Alignment: Overall Summary

The Grade 4 Fishtank ELA materials meet the expectations for alignment. The materials include high-quality texts, questions, and tasks that provide strong learning opportunities in most areas.  

Students engage in writing opportunities spread across all text types and genres called for in the standards, including daily, on-demand writing. Process writing is found primarily in end-of-unit tasks. The materials include explicit grammar instruction of all grammar standards and consistent application of the grammar standards in context. Vocabulary instruction within the program do not fully align to the expectations of the standards. There is limited instruction and opportunities to practice grade-level phonics, word analysis, and word recognition that follows a research-based progression. Instruction and practice opportunities for oral and silent reading fluency are present; however, support for reading of prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary is minimal. There is no evidence of assessments for phonics and word recognition beyond the opportunities provided to inform instructional adjustments. Materials do include multiple assessments in fluency.

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality and Complexity

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

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Partially Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
15
23
25
18
23-25
Meets Expectations
16-22
Partially Meets Expectations
0-15
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality and Complexity and Alignment to the Standards with Tasks and Questions Grounded in Evidence

Meets Expectations

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-
Gateway One Details

The Grade 4 materials include high-quality, full-length appropriately complex anchor texts as well as routines, monitoring support, and a recommended list of texts for independent reading that work together to move students toward mastery of grade-level reading expectations.

Text-centered questions and tasks, including evidence-based writing, speaking, and listening, engage students in meaningful literacy experiences. Students engage in writing opportunities spread across all text types and genres called for in the standards, including daily, on-demand writing. Process writing is found primarily in end-of-unit tasks.The materials include explicit grammar instruction of all grammar standards and consistent application of the grammar standards in context. The materials include robust and regular routines for the introduction of vocabulary in the context of instruction; however, the vocabulary may not always be reinforced in writing or speaking and may not be applied across multiple texts. 

Within the program, students receive limited instruction and opportunities to practice grade-level phonics, word analysis, and word recognition that follows a research-based progression. There is an included structural analysis routine designed to help teachers support students with multisyllabic words, but the materials lack daily lesson plans in this area with targeted words for teachers to use for instruction. Students receive instruction and practice opportunities for oral and silent reading fluency; however, support for reading of prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary is minimal. There is no evidence of assessments for phonics and word recognition beyond the opportunities provided to inform instructional adjustments. Materials do include multiple assessments in fluency.

Criterion 1a - 1e

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.

18/18
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The Grade 4 materials include high-quality, full-length anchor texts, including mythology, fables, realistic fiction, novels, informational science, history, and social studies texts. The texts are appropriately complex for instruction and provide increasingly challenging opportunities for students to grow their literacy skills over the course of the year. Additionally, routines, monitoring support, and a recommended list of texts for independent reading work together to encourage a volume of reading that will help students grow toward grade level reading mastery. 

Indicator 1a

Anchor texts are of high quality, worthy of careful reading, and consider a range of student interests.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1a. 

The materials incorporate an assortment of informational and literary texts that are of publishable quality. The literary units feature full-length published texts of high quality by award-winning authors. Throughout the science and social studies units, there are a multitude of published texts that are informative and of high-interest for students. Texts are diverse, well-balanced, and accessible for multiple purposes. Anchor texts encompass a variation of genres and a range of topics that would be appealing and engaging to students. Several texts contain engaging pictures, vivid illustrations, character relationships and motives, and rich vocabulary.

Anchor texts are of high-quality and consider a range of student interests, are well-crafted, content-rich, and engage students at their grade level. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, students read the anchor text Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. The anchor text was selected for its powerful themes and author’s craft with a focus on the author’s strategy for developing the setting and determining the key mechanisms of how the setting influences the characters. 

  • In Literature Unit 3, students read the anchor text The Wild Book, by Margarita Engle. The anchor text was selected for its themes as well as the use of verse and the readers' opportunity to learn about Cuban culture in the early 20th century. Additional texts in this unit include, Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Rules by Cynthia Lord, and Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. The texts share a theme of how learning disabilities influence those who have them and those who encounter them. 

  • In Literature Unit 4, students read I am Arachne: Fifteen Greek and Roman Myths by Elizabeth Spires, which is a collection of high interest myths told at an appropriate level for students. Colorful illustrations add to the compelling stories.

  • In Literature Unit 5, students read the novel Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by well-known author Jack Gantos. The text was selected to help students connect with the character and deeply understand character, character relationships, and their positive and negative effects. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, the topic encompasses natural disasters, and students read Unforgettable Natural Disasters by Tamara Hollingsworth, Hurricanes by Seymour Simon, Wildfires by Seymour Simon, Earthquakes by Seymour Simon, and Volcanoes by Seymour Simon. In this unit, texts provide learners with a wide variety of text features and challenging structures that support students learning how to interact with a nonfiction text. 

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 2, students read Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began by Lucille Recht Penner, which is an informational text collection of short descriptive passages of key events that led to the American Revolution. Texts are accompanied by first person quotes and high quality illustrations that help explain the text.

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, students read Forms of Energy by Anna Claybourne. This nonfiction text is engaging, comprehensive, and visually stimulating. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, students read Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson, an award-winning author.

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 materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1b. 

The materials contain an even distribution of literature and informational texts across Grade 4. Implementation of both the Literature and the Science and Social Studies Units must occur in order for there to be a 50/50 distribution. There is a variety of text types found throughout the year including mythology, fables, novels, websites, realistic fiction, informational science, history, and social studies texts.

Materials reflect the distribution of text types/genres required by the grade-level standards.

  • Examples of literary texts include, but are not limited to:

    • In Literature Unit 1, students read the novel Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

    • In Literature Unit 2, students read the fantasy Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.

    • In Literature Unit 4, students read myths including Greek Myth Plays by Carol Pugliano-Martin and The McElderry Book of Greek Myths by Eric A. Kimmel. 

    • In Literature Unit 6, students read the historical fiction text Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.

  • Examples of informational texts include, but are not limited to:

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, students read the Time for Kids book Unforgettable Natural Disasters. Students also have the opportunity to read several articles as supporting materials including “Eight Facts about Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano” by Angela Fritz and adapted by Newsela staff.

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, students read the informational historical texts Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began! by Lucille Recht Penner and A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, adapted by Rebecca Stefoff.

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, students read the informational science text Forms of Energy by Anna Claybourne.

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, students read the science text Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney. 

Materials reflect a 50/50 balance of informational and literary texts. For example:

  • There are six Literature units. Over the course of the 162 instructional days for these units, there are nine texts, including five novels.

  • There are five Science and Social Studies units. Over the course of the 150 instructional days for these units, there are 11 texts.

  • According to the Pacing Guide, the Science and Social Studies Units are taught in tandem with the Literature Units to ensure that students receive a balance of literary and informational texts throughout Grade 4.

Indicator 1c

Core/Anchor texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to documented quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. Documentation should also include rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level.

4/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1c. 

The materials include texts that are at the appropriate level of complexity based on the quantitative levels, qualitative analysis, and associated task. Some texts are outside of the quantitative grade band; however, the qualitative features make them appropriate for Grade 4 students and/or their task and/or purpose make them complex for Grade 4. In each unit, there is a list of core texts, which contains the Lexile level. In addition, the publisher also provides a Text Selection Rationale for each unit. This rationale justifies placement in the grade as well as a detailed analysis of qualitative features. In addition, it provides information on why the text was selected. 

Anchor texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, students read Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (890L), which falls within the Grades 4–5 Lexile stretch band. The qualitative features include slightly complex language and knowledge.  Students use the text to analyze characters. 

  • In Literature Unit 3, students read The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (1050L) which is above the band for Grade 4. The publisher explains that the “qualitative measures, particularly the levels of meaning and text structure” support the text in Grade 4. The final writing task asks students to utilize core or supporting texts to draft a continuation of the story using what they know about the themes and characters.

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 3, students read National Government by Ernestine Giesecke (970L) and Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote by Susan Zimet (1090L). The quantitative measures and the variety of organizational structures and text features make the texts appropriate for Grade 4. In the associated tasks, students gather a significant amount of key information from the unit texts and analyze the relationship of government and voting to the fight for women’s right to vote. 

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 5, students read Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Amercians by Kadir Nelson (1050L), which is used to build knowledge of American history from slavery through the civil rights movement. According to the publisher, “The qualitative analysis, specifically the complex knowledge demands, text structure, and sentence structure, support the placement of the core text in this unit.”

Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by an accurate text complexity analysis and a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 2, students read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grade Lin (810L). According to the Text Selection Rationale, “the qualitative measures, particularly the text structure and vocabulary, make the text moderately complex and appropriate for placement in this course”. 

  • In Literature Unit 5, students read Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos (890L). The Text Selection Rationale has incorrect information stating the Lexile is 940; however, the qualitative analysis is correct. The Text Selection Rationale states, “... the simple text structure and content knowledge, paired with the complex meaning and language make the text appropriate for this time of year.” 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, students read several texts including Wildfires by Seymour Simon (990L) and Earthquakes by Seymour Simon (1010L). The Text Selection Rationale states that these texts are “written as expository nonfiction; therefore, comprehension relies on a reader’s ability to unpack dense sentences...as a collection, the texts in this unit expose students to a wide variety of genre features and demands.” 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, students read Forms of Energy by Anna Claybourne. According to the Text Selection Rationale, “With a lexile level of 900L the core text falls in the fourth to fifth grade band level.”

Indicator 1d

Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band to support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year.

4/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1d. 

The materials include units that build upon the next with increasing demands for knowledge and application as students master the content, and the texts increase in complexity. The complexity of anchor texts and supporting texts offer students the opportunity to grow their literacy skills across the year. Scaffolds are provided for more complex texts including key questions to support comprehension and graphic organizers. Toward the end of the year, students engage more independently with texts. In addition, in the Teacher Tools section, there is a general guidance document under Providing Access for Complex Texts, that provides guidance for how to recognize and address complexity in fiction and nonfiction texts as well as provide student support and scaffolds.  

The complexity of anchor texts students read provides an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to increase across the year, encompassing an entire year’s worth of growth. For example:

  • In the beginning of the year, students read one book in Literature Unit 1 that has a Lexile of 890 and students use the text to think deeply about how the details an author includes to help a reader better understand a character’s thoughts and actions. In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, students read several texts with Lexiles that range from 880-1010. The purpose of these texts is to help students use text features, diagrams, and illustrations when reading very technical nonfiction texts. 

  • In the middle of the year, students read several books in Literature Unit 3, including the core text that has a Lexile of 1050. The texts in this unit are written in verse and allow students to analyze how characters are developed and how imagery is used in this text structure. In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, students read several texts with Lexiles ranging from 970-1090 with the goal of helping students annotate for main idea and details, summarize sections of a text, and interpret information presented through different text features. 

  • At the end of the year, students read one core text with a Lexile of 950 in Literature Unit 6 and one supporting text with a Lexile of 1170. The materials state that “the majority of the unit focuses on spiraling strategies.” In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, students read several texts including the core text, which has a Lexile of 1050. While the Lexile is only slightly higher than the beginning of the year, the unit requires students to deeply analyze a text to see how an author develops different ideas and points using evidence. 

As texts become more complex, appropriate scaffolds and/or materials are provided in the Teacher Edition (i.e., spending more time on texts, more questions, repeated readings). For example:

  • The Teacher Tools digital platform provides general ways teachers can support students when accessing complex texts. The general supports are “temporary and adjustable, removed gradually” and “used to scaffold content, task, or materials.” The purpose for these general supports are for teachers to determine “what supports to provide students, either as a whole-glass, small-group, or individually” as texts get more complex. 

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 2, students are given a Boxes and Bullets graphic organizer to help them track the details that show how Marty knew that Shiloh was hurting. It is suggested that students who need additional support can get a pre-filled graphic organizer in order to access the text. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 13, students are split into two groups and read two different articles. Each student fills out a Boxes and Bullets graphic organizer to track the key beliefs in each article. 

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 7, prior to reading, the teacher previews the scene to give students the necessary background knowledge to understand the text. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 10, students read Chapter 4 of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson independently. Students are provided with Key Questions to help aid them comprehend the text.

Indicator 1e

Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to support their reading at grade level by the end of the school year, including accountability structures for independent reading.

2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1e.

The materials contain a wide range and volume of daily reading throughout both the Literature and Science and Social Studies lessons. Students read the texts independently, in pairs, and in group settings. Students read books (both literary and informational), articles, and websites. Additionally, students participate in daily independent reading that can be structured in a number of ways outlined in the Teacher Tools section of the materials. The materials highlight teachers having the option to exercise flexibility within the framework to establish routines most suitable for their classroom. There is an emphasis on the independent reading time being an essential facet of the program, and there is a recommended list of independent reading books per unit that align with the topic/theme. Multiple reading logs are included and permit teacher flexibility for independent reading opportunities. In the Independent Reading Routines, there are general recommendations for monitoring the students’ comprehension of independent reading and establishing independent reading goals. Decisions about the implementation and monitoring of independent reading are made at the teacher’s discretion using the universal tools provided. 

Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and support for students to engage in reading a variety of text types and genres. For example: 

  • Students read a total of 20 Core Texts across Grade 4.

  • In the Literature Units, students read several novels, picture books, websites, and myths.

  • In the Science and Social Studies units, students read nonfiction books, articles, websites, and watch videos.

  • The program also provides a recommended list of texts for students to independently read that align with each unit. For example, in Literature Unit 3, students read The Wild Book and there are three recommended informational texts to build knowledge, eight recommended literary texts about believing in yourself, and three recommended books by the same author, Margarita Engle. 

Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and support for students to engage in a volume of reading. For example: 

  • Each daily lesson plan includes the section, Engaging with the Text, where students have direct interaction with the text including independent, partner, and group reading. Teacher guidance is provided each day for how to have students engage with the text. For example, in Science and Social Studies Unit 4, Lesson 4, students “read pages 22-25 independently.”

  • According to the Pacing Guide, each day, students spend 60 minutes in the Literature Block each day, 60 minutes in the Science & Social Studies Block, and 45 minutes in the Independent Reading Block. In a typical Literature and Science and Social Studies block, the first five minutes is spent building knowledge and skills, the next 30 minutes is where students engage with the text, and the last 25 minutes is where students build deeper meaning of the text.

There is sufficient teacher guidance to foster independence for all readers (e.g., independent reading procedures, proposed schedule, tracking system for independent reading). For example:

  • In the Teacher Tools, there is a section called Independent Reading that provides a detailed plan for supporting students’ independent reading in the classroom including an Independent Reading Targeted Mini Lesson Planning template, an Independent Reading Weekly Planning template, and a Parent/Guardian letter template.

  • In the Teacher Tools, there is a section on Independent Reading, which recommends that teachers do the following before any lesson: “When internalizing a Fishtank lesson, decide if and when you may be able to include independent reading. (This will most often be noted in Enhanced Lesson Plans, but you may also decide to use one at additional moments depending on student needs.)

    • Solidify what sections of the text students should read independently. 

    • Solidify how you will check for understanding while students are reading independently.

    • Decide which students you want to check in with during independent work time.” 

  • Materials call for students to have a minimum of 45 minutes of independent reading time daily as described in the Course Overview Pacing guide. 

  • In the Independent Reading (3-5) Teacher Tools, there is a minimum number of independent reading benchmarks for each quarter of the school year. It also provides a chart of the portion of each ELA block reading time that should be independent reading. 

  • There are three printable forms for tracking student independent reading: an Independent Reading Journal (Writing Prompts), Independent Reading Journal (Summary), and an Independent Reading Log. 

Criterion 1f - 1m

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 questions and tasks throughout the Grade 4 materials are text-specific and text-dependent, continually moving students back to the text to provide and substantiate responses. The enhanced lesson plans support additional review and checks for understanding. Academic discourse is supported throughout the program through the use of clearly-outlined discussion protocols and frequent discussion opportunities. Students frequently engage in partnered, grouped, and whole-class discussions regarding the texts under study. The Grade 4 materials provide daily on-demand writing prompts connected to the anchor texts. While there is some sentence and paragraph-level instruction throughout, the bulk of process writing occurs at the end of each unit, generally over a four-day span. Students engage in writing opportunities spread across all text types and genres called for in the standards. Additionally, students engage in evidence-based writing across the majority of units.

The materials include explicit grammar instruction of all grammar standards and consistent application of the grammar standards in context. The materials include robust and regular routines for the introduction of vocabulary in the context of instruction; however, the vocabulary may not always be reinforced in writing or speaking and may not be applied across multiple texts.

Indicator 1f

Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-specific and/or 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 materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1f. 

The materials include lessons with a variety of text-dependent questions.across the Literature and Science & Social Studies units. This includes both open-ended and multiple choice questions. There are numerous opportunities for students to respond to questions both orally and in writing and support their responses with textual evidence. Embedded within each unit is evidence of writing tasks that require students to interact with the text. Students answer both explicit and implicit questions and are required to offer explanations for their responses. In the Enhanced Lesson Plan, each question is accompanied by an exemplar answer to guide teachers. 

Text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks support students in making meaning of the core understandings of the texts being studied. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 6, after reading Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, students answer questions: “Explain the significance of the statement from page 30. ‘I don’t want just any dog. I want Shiloh, because he needs me. Needs me bad.’”

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 15, students read Chapter 1-2 of Rules by Cynthia Lord and answer Key Questions: “Why are rules an important part of David’s life? How does Catherine view her little brother? Why? Why does Catherine decide to give Jason the drawing? What does it show about Catherine? Why?” 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 5, students read National Government by Ernestine Giesceckeare and compare three sections from the reading. Key Questions help students: “What is the main idea of the section ‘What is Government?’ What details does the author include to support the main idea? What is the main idea of the section ‘The Constitution?’ What details does the author include to support the main idea?”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 7, students read Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkey and answer questions: “How did Harriet feel when she found freedom? How does the author help the reader understand how Harriet felt? In what ways did Harriet ‘put her life on the line’? Why was it important for Harriet to keep putting ‘her life on the line’? What is a reputation? Why was Harriet beginning to get a reputation among slaves and slave owners? Why was this both a good and a bad thing?”

Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-based questions and tasks. For example: 

  • In the Internalizing an ELA Lesson in Teacher Tools, questions are provided for the teacher to consider when lesson planning: “What do students need to know/understand to answer this question? What do students need to do to answer this question? What key moments do students need to understand in order to answer the question correctly?”

  • Most lessons include a Target Task, which is a text-specific or text-dependent question that indicates to the teacher if the objective was mastered or not. For example, in Literature Unit 3, Lesson 8, after reading The Wild Book by Margarita Engle, students complete the Target Task writing prompt: “What evidence does the author include to support the idea that the narrator almost feels safe? What is she seeking safety from?” The lesson plan includes a sample response to help the teacher evaluate student responses. 

  • Enhanced lesson plans include language support, quick review questions, and opportunities for enrichment. Examples include, but are not limited to:

    • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 8, the teacher is provided with additional support for students: “If students struggle to see why Mrs. Maxy and Joey have different reactions to what happened on the field trip, push students to think about Mrs. Maxy’s motivations. Why did Mrs. Maxy not want Joey to eat the pie? Why did Mrs. Maxy not want Joey to carve the pumpkin? Was she making the right decision? Why did this make Joey upset? How would you have felt if you were Joey?”

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 7, a student task states: “Explain the significance of the quote ‘Harriet Tubman’s name will never lose its distinction’.” The teacher is provided with exemplars of a “Mastery Response”. The teacher is also provided with Essential Understandings for Mastery Response: “Harriet Tubman felt conflicted when she was finally free.” The materials provide two pieces of evidence from the text to support that statement.

Indicator 1g

Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions.

2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1g. 

The materials include frequent opportunities and protocols for students to engage in evidence-based discussions. There is a whole section in the Teacher Tools page that describes the purpose and the processes of Academic Discourse in Match Fishtank. This section outlines the three types of Academic Discourse and provides several protocols for each. In addition, this section provides information on the three tiers of Academic Discourse to help further develop student thinking and speaking and listening skills. Some lessons specify exactly which protocols to use, while others identify the type of discussion (i.e., whole-group, small-group, or partner), and teachers use their judgement to decide on the best protocol. To facilitate this, there is a series of questions for the teacher to consider to help them identify which Tier to focus on and which protocol. 

Materials provide varied protocols to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials. For example:

  • In the Teacher Tools, there is a whole section on Academic Discourse that outlines discussion protocols for whole class discussions, small group discussions, and partner discussions.

  • For Whole Class discussions, the materials outline the steps for the Take a Stand protocol which gives a question and students need to take a side and students work together to convince others to agree with them. In addition, there is a four step procedure for a Fishbowl discussion, which allows for the whole class to hear the ideas of other classmates. 

  • There are four protocols provided for small group discussion including Simultaneous Round Table, Rally Coach, Talking Chips, and Numbered Heads Together. Each of the protocols give the purpose and the steps. 

  • Partner discussions contain five protocols, including four that are various types of think-pair-shares. 

  • The Teacher Tools also provides an explanation of three tiers of discourse. In each tier there are discourse strategies, key teacher talk moves, and a variety of sentence frames to help with each discourse tier. For example, Tier II is students engaging with the thinking of others. A discourse strategy is paraphrasing what other students say. A key teacher talk move is to give students an opportunity to turn and talk. Sentence frames are provided to help students build on a classmate’s ideas and to question or clarify the ideas of others. 

  • Lessons utilize a variety of discussion topics and formats. For example:

    • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 16, students debate the essential question. The teacher is encouraged to use the Guide to Academic Discourse for teacher moves to help facilitate student voice. 

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 18, students independently brainstorm ways in which African Americans made progress in the early twentieth century and then meet with partners to share their answers. Teachers can decide what partner sharing strategy they wish to use. 

Speaking and listening instruction includes facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers. For example:

  • In the Teacher Tools, the Academic Discourse section contains an Academic Discourse Rubric and a Discussion Recording Form for Grades 3-5.

  • In the Teacher Tools, the Academic Discourse section includes general information on how to facilitate students in speaking and listening skills. There are supports to help students, such as “have students use a graphic organizer to gather ideas”; supports during discussions, such as “provide sentence frames for students to use”; and ways to ensure students synthesize understanding during discussions, such as “model how to revise and refine thinking.” 

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 5, students discuss the setting in Shiloh by Rhyllis Reynolds Naylor. Students reread Chapters 1-3 and focus on finding evidence that describes the setting, and a graphic organizer is provided to help students prior to the discussion. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 14, students engage in a debate about whether they would have sided with the Loyalists or the Patriots. The materials include three main discussion focuses for the unit: “Elaborate to support ideas. Students provide evidence or examples to justify and define their point clearly.” 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 2, students read an excerpt from Building a Nation before they participate in a whole class discussion on the Constitution. Students use a graphic organizer to collect information as they read to prepare for discussion. Teachers are prompted: “Have students think about how the Constitution, and the government laid out by the Constitution, helped solve the problems the states were having. Lead students in a discussion. Push students to think about how the government laid out by the Constitution solved the problems of central power, taxes, representation, and ability to propose change.”

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 12, student partners determine potential themes about Arachne from multiple texts they read. Students gather evidence to support their theme statement and participate in a discussion to explain how the theme was developed in different versions of Arachne. The teacher is provided with Language Supports that include sentence frames and a suggestion for the teacher to provide students with a structural elements glossary. 

Indicator 1h

Materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and evidence.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1h.

The materials include opportunities for evidence-based discussions in pairs, small groups, and whole class settings in the majority of lessons. Through discussions, students build knowledge, explain their thinking, and support their reasoning. The majority of discussions pertain to the unit texts or topics and ask students to provide evidence to support their ideas. Materials provide some guidance for teachers in the enhanced lesson plans to build student discussion skills. The Teacher Tools also provide guidance for developing and implementing student discussion protocols across the curriculum and include ways to monitor student discussions. Lessons provide sentence stems for students and recommendations for ways that teachers can model speaking and listening skills.

Students have multiple opportunities over the school year to demonstrate what they are reading through varied speaking and listening opportunities. For example: 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, Lesson 3, students read an excerpt from Volcanoes and participate in a partner discussion where they retell what happened when Mount St. Helens erupted. Students explain the destruction that it caused and why. 

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 25, student directions state: “Debate two essential questions using evidence and arguments from the entire unit and personal experience.” Students review the essential questions and are given two main discussion focuses: “Elaborate to support ideas and use vocabulary.”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 13, students are assigned one of two texts. Students then pair up with someone who read a different text and they teach each other the key ideas and beliefs of the group they read about. Then the class engages in a whole group discussion about the similarities and differences between the two groups. 

  • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 13, students develop an opinion on whether or not Joey will do well at his new school with at least two to three reasons to support their opinion. Students then have a debate where they build on and challenge their classmates' ideas.

Speaking and listening work requires students to utilize, apply, and incorporate evidence from texts and/or sources. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 17, students engage with the text to gather evidence to support whether or not they believe that Marty should take a stand against what he perceives to be an injustice. After students have collected evidence, the class has a  discussion to determine which side they prefer using evidence to support their opinion.

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 11, students gather evidence from both Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney and Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson to answer one of the essential questions from the unit: “How have racist ideas and racism shaped the United States’ history and policies? What are some of the key events in United States history since the 1600s? How did each event impact life for African Americans?”.

Indicator 1i

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 materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1i. 

The materials include opportunities in each unit for students to complete on-demand and process. Both types of writing tasks are connected to the unit topic and texts and assist students with building knowledge of the unit topic. Throughout each unit, students have almost daily opportunities to respond to the Target Task in writing, which provides students with opportunities in on-demand writing. In addition, each Literature and Science and Social Studies unit ends with a process writing task that requires multiple instructional days to complete. Process writing is the focus of most end of unit tasks, with a few focused lessons occurring across each unit. Occasionally on-demand writing tasks prompt students to revise or edit their work whereas the end of unit process tasks include time for revision and multiple drafts. Some tasks include opportunities for students to use information from digital sources such as videos or websites. Occasionally, materials prompt teachers to use the internet as enrichment but technology is not required for use in completing tasks or presentations. Most task sheets for student writing can be loaded into Google Classroom for students to engage in writing on a technical platform. This is optional and not required to utilize the materials. 

Materials include a mix of BOTH on-demand and process writing, including opportunities for students to revise and/or edit, that covers a year’s worth of instruction; however, the bulk of process writing occurs in the end-of-unit tasks. 

  • Examples of on-demand writing include:

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, Lesson 1, students complete the following on-demand writing prompt: “What is a natural disaster? Why is it important to know if a natural disaster is imminent?”

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 2, students write to describe the king. Students must include what description the author includes to support the reader’s understanding of the king’s thoughts and actions. 

    • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 4, students complete the following on-demand writing prompt: “Write a paragraph that explains what the word blindness is and how it impacts Fefa’s life.”

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 8, students write a paragraph in class to the prompt, “How are laws made? Why are there so many steps?”.

  • Examples of process writing include:

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 26, students spend four days writing the next chapter of the book, Shiloh. Students brainstorm, draft, edit and revise, and create a final draft.

    • In Science and Social Studies, Unit 1, Lesson 26, students use the writing process over a four-day lesson to brainstorm, draft, edit and revise, and create a final draft. Students respond to the prompt, “Research a recent natural disaster (volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, or wildfires). Create a report that includes how the natural disaster happened, what damage was caused by the natural disaster, suggestions for providing support to those impacted by the disaster.”

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 28, students use the writing process over a five-day lesson to brainstorm, draft, edit and revise, and create a final draft. Students respond to the prompt, “Imagine you are allowed to vote in an upcoming election. In order to make an educated decision about who to vote for and why, you’ll need to do some research. Use a variety of sources to research and answer the following questions: Who are the major candidates in the election? What does each candidate believe in? Once you have enough information, decide who you would vote for and why.”

    • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 23, students write the next chapter of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. Students spend four days on the writing task. Over the four days, the teacher reviews the different strategies students can use to add more details and includes a reminder to edit for complete sentences, correct spelling, and commas. 

Materials include some use of digital resources with writing tasks. Most of the resources are optional. Each Target Task writing prompt can be sent to Google Classroom, enabling students to type responses directly on the worksheet. This also allows students to publish final copies of process writing tasks digitally. In addition, some lessons include videos to help build background and answer questions in writing. For example, in Literature Unit 3, lesson 3, students watch a Ted Talk video about Dyslexia in order to answer the question, “Why is learning to read so difficult for children with dyslexia?”

Indicator 1j

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 materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1j. 

The materials include sufficient opportunities for writing the three text types required by the standards. The Literature and Science and Social Studies units address informational, opinion, and narrative writing. The majority of narrative and opinion writing take place in the Literature units. Informative writing is found in both Literature and Science and Social Studies units. Students regularly respond to a prompt after reading a text in both units and direct instruction is provided in Science and Social Studies for informational writing, typically in the form of a research project. Students receive explicit, sequenced instruction to assist in developing grade-level writing techniques in narrative, informational, and opinion styles of writing. 

Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres/modes/types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. 

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 10, students respond to the prompt, “Describe why Phyllis Reynolds Naylor wrote Shiloh in first-person point of view.”

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 4, students write a paragraph that explains what word-blindness is and how it impacts Fefa’s life. 

  • In Science and Social Studies, Unit 4, Lesson 14, students write an opinion piece to convince community leaders to use a particular source of energy. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 27, students write a multiple-paragraph essay to answer one of the unit essential questions. 

Different genres/modes/types of writing are distributed throughout the school year. 

  • Students have opportunities to engage in opinion writing. Opinion writing happens in 32% of all writing opportunities. For example:

    • In Social Studies and Science Unit 3, Lesson 12, students respond to the prompt, “Everyone has always had the right to vote. Agree or disagree.”

    • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 13, students respond to the prompt, “Based on everything you know about Joey, will Joey be able to follow Mom’s advice at his new school? Do you think his luck is really changing? Defend.”

  • Students have opportunities to engage in informative/explanatory writing. Informative writing happens in 39% of all writing opportunities. For example:

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, Lesson 8, students “write a well-structured paragraph that explains where and how volcanoes occur and what hazards they create.” 

    • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 21, students write a multiple paragraph essay to show understanding of a text by responding to the prompt: “How does the way others view us impact the way we view ourselves?”

  • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing. Narrative writing occurs in 29% of all writing opportunities. For example: 

  • In Literature Unit 1 Lesson 26, students “write the next chapter of Shiloh by writing a first-person narrative with a clear narrative sequence.” This is a five-day lesson that takes students through the writing process including how to begin a story, use transition words and phrases, and editing. 

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 19, students rewrite the myth, “Echo and Narcissus”, from Narcissus’ point of view. 

Where appropriate, writing opportunities are connected to texts and/or text sets (either as prompts, models, anchors, or supports). Examples include:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 27, students write a narrative story that recounts a moment on Minli’s journey where things go wrong. In their writing, they must include settings and characters from the text, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and use dialogue and descriptions similar to the story. 

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 5, Lesson 2, students read the text and answer the question, “How does the author use details to support the idea that religion has shaped the world we live in today?” 

Indicator 1k

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 materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 1k. 

The materials include evidence-based writing tasks in the majority of lessons in the Literature units and Science and Social Studies units. Writing prompts are specific to the texts and help students build knowledge on each unit topic. Writing assignments are designed for students to construct meaningful responses and to think critically about new knowledge and themes in the unit. Each lesson includes a Target Task question, which requires students to answer, in writing, based on the reading from that day. Some of these tasks require students to complete a close read of a particular piece of text and use detailed evidence to support their responses to writing prompts. The Teacher Tools provide a variety of instructional strategies for direct instruction and support for facilitating student practice needed to provide students with explicit, sequenced instruction to help them develop grade-level writing techniques, though none are specific to evidence-based writing. 

Materials provide frequent opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 3, students explain why Marty from Shiloh was feeling so upset. The teacher has students return to the text and find evidence to support this before writing. Sentence frames are given to support writing, such as “Mary felt _________ because _______.” 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 12, students read an excerpt of Liberty: How the Revolutionary War Began and write a summary about what happened at the First Continental Congress. Prior to writing, the teacher reviews with students what to include when summarizing a historical event and then students work with partners to orally summarize what happened before beginning the writing assignment. 

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 14, the Target Task prompt states, “In what ways does having a learning disability impact the way Melody sees herself? How does it impact the way others see her? Use specific details from the text to support your answer.” Students work in partners to gather evidence before writing. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 8, students answer the questions, “How are laws made? Why are there so many steps?” To prepare students for this task, the class first engages in a close read of the ten steps for how a law is made and, if needed, the teacher draws a diagram that shows the different people involved in making a law. 

Writing opportunities are focused around students’ recall of information to develop opinions from reading closely and working with evidence from texts and sources. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 6, students respond to the writing prompt, “Describe how the Dragon was born. What does the story reveal about the Dragon and the Magistrate Tiger's character?”

  • Literature, Unit 5, Lesson 17, students independently answer the questions, “Why does Mom tell Joey that he can’t meet his father? How does this make Joey feel?” Students then discuss the question, “Is Mom right to not let Joey’s dad back into their lives?”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 27, students complete the unit with a culminating writing task that utilizes information learned from the unit texts. Students write an opinion essay based on the question, “Were the colonists justified in declaring independence and fighting the Revolutionary War? Defend your answer with 2-3 reasons why the colonists were right or wrong to declare their independence.”

  • In Science and Social Studies, Unit 4, Lesson 7, students spend two days working on the writing prompt,“What are the pros and cons surrounding the use of fossil fuels? What reasons and evidence does the author include?” Students do a close read and work with partners to fill out the Energy Source Pros and Cons handout in order to form their own opinion before writing. 

Indicator 1l

Materials include explicit instruction of the grade-level grammar and usage standards, with opportunities for application in context.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the expectations of Indicator 1l.

The materials include explicit instruction in all grammar standards. Materials include instruction during the Literature and Science and Social Studies units primarily using the core anchor text and example sentences. Students have multiple opportunities to practice crafting sentences using the newly learned grammar skill, as well as additional opportunities for continuous practice. Materials also include opportunities for students to demonstrate the application of skills in the context of student writing.

Materials include explicit instruction of all grammar and usage standards for the grade level. For example:

  • Use relative pronouns (who, whose, whom, which, that) and relative adverbs (where, when, why). 

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 9, the teacher provides students with a kernel sentence, “Marty promises Shiloh”, then students expand it using when, what, where, and why. 

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 4, the teacher models how to use relative pronouns by explaining that relative pronouns take the place of nouns or pronouns. The teacher displays a sentence with a relative clause and discusses it with the students. The teacher gives the students a sentence frame with a relative pronoun for them to fill in. 

  • Form and use the progressive (e.g., I was walking; I am walking; I will be walking) verb tenses.

    • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 28, students differentiate between actions the candidate did in the past, present, or future, and review how to use different forms of the progressive verb tense. The teacher uses the Understanding Verb Tenses handout to introduce the verb tenses. Students create sentences using verb tenses and then are prompted to add different verb tenses to their writing. 

  • Use modal auxiliaries (e.g., can, may, must) to convey various conditions.

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 4, students reread Chapters 1-6 to gather evidence about the type of person the main character is. The class brainstorms potential theories about Minli. The teacher reminds students to use the words could and may to highlight that the ideas are still in draft form.

  • Order adjectives within sentences according to conventional patterns (e.g., a small red bag rather than a red small bag).

    • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 7, materials state that students might need support with how to order adjectives in a sentence. If needed, teachers use the mini-lesson. The teacher writes the sentences, “the small red bag,” and “the red small bag.” Then the teacher asks which one they think is correct. 

  • Form and use prepositional phrases.

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 8, a note is provided in the lesson for teaching about prepositional phrases since students will be using them to expand their sentences. There is also a supplemental language lesson linked if more teaching on prepositional phrases is necessary. 

  • Produce complete sentences, recognizing and correcting inappropriate fragments and run-ons.

  • Correctly use frequently confused words (e.g., to, too, two; there, their).

    • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 18, after students edit their writing, the teacher uses the Supplemental Language lesson, “To, Too, and Two” and “There, Their, and They’re” for students to help students understand the difference. 

  • Use correct capitalization.

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 27, students learn how to properly capitalize when using dialogue. Students practice writing dialogue using the correct capitalization and then work on adding the climax to their stories using dialogue. 

  • Use commas and quotation marks to mark direct speech and quotations from a text.

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 1, the teacher reads Chapter 1 aloud to students. The teacher tells students to pause when they read multiple commas.

  • Use a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 4, in the Additional Supports section, materials include three supplemental lessons. Lessons include Supplemental Language Lesson: Conjunction "and", Supplemental Language Lesson: Conjunction "but", Supplemental Language Lesson: Conjunction "so", and Supplemental Language Lesson: Conjunction "or". However, while this is found in the Additional Supports section, students do not receive explicit instruction in using a comma before a coordinating conjunction in a compound sentence.

  • Spell grade-appropriate words correctly, consulting references as needed.

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 26, the teacher provides students access to a word-wall or completes a key phonics and syllabication pattern activity to support students. It also says to teach students how to use an online dictionary and have them look up words they don’t know. 

  • Choose words and phrases to convey ideas precisely.

    • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 11, the teacher tells students that they are going to continue to work on elaborating their ideas. Students use transition words that illustrate the connection between ideas, including particularly

  • Choose punctuation for effect.

    • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 4, the teacher models how to pay close attention to the author’s use of punctuation. After students have read the poem, the teacher asks the question, “How does the author use punctuation in each poem?”

  • Differentiate between contexts that call for formal English (e.g., presenting ideas) and situations where informal discourse is appropriate (e.g., small-group discussion).

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 17, the teacher introduces the concept of formal versus informal language and encourages students to use formal language during the discussion. The teacher states, “Explain that during a discussion they should use formal English, instead of more informal English they may use when they are discussing in partners. Remind students that when they are using formal English, they should use some of the same techniques that they would when they are writing.”

Materials include opportunities for students to demonstrate application of skills in context, including applying grammar and convention skills to writing. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 27, students are reminded to edit their narrative for spelling using the teaching points from Unit 1. Students also edit their work for correct punctuation related to using dialogue. 

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 18, students write a poem using the different versions of the words, there, their, and they’re. The teacher circulates to make sure that the students are using the correct form of the word. 

Indicator 1m

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

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1m. 

The materials include digital Teacher Tools with a Vocabulary section that provides guidelines and strategies for teaching vocabulary within each unit. Additionally, the teacher is given protocols for how to explicitly and implicitly teach vocabulary; however, those protocols are general to the entire program rather than lesson or text-specific. While vocabulary is addressed within units to build student knowledge and support text comprehension, the vocabulary does not intentionally build over the academic year. The lessons are limited in providing specific instruction for teaching the vocabulary words in each lesson. While some Key Questions, Target Tasks, and assessment questions require the use of academic vocabulary from the text, vocabulary words are rarely addressed in context. There is also limited explanation for instructing students on how to incorporate the vocabulary words into their writing and speaking. While there is a vocabulary package that includes a list of words for each unit, as well as documents for the student to use as a resource, the vocabulary is infrequently integrated across multiple texts or embedded in writing instruction.  

Materials provide limited teacher guidance outlining a cohesive year-long vocabulary development component. For example:

  • The digital Teacher Tools provide guidance for vocabulary instruction that is general for the whole program K-12.  This document is not connected or referred to within the daily lessons. The guidance indicates that teachers should choose 7-15 words per unit to emphasize in instruction. The Teacher Tools also share routines to teach vocabulary both implicitly and explicitly. According to the materials in Teacher Tools, the vocabulary instruction is based on Doug Lemov’s “Examples of Active Vocabulary Practice from our New Curriculum” in Teach Like a Champion.

  • Each unit contains a Vocabulary Package. In this bundle, there are worksheets for students to determine the part of speech and define the words in the unit. There are PDF files that include vocabulary definition worksheet, flashcards, and a student glossary included in each unit. Lessons in both Literature Units and Science and Social Studies Units have a Vocabulary section that lists and defines the words that will be read during that lesson. It is at the teacher’s discretion which words to choose for explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction. Limited additional instruction or guidance is given within the lessons. 

Vocabulary is occasionally repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts) and across multiple texts, though explicit instruction is not seen across multiple texts. For example: 

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 3, the key vocabulary words are ticks, flustered, dusk, and impatient. While all four words are in the reading for the day, there is no specific instruction and the words are not repeated in multiple contexts. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 9, the key vocabulary words are contradict, justice, and deliberate. The words justice and deliberate are not only found in the text, but also in questions students answer, such as “How does someone become a Supreme Court justice?”. Students also answer multiple choice questions that have the words, such as “The Justices deliberate with one another and reach what they think is the best decision by majority vote.” 

Attention is paid to vocabulary essential to understanding the text and to high-value academic words (e.g., words that might appear in other contexts/content areas). For example:

  • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 1, the writing prompt is “What is ADHD? How does having ADHD influence a person’s life?”. The questions are based on one of the vocabulary words, ADHD, which is also a text-related topic in the unit. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 3, teachers begin the lesson with a review of the vocabulary word slavery using key understandings from Teaching Tolerance’s Teaching Hard History. Language includes, “Slavery is when a person owns another person as property. Enslaved people had families that could be split up at any time. Slavery and race are intimately connected. Slavery came to be associated with blackness, and that white people developed racist ideas to justify enslaving people of color.” This topic and vocabulary word appears in multiple texts across the unit as the focus is on African American history from slavery to civil rights.

Criterion 1n - 1p

Materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards.

4/8
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Criterion Rating Details

Within the program, students receive limited instruction and opportunities to practice grade-level phonics, word analysis, and word recognition that follows a research-based progression. There is an included structural analysis routine designed to help teachers support students with multisyllabic words, but the materials lack daily lesson plans in this area with targeted words for teachers to use for instruction. Students receive instruction and practice opportunities for oral and silent reading fluency; however, support for reading of prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary is minimal. There is no evidence of assessments for phonics and word recognition beyond the opportunities provided to inform instructional adjustments. Materials do include multiple assessments in fluency.

Indicator 1n

Materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level foundational skills by providing explicit instruction in phonics, word analysis, and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the expectations of indicator 1n.

The materials include limited instruction in phonics, word analysis, and word recognition that demonstrates research-based progression. Materials include some evidence of instruction in syllabication work. In the Teacher Tools, materials include a Structural Analysis Routine and a Syllabication Routine. There are references for teachers in the Enhanced Lesson Plans for when these routines might be beneficial to use with students. There is no evidence of assessment opportunities over the course of the year giving instructional adjustments for phonics and word recognition for students. There is also no evidence of materials containing letter-sound correspondences or work with unfamiliar multisyllabic words out-of-context of the stories. A list of common prefixes, derivational suffixes, and Latin suffixes is also provided in the teacher tools; however, there are no lessons on identifying and knowing the meanings of them. 

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

  • Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to accurately read unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.

    • In Teacher Tools, English Language Arts, Foundational Skills, Morphology, and Syllabication Routine, teachers use the Structural Analysis Routine to teach students how to decode words with a variety of affixes and word parts. A Syllabication Routine is also found in this teaching tool. In Grade 4, a whole-class syllabication review should only happen if the entire class is struggling with a particular syllable pattern. In the Enhanced Lesson Plans, there are notes of when a teacher may want to refer to these routines.

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 1, the teacher uses the Structural Analysis Routine to break down the words fruitless, impractical, resentfully, and weariness. The teacher guides students in determining the meaning of the prefix im- and suffixes -less, -ful, and -ness. 

Multiple assessment opportunities are not provided over the course of the year to inform instructional adjustments of phonics and word recognition to help students make progress toward mastery.

  • No evidence found.

Indicator 1o

Materials include opportunities for students to practice and apply grade-level phonics, word analysis, and word recognition skills.

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for indicator 1o. 

The materials include limited opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply word analysis skills using the Explicit Instruction of Vocabulary Routines, as well as the Syllabication Routine. Within some unit lessons, students have opportunities to learn, practice, and apply word analysis in texts that they are reading, as well as writing tasks. Additionally, materials include a Structural Analysis Routine during small groups when reading certain text. Teachers are reminded to refer to these tools if they notice students struggling with multisyllabic words while reading, but materials do not include specific lesson plans for these skills in the daily lessons. Materials do not include a word analysis assessment to monitor student progress on these skills during the year. 

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

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 2, if students are struggling with syllabication, the teacher completes the Syllabication Routine in a small group. Students are prompted to circle the word parts, prefixes, and suffixes, underline the letters representing the vowel sound, say each part of the word, say the parts fast, and read it as a real word, not just word parts. 

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 2, students use the text, and the teacher uses the Explicit Instruction of Vocabulary Routine to introduce the words. One of the parts of this routine is to highlight how the word part helps to determine the word’s meaning if it contains a prefix or suffix.

  • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 40, the teacher uses the Syllabication Routine in a small group for students who are struggling to understand the syllabication pattern for any words. 

Materials include tasks and questions that provide opportunities for students to access different foundational skills within the anchor text and supporting texts. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 2, students are taught the vocabulary using the Explicit Instruction of Vocabulary Routine, which has students break down the words into prefixes, and suffixes. 

  • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 1, students use the Explicit Instruction of Vocabulary routine with the text. The teacher introduces or reviews any priority vocabulary words that appear in the lesson with students. 

Indicator 1p

Instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in order to read with purpose and understanding.

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the expectations of Indicator 1p.

The materials include multiple opportunities for students to receive explicit instruction in fluency and practice fluent reading. The majority of lessons in each unit include fluency activities, such as teacher modeling, student self-assessment of their fluency, and partner reading for fluency practice. The use of teacher modeling, think aloud, or using examples and non-examples is provided at least once in every unit. Materials also include Norms for Oral Reading Fluency. Materials also include multiple assessment opportunities within each unit including Cold Read Assessments and Fluency Assessments. Materials provide the teacher with guidance for the next steps through Fluency Assessment Guidance and Fluency Assessment Trackers. Materials also include Additional Fluency Instruction and Support for students who need extra support in fluency. Materials include limited opportunities for students to learn and use self-correction of word recognition. Additionally, materials provide limited opportunities for students to practice oral reading fluency with rate and accuracy. 

Multiple opportunities are provided over the course of the year in core materials for students to demonstrate sufficient accuracy and fluency in oral and silent reading. For example:

  • Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 1, students are told that good readers pause with commas, then students after hearing the teacher read the folktale on page 4, read the same section independently to mimic and practice proper intonation. 

    • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 2, students read poetry with purpose and understanding. Materials state, “There are multiple poems per lesson. At least one poem per lesson should be read aloud to model fluent reading of a poem. When modeling, make sure to model how to use expression and intonation to emphasize the particular emotion of a particular poem. If needed, include non-examples of how to read a poem to emphasize the difference between reading a poem fluently and not. After a model, prompt: How does a reader decide which words and phrases to stress? How does a reader decide when to pause? What effect does the stress or pause have on the message of the poem? Students should read at least one poem per lesson with partners, or as a repeated read, to practice reading with fluency. Prompt: How does reading a poem fluently help a reader better understand the message of the poem? How does the way the author structures the poem help a reader better understand how to read the poem with the correct intonation or expression?”

    • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 3, students learn how to use descriptions of characters to read with proper intonation. Materials state, “The author includes a lot of descriptions to show how grandma, Joey, and Mom talk. Model how to use the description to read sections with the correct intonation. Potential sections to model include: ‘Help meeee. Help meeee,’ she’d squeak like the fly with the human face in that crazy bug movie. ‘Don’t touch. Don’t wiggle. Don’t run. Don’t yell,’ she’d bark out.” (p. 11) “‘In!’ she shouted. ‘Get in before I blow a fuse.’ A hot steamy sound came out with each word.” (p. 13).

Materials support reading of prose and poetry with attention to rate, accuracy, and expression, as well as direction for students to apply reading skills when productive struggle is necessary. For example:

  • Read grade-level prose and poetry orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings. 

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 2, the teacher models reading the dialogue with expression and intonation. Materials state, “Read this section of the text aloud in order to model reading dialogue with the expression and intonation that matches the characters’ feelings and motivations. While reading aloud, use this teaching point to introduce the fluency focus area to students: ‘Good readers change their voice and the way it goes up and down to match the mood and feelings of the character. This helps us better understand what the character is thinking or feeling. Watch me as I pay attention to the words the character is saying and the dialogue tags the author uses to show how the character would sound if he were actually talking.’”

    • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 4, the teacher models reading with intonation and how to read dialect with smoothness and accuracy. Students partner-read sections of the text to practice reading the dialect with intonation and accuracy. 

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 7, the teacher models reading the dialogue with intonation and expression, as well as how to read sentences with complex structure. 

    • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 2, it is recommended that at least one poem per lesson should be read aloud to model fluent reading of a poem. The teacher is advised to model how to use expression and intonation to emphasize the particular emotion of a particular poem. The teacher can also include non-examples of how to read a poem to emphasize the difference between reading a poem fluently and not. Students read at least one poem per lesson with partners, or as a repeated read, to practice reading with fluency. 

Materials provide limited support in students’ fluency development of reading skills (e.g., self-correction of word recognition and/or for understanding, focus on rereading) over the course of the year (to get to the end of the grade-level band). For example:

  • Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary. 

    • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 3, the teacher reads Chapter 3 aloud to students to demonstrate how to self-correct when faced with a difficult word. Prompts are provided for the teacher to ask the students, such as “What strategies does a fluent reader use to self-correct when reading difficult words? How does self-correcting help a reader better understand the text?”

Assessment materials provide teachers and students with information of students’ current fluency skills and provide teachers with instructional adjustments to help students make progress toward mastery of fluency. For example:

  • In the Assessment Reading Fluency Overview, the teacher uses a baseline fluency assessment at the beginning of the year, informal assessments during the unit to evaluate prosody, rate, and accuracy using fluency rubrics. If a student scores a two or lower on the baseline assessment, they should use the additional fluency instruction and support. The teacher is prompted to also give formal assessments at the end of every unit using a passage from the core text that encompasses fluency demands. 

    • A cold-read assessment is provided for teachers to use. Teachers can refer to the information provided in the Teacher Tools, Foundational Skills, Fluency for norms to determine which students need additional work in the area of rate. 

    • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 11, this lesson contains a 250-word fluency quick-check. “Have students use the Reading Fluency Rubric and complete the fluency check-point in partners. Either use a predetermined section of the core text or use a passage from Achieve the Core’s fluency resources. Students who struggle with fluency should do a quick check with a teacher. Use data from fluency quick-check to determine which students need additional fluency practice.” Additional resources for supporting student fluency can be found in Achieve the Core’s fluency resources. 

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The Grade 4 science and social studies units build strong content knowledge, engage students in deep text analysis, and invite synthesis of ideas within and across texts through the use of high-quality questions and tasks. Culminating tasks which frequently double as research tasks, provide opportunities for students to engage in a deep analysis of the topic under study and to demonstrate standards-aligned knowledge and skills obtained from the unit. Most literary units are aligned to a theme and may not serve to build knowledge in the same way as the science and social studies units. 

The materials include frequent opportunities for writing and integrate writing as a tool for examination of texts and discussions. Though the program contains strong tools, an end-of-unit process writing task, and integrates language standards into lessons throughout the unit, the opportunities for direct instruction and practice of process writing, editing, and revision may not be enough for students to master all grade level expectations in writing. 

The bulk of instructional time and tasks see students engaged daily in discussions, text analysis, writing about texts and/or unit topics, and engaged in grade-level, standards-aligned work. Materials can be completed within the recommended times and calendaring allotted. Optional activities do not move the materials out of standards alignment and meet the objectives of each unit.

Criterion 2a - 2f

Materials build knowledge through integrated reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language.

22/24
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Criterion Rating Details

The Grade 4 science and social studies units are topically connected; however most literature units are thematically connected, and may not serve to build knowledge on a topic. 

High-quality questions and tasks throughout the units engage students in analysis of the key ideas, details, craft, and structure of texts. Additionally, these questions and tasks provide the opportunity to examine knowledge and ideas both within and across texts. The culminating tasks found across the units require students to demonstrate the knowledge and skills gained in the unit as well as their progress toward mastery of the grade level standards. Additionally, some of these culminating tasks, primarily found in the science and social studies units, provide research opportunities where students engage in a deep analysis of the topic under study. 

The materials include frequent opportunities for writing and integrate writing as a tool for examination of texts and discussions. Though the program contains strong tools, an end-of-unit process writing task, and integrates language standards into lessons throughout the unit, the opportunities for direct instruction and practice of process writing, editing, and revision may not be enough for students to master all grade level expectations in writing.

Indicator 2a

Texts are organized around a cohesive topic(s)/theme(s) to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2a.

The materials contain texts that are organized around a cohesive topic in the Science and Social Studies units; however, in the Literature Units, some of the units are organized around a theme and do not necessarily help build knowledge. The Science and Social Studies units are organized around a topic to enhance students’ knowledge of particular subject matter. Anchor texts and supporting materials build students’ acquisition of knowledge through reading, discussions, research, and text-based questions. The units introduce essential questions with knowledge goals for students that build knowledge of each topic. 

All of the Science and Social Studies unit texts are connected by grade-level appropriate topics. A few of the Literature units are connected by a topic and build knowledge and the ability to read and comprehend complex texts across a school year. For example:

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, students read several informational texts about natural disasters including Wildfires, Hurricanes, Earthquakes, and Volcanoes all by Seymour Simon, Unforgettable Natural Disasters (Time For Kids Nonfiction Reader) by Tamara Hollingsworth, and several other nonfiction articles and resources about natural disasters. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • Where and how do earthquakes occur? What hazards do earthquakes create? How can the hazards be reduced? 

    • Where and how do volcanoes occur? What hazards do volcanoes create? How can the hazards be reduced? 

    • Where and how do hurricanes occur? What hazards do hurricanes create? How can the hazards be reduced? 

    • Where and how do wildfires occur? What hazards do wildfires create? How can the hazards be reduced? 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, students read several texts about the American Revolution including Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began by Lucille Recht Penner and A Young People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn (informational texts) and multiple other supporting sources on the African American and Native American roles in the war to build knowledge of the causes leading up to the American Revolution and leaders of the colonies. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • What key events led to the outbreak of the American Revolution? 

    • How did opinions differ on the idea of independence? 

    • Were the colonies really a land of equality and liberty? 

    • Why is it important to look at history from multiple perspectives?  

  • In Literature Unit 3, students read several books about the impact of having a learning disability including The Wild Book by Margarita Engle (fictional text). Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • What can we learn from hearing our ancestors' stories? 

    • What was the political and social climate of Cuba in 1912? How did it impact citizens? 

    • How does having a learning disability impact the way people see themselves and the way that others see them?

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, students read books about the U.S. Government including National Government by Ernestine Giesecke and Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote by Susan Zimet (informational texts). Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • What is the Constitution of the United States? Why is it important? 

    • What are the main functions of each branch of the United States government? 

    • Why couldn't women vote before 1920? What changes brought about women's suffrage in the United States? 

    • How can courageous individuals create and drive change? 

  • In Literature Unit 4, students read myths and /fiction texts including Greek Myth Plays by Carol Pugliano-Martin, I am Arachne: Fifteen Greek and Roman Myths by Elizabeth Spires, The McElderry Book of Greek Myths by Eric A. Kimmel, and Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer. Unit lessons are centered on building knowledge and understanding of the context of Greek myths and how the ancient Greeks used mythology to make sense of the world. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • Why was Greek mythology important in ancient Greece? 

    • What lessons can be learned from Greek mythology? 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, students read the book, Forms of Energy by Anna Claybourne (informational text), and several articles from Energy Resources I. Files. The texts build knowledge of energy and how it is transferred and converted into different forms. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • What is energy? What are the different forms of energy? 

    • What are nonrenewable energy resources? What are the pros and cons of using nonrenewable energy? 

    • What are renewable energy sources? What are the pros and cons of using renewable energy?

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, texts focus on United States history of African Americans from slavery to the Civil Rights Movement including Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson (biography/narrative nonfiction). Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • How have racist ideas and racism shaped United States history and policies?

    • What are some of the key events in United States history since the 1600s? How did each event impact life for African Americans? 

    • How can courageous individuals create and drive change?

  • In Literature Unit 6, students read texts about the Great Depression including Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis (fictional text). Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • What traits help people succeed in the face of challenge? 

    • Can a person be entirely self-sufficient? 

    • What was the Great Depression? How does the setting of the Great Depression influence the way the story unfolds?

The Literature unit texts are mostly connected by a theme and therefore, are not organized around a cohesive topic. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, students read Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (fictional text), which focuses on the themes of identity and courage. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • How do beliefs, ethics, or values influence different people’s behaviors?

    • When should an individual take a stand against what he/she believes to be an injustice? What are the most effective ways to do this?

    • What does it mean to show courage?

  • In Literature Unit 2, students read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, which focuses on how family shapes identify values, and beliefs. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • How are people transformed through their relationships with others?

    • What does it mean to have good fortune?

  • In Literature Unit 5, students read Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos (fictional text) and an article on ADHD. The purpose of this unit is to “genuinely connect with a character and fully immerse themselves in the mind of a character”. Students answer the following Essential Questions:

    • How does the way others view us impact the way we view ourselves?

    • What is empathy? Why is it important to be empathetic towards others?

    • What is ADHD? How does having ADHD influence a person’s life?

Indicator 2b

Materials require students to analyze the key ideas, details, craft, and structure within individual texts as well as across multiple texts using coherently sequenced, high quality questions and tasks.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2b.

The materials include opportunities for students to respond to high-quality questions and tasks in writing or discussion. Many questions and tasks focus on main idea and details, as well as word choice and structure of the text. In each lesson, text-dependent questions are sequenced to increase an in-depth knowledge base of the key ideas and themes presented in texts. The majority of the text-dependent question sequences occur in the Engaging with the Text sections in each lesson. All of the texts, questions, and associated tasks build student knowledge to answer the Essential Questions that guide each unit. 

For most texts, students analyze key ideas and details according to grade-level standards. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 18, students read Chapter 35-37 of the core text, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. The lesson ends with a writing prompt: “What gift do the people of Moon Rain give Minli? Why is this gift an example of true generosity?” Students answer Key Questions to help them answer the prompt: “Ba begins to question if the fish was actually talking to him. Why? How does this make Ma and Ba feel? How are the characters and events in the story of The Greet Tiger and the Tea connected to earlier events?”

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 2, Lesson 12 after reading an excerpt of the core text, Liberty! How the American Revolution Began, students answer several Key Questions in order to describe what happened at the First Continental Congress at the end of the lesson.To prepare for that writing task, students answer questions: “Explain what happened at the First Continental Congress. What role did Spies play in the Revolution?”

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 5, Lesson 7, students analyze Let it Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters and answer Key Questions to build their knowledge on Harriet Tubman. Questions include: “How did Harriet feel when she found freedom? How does the author help the reader understand how Harriet felt? What is a reputation? Why was Harriet beginning to get a reputation among slaves and slave owners? Why was this both a good and a bad thing?”

  • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 5, students answer a series of questions about key ideas and details after reading a portion of Bud, not Buddy: “What does it mean to hop a train? How does Bud feel about the idea of hopping a train with Bugs?”

For most texts, students analyze craft and structure (according to the grade-level standards). For example:

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, Lesson 1, students begin reading the text, Unforgettable Natural Disasters, a Time for Kids Nonfiction Reader, and answer analysis questions: “Why does the author include the maps on pages 8-9? How do they help the reader better understand how the GDACS works?” 

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 5, after reading Chapters 7- 9 of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, students pick three descriptive sentences from the text that best describe how Minli, Ma, and Ba are feeling and why. Students analyze how the descriptions help the reader understand each character. 

  • In Literature Unit 4, students are studying Greek myths for comparison. In Lesson 1, after reading various myths, students read an excerpt of Greek Myth Plays. Students prepare to write about how the story of “Echo and Narcissus” is highlighted in the play. In the Engaging with the Text section, students answer Key Questions prior to completing the written prompt to analyze craft and structure: “Who are the characters? Why would the author include all of the characters? What clues does the author give to help a reader better understand the emotion of each character? Compare and contrast the structural elements of drama with those of prose and verse.” 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 1, after reading Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans, students complete the Target Task: “Who is speaking in the prologue and who is the ‘honey’ whom she is addressing? Why did the author choose to tell history through this voice?”

Indicator 2c

Materials require students to analyze the integration of knowledge within individual texts as well as across multiple texts using coherently sequenced, high quality text-specific and/or text-dependent questions and tasks.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2c.

The materials contain questions and tasks that require students to analyze individual and multiple texts. In both Literature and Science and Social Studies units, lessons include a set of Key Questions to build knowledge around the unit topic. As the units progress, questions build to support various tasks and, by the end of most units, students compare the unit texts. The majority of questions are text-dependent or text-specific. Furthermore, tasks enhance the students’ knowledge base of the unit topic through questions, discussions, writing prompts, and at times, research. Within most units, there are multiple texts that offer varying perspectives and viewpoints while continuing to build knowledge of the unit topic or theme. Most questions are aligned to the standards, and the majority of units provide opportunities for students to gather information and analyze across multiple texts. 

Most sets of questions and tasks support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas. For example:

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, Lesson 12, students answer the questions: “What steps can be taken today to protect people and buildings from the threat of an earthquake? What challenges exist?” Before this writing prompt, students answer questions: “Why do cities differ in their preparation for earthquakes? What challenges do cities face when trying to prepare for earthquakes?”

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 1, students analyze a timeline in order to answer the question, “What was life like in Cuba in 1912?” Before answering this question in writing, students answer questions: “What was Cuba like from 1200-1526? Who was in control? What can you infer life was like during the time period? Were people treated equally?” Students answer similar questions for the time periods of 1530-1878, 1880-1910, and 1910-1924. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, students build a foundation for understanding the way in which the American government was formed and the way it is structured. In Lesson 2, students answer the writing prompt: “What plan did the Constitution make for the government of the United States? In your answer describe three or four key features of the new government.” Then, in Lesson 4, students read two texts, Building a Nation by Terry Miller Shannon and The Bill of Rights by David L. Dreier, to complete the writing prompt: “What is the Constitution of the United States? Why is it important?” 

  • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 7, students write about why Hoovervilles were created. Before this writing prompt, students answer questions, such as “What were living conditions like for black people during the Great Depression? Why? Why did people have to give up their homes?” 

Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts. For example:

  • In Science and Social Students Unit 2, Lesson 7, students answer the writing prompt, “How did the elites influence the poor and begin the Revolution?” Before this task, students read several pages from A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and answer questions: “What did the elites want the poor to do? What were the elites worried about? What did the elites want from the poor? What strategies did they use?”

  • In Literature Unit 3, students read The Wild Book to explore the difficulties associated with learning disabilities and gain an understanding of Dyslexia. In Lesson 2, students describe how the narrator feels about word blindness. In Lesson 3, students use the video, “What is Dyslexia?”, to better understand the character in the novel. In this lesson, they answer the questions, “Why is learning to read so difficult for children with dyslexia? How does this connect with the narrator in The Wild Book?” In Lesson 4, students write a paragraph that explains what blindness is and how it impacts the main character’s life. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, Lesson 27, students read multiple unit texts, including Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Pinkney, Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson, and Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters by Andrea Davis Pinkney to answer one of the unit essential questions. Questions include: “How have racist ideas and racism shaped the United States’ history and policies? What are some of the key events in United States history since the 1600s? How did each event impact life for African Americans?”

Indicator 2d

Culminating tasks require students to demonstrate their knowledge of a unit's topic(s)/theme(s) through integrated literacy skills (e.g., a combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2d.

The materials include culminating tasks at the end of each unit that requires students to demonstrate knowledge of the unit topic and mastery of the unit skills. To prepare students for the culminating task, similar tasks or questions are provided throughout the unit. Culminating tasks are varied across the school year. While the majority of culminating tasks include a writing component, they also give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of the unit topic and understanding of multiple standards through integrated skills including reading, researching, speaking, and listening. Most, but not all, culminating tasks require students to utilize information from unit texts or sources across the unit for completion. Some culminating tasks ask students to write about their own experience or beliefs, though students study literature and character development and use that knowledge to complete the culminating task. 

Culminating tasks are multifaceted, requiring students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards (reading, writing, speaking, listening) at the appropriate grade level, and comprehension and knowledge of a topic or topics through integrated skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening). For example:

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 1, Lesson 26, students complete a culminating task where they research a recent natural disaster and create a report that includes: how the natural disaster happened, what damage was caused by the natural disaster, and suggestions for providing support to those impacted by the disaster. Students combine speaking, listening, reading, and writing to complete the task. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, students answer the question, “Were the colonists justified in declaring independence and fighting the Revolutionary War? Defend your answer with two to three reasons why the colonists were right or wrong to declare their independence.”

  • In Literature Unit 3, Lesson 18, students choose one of a suggested list of books and write a continuation of the story using what they have learned about characters and setting. Requirements for the continuation include: having a problem, climax, and solution; continuing the characters and setting from the original text; writing in the same point of view; and using dialogue and description to show how the characters are feeling. 

  • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 29, students complete the culminating task: “Compare and contrast the development of the theme in Bud, Not Buddy with other novels from the course by stating a claim and supporting it with evidence from multiple texts.”

Indicator 2e

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to achieve grade-level writing proficiency by the end of the school year.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2e.

The materials in both Literature and Science and Social Studies units provide opportunities to help students achieve grade-level proficiency in writing by the end of the year. The Teacher Tools includes instructional strategies for teachers to utilize when providing explicit instruction and facilitating student practice throughout each stage of the writing process; however, opportunities for students to participate in the writing process is limited to periodic skill activities and focused writing at the end of each unit for approximately four to five days. Writing lessons incorporate a myriad of instructional strategies outlined in the Teacher Tools document. In each unit, the demands increase exponentially. At the onset of the academic year, the units focus on quality sentences and paragraph writing and gradually build throughout the year toward proficiency with essays. The use of evidence also evolves from students using direct quotations to citing and paraphrasing evidence. The Enhanced Lesson Plans ensure that students receive explicit and sequenced instruction to aid in developing grade-level writing techniques followed by ample time for practice. 

Materials include writing instruction that aligns to the standards for the grade level and supports students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the school year. For example:

  • In the Literature Units, writing instruction aligns to the standards for Grade 4. All Literature Units include W.4.1 and W.4.3 as core writing standards as students regularly receive opinion and narrative writing instruction and complete tasks. In Science and Social Studies Units, all of the units focus on W.4.2, as students write informative pieces. They also focus on W.4.7 in Units 1, 3, and 5, and W.4.8 in all units as students research in order to effectively write an informative piece. Students engage in on-demand writing throughout the unit in response to their reading that prepares them for the final writing task for the unit. All writing standards are covered over the course of the year.

  • In Literature Unit 1, students focus on sentence-level writing (expanding sentences), paragraph-level writing (brainstorming and creating strong outlines), and narrative writing. The Focus Areas for the Unit are identified in the Unit Launch. In Lesson 7 students start their unit-long writing about describing Marty. In this lesson, students learn how to brainstorm and find evidence about characters. Students also begin to learn about topic sentences. In Lesson 14 students return to their theories about Marty from Lesson 7 to “revise and built onto” their theories. Students find additional evidence from the text and revise their initial theories and brainstorms. Students then learn that the theories they brainstormed are examples of topic sentences. Students complete a Single Paragraph Outline. In Lesson 23, students spend two days interacting with the same prompt from Lesson 7 and Lesson 14. In the first lesson, students learn how to revise their theories and brainstorm about a character based on additional evidence, and in the second lesson, they complete a single paragraph outline with time for peer revision. In Lesson 24, students continue to work on drafting outlines with opportunities for peer revision. In later units, students will return to crafting outlines and paragraphs. In Lesson 26, students participate in a 5-day narrative writing project. This serves as their introduction to narrative writing for the course. There are 10 days of process writing across this unit.

    In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, students focus on crafting strong sentences, drafting strong paragraphs, and writing opinion pieces as outlined in the Unit Launch. In Lesson 5, students learn how to write paragraph summaries to summarize what happened during the Boston Massacre. In Lesson 6, students learn how to use subordinating conjunctions to make their writing more interesting and have a chance to revise previous Target Task writing. In Lesson 9, students review how to draft a single-paragraph outline in preparation for drafting in later units. In Lesson 11, students learn how to use subordinating conjunctions to make their writing more interesting with time for partner revision. In Lesson 14, students learn how to turn their drafts into paragraphs by writing more complex sentences. In Lesson 25, students have another opportunity to write a paragraph with time for partner revision. In Lesson 27, students spend 4-days writing an opinion piece. Students use what they learned in lessons 5, 6, 9, 11, 14, and 25 to craft strong paragraphs. There are 10 days in the unit dedicated to process-based writing. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, the writing focus is on building student skill in opinion writing. Lessons 6-10 provide students the opportunity to use what they are learning about different sources of energy to determine the pros and cons of each. Students write opinion pieces about the use of solar energy, hydroelectric dams, and nuclear power. After crafting opinions on each of these sources, students present an additional energy source before writing an opinion piece to convince community leaders to use one of the sources of energy. The majority of this unit offers students opportunities to practice and refine gathering evidence and opinion writing

  • In Literature Unit 5, the Unit Focus Key Writing and Language Standards provides guidance for teachers to focus instruction on clearly stating an opinion, providing reasons that support an opinion, using appropriate transition words to connect your reasons, and including a concluding statement. Teacher guidance includes information on writing genre (opinion) and explaining what students are required to do in the lessons, such as brainstorm an opinion, decide on evidence that is the most convincing, and use appropriate transition words to connect their evidence.

Materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and supports for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Examples include:

  • The ELA Teacher Tools includes a link to a variety of guidance and support for teachers to implement writing in Grade 4. These include: 

    • Monitoring Student Writing Progress provides guidance on determining what skills should be taught by looking at previous lessons and student data. Teacher guidance includes maintaining a tracking system of student progress in writing throughout the year from assignment to assignment.

    • Writing Structures and Frameworks provides teacher guidance and protocols for teaching specific writing structures and frameworks including brainstorming and note-taking organizers, such as a Narrative Writing Brainstorm Template,  a Single Paragraph Outline, and Multiple Paragraph Outline. In addition, this section outlines that sentence level instruction is based off of The Writing Revolution by Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler. 

    • Instructional Strategies for Writing Lessons provides multiple instructional strategies that teachers can use in implementing writing lessons. These strategies include Think Aloud, Teacher Model Writing, Analysis of an Exemplar, Analysis of a Non-Exemplar, Group Practice, Quick Practice, Analysis of Student Work, and Independent Practice.

    • Giving Writing Feedback provides information on how feedback should be given to students in each lesson including conferences, whole-class feedback, and peer feedback. There are also guides for how teachers can respond to common challenges at the sentence level, the paragraph level, for narrative writing, and informational writing.

    • Writing Rubrics provides rubrics for teacher use for each type of writing.

Indicator 2f

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.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2f.

The materials include opportunities for students to analyze topics, through research by using reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills throughout the academic year. The majority of short and extended research tasks occur in the Science and Social Studies units. A few lessons in the Literature units require students to analyze informational texts or multimedia sources to learn more about topics addressed in the texts. Students perform research tasks based on single and multiple texts and are encouraged to take notes or utilize graphic organizers. Students use the research to write, debate, discuss, or illustrate their learning. 

Research projects are sequenced across a school year to include a progression of research skills that build to mastery of the grade-level standards. For example: 

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 1, Lesson 26, students spend five days researching a recent natural disaster (volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes or wildfires). They create a report that includes how the natural disaster happened, what damage was caused by the natural disaster, and suggestions for providing support to those impacted by the disaster. Students can complete the project independently or with a partner. Students use websites like Newsela, Scholastic News, and Time for Kids. 

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 3, Lesson 28, students spend five days on a research project about an upcoming election to respond to the prompt, “Imagine you are allowed to vote in an upcoming election. In order to make an educated decision about who to vote for and why, you’ll need to do some research. Use a variety of sources to research and answer the questions: Who are the major candidates in the election? What does each candidate believe in?” Students use the information they collect to write an opinion paragraph on the person for whom they would vote. 

  • In Social Studies and Science Unit 5, Lesson 28, students spend six days researching an African American hero to create a presentation for their class. Students choose one person they learned about and research the person’s childhood, adulthood, and lessons learned. Students are prompted to use the unit texts, Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters and Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America and the internet to complete the project.

Materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic. For example:

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, Lesson 9, the lesson plan includes a list of multimedia resources that allow teachers to build background knowledge and provide additional support students need to explain the pros and cons surrounding the use of solar energy. Students complete a brief research activity using online videos, articles, and photos about solar energy to support their comprehension of the core text, Energy Sources: The Pros and Cons.

  • In Literature Unit 6, Lesson 10, students use Children of the Great Depression and Bud, Not Buddy to “write a multi-paragraph essay that describes what the Great Depression was and how the setting influences how the story unfolds.” 

Materials provide opportunities for students to conduct research projects that synthesize and analyze content tied to the topics under study as a part of the research process. For example:

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 4, students use the texts, Building a Nation and The Bill of Rights, to build knowledge on the US Constitution. After reading and researching from the texts, they write a paragraph to answer, “What is the Constitution of the United States? Why is it important?”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, Lessons 7-9, students spend two days in each lesson on opinion writing discussing the pros and cons of various renewable energy sources. For example, in Lesson 8, students use the text, Energy Sources, and additional multimedia sources, such as videos, articles, and photos to research hydroelectric dams. Students use the information gathered to practice opinion writing for the prompt, “What are the pros and cons surrounding the use of hydroelectric dams? What reasons and evidence does the author include?” This research is used as they complete a final task in the unit to convince community leaders to use a particular energy source. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, Lesson 11, students spend two days developing a group presentation after researching an additional energy source.

Criterion 2g - 2h

Materials promote mastery of grade-level standards by the end of the year.

8/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The bulk of instructional time and tasks see students engaged daily in discussions, text analysis, writing about texts and/or unit topics, and engaged in grade-level, standards-aligned work. Materials can be completed within the recommended times and calendaring allotted. Optional activities do not move the materials out of standards alignment and meet the objectives of each unit. 

Indicator 2g

Materials spend the majority of instructional time on content that falls within grade-level aligned instruction, practice, and assessments.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2g.

The materials include instructional activities, student activities, assessments, and questions that are focused on grade level standards. Instructional activities encompass grade level standards and are the focus for the majority of instructional time. Students are engaged daily in discussions, text analysis, writing about texts or unit topics, or mid- and end-of-unit assessments, all of which align to Grade 3 standards. At the bottom of each lesson, it lists the core standards and the supporting or spiral standards. In addition, the lesson map lists the core standard. Every question on assessments indicates alignment to the appropriate standard. Materials also include a Standards Map that indicates when standards are addressed and spiraled in. 

Over the course of each unit, the majority of instruction is aligned to grade-level standards. For example: 

  • In Literature Unit 2, the majority of instruction is aligned to the standards. For example, the reading instruction focuses on RL.4.2, RL.4.3, and RL.4.4. The writing lessons focus on W.4.1 and W.4.3. The unit also focuses on speaking and listening standards SL.4.1 and SL.4.2 and the language standards L.4.1 and L.4.2. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, reading instruction focuses on RI.4.2, RI.4.3, RI.4.7, and RI.4.8. Writing instruction focuses on W.4.1, W.4.2, W.4.8, and W.4.9. Instruction also focuses on the speaking and listening standards SL.4.1, SL.4.3, and SL.4.4. In this unit there is also a focus on several science standards. 

Over the course of each unit, the majority of questions and tasks are aligned to grade-level standards. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 4, students read a portion of Shiloh and answer Key Questions based on the text, which focus on standard RL.4.3. Questions include, “What plan does Marty come up with? Will his plan work? Why or why not? Describe life in Friendly, West Virginia. What evidence does the author include to show that Judd is hostile to both people and animals? What evidence does the author include to support the conclusion that Marty can't stop thinking about Shiloh? What does the phrase ‘drive me crazy’ mean?”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 10, students read about the Revolutionary War. The Target Task is a writing prompt that asks students to write their opinion based on the text: “King George stated, ‘Blows must decide.’ Based on what you know about both the British army and the militia, who would most likely win? Why?” The core standards in this lesson are RI.4.2 and RI.4.3. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 13, students read a portion of Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote. The Target Task states, “Read the quote from page 15. ‘And to be a woman in 1840 was to be less than a man. Socially less, politically less, and, perhaps most of all, legally less.’ What evidence does the author include to support this point?” The questions and tasks in this lesson align to RI.4.2 and RI.4.3. 

  • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 21, students write a multiple paragraph outline to answer the question, “How does the way others view us impact the way we view ourselves”. This task aligns to multiple standards including L.4.1, L.4.2, and W.4.1. 

Over the course of each unit, the majority of assessment questions are aligned to grade-level standards. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Cold Read Assessment, questions include, “Identify two details that best show the setting of ‘Stray” which aligns to the standards RL.4.1 and RL.4.3,  “Which statement best describes the main character between paragraphs 9 and 14 in the story?” which aligns to RL.4.3, “What does the detail ‘she rose up heavily’ show about the narrator?” which aligns to RL.4.3, and “What does the phrase rose up mean as it is used in the sentence?” which aligns to L4.5.

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 1, Cold Read Assessment, questions include, “How are surface waves different from tsunami waves? Use details from the text and diagram to support your answer” which aligns to RI.4.3 and “What could cause a tsunami to form?” which is aligned to RI.4.1. 

  • In Literature Unit 5, Content Assessment, students answer, “What can we learn from Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key about what it means to be empathetic towards others?” which aligns to RL.4.3, W.4.1, L.4.1, L.4.2, and L.4.6

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, the Content Assessment states, “Analyze the illustration from page 2 of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. Explain what message the illustrator is trying to convey.” This assessment task aligns to RI.4.2, RI.4.3, RI.4.7, W.4.2, L.4.1, L.4.2, and L.4.6. 

By the end of the academic year,  standards are repeatedly addressed within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standard. For example:

  • RL.4.1, RL.4.2, RL.4.3, and RL.4.4 are covered as either core standards or supporting standards in almost all six Literature units. RL.4.2 and RL.4.3 are core standards in almost all standards units. RL.3.3 is also a core standard in the last Science and Social Studies Unit. 

  • RI.4.1, RI.4.2, RI.4.3, RI.4.4, and RI.4.5 are covered in almost every Science and Social Studies unit. RI.4.3 is also a core standard in the final Literature Unit. 

  • W.4.1 is a core standard in all but one standard. W.4.2 is in every Science and Social Studies unit and W.4.3 is in every Literature unit. W.4.8 is a core standard in every Science and Social Studies unit. 

  • Speaking and listening standards are addressed in every unit, especially SL.4.1 which is covered in every Literature and Science and Social Studies unit. 

  • Language standards are core and supporting standards across the year. L.4.1, L.4.2, and L.4.4 are in every unit.

Indicator 2h

Materials regularly and systematically balance time and resources required for following the suggested implementation, as well as information for alternative implementations that maintain alignment and intent of the standards.

4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 2h.

The materials include an implementation schedule that allows sufficient time to complete all components of the lessons and every unit in a given year. A schedule with time suggestions for each lesson is provided in the unit pacing guide. The plans explicitly state that there is time allowed for teachers to adjust lessons to meet the needs of their individual classrooms. Moreover, the total number of lessons can be completed in a traditional school year. Optional activities are present in the form of additional support to build knowledge, and enrichment activities align to the standards and enhance the daily objective.  

Suggested implementation schedules and alternative implementation schedules align to core learning and objectives. For example:

  • The materials include an article with a sample daily schedule from 8:00-3:00 that includes the literature block, a math block, a specials block, a science and social studies block, another block for science or enrichment, independent reading, and time for a morning meeting and closing circle. Writing instruction is embedded within all Literature and Science and Social Studies units. 

  • The Literature and Social Studies and Science lessons have three parts. According to the materials, the Building Knowledge and Skills section takes about 5 minutes, the Engage with the Text section takes about 30 minutes, and the Build Deeper Meaning section takes about 25 minutes. 

  • The materials recommend that students participate in a 45 minute independent reading block each day. 

Suggested implementation schedules can be reasonably completed in the time allotted. For example:

  • In Literature, there are 145 lessons with 162 instructional days. 

  • In Social Studies, there are 124 lessons with 150 instructional days. 

  • The materials specifically state, “we intentionally did not account for all 180 school days to allow teachers to fit in additional review or extension, teacher-created assessments, and school-based events.” 

Optional tasks do not distract from core learning. Optional tasks are for either remediation or enrichment and can be integrated into the existing lesson plan. For example:

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 5, students read about Pandora in the text, The Greek Myth Plays. The Opportunities for Enrichment section suggests, “Extend the lesson a day and have students act out the drama version of Pandora. Split the class up into groups and assign roles. Have each group practice their lines, adding correct intonation and movement.”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, Lesson 6, students study various forms of renewable energy and write a paragraph on how the forms of energy keep a city running. The Additional Supports section states, “Review with students how to use appositives. Encourage students to include at least 2 appositives in their answer.” 

Optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction. For example:

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 7, students are studying the American Revolution through the text, A Young People’s History of the United States. The lesson includes three recommendations for optional tasks that enhance student learning. An Opportunities for Enrichment states, “Have students rewrite sections of Liberty! based on the information they learned in this lesson.” The Language Support task states, “Have students turn and talk prior to participating in the class discussion.” An Additional Support is to “help students understand the influence the elites had on the poor, close read the following key sentences.” 

  • In Literature Unit 5, Lesson 8, additional questions are provided: “How does Joey feel after he has eaten the pie? Can he control his behavior?” There is also an enrichment opportunity that states, “Instead of answering the Target Task question, have students rewrite a section of the chapter from Mrs. Maxy’s point of view.”

Gateway Three

Usability

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The Fishtank 3-5 materials provide useful teacher guidance to support each unit and lesson. There are extensive resources to assist educators as they work with more complex pieces of the materials. There are clearly-delineated resources to demonstrate the relationship between the materials and the grade-level ELA standards as well as information on the instructional approaches of the program and the research undergirding these approaches. The materials lack explicit strategies and supports for communicating with all stakeholders. All supplies needed, including texts that are necessary for implementation are easily accessed through the Fishtank website.

The materials are clearly labeled to demonstrate which standards are being assessed throughout. While there are multiple opportunities for assessment found throughout each unit, there is minimal guidance for teachers to interpret student performance or next steps following unit assessments or culminating tasks. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of some, but not all standards for the grade level. 

The materials provide some generalized opportunities and information to support students in special populations, students working above grade level, and English Language Learners. There is more specific support provided for supporting English language learners. Though there is not a wide variety of activities or strategies provided throughout. 

The materials include representations of a wide variety of individuals with various demographic and physical characteristics in both the texts and unit topics. There is some guidance to support teachers to encourage students to draw upon their home language to facilitate instruction. Additionally, the materials provide extensive information to support equity and diversity in both the content and activities in the materials.

Criterion 3a - 3h

The program includes opportunities for teachers to effectively plan and utilize materials with integrity and to further develop their own understanding of the content.

9/9
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Criterion Rating Details

The Fishtank 3-5 materials provide useful teacher guidance including extensive unit preparation sections, well-delineated lesson plans, and a variety of annotations to support each unit and lesson. There are extensive resources to assist educators as they work with more complex pieces of the materials. There are clearly-delineated resources to demonstrate the relationship between the materials and the grade-level ELA standards as well information on the instructional approaches of the program and the research undergirding these approaches. The materials lack explicit strategies and supports for communicating with all stakeholders, including families, to advise on student progress or to offer ways to support the student in their work. All supplies needed, including texts that are necessary for implementation are easily accessed through the Fishtank website.

Indicator 3a

Materials provide teacher guidance with useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student materials and ancillary materials, with specific attention to engaging students in order to guide their literacy development.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 3a. 

Materials provide comprehensive guidance that will assist teachers in presenting the student and ancillary materials.

  • The materials include a summary of each unit with a list of texts and materials that accompany the unit, recommended texts for independent reading, assessments for the unit, a vocabulary glossary, and a lesson map that includes the lesson objective and standards. 

  • Each lesson plan includes the objective and the text. It also includes the Target Task and a sample response. 

  • The lessons also include key questions to support students in comprehending the text and Tier II vocabulary necessary to understand the text. 

  • Additionally, the Preparing to Teach an ELA Unit section provides detailed, step-by-step considerations for the teacher as they prepare to teach the unit. This includes two sections-- Internalizing the Content and Create a Plan. These two sections provide detailed considerations and questions for the teacher

Materials include sufficient and useful annotations and suggestions that are presented within the context of the specific learning objectives.

  • In the Enhanced Lesson Plan, there is a section on building background knowledge, a section on engaging with the text, and a section on building a deeper meaning of the text. 

  • Each of the sections include additional support to help students with literacy development including language support and enrichment opportunities. 

  • When applicable, there are hyperlinks available for student materials, such as graphic organizers. 

  • There are also hyperlinks available for teachers to click on to get information on different aspects of literacy instruction, such as strategies for explicit and implicit vocabulary instruction.

Indicator 3b

Materials contain adult-level explanations and examples of the more complex grade/course-level concepts and concepts beyond the current course so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 3b.

The materials include the Teacher Tools section for all grade levels that provides teachers with the information needed to prepare to teach an ELA unit, internalize an ELA lesson, and understand the components of each lesson. There is also guidance related to planning and executing writing lessons, analyzing texts, and exploring strategies to help all learners interact with complex texts. Teachers can use the resources in Teacher Tools to learn how to prepare for and lead discussions and facilitate student engagement with a text. There is also support for independent reading. For example: 

Materials contain adult-level explanations and examples of the more complex grade/course-level concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject.

  • The Providing Access to Complex Texts section of the Teacher Tools explains the two measures of text complexity: quantitative text complexity and qualitative text complexity. It also introduces the Text Complexity Rubric which breaks qualitative text complexity into four features: text structure, language, knowledge demands, and meaning/purpose. Teachers can use that content knowledge to learn how to choose the appropriate types of text complexity support for their students. 

  • The Reading Structures and Routines section of the Teacher Tools explains the two types of reading structures: routines for engaging with the text and routines for active reading. Teachers use content knowledge to consider which reading routines will help students tackle the complex texts in a unit. There are detailed plans provided for each grade level explaining what teachers and their students should be doing before and during reading.

  • The Independent Reading section of the Teacher Tools inspires teachers to create a vision for what independent reading will look like in the classroom and also provides suggestions for monitoring student comprehension and pushing intellectual accountability. Within this section, there is a suggested amount of time for independent reading per grade level and templates to plan for weekly independent reading.

  • The Writing section of the Teacher Tools gives teachers the content knowledge they need to plan and execute writing lessons and strategies to provide feedback. It focuses on two main types of writing structures: brainstorming and note-taking structures, and sentence structures. The instructional strategies provided for teachers to use when providing direct instruction and facilitating student practice during each stage of the writing process include Think Aloud, Teacher Model Writing, Analyze a Non-Exemplar, and Group Practice. All writing lessons within a unit will include a variety of these instructional strategies.

Materials contain adult-level explanations and examples of concepts beyond the current course so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject.

  • The Vocabulary section of the Teacher Tools provides guidance regarding the structure of vocabulary in the units, different methods for teaching vocabulary, and how to support a range of learners during vocabulary instruction. Teachers learn to identify priority vocabulary and how to incorporate it into their lessons and how to use implicit and explicit instruction for vocabulary instruction.

  • The Academic Discourse section of the Teacher Tools provides guidance on speaking and listening in the classroom. It includes a variety of protocols for whole-group, small group, and partner discussions and breaks discussions into three tiers. 

Indicator 3c

Materials include standards correlation information that explains the role of the standards in the context of the overall series.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 3c.

The materials include the Foundations of Fishtank ELA page that clearly maps how the standards and instructional shifts in ELA provide the frame for the curriculum. A Course Summary for each grade level that includes a Standards Map that lists the literature, informational, writing, and speaking and listening standards that the course materials address. The Course Overview highlights the specific standards the unit addresses and the spiral standards. Additional guidance for teachers regarding the key standards of a particular lesson can be found in the Unit Launch and Enhanced Lesson Plans for each unit. In addition, the unit plan includes a Lesson Map, which lists the standards for each individual lesson. 

Correlation information is present for the ELA standards addressed throughout the grade level/series. 

  • Reading Standards Key Understandings shows what standards are taught in each unit and what spiral standards are revisited in the unit. 

  • Sentence Level and Paragraph Level Focus Areas include what both language and writing standards and how they build over the course of the year. 

  • Genre-Based Writing Focus Areas connect process-based writing assignments among the units. 

  • Speaking and Listening Focus Areas provide an explanation for the speaking and listening standards and how the tasks progress and build from unit to unit.

  • Fluency Focus Areas lists the places where the Enhanced Lesson Plans and Fluency Package for each unit provide this support. 

  • Vocabulary Focus Areas display how vocabulary instruction is used in all units. The program states, “The vocabulary focus of a unit varies depending on the vocabulary demands of the particular text(s). We do not identify priority focus areas for vocabulary in each unit.” 

Explanations of the role of the specific grade-level/course-level ELA standards are present in the context of the series.

  • Under the Curriculum tab for ELA, the Foundations of FIshtank ELA page offers links to more detailed information on the role of the standards and shifts in the materials and clearly outlines the guiding principles and research that undergirds the program. 

Indicator 3d

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

Narrative Evidence Only
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials contain no methods to inform stakeholders information about the program and suggestions on how families can help support student progress and achievement. 

Families can log into the Fishtank curriculum online and access information on their own, but this is not something that is required or provided. In addition, there is a sample letter that teachers can send home about independent reading. In the sample, it states the unit topic, essential questions, and ways to support at home. However, there is only one sample, so teachers would have to create their own letter for each unit.

Indicator 3e

Materials provide explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 3e.

The materials provide explanations of instructional approaches in the Fishtank Guiding Principles document. The authors explain the approach taken by the program in text selection, prioritizing texts over the teaching of individual skills, the teaching of writing and discussion, a focus on social justice, and teacher autonomy in making instructional decisions. Included in the document is a bibliography of resources referenced in the Match Fishtank creation. According to the Principles, students have frequent opportunities for writing and discussion, building knowledge, critical thinking, and generating a lifelong love of learning. Each course includes multiple units that focus on social justice topics in which students learn about respecting people and cultures different from their own and articulating the ways they can fight social injustice. 

Materials explain the instructional approaches of the program.

  • The core beliefs of the Literature units include:

    • Text First vs. Skills First: Rich and nuanced texts spark students’ thinking.

    • Content Selection: Selected texts that both affirm the various cultures represented in classrooms while simultaneously exposing the students to great literature.

    • Writing Instruction: Teach students to construct persuasive arguments and express their own voices.

    • Discussion: A powerful tool for testing out ideas and strengthening thinking.

    • Word Knowledge: Building word knowledge through both explicit instruction and exposure to content knowledge.

    • Lifelong Learning: Cultivate inquisitive readers, writers, and thinkers.

  • The core beliefs of the Social Studies and Science Curriculum beliefs include:

    • Content Knowledge: In order to become active citizens and make sense of the world around them, students need to develop deep background knowledge about key historic events, scientific concepts, and their own and other cultures.

    • Informational Texts: Read, analyze, and write about a broad range of informational texts.

    • Project-Based Learning: Hands-on projects, labs, and activities engage students with the content and teach important thinking and problem-solving skills.

    • Discussion: Powerful tool for testing ideas out and strengthening thinking.

    • Word Knowledge: Build word knowledge through both explicit instruction and exposure to content knowledge.

Materials include and reference research-based strategies.

  • The research used in the creation of the curriculum is referenced throughout the document, including a study by the ACT that found “performance on complex texts is the clearest differentiator in reading between students who are more likely to be ready for college and those who are less likely to be ready for college” (ACT, Inc. 2006). 

  • Gloria Ladson-Billings’ work in “Toward a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy” is listed as one of the resources used in the creation of Match Fishtank. It describes the culturally relevant response/social justice focus of the curriculum. 

Indicator 3f

Materials provide a comprehensive list of supplies needed to support instructional activities.

1/1
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 3f.

Materials include a comprehensive list of supplies needed to support the instructional activities. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Texts are hyperlinked to a major online retailer for purchase. 

  • A “Purchase Books” button on the website lists all of the texts and a way for educators to directly purchase the necessary quantity of books. 

  • A list of supporting materials for each unit, including necessary articles (hyperlinked) and suggestions for independent reading books. 

  • Fishtank Plus provides links where educators can directly create worksheets for each unit and lesson, including a vocabulary package, which includes student-friendly definitions, word cards for display in the classroom, and vocabulary worksheets.

Indicator 3g

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

Narrative Evidence Only

Indicator 3h

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

Narrative Evidence Only

Criterion 3i - 3l

The program includes a system of assessments identifying how materials provide tools, guidance, and support for teachers to collect, interpret, and act on data about student progress towards the standards.

6/10
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Criterion Rating Details

The materials are clearly labeled to demonstrate which standards are being assessed throughout. While there are multiple opportunities for assessment found throughout each unit, there is minimal guidance for teachers to interpret student performance or next steps following unit assessments or culminating tasks. Most follow-up recommendations are general in nature and do not provide specifics related to tasks and questions. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of some, but not all standards for the grade level.

Indicator 3i

Assessment information is included in the materials to indicate which standards are assessed.

2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 meet the criteria for Indicator 3i.

The materials include assessment information in each Literature and Science and Social Studies unit in the Content Assessment section. Most units also include a Cold Read Assessment. Each comes with an Assessment Key. The Cold Read Assessment Key indicates the standards assessed by each question that is clearly labeled for ease in progress monitoring. Open response questions also include potential responses that demonstrate if students met the standard(s). Questions on the student copy of the assessment also include the standard in parentheses. 

Materials consistently identify the standards and practices assessed for formal assessments. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Literature Unit 1, the Cold Read Assessment Question 5 states, “Part A-Which statement best describes the main character between paragraphs 9 and 14 in the story? (RL4.3) and Part B-Which statement from paragraphs 9 through 14 supports the answer to Part A? (RL4.1).”

  • In Literature Unit 3, the Content Assessment question requires an open-ended response measuring five standards (RL.4.2, RL.4.3, W.4.9, W.4.10, L.4.6): “Read the following statement. ‘The way we view ourselves, combined with the way others view us, can have a positive or negative impact on our lives.’ Based on evidence from the unit, do you agree or disagree with this statement?”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, the Content Assessment requires students to complete an open-ended response measuring five standards (RI.4.2, RI.4.3, RI.4.6, W.4.9, L.4.6): “In what ways did the American Revolution succeed and fail in reaching the ideas of liberty and equality?”

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 5, the Cold Read Assessment Question 1 & 2: “Part A-What does dedicated mean as it is used in paragraph 3? (RI4.4, L4.4) Part B-Which two details from the article provide evidence that Carver was dedicated to his work?”

Indicator 3j

Assessment system provides multiple opportunities throughout the grade, course, and/or series to determine students' learning and sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 3j.

The materials include multiple opportunities throughout the grade to determine students’ mastery and support is provided to determine next steps, both for students and teachers. Guidance for follow-up specific to essential tasks is interspersed occasionally throughout a unit. It is important to note that there is minimal guidance for teachers to interpret student performance or next steps following assessments or culminating tasks. Most follow-up recommendations are general in nature and do not provide specifics related to tasks and questions. 

Assessment system provides multiple opportunities to determine students' learning and sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Answer Keys and Rubrics for the Content Assessments and Cold Read Assessment items 

  • Rubrics to assess the idea development and language of students’ responses

  • Assessment and data analysis information on the Progress Monitoring page of the ELA section of Teacher Tools

  • Rubrics for Target Tasks and process writing 

Assessment system provides multiple opportunities to determine students' learning but limited/generalized suggestions to teachers for following-up with students. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A data analysis template and a protocol for teachers to engage in a Data Meeting is included. However, the program indicates that “Data Analysis should be a space where teachers can use student work to reflect on their own practice. Data Meetings give teachers and teams a space to analyze student work, look for class wide trends, and plan next steps. The focus of data meetings is not to identify discrete skills that need to be retaught, rather to identify ways in which the teacher can improve their own practice in upcoming units”

  • Essential Task Key Guidance which identifies key understandings that students must know, potential misconceptions, and detailed guidance on how to provide additional support based on specific misconceptions. If a large portion of the class is struggling with a specific aspect of an Essential Task, they recommend pausing the unit to build that understanding. 

  • The guidance for writing feedback includes the following general information: “Include targeted conferences; Include additional mini-lessons; and Use our Sentence-Level Feedback and Support Guide, Paragraph Level Feedback and Support Guide, Narrative Writing Feedback and Support Guide, and Informational Writing Feedback and Support Guide to provide feedback and additional support. These can be found in our Teacher Tool about Giving Writing Feedback.”

Indicator 3k

Assessments include opportunities for students to demonstrate the full intent of grade-level/course-level standards and practices across the series.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 3k.

The materials include assessment opportunities where students can demonstrate the depth and rigor of most, but not all, grade level standards and provide feedback on what students can read and analyze independently. Assessment opportunities include, but are not limited to cold reads, embedded formative assessments, content assessments, and end-of-unit writing culminating writing tasks.

Assessments include opportunities for students to demonstrate the full intent of some grade-level/course-level standards and shifts across the series. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The Cold Read and Content Assessments include a variety of item types and tasks for students to demonstrate their skill. The Cold Read Assessments tests students’ ability to read an unfamiliar text and answer multiple choice questions. Each Literature unit contains a Cold Read Assessment for students to demonstrate knowledge of core standards in the unit, while most, but not all of the Science and Social Studies units contain a Cold Read Assessment.    

  • Throughout each unit, students also have the opportunity to complete formative assessments to help teachers monitor progress for the summative assessments.

  • Students have more opportunities to synthesize texts in assessment during the Science and Social Studies Units than in the Literature units. 

  • Students also complete content assessments for each unit. Multiple choice questions and written response items are typically aligned to a focused set of standards addressed in the unit. The Content Assessments give students the opportunity to synthesize unit content knowledge or unit essential questions in writing and demonstrate mastery of unit standards.

  • The final culminating writing tasks in each unit covers the breadth of the standards for narrative, informative, and opinion writing tasks. 

  • The publisher indicates on the Standards Map for Grade 4 that the standards covered in most of the units and on assessments are considered core standards. For example, RL 4.2, RL.4.3, and RL.4.6 are covered often on the Literature unit assessments. For Science and Social Studies, RI.4.3 and RI.4.4 are widely covered across all the assessments. RL.4.9 and RI.4.9 are covered in multiple assessments generally in the final writing prompt on the Cold Read Assessments. RL.4.1 and RI.4.1 are considered spiraled standards by the publisher and are assessed often. However, RL.4.6, RL.4.7, RI.4.6, and RI.4.7 are assessed very few times in assessments. The breadth of the language standards are also minimally assessed.

Indicator 3l

Assessments offer accommodations that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills without changing the content of the assessment.

Narrative Evidence Only
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Indicator Rating Details

Assessments offer accommodations that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills without changing the content of the assessment.

  • No evidence found for this indicator.

Criterion 3m - 3v

The program includes materials designed for each child’s regular and active participation in grade-level/grade-band/series content.

3/6
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Criterion Rating Details

The materials provide some generalized opportunities and information to support students in special populations, students working above grade level, and English Language Learners. There is more specific support provided for supporting English language learners. Though there is not a wide variety of activities or strategies provided throughout. 

The materials include representations of a wide variety of individuals with various demographic and physical characteristics in both the texts and unit topics. There is some guidance to support teachers to encourage students to draw upon their home language to facilitate instruction. Additionally, the materials provide extensive information to support equity and diversity in both the content and activities in the materials.

Indicator 3m

Materials provide strategies and supports for students in special populations to work with grade-level content and to meet or exceed grade-level standards that will support their regular and active participation in learning English language arts and literacy.

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 3m.

The materials include some in-lesson support and teacher guidance documents to assist with meeting grade-level standards; however, the support is limited. The materials do not directly address Special Education, Gifted & Talented, or any other populations other than English Language Learners. 

Materials provide some non-targeted strategies, supports, and resources for students that could be applied to students in special populations to support their regular and active participation in grade-level literacy work. Many of these strategies are used multiple times across units. However, many of the lesson-embedded suggestions are a sentence or two that do not include explicit directions or guidance. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 10, students are using partner and independent reading to respond to key questions about the reading. The Language Supports section offers the following information, “Work with students to use context clues to determine the meaning of the following words. 

    • "These laws were so harsh that the colonists bitterly called them the 'Intolerable Acts." 

      • What does it mean if something is intolerable? 

      • Why were the laws intolerable? 

    • "America didn't even have an army. Instead, each colony had a militia-- a ragtag assortment of men from sixteen to sixty-five years old -- that drilled once a week on village greens." 

      • What is a militia? 

      • How does the author help the reader understand what a militia is? 

    • "The British grew to dread the sight of them."

      • What does it mean to dread something? 

      • Why did they dread the sign of the minutemen? 

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 5, the lesson plan includes language support and opportunities for enrichment. For language support, students can use sentence frames when discussing the Target Tasks. For enrichment, the teacher can “extend the lesson a day and have students act out the drama version of Pandora.” Split the class into groups and assign roles. Have each group practice their lines.

  • In Science Unit 4, Lesson 5, students are presenting to the class about different types of energy. The Language Support section offers sentence stems to help students process the presentations: To help students synthesize ideas from each presentation, provide students with the following sentence frames. 

    • (Nuclear energy, light energy, sound energy) is important because __________________. 

    • (Nuclear energy, light energy, sound energy) is important, but _____________. 

    • (Nuclear energy, light energy, sound energy) is important, so _______________.

    • If students are struggling to create complete sentences, use guidance from Sentence-Level Feedback and Support (K-5th Grade) to work with students individually or in small-groups.

Indicator 3n

Materials regularly provide extensions to engage with literacy content and concepts at greater depth for students who read, write, speak, and/or listen above grade level.

1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 3n. 

The materials include some extension opportunities for students above grade level. The Enhanced Lesson Plan section of some lessons includes Opportunities for Enrichment. Opportunities for Enrichment are posed as possible activities for students and are not specifically set aside for students working above grade level. 

Materials provide some opportunities for advanced students to investigate the grade-level content at a higher level of complexity, though the opportunities are not specifically for students working above grade level. The Opportunities for Enrichment tasks appear to be in addition to the tasks assigned for all students, therefore, students could end up doing more assignments than their classmates. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 3, the Opportunities for Enrichment section states, Grace Lin does not include chapter titles, but she does include illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. The illustrations are symbolic of the key events of the chapter. Based on the events of the chapter and the illustration, create a chapter title that best represents the chapter.” 

  • In Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 3, the Opportunities for Enrichment section states, “The text summarizes the different amendments for students. To challenge students, have students read “Primary Sources: The Bill of Rights” from newsela.com. Lead the class in a close read to unpack the language used in the original Bill of Rights.”

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 2, the Opportunities for Enrichment section states, “Have students create a Greek Gods tracker. Students can use the tracker to jot down character traits for the gods based on their actions in different myths. In this myth students can add additional details about Zeus and Epimetheus.

Indicator 3o

Materials provide varied approaches to learning tasks over time and variety in how students are expected to demonstrate their learning with opportunities for for students to monitor their learning.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials engage students across the year in writing, reading, speaking, and listening as required by the standards; however, the approaches to learning tasks and the types of tasks assigned do not vary widely. Each lesson is organized in three parts: Building Knowledge and Skills, Engaging with the Text, and Building Deeper Meaning. The reading expectations, discussion structures, Language Supports, and overall lesson format are similar across most lessons. The references to guidance documents and supplemental materials are similar across lessons and grades. Teachers have a lot of flexibility within the curriculum leading to the possibility that approaches to learning tasks are the same across the year. For example, there are several protocols for speaking and listening, but they are rarely required in a specific lesson. 

In writing, teachers are provided a K-5 Writing and Feedback Support guide for each type of writing genre, which offers suggestions on how to help students who are struggling. Guidance is teacher facing and completely dependent on teacher choice.  

Many instructional tasks and supports are the same across Grades 3-5. For example, Language Supports such as sentence stems for students to use in discussion are the same sentence stems used in each grade and remain the same across the year. 

Materials provide few multi-modal opportunities for students to question, investigate, sense-make, and problem-solve using a variety of formats and methods. The units frequently employ the same routines, strategies, and discussion formats. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Science Unit 1, Lesson 22, students “Explain the ways people and climate are responsible for the increase in wildfires.” Teacher directions state, “Split the class into three groups. Give each group of students a different article. Have students first read the article independently for evidence that shows how humans and climate are impacting the number of wildfires. Then students should reread the article with their group, deciding which details are the most important. To help students build meaning use the Key Questions below. Depending on student needs, students can answer the questions orally, annotate in the margins, or write their answer. While students are answering the Key Questions, circulate to gauge student understanding. Provide additional supports where needed.

    • What evidence does the author include to show that people are responsible for the increase in wildfires?

    • What evidence does the author include to show that climate is responsible for the increase in wildfires?”

After the activity, the directions state, “Have each group present the key ideas from their article with the class. Have students take notes on their classmates' presentations in order to use the information when they are writing. After listening to the different presentations, have students write two to three sentences explaining how both people and climate are responsible for the increase in wildfires.”

  • In Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 18, students are split into partners to research a “radical” from a list of political activists. Students respond to questions about the radical and then create a mini poster to represent their radical, including a sentence describing the radical.  Students perform a gallery walk to look at the posters, and if time permits, they also present to the class about their poster.

 

Students have some opportunities to share their thinking, however there are limited opportunities for them to demonstrate changes in their thinking over time, and to apply their understanding in new contexts. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 8, students engage in a turn and talk about the significance of the story they’ve just read. Then the directions state, “Move on to the second question by starting with a stop and jot giving students time to think. Have students share out and evaluate each other's answers. This is an opportunity to disagree or build on using specific evidence from the text. Have students write one or two sentences that explain how The Story of the Paper of Happiness may influence Minli.”

Materials occasionally leverage the use of a variety of formats and methods over time to deepen student understanding and ability to explain and apply literacy ideas. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Social Studies Unit 3, Lesson 10, students analyze and debate unit essential questions using details and understandings from the text. 

  • In Literature Unit 4, Lesson 20, students analyze how a theme or topic is treated in each of the myths from the unit by comparing and contrasting the treatment of similar themes and topics. Students are given time to prepare talking points using the Discussion Graphic Organizer. The teacher leads the group in a whole-class discussion.  

Materials provide for some ongoing review, practice, self-reflection, and feedback. Materials provide multiple strategies, such as oral and/or written feedback, peer or teacher feedback, and self-reflection. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • The Teacher Tools section provides general guidance for writing feedback that can be used with students. This includes a variety of generalized formats and types. These suggestions are not embedded in the lessons. 

Materials provide a clear path for students to monitor and move their own learning. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • No evidence found.

Indicator 3p

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

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials include guidance for grouping strategies in the Teacher Tools provided on the website. The documents provide explanations for how to conduct various groupings and advantages provided by each of the groupings. The guidance provides protocols for partner discussions, small groups discussions, and whole class discussions. Individual lesson plans include suggestions for when to use each type of discussion, but teachers have flexibility in which specific grouping protocol best meets the needs of their class, allowing the potential for the same grouping strategy to be used throughout the year. However, materials do not provide guidance on how to determine which students should be paired together or how to mix groups. 

Materials provide grouping strategies for students. Materials provide for varied types of interaction among students. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Literature Unit 2, Lesson 11, students discuss questions with a partner before independently reading. Students then turn and talk about the reading. 

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 4, students read the text using a combination of partner and independent reading.

  • In Science and Social Studies Unit 4, Lesson 5, the directions state, “Break students into groups. Assign each group a section of text to read, either light energy, sound energy, or nuclear energy. Have students read the text. After reading, teams should decide which details are most important and should be included in a description of the energy form. Groups should then create a mini-poster that describes the key aspects of the energy form.

Materials provide limited guidance for the teacher on grouping students in a variety of grouping formats. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The “Preparing for Academic Discourse” section of the materials presents information about group students for discussions. The materials state, “There are three main types of academic discourse: partner discourse, small-group discourse, and whole-group discourse, each with their own respective protocols.Over the course of a lesson, students may engage in all three types of academic discourse as they grapple with and explore key unit texts and content.” 

  • This same section also provides information about selecting tasks for discourse and provides extensive information on how to support discourse including a wide variety of rubrics, graphic organizers, and recording forms, however it does not include information about how to select students to participate in this wide variety of discussion formats.

  • The “Types of Academic Discourse Section provides a wide variety of small group and partner discussion opportunities, including protocols and benefits, but there is no information included about how to select students for these groupings. 

Indicator 3q

Materials provide strategies and supports for students who read, write, and/or speak in a language other than English to meet or exceed grade-level standards to regularly participate in learning English language arts and literacy.

1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 4 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 3q. 

The materials include specific guidelines for supporting English Learners in the Teacher Tools, but support is not provided in specific lessons. In the Teacher Tools, the guidance is separated by the amount of support that is required for students. Teachers are provided with information on what approaches are best in situations and then directed to determine which scaffold to use in their own classroom. Many lessons have specific guidance for providing language support, but these are not directed specifically to English learners. 

Materials provide some strategies and supports for students who read, write, and/or speak in a language other than English to meet or exceed grade-level standards through regular and active participation in grade-level literacy work. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The materials include a guidance document called A Guide to Supporting English Learners which includes additional guidance on planning and providing supports. Some protocols include both light and heavy EL support. Included in this document are: 

    • Ways to internalize units and lessons

    • Scaffolds

    • Oral language protocols and ways to support English learners

    • Graphic organizers

  • Some of the guidance documents, such as Oral Language Protocols, give a brief overview of English Learner needs and then recommend a list of the same discourse protocols provided for all students across Grades 3-5. Guidance includes information on how a teacher should preview the unit to identify complexity issues, identify skills that students need to succeed, and identify any prerequisite knowledge students need to succeed with the unit; however, that guidance is provided universally and is not specific to differentiating within individual lessons.

  • Language supports are available for many lessons across the year, however, they are not specifically indicated to be EL supports and do not include the light and heavy support options found in A Guide to Supporting English Learners.

Indicator 3r

Materials provide a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

Materials provide a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.

 There are no printed images that accompany the program other than graphic organizers, therefore all images would be contained in the texts and articles selected for the units. 

A stated focus of the curriculum is inclusive education and that students can build an understanding and appreciation of cultures and civilizations that may be different from their own by reading a variety of culturally relevant and diverse texts. On the About Us page of the Fishtank website, the publishers share their rationale for being culturally relevant in choosing texts and topics: “We are committed to developing curriculum that resonates with a diversity of students’ lived experiences. Our curriculum is reflective of diverse cultures, races and ethnicities and is designed to spark students’ interest and stimulate deep thinking. We are thoughtful and deliberate in selecting high-quality texts and materials that reflect the diversity of our country.”

Materials and assessments depict different individuals of different genders, races, ethnicities, and other physical characteristics. Depictions of demographics or physical characteristics are portrayed positively across the series. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • The Grade 3 units include texts and topics on African American and Hispanic folktales, Native American perspectives on Thanksgiving, world religions, and Indigenous peoples.

Materials and assessments balance positive portrayals of demographics or physical characteristics. Materials avoid stereotypes or language that might be offensive to a particular group. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Literature Unit 1, Lesson 2, students read the text, Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes. The Target Task writing prompt asks students to respond to the writing prompt: “What is Dyamonde like? How do you know?” The sample response indicates information about Dyamond that portrays here as an average student who is observant, but judgmental and explores the complexities of internal thought-- thus providing depth to her character and making her relatable to third grade students. The text also describes Dyamonde as having a “can-do attitude”. The teacher discusses what this means with the class. 

  • In Social Studies Unit 2, Lesson 11, students read “Notes from a Wampanoag Child” (Letters 1 and 2). Throughout the reading, students are asked questions that examine the position of the Wampanoag and why they viewed the Pilgrims as potentially harmful to their people. They also explore the perspectives of the settlers and the Wampanoag. The Wampanoag are portrayed as individuals who are seeking to understand the intentions of the other group who has come to their land and trying to assure the safety of their families and their livelihood. 

Materials provide representations that show students that they can succeed in the subject, going beyond just showing photos of diverse students not engaged in work related to the context of the learning. 

  • This element is not present in the materials as there are not photographs included in the student materials. 

Indicator 3s

Materials provide guidance to encourage teachers to draw upon student home language to facilitate learning.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials provide some support for teachers to draw on students’ home languages during instruction. General suggestions and strategies are included in the Supporting English Learners section of the program. Specific, lesson-level guidance is not available. 

Materials provide minimal suggestions and strategies to use the home language to support students in learning ELA.  

The materials include the Teacher Tools section of the website with minimal guidance for teachers to draw upon students’ home language to facilitate learning. In the program, teachers are encouraged to consider the home languages of students when grouping them for partner or small group work. Suggestions include, but are not limited to:

  • When planning for instruction, teachers are encouraged to consider the role that English learners will play in grouped settings and how they will be grouped. 

  • The materials suggest that English Learners should interact with a variety of speakers in a variety of situations based on the demands of the task. 

Materials present multilingualism as an asset in reading, and students are explicitly encouraged to develop home language literacy and to use their home language strategically for learning how to negotiate texts in the target language. Teacher materials include guidance on how to garner information that will aid in learning, including the family’s preferred language of communication, schooling experiences in other languages, literacy abilities in other languages, and previous exposure to academic or everyday English. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The Supporting English Learners materials encourage teachers to allow students to complete assignments in either English or their home language, to allow graphic organizers and other tools to be completed in their home language, and to show students how the English word is a cognate of the word in their home language during vocabulary instruction. However, these are general recommendations and are not explained further or supported within the individual lessons.

Indicator 3t

Materials provide guidance to encourage teachers to draw upon student cultural and social backgrounds to facilitate learning.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials provide a Guiding Principles document where the publisher states that they believe selected texts must “both affirm scholars’ cultures and expose them to great literature.” To engage students, teachers are expected to hold high expectations that ensure academic success. This includes teachers helping students develop positive ethnic and cultural identities along with helping them achieve academically. Teachers are encouraged to support students’ ability to recognize, understand, and critique current events and social inequalities. 

Materials make connections to the linguistics, cultures, and conventions used in learning ELA. Materials make connections to the linguistic and cultural diversity to facilitate learning. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The publisher provides minimal guidance on how teachers can accomplish this, and they primarily recommend that individual schools engage in their own equity and antiracism work in order to ensure the curriculum is brought to life in a way that honors and represents the students in their classrooms. 

  • According to the program, in order for a classroom to be truly culturally responsive, teachers need to know their students and customize units and lessons to be inclusive. 

  • The publisher includes links to resources from Teaching Tolerance as a guide for teachers to initiate critical conversations with students to facilitate these relationships. 

  • The Preparing to Teach and ELA Unit section provides deep dives for teachers as they examine all lessons and the unit as a whole to consider the students in their classroom, the texts and other resources that will be used, historical and social contexts, any biases that may come into play (e.g., those of the author, the teacher, the class), and a variety of other considerations that will allow the teacher to prepare for rigorous conversations. 

Indicator 3u

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

Narrative Evidence Only

Indicator 3v

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

Narrative Evidence Only

Criterion 3w - 3z

The program includes a visual design that is engaging and references or integrates digital technology (when applicable) with guidance for teachers.

0/0
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The materials make use of Google Classroom in order for the teacher to manage certain handouts related to the program. The materials do not include any additional interactive technology tools. 

The design of the materials is very straightforward and does not distract from the content.

Indicator 3w

Materials integrate technology such as interactive tools, virtual manipulatives/objects, and/or dynamic software in ways that engage students in the grade-level/series standards, when applicable.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

Materials integrate technology such as interactive tools, virtual manipulatives/objects, and/or dynamic software in ways that engage students in the grade-level/series standards, when applicable.

  • No evidence found for this indicator

Indicator 3x

Materials include or reference digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other, when applicable.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

Materials include or reference some digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other, when applicable. 

  • The materials allow teachers to utilize the Student Handouts through Google Drive in order to use Google Classroom, but no guidance or recommendations for digital tools to collaborate are present. There are no additional digital platforms referenced beyond Google. Students are generally collaborating in discussion, small groups, or pairs but not digitally.

Indicator 3y

The visual design (whether in print or digital) supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject, and is neither distracting nor chaotic.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The visual design (whether in print or digital) supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject, and is neither distracting nor chaotic. 

  • The materials follow the same format across Grades 3-5. The set color scheme is a variety of soft blues and all downloadable materials include the logo for Fishtank.

  • Graphic organizers are constructed simply with tables and text that are easily readable for students. 

  • The majority of materials follow a very standard format organized in boxes or tables. 

  • All texts are actual books that schools need to purchase and include a variety of novels and nonfiction texts with colorful and detailed images.

Indicator 3z

Materials provide teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning, when applicable.

Narrative Evidence Only
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

Materials provide some teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning, when applicable.

  • The materials are housed in a digital format online. Entire units and student worksheets are downloadable, and links to supplemental materials are available to download, such as the Vocabulary Package or additional student tasks. 

  • There is limited inclusion of technology use as the materials do not provide digitally interactive elements beyond the student handouts, though some lessons include websites or videos as supporting materials. For example, in Literature Unit 3, Lesson 3, materials include the YouTube video, “What is Dyslexia?” by TEDEd, as the focus text. The materials state, “Watch the video two times. The first time through students just listen. On the second watch, have students take notes to help them answer the key questions.” A list of questions is provided to help students prepare for a discussion on dyslexia.

  • The handouts for each lesson are embedded so they can be printed, altered, or connected to Google Classroom. Each lesson that uses a handout has a rectangular yellow icon labeled, Create Student Handouts. The text box next to the button reads: “With Fishtank Plus, you can easily turn the Target Task for this lesson into student handouts. And within our Student Handout Editor, you can customize them with your personal touches, or send them directly to Google Classroom.” Once the teacher clicks the button, the lesson handouts appear as digital text boxes and three blue icons at the top of each indicate where teachers can Download Target Task, Edit Target Task, or Send to Google Drive.

abc123

Report Published Date: 2022/01/12

Report Edition: 2021

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Earthquakes 978‑0060877156 Collins 2006
Volcanoes 978‑0060877170 Collins 2006
Hurricanes 978‑0061170713 HarperCollins 2007
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans 978‑0061730795 Balzer + Bray 2013
Wildfires 978‑0062345066 Collins 2016
I am Arachne: Fifteen Greek and Roman Myths 978‑0312561253 Square Fish 2009
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon 978‑0316038638 Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2011
Liberty! How the Revolutionary War Began 978‑0375822001 Random House Books for Young Readers 2002
Greek Myth Plays 978‑0439640145 Scholastic Teaching Resources 2008
Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote 978‑0451477545 Viking Books for Young Readers 2018
The Wild Book 978‑0544022751 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing 2014
Bud, Not Buddy 978‑0553494105 Laurel Leaf 2014
Shiloh 978‑0689835827 Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2000
Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths 978‑0803739925 Dial Books
Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key 978‑1250061683 Square Fish 2014
Forms of Energy 978‑1410985323 Raintree 2016
The McElderry Book of Greek Myths 978‑1416915348 Margaret K. McElderry Books
Unforgettable Natural Disasters (TIME FOR KIDS Nonfiction Readers) 978‑1433349447 Teacher Created Materials; 2 edition 2013
National Government 978‑1484638125 Heinemann-Raintree 2009
A Young People's History of the United States 978‑1583228692 Seven Stories

Please note: Reports published beginning in 2021 will be using version 1.5 of our review tools. Version 1 of our review tools can be found here. Learn more about this change.

ELA 3-8 Review Tool

The ELA review criteria identifies the indicators for high quality instructional materials. The review criteria supports 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 review criteria evaluates 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 review criteria 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.

The EdReports rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of alignment to college and career ready standards and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum, such as usability and design, as recommended by educators.

Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators (gateway 1) to move to the other gateways. 

Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment to the standards. 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).

Alignment and usability ratings are assigned based on how materials score on a series of criteria and indicators with reviewers providing supporting evidence to determine and substantiate each point awarded.

Alignment and usability ratings are assigned based on how materials score on a series of criteria and indicators with reviewers providing supporting evidence to determine and substantiate each point awarded.

For ELA and math, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to college- and career-ready standards, 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.

For science, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, 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.

For all content areas, usability ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for effective practices (as outlined in the evaluation tool) for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, differentiated instruction, and effective technology use.

Math K-8

  • Focus and Coherence - 14 possible points

    • 12-14 points: Meets Expectations

    • 8-11 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 8 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 18 possible points

    • 16-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 11-15 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 11 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 38 possible points

    • 31-38 points: Meets Expectations

    • 23-30 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 23: Does Not Meet Expectations

Math High School

  • Focus and Coherence - 18 possible points

    • 14-18 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Rigor and Mathematical Practices - 16 possible points

    • 14-16 points: Meets Expectations

    • 10-13 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 10 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 36 possible points

    • 30-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 22-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 22: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA K-2

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 58 possible points

    • 52-58 points: Meets Expectations

    • 28-51 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 28 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 3-5

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 42 possible points

    • 37-42 points: Meets Expectations

    • 21-36 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 21 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

ELA 6-8

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 36 possible points

    • 32-36 points: Meets Expectations

    • 18-31 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 18 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


ELA High School

  • Text Complexity and Quality - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meets Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks - 32 possible points

    • 28-32 points: Meet Expectations

    • 16-27 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 16 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 34 possible points

    • 30-34 points: Meets Expectations

    • 24-29 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 24 points: Does Not Meet Expectations

Science Middle School

  • Designed for NGSS - 26 possible points

    • 22-26 points: Meets Expectations

    • 13-21 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 13 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Coherence and Scope - 56 possible points

    • 48-56 points: Meets Expectations

    • 30-47 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 30 points: Does Not Meet Expectations


  • Instructional Supports and Usability - 54 possible points

    • 46-54 points: Meets Expectations

    • 29-45 points: Partially Meets Expectations

    • Below 29 points: Does Not Meet Expectations