Alignment: Overall Summary

Mirrors & Windows Grade 6 materials partially meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core ELA standards. The materials include some instruction, practice, and authentic application of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language work that is engaging and at an appropriate level of rigor for the grade.

Alignment

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Partially Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality and Complexity

0
18
32
36
24
32-36
Meets Expectations
19-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-18
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
15
23
25
N/A
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

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the standards. The Mirrors & Windows program includes a literature anthology of full texts and supporting excerpts that appropriately balance the exploration of literary and informational texts, as required by the standards. Some texts are appropriately complex for the grade level. Although the program utilizes a gradual release of responsibility reading model, students often do not receive support as texts become more complex. The progression of complexity does not increase across the year. Students read a variety of text types and have choice in their independent reading selections. Oral and written text-specific and text-dependent questions support students in making meaning of the core understandings of the texts being studied. Materials support teachers with planning and implementing text-based questions. Materials provide frequent speaking and listening opportunities for students, with some opportunities for teacher modeling of academic vocabulary and syntax; however, materials lack evidence of speaking and listening protocols. Speaking and listening instruction includes some facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers; however, materials lack relevant follow-up questions and supports. While materials provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they are reading through various speaking opportunities, including opportunities that require students to utilize, apply, and incorporate evidence from texts and/or sources, many of these tasks are optional. Although materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing, writing opportunities in each mode are unevenly distributed. While process writing includes opportunities for students to revise their work, Writing Workshops rarely include explicit instruction. While students have opportunities to write about what they are reading, including opportunities to support their analyses and claims using evidence from texts and/or sources, many of these opportunities are optional. Explicit evidence-based writing instruction is largely absent. Materials include limited explicit instruction of grade-level grammar and usage. Materials miss opportunities to address standards or address standards that are included in a subsequent grade level. Opportunities for authentic application in context are limited. Although materials include opportunities for students to interact with key academic vocabulary words in and across texts, materials do not outline the program’s plan for vocabulary development or provide teacher guidance to support students’ vocabulary development.

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.

14/18
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the expectations for text quality and complexity. Materials include high-quality texts and appropriately balance informational and literary texts as required by the standards; however, some texts are not appropriately complex and the progression of text complexity does not increase across the year.

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for Indicator 1a.

Anchor texts are rich in language, engaging, and relevant. Texts encompass universal and multicultural themes including meeting challenges and testing limits. These selections are a mix of not only popular texts typically seen in classrooms, but also lesser-known excerpts from personal writings that bring a different perspective into the classroom. Many of these texts included in the materials are written by award-winning authors such as Avi, Sandra Cisneros, and Norma Fox Mazer. Texts provide multiple reading levels to help students broaden their knowledge base and personal perspectives at various levels of depth and meaning. The readings span a wide range of interests, from short stories about snakes and personal attributes to serious selections that engage students in discussing real-world questions.

Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The Goodness of Matt Kaiser,” a short story written by Avi, a Newbery Award Winner of children’s fiction. This story asks students to explore the theme of what makes a person “good.”

  • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read the short story, “Tuesday of the Other June,” by Norma Fox Mazer. Mazer, an award winning author, wrote the story about a young girl who faces the challenge of being bullied by another girl. The story includes rich language with a relatable topic for students in Grade 6. 

  • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read a personal essay written by Anne Frank titled “Why?.” This personal essay serves as a guided reading task, which students then use to create a diary entry and argumentative response.

  • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read the scientific article, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies,” by Dennis Brindell Fradin. This scientific article integrates information from other content areas and introduces students to how ancient people from multiple cultures perceived celestial objects in the sky. 

  • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read “Good Hotdogs,” a narrative poem written by Sandra Cisneros, a 2015 National Medal of Arts award winning author whose work is heavily influenced by her Mexican American heritage.. This poem demonstrates sensory details and asks students to create their own menu as a writing extension.

  • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read the lyric poem,“Blazing in Gold and Quenching in Purple.” by renowned poet Emily Dickinson, and analyze the poem for figurative language that includes personification, simile, and hyperbole. 

  • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read In the Fog, a screenplay written by Milton Geiger. This screenplay is an anchor text for the unit and introduces drama and the drama close reading model to students. 

  • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students read the Ghanaian folk tale. “The Cow of No Color.” retold by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin. Students use this justice tale to practice the reading skill of evaluating cause and effect and analyze how suspense influences the reader’s emotions.

Indicator 1b

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

4/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for Indicator 1b. 

Materials contain a variety of text types and reflect an appropriate balance of informational and literary texts. Each unit has a genre focus, with texts from other genres dispersed throughout the unit. Some text types included are short stories, informational articles, diagrams, essays, fables, folk tales, biographies, diary entries, and multiple forms of poetry. Each unit includes suggested independent reading books that correspond with the unit’s genre focus. Materials also provide a vast collection of e-books for additional independent reading. Grade 6 contains two nonfiction units. Of the 113 core and supporting texts students read during the year, 37 of the selections are informational, resulting in a 33/67 balance of informational and literary texts.

Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the grade level standards. Materials reflect a 55/45 balance of informational and literary texts. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story, “Lob’s Girl,” by Joan Aiken and the biography, “Harvesting Hope” by Kathleen Knull. Students read a total of 14 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of two Informational Text Connection selections, resulting in a 14/86 balance of informational and literary texts.   

  • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read a narrative poem titled “In Response to Executive Order 9066,” by Dwight Okita, and a historical nonfiction text titled “Pompeii,” by Robert Silverberg. Students read a total of 13 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of two Informational Text Connection selections, resulting in a 15/85 balance of informational and literary texts.

  • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read the speech, “The Need for Solidarity Among Ethnic Groups” by Aung San Suu Kyi, and a memoir, “The Jacket” by Gary Soto. Students read a total of 16 core and supporting texts, all of which are informational selections with the exception of two Literary Connection selections, resulting in a 88/12 balance of informational and literary texts.

  • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read “Muddy Waters,” an excerpt from The Blues Singers, a biography written by Julius Lester,and an excerpt from an autobiography titled Diary of a Century, written by Jacques-Henri Lartigue. Students read a total of 16 core and supporting texts, all of which are informational selections with the exception of one literary core text, resulting in a 94/6 balance of informational and literary texts. 

  • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read the lyric poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” by Maya Angelou, and the biographical narrative, “The Other Alice” by Christine Bjork. Students read a total of 18 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of two Informational Text Connection selections, resulting in a 11/89 balance of informational and literary texts.  

  • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read a concrete poem titled “Seal” by William Jay Smith, and a narrative poem titled “Street Corner Flight” by Norma Landa Flores. Students read a total of 19 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of one Informational Text Connection selection, resulting in a 5/95 balance of informational and literary texts.

  • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read the screenplay, In the Fog, by Milton Geiger and a lyric poem, “The Stolen Child,” by William Keats Butler. Students read a total of six core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections with the exception of one Informational Text Connection selection, resulting in a 17/83 balance of informational and literary texts.  

  • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, students read a Greek myth titled “The Twelve Labors of Hercules” by Walker Brents, and a Chinese folktale titled “The Living Kuan-yin” by Carol Kendall and Yao-Wen Li. Students read a total of 15 core and supporting texts, all of which are literary selections, resulting in a 0/100 balance of informational and literary texts. 

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.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1c. 

Grade 6 texts quantitatively range between 600L–1370L Lexile Stretch Band for the year. Most texts that fall outside of the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band have qualitative measures that make them appropriately complex for the grade. The relationship of the quantitative and qualitative analyses to the associated reader task is not appropriately complex. Students often make graphic organizers to track the reading skill of focus, and their post-reading use of these charts varies. While some Extend Understanding tasks serve as associated reader tasks, these tasks are optional and may not occur during core instruction. Extend Understanding task options often do not connect to the graphic organizer students create at the start of their reading. Although materials include text complexity information for quantitative and qualitative measures, the documentation does not include a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level.

Core/Anchor texts do not have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to documented quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task. Documentation does not include a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Anchor/Core texts do not have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students focus on fiction. Of the fourteen selections read in this unit, twelve fall below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band and one falls within the stretch band. The other remaining text is a narrative poem and does not have a Lexile level. “The Circuit,” a short story by Francisco Jimenez (720L), serves as the anchor text for the unit. This text falls significantly below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for this Guided Reading: Close Model selection is listed as Easy with Difficulty Considerations listed as vocabulary and background needed and Ease Factors listed as characters and point of view. Students “[l]ook for cause-effect relationships in ‘The Circuit’ and track them in a chart like this one.” Extend Understanding options do not include tasks that address cause and effect.

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students focus on nonfiction. Of the fourteen selections read in this unit, three fall below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band, three fall within, and five fall above the stretch band. The three remaining texts do not have a Lexile level. Students read “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies,” a scientific article written by Dennis Brindell Fradin (1230L). This Guided Reading: Close Reading Model selection serves as the anchor text for the unit and falls above the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for this text is identified as Moderate with subject listed as a Difficulty Consideration and vivid imagery listed as an Ease Factor. While reading, students ``[k]eep track of details with a chart. For each page, list details that seem significant or interesting. After you finish reading the article, review your notes and write one or two main ideas for each section or page.” The Informative Writing Extend Understanding option addresses main idea and details; however, this associated reader task is based on teacher selection and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students explore drama. Of the seven selections read in this unit, six do not have a Lexile level. One selection, an Informational Text Connection piece, falls within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. Students read the anchor text, In the Fog, a screenplay by Milton Geiger, Non Prose (NP) The Reading Level for this Guided Reading: Close Reading Model text is Moderate with historical references and vocabulary identified as Difficulty Considerations, and compelling subject matter listed as an Ease Factor. While reading, students use a graphic organizer to draw conclusions about story events. After reading, students are directed to “[u]se your chart to summarize how Geiger uses the elements of drama in this selection.” Students also use their chart to respond to the Informative Writing prompt in the Extend Understanding section; however, this associated reader task is based on teacher selection and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction..

  • Anchor/Core texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by an accurate text complexity analysis, however, the text complexity analysis does not include a rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level.

    • The Text Overview page for each selection includes the following text complexity information: the gradual release of responsibility stage (i.e., Guided Reading: Close Reading Model, Directed Reading, Independent Reading), Reading Level and Lexile level, Difficulty Considerations, and Ease Factors. Materials do not explain the educational purpose of the text and the reason for its placement in the grade 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.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1d.

While series of texts are largely at a variety of complexity levels, the complexity of anchor texts and supporting texts students read does not provide an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to grow across the year. Text overviews often include Use Reading Skills and Analyze Literature tasks that outline an area of focus and task students with creating a chart to analyze or evaluate the area of focus; however, students rarely use the chart they make to complete an associated reader task after reading the text. Extend Understanding tasks, while optional, often do not provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of the focus area. When provided, associated reader tasks do not increase in complexity over the course of the year. While the program’s gradual release of responsibility reading model “emphasizes scaffolded instruction,” students often do not receive support as texts become more complex. Because the Lexile levels of text selections increase within most units, students receive the most support during Guided Reading at the beginning of the unit, when Lexile levels typically fall below the Lexile Stretch Band, and the least support during Independent Reading at the end of the unit, when Lexile levels are typically at the high end or above the Lexile Stretch Band.

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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • The complexity of anchor texts students read does not provide an opportunity for students’ literacy skills to increase across the year, encompassing an entire year’s worth of growth. 

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, texts range from 610L–1220L. During the Guided Reading: Close Reading Model section of the unit, students read the short story, “The Bracelet  by Yoshiko Uchida (810L), and evaluate the author's purpose. This text falls below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for this text is listed as Easy, with background needed identified as a Difficulty Consideration and vocabulary and structure identified as Ease Factors. The Set Purpose section of the text overview contains the following note: “Explaining the author’s purpose will help you understand the important lesson included in the theme.” To support students with evaluating the author’s purpose, the Use Reading Skills box includes the question, “Why did Uchida write this story?”, and directs students to record their evaluations in a chart that includes Author’s Purpose as the main idea, and Details and My Evaluation as sub-ideas. Students do not utilize their Author’s Purpose chart during any of the four Extend Understanding task options nor do any of the Extend Understanding tasks address author’s purpose. 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, texts range from 870L–1290L. During the Directed Reading section of the unit,  students read the how-to article, “How to Surf,” (author not cited) (1040L) and the Literature Connection piece, “A Sea Worry,” (880L) a personal essay by Maxine Hong Kingston. While the quantitative measure for “How to Surf” is within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band, the quantitative measure for “A Sea Worry” falls below the Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for “How to Surf” is listed as Moderate, with topic listed as a Difficulty Consideration and descriptions listed as an Ease Factor. Materials list the Reading Level for “Sea Worry” as Moderate, but do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors. While reading “How to Surf,” students make a Sequence of Events chart which they use when responding to an Analyze Literature prompt after reading “Sea Worry:” The prompt asks students to  “Use [your sequence diagram] to think about the informative purpose of the article. Form an opinion about how well the article achieves its purpose. Do the instructions seem complete? Are they clear? Could you achieve success by using this article? Mark the sequence diagram to show where you could use more information to learn this new skill.” This associated reader task does not meet the requirements of its correlated standard: “Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.”

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, texts have a quantitative measure of Non Prose (NP),because this unit focuses on poetry. The one exception is an Informational Text Connection article with a Lexile level of 1370. During the Directed Reading section of the unit, students read and compare “The Eagle: A Fragment” by Alfred Lord Tennyson (NP) and “Street Corner Flight” by Norma Landa Flores (NP). The Compare Literature: Evaluate Author’s Purpose box on the Text Overview page includes the following guidance: “To help you understand each author’s purpose, write in a chart how birds are described in each poem and the ideas each author expresses about birds.” After reading both selections, students “[r]eview the important ideas and descriptions of birds” they recorded in their chart to answer three text-dependent questions. The first question addresses author’s purpose; the second question addresses descriptions; and the third question addresses imagery and descriptions. The question that addresses the author's purpose is at the literal level and asks students what each author’s purpose is in writing his/her selection. This associated reader task does not meet the requirements of its correlated standard: “Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.” 

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

    • The front matter of the Teacher Edition explains the program’s gradual release of responsibility reading model: “Guided Reading at the beginning of the unit (Grades 6–10) provides the framework for the teacher to guide students through the reading process. Close Reading Models walk students through the selections and demonstrate how to analyze literature and apply reading skills and strategies to each genre.” Next, the gradual release reading model transitions students to Directed Reading. During this stage, “the teacher begins to transfer responsibility to the students. Students are directed through explicit pre- and post-reading instruction, but during-reading support is reduced to encourage students to practice reading skills and monitor comprehension on their own.” The reading model concludes with Independent Reading. This stage “advances the total release of responsibility from the teacher to the students, who can now apply the skills and knowledge required to read increasingly more difficult selections on their own.”     

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read the short story, “Dragon, Dragon,” by John Gardner (970L). The text falls within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. The Reading Level for this Independent Reading text is listed as Moderate, with topic identified as a Difficulty Consideration with vocabulary listed as an Ease Factor. Materials include teaching support should the teacher elect to teach this selection rather than have students read the text independently. The Teacher Wrap in the Teacher Edition includes a Cultural Connection note on dragons and  Literary Connection note on folk tales to provide some context for understanding the story. The Teacher Wrap also includes Analyze Literature questions addressing literary elements, such as plot, setting, and characterization.   

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read the anchor text, “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” a narrative poem by Henry Wadsworth Longellow (NP) along with the Informational Text Connection piece, “Dangers of the Deep,” an article by Alex Markels (1370L). “Dangers of the Deep '' falls significantly above the Grades 6–8 Lexile Stretch Band. Materials identify the Reading Level for Longellow’s text as Challenging, with structure and vocabulary listed as Difficulty Considerations. The Reading Level for Markel’s work is listed as Moderate. Materials do not identify Difficulty Considerations or Ease Factors. Prior to reading “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” the Use Reading Skills inset includes guidance on using a story strip to keep track of story events in order to retell a sequence of events. The Text Overview page includes a Preview Vocabulary list of terms with their definitions. These terms are also defined in footnotes throughout the text. The Analyze Literature section of the Text Overview page defines ballad, noting the typical four-line, abcb rhyme scheme that most ballads follow. Students respond to one Analyze Literature question addressing the genre: “Guide students in revisiting the information they read about ballads. Have them explain to you why this piece of literature fits that description. Encourage students to find other examples of poetry that fit the definition of ballad and share a favorite with the class.” It is unclear as to when students read information about ballads other than the Analyze Literature section of the Text Overview page. While reading “Dangers of the Deep,” students respond to several Use Reading Skills prompts, such as Use Context Clues, Identify Main Idea, Summarize, and Analyze Cause and Effect. After reading both selections, students respond to an Analyze Literature prompt addressing ballads. It is unclear how using a story strip supports students with accessing either 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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for Indicator 1e.

Materials provide opportunities for students to engage in a wide range of reading that follows a gradual release, close reading model. Materials include suggested pacing for text selections. The daily and weekly volume of reading in which students engage is contingent upon the type of schedule—regular or block—that they follow. At the start of each unit, students read Guided Reading selections that “[model] the close read process.” Students transition to Directed Reading selections that include supports for before- and after-reading activities. The unit ends with Independent Reading eSelections that “provide students with the opportunity to practice skills on their own.” Materials also include a For Your Reading List page at the end of each unit. This page includes independent reading suggestions that “[e]xtend the unit theme with relevant, diverse titles” and “[e]ncourage application of close reading strategies and skills.” Although materials include a reading log, materials do not include guidance on its use. Materials include an extensive eLibrary with eSelections that include activities that allow students to independently check their understanding.

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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

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

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read multiple texts such as: “The Circuit,” a short story by Francisco Jiménez, “Same Song,” a narrative poem by Pat Mora, and “The Forecast: A Warmer World,” a news article written by Alma Luz Villanueva. Throughout the unit, students progress through a gradual release model that includes Guided Reading, Directed Reading, and Independent Reading. During Guided Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before, during, and after reading in Close Reading Models.” During Directed Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before and after reading” and “[directs] students to practice skills during reading.” During Independent Reading, the teacher provides “[m]inimal support before and after reading; students apply skills independently.” 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read multiple texts such as: “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies,” a scientific article written by Dennis Brindell Fradin, “A Sea Worry,” a personal essay written by Maxine Hong Kingston, and an excerpt from Woman in the Mists, a biography written by Farley Mowat. Throughout the unit, students progress through a gradual release model that includes Guided Reading, Directed Reading, and Independent Reading. During Guided Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before, during, and after reading in Close Reading Models.” During Directed Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before and after reading” and “[directs] students to practice skills during reading.” During Independent Reading, the teacher provides “[m]inimal support before and after reading; students apply skills independently.” 

    • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students read multiple texts such as: “Arachne,” a Greek myth by Olivia Coolidge, “The Magic Mortar,” a folktale by Yoshiko Uchida, and “The Affair of the Horns,” a Mayan fable by Victor Montejo. Throughout the unit, students progress through a gradual release model that includes Guided Reading, Directed Reading, and Independent Reading. During Guided Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before, during, and after reading in Close Reading Models.” During Directed Reading, the teacher provides “[e]xtensive support before and after reading” and “[directs] students to practice skills during reading.” During Independent Reading, the teacher provides “[m]inimal support before and after reading; students apply skills independently.” 

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

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read four texts during Guided Reading; eight texts, including three eSelections, during Directed Reading; and two eSelections during Independent Reading. Based on suggested lesson pacing, students typically spend three regular schedule days or one and a half block schedule days on a text during Guided Reading, one to three regular schedule days, or one-half to one and one-half  block schedule days on a text during Directed Reading, and one regular schedule day or one half block schedule day on a text during Independent Reading. Materials include a For Your Reading List page at the end of the unit. This page contains a list of independent reading options but guidance notes that students may select a text from the six options on the provided list, “[their] classroom, school, or community library, or from novels or short story collections [they] have at home.” Pacing guidance is as follows: “Read the text or collection independently, scheduling blocks of time for reading over the course of several days or a couple of weeks.” 

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read five texts during Guided Reading; nine texts, including three eSelections, during Directed Reading; and two eSelections during Independent Reading. Based on suggested lesson pacing, students typically spend  one to two regular schedule days or one-half to one block schedule days on a text during Guided Reading, one to three regular schedule days or one-half to one and one-half  block schedule days on a text during Directed Reading, and one regular schedule day or one half block schedule day on a text during Independent Reading. Materials include a For Your Reading List page at the end of the unit. This page contains a list of independent reading options but guidance notes that students may select a text from the six options on the provided list, “[their] classroom, school, or community library, or biographies, autobiographies, articles, or essays [they] have at home.” Pacing guidance is as follows: “Read the text independently, scheduling blocks of time for reading over the course of several days or a couple of weeks.”

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read two texts during Guided Reading, three texts during Directed Reading, and two eSelections during Independent Reading. Based on suggested lesson pacing, students typically spend three regular schedule days or one and a half block schedule days on the anchor text and its paired text during Guided Reading, and two to three regular schedule days or one to one and one-half  block schedule days on a text during Directed Reading and Independent Reading. Materials include a For Your Reading List page at the end of the unit. This page contains a list of independent reading options but guidance notes that students may select a text from the six options on the provided list, “[their] classroom, school, or community library, or a play or screenplay [they] have at home.” Pacing guidance is as follows: “Read the text independently, scheduling blocks of time for reading over the course of several days or a couple of weeks.”  

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

    • Each independent reading eSelection includes suggested pacing. Teacher guidance for some eSelections includes specific independent reading suggestions for students who enjoyed the topic covered. Materials include a For Your Reading List page that includes a list of six independent reading selections with a short synopsis of each of the text options. Students choose one of the texts and create a schedule for their independent reading. The Teacher Wrap also includes guidance for an Independent Reading Activity option. The Program Guide contains a reading log; however, materials do not include guidance on how to utilize the reading log during independent reading.

    • Materials include an extensive online eLibrary that “contains over 300 literary and informational texts that students may read independently,” as well as selection tests which students can use to check their progress and monitor their comprehension. 

Criterion 1f - 1m

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

10/18
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations for evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. Materials include oral and written questions and tasks grounded in the text, requiring students to use information from the text to support their answers and demonstrate comprehension of what they are reading. Materials do not include speaking and listening protocols. Speaking and listening instruction includes some facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers; however, materials lack relevant follow-up questions and supports. Although materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing, writing opportunities in each mode are unevenly distributed. Writing Workshops include revision and editing opportunities; however, materials rarely include explicit writing instruction. Although students have opportunities to write about what they are reading, including opportunities to support their analyses and claims using evidence from texts and/or sources, many of these opportunities are optional. Materials lack explicit evidence-based writing instruction. Materials miss opportunities for explicit instruction of grade-level grammar and usage standards. Opportunities for authentic application in context are limited. Although materials include opportunities for students to interact with key academic vocabulary words in and across texts, materials do not outline the program’s plan for vocabulary development or provide teacher guidance to support students’ vocabulary development.

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for Indicator 1f.

Materials include text-specific and text-dependent questions, tasks, and assignments, which support students in making meaning of the texts read and require students to engage with the text directly. The Teacher Wrap in the margins of the Teacher Edition includes guidance that supports teachers with implementing text-based tasks and questions. Most questions refer students back to the text or require students to use examples, details, or evidence from the text. The Teacher Wrap also includes possible student responses to support teachers with planning and implementing text-based questions and tasks.

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). Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

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

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read the short story, “Ta-Na-E-Ka” by Mary Whitebird. The Teacher Wrap in the margins of the Teacher Edition includes text-specific questions and tasks that support students in making meaning of the texts being studied. For example, during an Analyze Literature: Characterization prompt, students examine a passage of the text and determine how “Amos Deer Leg was characterized in this paragraph.”

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read the historical nonfiction text, “Little Rock, Arkansas” by Jim Haskins paired with the lyric poem, “Youth” by Langston Hughes. Students respond to the following Text to Text Connection prompt after reading both selections: “Compare and contrast the mood of each literary work. What are each writer’s attitudes toward past events? Toward the future? According to these authors, what attitude should Americans have about working for a better future?”

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read “Arithmetic,” a poem by Carl Sandburg. After reading the text, students refer back to the text as they respond to questions, such as “Name three different situations Sandburg uses to describe arithmetic.”; “What tone or attitude toward the poem’s subject do you detect as you read ‘Arithmetic?’ Which words in the poem contribute to the mood?...Write at least four details from the poem that support your response.”; and “How do Sandburg’s examples of arithmetic change toward the end of the poem?”

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read an excerpt from the play, The Fairies’ Lullaby by William Shakespeare. After reading, students respond to Text-Dependent Questions, such as “What is the fairy queen doing? How do you know?” and “How do you think the fairies feel about the queen? What evidence supports your judgment?”

  • Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-based questions and tasks.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read a paired selection containing the short story, “The Sand Castle” by Alma Luz Villanueva and the news article, “The Forecast: A Warmer World” from Time for Kids. After reading, students respond to a Text to Text Connection question in which students examine how the “scientific information presented in the news article relate[s] to some of the issues mentioned in the story.” The Teacher Wrap includes a response to the question, noting effects of global warming that Villanueva describes that the Time for Kids article confirms. 

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read an excerpt from Paul Zindel’s memoir, The Pigman and Me. While reading the text, students “make generalizations about Nonno Frankie’s character traits based on his words and actions.” The Teacher Wrap includes a format that students can use to compare Frankie’s character to people they know personally, as well as people in the media: “He has the humor of ___. He has the caring of _. He has the cleverness of ___.” 

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read a paired selection containing William Jay Smith’s concrete poem, “Seal,” and Bill Holm’s lyric poem, “Whale Breathing.” After reading both texts, students compare each author’s perspective, responding to Compare Literature questions, such as “1. (a) How do you think Smith feels about seals? (b) What might support his opinions?” The Compare Literature: Author’s Perspective section of the Teacher Wrap contains the following student responses: “1. (a) Smith thinks seals are amazing. (b) Maybe Smith has spent time on beaches watching sea life or gained respect for marine life in the Navy.” 

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, students read “Why Monkeys Live in Trees,” a West African folk tale retold by Julius Lester. Throughout the reading, students respond to various Close Read questions associated with specific passages of the text. Examples of questions include, but are not limited to, “What do these details tell you about Leopard’s character?” and “What does the inclusion of these different animals tell you about the culture this story comes from?” The Teacher Wrap provides the answers to the questions: “Leopard is very vain or in love with himself.” and “The people of West Africa came into contact with these animals often and knew about their behaviors.”

Indicator 1g

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

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1g.

Materials provide frequent speaking and listening opportunities for students, with some opportunities for teacher modeling of academic vocabulary and syntax; however, materials lack evidence of speaking and listening protocols. The activities engage students in the entire year’s scope of instructional materials, such as Speaking and Listening, within the extended learning activities of Collaborative Learning, Critical Literacy, Lifelong Learning and Media Literacy. Throughout the year, students engage in a wide variety of speaking and listening tasks, such as Critical Thinking Discussions during reading and Extend Understanding options after reading. Extend Understanding tasks are optional and include Collaborative Learning, Critical Literacy, Lifelong Learning, and Media Literacy opportunities in which students may engage in small group discussions, paired discussions, and debates that are assessed using provided rubrics. At the end of each unit, students may participate in a Speaking and Listening Workshop. Although these Workshops include directions for each step of the speaking and listening task, as well as a rubric to assess Content, Delivery and Presentation, and listening skills, the Workshops do not include protocols to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills.

Materials provide frequent opportunities for speaking and listening; however, speaking and listening opportunities do not include protocols. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials do not provide varied protocols to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story, “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury, paired with the short story, “The Fun They Had” by Isaac Asimov. After reading both selections, students work in small groups to conduct research on experts’ predictions for the future during the Critical Literacy Extend Understanding option. Then, students hold a panel discussion in which two students serve as Bradbury and Asimov and present the authors’ views on the future. There is no evidence of a specific protocol used to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills.

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read a diagram, “Noise Levels,” and a magazine article, “Hearing Under Siege,” both by Bob Ludlow. After reading the paired selection, students work with a partner to discuss “reasons a person might gradually lose the ability to hear, see, taste, or smell.” Students refer back to the diagram to assist them in their discussions. There is no evidence of a specific protocol used to support students’ developing speaking and listening skills.

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students participate in a Speaking & Listening Workshop on narrative presentations. The workshop includes directions to guide students through each step of the project: Planning a Narrative, Evaluating a Narrative Presentation, and Delivering a Narrative Presentation. Although materials include directions for students to complete this workshop, there is no evidence of protocols for students to conduct the speaking and listening task and develop their speaking and listening skills. Instructions include: 

      • “Active listeners are as important as effective speakers. Pay attention to the speaker’s words and nonverbal cues, and react honestly to what the speaker says.”

      • “Work in small groups to rehearse your narrative presentation. After each person finishes speaking, the rest of the group should offer constructive feedback.” 

      • “Your facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language should tell as much of the story as your words. Vary your tone, pitch, and the volume of your voice to express different emotions.”

  • Teacher guidance includes modeling of academic vocabulary and syntax during speaking and listening opportunities.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The Circuit” by Francisco Jiménez. During reading, the teacher explains “that authors also use cultural details to develop the setting.” After asking students to identify the cultural details the author provides in the first three paragraphs of the short story and “what they can determine about the setting from these cultural details,” the teacher models a possible response: “Model a response by indicating some cultural details, such as the Spanish term, braceros, used to describe most of the workers. Explain that braceros are migrant workers from Mexico.”

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read the scientific article, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies” by Dennis Brindell Fradin. During reading, the teacher reminds students “that they can use signal words and parallel construction to figure out text structure and organization.” The teacher then models using the following example: “For example, phrases such as ‘on the other hand,’ as well as sentences that begin in the same way (The stars...The planets…), signal compare-contrast organization.” Students then “decide how the first two pages of the text are organized and explain how they reached their conclusions.”

    • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students read “The Twelve Labors of Hercules” by Walker Brents. During reading, the teacher reminds students “that the rising action of a plot leads to the climax, the highest point of excitement in the narrative.” The teacher continues, noting, “Although each labor of Hercules presents excitement and triumph, the story of Hercules’ life climaxes here.” Students then explain why his life climaxes here.

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.

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1h.

Speaking and listening opportunities include teacher guidance for facilitating activities; however, materials do not include teacher guidance for monitoring student discussions. Occasionally, speaking and listening guidance includes possible questions the teacher may model for students; however, materials do not include instructional supports, such as prompts or sentence starters, to serve as entry points for students who may have difficulty starting or engaging in conversations.

Materials include ample speaking and listening opportunities. Teaching Notes often require students to generate questions to ask the author. Students also engage in discussions as they perform close reads of texts and respond to Analyze Literature prompts. Where appropriate, texts also include Speaking & Listening Skills activities for students to complete during close reads; however, the Close Read section may not occur during core instruction, as it is listed as one of many options from which the teacher may choose to enact. At the launch of each lesson, materials frame the Mirrors & Windows question that students will discuss at the end of each text. Each text also includes opportunities for students to make text-to-self connections as they reflect on and discuss Make Connections questions. Paired selections include a Text to Text Connection prompt for students to discuss. At times, the Extend Understanding section includes speaking and listening task options; however, because implementing these activities is left to teacher choice, these activities may not occur during core instruction. While materials also include a Speaking & Listening Workshop at the end of each unit, these workshops are not part of core instruction.

Materials support students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities); however, materials lack relevant follow-up questions and supports. Because there is no core instructional path, students may not have access to all of the opportunities provided in the materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Speaking and listening instruction includes some facilitation, monitoring, and instructional support for teachers. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer” by Avi. During a Teaching Note activity, students pretend Avi “is writing another short story to explain what happens to Matt after he realizes he is “good” and students work in pairs to generate questions for the author “about Matt’s new life, activities, and friendships.” The teacher models a possible question: “How does Matt’s relationship with his father change, if at all?” Students pass their questions to a different group, and the peer group pretends to be the author and answer the questions. Materials do not include teacher guidance on monitoring student discussions, or instructional support for students who may be having difficulty starting or engaging in conversations. 

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read the historical nonfiction, “Pompeii,” by Robert Silverberg. The Teaching Note instructs teachers to assign students to pairs and have them generate questions while reading their assigned section. Materials include a model question for teacher use. After pair work concludes, the teacher and class “go back through the reading section by section and discuss the questions.” Materials do not include teacher guidance on monitoring student discussions, or instructional support for students who may be having difficulty starting or engaging in conversations.

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read the lyric poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” by Maya Angelou. The Teaching Note for this text includes a read aloud activity. To frame the activity, the teacher points out that students will notice different things when they read the poem aloud in comparison to reading the poem silently to themselves. The teacher explains how meaning can be expressed in poetry. Students choose a partner and “take turns reading alternating stanzas of the poem out loud,” while listening to the sounds of words, rhymes, rhythms, and repetitions and noting places where abrupt rhythm changes affect the meaning of the poem. After reading the poem out loud, students “discuss what they noticed during their readings and what new insights they have gained into the poem’s meaning.” Materials do not include teacher guidance on monitoring student discussions, or instructional support for students who may be having difficulty starting or engaging in conversations.

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read Milton Geiger’s screenplay, In the Fog. During the Film the Screenplay Speaking & Listening Skills activity, the teacher has someone from the audiovisual department, or a student familiar with using a video camera demonstrate its use, including how to create a fade-in or fade-out and how to pan in and pan out. The teacher divides the class into groups and assigns each group a scene from Geiger’s screenplay. Group members “select and perform different functions, such as acting, directing, filming, constructing sets, making costumes, and creating special effects,” as they spend several days filming their assigned scenes. The teacher shows each scene to the class. Students “listen and watch actively and jot down notes about the strengths and weaknesses of each scene.” The teacher also encourages students to provide their peers with polite feedback. Materials do not include teacher guidance on monitoring student discussions, or instructional support for students who may be having difficulty starting or engaging in conversations. Additionally, this Speaking & Listening Skills activity may not occur during core instruction, as it is a supplemental activity embedded within the Close Read portion of the materials.

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

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken. During the Close Read of a portion of the text, students discuss two Make Connections prompts. The first prompt is as follows: “Have you ever been reunited with a friend or pet after a long separation? How did you feel?” During the second prompt, students describe experiences when they felt “so anxious that it seemed as if they were experiencing actual physical pain.”  

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read the narrative poem, “In Response to Executive Order 9066: All Americans of Japanese Descent Must Report to Relocation Centers,” by Dwight Okita. During the Make Connections section, teacher guidance frames a student discussion on “how fair or unfair it seems to them that one of these girls could be accused of giving secrets to the enemy.” The teacher models a possible sentence starter for responses: “According to the speaker, the only difference between the two girls is… Therefore, I think…”  

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students complete a task in the Extend Understanding section after reading “Steps,” a narrative poem written by Naomi Shihab Nye. The teacher notes, “There are many vivid images in this poem.” Students work with a partner to “decide which image you will hold the longest in your mind. Why do you think it is the powerful image in the poem? What do you think the author wanted to say or make you feel through the use of this image?” Students share their ideas with other pairs. The Extend Understanding section of the materials includes options from which the teacher selects, as a result, all students may not engage in this activity.

    • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students respond to a Text to Text Connection question after reading “The Cow of No Color,” a Ghanaian folk tale retold by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin ,and “Ewe Proverbs “(author not cited). Students identify an important lesson from “The Cow of No Color” and “compare and contrast this lesson with one or two of the proverbs.” Students discuss the following question: “How could you apply both the folk tale and the proverbs to real life situations?”  

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

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, after reading “Harvesting Hope: The Story of César Chávez,” by Kathleen Krull, students may present a report during the Lifelong Learning option of the Extend Understanding section. While pretending to work for a union of farm workers, students “research a fruit or vegetable, discover how it is farmed in the United States today, and present [their] findings in a formal presentation.” Directions state students may use sources such as “an encyclopedia, feature news article, or reliable websites.” Students take notes on and summarize their peers’ presentations. The Extend Understanding section of the materials includes options from which the teacher selects, as a result, all students may not engage in this activity.  

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read “Limericks,” humorous poems by Edward Lear. During the Lifelong Learning option in the Extend Understanding section, students role-play an interview. Students explore “Lear’s philosophy of life, his books, and his work as a painter” to learn more about why he was considered “unusual for his time.” Students work in pairs to share what they learned and use their learning to “plan a staged interview with one [student] asking as the interviewer and the other as Edward Lear.” Students must use the interview to communicate the facts they researched about Lear’s life to the class. The Extend Understanding section of the materials includes options determined by teacher selection, as a result, all students may not engage in this activity.

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students learn how to give and actively listen to informative presentations during the Speaking & Listening Workshop. After choosing a topic and identifying their audience, students conduct research to gather information. Students use note cards to write words and phrases to introduce their person and separate note cards for each example they “will use to demonstrate the person’s character.” Students work in small groups to practice their presentation and peers offer constructive feedback using questions, such as “What did you like about the presentation? What questions did you have? What more would you like to know?” As students deliver their presentations, peers use the provided speaking and listening rubrics to evaluate each presentation. Speaking & Listening Workshops do not appear to be a part of core instruction but may be used to extend students’ speaking and listening skills. 

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.

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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1i.

Materials include on-demand writing tasks during differentiated reading lessons, extension lessons, and writing skills. On-demand writing opportunities also occur in the Extend Understanding section at the end of each text or paired selection. The Extend Understanding section includes two writing options: a creative option and/or an informative, descriptive, or argumentative option. Although the Program Planning Guide includes lesson plans for each text, materials state that the teacher must “[identify] the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” The Lesson Plan directs teachers to “[c]hoose from the following materials” or “[c]hoose from the following resources.” As a result, there is no explicit core instructional path. Materials embed additional writing practice in the margins of the Teach the Model section of texts within each unit and there is also a wealth of ancillary materials, such as Writing and Grammar and Language Arts Handbook  to support core writing instruction. Materials utilize digital resources, such as an eBook and eReaders, where appropriate.

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing that covers a year’s worth of instruction; however, since there is no explicit core path, students may not have access to every opportunity provided in the materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials include on-demand writing opportunities that cover a year’s worth of instruction.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The Sand Castle,” a short story written by Alma Luz Villanueva. In Extend Understanding: Writing Options at the end of the selection, students write in response to the following prompt: “Imagine that you are one of Masha’s grandchildren and you are able to travel back to the time Masha is recalling. Write a postcard to your siblings or friends in the future. What would you tell them about life before global warming?” Although this writing opportunity occurs at the end of the text selection, the activity may not occur during core instruction, as it is one of four activities from which the teacher may choose.

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read “Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima” by Walter Dean Myers. Students write a persuasive letter to the family in the story by telling the family “what action they want them to take.” Students must also support the request with details they have learned about the family from the story. This Writing Skills task occurs during the Close Read portion of the lesson plan and may not occur during core instruction.

    •  In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students participate in an on-demand, timed writing assessment in the Test Practice Workshop at the end of the unit. Students respond to a writing prompt based on the selection, “Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima,” a biography by Walter Dean Myers from the previous unit. Directions for the task are as follows: “Plan and write several paragraphs for an informative essay in which you state and support a thesis about events that shaped the life of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima.” and “Include evidence from the story, including direct quotations, to support your thesis.” The Assess section of the Lesson Plan does not list the Test Practice Workshop as an option for this text; as a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, after reading “The Orb Weaver” by Robert Francis, students write a narrative paragraph about a time they engaged in a competition. Directions include: “Describe who you were competing against, what happened, and how you felt during the competition. What was the outcome?” Students then share their work with the class. This writing task is one of the Writing Options in the Extend Understanding section and may not occur during core instruction.

  • Materials include process writing opportunities that cover a year’s worth of instruction. Opportunities for students to revise and edit are provided.

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students write a short story during the Writing Workshop at the end of the unit. Students choose topics and decide a purpose before organizing their ideas into a draft. During revision and editing, students reread their writing, paying careful attention to their use of precise language and sensory details, and ask themselves if their work is entertaining. Students also “add details such as suspense or more conflicts as needed, revising to improve word choice and style.” Students peer edit and make revisions using a checklist that contains the following questions: “Are the characters and setting introduced at the beginning of the story? Does the story have a conflict?  Does the author use precise language and sensory details?” Students proofread their work before publishing and presenting.

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students write a personal narrative during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. After choosing a topic, students fill in a story map to try out their ideas. As students work on their drafts, they focus on bringing their story events to life using dialogue and description. During the Revise phase, students engage in peer editing and use a Revising Checklist to check their work. Students focus their editing and proofreading work on sentence variety, making edits to the types of sentences used as well as the length of their sentences. Students also focus on choosing the correct adjectival forms before proofing their work for spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar errors. Students publish and present their final draft.

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students write a compare-and-contrast essay. During the Prewrite stage, students choose their topic, use a Venn diagram or chart to gather details, and craft their thesis statement. In the Draft stage, students decide on an organizational pattern for their essay, subject-by-subject or point-by-point, using the details they gathered as a guide. Students draft the introduction, body, and conclusion of their essay, remembering to “insert transitions that help [the] reader follow [their] main points and understand the comparisons and contrasts [they] present.” During the Revise phase, students peer- and self-edit their work, suggesting improvements and using the provided Revision Checklist respectively. As students edit and proofread their work, they focus on using effective coordination and subordination and apostrophes in possessives. Students proofread their work, correcting grammar, usage, capitalization, and spelling errors. Students then publish and present their final draft.

  • Materials include digital resources where appropriate. 

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read “in Just,” a lyric poem by E.E. Cummings in the Multiplatform Student ebook. Within this eReader selection, students have the opportunity to use digital resources when accessing the Passport Tools in the audio and media libraries. Students use the digital interactive graphic organizer to monitor comprehension as they read the text.

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read the narrative poem, “The Wreck of the Hesperus,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Students use “print and online resources to look up information about famous shipwrecks.” Students make a chart to identify various aspects of the wreck, including “where the wreck happened, what caused it, and what the outcome was.”  Students use their notes to write a summary on an index card that they trade with other students.

    • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students participate in a Writing Workshop during which they conduct a research report. During writing, students use the internet to choose a topic and to find primary and secondary sources to utilize during their writing.

Indicator 1j

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

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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1j.

Materials provide some opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply different writing modes during on-demand and longer process writing tasks across the school year. End-of-Unit Writing Workshops are the sole source of explicit argumentative, informative, and narrative writing instruction and process writing tasks. Materials include writing practice opportunities during the embedded Writing Skills lessons found within each unit; however, these lessons are a part of the Close Read lesson, one of the activities from which teachers may select. As a result, these lessons may not occur during core instruction. Materials include some on-demand writing opportunities during select after-reading Analyze Literature and Extend Understanding tasks; however, there are four Extend Understanding tasks from which the teacher may choose. As a result, writing tasks may not occur during core instruction. Although Test Practice Workshops also serve as on-demand writing opportunities, these workshops are not a part of core instruction.

Materials provide some opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:  

  • Materials provide some 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. 

    • Materials include the following Writing Workshops— four informative, one argumentative, one descriptive, two narrative—resulting in an uneven distribution of explicit instruction on the writing modes required by the standards.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students learn how to respond to a short story during the End-of-Unit Informative Writing Workshop. Guidance prompts teachers to “model the process of determining which story to write about” during prewriting. Explicit instruction supports students with ensuring their essays include “an introduction” that “includes a clear thesis,” “body paragraphs that support and explain” the thesis, “evidence from the story to support each idea” in the body paragraphs, and “a conclusion that sums up” the response. Materials provide three more opportunities for students to learn, practice, and apply informative writing—when crafting a cause-and-effect essay during the Unit 4 Writing Workshop, when writing an informative essay during the Unit 7 Writing Workshop, and when writing a research report during the Unit 8 Writing Workshop.  

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students focus on argumentative writing during the end-of-unit Writing Workshop. Students learn how to choose a topic, decide their position, and gather information during the Prewrite stage. As students develop their drafts, they learn about several organizational patterns, distinguishing between organizing their entire argumentative essay and organizing their paragraphs. Students also learn about persuasive techniques to use in their writing. During the Revise stage, students use a Revising Checklist to evaluate their work, checking for elements such as a clearly stated thesis in the introduction; a thesis supported with reasons, facts, details, and examples; and a counterargument addressed in the essay. As students edit and proofread their work, they focus on using transitions and active voice and “check for the correct use of commas after transition words, apostrophes, and other marks of punctuation.” Students submit a final copy of their work during the Publish and Present stage. Although  materials do not provide further opportunities for students to learn and apply argumentative writing, students do have opportunities to practice argumentative writing during optional activities, such as on-demand Extend Understanding writing tasks and End-of-Unit Test Practice Workshops. 

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students engage in writing a personal narrative in the narrative Writing Workshop. Explicit instruction supports students by ensuring their writing includes “an introduction that creates interest, a series of events in chronological order, descriptive details, and a conclusion that presents a lesson learned, change, or another memorable ending.” Materials provide one more opportunity for students to learn, practice, and apply narrative writing—when writing a short story during the Unit 2 Writing Workshop.

  • Different genres/modes/types of writing are distributed throughout the school year; however, there is no core instructional path. Writing opportunities may not occur during core instruction. 

    • Students have opportunities to engage in argumentative writing. 

      • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The Circuit,” a short story by Francisco Jiménez. After reading, students ``[w]rite an editorial for a newspaper arguing for special school programs for children of migrant workers, based around the farming seasons.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction. 

      • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read an excerpt from “The Fan Club” by Rona Maynard and write an argumentative essay during the Test Practice Workshop. The assignment directions are as follows: “Write an argumentative essay in which you state and support a thesis about the effects of peer pressure on young people and how it should be handled. Include evidence from the passage and your own experience to support your thesis.” This timed writing task is optional and may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students write a persuasive speech after reading “The Twelve Labors of Hercules,” a Greek myth retold by Walker Brents: The materials state,  “Write a speech for Hercules to give before dying, addressing his actions and choices. Is he remorseful or proud? Include a thesis statement and support from the text.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

    • Students have opportunities to engage in informative/explanatory writing.

      • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer,” a short story by Avi. Afterwards, students “[w]rite a short informative essay analyzing cause and effect in this story,” during an on-demand writing task. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction..

      • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, after reading the lyric poem, “Arithmetic,” by Carl Sandburg, students are asked to  “write a brief literary analysis for your classmates in which you tell how the speaker feels about arithmetic” during an on-demand writing activity. The guidance directs students  to include a thesis statement, as well as “details, examples, and quotations from the poem as evidence to support your thesis.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read a paired selection containing The Fairies’ Lullaby, an excerpt from a play by William Shakespeare and “The Stolen Child,'' a lyric poem by William Butler Yeats. After reading both pieces, students ``[w]rite an informative essay comparing and contrasting how Shakespeare and Yeats used repetition in the selections.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result,may not occur during core instruction

    • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing.

      • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read “The Bracelet,” a short story by Yoshiko Uchida. During an on-demand writing task, students imagine they are Ruri and “[w]rite a letter to Lauri telling her about your new home.” Materials state that students must “[u]se sensory details to describe your surroundings” and include “your thoughts on the situation and some of your feelings about what has happened to you.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and,as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read “Ode to La Tortilla,” a narrative poem by Gary Soto. Afterwards, students may rewrite the poem’s sequence of events as a narrative paragraph, retelling the poem “in the first-person point of view of what happens in time order.” Students must include the speaker’s and sparrow’s actions and use transitional words that show time order. This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, after reading “Limericks,'' humorous poems by Edward Lear, students may select a character from one of the two limericks read and “[u]se him as the subject of a character sketch written for a younger child.” This Extend Understanding task is one of four options from which the teacher may choose and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction.

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

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story ,“The Circuit,” by Francisco Jimenez. Students reread a paragraph from the text “and note Panchito’s feelings and reactions to his first day in school.”  Then, students think about a memorable day in school and write a descriptive paragraph about their experiences. 

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read “Spring is Like a Perhaps Hand” by E. E. Cummings. After reading, students write a critical analysis about how well the poem “depicts the arrival of spring.” Students must include details from the text in their writing.

Indicator 1k

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

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1k.

Materials provide practice and application opportunities for evidence-based writing but lack explicit evidence-based writing instruction with the exception of some Writing Workshop tasks. The Making Meaning, Analyze Literature, and After Reading sections provide students with some opportunities to carefully analyze closely read texts. Materials include End-of-Unit Writing Workshops and Test Practice pieces that sometimes require students to support their analyses and defend their claims, but these opportunities do not occur consistently. Throughout daily material, students do not engage in evidence-based writing. Students work on activities with sensory descriptions or continuity in point-of-view, for example, but these exercises do not require students to cite evidence from texts they read nor are they required core instructional activities. Students may complete a timed writing task, during which they read a short selection and then write in response to a prompt that requires them to utilize evidence from the text. While materials provide opportunities such as timed writing tasks and Test Practice Workshops, these are not required activities within the curriculum as noted in the Program Planning Guide: “To help you meet the diverse needs of your students, the Mirrors and Windows  program offers a wealth of materials-much more than you can teach in one school year. As a result, one challenge you will face is identifying the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” The Lesson Plan directs teachers to “[c]hoose from the following materials” or “[c]hoose from the following resources.” As a result, there is no explicit core instructional path.

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials provide limited opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, in the Reading Skills section, students practice distinguishing between major and minor details while reading the short story, “The All-American Slurp,” by Lensey Namioka. Teacher guidance states, “Explain to students that distinguishing between major and minor details is an important skill that will help them to grasp the main idea of a passage or selection.” Materials do not include explicit instruction explaining how to distinguish between the two types of details. Students then identify major and minor details and state the main idea of a passage about early influences on Namioka’s fiction. Students apply their work with major and minor details during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop as they write a response to a short story they have read.  

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students work on making predictions using Walter Dean Myers’ biography, “Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima.” After the teacher reminds students “that effective readers take time to survey reading material and make some predictions before reading,” students use display quotes within the text, as well as the Build Background section of Apply the Model, to make predictions about what they will read. The teacher suggests students “predict details related to who, what, when, where, and why.”  Students justify their reasons for their predictions. Materials do not include explicit instruction on making predictions during this activity. 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students learn how to write a cause-and-effect essay during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. As students transition through the writing process, the teacher suggests students use a graphic organizer to gather information. The teacher reviews “the differences among facts, details, and examples” with students. The teacher then uses two sentences to “help students recognize the three types of support.” While this Workshop includes practice, it does not include explicit instruction on standards-aligned, evidence-based writing.

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, students read “Why Monkeys Live in Trees,” a West African folk tale retold by Julius Lester, and work on making predictions. The teacher and students work together to complete a prediction chart. The prediction chart includes the following columns: Guesses, Reasons, Evidence. After completing the chart together, students copy the chart, leaving space to “change their predictions and make new ones as they read.” It is unclear how this aligns to evidence-based writing standards and explicit instruction is lacking.  

  • Writing opportunities are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence.

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students complete a Literary Response essay in the Test Practice Workshop. This essay asks students to consider the story they read, “Ta-Na-E-Ka” by Mary Whitebird, and use evidence from the story, including direct quotes, to support their opinion of whether or not traditions and rituals of culture are important and should be adhered to. The Assess section of the Lesson Plan does not list the Test Practice Workshop as an option for this text. 

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read the lyric poem ,“Arithmetic,” by Carl Sandburg. In the Analyze Literature section, students analyze the tone by creating a cluster map to collect evidence from the text to support what they think the tone is. In Extend Understanding, students use the cluster map to “write a brief literary analysis for your classmates in which you tell how the speaker feels about arithmetic.” Students must include “details, examples, and quotations from the poem as evidence to support” their thesis. Although this writing opportunity occurs at the end of the text selection, the activity may not occur during core instruction, as it is one of four activities from which the teacher may choose.  

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read “The Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats. Students use evidence from the text to answer the question, “Besides the fact they are stealing a child, what other evidence can you find that these fairies may be harmful?”

Indicator 1l

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

1/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1l.

Materials include limited explicit instruction of grade-level grammar and usage. Materials miss opportunities to address many standards or address standards that are included in a subsequent grade level. There are limited opportunities for students to apply grammar and usage standards in context, such as student writing. Practice opportunities are oftentimes absent in the grade under review, but are sometimes provided in subsequent grades.

Materials include limited explicit instruction of the grade-level grammar and usage standards, with opportunities for authentic application in context. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Students have opportunities to ensure that pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, possessive).

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read the biography ,“Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima,” by Walter Dean Myers. After reading the text, students receive explicit instruction in pronoun-antecedent agreement. Students practice the skill by identifying the pronouns and their antecedents in a passage from the text, by “supplying a pronoun that agrees with the underlined antecedent” from sentences in the text. Materials provide additional practice in the Teaching Notes during an activity where students use a pronoun to complete each sentence. Students apply this skill during a writing task, during which they write a paragraph describing a recent trip or event. Then rewrite the paragraph without using pronouns. How does the sound of the paragraph change?” The Writing and Grammar workbook provides Teaching Notes for additional guidance.

  • Students have opportunities to use intensive pronouns.

    • In Unit  3, Defining Freedom, students read the memoir,The Flight of Read Bird: the Life of Zitkala-Sa by Zitkala-Sa and Doreen Rappaport. Students receive explicit instruction in using reflexive and intensive pronouns. Students practice identifying reflexive and intensive pronouns in sentences from the text by underlining each reflexive pronoun once and underlining each intensive pronoun twice. Next, they practice using reflexive and intensive pronouns by completing sentences with the correct form of the pronoun. Students can also receive extra practice using activities from the Teaching Notes and by using the Writing and Grammar workbook. Although materials provide explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity for students to apply this skill in context.

  • Students have opportunities to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun number and person.

    • No evidence found

  • Students have opportunities to recognize and correct vague pronouns (i.e., ones with unclear or ambiguous antecedents).

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students receive explicit instruction on pronoun-antecedent agreement during a Grammar & Style lesson. Students identify pronouns and their antecedents in a short excerpt from “Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima” by Walter Dean Myers. Then students complete a set of five sentences by “supplying a pronoun that agrees with the underlined antecedent.” Although materials provide explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity for students to apply this skill in context. Grammar & Style lessons are listed as an option from which teachers select in the Teach the Workshop(s) section of the Lesson Plan. As a result, this lesson may not occur during core instruction.  

  • Students have opportunities to recognize variations from standard English in their own and others’ writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students engage in a Speaking & Listening Workshop. Students receive explicit instruction on giving and listening to an informative presentation. Guidance reminds students to use the active voice when speaking and to rehearse their presentations with partners. Students provide feedback on the content of the speech, as well as the presentation itself. Materials note that Speaking & Listening Workshops may be used to extend students’ speaking and listening skills. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction. 

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students learn about sensory details during a Speaking & Listening Workshop. Students craft and deliver a literary interpretation of a story of their choosing. Guidance encourages students to read using sensory details while using word choice to create tone and mood. Materials note that Speaking & Listening Workshops may be used to extend students’ speaking and listening skills. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction. 

  • Students have opportunities to use punctuation (commas, parentheses, dashes) to set off nonrestrictive/parenthetical elements.

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, within the Grammar and Style Language Conventions section, students learn when to use compound sentences and commas in a series. Students practice these skills by choosing the sentence  with the correct revision. Although students receive explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity to apply this skill in context.

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read the lyric poem, “Arithmetic,” by Carl Sandburg. Students receive explicit instruction in using dashes and end punctuation. Students practice this skill by rewriting sentences and “placing dashes in the correct positions.” Although students receive explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity to apply this skill in context.  

  • Students have opportunities to spell correctly.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story, “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer, by Avi. Students receive instruction via a mini-lesson on Frequently Misspelled Words. Students locate misspelled words in sentences and spell them correctly and apply this skill during the Writing Workshop. During the proofreading step, students find and fix errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  

  • Students have opportunities to vary sentence patterns for meaning, reader/listener interest, and style.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story, “The All-American Slurp,” by Lensey Namioka. Students receive direct instruction on varying sentence beginnings during a mini-lesson. Students “add some variety to sentence beginnings, start some sentences with a one-word modifier, a prepositional phrase, or a subordinate clause.”  Students rewrite a sentence from the story applying varied sentence beginnings. Although students receive explicit instruction, there is not an opportunity for application of the skill in context.

  • Students have opportunities to maintain consistency in style and tone.

    • In Unit  3, Defining Freedom, students write an argumentative essay during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop. During the edit and proofread steps, students receive instruction on using active voice in their writing. Guidance states, “[C]hoose the active voice because it emphasizes the doer of the action.”

Indicator 1m

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

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 1m.

Although the Teacher Edition outlines the program’s vocabulary components, neither the Teacher Edition nor the Program Guide outline the program’s plan for vocabulary development or provide teacher guidance to support students’ vocabulary development. At the start of each unit, materials include a Building Vocabulary list, which contains the following categories of vocabulary terms: Preview Vocabulary, Selection Words, Academic Vocabulary, and Key Terms. Words listed as Preview Vocabulary are taken from sentences within selections and are defined in the side margin or at the bottom of the pages where they appear. Words listed as Selection Words are additional words from the reading that may be challenging, but are not central to the selection. These are Tier One words that can easily be understood by using context clues. Words listed as Academic Vocabulary are words that are used in the directions about the lessons. These are Tier Two words that explain what students should focus on, help establish context, clarify meaning of literary terms, and define goals or instructional purpose. Words that are listed as Key Terms are domain-specific Tier Three words. The repetition of these words throughout the program helps to ensure student mastery. While vocabulary words repeat in contexts and across texts, materials miss opportunities to build students’ vocabulary development of Tier One and Tier Two words.

Materials include opportunities for students to interact with key academic vocabulary words in and across texts; however, the year-long vocabulary plan lacks cohesion. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Materials do not provide teacher guidance outlining a cohesive year-long vocabulary development component.

    • The Teacher Edition outlines the Integrated Literacy and Language Resources provided: “Vocabulary & Spelling: Comprehensive developmental Vocabulary and Spelling lessons build word study skills. In-depth instruction is modeled using words from the selections in each unit.” The Teacher Edition also includes specific explanations of the Vocabulary & Spelling Workshop: “Word Knowledge: Concise vocabulary and spelling lessons are integrated with two of the literature selections in each unit. The lessons incorporate vocabulary words from the preceding selection. Each lesson contains instruction, followed by practice exercises.” While materials provide explanations of the program’s vocabulary development component, materials do not include teacher guidance for enacting students’ vocabulary development.  

  • Vocabulary is repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts) and across multiple texts; however, it is unclear how materials build students’ vocabulary development of Tier One and Tier Two words during core instruction.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story, “The Scribe,” by Kristin Hunter. The Preview Vocabulary list contains the Tier One word dignified. The word dignified also appears in Unit 3 on the Selection Words list for the memoir, The Flight of Red Birds: The Life of Zitkala-Sa by Zitkala-Sa and Doreen Rappaport. Materials identify and define the word dignified in “The Scribe” but do not identify or define the word in The Flight of Red Birds: The Life of Zitkala-Sa. Materials do not include teacher guidance to build students’ vocabulary development of the word dignified in or across either text.  

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, at the start of the unit, students read the Introduction to Nonfiction pages to frame their learning. The Academic Vocabulary list contains the word accurate. This Tier Two word also appears in Unit 5 on the Academic Vocabulary list for the lyric poem, “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” by Maya Angelou. Materials do not identify or define the word accurate in either text selection. Accurate does not appear in Angelou’s poem; rather, the term appears in the directions for the Media Literacy Extend Understanding option. Materials do not include teacher guidance to build students’ vocabulary development of the word accurate in or across either text.

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, the Build Vocabulary list includes the Key Term characterization. The term is used in the directions for the Media Literacy Extend Understanding option for the play, Do You Think I’m Crabby?, by Clark Gesner. This Tier Three word is first introduced and defined during the preview page for the Unit 1 text, “The Goodness of Matt Kaizer,” by Avi. The word characterization appears throughout several other units, including, but not limited to, the following: the directions for the Informative Writing Extend Understanding option for the Unit 2 text, “Tuesday of the Other June,” by Norma Fox Mazer; and the preview page for the Unit 8 text, “The Twelve Labors of Hercules,” retold by Walker Brents. 

  • 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). 

    • At the start of each unit, materials contain a Building Vocabulary page: “The lists below identify the Words in use, Academic Vocabulary, and Key Terms within this unit. These words are listed at the bottom of the Teacher’s Edition pages at the beginning of each lesson. Vocabulary development activities are provided in the Unit Selection Resources unit book and in the Vocabulary & Spelling resource.” Materials do not include teacher guidance on how to use the Building Vocabulary words to build students’ vocabulary development. Words from the Building Vocabulary list are not consistently addressed in the embedded Vocabulary & Spelling Workshop.

    • The Building Vocabulary page contains the following word categories: 

      • Preview Vocabulary: “words taken from the sentences within each selection. These words are defined in the side margin or at the bottom of the pages on which they appear. The Preview Vocabulary section introduces these words in the Before Reading page preceding each selection (Tier One Words).”

      • Selection Words: “additional words from the reading that may be challenging, but are not central to the selection and are not identified in the pre reading section. These words can easily be learned using the story context, and they provide excellent practice for using content clues to find meaning without explicit instruction (Tier One Words).” 

      • Academic Vocabulary: “words that are used in the directions about the lessons. Academic vocabulary words explain to students what to focus on within the selection, help establish the story context, clarify the meaning of literary terms, and define the goals or instructional purpose (Tier Two Words).”

      • Key Terms: “commonly referred to as domain-specific words. These terms appear in the instructional material to teach the terminology that students need to acquire to understand literature. The repetition of the terms throughout the program ensures student mastery and provides a solid foundation for the continuing study of literature and language arts (Tier Three Words).”

  • Materials provide limited support for students to accelerate vocabulary learning with vocabulary in their reading, speaking, and writing tasks.

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read paired texts: a speech, “There is No Salvation for India,” by Mohandas Gandhi and an article, “An Old Language Lives,” by Rachel L. Swarns. Materials preview and define vocabulary terms using student-friendly definitions at the beginning of the selection, as well as throughout the selection. This paired selection precedes the Vocabulary and Spelling Workshop, which focuses on syllabic spelling. Materials list, bold, and define Key Terms, such as the word syllable, at the bottom of the page. Academic Vocabulary words connected to the texts include vernacular and amongst. Additional vocabulary words used throughout the unit repeat during the Revising and Editing Skills section of the Test Practice Workshop. 

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read “The Stolen Child” by William Butler Yeats. In the embedded Vocabulary Skills: Multiple Meanings section, the teacher reminds students that words can have multiple meanings. Students use a dictionary to identify several meanings for the following list of words from the reading selection: wake, wild, hand, can, light, till, drop, and round.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Partially Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. Although texts are organized by genre and theme, it is unclear how the texts build students’ knowledge of the theme. While students closely read and analyze literary and informational texts, lessons do not always include a coherently sequenced series of high-quality questions that lead to a final task. The majority of tasks are optional. Culminating tasks do not always fully address the associated standard, and these tasks often do not integrate literacy skills. Materials include limited writing instruction that aligns to the standards for the grade level. While instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development, materials lack teacher guidance on the use of ancillary and optional writing supports. While materials provide frequent opportunities for short research tasks connected to the texts students read, materials do not include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards. Instruction, practice, and assessments are based on teacher selection from a list of options. Some questions and tasks align to grade-level standards while others do not align or do not meet the full intent of the standards. It is unclear if the majority of assessment items align to grade-level standards. There is no guarantee that materials repeatedly address grade-level standards within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standards. Although the Visual Planning Guide for each unit includes suggested pacing for each text, there is no suggested timeline for the pacing of units nor for the curriculum as a whole over the course of the year. The amount of material cannot reasonably be completed within the suggested amount of time and is not viable for a school year. Due to limited teacher guidance on selecting activities, the volume of optional tasks distracts from core learning. Some optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction.

Criterion 2a - 2f

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

12/24
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for building knowledge. Texts are organized by genre, theme, and an essential question; however, it is unclear how the texts build students’ knowledge of the theme and answer the essential question, as these items are not revisited during the unit. Close reading lessons do not always include a coherently sequenced series of high-quality questions that lead to a final task, and the majority of tasks are optional. Culminating tasks do not always fully address the associated standard and often do not integrate literacy skills. While instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development, materials lack teacher guidance on the use of ancillary and optional writing supports. While materials provide frequent opportunities for short research tasks connected to the texts students read, materials do not include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards.

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2a.

Materials include texts that are organized by a genre and a theme. Although texts are organized by genre and theme, it is unclear how the texts build students’ knowledge of the theme. Each unit begins with a unit opener that “introduces the genre and connects students to the literature,” includes a “thought-provoking quote [that] gives insight into literature,” features “fine art and photographs [that] connect with the unit theme,” and introduces “essential questions related to the unit theme [that] generate interest and set the stage for learning.” The opening pages of each unit provide an introduction to the unit’s genre of focus. Most text selections also include a Mirrors & Windows theme. Students make text-to-self connections to this sub-theme when responding to Mirrors & Windows questions at the start and conclusion of texts read. It is unclear how the Mirrors & Windows theme connects to the unit theme and builds students’ knowledge.

Texts are not organized around a cohesive topic/theme to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Texts are connected by a grade-appropriate cohesive topic/theme/line of inquiry. Texts miss opportunities to build knowledge, vocabulary, and the ability to read and comprehend complex texts across a school year.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students focus on fiction texts as they explore the theme, “Finding a Place in the World” using the following essential question: “What makes us feel like we belong?” The anchor text for this unit is Francisco Jiménez’s short story, “The Circuit.” Students also read other fictional selections such as “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken, “The All-American Slurp” by Lensey Namioka, “Same Song” by Pat Mora, “The Sand Castle” by Alma Luz Villanueva, and “Aaron’s Gift” by Myron Levoy. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.  

    • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students continue their focus on the fiction genre as they explore the theme “Meeting Challenges” to answer the essential question “How do you face challenges?” While reading about the various characters throughout the unit texts, students should “think about how you confront situations in your own life. How would you handle the obstacles that the characters face?” The anchor text for this unit is the short story, “The Dog of Pompeii” by Louis Untermeyer. Students also read other fictional selections such as “The Bracelet” by Yoshiko Uchida, “Zlateh the Goat” by Isaac Bashevis Singer, and “The King of Mazy May” by Jack London. When appropriate, materials pair informational texts, such as “Pompeii” by Robert Silverberg” and “Card-carrying Collectors” by Kathleen McKenna, with literary texts to “add relevance to the literature selections by providing students with background information and context, and by helping them see relationships between literature, informational texts, and primary source materials.” Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme. 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students continue their exploration of the nonfiction genre, which began in the previous unit. Students explore the theme, “Testing Limits” using the following essential question: “Why do people feel a need to test their limits?” While reading the unit texts, students should “consider different peoples’ limits. Ask yourself if you would be able to overcome the same obstacles others have faced.” The anchor text for this unit is Dennis Brindell Fradin’s scientific article, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies.” Students also explore informational texts such as “An Ancient Computer Surprises Scientists” by John Noble Wilford, “Muddy Waters” an excerpt from The Blues Singers by Julius Lester, an excerpt from Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey, and “A Breath of Fresh Air?” by Alexandra Hanson-Harding. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.

    • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, students delve into folk literature, reading common forms of the genre such as myths, folk tales, fairy tales, fables, and proverbs. Students seek to answer the essential question, “What can we learn from our imagination?” as they investigate the theme, “Imagining the Fantastic.” While reading the various forms of folk literature, students are directed to “ask yourself what these imaginary situations teach you about real life.” The Ghanaian folk tale, “The Cow of No Color” by Anonymous, retold by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin, serves as the anchor text for this unit. Students read other folk literature selections such as “Why Monkeys Live in Trees” by Anonymous, retold by Julius Lester, “The Magic Mortar” by Anonymous, retold by Yoshiko Uchida, “The Living Kuan-yin” by Anonymous, retold by Carol Kendall and Yao-Wen Li, and “How Robin Hood Saved the Widow’s Three Sons” by Sara Hyry Barry. Materials do not revisit the unit theme or essential question during the Introduction to the unit genre, embedded Close Reading questions, and Extend Understanding tasks. As a result, it is unclear how students build knowledge of the theme.

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.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2b.

Materials support and require students to analyze key ideas, details, craft and structure within individual texts as well as across multiple texts; however, lessons do not always include a coherently sequenced series of high-quality questions that lead to a final task. Questions and tasks are often embedded in the following before, during, and after-reading sections: Setting Purpose, Reading Skills, Finding Meaning, Making Judgments, and Making Connections. Tasks often occur in the optional Extend Understanding. As a result, these tasks may not occur during core instruction and there is no guarantee all students will have an opportunity to engage with these questions.

Materials sometimes 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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • For most texts, students analyze key ideas and details and craft and structure (according to grade-level standards). 

    • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address key ideas and details. 

      • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, before reading “Lob’s Girl” by Joan Aiken, the teacher defines the following literary terms: plot, climax, resolution. While reading, students identify expository details in an excerpted passage of the text and respond to a series of questions as they identify the conflict, climax, and resolution of the short story. Questions include: “”What is the conflict in the plot at this point?”, “How does Aiken [hold readers’ interest by making each complication more serious than the last?]”, “Do you think the initial conflict has been resolved now that nine years have passed? Why or why not?”, “The narrator switches to a different point of view in the paragraphs about the Travers family. “How does this change contribute to the plot?”, “What does this situation suggest about possible resolutions in the plot?”, and “What part of the plot does this scene serve as?” After reading, students learn about foreshadowing. Students ``[r]eread the second half of the story” and determine “[w]hich plot events serve as clues to foreshadow the revelation at the story’s end.” During one of the Extend Understanding Writing Options, students write a “brief literary response analyz[ing] the effect of foreshadowing on the plot.” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

      • In Unit 2, Meeting Challenges, students read a paired selection containing the short story, “President Cleveland, Where Are You?'' by Robert Cormier, and the news article, “Card-carrying Collectors” by Kathleen McKenna. While reading Cormier’s piece, students respond to questions about characterization: “How does Armand try to affect or influence Jerry?” and “[W]hat motivates Jerry to give Armand a dime instead of a nickel[?]” Students also identify who the main characters are, as well as “background information that they think will affect the story.” Students name the two conflicts of the plot and have the option to “[w]rite a character analysis of Jerry” after reading McKenna’s piece. Students must “[i]dentify what [Jerry] realizes about himself, what he truly values, and how he acts on his new realizations'' using details and examples from the text. 

    • The materials sometimes contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address craft and structure. 

      • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read a paired selection that contains an excerpt from the argumentative essay, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum and the lyric poem,“The World Is Not a Pleasant Place to Be” by Nikki Giovanni. After reminding the students of the definition of theme, the teacher facilitates a discussion about the theme of Giovanni’s work. Afterwards, “students speculate about whether or not Robert Fulghum would agree with Giovanni’s theme.” Materials do not include additional questions on theme and the Extend Understanding options do not include tasks that address theme.  

      • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read “The Dream Keeper” by Langston Hughes. Analyze Literature questions help students understand that the speaker and writer of a poem are not always the same. During the Close Read section, students discuss whether speakers, such as a parent, teacher, friend, or stranger, would be appropriate speakers for the poem. Students suggest other appropriate speakers, after the discussion. While reading the lyric poem, students respond to the following prompt: “The poem’s speaker directly addresses the reader. Why do you think Hughes wrote the poem that way?” After reading, students brainstorm who the speaker might be using a response chart and “decide which of the speakers you have identified would make the poem most meaningful for you and explain why.” As an Explanatory Writing option in the Extend Understanding section, students “[w]rite Hughes a letter explaining how the effect of his poem would differ had he used the third-person point of view.” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction. 

  • By the end of the year, at times, these components (language, word choice, key ideas, details, structure, craft) are embedded in students’ work rather than taught directly. 

    • In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students compare an excerpt from William Shakespeare’s play,The Fairies’ Lullaby and William Butler Yeats’ lyric poem, “The Stolen Child.” After reading both selections, students respond to Make Judgments questions about how both authors used repetition. During one of the Extend Understanding Writing Options, students ``[w]rite an informative essay comparing and contrasting how Shakespeare and Yeats used repetition in the selections.” Students must include examples of repetition from both selections and “explain why [they] think each author used repetition as he did.” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

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.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2c.

Materials include text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks that address key ideas and details, as well as craft and structure, within informational texts. While materials embed the integration of knowledge and ideas in students’ work, tasks often occur during the Extend Understanding section which contains four activity options from which the teacher may choose. As a result, there is no guarantee that all students will complete these tasks during core instruction. Materials include opportunities for students to develop ideas and analyze both within single texts and across multiple texts. Students respond to text-specific and text-dependent questions during and after reading. However, series of questions are not always coherently sequenced, leading to the culminating task, and culminating tasks do not always fully address the associated standard.

Materials require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas within individual texts as well as across multiple texts; however, there are missed opportunities for coherently sequenced, high-quality text-specific and/or text-dependent questions and tasks. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Most sets of questions and tasks support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas. 

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read an excerpt from “There Is No Salvation for India,” a speech by Mohandas Gandhi. Students "identify some words and phrases that Gandhi uses to make his communication passionate" and "expressively read the speech aloud to convey Gandhi’s voice." As part of the paired selection, students read “An Old Language Lives,” an article from Tales from the Times by Rachel L. Swarns. Students discuss “how the author’s voice is different in the different parts of the selection” and read aloud various portions of the text. During the after-reading Analyze Literature section, students use a T-chart to describe Gandhi’s voice in his speech, as well as how “his voice affect[s] the main points of his speech and help[s] him to make a convincing argument.” Students also “[a]nalyze how appropriate Gandhi’s attitude toward his subject is for his audience.” 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read “The Five 'Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies'' by Dennis Brindell Fradin. While examining a passage of the text, students ``describe details from the text that explain how we know that people have studied the skies for thousands of years.” Students then take notes while responding to questions, such as “How do these five objects differ from stars?”, “What names did the Romans give to five of today’s planets?”, “With what did the Chinese associate each of the planets?”, and “Who led the attack on Aristarchus’s ideas?” Students then read two other selections as part of the text set. As part of the Analyze Literature after-reading task, students ``[a]nalyze Fradin’s article with a K-W-L chart.” While materials state that students ``determine the central idea of [the] text and how it is conveyed through particular details”, it is not addressed within this unit. Although one of the Extend Understanding options involves students writing a summary of an article, the summary that students write is for another article within the text set.  

  • By the end of the year, integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded in students’ work (via tasks and/or culminating tasks). 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students explore a visual media selection, “Childhood Photographs” by Jacques-Henri Lartigue. Students “compare and contrast the pros and cons of black-and-white or ‘duotone’ photographs versus color photography” and discuss which pictures they think were planned in advance and which ones they think were taken on the spur of the moment. As part of the paired selection, students read an excerpt from Lartigue’s autobiography, Diary of a Century. Students infer whether Papa “is using the same kind of camera that Lartigue used to take the picture of the girl falling off the bicycle” and support their inference. Students respond to the following Text to Text Connection questions: “What do you think of how Lartigue expressed himself, in these excerpts, when he was seven and twelve years old? How did he mature as the world changed around him? Do Lartigue’s photos reflect the personality and growth that come through in his writing?” During the argumentative writing Extend Understanding option, students write a one-page review of Lartigue’s pictures, commenting “on the ‘message’ in the pictures, Lartigue’s purpose, and the effect of the pictures on you, the viewer.” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read a paired selection containing an excerpt from Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey and an excerpt from Woman in the Mists by Farley Mowat. After reading both selections, students respond to the following Text to Text Connection prompt: “Compare and contrast the viewpoints in Fossey’s autobiography and Mowat’s biography. Mowat calls Fossey ‘an adopted member of the family’ for gorilla Group 4. How was Group 4 like a human family? How was it different? What does Mowat identify as ‘the unique value of Dian’s study?’ How does the structure of each selection help to achieve the author’s purpose?” During the Collaborative Learning option in the Extend Understanding section, students work in small groups to “discuss the advantages and disadvantages of studying animals in their own environments.” Students list “three pros and three cons of studying animals in their own environments versus in captivity.” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts as well as within single texts.

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read and compare “Developing Your Chops' ' by Fran Lantz and “Muddy Waters' ' from The Blues Singers by Julius Lester. While reading “Developing Your Chops,” students analyze the article and identify the author’s purpose, compare and contrast diction, identify the main idea and details of several pages of the text, and identify opinions expressed in a section of the text. While reading “Muddy Waters,” students examine anecdotes and discuss what they add to characterization, draw a timeline, and sequence story events. In the after-reading Compare Literature section, student directions state to ``[u]se your chart to analyze each writer’s voice and diction, and then answer the following questions. Give examples from the readings to support your responses.” The three questions students respond to are as follows: “1. Are these authors writing for the same audience? 2. Which author has the more practical, familiar tone? 3. Which author chooses more descriptive, sensory, and unusual words?” During the informative writing option in the Extend Understanding section, students imagine their older cousin plays the guitar but is feeling frustrated and write a brief compare-and-contrast essay to inspire and reassure their cousin. The essay must address the following questions and recommend one of the selections for reading: “How is Lantz’s topic similar to and different from the biography of Muddy Waters? How do the writers’ word choices and tones differ, and why?” The Extend Understanding section contains four optional activities from which teachers may choose. As a result, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

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).

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2d.

Materials include smaller tasks in the Extend Understanding sections at the end of each text, paired selection, and text set. Although these tasks allow students to demonstrate their understanding of texts, these tasks often do not integrate literacy skills and the enactment of these tasks is contingent upon teacher selection and, as a result, may not occur during core instruction. Materials include text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks; however, these questions and tasks are not coherently sequenced, and they do not provide the teacher with usable information on whether students are on track to successfully complete the end-of-unit Culminating Tasks.

Culminating tasks require students to demonstrate their knowledge through integrated literacy skills; however, it is unclear how tasks relate to the unit’s topic/theme. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Culminating tasks are evident and varied across the year and they 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).

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, during the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop, students deliver and listen to an informative speech that presents their thoughts and ideas on a self-selected topic. To prepare for this culminating task, students must plan their speech, drafting an outline to organize their ideas. Guidance also advises that students create note cards that highlight their key points to use while delivering their speech. Although the Speaking Rubric assesses whether students support their ideas with evidence, the Workshop does not instruct students to gather evidence for their presentation. This task integrates speaking and listening, and writing.

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students deliver and listen to a persuasive speech during the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop. Students choose a topic and position, identify their audience, and outline their research arguments. Students must determine “[w]hat facts, statistics, expert opinions, anecdotes, examples, or other details will support [their] arguments.” Guidance directs students to tell “a short dramatic story related to your point of view by asking the audience a question” to grab their attention and interest during the opening of the speech. Students should also use persuasive techniques, such as repetition and rhetorical questions, to convince their audience of their argument. This task integrates reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, during the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop, students use a previously written research paper and rewrite it to create an outline for a research presentation. After planning the speech, students work in groups to evaluate their presentation, and then deliver the speech to their classmates. This task integrates writing, and speaking and listening. 

  • Earlier text-specific and/or text-dependent questions and tasks are not coherently sequenced and will not give the teacher usable information about the student's readiness (or whether they are “on track”) to complete culminating tasks.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “Harvesting Hope: The Story of César Chávez'' by Kathleen Krull. To support students with note taking, the teacher directs students to draw a chart to “record their thoughts and reactions'' as they “ask questions, make predictions, react to ideas, identify key points, write down unfamiliar words, and make connections between the text and their own lives” while reading the selection. During the optional Lifelong Learning task in the Extend Understanding section, students “research a fruit or vegetable, discover how it is farmed in the United States today, and present your findings in a formal presentation.” While reading “The All-American Slurp” by Lensey Namioka, students revisit a portion of the text, “identify major and minor details,” and “state the main idea of the passage,” during the embedded Reading Skills: Distinguish Between Major and Minor Details mini lesson. These tasks are not coherently sequenced. It is unclear how these tasks give the teacher usable information about the student's readiness to complete the End-of-Unit Speaking and Listening Workshop in which they deliver and listen to an informative presentation.

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read an excerpt from Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech, “The Need for Solidarity Among Ethnic Groups.” During the Argumentative Writing option in the Extend Understanding section, students choose a current issue they feel strongly about and “[w]rite a brief position statement outlining your feelings on the issue. Describe your position in your thesis and include several reasons that support it.” During the embedded Writing Skills mini lesson for “Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima'' by Walter Dean Myers, students ``write a persuasive letter to the African’s family in Fouta Djallon,” telling the family what action to take and supporting their request “with details they have learned about Ibrahima’s life.” Later in the unit, students read “Little Rock, Arkansas'' by Jim Haskins and “Youth” by Langston Hughes. When responding to the Text to Text Connection question, students compare and contrast the mood of each piece, discussing “each writer’s attitudes toward past events.” Students also determine what attitude Americans should “have about working for a better future,” according to Haskins and Hughes. In the Argumentative Writing option in the Extend Understanding section, students pretend that they are participating in a debate on “whether the governor of a state should have the right to prevent desegregation of that state’s schools'' and “[w]rite a one-paragraph position statement describing your opinion on this issue.” These tasks are not coherently sequenced. It is unclear how these tasks provide the teacher with usable information about the student's readiness to complete the End-of-Unit Speaking & Listening Workshop, during which students deliver and listen to a persuasive speech.

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, students read “The Magic Mortar '' retold by Yoshiko Uchida and “The Stone '' by Lloyd Alexander. During the Lifelong Learning Extend Understanding option, students ``[r]esearch the scientific basis for the saltiness of our planet’s seas and oceans.” The report must include “five examples of aquatic life that can lie only in salt water, and find out what percentage of salt is in most bodies of salt water.” During the Media Literacy option in the Extend Understanding section, students research Aesop’s Fables on the Internet or in a library database and choose one or two fables “whose morals seem relevant to the present day.” Students discuss the concept of the fable and how people could benefit from living according to these morals'' in small groups. Students have the option to conduct research and write a report during the Lifelong Learning Extend Understanding option, after reading “The Cow of No Color” retold by Nina Jaffe and Steve Zeitlin and “Ewe Proverbs” (author not cited). During the embedded Research Skills mini lesson for “Clever Anaeet '' by Tanya Robyn Batt, the teacher models how to frame a research question and students “name three search terms to substitute for the words code and textiles”. Students then “frame three research questions that use alternative words.” These tasks are not coherently sequenced. It is unclear how these tasks provide the teacher with usable information about the student's readiness to complete the End-of-Unit Writing Speaking & Listening Workshop, during which students rewrite a previously written research report to create an outline for a research presentation. 

Indicator 2e

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

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2e. 

Each unit includes a Writing Workshop that focuses on a specific writing mode and includes numerous supports for both teachers and students, including, but not limited to: guidance during each step of the writing process, checklists, models, and rubrics. During the Writing Workshop, materials explain what students should do during each step of the writing process but rarely provide explicit instruction on the writing mode of focus. Writing Workshop tasks do not connect to the unit theme and are stand-alone in nature with some tasks requiring students to use evidence from sources. Students complete the same Writing Workshop tasks in Grades 6, 7, and 8. Materials include practice opportunities in the Writing Skills section embedded within the End-of-Unit Test Practice Workshop. During this Workshop, students practice timed writing responses and revision and editing skills. As with the Writing Workshops, Test Practice Workshop activities span various genres but are not connected to the unit text selections. The optional Writing and Grammar ancillary may be used to supplant writing instruction and includes lessons for every unit, including a Writing Scope and Sequence that outlines the In-Text Writing Workshops for the school year, the writing mode of focus, and the writing assignment. Materials also include a Writing Rubrics ancillary that contains rubrics for each writing mode. Materials lack teacher guidance on enacting ancillary and optional writing lessons and tasks. 

Materials include a year-long plan for students to achieve grade-level writing proficiency by the end of the school year; however, cohesion is lacking. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

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

    • While there is an evident structure to the writing aspect of the program, including frequent opportunities for students to write in various modes and for various purposes, supports, and tools for monitoring student writing development, the structure lacks cohesion. Materials include the following Writing Workshops— four informative, one argumentative, one descriptive, two narrative—resulting in an uneven distribution of explicit instruction on the writing modes required by the standards. Test Practice Workshops do not include explicit instruction and their mode of focus differs from that of the Writing Workshops. It is unclear how writing instruction and tasks build upon each other to promote growth in students’ skills over the course of the unit and across the year.

    • While materials offer a number of writing opportunities, explicit writing instruction is largely absent. During the End-of-Unit Writing Workshops, students spend three regular schedule days or one and a half block schedule days transitioning through the writing process as they complete a process writing task on a specific mode of focus. Writing Workshop tasks include:

      • Unit 1—Informative Writing: Responding to a Short Story

      • Unit 2—Narrative Writing: Writing a Short Story

      • Unit 3—Argumentative Writing: Argumentative Essay

      • Unit 4—Informative Writing: Cause-and-Effect Essay

      • Unit 5—Narrative Writing: Personal Narrative

      • Unit 6—Descriptive Writing: Descriptive Essay

      • Unit 7—Informative Writing: Compare-and-Contrast Essay

      • Unit 8—Informative Writing: Research Paper

  • Instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development; however, materials lack teacher guidance on the use of ancillary and optional writing supports.

    • In Unit 2, Facing Challenges, students complete a narrative Writing Workshop.  The Program Resource notes instruct teachers to refer to the Writing and Grammar ancillary for additional practice and guidance. These lessons follow the same model used in the textbook and also include some additional features: a literary model, an expanded Prewrite section, a Revision Checklist, a Grammar and Style box, a Writing Rubric, and original and revised/edited student drafts.  Teacher guidance notes the ancillary can also be used to “engage students in writing about literature,” “engage students in writing across the four modes,” and in combination with supplemental writing lessons to “create a comprehensive writing strand.” 

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, the Descriptive Writing Workshop contains a Student Model. The Teacher Wrap in the Teacher Edition supports teachers with guiding students to pay close attention to the side notes that identify the major parts of the essay, the background information and impression, the clearly organized body paragraphs, sensory details, figurative language and the ending. Guidance also supports teachers with having students review sensory details and locate them in the model. 

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, the Writing Workshop Model includes an Ask the Author Teaching Note. The Note includes teacher guidance for students’ small group work, during which students generate five questions they would like to ask the model author. Students can ask questions focusing on the content or focusing on the process used to write the report. Teachers model appropriate questions and after student groups write questions, teachers guide students to answer the questions or explore a source they could consult to find an answer.  

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.

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2f. 

While materials provide frequent opportunities for short research tasks connected to the texts students read, materials do not include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards. The embedded Research Skills insets include research skills practice opportunities but rarely include explicit instruction of research skills. Some research skills repeat across grade levels and often do not align to grade-level standards. Where appropriate, research tasks include resources to develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic. Most short research projects occur during Extend Understanding tasks. These tasks are optional and may not occur during core instruction. Students have one opportunity in each grade level to conduct a long research project—during the Unit 8 Writing Workshop. During this end-of-grade level task, materials include directions to guide students through each step of the research writing process but provide limited explicit instruction of standards-aligned research skills.

Materials do not include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following: 

  • Research projects are not sequenced across a school year to include a progression of research skills according to grade-level standards. 

    • While there are frequent opportunities for students to complete informal research tasks, materials lack explicit, standards-aligned research skills instruction. While the Teacher Edition includes embedded Research Skills insets throughout each unit, explicit instruction is lacking and the progression of skills often repeats across each grade level and, as a result, does not align to grade-level standards.  During most Research Skills sections, students practice a research skill but do not receive explicit instruction on the research skill. The progression of research skills and activities is as follows:

      • Unit 1: identify research questions, conduct keyword searches, generate questions for possible research topics

      • Unit 2: evaluate search results, evaluate sources, use reference books to research a topic, use the Internet, use reference books to research statistics

      • Unit 3: write a research report

      • Unit 4: primary and secondary sources

      • Unit 5: no evidence found

      • Unit 6: research topics

      • Unit 7: no evidence found

      • Unit 8: research report (Writing Workshop) 

    • During the one in-depth research project per grade level, students complete research tasks as outlined in the standards but receive limited explicit instruction when doing so. While the research-focused Writing Workshop provides detailed process steps to complete the task, the Workshop rarely includes explicit instruction or scaffolding during each step of the research writing process.

  • Materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic via provided resources. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read “The All-American Slurp” by Lensey Namioka. Teacher guidance in the Teacher Wrap of the Teacher Edition directs teachers to “[r]emind students that the history of Chinese immigration to the United States spans more than 150 years.” Students then reread the Social Studies Connection text about Chinese immigration. Students work in pairs or small groups to generate questions about Chinese immigration, select a single topic for further research based on their questions, ensuring the topic is neither too broad nor too narrow, and “articulate a research topic based on the questioning process.” 

    • In Unit 2, Finding a Place in the World, while reading “President Cleveland, Where Are You?” by Robert Cormier, students use the Internet to find interesting facts about U.S. presidents of the last fifty years.” Materials suggest students consult the ‘Kids’ pages of the U.S. government’s whitehouse.gov site,” as well as other reliable sources. 

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students work in small groups and “revisit the portion of [“Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima'' by Walter Dean Myers] that describes Ibrahima’s escape to the backwoods.” Students ``research the Fugitive Slave Act'' and “outline information to include in a report on this law.” 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, the teacher uses visual media from “Earth from Space,” photographs from NASA  to point out a primary source and a secondary source and discusses reasons for using both during research. Students then identify each item in a list of five items as a primary source or a secondary source.  

  • Materials provide many opportunities for students to synthesize and analyze content tied to the texts under study as a part of the research process.

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students complete a short research project following their reading of “The Circuit” by Francisco Jiménez. Students research Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Association.(UFWA). Materials direct students to use the internet and the UFWA website. Students also search for a timeline of Cesar Chavez’ life. Students summarize the information and present it to the class.

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read an excerpt from “There is No Salvation for India” by Mohandas Gandhi and “An Old Language Lives” by Rachel L. Swarns. After reading, students may complete an Extend Understanding research task in which they research the status of English-speaking in India. Students make an argument for those in India learning English by researching the population that currently speaks it, how they benefit from it, and how English supports a global language of business. This task is one of four options from which the teacher selects and may not occur during core instruction, as a result. 

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me,” a lyric poem by Maya Angelou. Afterwards, students research the author’s life, analyzing that information and using it to create a timeline or other visual display during the Lifelong Learning option in the Extend Understanding section. This task is one of four options from which the teacher selects and may not occur during core instruction, as a result. 

  • Students are provided with opportunities for both “short” and “long” projects across the course of a year and grade bands. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read about global warming in “The Forecast: A Warmer World,” a news article from Time for Kids. During the Lifelong Learning Extend Understanding assignment, students “research how global warming affects animals, and choose a specific animal and habitat.” Students write a report for a website on how “the animal and habitat are affected by climate changes.”

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read “The Walrus and the Carpenter'' by Lewis Carroll. Students ``[c]onduct research online or at the library to find out more about the text, what inspired the poem ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’?, and does its place in the novel change your interpretation of the poem?” Because the Extend Understanding section contains four activities from which the teacher may choose, this activity may not occur during core instruction.

    • In Unit 8, Imagining the Fantastic, during the End-of-Unit Writing Workshop, students write a research report on a “specific, narrowed subject.”  Students must use at least four different “credible, reliable and unbiased sources,” including primary and secondary sources.

Criterion 2g - 2h

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

4/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 do not meet the criteria for coherence. Instruction, practice, and assessments are based on teacher selection from a list of options. Questions and tasks do not consistently align to grade-level standards or meet the full intent of the standards. It is unclear if the majority of assessment items align to grade-level standards. There is no guarantee that materials repeatedly address grade-level standards within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standards. The amount of material cannot reasonably be completed within the suggested amount of time and is not viable for a school year. The volume of optional tasks distracts from core learning. Some optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction.

Indicator 2g

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

2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2g. 

Instruction, practice, and assessments are based on teacher selection from a list of options. As a result, there is no true core instructional path. The Lesson Plan for each text includes the following sections: Before Reading, During Reading, After Reading. Within each section, teachers select or choose activities from a list of core and ancillary resources. Most ancillary resources, such as Unit & Selection Resources, do not provide explicit instruction nor do they identify correlated standards for the provided content. Some questions and tasks align to grade-level standards while others do not align or do not meet the full intent of the standards. Because assessments do not identify the standards addressed, it is unclear if the majority of assessment items align to grade-level standards. Although the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists page numbers covering the standards in each strand, without a true core instructional path and because the majority of questions and tasks do not align to grade-level standards, there is no guarantee that materials repeatedly address grade-level standards within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standards.

Materials do not spend the majority of instructional time on content that falls within grade-level aligned instruction, practice, and assessments. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Over the course of each unit, some instruction is aligned to grade-level standards.

    • In the Digital Teacher Edition, the Grade 6 Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists page numbers for each standard in Reading: Literature, Reading: Informational Text, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language; however, the page numbers listed do not always contain opportunities for explicit instruction or address the correlated standard. 

      • For example, the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists pages 4–5 in the EMC Pages That Cover the Standards column for RL.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, chapter, scene, or stanza fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the theme, setting, or plot.These pages contain information that introduces students to the genre of study for Unit 1, fiction. Materials provide information on types of fiction, including types of popular fiction, and elements of fiction. While theme, setting, and plot are defined in the Elements of Fiction section, students do not receive instruction on what is required in the standard.    

  • Over the course of each unit, some questions and tasks are aligned to grade-level standards. 

    • Questions often focus on comprehension strategies, such as Make Connections, Ask Questions, Draw Conclusions, and Visualize. These comprehension strategies do not align to grade-level standards. Some Extend Understanding tasks align to grade-level standards, while others either do not align or do not meet the full requirements of the standards. Because post-reading questions and tasks do not have correlated standards identified, it is not always clear which question or task addresses the standard listed on the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document. 

      • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read the diagram, “Noise Levels” by Bob Ludlow along with the magazine article, “Hearing Under Siege” by Bob Ludlow. As part of the Use Reading Skills focus on skim and scan when reading “Noise Levels,” students “skim the title and list of sounds on the left side of the diagram. Sketch a chart like this for recording what you learn.” Students respond to the following Close Read question addressing skim and scan: “What does each horizontal bar represent?” This question and task does not address the full intent of the standard: “Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.” While reading “Hearing Under Siege,” students respond to this Make Connections prompt: “Ask students if reading the article will change their behavior or make them more cautious about the type of environment in which they work or ‘hang out.’ Why or why not?” In another Make Connections prompt, students “suggest what information they would include or omit if they were writing the article.” These questions do not align to grade-level standards. 

  • Over the course of each unit, it is unclear whether the majority of assessment questions are aligned to grade-level standards. 

    • Materials do not identify assessed standards on Selection Quizzes, Lesson Tests, Unit Exams, or Formative Surveys. As a result, it is unclear whether the majority of assessment questions are aligned to grade-level standards. 

  • By the end of the academic year, standards are not repeatedly addressed within and across units to ensure students master the full intent of the standard.

    • Because the page numbers listed on the Correlation to Common Core State Standards document for each standard in Reading: Literature, Reading: Informational Text, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language are not always the standard addressed and because the majority of questions and tasks do not align to grade-level standards, materials do not consistently provide students with multiple opportunities to address standards within and across units to ensure mastery. It is also unclear which items address the correlated standard, because standards are not identified at the question or task level.  

      • The Correlation to Common Core State Standards document lists page numbers for SL.3: Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not. On page E74, students respond to this Make Judgment question after reading “The Need for Solidarity Among Ethnic Groups” by Aung San Suu Kyi: “Compare her explanation with Edmund Burke’s quote, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’ How does this quote support the main idea of this selection?” On page 232, students respond to the following Make Judgment question after reading an excerpt from Mohandas Gandhi’s speech, “There Is No Salvation for India:” “What do you think Gandhi means when he says, ‘Our language is the reflection of ourselves”? Do you agree? Explain.” Neither of these questions address the full intent of the correlated standard.  

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.

2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for Indicator 2h. 

The Visual Planning Guide for each unit includes suggested pacing for each text, but there is no suggested timeline for the pacing of units nor for the curriculum as a whole over the course of the year. The suggested pacing for texts does not take into account the extension opportunities or end-of-unit Speaking & Listening, Writing, or Test Practice Workshops. While materials provide a large variety of optional tasks, the amount of material cannot reasonably be completed within the suggested amount of time and is not viable for a school year. Similarly, as teachers use the editable lesson plan templates in the Program Planning Guide Editable Lesson Plans resource, materials do not provide direction as to what the suggested optional tasks are, which should be used in conjunction with one another, or the pacing for the tasks. Although these resources are provided, the curriculum lacks clear directives to explain how to incorporate core instruction, found in the Teacher’s Edition, and ancillary resources. Furthermore, the curriculum fails to provide teacher guidance on when and how to incorporate reteaching and remediation within the provided pacing suggestions. The Program Planning Guide includes the Mirrors & Windows College & Career Readiness Curriculum Guide Level I (Grade 6), an alternative implementation schedule that focuses on selections and workshops necessary for students to “master critical skills that appear on state and national assessments.” 

Materials do not 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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Suggested implementation schedules and alternative implementation schedules do not consistently align to core learning and objectives. 

    • In Unit 1, Finding a Place in the World, students read the short story “The All-American Slurp” by Lensey Namioka. The Scope and Sequence Guide outlines the lesson components, including the Reading Skill: drawing conclusions/key ideas, the Literary Element: theme, and the Mirrors & Windows theme: adaptation. The text overview page sets a purpose for reading that focuses on voice, defines the terms theme, stated theme, and implied theme, and provides a sample chart to record key ideas and supporting points from the story. Objectives include, but are not limited to, “use reading skills such as analyzing cause and effect” and “appreciate a story about adapting to a new culture.” Before reading, students respond to a prompt addressing the Mirrors & Windows theme. During reading, students respond to one prompt addressing the importance of details, one analyzing cause and effect, one on theme, and two on drawing conclusions. After reading, students respond to the Mirrors & Windows question addressing adaptation, six Text-Dependent Questions, and an Analyze Literature prompt addressing theme and drawing conclusions. Students may also complete Extend Understanding tasks. Each of the four Extend Understanding options aligns to core learning and objectives for the text. 

    • In Unit 4, Testing Limits, students read the anchor text, “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies” by Dennis Brindell Fradin. The Scope and Sequence Guide outlines the lesson components, including the Reading Skill: take notes, the Literary Element: informational text, and the Mirrors & Windows theme: explanations. The text overview page sets a purpose for reading that focuses on skimming the article for proper nouns and making predictions about one or two things students might learn from the article and provides a sample chart to take notes on details. Objectives include, but are not limited to, “use Reading Skills such as taking notes,” “define informational text and recognize this literary technique in the selection,” and “explain how understanding the ancient skies tested the limits of human knowledge.” The lesson plan is separated into Before Reading (Preview and Motivate), During Reading (Teach the Selection and Differentiate Instruction), and After Reading (Review and Extend and Assess) sections. Before reading, students read through the text overview page and respond to a Mirrors & Windows discussion prompt. During reading, students respond to four Use Reading Skills questions on taking notes and two Analyze Literature questions on informational text. After reading, students respond to a Text to Text Connection prompt in which students reflect on how “scientists build on each other’s work” and “appreciate the early history of beliefs about our solar system. Students also respond to an Analyze Literature: Informational Text prompt in which they analyze the article using a K-W-L chart. While most of the Extend Understanding task options connect to the text, the Creative Writing and Critical Literacy: Explore Space options do not address the core learning objectives.   

  • Suggested implementation schedules cannot be reasonably completed in the time allotted.

    • The Program Planning Guide notes the overabundance of material: “To help you meet the diverse needs of your students, the Mirrors & Windows program offers a wealth of material—much more than you can teach in one school year. As a result, one challenge you will face is identifying the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” 

    • As an alternative to the Scope and Sequence Guide provided in each unit, materials include the Mirrors & Windows College & Career Readiness Curriculum Guide Level I (Grade 6): “The selections and workshops listed here represent the core course of study students need to master critical skills that appear on state and national assessments. To ensure standards coverage, students who are having difficulty may concentrate on only these selections and workshops. Students on and above grade level may read more selections.” When utilizing this abridged course of study, the teacher must still select which instructional activities to enact during each Program Planning Guide lesson plan.

    • The Program Planning Guide contains lesson plans for each text selection and the three End-of-Unit Workshops. Text selection lesson plans include the following sections: Before Reading, During Reading, and After Reading. In the Before Reading: Preview and Motivate section, teachers “[c]hoose from the following materials to preview the selection and motivate your students.” The During Reading section contains two sub-sections, Teach the Selection(s) and Differentiate Instruction. Teachers choose from a list of resources to teach the selection and consider “alternative teaching options to differentiate instruction.” The After Reading section contains two to three subsections: Review and Extend, Teach the Workshop(s), and Assess. Teachers select activities from a list of options and resources to extend learning and teach the Workshop included, where applicable. Teachers do not select from a list of options during the Assess subsection. The lesson plan does not provide guidance on how many minutes each option should take or how long the lesson should last. Pacing guidance is limited to the number of regular schedule or block schedule days the lesson should take.

  • Optional tasks distract from core learning. 

    • In Unit 3, Defining Freedom, students read “Why?,” a personal essay by Anne Frank. During the Creative Writing Extend Understanding option, students “[c]reate your own diary entry in which you ask a ‘why’ question about the world. Explore all the possible solutions to your question.” This task does not align to the Analyze Literature focus, personal essay, nor does it align to the Reading Skills focus, using context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words.    

    • In Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, students read a text set comprised of “Arachne” by Olivia Coolidge and “The Orb Weaver” by Robert Francis. The lesson plan for this text includes seven additional After Reading task options, ranging from Selection Quizzes to group discussion questions to vocabulary and spelling practice exercises. The optional tasks focus on a multitude of items, such as Greek and Latin roots, exploring word origins, creative writing, and further exploration of myths. Due to limited teacher guidance on selecting activities, the volume of optional tasks distracts from core learning.

  • Some optional tasks are meaningful and enhance core instruction.

    • In Unit 5, Expressing Yourself, students read the narrative poem “Steps” by Naomi Shihab Nye. The teacher may utilize the Unit & Selection Resources ancillary to enhance core instruction. This resource includes four activities that the teacher may use to provide students with support before, during, and after reading. Activities include a worksheet that includes prompts to support students with analyzing text organization, a graphic organizer to support students with analyzing imagery, a quick writes worksheet containing prompts to which students respond as they make connections to the text, and a Selection Quiz. The first half of the Selection Quiz contains five true/false questions and the second half of the quiz contains five matching items during which students “[w]rite the letter of the word that best completes the sentence.” These task options do not align to grade-level standards, or the Reading Skills or Analyze Literature foci for the text. 

    • In Unit 6, Encountering Nature, students read “Spring is like a perhaps hand” by E. E. Cummings. After reading, optional Extend Understanding tasks include a critical analysis of the poem which must include textual evidence, a Creative Writing piece focusing on the same theme of the poem, a biographical sketch of Cummings, and an Ask the Author activity where students work with a group to develop questions to ask Cummings about his style. While the four Extend Understanding task options connect to the text and most of the tasks align to grade-level standards, the Ask the Author activity does not.

    •  In Unit 7, Discovering Other Worlds, students read the play “Do You Think I’m Crabby” by Clark Gesner. Students may complete two extension activities: a Collaborative Learning option, where they discuss Glesner’s use of humor in the play, or a Media Literacy option where they compare the characterization of the comic strip characters to those of the characters in the play. These tasks align to grade-level standards and serve to enhance student learning.

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

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.

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.

N/A

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.

N/A

Indicator 3c

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

N/A

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.

N/A

Indicator 3e

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

N/A

Indicator 3f

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

N/A

Indicator 3g

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Indicator 3h

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

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.

Indicator 3i

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

N/A

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.

N/A

Indicator 3k

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

N/A

Indicator 3l

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

N/A

Criterion 3m - 3v

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

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.

N/A

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.

N/A

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.

N/A

Indicator 3p

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

N/A

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.

N/A

Indicator 3r

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

N/A

Indicator 3s

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

N/A

Indicator 3t

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

N/A

Indicator 3u

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Indicator 3v

This is not an assessed indicator in ELA.

N/A

Criterion 3w - 3z

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

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.

N/A

Indicator 3x

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

N/A

Indicator 3y

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

N/A

Indicator 3z

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

N/A
abc123

Report Published Date: 2021/08/26

Report Edition: 2020

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Mirrors & Windows 2020 - Student Edition Grade 6 978‑1‑5338‑3663‑2 EMC School, Part of Carnegie Learning 2020
Mirrors & Windows 2020 - Teacher's Edition Grade 6 978‑1‑5338‑3670‑0 EMC School, Part of Carnegie Learning 2020

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