Alignment: Overall Summary

Common Core Code X partially meets the expectations of alignment to the standards. The materials include quality texts that encompass the balance of text types required by the standards and also support students' knowledge building, though some texts may require additional consideration due to level of complexity. The majority of questions, tasks, and activities in which students engage are text-focused, attending to the depth of close reading and analysis called for in the standards. There is a cohesive writing plan across the year that engages students in a variety of tasks and writing types that meet the expectations of the standards. However, opportunities for consistent and coherent vocabulary building, research, and culminating tasks that demonstrate knowledge and skills learned in the units, are inconsistent or absent from the materials.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

0
17
32
36
30
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

0
15
28
32
24
28-32
Meets Expectations
16-27
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
N/A
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The Grade 7 materials include high-quality texts that reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards, though some texts are significantly above grade level either in readability or subject matter/content and supports throughout are not sufficient to move students toward grade-level proficiency. Questions and tasks build toward demonstration of students’ mastery of content and skills. Students are presented with many opportunities to engage in text-based discussions, however protocols and teacher guidance for those discussions are limited. There are many opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based writing that meets the expectations of the standards. Students are provided with explicit instruction of grammar and conventions and are expected to apply those skills in their 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.
15/20
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The Grade 7 materials include high-quality texts that reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards and enable to students to engage in a range and volume of reading. While some texts are at the appropriate level of complexity for this grade, some texts are significantly above grade level either in readability or subject matter/content and supports throughout are not sufficient to move students toward grade-level proficiency.

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 criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.  The texts are authentic and timeless and include a mix of classic and contemporary selections written by both male and female authors. Topics are relevant to students’ lives and experiences; texts are worthy of students’ time and attention to support the thematic focus of the units, and expose students to a variety of text types/genres. The texts include excerpts from novels, nonfiction works, poetry, magazines, journal articles, memoirs, essays, and biographies. They are rich in vocabulary and structure and align well with content areas such as science and social studies appropriate to Grade 7. Examples of anchor texts that meet the criteria include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students read the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. This is a challenging text with a lot of figurative language, imagery, and complicated themes that will challenge students to consider choices.
  • In Unit 2, students read the article “What Could Be Better Than a Touchdown” by Kelefa Sanneh. This challenging non-fiction text explores a topic that many students already have an interest in from a different standpoint and offers an argument that will engage students in consideration of the point.
  • In Unit 5, students read an excerpt from Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington. This compelling novel uses rich language conventionality.
  • In Unit 7, students read an excerpt from The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs. The subject matter is thought-provoking and includes cause-and-effect structure and academic vocabulary. Students need some background knowledge for comprehension.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for materials reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level. The texts include a variety of informational and literary texts so students are exposed to different modes of writing. A sample of text types include short stories, poems, articles, novel excerpts, autobiographies, editorials, and dramas.

The following are examples of literature found within the core instructional materials:

  • Unit 1: from Call Me Maria, an excerpt from the novel by Judith Ortiz Cofer
  • Unit 1: “The Road Not Taken,”a poem by Robert Frost
  • Unit 2: “Casey at the Bat,” a poem by Ernest L. Thayer
  • Unit 3: from Twelve Angry Men, an excerpt from the play by Reginald Rose
  • Unit 3: “Democracy,” a poem by Langston Hughes and Sara Holbrook
  • Unit 5: from The Diary of Anne Frank, excerpts from the play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett

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

  • Unit 1: “Essays That Made a Difference,” college admissions essay by Christina Mendoza, James Gregory, and Hugh Gallagher
  • Unit 1: from “A Homeless Girl’s Dream,” an article from Essence by Jeannine Amber
  • Unit 3: “Ain’t I a Woman,” a speech by Sojourner Truth
  • Unit 4: from The Perfect Storm, an excerpt from the creative nonfiction book by Sebastian Junger
  • Unit 4: from “In Deference to Crisis, a New Obsession Sweeps Japan: Self-Restraint,” and article by Ken Belson and Norimitsu Onishi
  • Unit 5: from Behind the Beautiful Forevers, an excerpt from the narrative nonfiction by Katherine Boo
  • Unit 7: from The End of Poverty, by Jeffrey Sachs

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.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria that texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Texts that are moderate in complexity are accompanied by tasks that increase the level of rigor by demanding higher order thinking skills and analyses from students. However, there are several examples of texts that are either significantly above the text complexity level appropriate for the grade level both in Lexile and content complexity. Additionally, some texts might be readable, but the content and/or subject matter is well-above the grade level. Some texts include highly sophisticated domain-specific language as well as sophisticated rhetorical techniques. Texts consistently fit the unit topic and theme but are not consistently at grade-level.

Examples of texts that are above complexity level (1010L) include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 2, students read from Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich with 1190. s text is challenging at Moderate 2, but with enough support students would find it accessible.The reader must make inferences and will encounter many advanced academic terms. It is used as the second text in the unit, so students will have some background related to the topic.
  • In Unit 4, students read from The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger with a 1100L. This nonfiction text is a compelling story and is listed as Complex 1 and connects to the unit’s topic, Nature’s Fury.
  • In Unit 5, students read from Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo with a 1220L. This text falls at the top end of the grade band for 11-12. It is a narrative that includes sections that are fairly easy to follow and others that are complicated.  The text complexity is a Complex 2. Even with support, this level of text will not be accessible to students independently.
  • In Unit 6, students read the poems “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman, “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, and “I, Too, Sing America” by Julia Alvarez with no Lexile. While these texts are highly complicated and contain ideas that are advanced for students, the first text appears on the suggested reading list in the CCSS for the grade level, and the second and third texts are similar to the first text and rated at Moderate 1.

Examples of texts that are below complexity level (860L) include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 3, students read from the play, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose. The text is quantitatively appropriate and with a qualitative metric is listed as "Moderate 2."  Students need to know fairly extensive prior knowledge about trials/juries. This text is most often read in high school due to its content and highly specialized vocabulary.
  • In Unit 3, students read two poems titled “Democracy,” one by Sara Holbrook and one by Langston Hughes with no Lexile. Both poems are listed as Moderate 2 and are a critique on democracy, so students will need to understand nuance and irony/ironic language, and make inferences.
  • In Unit 6, students read from Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata with Lexile 660L. This text falls in the stretch band for the grade levels 4-5 and is in a unit towards the end of the year.  As a 7th grade text, it is low, and, with a Moderate 2 text complexity, the complexity does not support the lower Lexile. Also, the task is not complex enough to warrant the lower level text either.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria for materials support students’ literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).

The materials offer texts and text progressions that have a variety of Lexile levels and text complexities throughout each unit and across the year.  However, there is no explanation for the placement of these texts and no progression of complexity of texts or skills through the school year. The course does not have a coherent structure or a clear plan for how the texts are leveled to build toward independence over the course of the year. Furthermore, tasks, lessons, and routines are repeated and organized in the same pattern for each unit, as is the planning and pacing of each unit. Also, there are several texts that are not at grade level by Lexile or content; each text and its accompanying tasks and lessons are significantly scaffolded with little-to-no gradual release, thus limiting opportunities for students to develop independence of grade level skills. Students are completing the same types of activities and routines as in Grade 6; there is no change in routines and expectations for students to develop independence over the course of the year.

Examples of how materials offer various complex texts, but do not increase in complexity include, but are not limited to:

  • In the beginning of the year, the students read materials that range from 940L Moderate 2  in Unit 1 through 1190L Moderate 2 in Unit 2.
  • In the middle of the year, students read poetry and a complex drama with Moderate 2 ratings in Unit 3, and 1220L Complex 1 to 1310L Complex 1 in Unit 4.  
  • By end of year, students read materials that range from 660L Moderate 2 in Unit 6 to a range of 1080L Moderate 1 to 1300L Complex 1 in Unit 7. It would seem appropriate to have more Complex ratings toward the end of the year.

Examples of teacher instruction that do not release responsibility toward independence include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1 for the First Reading of the first anchor text, the Teacher Edition instructions state, “Read the entire novel excerpt and have students orally summarize...Use Routine 4: Reading to read the entire text aloud, or ask students to read in pairs or independently.” Then, “Use Routine 5: summarize to synthesize key ideas in the novel.” For the Second Reading, students read chunks of the text “to dig deeper into the language and ideas.” For the Third Reading students are directed to “reread the text and highlight details that illustrate how setting affects characters.” They use a chart to identify evidence from the text.  Each anchor text includes guidelines and scripts for teachers to use while students engage in their close readings, as well as which Routines the students should use during each Reading. This pattern for First, Second and Third Reads continues throughout the materials and does not change.
  • In Unit 7 for the first read of the final anchor text, the Teacher Edition instructions state: “Read the entire article and have students orally summarize...Use Routine 4: Reading to read the entire text aloud, or ask students to read in pairs or independently.” Then use Routine 5: “Summarize to synthesize key ideas in the article.” The First, Second, and Third Reading instructions to the teacher never change throughout the course.

Indicator 1e

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet  the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.

All texts are accompanied by a qualitative text analysis and quantitative Lexile level (except poetry); however, there is no rationale or purpose for why individual texts were chosen and placed in the particular grade level. Text complexity rubrics are found in the Teacher Edition for the three anchor texts in each unit. Rubrics are scored in four categories: Purpose, Structure, Language Conventionality and Clarity, and Knowledge Demands. A five-point scale with one indicating easiest and five indicating most complex is used to rate each category along with a narrative close reading focus. This close reading focus provides the teacher with the purpose of the text.  Based on the total points in each category, texts are rated as Moderate 1, Moderate 2, or Complex 1.

Examples of how the materials meet the expectations are as follows:

All texts in the program have qualitative and quantitative text analysis like the following example:

In Unit 2, students read from My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor with a quantitative measure of 940L. The overall rating according to the Code X qualitative rubric is Moderate 2. The qualitative descriptions are as follows:

  • Purpose: “The reader must identify multiple purposes of the text that are not explicitly stated (e.g., what was difficult and/or meaningful about Sotomayor’s childhood, the author’s explanation of valuable study skills, and how she discovered her vocation). The reader must interpret and connect ideas by making inferences (e.g., Sotomayor’s mother was poor, but she offered her children many educational opportunities).”
  • Structure: “The reader navigates a moderately complex and subtle structure (e.g., the memoir is a mix of narrative and expository writing).”
  • Language Conventionality and Clarity: “The reader considers figurative language (e.g., [law was] ‘a complex game with its own rules, and one that intersected with grand themes of right and wrong’). The reader encounters unfamiliar terms (e.g., solemn, explicitly, allure, diluted).”
  • Knowledge Demands: “The reader must have familiarity with the genre (i.e., the structure of the memoir requires the reader to follow both the story events described,and the ideas and lessons that the author conveys). Some references to other texts (e.g., the Encyclopedia Britannica).”

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
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

Throughout the materials, students engage in a range and volume of texts to achieve grade level reading. The materials facilitate reading using the range of texts to help students build knowledge, vocabulary, and proficiency with reading selections of varying lengths and genres. The texts range in complexity and Lexile from at grade level to above grade level that allow students to read at both their independent level as well as stretching to texts above grade level with support. Texts provided also span from classic literature and cannon material to contemporary material written and published in the last ten years. Each unit contains 2 Unit texts and one or more additional (optional) texts for further study of the topic. Each reading is designed to be taught under a typical 45-50 minute class period, but does offer some guidance for a 90 minute block. The unit texts are to be used daily via multiple close readings, discussions, and writings about the literature. There is a Literature Circle option to complement the units. These Literature Circle texts are “Leveled” books that students choose. To help students select books for Literature Circles, teachers are encouraged to take into consideration each student’s On Demand Writing responses, conferences, and Lexile measures. Students are to have 4-8 monthly Literature Circle meetings during each unit or before or after each unit. Additionally, teachers can provide “Accountable Independent Reading Books” that are also leveled. With these, students use Daily Reading Logs and H.O.T. resources and Reading Counts Quizzes. Lastly, the Code X materials offer grade level novel studies that are to be completed after Units 3 and 7.

Examples of anchor and supporting texts that provide opportunities to achieve grade level proficiency include, but are not limited to:

  • Across the units, text types include novels, poetry, sports articles, informational articles, excerpt from plays, and science articles. In the independent reading section at the end of each unit, there are additional titles provided in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, novels, films, TV, websites, and magazines. There is a strong emphasis on nonfiction.
  • In Unit 2, the first anchor text is a sports article, “What Could Be Better Than a Touchdown? by Kelefa Sanneh with a Quantitative Lexile of 1080 and an overall Text Complexity of Complex 1. Next, students read an excerpt from an informational text, Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich with a Quantitative Lexile of 1190 and an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 2. The third text is a science article, “Confessions of a Doper” by Jonathan Vaughters with a Quantitative Lexile of 1050 and an overall Text Complexity of Complex 1. The fourth text is a poem, “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest L Thayer with an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 1. The teacher is instructed to use a Reading Routine to read the entire text aloud or ask students to read in pairs or independently. In the second reading, the teacher is to model close reading, and close reading questions are embedded in the margins of the text.
  • In Unit 4, the first anchor text is a science article, “Telling Americans to Vote, or Else from the New York Times with a Quantitative Lexile level of 1220 and an overall Text Complexity of Complex 1. Next, students read an excerpt from an informational text, “Super Disasters of the 21st Century” from Science World with a Quantitative Lexile of 1000 and an overall Text Complexity of Moderate 2. The third text is an excerpt from the novel The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger with a Quantitative Lexile of 1100 and an overall Text Complexity of Complex 1.  First and second readings follow the same pattern as Unit 1.
  • In Unit 6, students read and compare several poems. “I hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman and “I, Too” by Langston Hughes both have a qualitative level of Moderate 1. The next poem, “I, Too, Sing America” by Julia Alvarez has a Moderate 2 complexity level. Next, students read an excerpt from the novel Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata with a Quantitative level of 660L and an overall qualitative measure of Moderate 2. Finally, students read “One Today” a poem by Richard Blanco with a qualitative measure of Moderate 2.
  • In each grade, students read two full-length novels to build reading volume and stamina. For 7th grade, these novels are  Monster by Walter Dean Myers and Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. The novel topics are different from the Unit texts, which allows students to practice close reading skills with new content.

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 materials include high-quality, text-dependent or text-specific questions and tasks that build toward a culminating task that allows students to demonstrate their mastery of content and skills gained in the unit. While opportunities are present for students to engage in text-based discussions, the protocols that support those discussions are limited and provide little support for the teacher to effectively implement these content-based discussions.

There are many opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based writing about texts they have been reading through both on-demand and process writing that meets the expectations of the standards. Students are provided with explicit instruction of grammar and conventions and are expected to apply those skills in their writing.

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

The student materials contain close reading questions in the margins of each anchor text. These close reading questions are text-specific, directing students to key areas of the text, often naming paragraphs. Questions are identified by skill, such as key ideas and details, academic vocabulary, writing, and text structure. After the reading selection, students complete a scaffolded exercise called “Identify Evidence,” during which they must provide text evidence and an explanation that supports a question connected to the text. Students fill out a chart with the headings, evidence, source, page, and explanation. In most of the charts, there is some modeling in the evidence category, and then students have to find additional evidence on their own. The next exercise is called “Key Ideas and Details.” Here, students are presented with additional open-ended, text-dependent questions. Finally, there is a section of “Craft and Structure” questions. Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation by providing exemplar answers as well as scripted instruction for the teacher to use.

Examples of the text-dependent questions include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 2, students read an excerpt from the novel Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich and answer text-dependent questions. Examples include, but are not limited to: .

  • While reading, students answer text-dependent questions and tasks found in the margins: “What is the author’s “antelope” in paragraph 2? Why will Heinrich “never, never forget” the 100-km race in Chicago? What is the effect of the author’s descriptions of the national park in Zimbabwe? How does the description tie into the key ideas he is exploring in this text?”
  • In the “Identify Evidence” section, students are asked to find and explain evidence for how the author introduces, illustrates, and elaborates claims about the connections among running, biology, and human evolution.
  • Additional text dependent questions related to this selection include: “What recurring metaphor does the author introduce in the first paragraph? How did the author’s experiences lead him to write Why We Run?. Discuss the claims the author makes and develops in paragraphs 5-7.”

In Unit 3, in the “Collaborate and Present” part of the unit, students work with a partner to plan and write a two-minute speech justifying their perspective on democracy, supporting it with reasons and evidence from multiple texts. They are instructed to consider the following questions in their planning:

  • How does each author view democracy? How does text evidence reveal his or her perspective?
  • In what ways does text evidence support -- or differ from -- your perspective on democracy?

In Unit 6, both poetry and novel excerpts offer questions that support explicit and implicit understanding through text-dependent questions. Examples of explicit understanding include, but are not limited to:

  • In the poem, “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman, question 4 asks, “What words or phrases support the idea that Whitman celebrates Americans doing their various jobs?”
  • In the novel excerpt, from Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, question 1 asks students to Identify the point of view of the story.

Examples that support inferential understanding include, but are not limited to:

  • In the poem “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, question 6 asks, “Explain who Hughes refers to when he says ‘darker’ in line 2 and ‘they’ in line 3.”
  • In the poem “I, Too, Sing America” by Julia Alvarez, question 11 asks, “Explain why the author writes in Spanish and English.”

In Unit 6, in the culminating writing task, the prompt says, “These writers all claim a specific vision of what it means to be an American. Compare and contrast their perspectives, referencing their literary devices and figurative language.” This task requires students to use both explicit and inferred understanding in order to pull evidence from multiple texts in the unit. Students are instructed: “Examine the evidence you collected from both texts...that describes each author’s perspective.”

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
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for having sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

In addition to this, the speaking and listening task at the end of every unit is practice for the culminating writing task linked to the texts in the units. Students may present speeches or debates in the Collaborate and Present section of each unit, and they perform some research tasks (after reading Text 3 and 4). Throughout each unit, speaking and writing tasks include questions that focus on key ideas and details and craft and structure in texts. These questions require short, on-demand written responses. Performance Tasks are presented in a variety of modes (argumentative, informative, literary analysis, fictional narrative/short story). The culminating tasks and activities often ask students to compare/contrast texts that have been presented as sets or series or to synthesize the meaning, themes, or central ideas of the text sets. Overall, the culminating activities and the tasks and activities that lead to them allow students the opportunity to demonstrate what they know using both writing and speaking skills.

Examples of sequenced questions and tasks that build to a culminating task include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 1, the Writing Performance Task states, “Write the story of an important event or decision: it can be real or imagined. What understanding or insight did this experience reveal?” The anchor texts are the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, and an excerpt from the novel, Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer. In the Collaborate and Present section just prior to the Performance Task, students begin their thinking about decision making and are instructed to work in groups: “The narrator of the poem “The Road Not Taken” must choose between two paths. Work in groups to debate which path was the right choice, the road taken or the road not taken.  Present your claim using reasons, and support your reasons with the evidence from the poem.” Questions while reading the novel excerpt, Call Me Maria, focuses students on perspective how that point of view affects the story and characters. Examples include:

  • What point of view does the author use? Find words in the text to support your answer.  What is the effect of using this point of view? (this is an On Demand Writing Task)
  • Find details in the text that the author uses to describe Mami’s appearance. What tone does the author create with the details she gives about Mami?
  • What is the significance of the phrase “her eyes were looking past me, looking for her future” in paragraph 34? How does this sentence indicate that Maria’s relationship with her mother will be like in the future?
  • The Identify Evidence task asks, “How does the author introduce, illustrate, and elaborate on individuals, events, and ideas that show how setting affects character?”
  • The Craft and Structure section has students do the following: “Describe the different perspectives in paragraph 15. What are the advantages and disadvantages of first-person point of view? Why might the author have chosen the first-person point of view?”

In Unit 2, the Writing Performance Task prompts students to “Use evidence from two texts in the unit to develop or refute the claim that mental strength and agility are just as important as physical prowess in sports.” The anchor texts for this unit are “What Could Be Better than a Touchdown” by Kelefa Sanneh and an excerpt from Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich. Questions and tasks while reading the texts include:

  • In the Identify Evidence section for “What Could Be Better than a Touchdown,” students identify reasons and evidence that Sanneh cites to introduce, illustrate, and elaborate the claim that a touchdown isn’t always the smartest play in a football game and explain how the evidence supports the author’s claim.
  • In the Craft and Structure section, students analyze the structure of the essay by identifying how does it begin, what is the argument, how is it introduced and supported, and how does the author conclude his argument.
  • In the Read the Model section, students read and analyze the example argumentative essay and identify the thesis, topic sentences, reasons and evidence, and the conclusion. Students are provided with the example. Then, they apply their practice to their writing using the same graphic organizers, and they practice writing thesis statements to develop their argumentative essay.

In Unit 5, the Writing Performance Task is toAnalyze which author conveys the challenges faced by the people or main characters most successfully. Consider the narrative techniques and the strategies that the authors use.” In Collaborate and Present, students work with a small group to create a character map for one of the people depicted in the texts. The anchor texts are excerpts from Rabbit- Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine. Questions and tasks while reading include:

  • Describe one challenge faced by Aboriginals. Provide textual evidence.
  • Describe the challenges faced by the Aboriginals. How did the use of narrative techniques and strategies reveal those challenges?
  • Discuss a couple of challenges that Annawadians face.
  • Describe one technique or strategy Boo used to convey the challenges faced by Abdul.
  • Students create a T-Chart listing examples of dialogue and descriptive details that portray challenges faced by the  Aboriginals.
  • Students create a T-Chart listing examples of descriptive details and observations that help them infer that the Annawadians live in poverty.

In Unit 7, the Writing Performance Task prompts: “Trace the authors’ lines of argument regarding effective ways to fight poverty. Evaluate the specific claims, distinguishing which claims are supported by reasons, facts, and evidence, and which are not.”  In The Collaborate and Present activity prior to the Performance Task, students collaborate to research a charity and present on the success of the charity’s efforts. The anchor texts are an excerpt from The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, the article “Saving the World One Click at a Time” by Renee Carver, and an excerpt from The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer. Questions and tasks while reading include::

  • How does the author explain the claim that giving more money to ‘solve the crisis of extreme poverty’ would ‘provide for U.S. national security?
  • The author mentions that he has “spent the past twenty years” visiting and working with people “in more than a hundred countries with around 90 percent of the world’s population.” Why does he do this?
  • How does the information about FreeRice support the author’s claim in paragraph 3 about charities and the Internet?
  • Students complete a chart in the Craft and Structure section to analyze the structure of an informational article and examine the author’s purpose.

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

Each of the seven units provides opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions that incorporate academic vocabulary and syntax. These protocols include Think (Write)-Pair-Share, Idea Wave, Academic Vocabulary, and Socratic Seminar. Protocols are outlined in the Teacher Edition and include purpose, a description of the routine, and implementation support. However, the protocols and strategies that are offered for teachers are limited, and their suggested use is vague. In the implementation support section, sentence frames are provided for the teacher to help guide students in their discussions, yet there is minimal guidance and support for students struggling with these skills.

Each unit begins with engaging students through a discussion introducing the unit, often using the Idea Wave routine. Throughout the units there are opportunities for large and small group discussions around academic vocabulary and text analysis. Checklists and graphic organizers are provided for students to use in preparation for discussions and oral presentations. Some guidance is provided in the Teacher Edition for modeling and explaining evidence and modeling text-based responses. While the daily structure expects students to participate in small or pair discussion every day, the directions in the Teacher Edition could be hard to follow. There is little differentiation between which lessons are intended for whole group or small group discussion. Overall, structures are in place to encourage teachers to use collaboration, small group, and pair discussions to support growing academic vocabulary and student use of civil discussion; however, the implementation could be difficult for a teacher without additional training.

Examples of speaking and listening opportunities and protocols that meet the expectations include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 2, students have multiple opportunities while reading The New Yorker article, “What Could Be Better Than a Touchdown?” by Kelefa Sanneh:

  • In the introduction, during a teacher-led discussion using the Think (Write)-Pair-Share routine, students are asked: “Describe a time you watched top athletes perform. How did they succeed? How important was their physical strength compared to their mental alertness?” This activity is used at the beginning of every unit.
  • Before reading, students use the Academic Vocabulary routine to learn the meaning of academic vocabulary. As part of this routine, students pronounce the word, rate their understanding, explain the meaning, discuss at least two meaningful examples of the word, work in pairs to apply the word using a sentence started provided by the teacher, and review the words the following day. This activity is used before each text in all units.
  • In the Identify Evidence section, the teacher is instructed to “Model Identifying and Explaining Evidence.” A script is provided for the teacher to think out loud to help students explain evidence
  • In the Key Ideas and Details section, students use Think (Write)-Pair-Share routine to select important details to complete a chart explaining the significance of individuals and events in the text.


In Unit 4, students have multiple opportunities while reading two texts, Super Disasters of the 21st Century and The Perfect Storm. Examples include, but are limited to:

  • In the first read of Super Disasters of the 21st Century, the Teacher Edition suggests students participate in a Think-Pair-Share with a focus on text structure. The Teacher Edition suggests providing them with a sentence starter: “The transition word ‘but’ suggests that the authors will discuss__” to support their thinking.
  • In the first read of The Perfect Storm, students participate in an Idea Wave to discuss words and phrases in context. Students are to name other words and the meanings of words with retro and spect in them.

In Unit 6, students have multiple opportunities while reading various poems. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Before reading different poems, students use the Academic Vocabulary routine and Idea Wave routine to learn the meaning of academic vocabulary used in the poems, “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman, “I, Too” by Langston Hughes, and “I, Too, Sing America” by Julia Alvarez. As part of this routine, students pronounce the word, rate their understanding, explain the meaning, discuss at least two meaningful examples of the word, work in pairs to apply the word using a sentence started provided by the teacher, and review the words the following day. They use the Idea Wave to discuss words they know with the prefix bi or the suffix ly.
  • Students use the Socratic Seminar routine to discuss questions that lead to a deeper understanding of the poem, “One Today” by Richard Blanco.

Examples of evidence that do not meet the expectations for opportunities and protocols include, but are not limited to:

In the Instructional Routines section at the back of the Teacher Edition, the routines themselves are not well explained and may be hard to follow. Examples include:

  • In Think (Write)-Pair-Share, the purpose is clearly indicated along with background on why it should be used, but the protocol itself is not explained in a way that a person who had never used it before could effectively implement the protocol. There are stems, frames, and suggestions made throughout, but there is no clear indication of the steps of the protocol.
  • For Idea Wave, teachers are told to “choose a student to share, then continue around the class in a wave-like fashion with each student in turn providing a quick oral response.” Later in the directions the teacher is told to “allow for a few comments from students who were not part of the wave.”  It is unclear how to choose students, what the wave-like fashion looks like, or how students are chosen to report out.
  • For Socratic Seminar, teachers are told that a “leader” should ask an “open-ended question or present a focused task,” but they are only given a generalized example of how to do this. There is an example of what the Socratic Seminar could look like in action but it does not show how to incorporate the steps from the Instructional Routines directions into that example. The routine does not explain how to incorporate the steps into an actual seminar. The examples given for each step show the teacher modeling specific language but do not provide support in how to get students to utilize that language as they build skill through various seminars.

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
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

Speaking and listening instruction is applied frequently over the course of the school year. Students have multiple opportunities over the school year to demonstrate what they are reading and researching through varied speaking and listening opportunities in tasks labeled Close Reads, Identify Evidence, Key Idea and Details, Craft and Structure, Collaborate and Present tasks, Writing tasks, and Extended Reading instruction. Students are provided opportunities to work with partners, small groups, and large groups; to practice sharing information they have summarized and synthesized; and to present research they have conducted individually and/or in groups.

Each unit includes a speaking and listening task in which students either research and present a project, present a speech, hold a class debate, participate in a Socratic Seminar, or present a poem. Discussions tied to reading selections require students to marshal evidence from the texts and sources. Teacher guidance includes routines and sentence frames to guide students in increasing skills over the year. All of the speaking and listening opportunities throughout the text require students to go back into the text or to utilize their understanding from the text to build upon it through outside research in order to participate in the small-group, pair, and whole-group speaking activities.

Examples of speaking and listening activities that are connected to what students are reading and/or researching include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, after reading the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, students work in groups to debate which path was the right choice, the road taken or the road not taken. They are instructed to make their claim using reasons and support their reasons with evidence from the poem. Students are given questions to consider as they examine details in the poem and the effect of those details on the reader. Students use a presentation checklist to self-evaluate their presentation skills.
  • In Unit 3, students plan and deliver a speech. In the assignment, students work with a partner to plan and write a two-minute speech justifying their perspective on democracy, supporting it with reasons and evidence from the texts. Students are given questions to consider as they complete a chart of reasons and text evidence that supports and justifies their perspective. Students use a presentation checklist to self-evaluate their presentation skills. Teacher guidance includes sentence frames to facilitate partner work using the Think (Write)-Pair-Share routine.
  • In Unit 4, students plan and deliver a research presentation on one of the disasters they read about in the unit in greater detail. Students work in small groups to describe the effects of the disaster on the country, city, or community. Students are given prompts to guide their research: “Which natural disaster was the most interesting to you? Why? What else do you want to know about the natural disaster?”
  • In Unit 5, after reading excerpts from Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, students work with a small group to plan and deliver a presentation. They create a character map for one of the people depicted in the texts. They are to choose three actions, descriptions, and relationships that helped them gain a deep understanding of the character and present this to the class using the map as a visual.
  • In Unit 7, after reading the article “Saving the World One Click at a Time” by Renee Carver, students work with a group to research two non-profit organizations, either Heifer International or FreeRice. They use multiple resources to determine the success of the charity’s efforts. Students are given questions to consider as they complete a chart with claims, reasons, and evidence. Students use a presentation checklist to self-evaluate their presentation skills. Teacher guidance includes sentence frames to facilitate group work.

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 reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g., multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

The materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing and short, focused projects which are aligned to grade level standards. A range of writing activities and tasks are provided with writing instruction, including shorter, on-demand writing routines to help students build stamina and increase rigor that lead to extended writing tasks. There are a variety of short, on-demand writing responses within texts and text sets. Occasionally, the on-demand writing occurs as a Wrap-Up question and is used to synthesize key content-area ideas. The Wrap-Up responses connect to one or more selections in the text sets. The written responses throughout the units vary in mode and do occasionally offer opportunities for revision and peer feedback. The materials also include a specific Writing Process Routine protocol that is used in each unit’s writing Performance Task and includes purpose, description of the routine, and implementation support. The student materials include models, prewriting graphic organizers, peer review rubrics to revise and edit, and steps to publish. Digital resources are used in both the publishing step of the extended writing and in some of the writing tasks.

Examples of process writing tasks and instruction include, but are not limited to:

The Performance Task section in each unit starts with Analyze the Model in which students are provided a model of the writing task and a process to analyze how the model fulfills the assignment. After this step, they are walked through a multi-stepped process to write the task:

Step 1 - Generate Ideas: students are provided with a graphic organizer that fits the needs of the task and supports providing information to write about for the task.

Step 2 -- Organize Ideas: students are provided with a graphic organizer to help them organize the ideas specific to the task they are writing.

Step 3 -- Draft: students are provided with processes to look at Language Study and Conventions Study.

Step 4 -- Revise and Edit: students are provided with a checklist for both themselves and a partner to read their writing and to provide feedback.

Step 5 -- Publish

  • In Unit 1, the writing Performance Task is a narrative: ”Write the story of an important event or decision; it can be real or imagined. What understanding or insight did this experience reveal?” Students "Generate Ideas" while reading and analyzing a model narrative. They "Organize Ideas" using a graphic organizer to compare story elements from Call Me Maria with their own narrative ideas, and continue this process using another graphic organizer to plot their narrative. Students "Draft" completing a language study to use a variety of transition words to convey sequence of events, and use sentence frames to plot out the beginning, middle and end of their story. A rubric is provided to "Revise and Edit" their draft with a partner.
  • In Unit 4, the writing Performance Task is an informative essay: “ Compare and contrast strategies and techniques that each author uses to describe the causes and effects of disasters. Consider text structure, choice of vocabulary, and use of data and details.” Students "Generate Ideas"while reading and analyzing a model essay. They "Organize Ideas" using graphic organizers to gather evidence and organize their ideas. They "Draft" by completing a language study to practice combining and rewriting sentences, and continue this using sentence frames to help them combine sentences about the causes and effects of the authors’ strategies. A rubric is provided to "Revise and Edit" their draft with a partner.
  • In Unit 7, the argument writing Performance Task states: “Trace the authors’ lines of argument regarding effective ways to fight poverty. Evaluate the specific claims, distinguishing which claims are supported by reasons, facts and evidence, and which are not.” Students "Generate Ideas" reading and analyzing a model argument. They "Organize Ideas"using graphic organizers to gather evidence and organize their ideas. They "Draft" by completing a language study in which they evaluate effective conclusions and use complete sentence frames to help them make and defend their claim. A rubric is provided to "Revise and Edit" their draft with a partner.

Examples of on-demand tasks and instruction include, but are not limited to:

In the Instructional Routines section of the Teacher Edition, the On Demand Writing Routine provides a four-step frame to support student analysis of a prompt:

  1. “Analyze the prompt: Provide tasks and sentence frames to help students unpack the writing prompt.  As students to orally restate the prompt using the frames below.
  2. Identify Audience: Determine the audience for this assignment.
  3. Find Evidence: Select the evidence necessary to address the prompt.
  4. Write Response: Allow students approximately ten minutes to write their responses.”
  • In Unit 1, students read an excerpt from Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer and the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Students use the On Demand Writing Routine to answer questions: “What is the significance of the phrase ‘her eyes were looking past me, looking for her future’ from paragraph 34? How does this sentence indicate what Maria’s relationship with her mother will be like in the future? What decision does the narrator need to make? How can you tell this decision is difficult for the narrator? Find the phrase in the second stanza that lets you know the narrator has made a decision and acted upon it.”
  • In Unit 4, students read a science article, “Super Disasters of the 21st Century” by Jacqueline Adams and Ken Kostel, and an excerpt from The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. They use the On Demand Writing Routine to answer questions: “Review paragraphs 10-17. Summarize the effects the levees had on the city of New Orleans. Does the author provide sufficient evidence to support the claim that ‘it’s economically and structurally impractical to construct every boat to hundred-year specifications’?”
  • In Unit 7, students read an excerpt from The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs and the informational article “Saving the World One Click at a Time” by Renee Carver. They use the On Demand Writing Routine to answer: “The author mentions that he has ‘spent the past twenty years’ visiting and working with people ‘in more than a hundred countries with around 90 percent of the world’s population.’ Why does he do this? How does paragraph 11 help support the author’s claim that they internet ‘has made it easier for charities to reach people around the world- and for people around the world to support charities’?”

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Students have the opportunity to write a narrative, one informative essay, one explanatory essay, a Literary analysis and three argumentative essays. At the end of each unit, students complete a writing Performance Task that is tied to the texts that are studied in the respective units. The writing instruction includes skill introduction, practice, application, and refinement, thus supporting students’ literacy development in writing.  

Examples of different types of writing include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students write a narrative, real or imagined, of an important event or decision. They are to select techniques used in the excerpt from Call Me Maria, such as descriptive details, sequence, and point of view, as they generate and organize their ideas.
  • In Unit 3, students write an informative essay in which they compare and contrast two writers’ perspectives on democracy. They analyze the strategies the authors use to convey their perspectives.
  • In Unit 4, students write an explanatory essay, comparing and contrasting strategies and techniques that each author used to describe the causes and effects of disasters. They are guided to consider text structure, choice of vocabulary, and use of data and details.
  • In Unit 6, students write a literary analysis essay, examining three authors’ perspectives on what it means to be American. Students are to reference the authors’ literary devices and figurative language.
  • In Unit 7, students write an argumentative essay. They are assigned to trace the authors’ lines of argument regarding effective ways to fight poverty. Students are to evaluate the specific claims, distinguishing which claims are supported by reasons, facts, and evidence, and which are not.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

Students are offered multiple opportunities across the school year to learn, practice, and apply evidence-based writing in connection with the texts they are reading. Students are asked to provide evidence for all short response and long form writing. Each text is accompanied by close reading questions and an exercise called Identify Evidence where students complete a chart answering analysis questions about the text with evidence, source, page number, and explanation. In order to complete the summative Performance Tasks, students revisit one or more texts to find evidence. They complete various tasks that analyze the material and support a claim with evidence.  As students work through units, frames, sentence stems, and other supports are gradually removed, so students move toward independence at the end of the school year.

Examples of opportunities for evidence-based writing include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students analyze the content of the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and debate which path was the right choice. Students present claims “using reasons, and support [their] reasons with evidence from the poem.” To support students in writing and presenting their argument, a graphic organizer has them “choose one example of a detail in the poem that indicates which road is the right road.”
  • In Unit 2, students read the article “What Could Be Better Than A Touchdown?” Sentence frames are provided to help students answer close reading questions requiring evidence from the text: “What does the author say is ‘impossible to contest’ without confirming ‘you guys are nerds’? Why does he end the article this way?”  In the Identifying Evidence exercise, students complete a chart citing reasons and evidence that the author uses to introduce, illustrate, and elaborate on the claim that a touchdown is not always the smartest play in a football game. Three pieces of evidence and explanation are provided to support students, then students must find more evidence and provide an explanation. In the Performance Task, students are given an exemplar argumentative essay and are asked to identify the parts of the essay. Parts include: thesis, topic sentence, reason/evidence, and conclusion. After examining the exemplar, students must use evidence from the two anchor texts to develop or refute the claim that mental strength and agility are just as important as physical prowess in sports.
  • In Unit 7, students read From “Saving the World One Click at a Time” by Renee Carver and answer a close reading Craft and Structure Wrap-Up question: “Describe Renee Carver’s purpose for writing this article. Cite text evidence to support your response.”  In this unit, there are no sentence frames or examples guiding students.

Indicator 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

The grammar instruction and support are presented in an increasingly sophisticated sequence consistent with the demands of the standards. While grammar and conventions are rarely addressed within the reading instruction, each of the seven units does contain one grammar and conventions lesson. The conventions lesson is taught prior to and is linked to the culminating Performance Task, and the Performance Task rubric often references the grammar lesson.  Throughout the year, previous grammar lessons are revisited in later grammar lessons. The Teacher Edition includes instructions to guide students through conventions lessons. These instructions often refer to additional resources that are only found in the online edition. Conventions lessons follow a See It, Try It, Apply It sequence and are taught both in and out of context. In the Revise and Edit step of the Performance Task, the student checklist refers to the conventions skill so that students’ attention is called to the application of the new skill. Conventions lessons build upon each other and require students to practice in isolation, in a model essay, and in their own essay.

Examples of conventions instruction include, but are not limited to:

  • In the Performance Task at the end of every unit, a Conventions Study connects to the mode of writing required in the essay. The convention skills are as follows:

Unit 1:  Using Phrase and Clauses

Unit 2: Vary Sentence Patterns

Unit 3: Transition Words and Phrases

Unit 4: Using Sentence Variety

Unit 5: Clarify Relationships

Unit 6: Domain Specific Vocabulary

Unit 7: Use Phrases and Clauses Correctly

  • In Unit 1: Using Phrases and Clauses, students are given explicit instruction on phrases and clauses and then have a practice paragraph in which they identify phrases and clauses. They follow up by revising their narrative story and adding phrases and clauses that identify a cause and effect relationship and to signal time.
  • In Unit 2: Vary Sentence Patterns, students learn that sentence patterns describe how the parts of a sentence are organized and and that writers should vary their sentence patterns in order to add variety and avoid repetition in their writing. In the See It and Try It sections, students examine an example paragraph and note how the author varies sentence length, uses clauses, and avoids repetition. In the Apply It section, students read through their rough draft and analyze sentence patterns. They revise two sentences to add variety and avoid repetition using the following questions as a guide: “Can I add more descriptive details? Can two or more sentences be combined? Could I provide extra information using dashes or commas? Can I use pronouns to avoid repetition?” Students use the checklist to evaluate how they varied ”sentence patterns for meaning, reader interest, and variety”.
  • In Unit 4: Using Sentence Variety, students are given explicit instruction on simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. Then, they are asked to identify the sentence type in a sample sentence. Students follow up by revising one of their body paragraphs using a variety of sentence structures to make their writing more interesting and to signal different relationships among ideas.
  • In Unit 7: Use Phrases and Clauses Correctly, students learn that phrases and clauses can add more information about the words they describe. In this lesson, there is no See It, Try It, Apply It pattern. Rather, students look at excerpts from the model essay and “find the words that the underlined words modify.” Then, they are instructed to rewrite sentences from their own draft to avoid dangling or misplaced modifiers.  As students revise their writing, they use the checklist to evaluate how they “placed phrases and clauses appropriately in a sentence to avoid misplaced and dangling modifiers.”

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The materials are organized around topics or themes that helps students to grow their knowledge and skills to read and comprehend complex text. Questions and tasks throughout guide students through analysis of texts, including all elements of texts and how knowledge and ideas are represented within and across texts. However, the culminating tasks for each may not require a demonstration of the skills and knowledge students have gained throughout the unit and can sometimes be completed in the absence of these skills.

Vocabulary instruction in the materials is provided in a limited context and is not applied across multiple texts or units.

The materials provide a comprehensive plan to grow students’ writing skills over the course of the year. Though there is a lack of instruction in and opportunities for, organized research opportunities.

A systematic plan for independent reading, including accountability structures are included in the materials.

Criterion 2a - 2h

24/32

Indicator 2a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that texts are organized around topics and/or themes to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The topics are engaging, relatable, and grade-level appropriate. Students focus on a topic or theme through connected texts, allowing them to build knowledge and vocabulary to comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. The texts build on one another and share enough common ideas that the more complicated texts are comprehensible for students based on scaffolded knowledge. Each unit includes an overview that explains the topic and introduces the accompanying texts. Additionally, the Student Edition includes a Unit Introduction that provides background knowledge on the texts students will be reading.

Examples of how units and texts are organized around topics include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 2, the topic is Sports Report. The Essential Question is “ What can we learn about ourselves from studying sports and athletes?” All of the texts focus on how athletes view themselves and how they are viewed by spectators and fans.  Each text examines some aspect of sport. Anchor texts include:

  • “What Could Be Better Than a Touchdown?” by Kelefa Sanneh is an article that is the easiest for students to access and introduces them to the ideas of how spectators involve themselves and view different plays in professional sports.
  • An excerpt from Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich that examines the physical and mental preparation and skill involved in competitive running.
  • An article, “Confessions of a Doper” by Jonathan Vaughters, looks at the pressures that athletes face and why they are tempted by performance-enhancing drugs.
  • A poem, “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest L. Thayer, is about a mighty baseball player who strikes out.

In Unit 3, the topic is Your Vote! Your Rights! The Essential Question is “How do people express opinions in meaningful ways?” Students read drama and poetry to discover how authors use characters and conflicts to express perspectives about democracy, a government by the people. Anchor texts include:

  • An excerpt from Twelve Angry Men, the classic jury-room drama that follows the jury’s decision-making process in a murder trial.
  • Two poems called, “Democracy,” one by Sara Holbrook and one by Langston Hughes, that present different perspectives on the role of the individual.

In Unit 4, the topic is Nature’s Fury. Essential Question is “What are the causes and effects of natural disasters?” The authors of the texts use data and recount personal experiences to show how natural disasters impact the world. Anchor texts include:

  • An excerpt from the article “Super Disasters of the 21st Century” by Jacqueline Adams and Ken Kostel from Science World that details the causes and effects of hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
  • An excerpt from The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Younger that includes anecdotes and factual explanations to tell the story of human survival in the face of a killer storm.
  • Extended Reading: “In Deference to Crisis, a New Obsession Sweeps Japan: Self-Restraint” by Ken Belson and Norimitsu Onishi from The New York Times. The text explores the Japanese people’s response to the 2011 tsunami and what it reveals about their culture.

In Unit 5, the topic is Stolen Childhoods. The Essential Question is “Can the challenges a family faces force children to grow up too quickly?” Students read informational texts about children in different areas of the world that face poverty and crime, and a classic excerpt from a play about the holocaust. Anchor texts include:

  • An excerpt from the memoir Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington that focuses on the effects of white raiders on an Aboriginal family.
  • An excerpt from Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo.
  • An excerpt from We Were There Too! Young People in U.S. History by Phillip Hoose about a Russian girl trying to earn money in a sweatshop and the challenges immigrants face.
  • A play excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett.

Indicator 2b

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

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

These questions and tasks are clearly labeled with the particular skill they are addressing. Students are given frequent opportunities to practice identifying and studying specific elements of texts, from analyzing words to looking at the structures of paragraphs and the larger text itself. Close reading questions and tasks found in the margins of each text ask students to analyze writing, text structure, words and phrases context, academic vocabulary, and literary devices. In the “Identifying Evidence” section, students analyze characters, events, and ideas with evidence and explanations from the text. Then additional questions and tasks focus on Key Ideas and Details and Craft and Structure. The questions and tasks for the texts in each unit build upon each other and lead the students through the steady increase of skill to understanding larger topics and themes.  All of the questions first teach and then utilize grade appropriate understanding of language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of the texts.

Representative samples of questions and tasks that support this indicator are:

Unit 1: Students read an excerpt from My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor and answer questions. Examples of questions that require students to demonstrate their understanding of language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of the texts include, but are not limited to:

  • Words and Phrases in Context: What does Sotomayor mean when she writes that she and brother, surrounded by the new encyclopedias, were like “explorers at the base of Everest”?
  • Text Structure: Sotomayor includes a flash forward in paragraph 9. What words indicate that the events are a flash forward? What is Sotomayor’s purpose in including a flash forward?
  • Literary Analysis: How is June seeing the Other June in paragraph 63 an example of irony?
  • Key Ideas and Details: How does Sotomayor achieve her goal of getting more gold stars? What “critical lesson” does she learn from the experiences she describes in paragraph 7?

In Unit 3, the questions throughout the texts build upon each other and lead the student through systematically deeper reading of the text. While reading the first text, an excerpt of the play Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, students answer questions about setting, the attitude of the characters, and how the author is establishing the tone and mood of the excerpt:

  • Describe which details on this page let you know this text is a drama.  Who are the characters? What can you tell about the setting?
  • How seriously is the 7th juror taking his responsibility to decide this case?  Use evidence from lines 39-43 and line 49 to explain.
  • In lines 80-81, the 6th juror announces that he was “convinced” of the accused person’s guilt “from the first day.”  What does that say about the juror’s attitude toward the duties of a juror?

All these questions require students to refer back to the text and find answers.

Later in Unit 3, students read a speech titled “Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth and are asked more difficult questions such as:

  • Describe the tone
  • Describe the author’s view of the relationship between intellect and rights.  Explain how she uses the pint vs. quart analogy to convey her view.

In Unit 6, students build upon what they have been asked to read and understand in Unit 3. They are given a selection of fiction readings that includes poetry and novel excerpts. The questions increase in complexity as they apply their understanding to the new material.  They are asked questions at the start of the unit in the poem, “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman:

  • Distinguish between the denotative and connotative meaning of carols as used in line 1.
  • Explain the effects of assonance (repeated “ing” sounds) and alliteration (“mason,” “makes”).

In both of these questions, students are asked to find specific details, explicit, but then apply those details to some sort of analysis, inference.

Later in Unit 6, in the novel excerpt Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata, students are asked questions that are similar but increase the difficulty:

  • Katie’s mother “vowed to send us to Japan one day,” and Katie doesn’t care “so long as Lynn came along.” Compare and contrast what Katie and her mother value.
  • Discuss whether or not you think Katie will be okay.  Provide textual evidence.

In both of these examples students are asked to use prior learning from earlier sections about figurative language and literary terms such as tone, denotation, and alliteration, to identify the use in the text, and than analyze the author’s use of those features to affect the text.

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.
All  tasks in each unit build upon the topic of the unit to support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas. Questions, end of text activities, Collaborate and Present activities, and the Performance Task build upon the same knowledge and ideas across the unit. Questions require students to cite evidence from the assigned text, make inferences, access prior knowledge, and synthesize ideas. Questions and tasks cover analysis, drawing conclusions, making inferences, evaluating, and identifying author’s purpose. Students are also given On Demand writing prompts and analysis/synthesizing charts that are connected to the texts.The Collaborate and Present activity and the Performance Task require students to refer to at least one text from the unit, but often multiple texts in the unit in order to complete the task. The Teacher Edition provides guidance to teachers in supporting students’ skills. There is a cohesiveness to the questions and tasks, yet it is more of a repetitive cohesiveness, as all units have the same structure. However, by the end of the year, there is no evidence that integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded into independent student work.  While all of the work in the Performance Tasks and in the Collaborate and Present activities are directly related to one or both of the anchor texts of the units, students receive the same level of support through similar types of charts and graphic organizers across the year. The level of support and modeling provided by the teacher also stays the same throughout the units across the year.


Examples of how the units contain coherently sequenced questions, but do not require students to analyze ideas across multiple texts with growing independence include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, the Essential Question is “How do important decision impact a person’s life?” Students read anchor texts that share the topic “Mapping Your Life.” After reading an excerpt from the novel, Call Me Maria by Judith Ortiz Cofer and the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, students answer, in writing, text-based questions during the close read. Once they come to the end of a text, they answer questions based on key ideas and details and craft and structure. The tasks build on each other ending in a narrative writing Performance Task: “Write the story of an important event or decision; it can be real or imagined. What understanding or insight did this experience reveal?” Supports for students include a model, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers for students to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft.
  • In Unit 3, the Essential Question is “How do people express opinions in meaningful ways?” Students read anchor texts that share the topic “Your Vote! Your Rights!” After reading an excerpt from the play, Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose, students are provided with two charts, one that asks them to summarize the key idea of the excerpt and the second chart asks them to “list three characters that appear in this excerpt.  Explain how each character’s words and actions help to develop the central idea.” The directions to the teacher say to “think aloud as you model explaining the significance of a particular character and conversation from” the text. After reading two poems called “Democracy” by Langston Hughes and Sara Holbrook, students gather evidence then complete these tasks: “Use the evidence you collected to summarize the key idea of Hughes’s poem. Use the evidence you collected to summarize the key idea of Holbrook’s poem.  List two events from Holbrook’s ‘Democracy’. Explain how each event is important to the central idea of the text.” Teachers are instructed to model the first example. The Performance Task builds on work completed: “Compare and contrast two writers’ perspectives on democracy. Analyze the strategies they use to convey their perspectives.” The chart that students are provided, in addition to the directions to revisit the author’s strategies, suggest that students should be looking at both texts to formulate their argument. Support for students in the writing performance task include a model, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers for students to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft. This is the same level of support that is found in previous units.
  • In Unit 4, the Essential Question is “What are the Causes and Effects of Natural Disasters?”  Students read anchor texts that share the topic “Nature’s Fury.” Students read an excerpt from the article,  “Super Disasters of the 21st Century” by Jacqueline Adams and Ken Kostel. As they read, students build knowledge through questions that ask them to analyze key ideas: “Based on details in paragraph 8, what caused the flooding? What were the effects of the flooding?” In an On Demand writing prompt, students “Review paragraphs 10-17 and summarize the effects the levees had on the city of New Orleans.” Next, they read an excerpt from The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. Students continue to build ideas as they answer questions: “Identify the data and details that the author includes to help the reader understand the effects of the storm.” In the Identify Evidence section, students record examples from the text that tell about the causes and effects of giant waves. Finally, in the writing Performance Task, students analyze across texts as they “compare and contrast strategies and techniques that each author uses to describe the causes and effects of disasters.” Again, support for students include a model, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers for students to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft. There is no release for students to demonstrate their knowledge of the topic with less support.
  • In Unit 7, the Essential Question is “What simple steps can people take to make a difference for those in need?” Students read anchor texts that share the topic, “A Better World.” They build knowledge and ideas as they study how authors use reasons, facts, and evidence to construct arguments and support their claims. While reading an excerpt from The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, students answer Key Ideas and Details questions such as, “How does the author explain the claim that giving more money to ‘solve the crisis of extreme poverty’ would ‘provide for U.S. national security?” In the Identify Evidence exercise, students complete a chart in which they find and explain evidence for the author’s ideas about how to end poverty.  Next, students read an article, “Saving the World One Click at a Time” by Renee Carver. They further build on ideas by answering an on demand writing prompt, “How does the information about FreeRice support the author’s claim in paragraph 3 about charities and the Internet?” In the writing Performance Task, students write an essay: “Trace the authors’ lines of argument regarding effective ways to fight poverty. Evaluate the specific claims, distinguishing which claims are supported by reasons, facts, and evidence, and which are not.” Again, support for students include a model, a graphic organizer to analyze the model, graphic organizers to gather evidence from both texts and then organize ideas, and a checklist for revising and editing their draft. There is no release for students to independently demonstrate their knowledge of the topic with less support.
  • Overall, by the end of the year, there is no evidence that integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded into independent student work. For example, in Unit 7, students are provided with a compare and contrast chart that is nearly identical to the compare charts in Units 3, 4, 5, and 6. They must list the source of the evidence, the page, and explain the evidence. The Teacher Edition directions state to walk students through understanding the chart, though they have completed similar charts throughout other units in the text and in Grade 6. To help students “Revisit Author’s Strategies,” teachers are given similar instruction in Unit 3 and in Unit 7:
    • In Unit 3, “Revisit the strategies the authors use to convey perspective. Draw upon conversations students had during the Close Reading of the texts.”
    • In Unit 7, “Review the strategies and evidence the authors use to clarify their views by reviewing written responses you made, and conversations you had, during the Close Reading of the texts.”

Indicator 2d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic or theme through integrated skills (e.g. combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening). Each unit begins with an Essential Question that connects to the topic/theme, anchor texts, and culminating task. At the end of each unit, the culminating task, Writing Performance Task, is connected to a specific topic from the unit texts.

Many of the writing tasks, practice, and discussion questions support the students in working towards the skills required to complete the culminating task. However, some tasks do not require demonstration of the specific skills and knowledge practiced before, and can be completed without them. In these instances, the teacher may need to supplement to assure their inclusion in the schedule is supportive of the overall knowledge and unit objectives.

Examples of culminating tasks that demonstrate knowledge of a topic include, but are not limited to:

In Unit 6, the topic is America Speaks. Students read three poems and a novel excerpt where poets and authors share their vision of American identity through literature. The Essential Question is “What does it mean to be American?”. The Performance Task is an essay in which students “compare and contrast the writers’ perspectives, referencing their literary devices and figurative language.”  Questions and tasks that support the students’ building of knowledge to support the culminating tasks include:

  • In-text questions while reading “I Hear America Singing“ include: “What words or phrases support the idea that Whitman celebrates Americans doing their various jobs?”
  • In-text questions while reading “I, Too, Sing America” include: “Alvarez assigns physical human traits ‘from the soles,’ ‘to the great plain face’ to places in the Americas ‘Tierra del Fuego’, to ‘Canada.’ What is the effect of her use of personification?”
  • In the Identify Evidence section after reading the three texts, students gather evidence in a chart answering the prompt: “What details does each poet use to describe the American experience?” With each evidence they “explain how the evidence introduces, illustrates, or elaborates upon the central idea.”
  • In-text questions while reading Kira Kira include: “Describe the family’s experience and their reaction to segregation in America: ‘COLORED IN BACK’. Identify evidence to elaborate on the idea of isolation weaved throughout this section”
  • In the Collaborate and Present section, students memorize one of the poems from the unit and brainstorm ways to “enhance the presentation through tone, multimedia components, visual displays, or acting.”

  • In other tasks, the culminating activities are not clearly articulated to demonstrate knowledge. Some examples representative of this include (but are not limited to):
  • In Unit 2, the topic is Sports Report. In this unit, student read informational articles to “explore the idea that for athletes, mental determination can play as crucial a role as physical prowess.” The Essential Question is “What can we learn about ourselves from studying sports and athletes?” The Performance Task requires students to use evidence from the two texts to develop or refute the claim that mental strength and agility are just as important as physical prowess in sports; however, the culminating task is able to be completed with only surface-level understanding of the texts read, rather than a deeper demonstration of knowledge and comprehension.

Other examples focus partially on knowledge, although they are focused on comprehension of the text and author's craft. Some examples include:

In Unit 3, the topic is Your Vote! Your Rights!. Students read an excerpt from the play Twelve Angry Men and the poems “Democracy” by Langston Hughes and “Democracy” by Sara Holbrook. The Performance Task ask: “Compare and contrast two writers’ perspectives on democracy. Analyze the strategies they use to convey their perspectives.” Questions support the students’ building of knowledge to support the culminating task and all requires specific text-based information.

In Unit 4, the topic is Nature’s Fury. Students read excerpts from “Super Disasters of the 21st Century” by Jacqueline Adams and Ken Kostel and The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. The Performance Task is to “Compare and contrast strategies and techniques that each author uses to describe the causes and effects of disasters. Consider the text structure, choice of vocabulary, and use of data and details.” This task does not demand students demonstrate knowledge of the content nor theme, but does demonstrate understanding of close reading and writing. 

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.

While vocabulary instruction is given appropriate time and importance within the overall materials and is emphasized as an important skill, it falls short in the isolation of the academic vocabulary words themselves and in the lack of assessment. Within each unit, there are multiple activities that provide vocabulary instruction: Academic Vocabulary Routine, Target Words (high-frequency, portable academic words highlighted before reading), a Word Study (strategy boxes in margins of text) and Words to Know (content-area words encountered while reading the text). The Words to Know are only listed and defined at the bottom of each page. Additionally; there are very few Academic Vocabulary questions within the texts. The Teacher Edition includes an Academic Vocabulary Routine that follows a six-step process: pronounce the word, rate student knowledge of the word, explain the word meaning, discuss at least two meaningful examples of the word that demonstrate the definition, coach students by having them work in pairs to apply the word in a meaningful context, and review the words the next day. The materials do not meet the expectation of instruction of vocabulary for a variety of reasons. The vocabulary is only taught within the text it is originally introduced; there are minimal references to, practice with, or assessments of new vocabulary within the unit in either the Collaborate and Present activity or the Performance Task. Also, the ways students engage with vocabulary is repetitive and lacks variety across all units. Materials do not include a consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and to build academic and figurative language in context.  Further, work with vocabulary appears before and in texts, but not across multiple texts.


Examples of how vocabulary instruction partially provides opportunities for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, teachers are instructed to use the Academic Vocabulary Routine to teach the meaning of flawless, humble, endure, resolve, dramatic and transform. There is a short Word Study lesson on roots and prefixes following the academic vocabulary introduction. While students close read an excerpt from Call Me Maria, they answer only two academic vocabulary questions: “What does resolved mean? Why doesn’t Maria try to resolve her parents’ conflict? Earlier in the story the street was crowded, hot, and dry. Use context clues to define what transformed means in paragraph 35. What else has been transformed in this story?” New terms are introduced and follow the same procedure for the second anchor text, “The Road Not Taken.”  A Word Study follows where students work with a thesaurus entry. There is no review of earlier terms, and students are not prompted to use their new terms in the Collaborate and Present task or the writing Performance Task at the end of the unit.
  • In Unit 3, teachers are instructed to use the Academic Vocabulary Routine to teach the meaning of reasonable, impression, drive, customary, preliminary, accused and resumes. There is a short Word Study lesson on context clues in which students use and try to determine meanings of words in sample sentences. While students close read an excerpt from Twelve Angry Men, they are not asked any academic vocabulary questions. Additional Tier 3 terms and phrases are defined in the margin of the text, such as prosecuting attorney, sharp, hammered his points home, and crowbar. New terms are introduced and follow the same procedure for the second anchor texts, “Democracy.” A short Word Study lesson is included in which students explore word families.  Again, there are no academic vocabulary questions embedded in these texts. There is no review of earlier terms, and students are not prompted to use their new terms in the Collaborate and Present task or the writing Performance Task at the end of the unit.
  • In Unit 6, teachers are again instructed to use the Academic Vocabulary Routine to teach the meaning of bilingually, blithe, heartland, hemisphere, maestro, and robust. There is a short Word Study lesson on dictionary skills in which students use a dictionary to find the pronunciation, part of speech, and adverb form of the word, melodious. While students close read three poems, they are asked no academic vocabulary questions. New terms are introduced and follow the same procedure for the second anchor text, an excerpt from Kira Kira. Students answer one question referring to the academic vocabulary: “Explain what the sisters ‘meld’. How does this add to the seriousness of the moment? How does the use of alliteration affect the phrase?” Again, there is no review of earlier terms, and students are not prompted to use their new terms in the Collaborate and Present task or the writing Performance Task at the end of the unit.

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.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that materials support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.

There is a cohesive writing plan in the Implementation Guide that identifies the movement from daily On Demand and Summarizing writings to the culminating Performance Task. Students are provided with a consistent, basic framework for process writing and apply the framework to a variety of tasks. The writing tasks span the year and match with the expectations of writing in the CCSS.  Writing instruction supports student growth over the course of the year by introducing increasingly more difficult prompts for the Performance Task. Each Performance Task provides students with a model, process for analyzing the model, writing protocols for all of the steps of the writing process, and checklists and rubrics to monitor student growth over time. Throughout the year, both teacher and peers provide feedback to ensure writing skills are increasing. The Teacher Edition instructs the teacher to have the students discuss the rubrics with classmates, guide student self-evaluation, and conference with the students using the rubrics to provide feedback.

Examples of activities that support students’ increasing writing skills include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, students write a narrative of an important event or decision. First, students are provided a model narrative and a graphic organizer to analyze the model. The writing process includes several steps to guide the student: Step 1 is a graphic organizer to generate ideas; Step 2 is another graphic organizer to organize ideas; Step 3 has students write a draft. Next, there is a language study on narrating events with variety, and an opportunity to apply this skill to the beginning, middle and end of the story the student is writing. Then comes a convention study on using phrases and clauses. Finally, in Step 4, students use a checklist to revise and edit their draft with a partner, and, in Step 5, they publish their narrative in print or digital form.
  • In Unit 3, after reading “Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth, students address the prompt: “Summarize the speech. Identify the three arguments against women’s rights that Truth mentions. Explain how she counters each argument.”
  • In Unit 5, after students read Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington, teachers are instructed to use Routine 6: On Demand Writing to have students record responses to questions such as: “Explain the effect of the juxtaposition of ‘birds twittering’ in paragraph 1 and ‘anguished cries’ in paragraph 2. Discuss mood, sensory language, and descriptive details. Cite textual evidence.”
  • In Unit 7, students write an argument essay where they trace authors’ lines of argument regarding effective ways to fight poverty. Students evaluate the specific claims, distinguishing which claims are supported by reasons, facts, and evidence, and which are not. They follow the writing process steps in separate activities: Gather Evidence, Organize Ideas, Language Study, Convention Study, Revise and Edit, and Publish. After analyzing the model text, teachers are instructed: “Use Routine 9: Writing Process to engage students with what they will be working on over the next several days.” The Teacher Edition has ample teacher guidance as students work through the writing process.

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.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

While materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of a topic via provided resources, the materials do not offer a complete or thorough progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to engage with source materials, synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials, or to learn research habits. The end of unit tasks require students to only revisit the anchor texts to complete the task, though there are two instances in Collaborate and Present tasks in which students are asked to do research beyond the provided anchors, and there is ample practice at utilizing and gathering evidence from provided anchor texts to support work in the end of unit tasks. However, the materials do not provide a year-long progression of research skills that align to CCSS. While the standards ask that seventh grade students “[g]ather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, 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 standard format for citation,” there is no instruction for the students or teacher to work on these skills. When research is assigned, students are given some instruction and strategies to support their research via Collaborate and Present and Performance Tasks, but the materials do not organize research projects in a way that fosters independence in students’ research abilities. An optional Research Connection task is mentioned in the Teacher Edition at the end of each unit, after the extended anchor text. This task asks students to research a particular question, but offers no guidance on what the student should do with that information. Also, the materials offer limited opportunities for students to engage in both “short” and “long” projects across the course of a year since research tasks are often short and rarely, if ever, provide opportunities for students to negotiate multiple sources. Additionally, the materials offer minimal assessment materials for research-focused tasks through end of unit projects nor are they  provided throughout the year. Finally, teacher direction and support in instruction around research-based tasks are not mentioned in the implementation guide nor in the planning pages.

Examples of how units provide some opportunities for research include:

  • In Unit 1, there is one research reference or activity after the core materials. The Research Connection after the extended text has students “Read and compare biographies of other Supreme Court Justices such as Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.” There is no guidance or instruction for how to do this research or what to do with the information.
  • In Unit 2, there is one research reference or activity after the core materials. The Research Connection after the extended text has students “Research the history of bicycle racing. Consider how it began, who the early champions were and how training methods and equipment have evolved. Investigate when doping became a problem in the sport and what is being done to prevent it today.” There is no guidance or instruction for how to do this research or what to do with the information. Units 3, 5, and 6 follow a similar pattern.
  • In Unit 4, there is a research activity in the core materials that requires students to research beyond the anchor texts. In the Collaborate and Present task, students work in a small group to “research one of the disasters in greater detail. Describe the effects of the disaster on the country, city, or community. Use and compare multiple resources for information about the disaster.” The directions for students state, “Working with your group, select one natural disaster to research. Go to the library or use the Internet to find out more about the effects of that natural disaster. Discuss the reliability of the sources you find with your group. After selecting at least three reliable sources, record your notes in a chart.” There is minimal instruction for students to learn how to evaluate sources. In the teacher instructions, teacher should “point out that not all sources are reliable, especially websites. Discuss what makes a source reliable. Websites ending in.org are usually trustworthy. Most contain information that can be proven and supported with evidence. The copyright date tells me when this information was posted.”
  • In Unit 7, there is a research activity in the core materials that requires students to research beyond the anchor texts. In the Collaborate and Present task, students again work in groups to research one of the charities mentioned in the anchor text, “Saving the World One Click at a Time.” They choose one of the charities and research how much money supporters donate, what percentage is spent to purchase food or livestock, how many people it helps a year, etc. They are given a chart to gather evidence, but no other guidance in how to do their research.

Indicator 2h

Materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

At the end of each of the seven units, the independent reading section includes a design and procedures for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class. This “Independent Reading” page includes a list of “Literature Circle Leveled Novels,” as well as Independent reading “Fiction, Nonfiction, and Novels,” and Films, TV, Websites, and Magazines that are thematically related to the unit. Students choose their books and meet with teachers and peers to ask questions, lead discussions, and deepen comprehension of texts. The Teacher Edition suggests that these are scheduled as daily homework, with weekly teacher-monitored assessment. The Teacher Edition includes an appendix section on Literature Circles with information on planning independent reading. This page includes information on text complexity.  Additional resources tied to the novels are found in the online Teacher Edition. Though the materials meet the expectation, the feasibility of implementation should be a consideration for adoption of the curriculum. While there are opportunities for teachers to provide students with independent reading and literature circle reading, there is no direct support for teachers to implement this reading in a 45-50 minute class period with the structure provided. In the 90 minute block - the time period suggested by the curriculum - there is time built in for teachers to implement the outside independent reading.


Examples of the structures and instructions provided to teachers for independent reading in all units include:

  • In the Literature Circle section of the Teacher Edition, teachers are provided instruction and guidelines for successful literature circles. The content of the questions and associated writing tasks differ by novel but the overall protocol is the same. The following guidelines are included in the Planning pages under specific headings: Teacher’s Role, Student’s Role, Planning, Scheduling, Supporting, Pacing, and Setting up the Classroom. Other guidance for teachers includes:
    • “Author File”- information about the author.
    • “Resources” - a box of the downloadable resources available for each novel.
    • Literature Circles in Action page which includes information under the headings: Literature Circle Steps, Forming Groups, and Implementation.
  • In each unit, specific Guidelines for each Literature Circle novel are provided under the following headings: Before Reading - Create Interest, Build Background Knowledge; During Reading - Preteach Academic Vocabulary; Talk About It - Identify Key Ideas, Support Discussion; Write About It (students are given prompts and use Routine 6: On Demand Writing); After Reading - Connect to the Essential Question (Questions are provided at the Personal, Textual, and Cultural level).
  • In the Teacher Edition, Assessment and Grading page, teachers receive information under the headings: What and How to Evaluate, Grading Literature Circles, Refining the Process, as well as an Evaluation Methods grid which lists the downloadable resources (Observation Checklist, Student Self-Evaluation, and Student Group Evaluation) and a Scoring Guide matrix. This section also includes daily reading logs, Higher Order Thinking Resources and Reading Counts! Quizzes.


Examples of the texts offered as literature circle or independent reading texts, student activities, and teacher guidance (all units offer similar activities and guidance) include, but are not limited to:


Unit 4:

Literature Circle Leveled Novels: Each novel has a 1-2 sentence description and Lexile level. .

  • Night of the Howling Dogs by Graham Salisbury
  • The Killing Sea by Richard Lewis
  • The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer


Fiction, Nonfiction, and Novels: Each text has a 1-2 sentence description and Lexile level. .

  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman
  • Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens by Patricia Lauber
  • Dark Water Rising by Marian Hale
  • Fire in Their Eyes: Wildfires and the People Who Fight Them by Karen Magnuson Beil
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Eyewitness Books: Natural Disasters by Claire Watts and Trevor Day
  • Hurricane Force: In the Path of America’s Deadliest Storms by Joseph B. Treaster


Independent Reading student activities:

  • Teachers are prompted to encourage students to use the activities provided (all are downloadable Code-X resources) such as Book Presentation Activity and What Do YOU Think? Activity
  • Additional Resources for tracking and vocabulary include a Reading Log Resource and Vocabulary Log Resource


Teacher Edition instructions for Independent Reading:

  • Assigning Groups: Teachers are provided strategies for assigning effective Literature Circle Groups.
  • Develop Summaries: Teachers are prompted to remind students of resources they can use “to summarize chunks of a book or the book as a whole” including the Summarize Fiction Resource and Summarize Resource.

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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

Criterion 3a - 3e

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
N/A

Indicator 3b

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

Indicator 3c

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
N/A

Indicator 3d

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

Indicator 3e

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

Criterion 3f - 3j

Materials support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards.

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
N/A

Indicator 3g

Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
N/A

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
N/A

Indicator 3i

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

Indicator 3j

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

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

Indicator 3k

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.
N/A

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
N/A

Indicator 3l.i

Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.
N/A

Indicator 3l.ii

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

Indicator 3m

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

Indicator 3n

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

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

Indicator 3o

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
N/A

Indicator 3p

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
N/A

Indicator 3q

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

Indicator 3r

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
N/A

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

Indicator 3s

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

Indicator 3t

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

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
N/A

Indicator 3u.i

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

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized for local use.
N/A

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 04/22/2019

Report Edition: 2014

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Common Core Code X Student Edition Course II 978-0-5456-2352-0 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014
Common Core Code X Teacher's Edition Course II 978-0-5456-2356-8 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014
Common Core Code X Assessment Guide Course II 978-0-5456-2360-5 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014

About Publishers Responses

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

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

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

ELA 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The ELA review rubrics identify the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubrics support a sequential review process that reflect the importance of alignment to the standards then consider other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Text Quality and Complexity, and Alignment to Standards with Tasks Grounded in Evidence

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The ELA Evidence Guides complement the rubrics by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

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