Alignment: Overall Summary

StudySync Grade 12 materials meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core ELA standards. The materials include 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.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

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

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
23
30
34
31
30-34
Meets Expectations
24-29
Partially Meets Expectations
0-23
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the Standards. Anchor texts are of high-quality and reflect the text type distribution required by the Standards. Quantitative, qualitative, and associated reader and task measures make the majority of texts appropriate for use in the grade level; however, the variety in text complexity is not coherently structured. Students engage in a range and volume of reading and have several mechanisms for monitoring their progress. Questions and tasks are text-specific or text-dependent and build to smaller and larger culminating tasks. Speaking and listening opportunities consistently occur over the course of a school year. The materials provide opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based discussions about what they are reading and include prompts and protocols for teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Students have opportunities to engage in on-demand and process writing that reflects the distribution required by the Standards. As students analyze and develop claims about the texts and sources they read, writing tasks require students to use textual evidence to support their claims and analyses. Grammar and usage standards are explicitly taught with opportunities for students to practice learned content and apply newly gained knowledge in their writing.

Criterion 1a - 1f

Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
14/16
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for text quality and text complexity. The majority of the anchor texts are of high quality; at times, some of the lengthier core texts, such as memoirs, novels, and plays, are excerpts. Most texts that either fall below the text complexity band or do not have quantitative measures are appropriate for use in the grade due to qualitative and associated reader and task measures. Texts above the grade band are supported through Skill lessons. Although there is a marked increase in text complexity, text complexity varies without a coherent structure and does not support students’ grade-level reading independence. Students engage in a range and volume of reading and have opportunities to monitor their progress toward grade-level reading independence.

Indicator 1a

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

The StudySync materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading.

StudySync materials provide opportunities to read across genres and levels of complexity, cover a range of diverse topics and student interests, and are age-appropriate for the grade level. Additionally, the textual enhancements often provide historical context and background information on the author and the text itself. With the exception of short stories, poems, letters, and essays, StudySync materials sometimes rely on the use of text excerpts. The StudySync Library includes the following note about text excerpts: “Please note that excerpts in the StudySync® library are intended as touchstones to generate interest in an author's work. StudySync® believes that such passages do not substitute for the reading of entire texts and strongly recommends that students seek out and purchase the whole literary or informational work.”

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, “Commencement Address at Wellesley College,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “the text examines how one’s identity can transform the future.” The text is relevant, and students can connect with the message as seniors preparing for graduation. The content is age-appropriate. Students can gain more information about challenging concepts and vocabulary by hovering over certain words or phrases, such as kola nut.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read “The Postmaster,” by Rabindranath Tagore. This short story, written as a parable, shares the friendship between an unhappy, selfish adult man and a young orphan who cares for him. The story references geographical locations in India, which will provide students the opportunity to gain knowledge about this time in history. Students will analyze story elements such as characterization, conflict, and the theme of loneliness and love.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, the author Fredrick Douglass stresses that self-made individuals do not inherit their position by birth, but instead achieve success through their efforts in an excerpt taken from his text, “Self-Made Men.” The topic is engaging for students and includes rich language and challenging vocabulary. Students can connect the topic to their own lives.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read “Freedom,” by Ursula K. Le Guin. In this acceptance speech of the 2014 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters Award, Le Guin challenges readers and writers to consider the cost of marketing and finances versus the importance of creativity. Students will need to evaluate the importance of making money in regards to artistic freedom.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Eliot, is classic poetry which is appropriate for the grade level. The video includes imagery connecting to the content before students read independently. Where appropriate, additional information is available to students by hovering over a word or phrase, such as Michelangelo. Written in a unique tone and stream-of-consciousness style, the poem will challenge readers. Some of the diction will require students to use context clues to determine meaning. Students analyze style to make inferences about the poem’s speaker.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, the “Commencement Address at the New School,” by Zadie Smith, may stretch the thinking of the reader and allow students to reflect on how they might make positive changes in the world. Throughout the speech, the rich language adds to its complexity.

Indicator 1b

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

StudySync materials include a sufficient balance of literary and informational texts with many opportunities for students to read across genres throughout the academic year. Each of the six thematic units includes text sets and juxtaposes diverse texts to explore a common theme. Examples of text types and genres in Grade 12 include, but are not limited to essay, letter, poetry, speech, and an excerpt from a gothic novel.

Examples of literature found within the instructional materials include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (novella)
  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, “We Choose to Go to the Moon” by John F. Kennedy (speech)
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, Excerpt from Richard III by William Shakespeare (play)
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, “Truth Serum” by Naomi Shihab Nye (poem)
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, “Self-Made Men” by Frederick Douglass (speech)
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, Gulliver’s Travels (Part I) by Jonathan Swift (satire)
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, “Facing It” by Yusef Komunyakaa (poem)
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, Excerpt from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (gothic novel)
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, “The Great Figure” by William Carlos Williams (poem)
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot (poem)
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, “Love After Love” by Derek Walcott (poem)
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, “The Museum” by Leila Aboulela (short story)

Examples of informational text found within the instructional materials include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, Excerpt from “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott (book).
  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, “Are the New ‘Golden Age’ TV Shows the New Novels?” By Adam Kirsch and Mohsin Hamid (podcast)
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, Excerpt from Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward (memoir)
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, “The Federalist Papers: No. 10” by James Madison (historical document)
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, United States v. The Amistad by U.S. Supreme Court (historical document)
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, “Freedom” by Ursula K. Le Guin (speech)
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, “Jabberwocky Baby” by Wanda Coleman (essay)
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf (essay)
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, “The Idler” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson (poem)
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, “Commencement Address at the New School” by Zadie Smith (speech)
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, Excerpt from A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid (book)

Indicator 1c

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis.

StudySync materials provide texts that are at the appropriate level of complexity for Grade 12. Texts that fall below the Lexile range are made more complex by their qualitative features and classroom activities that encourage students to delve deeper into the theme, author’s purpose, word choice, and more. Texts that are above the Lexile range are often paired with more accessible texts to aid in overall understanding and have appropriate supports in place to help students grasp the author's purpose and demonstrate comprehension. However, some of the quantitative information indicated, in the StudySync materials, is often different from other sources, such as The Lexile Framework for Reading website. In some cases the materials provide Lexile levels for the excerpt, rather than the Lexile levels of the published texts.

The English Language Arts (ELA) Grade Level Overview for Grade 12 provides additional information relating to qualitative features for each text, and guidance is available for teachers to assist students in accessing more complex text around a common topic.

Examples of texts with appropriate text complexity include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, “We Choose to Go to the Moon” by John F. Kennedy
    • Quantitative: 1470L
    • Qualitative: Many of Kennedy’s sentences are quite long; Paragraph 17 is a single sentence with over 150 words. The sentences are not always complex but do include rhetorical devices such as parallelism and figurative language. Students will need to make frequent inferences based on Kennedy’s use of imagery.
    • Reader and Task: Students examine the reasons President Kennedy lists for wanting to cultivate the space program and send Americans to the Moon by the end of the 1960s: “Based on his speech, what do you think motivates him? Do you find his use of rhetoric persuasive?” Students use evidence from the text to support their answer.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, “A Letter to NFL GMs” by Shaquem Griffin
    • Quantitative: 970L
    • Qualitative: An open letter is a letter written for a specific person or group of people, but the letter is also published for anyone else to read. Shaquem Griffin’s open letter is addressed to General Managers of the National Football League. He wants this specific group to read his letter, but he also wants to share his story with people in general. Readers will need to link the purpose of this letter to the stories that are contained within it.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a response in which they answer these questions. “Why do you think Shaquem Griffin chose to write an open letter to general managers in the NFL? What is Griffin’s point of view in the letter, and how does he use his personal experiences to defend it? What do you think he hoped to accomplish by publishing this letter online?” Students use textual evidence to support their responses.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, After Being Convicted of Voting in the 1872 Presidential Election by Susan B. Anthony
    • Quantitative: 1200L
    • Qualitative: Technical language related to law, such as indictment for the alleged crime and powers derived from the consent of the governed, may challenge readers. Lengthy sentences with multiple phrases and clauses may also pose a challenge.
    • Reader and Task: Students write an argumentative (or persuasive) speech in which they convince the audience that Susan B. Anthony’s argument strengthens with each paragraph of her speech. Students must quote passages from the text to support their claims and provide a concluding statement that follows from and supports the argument.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
    • Quantitative: Excerpt 1610L, Full Text 790L
    • Qualitative: This text uses archaic and unfamiliar words that may prove to challenge students. The text makes references to several people, places, and events that may be unfamiliar to contemporary American readers.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a response in which they describe the dualities and contrasts presented in Chapter 1. Students support their response with textual evidence.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, “Shooting an Elephant” by George Orwell
    • Quantitative: 1070L
    • Qualitative: Contemporary American readers may find it hard at times to discern Orwell’s meaning; he is writing for early 20th century British readers familiar with topics, such as imperialism and words like sub-inspector, orderly, and sahib. The term imperialism describes a system in which a country establishes colonies to increase its wealth and power. Imperial Britain colonized several countries, including India, Nigeria, Jamaica, and Burma.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a short essay, responding to this question: “What do you think is the point of view Orwell is expressing in his essay ‘Shooting an Elephant?’ Analyze the literary elements and figurative language in the text to determine the author’s point of view.” Students use textual evidence to support their response.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, “Ghosts” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • Quantitative: 940L
    • Qualitative: The narrator’s motivations and actions are implied and not explicit. The story takes place after the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Biafran War (1967–1970). Students may be unfamiliar with the historical and cultural context of the setting.
    • Reader and Task: Students discuss: “‘Ghosts’ has two main characters: the narrator, James Nwoye, and his acquaintance Ikenna Okoru.” Students consider these questions: “How are the men different in personality and experiences? How are they similar? What do the men’s stories, taken together, tell you about the Biafran war and its inevitable effects on Nigeria?” Students support their ideas with textual evidence.

Indicator 1d

Materials support students' literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially meet the criteria for materials support students’ literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).

While students engage in a range of text types and complexity levels across the year, the materials do not demonstrate an intentional increase in text complexity to work toward independence across the year. Within each unit, there is a quantitative and qualitative variety of text complexity with levels ranging from 620L–1760L; however, the breakdown of quantitative measures shows that out of the 73 texts for the year, 19 fall within the recommended grade band; nine texts are above; 15 texts are below; and 30 texts do not have quantitative measures. Regardless of quantitative or qualitative complexity, students independently read and annotate the majority of the texts in each unit, as well as independently answer short writing prompts after reading. Across the year, students engage with texts above and below the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band more than texts within the grade band. For example, Units 1 and 2 mostly contain texts below the text complexity grade band or texts without Lexile levels. Unit 3 contains the most texts above the grade band; this unit also includes the text with the highest Lexile level. Units 4 and 5 feature the most texts within the grade band as well as the most texts without quantitative measures. By Unit 6, students engage with a balance of texts within the grade band and below it. While most or all of Grade 12 texts are deemed appropriate for the grade level, the timing and sequencing of texts and aligned skills lessons do not support growth in students’ ability to independently engage with increasingly complex texts across the year.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, the genre focus is informational as students answer the Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” There is no literary focus in this unit. At the end of the unit, students write an informative personal essay on an experience. Unit texts range from 970L–1470L, with four texts within the recommended grade band, four below, one above, and one text without a Lexile level. The unit contains one novel excerpt, and the rest are informational texts (including articles, a speech, personal essays, investigative report, court case, and research essay). The unit also includes two series of three Blast lessons based on podcasts to prepare students for life after high school. Skill lessons accompany four unit texts and include informational text structure; central or main idea; compare and contrast; story structure; textual evidence; connotation and denotation; author’s purpose and point of view; rhetoric; arguments and claims; reasons and evidence; and technical language. Unit 1 contains three text sets, all of which focus on the informational genre. The first set pairs a text within the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band (1220L) with one below it (1130L) plus Skill lessons for support. The second paired text set includes a text within the grade band (1320L) and one above it (1470L). The last text set features two texts well below the grade band (970L and 1150L) and a court case (N/A). Although students read all texts in the unit independently, four of the ten texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, the genre focus is fiction and literary focus is the Medieval Period and English Renaissance. Students explore the Essential Question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?” At the end of the unit, students write a personal or fictional narrative about conflict. The four texts, with quantitative measures, range from 970L to 1470L, but the majority of texts are poems and excerpts from a play and graphic novel without Lexile levels. Texts with quantitative measures include a short story (1000L), an open letter (970L), and excerpts from a book (1470L) and memoir (1260L). Skill lessons accompany five texts and include media; word patterns and relationships; point of view; connotation and denotation; central or main idea; informational text structure; dramatic elements; language, style, and audience; theme; story elements; and summarizing. The literary focus is addressed through one Skill lesson and is supported by pairing traditional British literature with modern versions or critiques during three text sets. All three text sets contain texts without Lexile levels. Students engage with Skill lessons and close reading for the texts that are above the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band. At the end of the unit, students independently read the remainder of the texts that have quantitative measures. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, four of the 12 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, the genre focus is fiction and literary focus is the Enlightenment. Students explore the Essential Question, “How do leaders fight for their idealism?” At the end of the unit, students write a literary analysis of the power of language in selected unit texts. Texts range from 960L–1760L; the unit also includes two poems without Lexile levels. This unit contains the most texts above the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band and also has the highest Lexile level text (1760L) for the year. While the genre focus is fiction and is addressed in two poems and a narrative, the majority of texts are informational: speeches, historical documents, an argument, and excerpts from a satire, personal account, and court case. Skill lessons accompany five texts, two of which are above the text complexity grade band; however, students independently read the texts with the highest Lexile levels in the unit (1510L and 1760L). Skill lessons include point of view; media; word meaning; compare and contrast; theme; primary and secondary sources; reasons and evidence; arguments and claims; language, style, and audience; informational text structure; and technical language. The literary focus is addressed through one Skill Lesson that spans across four texts. Students do not revisit the topic again. Unit 3 contains three text sets, one literary and two informational. The majority of texts, above the grade band, are in the text sets. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, four of the 12 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, the genre focus is poetry and literary focus is Romanticism and Victorianism, as students seek to answer the Essential Question, “What is the power of story?” At the end of the unit, students write an informative research paper on helping nature. Texts range from 1140L–1610L. The unit also includes eight poems without Lexile levels. While the genre focus texts are poetry, the unit also contains essays, speeches, and a novel excerpt. The majority of texts, with quantitative measures, fall within the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band; one text is above the grade band and one text is below it. Skill lessons accompany four texts without quantitative measures and one text that falls below the text complexity band (1140L). These lessons include media; poetic elements and structure; figurative language; context clues; language, style, and audience; summarizing; and author’s purpose and point of view. The literary focus is addressed through a Skill lesson, and students do not revisit the topic again. Unit 4 contains three text sets: one on poetry, one mixed genre set, and one informational. The text sets feature texts within the text complexity band or texts without quantitative measures. Students independently read the text that is above the grade band (1610L). Although students read all texts in the unit independently, five of the 13 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, the genre focus is argumentative and literary focus is Modernism, as students seek to answer the Essential Question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” At the end of the unit, students write a literary analysis of alienation as a Modernist theme in unit texts. Texts range from 620L–1390L. The unit also contains six poems and one play excerpt without Lexile levels. While the genre focus is argumentative, four of the 13 texts in the unit are informational: two essays, a speech, and memoir excerpt. The remaining texts are poems and short stories. Skill lessons mostly accompany texts without quantitative measures or texts below the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band, including the text with the lowest Lexile (620L). These lessons include language, style, and audience; poetic elements and structure; compare and contrast; word patterns and relationships; summarizing; dramatic elements and structure; media; informational text structure; central or main idea; word meaning; author’s purpose and point of view; connotation and denotation; and figurative language. The literary focus is addressed during the last text (1070L) and Skill lesson in the unit as students reflect on other texts in the unit. Unit 5 contains three text sets, two literary and one informational. Text sets largely contain texts without quantitative measures or texts below the grade band. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, five of the 13 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, the genre focus is fiction and literary focus is Postmodernism and Postcolonialism. Texts support students with answering the Essential Question, “How are we shaped by change?” At the end of the unit, students write a personal address on topics for future high school students. Texts range from 720L–1360L. The unit also contains three poems and a graphic novel excerpt without Lexile levels. The unit features one text above the Grades 11–CCR Lexile Band (1360L), four texts within it, and four texts well below it. Texts below the grade band range from 720L–990L. While the genre focus texts are short stories and poems, the unit also contains speeches, an argument, article, and two book excerpts. Skill lessons accompany six texts of which the majority do not have quantitative measures or are below grade level. Skill lessons include story structure; context clues; theme; story elements; author’s purpose and message; rhetoric; textual evidence; informational text elements; media; language, style, and audience; and summarizing. The literary focus is addressed through one Skill lesson that connects multiple unit texts. Students do not revisit the topic again. Unit 6 contains three text sets: one literary set, one mixed-genre, and one informational set that features most of the unit texts that fall within the grade band. Students finish the year with a commencement address; this text falls below the grade band at 970L. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, five of the 13 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.

Indicator 1e

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.

For each grade level, StudySync materials include an ELA Grade Level Overview, which begin with an Introduction addressing text types, theme, and the unit’s Essential and supporting questions. The ELA Grade Level Overview addresses text complexity by explaining the qualitative and quantitative features, as well as the reader and task measure for each text. Additionally, the Grade Level Overview explains the rationale for the purpose and placement of each text. Student materials include a rationale for the use of each text in its introduction, and accompanying tasks deepen students’ understanding of the texts’ connections to unit themes and guiding questions.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students explore the unit’s Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” by reading a variety of informational texts, a select few poems, and works of fiction. A personal essay, “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and On Life,” by Anne Lamott is paired with President John F. Kennedy’s speech, “We Choose to Go to the Moon.” The two texts prompt a discussion on the nature of goals and ambitions and the need for self-determination to achieve dreams. Thematically, they fit well within the unit and provide ample opportunity for students to personally reflect on the unit’s guiding question. While the essay is within the Grade 11–CCR Lexile Range, the speech is above the Lexile Range. Qualitative features like figurative language and rhetorical devices increase the complexities of both texts. The Grade Level Overview provides support for teachers in aiding student understanding of the authors’ word choice and rich language. It states, “Explain that the sentences are not always complex, but that they are filled with rhetorical devices such as parallelism and figurative language.”
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students explore the literary focus on the medieval period and English renaissance literature as well as the unit’s Essential Question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?”, while continuing to push their text analysis and critical thinking abilities. Although the genre focus of this unit is fiction, students also have the opportunity to read poems, Shakespearean drama, a graphic novel, and informational texts. The selections in this unit fall in a Lexile band of 970L–1470L with most texts residing in the 1000L–1200L range, which is below the Grade 11–CCR Lexile Range. Unit 2 invites students to question what is revealed about one’s own identity when facing challenges. One of the first texts in the unit, an excerpt from Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, occasionally presents students with archaic and challenging language. Despite falling below the Grade 11–CCR Lexile Range, the text’s qualitative difficulty is offset by its pairing alongside Gareth Hinds’ graphic novel adaptation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, which provides a compelling visual access point. To analyze literature across literary periods and genres, the materials group the poem, “Truth Serum,” by Naomi Shihab Nye with a soliloquy from Shakespeare’s Richard III and “The Pardoner’s Prologue” from Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. Even though all three texts do not have a listed Lexile level, they feature a speaker whose relationship to the truth is a source of power.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students consider the topic of leadership as they grapple with the Essential Question, “How do leaders fight for their ideas?” Students read a variety of fiction, argumentative texts, and informational texts. By delving into the pairing of “Liberty Tree,” by Thomas Payne and “To His Excellency, General Washington,” by Phillis Wheatley, students “utilize literary techniques to relate complex themes about leadership, revolution, independence, and freedom.” Complex structures and word choice increase the difficulty of these two poems. The Grade Level Overview guides teachers, encouraging them to “allow students to hear [Liberty Tree] being sung” and explaining that “students should use context clues and a dictionary to help define any unfamiliar words.”
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, the literary focus is Romanticism and Victorianism, and the genre focus is poetry. Selections help students answer the Essential Question, “What is the power of story?” In this unit, two texts that introduce Victorian Literature and address the power of story in a social and political context are paired. The first text in the pairing, the poem, “The Cry of the Children,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, protests child labor during the Industrial Revolution. This text provides qualitative challenges for students as they will need to understand archaic vocabulary from the 1840s and build background knowledge of child labor during this time period. The other selection, an excerpt from the novel Tale of Two Cities written by Charles Dickens, addresses the injustice for the poor. The text is above the grade level band at 1610L and its qualitative features, such as archaic and unfamiliar words, further raise the overall complexity by challenging students to look for synonyms, antonyms, and other context clues to infer word meaning.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students explore Modernism and the Essential Question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” The unit consists of poetry, short stories, and nonfiction texts which delve into themes of alienation. “Shooting an Elephant,” the short story by George Orwell, fits the quantitative complexity band for Grade 12 and its qualitative features, such as historical context and difficult vocabulary make it a more challenging read. “Orwell uses a specific event to address the complexities, violence, and human costs of imperialism and oppression.” The Grade Level Overview guides teachers in aiding students’ comprehension. “Students will unpack Orwell’s perspective while engaging in skill lessons on Author’s Purpose and Point of View, Connotation and Denotation, and Figurative Language.” This final text of the unit engages students in the Essential Question by encouraging them to “discuss Orwell’s technique of showing alienation through a character’s discomfort in a foreign land” (in their Extended Writing Projects).
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, the literary focus on Postmodernism and Postcolonialism, with a genre focus on fiction, helps students answer the Essential Question, “How are we shaped by change?” One selection, the poem, “Love After Love,” written by Derek Walcott, challenges readers to consider how love relationships change and shape us. The figurative language and imagery add to the text’s qualitative complexity and will challenge readers to reread and close read the text. A graphic organizer is provided for students to organize elements of form, sound, and graphics in order to comprehend the text better.

Indicator 1f

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

StudySync materials provide students with the opportunity to read a variety of texts, including literary and non-fiction selections that cover a variety of topics and range in complexity. Students experience accessible texts that are challenging qualitatively in their language and style, as well as quantitatively complex text that stretch from 1000L–1760L. The grade-level materials include both literary and nonfiction texts covering a variety of topics and range of complexities. Independent reading includes classic and contemporary texts, and teachers can select Proficiency Levels for English Learners, including “Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High,” as well as “Approaching” for “Below Level” readers. Teachers can adjust the levels as students demonstrate proficiency and assist students by scaffolding up throughout the year to reach grade-level proficiency.

Instructional materials clearly identify opportunities and supports for students to engage in reading a variety and volume of texts to become independent readers at the grade level. The materials also include a mechanism for teachers and/or students to monitor progress toward grade-level independence. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students read a variety of literature and nonfiction texts that help them explore the unit’s Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” The unit begins with a SyncStart lesson and the argumentative text “Are the New ‘Golden Age’ TV Shows the New Novels?” by Adam Kirsch and Mohsin Hamid. Multiple Skill lessons on annotation, context clues, reading comprehension, text-dependent responses, and collaborative conversations accompany the text to offset its complexity and set a foundation for the school year. A set of two more informational articles—“Community Colleges vs. Technical Schools,” by Ursula McPike and “Overcoming Impostor Syndrome,” by Dena Simmons—allow students to compare and contrast text structures and the author's purpose. An excerpt from Franz Kafka’s complex novel The Metamorphosis and the speech “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” by John F. Kennedy will challenge students; both include a number of skills lessons that provide support. Throughout the unit, students complete several Blasts connected to the “What’s Next” podcast series, which gives students access to different types of texts that are thematically linked. Plessy v. Ferguson is the most challenging text in the unit but provides students an opportunity to examine reasons and evidence, rhetoric, and technical language as they complete a close read. Throughout the unit, students independently engage in the readings, within small groups, or during the whole group read aloud. Short quizzes, written responses, the Extended Writing Project, and the end-of-the-unit assessment allow teachers to monitor progress toward grade-level independence.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read both literary and nonfiction texts, such as poetry, informational texts, drama, argumentative texts, and informational texts. Students think about the theme and Essential Question as they focus on the medieval period and English renaissance literature, analyzing excerpts from Beowulf, by Gareth Hinds and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by Anonymous (translated by Simon Armitage), among others. Independent reading includes diverse selections, such as reading the graphic novel Beowulf, by Gareth Hinds and the poem “Truth Serum,” by Naomi Shihab Nye. They will also study the genre of fiction while reading the short story “The Postmaster,” by Rabindranath Tagore and dramas such as Richard III and Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Nonfiction texts, such as “A Letter to NFL GMs” by Shaquem Griffin and “Men We Reaped” by Jesmyn Ward, encourage students to think about how real-life individuals deal with challenges and discover their true selves in the process. Teachers can monitor students’ progress through frequent assessments of literacy skills using measures, such as the Reading Quiz after “Truth Serum,” which includes the following question: “Which of these inferences is best supported by the passage below (lines 1-6)?”
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read a variety of literature and nonfiction texts that help them explore the unit’s Essential Question, “How do leaders fight for their ideas?” The unit begins with an excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels. A Skill lesson on the point of view and a close read support students in understanding the author’s perspective, tone, and word choice. The unit’s two poems— “Liberty Tree” by Thomas Payne and “To His Excellency, General Washington” by Phillis Wheatley—are paired together. The pairing helps students to compare and contrast poetic structure as well as complex themes about leadership, revolution, independence, and freedom. A number of informational texts are read independently, including the “Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” the speech “After Being Convicted Of Voting In The 1872 Presidential Election” by Susan B. Anthony, “Hawaii’s Story, by Hawaii’s Queen,” Frederick Douglass’s “Self-Made Men,” and Nelson Mandela’s “I Am Prepared to Die.” These texts connect to the unit’s Essential Question and allow students to analyze argument, claims and evidence, and rhetoric. Students complete a Skill: Informational Text Structure lesson while analyzing “Leadership During a Crisis” by Point/Counterpoint, a set of point and counterpoint essays. Finally, students independently read the unit’s short story, “A Warrior’s Daughter.” Throughout the unit, students engage in the readings independently, within small groups, or during the whole group read aloud. Short quizzes, written responses, the Extended Writing Project, and the end-of-the-unit assessment allow teachers to monitor progress toward grade level independence.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read both literary and nonfiction texts, such as poetry, excerpts from novels, and informational texts. Students have opportunities to read both classic and contemporary texts. Students think about the theme and Essential Question as they focus on Romanticism and Victorianism. Students explore examples of Romantic literature, including the poems “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” by John Keats, and “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” by William Wordsworth, They will also review Victorian literature through the poem, “The Cry of the Children,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning as well as excerpts from the seminal classics A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens and Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. Students study the genre of poetry while reading poems from other literary periods, including “Facing It,” by Yusef Komunyakaa, “Stung,” by Heid E. Erdrich, “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” by Ross Gay, and “Dear Mama,” by Wanda Coleman. The nonfiction texts “Jabberwocky Baby,” by Wanda Coleman, “Freedom,” by Ursula K. Le Guin, and “Why I Write,” by Joan Didion encourage students to think about the power of storytelling in other areas of life. Teachers can monitor students’ progress through frequent assessments of literacy skills using measures, such as the Reading Quiz after A Tale of Two Cities, which includes questions such as: “Which of these statements would the narrator most likely agree with?”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read a variety of literature and nonfiction texts that help them explore the unit’s Essential Question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” The unit focuses on Modernism and argumentative texts but begins with students reading two poems. “The Great Figure,” by William Carlos Williams and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot allows students to delve into Modernism while comparing and contrasting poetic structures and elements. Next, students will read the poems “Miss Rosie” by Lucille Clifton and “The Idler” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson alongside the short story, “A Cup of Tea,” by Katherine Mansfield. These texts allow students to compare Modernist themes and stylistic elements within and across genres. Students independently read an argumentative excerpt from A Room of One’s Own and the short story, “The New Dress,” both by Virginia Woolf and the contemporary poem, “Hurricane Season,” by Fareena Arefeen. Students complete Skill lessons on informational text structure, central or main idea, and word meaning to support their understanding of Winston Churchill’s complex speech, “Be Ye Men of Valour.” An excerpt from Killers Of The Dream, by Lillian Smith and “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell round out the unit. Students analyze the different perspectives of the two texts before writing an analysis of literary elements, figurative language, and the author’s point of view in the latter. Throughout the unit, students engage in the readings independently, within small groups, or during the whole group read aloud. Short quizzes, written responses, the Extended Writing Project, and the end-of-the-unit assessment allow teachers to monitor progress toward grade-level independence.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students read both literary and nonfiction texts, such as poetry, argumentative texts, informational texts, and short stories. Students think about the theme and Essential Question as they focus on the literary periods of postmodern and postcolonial literature, analyzing excerpts from postmodern texts, such as “The Mysterious Anxiety of Us and Them,” by Ben Okri and postcolonial works such as “A Small Place,” by Jamaica Kincaid and “Ghosts,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Students also study the genre of fiction by reading the graphic short story, “ARK,” by Ehud Lavski and Yael Nathan as well as the short stories, “The Museum,” by Leila Aboulela and “A Temporary Matter,” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Students will consider how our world is changing today through the argumentative texts Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, “News Literacy in the Misinformation Age” by The News Literacy Project in partnership with StudySync, and “Honesty on Social Media,” by Point/Counterpoint. The speeches “Tryst with Destiny,” by Jawaharlal Nehru and Zadie Smith’s “Commencement Address at the New School” and the poems, “Love After Love,” by Derek Walcott and “Dawn Revisited,” by Rita Dove encourage students to think about the lasting effects of change as they read across genres. Teachers can monitor students’ progress through frequent assessments of literacy skills using measures, such as the Reading Quiz after students read the excerpt from Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald which includes the following question: “According to the authors, what strategy do survey researchers use to find impression managers?”

Criterion 1g - 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. The majority of the questions and tasks are grounded in textual evidence. Text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks build to smaller culminating tasks and the larger end-of-unit task. Students participate in evidence-based discussions on what they are reading and the materials include prompts or protocols for discussions, encouraging teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. The materials include on-demand and process writing opportunities that accurately reflect the distribution required by the Standards. Writing tasks require students to use textual evidence to support their claims and analyses. The materials address grade-level grammar and usage standards and include opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Indicator 1g

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

StudySync materials provide students the opportunities to develop comprehension strategies. Each unit has multiple Skill lessons that cover comprehension strategies like annotation, context clues, text evidence, arguments and claims, theme, allusion, and more. In the “Your Turn” section of the lesson, students respond to text-dependent/specific multiple-choice questions or writing prompts that require students to support their ideas with evidence. Additionally, every text that students read independently includes five to 10 multiple-choice Reading Comprehension questions that are mostly text-dependent/specific. The End-of-Unit assessment requires students to answer text-dependent/specific multiple-choice questions. Lesson plans include guidelines to ensure teachers are helping students center the text in their discussions and writings. These include guiding questions to connect the texts to the Essential Question, Check for Success Questions throughout the lesson, and Collaborative Conversation prompts.

Instructional materials include questions, tasks, and assignments that are text-dependent/specific over the course of a school year. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students read an excerpt from The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. After a Skill lesson on story structure, they answer the following text-specific questions: “What is the most likely reason that Kafka has his main character mention his parents' debt before the parents appear in the story?” and “This passage consists largely of a long, unhurried series of thoughts from Gregor Samsa. What is the most likely reason Kafka uses such slow pacing at the opening of this story?” The Teacher Edition offers support to guide students in this task, help them understand skills, and jumpstart their conversations. A question support example provided for teachers is, “What information about Gregor Samsa is stated clearly and in detail?”
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students complete an Independent Read of “Truth Serum,” by Naomi Shihab Nye. Students answer questions, such as “Which of these lines from the text best supports the correct answer to Question 3?” After reading “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” by Anonymous (translated by Simon Armitage), students respond to questions and complete tasks that require thinking, speaking, and/or writing; these questions and tasks focus on the central ideas and key details of the text. For example: “What are King Arthur and his court doing when the Green Knight arrives? (See lines 1–11: They are having an elaborate meal.) What happens after Gawain beheads the Green Knight? (See lines 309–339: The Green Knight picks up his severed head, reminds Gawain of his promise, and rides away.)” Students then engage in collaborative conversations as they discuss a prompt in small groups. “Ask students to first break down the prompt before they discuss relevant ideas and textual evidence. How does the portrayal of Gawain in this excerpt reveal the values and code of conduct of medieval knights? Use textual evidence and original commentary to support your response.”
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students closely read United States v. The Amistad in order to respond to the text-specific prompt, “Explain the meaning of the verdict, citing textual evidence from both Adams’s argument and the majority opinion of the Court. Using sound and logical arguments, describe what further legal and social changes need to be made in the United States of the 1840s.” The Teacher Edition includes support for the teachers to use with students during a Check for Success. One support is a reminder about the prompt, and another is a scaffolded question: “What does the word ‘equality’ mean? What does it mean to be truly free?” Students read The Federalist Papers: No. 10. After a Skill lesson on primary and secondary sources, students answer the following multiple-choice questions: “Which of the following statements best represents how Madison is supporting the purpose of the address in the passage? and “How does Madison appeal to the importance of his argument?”
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read “Stung,” by Heid E. Erdrich. During the first read, the Teacher Resources: Lesson Plan guide gives instructions on questions and tasks that require thinking, speaking, and/or writing; these questions and tasks focus on the central ideas and key details of the text. For Example: “What happens to the speaker at the beginning of the poem? (See line 1: She gets stung by a bee.) What does the speaker do that causes this to happen? (See lines 10 and 11: The bee was inside a flower when the speaker squeezed that flower in her hand.)”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read the short story, “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell. After a Skill lesson on the author's purpose and point of view, students answer the following questions: “Orwell’s point of view in paragraphs 12-13 is effective because—” and “How does the information in Paragraph 14 reinforce Orwell’s purpose for writing this text?” Students write a literary analysis referencing three different texts from the unit. Student instructions support tasks with text-specific responses. The Teacher Edition includes a Check for Success that provides teachers with strategies to guide students through the writing process, including guiding questions such as “How does the author show how the character or speaker is feeling?”
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students may self-select a text during a StudySync Blast. The StudySync Library includes the titles students choose to explore for independent reading. Within these opportunities, students answer Think questions such as “How does the narrator view the ‘cannibals’ with whom he interacts?” when reading an excerpt from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Indicator 1h

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials containing sets of sequences of text-dependent/text-specific questions with activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding.


StudySync materials provide students with opportunities to engage in discussions, write short responses, and craft essays while reading across genres. Throughout each unit, text-dependent tasks and questions help students prepare for the culminating tasks. Each unit ends with an Extended Writing Project or an Extended Oral Project. The tasks take students through each step of the writing process and require them to use reading and writing skills they have been working on throughout the units. Tasks include both shorter and extended written and oral projects with different purposes and opportunities to practice various genres, such as narrative, argumentative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and rhetorical.


Tasks are supported with coherent sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students explore the question, “How can we transform the future?” Students complete various readings and answer questions building toward the Extended Writing Project, during which students write an informative personal essay addressing the following: “How will our understanding of who we are shape the goals we develop for ourselves?” Before writing the essay, students read “Community Colleges vs. Technical Schools,” by Ursula McPike and “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome,” by Dena Simmons. Students write a personal response after reading “Community Colleges vs. Technical Schools” in response to the following: “Write a journal entry in which you weigh your options after high school. Consider your hopes for the future as well as the resources and supports that will be available to you. Which experiences would best prepare you for your career, or perhaps help inform your decision? What might your next steps be?“ Students complete a writing task following a close reading of “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome": “Select a topic related to your life after high school that you would like to learn more about (for example, how to find a job or how to select a dorm roommate). Then write an informational article about this topic, applying informational text structures to your article to support your main idea or claim.”
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students grapple with the Essential Question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?” The Extended Writing Project asks students to respond to a prompt that states, “Select an issue in today’s society that is causing conflict in your own life or among groups of people [and] write… about this conflict.” Students must create an outline that shows a character’s development and its impact on the overall plot. Throughout the unit, students complete several tasks that prepare them to write a personal or fictional narrative. They read Jesmyn Ward’s The Men We Reaped and explore characterization through the lens of setting. First, students engage in a Collaborative Conversation, and then they write in response to the following prompt: “Write a response in which you evaluate how the social and economic contexts of the settings influence the characterization and plot.” Students must support their ideas with textual evidence. Students engage in the Close Read lesson on Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney. As students reflect on how the text demonstrates the unit’s literary focus of the medieval period, they write in their Writer’s Notebook. Students also break into small groups to discuss the writing prompt. This opportunity allows them to practice adapting speaking based on the context and the task, as well as adjusting responses based on the perspective of other students relating to the text.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students explore the question, “How do leaders fight for their ideas?” Students complete various readings and answer questions building toward the Extended Writing Project, during which students write an argumentative essay addressing the following: “What is one truth you are aware of that many members of your community don’t know?” Before writing the argumentative essay, students read the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, by Gouverneur Morris, James Madison, et al. and United States v. The Amistad, by U.S. Supreme Court. Students respond to a writing prompt following the reading of the Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights: “The Constitution is a statement of ‘how we choose to rule ourselves.’ What are the goals established in the Preamble and how do the amendments in the Bill of Rights advance those goals? Connect the goals of the Preamble to three amendments of your choosing.” Then, students read the case of United States v. The Amistad and practice writing an argumentative response while answering the following prompt: “Imagine you are John Quincy Adams. Write a speech that you would give to the media, outside on the courthouse steps, just following the verdict in the case (as indicated in the majority opinion of the Court delivered by Justice Story). Explain the meaning of the verdict, citing textual evidence from both Adams’s argument and the majority opinion of the Court. Using sound and logical arguments, describe what further legal and social changes need to be made in the United States of the 1840s.”
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students explore the Essential Question, “What is the power of story?” The Extended Writing Project, a research essay, requires students to respond to the following prompt: “Think of a daily behavior that the average person may not know is damaging to nature...Then, write an informative research essay, using both informative text structures and source materials to support your claim.” Students are encouraged to make their essays informative and convincing. Several tasks help them prepare for this culminating task. For example, students independently read Barrett Browning’s protest poem, “The Cry of the Children.” They answer quiz questions to delve into the author’s use of language and the persuasive tone of the text. Then, they discuss and write in response to the following prompt: “Think about a cruel situation you would like to end… Write a poem, as Elizabeth Barrett Browning did, to raise awareness of the issue and persuade the reader that the situation should not be tolerated.” Students read a paired selection of literary and nonfiction works by the same writer to understand how it might feel to be restricted and held back by society. Students begin reading the novel Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë, followed by Wanda Coleman’s essay, “Jabberwocky Baby” and poem, “Dear Mama.” After closely reading the poem, “Dear Mama,” students write their own story in letter format similar to Coleman’s style, integrating figurative language and responding to the task requirements.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students explore the question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” Students complete various readings and answer questions building toward the Extended Writing Project, during which students write a literary analysis addressing the following: “Why is alienation such a common theme in modernist literature?” Before writing the literary analysis, students read three poems as they compare texts within and across genres: “Miss Rosie,” by Lucille Clifton, “The Idler,” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and “A Cup of Tea,” by Katherine Mansfield. After reading “Miss Rosie,” students respond to a literary analysis writing prompt: “In your essay, consider and respond to questions such as the following: What story does this poem tell? What relationship does the speaker of the poem have with Miss Rosie? How would the story be different if Miss Rosie were telling her own story? What message is being conveyed by this story?” After reading “The Idler,” students discuss the following: “What is the speaker’s opinion of the idler’s approach to life? What makes you think so? Support your interpretation with textual evidence. What are your own thoughts about the idler’s way of living? Discuss with your classmates what you would want to tell him. Describe any personal experiences that led to your beliefs.” Students discuss the topic with peers and write a response. Students respond to a writing prompt following the reading of “A Cup of Tea:” “Write a response in which you compare and contrast the ideas and attitudes expressed about wealth and poverty in ‘Miss Rosie,’ ‘The Idler,’ and ‘A Cup of Tea.’”
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students explore the Essential Question, “How are we shaped by change?” The Extended Oral Project is based on the following prompt: “Select a topic, issue, person, or event that is important to you, but that was not covered in your formal studies. Develop an argument to support the claim that this topic, issue, person, or event should be included in future high school instruction so that the details and significance will be heard and remembered.” Throughout the unit, text-based questions and tasks prepare students for the argumentative oral presentation. Earlier in the unit, students read the Point/Counterpoint essay, “Honesty on Social Media” (authors not cited). After answering Quiz and Think questions that delve into both sides, students prepare for a discussion on the text. In small groups, they discuss the following: “Which article did you find the most convincing?... Discuss how the writers’ use of evidence and language contribute to the persuasiveness of the text.”

Indicator 1i

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols to engage students in speaking and listening activities and discussions (small group, peer-to-peer, whole class) which encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

StudySync provides students opportunities for whole group and small group discussions and Collaborative Conversations. In each Skill Lesson, Turn and Talk and Discuss the Model activities allow students to share ideas and review parts of the lessons. In each Close Read, students engage in a Collaborative Conversation to discuss the text and prepare to complete a writing prompt. There are opportunities for teachers to reinforce academic vocabulary throughout the unit, and students revisit important vocabulary in a Skill Lesson on vocabulary review in each unit.

Materials provide multiple opportunities, protocols, and questions for discussions across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students read Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Annie Lamott. In the independent read lesson, students work together in the Introduce the Text and Collaborative Conversation activities. In pairs, students watch a video preview and answer questions to activate prior knowledge and experience. In the write section of this lesson, students work in small groups to break down the prompt. Students engage in Collaborative Conversation after a Skill Model and reviewing a Checklist for Collaborative Conversations. The checklist includes the following: come to discussions prepared, having read or researched the material under discussion; pose questions that relate the current discussion to broader larger ideas and engage others to join the discussion; summarize points of agreement and disagreement.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read the poems “Facing It,” by Yusef Komunyakaa and “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” by John Keats, together. After engaging in a close read of the latter, students break into groups for a Collaborative Conversation. Students may use their annotations to guide the discussion, as they respond to the prompt. The lesson plan gives instructors insight on scaffolding and grouping so that students get the most out of the discussion before they begin writing an essay in response to the prompt. The Speaking and Listening Handbook includes handouts to guide and support students through each stage of the Collaborative Conversation—Preparing for a Discussion, Determine Goals and Deadlines, and Establish Rules. The Preparing for a Discussion guidance states: “Before a discussion, distribute the Preparing for a Discussion handout and talk to students about the topics below. Allow students enough time to work together to fill out the first page of the handout. Students should fill out the second page on their own, after reading the material under study.” As students transition to the Determine Goals and Deadlines step, teachers “Explain to students that all discussion group members should know and understand the goal or purpose of the discussion” and suggest that students “develop a timetable to ensure that their group will be able to accomplish all discussion goals.” During the final stage, Establish Rules, teachers explain the importance of creating and maintaining an open and respectful environment so the discussion allows everyone’s ideas to be heard. Teachers “Have students brainstorm a list of rules for the discussion. Ask students to explain why each rule can help establish a respectful and productive discussion. Then agree on which rules to keep.” The rules should be posted in a central location for all students to reference. Rules may be updated as needed.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, and employ speaking and listening skills in discussions. For example, in the Close Read lesson, students work in groups to complete the Skill Focus, which entails reading, annotating, and discussing the prompt. Students begin by working together and answering questions about the text. Teacher directions suggest that students transition to independent work once the group has completed the skills focus. The teacher then breaks students into Collaborative Conversation groups where they use StudySync TV as a model, the Close Read prompt, their Skills Focus annotations, and notes, ideas, and reactions to collaboratively explore the text. The Speaking and Listening Handbook includes handouts to guide and support students through each stage of the Collaborative Conversation—Preparing for a Discussion, Determine Goals and Deadlines, and Establish Rules. The Preparing for a Discussion guidance states: “Before a discussion, distribute the Preparing for a Discussion handout and talk to students about the topics below. Allow students enough time to work together to fill out the first page of the handout. Students should fill out the second page on their own, after reading the material under study.” As students transition to the Determine Goals and Deadlines step, teachers “Explain to students that all discussion group members should know and understand the goal or purpose of the discussion” and suggest that students “develop a timetable to ensure that their group will be able to accomplish all discussion goals.” During the final stage, Establish Rules, teachers explain the importance of creating and maintaining an open and respectful environment so the discussion allows everyone’s ideas to be heard. Teachers “Have students brainstorm a list of rules for the discussion. Ask students to explain why each rule can help establish a respectful and productive discussion. Then agree on which rules to keep.” The rules should be posted in a central location for all students to reference. Rules may be updated as needed.

Materials and supports provide grade level appropriate opportunities for discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students participate in a Skill Lesson on the unit’s academic vocabulary. First, students review terms from the unit, including the terms Anglo-Saxon, chivalry, exploit, feudalism, humanism, Renaissance, and more. After identifying definitions and answering a few questions about the terms, students participate in a Collaborative Conversation. Teachers encourage students to use as many Literary Period and Academic Vocabulary words as they can in response to the discussion prompt. The Lesson Plan provides guidance on grouping students and encourages teachers to provide a discussion guide and speaking frames in order to scaffold the conversation.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read an excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels (Part 1,) by Jonathan Swift, while employing speaking and listening skills and modeling the use of academic vocabulary words in the First Read lesson. Students discuss satire and humor through guidance provided in the Revisit Academic and Content Vocabulary section. Students use both Academic and Literary Focus Vocabulary words in their discussion, choosing a minimum of five of the 10 words to integrate into the discussion.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students complete a Skill Lesson on the unit’s academic vocabulary. First, students review terms from the unit, including the terms commence, decolonization, exploit, duration, formidable, postcolonialism, and more. After identifying definitions and answering a few questions about the terms, students participate in a Collaborative Conversation. Teachers encourage students to use as many Literary Period and Academic Vocabulary words as they can in response to the discussion prompt. The Lesson Plan provides guidance on grouping students, and encourages teachers to provide a discussion guide and speaking frames in order to scaffold the conversation.

Indicator 1j

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking (and discussions) about what they are reading and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and support.

StudySync materials provide students with opportunities to engage in collaborative discussions, deliver presentations, and listen to and provide feedback to peers. Students engage in a variety of tasks throughout each unit that targets their speaking and listening skills. Every text, that is accompanied by Skill Lessons, includes a Collaborative Conversation during which students participate in a discussion before writing in response to the same prompt. Often, speaking and listening tasks are followed by a written reflection so that students can evaluate the discussion. Students complete all Skills Focus work in pairs or small groups. Tasks require students to support their ideas with evidence from the texts. Lesson Plans provide teachers with question prompts to help struggling students identify useful evidence.

Students have multiple opportunities, over the school year, to demonstrate what they are reading and researching through varied grade-level-appropriate speaking and listening opportunities.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students read the nonfiction text Plessy v. Ferguson, by the U.S. Supreme Court. After a close read, students prepare for a written response by engaging in a Collaborative Conversation. The prompt asks students to “Compare and contrast the arguments in Justice Brown’s majority opinion with Justice Harlan’s dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson. Which rhetorical strategies does each use most effectively to advance their arguments? Which arguments or instances of legal reasoning have not withstood the test of time?” Students support their ideas with evidence from the text, and they write a short response to reflect on the discussion. The Lesson Plan encourages teachers to provide students with a prompt to scaffold the discussion.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read “The Pardoner’s Prologue,” by Geoffrey Chaucer. To demonstrate understanding of what they read, students work in small groups, using StudySyncTV to guide them through the close read prompt. Students use today’s society and imagine a corrupt or foolish person. After working together to gain an understanding of the prompt, students write a short satirical monologue. Instructional supports available for teachers to utilize include Check for Success, scaffolded questions, discussion guides, and speaking frames. Students also observe and perform a dramatic scene in order to give and receive peer feedback during an Extended Oral Project. The guidance includes the following: “Make sure your scene is easy for your audience to understand. Include dialogue so that your group members know what to say. Also include stage directions that give instructions and describe a scene. Use transitions to make the sequence of events clear.” Students use an Oral Presentation Checklist as they listen to their peers’ presentations.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read the Point/Counterpoint article, “Leadership During a Crisis (authors not cited). After multiple Skill Lessons, students engage in a close read and prepare a discussion in response to the following prompt: “Which side of the argument do you agree with? Why do you agree with that side? Do you fully agree with the writer, or do you notice any weaknesses in the writer's use of media, evidence, and counterarguments? Which argument is more substantial?” Students write their ideas in a graphic organizer before beginning the debate and support their ideas with evidence from the text. Teacher-facing materials give insight on possible scaffolds and how to support mixed-level groups.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read “The Cry of the Children,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In the Independent Read Lesson, students participate in a small group discussion about a writing prompt. The prompt is detailed and contains many components including using figurative language to “...stir the sympathies of your readers and persuade them to take action” that students must address. Students discuss ideas and textual evidence to support their responses to the prompt. The materials include scaffolding and differentiation support in the form of discussion guides and speaking frames, along with facilitation notes that teachers may use to guide students through the process.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students closely read the poem “The Idler,” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson. Students review a rubric and the following discussion prompt before beginning their discussion: “What is the speaker’s opinion of the idler’s approach to life? What makes you think so?... What are your own thoughts about the idler’s way of living? Discuss with your classmates what you would want to tell him. Describe any personal experiences that led to your beliefs.” Students must fill out a graphic organizer to prepare and support their ideas with evidence from the text. Teacher-facing materials encourage teachers to give a prompt to scaffold the discussion. Following the conversation, students write a reflection evaluating the discussion and their participation in it.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students give an argumentative oral presentation. During the planning phase, students provide substantive feedback to two peers using Peer Review Instructions: “How well does this response answer the prompt? What part of the oral presentation are you most excited to see or hear? Are there any ideas that could be improved on? How so?” Assessment of the final presentation aligns with speaking and listening standards such as: “The presentation introduces strong and specific information, findings, and evidence in a focused and coherent manner. Lines of reasoning are organized and easy to follow, and alternative or opposing perspectives are effectively addressed.”

Indicator 1k

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing grade-appropriate writing (e.g. grade-appropriate revision and editing) and short, focused projects.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g., multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

StudySync materials provide multiple opportunities for students to engage in writing tasks and projects. Students complete Skill Lessons and Close Reads, which require students to write short responses or answer Think questions. Many texts read independently also require students to answer short response questions. Students practice writing informational, narrative, and argumentative pieces throughout the year. Each unit includes an End-of-Unit Assessment with passages and writing prompts to assess student performance against the key reading, writing, and language standards covered in the unit. Students also complete Extended Writing Projects with a consistent Instructional Path: Plan, Draft, Revise, and Edit and Publish. Additionally, they use digital materials such as recordings, StudySyncTV episodes, and films to deepen their analyses of the texts.

Materials include a mix of both on-demand and process writing that covers a year’s worth of instruction. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Students participate in on-demand writing.
    • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students complete a close read of “The Pardoner’s Prologue,” by Geoffrey Chaucer and craft a monologue to a prompt: “In ‘The Pardoner's Prologue,’ Chaucer satirizes medieval society by highlighting the greediness of a church official who shamelessly tries to swindle people, convincing them to give him money in exchange for pardons. Think of today’s society and imagine a person who represents some sort of corruption or foolishness. Then, write a short satirical monologue to expose that person’s true motives.”
    • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students participate in a Timed Writing task. After reviewing a checklist on timed writing, students plan and write a response in a timed writing situation. Reminders include the following: “Develop your draft into a focused, structured, and coherent piece of writing; use a strategic organizational structure appropriate to the purpose, audience, topic, and context; and, develop an engaging idea that reflects depth of thought with effective use of details, examples, and commentary.”
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, after closely reading the poem “Love After Love,'' by Derek Walcott, students write a reflection based on group discussions.
  • Students participate in process writing.
    • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students write a personal or fictional narrative around an issue in society that causes conflict to their lives. Students develop a narrative structure with a beginning, middle, and end and integrate characteristics of fiction, including setting, characters, plot, theme, and point of view. Skill Lessons support students in adding dialogue, details, figurative language, and appropriate word choice. Guidance during planning includes instruction related to the characteristics of fiction writing: “setting, characters, plot, theme, and point of view.” Students include the following in their narratives: “a plot with a beginning, middle, and end; a clear setting; characters and dialogue; a distinct conflict and resolution; and, a clear theme.”
    • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students complete an Extended Writing Project in which they plan, draft, revise, and edit and publish an informative research essay in response to a prompt. During the planning phase, students generate ideas. Questions for consideration include but are not limited to the following: “What topic about the human impact on nature do you find most interesting? What is your reason for writing? How will knowing your audience help you write a better essay? What questions do you want to research?”
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students complete an Extended Oral Project in which they create an argumentative oral presentation in response to a prompt. The project includes an Instructional Path: Plan, Draft, Revise, and Edit and Present. During the planning phase, the materials provide characteristics of an effective argumentative oral presentation as guidance. Characteristics include, but are not limited to the following: the organizational elements of classical speeches, including an introduction, body, transitions, and a conclusion; the art of persuasion and rhetorical devices; the appropriate use of formal or informal language; and purposeful vocabulary, tone, and voice.

Opportunities for students to revise and/or edit are provided. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, after reviewing an example of a revised Student Model, students will use a revision guide to revise their informative essay for clarity, development, organization, style, diction, and sentence fluency.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students use a checklist to guide them during the editing phase of the Extended Writing Project. Questions for consideration include, but are not limited to the following: ”Have I followed all the rules for hyphens? Can I defend any contested usage I have chosen? (Consult a style guide, such as Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style by Virginia Tufte, as appropriate.) Have I spelled everything correctly?”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students complete an Extended Writing Project after reading all the texts in the unit. They write in response to the prompt, “Why is alienation such a common theme in Modernist literature?” Students use characters from three different texts “to examine how the authors explore the theme of alienation.” Skill Lessons on Planning, Drafting, Revising, and Editing and Publishing walk students through each step of the writing process. Students also examine a Student Model and discuss it with their classmates.

Materials include digital resources where appropriate. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students listen to a series of podcasts of the same name. Students engage in a discussion about topics introduced in the podcast before responding to the following focus question in their Writer’s Notebook: “How do you tell the story of who you are and who you want to become?” Later, students edit their responses into a 140 character Blast and engage in a peer review to get feedback on their responses.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, materials include digital resources to help develop student writing. In the sonnet “Ozymandias,” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, students use digital resources such as a video preview to connect to the text and a short video documentary, “A Strange Relativity: Altered Time for Surgeon-Turned-Patient” to understand relevancy between two mediums.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students complete Blast: Juggling Justices. Students explore background information and research links about a topic and then respond to a question with a 140-character response. The teacher can choose to Jigsaw Research Links by assigning each group a different research link to read and discuss the source’s information.

Indicator 1l

Materials provide opportunities for students to address different types/modes/genres of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Writing opportunities incorporate digital resources/multimodal literacy materials where appropriate. Opportunities may include blended writing styles that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. (Writing opportunities incorporate digital resources/multimodal literacy materials where appropriate. Opportunities may include blended writing styles that reflect the distribution required by the standards.)

StudySync materials provide students with the opportunity to engage in multiple styles of writing during the Extended Writing Project. These projects incorporate multiple Skill Lessons, take students through each step of the writing process, and result in longer writing assignments. The projects also vary in type, with students writing narratives, informative/explanatory essays, literary analyses, and argumentative responses. Materials provide opportunities for students/teachers to monitor progress in writing skills during short constructed responses, essays, and student responses in the Writer’s Notebook. The Teacher Edition and Lesson Resource offer step by step directions, including answers to questions to help the teacher guide the writer. The student experiences multiple opportunities to monitor the development of their writing through graphic organizers, Skills Lessons, and StudySyncTV.

Materials provide multiple opportunities across the school year for students to learn, practice, and apply different genres and modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Students have opportunities to engage in argumentative writing.
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students read John F. Kennedy’s speech, “We Choose to Go to the Moon.” After several Skill Lessons that help them dig deeper into the text, students write a short rhetorical analysis in response to the following prompt: “Examine the reasons President Kennedy lists for wanting to cultivate the space program and send Americans to the Moon by the end of the 1960s. Based on his speech, what do you think motivates him? Do you find his arguments and use of rhetoric persuasive?” Students must support their argument with textual evidence.
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students write an argumentative essay during the Extended Writing Project. Students respond to the following prompt: “What is one truth you are aware of that many members of your community don’t know? This could be a sad truth; for example, the water at your local beach is too polluted to swim in. Or it could be a happy truth; for example, the timid owner of a cleaning service left enough money in her will to fund two college scholarships. Write a persuasive essay with the intent of showing others how much this truth matters.
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students reread “A Room of One’s Own," by Virginia Woolf, and write an argumentative essay based on Woolf’s statement "Genius like Shakespeare’s is not born among labouring, uneducated, servile people.” Students must argue whether they think “genius” among “working classes” is possible in today’s society. The lesson includes a My Thesis graphic organizer that helps students organize their thoughts and reasons.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in informative/explanatory writing.
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, the Extended Writing Project focuses on informative writing. Students write a personal essay that addresses the Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” Students use an informative student model to adapt and improve their essay. Materials include Skill Lessons on the informative writing genre to support students’ work.
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read “Preamble to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,” by Gouverneur Morris, James Madison, et al. Students write an explanatory essay about the goals established in the Preamble and how amendments advance those goals. Students use a Textual Evidence Chart to answer the prompt and then find evidence to support their thoughts from three amendments.
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students closely read The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams and respond to a compare and contrast prompt. Students explain and evaluate two versions of the play. The students' explanatory response must include textual evidence from both the audio recordings and the play.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing.
    • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students complete an Extended Writing Project that requires them to write an original narrative. The prompt states, “Select an issue in today’s society that is causing conflict in your own life or among groups of people. Write a personal or fictional narrative about this conflict. If you are writing a personal narrative, explain how this conflict has affected your life or the lives of your friends or family. Then describe how you or someone in your life has demonstrated leadership skills in response to this conflict.” Students complete Skill Lessons that walk them through each step of the writing process before submitting their final narratives.
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students closely read Gulliver’s Travels (Part 1), by Jonathan Swift, in order to imagine or describe a movie scene. In this lesson, students watch StudySyncTV and discuss the conflict between characters. In the writing section of this lesson, students write a personal response as they select a scene to change.
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students reread “The New Dress,” by Virginia Woolf, in order to write a narrative. During this writing assignment, students compose a portion of a short story, developing a character whose appearance on the outside does not match his or her feelings. Student-facing materials include a graphic organizer to help students plan their story events in chronological order.

Indicator 1m

Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support sophisticated analysis, argumentation, and synthesis.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials, including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support sophisticated analysis, argumentation, and synthesis.


StudySync materials provide students the opportunity to engage in short writing responses that connect to texts during the reading lessons. Students write literary analyses, argumentative responses, rhetorical analyses, and more while supporting their ideas with evidence from the texts. Additionally, each unit ends with an Extended Writing Project that requires students to review across texts and genres to write lengthier writing tasks and support their claims and arguments with evidence from the texts. Students write to practice and apply writing standards that require them to write with a task, purpose, and audience in mind, to delineate and evaluate arguments, and to develop a short research response.


Writing opportunities are focused around students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with texts and sources to provide supporting evidence. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students read and analyze the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson. Following a close read of the text, students analyze the arguments made in the case by writing in response to the following prompt: “Which rhetorical strategies does each use most effectively to advance their arguments? Which arguments or instances of legal reasoning don’t seem to have withstood the test of time? Explain your response using textual evidence from each argument.”
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read the argumentative essay “Hamlet and His Problems,” by T.S. Eliot and then write an explanatory essay. Students analyze the text to determine why Eliot claims that the play, Hamlet, is an artistic failure. Students must support their writing with examples and ideas from the essay to support Eliot’s claim.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read and analyze Phyllis Wheatley’s poem, “To His Excellency, General Washington” alongside Thomas Paine’s poem, “Liberty Tree.” After several Skill lessons, students write a short response comparing and contrasting the texts. The prompt states, “Which themes about freedom or the American Revolution are explored in ‘To His Excellency, General Washington’? How are these themes similar to or different than those in ‘Liberty Tree?’ Which figures and images seem to overlap? Support your writing with textual evidence from ‘To His Excellency, General Washington.’”
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read the informational essay “Why I Write,” by Joan Didion and write an explanatory essay. Students analyze numerous aspects relating to Joan Didion’s writing in order to explain multiple questions about her writing. For example, students observe content and style, including figurative language, to determine how the writer establishes point of view. Students use textual evidence to support their points in the short paper.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read Winston Churchill’s speech, “Be Ye Men of Valour.” They complete multiple Skill lessons while analyzing the text, and write a rhetorical analysis after a close read. The prompt allows them to evaluate informational text structure and how it impacts the persuasiveness of a text. The prompt states, “Write a response in which you summarize the main argument of Churchill's speech and evaluate the structure of the speech. In your response, address the following question: Does the arrangement of ideas make the speech more persuasive? Remember to support your response with textual evidence.”
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students read “News Literacy in the Misinformation Age,” by The News Literacy Project in partnership with StudySync, in order to write a personal response. They answer questions that relate to the characteristics of fake news and information. They make sense of the motivation behind organizations that release fake information to the public. Students' responses assess whether the reasoning is valid and evidence is relevant and sufficient.

Indicator 1n

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for materials including instruction and practice of the grammar and conventions/language standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application in context.

Each grammar lesson introduces skills to students. Then students participate in group work discussing a model of the skills. Finally, they complete independent work that requires them to answer multiple-choice questions and put the grammar/convention skills into practice by writing sentences. Each lesson is concise and follows a routine of Teach/Model and Practice/Apply with suggestions for differentiated practice. The Routines section provides routines for spelling, decoding multisyllabic words, reading "big words," reading decodable text, high-frequency words, and fluency. These routines are used with appropriate lessons throughout the component. Opportunities exist for students to learn from models that provide examples of editing using modeled student writing. Before students submit their writing, they utilize a checklist with grammar/convention guidelines to ensure that they have applied the skills within their writing. During the unit and at the end of each unit, assessments require students to demonstrate proficiency of conventions and other aspects of language.


Materials include instruction of all grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Students have opportunities to apply the understanding that usage is a matter of convention, can change over time, and is sometimes contested.
    • The materials include opportunities for teachers to search for specific Skills Assignments that align to Grade 12. Teachers can use the search for new Skills Assignments or add existing assignments to the unit using the "Add to Unit" feature. For example, Contested Usage includes the vocabulary terms contested usage, grammar usage, and word usage. It includes a Model for students with an opportunity to practice the skill as a Your Turn: “Determine whether the statements regarding situations of contested usage are true or false...Some people use the word literally for emphasis, but others think it is incorrect to do so.”
    • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students write an informative research essay for the Extended Writing Projects. During the writing process, they receive direct instruction on several grammar skills including contested usage. The lesson begins with students reviewing the definitions of the terms. Then, students work in groups to review examples of contested rules for word and grammar usage. Finally, they work independently to identify grammar rules that have been broken and evaluate sentences that reflect contested usage. Students determine whether the sentences are effective or not.
  • Students have opportunities to resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, Garner's Modern American Usage) as needed.
    • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students complete an Extended Writing Project, which includes using a style guide, as appropriate, to improve their command of standard English conventions, syntax, and MLA citations. During drafting, the materials ask students to “use an additional style guide, such as Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, by Virginia Tufte, to help you vary your syntax, or the grammatical structures of sentences.” Following this lesson, students complete a lesson relating to Contested Usage. The materials include instruction for “Resolving Usage Issues” in the Model section of the lesson. “If you are unsure whether it is acceptable to break a rule or if you want to resolve questions you may have about usage, you can always check a reference work on the subject. Several worth recommending are Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, Bryan A. Garner’s Garner’s Modern American Usage, and Theodore Bernstein’s Miss Thistlebottom’s Hobgoblins.”
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, during the Extended Writing Project, grammar and conventions instruction is evident as students write a literary analysis. When applying Grammar Skill: Commonly Misspelled Words, the materials guide students to keep a list of words they often misspell and then refer to online or print resources for pronunciation, access to Latin or Greek roots, or other causes that may lead to a better understanding of how to spell the word. Multiple Skills Lessons walk them through the writing process, and one focuses on using a Style Guide to improve writing. Students work in groups to evaluate a model that shows how consulting a style guide can help resolve common writing errors. Finally, students work independently to identify the types of solutions found in a style guide, and to consult a style guide of their choice to help them “correct errors related to convention in their essays.”
  • Students have opportunities to observe hyphenation conventions.
    • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students write an informative research essay for the Extended Writing Project. During the writing process, they receive direct instruction on several grammar skills, including hyphens. They begin by reviewing the two uses for hyphens. Students work in groups to evaluate a model that shows examples of hyphens in compound adjectives, prefixes, compound nouns, time span, and closed and open compounds. Finally, students work independently to match hyphenated words with the rules they demonstrate, answer multiple-choice questions about how best to change sentences to reflect hyphen conventions, and write sentences of their own. The End-of-Unit Assessment includes several questions to assess proficiency of the standards students practice. For example, Question 31 states: “What change, if any, is necessary in the underlined portion in the following passage? Where she’d lacked self-confidence in the past, she now felt more-inclined to pursue a new challenge.”
  • Students have opportunities to spell correctly.
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students complete the Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules I lesson and apply basic spelling rules during the editing and publishing step of the Extended Writing Project. For example, the materials provide students with a model that explains spelling patterns for ie and ei. Modeling is available for the rule for adding suffixes, the silent e, and a final y. Students study an example from a unit text and then an explanation relating to the spelling pattern. The End-of-Unit Assessment includes questions that address the Language standards students learn, practice, and apply.
    • In Unit 2, Uncovering the Truth, students complete the Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules lesson. After learning spelling rules and seeing how commonly misspelled words are spelled correctly using text examples, students practice spelling correctly. After exploring a model, students answer questions in the Your Turn section: “Select the correctly spelled word to fill each blank...The doctor was assisted _____ by the nurse. A. capabley B. capablely C. neither.” The instruction follows the Vocabulary, Model, and Your Turn structure, which uses gradual release to support student understanding and practice.
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, while completing the Extended Writing Project, students heed the writing checklist during the Argumentative Writing Process: Edit and Publish that asks students, “Have I spelled everything correctly?”
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, spelling is addressed in the editing and publishing step of the writing process as students write a literary analysis. Students apply what they have learned in Grammar Skill: Commonly Misspelled Words to practice spelling correctly. Students apply a four-step spelling strategy: Say It, See It, Write It, and Check It. Students then study examples from the text that show the correct and incorrect spelling usage.
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students practice spelling correctly during the Edit and Present step of the Extended Oral Project. Students review edits, such as fixing misspelled words, in a student sample: “As my classmates and I prepare preparing to graduate from high school ...”

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. Texts are organized around an Essential Question and Genre Focus. The Unit Title sets the theme and connects to the Essential Question. Students engage in high-quality, coherently sequenced questions and tasks as they analyze literary elements, such as word choice, and integrate knowledge and ideas in individual texts and across multiple texts. Culminating tasks, such as the Extended Writing/Oral Project, integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language and connect to the texts students read. Each unit contains a Content Vocabulary list and an Academic Vocabulary list. Oftentimes, one of the vocabulary words appears in the directions for discussion and writing prompts, and some vocabulary words repeat across texts. The year-long writing plan allows students to participate in a range of writing tasks that vary in length, purpose, and difficulty. Throughout the year, students conduct short research projects during smaller culminating tasks and long research projects during appropriate Extended Writing/Oral Projects. Students participate in independent reading that includes a range of informational and literary texts and can track their progress using Bookshelf and Reading Quizzes.

Criterion 2a - 2h

32/32

Indicator 2a

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

The StudySync materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for texts are organized around a topic/topics to build students’ knowledge and their ability to read and comprehend and analyze complex texts proficiently.

StudySync materials include opportunities for both close reading and independent reading and allowing choices for students. The materials have a logical sequence of texts that allow students to read complex texts independently and proficiently by the end of the year. The materials include texts connected by a topic and an Essential Question in each unit. The materials include six topics—What’s Next?, Uncovering Truth, Against the Wind, Sculpting Reality, Fractured Selves, and Times of Transition.

Texts are connected by cohesive topics, themes, and lines of inquiry. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students focus on informational texts as a genre and the Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” Ten texts connect to the theme and include opportunities to read across genres and text types, applying their learning through an informational writing piece. These texts include, but are not limited to the speech “Commencement Address at Wellesley College,” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the personal narrative and commencement speech “How Much Indian Was I?, My Fellow Students Asked,” by Elissa Washuta, the article “Overcoming Impostor Syndrome,” by Dena Simmons, and The United States Supreme Court historical document Plessy v. Ferguson.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read texts connected to the Essential Question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?” Through text discussions, students answer the following questions: “How do challenges shape the people we become? How and why do leaders face challenges? What do readers learn by reading about heroes, characters, and leaders and what they do in moments of challenge? What do these stories teach us about ourselves and our society?” During the unit, students read an excerpt from Gareth Hinds’s graphic novel Beowulf, which is based on the Anglo-Saxon poem of the same name. Students connect to the time and culture, determining the actions and reactions of the characters in the story. During the unit, students also read the romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (author not cited), the poem “The Pardoner’s Prologue,” by Geoffrey Chaucer, and the short story “The Postmaster,” by Rabindranath Tagore, as they seek to answer the unit’s Essential Question.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students focus on argumentative texts as a genre and the Essential Question, “How do leaders fight for their ideas?” Twelve texts connect to the theme, and the unit includes opportunities to read across genres and text types and apply their learning in an argumentative writing piece. Text selections include, but are not limited to an excerpt from the satire Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift, the historical document United States v. The Amistad, and the speech “After Being Convicted Of Voting In The 1872 Presidential Election,” by Susan B. Anthony.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students focus on poetry as a genre and the Essential Question, “What is the power of story?” Thirteen texts connect to the theme, and the unit includes opportunities to read across genres and text types and apply their learning in an informative research paper. Text selections include, but are not limited to the poem “Facing It,” by Yusef Komunyakaa, an excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, and an essay “Jabberwocky Baby,” by Wanda Coleman.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students focus on argumentative texts as a genre and the Essential Question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” Thirteen texts connect to the theme, including opportunities to read across genres and text types and apply their learning in a literary analysis piece. Texts include, but are not limited to the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,”by T. S. Eliot, the short story “A Cup of Tea,” by Katherine Mansfield, an excerpt from the play The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, and the essay A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, the Essential Question is, “How are we shaped by change?” As students continue the discussion around life journeys, they consider the following questions: “What happens when life changes? How can outside forces change who we are inside? What can we learn from reading about how other people respond to significant changes in their own lives?” Text selections, across genres, encourage students to think about the lasting effects of change. Students read texts, such as “The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us” and a Stoku, by Ben Okri, and use the comprehension strategy, Generating Questions to deepen their understanding of the text. Students ask themselves questions before, during, and after reading, and they compare and contrast the ideas of colonialism and postcolonialism. Additional texts that students read while exploring the unit’s Essential Question include, but are not limited to the short story “A Temporary Matter,” by Jhumpa Lahiri, the speech “Tryst with Destiny,” by Jawaharlal Nehru, and the poem “Dawn Revisited,” by Rita Dove.

Indicator 2b

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.

StudySync materials provide students the opportunity to apply their understanding of the skill(s) they have learned in conjunction with the text by participating in the Close Read of each text and using the Skills Focus questions to focus their second reading and annotation of the text. These questions guide students as they analyze and apply the author’s craft purposefully in preparation for their own written and oral projects and responses. Upon completion of the Close Read and Skills Focus Questions, students demonstrate their understanding of the author's purpose and craft by responding to a writing prompt. Students frequently respond to writing prompts throughout the year and track their work in their Writer’s notebook. By the end of the year, most items are embedded in students’ work rather than taught directly, increasing student independence.

For most texts, students are asked to analyze language and/or author’s word choice (according to grade-level standards). Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address language and/or word choice. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read an excerpt of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Students review the definitions of an author’s word choice, audience, tone, and more. They answer specific questions about the author’s language and the impact it has in the text. Questions include the following: “What impact does Hamlet’s repeated command of Ophelia to go ‘to a nunnery' have on the meaning of this scene? Which statement best explains how the word fair is used in this scene? Read lines 75 through 79 of Act I, Scene ii, and explain how the overall meaning of Hamlet’s soliloquy is affected by the word choice and tone of these lines.”
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students complete a close read of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Eliot, analyzing the meaning and impact of the poet’s word choice and language. Students complete a Your Turn task by rereading lines from the poem and answering questions, such as the following: “What is the most likely interpretation of ‘But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen’? Which statement best evaluates how the author’s use of language affects the reader’s perception of Prufrock in these lines?” After reading and discussing “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” students analyze the meaning and impact of the poet’s word choice and language. Students address these questions: “How does the reader analyze the use of language in the beginning of the poem? What observation does the reader make about allusions in the poem? How will this thinking help the reader understand and evaluate the author’s use of language in other texts?”

For most texts, students analyze key ideas and details, structure, and craft (according to grade-level standards). Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address key ideas and details. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 3, Against the World, after reading and discussing “The Federalist Papers: No. 10,” by James Madison, students identify and restate the text’s key ideas and details. Students address the following questions: “To whom is Madison writing? What is the complaint outlined in paragraphs 1 and 3? How does Madison propose to handle factions? Why might Madison put CAUSES and EFFECTS in all caps? How does Madison describe state government? How did your discussion of including diverse perspectives in decision-making processes deepen your understanding of the text?”
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students read Zadie Smith’s “Commencement Address at the New School.” While reading, students annotate for key details, events, and ideas. Teachers remind students that “evaluating details is the process of asking yourself questions about the details included in the text, the purpose of each detail, and how the detail enhances your understanding of a key idea.” Students answer multiple choice questions about key ideas and details. Finally, they write a response identifying the main idea of the text, using evidence from the text to support their thinking.
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address structure. Example include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, after reading and discussing “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka, students identify and analyze certain story structures, such as foreshadowing and pacing. Students address these questions: “What does the student think the story will be about? What does the student think will be a major part of the story? How will this kind of thinking help the reader analyze other aspects of the story’s structure?”
    • Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read the poems “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” by John Keats and “Facing It,” by Yusef Komunyakaa alongside one another. After a first read, students participate in multiple Skill lessons to deepen their analysis of the poems. During one Skill lesson, they review the definition of poetic elements and structure and complete a vocabulary chart on poetic devices used in both poems. Multiple choice questions ask students to compare and contrast the rhyme schemes of both poems and to identify the impact the rhyme scheme has on the poems’ meanings. A writing assignment wraps up the two texts, as students respond to the following prompt: “Write an essay that analyzes how these texts use… poetic elements and structure to express ideas about art, culture, and society.” Teachers are encouraged to help students break the prompt down by guiding them to first, identify the structure of both texts before comparing and contrasting them.
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address craft. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, after reading and discussing “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka, students write a short response that explains how Kafka uses allegory to to portray human life and society symbolically. Students address these questions: “An allegory is a literary device used to convey a symbolic message that comments on some aspect of human life and society. In an allegory, characters represent ideas. Kafka uses the literary device of allegory to structure this story. What do you think the character of Gregor Samsa represents? What message might the author be conveying about human life and society? Focus on specific words that connote or denote an opinion about human life and society. Use textual evidence to support your ideas.”
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students reread “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell and evaluate the author’s purposes and point of view. Students complete a Your Turn task by rereading paragraphs and answering the following questions: “Orwell’s point of view in paragraphs 12-13 is effective because—? How does the information in Paragraph 14 reinforce Orwell’s purpose for writing this text?” After reading and discussing “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T. S. Eliot, students compare and contrast how two poems reflect the themes or topics of Modernism. Students address the following questions: “What does the reader notice about the figurative language in both poems? What does the reader note about the structure of both poems? How will this thinking help the reader compare and contrast other texts in the same literary period?”

Indicator 2c

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts.

StudySync materials provide students with the opportunity to deep dive into various reading skills and deepen their analysis of texts through the Skill Lessons. Tasks associated with these lessons include analyzing language, discussing impact of word choice, identifying key ideas and details, and analyzing structure and craft. Paired texts usually provide opportunities for students to compare and contrast while practicing a reading skill across texts or genre. In addition, Think questions frequently include higher level questions that students complete independently after practicing skills previously in the unit or throughout the course of the school year. Throughout all the units of study, students engage in a variety of writing activities in response to the reading of texts, including note-taking, annotating, creating short constructed responses, and completing Extended Writing Projects.

  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze within single texts. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students read “Booster Staff Investigates,” by Maddie Baden, Connor Balthazor, Gina Mathew, Trina Paul, Kali Poenitske, and Patrick Sullivan to prepare them for evaluating details and writing a rhetorical analysis of the text. A list of questions guide students to comprehension as they read. Before composing a rhetorical analysis of convincing evidence, students complete a reading quiz to check their comprehension.
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read an excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift. The students' tasks delve into character traits, main events, setting details, point of view, and challenging vocabulary words to deepen their analysis of the text. Teacher-facing materials include teacher guidance for struggling students. For example, “Have students use a graphic organizer to begin planning their responses. Remind students to look at the story and their annotations to review how Swift satirized certain elements of his society.” To wrap up the text, students write responses that satirize leaders in contemporary American society.
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students independently read and annotate the poem “Hurricane Season,” by Fareena Arefeen. Students annotate for descriptive language and imagery. Teacher-facing materials include teacher directions to support students: “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Visualizing to deepen their understanding of the text.” Students answer multiple-choice questions to assess their comprehension and finish by writing in response to the following prompt: “Is the image of a hurricane in this poem creative, destructive, or both? Cite textual evidence to support your argument.”
  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, the unit begins with a paired selection of informational articles “Community Colleges vs. Technical Schools,” by Ursula McPike and "Overcoming Impostor Syndrome," by Dena Simmons. Students read the articles and complete tasks related to main idea, personal connections, and informational text structure. Discussion prompts included in the materials assist students with making text-to-self connections. For example, “How does recognizing similarities and differences help the reader relate to the Essential Question of this unit: How can we transform the future?” Finally, students answer multiple-choice questions to compare and contrast the texts. “Contrast the conclusions from each essay. How are these two conclusions different from each other?”
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, the unit includes a paired selection of the poems “Liberty Tree,” by Thomas Paine and “To His Excellency, General Washington,” by Phillis Wheatley. Students delve into the language of both texts to aid their comprehension before comparing and contrasting topics and themes in multiple-choice questions. “What theme, common to the literary period of The Enlightenment, do you see in these lines from both poems?” Teachers may utilize question prompts to support struggling students. “If students are struggling with beginning their conversation, help jumpstart their discussion by asking scaffolded questions.” Students write in response to the following prompt: “Which themes about freedom or the American Revolution are explored in ‘To His Excellency, General Washington?’ How are these themes similar to or different than those in ‘Liberty Tree?’” Students must support their ideas with textual evidence. Students also analyze symbols of freedom and draw connections with similar metaphors and themes.
    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students delve into Modernism. The poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot, short stories “A Cup of Tea,” by Katherine Mansfield and “The New Dress,” by Virginia Woolf, the essays A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf and “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell, and the speech “Be Ye Men of Valour” all fit the literary focus of the unit. After reading all texts, students complete a chart “identifying two elements of style and two major concepts from that particular text that showcase trends from the literary period.” Lesson plans provide teachers with possible answers for the chart and question prompts to walk students through a Skills Model. Students also read Killers of the Dream, by Lillian Smith and “Shooting an Elephant,” by George Orwell to understand how personal narratives convey important moments in history. Both texts provide students with the authors’ first-hand experiences for comparison.

Indicator 2d

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g., combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

StudySync materials provide students the opportunity to apply previously practiced skills from the Integrated Reading and Writing lessons during the Extended Writing Project or Extended Oral Project. The lessons incorporate questions for consideration and oral or written tasks that allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of a topic or theme. The lessons and Extended Writing or Oral Projects relate to each unit’s Essential Question. Earlier questions and tasks give the teacher usable information about the student's readiness (or whether they are “on track”) to complete culminating tasks. The questions students consider in each lesson, as well as the writing and discussion prompts associated with the texts students read, relate to the Essential Question and the common theme woven throughout each unit. Teachers can determine their students’ readiness during the completion of these tasks and provide support when necessary to help them achieve proficiency with the longer culminating tasks.

Culminating tasks are provided, and they are multifaceted, requiring students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards at the appropriate grade level. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students seek to answer the Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” as they read a wide variety of literature, such as “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” by John F. Kennedy. Students complete a Skill: Rhetoric lesson, during which they practice identifying and analyzing the different types of rhetorical devices using a StudySyncTV model, checklist, and guiding questions. Students also complete Skill lessons on author’s purpose and point of view, and arguments and claims. After completing the Close Read lesson, students complete a small culminating task, during which they discuss and respond to a rhetorical analysis prompt, supporting their opinion about whether Kennedy’s argument and use of rhetoric is persuasive. This task integrates reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, the literary focus is on the medieval period and English renaissance literature, with students studying texts, such as “The Postmaster,” by Rabindranath Tagore as they seek to answer the Essential Question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?” Prior to a final close read of Tagore’s text, students complete Skill lessons on theme, story elements, and summarizing. Afterwards, students discuss and respond to a compare and contrast prompt during which they engage in the following: “Write a response comparing and contrasting the postmaster and Ratan’s relationship with the village. How do their connections to place impact the story and reveal the text’s themes? Be sure to use both evidence from the text and your own original commentary to support your analysis.” This task integrates reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students focus on the Enlightenment as they read texts, such as “The Federalist Papers: No. 10,” by James Madison and explore the Essential Question, “How do leaders fight for their ideas?” Skill lessons on primary and secondary sources; arguments and claims; and language, style, and audience enable students to “evaluate and analyze James Madison’s argument and write a response discussing the relevancy of his argument in today’s society.” Students continue reading various historical documents, poems, and classic literature as they prepare for the end-of-unit Extended Writing Project. During the final culminating task, students must “arrange an interview with the figures involved and ask about their motivations” as they compose a persuasive essay in response to the following question: “What is one truth you are aware of that many members of your community don't know?” This task integrates speaking, listening, and writing.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, the literary focus is Romanticism and Victorianism as students study texts, such as “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798,” by William Wordsworth and probe the Essential Question, “What is the power of story?” Skill lessons on context clues and figurative language prepare students for the literary analysis prompt at the end of the Close Read lesson, during which students analyze and evaluate the figurative language used by Wordsworth to heighten the emotional effect and convey the message of the poem. Afterwards, students complete a Skill: Analyzing Romanticism lesson and explain how a text from the unit reflects the literary period of Romanticism. During the Extended Writing Project, students research a “daily behavior that the average person may not know is damaging to nature” and craft an informative research essay in response to the question, “How can we better value nature through our daily behaviors?” This task integrates reading and writing skills.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students focus on Modernist art and literature, such as “Be Ye Men of Valour,” by Winston Churchill, as they explore the Essential Question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” Students complete several Skill lessons on informational text structure, central or main idea, and word meaning, before discussing and responding to a rhetorical analysis prompt on Churchill’s speech. During the Extended Writing Project, students “consider all the texts [they] have read in this unit, and reflect on how alienation impacts those who experience it.” Students “select three characters or speakers from the texts,” and “write a literary analysis essay to examine how the authors explore the theme of alienation through these three characters or speakers.” This task integrates reading and writing skills.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, the focus is the literary periods of Postmodern and Postcolonial literature. Students read texts, such as “The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us,” by Ben Okri as they explore the Essential Question, “How are we shaped by change?” Students complete Skill lessons on story structure and context clues prior to discussing and responding to a literary analysis prompt on Okri’s text. During the Extended Oral Project, students reflect on their high school years and consider topics covered in all of their subjects. “Then, consider the world around you now and select a topic, issue, person, or event that is important to you, but that was not covered in your formal studies.” Students develop an argumentative oral presentation in response to the question, “What do future students need to know?” This task integrates writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Indicator 2e

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and build Academic Vocabulary/language in context.

StudySync materials allow students to revisit certain vocabulary words, across multiple texts, within each unit or across the school year. The instructional materials include opportunities to practice Academic Vocabulary during Skill lessons, at the beginning of the unit, and review Academic Vocabulary at the end of the unit. The materials attend to content vocabulary essential to understanding the text and analyzing the purpose of word choices. Vocabulary instruction and practice accompany the core program's selections to build vocabulary knowledge and improve students’ abilities to access complex texts. Opportunities for students to determine the meaning of vocabulary words using context clues consistently are available.

Vocabulary is repeated in various contexts (before texts, in texts, etc.) and across multiple texts. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Vocabulary is repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts, etc.).
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, The Big idea, which is before students begin to read the text, features Academic Vocabulary. In this section, the teacher introduces and models the vocabulary, and then the students complete the Practice Using Vocabulary portion of the lesson. The teacher pairs students and assigns each pair a word from the list. “Prompt them to draw an image or comic strip that communicates the meaning of the word using only pictures. Then, have partners share their image with the group.”
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students complete a Skill: Academic Vocabulary lesson, learning the meanings of 10 Academic Vocabulary words, as well as how the Academic Vocabulary words can be used in a variety of contexts. Terms students learn during the lesson include: agitate, claim, curious, discharge, figure, model, redundant, scale, sound, and transparent. A model is available for students to help them expand their vocabulary. In the Your Turn section of the lesson, students explain how the two meanings are similar and write a sentence for each vocabulary word. After students complete a close read of “Federalist Papers: No. 10,” by James Madison, they respond to a writing prompt that includes an Academic Vocabulary term from the previous list. “Do you think Madison’s arguments, concerns, and values are still relevant today? For example, do you think that factions, or groups that represent people who share the same interests and have a common political cause, are still likely to agitate against the public good today?”
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students begin the unit with a Skill lesson on Academic Vocabulary. Teachers provide direct instruction defining and categorizing the terms, before pairing students to have casual conversations while using each vocabulary word. Students identify examples and non-examples of the terms, then write sentences for terms, such as cease, commence, concurrent, and others. Later in the unit, when students begin reading texts, teachers may revisit the Academic Vocabulary for various discussions pertaining to themes covered in the texts. For instance, before reading Ben Okri’s “The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us,” students may revisit the Academic Vocabulary by “discussing the influence of stories on our perspectives.” Students are encouraged to use as many Academic Vocabulary words as they can during this discussion and similar ones that happen throughout the unit.
  • Vocabulary is repeated across multiple texts.
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, students practice using Academic Vocabulary at the beginning of the unit. After reading Plessy v. Ferguson, by the U.S. Supreme Court, closely, they respond to a writing prompt with the same term advance: “Compare and contrast the arguments in Justice Brown’s majority opinion with Justice Harlan’s dissenting opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson. Which rhetorical strategies does each use most effectively to advance their arguments? Which arguments or instances of legal reasoning don’t seem to have withstood the test of time?” In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students independently read “I Am Prepared to Die,” by Nelson Mandela, and write a response to a prompt that includes Academic Vocabulary from a previous unit. “The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote the Rhetoric, one of the most famous works on the art of persuasion. In the treatise, he outlines the main rhetorical appeals to an audience: ethos (author credibility), pathos (emotions), and logos (logic and reasoning). How does Mandela use these appeals to advance his argument?”
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students complete another Skill lesson on context clues after reading the story “The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us,” written by Ben Okri. Students focus on inference, utilizing terms, such as definition, example, comparison, and contrast. Students gain practice in building vocabulary knowledge by using the checklist for context clues, as they apply the clue and ask questions about meaning in context.

Students are supported to accelerate vocabulary learning with vocabulary in their reading, speaking, and writing tasks. Opportunities are present for students to learn, practice, apply and utilize vocabulary in multiple contexts. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem, “The Pardoner’s Prologue and determine the meaning of words and phrases in the Skill lesson on connotation and denotation. Students practice understanding the connection between genre or subject and how it affects connotation and how an author’s word choice has an emotional impact on readers. In this lesson, students watch a Concept Definition video; complete a vocabulary chart; and read, annotate, and discuss a model in which they identify denotative and connotative meanings. Students practice what they have learned in the Your Turn section at the end of the lesson, responding to multiple-choice questions.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students complete a lesson about Academic Vocabulary—Preparing for the ACT and SAT: Part 10, in which students learn ten words: atmosphere, compose, depart, dull, host, passage, relief, serious, substantial, and waver. A model is available to help students expand their vocabulary. Then, students complete the Your Turn section of the lesson, explaining how the two meanings of each term are similar and different. After completing a close read of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot, students respond to a writing prompt that includes an Academic Vocabulary word. “Some critics claim that the speaker in ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ describes an atmosphere that is his own personal hell. What evidence in the poem do you find to support this claim? What is it about Prufrock’s existence that seems hellish, and how does that existence help define this poem as a Modernist poem?” At the end of the unit, students complete a Vocabulary Review of the same Academic Vocabulary words. The model allows students to try strategies such as the following: “Tell how you might use the word in another academic subject. Explaining the meaning of words in different contexts can help you make connections between meanings (ex. In science class, atmosphere refers to the layers of gases that surround the earth.).”

Indicator 2f

Materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to support students' increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students' writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.

StudySync materials provide students the opportunity to participate in a wide range of writing tasks, including short-response questions, Think questions, and Extended Writing Projects throughout the year. The tasks vary in length and purpose and help students develop their informational and narrative writing skills. Students must defend their writing and ideas with textual evidence. Extended Writing Projects walk students through each stage of the writing process and allow students to monitor their progress with rubrics, checklists, and graphic organizers. Writing instruction and assignments scale up in difficulty throughout the year.

Writing instruction supports students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the year. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students closely read, “The Metamorphosis,” by Franz Kafka, in order to write a literary analysis. Instructional supports are put in place to build students' ability to write. For example, students use a Writer’s Notebook to connect to the Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” A Check for Success that includes scaffolded questions to help students respond to the prompt is available in the Teacher Edition.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students complete a research paper for their Extended Writing Project. They receive direct instruction on planning research, evaluating sources, note-taking, and more while writing in response to the following prompt: “How can we better value nature through our daily behaviors?” For this writing task, students develop their research questions, and this, in turn, guides the research process and development of the paper. Students complete prewriting activities, including evaluating research strategies and developing an organizational structure. They also read a Student Model and annotate for features of informative research writing. After submitting the first draft, students revise their work before editing and publishing.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students complete an End-of-Unit Assessment with grade-level-appropriate passages and writing prompts to assess student performance. The assessment includes short responses requiring evidence from the passage to support students’ responses. Question 41 includes drafting a multi-paragraph “oral presentation that addresses the following theme: Change can be an agent for the good.” Students read six passages, and the task states, “You may use examples from the unit texts in your presentation.” The task aligns with grade-level writing standards. A Writer’s Checklist, with reminders, is available for students as additional support, and the instructional materials include an exemplary response and explanation/rationale for teachers when scoring student work.

Instructional materials include a variety of well-designed guidance, protocols, models, and support for teachers to implement and monitor students’ writing development. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, during the Independent Read of “Community Colleges vs. Technical Schools,” by Ursula McPike, students write a journal entry in which they weigh their options after high school. Within the lesson, the Optional Prewrite allows students to use a graphic organizer when planning their responses. The lessons require teachers to remind students to look at the text and their annotations to find textual evidence to support their ideas.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students read an essay “Hamlet and His Problems,” by T.S. Eliot independently and respond to a writing prompt. The Teacher Edition includes guidance to Check for Success: “How does literary criticism attempt to reveal the truth of a work of art? Why does Eliot think it is challenging to understand the truth behind the character of Hamlet?”
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, after reading Jonathan Swifts’ excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels, students engage in a Skill: Point of View lesson. The students’ objective is to understand how the author creates satire through the narrator's point of view. The lesson plan takes the teacher through the following steps: Define, Vocabulary, Model, and Your Turn. After students read and annotate, the teacher discusses the Skill Model using the provided guided questions and possible answers. By the end of the lesson, students should have a better understanding of satire and be prepared for the close read personal prompt, which challenges students to apply satire in their writing.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read Winston Churchill’s speech, “Be Ye Men of Valour,” to practice analyzing and evaluating text structure. Supports include three Skill lessons: informational text structure, central or main idea, and word meaning. These lessons help students write a rhetorical analysis, during which they evaluate the structure of the speech in the Close Read lesson. The teacher may provide support using the Skill lesson on informational text structure. The teacher projects the Student Model, and the students annotate and apply their Checklist for Information Text Structure as they work on the Skill Model.

Indicator 2g

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to develop and synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.

StudySync materials provide opportunities for students to engage in online research and discussion around Blast topics and cite evidence from multiple sources in Extended Writing Projects and Extended Oral Projects. Materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic. The research for each Blast gives students direct links. As students work on culminating tasks that require research, the prompts give them suggestions on figures, topics, or themes to help them begin. Teacher-facing materials provide instructors with guidance on how to help struggling students complete their research, along with scaffolds to build student independence. The Extended Writing Projects and Extended Oral Projects that are at the end of the units require students to go through the entire writing process, and they work together in groups or pairs for editing and revising tasks. They are required to synthesize information from multiple texts in the unit, and must often include outside research as well. The materials provide guidance and support to teachers, and include questions to prompt student thinking, graphic organizers to assist students, and an option for teachers to provide various scaffolds for students.

Research projects are varied throughout materials, and students are provided with opportunities for both “short” and “long” projects across the course of a year and grade bands. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Students have opportunities to engage in “short” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 1, What’s Next, it features the “What’s next” Podcast series one through nine. In these podcasts, students will hear their peers discuss the potentially life-transforming practices of finding the right college, applying to colleges, and searching for jobs. Titles include the following: In Your Hands, The Future Awaits, Your Perfect Path, The Write Stuff, Narrowing the Field, Filling in the Blanks, Saving Smart, Choices, Choices, and Going Forth. Each includes links to research. Students use these tools to write a 140-character response to a question.
    • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, during the Big Blast “ Leading Questions,” students explore background information and research links about a topic. There are six research links, each followed by a description:
      • TED Talk by Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership Video: In this TED Talk, Drew Dudley discusses the positive and negative impacts our everyday actions have on each other.
      • Science Says These 2 Personality Traits Predict Whether You'll Be an Effective Leader Article: This article explains the two basic personality traits you need to lead, according to scientific research.
      • How to be a Better Leader--According to Science Article/informational: Read this article to find out how you can improve your own leadership skills.
      • TED Talk by Simon Sinek: Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe Video: This TED Talk discusses why people follow good leaders.
      • What Science Tells Us About Leadership Potential Article/Informational: This article covers the traits we inherit and the environment we live in—and how they shape us as leaders.
      • New Study Delves Into What Makes A Great Leader Informational: A new study has revealed that positive thinking, creativity and healthy interpersonal relationships can all influence how well you lead.

Using these tools, students write a 140-character response to a question.

    • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, during the Big Blast “ Power to the Poets,” students explore background information and research links about a topic. There are five research links, each followed by a description:
      • A Poem A Day Website: Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003, assembled a collection of 180 poems-- one for you to read each day of the school year.
      • How To Recite A Poem Article: Reciting a poem to a group can be quite different from reading it to yourself. Brush up on your skills with this article, and you’ll be a pro poem performer in no time.
      • Meet Our Poet Laureate, Tracy K Smith Article: Tracy K. Smith is the United States’ current poet laureate. The New York Times introduces her here, filling readers in about her goals for the position.
      • Instagram’s Great Poetry Comeback Article: Thanks to social media, poetry might be more popular than ever before.
      • Nine Young Poets Making Poetry Cool Slideshow: “Often, when we think of poetry, we think of some high elitist language that takes a lot to be decoded. I want to do away with that,” says Fatimah Asghar, one of the young poets profiled in this slideshow.

Using these tools, students write a 140-character response to a question.

  • Students have opportunities to engage in “long” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 2, Uncovering the Truth, during the Planning step of the Extended Writing Project, students begin gathering information. They read a Student Model of a narrative and highlight and annotate features of narrative writing included in the model, such as setting, characters, plot, theme, and point of view.
    • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students engage in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes as they conduct research during the Extended Writing Project. During the Plan lesson, students practice annotating research writing with a Student Model. The Teacher Edition provides questions with sample answers to help students understand how to research and take notes: “1. How do you decide whether source materials are reliable when you do research? 2. Why is it helpful for Rishal to use correct MLA style on his note cards? 3. Why is it important to use quotation marks when taking notes? 4. What connection does Rishal see between Source 1 and Source 2 that allows him to synthesize information? 5. Why is synthesizing information so important when doing research?”
    • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students prepare a persuasive speech for their Extended Oral Project. Though the assignment does not specify the number of outside sources students need, expectations are clear that students must do enough research to support their ideas. During the Planning stage of the assignment, students use guiding questions such as “What facts, evidence, and details might you include to support your ideas? What research might you need to do?” to gather information for their arguments. The Skill: Evaluating Sources lesson supports students in determining which sources are acceptable to include.

Indicator 2h

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

StudySync materials provide students with the opportunity to participate in independent reading selections within each unit. These selections pair with a core text that receives full instructional support; students also participate in a Self-Selected Blast at the end of each unit. Students may access texts in the StudySync library for self-selected reading; these texts “fit with the theme and Lexile range for that particular unit, so teachers can be sure the options are appropriate for their students.” The Pacing Guide has been updated to include the Self-Selected Readings and the Program Guide now includes a section titled Building an Outside Independent Reading Program. There is a tracking system to track independent reading.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, supports are in place for independent reading, such as during the independent read of “Booster Staff Investigates,” by Maddie Baden, Connor Balthazor, Gina Mathew, Trina Paul, Kali Poenitske, and Patrick Sullivan, when the materials include guidance (reminding students to monitor comprehension by “Evaluating details to determine the key ideas of the text).” “Text Talk questions help teachers gauge student comprehension of a text, but additional questions for beyond grade-level students encourage deeper consideration of a text, allowing students to begin preliminary analysis.” Another option for student self-selection is Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. The StudySync Library provides an option to “Add to bookshelf” and annotate the text. The selection is an excerpt from the novel, and students should be able to complete it within the same class period. The materials do not indicate if any additional time should be allotted outside of class for students to complete the selections and what to anticipate for independent reading.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, supports are in place for students to independently read a variety of interactive digital texts to explore the Essential Question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?” An excerpt from the graphic novel Beowulf, by Gareth Hinds, the poem “Truth Serum,” by Naomi Shihab Nye, an excerpt from the play Richard III, by William Shakespeare, and T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Hamlet and His Problems,” are all read independently and also paired with other texts that share common themes. The poem “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight,” by Anonymous (translated by Simon Armitage), an excerpt from Men We Reaped: A Memoir, by Jesmyn Ward, as well as the nonfiction text “A Letter to NFL GMs,” by Shaquem Griffin are read independently without paired texts. While independently reading, students are encouraged to annotate and identify the following: context clues for vocabulary, questions about the text, key details, and examples of descriptive language. Teacher materials provide this guidance: “Ask small groups to provide examples of images they have visualized. Project exemplary images as a model for students as they continue reading.” Following each independent read, students assess their comprehension through a short online quiz or written response.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, supports are in place for students to read an independent reading selection paired with a core text that receives full instructional support. For example, students “Analyze Differing Perspectives” when independently reading the texts “After Being Convicted of Voting in the 1872 Presidential Election,” by Susan B. Anthony and an excerpt from Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, by Lili’uokalani paired with an excerpt from The Federalist Papers: No. 10, by James Madison. Additional supports assist students when reading the core text to identify and restate the text’s key ideas and details, analyze primary and secondary sources, evaluate arguments and claims, and analyze language, style, and audience. The independent reading schedule also includes a Self-Selected Blast at the end of each unit. In Unit 3, the materials recommend options to select another related text by asking questions, such as “Do I want to learn more about one of the modern world’s most important political figures? Then you might enjoy A Long Walk to Freedom [sic], the autobiography of former South African president, Nelson Mandela, who was sentenced to life in prison for his fight for equality.”
  • In Unit 4, “Sculpting Reality,” supports are in place for students to independently read a variety of interactive digital texts to explore the Essential Question, “What is the power of story?” Students independently read an excerpt from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë; the text includes a Skill Lesson to deepen students’ understanding. The poem “Facing It,” by Yusef Komunyakaa, Wanda Coleman’s essay “Jabberwocky Baby,” and the speech, “Freedom,” by Ursula K. Le Guin are read independently and are also paired with other texts that share common themes. The poems “Stung,” by Heid E. Erdrich and “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude,” by Ross Gay and the first chapter of A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens are read independently without paired texts. While independently reading, students are encouraged to annotate and identify the following: context clues for vocabulary, questions about the text, key details, and examples of descriptive language. Teacher-facing materials include the following guidance: “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Establishing a Purpose for Reading to deepen their understanding of the text.” Following each independent read, students assess their comprehension through a short online quiz or written response.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, supports are in place for students to choose independent reading selections through the StudySync library and to self-monitor. Examples of independent selections, within the unit, include but are not limited to the poem “The Great Figure,” by William Carlos Williams, the short story “The New Dress,” by Virginia Woolf, and an excerpt from the memoir Killers of the Dream, by Lillian Smith. Examples of self-selected texts connecting to the genre include but are not limited to the following: “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night,” by Dylan Thomas, an excerpt from the novel A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, or science fiction novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, supports are in place for students to independently read a variety of interactive digital texts to explore the Essential Question, “How are we shaped by change?” The short story “The Museum,” by Leila Aboulela, excerpts from A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid and Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, and the article “News Literacy in the Misinformation Age,” by The News Literacy Project in partnership with StudySync are all read independently and also paired with other texts that share common themes. Derek Walcott’s poem “Love After Love,” the speech “Tryst with Destiny,” by Jawaharlal Nehru, graphic story “ARK,” by Ehud Lavski and Yael Nathan, and Rita Dove’s poem “Dawn Revisited” are read independently without paired texts. While independently reading, students are encouraged to annotate and identify the following: context clues for vocabulary, questions about the text, key details, and examples of descriptive language. Teacher materials provide the following directions: “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Making and Confirming Predictions to deepen their understanding of the text.” Following each independent read, students assess their comprehension through a short online quiz or written response.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for instructional supports and usability. Although the materials are well designed and include lessons that are effectively structured, the pacing of individual lessons is not appropriate. Several significant modifications would be necessary for the materials to be viable for one school year. The materials provide detailed explanations, annotations, and research-based strategies to support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards. Through the use of standards-aligned assessments, time to revisit key concepts, and target lessons, teachers can collect, interpret, and utilize ongoing data about student progress. The materials include a variety of scaffolds and strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms and embedded technology is effectively used to enhance and support student learning.

Criterion 3a - 3e

5/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially meet the criteria for use and design to facilitate student learning. Although the materials are well designed and include lessons that are effectively structured, the pacing of individual lessons is not appropriate. Many of the lessons do not allocate sufficient time to complete all designated activities within the typical school day. The suggested amount of time for the materials is not viable for one school year, and the expectations for teachers and students are unreasonable for the suggested timeframe. Student materials include clear directions and explanations, and reference aids are correctly labeled. The materials include alignment documentation for all questions, tasks, and assessment items. The design and formatting of the teacher and student materials is not distracting or chaotic and allows for thoughtful engagement with the content.

Indicator 3a

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 partially meet the criteria that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.

StudySync materials include a program guide available for teachers to familiarize themselves with the program structure. Each grade level includes six units that provide instructional content, lesson plans, and other resources necessary for 180 days of instruction. A Scope and Sequence is available to assist teachers in identifying reading, writing, language, and speaking and listening skills that students practice and apply in each unit. The units follow an integrated structure, providing students with the opportunity to engage in reading multiple texts that connect to writing and language skills. Skill lessons weave throughout the structure to ensure students practice and apply essential grade-level skills. Each grade level includes an End-of-Unit Assessment, designed as an opportunity for students to demonstrate proficiency in the skills they learn and practice throughout the unit. The program lists the days to complete each part of the lesson. The time frame to complete the lessons can vary, and additional time to complete all the lessons as written may be necessary.

Materials are well-designed (i.e., allows for ease of readability and are effectively organized for planning) and take into account effective lesson structure (e.g., introduction and lesson objectives, teacher modeling, student practice, closure); however, the pacing of some lessons is not appropriate. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, the pacing guide suggests two days to complete “The Postmaster,” by Rabindranath Tagore. Students complete the Skill and Standard lesson on theme, story elements, and summarizing. Reteaching occurs during Spotlight Skill: Summarizing, Spotlight Skill: Theme, and Spotlight Skill: Story Elements. Finally, during Skill Practice and Spiraling, students complete the following lessons: Summarizing, Theme, and Story Elements.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students complete the paired reading “Liberty Tree,” by Thomas Paine and the poem “To His Excellency, General Washington,” by Phillis Wheatley. Students also complete a Skill: Compare and Contrast and Theme lesson, as well as a Blast: Candidates Want Your Clicks. The pacing guide recommends completing these tasks on Days six through nine. The materials indicate that the total time for the lessons is 250 minutes, which can be more time than teachers have to complete the lessons within four days.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, the pacing guide suggests two days to complete “The Mysterious Anxiety of Us and Them,” by Ben Okri. Students complete the Skill and Standard lessons on story structure and context clues. Reteaching occurs during Spotlight Skill: Context Clues and Spotlight Skill: Story Structure. Finally, during Skill Practice and Spiraling, students complete the following lessons: Context Clues, Language, Style, and Audience, and Story Structure.

Indicator 3b

The teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 do not meet the criteria that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.

StudySync materials provide a suggested pacing guide that divides each unit into 30 days. Each unit includes a link for the suggested pacing guide that includes days allotted, readings, skill and standard instruction, additional program lessons for reteaching, and skill practice for spiraling. The suggested pacing per unit is 30 days; more extensive texts or clusters of texts are allotted more time, from approximately five to six days to complete, while single texts are often allotted one day to complete. Lesson plans indicate that each days’ readings and activities take 40 minutes. According to the pacing guide, culminating tasks should start during the second half of the unit, but lesson plans do not indicate the additional time. The final two days of each unit are for review and assessment. Lesson instruction indicates optional activities that consistently address developing background knowledge and cultural awareness, and revisiting academic and content vocabulary. When focusing on clusters of texts and even single complex texts that contain more than one lesson to complete, suggested days in the pacing guide may not allow for maximum student understanding.

The suggested amount of time for the materials is not viable for one school year, and/or the expectations for teachers and students are unreasonable for the suggested time-frame. Several significant modifications would be necessary for the materials to be viable for one school year. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering the Truth, on Day 7, students have one day to complete the Independent Read on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, translated by Simon Armitage, according to the pacing guide. The material challenges students with plot lines relating to the Knights of the Round Table and use of verse that includes dialogue. The audio of this text is 17:27 minutes long. Accessing the text takes half of the time allotted for the entire lesson. This lesson has eight planned tasks, and the optional task that develops background knowledge about the Knights of the Roundtable would include nine tasks. It would be a challenge to complete this independent lesson, in its entirety, within 40 minutes.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, the culminating task focuses on argumentative writing. This Extended Writing Project progresses through each step of the writing process. The pacing guide allots one day for Planning, four days for Drafting, four days for Revising, and four days for Editing and Publishing. While this allows plenty of time for students to complete the essay, there are no dedicated days for the project itself. On the day that students are supposed to start the Extended Writing Project, they are in the middle of reading the paired texts “After Being Convicted Of Voting In The 1872 Presidential Election,” by Susan B. Anthony, Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, by Queen Liliuokalani, and “The Federalist Papers: No. 10,” by James Madison. None of the lesson plans for these texts indicate additional time reserved for starting their Extended Writing Project.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, the Unit Overview offers teachers guidance on modifying the unit to allow for flexible pacing. It suggests that teachers “eliminate repeated vocabulary lessons.” The overview reassures teachers that some skills are available more than once so that students have multiple opportunities to practice them. Students will still get to practice specific skills, even if teachers choose to eliminate some due to time constraints. The overview also lists the unit’s six poems, explaining that teachers may choose to eliminate texts that are similar to other selections, within the unit, if there are time constraints.

Indicator 3c

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).

StudySync materials provide students the opportunity to practice and apply the skills they have learned throughout each unit. Student models and opportunities to write constructed responses are available. Instructions and directions for students are clear, and reminders are available to students throughout extended projects. Additional guidance is available for teachers through lesson plans and prompts when necessary. Reference aids are correctly labeled when the materials include these throughout the unit.

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.). Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, students begin the Instructional Path with Blast: Uncovering Truth. Background information on the topic related to the Blast is provided. Students highlight and annotate the text. Students write an initial response to the driving question, “How do challenges cause us to reveal our true selves?” in their Writer’s Notebook. Live research links with source information are also available for students to research the topic further. For example, “‘Joan of Arc’ Article/Informational: Click here for a closer look at Joan’s early life and her dramatic end. Why is she remembered hundreds of years after her death?” Students engage in conversation relating to the Blast and peer review to give feedback.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students complete Skill: Print and Graphic Features during the revising step of the Extended Writing Project. A model, along with a checklist for print and graphic features is available for students. The Skill Model by the student Rishal focuses on adding print and graphic features to his essay to aid his readers’ comprehension. The student model includes a graphic collecting data from the Pew Research Center to show “28% Of Americans Live In Areas Seen To Strongly Encourage Recycling,” and the following note is available: “Respondents who did not give an answer are not shown. Source: Survey Conducted May 10-June 6 2016 Pew Research Center.”
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students read the Point/Counterpoint essay “Honesty on Social Media” (authors not cited). The text includes graphics, such as “A majority of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram users visit these platforms on a daily basis” with the following “Credit: Social Media in 2018. Pew Research Center, Washington, D.D. (March 1, 2018).” Discussion directions are clear: “Which article did you find the most convincing? Do you believe we suspend our usual honesty when we are on social media? How do the graphs and media influence your opinion? Discuss how the writers’ use of evidence and language contribute to the persuasiveness of the text.” Students write a reflection after the discussion. The directions are as follows: “evaluate how well everyone followed the rules when making decisions affecting the group, evaluate your own participation in the discussion, reflect on how well you evaluated the credibility and accuracy of the media used in each source.” The Teacher Edition provides additional scaffolded questions if they are struggling with a prompt.

Indicator 3d

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.

StudySync materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items. Teacher-facing materials provide many opportunities for teachers to see connections to Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in daily lessons, assessments, and larger culminating tasks. The Scope and Sequence indicate which CCSS students practice during each text. In Teacher Resources: Lesson Plan, under the Learning Objective, standards for the specific lesson are listed at the top of the lesson plan. Standards are also represented in each component of the lesson, including questions, tasks, and assessments. Students can also view the connections to CCSS. In student-facing materials, standards are listed under student tasks. Think questions, short quizzes, Your Turn activities, and short response prompts all have standards visible at the bottom of the page.

Materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students complete an expository personal essay for their culminating task. The Extended Writing Project takes students through the entire writing process as they respond to the associated prompt. A Skill lesson, on supporting details, gives students an opportunity to fill out a chart with strong supporting details that will help develop their drafts. The assignment correlates to W.11-12.2b.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read Heid E. Erdrich’s poem “Stung” and complete a writing task. In the lesson plan under “Write,” students complete the writing using textual evidence and submit their work online. The correlating standards are recorded under the Check for Success portion of this section and include one reading standard and four writing standards. It is evident that these are application standards, as indicated at the top of the lesson, where all the application standards are listed.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read Katherine Mansfield’s short story “A Cup of Tea.” After reading, they complete short response Think questions. Each question lists the CCSS that it connects to in both student and teacher-facing materials. For example, students answer this question: “Why does Rosemary want to take the girl from the street home with her? Is it really just to offer her a cup of tea? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.” The question connects to RL.11-12.1 which states, “Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.”

Indicator 3e

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.

The format and layout of the StudySync materials are consistent for each unit. There is an appropriate balance of text and white space with digital features. When they appear, the digital images, charts, and graphs are not distracting and support comprehension and aesthetic appeal. The font style and size are easy to read, and the graphics are clear with an appropriate font size to ensure students can read the text. Consistent use of colors for lines, text, and symbols assist learners to navigate the platform and recognize when specific tasks will occur, such as a blue line around paired readings with a blue symbol next to the titles and an orange arrow to drop down each section. The font color changes to orange when a specific section of a unit is selected. To enhance the experience of reading, various texts in the units are accompanied by graphic features that may include photographs, illustrations, and informational graphics such as maps, charts, and videos.

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, the Instructional Path organizes the readings using images. Students can recognize when they approach paired readings due to a blue perforated line around the list of texts and a blue symbol next to the titles, such as with Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott which is read alongside “We Choose to Go to the Moon,” by President John F. Kennedy.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, introductory videos that support student engagement are consistently available before students complete a First Read lesson. For example, before reading the point/counterpoint essay “Leadership During a Crisis” (authors not cited), students watch the short video. The visuals are clear; the audio is professional and includes an interesting narration. The Closed Captioning is also clear with a balance of white font against a black background. A transcript is also available.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students complete an End-of Unit Assessment. A red target symbol with a checkmark indicates that students are completing a final assessment. The text and white space are an appropriate balance with sufficient space to write answers to questions in the box provided. Textual enhancement is available when appropriate to assist students in answering the question. For example, “Which sentence is best added after sentence 8 to provide a reason for the claims in the paragraph?”

Criterion 3f - 3j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for teacher planning and learning for success with CCSS. The Teacher’s Edition includes useful annotations, suggestions, and guidance on presenting content in student-facing and ancillary materials. The Teacher’s Edition also includes explanations of more advanced literacy concepts to support teachers with improving and deepening their understanding of the content. The materials explain the role of the Standards in the context of the overall curriculum and also outline the various research-based strategies used during instruction. The materials include suggestions for how parents or caregivers can support students at home, as well as suggestions for how teachers can share student progress with parents and caregivers.

Indicator 3f

Materials contain a teacher's edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.

StudySync materials provide detailed lesson plans for the teacher that include answer keys, suggestions on presenting the information, and potential scaffolds for differentiation. Embedded technology contains tools for reading and analyzing, such as annotating, highlighting, audio recordings of texts, and numbering lines on paragraphs. Each unit also includes several multimedia components to aid student analysis; for example, StudySyncTV and SkillsTV are often used to start classroom discussions or to introduce student models that help deepen understanding. Each unit begins with a Blast, a feature that begins each unit and mimics social media in the classroom. Students read background information before constructing bite-sized responses. The Blasts go live in real-time, like social media, to generate student discussions that deepen understanding of the units’ concepts and questions.

Materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, the ELA Grade Level Overview for Grade 12 provides teachers with guidance and strategies to help students access the unit. The section on Text Complexity takes teachers through a preview of the text challenges such as specific vocabulary, argumentative text structures, and pop culture references. For example, the first informational text, “Are the New ‘Golden Age’ TV Shows the New Novels?” written by Adam Kirsch and Mohsin Hamid, provides teachers with key information for preparing students to access the texts. Teachers may view the Reader and Tasks section, where the materials outline Skill lessons like Informational Text Elements, and they may view the Close Read prompt for the explanatory essay required of students.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, the materials include a guide to Blended Learning titled “How to Put the ‘Blended’ in Blended Learning: a Tech & Learning ebook” in the Help Center under Blended Learning. This guide references argumentative writing in the unit’s Extended Writing Project. One seven-minute lesson taught by Catlin Tucker shows teachers how she would guide a class through a whole group rotation of activities using online resources. She addresses strategies for teachers to provide editing feedback during synchronous writing.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students complete a Perfect Storm Blast. Students read background information on recent major hurricanes before constructing a short response to the question, “How do natural disasters change us?” Students give one another “specific, encouraging, and constructive” feedback on the Blasts. The Lesson Plan provides insight into helping students who may struggle with constructing a short, meaningful response. It states, “Allow students to respond to the driving question orally before using the sentence frames to complete their Blast. Allow Beginning ELLs to translate or use native language peer assistance. Point out that the introductory clause ‘natural disasters change’ borrows language directly from the Blast driving question to provide a response.” The document also encourages teachers to provide these students with word banks or sentence frames as scaffolds for the assignment.

Indicator 3g

Materials contain a teacher's edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.

StudySync materials provide a Unit Overview that identifies Difficult Concepts in advance for educators to consider. Explanations are accessible for educators, and sample answers are available in the Lesson Plans, Teacher Edition tab available with each assignment, and the End-of-Unit Assessment when the teacher selects “View as: Teacher when grading.” Within the Integrated Reading and Writing section, a Lesson Plan is available for each task in the Instructional Path, providing options for teachers with instructional moves and guidance for Scaffolding & Differentiation. A grade-level ELA Overview is also available with guidance related to text complexity, including both quantitative and qualitative features, as well as additional information related to the instructional approach to writing using mentor texts.

Materials contain a teacher’s edition that comprises full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, within the Unit Overview, the materials include a section titled “Difficult Concepts” to support teachers with planning. In this unit, the materials delve into informational text elements: “Evaluating and critiquing texts can be difficult for many students because it is a higher-order cognitive task. Most students are accustomed to analyzing informational text elements, but in 12th grade students are required to evaluate and critique those elements.” This section highlights the use of a specific Skill lesson that students may use as practice.
  • In Unit 2, Uncovering the truth, within the First Read of “The Postmaster,” by Rabindranath Tagore, the Lesson Plan provides teachers with support in explaining the genre. “Explain to students that the story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator who reveals the thoughts and feelings of both characters.” Teacher guidance also includes a strategy to share with students to help them understand the text: “Remind readers that they will need to draw their own conclusions about the characters' thoughts and actions and decide what the deeper meaning of the story is.”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, the End-of-Unit Assessment provides additional guidance for teachers when grading, including an exemplary sample response for a multi-paragraph essay and explanations detailing why specific answers are correct or incorrect for multiple-choice questions. For example, “Incorrect. While readers may be prompted to consider their own experiences as a result of this question, the author is not directly asking readers to reflect on their own relationships with seniors.”

Indicator 3h

Materials contain a teacher's edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.

StudySync materials provide lesson plans that denote the specific standards and skills that are addressed daily. The Pacing Guide breaks down standards alignment in an easy-to-use chart that lists the standards associated with each text and points within the unit for readdressing standards. The Scope and Sequence includes a chart that lists each text, shows the standards associated with it, and denotes which standards are taught with direct instruction and reinforced with practice and which are solely practiced.

Materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The Grade Level Overview states the following: “Skill lessons on Thesis Statements and Organizing Informative Writing teach concepts specifically called out in the Common Core English Language Arts standards.” The Pacing Guide shows that the informational text “Community Colleges vs. Technical Schools” (authors not cited) covers several standards, including RI.11-12.5, RI.11-12.2, and RI.11-12.9. Lastly, the Scope and Sequence clearly shows that Reading: Informational, Reading: Literature, Language, Writing, and Speaking and Listening standards are addressed throughout the year.
  • The Pacing Guide for Unit 1 lists an End-Of-Unit Assessment along with its correlating standards. For example, the students read a fiction piece, “Buddy Day,” and the teacher can view the skill, context clues, and the standard, L.11-12.4, that is assessed.

Indicator 3i

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research based strategies.

StudySync materials provide an Additional Resource for educators “Research-Base Alignments: A Summary of Research in Secondary School (Grades 6-12) English Language Arts” to provide a summary of key points in reading, writing, language, speaking and listening, and media and technology. The research in the documents includes “reports, experimental and quasi-experimental research designs, reviews of research, and opinion pieces written by those considered experts within the field of literacy.” StudySync uses research-based strategies to show that content-specific knowledge is highly correlated with vocabulary, and both contribute to reading comprehension and inferencing skills. The curriculum uses strategies such as repeated reading for fluency, using grammar in context to enhance basic skills, and encouraging readers to engage with a text by activating their schema.

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies. Examples include but are not limited to the following:

  • StudySync uses the research theory, by Shen, in English Language Teaching that suggests there is a reciprocal relationship between knowledge, vocabulary, and reading and writing achievement. Readers engage with a text by activating background knowledge. “Schema is the technical term used by cognitive scientists to describe how people process, organize, and store information in their heads” (Shen, 2008, p. 104).
  • Handbook of Writing Research (2015) synthesizes current knowledge on writing development and instruction at all grade levels. Timothy Shanahan provides information relating to relationships between reading and writing development. StudySync incorporates this key point into writing instruction: “Research has long found many connections and correlations between reading and writing” (Shanahan, 2015).
  • “Improving Adolescent Literacy: Effective Classroom and Intervention Practices” (2008) is a practice guide that presents specific and coherent evidence-based recommendations that educators can use to improve literacy levels among adolescents in upper elementary, middle, and high schools. StudySync includes a key point in Research Recommendations for Vocabulary: “The What Works Clearinghouse Improving Adolescent Literacy guide (Kamil et al., 2008) considers the level of evidence “strong” in their recommendation for explicit vocabulary instruction in the upper elementary, middle, and high school grades.”
  • StudySync references the article, “Is fluent, expressive reading important for high school readers?” (2012) from the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy and utilizes research recommendations for instructional fluency methods, such as repeated readings. The article recommends these methods “at the secondary level, especially with students who struggle with fluency and reading comprehension” (Paige, Rasinski, & Magpuri-Lavell, 2012, p. 72).
  • “Surface, Deep, and Transfer? Considering the Role of Content Literacy Instructional Strategies” (2017), an article by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and John Hattie published in the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, provides information relating to content literacy instructional practices. StudySync includes a pivotal point in comprehending literary and informational text: “Because each discipline has its own purpose and structure, it necessarily requires different literacy skills and abilities to create, communicate, and evaluate knowledge, and students may require different strategies to deepen their understanding of text as they gain more knowledge about a topic” (Frey, Fisher, Hattie, 2017).
  • “When is a verb? Using functional grammar to teach writing” (2007), an article by Fearn and Farnan in the Journal of Basic Writing, focuses on the argument against Identification, Description, Definition (IDD) by arguing that there can be a positive interaction between grammar instruction and writing performance (if the grammar is functional and used for writing purposes). “Teaching basic skills, such as grammar within the context of writing—instead of teaching them in isolation—has been shown to enhance writing performance” (Fearn & Farnan, 2007).

Indicator 3j

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.

StudySync materials include a Program Guide that encourages educators to plan a Curriculum Night and/or send home the Student User Guide and Grade Level Overview. The documents and event can help teachers provide parents and stakeholders with valuable information to support students including “the philosophy behind the program, the types of assignments and assessments students will complete, the skills they will learn, the expectations for students using an integrated digital and print program, and how caregivers can support students at home.” The Program Guide also encourages teachers to send home individual student reports as they contain data on student progress, and can be used to determine areas that require more attention or support.

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Information provided in the Program Guide indicates that students, teachers, and parents receive results at the end of each unit through a report linked to the End-of-Unit Assessment. The report that teachers can share with students and parents indicates the content addressed and assessed skills and standards. This summative assessment data indicates student progress and can help address areas in need of reteaching or remediation.
  • StudySync provides a Getting Started Student Guide to support students in using the online curriculum. Some of the features they learn about include viewing and completing assignments, using the Review feature, using the Binder tab, completing a Blast, and using the Library tab.

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for assessment. The materials include regular and systematic formal and informal assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. Assessments clearly denote which standards are emphasized. The materials build time for revisiting key concepts into the pacing guide. Data tracking and presentation tools help teachers use the results of assessments to identify which standards and skills present particular challenges for students, as well as where students are excelling and are ready for enrichment. The materials include routines and guidance that highlight opportunities to monitor student progress. Students have two opportunities to engage in independent reading during core instruction, including self-selected reading options where students research background information that would inspire them to choose a particular text.

Indicator 3k

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

StudySync materials provide assessment opportunities to measure student progress, such as a Readiness Screener, Reading Comprehension Diagnostic, and Benchmarks for each grade level; ACT, SAT, and State Test Preparations; and EL End-of-Unit assessments that teachers can assign as Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced High. Summative assessments, such as the Extended Writing and Oral Projects at the end of each unit, provide opportunities for students to demonstrate proficiency in skills they practice during instruction. Formative assessments, such as the text questions, quick Checks for Success, and turn-and-talk activities, allow teachers to monitor student progress and provide timely feedback.

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering The Truth, in the First read of “The Postmaster” by Rabindranath Tagore, the lesson will ask students to describe the qualities and behaviors of the main character and the conflicts he faces. Students complete Think questions, which formatively assess their understanding of the story's genre focus and/or standard, which was the focus of the lesson. Examples for questions include the Skill: Textual Evidence, Question: Does the postmaster seem well-adapted to his new home? Use evidence from the text to describe the postmaster’s feelings about the village. The materials provide teachers with an exemplar response to grasp the level of the student’s understanding.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, after reading an excerpt from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, students complete the “Write” section of the lesson. Students demonstrate their understanding of the author’s development of the novel’s beginning by explaining its dualities in a short written response. This short formative assessment can gauge the student’s understanding of the unit’s genre focus and/or standard, which was the focus of the lesson. The lesson also includes modified writing prompts for ELL levels. The Write prompt for this lesson is a Literary Analysis: “Charles Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities explores many different dualities in ideas, settings, and characters. Write a response in which you describe the dualities and contrasts presented in Chapter 1. Make sure to support your response with textual evidence.” The materials provide teachers with an exemplar response, which can be used to grasp the level of students’ understanding and make adjustments to the next lesson to address misconceptions.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students complete a summative End-of-Unit Assessment to demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and language skills they practiced during the unit. For example, the final question asks students to write an argumentative essay to the following prompt: “Authors pay careful attention to the methods they use to develop text. Write an essay in which you explain how authors use tools of literature to convey meaning and messages. Use at least three examples from the texts, and argue how use of each tool allows the author to communicate meaning and messages.” Teachers provide a score with feedback, and the materials offer an exemplar response in the Teacher Edition.

Indicator 3l

The purpose/use of each assessment is clear:
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Indicator 3l.i

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

The StudySync Student and Teacher Edition include standards listed under tasks within the assessment that, when clicked, provide details about the standard addressed in each task of the formative and summative assessments. StudySync also includes an assess component where teachers can find all the assessments and view the correlated standards assessed. Formative assessments include First Reads, Close Reads, Blasts, and lesson tasks. Summative assessments include Extended Writing Projects, Extended Oral Projects, and End-of-Unit Assessments.

Materials offer ongoing formative and summative assessments. Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students write a meaningful personal essay for their Extended Writing Project. The summative assessment takes students through each step in the writing process as they respond to a prompt. The assessment addresses multiple standards, including W.11-12.2.A, W.11-12.4, and W.11-12.5, which are denoted in both student- and teacher-facing materials.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students complete a summative research writing project and can view the standards assessed in the Writing section of the planning stage. Under the response area, students can see the writing standards, W.11-12.2A, W.11-12.4, W.11-12.5, W.8.4, and W.8.5, associated with the written response. Students may access descriptions of standards by clicking on the standard.
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read Katherine Mansfield’s short story “A Cup of Tea.” They complete short answer Think questions after reading. The formative assessment asks questions, such as “Why does Rosemary want to take the girl from the street home with her? Is it really just to offer her a cup of tea? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer.” This question addresses standard RL.11-12.1 and is denoted on the student’s assignment as well as in the answer key provided to teachers in the lesson plan.

Indicator 3l.ii

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow up.

StudySync materials provide data tracking tools in StudySync that allow teachers to use information from formative assessments throughout the units. Data-tracking tools like the Gradebook display more than just raw scores for students. They also breakdown student scores against standards and skills. The tool is color-coded so teachers can easily spot student needs according to standards. Green denotes that a student is on track for grade-level mastery or beyond. A yellow box denotes that a student may require scaffolded instruction to get back on track toward grade-level performance. Finally, the color red indicates that an instructor should use diagnostic assessments to determine whether the student requires foundational skill intervention. Teachers may filter assessments in the Assess section where they can also utilize Screening, and Diagnostic and Benchmark Assessments. The materials include teacher guidance on student mastery of standards for assessments such as quizzes, skills mastery checks, and Extended Writing Projects. The Grade Level Pacing Guide includes time for review and reteaching, which allows teachers to reteach those concepts that students struggled with earlier in the unit. StudySync provides teachers with Spotlight Skill lessons to reteach and remediate. Every unit culminates with the End-Of-Unit-Assessment that provides teachers with the student's current understanding of unit standards and provides reports for students and teachers highlighting skill strengths, skill deficiencies, standard, and skill proficiency levels and across unit growth.

Materials offer ongoing formative and summative assessments. Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, StudySync Assess for Grade 12 provides reporting, questions, passages, and assessment options. There are 27 assessments teachers may utilize to determine student competency in connection to grade-level standards. Teachers may use the State Test Preparation Grade 12-Form 1, 2, and 3 to measure growing mastery of curriculum throughout the year. Students' scores are displayed immediately after completing the assessment. Teachers may guide students in interpreting scores, responses, and explanations per question.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students plan an argumentative oral project in response to what future students need to know. In the draft stage of the project, students access four Skill lessons that provide scaffolding of the necessary skills to present findings. Each Skill lesson, such as Skill: Organizing an Oral Presentation, offers feedback to students and teachers through the Your Turn activity. For example, in this activity, students must identify sentences that represent outline categories such as purpose and introduction and thesis. The Your Turn activity informs teachers of the skills and standards that need reteaching.

Indicator 3m

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.

StudySync materials include a variety of opportunities, such as a Readiness Screener and End-of-Unit assessments, to monitor student progress. Beginning of the year assessments include the Reading Comprehension Diagnostic and Maze Fluency Assessment. The Benchmark Assessment monitors students' progress in standards mastery throughout the school year. The materials include data tracking tools with day-to-day student performance on all standards, which teachers may use to guide instructional decisions.

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, teachers can chart outcomes toward key learning standards when students complete an Extended Writing Project. Students follow a consistent Instructional Path with each unit, including Plan, Draft, Revise, and Edit and Publish. Teachers can track student growth toward proficiency of grade level reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language standards throughout the narrative writing process.
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight independently. The Teacher Edition offers a Check for Success with guidance, including the following: “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Making Inferences to deepen their understanding of the text. If students struggle, remind them that readers make inferences about characters and events by engaging in the following: combining their knowledge of the world with clues provided in the text. You may also show and discuss these examples...”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students independently read “The Great Figure,” by William Carlos Williams, and respond to a personal narrative writing prompt to demonstrate their understanding of sensory details. The Lesson Plan provides opportunities to monitor student progress through Text Talk response questions, the Writer’s Notebook, Collaborative Conversations, and Check for Success vocabulary review. For example: “Writer’s Notebook Connect to Literary Focus—Give students time to reflect on how ‘The Great Figure’ demonstrates the conventions and characteristics of this unit’s literary focus, Modernism, by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks” and “Check for Success: If students are still struggling to respond to the prompt, ask them scaffolded questions, such as: ‘What were some common stylistic choices of Modernist writers? Which of these stylistic choices is reflected in the poem?’”

Indicator 3n

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.

StudySync materials provide students the opportunity to engage in a Blast: Self-Selected lesson where they choose a text after exploring content information about the text selection options. Students demonstrate comprehension of the text by responding to a driving question in the Write: Self-Selected Response. The Pacing Guide indicates that at least one day of each unit should be spent on independent reading that is based on student choice.

Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students read a Blast background text that dives into the unit’s texts and Essential Question, “How can we transform the future?” Students view a variety of options for their self-selected reading, each of which is available in the StudySync library. Guidance includes a series of questions to support students in determining which of the self-selected texts would be the best fit. For example, “Do I find the study of psychology fascinating, and do I want to learn more about personal motivation and performance? Perhaps you might try Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students read a Blast background text that dives into the unit’s texts and Essential Question, “How do leaders fight for their ideas?” Students view a variety of options for their self-selected reading, each of which is available in the StudySync library. Guidance includes a series of questions to support students in determining which of the self-selected texts would be the best fit. For example, “Am I interested in exploring the perspective of a female narrator in rural India as she looks back on her married life? Consider reading Nectar in a Sieve.”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read a Blast background text that dives into the unit’s texts and Essential Question, “What causes individuals to feel alienated?” Students view a variety of options for their self-selected reading, each of which is available in the StudySync library. Guidance includes a series of questions to support students in determining which of the self-selected texts would be the best fit. For example, “Do I want to read an iconic poem that was influenced by the Modernist movement? If so, we recommend “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for differentiated instruction. The materials include a number of scaffolds and strategies to support the needs of a range of learners. Support for English learners is differentiated by ability levels. Both English learners and students who need additional support will benefit from technology supports, such as audio with variable speed, audio text highlight, and supplemental language. Opportunities for students to investigate grade-level content, at a greater depth, occur during small group instruction. Suggestions for grouping students are outlined in each lesson plan and activity.

Indicator 3o

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners, so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.

StudySync materials provide teachers with the opportunity to differentiate within each lesson, and guidance is available to teachers for scaffolding, including offering options for instructional routines and questions to prompt thinking. There are instructional options for English learners: Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High. There are also proficiency levels for Below Level: Approaching and Above Level: Beyond. Teachers can customize lessons when assigning, such as increasing the length limit for Blast responses from 140 characters to 280 characters. Teachers can add and remove standards associated with the Blast assignment, add additional instructions/teacher’s notes, show scaffolds to students who need them, and select a Lexile to change the background.

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, Uncovering Truth, during the reading of “The Postmaster” by Rabindranath Tagore, students complete a Skill: Theme lesson, during which they explain how characterization, setting, and plot details relate to the development of multiple themes in “The Postmaster.” Students complete a drag and drop vocabulary chart. Modifications for Beginning and Intermediate ELLs suggest the teacher circulates and supports students as they complete the chart and provide additional examples of each term if necessary. A visual glossary is also listed as an available scaffold for ELL students.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students complete a Close Read of “To His Excellency, General Washington,” by Phillis Wheatley. The Lesson Plan provides suggestions for grouping students as well as scaffolding and differentiation during vocabulary instruction, reading, and writing. A Check for Success provides teachers with scaffolded questions such as “How does the poem’s speaker feel about Washington’s ability to face this challenge?” to prompt students,
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, after reading and discussing “The Mysterious Anxiety of Them and Us” by Ben Okri, students identify and describe character traits and setting details as well as articulate the conflict that is central to the plot. During the Text Talk, students answer questions and discuss their responses. Questions include “What is the setting?” and “What does the narrator do when people begin to eat?” Scaffolds support language development for ELL students. For example, Beginning and Intermediate ELLs use speaking frames while Advanced and Advanced-High ELLs and Approaching students use speaking frames and paragraph guides. Beyond-grade-level students write one additional discussion question.

Indicator 3p

Materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.

StudySync materials provide teachers the opportunity to differentiate instruction for all learners. Each lesson can be modified to support four levels of English Language Learners—Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High. When instructors change the proficiency level of the lessons, the readings, assignments, and scaffolds adjust accordingly. Additionally, all lesson plans include suggestions for scaffolding each activity to meet the needs of English Language Learners and Approaching students.

Scaffolds include visual glossaries, text synopses, Spanish cognates, speaking frames, sentence frames, word banks, and differentiated questions. Each unit includes a folder of 20 ELL Resources lessons. These lessons are more targeted and aimed at helping students develop their language skills. The lessons can be taught alongside the core ELA program, allowing students to practice language skills and strategies while also working on grade-level standards.

Indicator 3q

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.

StudySync materials provide advanced opportunities for students during Blasts. Each Blast can be customized. Teachers may select the highest Lexile of the three options to change the background. With regard to quantitative text complexity measures, this option ensures students are in the appropriate stretch Lexile band. Lesson Plans include suggestions for differentiation for Beyond-grade-level students, and the Teacher Edition tab within each Assignment includes a column specific for differentiation with the Beyond suggestions and questions. The activities offered for Beyond-grade-level students are designed to take them further into the content of a lesson should they complete the activity before other students. The Beyond supports challenge students to stretch their thinking and add more opportunities for collaborative, creative engagement.

Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next, after reading an excerpt from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, students begin Collaborative Conversations by breaking down the prompt before they discuss relevant ideas and textual evidence. Beyond students are also asked to make text to world connections, as they reread the final paragraph and respond to probing questions, such as “How can Lamott’s story about her older brother and his report on birds offer readers ‘the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate’? What are some challenges that your community or the country faces? How could Lamott’s advice help you or others be cheerful and hopeful in these circumstances? What is a specific problem you care about, one that affects many people? Using Lamott’s advice, what might be your first ‘bird’ in solving that problem?”
  • In Unit 4, Sculpting Reality, students independently read an excerpt from Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. The Teacher Edition provides suggestions for differentiation with Beyond-grade-level readers. For example, teachers may ask students Ethical Issues questions. “Reread the final sentence of the excerpt: ‘It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced for their sex.’ What dilemmas or controversies are involved with the way women are treated in 19th century England? From the perspective of an English citizen of the 1800s, what societal rules or norms are being violated?”
  • In Unit 5, Fractured Selves, students read “The Great Figure,” by William Carlos Williams and display their understanding of sensory details through personal narratives. Beyond students analyze the author's syntax by attempting to write the poem as a single sentence without line breaks. Then, students add punctuation to the poem according to standard grammatical rules. Finally, students break up the sentence into two or more smaller sentences. The teacher then asks the following probing questions: “Why do you think Williams chose to present the poem in this manner? What effect do the syntax and line breaks have on the meaning of the poem?”

Indicator 3r

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

StudySync materials provide opportunities for individual, partner, small group, and whole class work. Each teacher lesson includes suggestions for grouping, providing instructional opportunities in a variety of settings. Suggestions for grouping along with available scaffolds for each group are listed next to each activity. Scaffolds include speaking frames, discussion guides, and probing questions.

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students engage in a First Read lesson of the informational text, “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome,” written by Dena Simmons, and restate key ideas and details found in the text. Students begin the lesson engaging in the “Introduce the Text” activity. In whole group, students view a video on the imposter syndrome and then move to small group work, making connections while responding to teacher-directed questions. ELL grouping suggests pairing ELL students with on-grade-level peers.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students complete a Close Read of Gulliver's Travels, written by Jonathan Swift, and describe a movie scene relating to contemporary leaders. As a whole class, students watch a StudySyncTV episode, as the teacher stops the video at specific times and prompts the class to respond to questions. One example includes at 3:29 in the video, at which time the teacher stops the video and asks, “How do the students relate the laws about how to break and egg to their own lives?”
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students read “Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story, “A Temporary Matter.” During the Skill: Theme lesson, students use a checklist to analyze the Skill Model in groups. The Lesson Plan provides the following guidance for grouping Beginning and Intermediate English Language Learners: “Group students in mixed-level pairs for peer support as they follow along. Allow students to work together to highlight and annotate the text, in English or in their native language.”

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria for effective technology use. Digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. Embedded technology, such as polls, options to post ideas, and videos, enhance student learning. Teachers can customize learning opportunities and experiences to meet individual needs. Teachers can also customize assignments according to student interests and abilities. The materials include a number of digital collaborative opportunities. Students provide feedback to and receive feedback from their peers as they complete writing prompts online. The program also includes several features that mimic a social media style of communication.

Indicator 3s

Digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple Internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), "platform neutral" (i.e., are compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. This qualifies as substitution and augmentation as defined by the SAMR model. Materials can be easily integrated into existing learning management systems.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (i.e., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

StudySync materials are accessible on multiple devices, including tablets and mobile devices, and most Internet browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. StudySync’s instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language may be delivered digitally and includes opportunities for collaboration, writing, research, and assessment using technology, all supplemented with print options. The digital format and accessibility allow flexibility for blended courses. StudySync offers a Blended Learning video series, with Caitlin Tucker, to assist teachers in navigating the program and exploring instructional strategies. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The StudySync Program Guide includes additional information for teachers relating to the interchangeability of the print and digital resources: “The print materials support the digital platform so that teachers and students can switch seamlessly between individual devices, shared devices, or device-free structures depending on levels of access and the needs of students.”
  • A Help Center is available to watch implementation videos, find resource documents, use an intuitive Q&A feature, and complete online professional development courses.
  • The “Blasts” provide students with research links to access videos, websites, photo galleries, infographics, editorials, and informational texts online. These links provide additional insight into various topics and are accessible on various digital platforms, including Google Chrome, Safari, and Microsoft Edge. New Blasts that explore current events are updated often, and the site's offerings are updated daily.

Indicator 3t

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

StudySync materials provide the opportunity for teachers to modify the materials to suit individual learners. Teachers use digital resources to modify student settings for language proficiency and to access student work for grading. Digital teacher resources also allow teachers to work with both print and online resources. Teachers can use the digital tools to monitor student progress and respond to student needs through online diagnostic screening resources and end of the unit assessments to determine reading and writing gaps in need of reteaching. Students have access to digital resources that can be used interchangeably with print resources. In the digital resources, students may access assignments, view completed work, and search the digital library, which grows monthly, for texts to enhance their learning. Students also have access to needs-based tools, such as graphic organizers and scaffolding tools. For example, some examples include:

  • Texts, activities, lessons, and assessments can be customized to meet learners’ needs, and teachers can modify student settings for language proficiency so that scaffolds are preloaded for students.
  • The materials include a variety of multimedia tools that enhance student learning. StudySyncTV, SkillsTV, Concept Definition Videos, and audio recordings give students background information and can be used as scaffolds to aid comprehension. They also act as conversation starters and increase text accessibility. Students may access a number of digital tools, such as the highlighting and annotation tools, to help them interact with the digital texts.
  • Unit Blasts mimic social media interactions and allow students to engage with one another by writing, and responding to short responses that upload in real-time.

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
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Indicator 3u.i

Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

StudySync materials allow teachers to customize assignments in a variety of ways to meet the needs of diverse learners. Teachers can create groups and communities of students, making changes from assignment to assignment. Teachers can customize their instructional programs by assigning texts, lessons, and activities to their students directly from the site. Samples, such as Assessment (Review Prompt) and Assignment Detail (Instructions/Teacher’s note), are available to assist teachers when creating these customizations. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Teachers may activate the research links section of the Blast for students, increase length limit up to 280 characters rather than 140, and customize attributes of a Blast assignment. Customizing allows teachers to add and remove standards associated with an assignment, include additional instructions as an Assignment Detail, turn Vocabulary on as part of the assignment, and select the students’ Answer Key visibility. Teachers may show scaffolds to students in need of that support, and select between three different Lexile levels to change the background of a Blast reading.
  • Customization is available with Skills lessons. Teachers may enable a writing prompt for students, enter a review of the students’ responses to explain whether it satisfies the assignment requirements, and include the name of a rubric.
  • Assignments connected to the texts students read are customizable, including but not limited to the following: Assignment Details, turning Voiceover on or off for the text intro and text, selecting whether the English Language Reading Summary is available for students, showing scaffolds to students who need that support, and displaying a graphic organizer.
  • The Teacher’s Edition provides Vocabulary scaffolds in a slide-in screen for Approaching-grade-level students and English language learners. These scaffolds also include Spanish translations for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High English learners.

Indicator 3u.ii

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials can be easily customized for local use.

StudySync materials provide the opportunity to customize according to teacher preference and student need. Scaffolds include Lesson-Specific Scaffolds and Tech-Enabled Scaffolds. Print and digital resources are interchangeable for classrooms that share devices, and device-free structures are available. Consumables are available to allow students to annotate and interact with text, and these same features are available digitally. Teachers may also create student groups with specific customizations for assignments. Materials are available to print in Braille as an accessibility feature and accommodation. Additional guidance for teachers on how to utilize accessibility features and accommodations for students with diverse needs is available in the Program Guide. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Teachers may identify students as “English Learners, Approaching-grade-level students, or Beyond-grade-level students.” Once these identifications are in place, students automatically receive the appropriate scaffolds or enrichment. Changes to scaffolds may take place when necessary throughout the year. Examples of Lesson-Specific scaffolds include, but are not limited to the following: visual glossaries, Spanish cognates, and differentiated questions. Tech-Enabled Scaffolds include audio with variable speed, audio text highlight, supplemental language, and summaries.
  • The materials include opportunities for self-selected reading at the end of each unit. Students may access these texts in the StudySync library. All the self-selected reading options connect with the unit theme and are within the Lexile range for the unit.
  • The materials offer access to 160 full-length works, including 18 anchor texts and 142 additional texts. After gauging student interest, teachers may create opportunities for students to read an entire text in PDF or ePub formats. The Program Guide includes additional information relating to multimedia and technology: “All selections in the program include accompanying digital tools that students can use to support their reading, including the ability to make annotations, highlight sections of text, and view numbered lines or paragraphs.”
  • Teachers have the option of creating their own Writer’s Notebook activities, during which students use strategies to help them create their short, constructed responses.
  • When students write a response to a Close Read writing prompt, teachers may assign an anonymous peer review to two or three students. Teachers also have this option as a process step in Extended Writing Projects, as well as other written responses.

Indicator 3v

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 12 meet the criteria that materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.)

StudySync materials provide students and teachers with opportunities to collaborate online and in-person through interchangeable print and digital resources. Digital resources focus on listening, speaking, and discussion and include collaborative opportunities through discussion, video, and audio lesson features. Teachers may collaborate with other teachers using digital resources found in the Help section, such as Best Practices and SyncUp Newsletter. Students access video and audio through SkillsTV and StudySyncTV for collaborative learning. Each unit includes five Blasts that mimic social media interactions. Students read background information, upload short responses, and interact with each other’s posts in real-time. Students give each other peer feedback on multiple tasks throughout the unit, including Think questions, Collaborative Conversations, and writing prompts.

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.). Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, What’s Next?, students start the unit with a Blast. They read background information then answer the guiding question: “How can we transform the future?” After writing a 140-character response, students anonymously comment and rate one another’s posts. This peer review happens in real-time, as students can see responses to their posts as they upload the page.
  • In Unit 3, Against the Wind, students complete a Blast halfway through the unit. They read background information, then answer the guiding question: “What makes a great leader, according to science?” After writing a 140-character response, students anonymously comment and rate one another’s posts. This peer review happens in real-time, as students can see responses to their posts as they upload the page.
  • In Unit 6, Times of Transition, students evaluate each author’s use of media and participate in a Collaborative Discussion after reading “Honesty on Social Media” (authors not cited), a point/counterpoint argumentative text. One digital tool students use to prepare for the discussion is a graphic organizer. Students choose the most convincing text and provide reasons to support their text choice. Students use these digital tools to discuss the Collaborative Discussion prompt with a group of their peers.
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 09/03/2020

Report Edition: 2021

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-906966-5 McGraw-Hill Education 2021
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-906967-2 McGraw-Hill Education 2021
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-906968-9 McGraw-Hill Education 2021
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-907046-3 McGraw-Hill Education 2021
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-907047-0 McGraw-Hill Education 2021
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-907049-4 McGraw-Hill Education 2021
StudySync ELA Grades 6-12, Teacher Subscription, 1-year 978-0-07-907051-7 McGraw-Hill Education 2021

About Publishers Responses

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

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

The publisher has not submitted a response.

Please note: Beginning in spring 2020, reports developed by EdReports.org will be using an updated version of our review tools. View draft versions of our revised review criteria here.

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

ELA HS Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

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

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.

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.

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