA allow for monitoring student progress, diagnosing possible issues, and measuring student achievement in relation to their understanding of previously-taught skills. In the Core Program Guide, the publisher provides components for a successful independent reading program. Along with the scaffolds that differentiate instruction for English learners in the Access Path, teachers locate differentiation suggestions for beyond grade-level learners that stretch their thinking, adding more opportunities for collaborative and creative engagement.

In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and several features of the program were designed to model the communication style utilized on social media.

Criterion 3a - 3e

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6/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 are clearly designed and include detailed lesson plans for the teacher, as well as online materials for students. The pacing guide is designed for 50-minute instructional days and divides each unit into forty-five days in order to be able to complete the curriculum in an 180-day school year. The materials, through an integrated approach that combines reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting, along with instructional routines that are predictable and easily understandable, provide students with activities and opportunities to practice what they are learning. The materials offer resources that connect the Common Core State Standards to the elements of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Digital features are interactive and simple. The layout is consistent throughout the materials, following the same format depending on the type of activity and assessment the students complete.

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed (i.e., allows for ease of readability and are effectively organized for planning) and take into account effective lesson structure (e.g., introduction and lesson objectives, teacher modelling, student practice, closure) and short-term and long-term pacing.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the expectation that materials take into account effective lesson structure and pacing. While the materials are well-designed, the amount of time taken to complete what is identified as a year's worth of material in Grade 9 would clearly take more days than are allocated.

The materials are clearly designed. Each lesson is designed for a fifty-minute period. The year-long instruction is broken into four units. Each unit is broken into forty-five lessons, totaling 180 days of instruction. Each unit follows a similar structure, and a Full Text Study is provided for each unit. Most lessons begin with a First Read, then a Skill lesson, followed by a Close Reading activity. Each lesson includes detailed lesson plans for the teacher, as well as online materials for students. Each lesson plan has clear guidelines for a core path as well as an access path that may include categories for beginner, approaching, intermediate, and advanced. Units 1 and 3 contain an alternative pacing guide that incorporates core instructional units with English language development lessons.

Each unit also includes a Pacing Guide that helps teachers utilize the resources offered in each StudySync Core ELA and English Learner unit. The pacing guide weaves lessons from every segment of this Core ELA unit: the Instructional Path, Extended Writing Project, Research Project, and Full-Text Study. An additional column helps the teacher align Core ELA unit content with lessons from its companion English Learner unit.

For example, each text begins with the First Read, which emphasizes comprehension and vocabulary. As seen in the Unit 1 First Read of The Jungle, the lesson plan is separated into four sections: introduction, read, SyncTV and Think. The Introduction of the lesson has students watch a short video that provides some background knowledge of Chicago and the immigrant experience. Students then brainstorm in a small group what they know about factory conditions and the immigrant experience. The Read portion of the lesson begins with students reading the text with the purpose of predicting the definition of the five bold vocabulary words. Included in this are directions for how the teacher can model using context clues to define unfamiliar words with a script included, “Look at the structure of the sentence. What part of speech is the word used in the sentence?” Next, students read for comprehension. Again, the teacher models a specific comprehension skill; for The Jungle students will use visualizing. The lesson plan again has a possible script for the teacher, “When I read the first paragraph, I come across the details . . . .” After the modeling, the students read and annotate the text on their own with the focus on comprehension and vocabulary, and then discuss their questions and inferences in a small or large group. The SyncTV segment of the lesson has the class watch the seven minute SyncTV video within the lesson, which shows real teens having a discussion that focuses on comprehension. While watching, the lesson indicates particular points when the teacher should stop and ask questions, like, “2:02 - Chelsea says that in 1906, new arrivals to America were ‘hopeful at first’ because they knew there were jobs there. How does Paige respond to her? How does Spenser challenge Paige’s response.” After this, the teacher moves on to the Think portion of the lesson. Students answer the Think question and complete two peer reviews. Then, the teacher separates the students into heterogeneous small groups and gives them a prompt to discuss. Students are reminded to model their discussion after the model they watched.

The Pacing Guide that is included with each unit states that the pacing of each lesson is based on a 50-minute instructional day. The First Read lesson described above for The Jungle is to take place on Day 8 along with a couple of group presentations of the Research Project. According to this pacing guide, students are to complete multiple group discussions, watch two videos, read The Jungle at least twice, practice a comprehension strategy, answer eight Think questions, and watch two group presentations in 50 minutes. This is not a reasonable amount of time for the expectations of the lesson.

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding. Daily lessons identify daily time that is unreasonable for the average fifty minute block; rather, most lessons would need two or three days to complete. There are some supports for materials to trip the materials, but they are not comprehensive to support teachers easily.

The pacing guide for each unit divides the unit into forty-five days in order to be able to complete the curriculum in an 180-day school year. Instructional days often contain more than a single task. Pacing is based on fifty-minute instructional days, but teachers may need to modify the suggested pacing to fit their scheduling needs. This can be accomplished by selecting ten to twelve of the texts available in each unit. Examples of pacing that allows for maximum student understanding and the ability to complete the content within a regular school year include but are not limited to:

  • A Shortcuts section, which highlights areas where teachers can trim the unit to ensure they cover the most important sections.
  • Suggestions for for shortening a unit include the following: “Replace the Research Project with a Crowdsourcing Activity: Instead of a 9 day research project, you can make the research component of this unit an informal exploration using a crowdsourcing activity, and eliminate repeated media, tone, textual evidence, and/or figurative language skill lessons. Each unit focuses on developing specific skills. Some of these skills are repeated throughout the unit to ensure students have plenty of practice with those skills...if you are in a rush and looking to cut some of the content in a unit, you can eliminate one or two of these skill lessons and feel confident your students will still be exposed to the information they need about story elements or informational text elements.”

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.).
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.)

The materials, through an integrated approach that combines reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting along with instructional routines that are predictable and easily understandable, provide students with activities and opportunities to practice what they are learning.

Unit components offer clear explanations and directions, teacher and student models, and a variety of instructional routines and opportunities to practice and apply skills. Student writing and text annotations can be saved to an electronic binder where students can receive peer and teacher feedback. With more than 40 short, constructed responses over the course of a grade level, the materials provide frequent opportunities for on-demand writing practice.

The teacher’s lesson instructions are clear, and the lessons are detailed. For example, in Unit 2, students study the skill of Point of View while reading 1984. As an introduction to the skill, students are provided with a definition of the skill, both in written form and through an informational video. Next, students dive deeper by observing the application of the skill through further explanation and a model using an annotation tool. As a last step, students have the opportunity to practice what they learned through the Your Turn section. In this section, students read a short passage, analyze the text, and answer two multiple-choice questions.

Indicator 3d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.

The materials offer resources that connect the Common Core State Standards to the elements of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The Scope and Sequence document provides a grid that shows where all of the informational and literature standards are covered within each unit; specifically where they are introduced as practice/application only or instruction along with practice and application. There is information at the bottom of the page that connects the task to the Common Core Standard being addressed every assignment that students complete. Each lesson comes with a detailed lesson plan that outlines the objectives and lists the Common Core Standards addressed in the lesson. Each step of the lesson plan is detailed, and mentions the relevant connections to the CCSS.

All of the sections and handouts in the Speaking and Listening Handbook contain references to the Common Core State Standards being addressed, as well. For example, in Unit 1, in the First Read of The Grapes of Wrath, students answer Think questions that are aligned to Common Core State Standards. For example, students answer the following question: “Why does the man not use more money from his pouch to get more food that the family wants or needs? Use textual evidence to support your answer.” This question aligns to CCSS.RL.9-10.1. In the Close Read of “Tuesday Siesta,” students are asked to answer the following writing prompt: “Think about the way that Gabriel García Márquez chose to structure the text of “Tuesday Siesta.” Consider how he developed the plot by presenting a sequence of events, manipulating time with a flashback, and creating effects such as drama, tension, and surprise. Now it’s your turn to structure a text. Write a personal narrative about an event in your life when you met someone from another culture and learned something surprising or interesting about that culture. What was the situation? Who was involved? What was the setting or background? Remember that your personal narrative should be told from the I or we point of view since you are telling about a true event from your life. Be sure to include a strong introduction, and sequence your events in time order. Include dialogue and descriptive details. Tell what you learned from this cultural experience and how you could apply it to your life. What message about culture would you like to leave with your readers?” This prompt aligns to RI.9-10.1, RI.9-10.3, RI.9-10.4; W.9-10.5, W.9-10.9.B.

Indicator 3e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.

Digital features are interactive and simple. The layout is consistent throughout the materials, following the same format depending on the type of activity and assessment the students complete. There is space for the students to record their answers. The font, media size, and type are easy to read. There is blank space on each page, and margins are of adequate size. The graphic organizers and handouts provided for students are easy to navigate.

The First Read of each text shows the title of the story with a small visual. Underneath, tabs to access additional information for each phase of the assignment, Intro, Read, and Think, are available. Some texts have another tab for StudySync TV. Each activity has an associated symbol that can be found throughout the materials. The font size, titles, and media are easy to see and read. There is sufficient space for the students to write their short answer responses to the text questions.

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.
8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and ancillary materials. In each lesson plan, teachers are provided full explanations and examples of the more advanced literary concepts in the following sections of the Teacher’s Edition section entitled, Instructional Path. The materials meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. The materials provide a document in the Core Program Guide entitled, Research-Based Alignments. The document provides a summary of key research findings and recommendations for best practices of instruction in English Language Arts, focused on Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, Media and Technology. Educators are encouraged to provide parents with a general overview of StudySync, as well as send home the Student User Guide, Grade Level Overview documents to familiarize caregivers with StudySync, and individual student reports.

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.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.

Detailed lesson plans are provided for each text within the units. Access Paths, Blasts, First Reads, Close Reads, and Skill Lessons are provided along with detailed instructions, activities, and answer keys for each task suggested in the lesson plans. Embedded technology includes Tech Infusions, which are extension activities that incorporate technology such as Padlet, Diigo, PollEverywhere, etc. Another technological feature is Blast activities. This feature allows students to participate in a classroom version of social media, beginning with a driving question and a shared reading of background on a topics. Students then response to the driving question in a public forum. They participate in a poll, and review live research links to learn more about the Blast’s topic. Blast responses go live in real time, providing an opportunity for students to give each other feedback, select favorite responses, and reflect on the driving question again in response to ideas shared by their peers. Examples include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the Skill Lesson: Textual Evidence for “Mending Wall,” teachers are given the following detailed instructions in the lesson plan: After watching the Concept Definition video, have students read the definition of textual evidence.Either in small groups or as a whole class, use these questions to engage students in a discussion about textual evidence. When would you need to use textual evidence? How do you think textual evidence might be different in poetry or literature than it would be for informational text? What is the purpose of citing textual evidence when writing or talking about the inferences you have made about a text? How would you describe the role background knowledge plays in making inferences from textual evidence? Can you think of any examples?”
  • In Unit 2, in the First Read of The Lady, or the Tiger?, the teacher is provided with the following embedded Tech Infusion activity: “Build Background. Explain to students that the arena described in the story resembles the arenas that existed in several ancient cities. In pairs or small groups, ask students to use devices or a print encyclopedia to research different aspects of arenas in ancient cultures. Assign each group a topic to investigate. Remind students to include relevant facts, definitions, and concrete details in their research: Roman Coliseum, munera, venatio, and Gladiators. Have students present their findings to the class, integrating multimedia and visual displays into their presentations.”
  • In Unit 3, in the First Read of “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” the teacher is provided with the following embedded Tech Infusion activity: Build Background. In pairs or small groups, ask students to use diverse media to research the tension between the Soviet Union and the United States in 1962, when President Kennedy gave his speech. Assign each group one of these topics to investigate: The Bay of Pigs Invasion, The Cuban missile crisis, and The Space Race. Have each group conduct short research projects to explore one of these topics, drawing on several online and print research sources. Encourage students to generate additional questions related to the topics that allow for additional, multiple avenues of exploration.”
  • In Unit 4, the Skill Lesson: Poetic Structure for “The Raven,” the teacher is provided with guided questions for a classroom discussion: “Either in small groups or as a whole class, use these questions to engage students in a discussion about poetic structure. Explain how meaning connects with form and structure. Can this also be true of prose? What other questions might readers ask while reading poetry? How much thought do you think poets put into the structure they will use when writing a poem? If you were going to write a poem, what would you choose first--the subject matter or the form/structure?”

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that 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.

In each lesson plan, teachers are provided full explanations and examples of the more advanced literary concepts in the following sections of the Teacher’s Edition section titled, Instructional Path. The Access to Complex Text section includes information to access the complex text by providing actual literary concepts and examples found in the featured text. The Overview section provides a summary of the text, and identifies the literary concepts included in the featured text. Answer Keys are provided with all activities, along with Access to Complex Text features for each text. This assists the teacher is scaffolding instruction for the students, so that they all may access the complex text. A Teacher’s Glossary is included in each unit which includes linguistic, grammatical, comprehension, and literary terms. Examples of explanations and examples include but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, in the First Read of "The Harvest Gypsies,” the teacher is provided with the following information in the lesson plan to help students access complex text: “To help students understand Steinbeck's observations, use the following ideas to provide scaffolded instruction for a close reading of the more complex features of this text: Organization - The excerpt is structured as an investigative report. Steinbeck begins by focusing on the outward, physical details of the migrant camp before examining the lives of the people who live there. In addition, he compares the circumstances of two families of migrant workers. The first family, despite its many hardships, is still considered to be among the "middle class of the squatters' camp." He makes clear that things could be worse for this family, as he goes on to describe the circumstances of the family next door. Sentence Structure - The sentences are complex and include objective, reporter-like attention to detail that conveys the families' desperate situations. Specific Vocabulary - The author's word choice will challenge some readers who may need support for terms such as convulsions and baling wire.
  • In Unit 2, in the Close Read of Four Freedoms Address, the teacher is provided with the following information in the lesson plan to help students access complex text: “The excerpt from Four Freedoms Address is the last third of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's eighth State of the Union address, given in January 1941, and broadcast across the nation by radio. In the speech, Roosevelt lays out his reasons that the United States should become involved with the European countries that were battling Nazi aggression during World War II. Roosevelt makes the case that tyranny anywhere is a threat to freedom everywhere, and he asks Congress for the funding and authority to support the Allies. He calls on Americans to sacrifice to defend the four essential human freedoms--freedom of speech and expression, freedom to worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. “
  • In Unit 3, in the Grade 9 ELA Overview, the teacher is provided with the following information to help students access complex text in Of Mice and Men. For example, teachers are given the following context: “Students unfamiliar with the Great Depression and the lives of migrant farm workers may be challenged by the historical and social contexts of the story. Provide students with opportunities to gather background information before reading.”
  • In Unit 4, in the Grade 9 ELA Overview, the teacher is provided with the following context to help students access the complex text, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet: “Students may not know the specific details that lead to this tragic ending. They may also need more background knowledge about customs in 14th-century Italy, where the story is set.”

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.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.

StudySync’s Program Overview states, “The core program was built from the ground up to fully align with the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. The program’s instruction targets requirements of these standards.” The program offers a variety of high-quality texts. The selections presented in each unit and grade offer a balance of literary and informational texts. These texts offer complex themes and ideas as well as compelling characters and language. Alignment is evident in the Scope and Sequence. In this chart, texts are listed in order by unit. For each text, the materials identify which standards are being practiced and which ones are being taught and practiced. This is indicated by an “o” and an “x” respectively. At a glance, teachers can tell which Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language standards are being addressed by each text.

Indicator 3i

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research based strategies.

The materials provide a document in the Core Program Guide entitled, Research-Based Alignments. In this document, the publisher provides an overview of the research upon which the instruction in StudySync was built. The document provides a summary of key research findings and recommendations for best practices of instruction in English Language Arts, focused on Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, Language, Media and Technology. The document summarizes key research findings and research-based recommendations related to effective reading instruction from several key sources. Some of the key sources are as follows:

  • Reading Next-A Vision for Action and Research in Middle and High School Literacy: A Report to Carnegie Corporation of New York 2nd Edition (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Written in conjunction with staff from the Alliance for Excellent Education, this document describes 15 key elements of effective adolescent literacy programs. Designed to improve adolescent achievement in middle and high schools, the elements are subdivided into instructional improvements and infrastructural improvements.
  • Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices: A Practice Guide (Kamil, Borman, Dole, Kral, Salinger, & Torgesen, 2008). This report provides clear and evidence-based recommendations for enhancing literacy skills in the upper elementary, middle, and secondary levels. An analysis of the quality of the evidence supporting each claim is provided.
  • Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension (2002). This review of the research on reading comprehension instruction was conducted by the Reading Study Group for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Research and Improvement.
  • Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading. A Report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (Graham & Herbert, 2010). This document provides a meta-analysis of research on the effects of specific types of writing interventions found to enhance students’ reading skills.
  • Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools. A Report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (Graham & Perin, 2007). This report provides a review of research-based techniques designed to enhance the writing skills of students in grades 4-12. Additionally, specific findings have been incorporated from other recent, reputable related research.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that 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.

Educators are encouraged to provide parents with a general overview of StudySync: the philosophy behind the program, the types of assignments and assessments students will complete, skills they will learn, the expectations for students using a digital program, and how caregivers can support students at home. Teachers may choose to conduct a StudySync curriculum night to introduce parents to the program, as well as send home the Student User Guide and Grade Level Overview documents to familiarize caregivers with StudySync. In order to view and analyze their child’s progress, parents should receive individual student reports. These printable reports contain every StudySync assignment given and completed by the student, including student’s responses, average review scores from peers, and specific feedback and scores from teachers. Student reports can inform teachers and caregivers areas in which students need additional support.

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. The Teacher Introduction portion of the Core ELA Assessments document describes the assessments’ key areas of focus. At the culmination of each unit, students are assessed on key instructional concepts and their ability to write to prompts. The information that these assessments reveal informs future instruction, leveling and grouping, and the need for remediation and/or reteaching. The Core Program Guide explains that assessments available in StudySync ELA allow for monitoring student progress, diagnosing possible issues, and measuring student achievement in relation to their understanding of previously-taught skills. In the Core Program Guide, the publisher provides components for a successful independent reading program; instructions to utilize the StudySync library; suggestions on taking a trip to the library; methods to set up time to read, reflect, and discuss; ways to stay organized using a reading log and Google forms; and ideas for students to share their independent reading books with others.

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

The materials contain formative and summative assessments that can be used to measure student progress. There is a placement test that can be given at the beginning of the unit. Each unit has a summative assessment that tests comprehension, skills, vocabulary, and writing. Teachers use the responses in the First Read, the Skills lessons, Close Reads, Blasts, and Extended Writing Projects to conduct ongoing formative assessments. These formative assessments contain a variety of assessment types including multiple choice, short answer, discussion, and extended response. Formative assessments are found throughout the unit, and the End of Unit summative assessments are found in the Core ELA Assessment materials.

The materials provide Placement and Diagnostic Assessments, which are typically given at the beginning of the school year. These assessments focus on fluency and spelling, including an upper-level spelling inventory. The materials also provide oral reading and maze fluency assessments.

In the final portion of a Skills lesson, students respond to two short questions about a different passage of text from the First Read. These assessments provide teachers with immediate feedback on student performance, and the program contains guidance to teachers on how to alter instruction based on that performance.

Throughout each unit, students are assessed on their understanding of key instructional content along with their ability to write to sources. The results of these summative assessments provide teachers with data to track year-long progress and inform instructional decisions.

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

Formative assessments are built into each unit through Blasts, First Reads, Close Reads, and Skills Activities. Each formative assessment includes notations of the standards that are being addressed. The Teacher Introduction portion of the Core ELA Assessments document describes each assessment's key areas of focus. The answer key at the end of each downloadable paper copy of the assessments provides item-specific information such as content focus/skill, Common Core State Standard, and Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level. The online version of the assessments offers the same metadata for each item along with tech-enhanced item functionality.

For example, in Unit 1, in the First Read of Lift Every Voice and Sing, students answer the following questions: “Reread the first section of the song. What do you think the song is celebrating? What is the ‘new day’ the songwriter refers to in this section? Cite text evidence to support your inference” and “The word ‘chastening’ comes from the Latin root castus, meaning ‘pure.’ Use this knowledge of the root, along with context clues, to determine the meaning of the word chastening as it is used in the selection. Write your definition of chastening here and explain how you got it.” These questions serve as a summative assessment and support teachers to identify mastery of RL.9-10.1 and L.9-10.4.AL.9-10.4.B.

Indicator 3l.ii

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow up.

At the culmination of each unit, students are assessed on key instructional concepts and their ability to write to prompts. The information that these assessments reveal informs the teacher about grouping, future instruction, and the need for remediation and/or reteaching. End-of-unit assessments also generate reports for students and parents on strengths, deficiencies, standard and skill proficiency levels, and across-unit growth. End-of-year assessments also indicate students' readiness for state testing.

The Core ELA Assessments component is an integral part of the complete assessment program aligned with StudySync Core ELA instruction and the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The component contains four Unit Assessments, an End-of-Year Assessment, an End-of-Year Performance Task Assessment, scoring rubrics, and charts that point to possible instructional modifications based on student assessment results. The Core ELA Assessments report on the outcome of student learning.

As students complete each unit of the reading program, they will be assessed on their understanding of key instructional content and their ability to write to source texts/stimuli. The results serve as a summative assessment by providing a status of current achievement in relation to student progress through the CCSS-aligned curriculum. The results of the assessments can be used to inform subsequent instruction, aid in making leveling and grouping decisions, and point toward areas in need of reteaching or remediation. Student performance in the end-of-year assessments can act as a signal of student readiness for the demands of high-stakes testing, as well as provide a snapshot of student progress toward end-of-year goals.

The goal of each assessment is to evaluate student mastery of previously-taught material. The expectation is for students to score 80% or higher on the assessment as a whole. Within this score, the expectation is for students to score 75% or higher on each section of the assessment (and 7+ on the PT full-write).

Indicator 3m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.

The StudySync materials provide for ongoing review, practice, and feedback. The Core Program Guide explains that assessments available in StudySync ELA allow for monitoring student progress, diagnosing possible issues, and measuring student achievement in relation to their understanding of previously taught skills. Assessments included within the program help teachers gather data to address students’ instructional needs. They also measure the critical components of reading. Assessment options are grounded in research. Each unit has a Research and an Extended Writing Project, which include routines and guidelines that help teachers monitor student progress in writing. Routines and guidance include but are not limited to:

  • Placement and diagnostic assessments to support decision-making about appropriate instructional levels for students. The assessments serve as a baseline and help teachers to monitor student progress throughout the school year.
  • Each Unit provides teachers with lesson plans that “point teachers toward minute-to-minute formative assessment opportunities.” First Reads, Skills, Close Reads, and Extended Writing Projects offer “medium cycle assessment opportunities for students and teachers to chart progress toward key learning outcomes. End of unit assessments and performance tasks test key skills and measure progress summatively.”
  • Each chapter of the Language and Composition Handbook focuses on a specific grammar or usage skill. Each chapter begins with a pretest, followed by instruction and practice, and ends with a post test.

Indicator 3n

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.

In the Core Program Guide, the publishers offer a general plan for an independent reading program. In this section, the publisher provides components for a successful independent reading program: instructions to utilize the StudySync library, suggestions on taking a trip to the library, methods to set up time to read, reflect, and discuss, how to stay organized using a reading log and Google forms, and ideas for students to share their independent reading books with others. In each Unit’s pacing guide, a Suggestions for Further and Independent Reading section is provided to offer suggestions for texts related to the Core ELA program texts by theme, author, setting, etc. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, the Core Program Guide suggests that “The Full-text Unit for The Odyssey includes excerpts from books o ering a variety of unique perspectives on Homer’s epic tale. Students can compare the prose or poetic Odyssey with Gareth Hinds’s complete graphic novel retelling. The Longitude Prize, by Joan Dash, chronicles the e orts of seagoing navigators in the early 18th century to nd an east-west global reckoning that would help sailors avoid the hazards that Poseidon had thrown their way since Odysseus’ time. Into Thin Air is Jon Krakauer’s eyewitness account of mountain climbers attempting a risky ascent of Mt. Everest, in a modern, terrestrial counterpart to the god-angering exploits of Odysseus and his men. Another modern perspective on The Odyssey may be found in No-Man’s Lands: One Man’s Odyssey Through The Odyssey , Scott Huler’s nonfiction memoir of retracing Odysseus’ journey from Troy to Ithaca. Students up to a reading challenge may relish Joseph Campbell’s wide-ranging analysis of the hero’s journey in The Hero of A Thousand Faces.”
  • In Unit 3, the Core Program Guide suggests that “Readings outside the Full-text Unit present a variety of options for students to continue reading about the unit’s theme of Dreams and Aspirations. Autobiographies and biographies of famous “dreamers” abound: The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World, or I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban just to name a few. Similarly, the unit’s central question, “What makes a dream worth pursuing?” can be explored in a variety of novels: Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline tells the story of Wade Watts, who dreams of discovering a clue in a huge virtual world that will make him a billionaire. The Princess Bride by William Goldman tells the story of Buttercup and Westley, a poor farm who beats pirates, an evil prince, and the Fire Swamp in his quest to get the girl. Finally, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars proves to its audience that some dreams are worth pursuing, even when battling cancer.”

Criterion 3o - 3v

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies to meet the needs of range of learners so content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding grade-level standards. The materials provide access supports for the reading of texts such as Audio Options, Audio Text Highlight Tool, Audio Speed controls, Video Content with Closed Captioning, Text Enlargement, and Keyboarding. The materials provide supports for students who are full English language learners, and they provide supports for students who are learning Standard English. Along with the scaffolds that differentiate instruction for English learners in the Access Path, teachers locate differentiation suggestions for beyond grade-level learners that stretch their thinking, adding more opportunities for collaborative and creative engagement. Throughout each instructional unit, students are encouraged to learn in groups.

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.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies to meet the needs of range of learners so content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding grade-level standards.

Throughout each instructional Unit, differentiated lessons are provided for teachers to use. This Access Path provides differentiated lessons classified as emerging, intermediate, advanced, and approaching. The lesson plans include a column of suggestions to help teachers adequately differentiate the lesson. Student grouping is suggested in many lessons. Differentiated worksheets are provided. ELL students may be provided with additional sentence frames while receiving access to the same materials.

Each lesson includes a full set of Access Handouts. Access Handouts are differentiated through the use of sentence frames, graphic organizers, glossaries, and many other activities. Access handouts provide students with support to complete core assignments alongside their on-grade level classmates.

Teachers can create multiple online classes and custom learning groups. This allows teachers to assign texts and the weekly Blast based on Lexile levels. Teacher can customize the directions and requirements for entire classes, smaller groups, or individual students. Teachers can “modify prompts, turn on audio readings, and extend due dates” to help students meet learning goals.

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that 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.

Students read grade-level texts through the support of teacher modeling and scaffolded instruction. Students work as individuals, in small groups, and as a whole class. Student Models are provided via multimedia introductions. These show students how to interact with the text. Reading skills are supported by explicit grammar and vocabulary instruction. The instructional materials include ways teachers can adapt instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners.

For each Unit, teachers may choose the Core unit or EL Unit. The EL Unit includes materials and assessments for beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. All lessons contain a Core Path and an Access Path for teachers along with Access handouts for students to support instruction in the Access Path. The program provides instructional materials that may be used for pre-teaching, reteaching, remediation, and small group instruction. Documents include the following: Grammar, Language, and Composition Workbook, Vocabulary Workbook, Spelling Workbook, Standard English Learners Handbook, and Foundational Skills.

The materials provide supports for reading texts, such as Audio Options, Audio Text Highlight Tool, Audio Speed controls, Video Content with Closed Captioning, Text Enlargement, and Keyboarding. The materials include supports for English language learners and for students learning Standard English, with tools such as Contrastive Analysis Drills, Translative Drills, and Discrimination Drills.

Indicator 3q

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.

There are activities specific to students reading beyond grade level in the Access path for each unit. These activities aim to guide high ability students further into the core path content should they complete the activity before other students. Along with scaffolds that differentiate instruction for English learners in the access path, suggestions are provided that stretch learners' thinking. For example, students may have additional opportunities for collaborative and creative engagement. Core path questions support the use of reading comprehension strategies, inference techniques, and the application of textual evidence. The beyond-level activity may, for example, ask students to brainstorm how two characters might talk their way out of trouble. Technology may also be leveraged to support these students.

For example, in Unit 3, the Access Path’s Beyond section for "Only Daughter" offers students a Search the Literature. Advanced students are asked to work in pairs or small groups and “find an example of parallel structure in the text.

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

Throughout each instructional unit, students are encouraged to learn in groups. Students participate in collaborative conversations about texts, and receive instruction in whole group, small group, and one-on-one settings. Students also watch StudySyncTV group discussions, which serve as models,

Throughout every instructional unit, the lesson plans include a column with suggestions for the teacher to differentiate the lesson. Differentiated worksheets are included. Grouping suggestions are provided in many lesson plans. ELL students may utilize additional sentence frames and still receive access to the same materials. Examples of scaffolds and differentiation include:

  • In the Close Reads for each text, students express their ideas in collaborative conversation groups before planning and writing a short constructed response.
  • The Access Path guides teachers to leverage technology tools, such as Closed Captioning and Audio Text Highlight to engage and instruct learners. Additionally, the Access Path guides provide suggestions for alternating between whole group, small group, and one-on-one instruction.
  • At each grade level, the Speaking and Listening handbook is divided into four sections: Collaborative Discussions, Critical Listening, Research Using Various Media, and Presentation Skills. Each section is comprised of a comprehension lesson plan, including student handouts, checklists, and rubrics. Each section contains formative assessments that can be used and repeated for the following activities: engaging in small or large-group discussions, listening critically and responding to information and ideas shared by others, conducting research and assembling findings, and presenting in the narrative, informative, and argumentative modes using multimedia elements.

Indicator 3s

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (ie., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The StudySync materials are accessible online and can be printed for student use. Teachers can log in to StudySync from any computer with Internet access. The program is compatible with multiple Internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome. The program is well-adapted to the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The materials include a “complete and comprehensive cross-curricular English Language Arts literacy curriculum in an easy-to-use digital format.” StudySync uses technology to create a digital learning environment that is available from any desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

Indicator 3s3v

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers, “platform neutral,” follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals. StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and several features of the program were designed to model the communication style utilized on social media.

Indicator 3t

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

In addition to being delivered entirely online, many components of the program provide multimedia experiences to promote increased engagement for students. Teachers may customize the learning experience of students based on their needs. They do this by customizing texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site.

Texts include digital tools, such as annotation and audio tools. This enhances the reading process and makes it more accessible for students. Each Unit contains video and audio features to support text accessibility and comprehension. StudySyncTV and SkillsTV videos provide models of students engaged in collaborative discussion. Students may integrate multimedia components into presentations.

Within Blast activities, students complete social-media style activities, such as writing a 140-character response to a guiding question or participating in a digital poll. Students may view and interact with the results from their blasts and their classmates’ blasts along with poll participation.

In First Reads, students have access to technology tools that allow them to digitally annotate text. Digital annotations are saved in each student’s reading and writing binders. Students have access to audio recordings of text for additional support with fluency and in building phonological awareness.

Indicator 3u

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Indicator 3u.i

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers can adapt learning experiences for students based on individual needs.

  • Teachers use technology to scaffold assignments based on students’ interests and reading abilities. They may assign one of four digital Access Handouts depending on a student’s ability. Teachers can also customize the directions, expectations, and due dates for a whole class, a small group, or an individual student.
  • Teachers have access to a library of content, texts, and excerpts. This allows teachers to target specific skills and choose texts based on Lexile levels.
  • The materials include audio, closed captioning, and vocabulary support for students.

Indicator 3u.ii

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials can be easily customized for local use.

Materials can be easily customized for local use. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. The Core Program Guide states that every lesson contains resources and guidance for teachers to both scaffold instruction for three levels of English learners and approaching grade-level learners, and enrich and extend activities for beyond grade-level learners. Every lesson plan is divided into two parts: the Core Path, for core instruction and for scaffolded instruction, the Access Path.

Assignments can be customized. Teachers choose which Access Handout to include, add teacher notes or directions, decide whether or not to include audio, limit the number of Think questions, and select a suggested writing prompt or include their own. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals.

For example, in Unit 3, the Pacing Guide states, “The pacing guide presents a suggested plan to cover all content in this unit. You may cover all of these lessons in class, or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Of course, no one understands your students’ needs like you do, and one of the key benefits of StudySync is the ease with which you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize lessons to best meet the needs of your students. The Shortcuts and Additional Activities section at the end of this pacing guide contains recommendations to help in that regard. The pacing guide presents a suggested plan to cover all content in this unit. You may cover all of these lessons in class, or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Of course, no one understands your students’ needs like you do, and one of the key benefits of StudySync is the ease with which you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize lessons to best meet the needs of your students. The Shortcuts and Additional Activities section at the end of this pacing guide contains recommendations to help in that regard.”

Indicator 3v

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that 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.)

StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. Teachers have the option to print materials. To ensure student are engaged in learning, “several features of the program were designed to mimic the style of communication on social media.” Students complete Think questions, Skills Focus questions, and writing prompts online; this allows for peer review where students are encouraged to provide and receive feedback. For example:

  • In Unit 3, in the Blast for “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” students brainstorm what they know about NASA documents and “draft their initial responses to the Driving Question: What is the most important text feature in NASA's astronaut training manual? Why?”
  • In Unit 4, in the Blast for West Side Story, students think about some dating constraints in modern-day society and “write a breakup letter in which the author explains the dating constraints that are making the relationship impossible.”

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers, “platform neutral,” follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. In addition to being delivered entirely online, teachers can customize texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site based on classroom and individual students’ needs. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals. StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, and several features of the program were designed to model the communication style utilized on social media.

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. This qualifies as substitution and augmentation as defined by the SAMR model. Materials can be easily integrated into existing learning management systems.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (eg. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (ie., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The StudySync materials are accessible online and can be printed for student use. Teachers can log in to StudySync from any computer with Internet access. The program is compatible with multiple Internet browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Safari, and Google Chrome. The program is well-adapted to the use of tablets and mobile devices.

The materials include a “complete and comprehensive cross-curricular English Language Arts literacy curriculum in an easy-to-use digital format.” StudySync uses technology to create a digital learning environment that is available from any desktop, tablet, or mobile device.

Indicator 3t

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate and providing opportunities for modification and redefinition as defined by the SAMR model.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

In addition to being delivered entirely online, many components of the program provide multimedia experiences to promote increased engagement for students. Teachers may customize the learning experience of students based on their needs. They do this by customizing texts, lessons, and activities directly through the site.

Texts include digital tools, such as annotation and audio tools. This enhances the reading process and makes it more accessible for students. Each Unit contains video and audio features to support text accessibility and comprehension. StudySyncTV and SkillsTV videos provide models of students engaged in collaborative discussion. Students may integrate multimedia components into presentations.

Within Blast activities, students complete social-media style activities, such as writing a 140-character response to a guiding question or participating in a digital poll. Students may view and interact with the results from their blasts and their classmates’ blasts along with poll participation.

In First Reads, students have access to technology tools that allow them to digitally annotate text. Digital annotations are saved in each student’s reading and writing binders. Students have access to audio recordings of text for additional support with fluency and in building phonological awareness.

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
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

The materials reviewed for Grade 9 include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers can adapt learning experiences for students based on individual needs.

  • Teachers use technology to scaffold assignments based on students’ interests and reading abilities. They may assign one of four digital Access Handouts depending on a student’s ability. Teachers can also customize the directions, expectations, and due dates for a whole class, a small group, or an individual student.
  • Teachers have access to a library of content, texts, and excerpts. This allows teachers to target specific skills and choose texts based on Lexile levels.
  • The materials include audio, closed captioning, and vocabulary support for students.

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized by schools, systems, and states for local use.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials can be easily customized for local use.

Materials can be easily customized for local use. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. The Core Program Guide states that every lesson contains resources and guidance for teachers to both scaffold instruction for three levels of English learners and approaching grade-level learners, and enrich and extend activities for beyond grade-level learners. Every lesson plan is divided into two parts: the Core Path, for core instruction and for scaffolded instruction, the Access Path.

Assignments can be customized. Teachers choose which Access Handout to include, add teacher notes or directions, decide whether or not to include audio, limit the number of Think questions, and select a suggested writing prompt or include their own. This digital customization of assignments allows teachers to customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals.

For example, in Unit 3, the Pacing Guide states, “The pacing guide presents a suggested plan to cover all content in this unit. You may cover all of these lessons in class, or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Of course, no one understands your students’ needs like you do, and one of the key benefits of StudySync is the ease with which you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize lessons to best meet the needs of your students. The Shortcuts and Additional Activities section at the end of this pacing guide contains recommendations to help in that regard. The pacing guide presents a suggested plan to cover all content in this unit. You may cover all of these lessons in class, or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Of course, no one understands your students’ needs like you do, and one of the key benefits of StudySync is the ease with which you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize lessons to best meet the needs of your students. The Shortcuts and Additional Activities section at the end of this pacing guide contains recommendations to help in that regard.”

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
+
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that 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.)

StudySync digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. Teachers have the option to print materials. To ensure student are engaged in learning, “several features of the program were designed to mimic the style of communication on social media.” Students complete Think questions, Skills Focus questions, and writing prompts online; this allows for peer review where students are encouraged to provide and receive feedback. For example:

  • In Unit 3, in the Blast for “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” students brainstorm what they know about NASA documents and “draft their initial responses to the Driving Question: What is the most important text feature in NASA's astronaut training manual? Why?”
  • In Unit 4, in the Blast for West Side Story, students think about some dating constraints in modern-day society and “write a breakup letter in which the author explains the dating constraints that are making the relationship impossible.”

Additional Publication Details

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

Report Edition: 2017

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 1-year 978-0-0767-8473-8 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-0767-8474-5 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 2-years 978-0-0790-0308-9 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 3-years 978-0-0790-0311-9 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 4 years 978-0-0790-0314-0 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 5-years 978-0-0790-0316-4 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 6-years 978-0-0790-0319-5 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 7-years 978-0-0790-0321-8 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12 Student Subscription, 8-years 978-0-0790-0324-9 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 2-years 978-0-0790-0385-0 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 3-years 978-0-0790-0388-1 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 4-years 978-0-0790-0390-4 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 5-years 978-0-0790-0393-5 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 6-years 978-0-0790-0395-9 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 7-years 978-0-0790-0398-0 McGraw-Hill Education 2017
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 8-years 978-0-0790-0401-7 McGraw-Hill Education 2017

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

The publisher has not submitted a response.

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

ELA HS 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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