Alignment to College and Career Ready Standards: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for alignment and usability in all grades. Lessons and tasks are centered around high-quality texts. Texts provided with the materials are at the appropriate grade level text complexity, and are accompanied by quality tasks aligned to the standards of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language in service to grow literacy skills. Materials build knowledge and skills through integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language. The instructional materials meet expectations for use and design, teacher planning, learning of the standards for students and professional learning support for teachers. Standards-aligned assessment, differentiated instruction, and support for learners are accounted for within the materials. Suggestions for technology use are present. Overall, the 6-8 materials attend to alignment to the standards and to structural supports and usability.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
35
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

|

Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
30
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

+
-
Gateway One Details

Texts are of quality, rigorous, and at the right text complexity for grade level, student, and task, and are therefore worthy of the student’s time and attention. A range of tasks and questions and task develop reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills that are applied in authentic tasks. Questions and tasks are text-dependent and engage students in rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing.

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.
20/20
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations for core texts (anchor) being of publishable quality and worthy of careful reading that considers the range of students’ interests. Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards and include texts that have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. The instructional materials reviewed meet the expectations that materials support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. Texts are accompanied by a text-complexity analysis and rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level. Anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade-level reading. Texts address diverse cultures, differing historical periods as well as other content areas such as the sciences.

Indicator 1a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations for core (anchor) texts being of publishable quality and worthy of careful reading and considers the range of students’ interests. Many of the core (anchor) texts have won awards or are written by award-winning authors. Core and anchor texts include a variety of genres and consider a range of students’ interests including, but not limited to, planets, astronomy, science fiction, fantasy, social studies (including government, civil rights, and historical events). Texts are rich in language, engaging, and relevant. Furthermore, texts present universal and multiple multicultural themes which integrate other content areas.

The following are texts that represent how these materials meet the expectations for this indicator:

  • In Unit 1, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson Kadir Nelson tells the story of Negro League baseball from its beginnings in the 1920s through the decline after Jackie Robinson crossed over to the majors in 1947. The text contains dozens of full-color oil paintings that show rich in emotion and new perspectives of lost heroes of our national game. Kadir Nelson is a two-time Caldecott Honor Award recipient, received the 2014 Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award.
  • In Unit 2, The Planet Gods by Dr. Jacqueline Mitton and Christina Balit is a book filled with myths and facts about the solar system. Told in the voice of the planets, the text is highly engaging and descriptive. Students will build knowledge about the solar system with this text that integrates Science in an interesting way. Interstellar Pig by William Sleator is a science fiction novel that is highly engaging for readers. This book is an ALA Notable Book, a SLJ Best Book of the Year, and a Junior Literary Guild Selection. Don’t Know Much About Space is an illustrated guide built with pop quizzes throughout to check for understanding as well as hands on how to activities to engage the reader.
  • In Unit 3, Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson. This text was both a Morris Award Finalist and an ALA Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults. This text is the first in a Trilogy and will be both of high interest and topics to which Grade 7 students can relate. In addition, this unit includes the text Warriors, Into the Wild, by Erin Hunter, a fantasy novel that students will find engaging.
  • In Unit 4, America in the Time of Martin Luther King Jr. by Sally Senzell Isaacs is a text that uses reconstruction illustrations and photographs along with clear text to be of high interest and engaging to students. This text due to the historical time period it covers, 1948-1976, presents history with primary source photos, maps, captions and allows students to utilize informational text features to develop their understanding of the time period.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards. Each unit in Grade 7 provides students the opportunity to engage in core texts and read-alouds as well as leveled readers, independent reading, supplemental texts. The materials contain 8 baskets of leveled readers and a basket of Hook Books that are intended to engage even reluctant readers. Materials also provide thematic text sets centered around science and social studies themes as well as literary text sets aligned to material topics. These text sets, organized as baskets, are designed to accompany units in the form of research labs.

Anchor texts and supplemental texts include a mix of informational and literary texts reflecting the distribution of text types required by the standards. A wide distribution of genres and text types as required by standards are evident, including, but not limited to, realistic fiction, fantasy, science fiction, and nonfiction (both science and social studies informational text).

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

  • In Unit 1, students read the text, Heat (novel) by Mike Lupica.
  • In Unit 2, students read the text, Interstellar Pig (science fiction novel) by William Sleator.
  • In Unit 3, students read the texts, Warriors Into the Wild (fantasy) by Erin Hunter and The Girl of Fire and Thorns (fantasy) by Rae Carson.
  • In Unit 4, students read the texts, Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues (historical fiction) by Harriette Gillem Robinet and Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez (poetry) by Rudolfo Anaya.

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

  • In Unit 1, students read the text, We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball (informational) by Kadir Nelson.
  • In Unit 2, students read the texts, Our Mysterious Universe (nonfiction) by Laura Langston and Beyond the Solar System: Exploring Galaxies, Black Holes, Alien Planets, and More (informational) by Mary Kay Carson.
  • In Unit 3, students read the text, Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (short essays from writers with advice/ activities to practice writing).
  • In Unit 4, students read a collection of autobiographies in Freedom’s Children by Ellen S. Levine and All the People, Since 1945 (informational) by Joy Hakim.

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.

ARC is designed with flexibility so that consumers can choose and interchange multiple texts sets based on the topics and levels desired. Accompanying task and resource materials are not text-specific so that they apply across multiple text sets and grade bands. The instructional year for ARC begins with a literacy lab that is intended to capture readers' attention with engaging text. The ARC text sets are designed so that students will have access to numerous texts at all reading levels that are read in small and whole group as well as independently. The philosophy of the publishers is self-directed learning and reading through literacy and research labs.

Quantitative and qualitative information for anchor texts is provided in the Teacher’s Edition or online in SchoolPace, and the numerous text sets that accompany each unit are leveled according to the publishers framework--IRLA. The publishers state: “The Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) is a unified standards-based framework for student assessment, text leveling, and curriculum and instruction. The IRLA includes every Common Core Standard for Reading, both in literature and informational text, as well as those Language standards key to reading success, for students in grades PreK through 12.”

Examples of text that are of the appropriate level of complexity for the grade level include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, Space, students read, Our Mysterious Universe by Laura Langston which has a quantitative Lexile measure of 980. There are sophisticated graphics in this text that acts as independent sources of information. Students also read texts such as: Beyond the Solar System: Exploring Galazies, Black Holes, Alien Planets, and More by Mary Kay Carson (IRLA 7th - 8th), The Planet Gods: Myths and Facts about the Solar System by Jacqueline Mitton (IRLA 7th - 8th), and Don’t Know Much About Space by Kenneth C. Davis (IRLA 9th-10th).Students spend each week working on tasks directly connected to the texts they read. Research questions are used to scaffold student research on an astronomical object while providing the content for their final project.
  • In Unit 4, Civil Rights, specific components of the quantitative (lexile) and qualitative measures for the core text in the Civil Rights Unit, America in the Time of Martin Luther King, Jr. are outlined. The text includes a quantitative measure of Lexile 810 and is considered in the Grades 4-5 band. The qualitative analysis places this text at the 8th grade level because it has a very complex purpose and structure. The text is organized topically. However, the overall organization of topics is not chronological, with various timelines (the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and timelines related to social issues and events of the period) that overlap and intersect, adding to complexity of the text. The language is moderately to very complex. Simple sentence construction is seen throughout. However, frequent use of academic vocabulary (i.e. “they hurtled towards the moon”, “the belly of it bulges out toward us”, “terrifying pictures… stirred up feelings”) combined with the density of domain specific vocabulary adds to the complexity of the text.There are very complex knowledge demands. The text requires a breadth of domain-specific knowledge from the reader (Civil Rights, Government, US Geography, World Geography) as it describes from multiple angles life in the United States during this period.Students spend each week working on tasks directly connected to the texts they read. Research questions are used to scaffold student research on a national Civil Rights Era figure while providing the content for their final project. Students also read multiple anchor texts during this unit that include but are not limited to:
    • Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez by Rudolfo Anaya - (IRLA 9th-10th)
    • Freedom’s Children by Ellen Levine (IRLA 7th-8th)
    • Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues by Harriette Gillem Robinet (IRLA 7th-8th)

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials support students’ increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band).

ARC provides students with access to leveled texts which address a range of science, social studies, history, and literary topics across all grade bands. Rigor of text is appropriate in aggregate over the course of the school year and students will engage with texts at varying levels from unit to unit.

The Publisher Notes explain that the leveled libraries provided with each unit will increase in complexity throughout the school year. The Field Guide explains that students work independently in these libraries; however, teacher guidance supports them to continue to raise their reading levels. Students have access to multiple texts that measure below, at, or above grade level. Scaffolding is not text-specific, but focuses on the skills needed to access texts in that genre (informational text, fantasy novels, argument essays, etc).

The Field Guide (Teacher Manual) directs the teacher to “...read and discuss at least two related grade-level texts, one literature and one informational (texts may be drawn from a school/district’s existing texts and/or those supplied with this unit).” While grade-level texts are recommended there is limited guidance to help schools or teachers choose grade-level texts, apart from the IRLA (Independent Reading Level Assessment Framework) system that accompanies the program.

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 7 meet the expectation that anchor and series of connected texts are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level. The American Reading Company (ARC) utilizes their IRLA (Independent Reading Level Assessment) System, drawing on the three measures of text complexity, to level texts. The publisher states, “To determine reading level, every book is double-blind, hand-leveled using the three legs of text complexity and located on our developmental taxonomy of reading acquisition. Books in every collection wear a brightly colored sticker identifying their placement within the IRLA's color-coded leveling system.” Each book has a sticker as to how it was leveled by the IRLA’s System.

For example, Unit 1: Literacy Lab, the core texts is, We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball- Kadir Nelson. The text analysis includes:

  • Quantitative Measure: 900 Lexile (6th-8th)
  • Qualitative: Purpose/Structure: Moderately Complex. Purpose is explicitly stated. Organization contains largely explicit connections between ideas. The beautiful images are not necessary to understand the text.Language: Very Complex Register is for the most part contemporary, yet is written in the voice of someone living in an earlier time, which raises its complexity. The language does contain examples of figurative, ironic, and subject-specific language.Knowledge Demands: Very Complex Text requires moderate levels of discipline-specific content knowledge (baseball jargon) and historical background knowledge surrounding American history pre-Civil Rights Era.
  • Rationale for Purpose and Placement:“Although a nonfiction piece, the author chose to recount the key figures and moments surrounding the Negro Leagues as if he were an actual player writing a memoir, which may offer a level of literary complexity not found in a traditional informational text.”

Additional texts to accompany the core texts are to be chosen from the Thematic Leveled Research Library in order for students to research their individual topics. These texts have stickers that reflect the IRLA system’s level.

Indicator 1f

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

Instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations of anchor and supporting texts to provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade-level reading.

Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities for students to engage in reading a variety of texts to become independent readers at their grade level. Texts address diverse cultures, differing historical periods as well as other content areas such as the sciences. Within each unit of study, a variety of books are offered at different levels, as indicated by the company’s IRLA leveling system. Reading Log Sheets are provided within units to support the continuation of Independent Reading (divided by Fiction and Nonfiction to keep students reading a variety of types of books). Students are given choice on what book to read, what subtopic to research, what topic to write about, which position to support. Research Lab Baskets: The books are organized by reading difficulty. The basket color and the matching stickers show you where each book belongs. The baskets are arranged from least complex to most complex. Students select 3–5 books from a variety of levels.

Instructional materials also identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in a volume of reading as they grow toward independence.

  • The 100 book challenge is a clear indicator/opportunity for students to engage in a volume of reading.
  • The ARC Literacy Lab Overview and Unit is focused on getting students engaged in reading and getting them in the habit of reading independently.
  • Reading Log Sheets are provided within the other units to support the continuation of Independent Reading and the amount of reading they are actually doing.

Materials include a mechanism for teachers and/or students to monitor progress toward grade level independence.

  • Teachers are given explicit direction and guidance in Unit 1 toward determining student’s IRLA for teachers to monitor progress toward grade-level independence. If utilized, this will help students choose “just right” books and progress to achieve grade-level reading experiences.
  • Reading Log Sheets are provided within the other units to support the continuation of Independent Reading (divided by Fiction and Nonfiction to keep students reading a variety of types of books) which helps them monitor their progress with what they are reading.
  • Students complete tasks and teachers check on a daily basis for understanding and completion of task. The guide suggests asking these two questions:
    • What else do students need to learn from this text in order to master this concept?
    • Is there a common misunderstanding to address?

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
15/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet expectations 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). Materials contain sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and activities that build to a culminating task that integrates skills to demonstrate understanding. Materials meet the expectations of materials providing multiple opportunities for students to practice their speaking and listening skills in concert with their practice in reading for understanding. Students are provided multiple opportunities to work with partners to have evidence-based discussion across the year and support is provided for students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading (or read aloud) and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and supports. Materials include a mix of on-demand and process, grade-appropriate writing (e.g., grade-appropriate revision and editing) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate. Most of the curriculum embeds a variety of writing types throughout the school year that includes a mix of both on-demand and process writing and provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing (year long) that reflect the distribution required by the standards. The program addresses evidence-based and evidence-supported writing in every unit. The materials for Grade 7 partially meet the expectations that materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions/language standards for the grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Indicator 1g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet expectations 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). Materials for the literacy and research labs provide graphic organizers and instructional support tasks for students to engage with text as well as collect textual evidence that builds toward a research topic or literary theme. The general format reading questions (Research Questions), graphic organizers. and instructional tasks are designed to be used across multiple thematic units and across grade levels.

Example text dependent questions include:

  • Support conclusions with evidence from text: See how many claims you can make about this book that you can support with evidence.
  • What did the author say? Why did s/he say it? How did s/he say it?
  • Which parts of the book so far drew your interest? Why? Which parts weren’t interesting? Why?

Additional texts within the unit have questions that are text specific to a genre of text. For example, after a student/teacher has chosen a text of a specific genre, students are to answer the following questions:

  • Who wrote the text? What is his/her purpose? How is s/he qualified to write about this topic? Is it related to his/her personal identity? Is it related to his/her field of expertise? How do you know? How could we find out?
  • Is it completely true/ factual? How do we know? Who else thinks it’s true/factual besides the author? How could we confirm? What else is presented as fact?
  • What words do you notice that explicitly signal an opinion (e.g., I believe, They think)? What words do you notice that implicitly signal an opinion/judgment (e.g., dirty, best)?
  • Based on what you know, what information is missing? Whose perspectives are missing? Do you think these exclusions were intentional or unintentional? What makes you think that?

Indicator 1h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials contain sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and activities that build to a culminating task that integrates skills to demonstrate understanding. Questions and tasks are organized for students to gather details or practice skills needed for the culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding. Culminating tasks require students to gather details or information using research questions and graphic organizers to write a story or report instead of utilizing specific texts.

The reading for each unit works to extend students’ knowledge of topics. The culminating tasks are research projects which require students to gather information.

Examples include:

  • In Unit 1, students read and discuss multiple texts and use knowledge gained to write both a narrative and argument essay process writing.
  • In Unit 2, There are text dependent questions in this unit that build to a task requiring students to become an expert on a topic of Space. Students are to select a topic related to space or product to research and be able to describe it by responding to the following questions:
    • Describe the physical nature of this object. Compare each measurement to something familiar. Draw the object to scale. Label the key physical characteristics. Compare the object to something familiar.
    • Draw a diagram of your object’s place in space. Label your diagram.
    • What energy or forces are associated with this object and what effect do they have on earth or other objects in the universe?
    • How is this object studied?
    • Create a timeline depicting key events in the study of this object.
    • What movies or science fiction stories have included the object and why?
    • Write a science fiction story using your object.
    • The United States should spend government money on further research into ______________ because: Write a letter to NASA telling them why we should spend government money on further research into this object.
    • At the end of this unit, the final culminating task is for students to draft, revise, edit, and illustrate an informational book.
  • In Unit 3, a novel study uses mini lessons and shared/close reading of grade level novels to teach literature standards and literary analysis. Students read from a leveled library of both books in this genre and informational texts related to the genre.Teacher materials include a genre card with list of questions. Students are directed to read as many fantasies as possible and use the guide to discuss the stories and the cultures that created them. Students write a comparative essay on themes in the genre. Then the culminating task is for students to create their own fantasy.
  • In Unit 4, student become an expert on one country in Africa and publish a final project to show their knowledge. Students focus on the geography, historical timelines, ecosystems, ethnic groups, culture, economy, government, and current issues of the country.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations of materials providing multiple opportunities for students to practice their speaking and listening skills in concert with their practice in reading for understanding. Students are provided multiple opportunities to work with partners to have evidence-based discussion across the year

The Literacy Lab Overview for Unit 1 indicates Speaking and Listening Standards are integrated across all four Units of Study. Page 14 of the Literacy Lab Overview for Unit 1 indicates Speaking and Listening Standards 1, 2 and 3 are integrated across all four units of study and page 15 of Literacy Lab Overview indicates Speaking and Listening Standards 4, 5, and 6 are integrated across all four units of study.

Supporting the ongoing integration of Speaking and Listening Standards, on page 50 of the Literacy Lab Overview is a 20-35 minutes daily Read/Write/Discuss Complex Text component. During this time there are options for a whole group, grade-level shared reading/writing or students can work in small groups/pairs to practice applying the day’s focus to the shared text or to writing.

Providing students opportunities to have evidence-based discussions is found on page 112 of the Literacy Lab Overview in Unit 1. The Accountable Talk section guides the teacher to have students share which books hooked them, which did not and why, using text evidence to support their opinions. During the Partner Share component, teachers are asked to model the partner share routine they expect students to participate in every day and to spend extra time establishing this routine. Teachers are guided to give explicit direction on how students can share appropriately (e.g., turn to face your partner, one person speaks at a time, active listening, etc.). Next, teachers are provided with a protocol for students to use when working with a partner.

On page 39 of the Unit 2 Space Unit, students are assigned a partner to work with for this unit and are encouraged to partner share their prior knowledge about the topic. Definitions of accountable talk and evidence-based discussion are provided in the materials. For this lesson, teachers are guided to teach/model the partner share routine expected for students to participate in every day and to spend extra time establishing this. The Teacher’s Guide states, “No matter how old your students are, explicit direction on how to share appropriately (e.g., turn to face your partner, one person speaks at a time, active listening, etc.) is important.” Teachers are guided to explain to students that “every day, you will talk with your peers about what you are reading, writing, and thinking.” The lesson for this day proceeds with a partner share and group share activity and a rubric is provided for reflection and accountability.

Sharing out with peers, presentation of work, and culminating projects at the end of each unit is prevalent in this curriculum. For example, at the conclusion of the Space Unit, teachers are guided to give students options for presentation/sharing. They may choose to share their expertise with research questions with their partners or create a living history/science museum and invite the community. In peer reviews, students ask to read each other’s stories, sign their names to a list of readers, and contribute one or two positive comments about the book. For evaluation/reflection teachers are guided to have students reflect on their own writing and score it using the Final Project Scoring Rubric and to think about their goals for the next project.

Page 50 of the Unit 3 Fantasy Unit provides tips for conversations such as, Conversational Moves: Our conversation should deepen and extend our thinking about the topic.

  • "I agree/disagree with ___ because..." "I think the author is trying to..."
  • "I infer that ___ because..."
  • "I noticed that..."
  • "I can connect/relate to that because..."
  • "I'd like to go back to what ___ said about..." "I wonder..."
  • "Do you think that..."
  • "The lesson we can learn is..."
  • "I was confused when..."
  • "I predict that..."
  • "The main idea might be..."

During Weeks 4 and 5 of the Civil Rights Era Unit, students begin to have mini-debates that support the argument focus of the unit. Then, in Week 6, their accountable talk shifts toward questions around their writing decisions:

  • What will be the focus of your essay?
  • What claim will you make?
  • What gap did you find in your research?
  • Sharing progress on their argument.
  • The final culminating suggestion for this unit is a formal debate in which students demonstrate their ability to present their expertise through oral argument.

Indicator 1j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading (or read-aloud) and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and supports. Students have multiple opportunities over the school year to demonstrate through speaking and listening what they are reading (or read aloud) and researching through text-dependent discussions in each unit. Students regularly engage with the teacher during a Read Aloud (listening) and with the teacher and peers in whole group discussions around the Read Aloud text.

Opportunities to talk and ask questions of peers and teachers about research, strategies, and ideas are present throughout the year. At the end of each unit, students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their learning through speaking and listening. Teachers are provided with a menu of suggestions that the teacher or students may choose from. Most lessons in the units provide opportunities for the teacher to pose questions and guide class discussion and opportunities for students to share with peers.

In Unit 2, students engage in a 1-minute partner share to share the day’s focus. Then students will engage in a Group Share/Debate answering the questions, “Who learned something important about this Research Question? or Who found new information or a new perspective related to the issue/controversy we’ve discussed?” Other aspects of speaking and listening found within this unit include, but are not limited to:

  • In Week 1, on Day 1, a 5 point response rubric will be used daily to guide students through their discussion of their reading, writing, and thinking.
  • In Week 1, on Day 2, the 5 point response rubric will be used to guide the students to share their most interesting example of bias identified in their book.
  • In Week 2, on Day 4, after completing Research Question #2 students share the central idea, supporting ideas, and key supporting details for each supporting ideas of one example of a text.
  • In Week 4, on Day 2, a 6 point response rubric will be used to guide students’ writing to answer the prompt. What is a central idea of this text? How does the author use supporting details to develop this central idea? Student pairs share their responses and give feedback based on the rubric.

In Unit 3, Week 1, on Day 3, students share through answering several questions to describe characters in the text and generalize about characters in the genre.Sample discussion points include:

  • Have we been introduced to a protagonist and an antagonist?
  • What other character types have we met so far?
  • What is each of these characters like?
  • What can you learn about each of these characters through his/her thoughts? Actions?

Indicator 1k

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials include a mix of on-demand and process, grade-appropriate writing (e.g., grade-appropriate revision and editing) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate. Most of the curriculum embeds a variety of writing types throughout the school year that includes a mix of both on-demand and process writing. The final writing/project in each unit is one that is taken through the phases of the writing process (drafting, revising, editing, and publishing).

Writing is a daily occurrence in the Unit 1 Literacy Lab. On the first day, students establish the purposes for writing. “For the next four weeks, you will write every day and share some part of what you’ve written with a partner. You will write fiction and nonfiction about yourself and about other things.” Students also Write to Task/Prompt Goal such as, “Across the next two weeks, students write on a variety of prompts while they practice using the new vocabulary they are learning in their writing. Each day, choose 1-3 prompts that relate to the reading work in some interesting way. The teacher’s guide directs the teacher to select Argument and Narrative prompts each week so that by the end of the unit students have several pieces in each mode from which to select ones they would like to publish.

In Unit 2, students keep a “writer’s notebook.” For example, on page 50 in the Genre Unit study in the teacher’s guides, the teacher is reminded to tell students to, “Stop periodically to remind them to write down what they are thinking, feeling, and wondering (and share with their partners when appropriate).” Then, immediately following, students are asked to share their writing with their peer and discuss it. The next day students move to a more formal style of writing as they respond to a prompt. For example, on page 52 students have to respond to this prompt, “What about the setting will be most important to this book? Why? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.” Finally, at the end of each week in a genre unit, students write a constructed response. On page 75, students are asked to respond to this prompt: What is the most defining literary element in __(genre)__? Why? Use evidence from multiple texts to support your answer. The process from week one repeats for the first four weeks in the genre unit.

In Unit 3, the unit begins with students picking a research question from a card. Students research by working over the next six weeks to answer research questions. Once the research is established and started for this unit, students, much like the argument writing unit, respond to shorter questions in writing. Students then compile all of the constructed responses in order to write a final essay.

In Unit 4 students learn history content as they learn to make and evaluate proficient arguments. Students respond to weekly constructed responses. Students complete a research essay on a self-selected topic, choose something controversial, and support their position. Students begin writing their argument essay based on the 5 weeks of research and shorter writing

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing (year long) that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Materials are organized around four units of study. There is a major emphasis on writing throughout all of these units of study and four different types of writing are emphasized in each unit which provides opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply four different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Students write expository essays, literary analysis, argumentative speech, narrative, and informative pieces.

Examples of different writing opportunities in the materials include:

  • In Unit 1, Literacy Lab, students will begin to review the arguments they have written thus far and choose one to publish. They will rework the argument so the organization is clear and logical.
  • In Unit 2, Space, the focus in this unit is building informational knowledge around a topic and writing an informational book to demonstrate that knowledge. Throughout this unit, students are given weekly independent writing opportunities to review their reading and write their own notes related to the day’s research question as well as work on the final project organizer in order to write their final project on informational text.
  • In Unit 3, Fantasy, the focus in this unit is literary elements where students write a comparative analysis essay and a short story. Students will write an essay in which they make a claim based on a connection they’ve made between the central text and one of the texts in the genre they read independently. In addition, students will write a short story about something that matters to them while using the rules of the genre to craft a story that conveys this message.
  • In Unit 4: Civil Rights Era, students practice making claims and supporting those claims with relevant evidence and logical reasoning. Students produce a final argument essay that makes a claim related to their research topics and defends that claim with evidence and reasons from their research.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations for writing being embedded in every unit and every day as students learn, practice, and apply using evidence from the texts they are reading either as a whole class or independently. The program addresses evidence-based and evidenced-supported writing in every unit.

In Unit 1, Literacy Lab, there are opportunities for students to write on a daily basis about what they are reading by using specific text evidence to support their ideas. Various graphic organizers are provided that help students organize their thoughts before the daily writing. During the Units of Study, students are expected to engage in Research Writing for 20-40 minutes based on the daily Independent Reading.

Unit 1 examples include:

  • Page 49 Literacy Lab Overview - Writing Goal: By the end of this Unit, students will have practiced writing in a variety of genres, both in response to text and writing like the authors they read.
  • Page 60 of Week 1 Overview - Writing: Students write daily. The teacher uses student writing as evidence and a feedback loop for assessing success of literacy block instruction.
  • Page 211 (Week 3, Days 4 - 5) Write to Task/Prompt: Choose 1-3 prompts that relate to the reading work in some interesting way. Make sure to choose both Argument and Narrative prompts across the Weeks so that students have several pieces in each mode from which to select ones they’d like to publish.
  • Page 239 (Week 4, Days 1-3) Goal: Students generate multiple pieces in multiple modes from which they will select two to publish in Weeks 5 (narrative) and 6 (argument).

Unit 2: Geology Informational Writing Instructional Framework examples include:

  • Page 20: Overview. Students practice reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence in order to produce a final written product demonstrating their expertise in both the Unit and their individual research topics.
  • Page 39 Introduction (Week 1, Day 1) We are going to spend the next nine Weeks reading, writing, and talking about the big ideas in __(Unit)__. Each of you will pick one topic on which to become an expert. You will research this topic and write an informational book about it. By the end of this Unit, you will: 1. Be an expert on __(Unit)__. 2. Be an expert on your research topic. 3. Write and publish an informational book on your topic.

Unit 3: Genre Instructional Writing Framework examples include:

  • Page 35 (Week 1, Day 1) We are going to spend the next nine Weeks becoming experts in __(genre)__. In this Unit, you will:

1. Read, analyze, and write about one novel in this genre with the class.

2. Read at least four novels in the genre on your own.

3. Write four constructed responses and one longer literary essay analyzing multiple texts in this genre.

4. Write and publish a short story/picture book in the genre.

  • Page 128 (Week 3, Day 1) In pairs, students use the “Factual Basis” graphic organizer to collect and analyze the factual basis for the Central Text.
  • Page 200 (Week 4, Day 5) Today, you will have a chance to demonstrate your understanding of how authors develop themes through plot by writing a short essay in response to the following prompt: What is a central theme of our Core Novel? How is it conveyed by particular literary elements?

Unit 4: Argument Writing Instructional Framework examples include:

  • Page 45 (Week 1, Day 1) We are going to spend the next 2 weeks reading, writing, and arguing about the big ideas in __(Unit)___. Each of you will pick one topic on which to become an expert. You will research this topic and write a research-based argument essay about it. By the end of this Unit, you will:

1. Be an expert on __(Unit)__,

2. Be an expert on your research topic,

3. Find something controversial in your research topic, take a position on this issue, and make a well reasoned, well-researched argument supporting your position.

  • The emphasis on ongoing constructed responses and research writing opportunities are focused on students’ analysis and claims developed from reading closely and writing with texts/sources. It is through the multiple writing to text opportunities that students are able to build their writing skills over the course of the school year. The students are required to make claims and reasons and discuss these before they write. All of the shorter writing times are used to decide what they want to write about in the longer research paper that is the culminating task for these units.
  • Page 78 (Week 1, Day 4) Set a prompt in response to the text that provides students an opportunity to state a claim and support it with evidence and reasoning. Claim: There is/is not enough information in our Research Library to support my research on…, Evidence, Reasoning
  • Page 157 (Week 3, Day 2) Set a prompt that helps students deepen or clarify their learning about Today’s Research Question and relates to the idea of point of view/conflicting viewpoints. Possible writing prompts: Improve upon a passage you read by adding and responding to an additional conflicting viewpoint; Outline two conflicting viewpoints on the issue of _____; Use evidence from our Central Text and at least one other text to support your answer.
  • Week 5 Central Text: Argument Mentor Texts To prepare students to draft their essays next Week, select SHORT argument text(s) to serve as a mentor texts for analysis this Week. Introductory and culminating sections of informational texts, editorials, and transcripts of speeches can provide suitable examples of argument writing.

The four units provide students opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses and well-defended claims.

Indicator 1n

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

The materials for Grade 7 partially meet the expectations that materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions/language standards for the grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context. Language instruction in grammar and conventions is not provided in a sequence consistent with the demands of the CCSS-ELA.

The Literacy Lab Unit 1 provides explicit instruction of CCSS-ELA language standards for vocabulary. Units 2-4 include less explicit instruction of the Language Standards. Students are provided opportunities to demonstrate their skills in the context of their written products at the end of each unit, but there is not specific or scaffolded instruction in the teaching of many of those skills/standards within the units.

Examples of activities and lessons that are embedded in context include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Literacy Lab Unit, Week 4, Day 1, the lesson focuses on denotation and connotation where students will distinguish among the connotations (associations) of words with similar denotations (definitions), and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning and tone.
  • In Unit 1, Literacy Lab Unit, Week 5, Days 3 and 4, students “Identify and interpret the author’s use of figurative language.” Teachers are to select passages from the text where the author uses figurative language worthy of discussion. Then students are to analyze examples of figurative language from the Core Novel, specifically how these choices shape meaning and/or tone. Students answer questions such as, “What phrase is an example of figurative language? What do you think this phrase might mean? Why? Which type of figurative language is it? How do you know? Why do you think the author chose this phrase? (Meaning? Theme? Tone?) Is the author’s choice effective? Why or why not?”
  • In Unit 2, Space Informational Writing Unit, Week 6, Day 2, students work in pairs to analyze and evaluate the author’s use of vocabulary and to prepare to answer each of the following questions with their partners. After each question, the teacher is to use the student responses to determine next steps:
    • Knowledge: Did anyone notice any especially interesting vocabulary? What might this word/phrase mean? What in the text supports your answer?
    • Application: What is a good synonym for this word? Re-read the sentence, replacing the unknown word with your synonym. Does this change the meaning of the sentence? Why or why not?
    • Analysis: Why do you think the author chose this word/phrase?
    • Evaluation: Is the author’s word choice effective? Why or why not?

The teacher materials list the Language Anchor Standards that this lesson addresses, but do not include the specific grade level Language Standards in the unit.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials integrate reading, writing, speaking, and listening through comprehensive texts sets organized around grade-appropriate topics. Students engage in developmentally-appropriate research as they build and demonstrate knowledge and skills in tasks that integrate all areas of ELA.

Criterion 2a - 2h

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Criterion Rating Details

Units and corresponding text sets are organized around specific topics and guiding questions to build student knowledge. There is a wide variety and volume of motivating content and Lexile levels from which students can choose topics of interest related to the unit.

Students engage in analyzing parts of texts often for class discussion, supported by questions and tasks that require them to draw on textual evidence to support their answers. Culminating tasks give students the opportunity to demonstrate comprehension and knowledge of a topic or topics as well as mastery of several different standards across all areas of ELA.

Opportunities to build vocabulary are found throughout the instructional materials and call on students to think about the meaning of words.

Students are supported through the writing process and various activities are placed throughout units to ensure students' writing skills are increasing throughout the year as well as to develop their stamina and a positive attitude about writing. Students examine and identify a range of text structures, and they are guided to assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing. At the end of each unit, students produce, present, and publish writing pieces as part of a final project.

Units are designed for students to act as researchers and gather details or ideas from texts throughout the unit to build a body of evidence for the culminating task.

Indicator 2a

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations of indicator 2a that texts are organized around a topic/topics (or, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The texts are organized around grade-level appropriate topics for students in Grade 7. The publisher is intentional about integrating units to include materials that are cross- content. Students build knowledge via a variety of genres and different types of informational text. The texts build knowledge and the ability to read and comprehend complex texts across a school year. While there are recommendations for where each unit fits (grade and location in the year) teachers do have the ability to “mix and match.” Teachers also have the option to incorporate texts from outside the initial text set should they choose to do so.

It is explicit in the course description and pacing that reading is a regular part of the instructional day. Additionally, because curriculum is topic focused, research projects/writings around those topics are part of each unit as culminating tasks. Students can take what they have read in each unit and apply that knowledge toward the completion of their culminating task. For example, in the cross content unit in science the topic centers on Space. Students will use what they have read throughout the unit to complete their Final Project, an informational book. They convert their responses to several research questions into central idea/key details paragraphs for the book. The texts in this unit that support student’s building knowledge are a mix of fiction and informational text (i.e., Our Mysterious Universe, The World of Astronomy, Beyond the Solar System, The Planet Gods, Interstellar Pig, and Don’t Know Much About Space. The cross content literacy unit on social studies is focused on learning about Civil Rights and culminates in students becoming experts about the topic. The variety of texts about this topic are also a mix of text types and genres although the bulk of text is informational (i.e., America in the Time of Martin Luther King, Jr., Elegy on the Death of Cesar Chavez, A History of Us: All the People Since 1945, Joseph McCarthy and the Cold War, Freedom’s Children, and Walking to the Bus-Rider Blues).

Similarly, the unit on fantasy exposes students to several text types that range in complexity and support students building knowledge about this genre. Text examples for this unit include The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Warriors Into the Wild, Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Flights of Fantasy, Feudalism, and Renaissance and Discovery.

Indicator 2b

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of texts. Materials contain sets of questions and tasks that require analysis of individual texts.

The content literacy units provide questions and tasks that can be used with a variety of texts on a specific unit theme. The Space and Civil Rights Units allow for students to choose their topic of research. Because of this, generic questions are provided so they can be used with a variety of texts. The materials include tasks on a weekly basis that scaffold student understanding of text.

The genre unit (Fantasy) incorporates student tasks on a weekly basis that scaffold student understanding of text. An example of a constructed response from the fantasy unit is from day one: “Today, you will write a short essay in which you make a claim based on your reading to show what you know about literary elements and __ (genre) __. You may use your “Literary Elements” graphic organizer and W.1 Rubric to help you with your response. Writing Prompt: What is the most defining literary element in __(genre)__? Why? Use evidence from multiple texts to support your answer.”

Additional examples of questions from the genre unit include:

What is the setting of this book so far and why do you think it will matter to the story? What evidence from the text best supports your answer? What generalizations can you make about settings in this genre? How might setting be important to this genre as a whole?

An example of a student task during the initial Literacy Lab Unit (launch unit) requires student analysis and asks students to respond to this prompt: Today, you will have a chance to demonstrate your understanding of how authors develop themes through characters by writing a short essay in response to the following prompt: What is a central theme of our Core Novel? How is it conveyed by particular literary elements? In addition to your essay, you will need to turn in: a Thinking Map with the notes/quotes you used to generate your essay, a W.1 Rubric, with the score you think your essay deserves.

Additional tasks in the Literacy Lab Unit offers students an opportunity to participate in discussion groups. Questions focus on the overarching concept being taught. Students can choose any book to answer the questions.

Examples of questions include:

  • Who are the characters in this story so far?
  • Have we been introduced to a protagonist and an antagonist? What other character types have we met so far?
  • What is each of these characters like?
  • What can you learn about each of these characters through his/her thoughts? Actions? Body language? Reactions to other characters?
  • How does the author use events and/or dialogue to tell you about this character?
  • How/why do you think these characters will matter to the story? What evidence from the text best supports your answer?

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectation required for indicator 2c. The 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 contain text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across individual and at least one more text. The majority of analytical questions and tasks apply to single texts, although in two of the four units there are cross-text tasks. Each unit contains several sets of text-dependent questions in which students are required to provide text evidence in their responses.

Within each unit, text-dependent questions appear in the teacher’s guide that are static in nature across multiple texts. Students are reading and completing daily written responses to these questions. At the end of each week there is a culminating activity. For example, in the first unit students complete various written tasks about the core novel they are reading together as a class as well as their independent reading. An example of this is:

Write an argument to support your claim about the author’s theme in our Core Novel; Decide what you think the author’s theme/message is. Support your claim with evidence from the text (literary elements). However, because there are no specific questions provided to guide the teacher’s instruction about the novel, text dependent questions would be reliant on the teacher.

Additional tasks are similar to this prompt, requiring students to write about characters, setting, and plot, using the core novel and their independent reading as their basis for analysis.

Another example is in the literary unit (fantasy). Each week there is a specific skill that is focused on and practiced and each week there is a constructed response to demonstrate learning of that new skill. The work throughout the week builds toward the constructed response. However, because all text-dependent questions in this unit are generic in nature, specific guidance in helping students develop deeper comprehension would be dependent on the teacher.

Opportunities for students to analyze knowledge and ideas across texts is limited. For example, in each unit there is a core novel and several anchor texts; however, no guidance is provided for how the texts may relate. This is evident in unit 2 (Space). There is a collection of various text types in the unit; however, the questions for each text do not require students to make connections among the various texts. Furthermore, there is no guidance for how the anchor texts relate to the topic. Two books listed as anchor texts, Our Mysterious Universe (nonfiction), and Interstellar Pig (science fiction) are connected to the topic of space but the connection between texts is unclear in the materials.

Indicator 2d

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations for indicator 2d. Materials contain questions and tasks that support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through combined skills (e.g., combination of reading, writing, speaking, and listening). Culminating tasks incorporate a range of reading, writing, speaking, and listening opportunities.

The culminating task in the cross-content units center around a research project in the science and the social studies units. These units provide a series of questions students answer using the resources provided. The final project for the Space and Civil Rights units is the presentation that addresses the Speaking and Listening Standards; throughout the unit students read a variety of self selected materials on their reading level and research a topic of their choice related to the theme which culminates in a task such as a presentation. An example of the type of presentation is Expertise with Research Questions. This can be as simple as sharing with partners or as elaborate as creating a living history/science museum and inviting the community in. The teacher decides what the culminating task will be. Multiple suggestions are included in the teacher’s guide (e.g., Peer Reviews, Oral Presentation to Small Group or a student from another class, Issue Debate/Campaign, town hall meeting to decide what action to take on the issue, or a Fair/Museum).

Units where students choose the texts they will be reading and researching in order to complete a culminating project includes generic questions similar to the ones that follow:

  • Author: Who wrote the text? What is his/her purpose? How is s/he qualified to write about this topic? Is it related to his/her personal identity? Is it related to his/her field of expertise? How do you know? How could we find out? Facts: _____ is presented as a fact/the truth. Is it completely true/ factual? How do we know? Who else thinks it’s true/factual besides the author? How could we confirm? What else is presented as fact? Opinions: What words do you notice that explicitly signal an opinion (e.g., I believe, They think)? What words do you notice that implicitly signal an opinion/judgment (e.g., dirty, best)? What’s Missing? Based on what you know, what information is missing? Whose perspectives are missing? Do you think these exclusions were intentional or unintentional? What makes you think that?

In the initial unit, the ARC Literacy Lab, the questions and tasks are static, text-dependent questions. The teacher’s guide provides guidelines for students responding to what they are reading by having them respond first in writing and then verbally with partner or small group: What did the author say? Why did s/he say it? How did s/he say it? Which parts of the book so far drew your interest? Why? The culminating task asks students to take two pieces of writing from draft to completion.

Another example can be found in The Research Labs Teacher Guides for the Fantasy Unit. The teacher’s guide contains a genre card with a list of questions and students are directed to read as many myths as possible and use the guide to discuss the stories and the cultures that created them. The culminating task is for students to create their own myth. There are a series of graphic organizers to help support student understanding, and students are required to use specific text references in completing the organizers. After each task students partner share and small group share their findings. There are “accountable talk” guidelines supporting students listening skills and their ability to provide feedback to peers.

Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the requirements of indicator 2e that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts. Opportunities to build vocabulary are found throughout the instructional materials. Lists of topic specific words as well as high leverage words are provided in all of the units.

Vocabulary instruction calls for students to think about the meaning of words. Definitions are provided in student-friendly language, and word meanings are taught with examples related to the text as well as examples from other, more familiar contexts.

Unit 1: Literacy Lab

The introduction of the teacher’s guide for unit 1 provides an overview of where the language standards are addressed. Listed is the scope and sequence of standard focus throughout all four units for the year. Standard 4 - Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text and is indicated as a focus standard for Unit 1. Language Standards 4 - 6 are then indicated as a focus across the four units.

On page 199 in the Unit 1 Overview (week 3, day 1), academic vocabulary is introduced to students through mini-lessons. Teachers model vocabulary work though the whole class text and ask students to begin noticing words in the texts they read. Week 4 also has a vocabulary focus. The focus this week is on denotation, connotation, and figurative language. Students are directed to “flag at least a new word you want to learn and share.”

Students are also provided with tools that help them work on Academic Vocabulary during the course of Unit 1. For example, as a class, students collect high-leverage academic and technical vocabulary they find and share with the class. The teacher’s guide provides a mini lesson on Language Standard 4 titled “The More Academic Vocabulary, The Harder the Book.” The teacher is directed to introduce/review the three tiers of Vocabulary and introduce the concept that academic language is one of the major differentiators between reading levels. The guide states, “Make sure students understand that: Tier 2 and Tier 3 words are rarely part of everyday speech, even of adults. These words are mostly only in text. Learning academic language works like learning any new language - you need to encounter the same new words and ideas over and over again, in a variety of contexts, to internalize them. Voracious reading provides the immersion required to make this happen.”

Students are encouraged to “practice noticing new vocabulary, categorizing it by Tier, and discussing what each word might mean based on evidence from the text.” The guide says if students have difficulty, the teacher should ask: What might this word/phrase mean? What in the text supports your answer? What is a good synonym? Reread the sentence, replacing the unknown word with your synonym. Does this change the meaning of the sentence? Why or Why not?

Unit 2: Civil Rights

Multiple lessons provide teachers with direction and opportunities to hone in on both content-specific vocabulary and Academic Vocabulary in the texts. Vocabulary is categorized as key concepts that students should be able to define and apply, high leverage academic, and other. The Civil Rights Unit begins with a list of vocabulary, (i.e., segregation, discrimination, bias, and political). The teacher’s guide provides this explanation for teachers to read aloud: “As we research, we will encounter new vocabulary words. Words that are specific to our unit and help us become experts on our unit are called technical vocabulary words. You will be responsible for being able to define and correctly use these terms. Today as we read, I noticed the word _____. I think this word is important in understanding __________. I’m going to add this to our class glossary.”

The teacher’s guide provides this explanation for teachers to read aloud: As we research, we will encounter new vocabulary words. Words that are specific to our unit and help us become experts on our unit are called technical vocabulary words. You will be responsible for being able to define and correctly use these terms. Today as we read, I noticed the word _____. I think this word is important in understanding __________. I’m going to add this to our class glossary.

Indicator 2f

Materials support students' increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students' writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectation for materials supporting 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. Students are supported through the writing process and various activities are placed throughout units to ensure students' writing skills are increasing throughout the year.

Students are encouraged to develop stamina and a positive attitude towards writing by writing daily and for various purposes. They engage in activities that include reading and discussing writing similar to that which they are planning to write, examine and identify a range of text structures, and they are guided to assess the effectiveness of their own and others’ writing. At the end of each unit, students produce, present, and publish writing pieces as part of a final project.

The materials provide multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning through writing about what they have read. Writing is embedded throughout the school year in multiple ways. Students are provided with prompts on a daily basis to make observations and reflect on their own writing to build skills and knowledge for future writing and are required to take at least two of their drafts throughout a unit to a final publishable product. Standard practices for writing are built into every day from the onset of unit one throughout the entire course of the school year. Students complete weekly constructed response writing tasks that provide an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of a reading skill that was taught during that week. Student support of meeting writing goals is provided in writing rubrics that students use to reflect on their own work and on partner’s writing. Also included in the materials is guidance for teachers to conference with students to provide meaningful feedback as students write.

Writing instruction spans the whole school year; each unit emphasizes writing and lessons that are embedded requiring students to write every day. Each unit requires a different kind of writing (e.g., narrative, informational, and argumentative).

Unit One: ARC Literacy Lab

The progression of narrative writing starts with students writing about themselves as both readers and writers. There are daily prompts to generate ideas. For example:

  • Day one, Lesson 1: Write a reading autobiography.
  • Day two, Lesson 2: Design the book jacket for your ideal fiction book.
  • Day three, Lesson 3: Complete a genre profile for the book you read today and create a list of books you want to read.
  • Day four, Lesson 4: Write a narrative explaining the role reading has played in your life or an argument trying to convince someone that this thing is important.
  • Day five, Lesson 5: Create your own About the Author page to use with the pieces you will publish write and publish this year.

During week three of this unit the teacher’s guide lists the following goal:

“Write to Task/Prompt Goal: Across the next two weeks, students write on a variety of prompts while they practice using the new vocabulary they are learning in their writing. Each day, choose 1-3 prompts that relate to the reading work in some interesting way (see Suggested Writing Prompts in the following pages). Make sure to choose both Argument and Narrative prompts across the weeks so that by the time you reach Week 5, students have several pieces in each mode from which to select ones they’d like to publish.”

Unit Two: Space

The focus of writing is research based in which students answer a research question connected to a science theme. The teacher’s guide provides this explanation: (page 110)

“The RESEARCH LABS® Instructional Frameworks focus on a few Common Core Standards, carefully sequencing instruction, practice, and formative assessment to ensure all students master each element of these rigorous reading, writing, and thinking standards. Phase II: Informational Writing Through carefully scaffolded whole-group instruction and differentiated support, all students learn to: 1. Provide an objective summary of any informational text. 2. Determine the central idea(s) of an informational text and use both content and organization analyze the development of this idea(s). 3. Examine how non-fiction authors build on research to craft compelling informational texts. 4. Publish and present a scientifically/historically accurate Final Project book on his/her research topic.”

Extended Writing: Final Informational Piece (Book) Each student engages in a carefully scaffolded, extended research project, taking a final written product through the entire writing process from note-making to publication.

The teacher materials provide this guide (page 133):

“Model how you use the rubric to write a 5-point answer, including how you use text evidence to prove the veracity of your fact (e.g., I read __ by __. It is about...The most interesting thing...This sounds unbelievable, but it says right here on page 24...).”

The teacher’s guide includes a step-by-step guide for modeling the research process (page 179). Students become experts on each research question: teacher models process and then students apply to their own topics

For example on week 2, day 5:

“By the end of today, you will have completed your FPOs for RQs #1-2. We’ve spent this week analyzing how authors develop central ideas using supporting ideas and details. Today, after we read, each of you will use our RI.2 Thinking Map to draft a short essay demonstrating your current ability to determine an author’s central idea. Your essay will need to answer the question: What is a central idea of this text? How does the author use supporting ideas and details to develop this central idea?”

Unit Three: Fantasy

Students write a comparative essay analysis and a short story. There is a focus on literary analysis as well. The teacher’s guide includes the goals of this unit emphasizing a new focus every week on a literary element but all follow this general pattern:

“Setting 1. Set Focus Today, you will take a position on something you read and explain your reasons for taking that position. Your position is your opinion. Another word for this is claim. Writing Prompt: What about the setting will be most important to this book? Why? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.”

The next week focuses on character analysis then plot. Students make claims and provide evidence and reasoning. Each writing assignment requires students complete a graphic organizer in order to complete the written assignment. The guide to this process includes modeling, and some samples along with guidelines for revising and editing.

During week 5 students will write a comparative essay after reading and analyzing two fantasies.

The teacher’s guide describes goals (page 260):

For the next two weeks, you are the head author in the class— modeling turning your thoughts and analysis into a draft of a literary comparison essay (an argument). Today, each student will craft his/her claim statement and compose a Quick-Write first draft of the rest of the essay. Make sure each student is excited about his/her claim as this energy will sustain the work of writing and re-writing that is to come.

Graphic organizers are provided to support students during this process. The guide to this process includes modeling and some samples, along with guidelines for revising and editing. The final writing assignment for this unit is to create an original story in the fantasy genre. Students participate in quick writes and the draft and revise short story and then edit, illustrate, and publish their original short story.

Unit Four: Civil Rights Era

Students write responses to research question connected to a social studies theme. The unit follows the same format as Unit 2: Space. It begins with topic selection and introduction to argument, six research questions over course of three weeks, drafting, revising and editing, publishing, presenting, and formal debate.

Indicator 2g

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations of indicator 2g 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. Units are designed for students to act as researchers and gather details or ideas from texts throughout the unit to build a body of evidence for the culminating task. For these tasks, students select a topic and spend about nine weeks reading, writing, and speaking about their topic. By the end of each unit, students write and publish an informational book or other project demonstrating their increased knowledge about their selected topic. Students are provided with daily independent reading, research, and discussion times.

For grade 7, the standards require that students “gather relevant information from multiple print and digital resources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standards format for citation.”

The research tasks are a part of two of the four units in the materials provided for review (Unit 2 Space) and Unit 4 (Civil Rights Era). The guidelines for both units are quite similar. Throughout the course of the unit students become an expert on a self-selected topic within the theme and answer research questions specific to the topic.

The research tasks are a part of two of the four units in the materials provided for review, Unit 2: Space and Unit 4: Civil Rights Era. The guidelines for both units are quite similar. Throughout the course of the unit students become an expert on a self-elected topic in the theme and answer research questions specific to the topic.

For example, the teacher’s guide for Unit 2: Space provides this introduction:

Students will select an astronomical object to research and be able to:

  1. Describe the physical nature of this space object. Compare each measurement to something familiar.
  2. Draw a diagram of your object’s place in space.
  3. What energy or forces are associated with this object? Sketch pictures of them and describe how they are used.
  4. How is this object studied? Name the tools used to study this object. Sketch pictures of them and describe how they are used.
  5. Create a timeline depicting key events in the study of this object. Choose one scientist involved in the study of this object and learn about him/her.
  6. What movies or science fiction stories have included this object and why? Write a science fiction story using your object.
  7. Write a letter to NASA telling them why we should spend government money on further research into this object.
  8. The final project will involve students researching their topics of choice and publishing final project.

The research task for Unit 4: Civil Rights Era requires each student to select one national Civil Rights Era figure about whom to become an expert. Their research into this person’s life will culminate in a published project. Students will be able to:

  1. Explain why the person was important to the history of Civil Rights.
  2. Create a timeline of at least 10 key events in the person’s life and explain the importance of each event.
  3. Explain how the person’s geographic location shaped his/her life, work, and perspective(s).
  4. Describe two issues (racial, social, political, or economic) that were important to the person and explain their importance.
  5. Describe an organization that was important to the person and explain why it was important.
  6. Describe the role of the American government in this person’s life.

The teacher’s guidelines includes this information to support teachers during this unit:

“Teachers use carefully scaffolded whole-group instruction to teach all students to read, write, present, and evaluate arguments. 2. Students practice making claims and supporting those claims with relevant evidence and logical reasoning. 3. Students produce a final argument essay that makes a claim related to their Research Topics and defends that claim with evidence and reasons from their research”

The Civil Rights Era unit takes students through this:

“We are going to spend the next 9 weeks reading, writing, and arguing about the big ideas in __(Unit)__. Each of you will pick one topic on which to become an expert. You will research this topic and write a research-based argument essay about it. By the end of this Unit, you will: 1. Be an expert on __(Unit)__, 2. Be an expert on your research topic, 3. Find something controversial in your research topic, take a position on this issue, and make a well reasoned, well researched argument supporting your position. If you will be grading students’ work in this unit, hand out the point system/grading rubric now. For a sample point system, refer to the Research Lab Grade Tracker in the Introduction.”

Indicator 2h

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

The instructional materials for Grade 7 meet the expectations of indicator 2h, supporting students’ independent reading development.

The publisher has designed its own book leveling and student reading leveling system called the IRLA (Independent Reading Level Assessment), in which students are able to choose books for Independent Reading at their appropriate level. The teacher’s guide begins with an overview of the entire reading program.

The beginning unit is designed for the first six weeks to focus on building students’ reading skills and for teachers to use the IRLA system and publisher’s guidelines in determining student reading level. The publisher has designed its own book leveling and student reading leveling system called the IRLA, in which students are able to choose books for Independent Reading at their appropriate level. By doing this, texts are organized and scaffolded to foster independence. In addition, supports and specific procedures are provided for the teacher around independent reading. Time is built into the daily lesson for independent reading and students are encouraged to read outside of class as well and to participate in the 100 book challenge. An accountability system helps both the teacher and students track their progress. Unit 1 in this curriculum thoroughly sets up a system in place to support independent reading throughout the year.

There is an overview on Page 9, which provides an explanation of the IRLA Expert Coaching and 100 book challenge. The IRLA Expert Coaching supports teachers in using the IRLA to “find the highest level of text complexity students can currently read (and understand) without any help or prompting of any kind from the teacher.”

The following explanation is provided for the system:

The IRLA System is a text complexity analysis system for American Reading Company which is explained in the introduction to Unit 1. Every book provided by the publisher includes a color-coded sticker on the spine. This sticker indicates the book’s IRLA text complexity level.

The 100 Book Challenge is “a community wide reading culture system to bring students’ own reading interests and choices into the center of the curriculum while ensuring that all children experience the rich reading lifestyle.”

Rotating Common Core leveled classroom libraries place authentic trade books color-coded to each IRLA level at the fingertips of teachers and students, giving each student instant access to just-right text for independent practice, coaching, and conferencing.

There are supports built into the first unit for teacher and student that will be used throughout the year. These include the following: Status of the Class (p 85), Genre Profile (p 104), Genre Record (p 105), Engaged Reader Status Check (p 132), Thinking Maps (throughout), 100 book challenge checklist (p 178), and Reading Log (p 192).

Another strength of the program is that regardless of the unit, every day has a reading component. For example, page 11 of Unit 3: Fantasy includes a description of the recommended Research Lab Daily Structure, and includes Independent Reading for 15-20 minutes where students are reading self-selected books. This particular page can be found in each unit.

Further support for the teacher is offered on page 13 of Unit 2:

Leveled Text Sets/Independent Reading provide daily opportunities for students to engage in reading at their independent levels. Providing leveled text sets and a minimum of 15–30 minutes of structured, accountable Independent Reading is crucial to the success of all students, especially those who are struggling readers. With leveled text sets, students are able to do the hard thinking learned in Grade-Level Instruction to books they can read. Spend More Time and Thought on Your Students Who Need It: Students who are currently reading below grade level or learning to speak English should receive extra support. Don’t worry about trying to equalize the time you spend with each student. Become an expert on your students who are struggling. Be sure you know them well enough to teach them; know what they are currently able to do and what they need to learn next.

Likewise, the volume of independent reading can be seen in the cross content units for science and social studies (units 2 and 4). During the 3-topic Trial, before students pick their research topic, students read 15-30 minutes of self-selected Research Lab books.

Teachers conference with students and help them establish Power Goals. These goals are set once a child has been successfully leveled in the IRLA system. These power goals drive the work of small group instruction and 1:1 conferencing. The publisher claims that these goals, which are to be used during the Reader’s Workshop, “accelerate reading growth through Power Goal conferences.”

There is also a SchoolPace/IRLA Performance Management System. This is a web-based system that provides numerous reports to monitor students’ growth and performance in real-time. Incentive Reading Folders, used at school and home, vary by color. Students begin with a blue folder, once 100 Steps of reading are completed they move to a red folder. The folder color lets teachers monitor and reward students that are moving and provide additional support for those needing to move.

Furthermore, teachers are encouraged to solicit the assistance of families in the independent reading through home-school letters. The home-school connection is developed through the use of home school letters and the Home Coach Contract that encourages parents to observe students reading 30 minutes, discussing the book and signing the reading log sheet each night. Students are provided with a variety of books, paired specifically to their path of achievement, to take home. Parents are expected to help students develop an independent reading routine using the provided materials.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

Overall, the materials provide good structural support and consistent routines. Use of technology is encouraged, but supplemental support may be needed for students for whom English is a new language and students or teachers with limited technology skills or adaptive needs. Materials provide evidence of connections between the parts of the program, the assessments, and the college and career-ready standards.

Criterion 3a - 3e

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8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

Grade 7 materials are well designed, taking into account effective lesson structure and pacing. The 4 units and 36 weeks of instruction provide flexibility for teachers to adjust lessons as needed while still being able to complete the materials within a normal school year. Materials are well-aligned to the standards and provide documentation for that alignment. Student resources are clear, well-designed, correctly labeled and do not distract from the lessons. There is adequate support for all included resources.

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.

The year is divided into 4 Units of Study. The Literacy Lab is a 6 week unit of study, while the 3 Research Labs are 9 week Units. Each lesson is broken up into a suggested 90-120 minute reading blocks.

Each week of the Literacy Lab instruction has weekly goals for standards-based instruction, reading culture, and IRLA coaching. There is a teacher checklist for the week to help measure success. Focus Standards are listed for each week as well as an overview of the daily lesson plans. Each Lesson contains an overview of the key objectives, teacher work, and student work for each part of the literacy block. Daily lesson plans have a two column format. This provides detailed support for how to teach each part of the literacy block. During Week 1 there is a day by day detailed instruction, after that there is a framework in the following weeks. There is a lesson ticker at the top of the pages to show where you are in the lesson. Blackline masters that will be needed for each lesson are found at the end of each lesson. Literacy Lab lessons include a CCSS Mini-Lesson, Read-Discuss Complex Text-Readers’ Workshop, Writing, Read-Aloud, and Reflection. Suggested times are given both at the beginning of the unit in a pacing guide and also in the ticker that runs across lessons.

Each Week of Research Labs instruction includes goals for expertise, reading, writing, vocabulary, art, and final projects. A unit introduction and research questions help to establish the unit. All graphic organizers and blackline masters can be found within the unit’s opening pages of the unit. There are weekly overview calendars and every lesson includes three parts: Read Complex Text, Independent Reading, and Writing. Standards are listed at the beginning of each week, as well as in the daily learning goals. Each daily lesson plan has two columns with teaching notes, suggested answers, and guided tips. Suggested times are given both at the beginning of the unit in a pacing guide and also in the ticker that runs across lessons.

Indicator 3b

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

The materials reviewed meet the expectations that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.There are 165 lessons provided, broken into four units. This will allow flexibility for teachers to adjust lessons as needed.

The Teacher’s Guide states, “Our curriculum is a FRAMEWORK, not a script. What should students argue about while they study the Civil War? What lessons should they take away from a study of Science Fiction? It depends. It depends on the children in your classroom. It depends on you. There is no perfect script that will work for all personalities and all classrooms. Instead, we give you a highly structured framework that works in general from which you will need to create the version that works for you, in your district, in your school, in your classroom, with your students.”

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.).
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet expectations 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.).

Materials provide review and practice resources such as, note catchers, reference charts, anchor charts, checklists, graphic organizers, rubrics, and blackline masters.

Student resources include clear explanations and directions. Activities that are completed with teacher guidance have directions included in the teacher lesson plan notes. Resources that are completed independently or in small groups without direct teacher guidance include clear directions and explanations so that the task can be completed. Examples include:

Unit 1--Literacy Lab, Week 2, Days 4-5: Students are provided with a clear Thinking Map to help them standards in literature regarding central ideas or themes and their development, key supporting details and ideas, and to analyze the development of the text.

Unit 3-- Fantasy, Week 3, Day 2: Students are provided with a chart to help them fully develop the setting for the narrative they are writing as well as a space for them to sketch their setting.

Indicator 3d

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

Instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.

Each day standards are listed at the beginning of the lesson and often referenced in the daily Learning Goal.

For Example, in Unit 2, Week 1, Day 1 the materials state: The primary goal of today is to use the Research Library to capture and engage students in studying this Unit. As you do this, students will also begin to notice academic and technical vocabulary related to the Unit. Anchor standards aligned with the lesson are:

Common Core Standard W.7: Conduct short as well as sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Common Core Standard W.2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Standards are also listed on student facing blackline masters and handouts, organizers, elements of genre cards, common core mini-lessons, rubrics, writing tasks and extended writings.

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 7 contain visual design (whether in print or digital) that is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.

The material design is simple and consistent. Units are comprised of materials that display a simple design and include adequate space. The font, size, margins, and spacing are consistent and readable. Units include graphic organizers, charts, worksheets, tables and other blackline masters that are easy to read and understand. There are no distracting images, and the layout of the student consumables is clear and concise.

Criterion 3f - 3j

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

The Teacher edition contains many useful annotations and suggestions to support teachers who may not be as familiar with the material or content, however there are places in the materials where additional support for the teacher, particularly for students who are not responding to specific aspects of instruction would be helpful.

Abundant educative materials are included in the program to support teachers’ professional learning, including outlines for Professional Learning Communities. Additionally, the materials clearly define the role of research in the development and improvement of the program, and consistently delineates research-based best practices and the source of those practices for teachers who wish to learn more on the topic.

The role of the standards in the materials is well-defined and aligned to college and career ready standards.

There is a clear plan for engaging all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers in the goals and work of the program.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the expectations 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 in the ancillary materials.

There are places throughout the materials where explicit teacher directions are present and accompanied by additional support for teachers who may need additional help in presenting the materials. For example, Unit 4, Week 4, Day 5: the teacher is presenting a lesson on Debate with a special focus on using rhetoric to enhance an argument. The lesson is detailed with explicit teacher steps and suggestions for what the teacher should say. In addition, support materials included with the lesson helps the teacher to teach students about The Five Dimensions of Persuasion. The detailed handout delineates logos, ethos, and pathos, including the content and delivery aspects.

Annotations and suggestions are presented within the Literacy Lab and Research Lab Teacher Editions. These annotations and suggestions present the structure of the lesson; however, some teachers may need more support and guidance with presenting material. For example, during Research Labs, the Teacher Work section gives an overview of what the teacher should be doing, for example, In Unit 2, Week 1 Day 1, the Teacher Edition asks teachers to, “Observe students as they write. Make sure students are making adequate progress." However, additional suggestions or examples of what constitutes "adequate progress" are absent from the materials.

There is minimal guidance and support for the use of embedded technology. For example, the Teacher Edition gives publishing ideas that include technology, but does not give any other information to support the use and enhance student learning. The Teacher Edition states, “Publishing: Decide how you want your students to publish their short stories. The following ideas are only to get you thinking. Publishing Ideas: Create a book, Blog entry, Class/school website, Submit to relevant periodical/newspaper, Class newspaper/periodical/journal/portfolio, or PowerPoint.”

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 7 meet expectations 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.

The Literacy and Research Lab Teacher Editions include notes that give adult-level explanations and examples. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Week 4, teachers work together in a PLC to confirm IRLA levels for students and to examine ways to maximize the use of professional colleagues for determining student reading levels, corroborating evidence of levels, and calibrating across a grade level or across grade levels to support the teachers as they become more comfortable implementing and applying the IRLA.
  • Unit 1, the materials provide an article on questioning in the classroom. It focuses on the types of questions that should be asked, how they're applied, how they help students to move ideas, knowledge, and skills beyond the subject at hand and generalize them to other contexts. The materials also provide copies of a table of Benjamin Bloom's traditional Taxonomy for learning as well as the revised version updated and tied to 21st Century Skills. Additionally, a graphic of Norman Webb's Depth of Knowledge levels and related activities is provide to support the article.
  • In Unit 2, the front matter includes a brief list on page 9 drawn from Nancy Sulla's "It's Not What You Teach, But How: 7 Insights to Making the CCSS Work for You" (2014). The list highlights the Higher-order problem solving approach used throughout the ARC materials.

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. Standards are addressed throughout the front material of each Literacy and Research lab. The Teacher Editions explain the role of the specific ELA/Literacy standards and how they shaped the reviewed curriculum.

For example, in Unit 1, Week 1, Day 1, the Teacher Edition states, “The books in the Research Lab Libraries are leveled and organized by IRLA (Independent Reading Level Assessment) levels. The IRLA is a color-coded Developmental Reading Taxonomy that integrates Common Core State Standards for reading acquisition with a deep knowledge of the demands of literature and informational text for students, grades PreK through 12. Each book’s IRLA level is a result of multiple reading experts independently assessing the specific combination of quantitative, qualitative, and reader/task challenges presented by that title.”

The Teacher Edition also includes Standards Mini Lessons which give explanations of what the teacher work looks like based on the standard being taught. For example, in Unit 3, Week 7, Day 2, the teacher will be addressing CCSS R3/W3: Developing characters. Explicit directions delineate the many aspects for students to consider about both the characters they are reading about as well as those they will develop in their own writing.

In Unit 4, the Teacher Edition states, “The Research Lab Units of Study integrate the 3 Shifts and the CCSS into teacher's’ daily practice. Teachers provide grade-level rigor through the use of complex text, grade-level ELA CCSS and Science/Social Studies content, and academic vocabulary. Leveled libraries of informational text and a carefully structured project-based learning format provide the differentiated support needed to ensure that every student is successful. Phase I: Content Area Research includes,

  • 1. Teachers use close reading of complex text to teach the core content of a Science or Social Studies Unit, national/state content area standards, and grade-level Common Core State Standards.
  • 2. Students develop expertise on a specific Research Topic within the Science or Social Studies Unit through daily research in informational texts.
  • 3. Students practice reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence in order to produce a final written product demonstrating their expertise in both the Unit and their individual Research Topics.


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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.The front material of each Research Lab includes multiple citations and explanations of instructional approaches. Research based strategies are included throughout the program in lesson sidebars. There are also a Research Lab works Cited/Consulted pages that lists all research materials cited or consulted for the program.

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations 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.

Each Research Lab Unit includes parent letter templates that are sent home to inform caregivers about what students are learning and how they can help support student progress. For example in Unit 2, the parent letter includes, “...Students will read various high-quality fiction and nonfiction books, all within their Reading Zone. Most of the reading will be completed in school, but everyone will need to read at home every night as well. You can participate at home by asking questions about what your child is reading, thinking about, and writing over the course of the unit and by making sure your child comes to school every day. Thanks to independent reading and discovery, along with your support, your child is becoming a life-long, self-sufficient learner.”

It is also suggested that parents and caregivers be included in class presentations. For example in Unit 4, the Teacher Edition states, “This can be as simple as sharing with their partner or as formal as organizing an event to which parents and/or community members are invited as the audience. The following ideas are only to get you thinking.”

Criterion 3k - 3n

Materials offer teachers resources and tools to collect ongoing data about student progress on the Standards.
7/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The materials use the IRLA Conferencing & Formative Assessment Independent Reading Levels & Student-Teacher Conferences to consistently assess student progress. Most assessments clearly denote their alignment to the standards. Further, the materials provide good guidance for teachers to determine student performance and implications for instruction. Independent reading is clearly a strong and present focus throughout the materials, with emphasis on helping students to select books of interest and to engage in experiences that build stamina, confidence, and motivation. Students are accountable for their independent reading, supported by strong communication with their families or caregivers for supporting students in their independent reading.

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 7 meet the expectations that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

The materials use the IRLA Conferencing & Formative Assessment Independent Reading Levels & Student-Teacher Conferences to consistently assess student progress. The Teacher Edition states, “The IRLA is used to determine, monitor, and research the full continuum of each student’s reading spectrum, from independent to instructional to frustration levels. Teachers’ careful research of their students’ reading competencies, by means of the IRLA, allows them to determine just what skills and strategies each student has mastered and which he needs to learn next. Teachers then address those needs using the full range of instructional formats (e.g., whole-group, small-group, one-on-one), documenting success and progress in the IRLA. The skills/strategies taught may be essential for enhancement of the student’s current reading level, or they may prepare him for the next. The goal of all reading instruction is to produce successful independent readers; therefore, all of this work is designed to advance the students’ independent levels.”


Teachers are provided with checklists, rubrics, notetakers, protocols for conferencing, and student exemplars. There are pre and post assessments, writing rubrics, and assessment guides. Students are constantly assessed with immediate feedback given through student and teacher conferencing.

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the expectations that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. Daily formative assessments are connected to the daily lessons include the standards being emphasized for the day's lessons at the beginning of the lesson. Some rubrics, such as the CCSS W.3

Rubric for a Proficient Narrative Piece, include the standard being addressed. However, during the Research Lab Pre and Post Assessments there are no standards denoted. There are also rubrics such as the Final Project Rubrics that do not denote the standards being emphasized.

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 materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up. Teachers are often directed to conference with students during small group time.

The Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) is used to determine, monitor, and research a student's reading level. The teacher determines the skills and strategies each student has mastered and which he needs to learn next. Teachers then address those needs using whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one conferencing. Materials are provided for documenting student progress in the IRLA. Teachers are provided with reading level guides and formative assessment conferencing protocol that is used daily to monitor and interpret student performance. Teachers and students set Power Goals. There is guidance for teachers to assist students in reaching the goal set. A chart of Common Blockers is provided for teachers to help provide follow-up for students who struggle at specific levels. Both small group and writing protocols and action plan documents are provided. Final projects are presented to the class, a rubric is used to help teachers interpret student performance.

Teachers are prompted to use the formative assessment protocol and questions throughout daily lessons, examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, Week 2, Day 1, the Teacher Edition states, “Formative Assessment/One-on-One Conferences. During the collecting phase, start with brief check-ins. Try to get to every student every day, focusing on keeping everyone moving in the same direction. If students are having trouble locating relevant information, consider:
    • Do they understand the key Science/Social Studies concepts? (This is the most common cause of research problems in Research Lab classrooms. If Grade-Level Instruction was effective at teaching the key concepts, research usually goes very smoothly.)
    • Have they picked a topic that doesn’t fit the “Prevent Frustration and Failure” criteria? (This is the second most common cause of research problems. Switch topics now, while students can still easily catch up to their peers.)
    • Do they know how to use text features (table of contents, index) to efficiently locate information? Do they skim and scan, only reading sections that look relevant?
    • Do they know to read the charts, graphs, and images? Do they know how to read them?
    • Are they using the wrong books? (too hard, irrelevant)
  • In Unit 3, Week 2, Day 2, the Teacher Edition states, “Check for Understanding: Once students are making adequate progress in their novels, check individual students to assess their current proficiency with R.3.
    • Who is the protagonist in your novel?
    • Why do you think the author chose/created this character?
    • How does the author use the protagonist to communicate a theme?
    • What quote best supports your thinking?
    Look for patterns in students’ misconceptions. Where should you (re) teach to everyone? Pull a small group? One-on-One Conferences/Very Small Strategy Groups Use the majority of Independent Reading time to work with individual students, focusing your attention on your most struggling readers.”
  • In Unit 4, Week 5, Day 3, the Teacher Edition states, “Formative Assessment. Observe as students work. Pull the class back together to teach a short mini-lesson on one aspect of Tracing an Argument with which they struggled."

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 7 meet the expectation that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress. The Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) is used to determine, monitor, and research a student's reading level. The teacher determines the skills and strategies each student has mastered and which he needs to learn next. Teachers then address those needs using whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one conferencing. Materials are provided for documenting student progress in the IRLA. Teachers are provided with reading level guides and formative assessment conferencing protocol that is used daily to monitor and interpret student performance. Teachers and students set Power Goals. There is guidance for teachers to assist students in reaching the goal set. A chart of Common Blockers is provided for teachers to help provide follow-up for students who struggle at specific levels. Both small group and writing protocols and action plan documents are provided. Final projects are presented to the class, a rubric is used to help teachers interpret student performance. Every lesson includes specific formative assessment opportunities for teachers to monitor student progress. Teachers meet with students, monitor progress, and document student performance daily.

Indicator 3n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.

Independent Reading is built into every daily lesson during Reading Workshop. Students build stamina in early units to read 30-40+ minutes daily. Students are held accountable in many ways, including accountability talks with partner, groups, and whole class, as well as individual check-ins with the teacher. Rules for independent reading are presented on a class chart and posted in the classroom.

Students are given a focus to think about as they read independently, for Example in Unit 2, Week 1, Day 4, the Teacher Edition states, “Set Focus: 3-Topic Trial As you read today, you will try on your three topics to see if you like them. You will read for five minutes on each topic to decide which one you want to study for the next several weeks. At the end of your research, you will share the topics in which you are interested."

The 100 Book Challenge Library rotates weekly or biweekly. Students are encouraged to read whatever they want. Students complete a Reading Survey and are provided with a Reading Level Checklist that helps them to determine if a text is too hard, too easy, or in the Reading Zone. In Unit 2, Week 7, Day 4, the Teacher Edition states, “Partner Share Each partner shares.

  • Summarize for your partner the problem/complication(s)/resolution event sequence you think was the most engaging.
  • Explain what you like about how the author created this event sequence and how you think you might apply that to your own writing?”

Teachers are given specific instruction on how to monitor, encourage, and redirect students. Teachers document student status daily, as engaged, compliant, resistant, or challenged. The Teacher Edition gives suggestions and follow up to keep students engaged during independent reading time.

Criterion 3o - 3r

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards.
8/10
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Criterion Rating Details

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards, including opportunities for extensions and advanced learning. There are some explicit support within the materials for English Language Learners, however the bulk of instructional strategies falling into the same strategies applied for all students with the use of the IRLA.Flexible grouping strategies are used throughout the materials to facilitate student processing and discussion.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectation that materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.

The Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) is used to determine, monitor, and research a student's reading level. The teacher determines the skills and strategies each student has mastered and which he needs to learn next. Teachers then address those needs using whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one conferencing. Materials are provided for documenting student progress in the IRLA. Teachers are provided with reading level guides and formative assessment conferencing protocol that is used daily to monitor and interpret student performance. Teachers and students set Power Goals. There is guidance for teachers to assist students in reaching the goal set. A chart of Common Blockers is provided for teachers to help provide follow-up for students who struggle at specific levels. Both small group and writing protocols and action plan documents are provided. Every lesson includes specific formative assessment opportunities for teachers to monitor student progress. Teachers meet with students, monitor progress, and document student performance daily. Students use the 100 Book Challenge books to read at multiple levels, from below, at, and above their mastery levels. This provides students with opportunity to exceed grade level standards, while allowing those who need more time with at-level texts to reach grade-level standards.

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.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the expectation that materials 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.

The Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) is used to determine, monitor, and research a student's reading level. The teacher determines the skills and strategies each student has mastered and which he needs to learn next. Teachers then address those needs using whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one conferencing. Materials are provided for documenting student progress in the IRLA. Teachers are provided with reading level guides and formative assessment conferencing protocol that is used daily to monitor and interpret student performance. Teachers and students set Power Goals. There is guidance for teachers to assist students in reaching the goal set. A chart of Common Blockers is provided for teachers to help provide follow-up for students who struggle at specific levels. Both small group and writing protocols and action plan documents are provided. Every lesson includes specific formative assessment opportunities for teachers to monitor student progress. Teachers meet with students, monitor progress, and document student performance daily. Students use the 100 Book Challenge books to read at multiple levels, from below, at, and above their mastery levels. This provides students with opportunity to exceed grade level standards,while allowing those who need more time with at-level texts to reach grade-level standards.

Support for Language Learners can be found in lesson annotations, for example in Unit 1, the Teacher Edition states, “Support for Language Learners, Find opportunities to support beginning English Language Learners with partners who speak the same native language. Encourage students to use their home language as a support for learning the new language. Speaking, reading, and writing in another language, even during ELA time, will only help, not hurt, students’ English language growth. If this is not possible, try to find these students partners who have previously had the experience of having to learn English or other students who are sensitive to the challenge of trying to learn new content in a new language.” Another example can be found in Unit 1, Week 3, Day 3 the Teacher Edition states, “Accommodating ELLs and Remedial Readers, Ideally all students do Independent Reading in the genre. However, it is paramount that students experience success-level reading: reading where their own skill base is self-extending (i.e., learning to be better readers by reading). When faced with the choice between having a student do his/her Independent Reading with success level books or with books in the genre that are too hard for her/him, choose success level first. “

Indicator 3q

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet requirements for regularly, including extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level. Extension activities are provided throughout the materials.

Independent Reading Level Assessment (IRLA) is used to determine, monitor, and research a student's reading level. The teacher determines the skills and strategies each student has mastered and which he needs to learn next. Teachers then address those needs using whole-group, small-group, and one-on-one conferencing. Materials are provided for documenting student progress in the IRLA. Teachers are provided with reading level guides and formative assessment conferencing protocol that is used daily to monitor and interpret student performance. Teachers and students set Power Goals at the student’s level. There is guidance for teachers to assist students in reaching the goal set. Both small group and writing protocols and action plan documents are provided.. Every lesson includes specific formative assessment opportunities for teachers to monitor student progress. Teachers meet with students, monitor progress, and document student performance daily. Students are encouraged to choose books from the Book Boxes to reach beyond their reading levels. Students who complete a task early are often instructed to work with a peer to better help the peer understand the process.

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 7 meet the expectations of providing ample opportunities for teachers to use grouping strategies during lessons. Students work in pairs, small groups, as a whole group, and one on one with the teacher during Reading Workshop.

For example, in Unit 3, Week 1, Day 2, the Teacher Edition states, “Partner Share: Read what you wrote as you listened. What is the setting of this book so far? Why do you think it will matter to the story? What evidence from the text best supports your answer?

Levels and Dimensions of Setting:

  • Physical (place, locality, country, political situation)
  • Temporal (era, duration)
  • Culture/Society
  • Mind of the Narrator
  • Other critical elements”

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

Materials are compatible with multiple internet browsers. While there are regular suggestions that students use digital technologies for research or publication, there is little explicit guidance for teachers to scaffold these activities. Adaptive technology considerations were not found in the materials.Materials are easily customizable for local use and a broad variety of topics and texts are available.

Indicator 3s

Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials 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. Accessibility was tested on Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, an Android phone, an iPhone, and an iPad. All access was successful.

Indicator 3t

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

While students regularly are invited to use technology to research topics, there is little explicit support for teachers to guide students in developing navigation skills for this area. The Teacher Edition notes that teachers should pull in help from librarians and other resources to help aid the use of technology.

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 meet the expectations that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Lessons are personalized for all learners through independent reading and Reader’s Workshop. There is also a Building Instruction of Units of Study section of the Teacher’s Edition that provides the framework for teachers to plan and build their own personalized units of study. The use of adaptive or other technological innovations is not present in materials.

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the expectations that materials can be easily customized for local use. Lessons are personalized for all learners through independent reading and Reader’s Workshop. There is also a Building Instruction of Units of Study section of the Teacher’s Edition that provides the framework for teachers to plan and build their own personalized units of study. Teachers are given autonomy for choosing the appropriate core text for their classrooms. Text-Based questions and tasks found throughout the units can be used across multiple texts. The Book Boxes can be customized to address local students’ needs.

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 7 meet the expectations that materials include or reference technology that provide opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.). Teachers and/or student collaboration using technology to publish as well as to collaborate with others. For example, in Unit 1, Week 5, Day 5 the Teacher Edition states, “Publishing: Decide how you want your students to publish their essays. The following ideas are only to get you thinking. Publishing Ideas, Formal essay (cover page, typed, bound, etc.), Blog entry, Class/school website, Submit to relevant periodical/newspaper, Class newspaper/periodical/journal/portfolio, PowerPoint, or Create a book.”

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: Mon Sep 17 00:00:00 UTC 2018

Report Edition: 2017

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
IRLA CCSS Version 8 978-1-63437-885-7 Copyright: 2017 American Reading Company 2017
IRLA CCS Version 8 Conference Notebook 978-1-63437-982-3 Copyright: 2017 American Reading Company 2017

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ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

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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

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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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