Alignment: Overall Summary

StudySync Grade 6 materials meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core English Language Arts (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
17
32
36
32
32-36
Meets Expectations
18-31
Partially Meets Expectations
0-17
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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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 6 meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the Standards. Although there is a heavy reliance on text excerpts at times, the 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.
16/20
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria for text quality and text complexity. Although the majority of the anchor texts are of high quality, many 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 texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
2/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 6 partially meet the expectations that anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests. Texts include a wide range of genres and address a range of topics that are high–interest and age-appropriate for Grade 6. Anchor texts are well-crafted and content rich, engaging students at the grade level for which they are placed. The texts address themes—facing challenges in life, relationships, facing darkness, achieving your personal best, making your mark on the world, and being true to yourself—that are of interest and age-appropriate. Many of the core texts are Common Core State Standards' (CCSS) exemplar texts, written by award-winning authors, such as Sandra Cisneros. Texts contain rich vocabulary, both academic and content-specific, and are culturally diverse. The texts range from classic literature, from the traditional canon, to more contemporary works from diverse authors. With the exception of short stories, poems, letters, and essays, StudySync materials heavily rely on the use of text excerpts. Although students may use one of the unit texts as a mentor text during the Extended Writing Project, the materials rarely provide opportunities for students to read texts in their entirety throughout core instruction lessons or Self-Selected Reading lessons. 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, students read the short story “Eleven” by Sandra Cisneros. Sandra is a Mexican-American writer who has won many awards including the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Her short story, “Eleven” is a classic fictional text worthy of reading, because students can identify with the eleven-year-old main character, Rachel. The author uses figurative language, word choice, and point of view to describe Rachel’s embarrassing experience. The text provides students an opportunity to analyze new vocabulary using context clues.
  • In Unit 2, students read an excerpt, from the novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Newbery Award-Winning author Mildred Taylor. This novel explores the thought-provoking issues of racism and injustice. While dealing with the everyday terrors of the Deep South during the 1930s, students can identify with Cassie and the Logan family as they are compelled to rely upon their strong sense of family and fairness. The use of dialect helps the reader reveal the plot and characters.
  • In Unit 3, students read “Hatshepsut: His Majesty, Herself,” by Catherine M. Andronik. This informational text exemplifies the features of a biography, such as chronological text structure, point of view, historical context, and direct and indirect description, which aids students with their comprehension and analysis of the text. The academic vocabulary in this text allows students to practice determining the meaning of words derived from Greek and Latin roots.
  • In Unit 4, students read an excerpt from the autobiography, I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. This nonfiction text tells the story of Malala, a teenager who was shot in the face by the Taliban because she stood up for her beliefs. The author’s use of idioms, in her writing, helps tell her story. The text provides students with an example of writing for more than one purpose. Yousafzi writes for two purposes, to inform and to persuade. Prior knowledge, of the Taliban-ruled Northern Pakistan, may be required for students’ full comprehension of the text.
  • In Unit 5, students read an excerpt, from the drama Damon and Pythias, by Fan Kissen. This engaging dramatization of the Greek legend is about the depths of friendship which is relatable and age-appropriate for students in Grade 6. Students may use context clues to help determine the meaning of unfamiliar words and closely read the words of the Voices to understand some happenings in the drama. The Voices are used as part of the narration to give context and arouse interest. At the end, the Voices are speakers in a crowd scene.
  • In Unit 6, students read the text, “Letter to His Daughter,” by W.E.B. Du Bois. The letter, from Du Bois offering advice to his daughter, will not only challenge students with its complex language but resonate with their ability to consider the advice offered by adults.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

Texts include a balance of 60% literary (36 literary texts) and 40% informational texts (24 informational texts). There is a wide array of literary and informational anchor texts for every unit. Literary texts include, but are not limited to fictional novels, poetry, and fantasies. Informational texts comprise memoirs, autobiographies, and letters.

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

  • In Unit 1, The Mighty Miss Malone by Christoper Paul Curtis (historical fiction novel)
  • In Unit 2, “The Treasure of Lemon Brown” by Walter Dean Myers (short story)
  • In Unit 3, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (Greek mythology)
  • In Unit 4, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (fantasy)
  • In Unit 5, Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix (dystopian fiction)
  • In Unit 6, “Rosa” by Rita Dove (poetry)

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

  • In Unit 1, Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang (memoir)
  • In Unit 2, “We’re on the Same Team” by Jacki Jing (letter)
  • In Unit 3, “Everybody Jump” by Randall Munroe (infographic)
  • In Unit 4, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai (autobiography)
  • In Unit 5, Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals (memoir)
  • In Unit 6, “A BEACON of Hope: The Story of Hannah Herbst” by Rebecca Harrington (biography)

Indicator 1c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for texts having the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.

In the StudySync materials, most texts fall within either the Current Lexile Band or the Stretch Lexile Band for Grades 6–8. Texts range from 520L to 1130L; most texts are appropriate for Grade 6 according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to the reader and task. A number of texts fall below the Grades 6-8 Lexile band but are sufficiently challenging for students based upon necessity of background knowledge, comprehension of unfamiliar vocabulary, and skill sets in drawing connections to the unit themes and tasks. Some of the quantitative information, indicated in the StudySync materials, is 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 full texts.

Most texts have the appropriate level of complexity for Grade 6 students. Examples of texts with appropriate text complexity include:

  • In Unit 5, students read The Story of My Life (Chapter IV) by Helen Keller
    • Quantitative: 1130L
    • Qualitative: The Teacher Guide suggests helping students build background knowledge about education for the blind. Students may need definitions for certain nautical terms that Keller uses, such as plummet and sounding-line. The Biblical reference to “Aaron’s rod” (a staff carried by Moses’ brother, Aaron) may also need explanation.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a personal response about when Keller realizes that the “finger play” in her palm actually signifies the water she’s feeling. She experiences an epiphany—everything has a name. Students think about an important discovery they made as a child, such as, when they learned the correct meaning of a word or found out that a growling dog may bite. In a personal response, students compare and contrast their experience with Keller’s and draw conclusions about how learning can affect children.
  • In Unit 6, students read “Shree Bose: Too Young to Change the World” by Amanda Sperber
    • Quantitative: 1040L
    • Qualitative: Students may be unfamiliar with the text discussion of cancer research. The text does not define a linear timeline progression in telling Shree Bose’s life. Students may find it difficult to locate and track these events. The text is loaded with domain–specific vocabulary which adds depth and complexity to the text.
    • Reader and Task: The teacher guides students in a close read of the text. Students respond to these questions: “What qualities make a great problem-solver? You read that Hannah Herbst set out to solve the global energy crisis to help her pen pal in Ethiopia. How does Shree Bose find solutions to scientific and everyday problems encountered throughout her life? How does the author’s use of information presented in different media or formats as well as in words help illustrate Shree’s scientific approach to finding solutions? Use evidence from both text and charts, visuals, or other quantitative information to support your ideas.”

A few anchor texts have quantitative measures that are not within the Grade 6 Current or Stretch Lexile Bands but are appropriate to Grade 6 by other measures. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, students read The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christoper Paul Curtis, which is below the recommended Lexile band for Grades 6-8; however, the text is appropriate to use in Grade 6. It helps the reader build historical knowledge and contains content and academic vocabulary appropriate for Grade 6.
    • Quantitative: 750L
    • Qualitative: This text requires some prior knowledge. The term Hooverville and its connection to Herbert Hoover, the president in the early years of the Great Depression, may be unknown by the reader. Students may be perplexed by the jump in the narrative that occurs between paragraphs three and four. Additionally, the selection contains examples of dialect and unconventional sentence structure.
    • Reader and Task: The teacher guides students in a close read of the text. There is a video to preview and build student interest for reading. The Teacher Guide identifies academic and content vocabulary to challenge students to use during their discussion. Students use the information they learned about both characters to write a short scene that describes this event.
  • In Unit 2, students read Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, which is quantitatively below the recommended Lexile level for the Grade band. However, the text contains complex themes of loss and abandonment that may not resonate as much with some readers and be emotionally difficult for those who have experienced loss and abandonment.
    • Quantitative: 520
    • Qualitative: The text has mature themes along with prior knowledge demands and dialects in the dialogue that make comprehension more difficult.
    • Reader and Task: Students write to argue whether personal relationships can shape one’s future by describing someone who has had a great influence on them.
  • In Unit 2, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, is below the recommended Lexile band for Grades 6–8; however, the text is appropriate to use in Grade 6 because the topic content, unit pacing, and challenging use of dialogue drives the plot.
    • Quantitative: Excerpt 820L, Full Text 920L
    • Qualitative: The dialogue, within the text, may be difficult for some readers to follow as the speaker is not always identified. Students will need to make connections between what the characters say and how the dialogue drives the events of the plot.
    • Reader and Task: The teacher guides readers through a close read of the text. The author builds and releases tension through events in the plot. Through each challenge the characters face, a new theme is revealed. Students engage in discussion by responding to the following prompt. “Overall, do you feel that the author’s themes or messages are positive or negative?” Students develop their opinion using specific parts of the text and supporting details.
  • In Unit 3, The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, is below the recommended Lexile band for Grades 6–8; however, the text is appropriate to use in Grade 6. The references to Greek mythology and flashbacks will pose as a challenge for students.
    • Quantitative: 740L
    • Qualitative: The story is set in modern times, but includes Greek gods, which may confuse some students. Moreover, students are only reading Chapter 3, which will cause some context to be excluded.
    • Reader and Task: Students participate in a discussion about how this excerpt connects to the overall structure of the story, especially the flashbacks. During their discussion, students should use textual evidence.

Indicator 1d

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 series of texts include a variety of complexity levels, text complexity varies over the year without a coherent structure. Students start the year reading texts ranging from 40L–1010L. During Unit 3, the quantitative measures peak, with Lexile levels ranging from 480L–1370L and decline in Units 5 and 6 with ranges of 700L–1130L and 680L–1290L respectively. The number of texts that fall within the Grades 6-8 Lexile Band also peaks in Unit 3, with four of the ten texts falling in the appropriate range. The percentage of texts that fall below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band is 50% or higher, with the exceptions being during Units 3 and 6. After reading individual texts and text sets, students respond to a variety of oral and written prompts, such as literary analysis, informative, compare and contrast, essay, research, poetry, discussion, and debate. While qualitative and associated reader and task measures make the texts appropriate for use in the grade, these measures do not consistently increase in complexity over the course of the school year. The materials incorporate Skill lessons to support one or more of the text complexity measures as needed; however, without a coherent structure in text complexity variance, the materials do not reflect a decrease in the use of these scaffolds over the course of the school year.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” texts range from 40L–1070L and include a focus on the fiction genre. Students also read a poem, play, and excerpt from a memoir. The unit begins with the short story, “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisnero. This text has the highest Lexile level of the unit, 1070L, but it also has the greatest number of Skill lessons, 12, to support instruction. Skill lessons that focus on annotation, context clues, reading comprehension, and Collaborative Conversations support the length and difficulty of the text. The memoir excerpt Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-Li Jiang, has a quantitative measure of 40L. The text is paired with an excerpt from the novel Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, which has a quantitative measure of 730L. The task, associated with these texts, is a compare and contrast writing prompt. To conclude the unit, students read the text set comprised of the qualitatively complex poem “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll, an excerpt from the novel Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry, and an excerpt from the novel, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle. The texts range quantitatively from 670L–740L, and students must conduct a comparative analysis across genres. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to the following: annotation, context clues, text-dependent responses, textual evidence, figurative language, peer review, making connections, setting, dramatic elements and structure, making and confirming predictions, story structure, plot, and summarizing.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” texts range from 830L–1020L. Since the unit focus is on poetry, four of the ten text selections do not have quantitative measures; the remaining six texts fall below the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band. The unit begins with the lowest quantitative text, an excerpt from the novel, Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. Students use explicit text evidence and inferences to support their responses to a prompt. During a discussion of an excerpt from Mildred D. Taylor’s novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the second and most difficult text selection of the unit in terms of quantitative measures, students continue their work with citing textual evidence and inferences. The first text set of the unit includes the essay “The Voice in My Head,” by Holly Warlick, and Jacki Jing’s letter, “We’re On the Same Team.” The texts have quantitative measures of 690L and 760L respectively, and students continue their work with textual evidence while also drawing upon their personal experiences as they write a blog post. The final text set of the unit includes three selections: an excerpt from the autobiography The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child, by Francisco Jimenez, the poem “That Day,” by David Kherdian, and the poem “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long,” by Nikki Giovanni. Students weave vocabulary and language into their written and oral responses to individual prompts associated with each text and also complete a compare and contrast response to a prompt, supporting their responses with evidence from all three texts. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to the following: language, style, and audience, generating questions, connotation and denotation, theme, story structure, making inferences, figurative language, adjusting fluency, poetic elements and structure, summarizing, and point of view.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students focus on informational text with unit selections ranging quantitatively from 480L–1370L. The unit also includes some fiction texts and poems. The qualitative focus on vocabulary, sentence structures, and text features initiated in Unit 2 continues in Unit 3 with an array of texts that have specialized vocabulary and necessitates prior knowledge. The first two texts of the unit, an excerpt from the Greek myth Heroes Every Child Should Know: Perseus, by Hamilton Wright Mabie, and an excerpt from Rick Riordan’s novel The Lightning Thief, fall below the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band. On the contrary, the sentence structure, story organization, and prior knowledge add to the text complexity. Students continue their oral and written textual evidence work. When reading the poem “Elena,” by Pat Mora, and an excerpt from the informational text Hatshepsut, His Majesty, Herself, by Catherine M. Andronik, which has a quantitative measure of 1070L, students continue their work with complex qualitative measures as they focus on specific vocabulary found in both texts. Students also compare and contrast the central or main idea conveyed about female empowerment in both texts, being sure to cite evidence from each text in their responses. Students’ use of textual evidence continues as they compose literary analyses after reading Langston Hughes’s poem “I, Too” and an excerpt from Carl Hiaasen’s novel Hoot (990L). Students write a narrative in response to the prompt associated with Randall Munroe’s informational text “Everybody Jump (from ‘What If’) (860L).” The final text set includes one selection that is below the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band, McGraw Hill Education’s biography “Donna O’Meara: The Volcano Lady” (940L) and two selections that are within the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band, the speech Dare to be Creative! (1110L), by Madeleine L’Engle, and an excerpt from the biography “Margaret Bourke-White: Fearless Photographer” (1110L), by McGraw Hill Education. As students compare and contrast “the main motivation of each individual in these three texts,” students use technical language when possible, as well as evidence from all three texts, in their response to the written prompt. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to the following: visualizing, character, word meaning, story structure, central or main idea, Greek and Latin affixes and roots, poetic elements and structure, media, technical language, theme, and synthesizing.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students focus on argumentative text with unit selections ranging quantitatively from 780L–1313L. The unit includes “a mixture of texts about real individuals and fictional characters.” The texts introduce “new modes of writing structures” to students, paying close attention to the number of ways that authors construct arguments. Qualitative features include sentence structures, text features, and content and relationships among ideas. When responding to an argumentative writing prompt addressing an excerpt from Malala Yousafzai’s memoir, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, students cite specific examples of her word choice. Although the text falls below the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band with a quantitative measure of 840L, the text’s qualitative features include work with idioms and building prior knowledge on the Northern Pakistan area as well as the Taliban. After reading the point and counterpoint argumentative text “Bullying in Schools,” by StudySync, which has a quantitative measure within the grade-level band, students use a graphic organizer to “consider how the arguments develop and if they think their claims will convince the readers.” Students participate in a class debate, citing reasons and evidence from the text. The last text of the unit is Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Famous.” Despite not having a Lexile level, the poem’s use of analogies to define “being famous” and use of free verse, poetic structure, and ambiguity add to its qualitative complexity. Students complete a literary analysis on how “Nye’s use of poetic elements and structure contribute to” the theme, “what it means to be famous.” Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to the following: setting a purpose for reading, author’s purpose and point of view, connotation and denotation, media, arguments and claims, theme, evaluating details, reasons and evidence, word patterns and relationships, central or main idea, and poetic elements and structure.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” the genre focus is drama, but students also read poems, several works of fiction, and a few informational texts. Text selections range from 700L–1130L, with the majority of the texts falling in the 820L–890L range which is below the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band. The first text of the unit, an excerpt from Melba Pattillo Beals’s memoir Warriors Don’t Cry, has a quantitative measure of 890L, which falls below the grade-level band. Qualitative measures, such as prior knowledge of “the Civil Rights movement, the function of the National Guard, and the heightened racial tensions of the time period” as well as specific vocabulary add to the text’s complexity. Students complete an informative writing prompt during which they explain the essential role that Beals’s message and her use of text structure play “in the development of ideas in the text.” Students must support their response with textual evidence. The unit concludes with two text sets. During the paired selection, students discuss how the poem “Saying Yes,” by Diana Chang, and the humorous story “The All-American Slurp” (870L), by Lensey Namioka, “make use of Chinese and American cultures to influence the development of plot and character” as they “compare and contrast the relationships between setting, plot, and character in the two texts.” During the discussion, students use textual evidence and their personal experiences. The final text set includes Langston Hughes’s poem “Helen Keller,” an excerpt from Helen Keller’s autobiography The Story of My Life (1130L), and an excerpt from William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker. The associated task requires students to identify the conflict of the play before they “Compare the conflict and resolution of the conflict in the play with those that are presented in ‘Helen Keller,’ by Langston Hughes and Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life.” Students must use textual evidence to support their responses. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to the following: monitoring comprehension; word patterns and relationships; plot; Greek and Latin affixes and roots; character; visualizing; language, style, and audience; point of view; and dramatic elements and structure.
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” the unit includes an assortment of “literature and classic nonfiction texts about individuals and characters in search of their true selves,” while focusing on the realistic fiction genre. Quantitative measures for text selections range from 680L–1290L. The unit includes three text sets: a pairing of “A BEACON of Hope: The Story of Hannah Herbst” (1290L), by Rebecca Harrington, and “Shree Bose: Never Too Young to Change the World” (1040L), by Amanda Sperber; the text set comprised of “The Story Behind the Bus” (1140L), by The Henry Ford, “Rosa” (N/A), by Rita Dove, and an excerpt from Rosa Parks: My Story (800L), by Rosa Parks; and the paired selections which include an excerpt from “Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery” (1100L), by Russell Freedman and an excerpt from Brave (N/A), by Svetlana Chmakova. Each text set’s associated task requires students to use textual evidence, from all included texts, as they respond to prompts that focus on topics such as “the author’s use of information presented in different media or formats,” how authors “introduce, illustrate, or elaborate on [the] idea of power,” and the “specific word choices and tone that express how [the authors] are true to themselves.” Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to the following: generating questions, summarizing, synthesizing, figurative language, context clues, connotation and denotation; and language, style, and audience.

Indicator 1e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 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.

The text complexity analysis and rationale are included in the Grade 6 ELA Overview. It provides a qualitative analysis that includes information about background knowledge necessitated, vocabulary needs, and other potential challenges related to context as well as tasks students might complete related to the texts. It provides quantitative information measured in Lexiles. Since many of the unit texts are excerpts, the StudySync Library notes the Lexile level for the excerpt used as well as the Lexile level for the full text; however, this distinction is not included in the provided text complexity document.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Grade 6 ELA Overview, Red Scarf Girl, by Ji–Li Jiang, the following information is provided: This text is a memoir that focuses on Chinese culture and customs during specific time periods that will be challenging for students. Students may lack prior knowledge of the Chinese Communist Party and events surrounding the Cultural Revolution. Connotations of vocabulary will need to be considered and will create challenges for the reader. The quantitative analysis states that the Lexile is 40L. Multiple sources state that the Lexile is 740L.
  • In Unit 2, Grade 6 ELA Overview, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor, the following information is provided: In this section of the text, much of the plot is revealed through dialogue, which may challenge some readers because they will have to make connections between the plot and what characters say. Students will also need background knowledge about how the Great Depression affected African Americans particularly. Students will benefit from support with various dialects and how specific words in the story relate to overall meaning. In the Grade Level Overview, the Lexile for the excerpt is recorded as 820L; other sources suggest the book is at a 920L.
  • In Unit 3, Grade 6 ELA Overview, Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, the following information is provided: The fiction text is a contemporary fantasy in which the world of Greek gods are recreated in modern times. References related to the setting and Greek mythology will need to be explained and may provide challenges for the reader. Students may struggle with flashbacks within the story. Lexile is noted at 740L.
  • In Unit 5, Grade 6 ELA Level Overview, The Story of My Life: Chapter IV, by Helen Keller, the following information is provided: This chapter from the novel is autobiographical in nature. A challenging aspect is understanding educating the blind. The Unit Overview suggests providing background knowledge for the students regarding education of the blind. Vocabulary that Helen Keller uses can also be challenging. Words such as plummet and sounding–line can be challenging. The Overview suggests that the students use print and digital resources as necessary to understand the meaning of words. The Lexile level for the excerpt is stated in the materials as 1130L; the full autobiographical text has a Lexile of 1090L. After reading, the students reflect on a time of important discovery in their life and compare and contrast their experience to Helen Keller’s in a personal response.

Indicator 1f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria 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.

The StudySync instructional materials consist of a variety of complex texts and scaffolded instruction to help students develop the skills and strategies necessary to achieve grade-level proficiency in reading. Students read complex texts aloud as a class, independently, in pairs, and small groups. Texts are organized in units with selections that support the unit’s theme and Essential Question. Genres include, but are not limited to novels, poetry, drama, articles, speeches, memoirs, and biographies. Each unit contains a variety of texts and activities that require students to think deeply, monitor their understanding, and apply the knowledge they learn through meaningful tasks and assessments, such as Collaborative Conversations, Short-Constructed Responses and Comprehension Quizzes (online quizzes). The Program Guide states that students learn strategies to monitor and improve their own comprehension. and “students use an annotation tool to engage in metacognitive practices as they monitor their own reading comprehension in First Read, Close Read, and Independent Read lessons.” The materials provide teacher guidance for prompts throughout the activities and after assessments, allowing students to reflect on their own learning.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, ”You and Me,” the genre focus is poetry. However, this unit offers a wide variety of texts, including a nonfiction letter to the editor, “We’re On the Same Team,” by Jacki Jing. In the unit, one text included, is an excerpt of the novel Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Flake. Under the Integrated Reading and Writing tab, the Lesson Plan offers grouping options such as, whole group, small group, or independent for all parts of the First Read task. As they read, students work to answer the Essential Question, “What do we do when life gets hard?” The Lesson Plan also suggests that students read and annotate the text independently for focus skills, such as using context clues, generating questions, and identifying key details of the story. As the students independently read, the “Check for Success” section, of the Lesson Plan, suggests that the teacher circulates the room to provide support and to check student progress. At the conclusion of this lesson, students complete an online Comprehension Quiz to check their progress. Then, students engage in Skill Lessons and a Close Read. In the Close Read, students participate in Collaborative Conversations about the Write prompt. The Write prompt includes the following directions: “Rewrite this excerpt of Walk Two Moons with Phoebe, Prudence, or Mrs. Winterbottom as the narrator instead of Sal.”
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” the genre focus begins as fiction and moves to nonfiction. Students read texts related to the Essential Question, “How do we know what to do when there are no instructions?” Students read texts like “Heroes Every Child Should Know: Perseus,” by Hamilton Wright Mable, The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, “Dare to be Creative,” by Madeleine L’Engle, and a variety of other fictional and informational texts. One text, included in the unit, is an informational article by McGraw Hill Education, “Margaret Bourke-White: Fearless Photographer.” Under the Integrated Reading and Writing tab, the Lesson Plan offers grouping options such as, whole group, small group, or independent for all parts of the First Read task. The Lesson Plan also suggests that the students read and annotate the text independently for focus skills, such as using context clues, generating questions, and synthesizing information. As the students read independently, the “Check for Success” section of the Lesson Plan suggests that the teacher circulates the room to provide support and to check student progress. Students complete an online quiz to check their comprehension of the text. Students then engage in Skill Lessons and a Close Read. In the Close Read, students participate in Collaborative Conversations before completing the prompt in the Write section of the lesson, during which the students compare and contrast this text with two other texts included in the unit.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” the focus is on dramatic text, and students read a variety of drama, fiction, and informational texts throughout as they work to answer the Essential Question, “What’s your story?” Students read texts like an excerpt of Warriors Don’t Cry, by Melba Pattillo Beals, Damon and Pythias, by Fan Kissen, the drama The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, and a number of other texts. One text, included in the unit is the poem, “Helen Keller” by Langston Huges. Under the Integrated Reading and Writing tab, the Lesson Plan offers grouping options such as, whole group, small group, or independent for all parts of the Independent Read task. The Lesson Plan also suggests that the students read and annotate the text independently for focus skills, such as identifying verbal imagery and recording reactions to it. As the students read independently, the “Check for Success” section, of the Lesson Plan, suggests that the teacher circulates the room to provide support and to check student progress. Students complete an online quiz to check their comprehension of the text. Then, students complete a Write task, during which they respond to the prompt in a Short-Constructed Response: “...When a person faces a challenge, why might it be necessary to turn inward rather than look for answers from other people or the outside world? In a personal response, record your conclusions. Include examples from the poem and your own prior experience to support your conclusions.”

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 6 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, 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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

Text-dependent/specific questions, tasks, and assignments support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year. Grade 6 consists of six units of study that contain a variety of texts and activities. The majority of the questions and associated tasks require students to engage with the text directly. The Think tab of each First Read section contains a series of constructed response questions that require textual evidence. The Your Turn portion of the Skill sections contain multiple choice questions that refer specifically to the text. The Close Read sections include a Write task that asks students to synthesize text details and cite textual evidence. Students answer text-dependent/specific discussion questions tied to different types of media that can be accessed via StudySyncTV. Teacher materials provide support for planning and implementation of text-dependent/specific writing and speaking activities. The Teacher Edition provides specific and explicit instruction, for teachers to implement materials, which includes, but is not limited to the following: guiding questions, tasks to activate knowledge, and scaffolding, for all learners, in assisting students in writing a literary analysis and answering multiple-choice questions. When answering text-dependent/specific questions, students receive directions for where to look for details and what information should be included. Exemplar answers are provided for all questions.

Instructional materials include questions, tasks, and assignments that are text-dependent/specific over the course of a school year. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, Integrated Reading and Writing, “Let ’Em Play God,” by Alfred Hitchcock, Close Read, Lesson Plan, in collaborative groups, students discuss and complete a Collaborative Conversation. The plan states: “Collaborative Conversation: Break students into collaborative conversation groups. Using StudySyncTV as a model, students begin by reading the Close Read prompt. They should then use their Skills Focus annotations, their own ideas and reactions to the text, and any other notes and annotations they have to collaboratively explore the text. Rewrite this excerpt of Walk Two Moons with Phoebe, Prudence, or Mrs. Winterbottom as the narrator instead of Sal. Use evidence explicitly stated in the text, as well as inferences drawn from the text, to identify the narrator's relationship with the other characters. In your narrative, select language that reflects an appropriate tone for the narrator you choose.” The students use textual evidence to support their inferences, from reading the text, to complete the discussion and written task.
  • In Unit 3, Integrated Reading and Writing, Heroes Every Child Should Know: Perseus, by Hamilton Wright Mabie, Close Read, Write Tab, students write a literary analysis in response to the prompt “How do Perseus’s responses to individuals and events drive the action of the plot forward? Support your writing with evidence from the text.”
  • In Unit 5, Integrated Reading and Writing, The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, Skill: Dramatic Elements and Structure, Your Turn tab, students reread lines 68-75 from The Miracle Worker. Afterwards, they answer multiple-choice questions such as the following: “What does the dialogue between Captain Keller and Annie in lines 68-70 tell the reader about the drama's theme? What does the stage direction, in line 72, reveal about Captain Keller’s attitude toward his son James?”
  • In Unit 6, Integrated Reading and Writing, Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen, First Read, Think Tab, students respond to five open-ended questions such as the following: “What, if anything, is Garvey’s “angle” in the excerpt from Chapter 1? What is he trying to accomplish in his visits with Cole? Use evidence from the text to support your response.” In the Teacher Edition, teachers are provided with the following guidance: “Answer Think Questions: Circulate as students answer Think Questions independently. See the answer key for sample responses.”

Indicator 1h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for having sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent/specific questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).

Culminating tasks are rich and of quality, provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do in speaking and writing, and are evident across a year’s worth of material. Materials include both text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks that help prepare students for each unit’s Extended Writing Project. The culminating tasks integrate writing, speaking, or both. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are taught as integrated skills throughout the unit in lessons such as SyncStart, First Read, Close Read, Independent Read, and Skill lessons. The Extended Writing Projects and Extended Oral Projects ask students to explore the theme and Essential Question of the unit in depth. During culminating tasks, students engage in a range of writing and demonstrate proficiency when writing oral research presentations, argumentative essays, literary analysis, informative essays, and narrative pieces.

Tasks are supported with coherent sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks. Some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” during the Extended Writing Project, students compose an argumentative essay that addresses the Essential Question, “How do relationships shape us?” Students are directed to the following: “Think of a person who has influenced you in some way. Would your life be different if this person were not in your life? Do you think relationships can truly shape people’s futures? Why or why not?” Students respond to the prompt using textual evidence from the texts read in the unit. Examples of questions from the Close Read of “The Treasure of Lemon Brown,” by Walter Dean Myers, that prepare students for the Extended Writing Project are, “What does Greg learn about relationships from Lemon Brown?” and “How is this important to his life?” During an independent writing activity, students respond to these questions in their Writer’s Notebook.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” during the Extended Writing Project, students compose a Literary Analysis, analyzing character as a focus for their argumentative writing while addressing the Essential Question, “Which qualities of character matter most?” In the First Read lesson, students respond to text-specific questions as they study I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai. Examples of text-specific questions to which students respond are “What does Malala tell the documentary filmmakers after her school is closed?” and “In addition to appearing in a documentary film, what other step does Malala take to support education for girls in her part of northern Pakistan?” Responding to these questions helps students prepare for the literary analysis in the Extended Writing Project, during which students write a proposal where they argue what type of texts, from the unit, would be the most effective for a school-wide book club. In the proposal, students choose one informational text and one literary text.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read the short story “Charles,” by Shirley Jackson. During the Close Read, students respond to a short argumentative prompt: “Throughout this story, a limited point of view is exemplified. Students must figure out what exactly has been going on throughout Laurie’s first weeks of kindergarten? What clues, if any, are presented that the narrator overlooks? Develop an argument in which you state what you think has actually happened in the story and whether you think that the narrator should have known all along that Laurie was lying to her.” This exercise helps prepare students for a larger culminating task, the Extended Oral Project. Students draft an argumentative oral project in response to the following prompt: “What is something you believe in? Think about something for which you hold a position or take a stance. How did you come to adopt this position? What experience, event, person, or story shaped your belief? Give an organized presentation with a specific stand and position. Tell a story from your life that explains how you adopted your position. Your story should focus on a singular moment or experience from your life and clearly relate to your position or stance.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” during the Extended Writing Project, students write a research paper that addresses the Essential Question, “Who are you meant to be?” Students choose a topic based on the texts that were read in the unit and research to learn more about the topic. Examples of questions from the Blast lesson of “Bronx Masquerade,” by Nikki Grimes, that prepare students for the Extended Writing Project are as follows: “How can you show your whole self and support others?” and “Why aren’t people easily defined by stereotypes?”

Indicator 1i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions (small groups, peer-to-peer, whole class) that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.

Teacher materials support implementation of speaking and listening, as well as vocabulary standards, to grow students’ skills. Students have multiple opportunities to engage in discussions, debates, and conversations using an array of speaking and listening protocols over the course of each unit and across the year. In the First Read, students discuss the video preview and participate in Text Talk after the initial reading. Students support their responses with evidence from the text as well as their own experiences. In each of the Skill lessons, the Turn and Talk and Discuss the Model activities also 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 in preparation for addressing a writing prompt. The protocols for these discussions are found in the Lesson Plan, Speaking and Listening Handbook, and the Strategies Glossary. The Lesson Plan includes a Check for Success section which supports teachers in responding to struggling students. The Lesson Plan and Teacher Edition tab also include a Scaffolding & Differentiation section that includes guiding questions to support students in their study of the words and scaffolding for English Language Learners (ELLs) and approaching readers. The supports include, but are not limited to the following: discussion guides and speaking frames. There is consistency for the teachers to use the same strategies for supporting students to understand academic vocabulary and syntax across the units.

Materials provide multiple opportunities and protocols for evidence-based discussions across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials, including support for teachers to identify students struggling with these skills. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” “The Good Samaritan,” by René Saldaña, Jr., Close Read, students participate in a debate around a discussion prompt. The Strategies Glossary provides the following protocol for a debate: “Pose a topic or question for debate. Have students choose a side on the debatable topic. Have students find relevant evidence to support their position, using research as necessary. Set norms for respectful discourse with students and remind them of the purpose of debate—to consider an issue from multiple perspectives while building speaking and listening skills.” Teacher guidance includes additional information for supporting all students through discussion activities. The Lesson Plan includes information to help teachers support ELLs with word banks, paragraph frames, speaking frames, and discussion guides.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, students engage in Text Talks during the First Read. The Lesson Plan for the First Read of the unit includes these directions: “Sometimes the best way to understand a text is to talk about it with others. In small groups, each person has a chance to make comments, ask questions, or voice an opinion. Use the following questions on the board to talk about the text. Note: The last question will relate to a cultural awareness or social-emotional learning topic based on the text.” The following information is also provided in the Routines section: “Text Talk: Choose from a variety of engaging, whole-class or small-group discussion strategies to close this portion of the instructional routine, monitor student understanding, and clarify any lingering questions.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” Close Read, students engage in a Collaborative Conversation of “Shree Bose: Never Too Young to Change the World,” by Amanda Sperber. The Lesson Plan instructs the teacher to accomplish the following: “Break students into Collaborative Conversation groups. Using StudySyncTV as a model, have students begin by reading the Close Read prompt. They should then use their Skills Focus annotations, their own ideas and reactions to the text, and any other notes and annotations they have to collaboratively explore the text.” The Lesson Plan includes Check for Success which supports teachers in responding to struggling students. One example of a pointer provided in the Check for Success is as follows: “If students are confused by the prompt, remind them: Different media formats include things like graphs, charts, and visuals and are a means of communicating with the reader. In your discussion, focus on the solutions Shree Bose finds for the problems she faces and how the author uses different media formats and words to illustrate Shree’s approach to finding solutions.”

Support for evidence-based discussions encourages modeling and a focus on using academic vocabulary and syntax. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” in the Skill: Connotation and Denotation lesson of the text “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” by Malala Yousafzai, students have the opportunity to “Turn and Talk” about connotation and denotation. In the Lesson Plan (Teacher Edition tab), teachers are provided with guiding questions to assist students in their conversation. An example of one of those questions is as follows: “Where do you see words that you don’t know the meaning of? In textbooks? In novels?”
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” in the Lesson Plan under Analyze Vocabulary Using Context Clues, the First Read section of The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, states the following: “As students read the text, ask them to make predictions about each bold vocabulary word based on the context clues in the sentence. Have students use the annotation tool to make their predictions. Model this strategy using the first bold vocabulary word rebellious.” The Lesson Plan offers the following guiding questions or statements to support students: “In paragraph 7 focus on the sentence that uses the word rebellious, ‘She did have a rebellious streak, like me.’ Point out these context clues: 1. First I notice that Percy describes his mom as rebellious. 2. Earlier in the paragraph, Percy explains how his mom ate blue food on purpose to prove Gabe wrong and did not change her last name like most women. 3. She sounds like someone who isn’t afraid of breaking the rules or expectations others have of her. 4. I think rebellious must mean “refusing to follow rules or expectations.”
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Vocabulary Review, students review and complete a vocabulary chart, then participate in a group discussion using the terms learned earlier in the lesson: “Discussion: In this unit, you have read drama and other texts related to theme of ‘Making Your Mark’ and the Essential Question ‘What’s your story?’ Imagine that you are nominating someone for an award. Who is the person, and what type of award would you like to honor him or her with? What information would you present about them to an awards committee? Use as many Big Idea and Academic Vocabulary words in your discussion as you can.”

Indicator 1j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.

Speaking and listening instruction is applied frequently over the course of the school year and includes facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers. Throughout the units and across the year, students have many opportunities to engage in speaking and listening. They have many informal opportunities embedded within each lesson, such as Collaborative Discussions and Text Talks, but also more formal speaking and listening opportunities, such as Extended Oral Projects or Extended Writing Projects. Materials include practice of speaking and listening skills that support students’ increase in ability over the course of the school year, including teacher guidance to support students who may struggle. Each grade level has a Speaking and Listening Handbook that outlines strategies and provides graphic organizers, checklists, and rubrics to support the lesson. The Lesson Plans provide Checks for Success as support to teachers in how to scaffold these opportunities for all students. Other supports, such as Sentence Starters and Discussion Guides, may be offered more specifically for students who may struggle (such as ELLs or approaching readers). Speaking and listening work requires students to utilize evidence from texts and sources. Students’ speaking and listening work is rooted in the texts they read, and they are often reminded to use evidence from the text to support their conversations. Additionally, students work in groups to research topics related to the texts and topics in which they are building knowledge. Students design visual aids and present their findings informally to the class.

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

  • In Unit 1 “Testing Our Limits,” the Independent Read lesson plan of “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll, engages students in a Collaborative Conversation in which the students participate in the following: The poem “Jabberwocky” uses nonsensical language to describe a heroic battle. Students discuss, “Do you think that the made-up words effectively communicate what happens in the fight? Why or why not? Use evidence from the text to support your response.” In the Lesson Plan, Sentence Starters are provided as supports for differentiation.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read an excerpt from Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D.Taylor. Students discuss, “In this excerpt, the author builds and releases tension through events in the plot. With each new challenge that the characters have to face, a new theme is revealed or suggested. Overall, do you feel that the author’s themes, or messages, are positive or negative? As you prepare for your discussion, use specific parts of the text as well as supporting details to help you form an opinion. Additionally, include any lingering questions you have regarding characters and events.” After the discussion, students write a reflection.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students engage in discussion about the fictional text, The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, in the Text Talk section of the First Read lesson plan. The Text Talk questions are as follows, “Why are Percy and his mother visiting Long Island? How do Percy and his mother view Gabe? What does Percy remember about his father, and is this memory real? What are some unusual things that have happened to Percy in school? Where is Percy’s mother reluctant to send him? Identify sensory details that help readers visualize the text.”
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read the text “Celebrities as Heroes,” by StudySync. During the Close Read, students have the opportunity to participate in a Collaborative Conversation in which they discuss the following prompt: “Which of the two arguments is less persuasive? In your response, include an analysis of the arguments, claims, reasons, and evidence the author uses in the argument you feel is less persuasive. Explain why you cannot commit to that argument by citing textual evidence from both texts to support your opinion.” In the Lesson Plan, teachers check the discussion in the Check for Success section. Teacher guidance includes the following: “If students are confused by the prompt, remind them: To be persuasive means to be convincing. To be convincing, arguments need to be supported by strong reasons and evidence that strongly connect to and support the claims the author makes. In your discussion, focus on the claims, reasons, and evidence the author uses in the argument you feel are less persuasive.”
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” during the Close Read of the myth “Damon and Pythias” students engage in a Collaborative Conversation while discussing the following questions: “How do Damon and Pythias respond to conflict as the drama unfolds? Does their friendship ever waver? What do their responses to conflict reveal about their characters? Use evidence and relevant examples of dialogue from the text to support your answer.” In the Lesson Plan, teachers check the discussion in the Check for Success section. Teacher guidance includes the following: “If students are struggling with beginning their conversation, help jumpstart their discussion by asking a scaffolded question, such as: What is one piece of evidence from the play that might help you infer aspects of character? What does it reveal about their friendship? What additional evidence helps develop the characters?”

Indicator 1k

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

Writing tasks and projects are aligned to the grade-level standards being reviewed. Each unit provides students with on-demand writing and process writing opportunities. During the Close Read, students engage in on-demand writing via Blasts, Think, and Write questions. In addition to shorter, on-demand writing tasks, the students complete an Extended Writing Project at the end of five of the six units. Each project covers one of these essential writing forms: narrative, informative/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. These Extended Writing Projects take students through the writing process which includes, but is not limited to the following: prewriting, planning, drafting, revising, editing, proofreading, and publishing. Materials provide lists to remind students of what to include in their writing, suggestions for peer review, and a revision guide with examples. Each unit contains multiple opportunities for students to use digital tools to accomplish the lesson’s goal.

Materials include a mix of both on-demand and process writing that covers a year’s worth of instruction. For example, some examples include:

  • Students participate in on-demand writing.
    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students engage in on-demand writing after the Close Read of an excerpt from the novel Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. The narrative writing prompt states, “Rewrite this excerpt of Walk Two Moons with Phoebe, Prudence, or Mrs. Winterbottom as the narrator instead of Sal. Use evidence explicitly stated in the text, as well as inferences drawn from the text, to identify the narrator's relationship with the other characters. In your narrative, select language that reflects an appropriate tone for the narrator you choose.” After completing their writing, students participate in a peer review providing feedback to two of their peers.
    • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students read the text Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen. Students write a literary analysis as they respond to the following questions: “In Hoot, Roy responds to bullying in a surprising way. How does the author use details and Roy’s response to Dana’s bullying to communicate a theme? Do you agree or disagree with the author’s message in this story? Use evidence from the text to support your response.” The teacher manual provides questioning techniques for struggling students, rubrics for the class, suggestions for prewrite, write, and peer review, and reflection.
    • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students engage in on-demand writing after the Close Read of an excerpt from I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai. The argumentative writing prompt states, “What message is Malala trying to convey about the media? According to the author, did it help or injure her, or both? In your response, cite specific examples of Malala's word choice that help the reader understand how she views the media.” After completing their writing, students participate in a peer review providing feedback to two of their peers.
  • Students participate in process writing.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” Extended Writing Project, students write a narrative that answers the questions, “How can an unexpected event turn into a major challenge?” Student-facing materials direct students to engage in the following: “Imagine the very worst possible day. What event or individual makes that day so terrible? How do your characters respond? Write a story in which the main character faces an unexpected challenge on what was supposed to be a normal day.” Materials provide a list to remind students of what to include in their narrative, suggestions for peer review, and a revision guide with examples.
    • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” Extended Writing Project, students plan, draft, and revise a literary analysis essay based on the following prompt: “After reading the texts from the Personal Best unit, write a proposal in which you argue which texts would be the most effective for a school-wide book club. In your proposal, choose one informational and one literary text. Use textual evidence to help support an argument and explain how both of the texts you have chosen develop a theme or a main idea that communicates the qualities of character that matter most. Make sure your proposal includes the following: an introduction, a thesis statement, coherent body paragraphs with claims, reasons and evidence, transitions, a formal style, and a conclusion.”
    • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” Extended Writing Project, students read literary and nonfiction texts about “individuals and characters in search of their truest selves. Then students write a research report, devise a research question in response to their reading, and find and take notes from reliable sources. They synthesize this information into a full-length essay that includes parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page.”

Opportunities for students to revise and/or edit are provided. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” Extended Writing Project, students take a closer look at informative writing. Revision lessons guide students as they revise their drafts for clarity, development, organization, word choice, and sentence variety. Skill lessons, in the Revise section, include: revising the introduction to grab a reader’s attention, revising transitions to clarify the relationships among ideas and concepts, revising their drafts by using precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform the reader or explain the topic, revising to maintain formal style, and revising the conclusion to rephrase the main idea so that readers remember it.
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself, Extended Writing Project, Research Writing Process: Revise, students revise their research report based on peer feedback for clarity, development, organization, and style using a guide that gives examples of how they might revise their writing.

Materials include digital resources where appropriate. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” Integrated Reading and Writing, The Big Idea, students read a Blast that gives them background on the unit’s topic and theme, compose their own Blast in 140 characters or fewer, answer a poll, and learn about a statistic related to the topic.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students read the text The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. During Skill Lesson: Story Structure, students watch a StudySync skills video that teaches students about story structure, characters, trigger, climax, plot, flashback, theme, and setting.
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” students view a video during the StudySync Close Read lesson. Students discuss three questions to help them prepare for the writing prompt.

Indicator 1l

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials providing opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.

Materials provide opportunities for students and teachers to monitor progress in writing skills. The materials provide a variety of writing tasks across the school year. Unit themes and Essential Questions connect writing tasks to the texts students read. Text types of writing include narrative, informative and explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. Within each unit, students engage in multiple writing activities, including short constructed responses in the Close Read lesson. While practicing the featured type of writing, this informal writing allows students to demonstrate understanding of the specific text. A formal type of writing, the Extended Writing Project, concludes five of the six units. Students respond to writing prompts connected to the unit texts. Through planning, revising, editing, and specific writing craft lessons, StudySync provides guidance and support for students to develop and strengthen writing as needed. Students and teachers may monitor progress with Checks for Success, Peer Reviews, and Rubrics. Students also have opportunities to use digital sources for research and presentation.

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. For example, some examples include:

  • Students have opportunities to engage in argumentative writing.
    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read the short story, “The Treasure of Lemon Brown,” by Walter Dean Myers. In the Close Read, students write an argumentative piece to the following prompt: “Three men, one carrying a length of pipe, arrive at the abandoned building to steal Lemon Brown’s treasure. Lemon, with Greg’s help, scares them off. Does the author reveal enough about Lemon Brown’s treasure for the reader to understand its importance? Do you think Lemon Brown’s treasure is worth fighting for? Why or why not? Defend your point of view with evidence from the text.” Before writing, students participate in a Collaborative Conversation writing. Check for Success includes the following teacher guidance: “If students are confused by the prompt, remind them: A story’s point of view refers to who is telling a story. In your discussion, focus on what the author reveals about the importance of Lemon Brown’s treasure through a third person limited point of view.”
    • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students read the poem, “I, Too,” by Langston Hughes. In the Close Read, students complete a short, on-demand literary analysis based on the following prompt: “How does Langston Hughes use poetic elements and structures to explore the theme of change in his poem ‘I, Too?’ Write a response in which you analyze the effect of the poem’s poetic structure. Did the effect change when you listened to the poem? Be sure to use evidence from the text to support your response.” The rubric associated with the task focuses on the following areas: poetic elements and structure, media, and languages and conventions.
    • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” Extended Writing Project, students write a proposal in which they argue what type of texts would be the most effective for a school-wide book club. In their proposal, students choose one informational and one literary text. They use textual evidence to help support an argument and explain how both of the selected texts develop a theme or a main idea that communicates the qualities of character that matter most. Materials provide rubrics for each step of the writing process.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in informative and explanatory writing.
    • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” the Extended Writing Project connects to the texts, in the unit, via the Essential Question, “What motivates us to conquer feelings of uncertainty?” The students write an informative essay using the following prompt: “Think about the individuals from this unit who take action even when they are unsure of what lies ahead. Identify three of these individuals and write an informative essay explaining what drives them to respond, take action, or make a decision when there are no guidelines to help them. Be sure your informative essay includes the following, an introduction, a thesis or controlling idea, coherent body paragraphs, supporting details, and a conclusion.” Materials provide rubrics for each step of the writing process.
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read the text Warriors Don’t Cry, by Melba Pattillo Beals. In the Close Read, students write a short, informative response based on the following prompt: “Identify the author’s message in the excerpt and describe how the use of a chronological text structure helps her develop that message effectively. Then choose two or three paragraphs from the text and explain the essential role that each one plays in the development of ideas in the text. What information does each paragraph contribute to the order of events that Beals describes in her story? Be sure to support your ideas with textual evidence.” The provided rubric focuses on informational text structure, author’s purpose and message, and language and conventions.
    • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” Extended Writing Project, students write a research report in response to the following prompt: “Where did Shree Bose draw inspiration for her cancer research? For kids in the 1960s, what were some of the differences between growing up in the North or in the South? Are Spirit Bears real? Consider the texts included in the True to Yourself unit, identify a topic you would like to know more about, and write a research report about that topic. In the process, you will learn how to select a research question, develop a research plan, gather and evaluate source materials, and synthesize and present your research findings.” Materials provide rubrics for each step of the writing process.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” the Extended Writing Project connects to the anchor text Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen. The students write a narrative essay about responding to an unexpected event. The prompt is as follows: “Imagine the very worst possible day. What event or individual makes that day so terrible? How do your characters respond? Write a story in which the main character faces an unexpected challenge on what was supposed to be a normal day. Regardless of the challenge you choose, be sure your narrative includes the following, a plot with a beginning, middle, and end, a detailed setting, characters and dialogue, an interesting challenge, and a clear theme.” Materials provide rubrics for each step of the writing process.
    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read the text Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. In the Close Read, students write a narrative piece in response to the following prompt: “Rewrite this excerpt of Walk Two Moons with Phoebe, Prudence, or Mrs. Winterbottom as the narrator instead of Sal. Use evidence explicitly stated in the text, as well as inferences drawn from the text, to identify the narrator's relationship with the other characters. In your narrative, select language that reflects an appropriate tone for the narrator you choose." After writing, students participate in a Peer Review and Reflect. Materials include the following instructions: “Students should submit substantive feedback to two peers using the review instructions below. After they complete their peer reviews, have them reflect on the feedback they received.”
    • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” students read the text, Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen. In the Close Read, students write a narrative piece in response to the following prompt: “The excerpt explains that Cole’s father ‘agreed to pay all the expenses of banishment, [as] it was just another one of his buyouts.’ Pretend that you are Cole’s father, and you are writing a letter to your son. Explain your reasons for paying for the Circle Justice program and how you hope it will help Cole change. How do you think this setting will affect the events of Cole's life? Use descriptive details from the text in your letter.” The rubric associated with the task focuses on the following areas: setting and language and conventions.

Indicator 1m

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information appropriate for the grade level.

Materials provide frequent opportunities, across the school year, for students to learn, practice, and apply writing using evidence. In the First Read, Think tab, students write in response to text-specific questions and cite evidence to support their response. In the Close Read at the end of the series of lessons for each text, students analyze and write an evidence–based response reflecting their deeper understanding of the text. Materials provide opportunities that build students’ writing skills over the course of the school year. Students progress in writing in Grade 6 from defending a point of view, to analyzing arguments and claims, then to comparing and contrasting ideas of arguments across texts. In the Extended Writing Project, students write across multiple texts to craft an evidence-based response.

Writing opportunities center on students’ analyses and claims developed from reading closely and working with sources. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students read “I, Too,” by Langston Hughes. In the First Read, students read and annotate the poem. In the Think tab, students answer five text-dependent questions and cite evidence. Examples include “Who is the speaker of the poem? How do you know? Refer to one or more details from the beginning of the text to support your response” and “What is the speaker comparing in lines 2-4 and 8-10? How are these two sets of lines similar? How are they different? Cite specific evidence from the text to support your answer.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” students read an excerpt of the text Rosa Parks: My Story, by Rosa Parks. During the Close Read, students respond to a text-dependent compare and contrast prompt, using three texts from the unit, which includes the following: “Rosa Parks, Rita Dove, and the author of ‘The Story Behind the Bus’ all have a story to share about upsetting the balance of power. How does each author introduce, illustrate, or elaborate on this idea of power? How are their arguments about power similar and different? In your response, remember to make connections to ideas in the previous texts that you've read.”

Indicator 1n

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Over the course of the year’s worth of materials, grammar and conventions instruction is provided in increasingly sophisticated contexts. In the Extended Writing Project and Grammar section and Extended Oral Project and Grammar section, there are Grammar Skill lessons in which students practice grade-level specific grammar skills. Materials include opportunities for students to demonstrate application of skills both in and out of context. In the Your Turn portion of the lesson, students practice and demonstrate mastery of the grammar skill. During writing or oral projects, students apply their knowledge.


Materials include explicit instruction of grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. For example, some examples include:

  • Students have opportunities to ensure that pronouns are in the proper case (subjective, objective, and possessive).
    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Possessive Pronouns, students practice using possessive pronouns correctly. The Lesson Plan includes guidance for students to discuss the model, and in the Your Turn section, students complete practice exercises where they must distinguish between subjective, objective, and possessive pronouns. In the Your Turn #3, students rewrite each sentence, replacing the words in bold with the appropriate possessive pronoun. In the Write section, students edit sections of Ellie’s argumentative essay and their own essay. Using the editing checklist, students reflect on the following question, “Have I correctly used possessive pronouns?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to reflect correct usage of possessive pronouns.
  • Students have opportunities to use intensive pronouns.
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Reflexive and Intensive Pronouns, students learn about reflexive and intensive pronouns and their functions. Students practice this skill, within the Your Turn section, by selecting the correct intensive pronoun to complete the provided sentence(s). Finally, students write an original sentence which follows the reflexive or intensive pronoun rules.
  • Students have opportunities to recognize and correct inappropriate shifts in pronoun number and person.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Personal Pronouns, students learn about personal pronouns and how they function. In the Your Turn section, they answer multiple choice questions indicating which pronouns replace the nouns in given sentences. Students apply the use of personal pronouns in a narrative piece in which a character or characters experience the worst possible day. They use a checklist which includes the question, “Have I used correct and consistent pronouns throughout the story?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to reflect correct usage of personal pronouns.
  • Students have opportunities to recognize and correct vague pronouns (i.e., ones with unclear or ambiguous antecedents).
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Pronouns and Antecedents, students practice using pronouns correctly as a class. In the Lesson Plan, students discuss using authentic texts to understand the rules of pronoun usage. In the Your Turn section, students complete several practice exercises where they practice using correct pronoun usage. In Your Turn, Question 3, students read each pronoun rule and sample sentence provided and write their own sentence that follows the rule to apply the knowledge of the correct pronoun usage.
    • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Using Pronouns, students practice using pronoun antecedent agreement correctly. The Lesson Plan provides guidance for students to discuss using the rules for pronoun usage in the model. In the Your Turn section, students complete several practice exercises where they must distinguish between clear and unclear pronoun usage. The writing checklist requires students to determine “Have I used pronouns correctly?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to reflect correct usage of pronouns.
  • Students have opportunities to recognize variations from standard English in their own and others’ writing and speaking, and identify and use strategies to improve expression in conventional language.
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Extended Oral Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Style, after studying a model, students discuss the model and complete the Your Turn activities. Students practice rewriting the sentence with the correct use of style and conventional language. After completing the practice activities, students return to edit and present their presentations and improve them based on their new understanding of correct use of style and conventional language.
  • Students have opportunities to use punctuation (commas, parentheses, and dashes) to set off nonrestrictive and parenthetical elements.
    • In Unit 3, “In The Dark,” Extended Oral Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Parentheses, Brackets, and Ellipses, students learn about parentheses, brackets, and ellipses and how they are used within writing. Students practice within the Your Turn section by determining whether each sentence needs parentheses or brackets around the bolded word(s). They apply this in their own writing, in an informative essay, explaining what drives the three individuals they read about to respond, take action, or make a decision. A checklist reminds them to ask themselves, “Have I correctly used parentheses, brackets, and ellipses?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to reflect correct usage of parentheses, bracket, and ellipses.
    • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Dashes and Hyphens, students learn about dashes and hyphens and how they are used in text examples. In the Your Turn section, students practice using dashes and hyphens correctly by determining where a dash or dashes go in each of the provided sentences. In Your Turn, Question 3, students read each rule and sample sentence provided and apply the knowledge by writing their own sentence that follows the rule.

Students have opportunities to spell correctly.

    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules I, students learn spelling rules related to prefixes, suffixes, ie and ei words, and unstressed vowels. In the Your Turn section, they practice by selecting words to fill in the blanks in the given sentences. The writing checklist requires students to determine the following: “Have I followed basic spelling rules for words with ie/ei, unstressed vowels, suffixes, and prefixes?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to reflect correct usage of spelling rules for words ie/ei, unstressed vowels, suffixes, and prefixes.
    • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules II, students learn more about prefixes and base words. In the Your Turn section, they determine the definition of words by analyzing their prefixes. Finally, students identify the misspelled word in a sample sentence, review the spelling rule, and write an original sentence correctly spelling and using the misspelled word from the first sentence.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 and 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 and 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, for grades 6-8, topics and/or themes) to build students' ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.
4/4
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that texts are organized around a topic and/or theme to build students’ ability to read and comprehend complex texts independently and proficiently.

The StudySync materials provide texts, within units, which are connected by appropriate topics. The Grade 6 Core English Language Arts (ELA) Units allow students to experience literary and nonfiction texts that explore individuals facing crucial decisions, learning from their responses, and becoming a better version of themselves. The unit design provides students with opportunities to apply their learning across a wide range of texts that vary in complexity and genre. In the Grade 6 ELA Unit Overview, the unit topic/theme and Essential Question are provided for each unit. The materials also provide a logical sequence of texts that scaffold toward reading and comprehending grade level text proficiently.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” Unit Overview, students examine the challenges we face in life. The Essential Question is included in the following: “What do we do when life gets hard?” Texts within the unit’s genre focus and across other genres present different perspectives on responding to life’s unexpected difficulties. The unit begins with Sandra Cisneros’s short story, “Eleven.” Next, students build knowledge on the hardships of the Great Depression while reading The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis. In the paired texts, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet and Avi’s “Scout’s Honor,” readers explore surviving in nature. Text difficulty increases in the paired selections, Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-Li Jiang and “Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” Unit Overview, the texts focus on relationships. The Essential Question is included in the following: “How do relationships shape us?” This unit offers a wide variety of literature about relationships for students to explore, including a selection from the classic novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor, a nonfiction letter to the editor titled, “We’re On the Same Team,” and poems such as “Teenagers,” by Pat Mora and “A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long” by Nikki Giovanni.” Increasingly complex texts are arranged in an order that increase students’ reading proficiency and allow students to consider important relationships whose impact was so powerful that they may have changed people’s lives.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” Unit Overview, students learn about how individuals take action despite uncertainty. The Essential Question is included in the following: “How do you know what to do when there are no instructions?” This unit offers a mixture of texts, both fiction and nonfiction, about people that face uncertainty, including Hamilton Wright Mabie’s classic myth Heroes Every Child Should Know: Perseus, excerpts from Rick Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, and an excerpt from Carl Hiaasen’s Hoot. Nonfiction works, about real individuals, include “Hatshepsut: His Majesty, Herself,” by Catherine M. Andronik, “Everybody Jump (from What If),” by Randall Munroe, “Dare to be Creative!” by Madeleine L’Engle, McGraw Hill Education’s “Margaret Bourke-White: Fearless Photographer,” and “Donna O’Meara: The Volcano Lady.” Across the unit, students dig deeper into the Essential Question by engaging with texts of varying difficulty.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” Unit Overview, students are reading about a variety of people, both real and fictional, who have reached their personal best through overcoming obstacles and standing up for what they feel is right. The Essential Question is included in the following: “Which quality of character matters most? The genre focus is drama. In The Story of My Life (Chapter IV), Helen Keller, blind and deaf since infancy, tells about the moment she overcame her physical handicaps to connect to the world. Melba Pattillo Beals reveals in her autobiography, Warriors Don’t Cry, how she and eight other African-American students were expected to make a mark when they were sent to integrate a high school, in Arkansas, during the civil rights era. In Fan Kissen’s “Damon and Pythias” and Piri Thomas’s “Amigo Brothers,” friends, who are as close as brothers, put their lives and friendships at risk as they stay true to their principles and dreams. Across the unit, students dig deeper into the Essential Question by engaging with texts of varying difficulty.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Unit Overview, students are asked to think about their own story. The Essential Question is included in the following: “What’s Your Story?” The genre focus is fiction and also includes some nonfiction texts that deal with facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles, while trying to leave a mark on the world. Some of the nonfiction texts include the following: “The Story of My Life Chapter IV,” by Helen Keller and the autobiography Warriors Don’t Cry, by Melba Pattilo Beals. Fictional texts include Fran Kissen’s “Damon and Pythias” and Piri Thomas’s “Amigo Brothers.” Across the unit, students dig deeper into the Essential Question by engaging with texts of varying difficulty.
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” Unit Overview, students think about the future. The Essential Question includes the following: “Who are you meant to be?” This unit offers a wide variety of literature and nonfiction texts for students to explore, including the following nonfiction texts—the autobiography I Never Had It Made, by Jackie Robinson“ and poem “Rosa,” by Rita Dove. Literary texts include Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen and Brave, by Svetlana Chmakova, where two main characters discover who they really are and truly want in the face of obstacles.

Indicator 2b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language, key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts.

The questions and tasks help students to build comprehension and knowledge of topics. Within each unit, tasks such as literary analysis, Collaborative Conversations, and Reading Comprehension Quizzes are embedded in various strategies that spiral throughout the unit. During the First Read lessons and Skill lessons, students answer comprehension questions that mostly require analysis of language, key ideas, author’s craft, and structure. During the Close Read, students hold Collaborative Conversations and respond in writing to a literary analysis prompt that focuses on text structure. By facilitating student work, the teacher monitors the students’ understanding of the components identified in each unit. By the end of the year, items are embedded in student prompts rather than taught directly.

For most texts, students are asked to analyze language and/or author’s word choice (according to grade-level standards). For example, some examples include:

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address language and/or word choice.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read the short story “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros. In the Skill: Figurative Language lesson, students define figurative language terms. The teacher models how to analyze and determine the meaning of figurative language. Students answer multiple-choice questions that ask them to analyze the use of figurative language in the text. For example, “How does the figurative language in paragraph 14 help readers understand Rachel’s reaction to the sweater?”
    • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read the persuasive essay “Bullying in Schools.” In the Skill: Word Patterns and Relationship lesson, students “reread paragraphs seven through eight of the counterpoint article. Then, [they] answer the multiple-choice questions that follow.” Students also respond to questions that address the author’s word choice. “In paragraph seven, the author explains that schools are allowed to take disciplinary action against bullies. Then, the author goes on to describe the intended results of disciplinary action in paragraph eight. This is an example of what kind of word relationship? How does recognizing the relationship between disciplinary action and the intended results help you to better understand the text?”
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read Listen, Slowly, by Thannhhà Lai. In the Skill: Language, Style, and Audience lesson, students define words related to the topic. The teacher models how to determine the author’s style and the impact of specific word choice. Students answer multiple-choice questions about the author’s tone and word choice in paragraphs 19 and 20.


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

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address key ideas and details.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read, “The Magic Marker Mystery,” by René Saldaña, Jr. In the first read, students read independently to “identify key details, events, characters, and connections between them” and “use text features to make and confirm or correct predictions as they read” as stated in the Lesson Plan. In the Text Talk section of the lesson, teachers utilize the following questions to monitor student progress: “What is the relationship between Bucho and Mickey? How does Mickey identify Joe as the guilty person?”
    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. In the Close Read, students analyze key ideas and details when they respond to the following prompt: “Rewrite this excerpt of Walk Two Moons with Phoebe, Prudence, or Mrs. Winterbottom as the narrator instead of Sal. Use evidence explicitly stated in the text, as well as inferences drawn from the text, to identify the narrator's relationship with the other characters. In your narrative, select language that reflects an appropriate tone for the narrator you choose.”
    • In Unit 3, “In The Dark,” students read “Hatshepsut: His Majesty Herself,” by Catherine M. Andronik. In the first read, students read independently to “identify key details, events, characters, and connections between them as stated in the lesson plan.” In the Text Talk section of the lesson, the following questions are asked to monitor student progress: “Generally, how did someone become pharaoh of ancient Egypt? In what ways did Hatshepsut maintain the illusion that a male ruled Egypt?”
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address structure.
    • In Unit 3, “In The Dark,” students read an excerpt of the text The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. In the first read, students analyze story structure in order to participate in a Collaborative Conversation and write a short constructed response. The questions and directions are as follows: “How does this excerpt, of The Lightning Thief, connect to the overall structure of the story? What hints does the author provide about the overall plot and theme? Think about how the author uses flashbacks to describe Percy’s past, Percy’s thoughts, and dialogue with his mother. As you prepare for your discussion, be sure to find plenty of textual evidence to support your ideas.” Afterward, students compose a literary analysis with questions that include the following: “How do Damon and Pythias respond to conflict as the drama unfolds? Does their friendship ever waver? What do their responses to conflict reveal about their characters? Use evidence and relevant examples of dialogue from the text to support your answer.”
    • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read “Famous,” by Naomi Shihab Nye. In the Close Read, students respond to a literary analysis prompt that focuses on text structure. The prompt is as follows: “In her poem, Naomi Shihab Nye shakes up most people’s ideas about what it means to be famous. Fame isn’t about celebrity; it’s about what’s important. How does Nye’s use of poetic elements and structure contribute to this theme? Be sure to cite evidence from the poem in your response.”
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read the myth “Damon and Pythias.” In the Close Read, students analyze how the plot of the story is developed through the character’s dialogue, actions, and motivations in a short, written response.” In the Complete Skills Focus of the Lesson Plan, students respond to the following questions to prepare for their participation in a Collaborative Conversation: “What does the narrator reveal about the plot in lines seven and 12? What does the narrator reveal about the plot in line 45? How do Damon and Pythias respond to conflict as the drama unfolds? Does their friendship ever waver? What do their responses to conflict reveal about their characters? Use evidence and relevant examples of dialogue from the text to support your answer.”
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address craft.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read an excerpt from “The Magic Marker Mystery,” by René Saldaña Jr. In the Close Read, students write a response to the following prompt: “Think about how the playwright uses specific scenes to develop the plot. How would Act Three of The Magic Marker Mystery be different if it were told from Joe’s perspective? In your response, indicate how this would affect the structure of the play as a whole. Support your writing with specific evidence from the text.”
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read Listen, Slowly, by Thanhhà Lai. In the Close Read, students compose a literary analysis. The instructions state the following: “How does the author use language to develop the audience’s understanding of Mai and Bà? What does their conversation in the excerpt say about them as individuals and as family members? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.”
    • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” students read I Never Had it Made, by Jackie Robinson. During the Skill lesson, students analyze craft by responding to the following questions: “The author’s purpose for including the information about Mr. Rickey in paragraph nine may have been to explain that —” and “What is one idea the author wants readers to understand from the information in paragraph 10?” and “What do the details in paragraphs 11 and 12 suggest about Robinson’s point of view regarding his fans?”

Indicator 2c

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas across both individual and multiple texts.

Most sets of questions and tasks support students’ analysis of knowledge and ideas. Instructional units include Blasts, Skill Lessons, StudySync TV lessons, First Reads, Close Reads, Independent Reads, and writing tasks. Materials provide guidance to teachers in supporting students’ literacy skills. The Teacher Edition outlines skill introduction, Turn and Talk opportunities, questions, vocabulary instruction, Checks for Success, and modeling for annotation of the text and skill being taught. Each unit includes opportunities for students to analyze ideas within individual texts ,and there are paired selections of texts for analyzing across multiple texts. There are Model tabs for students, exemplar responses for teachers, Skill lessons, and StudySync TV to support students in growing their literacy skills. By the end of the year, integrating knowledge and ideas is embedded in students’ work (via tasks and/or culminating tasks). Students use evidence from one or multiple texts in all discussions and written tasks such as Extended Writing Project and End of Unit Assessments.

Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze ideas within an individual text. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 4, Integrating Reading and Writing, students read “Letter to Xavier High School,” by Kurt Vonnegut, as they explore the theme “Personal Best” and seek answers to the Essential Question, “Which qualities of character matter most?” Students complete the following task: “PERSONAL RESPONSE: Vonnegut claims that any creative pursuit, whether as a hobby or career, has a significant and positive impact on a person’s life. In your opinion, do you think schools today do enough to nurture and promote creativity? Support your response with evidence from the text as well as your own experiences.” In the Teacher Edition, the following guidance is provided to the teacher to assist students who may need extra assistance: “Check for Success: If students struggle to respond to the prompt, ask students the following questions: What kinds of creative things do you like to do? Do you take art or music classes or participate in creative activities in school? What other creative classes or activities would you want offered in school? List what you have been a part of and what else you would like to do.”
  • In Unit 4, Integrating Reading and Writing, students read “Nobel Lecture,” by Malala Yousafzai, while exploring the theme, “Personal Best” and the Essential Question, “Which qualities of character matter most?” Students then complete the following task: “ARGUMENTATIVE: Near the end of her speech, Malala gives a call to action. She says, ‘Dear sisters and brothers, dear fellow children, we must work . . . not wait. Not just the politicians and the world leaders, we all need to contribute. Me. You. We. It is our duty.’ Malala uses a combination of informational text structures in the course of her speech to communicate the idea contained in this call to action. Which do you think is the most effective, and why? Write a response using specific examples from the text and the video to support your claims.”
  • In Unit 6, Integrating Reading and Writing, the theme is “True to Yourself” and the Essential Question states, “Who are you meant to be?” Students read “A BEACON of Hope: The Story of Hannah Herbst,” by Rebecca Harrington, and complete the following task: “PERSONAL RESPONSE: "A BEACON of Hope: The Story of Hannah Herbst" describes a teen’s invention that can help power an entire nation. If you were to create an invention to help a nation in need, what would it be? Why? Support your response with evidence from the article as well as personal experience. As you make connections between Hannah's life and your own, include anything that may have impacted your ideas about your potential invention.”

Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts. Some examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, Integrating Reading and Writing, the theme is “Testing Our Limits” and the Essential Question states, “What do we do when life gets hard?” After reading Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-Li Jiang and Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, applying an analysis across multiple texts, students compare and contrast by writing in response to the following prompt: “Red Scarf Girl and Hatchet feature young people trapped in challenging situations. In both texts, the setting provides the context for the main conflict or problem. Compare and contrast the role that the setting plays in influencing the characters and events in the two texts.”
  • In Unit 4, Extended Writing Project and Grammar, students discuss and analyze across the texts presented in the Text Talk unit, as they explore the theme “Personal Best” and answer the Essential Question, “Which qualities of character matter most?” Then, they complete the following task: “After reading the texts from the Personal Best unit, write a proposal in which you argue which texts would be the most effective for a school-wide book club. In your proposal, choose one informational and one literary text. Use textual evidence to help support an argument and explain how both of the texts you have chosen develop a theme or a main idea that communicates the qualities of character that matter most.”
  • In Unit 5, Integrating Reading and Writing, students discuss and analyze across the two texts “Saying Yes,” by Diana Chang and “The All-American Slurp,” by Leslie Namioka, as they explore the theme “Making Your Mark” and the Essential Question, “What’s your story?” Students respond to the following prompt: “Both feature distinct cultural settings. How does each text make use of Chinese and American cultures to influence the development of plot and character? Compare and contrast the relationships between setting, plot, and character in the two texts. Remember to support your ideas with evidence from the texts. In a discussion with your peers, use evidence from both texts as well as personal experience to respond to these questions.”

Indicator 2d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic (or, for grades 6-8, a theme) through integrated skills (e.g., combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

Culminating tasks are engaging and provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate comprehension and knowledge of a topic or topics. Through the Skill lessons and Close Reads within the unit texts, students are prepared to complete the larger culminating tasks, Extended Writing Projects and/or Extended Oral Projects. Every unit title serves as a theme for the entire unit. The facilitation of Checks for Success, offered in Lesson Plans from numerous tasks in each unit, give the teacher usable information about the student's readiness to complete culminating tasks. Culminating tasks integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening and include the following types of writing: argument, research, and multimedia presentations.

The culminating tasks provided are multifaceted, requiring students to demonstrate mastery of several different standards at the grade level. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read stories, poems, and nonfiction selections about important relationships that had such a powerful impact in which they may have changed people’s lives. In the Extended Writing Project, students write an argumentative essay about a person who has affected their lives and their opinion regarding whether relationships can truly shape one’s future. This culminating task integrates writing, speaking, and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. During the Close Read, students complete a freewrite activity to connect their reading to the Essential Question. “Would Sal’s relationship with her mother have been different if Sal hadn’t yelled at her the last time she saw her?” connects to the unit’s Essential Question “How do relationships shape us?”
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read stories and informational texts about individuals and characters that strive for their personal best. During the Extended Oral Project, students write a literary analysis essay. In their essays, students identify two unit texts that they think develop a main idea or theme that communicates the qualities of character that matter most. This culminating task integrates writing, speaking, and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read “Bullying in Schools,” by StudySync. During the Close Read, students reflect on how “Bullying in Schools” connects to the unit’s essential question “Which qualities of character matter most?” by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read an assortment of fiction and nonfiction texts about individuals who overcome challenges and obstacles in their quest to “make [their] mark” on the world. Students explore a number of ways in which one can “make a mark” on the world as they seek the answer to the unit’s Essential Question, “What’s your story?” During the Extended Oral Project, students write an argumentative oral presentation in response to the following prompt: “What is something you believe in? Think about something for which you hold a position or take a stance. How did you come to adopt this position? What experience, event, person, or story shaped your belief? Give an organized presentation with a specific stand and position. Tell a story from your life that explains how you adopted your position. Your story should focus on a singular moment or experience from your life and clearly relate to your position or stance.” This culminating task integrates writing, speaking, and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read “Charles,” by Shirley Jackson. During the Close Read, students complete a freewrite activity to connect their reading to the Essential Question. The following guidance is provided: “Give students time to reflect on how ‘Charles’ connects to the unit’s Essential Question ‘What’s your story?’ by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” students read literary and nonfiction texts about individuals and characters in search of their truest selves. Then, in the Extended Writing Project, students write a research report, devise a research question in response to their reading, and find and take notes from reliable sources. This culminating task integrates writing, speaking, and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read “Shree Bose: Never Too Young to Change the World,” by Amanda Sperber. During the Close Read, students complete a freewrite activity to connect their reading to the Essential Question. Then, they synthesize this information into a full-length essay that includes parenthetical citations and a Works Cited page. Students reflect on how “Shree Bose: Never Too Young to Change the World” connects to the unit’s Essential Question, “Who are you meant to be?” by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.

Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan for students to interact with and build key academic vocabulary words in and across texts.

Materials provide teacher guidance for outlining a plan that builds students’ academic vocabulary, which supports building knowledge. The Program Guide outlines strategies and protocols for teaching vocabulary. Vocabulary is separated into three components—Selection Vocabulary, Skill Vocabulary, and Academic Vocabulary. The Big Idea section, at the beginning of each unit, contains a Skill: Academic Vocabulary lesson that introduces students to the ten academic vocabulary words for the unit. The academic vocabulary words are sporadically revisited in the Close Read lessons for multiple texts and appear in some writing prompts and rubrics. Additionally, students are prompted to use these words in their discussions and written responses. Each unit ends with a Vocabulary Review lesson on the unit’s vocabulary. The lesson includes practice opportunities for students to use the words within the context of their writing.

Materials provide teacher guidance outlining a cohesive year long development component that builds students’ academic vocabulary that supports building knowledge. For example, some examples include:

  • Vocabulary is repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts, etc.).
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” in the Close Read of The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis, students drag and drop the correct meaning into the column beside the correct vocabulary word. Then, they write an original sentence using each of the vocabulary words.
    • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself, “ in the Big Idea, Skill: Content Vocabulary—Terms About Destiny lesson, students receive a list of ten words for the text. Students study a model of the context of the words along with an exemplar of the words used in sample sentences. Then, they practice using an image plus a sentence to arrive at the meaning of a word, choose the correct meaning of a word in a given sentence, and write their own sentence with the vocabulary words as a practice activity during the Your Turn portion of the lesson.
  • Vocabulary is repeated across multiple texts.
    • In Unit 4, “ Personal Best,” in the Big Idea Skill Academic Vocabulary lesson, students receive a list of ten vocabulary words for the text. Students study a model of roots and affixes and the words. They practice dragging and dropping word parts, complete a sentence with the correct word, and write their own sentence with a given vocabulary word during Your Turn. Then, in the Close Read of “Malala Yousafzai-Nobel Lecture,” students incorporate the academic vocabulary in their written response in the Write section. One of the vocabulary words is repeated during a close read of the Unit 6 text excerpt from Rosa Parks: My Story, by Rosa Parks. The lesson plan states, “Draw attention to the academic vocabulary word previous. Call on students to share out the definition of the word in their own words. Remind students that the word previous means ‘just preceding something else in time or order’ and can be used in everyday as well as academic and workplace contexts. Encourage students to use this vocabulary word in their written response.”

Students are supported to accelerate vocabulary learning with vocabulary in their reading, speaking, and writing tasks. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” in the Big Idea Skill Academic Vocabulary lesson, students receive a list of ten words for the text. Students study a model of the words used in context before practicing in the Your Turn section. In this activity, students drag and drop examples and nonexamples of the words, use the vocabulary words in a sentence, and write their own sentences using the vocabulary words from the lesson.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Vocabulary Review, during the Skill: Vocabulary Review lesson, students review the words they learned throughout the unit. In the Your Turn section, they sort the words based on whether they related to personal goals or debatable issues. In the Write section, students discuss and respond to a prompt using the vocabulary from the chapter: “Discussion: In this unit, you have read drama and other texts related to the theme of Making Your Mark and the essential question, What’s your story? Imagine that you are nominating someone for an award. Who is this person, and what type of award would you like to honor him or her with? What information would you present about them to an awards committee? Use as many Big Idea and Academic Vocabulary words in your discussion as you can.”

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.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

Materials include writing instruction aligned to the standards for the grade level, and writing instruction spans the whole school year. Throughout all the units of study, students engage in a variety of writing activities in response to the reading of texts, including creating short constructed responses and completing Extended Writing Projects. The short constructed responses include Blasts, Think questions, and Prompt responses. Within each unit, students write in response to four Blasts which connect the students to the Essential Question, synthesize information from a variety of online sources, compose a clear response in 140 characters or less, and share their responses with a digital community. The First Reads writing tasks involve answering Think questions that require students to cite evidence. The Close Read Prompt responses connect to the type of featured writing in the unit and prepare the students for the Extended Writing Project or Research assignments. In the Extended Writing Project, materials prepare students to transition through the writing process using supports such as a Student Model, graphic organizers, checklists, rubrics, and extensive scaffolding of writing skills. For Research, students discuss, plan, research, write, and deliver presentations. Materials include consistent scaffolding and strategies that support students through the process of achieving proficiency at the end of the year.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read the text, “The Magic Marker Mystery,” by René Saldaña Jr. In the Close Read, students complete a literary analysis in which they respond to the Prompt: “Think about how the playwright uses specific scenes to develop the plot. How would Act Three of The Magic Marker Mystery be different if it were told from Joe’s perspective? In your response, indicate how this would affect the structure of the play as a whole. Support your writing with specific evidence from the text." Scaffolding, based upon proficiency, is evident in the lesson plan. Examples include speaking frames and a paragraph guide.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” the students compose an argumentative piece during the Extended Writing Project. Materials provide a Student Model illustrating an example of a grade-level response to the prompt. As students read the Model, they highlight and annotate the features of argumentative writing that the author of the Student Model, Ellie, included in her argument. The student model helps students understand how to write an effective argumentative essay. Materials also include a list of characteristics of an effective argument. Students receive guidance on revision and editing. Teachers provide direct instruction, via Skill lessons, in the areas of planning, organizing, crafting a thesis statement, adding reasons and relevant evidence, transitions, introductions, and conclusions.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read the text “All Summer in a Day,” by Ray Bradbury. In the First Read, students respond to Think questions, such as “How does Bradbury describe the sun? Citing at least two descriptive passages that you find in the text, explain what the sun means to the characters in the story.” and “Based on the text, how has life on Venus affected Margot? Cite specific evidence from the text to support your answer.” Teachers guidance includes the following: “Circulate as students answer Think Questions independently. See the answer key for sample responses.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” Extended Writing Project, students engage in the process of writing a research paper. Students respond to the following prompt: “Consider the texts included in the ‘True to Yourself’ unit, identify a topic you would like to know more about, and write a research report about that topic. In the process, you will learn how to select a research question, develop a research plan, gather and evaluate source materials, and synthesize and present your research findings. Regardless of which topic you choose, be sure your research paper includes the following: an introduction; supporting details from credible sources; a clear text structure; a conclusion multimedia components such as charts, images, or video; a works cited page. As you gather ideas and information from the texts in the unit, be sure to: use evidence from multiple sources; and avoid overly relying on one source.” Through a series of lessons, students read and analyze sources, plan, draft, revise, and edit, and publish their writing. The teacher manual provides sentence starters and questioning techniques for struggling students, graphic organizers, rubrics for the class, writing checklists, vocabulary supports, and suggestions for peer review and reflection.

Indicator 2g

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.

Research projects are sequenced across a school year to include a progression of research skills appropriate for the grade level. Each of the six units include multiple opportunities for students to engage in research activities and present their findings. Materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge on a topic via provided resources. Teachers support the development of students’ knowledge via high-quality texts, text-dependent questioning, and Blast lessons. Blast lessons include multi-media research links related to the theme. As students utilize the included research links, they develop a broader understanding of the theme and texts within the unit. The materials provide many opportunities for students to apply reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language skills to synthesize and analyze information during their grade-level readings. Research activities provide opportunities for students to show their learning in different ways, including presenting their findings to the class, writing about their research, and creating multimedia displays. Each unit includes an extensive, multi-step Extended Writing Project related to the unit’s theme. In Unit 6, students complete a research project showing their learning across the year. This project entails a full-length essay that includes multimedia components, parenthetical citations, and a Works Cited page.

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area, by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic, using multiple texts and source materials. For example, some examples include:

  • Students have opportunities to engage in “short” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” Grade Level Overview, students read The Mighty Miss Malone. Students can learn more about the setting and context for the book through a research project related to the Great Depression. Groups research a topic, create a visual aid, and present informally to the class.
    • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” in the Blast lesson, students study the Essential Question, “How do relationships shape us?” In the Blast lesson, students read, annotate, and highlight information that builds knowledge centered around this question. Students respond to prompts to help them connect to the Essential Question. In the Blast lesson, there is a jigsaw activity, during which students research and discuss information pertaining to the Essential Question.
    • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Grade Level Overview, students research cultural norms around food from another country. In small groups, they use this information to create a comical scene where an American traveler violates this cultural norm.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in “long” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 3, “In the Dark," the Essential Question for the research project is, “How do you know what to do when there are no instructions?” The research project is an informative piece that occurs during the Extended Writing Project at the unit’s close. Students read stories of people who experience uncertainty in their life and how they overcome these events. Novels and real life accounts are used to teach lessons. Texts in this unit include The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen, and Madeleine L’Engle’s speech “Dare to be Creative.” This knowledge allows students to explore the unit’s topic of overcoming uncertainty in life.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best," in the Extended Writing Project, students write a literary analysis in response to the Essential Question, “Which qualities of character matter most?” Throughout the unit, students read texts and conduct research to explore what matters most in developing someone’s personal best. “This unit offers a mixture of texts about real individuals and fictional characters who achieve their personal best through wrestling with familiar and realistic struggles. After interacting with these texts, students write a literary analysis argumentative essay. In their essays, students will identify two unit texts that they think develop a main idea or theme that communicates the qualities of character that matter most.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” in the Extended Writing Project, students compose a research report in response to the Essential Question, “Who are you meant to be?” Throughout the unit, students read texts and conduct research to study the journey of becoming one’s true self. “This unit offers a variety of literature and nonfiction texts about individuals and characters in search of their true selves. After interacting with these texts, students will have the opportunity to write a research report, devise a research question in response to their reading, and find and take notes from primary and secondary sources. Afterwards, they will synthesize this information into a full-length essay that includes multimedia components.

Indicator 2h

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

Most texts, in the StudySync materials, are organized with built-in supports and/or scaffolds to foster independence. Within the Core ELA Units, there are Integrated Reading and Writing lessons that support students throughout the reading of the texts. These lessons consist of First Reads, Skills focus lessons, Close Reads, Blasts, and Independent Reads. Each unit ends with Self-Selected Reading Lessons; however, procedures for independent reading included in the units are unclear. The Teacher Edition provides teacher guidance to foster all students’ reading independence. Within each Lesson Plan, the Teacher Edition Differentiation tab includes supports for differentiation. Scaffolding is also provided in this section for beginning, intermediate, and advanced ELLs. The proposed schedule for the Independent Read lessons are included in the Pacing Guide. Core ELA Units pair Independent Read lessons with a core text at least two times within each unit. Each unit concludes with five self-selected reading selections, and the Pacing Guide has been updated to include the Self-Selected Reading Selections. The updated Program Guide also includes a section titled Building an Outside Independent Reading Program. A tracking system is provided through the Bookshelf and Reading Quizzes. Student reading materials span a wide volume of texts at grade levels and at various Lexile levels within the grade. There are a variety of informational and fiction texts for students to read, including articles, essays, poems, novels, short stories, and drama. Texts range in Lexiles from 520L to 1130L.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” three Independent Read lessons are paired with core texts. For example, the first Independent Read task, Red Scarf Girl, by Ji-ji Jiang, is paired with the core text Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen. After engaging in a First Read, Skill: Setting Lesson, Skill: Compare and Contrast Lesson, and a Close Read of Hatchet, students complete a compare and contrast writing task, citing evidence from the two texts. According to the Pacing Guide, this lesson takes place on Days 10–13 of the unit.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” in the Self-Selected Reading lesson, the Blast provides students information on how to use a critical review to choose a book. The five self-selected reading texts for the unit are as follows: The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea, by Sy Montgomery, Joey Pigza Loses Control, by Jack Gantos, All But My Life: A Memoir, by Gerda Weissmann Klein, and Running Out of Time, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. After selecting and reading one of the provided options, students complete the “Write: Self-Selected Response” in which they complete a critical review for their self-selected reading text. The Pacing Guide does not allocate time for the actual reading of the self-selected text.
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” during a paired reading, students independently read and annotate the text “A BEACON of Hope: The Story of Hannah Herbst,” by Rebecca Harrington. Then, students complete a First Read, two Skill lessons, and a Close Read of the paired text “Shree Bose: Never Too Young to Change the World,” by Amanda Sperber. The Teacher Edition, Differentiation Tab, includes the following scaffolds for the Text Talk activity: “Approaching Grade Level—Speaking Frames and Paragraph Guides; Beyond Grade Level—ask each student to write one additional discussion question. Then, have one or two students facilitate a discussion, using their questions to guide the conversation; Beginning and Intermediate ELLs—Speaking Frames; Advanced and Advanced-High ELLs—Speaking Frames and Paragraph Guides.” According to the Pacing Guide, these lessons are completed on Days six through nine.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 6 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. Additionally, the expectations for teachers and students are unreasonable for the suggested time-frame. 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 and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 partially meet the criteria that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.

Although the materials are well designed and include lessons that are effectively structured, the pacing of individual lessons is not appropriate. The year-long instruction is broken into six units. Units are designed to help students build knowledge across multiple texts through the unit themes, Big Ideas, and Essential Questions. Each unit follows a similar structure beginning with a First Read, then Skill lessons, followed by a Close Reading activity. Each unit includes 30 lessons that are 40 minutes long, four of which are independent reading lessons totaling 50 minutes each. Many of the lessons do not allocate sufficient time to complete all designated activities within the typical school day. Also, there is no clarification on the amount of time that should be spent on each component of the lesson.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis. In the Close Read Lesson Plan, students must complete the following eight activities in one 40-minute class period: complete a vocabulary chart, complete Writer’s Notebook assignment, complete Skills Focus in a small group, engage in a Collaborative Conversation, review Writing Prompt and Rubric, engage in Academic Vocabulary Focus, complete the Writing assignment, and complete a Peer Review and Reflect assignment.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. In the Close Read, students participate in the following eight activities and tasks: completion of Vocabulary Chart, Writer’s Notebook assignment, Skills Focus assignment, observation and discussion of StudySync TV episode, Collaborative Conversation, Review of Prompt and Rubric, writing assignment completion, and a Peer Review and Reflection.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read the poem, “Helen Keller,” by Langston Hughes. In the Independent Read, the students participate in 11 activities and tasks in a 50-minute class period. Students participate in the following activities: Introduction of text, Analysis of Vocabulary, reading and annotation of the text, Turn and Talk, Text Talk, answering of Reading Comprehension questions, Collaborative Conversation, Review of Prompt and Rubric, Writing task, and Peer Review and Reflection.

Indicator 3b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

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 time-frame. Several significant modifications would be necessary for the materials to be viable for one school year. As noted in the Pacing Guide, this year-long instruction is broken into six units. Each unit includes 36 lessons that are 40 minutes long, four of which are independent reading lessons totaling 50 minutes. The amount of lessons listed and the number of days allotted for their completion are not structured in a way that students can engage in the lessons in their entirety; thus, the pacing does not allow for maximum student understanding. The Shortcut sections include lesson adaptations. These sections show how lessons can be trimmed to meet local needs and tailored to fit instructional needs. The following guidance is provided: “Remember that this guide is only meant to help you plan your unit and visualize how the parts of a StudySync lesson fit together. Use it, adapt it, or change it to meet your needs!”

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” the Pacing Guide states that students read and analyze 10 texts and complete an argumentative writing assignment within 30 days. Teachers have the option to reduce the units by following the guidance in the Shortcuts section. The Shortcut section offers the following suggestions: “If you are in a rush and looking to cut some of the content in a unit, you can eliminate one or two of these Skill lessons and feel confident your students have already had practice citing textual evidence and comparing and contrasting information from multiple texts,” and “If you are running out of time, you may want to eliminate a StudySync selection that focuses on a similar type of text as a previous lesson. For example, the unit contains four poems: ‘Teenagers,’ ‘Tableau,’ ‘That Day,’ and ‘A Poem for My Librarian, Mrs. Long.’”

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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).

Student materials include ample review and practice resources. Whenever a skill is introduced, students learn the definitions of associated terms, experience the skill modeled via the teacher or analysis of a student model, and receive an opportunity to practice and apply the skill, most often, in the Your Turn section. Student materials include clear directions and explanations, and reference aids are correctly labeled. The directions for completing the various activities are clear and sometimes include the academic vocabulary, of the unit, as an additional way to practice the words in context. Skill lessons include learning aids, such as StudySync videos, to aid students in learning the skill being taught.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read the poem, “Teenagers,” by Pat Mora. In the Skill lesson, students practice making inferences. As an introduction to the skill, the materials provide students with a definition of the skill, explanation, and model. Students have the opportunity to practice what they learned in the Your Turn section. Here, students complete a drag and drop activity, matching prior knowledge and the inference with corresponding text evidence.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students read “Everybody Jump,” by Randall Munroe and analyze informational text structure. Students receive definitions of different text structures and complete a drag and drop activity to practice these definitions. Afterwards, students examine and analyze the structures modeled in the text. As they answer multiple choice questions, they practice determining informational text structure.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read “Celebrities as Heroes,” by StudySync. Within the Skill Lesson: Reasons and Evidence, students watch a StudySync video that provides definitions for the academic vocabulary and skill taught. Next, students interact with the vocabulary through either a drag and drop activity or charting the words. Students model interactions with the skill, and they independently practice during the Your Turn component of the lesson (by answering three multiple choice questions that focus on the use of reasons and evidence).

Indicator 3d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.

Alignment documentation is provided for all questions, tasks, and assessment items. In the Pacing Guide for each unit, the CCSS standards addressed within those sessions are indicated, including the standards for reteaching and previous skill practice. Within each Lesson Plan, the standards addressed through instruction, application, and assessment are clearly noted. Each grade level also has a Scope and Sequence document that details how standards are addressed across the year.

Alignment documentation is provided for all questions, tasks, and assessment items. For example, some examples include:

  • Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis. In the First Read, students respond to questions within the “Think” section of the lesson. One example of a question is, “What are the differences between Deza’s old school in Gary, Indiana, and her new school in Flint, Michigan? Cite textual evidence to support your answer.” Within the lesson, at the bottom of the screen, in the virtual platform and on the Lesson Plan, Standards RL.6.1 and W.6.10 are noted.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” during the Introduce the Task activity in the First Read lesson plan of Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech, teacher guidance includes the following information: “Ask students: What two words would you use to describe this video and why? What questions do you have after reading the introduction? CCSS: RL.6.1, SL.6.2.” The Assessment task, Text Talk, addresses standards in question format. Some of the questions are as follows: “What message does Phoebe find on the front steps of their house? What effect does it have on Prudence? What other questions are you able to ask and answer? (Answers will vary.) Think about the message in the letter. What aspects of our lives matter most? CCSS: RL.6.1, SL.6.1.A, SL.6.1.D.” The Scope and Sequence mentions the Essential Question, outlines the texts in the unit, and notes if the activity is instructional in nature, including practice and application, or application only.

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 6 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.

StudySync’s virtual platform is visually appealing, has no chaotic or distracting content, and supports student learning through engaging themes, texts, questions, and tasks. The platform is easy to navigate and provides support for students' needs. Each unit is set up in the same format–Unit, Unit Overview, Integrated Reading and Writing, Extended Writing Project, ELL Resources, Novel Study, and End-of-Unit Assessments. The Integrated Reading and Writing section is broken into sections by the title of the text and the lesson component—Skill lesson, First Read lesson, Close Read lesson, Blast, and/or Independent Read. Videos and images are well placed and support students’ engagement with the content. The formatting is consistent across the entire program.

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 6 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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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 in the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.

Content knowledge is included, where needed, and is accurate, understandable, and gives true assistance to all educators using the materials. There are detailed lesson plans provided for each text within the units. Types of lessons include Blasts, First Reads, Skill Lessons, Close Reads, and Independent Reads with detailed instructions, activities, and answer keys for each task suggested in the lesson plans. The Teacher’s Edition provides possible student responses to questions and instructional strategy suggestions for struggling students. When applicable and an enhancement to student learning, technology support is embedded, comprehensive, and accessible to most. The program’s instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language is delivered digitally and includes opportunities for collaboration, writing, research, and assessment using technology. Several features of the program were also designed to mimic the style of communication on social media. During the Blasts, students engage in QuikPolls, that enhance students' knowledge, through questions in which students' responses cannot exceed 140 characters.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” in the Skill Lesson: Figurative Language for “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros, the materials provide the following detailed instructions in the Lesson Plan: “Introduce the Skill: As a class, watch the Concept Definition video and read the definition for Figurative Language. Turn and Talk: Use the following questions to discuss figurative language with your students. 1. Can you think of any examples of figurative language from your favorite story or song? 2. How did the figurative language help you better understand the text? Have students share their answers with the class.”
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students read Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. In the First Read lesson, students discuss character and setting details. The Teacher’s Edition provides detailed instructions for teachers to follow. An example of this includes the following: “Read: Analyze Vocabulary Using Context Clues–As students read the text, ask them to make predictions about each bold vocabulary word based on the context clues in the sentence. Have students use the Annotation Tool to make their predictions. Model this strategy using the first bold vocabulary word: In paragraph 1, focus on the sentence that uses the word crotchety: She was as crotchety and sullen as a three-legged mule, and I was not quite sure why. Point out these context clues: First, I notice that the narrator compares her friend Phoebe to a three-legged mule. I know that a mule needs four legs to walk. So, a mule with three legs would have trouble walking. Having to walk on three legs would probably make the mule grouchy or in a bad mood. So crotchety must mean “cranky,” or “out-of-sorts.””
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” after exploring background information and research links about a topic in the Blast lesson, students answer the StudySync QuikPoll question with a 140-character response.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” in Malalal Yousafzai’s Nobel Lecture’s Blast lesson, It Started with a Story, students explore background information and research links about a topic. After this, students answer the StudySync QuikPoll with a 140-character response. The embedded technology enhances student learning.

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

More advanced concepts are consistently explained to support teachers with improving and deepening their understanding of the content. In the Lesson Plan, there are detailed, thorough explanations of all concepts to help teachers understand the content. The materials provide answer keys to student questions. Explanations are accessible to all educators. The Program Guide includes explanations of all the program’s components and suggestions on how to support struggling learners, students with IEPs, and English learners.

For example, an example includes the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” in the First Read lesson for “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros, the Lesson Plan provides adult-level explanations for teachers to improve their own understanding. For example, during the Access Complex Texts section, it states, “Purpose: The author’s use of symbolism may be difficult for some students to grasp. Point out that the red sweater, because it is so trivial, supports Rachel’s idea that sometimes, at eleven, you can still act as if you’re four.”

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 instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

In the StudySync materials, alignment is evident in the Grade Level Overview and Scope and Sequence for each grade level. The Grade Level Overview outlines how each text and task connects to the Essential Question and explains how the Extended Writing Project, Skills Lessons, Close Reads, Independent Reads, and Blasts integrate reading and writing standards across the year and overall curriculum. The Scope and Sequence, within the units, provides an “at a glance” overview of the alignment of the curriculum and frequency of standards (Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language) and are addressed within the texts of the units. For each text, the materials identify which standards are being practiced and which ones are being taught and practiced. This is indicated by an “o” and an “x” respectively.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Grade Level Overview, the first text in the unit is “Eleven.” There is a collection of Skill lessons that teach students the necessary background skills for success in their English Language Arts class. Skills like Annotation, Context Clues, Reading Comprehension, and Collaborative Conversations build a foundation for the school year.
  • In Unit 2, Scope and Sequence, alignment of Reading: Literature, Reading: Informational, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language standards are available, at a glance, for teachers within each text in the unit. The frequency of the standards taught in the unit are denoted with an “o” or an “x.” The “o” denotes the standards being practiced or applied. The “x” denotes instruction, practice, and application of the standard respectively. For example, in the Blasts, Standard RI.6.1 is practice or applied.

Indicator 3i

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
2/2
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.

The materials include a substantial document that provides the research base for all of the elements of the program. In Additional Resources, Research-Base Alignments, the materials provide the research base that outlines how the program components address all of the parts of the CCSS standards, including comprehending literary and informational text; writing; knowledge of content, language, and literature; speaking and listening; reading fluency; and conventions. Each one of these sections provides detailed explanations and citations from supporting literacy theory and research.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Research-Base Alignments, Writing, Writing Research Recommendations, the materials include the following research-based recommendation: “Students explore the variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing.” Examples supporting this recommendation include the following lessons: Unit 2, Close Read: Walk Two Moons and Grade 6, Unit 2, Blast: “Sonnets to Social Media.”
  • In the Research-Base Alignments, Vocabulary, Vocabulary Research Recommendations, the materials provide this research-based recommendation: “Vocabulary is taught using a variety of specific instructional methods, such as context-based approaches, restructuring, and pre-instruction in vocabulary before the reading lesson begins.” An example supporting this occurs during Unit 2, First Read: Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry.

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.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.

The Program Guide includes Suggestions for Parents and Caregivers to Support Student Achievement. Educators are encouraged to provide parents with a general overview of StudySync: 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 materials also provide teachers with suggestions about how to share student progress which illustrates how students are progressing within and across each unit with parents and caregivers.

For example, some examples include:

  • The Suggestions for Parents and Caregivers to Support Student Achievement outlined in the Program Guide states, “Teachers may choose to conduct a StudySync curriculum night to introduce parents to the program, as well as send home the Student User Guide and Grade Level Overview documents to familiarize caregivers with StudySync. In order to view and analyze their child’s progress, teachers should present individual student reports to parents and caregivers. These printable reports contain every StudySync assignment given and completed by the student, including the student’s responses, average review scores from peers, and specific feedback and scores from teachers. When used frequently, student reports can inform teachers and caregivers of areas in which students need additional support.”
  • The Program Guide contains suggestions for how teachers might show parents and students how students are progressing, including using the End-of-Unit Assessment. This assessment assesses the unit’s skills and can be used to determine future instruction and grouping. Highlights of the assessment include skill strengths, skill deficiencies, standard and skill proficiency levels, and across-unit growth.

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 6 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 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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

Materials provide regular and systematic assessment opportunities for assessment throughout all grade levels and units. Teachers use Checks for Success in text-dependent questions, discussions, and short written responses to informally assess students. Formal assessments include Benchmark tests, Diagnostic tests, Extended Writing and Oral Projects, Reading quizzes, and End-of-Unit assessments. Materials genuinely measure student progress. According to the Program Guide, every StudySync lesson offers students an opportunity to demonstrate progress toward standards mastery. Responding to sources, auto-graded Reading Quizzes, skills mastery checks, and longer written responses in the Extended Writing Projects all include standards labeling.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” the Text Talk section, in the First Read lesson plan, for Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech includes formative assessment opportunities. Students respond to questions, and the teacher utilizes an answer key. An example is as follows: “For what reasons does Phoebe get mad at her mother, Mrs. Winterbottom? (See paragraphs 9–11: Phoebe gets mad when her mother kisses her on the cheek, and says she’s not a baby anymore. When her mother offers her a brownie Phoebe says ‘no’ because she thinks she’s fat.)”
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” in the End-of-Unit assessment, students complete a summative assessment. Students read passages and answer multiple choice questions that address literacy skills, vocabulary, and the use of textual evidence from the passage. Students also respond to a short answer question. For example, Question 7 is as follows: “Read paragraph 2 from the passage. What can you understand about Emma Willard’s philosophy of education? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. Write your answer in the space below.”
  • There are Benchmark assessments available in the Assess tab. There are three forms for each grade level.
  • There are also Reading Diagnostic tests for each grade level. These assessments are under the Placement and Diagnostic tab at the bottom of the grade level page under the units.

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

Materials include denotations of the standards being assessed in both types of assessments. The answer key, at the end of the assessments, provides item-specific information such as content focus and skill, Common Core State Standard, and Depth of Knowledge (DOK) level. The End-of-Unit Assessment serves as a summative assessment which provides standards aligned to each question to ensure that all standards taught, within the unit, are being addressed in the assessment.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” in the Close Read of “The Treasure of Lemon Brown,” students demonstrate their mastery of aligned standards as they respond to the written assessment question. “ARGUMENTATIVE: Three men, one carrying a length of pipe, arrive at the abandoned building to steal Lemon Brown’s treasure. Lemon, with Greg’s help, scares them off. Does the author reveal enough about Lemon Brown’s treasure for the reader to understand its importance? Do you think Lemon Brown’s treasure is worth fighting for? Why or why not? Defend your point of view with evidence from the text.” These questions help support teachers in identifying students’ mastery of Common Core State Standards RL.6.1, RL.6.6, W.6.1.A, and W.6.1.B.
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” in the Skill: Dramatic Elements and Structure lesson for The Miracle Worker, students analyze how a particular scene fits into the overall structure of the play. Then, they respond to multiple choice questions to demonstrate their thinking. In both the Lesson Plan and student-facing materials, the standard RL.6.5 is denoted for the assessment.

Indicator 3l.ii

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meets the criteria for assessments or provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow up.

Materials include quality rubrics and scoring guides. The descriptors on the rubrics are unique to the tasks. Rubrics and scoring guides can be used to assess the standards to their full intent. Rubrics are specific to the writing tasks and include scoring descriptors as guidance to assess the standards to their full intent. Materials provide quality suggestions for follow-up. The Program Guide states that the pacing guide allows time for teachers to revisit key concepts with which students may have struggled during core instruction and application. The Review and Reteaching section of each unit is guided by the data tracking tools in StudySync, which allow teachers to view day-to-day student performance on all standards. Teachers may use Spotlight Skills, targeted lessons that provide resources to reteach or remediate without assigning additional readings. Quality guidance for the teacher to interpret assessment data is provided. 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.

For example, some examples include:

  • Students are often assessed via formative and summative assessments, and the materials provide teachers with many tools, such as task-specific rubrics to help them interpret student performance. Each rubric uses a four-point scale to help teachers and students identify areas of strength, weakness, and growth. This system of rubrics allows teachers to compare student performance as the year progresses. The instructional materials provide follow-up suggestions for students who do not master the skills and habits in the Review and Reteach section, and teachers can provide Spotlight Skills lessons to support students with this learning.
  • As stated in the Program 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. Using the StudySync Gradebook, teachers can effectively decide how to scaffold instruction and provide remediation support for individual students. Tracking tools for these assessments will provide teachers with raw scores as well as a breakdown of student performance against standards and a breakdown of student performance against skills. In addition, color-coded reporting will allow teachers to quickly and easily monitor student performance and needs.”
  • As stated in the Program Guide, “Spotlight Skills are targeted lessons that provide resources to reteach or remediate without assigning additional readings.” Each Core Skill lesson has a corresponding, standards-aligned, Spotlight Skill lesson. Spotlight Skills can be assigned at any point in the year, but the end of each unit provides a set time to pause, review data collected throughout the unit, and reteach skills students have not yet mastered.

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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.

The materials reviewed include routines and guidance for opportunities to monitor student progress. The Lesson Plan includes Vocabulary, Check for Success, and Complete Skills Focus sections which assist teachers in monitoring students’ progress throughout the unit. The materials also provide teachers with prompts and suggestions for supporting students who may be struggling and for understanding students’ thinking about the concepts to make instructional decisions about next steps.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” students engage in Collaborative Conversations during the Close Read of Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech. In the Lesson Plan, teacher guidance is provided in the following: “Break students into collaborative conversation groups. Using StudySyncTV as a model, have students begin by reading the Close Read prompt. They should then use their Skills Focus annotations, their own ideas and reactions to the text, and any other notes and annotations they have to collaboratively explore the text. Rewrite this excerpt of Walk Two Moons with Phoebe, Prudence, or Mrs. Winterbottom as the narrator instead of Sal. Use evidence explicitly stated in the text, as well as inferences drawn from the text, to identify the narrator's relationship with the other characters. In your narrative, select language that reflects an appropriate tone for the narrator you choose.”
  • In Unit 6, “True to Yourself,” students read “Letter to His Daughter,” by W.E.B. Du Bois. The Skill: Context Clues lesson plan includes teacher suggestions for monitoring students’ progress, such as “Circulate the room as students work independently to complete the vocabulary chart. If students struggle to match the correct definition, discuss the correct meaning of the word. If a majority of students struggle with the same word, pause the activity and discuss the definition as a class.”

Indicator 3n

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.

The materials reviewed are designed to build students’ confidence during independent reading. Bookshelf and Reading Quizzes serve as tracking systems to monitor students’ progress during independent reading. Within the two opportunities for independent reading in the units, Independent Reads and Self-Selected Reading lessons, students often do not read full texts. Many texts provided throughout the materials are excerpts. Teachers provide students with feedback during the Checks for Success that are built into the Independent Reads and Self-Selected Reading lessons. The Pacing Guide indicates that at least one day, of each unit, should be spent on independent reading which is based on student choice. The Self-Selected Reading lesson may motivate students, as this particular lesson is designed so students research background information that would inspire them to choose a certain text. However, the Self- Selected lessons are 40 minutes long with a minimum of nine activities to be completed. The actual reading occurs during the final activity. The Independent Read lessons are 50 minutes long, and not all of this time is dedicated to students reading independently. It is unclear if independent reading occurs outside of the allotted time, which could impact building students’ stamina.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” during the Independent Read lesson, students read an excerpt of The Circuit: Stories from the Life of a Migrant Child, by Francisco Jimenez. Students respond to Text Talk questions, take a Reading Quiz, and write a personal response.
  • In Unit 2, “You and Me,” in the Self-Selected Reading lesson plan, students have five choices for their independent reading. The lesson plan allots 40 minutes for students to explore background knowledge that may influence which text they would like to read. The lesson plan includes a Blast, Turn and Talk, Writer’s Notebook, and Establishing a purpose for reading. Students read at the end of these activities. The 40-minute block is not solely for the purpose of independent reading.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” in the Self–Selected Reading Blast, students read and annotate research, respond to questions within a Text Talk, set a purpose for reading, read independently, and then respond to the blast QuikPoll within a 40-minute lesson.

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 6 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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 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.

Specific strategies to meet the needs of all learners are included. Scaffolds exist as part of the many standard features in the StudySync digital platform and can be strategically utilized to support students’ comprehension and engagement. Students, who have been identified as English Learners, Approaching-Grade-Level students, or Beyond-Grade-Level students, automatically receive scaffolded support or enrichment in their digital accounts. Vocabulary scaffolds are also available, including Spanish translations, in a slide-in screen for Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High English learners, as well as Approaching-Grade-Level students. Each lesson is concise and follows a Teach and Model and Practice and Apply routine with suggestions for differentiated practice. StudySync also offers a variety of accessibility options, presentation customization options, content accommodation and modification, and instructional strategies to address the needs of students with disabilities. Some of these options are as follows: shortened or modified assignments, the Scaffolds tab, and Screen Reader.

For example, an example includes:

  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students read an excerpt of The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan. In the Complete the Vocabulary Chart section of the Close Read lesson plan, Approaching grade-level students utilize the Visual Glossary as a scaffold. The teacher may also provide the Beyond grade-level students with the following activity: “Have each student choose one or two words and make a Frayer model using those words. Combine their work to generate a classroom resource for all students to access. (See the Strategies Dictionary for an explanation of Frayer models.)”

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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 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.

Materials provide support for EL students and students who work below grade level. The Instruction and Differentiation tab of each Lesson Plan includes various scaffolding suggestions for teachers to use with learners at varying ability levels. Examples of these lesson scaffolds are as follows: visual glossaries, speaking frames, text synopses, sentence frames, word banks, etc. Scaffolds support EL students with varying ability levels such as Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High. The student-facing digital materials provide options for enabling the various scaffolds detailed in the Lesson Plan. Tech scaffolds include audio with variable speed, audio text highlight, and supplemental language. The Program Guide contains a substantial section that provides explanations of the scaffolds and how they might be used. Scaffolds may be printed for each lesson using the Actions drop down. The Newcomer EL Support guide provides teachers with detailed lessons, materials, and strategies for supporting EL learners of many different languages. The progress monitoring feature allows teachers to monitor student progress after each lesson.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students read The Mighty Miss Malone, by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Skills Lesson: Making Connections provides teachers with guidance on student groupings. Teachers place ELs in collaborative mixed-level groups and prompt students to make connections to personal experiences, ideas in other texts, and society using the Skill Model and reading chart during the Model—Read and Annotate portion of the lesson.
  • In Unit 4, “Personal Best,” students read the text “Bullying in Schools.” The First Read lesson provides teachers with suggestions for helping ELs, of all levels, use scaffolds, such as speaking frames, a visual glossary, vocabulary guide, and text synopsis.

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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.

Materials provide multiple opportunities for advanced students to investigate the grade-level content at a greater depth. The Program Guide contains information, for teachers, about how to support and push their beyond-grade-level students and includes a description of how differentiation is built into different types of lessons for these students. The Scaffolding and Differentiation section of the Lesson Plan includes additional opportunities for working with smaller groups of beyond-grade-level students, such as having them analyze the text with greater scrutiny or with a different analytical skill. These activities often introduce students to a new literary device or consider the effect of an author’s choices. These opportunities give students further enrichment in their study of literature as they practice the type of close scrutiny and analysis that will prepare them for the rigors of more advanced courses. Technology may also be leveraged to support these students.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” students complete a Close Read of “Scout’s Honor,” by Avi. In the Scaffolding and Differentiation section, advanced students complete the Beyond the Initiation section of the Lesson Plan during this activity: “Analyze for Enrichment. Look at the simile in paragraph 97: ‘Unfortunately, he landed like a Hell-cat dive-bomber as his mattress unspooled before him and then slammed into a big puddle.’ Remind students that a simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison, showing similarities between two different things using like or as. Ask students: What is being compared? How does the use of a simile here impact the reader? What is the significance of the simile?”
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” students read “Amigo Brothers,” by Piri Thomas. The Scaffolding and Differentiation section of the Close Read lesson includes the following suggested activity for Beyond-Grade-Level students: “Ask students to have a conversation in pairs about competing with friends in which they try to ‘sneak’ vocabulary and other words. First, break the vocabulary words into two lists. Then pair students and give the partner a list with vocabulary words. Ask partners to exchange their lists temporarily and allow students 60 seconds to add three random or silly (yet school appropriate) words. Once students have added random words to their partner’s paper, ask them to exchange papers and begin. As they ‘sneak’ words into the conversation, they can check the words off of their list. However, if their partner does not think the word was inserted into the conversation ‘casually and seamlessly,’ then they do not earn a point for that word. Whoever ‘sneaks’ the most words into the conversation wins.”

Indicator 3r

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

Each Lesson Plan, in the materials, includes a variety of grouping strategies. The beginning of the Lesson Plan for all Blast, First Read, Close Read, Skills, and Writing lessons includes a chart noting the grouping strategy suggestion for each part of the lesson—whole group, pairs or small group, and one-to-one. Lesson Plans also provide grouping strategies for activities such as Text Talk, Turn and Talk, and Collaborative Discussions.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” during the Blast lesson, students participate in a Text Talk to discuss the Driving Question, “Where are some places you might already be thinking critically and voicing your opinion about current events?” In the lesson, students participate in a Turn and Talk to discuss, “What do you think this Blast will be about? Make a prediction. What’s a good way to start the school year? Why?”
  • In Unit 5, “Making Your Mark,” Extended Oral Project and Grammar, Oral Presentation Process: Plan, students work in pairs or small groups to read and annotate the characteristics of argumentative oral presentations, and then share their annotations within small groups.

Criterion 3s - 3v

Materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms.
0/0
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6 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.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 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.

Digital materials are available and compatible with multiple internet browsers (i.e., Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari). Digital materials are accessible within Windows and Apple platforms. Digital materials follow a universal programming style in all platforms and internet browsers which makes accessibility and interaction with the materials user friendly. Digital materials are accessible through tablets and mobile devices. Mobile devices include iPads, iPhones, Android phones, Chromebooks, and other tablets.

Indicator 3t

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

Because the StudySync curriculum is available through their online platform, students have the opportunity to engage with many technology tools to enhance and deepen their learning. The tools are easy to use and are embedded within the lessons so that students can easily access them. Blast lessons include options for students to participate in polls and post ideas. Many lessons have StudySync TV or SkillsTV which provide videos on the skills, topics, or themes presented in the materials and serve as a basis for group discussions. The technology features enhance student learning by allowing students and teachers to customize the proficiency level within the system based on student need. As students read the texts, they may utilize digital annotation tools to highlight and make notes in the text.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” the First Read lesson for the story “Eleven,” by Sandra Cisneros includes technology-based activities. Students watch a video that provides a purpose for reading the text. When using the split-screen mode, students can see the questions on one side and the text on the other side. Students can annotate digitally, choose a “numbers” option to number the paragraphs, take a quiz, and respond to a prompt in the “Think” section of the lesson.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” students independently read the poem “Elena.” The Independent Read lesson includes a video preview to enhance students’ work with making connections to and predictions about the poem before reading it. After reading the poem, students answer digital reading comprehension questions. Finally, students write and submit their own poem in response to the mother from the perspective of one of her children. The online technology platform allows students to give peers feedback.

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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations. Teachers can adapt learning experiences for students based on individual needs.

For example, some examples include:

  • Teachers use technology to scaffold and personalize assignments based on students’ interests and instructional needs. They may assign one of four digital Access Handouts depending on a student’s needs. Teachers can also customize the directions, expectations, and due dates for a whole class, small group, or individual student.
  • Teachers have access to a library of content, texts, and excerpts. This allows teachers to target specific skills and choose texts based on Lexile levels.
  • The materials include audio, closed captioning, and vocabulary support for students.
  • Teachers use digital materials to personalize assignments, based on student’s needs, by changing the proficiency levels within the lesson to provide instruction for EL students and struggling readers.
  • Teachers use digital materials to personalize assignments, based on student’s needs, by changing the language within the lesson to the student’s native language to support EL students.

Indicator 3u.ii

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for materials can be easily customized for local use.

Materials can be easily customized for local use. Teachers can customize digital materials for local use according to student interests and abilities. The Core Program Guide states that every lesson contains resources and guidance for teachers to both scaffold instruction for three levels of English learners and Approaching-Grade-Level learners, and enrich and extend activities for Beyond-Grade-Level learners. Every lesson plan is divided into two parts: the Core Path, used for core instruction, and the Access Path, used for scaffolded instruction. Materials and assignments, within the Extended Writing Project, can be customized to meet the learner’s needs.

Assignments can be customized. Teachers can choose which Access Handout to include, add teacher notes or directions, decide whether or not to include audio, limit the number of Think questions, and select a suggested writing prompt or include their own. Teachers may customize assignments for the whole class, small groups, and/or individuals.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, the Pacing Guide states, “The Pacing Guide presents a suggested plan of attack that will help you cover the content in this unit, while making the connections between the anchor text and the StudySync selections clear for your students. Although this is a suggested outline of lessons, you can adapt, alter, eliminate, or re-organize the lessons to best meet the needs of your students. You may do all of this in class or you may decide to divide the assignments between in-class work and homework. Ultimately, you are in the best position to decide what is manageable for your classes given the time constraints you are working within.”
  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” the Extended Writing Project can be customized for students based on their proficiency and native language for the Introduction, Read, and Write portions of the “Plan” part of the lesson. This is available for the Draft, Revise, Edit and Publish parts of the writing task as well.

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 materials reviewed for Grade 6 meet the criteria for 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 digitally delivers instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language. Teachers also have the option to print the materials. To ensure students are engaged in learning, “several features of the program were designed to mimic the style of communication on social media.” Students complete Blasts, Think questions, Skills Focus questions, and writing prompts online. This allows students to provide to and receive feedback from their peers.

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, “Testing Our Limits,” during the Blast: Welcome to StudySync lesson, students write their Blast response in 140 characters or less. Then, they review their peers’ Blasts and provide them with feedback. Students use the feedback to develop and revise their writing.
  • In Unit 3, “In the Dark,” during “Blast: Emojis speak louder than words,” students explore background information and research links about a topic, and respond to a question with a 140-character response. Then, they review their peers’ Blasts and provide them with feedback. Students use the feedback to develop and revise their writing.
  • In Unit 6, “Making Your Mark,” during the Close Read lesson for the poem, “Saying Yes,” by Diana Chang, students write an original poem titled, “Saying Yes” or “Saying No” and submit it on StudySync’s online platform. Then, students submit substantive feedback to at least two 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 3-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

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

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.

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

ELA 3-5

ELA 6-8


ELA High School

Science Middle School

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