Alignment: Overall Summary

StudySync Grade 7 materials meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core ELA standards. The materials include instruction, practice, and authentic application of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language work that is engaging and at an appropriate level of rigor for the grade.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

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

|

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

+
-
Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials for Grade 7 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 7.Anchor texts are well-crafted and content rich, engaging students at the grade level for which they are placed. The texts address themes—conflict, love and loss, pursuing dreams and overcoming obstacles, how a chain of life-changing moments and events can result in dramatic change, universal themes in myths and folktales and their continued importance and relevance, and standing out from the crowd—that are of interest and are age-appropriate. Many of the core texts are CCSS exemplar texts, written by award-winning authors, such as Nikki Giovanni, and 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 during 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 an excerpt from The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake. Students explore the crossroads of race and gender in this modern-day tale of a 13-year-old’s struggle to gain self-love and self-acceptance. Students will identify with Maleeka’s journey to self-discovery. Students think through their own experiences with these issues to assist them in making inferences and analyzing the emerging themes in the story.
  • In Unit 2, students read “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. This classic poem is worthy of reading due to its rich language and allusions in the description of the narrator’s love for a beautiful woman.
  • In Unit 3, students read The Letter to President Roosevelt July 31, 1903, by Mother Jones. This letter was written but was never delivered to the intended recipient, but it was published in a newspaper where it was read by many. This historical document gives students the chance to interact with a primary source document to aid in the understanding of theme and author’s purpose.
  • In Unit 4, students read “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, a Hugo Award Winner for Best Novel. In this classic and widely acclaimed short story, Vonnegut’s use of satire allows the readers to consider what happens when a dystopian government misinterprets a core value. The selection serves as a model for understanding word patterns and their relationships, as students use these relationships to define unfamiliar vocabulary terms within the text.
  • In Unit 5, students read “The Invisible One” collected by Idries Shah. In this Cinderella-like tale of traditional Algonquin folklore, students will investigate “why authors reshape old stories in new ways.”The cultural variation of this classic story makes it of interest and worthy of students’ reading.
  • In Unit 6, students read “Choices” by Nikki Giovanni, the 2008 recipient of the American Book Award.Students will identify with Giovanni’s free verse poem that deals with the challenges we face when we confront our personal limitations and struggle to define ourselves. Her use of form to “challenge readers and develop themes of personal accomplishment and perseverance” make this text worthy of students’ reading.

Indicator 1b

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 (39 literary texts) and 40% informational texts (26 informational texts). There is a wide array of literary and informational anchor texts for every unit. Additional supplementary texts are included, resulting in a wide distribution of genres and text types as required by the standards. Literary texts include, but are not limited to novel excerpts, folktales, dramas, and poetry. Informational texts include, but are not limited to essays and biographies.

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

  • In Unit 1, “The Wise Old Woman” by Yoshida Uchida (folktale)
  • In Unit 2, “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe (poetry)
  • In Unit 3, Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez (novel excerpt)
  • In Unit 4, “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut (short story)
  • In Unit 5, Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (fables)
  • In Unit 6, A Thousand Cranes by Kathryn Schultz Miller (drama)

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

  • In Unit 1, “The Teacher Who Changed My Life” by Nicolas Gage (informational text)
  • In Unit 2, “Museum Indians” by Susan Power (essay)
  • In Unit 3, Harriet Tubman: Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Ann Petry (biographical excerpt)
  • In Unit 4, “The Power of Student Peer Leaders” by David Bornstein (essay)
  • In Unit 5, Remarks at the UNESCO Education for All Week Luncheon by Laura Bush (speech)
  • In Unit 6, “The Classical Roots of The Hunger Games” by Barry Strauss (article)

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.

Most texts in the StudySync materials fall within either the Current Lexile Band or the Stretch Lexile Band for Grades 6–8. Texts range from 860L to 1360L; most texts are appropriate for Grade 7 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 on background knowledge needed, unfamiliar vocabulary, and 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 7 students. Examples of texts with appropriate text complexity include:

  • In Unit 1, students read “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling
    • Quantitative: 1010L
    • Qualitative: Text demands include complex sentences; some contain some unfamiliar vocabulary words and include many descriptive details. The Teacher Guide suggests reminding students to use punctuation clues as they decipher units of meaning. Suggestions also include showing India’s location on the map and briefly defining colonialism.
    • Reader and Task: After reading, students complete a literary analysis on how Nag and Nagaina are portrayed as the villains. They discuss whether or not they think that Nag and Nagaina are truly evil or have they been unfairly cast as villains. “Think about how they react to other characters and events in the story. Then, choose a side, and then write a brief response that explains their position.” Students use both explicit and implicit evidence from the text to support their points.
  • Unit 4, students read Barrio Boy by Ernesto Galarza
    • Quantitative: Excerpt 1080L, Full Text 1140L
    • Qualitative: Spanish terms such as barrio and Escuela Municipal Numero 3 para Varones of Mazatián may be challenging for readers. The text discusses immigrant experiences. The author introduces an important central idea: “Being an immigrant is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to mean forgetting who you are or where you come from.” Geographical references, such as San Blas, Mexico, and Sutter’s Fort may challenge some students.
    • Reader and Task: The teacher guides students through a close read of the text. Students respond to an informative prompt—“Think about what this excerpt from Barrio Boy is mostly about. Think about how Ernesto changes from the beginning of the excerpt to the end. What events, individuals, or ideas impacted this change? Then, identify two central ideas or main ideas that are developed over the course of the text. Explain their central or main ideas in your own words. Remember to use textual evidence to support your response.”
  • Unit 6, students read “Reality TV and Society” (author not cited)
    • Quantitative: 1110L
    • Qualitative: Students may not be familiar with a pro/con organization of two articles on opposing viewpoints. Argumentative texts that employ specific techniques that readers need to recognize may challenge the reader. The text references specific reality TV shows that may be unfamiliar to some readers.
    • Reader and Task: The teacher guides students through a close read of the text. Students engage in a debate and develop their argument on whether reality TV is good or bad for society. To prepare for their debate, students must write a claim and provide three reasons with evidence to support their claim, using examples from the text as well as their own experiences and research.

A few anchor texts have quantitative measures that are not within the Grade 7 Current or Stretch Lexile Bands but are appropriate to Grade 7 by other measures. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 3 students read “The First Americans” by The Grand Council Fire of American Indians Richard Connell is below the recommended Lexile band for Grades 6-8; however, the text is appropriate to use in Grade 7 because the use of rhetorical devices is challenging for students.
    • Quantitative: 900L
    • Qualitative: Students will need to understand the rhetorical purpose for using a direct address and who “we” refers to. They will also need background knowledge to understand historical references.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a literary analysis response summarizing the main points of the letter and explaining how word choice affects the reader.
  • In Unit 6 students read The Giver by Lois Lowry is below the recommended Lexile band for Grades 6-8; however, the text is appropriate to use in grade because the concepts, such as the conditions of living in a futuristic utopia with very strict guidelines, that the reader has to encounter to understand the text are complex.
    • Quantitative: Excerpt 710L, Full Text 760L
    • Qualitative: Students may struggle with the concept of a dystopian society and the effect of those rules on society. The Unit Overview, page 77, suggests that the teacher review the concept of dystopian society with the students. Also, students may struggle with specific vocabulary—Assignment, new children, Ceremony of Twelve—used in the text. The Unit Overview, page 77, suggests that students make connections to words that they may understand to arrive at a meaning. If the students need more support, the suggestion is that the teacher explicitly teaches the vocabulary.
    • Reader and Task: Students compose a personal response expressing their thoughts on the positive and negative aspects of living under societal rules and whether they would want to live in such a society.
  • In Unit 3 students read “Letter to President Theodore Roosevelt, July 17, 1903” by Mother Jones is above the recommended Lexile band for Grades 6-8; however, the text is appropriate to use in Grade 7 because of the background knowledge needed of the textile industry and the use of multiple audiences in the text.
    • Quantitative: 1370L
    • Qualitative: Students may struggle with historical background knowledge about working conditions in the textile industry and the multiple audiences for whom this text is intended.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a compare and contrast response with other texts in the unit to explain how the audience and purpose of each text impacts its style and language.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

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 570L–1010L. The quantitative measures peak during Unit 3, with Lexile levels ranging from 480L–1370L and decline in Units 4 and 5 with ranges of 710L–1270L and 750L–1297L respectively. Although Unit 6 includes texts ranging from 710L-1360L, two of the ten texts reflect above-level quantitative measures, while four of the ten texts do not have reported quantitative measures. The number of texts that fall within the Grades 6-8 Lexile Band increases in Units 1–4 and peaks in Unit 5, with six of the eleven texts falling in the appropriate range. The percentage of texts that fall below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band is 55% in Units 1 and 3 and the percentage of texts without quantitative measures is 40% or higher in Units 2 and 6. Students respond to a variety of oral and written prompts, such as literary analysis, informative, compare and contrast, essay, research, poetry, discussion, and debate, after reading individual texts and text sets. 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.

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

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” the genre focus is fiction but the unit also includes some informational texts. Quantitative measures for texts included in the unit range from 570L–1010L, with many of the texts falling below the Grade 6–8 band at 720L–960L. The unit begins with its most difficult text, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” (1010L) by Rudyard Kipling. In order to support the text’s difficult quantitative and qualitative measures, a host of Skill lessons are included. Skill lesson topics include annotation, context clues, reading comprehension, text-dependent responses, textual evidence, character, collaborative conversations, short constructed responses, and peer review. Paired selections for this unit include Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and “Seventh Grade” by Gary Soto; the texts range from 720L–740L. Although well below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band, both texts’ qualitative measures make them appropriate for use. Students use textual evidence to complete an analysis of two characters, one from each of the texts, during which they “compare and contrast how the school setting creates conflict for the characters.” The unit ends with a text set that includes the poem “Mad” by Naomi Shihab Nye, the personal essay “In the Year 1974” (960L) by Oscar Casares, and the short story “Thank You, M’am” (810L) by Langston Hughes. Although Hughes’ work falls below the text complexity band and Nye’s poem does not have a Lexile level, all three texts have complex qualitative features such as story structure, the use of inferences, dialogue, sentence structure, poetic elements, and prior knowledge. After reading “Thank You, M’am,” students select one of the other pieces from the text set to “compare and contrast the lesson in ‘Thank You, Ma’am’ to the lesson in one of the other texts.” Students must support their ideas with evidence from both texts. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to, the following: making and confirming predictions, summary, theme, generating questions, connotation and denotation, author’s purpose and point of view, plot, dramatic elements and structure, and media.
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” the emphasis is on poetry but the unit also includes contemporary and classic literary works. Although the poems do not have Lexile levels, the fictional and informational texts range in quantitative complexity from 830L–1020L. Two of the texts fall within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band. The first text of the unit, Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” has rich qualitative measures such as complex symbolism, imagery, and sentence structures and difficult vocabulary requiring the use of context clues. Students complete a literary analysis on how Poe uses “rhyme, rhythm, and religious allusions to help the reader understand how the speaker feels about Annabel Lee” and how the multimedia version uses “sound to emphasize these same feelings.” Students must use evidence from both the poem and multimedia versions in their responses. The biographical profile “No Dream Too High: Simone Biles” by Alex Shultz is the unit’s most difficult piece, with a quantitative measure of 1020L. The Skill lesson for this text focuses on central or main idea. After reading the informational text, students debate if they would “choose a sport and fame over a normal life” and what they think “is the better alternative,” using evidence from the text to support their points. The unit closes with a text set which includes an excerpt from Charles’ Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (990L), an excerpt from Edward Bloor’s Tangerine (830L), and Wing Tek Lum’s poem “My Mother Really Knew.” Qualitative features, such as sentence structure, figurative language, specific vocabulary, and organization, add to the texts’ complexity. Students cite evidence from all three texts as they “Compare and contrast the conflicts in the family interactions presented in ‘My Mother Really Knew’ and the other two selections—A Christmas Carol and Tangerine.” Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to, the following: visualizing, adjusting fluency, poetic elements and structure, figurative language, media, context clues, making connections, and plot.
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” the unit’s genre focus is argumentative text, with text selections ranging quantitatively from 480L–1370L and most texts falling within the 840L–1140L range. The unit begins with an excerpt from the collective autobiography We Beat the Street (860L) by Sharon M. Draper, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins. Though below the grade’s text complexity band, the specific vocabulary, setting, and prior knowledge add to the text’s complexity. Skill lesson work includes connotation and denotation, which prepares students to “explain how Jenkins uses connotations and denotations to show how this early experience shaped his feelings about school and college” during their literary analysis of the excerpt. During the middle of the unit, students read Barbara Jordan’s speech “All Together Now.” This text is also below the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band with a quantitative measure of 840L; however, the social and governmental context of her speech, its organization, and the manner in which it connects the message of unit and equality are qualitative measures that add to the text’s complexity. Skill lessons on arguments and claims, reasons and evidence, and media prepare students to engage in “a collaborative conversation with a partner or a small group to discuss how to bring students in your community together in a positive way.” Students must provide reasons and evidence to support their arguments and claims. The unit ends with Don Lincoln’s essay “Machines, not people, should be exploring the stars for now.” The text has a quantitative measure of 1140L, placing it at the high end of the text complexity band for this grade level. The text’s qualitative features, including its op-ed genre, connection of ideas, and domain-specific vocabulary, further enhance its complexity. Skill lessons include synthesizing, technical language, Greek and Latin affixes and roots, and reasons and evidence and support students as they “use technical language, and include a claim with reasons and evidence to show your audience your stance” when responding to an informative writing prompt. Students also read a response to Lincoln’s essay. The text authored by StudySync has a quantitative measure of 1050L, placing it in the middle of the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band. Additional Skill lessons for the unit worthy of noting include:summarizing; language, style, and audience; and author’s purpose and point of view.
  • In Unit 4, “The Moment of Truth,” the emphasis is on informational texts; however, students also explore fiction and poetry within the unit. Selections range quantitatively from 710L–1270L with most texts falling between 800L–1090L. The unit begins with “Casey At the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. The poem does not have a Lexile level, but the ballad’s use of a strict rhyme scheme, long sentences, and domain-specific vocabulary add to its complexity. Skill lesson work includes making inferences and figurative language. Students respond to a literary analysis prompt during which they answer the following question: “How does the poet’s use of figurative language reveal the power that Casey has over his fans?” The informational text “An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793” (1090L) by Jim Murphy is paired with an excerpt from the fiction novel Fever 1793 (710L) by Laurie Halse Anderson. While Murphy’s piece falls within the Grade 6–8 Lexile Band and Anderson’s excerpt falls below the range, both texts have qualitative features such as prior knowledge requirements and specific vocabulary that supplant their complexity. After reading both texts, students “Compare and contrast people’s understanding of the disease in the selections” and “explain how people’s understanding of the disease influences their responses,” using evidence from both texts to support their thinking. The unit ends with an excerpt from Ernesto Galarza’s autobiography Barrio Boy, which has a quantitative measure of 1080L, placing it at the mid-range of the text complexity band. The central idea, specific vocabulary, and prior knowledge of this text extend its complexity. After reading, students respond to an informative prompt that requires students to identify and explain “two central or main ideas that are developed over the course of the text.” Students must use textual evidence to support their responses. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to, the following: technical language, media, word patterns and relationships, point of view, word meaning, connotation and denotation, character, and main idea.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” students explore myths, folktales, and fairy tales. Text selections range from 750L–1270L, with most texts falling between 900L–1100L. The unit begins with Aesop’s Fables by Aesop. At 1060L, the text falls within the Grades 6–8 Lexile Band and it also has qualitative measures, such as sentence structure and specific vocabulary, that extend its complexity. Skill lesson work on monitoring comprehension and theme support students with their reading. The lesson ends with students responding to a narrative writing prompt in which they must “Write a fable of your own that demonstrates a clear theme.” Students must “Use a variety of writing techniques,” “state a lesson at the end of [their] story as a moral that reflects [their] chosen theme,” and “include animal characters that have human traits.” The unit’s paired selection includes a text that is below the text complexity band and one that is at the higher end of it. Students read “The Story of Anniko” (750L) by Charlotte Blake Alston and “Icarus and Daedalus” (1100L) by Josephine Preston Peabody. Both texts require prior knowledge, making them more complex. To support the high quantitative measure for Peabody’s work, Skill lessons on Greek and Latin affixes and roots and setting are included. After reading both texts, students compare and contrast the settings of both pieces and “explain how the different settings influence characters’ actions and plot development” using evidence from both to support their thinking. The unit ends with the poem “Perseus” by Robert Hayden. Hayden’s use of imagery and the poem’s complex structure, words, and phrases add to its complexity. A Skill lesson on connotation and denotation is included to support students’ work. After reading, students write a literary analysis focused on how the author’s word choice “show Perseus’s inner conflict and the poem’s meaning” and “impact the poem’s tone.” Students must use specific examples of connotations from the text in their responses. Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to, the following: generating questions, summary, plot, poetic elements and structure, and figurative language.
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” students explore the genre of drama as they read an array of works spanning every genre they have read throughout the year. Texts range from 710L–1360L with most texts in the 1050L–1180L range. The unit begins with a text set that includes the unit’s lowest rated quantitative text—an excerpt from Lois Lowry’s science-fiction novel The Giver. The dystopian setting, futuristic elements, and specific vocabulary make the text excerpt a challenging one. The text set also includes an excerpt from the informational text Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea (1070L) by Barbara Demick and the drama “A Thousand Cranes” by Kathryn Schulze Miller. After reading all three pieces, students use a graphic organizer and evidence from the texts to prepare for a class discussion on what the “three texts suggest about the relationship between the individual and society.” Students read an informational article “Miami Dancer Follows Dreams while Planning for the Future” by Mekeisha Madden Toby. This text is just above the text complexity band at 1180L and it includes qualitative measures such as prior knowledge, text structure, and connection of ideas that make the text even more complex. A Skill lesson on informational text structure and elements is included to support students’ work. After reading, students “prepare points and comments for a debate with [their] classmates” using textual evidence to support their thinking on the following prompt: “The article talks about how Elijah likes both STEM topics and the arts. Which do you think is more important? Is it more important to focus on science and technology or the arts and humanities?” The unit ends with the drama Cuentos de Josefina (Josephine’s Tales) by Gregory Ramos. This folktale, presented in the form of a drama, includes organizational structures and specific vocabulary that make the text a complex one. A Skill lesson on dramatic elements and structure is included to support students’ work. After reading, students write a literary analysis in which they “identify a lesson [from Ramos’s work] with a universal appeal.” Students must “explain how the author uses dramatic elements and structures, such as dialogue and aside, to help teach a lesson or moral.” Skill lessons for the unit include, but are not limited to, the following: character, synthesizing, technical language, author’s purpose and point of view, media, making connections, arguments and claims, word meaning, and poetic elements and structure.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

The text complexity analysis and rationale are included in the Grade 7 ELA Overview. It provides a qualitative analysis that includes information about background knowledge needed, 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. Because 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.

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

  • In Unit 1, Grade 7 ELA Overview, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, the following information is provided: The text addresses the themes of conformity and individuality. Complexity of the text is evident through students understanding the point of view of the text. The story of Stargirl is told through the lens of Leo. Also, vocabulary terms that allude to other texts need to be clarified for comprehension of the text. Terms such as Heidi and Bo Peep represent a few terms that would need to be discussed. After reading, students engage in a personal response writing in which they make a case for conforming and individuality using Leo’s observations. The Lexile level stated in the materials is 740L. This is inaccurate. Multiple sources indicate the Lexile level is 590L. An explanation of the 740L quantitative measure is not present in the materials.
  • In Unit 2, Grade 7 ELA Overview, “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe, the following information is provided: This poem contains difficult vocabulary, stanzas consisting of long sentences, and complex symbolism, all of which will challenge students. The materials provide a number of Skill Lessons related to the text and there is opportunity for students to closely read and discuss the poem to build understanding. Students write a literary analysis based on the poem and can use it as inspiration for their Extended Writing Project. Lexile measures are not available on poetry or drama.
  • In Unit 3, Grade 7 ELA Overview, We Beat the Streets by Sharon Draper, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, and George Jenkins, the following information is provided: This text is an autobiography that shares personal stories of three people. Text notes denote that students may struggle with the references to Shakespeare. The Overview suggests that the teacher clarifies the reference to Hamlet. The teacher should also support the students through the text regarding the nonfiction premise while a story is being told. After reading, the students write a literary analysis on one of the authors from the text. The Lexile Level is listed at 890L.
  • In Unit 5, Grade 7 ELA Overview, an excerpt of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the following information is provided: It is a dystopian fiction text that addresses survival. Complexity of the text is evident through the use of a dystopian backdrop. Students may struggle understanding this setting. Text notes suggest holding a discussion about a dystopian society to aid in understanding. Students may also struggle to connect with Katniss’ motherly instinct to protect her younger sister. Text notes suggest asking the students to consider their feelings about this and to make a prediction about the text. After the students read the excerpt, they are asked to write a personal response to express their initial reaction to the last scene of the excerpt. The materials state the Lexile level for the excerpt is 1000L; multiple sources state the Lexile level for the full text is 810L.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

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 in 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, short stories, and articles. 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.

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

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” the focus is on fiction, and students read a variety of fictional works like “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling, Woodsong by Gary Paulsen, and Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, in addition to other fictional, informational, and poetic texts. As they read, students work to answer the Essential Question “When do differences become conflicts?” One text included in the unit is “The Wise Old Woman” retold by Yoshiko Uchida. 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 generating questions, making and confirming predictions, 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 engage in Collaborative Conversations 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 4, “The Moment of Truth,” the genre focus is informational text. Students read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, and “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut. As they read, students work to answer the Essential Question “How can one event change everything?” One text included in the unit is the informational article, “The Power of Student Peer Leaders” by David Bornstein. 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 making connections to personal experience or ideas in other texts. 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 on reading skills such as compare and contrast and a Close Read. In the Close Read, students engage in Collaborative Conversations in the Write section of the lesson, during which the students compare and contrast this text with two other texts on the same topic included in the unit. Students then complete a Blast on “Heroes of Science” and create a response Blast in a Short-Constructed Response in (140 words or less).
  • In Unit 6 “The Power of One” the genre focus is drama. The unit begins with a science fiction classic, an excerpt from Lois Lowry’s novel, The Giver and the play A Thousand Cranes by Kathryn Schultz Miller. Finally, First Lady Laura Bush makes the case for universal education in “Remarks at the UNESCO Education for All Week Luncheon.” As they read, students work to answer the Essential Question “How can we stand out from the crowd?” One text included in the unit is the informational article “Nothing to Envy” by Barbara Demick . 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 plan also suggests that the students read and annotate the text independently for focus skills, such as generating questions; tracking the relationship between individuals, ideas, and events; and responding with connections and inferences. 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 engage in Collaborative Conversations before completing the prompt in the Write section of the lesson, during which the students write about the dangers of speaking freely in North Korea.

Criterion 1g - 1n

Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
16/16
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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).
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).

Text-dependent/specific questions, tasks, and assignments support students’ literacy growth over the course of the school year. Grade 7 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 to 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 including, but not limited to, guiding questions, tasks to activate knowledge, and scaffolding for all learners in assisting students in completing activities such as writing a compare and contrast response, composing a personal response, and answering multiple-choice questions. When answering text-dependent/specific questions, students receive directions on where to look for details and what information should be included. Sample 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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, Integrated Reading and Writing, “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling, First Read, Think Tab, students answer five open-ended text-specific questions including “How did Rikki-tikki come to live with the English family? Cite specific evidence from the text to support your answer. What do the descriptions of Nag in paragraph 23 suggest about his character? Cite specific evidence from the text to support your answer.” In the Teacher Edition, the materials provide the following guidance for the teacher during this task: “Answer Think Questions : Circulate as students answer Think Questions independently. See the answer key for sample responses.”
  • In Unit 3, Integrated Reading and Writing, “Machines, not people should be exploring the stars for now” by Don Lincoln, Skill, students answer multiple choice questions such as “In paragraph 11, Lincoln claims that robotic space exploration is less expensive than manned space flight. How does he support this claim? What piece of evidence best supports your answer to number 1?”
  • In Unit 4, Integrated Reading and Writing, Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson, Close Read, Write Tab, students complete the following task: “COMPARE AND CONTRAST: “An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793” and Fever 1793 both describe people reacting to a terrifying disease in their community: yellow fever. Compare and contrast people’s understanding of the disease in the selections. Then explain how people’s understanding of the disease influences their responses. Use evidence from both texts to support your ideas.”
  • In Unit 6, Integrated Reading and Writing, The Giver by Lois Lowry, Independent Read, Write Tab, after reading the text independently and watching the StudySync TV episode on the text, students complete the following writing activity: “PERSONAL RESPONSE: What do you think are the positive and negative aspects of living in a society in which each person's future occupation is decided for them? Would you want to live in such a society? Cite evidence from the text to support your response.”

Indicator 1h

Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

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

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read the short story “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” by Rudyard Kipling. In the SyncStart lesson, students write a short literary analysis to help them learn about characters based on the following prompt: “In this story, Nag and Nagaina are portrayed as the villains. Do you think that Nag and Nagaina are truly evil, or have they been unfairly cast as villains? Think about how they react to other characters and events in the story. Then, choose a side, and then write a brief response that explains your position. Use both explicit and implicit evidence from the text to support your points.” Later in the unit while reading “Thank You, M’am” by Langston Hughes, students analyze the features of fiction in response to a prompt. These lessons help prepare students for the unit’s Extended Writing Project, during which students write a narrative in response to this prompt: “What conflicts would exist in a world where people can know what others are thinking? Imagine a world where people can know what others are thinking. What conflicts would cease to exist in that world? What new conflicts would arise? Write a story about a conflict that exists because it’s possible to know another person’s thoughts.” Their narratives should include a plot, setting, characters and dialogue, a conflict, and a theme.
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows, in the Extended Writing Project, students use the texts studied in the unit to write an argumentative literary analysis in response to the Essential Question “What do we learn from love and loss?” The following text-specific questions in the First Read of “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe prepare students for the culminating task: “After the death of Annabel Lee, what does the speaker do every night? What does the narrator do upon Annabel Lee’s death?”
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” during the Extended Writing Project, students write an informative essay addressing the Essential Question “How can one event change everything?” Students use the texts studied in the unit to explain how and why one event significantly impacted the characters, individuals, or another event in the texts. During the Close Read of Fever 1793, students freewrite in their Writer’s Notebook addressing the following questions, which prepare them for the upcoming culminating task: “How were people’s lives changed by yellow fever? How did people react to the disease?”
  • In Unit 5. “Test of Time”, students read the text “The Story of Anniko” by Arthur W. Bayr. In the Independent Read, students read and annotate texts, answer text-specific questions independently, and share and discuss their responses in groups. Examples of questions include “Why do you think it's important to read folktales from different cultures and times? What can you learn from reading folktales in addition to studying history and informational texts about the same cultures? Write down notes to prepare for a discussion of these questions. Use examples from the text as well as other myths and folktales you have read to support your points.” This activity helps students prepare for the culminating task of writing a research paper. During the Extended Writing Project, students probe the unit’s Essential Question “Why do we still read myths and folktales?” and write a research paper in response to the following prompt: “Identify a research topic and write a report about that topic using an informative text structure. As you gather ideas and information from the texts in the unit, be sure to: use evidence from multiple sources; avoid overly relying on one source.”

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.)
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 ELLs and approaching readers. The supports include, but are not limited to, 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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” after students read the excerpt of the play The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street by Rod Sterling, they work collaboratively to discuss the text during a Text Talk.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.” 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 2, “Highs and Lows,” Close Read of “Second Estrangement” by Aracelis Girmay, students engage in a Collaborative Conversation. The teacher instructions say to “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.
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One”, after reading “Reality TV and Society”, in the Close Read, students participate in a debate. The instructions are as follows: With your classmates, debate whether reality TV is good or bad for society. To prepare for the debate, write your claim and provide three reasons with evidence to support your claim. Use examples from the text as well as from your own experience and research.” Students rate their peers using a rubric. In the Differentiation tab, teacher guidance suggests the use of Discussion Guides and/or Sentence Frames with ELLs and/or approaching readers.

Support for evidence-based discussions encourages modeling and a focus on using academic vocabulary and syntax. Some examples are as follows:

  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” Close Read, “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes,

Lesson Plan, Academic Vocabulary Focus, the teacher directions state, “Draw attention to the academic vocabulary word shift. Call on students to share out the definition of the word in their own words. Remind students that the word shift means “to change to a different opinion or belief” and can be used in everyday as well as academic and workplace contexts. For example: My opinion about spinach shifts as I get older. I am shifting from sports to theater. Encourage students to use this vocabulary word in their written response.”

  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” 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 studied myths and folktales and their continuing influence today. Think of a current event or modern story that you could imagine in the form of a myth or folktale. How would the event or story be affected if it were told as a myth or folktale? How might readers or listeners think about the event or story in a new way as a result? Use as many Big Idea and Academic Vocabulary words in your discussion as you can.” In the Check for Success, teachers receive the following guidance: “If students are struggling with beginning their conversation, help jumpstart their discussion by asking scaffolded questions such as “What is a current event or modern story that you are familiar with?”
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” The Matsuyama Mirror by Velina Hasu Houston, Skill: Word Meaning, Lesson Plan, teachers direct students to a Turn and Talk session after viewing the Concept Video on Word Meaning. Guiding questions provided in the Lesson Plan are as follows: “What is your go-to resource for determining word meanings and parts of speech? Can you think of a time when you came across an unfamiliar word? What strategies did you use to help you decipher its meaning?” The Lesson Plan then states for teachers to allow students to share with the class.

Indicator 1j

Materials support students' listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

Speaking and listening instruction is applied frequently over the course of the school year and includes facilitation, monitoring, and instructional supports for teachers. Students have many opportunities to engage in speaking and listening throughout the units and across the year. 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 marshall 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. 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. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students engage in discussion about the text “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street'' by Rod Sterling. During the Close Read, the students participate in Collaborative Conversations. The students discuss using plot and dramatic elements and structure to convey conflict within a text. The prompt is as follows: “How does Rod Serling use plot and dramatic elements and structure to convey a message about conflict in society? Write a short response in which you answer this question. Specify one message or theme, and explain how plot and dramatic elements and structure help to convey it. Use textual evidence to support your answer.” The Lesson Plan includes the following guidance for teachers: “If students are struggling with beginning their conversation, help jumpstart their conversation by asking scaffolded questions, such as: How do the characters in this play react to what is happening in their town? How do the characters in this play interact? What does this reveal about how individuals handle conflict?”
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” in the text, “Museum Indians” by Susan Power, Close Read, students participate in a Collaborative Conversation. In the Lesson Plan, teachers are told to break students into small groups or pairs. 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 prompt is as follows: Both “My Mother Pieced Quilts” and “Museum Indians” are about love and family history. Compare and contrast the speakers in the two texts and how they interact with their mothers as well as the way they describe their family history. Include examples of figurative language in your analysis. Remember to support your ideas with evidence from the texts.”
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Extended Writing Project, Draft section, in the “Analyze Student Model” task, teachers break students into small groups or pairs. “Students discuss the questions in the lesson as well as the excerpt of the Student Model draft. Ask: What details does Cameron present to her readers in the introductory paragraph? What details does Cameron present to her readers in the first body paragraph? What evidence does Cameron use to make her ideas persuasive? How does Cameron’s use of claims support her thesis statement? Teachers encourage students to share ideas for their own essays based on the questions in the lesson.”
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” “The Last Human Light” by Randall Munroe, Skill Lesson: Media, students have the opportunity to participate in a Turn and Talk session. As a class, students watch the Concept Definition video and read the definition for Media. In the Turn and Talk, students respond to the following questions: “Do you ever use print features, such as boldface or all capital letters, or graphic features, such as images or gifs, when communicating with your friends online? If so, how do print and graphic features help support your ideas? If not, why not? Then students share out their answers with the class.” In the Lesson Plan, teachers are provided with Sentence Frames and Visual Dictionaries to use as scaffolding techniques.
  • In Unit 5 “Test of Time,” students engage in a discussion about the text, The Other Side of the Sky by Farah Ahmedi and Tanim Ansary. In the Collaborative Conversations section of the Close Read lesson plan, the students explore implied ideas related to survival. In the Close Read Lesson Plan, the provided guidance is as follows: “Check for Success—If students are confused by the prompt, remind them: An implied idea is not stated outright but must be inferred using details from the text. In your discussion, be sure to consider implicit ideas as well as explicit. If students are struggling with beginning their conversation, help jumpstart their discussion by asking scaffolded questions, such as: Who or what helps Ahmedi and her mother survive?”
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” Extended Oral Project, students create an argumentative presentation based on the prompt “What literary work, film, or dramatic production would you recommend to your classmates? Why is this work important? How does this work entertain, inspire, or educate?” Students plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish this piece, often getting feedback from peers throughout the process. Student instructions remind them to “include evidence from at least three reliable sources. One source should be your recommended work itself and one should include diverse media formats, including video, audio, graphics, and print or digital texts.”

Indicator 1k

Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.
2/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

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 including 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. Some examples include:

  • Students participate in on-demand writing.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read “The Walking Dance” by Marcela Fuentes. In the Close Read, students use their Skills Focus annotations, their own ideas and reactions to the text, and any other notes and annotations they have to write an on-demand literary analysis in response to the prompt: “How does Marcela Fuentes use plot elements and events such as conflict, turning action, and resolution to convey the theme of this story? Write a short response in which you specify one theme and explain how those plot elements and structure help to convey it. Use textual evidence to support your response.”
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” students engage in process writing during the Close Read of an excerpt of the novel Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. Students compare and contrast Anderson’s text with another selection from the unit. “An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 and Fever 1793 both describe people reacting to a terrifying disease in their community: yellow fever. Compare and contrast people’s understanding of the disease in the selections. Then explain how people’s understanding of the disease influences their responses. Use evidence from both texts to support your ideas.” After completing their response, students provide feedback to two of their peers using guiding questions provided by the teacher.
    • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” students read the text “Perseus” by Robert Hayden. In the Close Red, students respond to a literary analysis prompt: “‘Perseus’ shares with readers the inner struggle of a hero who finds that he is more like his enemy than he realized. How does the author’s word choice show Perseus’s inner conflict and the poem’s meaning? How does the word choice impact the poem’s tone? Write a short response answering these questions. Support your writing with specific examples of connotations of words and phrases from the text.” The teacher manual provides questioning techniques for struggling students, rubrics for the class, suggestions for prewrite, write, and peer review and reflection.
  • Students participate in process writing.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” the Extended Writing Project focuses on narrative writing. Students write a narrative in response to the prompt “What conflicts would exist in a world where people can know what others are thinking?”
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” the Extended Writing Project focuses on literary analysis. The students respond to the following prompt: “Think about the main characters, narrators, or speakers in the texts from this unit. Choose two or three selections from the unit and write a literary analysis that shows the different types of lessons learned about love and loss. In your analysis, be sure to present an argument in which you explain what lesson each character, narrator, or speaker learns and how love or loss helps them learn this lesson.” Students then compose their writing as they work through the planning, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing phases of the writing process. Within the steps of the process, Skill lessons focus on transitions, style, writing a conclusion, as well as, grammatical skills including clauses and complex sentences.

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

  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Revise, students examine their drafts to find areas for revision. They use the Revision Guide to revise the draft of their argumentative essay for clarity, development, organization, style, diction, and sentence effectiveness.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” Extended Writing Project, students edit their informative essay for specific grammatical mistakes related to misplaced and dangling modifiers, commas between coordinate adjectives, and commonly misspelled words. Each of these concepts has a lesson plan to teach students how to edit their work.

Materials include digital resources where appropriate. Some examples are as follows:

  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows”, students view a video during the StudySync Close Read lesson. Students discuss three questions to help them prepare for the writing prompt.
  • In Unit 4, “Telling the Truth,” students read the text “The Three Questions” by Leo Tolstoy. During the Independent Read, students write a poem that demonstrates their comprehension of the text’s meaning. Digital resources to support students include a tab with a rubric and a split-screen feature so students can view the text while writing their poem.
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” The Big Idea, students read a Blast that gives them background on the unit’s topic and theme of standing out from the crowd. Students compose their own Blast in 140 characters or less, answer a poll, and learn about a statistic related to the topic.

Indicator 1l

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

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

Materials provide opportunities for students/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/explanatory, literary analysis, and argumentative writing. Students engage in writing activities multiple times within each unit, including short constructed responses in the Close Read lesson. This informal writing allows students to demonstrate understanding of the specific text while practicing the featured type of writing. 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. StudySync provides guidance and support for students to develop and strengthen writing as needed, through planning, revising, editing, and specific writing craft lessons. 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/modes of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Students have opportunities to engage in argumentative writing.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” Extended Writing Project, students write a literary analysis in response to the following prompt: “What do we learn from love and loss? Think about the main characters, narrators, or speakers in the texts from this unit. Choose two or three selections from the unit and write a literary analysis that shows the different types of lessons learned about love and loss. In your analysis, be sure to present an argument in which you explain what lesson each character, narrator, or speaker learns and how love or loss helps them learn this lesson.” Materials include rubrics for each step of the writing process.
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Extended Writing Project, students write an argumentative piece based on the following prompt: “What are your interests, goals, and dreams? What club, class, or activity would you add to your school to help you achieve these goals or dreams?” Students write an argumentative essay to convince their school leaders to establish this new course or activity. Materials include rubrics for each step of the writing process.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in informative/explanatory writing.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read the text “Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy” by Albert Marrin. In the Close Read, students write an informative piece to the following prompt: ”One result of the tragedy of the Triangle Fire was the call for laws to protect workers. What evidence is there in the text that the health and safety of workers were not adequately protected at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory? How does the author use text structure to make this point? Support your writing with evidence and inferences drawn from the text.” Students participate in a Peer Review and Reflect after writing. Materials provide the following guidance: “ Students 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 4, “Moment of Truth,” Extended Writing Project, students write an explanatory essay in response to the following prompt: “How can one key event or moment change everything? Think carefully about the question above. Then, choose three texts from this unit and explain how one moment or event had a significant impact on a character, an individual, or other events in that text. Identify the moment or event that changed everything and explain how and why it had such an impact.” Materials include rubrics for each step of the writing process.
    • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” students read the Greek myth “Icarus and Daedalus” retold by Josephine Preston Peabody. During Close Read, students write a compare and contrast response based on the following prompt: “Write a response comparing and contrasting the settings of ‘The Story of Anniko’ and ‘Icarus and Daedalus.’ In your response, explain how the different settings influence characters’ actions and plot development. Remember to use evidence from the texts to support your response.” The rubric associated with the task focuses on setting and language/conventions.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” Extended Writing Project, students write a narrative in response to the following prompt: “What conflicts would exist in a world where people can know what others are thinking? Imagine a world where people can know what others are thinking. What conflicts would cease to exist in that world? What new conflicts would arise? Write a story about a conflict that exists because it’s possible to know another person’s thoughts.” Materials include rubrics for each step of the writing process.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read the text A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. In the Independent Read, students write a personal narrative to the following prompt: “The excerpt from A Christmas Carol depicts a conflict between an uncle and his nephew during Christmas. Write about a time of conflict during a holiday in your own family. Introduce your characters and setting. Then, organize the plot events naturally and logically.” Materials include a Check for Success after the Collaborative Conversations. Teacher guidance includes the following: “If students struggle to respond to the prompt, ask students the following questions: Which holidays does your family celebrate each year? Can you remember a time when your family had to deal with a conflict during a holiday? Brainstorm, create a web, or free-write what you recall.”

Indicator 1m

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

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

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 7 from identifying mood shifts in a poem contributing to the theme, to comparing multiple texts with an overarching idea, then to understanding characters from the use of sound devices.

In the Extended Writing Project students write across multiple texts to craft an evidence–based response.

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

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read an excerpt from Gary Paulsen’s memoir Woodsong. In the Close Read, students write a literary analysis in response to the following prompt: In this excerpt from his memoir, Gary Paulsen describes wolves attacking a doe in the forest. He uses many connotations and denotations to detail the experience. What is the author’s purpose in telling this story? How did Paulsen’s point of view change? Use textual evidence to support your response, including connotations and denotations.”
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students read an excerpt from “All Together Now,” Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan’s keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. In the First Read, Think tab, students write evidence–based responses to the following prompts: “According to paragraph 4, Barbara Jordan’s presence at the convention is evidence of what symbol?” and “List some of the problems that cause the American ‘people to feel cynical, angry, frustrated.’ Cite specific evidence from paragraph 5.”
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” students read the play, The Matsuyama Mirror by Velina Hasu Houston. In the Close Read, students compose a literary analysis after listening to an audio of the play and the close read using the following prompt, “ Listening to a performance of a play is a different experience than reading the script. How do the sound elements affect your understanding of the characters? Use specific examples from the text and from the audio to show how the audio contributes to how you understand the characters.”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 in the 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 and students apply their knowledge during the writing or oral projects.

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

  • Students have opportunities to explain the function of phrases and clauses in general and their function in specific sentences.
    • In Unit 1, “Clashes and Conflicts,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Main and Subordinate Clauses, students review the definition of main and subordinate clauses. Students study examples of these clauses in model sentences before completing the Your Turn practice activities. During practice, students write their own sentences based upon a sample sentence and the type of clause to include in each sentence. The sample sentence is as follows: ”You will have to leave when the movie is over.” Students are told the type of clause to include, in this case, “main clause followed by a subordinate clause.” Students apply their learning about main and subordinate clauses and create original sentences based on the criteria in the activity.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Adjective Clauses, students review the definitions of clause and adjective clauses. Students study the model sentences before completing the Your Turn practice activities. During the practice activities, students choose the adjective clause, revise the clause to describe the noun given, and then write their own sentences given an adjective clause. In Your Turn, Question 3, students apply the knowledge by writing a sentence using each adjective clause.
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Adverb Clauses, students review the definition of a clause and adverb clauses. Students study a model of adverb clauses used in sentences along with an explanation, the rules and the rule applied in text, and a revision of the sentences before completing the Your Turn practice activities. During the practice activities, students identify an adverb clause, revise sentences for use of adverb clauses, and write their own sentence using sample sentences and an applicable adverb clause. The writing checklist requires students to determine, “Have I used both complex and simple sentences?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to include complex and simple sentences.
    • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” Extended Oral Project and Grammar, Edit and Present, Grammar Skill: Noun Clauses. Students review the definitions of clause and noun clause, as well as how to identify noun clauses. Students study a model of the function of noun clauses in sentences in text before completing Your Turn activities. While working through the practice activities, students sort sentences that contain noun clauses, replace bolded words with a noun clause, and write their own sentences using sample sentences and the type of noun clause required. Students write original sentences using the noun clause in the same way as the model sentence.
  • Students have opportunities to choose among simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences to signal differing relationships among ideas.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Simple and Compound Sentence, students review the definitions of simple and compound sentences. Students read and annotate model sentences. Then students discuss how simple and compound sentences are different before completing the Your Turn practice activities. Students sort and write simple and compound sentences to practice the grammar skill learned.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Complex Sentences, students examine an image that explains the definition of a complex sentence. Students read, annotate, and discuss the model. Then students complete three Your Turn practice activities about simple and complex sentences. In Your Turn, Question 3, students apply this learning by changing each sample sentence or clause into a complex sentence and then writing the complex sentence.
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Compound-Complex Sentences, students review the definition of compound-complex sentences. Students read and annotate the model. Then they discuss compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences. Finally, students complete three Your Turn activities in which they practice identifying types of sentences and rewriting sentences to create compound-complex sentences. The writing checklist requires students to determine, “Have I used both complex and simple sentences?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to include complex and simple sentences.
  • Students have opportunities to place phrases and clauses within a sentence, recognizing and correcting misplaced and dangling modifiers.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Main and Subordinate Clauses, students learn main and subordinate clauses and how they are used in text. In the Your Turn section, students practice using main and subordinate clauses correctly by identifying the number of clauses in each of the provided sentences. Finally, students write their own original sentences following the same clause pattern as the sample sentence.
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers, students learn about modifiers and how to use them correctly. In Your Turn section, students practice using modifiers correctly by determining where to place the bolded modifier within the provided sentences. Students apply their learning to their own writing by using a checklist to edit and ask themselves, “Have I followed all the rules for using modifiers?” If the answer is no, then students must revise their writing to reflect correct usage of modifiers.
  • Students have opportunities to use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives (e.g., It was a fascinating, enjoyable movie but not He wore an old [,] green shirt).
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Commas Between Coordinate Adjectives, students learn the rules related to coordinate adjectives and how to use commas correctly with them. In the Your Turn section, students respond to multiple choice questions that ask them to determine where the comma goes, if needed, in the given sentences containing coordinate adjectives. In Your Turn, Question 3, students apply the knowledge by reading the adjectives in the first column and the sample sentence in the second column. Then in the third column, students write their own sentence that uses the same adjectives with commas as needed.
  • Students have opportunities to spell correctly.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules I, students study models of spelling conventions with examples before practicing in the Your Turn section. During practice, students sort words based upon correctness, correct spelling errors, and write their own sentences using spelling rules. The writing checklist requires students to determine, “Have I followed spelling rules for words that use the suffix -ed? Have I checked for spelling mistakes in words that add a prefix?”
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules II, students study models of spelling conventions and examples before practicing in the Your Turn section. To practice the spelling rules learned, students choose correctly spelled words, revise misspelled words, and write their own sentences using sample sentences and rules for correcting a given word. Students apply their knowledge of spelling rules when they edit and revise their argument essay.
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” Extended Writing Project and Grammar, Edit and Publish, Grammar Skill: Commonly Misspelled Words, students study a model of a strategy to use for spelling words, “Say It, See It, Write It, Check It,” along with a list of commonly misspelled words. During practice in the Your Turn section, students decide if a word is misspelled, revise misspelled words, and write their own sentence using a sample sentence that includes a commonly misspelled word.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. Texts are organized around an Essential Question and Genre Focus. The Unit Title sets the theme and connects to the Essential Question. Students engage in high-quality, coherently sequenced questions and tasks as they analyze literary elements, such as word choice, and integrate knowledge and ideas in individual texts and across multiple texts. Culminating tasks, such as the Extended Writing/Oral Project, integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language and connect to the texts students read. Each unit contains a Content Vocabulary list and an Academic Vocabulary list. Oftentimes, one of the vocabulary words appears in the directions for discussion and writing prompts, and some vocabulary words repeat across texts. The year-long writing plan allows students to participate in a range of writing tasks that vary in length, purpose, and difficulty. Throughout the year, students conduct short research projects during smaller culminating tasks and long research projects during appropriate Extended Writing/Oral Projects. Students participate in independent reading that includes a range of informational and literary texts and can track their progress using Bookshelf and Reading Quizzes.

Criterion 2a - 2h

32/32

Indicator 2a

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that 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.

The StudySync materials provide texts that are in units which are connected by appropriate topics. The Grade 7 Core 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 7 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” Unit Overview, students examine the conflicts we face in life. The Essential Question is: “When do differences become conflicts?” The genre focus is fiction and shows how characters respond to conflicts and how that understanding can help the reader deal with conflicts in his/her own life. Some of the texts included in this unit are: “Rikki Tikki Tavi,” by Rudyard Kipling, an excerpt from the graphic novel Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson, and “Seventh Grade,” by Gary Soto.
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” Unit Overview, “Highs and Lows,” students focus on how people express emotions related to love and loss. While the unit’s genre focus is poetry, students also read classic and contemporary literature in the form of short stories, novel excerpts, and nonfiction texts to answer the Essential Question, “What do we learn from love and loss?” Selections for this unit include poems about family relationships, by Pat Mora, Aracelis Girmay, and Wing Tek Lum, as well as “Annabel Lee,” by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes. Other selections include the short story “The Walking Dance,” by Marcela Fuentes, an excerpt from the novel Tangerine, by Paul Fisher, and an excerpt from Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol. In addition to these selections and texts, students will engage in reading some nonfiction works such as Susan Power’s essay “Museum Indians,” an excerpt from Albert Marrin’s book Flesh and Blood So Cheap, and Alex Shultz’s profile “No Dream Too High.”
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Unit Overview, students examine the motivation for chasing a dream. Students read argumentative texts that explore the Essential Question, “What makes a dream worth pursuing?” They will read a variety of nonfiction texts, including an autobiography, historical letters, and articles that present the theme of how obstacles and tackling them can lead to a better life and community. Selections from this unit include the autobiography We Beat the Street, by Dr. George Jenkins, an excerpt from the biography Harriet Tubman: Conductor of Underground Railroad, by Ann Petry, and Barbara Jordan’s speech at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. Other selections include historical letters with arguments, such as The Grand Council Fire of American Indians writing to the mayor of Chicago about respecting native traditions and Mother Jones writing to Theodore Roosevelt to confront the child labor issue.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” Unit Overview, students read to understand how a moment can activate a chain of events that result in dramatic change. The Essential Question is: “How can one event change everything?” The genre focus is informational text. Some texts included in this unit are The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer and David Bornstein’s “The Power of Student Peer Leaders.” Students have the chance to analyze the pivotal moments in the classic short stories “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut and “The Three Questions,” by Leo Tolstoy. They read Ernest Thayer’s poem, “Casey at the Bat” and an excerpt from Viola Canales’s award-winning novel The Tequila Worm.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” Unit Overview, students read traditional stories, including myths, folktales, and fairy tales and learn about how they are still relevant in society today. To answer the Essential Question, “Why do we still read myths and folktales?”, students read classic and contemporary texts to analyze how these themes are used and reused over time. Selections from Unit 5 include Aesop’s Fables, an excerpt from Suzanne’s Collins’s The Hunger Games, an essay by Barry Strauss, “The Classical Roots of The Hunger Games,” and translations of “The Cruel Tribute,” “The Invisible One,” and “Icarus and Daedalus.” In addition, students will read selected poems—Robert Hayden’s “Perseus” and Emma Lazarus’s “The New Colossus.”
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” Unit Overview, students learn about memorable people who stand out from the crowd. The unit’s genre focus is drama, and students read various fiction and nonfiction texts to answer the Essential Question, “How do we stand out from the crowd?” Selections from this unit include the novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, the play A Thousand Cranes, by Kathryn Schultz Miller, and the poem “Choices,” by Nikki Giovanni. There are also more thought provoking texts such as First Lady Laura Bush’s speech “Remarks at the UNESCO Education for All Week Luncheon,” during which she makes the case for universal education.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

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

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

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address language and/or word choice.
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students read We Beat the Street, by Sharon M. Draper, Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt, George Jenkins. In the Skill: Connotation and Denotation lesson, students define given words and others related to the concept. The teacher models how to determine the connotation and denotation of words within the text. To assess their understanding, students answer multiple-choice questions that ask them to determine the connotation of a word and support that choice with evidence from the text.
    • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” during the Skill: Academic Vocabulary lesson under Big Idea, students review a vocabulary table with the term, form, definition, and sample sentence. The teacher models the vocabulary for students by giving the definition of each vocabulary word and then asks questions to give students an opportunity to use them in their answers. To assess their understanding, students complete a drag-and-drop activity about synonyms and antonyms, complete multiple-choice questions related to the topic, and write a sentence for each academic vocabulary word, like chapter, demonstrate, and imply, learned in the lesson.
    • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” students read The Matsuyama Mirror, by Velina Hasu Houston. In the Skill: Word Meaning lesson, students “Reread the stage directions and lines 83 - 86 from The Matsuyama Mirror and the dictionary entries below. Use the dictionary entry to determine the meaning, word origin, and part of speech. Then answer the multiple-choice questions that follow: “Which definition best matches the word linger as used in line 85? Remember to pay attention to the word’s part of speech as you make your decision.” and “Which definition best matches the way the word immortal is used in the stage directions before line 86? Remember to use the word’s part of speech as you make your decision.”


For most texts, students analyze key ideas and details, structure, and craft (according to grade-level standards). For example, some examples are included in the following:

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address key ideas and details.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” by Rod Sterling. In the first read, students identify and describe characters and setting details as well as articulate events that are central to the play’s plot.” The Read and Annotate section of the Lesson Plan directs students to “identify key details, events, characters, and connections between them” as they read and annotate the text. In the Text Talk section of the Lesson Plan, the students respond to the following questions about the key details of the text: “What is happening when the excerpt begins? And How does Goodman explain his staying up late?
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read “Museum Indians,” by Susan Power. In the first read, students answer the following questions that address key ideas and details: “What made the mother scared on the train to Chicago? What does the author think about her mother’s fears? Cite specific lines from the text in your answer.”; “Write two to three sentences describing the lesson that the mother takes away from the Egyptian mummies in the history museum. Is this a positive or negative lesson? Explain.”; and “Why is the mother so deeply affected by the stuffed buffalo? What is her response to its presence behind glass in a museum? Include evidence from the essay in your answer.”
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” students read an excerpt from The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. After reading, students answer Quiz and Think questions that address key ideas and details. One of the Quiz questions asks, “Which of the following best explains why the author spends so much time in the library?” and one of the Think questions asks, “What information does this passage give the reader about life in Malawi? Give at least three specific examples from the text.”
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address structure.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read “Second Estrangement,” by Aracelis Girmay. In the Skill: Poetic Elements and Structure Your Turn portion of the lesson, students answer questions such as “Lines 20 - 22 are important because they --.” This requires students to examine how particular lines in the poetic structure impact the overall poem .
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” students read “The Last Human Light,” by Randall Monroe. In the Your Turn portion of the Skill lesson, students answer the following questions: “Which of the following best describes the text structure the author used to organize the two paragraphs above?” and “How does the text structure identified in question 1 contribute to the development of the author’s idea that different energy sources have different lifespans?”
    • In Unit 5, “Testing of Time,” students read “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus. In the Close Read, students analyze how the structure of the poem and the figurative language the poet uses affects the meaning and theme in a short, written response. In the Collaborative Conversation, the students use their annotations to respond to the following questions about poetic structure: “What does Emma Lazarus want readers to know about the United States? What is the poem’s deeper message or theme about America? Use your understanding of figurative language and poetic structure and elements to determine her message.” Students respond to the following prompt: “What does Emma Lazarus want readers to know about the United States? What is the poem’s deeper message or theme about America? Use your understanding of figurative language and poetic structure and elements to determine her message.”
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address craft.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read an excerpt from The Skin I’m In, by Sharon G. Flake. In the Close Read lesson, students write in response to the following prompt: “In this excerpt of The Skin I’m In, Maleeka confronts how she feels about herself while learning about others’ views on self-love and self-acceptance. How is Maleeka's point of view different from those of the other students and Miss Saunders? How does the author develop and contrast these different points of view? Use textual evidence, including character dialogue, actions, and thoughts, to support your response.”
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students read “The First Americans,” by The Grand Council Fire of American Indians. In the Close Read, students “summarize the main points and analyze the use of language, style, and audience to participate in a Collaborative Conversation and write a short constructed response.” In the Complete Skills Focus section of the Lesson Plan, students answer “Who is the “you” in paragraph 1? And What is the main request in paragraph 1?” After the Collaborative Conversation, students respond to the following prompt to assess their understanding of the use of key ideas and details and how language contributes to an author’s style: “Summarize the main points of the letter and explain how the authors’ use of language and style helps to clarify and emphasize the main points. How does the authors’ word choice affect the audience or reader?”
    • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” students read “Education for All,” by Laura Bush. In the Skill lesson, students analyze how the author’s craft develops the argument using the following prompt: “In “Education for All,” Laura Bush argues that literacy is vital for all children. What are Mrs. Bush’s main claims? How does she sufficiently use reasons and evidence to support her argument and claims? Be sure to use evidence from the text in your response.”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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, StudySyncTV lessons, First Reads, Close Reads, Independent Reads, and writing tasks. Materials provide guidance to teachers in supporting students’ literacy skills. 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 across multiple texts as well as within single texts. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze within single texts.
    • In Unit 1, Integrated Reading and Writing, students read “In the Year 1974,” by Oscar Casares, while exploring the theme “Conflicts and Clashes” and the Essential Question, “When do differences become conflicts?” After students watch and discuss a StudySyncTV episode on the text and participate in a Collaborative Conversation on the text, they respond to the following prompt: “PERSONAL RESPONSE: Do you think it's important to try new things, even if it means going against the practices of your family? What are the potential benefits and drawbacks? Write a short response to this question. Use evidence from the text to support your reflection.”
    • In Unit 2, Integrated Reading and Writing, students read “No Dream Too High: Simone Biles,” by Alex Shultz, as they explore the theme “Highs and Lows” and answer the Essential Question, “What do we learn from love and loss?” After completing a close read of the text and watching and discussing a StudySyncTV episode of the text, students engage in a discussion and complete the following task: “DEBATE: In this informational text, the author explains that Simone Biles made many sacrifices for the sport she loves. She often had to put gymnastics ahead of everything else. Would you choose a sport and fame over a normal life? What do you think is the better alternative? Prepare points and comments for a debate with your classmates. Use evidence from the text to support your point.”
    • In Unit 5, Integrated Reading and Writing, students read “The Other Side of the Sky,” by Farah Ahmedi, as they explore the theme “Test of Time” and answer the Essential Question, “Why do we still read myths and folktales?” After completing a close read of the text and watching and discussing a StudySyncTV episode of the text, students complete this writing task: “LITERARY ANALYSIS: What ideas related to survival during the most challenging times are implied by this excerpt? Write a brief response answering this question. Remember to use evidence from the text to support your response.”
  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts.
    • In Unit 5, Integrated Reading and Writing, the theme is “Test of Time” and the Essential Question is “Why do we still read myths and folktales?” After reading “The Story of Anniko,” by Blake Alston and a retelling of “Icarus and Daedalus,” by Josephine Preston Peabody, students participate in a Collaborative Conversation and complete the following task: “COMPARE AND CONTRAST: Write a response comparing and contrasting the settings of "The Story of Anniko" and "Icarus and Daedalus." In your response, explain how the different settings influence characters' actions and plot development. Remember to use evidence from the texts to support your response.” In the Teacher Edition, guidance is provided in a Check for Success section for the following situation: “If students are confused by the prompt, remind them: Recall that the setting is the time and place in which a story occurs. Think about how the physical, historical, and cultural context in which a story takes place can affect the story characters’ thoughts and actions.”
    • In Unit 5, the Extended Writing Project and Grammar, students wrap up their exploration of the theme “Test of Time” and the Essential Question, “Why do we still read myths and folktales?” during the following culminating task: “Consider the texts that you’ve read in this unit. What stories or ideas stood out to you? What topic would you like to know more about? Identify a research topic and write a report about that topic using an informative text structure. 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.”
    • In Unit 6, Integrated Reading and Writing, students read “New Directions,” by Maya Angelou and “Choices,” by Nikki Giovann, while exploring the theme, “The Power of One,” and the Essential Question, “How do we stand out from the crowd?” Students write an informational response to the following prompt: “COMPARE AND CONTRAST: In ‘New Directions’ Maya Angelou tells the story of how her grandmother started a career for herself to support her family. It has an important message about overcoming obstacles and creating a new path for yourself. How does Nikki Giovanni use poetic elements and structure to express a similar message or theme? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 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 the Checks for Success provided in the Lesson Plan of many tasks in the 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, but are not limited to the following types of writing: argument, narrative, literary analysis, and multimedia presentations.

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

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read texts about conflicts and struggle. Then in the Extended Writing Project students write a narrative in response to the question, “What conflicts would exist in a world where people can know what others are thinking?” This culminating task integrates writing, and speaking and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read “The Wise Old Woman,” by Yoshida Uchida. During the Close Read, students reflect on how “The Wise Old Woman'' connects to the unit’s Essential Question, “When do differences become conflicts?” by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read texts about love and loss. In the Extended Writing Project, students plan and present a literary analysis explaining what they’ve learned about the highs and lows of familial and friend relationships. This culminating task integrates writing, and speaking and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read “Annabel Lee,” by Edgar Allan Poe. Students reflect on how “Annabel Lee” connects to the unit’s Essential Question, “What do we learn from love and loss?” by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students read a variety of arguments and write an argumentative essay applying what they have learned to their own writing. Students write to persuade their school to add a club, a class, or an activity that would help them pursue a dream. This culminating task integrates writing, and speaking and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read We Beat the Street, by Dr. George Jenkins. Students reflect on how We Beat the Street connects to the unit’s Essential Question, “What makes a dream worth pursuing?” by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” students read texts about standing out from the crowd. In the Extended Writing Project students plan and present a personal recommendation of an influential book, movie, or piece of music. This culminating task integrates writing, and speaking and listening skills. To prepare for this task, students read “Miami Dancer Follows Dreams While Planning for the Future,” by Mekeisha Madden Toby. Students reflect on how “Miami Dancer Follows Dreams While Planning for the Future” connects to the unit’s Essential Question, “How do we stand out from the crowd?” 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.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 outlining a plan that builds students’ academic vocabulary that supports building knowledge. The Program Guide outlines the 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. Students are also 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. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Vocabulary is repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts, etc.).
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” during the Independent Read of an excerpt of Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, students complete an Academic Vocabulary Focus lesson. During the class discussion, the teacher brings attention to the word, restrict. The teacher then encourages students to use this vocabulary word in their written response. In the Write section of the lesson, restrict is found in the actual Prompt: “PERSONAL RESPONSE: Leo states, “If we happened to somehow distinguish ourselves, we quickly snapped back into place, like rubber bands.” Explain what Leo means by this observation. How does it apply to him and his classmates? Is it important for individuals to restrict themselves so they can fit in, or should they try to distinguish themselves from others? Make a case for the importance of either conformity or individuality, using Leo’s observations of Stargirl. Restrict is also found in the Rubric section for writing.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” the Big Idea section of the unit introduces students to the vocabulary of study. During the Academic Vocabulary Focus in the Close Read lesson for “The Walking Dance,” by Marcela Fuentes, the teacher discusses the vocabulary word specify, gives two example sentences using the word, reviews the writing prompt using the vocabulary word, and then encourages students to use the word in their written response.
  • Vocabulary is repeated across multiple texts.
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students study the vocabulary word appealed across several texts. In the Close Read of “Letter to President Theodore Roosevelt, by Mother Jones July 31, 1903,” students complete a drag and drop with vocabulary words and definitions, create a sample sentence with the word, and then are encouraged to use the word in their written response. In the Independent Read of the text “Mother Jones: Fierce Fighter for Workers' Rights,” by Judith Pinkerton Josephson, students read and annotate the text using context clues to determine the meaning of the word appealed and discuss all vocabulary words in a Turn and Talk activity. Then in Unit 6, “The Power of One, during the Independent Read of The Giver, by Lois Lowry, students read and annotate the text using context clues to determine the meaning of the word appeal and discuss the word in a Turn and Talk activity.
    • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” students first experience the vocabulary word corrupt during the Independent Read of the essay “The Classical Roots of The Hunger Games,” by Barry Strauss. Students read and annotate the text using context clues to determine the meaning of the word corrupt and discuss all vocabulary words in a Turn and Talk activity. In Unit 6, “The Power of One, during the Close Read of the point/counterpoint essay “Reality TV and Society” (authors not cited), students read and annotate the text using context clues to determine the meaning of the word corrupted and discuss the word in a Turn and Talk activity.


Students are supported to accelerate vocabulary learning with vocabulary in their reading, speaking, and writing tasks. For example, some examples are included in the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” in Vocabulary Review, Skill: Vocabulary Review, students review the words they learned throughout the unit. In the Your Turn section, they sort the words based on whether they related to working with others, leaving others out, or ruling others. In the Write section, they respond to the following prompt using the vocabulary from the chapter: “Discussion: In this unit, you have focused on the genre of fiction by reading stories related to the unit theme of conflicts and clashes. In the process, you have considered the essential question, When do differences become conflicts? Think of one person you often have a conflict with. This could be a parent, sibling, or someone at school. How are you similar to this person? How are you different? What are the causes of conflict with this person? What can you do to reduce future conflict with this person? Use as many Big Idea and Academic Vocabulary words in your discussion as you can.”
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” in the Close Read, students read a point/counterpoint original StudySync article, “Reality T.V. and Society.” During the lesson, students complete the vocabulary chart by dragging and dropping the definition and writing their sample sentences. They continue to review and use academic vocabulary from previous texts as they engage in a debate with peers.

Indicator 2f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 in place to support students through the process to achieve proficiency at the end of the year.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read the text, “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street,” by Rod Sterling. In the First Read, students respond to Think questions, such as “Why are the Maple Street neighbors suspicious of Les Goodman? Respond with direct evidence or inferences from the text. Why does Tommy shout, ‘It’s the monster! It’s the monster!’? Support your answer with textual evidence.” The Lesson Plan includes sentence frames and text-dependent question guides to scaffold the task.
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” the Extended Writing Project focuses on argumentative writing in the form of a literary analysis. The Student Model helps students better understand how the writer effectively organizes and uses text evidence to support the thesis statement. Students receive more instruction and practice on crafting each of the characteristics of argumentative writing to create their own literary analysis. Teachers use Skill lessons to provide students with direct instruction on introductions, transitions, formal style, organization, development, and sentence effectiveness. Materials provide rubrics for every step of the writing process.
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students complete the Blast for “All Together Now,” an excerpt of Barbara Jordan’s keynote speech at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Students read provided background information on the author. Then they respond to the Blast prompt. “What does Barbara Jordan's life story reveal about the power of words? Students compose an answer of 140 characters or less and respond to the QuikPoll.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” during the Close Read, students read “Hitting big league fastball ‘clearly impossible,’” by Paul Recer and write an informative piece. Students use evidence from both the article and the video in their response to the prompt. “Analyze the print and video’s portrayal of baseball. How are the media and print similar and different? How do they work together to convey information and enhance the meaning of selection? How do they help you visualize the difficulty of hitting a major league fastball?” Before students compose their response, they complete a Writer’s Notebook task, Connect to Essential Question. “Give students time to reflect on how ‘Hitting big league fastball ‘clearly impossible’ connects to the unit’s Essential Question, ‘How can one event change everything?’ by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks.” Teachers administer a Check for Success as students respond. Teacher guidance is as follows: “If students are struggling to respond to the prompt, ask them scaffolded questions, such as: How did reading the ‘Hitting big league fastball ‘clearly impossible’ help you understand the challenges of hitting a major league fastball? What made you want to keep reading?”
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” during the Extended Writing Project, students write a research paper in response to the following prompt: “Consider the texts that you’ve read in this unit. What stories or ideas stood out to you? What topic would you like to know more about? Identify a research topic and write a report about that topic using an informative text structure. 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.” As they revise, students learn about how to critique research, paraphrase, use sources and cite them, and use print and graphic features. Materials include rubrics for every step of the writing process.

Indicator 2g

Materials include a progression of focused research projects to encourage students to develop knowledge in a given area by confronting and analyzing different aspects of a topic using multiple texts and source materials.
4/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Students have opportunities to engage in “short” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” Grade Level Overview, “Wise Old Woman,” students have the opportunity to research folktales or stories related to their identity by asking members of their community who they are and where they come from. Students share their stories in small groups.
    • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” in the Blast lesson students study the Essential Question, “What do we learn from love and loss?” 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. There is a jigsaw research activity, during which students research and discuss information from the Blast lesson.
    • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” Grade Level Overview, “The Classical Roots of The Hunger Games,” students have the opportunity to research the mythological inspiration for a character in The Hunger Games and present their findings to the class.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in “long” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” the Essential Question for the research project is “What makes a dream worth pursuing?” Students research examples of people who chased their dreams, even when it seemed impossible. Novels and real life accounts are used to teach lessons. Students read stories of people who pursued their dreams even when it seemed impossible. Texts in this unit include an excerpt from the autobiography We Beat the Street, by Dr. George Jenkins, “The First Americans,” a public letter by the Grand Council Fire of American Indians, and Barbara Jordan’s keynote speech “All Together Now.” This knowledge allows students to explore the unit’s topic of pursuing dreams. The research project is an argumentative piece and is completed during the Extended Writing Project at the unit’s close.
    • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” during the end-of-unit Extended Writing Project, students write an informative essay in response to the Essential Question, “How can one event change everything?” Throughout the unit, students read texts and respond to questions to help them analyze information in preparation for the Extended Writing Project. Students read texts, such as The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba, a novel excerpt from The Tequila Worm, by Viola Canales, and the poem “Casey at the Bat,” by Ernest Thayer, to explore how one event can change everything.
    • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” in the Extended Oral Project students respond to the Essential Question, “How do we stand out from the crowd?” Throughout the unit, students read texts and respond to questions to help them analyze information and deliver an oral presentation. Students explore texts, such as an excerpt of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, Kathryn Schulze Miller’s play “A Thousand Cranes, and First Lady Laura Bush’s speech “Remarks at the UNESCO Education for All Week Luncheon,” to help them explore individuality.

Indicator 2h

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

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

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 is 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, and the texts range in Lexiles from 520L to 1130L.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” Integrated Reading and Writing, three Independent Read lessons are paired with core texts. For example, the first Independent Read lesson, an excerpt from Ann Petry’s Harriet Tubman:Conductor on the Underground Railroad, is paired with the core text The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, by Virginia Hamilton. After engaging in a First Read, Skill: Compare and Contrast Lesson, and a Close Read of the core text, 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 8–10 of the unit.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” Integrated Reading and Writing, there is a paired reading selection that includes An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, by Jim Murphy and Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. During the lesson, students independently read and annotate An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 179. The teacher guides students through a First Read, a Skill lesson, a Close Read, and a Blast as students read Fever 1793. The Close Read, Teacher Edition, Differentiation Tab includes the following scaffolds for the Collaborative Conversation activity: “Approaching Grade Level—Discussion Guide; Beginning and Intermediate ELLs—Discussion Guide and Speaking Frames; Advanced and Advanced-High ELLs—Discussion Guide and Speaking Frames. According to the Pacing Guide, these lessons are completed on Days 11–13.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” Integrated Reading and Writing, Self-Selected Reading, 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: Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom and Science, by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos, A Bend in the River, by V.S. Naipaul, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, by Phillip Hoose, Call it Courage, by Armstrong Sperry, and Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson. 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.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

+
-
Gateway Three Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 partially meet the criteria for use and design to facilitate student learning. Although the materials are well designed and include lessons that are effectively structured, the pacing of individual lessons is not appropriate. Many of the lessons do not allocate sufficient time to complete all designated activities within the typical school day. The suggested amount of time for the materials is not viable for one school year, and the expectations for teachers and students are unreasonable for the suggested timeframe. Student materials include clear directions and explanations, and reference aids are correctly labeled. The materials include alignment documentation for all questions, tasks, and assessment items. The design and formatting of the teacher and student materials is not distracting or chaotic and allows for thoughtful engagement with the content.

Indicator 3a

Materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 thirty lessons that are forty minutes long, four of which are independent reading lessons totaling fifty 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read “Rikki–Tikki–Tavi,” by Rudyard Kipling. In the First Read lesson, students engage in the following activities during one 40-minute class period: Introduce the Text, watch the video preview, make connections in pairs, make predictions about vocabulary, break down complex parts of the text using a reading comprehension strategy, annotate the text with reactions to the reading, discuss their initial understandings with their classmates (Text Talk), analyze vocabulary using context clues, and answer reading comprehension questions.
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students participate in a Blast: Self-Selected Reading. During this Blast, students must complete eleven activities/tasks in a 40-minute class period. Activities include the following: Introduction of the Task, Turn and Talk, Reading and Annotation of Blast Background, Text Talk, Writer’s Notebook entry, Establishment of Purpose for Reading, Self-Selection of Text, Number Crunch Prediction, QuikPoll Answer, Blast Creation, and Reading of Self-Selected Text.
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” students read an excerpt of Lois Lowry’s The Giver. In the Independent Read, students must complete 11 activities within a 50-minute class period. Students participate in the following activities/tasks: 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.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 timeframe. 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 state that the lessons can be 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!”

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” the Pacing Guide states that students read and analyze 11 texts and complete an informative writing assignment within 30 days. Teachers have the option to reduce the units by following the guidance in the Shortcuts section. The Shortcut section includes the following suggestions: “If you are in a rush and looking to cut some of the content in a unit, you can eliminate this Skill Lesson and feel confident your students will still be exposed to the information they need about informational text elements,” 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, this unit contains six informational texts: ‘Hitting big league fastball ‘clearly impossible’, ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope,’ ‘An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793,’ ‘The Last Human Light,’ ‘The Power of Student Peer Leaders,’ and ‘Barrio Boy.’”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.).

Student materials include ample review and practice resources. Whenever a skill is introduced, students learn the definitions of associated terms, have the skill modeled via the teacher or analysis of a student model, and have 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 those words in context. Skill lessons include learning aids such as StudySync videos to aid students in learning the skill being taught.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” students read part of the graphic novel, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. In the Skill Lesson: Textual Evidence, students receive the definitions of terms associated with textual evidence and complete a drag and drop activity to practice those words. Next, students examine and analyze the skill modeled using the text, then complete a drag and drop activity that demonstrates their understanding of how explicit evidence can show background knowledge or an implicit meaning.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” students read “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut. During the Introduction section of the Skill Lesson: Word Patterns and Relationships, the materials provide students with a definition of the skill, both in written form and through an informational StudySync video. Next, students dive deeper into the skill as they examine and analyze and a model for word patterns. As a last step, students have the opportunity to practice what they learned through the Your Turn activity. In this section, students read a short passage, analyze the text, and answer two multiple-choice questions.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” students read “The Third Elevator,” by Aimee Bender. In the Skill Lesson: Character, students watch a StudySync video that provides definitions for the academic vocabulary and the skill, character. Students interact with the vocabulary through either a drag and drop activity or charting the words. Then, students examine and analyze a model of the skill and independently practice during the Your Turn component of the lesson as they answer multiple choice questions that focus on character.

Indicator 3d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 being 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. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes, “Rikki–Tikki–Tavi,” First Read: Rikki–Tikki–Tavi, students respond to questions within the “Think” section of the lesson. One example of a question is, “How did Rikki-Tikki-Tavi come to live with the English family? Cite specific evidence from the text to support your answer.” Standard RL.7.1 is noted within the lesson at the bottom of the screen within the virtual platform and on the Lesson Plan.
  • In Unit 4, ‘Moment of Truth,” students read “Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the year 1888,” by Ernest Thayer. During the Introduce the Text task in the First Read lesson, teacher guidance includes the following information: “As a class, watch the video preview and have students read the introduction in pairs to make connections to the video preview. Ask students: What key words or images from the video do you think will be most important to the poem you are about to read? What do you already know about the game of baseball? CCSS: RL.7.1, SL.7.2.” The Assessment task, Text Talk, addresses standards in question format. One of the questions is as follows: “Why is the crowd stunned at the end of the poem? (See line 52: Casey has struck out, and the crowd expected him to do well.) CCSS: RL.7.1.” 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 would enhance student learning, technology support is embedded, overarching, 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashed,” students read the text Woodsong, by Gary Paulsen. The Teacher’s Edition includes the following detailed instruction: “Read: Writer’s Notebook—Connect to Essential Question: Give students time to reflect on how Woodsong connects to the unit’s Essential Question, ‘When do differences become conflicts?’ by freewriting in their Writer’s Notebooks. Check for Success: If students are struggling to respond to the prompt, ask them scaffolded questions, such as: What is the main conflict in the story? How does Paulsen feel about what happens in the story?”
  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read “The Walking Dance,” by Marcela Fuentes and complete the Skill: Plot lesson. Teacher suggestions on how to present the content include: “To provide students with guided practice, do the following with the second annotation: 1. Hide the student note and have students provide their own annotations to explain the highlighted sections of text; or 2. Hide the text beneath the student annotation and have students write or discuss their own explanation of the model student’s application of the skill.”
  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” students read “All Together Now,” by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. In the Blast: The Power of Words lesson, students explore background information and research links about a topic. After this, students answer the StudySync QuikPoll with a 140-character response.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” The Big Idea, Blast, teacher guidance states, “Have students write their 140-character Blast in response to the driving question. Students must complete both their QuikPoll and Blast in order to click ‘submit.’”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), and English learners.

One example includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” the First Read lesson plan of Ernesto Galarza’s Barrio Boy includes adult level explanations to support teachers’ knowledge. For example, “Specific Vocabulary Spanish terms, such as barrio (neighborhood) and Escuela Municipal Numero 3 para Varones of Mazatlán (Municipal School Number 3 for Boys of Mazatlán), may present a challenge to some readers.” and “As students prepare to read Barrio Boy, share the following information with them to provide context. Ernesto Galarza was a labor activist in addition to his work as a writer. He was instrumental in establishing the foundation for a Union for California farm workers. He wrote an expose of the Bracero program, which was supposed to protect the rights of migrant workers but was being abused. His writing led to the dissolution of the program, which led to the migrant workers unionizing. This autobiography has a powerful message about immigration in the United States. In this text there is a reference to a common metaphor about America being a melting pot. It is often used to describe the mixing of cultures in America, where immigrants come together from all over and blend to form a new culture.”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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. 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.

In the StudySync materials, alignment is evident in the Grade Level Overview and the 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 across the 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) 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, the Grade Level Overview states, “Skill lessons on Thesis Statements and Organizing Argumentative Writing teach concepts specifically called out in the Common Core English Language Arts Standards, while additional skill lessons on Reasons and Relevant Evidence, Introductions, and Conclusions focus on characteristics of the argumentative writing genre of literary analysis and help students develop their unique claim.”
  • In Unit 4, Scope and Sequence, alignment of Reading: Literature, Reading: Informational, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language standards are available at a glance for teachers for 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 Academic Vocabulary lesson, Standard RI.7.is practiced or applied and Standards L.7.4b and L.7.6 are instructed, practiced, and applied.

Indicator 3i

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In the Research-Base Alignments, Speaking and Listening, Speaking and Listening Research Recommendations, the materials include the following research-based recommendation: Students demonstrate the ability to orally present ideas in a logical, thoughtful manner.” Support for this recommendation is found in Unit 6, Extended Oral Presentation, Skill: Organizing an Oral Presentation.
  • In the Research-Base Alignments, Conventions of Language, Conventions of Language Research Recommendations, the materials provide this research-based recommendation: “Students participate in shared-language activities to refine and develop their language skills.” An example supporting this occurs during Unit 3, Extended Writing Project, Argumentative Writing Process, Skill: Transitions.

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 that illustrates how students are progressing within and across each unit with parents and caregivers.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • 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
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 meet the criteria for assessment. The materials include regular and systematic formal and informal assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. Assessments clearly denote which standards are emphasized. The materials build time for revisiting key concepts into the pacing guide. Data tracking and presentation tools help teachers use the results of assessments to identify which standards and skills present particular challenges for students, as well as where students are excelling and are ready for enrichment. The materials include routines and guidance that highlight opportunities to monitor student progress. Students have two opportunities to engage in independent reading during core instruction, including self-selected reading options where students research background information that would inspire them to choose a particular text.

Indicator 3k

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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/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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” the Check for Success section in the First Read lesson plan for “Barrio Boy,” by Ernesto Galarza, contains formative assessment opportunities. “Circulate as students read independently, and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Making Inferences to deepen their understanding of the text. If students struggle, remind them that Making Inferences is: the process of combining your knowledge of the world with clues provided by the text. You may also show and discuss examples using the model provided: After reading the first paragraph, I might think to myself: Ernesto noticed only differences, and none of them were very reassuring. What does that reveal that is not directly stated by the author?”
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time, 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 1 is a multiple choice question and is as follows: “What does Agamemnon’s killing of the stag reveal about his character?”
  • 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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/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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 3, “Chasing the Impossible,” during the First Read of “The First American” by Grand Council Fire of American Indians, students demonstrate their mastery of aligned standards as they respond to the written assessment question: “What is the meaning of ‘teach them truth about the First Americans’ as it is used in Paragraph 1 of the text?” These questions support teachers in identifying students’ mastery of Common Core State Standards CCRA.R.2 and CCRA.R.4.
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” End-of-Unit Assessment, when looking at the assessment from the teacher's view, each question has a standard attached to it. Teachers can click on the standard number to see the full language of the standard. An example of a question from the assessment asks students to read a text then answer the multiple choice question: “Why does the playwright include the stage direction at the end of paragraph 5?” The teacher-facing side shows that this question corresponds to Standard RL.7.5, which relates to a play’s structure and meaning.

Indicator 3l.ii

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Students are assessed often, 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/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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read “Second Estrangement,” by Aracellis Girmay. The Close Read lesson plan includes suggestions for teachers to support them with monitoring students’ progress. The guidance provided is as follows: “If students are struggling to respond to the prompt, ask them scaffolded questions, such as: How does this poem connect to the theme of loss? What does the child learn from being lost? How did reading ‘Second Estrangement’ make you feel?”
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” in Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson, the Close Read for Vocabulary provides teachers with the following guidance: “Have students complete the vocabulary chart by dragging and dropping the definition and writing their sample sentences. Answers are available under the Vocabulary tab (select View When: Submitted).”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 that 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” in the Independent Read lesson plan, students read an excerpt of Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. During and after reading, students answer questions, analyze vocabulary, and complete a writing task. The materials allocate 40 minutes for these activities.
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth”, in the Self- Selected Reading Blast lesson, students have 40 minutes to explore background knowledge that may influence which text they would like to read. The lesson plan includes Introduce the Blast, Turn and Talk, Blast Background, Text Talk, Writer’s Notebook, and then read the text. The 40-minute block is not solely for the purpose of independent reading.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” 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
+
-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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/Model and Practice/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.

An example includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” students read Barrio Boy, by Ernesto Galarza. The Complete Skills Focus section of the Close Read includes the following scaffolding guidance for Advanced ELLs and Approaching grade-level students: “If necessary, have students annotate in pairs or small groups for support. Direct students to focus on questions 1 through 4. Available scaffold: annotation guide.” Teacher guidance for Beyond grade-level students is as follows: “Assign groups of students one or more paragraphs in the excerpt. Have each group use a main-idea chart (see Supplementary Material at the end of this lesson plan) to record textual evidence from their paragraph(s) to determine the main idea. Have groups share their graphic organizers in a class discussion about the central ideas in the text.”

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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.


Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflict and Clashes,” students read Woodsong, by Gary Paulsen. The Teacher Edition for Skills Lesson: Generating Questions provides teachers with guidance on student groupings. Teachers place ELs in collaborative mixed-level groups and prompt them to identify at least one before, one during, and one after reading question in the model. A reading chart is available for additional scaffolds during the Model—Read and Annotate portion of the lesson.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” students read the poem “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus. In the First Read, students participate in a Text Talk. Some of the available scaffolds for ELs include speaking frames and paragraph guides.

Indicator 3q

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 & 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.


Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” students read an excerpt from A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Advanced students complete the Beyond by Analyzing a Quote task in the Scaffolding & Differentiation section of the Lesson Plan. “Ask students to analyze the following quote: ‘To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.’ (Douglas Adams). Encourage them to consider questions like: What do you think this quote means? Do you agree with this quote? Why or why not?”
  • In Unit 6, “The Power of One,” Integrated Reading and Writing, the materials include a scaffold for beyond-grade-level students during the Independent Read lesson for “New Directions,” by Maya Angelou. Teacher guidance is as follows: “Have your Beyond-Grade-Level students lead the discussion about racial discrimination with their peers. Remind them to provide all students equal opportunities to share and discuss, and to generate a list (on the board or on paper) of their peers’ responses.”

Indicator 3r

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

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.

Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” during the Blast lesson, students engage in a Turn and Talk to discuss these Driving Questions, “What do you think this Blast will be about? Make a prediction using text features, including the title and bold vocabulary words. What was your favorite event of the last year? Tell what made it special.”
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” Extended Oral Project and Grammar, Research Writing Process: Plan, the teacher provides whole group instruction to students as they examine the Informative Writing Rubric.

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 7 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
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 StudySyncTV 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.


Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 1, “Conflicts and Clashes,” the First Read lesson for the story “Rikki Tikki Tavi,” by Rudyard Kipling, 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 4, “Moment of Truth,” the Close Read lesson for “Harrison Bergeron,” by Kurt Vonnegut, includes StudySyncTV as a model for students, as they read the Close Read prompt and use their digital annotations to help them write and submit a literary analysis.

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
0/0

Indicator 3u.i

Digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 7 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.


Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • 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, a small group, or an 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.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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 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.


Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • 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, Conflicts and Clashes,” 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.).
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The materials reviewed for Grade 7 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.


Examples include, but are not limited to the following:

  • In Unit 2, “Highs and Lows,” during Blast: Ballard and the Bard, “students explore background information and research links in order to answer the Driving Question: How should we decide if music should be considered poetry?”
  • In Unit 4, “Moment of Truth,” during the Blast: Short and Sweet lesson, students explore background information and research links about a topic and respond to a question with a 140-character response.
  • In Unit 5, “Test of Time,” during the Close Read lesson for “The New Colossus,” by Emma Lazarus, students complete a Research Project titled “Send us your poor.” In groups, students conduct online research about the process of immigrating to America in the late 19th century. They answer the question, “What steps did new immigrants have to take to enter the country?” Then students connect their learning with the poem by reflecting on the following questions: “How does this affect your understanding of the Lazarus poem? How does this compare with what you know about immigrating to America today?”
abc123

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

X