Alignment: Overall Summary

StudySync Grade 9 materials meet the expectations of alignment to the Common Core ELA standards. The materials include instruction, practice, and authentic application of reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language work that is engaging and at an appropriate level of rigor for the grade.

See Rating Scale Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Meets Expectations

Gateway 1:

Text Quality

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

Gateway 2:

Building Knowledge

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

Usability

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Meets Expectations

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

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

Gateway One

Text Quality & Complexity and Alignment to Standards Components

Meets Expectations

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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the expectations for high-quality texts, appropriate text complexity, and evidence-based questions and tasks aligned to the Standards. Anchor texts are of high-quality and reflect the text type distribution required by the Standards. Quantitative, qualitative, and associated reader and task measures make the majority of texts appropriate for use in the grade level; however, the variety in text complexity is not coherently structured. Students engage in a range and volume of reading and have several mechanisms for monitoring their progress. Questions and tasks are text-specific or text-dependent and build to smaller and larger culminating tasks. Speaking and listening opportunities consistently occur over the course of a school year. The materials provide opportunities for students to engage in evidence-based discussions about what they are reading and include prompts and protocols for teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. Students have opportunities to engage in on-demand and process writing that reflects the distribution required by the Standards. As students analyze and develop claims about the texts and sources they read, writing tasks require students to use textual evidence to support their claims and analyses. Grammar and usage standards are explicitly taught with opportunities for students to practice learned content and apply newly gained knowledge in their writing.

Criterion 1a - 1f

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for text quality and text complexity. The majority of the anchor texts are of high quality; at times, some of the lengthier core texts, such as memoirs, novels, and plays, are excerpts. Most texts that either fall below the text complexity band or do not have quantitative measures are appropriate for use in the grade due to qualitative and associated reader and task measures. Texts above the grade band are supported through Skill lessons. Although there is a marked increase in text complexity, text complexity varies without a coherent structure and does not support students’ grade-level reading independence. Students engage in a range and volume of reading and have opportunities to monitor their progress toward grade-level reading independence.

Indicator 1a

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

The StudySync materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading.

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

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, the essay “Why I Lied to Everyone in High School About Knowing Karate” by Jabeen Akhtar details the pressures of high achievement that the children of immigrants often face from their parents. The author documented an instance when she is caught in a lie about her extracurricular activities. The text is age-appropriate and many students will be able to identify with the author’s struggles.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, the poem “The Journey” by Mary Oliver focuses on the need to leave behind what is wrong and harmful, and the importance of starting out on a new path. The idea of transformation permeates throughout the theme and the author challenges readers to step out fearlessly.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read a portion of text taken from “The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass” by Evie Shockley. This poem is age-appropriate and offers an opportunity to read across genres. A video introduction includes vivid imagery connecting to the content.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, an excerpt from “Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi” by Jawaharlal Nehru provides an informational text presenting multiple purposes for the reader, requiring students to dig deep and reread. The language is challenging, with various levels of depth and meaning. Students will gain information about Gandhi, the man and the symbol of India.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, “The Loneliness of Lost Love in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’” by Ursula Villarreal-Moura is one of the featured texts. Juxtaposing the piece assists students to navigate and deepen their understanding of “The Raven.” The materials provide textual enhancement of essential vocabulary, and the font and white space provide balance to assist students in chunking information and visually understanding the literary structure.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read a short story, “The Girl Who Can” by Ama Ata Aidoo, with a first-person point of view. The text addresses the struggles of a seven-year-old in a matriarchal society in Ghana. Students make inferences throughout the text in order to understand the more prominent ideas present in the work. The perspective of the narrator is engaging and relatable.

Indicator 1b

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.

StudySync materials include a sufficient balance of literary and informational texts with many opportunities for students to read across genres throughout the academic year. Each of the six thematic units includes text sets and juxtaposes diverse texts to explore a common theme. Examples of text types and genres in Grade 9 include but are not limited to poetry, memoir, short story, a eulogy, and an excerpt from an autobiography.

Some examples of literature found within the instructional materials include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant (short story)
  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier (short story)
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, “Volar” by Judith Ortiz Cofer (short story)
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost (poem)
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, The Odyssey by Homer (translated by Samuel Butler, 1900) (poem)
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, “from ‘The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass’” by Evie Shockley (poem)
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe (short story)
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar (poem)
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, “The Gift of the Magi” by O.Henry (short story)
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, “Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare (poem)
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst (short story)
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, “Ode to the Selfie” by Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood (poem)

Some examples of informational text found within the instructional materials include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, Excerpt from “Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” by Brené Brown (novel)
  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt (memoir)
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (memoir)
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, Excerpt from Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (autobiography)
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, “Georgia O’Keeffe” by Joan Didion (essay)
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, “An Indian Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake-Thom (also known as Medicine Grizzlybear) (letter)
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, “Eulogy of Mahatma Gandhi” by Jawaharial Nehru (eulogy)
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, “Masters of Love” by Emily Esfahani Smith (essay)
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed (memoir)
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, Excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (autobiography)

Indicator 1c

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis and qualitative analysis.

StudySync materials provide texts that are at the appropriate level of complexity for Grade 9. Texts that fall below the Lexile range are made more complex by their qualitative features and classroom activities that encourage students to delve deeper into the theme, author’s purpose, word choice, and more. Texts that are above the Lexile range are often paired with more accessible texts to aid in overall understanding and have appropriate supports in place to help students grasp the author's purpose and demonstrate comprehension. However, some of the quantitative information indicated in the StudySync materials are often different from other sources, such as The Lexile Framework for Reading website. In some cases the materials provide Lexile levels for the excerpt, rather than the Lexile levels of the published texts. The ELA Grade Level Overview for Grade 9 provides additional information relating to qualitative features for each text, and guidance is available for teachers to assist students in accessing more complex text around a common topic.

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, “The Necklace,” by Guy de Maupassant
    • Quantitative: 930L
    • Qualitative: This short story includes many sentences that are long and contain multiple phrases or clauses. Students can identify the main clauses and then note the additional information provided by the accompanying phrases. Much of the vocabulary, such as changeful or paste, is formal or archaic and may challenge some students. Remind students to use context clues while reading, and also to use a dictionary to define unfamiliar words.
    • Reader and Task: At the end of this short story, readers discover, along with Madame Loisel, that she has labored for ten years, lost her beauty, and declined into poverty to replace, what she learns later, is a fake diamond necklace. What does this ironic ending, as well as other plot evidence, suggest about the story’s themes? Students write a thoughtful response supported by textual evidence and original commentary.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, “Volar” by Judith Ortiz Cofer
    • Quantitative: 1010L
    • Qualitative: Students would benefit from a complete understanding of the story’s setting, which plays an important role in developing the theme. The setting of the story is a U.S. neighborhood, or barrio in Spanish, mostly composed of Latino immigrants who left their countries for better opportunities and who now live in poor, urban areas, isolated from their families back home. The title of the story is Volar which means “to fly” in Spanish. In order to understand the story’s theme, students must understand the role that flight plays. As they read, have students annotate all references to flying in the text.
    • Reader and Task: Students compare and contrast how the author characterizes the narrator and her mother and explain how these characterizations work together to develop the story’s theme.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil
    • Quantitative: 1350L
    • Qualitative: The author’s purpose is to explain the Singularity and its impact on humankind. Students may struggle with this concept because they may take for granted the rapid pace of technological advancements they have experienced as Millenials. Students discuss the effects of rapid technological advances during their lifetimes, and the impact this has had on them. This text uses vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to readers without experience in computer science. Some challenging vocabulary to discuss before or during reading include dystopia, utopia, singularity, black hole, law of accelerating return, and exponential growth. Remind students to use context clues and electronic resources to define words they do not know.
    • Reader and Task: Students write down their thoughts about the question “What might be the consequences—both positive and negative—of what the author calls ‘the Singularity?’” based on the reading of the text and personal knowledge and experience, and explain their reasoning.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, “The Pose” by Anwar Khan
    • Quantitative: 1000L
    • Qualitative: Students may struggle to determine the message of this short story. Guide students to identify and examine the positive and negative emotions that the main character experiences as she pretends to be a mannequin and subjects herself to the gaze of others. Point out that readers may assume that the story is set in India for several reasons: India is the author’s homeland. The main character wears a sari, the traditional dress of South Asian women. The main character also imagines that her brother would “drop dead” if he saw the “family’s ‘honor’” on public display in a storefront window.
    • Reader and Task: To prepare for the class discussion, students write down their thoughts about this question: “How can seizing control over your image be empowering?” Students consider the impact of style, word choice, and tone on the audience; details that create strong mental images; and other textual evidence in “The Pose” and “Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird” byToni Cade Bambara and explain their reasoning.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, “Catch the Moon” by Judith Ortiz Cofer
    • Quantitative: 930L
    • Qualitative: Students may not grasp the references to Shakespeare’s classic play The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, as well as the references to Arthur Laurents’ twentieth-century musical version of the play, West Side Story. Call student’s attention to references to the West Side Story Puerto Rican gang known as the Sharks, as well as the re-creation of the famous balcony scene in Luis’s presentation of the hubcap to Naomi. Readers may not immediately understand the complexities of the relationship between Luis and his father. Students may need additional support to connect the details of Luis’s father’s life in Puerto Rico and his move to the American barrio to understand how these cultural differences affect their relationship.
    • Reader and Task: Students compare and contrast how gift-giving shapes the characters, plots, and themes in “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry and “Catch the Moon.” As part of their analysis, students will consider the nature of the gifts.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
    • Quantitative: Excerpt 910L, Full Text 1010L
    • Qualitative: Students may benefit from some sensitive background information about why Angelou stopped speaking for a period in her childhood. Explain that earlier in the autobiography, Angelou describes her sexual abuse, testimony in court, the outcome for her abuser, and how she stopped speaking as a result of fearing that she had killed a man.
    • Reader and Task: Students write a literary analysis based on Angelou’s characterization of Mrs. Flowers, her home, and the “lessons in living” she conducts there. “What impact did Mrs. Flowers have on Angelou’s life, both in the short and long term, and how does this impact connect to Angelou’s purpose and message in this excerpt?” Students explain using textual evidence and original commentary.

Indicator 1d

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria for materials support students’ literacy skills (understanding and comprehension) over the course of the school year through increasingly complex text to develop independence of grade level skills (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels).

While students engage in a range of text types and complexity levels across the year, the materials do not demonstrate an intentional increase in text complexity to work toward independence across the year. Within each unit, there is a quantitative and qualitative variety of text complexity with levels ranging from 450L–1450L; however, the breakdown of quantitative measures shows that out of the 69 texts for the year, 15 fall within the recommended grade band; seven texts are above; 22 texts are below; and 25 texts do not have quantitative measures listed. Regardless of quantitative or qualitative complexity, students independently read and annotate the majority of the texts in each unit as well as independently answer short writing prompts after reading. The two texts with the highest Lexile scores of 1400 and above are placed in the first two units. As the year progresses, Unit 3 contains the highest number of texts above the Grades 9–10 Lexile Band, each of which students read independently before engaging in whole class skill instruction or practice. Like the first two units, Units 4 and 5 also include a significant number of texts that fall below the grade band; however the majority of texts across both units do not have Lexile levels because they are poems or dramas. Unit 6 returns to the same fiction genre focus as Unit 1. Like all units before, students read the texts and complete writing tasks independently. The majority of texts in Unit 6 fall below the grade band, indicating a decline in quantitative complexity demands. While most or all Grade 9 texts are deemed appropriate for the grade level, the timing and sequencing of texts and aligned Skill lessons do not support growth in students’ ability to independently engage with increasingly complex texts across the year.

Some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, texts range from 800L–1400L with a focus on fiction, as students seek to answer the Essential Question “Why do we feel the need to belong? At the end of the unit, students write a personal narrative. While the genre focus texts are short stories, the unit also contains an essay, speech, article, memoir, and two poems. Skill lessons accompany three short stories and a speech, two of which are well below grade level. Skill lessons include textual evidence, character, theme, compare and contrast, allusion, language, style and audience, rhetoric, arguments and claims. The genre focus begins with a short story (930L) accompanied by Skill lessons. Students then engage with a text set consisting of excerpts from a poem and self-help book (1000L) and a full short story (800L). After these lessons, students engage with a memoir (1100L) supported by Skill lessons. The unit then shifts to an informational Skill lesson featuring a speech with the Lexile level of 1140 followed by an informational essay for independent reading; the essay has a Lexile level of 1400. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, five of the 11 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, texts range from 980L–1450L with a focus on informational text, as students explore the Essential Question “What will you learn on your journey?” By the end of the unit students write an informative essay on the journeys of several people featured in the unit texts. Texts include poems, articles, a short story, and excerpts from an autobiography, a biography, a memoir, short story, and a self-help book excerpt. Skill lessons accompany one poem and an article and memoir. The Skill lessons include poetic elements and structure, media, informational text elements, theme, author’s purpose and point of view, informational text structure, and connotation and denotation. The two informational texts with accompanying Skill lessons have Lexile levels of 1080L and 1100L while the Independent Read selections for students range from 980L–1450L. Skill lessons also accompany a poem (N/A) and short story (1010L) in the unit though these are not the unit focus and are addressed on that instructional day of the unit. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, four of the 11 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring your Genius, the genre focus is argumentative and students answer the Essential Question “How do you define intelligence?” At the end of the unit, students write an argumentative essay on intelligence tests. Texts range from 740L–1360L with five of the texts above the Grades 9–10 Lexile Band, ranging from 1320L–1360L. Unit texts include an even blend of informational and literary with poetry, an essay, an article, a speech, a short story, and excerpts from books, novels, and a graphic novel. Skill lessons accompany five texts: an essay, short story, letter, an argument, and novel excerpt. The Skill lessons include author’s purpose and point of view; reasons and evidence; informational text structure; context clues; technical language; story structure; character; summarizing; arguments and claims; logical fallacies; character; and media. While the texts accompanied by Skill lessons range from a short story at 740L to a speech at 1350L, the two longest genre focus texts in the unit are Independent Reads for students. Both of these texts are above the recommended grade band at 1320L and 1360L. Unit 3 contains three text sets, one of which does not support the genre focus and contains a text above the grade band. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, five of the 12 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, the genre focus is drama and students work to answer the Essential Question, “How do we perform for different audiences?” At the end of the unit, students research a historical figure from the unit to write an informative essay about the person’s legacy. Texts include multiple short stories, a speech, a poem, and several excerpts from a book, a drama, and two plays. Texts with quantitative measures range from 450L–1290L. The unit also includes a poem and excerpts from two plays and a drama which do not have Lexile levels. While the unit begins with two informational texts accompanied by Skills lessons that fall within the Lexile Band, the remainder of the unit texts fall below the grade band or do not have a quantitative measure. Skill lessons accompany six texts and include: summarizing; informational text elements; textual evidence, author’s purpose and point of view; primary and secondary sources; dramatic elements and structure; allusion; media, laguage; style and audience; connotation and denotation; dramatic elements and structure; story structure; character; and theme. The genre focus texts do not have Lexile levels, but the unit also includes three short stories and a novel excerpt which range from 450L to 1000L. The unit contains three text sets. Two of the sets contain at least one text related to the genre focus and all of the text sets either do not have a Lexile level or contain texts that fall below the text complexity band. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, six of the 12 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, the genre focus is poetry as students answer the Essential Question ‘When is love worth the fall?” At the end of the unit, students write a literary analysis about the impact of love in several of the unit texts. Four of the eleven texts have quantitative measures ranging from 840–1190L. One of the four texts with a Lexile level, an essay, falls within the recommended grade range. Texts without quantitative measures include six poems and one literary analysis. Skill lessons accompany five texts: a short story, a memoir, and three poems.The Skill lessons include story structure; point of view, theme; author’s purpose and point of view; language, style, and audience; poetic elements and structure (symbolism); visualizing; poetic devices; figurative language; and textual evidence. While the genre focus texts accompanied by Skill lessons do not have Lexile levels because they are poems, the short story and memoir with Skill lessons are scored 830L and 940L respectively. Unit 5 contains three text sets, two of which align to the focus genre and contain poems. The first paired selection contains short stories scored at 880L and 930L. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, five of the 11 texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students return to the same genre focus as Unit 1, fiction, as they answer the Essential Question “How can you help others achieve their goals?” At the end of the unit, students give an argumentative oral presentation about developing a new skill. Text levels range from 770L–1230L. The two excerpts from graphic novels do not have Lexile levels. One scored text in this unit is within the Grades 9-10 Lexile Band and six of the nine texts are below the grade band. Texts include poems, letters, short stories, an article, and excerpts from novels, graphic novels, and an autobiography. Skill lessons accompany six texts, all of which are below grade level or do not have quantitative measures. The Skill lessons include author’s purpose and point of view; reasons and evidence; informational text elements; theme, figurative language; media; summarizing; language, style, and audience; and poetic elements and structure. The genre focus texts accompanied by Skill lessons range from 910L–1060L and include one text without a Lexile level. The unit contains three text sets, the first of which does not support the genre focus and the second set contains three texts which fall below the grade band. Although students read all texts in the unit independently, six of the nine texts in the unit provide opportunities for multiple reads through close reading lessons.

Indicator 1e

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.

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

Some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read both informational and fictional texts that connect to the Essential Question “Why do we feel the need to belong?” Students read the poem “Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question” by Diane Burns alongside excerpts from the memoir Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Both texts allow students to read across genres while exploring what occurs when others define individuals’ identities in simplistic, stereotypical terms. The memoir excerpt is within the Grade 9–10 Lexile Range and the qualitative features of the paired selections make the texts more complex as students “compare and contrast how individuals’ identities are defined by others in simplistic, often stereotypical terms.” Students write a short response demonstrating their understanding of the poem’s language and structure. Later, after reading Angela’s Ashes, students analyze “how the author’s language, style, and audience contributes to the style and cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone.”
  • In Unit 2, The Call To Adventure, the general focus is informational text but the unit also offers a variety of literature to address the Essential Question “What will you learn on your journey?” The three poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, “12 (from ‘Gitanjali’)” by Rabindranath Tagore, and “The Journey” by Mary Oliver do not have Lexile levels; however, qualitative complexity is evident in their text set grouping The poems contain complex metaphors that require students to practice the skills necessary to understand the poetic elements and structure of the poems and to explore the theme of journeys. Students compare and contrast poetic structures and devices to investigate the theme.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read literary and argumentative texts while exploring the Essential Question “How do you define intelligence?” Through reading the essay “Georgia O'Keeffe” by Joan Didion, whose 1170L quantitative measure places it within the Lexile Range for Grades 9–10, students consider “...how O’Keeffe’s determination, self-assurance, and work ethic eventually led to her recognition as a genius with a unique style and perspective.” The qualitative features of the text increase the level of difficulty due to the structure and the author’s purpose. The ELA Grade Level Overview shares support: “The author’s purpose is not directly stated but must be inferred based on text details about Georgia O’Keeffe’s unique approach to art and her defiance of norms, which Didion admires. Have students look for clues in Didion’s language that shows how she feels about O’Keeffe.”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, the general focus is drama but the unit includes other literature and nonfiction selections to address the Essential Question “How do we perform for different audiences?” The materials pair the short story “The Pose” by Anwar Khan and the poem “Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird” by Toni Cade Bambara to support students’ exploration of the Essential Question. While reading “The Pose,” students witness the main character performing as a mannequin in a shop window. Students must interpret the main character’s actions and determine the effects of the performance. The qualitative complexity of this text involves students analyzing descriptive language and imagery to understand it. “Blues Ain’t No Mockin Bird” contains complex qualitative features through the use of dialect and character connections. Both texts help students connect to the Essential Question as they contemplate how control of self-image can be empowering.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance Of Romance, students focus on poetry as a genre, short stories, and an informational article “Masters of Love” by Emily Esfahani Smith while considering the Essential Question,“When is love worth the fall?” The informational article falls inside the Grade 9–10 Lexile Range and affords students the opportunity to “consider how important kindness and generosity are to forming and maintaining happy long-term relationships.” The level of complexity increases due to the sentence structure and text type or genre. The ELA Grade Level Overview for Grade 9 includes the following guidance to support students: “Many of Smith’s sentences are dense with information and complex in structure. Encourage students to break down long sentences into shorter chunks and list relevant information in their notes or annotations.”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, the general focus is fiction but the unit also includes arguments, poetry, and biographical texts that help students answer the Essential Question “How can you help others achieve their goals?” A text in this unit that addresses the idea of standing together to reach one’s goals is “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson. This is the last text of the unit and the associated task requires students to annotate the text to gather background information and utilize the skill lesson on Poetic Elements and Structure to understand how the meter and rhyme contribute to its meaning. Students also have the opportunity to analyze the differences between songs and poems.

Indicator 1f

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for anchor and supporting texts provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading proficiency.

StudySync materials provide students with the opportunity to read a variety of texts, including literary and non-fiction selections that cover a variety of topics and range in complexity. Students experience accessible texts that are challenging qualitatively in their language and style, as well as quantitatively complex text that stretch from 800L–1420L. The grade-level materials include both literary and nonfiction texts covering a variety of topics and range of complexities. Independent reading includes classic and contemporary texts, and teachers can select Proficiency Levels for English Learners, including “Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Advanced-High,” as well as “Approaching” for “Below Level” readers. Teachers can adjust the levels as students demonstrate proficiency and assist students by scaffolding up throughout the year to reach grade-level proficiency.

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read a variety of literature and nonfiction texts that help them explore the Essential Question “Why do we feel the need to belong?” The short story “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier is complex, and students spend a more significant amount of time with this text than any other one in the unit. Multiple Skill Lessons on Annotation, Context Clues, and Textual Evidence help to offset the text’s complexities. The unit includes other short stories such as “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant and “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” by Karen Russell an excerpt from the epic poem Metamorphoses by Ovid (translated by A.S. Kline), and Sara Abou Rashed’s poem “Welcome to America.” These literary pieces often pair with non-fiction texts like Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, the self-help–book excerpt Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown and the personal essay “Why I Lied to Everyone in High School About Knowing Karate” by Jabeen Akhtar. Throughout the unit, students engage in the readings independently, in small groups, or in a whole group read aloud. Short quizzes, written responses, the Extended Writing Project, and the end-of-the-unit assessment allow teachers to monitor progress toward grade-level independence.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read a variety of literary and informational texts, such as an autobiography, memoir, poetry, and a short story. The autobiography Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, NASA’s “Apollo 13: Mission Highlights,” and the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed serve as examples of the genre focus. Selections such as the poems “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost and “The Journey” by Mary Oliver as well as the short story “Volar” by Judith Ortiz Cofer allow students to read across genres. Opportunities for independent reading include both classic and contemporary texts, such as “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost and an excerpt from The Art of Choosing by Sheena lyengar. Teachers can monitor students’ progress through frequent assessments of literacy skills using measures such as the Reading Quiz after The Art of Choosing which includes questions such as “Which of the following inferences best explains why Simpson was able to survive after Yates cut the rope?”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read a variety of literature and nonfiction texts that help them explore the unit’s Essential Question “How do you define intelligence?” Students begin the unit by pairing two poems, “The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass'' by Evie Shockley and “Señora X No More,” by Pat Morak with the letter, “An Indian Father’s Plea” by Robert Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzlybear), The texts allow students to read across genres while considering issues around marginalization and definitions of intelligence. Nonfiction texts include the essay “Georgia O'Keeffe” by Joan Didionm, “The Origin of Intelligence” by Point/Counterpoint, which presents a point/counterpoint structure, and an excerpt from “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell, These texts challenge students with nonlinear structure, conceptual word choices, and complex arguments. Many of the texts include multiple Skills Lessons that help students analyze context clues, author’s purpose, point of view, logical fallacies, and more. Throughout the unit, students engage the readings independently, in small groups, or in whole group read alouds. Short quizzes, written responses, the Extended Writing Project, and the end-of-the-unit assessment allow teachers to monitor progress toward grade-level independence.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read both literary and nonfiction texts, such as drama, poetry, eulogy, and argumentative texts. The unit includes both classic and contemporary texts. Students experience independent reading opportunities, such as A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and “Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi” by Jawaharlal Nehru. Other literature in the unit includes, “Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet,” and the play West Side Story by Arthur Laurents, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” and Margaret Chase Smith’s speech “Remarks to the Senate in Support of a Declaration of Conscience.” Teachers can monitor students’ progress through frequent assessments of literacy skills using measures such as the Reading Quiz after “Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi” which includes questions such as “What does the speaker of the eulogy mostly ask of the people listening?”
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read a wide variety of literature focused on the Essential Question “When is love worth the fall?” while exploring the genre focus, poetry. This unit contains two fictional short stories, three argumentative informational texts, and five poetry selections that support the genre focus of this unit. Students read three poems, ranging in complexity, format, and cultural reference, for comparative analysis. The last two texts, the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe and the literary analysis “The Loneliness of Lost Love in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” by Ursula Villarreal-Mouram provide a depth of knowledge and allow students to come back to both the genre and Essential Question’s focus of the unit. Throughout the unit, students engage in the readings independently, in small groups, or during whole group read alouds. Short quizzes, written responses, the Extended Writing Project, and the end-of-the-unit assessment allow teachers to monitor progress toward grade-level independence.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read both literary and nonfiction texts, such as poetry, an excerpt from a novel, autobiography, and epistolary arguments. The epistolary arguments “Letter to My Younger Self” and Letters to a Young Poet by David Robinson, demonstrate how a mentor (even if that mentor is an older version of oneself) can provide helpful guidance to someone in a moment of crisis. The graphic novel memoir Maus by Art Spiegelman, shows that writers can use the comic medium for important, serious purposes, such as to give voice to our elders and record grave historical injustices. The excerpt from the autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, shows how literary nonfiction can bring an author’s past to life in ways that are deeply meaningful to readers in the present. Political fiction or poetry, such as the excerpts from Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Ghanadian writer Ama Ata Aidoo’s short story “The Girl Who Can,” Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood’s spoken-word poem “Ode to the Selfie,” and James Weldon Johnson’s poem-turned-song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” show that authors can create powerful social messages to enact change. Teachers can monitor students’ progress through frequent assessments of literacy skills using measures such as the Reading Quiz after “Mark Twain’s Advice to Little Girls” which includes the following question: “Which of the following options best explains Twain’s use of formal and exaggerated language?”

Criterion 1g - 1n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for evidence-based discussions and writing about texts. The majority of the questions and tasks are grounded in textual evidence. Text-specific and text-dependent questions and tasks build to smaller culminating tasks and the larger end-of-unit task. Students participate in evidence-based discussions on what they are reading and the materials include prompts or protocols for discussions, encouraging teacher modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. The materials include on-demand and process writing opportunities that accurately reflect the distribution required by the Standards. Writing tasks require students to use textual evidence to support their claims and analyses. The materials address grade-level grammar and usage standards and include opportunities for application both in and out of context.

Indicator 1g

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent/specific, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).


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


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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read the short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant and answer a text-specific question during which students write a literary analysis addressing plot and theme. The students’ response needs to be supported by textual evidence and original commentary. The Teacher Lesson Plan provides detailed step-by-step support to help students prepare for the written response. For example, in Step 2: Read of the lesson, guidance for the teacher includes scaffolding questions to ask the students that are struggling in responding to the prompt. After students read the short story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell alongside an excerpt from Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging by Brené Brown and the Courage to Stand Alone, they write a response to the following prompt: “Both texts tell a story about the harsh consequences of not fitting into a community or group. Compare and contrast the ways in which the community in each story enhances the conflict faced by the main character and influences the themes.”
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read and annotate the article “Leon Bridges on Overcoming Childhood Isolation and Finding His Voice: ‘You Can’t Teach Soul’” by Jeff Weiss. After reading, students write in response to the following prompt: “What is the article’s implied thesis about Leon Bridges and his music, and how well is this idea supported through relevant details and evidence? Write an argumentative essay that evaluates the article’s effectiveness according to these criteria. Provide specific textual evidence to support your points.” After reading “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy River” by Robert Frost, students answer questions such as “Which of the following inferences about the speaker’s journey is best supported by the poem?”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students finish the unit by reading a graphic novel version of The Odyssey alongside an excerpt from Homer’s original text. After reading, students write a short response to the following prompt: “Ulysses is often identified as an archetypal warrior hero—a god-like hero who, in stories from cultures throughout history, faces physical challenges and external enemies. But what do you think? Is Ulysses a true hero? Write an argumentative text that answers this question by synthesizing information provided about Ulysses's character in Homer's text and in the graphic novel. Aggregate evidence provided through literary devices and techniques, such as dialogue, narration, images, and descriptive details about Ulysses's thoughts, actions, interactions with other characters, and motivations.”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students independently read the short story “The Pose” by Anwar Khan. After reading, students write a short response to the following prompt: “How do the main character’s thoughts, actions, and interactions serve as clues about her motivations and about the effects of her unusual experiment? Then, use your answers to identify what theme or message the author might ultimately seek to send about performance and self-image. Identify evidence from the text to support your response.”
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read the short story “Catch the Moon” by Judith Ortiz Cofer. They answer questions about the text and support their responses with evidence: “What feelings do you think Luis expresses when he stands on top of the hubcaps and yells, ‘Someday, son, all this will be yours?’ Use examples from the text and your own inferences to support your answer.” Students write a literary analysis during the Extended Writing Project. Before completing this writing task, students read and analyze a model literary analysis. The Teacher Edition provides guiding questions that relate to rubric criteria. For example, one question relates to “focus” on the rubric and asks students to identify the claim in the model and then provides the answer for the teacher in the Teacher Edition.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students may self-select a text during a StudySync Blast. The StudySync Library includes the titles students choose to explore for independent reading. Within these opportunities, students answer Think questions, such as “Based on the way she is presented to us in this poem, what can we infer about the poet’s stepdaughter?” when reading the poem “Loud Music” by Stephen Dobyns. Students read an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. They answer questions about the text and support their responses with evidence: “How does Angelou’s use of figurative language impact her purpose and message in this excerpt? Explain, using textual evidence and original commentary.”

Indicator 1h

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials containing sets of sequences of text-dependent/text-specific questions with activities that build to a culminating task which integrates skills to demonstrate understanding.


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


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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students explore the question “Why do we feel the need to belong?” Students complete various readings and answer questions building toward the Extended Writing Project when students write a narrative addressing the following: “How does belonging or not belonging in a group affect our sense of self?” Before writing the narrative, students read an excerpt from Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown and “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell. Students consider questions, such as “What is the price we pay for trying to fit in? Is fitting in worth the pain it can cause?” Students complete a writing task following both readings, as they “Compare and contrast the ways in which the community in each story enhances the conflict faced by the main character and influences the theme.” Students write a personal letter after reading “The Future in My Arms” by Edwidge Danticat. Students use ideas in “The Future in My Arms” as they develop their personal or invented narratives about belonging, focusing on the question, “How do relationships within our extended families help build a sense of community and belonging?”
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students write an informative essay for their Extended Writing Project. Text-dependent tasks and questions are used throughout the unit to prepare students for the culminating writing task. For example, after a first read of the short story “Volar” by Judith Ortiz Cofer, students answer a series of Think questions that require them to support their answers with evidence from the text, including “Based on the narrator’s dream, what can you infer about the landlord? Use evidence from the text to support your inferences” and “The narrator stays in bed so that her parents can have time in the morning alone together. What does this show about the narrator? Use evidence from the text to support your answers.”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students explore the question “How do you define intelligence?” Students complete various readings and answer evidence-based questions building toward the Extended Writing Project, during which students write an argumentative essay addressing the following: “How should intelligence be assessed?” Before writing the argumentative essay, students read an excerpt from Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell and the point/counterpoint essay “The Origin of Intelligence” (authors not cited). Students consider questions, such as “Does the text’s argument that success may be more dependent on practice than on natural ability correspond to what you have read, seen, experienced, or believe to be true? In what way is your own perspective on the topic similar or different?” and “Can a child with a low or average IQ become a genius with just the right set of influences and choices?” Students respond to an argumentative writing prompt following both readings: “Which argument—Point or Counterpoint—do you find more convincing? Write an argumentative essay that includes a claim about which text makes a better case about intelligence. Support your position by acknowledging evidence, counterarguments, graphic features, and logical weaknesses in the arguments (such as false claims or fallacious reasoning), and use logical, emotional, and ethical appeals to convince your readers that your claim is correct.”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read about several famous figures, including Dale Carnegie, Margaret Chase Smith, William Shakespeare, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Henrik Ibsen, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mahatma Gandhi, then use this knowledge to write an informative research paper driven by the question “How can a life become a legend?” As the unit progresses students engage in text-dependent questions and tasks that help them learn more about individuals’ lives and journeys. For example, quiz questions follow the first read of Senator Margaret Chase Smith’s “Remarks to the Senate in Support of a Declaration of Conscience.” Examples of questions include: “What is most likely the speaker’s reason for including the fifth paragraph in her speech?” and “In which of the following ways does the speaker most add to the development of her central idea with this seventh paragraph?” After students closely read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Cask of Amontillado,” an excerpt from Henrik Isben’s novel A Doll’s House, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s “A Story of Vengeance,” they compare within and across genres as they reflect and respond to the question “How do we perform for different audiences?” Then they complete a culminating task during which they respond to a compare/contrast prompt centered on character motivation.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students explore the question “When is love worth the fall?” Students complete various readings and answer questions building toward the Extended Writing Project, during which students write a literary analysis addressing the following: “Is love more of a blessing, or more of a curse?” Before writing the literary analysis, students read an informational text “Masters of Love” by Emily Esfahani Smith and the poem “Redbird Love” by Joy Harjo. Students consider questions such as “After reading the article, do you agree that kindness and generosity are the key factors in determining a lasting relationship? What other factors might be as important in maintaining a stable, healthy relationship?” Students discuss these questions in a group and provide a written response. Students respond to a writing prompt following both readings: “Several of the poems in this unit, including ‘Redbird Love,’ feature animals whose interactions serve to teach humans important lessons about love. Think of an animal relationship you have observed, read about, or are aware of—between mates, between a parent and baby, between siblings, or between friends. Write a poem in a structure of your choice that reflects on the nature of this relationship. Use symbolism and consider the insight that humans might gain from observing the relationship.”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students plan and complete an argumentative oral presentation after diving into the unit’s Essential Question “How can you help others achieve their goals?” The presentation prompt states, “Prepare an argumentative oral presentation about a time when someone helped you develop a new skill... As part of your presentation, compare or contrast your experience with those of characters or individuals in unit texts.” To prepare for this culminating task, students read several fiction and nonfiction texts and complete text-dependent tasks that help them deepen their understanding. For example after independently reading Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood’s poem “Ode to the Selfie,” students answer questions such as, “Based on the passage below (lines 29–31), with which of the following statements would the speaker most likely agree?” and “Which lines from the poem most strongly support the answer to Question 3?” They also write a literary analysis in response to the question “What attitude toward and messages about the selfie does the poet seek to convey that renders the selfie worthy of the honor?”

Indicator 1i

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials providing frequent opportunities and protocols to engage students in speaking and listening activities and discussions (small group, peer-to-peer, whole class) which encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax.


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


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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read “The Necklace'' by Guy de Maupassant and have opportunities to apply speaking and listening skills. For example, after watching the preview video, students work in pairs to activate prior knowledge and connections to the text, using two guiding questions. In an optional activity used to develop background knowledge and cultural awareness, students raise their hands, agreeing, or disagreeing with a statement about possessions. Based on their positions, students move to their corners to explain their point of view. Students also participate in a Collaborative Conversation after a Skill Model and after reviewing a Checklist for Collaborative Conversations. The checklist includes: come to discussions prepared, having read or researched the material under discussion; pose questions that relate the current discussion to broader larger ideas and engage others to join the discussion; summarize points of agreement and disagreement.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read an excerpt from The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II) by William Shakespeare. After engaging in a close read, teachers group students for a Collaborative Conversation. The Speaking and Listening Handbook includes handouts to guide and support students through each stage of the Collaborative Conversation—Preparing for a Discussion, Determine Goals and Deadlines, and Establish Rules. The Preparing for a Discussion guidance states: “Before a discussion, distribute the Preparing for a Discussion handout and talk to students about the topics below. Allow students enough time to work together to fill out the first page of the handout. Students should fill out the second page on their own, after reading the material under study.” As students transition to the Determine Goals and Deadlines step, teachers “Explain to students that all discussion group members should know and understand the goal or purpose of the discussion” and suggest that students “develop a timetable to ensure that their group will be able to accomplish all discussion goals.” During the final stage, Establish Rules, teachers explain the importance of creating and maintaining an open and respectful environment so the discussion allows everyone’s ideas to be heard. Teachers “Have students brainstorm a list of rules for the discussion. Ask students to explain why each rule can help establish a respectful and productive discussion. Then agree on which rules to keep.” The rules should be posted in a central location for all students to reference. Rules may be updated as needed.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students engage in a close read of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson. During a Skill Lesson on poetic elements and structure, students participate in a Turn and Talk in response to a discussion prompt. The teacher places students in pairs or small groups and students discuss the prompt with their partner or small group before sharing their answers with the class. The materials provide teachers with scaffolds and guidance on how to group and support different students.


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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students participate in a Skill Lesson on academic vocabulary introduced under Big Idea. Students may play a game where students award points if their partner used academic vocabulary correctly while speaking. Students engage in Collaborative Conversation after a Skill Model. The lesson incorporates academic vocabulary such as adjust, claim, collaboration, reflect, and textual evidence.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students complete a Skill Lesson on academic vocabulary introduced under Big Idea. Students pair and split up the academic vocabulary such as reveal and explicit and practice integrating the words into a conversation between them. An Extended Oral Project provides students with practice listening to another presentation, and the materials include guidance to give feedback, including but not limited to: State the unique characteristics of one type of learner; Use academic vocabulary words; Include a variety of connecting words to join phrases and sentences. Academic vocabulary terms include characteristic, example, research, and strategy.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students review their academic vocabulary in a Skill Lesson. The unit’s list includes fourteen terms, including allocate, subsidy, incentive, and more. Teachers break students into small groups for a Collaborative Conversation. Students respond to the following prompt: “In this unit, you have studied how people achieve goals and mentor others. Imagine that you have been given funding to open up a business. What kind of business would you open? Use as many vocabulary words in your discussion as you can.” The materials guide teachers in helping students start the conversations and grouping students.

Indicator 1j

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials supporting students’ listening and speaking (and discussions) about what they are reading and researching (shared projects) with relevant follow-up questions and support.


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


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

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read the short story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell and an excerpt from Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown together. After a close read, students prepare for a writing assignment by participating in a Collaborative Conversation. Teachers break students into groups, and students use their Skills Focus annotations to respond to the following prompt: “Compare and contrast the ways in which the community in each story enhances the conflict faced by the main character and influences the theme.” Teacher-facing materials provide support on grouping students and scaffolding the conversations.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost; students engage in the Collaborative Conversation task of breaking down a literary analysis prompt followed by discussing ideas about the text and textual evidence. Teacher instructions include facilitating the task by posting the prompt, directing students to break down the prompt, and then guiding them to share ideas and evidence.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read the poem “from ‘The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass’” by Evie Shockley. To prepare for their writing assignment, students break into small groups and participate in a Collaborative Conversation. They respond to the following prompt: “What view does Shockley have of Frederick Douglass? Is this fair? Why or why not?” The Lesson Plan gives teachers insight on how to support different levels of learners, as well as insight into grouping students and possible scaffolds. Students also read “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids” by Carol S. Dweck. Students engage in Collaborative Conversation to break down the writing prompt, “Analyze how Dweck, an expert in her field, uses empirical, anecdotal, and statistical evidence to support her claim about the secret to raising smart kids. In your analysis, identify an example of each type of evidence from the article.” Students will discuss relevant ideas using text evidence in small groups.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Students engage in the Collaborative Conversation task of breaking down a literary analysis prompt followed by discussing ideas about the text and textual evidence. The materials include guidance for the teacher on how to facilitate the discussion, including scaffolding and differentiation instructions for beginning through advanced ELL students.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read the short story “Catch the Moon” by Judith Ortiz Cofer. As they engage in a close read, students work in groups to discuss and analyze the following Skills Focus prompt: “Highlight a flashback about Luis’s most recent crime. Explain what insight this flashback provides about his character and the author's point of view.” Teacher-facing materials provide question prompts and scaffolds to support the discussion. Students also read “Sonnet 116” by William Shakespeare and engage in Collaborative Conversations to break down the writing prompt. “‘Sonnet 116’ claims that ‘Love is an ever-fixed mark.’ But, of course, there are many ways to define love. Write a poem in a structure of your choosing that substitutes your own definition of love for Shakespeare’s. Like Shakespeare, consider beginning with a statement about what love is not, followed by a statement of what it is. Include poetic devices such as figurative language and imagery to make your writing more vivid.”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students write and prepare an Extended Oral Project, which requires them to make use of digital materials to add interest to their presentation. In the Connect to Mentor Texts, students reread the essay “Pride and Perseverance” by Mekeisha Madden Toby to select evidence for their oral presentation. The teacher asks questions such as “How can you tell whether the sources are credible and reliable?” during this process. Students present an argumentative oral presentation in response to a prompt. During the planning phase, students provide substantive feedback to two peers using Peer Review Instructions: “How well does this response answer the prompt? What part of the oral presentation are you most excited to see/hear? Are there any ideas that could be improved? How so?” Assessment of the final presentation aligns with speaking and listening standards, such as the following: “The presentation introduces strong and specific information, findings, and evidence in a focused and coherent manner. Lines of reasoning are organized and easy to follow, and alternative or opposing perspectives are effectively addressed.”

Indicator 1k

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials including a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g., multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.

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

Materials include a mix of BOTH on-demand and process writing that covers a year’s worth of instruction. Some examples include:

  • Students participate in on-demand writing.
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read the short story “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant. After a close read, students participate in an on-demand writing task. The prompt explains the story’s twist ending then states, “What does this plot twist, as well as other plot details, suggest about the story’s theme? Write a thoughtful response supported by textual evidence and original commentary.” After completing their responses, students participate in two peer reviews and reflect on the feedback.
    • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students reread “Remarks to the Senate in Support of a Declaration of Conscience” by Margaret Chase Smith to write a rhetorical analysis focused on how the writer uses language to affect the point of view or purpose. In this part of the lesson, students focus on the academic vocabulary word domain and they are encouraged to use the word in their written response.
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students complete an End-of-Unit Assessment, which includes students writing “an oral presentation that addresses the following theme: This is the best way to help others achieve their goals. Use examples from the unit texts in your presentation.”
  • Students participate in process writing.
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students complete an Extended Writing Project in which they plan, draft, revise, edit and publish an informative essay in response to a prompt. Guidance during planning includes “Use the questions in the bulleted list to write a one-paragraph summary. Your summary should describe what you will write about in your essay, like the one above. Don’t worry about including all of the details now; focus only on the most essential and important elements. You will refer back to this short summary as you continue through the steps of the writing process.”
    • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students complete an Extended Writing Project in which they plan, draft, revise, edit, and publish an informative research essay: “As you gather ideas and information from the texts in the unit, be sure to: use evidence from multiple sources; and avoid overly relying on one source.”
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students engage in an Extended Writing Project in which they use evidence from multiple sources, and the materials ask students to “avoid overly relying on one source.” Students answer a prompt for their literary analysis: “Is love more of a blessing, or more of a curse? Consider the readings in this unit and reflect on how romantic love impacts those who experience it. Choose three of the unit texts that explore the influence of love in different ways. In a literary analysis essay, synthesize the ideas in these texts to arrive at your own argument about love’s ultimate effect and explain how that effect is demonstrated in each of the selections. Cite evidence from the texts you have selected to support your position.”

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

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students develop their drafts by adding relevant and necessary supporting details in the Extended Writing Project: “Use the questions in the checklist to revise the supporting details in your informational essay. When you have finished revising, type your essay in the box below.”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students edit during the Extended Writing Project. They use a style guide, as appropriate, to improve their command of standard English conventions. Questions for consideration include but are not limited to: “Have I followed the conventions for spelling, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structure, and formatting according to the style guide? Does each in-text citation conform to the style guide?”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, and write a short response to demonstrate understanding of conflict and resolution in the poem’s theme. The students respond to the prompt involving describing the conflict between the speaker’s desire and outside pressures while explaining how resolution and conflict relate to the theme. After students submit their work, they engage in a Peer Review and Reflect where students provide feedback following a set of instructions and revise their writing based on peer review.

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

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read “The Journey” by Mary Oliver and complete the Skill Lesson: Poetic Elements and Structure. This lesson includes digital resources such as a Concept Definition Video, a drag and drop vocabulary chart, an annotation guide, and a checklist and student skill model. In a different lesson utilizing the same poem, students use the digital resource StudySyncTV as a model to write an argumentative response comparing and contrasting journeys in three poems.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read an excerpt from the memoir Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed. After a Close Read, they watch a StudySync TV episode to deepen their analysis of the text. While watching, they pause to answer questions about the conversation taking place in the video. ”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students complete Blast: Growing Paynes. Students explore background information and research links about a topic and then respond to a question with a 140-character response. The teacher can choose to Jigsaw Research Links by assigning each group a different research link to read and discuss the source’s information.

Indicator 1l

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards. (Writing opportunities incorporate digital resources/multimodal literacy materials where appropriate. Opportunities may include blended writing styles that reflect the distribution required by the standards.)


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


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

  • Students have opportunities to engage in argumentative writing.
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students closely read the speech “I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and then write an argumentative response. Students gather evidence to support King’s claim that specific U.S documents have not kept their promises regarding people of color. Students receive support in writing through Skill Focus Lessons and small group discussion, along with StudySync TV which guides students through key details in the speech.
    • In Unit 4, The Dance of Romance, students watch a Royal Shakespeare Company video and read excerpts of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II) and the novel Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper. After analyzing the texts, students write an argumentative essay in response to the following prompt: “How do the Royal Shakespeare Company video and the chat room conversation from Romiette and Julio use the characters, plot, and dramatic conventions of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet as a springboard for envisioning the story in a new way? To what extent does each version enhance readers’ understanding and experience of the original story?” Students must include evidence from all three texts in their essays.
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read the story, “The Gift of the Magi,” written by O. Henry, and in response, write an argumentative essay focused on the last paragraph of the story. The prompt is detailed and extensive, requiring students to consider multiple questions when writing the essay. Students use a graphic organizer chart to state their argument and add three rationale points supported by evidence. Students participate in Collaborative Conversation to help access the complex prompt and then share relevant ideas and evidence, as found in the Teacher Edition Instruction.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in informative/explanatory writing.
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students independently read the nonfiction text “Bessie Coleman: Woman who ‘dared to dream’ made aviation history.” by U.S. Air Force. Students answer questions after reading then engage in a Collaborative Conversation in response to the following prompt: “ How does the evidence in the article support the fact that Coleman overcame both racial and personal barriers in order to achieve success?” Following the discussion, students write an informative essay supported by textual evidence in response to the same prompt.
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read an argumentative letter “An Indian Father’s Plea” written by Robert Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzlybear) and analyze the structure of the letter, goals to be accomplished, and whether Lake-Thom supports his claim. Students complete a Skills Focus to better understand the author’s argument. Afterwards, students respond to an informative writing prompt. Students use the planning tool graphic organizer to identify key text structure to support their writing.
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read the story “Catch the Moon” written by Judith Ortiz Cofer and “The Gift of the Magi” written by O.Henry and then write a compare and contrast response. Students have the complex task of analyzing similarities and differences between characters, plot, and themes between both texts. Teacher instruction guides students through the prompt and rubric before they begin drafting.
  • Students have opportunities to engage in narrative writing.
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students apply their learning about story elements to their narrative writing during an Extended Writing Project. In preparation for the narrative writing task, students read a variety of literature, including but not limited to “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell, and “Marigolds” by Eugenia Collier. Students answer the following writing prompt: “How does belonging or not belonging in a group affect our sense of self?” Students use what they have learned in the unit to create a real or imagined narrative that shows how belonging or not belonging in a group affects a person at an important life moment.
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read Malcolm Gladwell’s argumentative text, Outliers: The Story of Success, and then write a personal response. Students must determine if success is dependent on practice or natural ability. Students use what they have read, along with their perspective and personal experiences to respond. Students begin the task with teacher instruction that navigates them through viewing a video to activate prior knowledge about high achievers. Students work together in small groups to identify the author’s thesis.
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students independently read Ama Ata Aidoo’s short story “The Girl Who Can.” After analyzing the text and engaging in a Collaborative Conversation, students write a short narrative in response to the following prompt: “Based on inferences made from details in the text, what do you think Maami would say? How would she advocate for her daughter? Write an alternative conversation between Maami and Nana in which Maami is permitted a full voice to argue for her daughter’s welfare.” After writing, students engage in a peer review to get feedback on their narratives.

Indicator 1m

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials, including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support sophisticated analysis, argumentation, and synthesis.

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

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read “Welcome to America” by Sara Abou Rashed and “I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr. Students complete a first read of “I Have a Dream” and identify and restate the key ideas and details of the text. They complete a Skill: Primary and Secondary Sources Lesson to analyze the speech. Then, they complete a Skill: Arguments and Claims Lesson in which they delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text. Next, students complete a Skill: Rhetoric Lesson in which they analyze the rhetorical devices in the speech. Finally, students complete a close reading of the speech and analyze the characteristics and structure of the speech. Students answer an argumentative writing prompt: “What evidence, appeals, and rhetorical techniques does King utilize to support and enhance his claim that the promises made in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation have not been kept with regard to people of color?” Students write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students closely read two informational texts, “Restless Genes” by David Dobbs and The Art of Choosing by Sheena Lyengar, in order to compare and contrast text structure and claims. Students provide analysis and relevant evidence in their writing to support their responses, as they compare and evaluate specific claims in each text. After reading “Overcoming Childhood Isolation and Finding His Voice: ‘You Can’t Teach Soul’” by Leon Bridges, students engage in close reading and discussion. Students write a short argumentative essay that evaluates the author’s effectiveness in using relevant details and evidence to convey the article’s central idea.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read a point/counterpoint essay called “The Origin of Intelligence” (authors not cited). Following a Close Read, students write about which argument they found to be the most persuasive. The prompt states, “Write an argumentative essay that includes a claim about which text makes a better case about intelligence. Support your position by acknowledging evidence, counterarguments, graphic features, and logical weaknesses in the arguments (such as false claims or fallacious reasoning), and use logical, emotional, and ethical appeals to convince your readers that your claim is correct.” After writing, students give peer feedback and reflect on the process.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read an excerpt from the novel, Romiette and Julio, by Sharon M. Draper to demonstrate knowledge of setting and medium. Students write a personal response about a friendship or important relationship. Their written response includes personal experiences as well as evidence from the text. Students explain how setting and medium affect interaction between new people. Students read “Remarks to the Senate in Support of a Declaration of Conscience” by Margaret Chase Smith. After rereading and discussing a model of close reading, students will be able to identify and examine textual evidence to support the analysis of both explicit ideas and inferences about the text.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students independently read the poem “Dusting” by Rita Dove. After reading, students answer a series of Think questions with short written responses, many of which require them to support their ideas with evidence from the text. For example, “What does the poet mean when she says, ‘Under her hand scrolls and crests gleam darker still?’ Use evidence from the text to support your interpretation.”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students closely read the poem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson in order to research to find answers to several questions. Students analyze the interpretations and performances of the text and conduct research based on how these versions responded to American society at the time. Students gather information and organize writing with task, purpose, and audience in mind.

Indicator 1n

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for materials including instruction and practice of the grammar and conventions/language standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application in context.

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

Materials include instruction of all grammar and conventions standards for the grade level. Some examples include:

  • Students have opportunities to use parallel structure.
    • The materials include opportunities for teachers to search for specific Skills Assignments that align to Grade 9. Teachers can use the search for new Skills Assignments or to add existing assignments to the unit using the "Add to Unit" feature. For example, Clauses—Parallel Structure includes the vocabulary terms not parallel structure and parallel structure, a Model with a Rule, and Not Parallel and Parallel examples. Students may practice the skill as a Your Turn assignment: “Group the sentences based on whether or not they have parallel structure.”
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, during the editing and publishing step of the Extended Writing Project, students engage in a Grammar Skill: Clauses—Parallel Structure lesson. Teachers provide instruction on the vocabulary terms not parallel and parallel structure. The Model section provides examples of both of the vocabulary terms. Example text from the unit is used to demonstrate parallelism and explain why the text represents parallelism. Students then practice this new knowledge by dragging and dropping not parallel and parallel examples into the correct column. Students also rewrite sentences to include parallel structures..
  • Students have opportunities to use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations.
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students complete an Extended Writing Project, which includes practicing using colons, adverb clauses, and adjective clauses correctly. Within the Edit and Publish step of the Extended Writing Project, students complete a Grammar Skill: Adjective Clauses and Adverb Clauses lesson. After learning about adjective and adverb clauses and seeing how they are used in text examples, students practice using adjective and adverb clauses correctly. The instruction follows the Vocabulary, Model, and Your Turn sections, which use a gradual release approach to support student understanding and practice. The End-of-Unit Assessment includes several questions to assess the proficiency of the standards students practice. For example, Question 30: “What change, if any, is necessary in the underlined portion in the following passage? Because he was born in Scotland in 1838, John Muir had a significant impact on modern American wilderness.”
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, during the Extended Writing Project, students complete a Grammar Skill: Clauses—Noun Clauses lesson. Students learn about the many functions of clauses and then apply this knowledge in the Your Turn section as they identify whether the bolded noun phrase in the sentence is the subject, direct object, predicate noun, or object of a preposition.
    • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, within the Edit and Publish portion of the Extended Writing project, students work on absolute phrases. After receiving instruction and seeing how the phrases are used in text examples, students practice using absolute phrases correctly. Teacher-provided instruction of the skill follows the Vocabulary, Model, and Your Turn sections, which use gradual release to support student understanding and practice.
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, during the editing and publishing step of the Extended Writing Project, students complete a Grammar Skill: Verbals—Participles and Participle Phrases lesson, during which students identify the term, form, meaning, and image of a participle phrase, and past and present participles. Students view text and explanation examples as they learn more about participles. In the Your Turn application of the skill, students identify the correct participle example to complete a sentence accurately.
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students complete an Extended Oral Project, which includes practicing using noun, verb, adjectival, and adverbial phrases correctly. The End-of-Unit Assessment includes several questions to assess the proficiency of the standards students practice. For example, Question 35: “What change, if any, is necessary with the underlined portion of the following sentence? She founded the American Red Cross in 1881 and served as its first 23-year-long president.”
  • Students have opportunities to use a semicolon (and perhaps a conjunctive adverb) to link two or more closely related independent clauses.
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, during the editing and publishing step of the Extended Writing Project, students engage in a Grammar Skill: Colons and Semicolons—Semicolons lesson, during which they begin by reviewing the definitions for independent clause and semicolon. The materials provide students with correct and incorrect examples of semicolons within a text and then rules for application. Students apply this knowledge in the Your Turn section as they choose which punctuation goes in the blank for each sentence example as they choose between semicolon, comma, or neither.
    • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students work on conjunctive adverbs during the Edit and Publish step of the Extended Writing Project. After learning about conjunctive adverbs and seeing them in examples from the text, students practice using conjunctive adverbs correctly. Teacher-provided instruction follows the Vocabulary, Model, and Your Turn sections, which uses gradual release to support student understanding and practice. Questions in the Your Turn section include “1. Which word should fill the blank in this sentence? The pastry chef started by blending butter and sugar into paste; _____, she added cream and flour in small increments.”
  • Students have opportunities to use a colon to introduce a list or quotation.
    • The materials include opportunities for teachers to search for specific Skills Assignments that align to Grade 9. Teachers can use the search for new Skills Sssignments or to add existing assignments to the unit using the "Add to Unit" feature. For example, Colons and Semicolons—Colons, introduces the vocabulary term colon, includes a Model with a Rule and Text example, and then concludes with an opportunity to practice the skill during Your Turn: “Decide where the colon should be placed. Then choose the correct answer. 3. Vernon had several chores to complete clean the bathroom, sweep the back porch, and cut the grass.”
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students work on colons during the Edit and Publish portion of the Extended Writing Project. Students complete a Skill Lesson on colons, which introduces the term and models its various uses. Students discuss the correct and incorrect ways to use a colon. Then, they complete tasks denoting where colons should be placed, changing sentences to include colons, and rewriting sentences to include colons. The instruction students receive follows the Vocabulary, Model, and Your Turn sections, which uses gradual release to support student understanding and practice.
  • Students have opportunities to spell correctly.
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, the Extended Writing Project and Grammar section address instruction in grammar and conventions standards as students write a personal informative response relating to goals and self-development. Students complete a Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules I to practice spelling correctly during the editing and publishing stage of the project. Students learn rules relating to ie and ei, prefixes and double letters, suffixes and silent e and y, and unstressed vowels. Students apply their knowledge in the Your Turn component of the lesson, where they select the correctly spelled word that accurately completes the sentence.
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students complete an Extended Writing Project. The materials include a sample student essay with examples of editing, such as correcting a spelling error. The Rubric for Informative Writing Process—Edit and Publish includes the following expectation for Conventions: “The response demonstrates a command of basic conventions. The response may include the following: some minor errors in usage, but no patterns of errors, adequate use of punctuation, capitalization, sentence formation and spelling.”
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students complete Grammar Skill: Basic Spelling Rules II in order to learn about spelling rules relating to compound words, double consonants, and -cede, -ceed, and -sede. To apply their spelling skills, students see questions such as modern + -ness and then need to drag the correct and incorrect spelled word into the correct column.
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students complete a Grammar Skill: Spelling—Commonly Misspelled Words during the editing and publishing step of the Extended Writing Project. Students use the Say It, See It, Write It, and Check It strategy as they learn to spell words. Students then sort sentences into Correct or Incorrect columns based on the spelling of the bolded word in the example sentences.

Gateway Two

Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Two Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for building knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. Texts are organized around an Essential Question and Genre Focus. The Unit Title sets the theme and connects to the Essential Question. Students engage in high-quality, coherently sequenced questions and tasks as they analyze literary elements, such as word choice, and integrate knowledge and ideas in individual texts and across multiple texts. Culminating tasks, such as the Extended Writing/Oral Project, integrate reading, writing, speaking and listening, or language and connect to the texts students read. Each unit contains a Content Vocabulary list and an Academic Vocabulary list. Oftentimes, one of the vocabulary words appears in the directions for discussion and writing prompts, and some vocabulary words repeat across texts. The year-long writing plan allows students to participate in a range of writing tasks that vary in length, purpose, and difficulty. Throughout the year, students conduct short research projects during smaller culminating tasks and long research projects during appropriate Extended Writing/Oral Projects. Students participate in independent reading that includes a range of informational and literary texts and can track their progress using Bookshelf and Reading Quizzes.

Criterion 2a - 2h

32/32

Indicator 2a

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

The StudySync materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for texts are organized around a topic/topics to build students’ knowledge and their ability to read and comprehend and analyze complex texts proficiently.

StudySync materials include opportunities for both close reading and independent reading and allowing choices for students. The materials have a logical sequence of texts that allow students to read complex texts independently and proficiently by the end of the year. The materials include texts connected by a topic and an Essential Question in each unit. The materials include six topics—Divided We Fall, The Call to Adventure, Declaring Your Genius, The Art of Disguise, The Dance of Romance, and Human Potential.

Texts are connected by cohesive topics, themes, and/or lines of inquiry. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students focus on fiction as a genre and the Essential Question, “Why do we feel the need to belong?” Ten texts connect to the theme and include opportunities to read across genres/text types, including but not limited to, the short story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” the poem “Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question,” by Diane Burns, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students explore a variety of literature as they focus on the informational genre. The unit includes selections, such as the poem “The Journey,” by Mary Oliver, the biography “Bessie Coleman: Woman who ‘dared to dream’ made aviation history,” by U.S. Airforce, and an excerpt from the memoir Wild: From Lost To Found On the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed. Students reflect on how the unit’s eleven texts connect to the unit’s Essential Question, “What will you learn on your journey?”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read a variety of fiction and nonfiction texts to explore what intelligence is and how people demonstrate it and focus on the Essential Question, “How do you define intelligence?” Students read an argumentative letter called, “An Indian Father’s Plea,” by Robert Lake-Thom. During the Text Talk assignment, students discuss how acknowledging different forms of intelligence helps them deepen their understanding of the text.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, the short story “The Pose,” by Anwar Khan, focuses on the unit’s driving question “How do we perform for different audiences?” The text demonstrates how a young woman poses in a storefront window in order to gain insight about herself perception and how others see her. Another example of a text connected to the Essential Question includes the eulogy delivered by Jawaharlal Nehru, “Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi,” where the speaker not only informs the reader of Gandhi’s life but also presents the political impact of this leader’s death.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students focus on poetry as a genre and the Essential Question, “When is love worth the fall?” Eleven texts connect to the theme, including opportunities to read across genres/text types, such as the poem “The Song of Changgan,” by Li Po, the poem “Redbird Love,” by Joy Harjo, the short story “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry, and an informational article “The Loneliness of Love in Edgar Allen [sic] Poe’s ‘The Raven.’”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, the texts focus on how humankind can help one another achieve their goals. The short story, “The Girl Who Can” fits that theme by addressing a human weakness—two thin legs—that turns into a strength—winning races—which is celebrated by the main character’s family. This text challenges the reader to use context clues in order to interpret a seven-year old’s narrated perspective.

Indicator 2b

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain sets of coherently sequenced higher order thinking questions and tasks that require students to analyze the language (words/phrases), key ideas, details, craft, and structure of individual texts in order to make meaning and build understanding of texts and topics.

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

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

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address language and/or word choice. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read an excerpt from Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt, and “analyze how the author’s language, style, and audience contributes to the study and cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone.” Examples include: “How does the author’s word choice in paragraph 48 contribute to the style and tone of the text? How does the author’s specific word choice in paragraph 50 contribute to the style and tone of the text?”
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, after rereading “Letters to a Young Poet,” by Rainer Maria Rilke, students identify relationships between words and patterns. Using a Checklist for Word Patterns and Relationships, students identify patterns of word changes. For example, use context clues to make a preliminary determination of the meaning of the word.

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

  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address key ideas and details. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read the science article “Restless Genes,” by David Dobbs. After reading, they restate the article’s key ideas and details by responding to the following prompt: “What are ‘restless genes,’ according to the article? Build a description using evidence from the text.” Students also read “Volar,” by Judith Ortiz Cofer. Students identify and describe character traits and setting details and respond to the question, “What does this detail or information reveal or suggest that is not directly stated by the author?”
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read Love in a Headscarf, by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed. Students use context clues to make predictions about the boldfaced vocabulary words and evaluate details in order to determine the key ideas of the text. Teachers may ask the following questions: What details are included? What is the purpose of each detail? How does this detail enhance my understanding of a key idea?
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address structure. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, after rereading “The Journey” by Mary Oliver, students analyze the effects of structure in poems across a variety of poetic forms. The Skill: Elements of Structure lesson includes elements such as rhyme, rhythm, meter, stanza, and open form to support students’ analysis of the text.
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” by James Weldon Johnson. Before reading, they watch a Concept Definition video on poetic elements and structure and discuss it with their peers. Then, students discuss the Skill Model, answering questions about the author’s use of capitalization and the poem’s rhyme scheme. Finally, they answer multiple choice questions about the poem’s structure: “What effect does the author’s use of longer line lengths have in lines 17–18?” “The author chooses to use apostrophes in lines 12 and 18 to—.”
  • The materials contain coherently sequenced questions and tasks that address craft. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, after engaging in a close reading and discussion of “I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr., students complete a writing prompt explaining how King utilizes evidence, appeals, and rhetoric to support and enhance his claim that the promises made in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Emancipation Proclamation have not been kept with regard to people of color.
    • In Unit 3, Declaring your Genius, after engaging in close reading and discussion of “An Indian Father’s Plea,” students analyze the author’s point of view and purpose in writing this open letter. Questions include: “How does the reader use specific details to determine the author’s purpose for writing the letter? How does the reader connect the author’s purpose for writing with the author’s point of view? How will this thinking help the reader analyze other elements of an argumentative text?”

Indicator 2c

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a coherently sequenced set of text-dependent and text-specific questions and tasks that require students to build knowledge and integrate ideas across both individual and multiple texts.

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

Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze 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, Divided We Fall, students analyze the classic short story “The Necklace,” by Guy de Maupassant, for character development, theme, and conflict. Resources provide sentence frames that help students analyze the text and Think questions, such as “Why is Madame Loisel so unsatisfied with her life in the beginning of the story?” that require evidence-based responses about the text. The tasks that students complete throughout the unit help them to respond to the final prompt, “What does this plot twist, as well as other plot details, suggest about the story’s themes? Write a thoughtful response supported by textual evidence and original commentary.”
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students independently read an excerpt from The Singularity is Near, by Ray Kurzweil. After reading, students answer various questions about the text’s structure, vocabulary, and key details. Students discuss then write in response to the following prompt: “What might be the consequences-both positive and negative-of what the author calls “the Singularity?” Prior to the discussion, write down your thoughts about this question, based on your reading of the text and personal knowledge and experience, and explain your reasoning.” The materials provide a Check for Success to guide students as they read independently.
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read “Ode to the Selfie,” by Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood, independently and demonstrate an understanding of how the poet’s use of word choice and tone convey their attitude toward and messages about the selfie. Students answer questions before the writing task, such as “Which meaning of descendant most closely matches its meaning in the following passage (lines 6–11)?” Students then complete a literary analysis to a prompt: “...what attitude toward and messages about the selfie does the poet seek to convey that renders the selfie worthy of the honor? Consider the style of the poem, the poet's word choice and tone (such as formal, casual, conversational, ironic, sad, humorous, serious) and the intended audience and purpose.”
  • Sets of questions and tasks provide opportunities to analyze across multiple texts. Examples include, but are not limited to the following:
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read the short story “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” by Karen Russell and an excerpt from Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, by Brené Brown. Students compare within and across genres, compare the value and cost of belonging, contrast themes, and explore perspectives. In the compare and contrast example, students use a compare contrast checklist of steps to determine how to compare and contrast a text to its source material along with a series of questions to analyze source material. The Skill model places two different texts side by side, demonstrating the annotations for comparing and contrasting. In the Teacher Edition, under Discuss the Skill Model, the materials provide teachers with guiding questions and possible answers to support and respond to the examples students see in the text. Students also write a literary analysis in response to the following prompt: “Both texts tell a story about the harsh consequences of not fitting into a community or group. Compare and contrast the ways in which the community in each story enhances the conflict faced by the main character and influences the theme.”
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students compare and contrast “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell and “The Origin of Intelligence,” by Point/Counterpoint to determine the effectiveness of the research studies used to support the author’s arguments. Students answer multiple-choice questions to assess their understanding of both arguments. Skill Lessons deepen their analysis of the texts. Students write an argumentative essay arguing which text structure and content are the most effective. Teacher guidance is available to help students determine what they feel is the most persuasive argument.
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry and “Catch the Moon,” by Judith Ortiz Cofer as they ponder the nature of gift-giving. Both texts have a series of independent questions and tasks as well as a writing task that requires students to compare and contrast the texts as they explore the nature of gifts. The Teacher Edition provides a Check for Success for students struggling to respond to the prompt. Students consider the power of love by reading three poems, “A Song of Changgan,” by Li Po, “The Raven,” by Edgar Allan Poe, and “How Do I Love Thee,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Students analyze the poetic elements and structures of all three texts before comparing and contrasting them in a literary analysis. Students respond to the following prompt: “What varying themes about the psychological impact of the death or extended absence of a loved one do the three poems in this grouping explore, and how do the poetic elements and structure in each help develop its mood and message? Consider the denotative and connotative meanings of keywords or phrases that convey the psychological state of the speaker in each poem.” The materials provide guiding prompts for teachers to use to jumpstart students’ discussion and writing.

Indicator 2d

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the questions and tasks support students’ ability to complete culminating tasks in which they demonstrate their knowledge of a topic through integrated skills (e.g., combination of reading, writing, speaking, listening).

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

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read a variety of literature as they seek to answer the unit’s Essential Question, “Why do we feel the need to belong?” Students explore the theme of belonging as they explore questions dealing with being excluded and being an outsider. Students read the memoir excerpt Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt along with the poem “Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question,” by Diane Burns. These text selections aid students in understanding the effects of stereotyping. After reading the memoir, students complete a Skill: Language, Style, and Audience lesson to prepare for a small culminating writing task during the Close Read lesson for Angela’s Ashes, as well as the large end-of-unit culminating task, the Extended Writing Project. For the smaller task, students discuss and respond to a literary analysis prompt: “Although it consists mainly of dialogue, this memoir excerpt contains no quotation marks. How does the author’s use of word choice and style enable readers to distinguish between the voices of the characters, give those characters personality, and establish a tone? Use original commentary to support your response.” This task integrates reading, speaking, listening, and writing skills and prepares students for the Extended Writing Project, during which they compose a narrative in response to the prompt, “How does belonging or not belonging in a group affect our sense of self?”
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students investigate the Essential Question, “What will you learn on your journey?” as they read a wide expanse of informational and literary texts. Unit texts build knowledge on the theme “The Call to Adventure,” as students explore questions such as “How do real and imagined journeys help us investigate the world and understand ourselves?” During the Extended Writing Project, students craft an informative essay to answer the question, “What can we learn as we journey through life?” The prompt for this culminating task is as follows: “From texts in this unit, select two or three individuals who embark on a journey. In an essay, describe these journeys and explain how the individuals evolve from beginning to end. As part of your explanation, develop a thesis to focus your thinking and support it with evidence about what the individuals learn and how their thinking changes even before they reach their destinations.” This task integrates reading and writing skills.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students begin the unit by reading a text set that includes two poems and a letter as they explore the concept of intelligence and investigate the Essential Question, “How do you define intelligence?” The unit culminates with an Extended Writing Project, during which students write an argumentative essay in response to the following prompt: “How should intelligence be assessed?” The first Planning assignment for the project requires students to think through a list of questions and use their list to craft a one-paragraph summary of their essay. The questions require students to determine their purpose, audience, how they will introduce their topic, their main claim about the topic, and which texts will support their claims. They must also determine rhetorical appeals, counterclaims, and their conclusion. This task integrates reading and writing skills.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read a wide variety of literature as they examine the Essential Question, “How do we perform for different audiences?” After engaging in a close read and discussion of “Remarks to the Senate in Support of a Declaration of Conscience,” by Margaret Chase Smith, students analyze the rhetorical techniques, point of view, and purpose of the document in response to a rhetorical analysis prompt. The Extended Writing Project integrates reading and writing skills as students utilize text from the unit and other sources to research a historical figure and craft a research paper in response to the question, “How can a life become a legend?”
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read a wide variety of literature as they probe the Essential Question, “When is love worth the fall?” Students consider the unit’s readings as they reflect on “how romantic love impacts those who experience it.” After selecting three unit texts that explore the influence of love in different ways, students write a literary analysis that synthesizes the ideas from the three texts selected, in order to “arrive at [their] own argument about love’s ultimate effect and explain how that effect is demonstrated in each of the selections.” This task integrates reading and writing.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read a wide range of literature as they explore the Essential Question, “How can you help others achieve their goals?” Early in the unit, students engage in a close read and discussion of “The Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst and explain how the theme of the story is developed through characterization, setting, and symbolism in response to a literary analysis prompt. Skill lessons on word meaning and theme support students’ work. During the Extended Oral Project at the end of the unit, students utilize texts from the unit and compare and contrast their experience with those of characters or individuals in the unit texts as they develop an argumentative oral presentation in response to the question, “How do others influence our development?” This task integrates reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.

Indicator 2e

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, consistent approach for students to regularly interact with word relationships and build academic vocabulary/language in context.

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

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

  • Vocabulary is repeated in contexts (before texts, in texts, etc.).
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students complete a Skill: Academic Vocabulary lesson, learning the meanings of ten Academic Vocabulary words and how the Academic Vocabulary words may be used in a variety of contexts. Terms students learn during the lesson include accuracy, draft, edit, enhance, expand, flexible, precise, style, transform, and version. A model is available for students to learn Academic Vocabulary and to help them think about the process of drafting ideas in writing. In the Your Turn section of the lesson, students answer questions: “Determine the correct vocabulary word to complete each sentence. After reading the book, Paulina will ____ a response to the story expressing her first thoughts about it.” After students complete a close read of “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” by Karen Russell, they respond to a writing prompt which includes an Academic Vocabulary term from the previous list: “Compare and contrast the ways in which the community in each story enhances the conflict faced by the main character and influences the theme.”
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, The Big Idea, which is before students begin to read the text, features the Skill lesson Content Vocabulary—Terms About Intelligence. After learning the meanings of four content vocabulary words, students recognize and use them in a Collaborative Conversation with a peer and independently craft responses incorporating their newfound vocabulary and content knowledge. Academic Vocabulary includes the following words: abstract, display, explicit, ignorance, intelligence, liberal, notion, reveal, symbol, and underlie. One of the prompts for “Señora X No More,” by Pat Mora, uses the word reveal. “What does this detail or information reveal or suggest that is not directly stated by the author?”
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students closely read the letter “Letters to a Young Poet,” written by Rainer Maria Rilke, and complete the Skill: Word Patterns and Relationships lesson to better understand unknown vocabulary. Students use two tools to develop their vocabulary skills: the model with student annotations and the skills checklist. To correctly identify and use word patterns to increase and develop vocabulary skills, students consider questions, such as “What is the intended meaning of a word? What prefixes and suffixes do I see?”
  • Vocabulary is repeated across multiple texts.
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost and write about how conflict and resolution contribute to a poem’s theme. The Read section of the lesson asks students to make predictions about words within the poem using context clues and to use descriptive language for visualization. Students analyze the author’s use of content vocabulary terms like queer and Academic Vocabulary terms such as conflict during the writing section of the lesson.
    • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students independently read Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell. The materials prompt students to use context clues to make predictions about the boldfaced vocabulary words. Examples of vocabulary words include: innate, purposefully, critical, expertise, and assimilate. During the Reading Quiz, students match each vocabulary word or phrase with its corresponding synonym. When students complete a first read of the point/counterpoint article “The Origin of Intelligence” (author not cited), the materials again prompt students to use context clues to make predictions about the boldfaced vocabulary words. These include innate, extrapolating, malleable, belied, and inundated. Students practice using the same vocabulary words during the close read of “The Origin of Intelligence.” The same term innate appears again during students' independent reading of “The Secret to Raising Smart Kids,” by Carol S. Dweck.
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, The Big Idea introduces students to the unit’s Academic Vocabulary—words that relate to running the economy such as network and revenue. The vocabulary relates to society and human potential and will help students discuss, read, and write about economic concepts. These Academic Vocabulary words are introduced at the beginning of the unit and are also addressed in multiple lessons throughout the unit, referencing what students read, talk about, and write. For instance, in the text “Letter to My Younger Self,” written by David Robinson, students revisit Academic Vocabulary and use a minimum of five of the words in their group discussion.

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

  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, after rereading Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, written by Susan Cain, students identify relationships between words and patterns of word changes. One vocabulary task in this lesson requires students to study Tier 3 vocabulary relating to words and word patterns. Students drag and drop meanings to match terms. Students continue the lesson with a Turn and Talk as they answer questions to accelerate their learning around vocabulary in their reading. One question asks students, “What do you do when you see a word you don’t know in a text?” Students demonstrate their understanding of word patterns and relationships by answering multiple-choice questions at the end of the lesson.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students complete a lesson about Academic Vocabulary—Debating with Others—in which they learn ten words: aware, conflict, cooperate, furthermore, inhibit, initiate, motive, nevertheless, presume, and whereas. A model is available to help students discuss the process of debating. Then, students complete a Your Turn section of the lesson in which they answer questions to demonstrate their understanding of the Academic Vocabulary. While reading “The Gift of the Magi,” by O.Henry, students use context clues to determine the meaning of the word inhibit. At the end of the unit, students complete a Vocabulary Review of the same Academic Vocabulary words. The model provides students with opportunities to try strategies such as “Write a rhyming couplet, or two-line poem, that includes this word at the end of one line. Rhyming can help you recall how to pronounce a word and how to use it in context. (ex. The museum’s strict time limit managed to inhibit viewers who wanted to explore the new exhibit).”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students begin the unit with a list of 10 Academic Vocabulary terms. Students complete various tasks using the words, including answering multiple-choice questions, matching visuals to the words, and writing sentences for each term. As the unit progresses, students participate in multiple discussions and are encouraged to use the Academic Vocabulary in these targeted conversations. At the end of the unit, students try a variety of strategies to demonstrate their comprehension of the terms. For example, they may “create a slide with visuals… to illustrate what a word means,” or “think of one example and non-example of a word and share their ideas with the class.” Finally, they have a discussion about themes from the unit using as many vocabulary terms as possible and write in response to the following prompt: "Reflect on your experience. How many vocabulary words were you able to incorporate? How comfortable did you feel recalling and using these words? What strategies were beneficial in learning these words, and what will you adjust in the future?”

Indicator 2f

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a cohesive, year-long plan to support students’ increasing writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the school year.

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

Writing instruction supports students’ growth in writing skills over the course of the school year, building students’ writing ability to demonstrate proficiency at grade level at the end of the year. For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read a variety of texts in this unit from fiction, informational, poetry, and argumentative. In response to those texts, students write responses such as text-dependent, short constructed, personal, and build on narrative components such as organizing, beginnings, sequencing, and description. During the Extended Writing Project, students complete the four process steps of writing by engaging in the Narrative Writing Process. In each of the lessons, students review an exemplar and complete the steps on their own. The steps include: Plan: After learning about genre characteristics and craft, students analyze a sample Student Model and plan a narrative in response to a prompt. Draft: After reading an excerpt from a Student Model draft and reviewing a writing checklist, students draft a narrative in response to a prompt. Revise: After reviewing an example of a revised Student Model, students use a revision guide to revise their narrative for clarity, development, organization, style, diction, and sentence effectiveness. Edit and Publish: After seeing an example of editing in the Student Model and reviewing an editing checklist, students edit and publish the final draft of their narrative.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students write an informative research paper in response to a prompt for an Extended Writing Project. A Model is available for students to read and annotate during the planning stage. Guidance is available as students think about what they have learned about organizing informative research, such as posing questions for consideration about purpose, audience, question, sources, and structure. Students use these questions to write a one-paragraph summary to “describe what you plan to research and inform about in this research paper.” They receive direct instruction on planning research, evaluating sources, note-taking, and more while writing in response to the following prompt: “How can a life become a legend?” Students complete prewriting activities, including evaluating research strategies and developing an organizational structure. They also read a student model and annotate for features of informative research. The essay must include at least three reliable sources.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, during the Extended Writing Project, students complete the four process steps of writing as they respond to a literary analysis prompt. In each of the lessons, students review an exemplar and complete the steps on their own. The steps include: Plan: After learning about genre characteristics and craft, students analyze a sample student model and plan a meaningful literary analysis in response to a prompt. Draft: After reading an excerpt of a Student Model draft and reviewing a writing checklist, students draft a literary analysis in response to a prompt with Skill lessons on reasons and relevant evidence, organizing argumentative writing, and thesis statement. Revise: After reviewing an example from a revised Student Model, students use a revision guide to revise their literary analysis essay for clarity, development, organization, style, diction, and sentence effectiveness to include Skill lessons on conclusions, style, transitions, and introductions. Edit and Publish: After seeing an example of editing in the Student Model and reviewing an editing checklist, students edit and publish the final draft of their literary analysis. Supports include Skill lessons on commonly misspelled words and participles and participial phrases.

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

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read independently “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost, and respond to a writing prompt. The Teacher Edition includes guidance to Check for Success: “If students struggle to respond to the prompt, ask them scaffolded questions, such as: What does the speaker notice in the woods? What words does he use to describe what he sees? What do you think the speaker learns about the woods—and himself—from this experience?”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read “Outliers: The Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell, and then write a personal response analyzing the argument presented by Gladwell. A compare and contrast graphic organizer provides support for students to gather information about the student’s perspective and Gladwell’s perspective on intelligence. Many supports are available throughout the lesson, including small group collaboration around the prompt, text talk, StudysyncTV, collaborative conversation around the prompt, and Peer Review for revision.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, after reading the text “The Loneliness of Lost Love in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven,’” by Ursula Villarreal-Moura, students write a rhetorical analysis using all the Skill lessons in the unit in order to analyze the writer’s claim and whether it is effective. Students also explain how sound devices support the claim. Materials include a graphic organizer for students to gather thoughts on claim, structure, and sound devices. The same supports are found in Unit 1 and Unit 3.

Indicator 2g

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include a progression of focused, shared research and writing projects to encourage students to develop and synthesize knowledge and understanding of a topic using texts and other source materials.

StudySync materials provide opportunities for students to engage in online research and discussion around Blast topics and cite evidence from multiple sources in Extended Writing Projects and Extended Oral Projects. Materials support teachers in employing projects that develop students’ knowledge of different aspects of a topic. The research for each Blast gives students direct links. As students work on culminating tasks that require research, the prompts give them suggestions on figures, topics, or themes to help them begin. Teacher-facing materials provide instructors with guidance on how to help struggling students complete their research, along with scaffolds to build student independence. The Extended Writing Projects and Extended Oral Projects that are at the end of the units require students to go through the entire writing process, and they work together in groups or pairs for editing and revising tasks. They are required to synthesize information from multiple texts in the unit, and must often include outside research as well. The materials provide guidance and support to teachers, including but not limited to, questions to prompt student thinking, graphic organizers to assist students, and an option for teachers to provide various scaffolds for students.

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

  • Students have opportunities to engage in “short” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students conduct informal research during the Big Idea Blast. After exploring background information, research links provide students access to sources that provide additional insight into the topic. After assigning, teachers have the option to jigsaw the research links; the materials provide guidance. Each group can research a different link and discuss the source’s information, using the following questions as a guide: “What are the source’s key ideas? What evidence from the source is new or interesting to you? How does the source help to answer the driving question?” Examples of links students can explore include but are not limited to: “What it Means to Belong,” by Aimen Ansari and “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson. Then, students write a 140-character response to the question “Why do we feel the need to belong?”
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students begin the unit with a Big Blast. They read an introduction about journeys and the impacts they may have on individuals, then write a short response to the questions posed. The Lesson Plan gives teachers the option to break students into small groups to read research links that tie to the themes presented in the Blast. The links included are “What ‘The Hobbit’ Teaches Us About Finding Our Life Quests,” by Mark McNeilly, “College Student's Secret Life: I Lived in My Car,” by Eliza Murphy, and “Life Is a Journey, Not a Destination,” by Rajan Thapaliya. Each presents an opportunity for students to research ideas about the unit’s theme in a different way. The Lesson Plan encourages teachers to use the following questions as a guide: “What are the source’s key ideas? What evidence from the source is new or interesting to you? How does the source help to answer the driving question?”
    • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students begin the unit with a Big Blast. They read an introduction that defines mentorship, then write a short response to the Blast question posed. The Lesson Plan gives teachers the option to break students into small groups to read research links that connect to the themes presented in the Blast. The links include the videos “Adam and the Peer Mentors,” and “Peer Mentoring in Secondary School,” as well as the articles “Why Mentoring Others Has Helped Me,” by Alex Lyman, “Studying Skywalkers: Mentors in the Star Wars Films,” by Dan Zehr, and “A Guide to Understanding the Role of a Mentor,” by F. John Reh. The articles and videos provide students with the opportunity to begin researching the themes that pop up throughout the rest of the unit. The Lesson Plan encourages teachers to use the following questions as a guide: “What are the source’s key ideas? What evidence from the source is new or interesting to you? How does the source help to answer the driving question?”

  • Students have opportunities to engage in “long” projects across grades and grade bands.
    • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students engage in an extended informative writing project at the end of the unit, during which students research two or three individuals from unit texts to respond to this question: “What can we learn as we journey through life?” Students utilize the lesson Skill: Supporting Details and learn about evaluating the quality of information they include in their informative writing project. In this lesson, students gather details from their research and use a graphic organizer that guides them on how to include information that will structure their writing, create focus, and develop coherency.
    • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students engage in both short-term and sustained recursive inquiry processes as they conduct research during the Extended Writing Project. During the Plan lesson, students practice annotating research writing with a Student Model. The Teacher Edition provides questions with sample answers to help students understand how to research and take notes: What information did Mia include on each source card? How did that information help Mia? What information did Mia include on each note card? How did that information help Mia? How did reviewing note cards help Mia synthesize information? After choosing a topic, Skill lessons guide students through the start of the research process, as they practice researching and notetaking.
    • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students craft a literary analysis for the Extended Writing Project. Students draw on texts they have read during the unit to answer the prompt, “Is love more of a blessing or a curse?” Students write to sources, using evidence from multiple sources. To prepare students for their work with sources, students complete Skill: Reasons and Relevant Evidence, during which they utilize a chart to identify textual evidence and observations or reactions within each text they chose as source material to develop their writing ideas. The text options are “Catch the Moon,” by Judith Ortiz Cofer, “Love and Death on the Third Floor,” by Skip Hollandsworth, and A Song of Changgan, by Li Po.

Indicator 2h

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide a design, including accountability, for how students will regularly engage in a volume of independent reading either in or outside of class.

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

For example, some examples include:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, supports are in place for independent reading, such as during the independent read of Metamorphoses, by Ovid, when the materials include guidance reminding students to monitor comprehension by “making inferences about characters and events/ideas and opinions…” “Text Talk questions help teachers gauge student comprehension of a text, but additional questions for beyond grade-level students encourage deeper consideration of a text, allowing students to begin preliminary analysis.” Another option for student self-selection is an excerpt from Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck. The StudySync Library provides an option to “Add to bookshelf” and annotate the text. The selection is an excerpt from the novel, and students should be able to complete it within the same class period. The materials do not indicate if any additional time should be allotted outside of class for students to complete the selections and what to anticipate for independent reading.
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, supports are in place for students to independently read a variety of interactive digital texts. Students independently read “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost and the text is paired with two other poems that also explore themes of the physical and figurative journeys that help us grow as individuals. Students also independently read an excerpt from Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, by Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger (with Jeffrey Zaslow) alongside an excerpt from Bessie Coleman: Woman who ‘dared to dream’ made aviation history, by the U.S. Air Force. While independently reading, guidance within the materials encourages students to annotate and identify the following: context clues for vocabulary, questions about the text, key details, and examples of descriptive language. Teacher materials provide teachers the following guidance, “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of visualizing to help increase their engagement and improve comprehension.” After completing an independent read, students assess their comprehension through a short online quiz or written response.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, supports are in place for independent reading, including pairing an independent reading selection with a core text that receives full instructional support. For example, students “Analyze Different Perspectives” when reading two texts independently, “Señora X No More,” by Pat Morak and “from ‘The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass,’” by Evie Shockley, paired with a close read of “An Indian Father’s Plea,”by Robert Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzlybear). The materials include additional supports for students to analyze author’s purpose, use of reasoning and evidence, and the text structure. The independent reading schedule also includes a Self-Selected Blast at the end of each unit. In Unit 3, the materials recommend options to select another related text by asking questions, such as “Am I interested in exploring whether practice or talent is more important when it comes to a person’s ability to succeed at a particular skills? You might enjoy the research Malcolm Gladwell shares in Outliers: The Story of Success.”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, supports are in place for students to independently read a variety of interactive digital texts. The short stories “The Pose” by Anwar Khan and “A Story of Vengeance,” by Alice Dunbar-Nelson are both read alongside texts that have Skill Lessons and Close Reads. An excerpt of Romiette and Julio, by Sharon M. Draper and the play A Doll’s House, by Henrik Ibsen are both read independently while paired with classic texts. Students independently read “We Wear the Mask,” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and the “Eulogy for Mahatma Gandhi,” by Jawaharlal Nehru; these selections are not paired with other texts. While independently reading, students are encouraged to annotate and identify the following: context clues for vocabulary, questions about the text, key details, and examples of descriptive language. Teacher materials include the following directions, “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Making Inferences to deepen their understanding of the text.” Following each independent read, students assess their comprehension through a short online quiz or written response.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, included supports grant students the freedom to choose independent reading selections through the StudySync library as they self-monitor. Examples of independent selections within the unit include but are not limited to the short story “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry, a poem “Masters of Love,” by Emily Esfahani Smith, and a sonnet “How Do I Love Thee,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Examples of self-selected texts connecting to the genre include but are not limited to: “On Her Loving Two Equally,” by Aphra Behn, “Sonnet 29,” by William Shakespeare, an excerpt from The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, or the dystopian novel Untwine, by Edwidge Danticat.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, supports are in place for students to independently read a variety of interactive digital texts to explore the Essential Question, “How can you help others achieve their goals?” “Letter to My Younger Self,” by David Robinson, an excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, “The Girl Who Can,” by Ama Ata Aidoo, and the short story “Advice to Little Girls,” by Mark Twain are read independently and alongside other texts. “Pride and Perseverance,” by Mekeisha Madden Toby and the free-verse poem “Ode to the Selfie,” by Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood are read independently without being paired with other texts. While independently reading, students are encouraged to annotate and identify the following: context clues for vocabulary, questions about the text, key details, and examples of descriptive language. Teacher materials include the following guidance, “Circulate as students read independently and encourage them to use the reading comprehension strategy of Evaluating Details to deepen their understanding of the text.” Following each independent read, students assess their comprehension through a short online quiz or written response.

Gateway Three

Usability

Meets Expectations

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Gateway Three Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for instructional supports and usability. Although the materials are well designed and include lessons that are effectively structured, the pacing of individual lessons is not appropriate. Several significant modifications would be necessary for the materials to be viable for one school year. The materials provide detailed explanations, annotations, and research-based strategies to support teacher learning and understanding of the Standards. Through the use of standards-aligned assessments, time to revisit key concepts, and target lessons, teachers can collect, interpret, and utilize ongoing data about student progress. The materials include a variety of scaffolds and strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards. Digital materials are accessible and available in multiple platforms and embedded technology is effectively used to enhance and support student learning.

Criterion 3a - 3e

5/8
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Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria for use and design to facilitate student learning. Although the materials are well designed and include lessons that are effectively structured, the pacing of individual lessons is not appropriate. Many of the lessons do not allocate sufficient time to complete all designated activities within the typical school day. The suggested amount of time for the materials is not viable for one school year, and the expectations for teachers and students are unreasonable for the suggested timeframe. Student materials include clear directions and explanations, and reference aids are correctly labeled. The materials include alignment documentation for all questions, tasks, and assessment items. The design and formatting of the teacher and student materials is not distracting or chaotic and allows for thoughtful engagement with the content.

Indicator 3a

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 partially meet the criteria that materials are well-designed and take into account effective lesson structure and pacing.

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

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, the pacing guide includes details relating to the Big Idea: “Why do we feel the need to belong?”, the multiple text readings, Skill and Standard Instruction, Additional Program Lessons for Reteaching, and Skill Practice and Spiraling. Students spend 30 days to complete Unit 1; the final two days of the unit are for review and assessment.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students complete paired reading “Señora X No More,” by Pat Mora, the poem “from The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass,” by Evie Shockley, and “An Indian Father’s Plea,” by Robert Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzlybear). Students also complete Skill and Standard lessons for author’s purpose and point of view, reasons and evidence, and informational text structure. The pacing guide recommends completing these on Days 2–6. The materials indicate that the total time for the lessons is 300 minutes, which can be more time than teachers have to complete the lessons within five days.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students explore the Essential Question, “When is love worth the fall?” The Instructional Path includes reading a variety of texts and completing tasks connected to the First Read and Close Read. Students complete a Vocabulary Review, Self-Selected Reading, and Timed Writing. The Extended Writing Project and Grammar lesson connect to the Essential Question and theme. Students also complete an End-of-Unit Assessment. The structure is similar throughout the grade level, with the exception that one of the Extended Writing Projects is an Extended Oral Project. Lesson Plans are available for each task to assist teachers with instructional routines.

Indicator 3b

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 do not meet the criteria that the teacher and student can reasonably complete the content within a regular school year, and the pacing allows for maximum student understanding.

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

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, the Unit Overview offers one suggestion for Shortcuts with materials. It states the following: "Eliminate a StudySync selection that focuses on a similar type of text as a previous lesson. For example, this unit contains the personal essay “Why I Lied to Everyone in High School About Knowing Karate” as well as excerpts from three other informational texts—Friday Night Lights, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, and Angela’s Ashes.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, the culminating task is an argumentative essay. The pacing guide allots one day for Planning, four days for Drafting, four days for Revising, and four days for Editing and Publishing. While this allows plenty of time for students to complete the writing process, there are no dedicated days for the project itself. If instructors follow the pacing guide, students should also be reading several texts and completing a variety of assignments and tasks while completing their Extended Writing Project.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, two days are allotted to complete four lessons on “The Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst. Four 40-minute lessons would be challenging to complete in two days and meet the expectations of the pacing guide. The Skill lessons prepare students to complete the culminating writing task that requires analysis of the theme and understanding of unfamiliar words. The two Skill lessons would take two days to complete leaving no days left in the pacing guide to address the first read and close read for this text.

Indicator 3c

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions, and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.)

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

The student resources include ample review and practice resources, clear directions and explanation, and correct labeling of reference aids (e.g., visuals, maps, etc.). For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students Begin the unit with a Blast that asks the students, “How will the concepts you're learning today help you later in life?” Students receive background information and answer a poll question. Students then complete Skill lessons on annotations, context clues, and reading comprehension before beginning their first read of “Marigolds,” by Eugenia Collier. Once familiar with the text, students complete additional skill lessons on text dependent responses, textual evidence, and character. Finally, students complete a Close Read of the story “Marigolds,” during which they practice the skills before responding to a narrative writing prompt and complete the final Skill lessons on collaborative conversations, short constructed responses, and peer review.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, within the Big idea, students begin with a Blast and Skill: Content Vocabulary—Terms About Intelligence, Recognizing Genre, and Academic Vocabulary. Students then begin the strategy of Analyzing Differing Perspectives by reading the poem “Señora X No More,” by Pat Mora alongside “from ‘The Lost Letters of Frederick Douglass,’” by Evie Shockley and “An Indian Father’s Plea,” by Robert Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzly Bear). The lesson instructs them on how to explore contrasting perceptions of what qualities constitute true intelligence—such as high literacy, embracing challenges, understanding the natural world, or persevering in the face of difficulty.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read “Letter to My Younger Self,” by David Robinson. A photo of Robinson is available in the text with the following credit: Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Directions for the written response following the reading are clear: “How does Robinson use language in effective and engaging ways to develop his argument to his younger self—and, in the process, to young readers in the present? In your response, consider such techniques as metaphor, repetition, and sentence structure.” The Teacher Edition provides additional reminders when using the reading comprehension strategy of Making Connections and examples using the model.

Indicator 3d

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include publisher-produced alignment documentation of the standards addressed by specific questions, tasks, and assessment items.

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

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

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read Guy de Maupassant’s classic short story “The Necklace.” After a close read, students respond to a literary analysis. Students and teachers can see that the task correlates to the standards RL.9-10.1, RL.9-10.2, RL.9-10.3, SL.9-10.1, and W.9-10.2, as this information is indicated in both student- and teacher-facing materials.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, when viewing the Grade 9 pacing guide, the first text of the unit, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking written by Susan Cain, is listed in the Grade 9 Unit 4 table under readings. The third column represents Skill and Standard Instruction. Two skills are represented, summarizing and informational text elements. Correlating standards, RI.9-10.2 and RI.9-10.3, are listed in parentheses next to the skills.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read the short stories “The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry and “Catch the Moon,” by Judith Ortiz Cofer together. The pacing guide indicates which skills and their correlating standards are targeted with the texts. Skill lessons on story structure, point of view, and theme reinforce the following standards: RL.9-10.5, RL.9-10.6, and RL.9-10.2.

Indicator 3e

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that the visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject.

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

The visual design (whether in print or digital) is not distracting or chaotic, but supports students in engaging thoughtfully with the subject. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, paired readings are enclosed in a blue dotted box. Before each story, the materials include a short explanation of what students should expect as they engage in the paired readings. Each selection includes the cover of the book featured, and students can move from regular screen mode to split-screen mode. The paired reading “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost also includes a StudySync video rendition of a Robert Frost poem.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, before reading the poem “We Wear the Mask,” by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, students read a short bio of the author and watch a video of the poem as a differentiated learning experience. The Read portion of the lesson gives them tips and strategies to use before, during, and after reading, and the poem is broken into stanzas with key vocabulary highlighted.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, during the first read of “The Scarlet Ibis” by James Hurst, students read a short bio and view a video of the story. There is also an audio button that allows the text to be read aloud. The quiz and the Think section of the digital lesson has an option to split the screen. The questions are written out clearly for the students to understand.

Criterion 3f - 3j

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for teacher planning and learning for success with CCSS. The Teacher’s Edition includes useful annotations, suggestions, and guidance on presenting content in student-facing and ancillary materials. The Teacher’s Edition also includes explanations of more advanced literacy concepts to support teachers with improving and deepening their understanding of the content. The materials explain the role of the Standards in the context of the overall curriculum and also outline the various research-based strategies used during instruction. The materials include suggestions for how parents or caregivers can support students at home, as well as suggestions for how teachers can share student progress with parents and caregivers.

Indicator 3f

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 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 the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.

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

Materials contain a teacher’s edition with ample and useful annotations and suggestions on how to present the content in the student edition and the ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read, “The Necklace,” written by Guy de Maupassant. The ELA 9th Grade Overview provides guidance and strategies to help teachers provide support to better access this short story. For example, under the category, Access Complex Text Features, the materials include guidance and strategies on the genre, sentence structure, and specific vocabulary. Under sentence structure, teachers read that they should guide students to identify the main clauses first before noting the other phrases and the information they provide.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students complete the lesson First Read: An Indian Father’s Plea. In the teacher edition of the lesson on “An Indian Father’s Plea” written by Robert Lake-Thom, the materials include a Check for Success and guidance for struggling students. If students do not understand what “evaluating details” means, teachers have a definition to guide them…“contributes to your understanding of a key idea.” Furthermore, if students continue to struggle with evaluating details, the materials include examples from the text to guide students.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, if teachers are struggling with teaching a StudySync Blast: The Dance of Romance, they can go to the “Help Center” and then to “StudySync Teaching Labs”. When they choose Integrated Reading and Writing under High School Teaching Labs, they then have several support sections, one being “Teach a Blast—High School. Here teachers find support in a six-minute video that addresses preparation, which includes turning on research links for a longer lesson. The video addresses the lesson step-by-step, providing the order of activities included in the lesson. The video then addresses the delivery of the lesson and includes strategies of how to differentiate and work with ELL students. An explanation of the jigsaw research is available in this instruction video. Teacher tips are available in bubbles throughout the video; for example, “Check out the Lesson Plan for setting expectations for peer review.”

Indicator 3g

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that contains full, adult-level explanations and examples of the more advanced literacy concepts so that teachers can improve their own knowledge of the subject, as necessary.

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

Materials contain a teacher’s edition that 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. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, in the Independent Read of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, the Access Complex Text section provides aspects of sentence structure within the text that may be challenging for students and what the teacher can do to support students. For example, in genre, students may have difficulty identifying the poem's meter. The recommendation for student support is as follows: “Tap out the syllables to show that there are four stressed syllables per line in a pattern of unstressed, stressed—which is called iambic tetrameter.”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, within the First Read of Arthur Laurent’s play West Side Story, the Connection of Ideas section discusses aspects of the text that may be challenging for students and what the teacher can do to support students. For example, the section notes that the author includes many clues to reveal the tension of the forbidden love between Tony and Maria. The recommendation for student support is as follows: “Students should synthesize information, such as Maria’s mention of Bernardo and her father, as well as Tony’s lack of understanding of her family and culture, to make inferences about the cultural divide that exists as a barrier for the lovers.”
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, the End-of-Unit Assessment provides additional guidance for teachers when grading, including an exemplary sample response for a multi-paragraph essay and explanations detailing why specific answers are correct or incorrect for multiple-choice questions. For example, “Incorrect. This sentence brings a negative, foreboding tone to the passage that is not found elsewhere in it. This is, therefore, not an effective conclusion to the passage.”

Indicator 3h

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum.

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


Materials contain a teacher’s edition that explains the role of the specific ELA/literacy standards in the context of the overall curriculum. For example, some examples include the following:

  • The Grade Level Overview states the following: “Skill lessons on Organizing Narrative Writing, Narrative Sequencing, and Narrative Techniques teach concepts specifically called out in the Common Core English Language Arts standards.” The Pacing Guide shows that the second text read, “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, covers several standards, including RL.9-10.2, RL.9-10.1, and RL.9-10.3. Lastly, the Scope and Sequence clearly shows that Reading: Informational, Reading: Literature, Language, Writing, and Speaking and Listening standards are addressed throughout the year.
  • The Instructional Path includes teacher resources, such as Lesson Plans, that demonstrate the role of specific ELA standards in each lesson. The beginning of each lesson includes a learning objective indicating what students will be able to do during and after the completion of the lesson. The materials note specific standards at the start of each lesson plan and again in each section of the lesson. The reasoning and correlating standards are located under Introduce the Text. For example, in the SyncStart lesson for “Marigolds,” by Eugenia Collier the reasoning for the activity is to “make connections to the video preview” and the correlating standards are RL.9-10.1 and SL.9-10.2.

Indicator 3i

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research based strategies.

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

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies. For example, some examples include the following:

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

Indicator 3j

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.

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

Materials contain strategies for informing all stakeholders, including students, parents, or caregivers about the ELA/literacy program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement. For example, some examples include the following:

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

Criterion 3k - 3n

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for assessment. The materials include regular and systematic formal and informal assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. Assessments clearly denote which standards are emphasized. The materials build time for revisiting key concepts into the pacing guide. Data tracking and presentation tools help teachers use the results of assessments to identify which standards and skills present particular challenges for students, as well as where students are excelling and are ready for enrichment. The materials include routines and guidance that highlight opportunities to monitor student progress. Students have two opportunities to engage in independent reading during core instruction, including self-selected reading options where students research background information that would inspire them to choose a particular text.

Indicator 3k

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress.

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

Materials regularly and systematically offer assessment opportunities that genuinely measure student progress. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, during the Close Read of “The Journey,” by Mary Oliver, students complete the Skills Focus questions that formatively assess their understanding of the unit’s genre focus and/or the standard which was the focus of the lesson. Examples for this lesson include the Skill: Poetic Elements and Structure Question: “Annotate a stanza in ‘The Journey’ to contrast its structure with the structure of a stanza in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’ After reading each stanza aloud, explain how the structure affects the pacing, mood, or meaning.” The materials provide teachers with an exemplary response to grasp the level of students’ understanding.
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students complete a Timed Writing: College Admissions lesson. During this lesson, students plan and write a response in a timed writing situation. The lesson allows time for peer review following the timed writing, which includes providing substantive feedback to two peers and students reflecting on the feedback they receive. Peer Review Instructions include but are not limited to the following: “How well does the writer clearly state his or her own perspective on the issue? How well does the writer analyze the relationship between his or her perspective and at least one other perspective?”

Indicator 3l

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

Indicator 3l.i

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized.

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

Materials offer ongoing formative and summative assessments. Assessments clearly denote which standards are being emphasized. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students independently read Sara Abou Rashed’s poem, “Welcome to America.” After reading, students answer quiz questions as a formative assessment. Questions include the following: “Which of these inferences about the speaker is best supported by the following passage (lines 3–9)?” and “The author most likely uses the following (lines 38–39) to show.” The questions allow teachers to see student mastery of CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.3, and CCRA.R.6. Students can see the standards associated with each quiz question at the bottom of their screens. The Lesson Plan also provides an answer key for teachers that shows which standards are emphasized by each question.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, teachers can utilize the Grade 9 Pacing Guide to note which standards were addressed during the summative Research Writing Project. For example, when looking at the editing and publishing component of the writing process within this project, teachers may view the skill and standard instruction to discover that L.9-10.3A and L.9-10.1B are addressed.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students complete a Close Read of an excerpt from Love in a Headscarf, by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed. The final assignment for the unit text has students write a rhetorical analysis in response to a prompt. Student-facing and teacher-facing materials denote that the assessment addresses the following standards: RI.9-10.1, RI.9-10.4, RI.9-10.6, and W.9-10.1.

Indicator 3l.ii

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow up.

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

Materials offer ongoing formative and summative assessments. Assessments provide sufficient guidance to teachers for interpreting student performance and suggestions for follow-up. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, under the Assess tab, there are 17 assessments for Grade 9, including Benchmark - Grade 9 - Forms 1, 2, and 3. These benchmarks are intended to be given to students after completing Unit 2 and then again after completing Unit 4. The assessment allows teachers to view student progress across benchmark standards in Language, Reading for Information, Reading Literature, and Writing. The Details section guides teachers to encourage students to view their scores for each question. The materials provide explanations for each question’s responses.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, during the Skill: Dramatic Elements and Structure lesson, students complete an assessment after rereading, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene II), written by William Shakespeare. Students take the Your Turn multiple choice quiz, which provides the teacher with information about students' understanding of dramatic elements and structure. The lesson plan provides teachers with an answer key to guide students in their understanding of the skill.

Indicator 3m

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress.

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

Materials should include routines and guidance that point out opportunities to monitor student progress. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, in the independent read of “The Future in My Arms” by Edwidge Danticat, at the end of the lesson, students write a personal letter that demonstrates their understanding of how their own experiences and hopes may parallel the author. The Lesson Plan includes checks for understanding, such as a Text talk, reading comprehension questions, and Collaborative Conversations that are designed to ensure students have the knowledge to complete the objective of the lesson. For example: “Text Talk—What is Danticat worried will happen if her niece is born while Danticat is away for the summer?” and “Collaborative Conversation—Post the writing prompt to generate a discussion in small groups. Ask students first to break down the prompt.”
  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, teachers can chart outcomes toward key learning standards when students complete an Extended Writing Project. Students follow a consistent Instructional Path with each unit, including Plan, Draft, Revise, and Edit and Publish. Teachers can track student growth toward proficiency of grade level reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language standards throughout the informative writing process.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read an excerpt from To Kill a Mockingbird independently, and teachers can review the answers to quiz questions to determine students' ability to read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences to it: “Which of the following inferences is best supported by the first paragraph of the excerpt?”

Indicator 3n

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation.

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

Materials indicate how students are accountable for independent reading based on student choice and interest to build stamina, confidence, and motivation. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students read a Blast background text that dives into the unit’s texts and Essential Question, “Why do we feel the need to belong?” Students view a variety of options for their self-selected reading, each of which is available in the StudySync library. Guidance includes a series of questions to support students in determining which of the self-selected texts would be the best fit. For example, “Am I interested in the theme of belonging? Do I want to learn more about other ways in which human beings unit through emotions? If so, we recommend, ‘If.’”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read a Blast background text that dives into the unit’s texts and Essential Question, “How do you define intelligence?” Students view a variety of options for their self-selected reading, each of which is available in the StudySync library. Guidance includes a series of questions to support students in determining which of the self-selected texts would be the best fit. For example, “After reading Senator Michael Johnston’s ‘Convocation Remarks at Harvard University,” am I interested in advice given to those about to embark on a new period in their lives? Then we suggest ‘Farewell Address,’ George Washington’s public letter at the time of his retirement.”
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students read a Blast background text that dives into the unit’s texts and Essential Question, “When is love worth the fall?” Students view a variety of options for their self-selected reading, each of which is available in the StudySync library. Guidance includes a series of questions to support students in determining which of the self-selected texts would be the best fit. For example, “Do you enjoy choose-your-own-adventure-style stories, where you pick the ending? Do you consider yourself to be a good judge of human nature? If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions, then ‘The Lady, or the Tiger?’ is the story for you.”

Criterion 3o - 3r

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for differentiated instruction. The materials include a number of scaffolds and strategies to support the needs of a range of learners. Support for English learners is differentiated by ability levels. Both English learners and students who need additional support will benefit from technology supports, such as audio with variable speed, audio text highlight, and supplemental language. Opportunities for students to investigate grade-level content at a greater depth occur during small group instruction. Suggestions for grouping students are outlined in each lesson plan and activity.

Indicator 3o

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners, so the content is accessible to all learners and supports them in meeting or exceeding the grade-level standards.

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

Materials provide teachers with strategies for meeting the needs of a range of learners so that they demonstrate independent ability with grade-level standards. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, during the first read, students independently read and annotate an excerpt of “The Journey,” by Mary Oliver. The lesson plan also provides teachers with instructions on how to accommodate all levels of ELL with their reading. For example, Beginning and Intermediate ELL students read the ELL text synopsis instead of the text. Teachers encourage students to use a dictionary or thesaurus as they read. Approaching, Advanced, and Advanced-High ELL students use the visual glossary for support as they read.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, after students complete the independent read of The Singularity Is Near by Ray Kurzweil, they engage in a Text Talk. The materials provide an additional Text Talk extension activity for Beyond-grade-level students. “Ask each Beyond-grade-level student to write one additional discussion question. Then, have one or two students facilitate a discussion, using their questions to guide the conversation.”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, as students prepare to read the excerpt from Maus by Art Spiegelman, the teacher shares information with them to provide context and create an accessible entry point for the text. Examples of shared information include: “In Maus, Art Spiegelman tells the story of his parents’ experiences before, during, and after the Holocaust. He also explores his own relationship with his father. Since he is a comic book artist, he chose to use the form of the graphic novel to tell the story. The format allows him to combine visuals and text to explore the emotions and experiences of his characters.”

Indicator 3p

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly provide all students, including those who read, write, speak, or listen below grade level, or in a language other than English, with extensive opportunities to work with grade level text and meet or exceed grade-level standards.

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

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

Indicator 3q

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level.

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

Materials regularly include extensions and/or more advanced opportunities for students who read, write, speak, or listen above grade level. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students complete the First Read of an excerpt from the memoir Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt. The Lesson Plan offers suggestions for differentiation with Beyond-grade-level readers. For example, to support the development of background knowledge and cultural awareness, the materials suggest Beyond students complete Writer’s Notebook Roulette. Teachers give students time to “free-write and build on classmates’ ideas in their Writer’s Notebooks in response to the following question: ‘Should world leaders make it their mission to eliminate outbreaks of typhoid and other infectious diseases, even if their own countries are not widely affected? Why or why not?’”
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students complete a Skill: Story Structure lesson to analyze “The Cask of Amontillado,” by Edgar Allan Poe. The Teacher Edition provides suggestions for differentiation with Beyond-grade-level readers. For example, students can draw on learning from previous lessons, and teachers “challenge students to write down in their Writer’s Notebooks misconceptions their peers might have about non-linear plots as compared to linear plots.” Additional guidance is available for teachers, such as “Have students meet to choose the two or three misconceptions they think are the most common. Then, have students present these misconceptions to the class.”
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students independently read “The Girl Who Can,” by Ama Ata Aidoo. The Lesson Plan offers suggestions for differentiation with Beyond-grade-level readers, such as a Writer’s Notebook Roulette: “Give students time to freewrite and build on classmates’ ideas in their Writer’s Notebooks in response to the following question: ‘What qualities might children possess that enable them to be effective teachers to adults at times?’ Each student will be given two minutes to respond in his or her own notebook. At the end of two minutes, they will pass their notebooks to the student on their left. Students will be given time to read what was written and one minute to add more information. Switch one more time.”

Indicator 3r

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.

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

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies. For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 2, The Call to Adventure, students read an excerpt from Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. During the Collaborative Conversation activity, students form groups to discuss a prompt before writing a response. The Lesson Plan encourages teachers to “work directly with Beginning and Intermediate students as a group. Use the discussion guide and speaking frames to facilitate the discussion.”
  • In Unit 3, Declaring Your Genius, students read “An Indian Father’s Plea,” written by Robert Lake-Thom. During the First Read, students read and annotate “on their own.” Student guidance encourages the use of the annotation tool as they read with three specific purposes in mind. As students independently work, the teacher moves around the room and checks for success while providing definitions to key terms and showing examples of annotation ideas.
  • In Unit 6, Human Potential, students read the short story “The Scarlet Ibis,” by James Hurst. After a Close Read, students work in groups to discuss the text and annotate the first Skills Focus prompt. The Lesson Plan suggests that teachers allow English Level Learners to continue working in groups for the remaining three Skills Focus prompts. Teacher guidance includes, “Work directly with students to read and annotate the paragraphs identified in the differentiated Skills Focus questions. You may wish to model the annotation for the first one or two paragraphs. Then, allow students to finish annotating in groups. Focus on questions 1 through 4.”

Criterion 3s - 3v

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

The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria for effective technology use. Digital materials are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices. Embedded technology, such as polls, options to post ideas, and videos, enhance student learning. Teachers can customize learning opportunities and experiences to meet individual needs. Teachers can also customize assignments according to student interests and abilities. The materials include a number of digital collaborative opportunities. Students provide feedback to and receive feedback from their peers as they complete writing prompts online. The program also includes several features that mimic a social media style of communication.

Indicator 3s

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials (either included as supplementary to a textbook or as part of a digital curriculum) are web-based, compatible with multiple internet browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, etc.), “platform neutral” (i.e., Windows and Apple and are not proprietary to any single platform), follow universal programming style, and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.

StudySync materials are accessible on multiple devices, including tablets and mobile devices, and most Internet browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. StudySync’s instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language may be delivered digitally and includes opportunities for collaboration, writing, research, and assessment using technology, all supplemented with print options. The digital format and accessibility allow flexibility for blended courses. StudySync offers a Blended Learning video series, with Caitlin Tucker, to assist teachers in navigating the program and exploring instructional strategies. For example, some examples include the following:

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

Indicator 3t

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

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials support effective use of technology to enhance student learning, drawing attention to evidence and texts as appropriate.

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

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

Indicator 3u

Materials can be easily customized for individual learners.
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
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that digital materials include opportunities for teachers to personalize learning for all students, using adaptive or other technological innovations.

StudySync materials allow teachers to customize assignments in a variety of ways to meet the needs of diverse learners. Teachers can create groups and communities of students, making changes from assignment to assignment. Teachers can customize their instructional programs by assigning texts, lessons, and activities to their students directly from the site. Samples, such as Assessment (Review Prompt) and Assignment Detail (Instructions/Teacher’s note), are available to assist teachers when creating these customizations. For example, some examples include the following:

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

Indicator 3u.ii

Materials can be easily customized by schools, systems, and states for local use.
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials can be easily customized for local use.

StudySync materials provide the opportunity to customize according to teacher preference and student need. Scaffolds include Lesson-Specific Scaffolds and Tech-Enabled Scaffolds. Print and digital resources are interchangeable for classrooms that share devices, and device-free structures are available. Consumables are available to allow students to annotate and interact with text, and these same features are available digitally. Teachers may also create student groups with specific customizations for assignments. Materials are available to print in Braille as an accessibility feature and accommodation. Additional guidance for teachers on how to utilize accessibility features and accommodations for students with diverse needs is available in the Program Guide. For example, some examples include the following:

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

Indicator 3v

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g. websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.)
0/0
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Indicator Rating Details

The StudySync instructional materials reviewed for Grade 9 meet the criteria that materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.)

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

Materials include or reference technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.). For example, some examples include the following:

  • In Unit 1, Divided We Fall, students complete an introductory Blast. They read background information then answer the guiding question: “How will the concepts you're learning today help you later in life?” After writing a 140-character response, students anonymously comment and rate one another’s posts. This peer review happens in real-time, as students can see responses to their posts as they upload the page.
  • In Unit 4, The Art of Disguise, students read “Remarks to the Senate in Support of a Declaration of Conscience,” written by Margaret Chase Smith and develop background knowledge and cultural awareness in reference to the speech through an online search. To familiarize students with the concept of McCarthyism, students work in small groups for five minutes finding keywords that relate to the concept. Student groups share out results, and the information is collected on the board.
  • In Unit 5, The Dance of Romance, students complete a self-selected Blast at the end of the unit. They read background information then answer the guiding question, “What more about the subject matter are you in the mood to read in this moment?” After writing a 140-character response, students anonymously comment and rate one another’s posts. This peer review happens in real-time, as students can see responses to their posts as they upload the page.
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Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 09/03/2020

Report Edition: 2021

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

About Publishers Responses

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

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

The publisher has not submitted a response.

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

Educator-Led Review Teams

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

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

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

Rubric Design

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

Advancing Through Gateways

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

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

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

ELA HS Rubric and Evidence Guides

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

For ELA, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

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

  • Building Knowledge with Texts, Vocabulary, and Tasks

  • Instructional Supports and Usability

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

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

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

Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment to the standards. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?

Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. 

In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

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

For ELA and math, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to college- and career-ready standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

For science, alignment ratings represent the degree to which materials meet expectations, partially meet expectations, or do not meet expectations for alignment to the Next Generation Science Standards, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.

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

Math K-8

Math High School

ELA K-2

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ELA High School

Science Middle School

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