- Copyright Type
- Print Version
- Estimated number of pages:
- Digital Version
- Estimated number of click or scroll pages:
The quality review is the result of extensive evidence gathering and analysis by Texas educators of how well instructional materials satisfy the criteria for quality in the subject-specific rubric. Follow the links below to view the scores and read the evidence used to determine quality.
Section 1. English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) Alignment
TEKS Student %
TEKS Teacher %
ELPS Student %
ELPS Teacher %
Section 2. Texts
Section 3. Literacy Practices and Text Interactions
Section 4. Developing and Sustaining Foundational Literacy Skills
Section 5. Supports for All Learners
Section 6. Implementation
Section 7. Additional Information
|Grade||TEKS Student %||TEKS Teacher %||ELPS Student %||ELPS Teacher %|
The materials include well-crafted texts, representing the quality of content, language, and writing produced by experts in various disciplines. The materials include increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and multicultural, diverse texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, Ernest Hemingway’s “A Day’s Wait,” used as the anchor text, documents a young boy’s misunderstanding about a thermometer reading, which causes him to believe that he is about to die. The extension/connection text titled “Mars Climate Orbiter Team Finds Likely Cause of Loss” is a challenging press release from NASA that describes how a misunderstanding about units of measure affected a Mars space mission.
Unit 3 contains mainly literary nonfiction (memoirs and biographies), including Annie Dillard, Arthur Ashe, and Amy Tan, a Chinese-American author. In Amy Tan’s “Fish Cheeks,” she recounts a story from her childhood when a non-Chinese friend comes over. The narrator is embarrassed by how her family follows traditional customs different from the dominant American culture. The story illustrates the immigrant experience through the eyes of an adolescent.
In Unit 4, the materials’ main focus is informational texts, and students begin by reading a scientific essay by Robert Jastrow titled “The Size of Things.” As they read the essay, students are introduced to several terms, such as conclusively, deduce, diffuse, and void, and have the opportunity to keep track of new information they learn as they read. Students read the lyrical poem “Achieving Perspective” by Pattiann Rogers, a poet who typically writes poems that explore science’s nature and principles. With these two texts, students make connections within and across texts and read about scientific principles through a form not usually used to explore science. Unit 4 also provides students an opportunity to explore visual media by including an excerpt from The National Audubon Society’s “The Sibley Guide to Birds” by David Allen Sibley. This visual media is rich with vocabulary and context, allowing students to interpret images with text features and introducing them to words like Meleagris gallopavo and the scientific symbols for male and female. By presenting various ways students will encounter information in their everyday lives, the materials give students several opportunities to collect and internalize information.
The poems of Units 5 and 6 also contain a variety of voices across time periods. Selections are included from Longfellow, Carroll, Frost, Poe, Hughes, Randall, and Mirikitani. Unit 6 includes a poem from the Harlem Renaissance, “Mother to Son,” written by a leader of the movement, Langston Hughes, where the speaker shares advice about life.
The dramas in Unit 7 range from a Shakespearean monologue, to Scrooge and Marley, to a Neil Simon play based on a story by Anton Chekov. The “St. Crispin’s Day Speech” from Shakespeare’s Henry V was written in the late 1500s in the theatrical language of that time period, such as “Old men forget yet all shall be forgot.” This unit also includes “A Defenseless Creature” by Simon, a contemporary 20th-century drama.
The materials focus on various texts throughout, ending in Unit 8, focusing on folk literature. Students read the Greek myth “Persephone and Demeter” and practice monitoring their comprehension by asking questions as they read. Students are introduced to the terms barren, radiant, avenging, and cleft, among others, and have several opportunities to make connections to the characters and their experiences while reading. Students also read a Yoruban Folktale retold by Judith Gleason, the Egyptian myth “The Secret of Ra” retold by Geraldine Harris, the hymn “Akhenaten's Hymn to the Sun,” an oral history of the Trail of Tears titled “Tsali of the Cherokees,” and even a magazine article by Christine Graff titled “Moving West: A Native American Perspective.” The range of texts, from traditional, classical, and contemporary by diverse authors, gives students several opportunities to experience multiple perspectives while accessing new vocabulary and various higher-order thinking skills.
The materials include a variety of text types and genres across content that meet the requirements of grade 6 TEKS. The text types include realistic fiction, adventure stories, historical fiction, humor, myths, sufficient informational text, and graphic features throughout the material.
Examples of literary texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of informational texts include but are not limited to:
Examples of print and graphical features include but are not limited to:
In Unit 1, the short story “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry includes pictures and pull quotes set out in yellow. These help to support the readers’ interaction and comprehension of the text.
In Unit 2, ‘‘Hollywood and the Pits” by Cherylene Lee features actual photos of fossils to accompany the text, which tells of a girl who spends time digging fossils in the La Brea Tar Pits outside of Los Angeles.
In Unit 4, the essay “Ships in the Desert” by Al Gore includes images, pull quotes, and footnotes that include definitions of words students may not yet know. These aid in student understanding of the text.
In Unit 8, the Greek myth “Persephone and Demeter,” retold by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, uses images and footnotes with definitions of vocabulary students may not yet know.
The materials include a text complexity analysis with Lexile levels. Texts are at the appropriate quantitative levels and qualitative features for the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Included with the materials, at the start of each unit, is a “Scope & Sequence” guide. This guide included the titles and page locations of the texts students read in the unit and other information about the texts. In the Unit Scope and Sequence, there is a table with a column labeled “Reading Support/Text Complexity.” This column provides the Lexile level for each reading selection, along with the publisher descriptor of “Easy,” “Moderate,” or “Challenging.” However, the publisher does not explain the process for determining the text descriptors. It also includes a word count for each selection. For most of the texts within each unit, the materials identify “Difficulty Considerations,” elements of the text that make the text more complex, and “Ease Factors,” elements of the text that make the text easier to comprehend. The publisher provides reading skills and graphic organizers that pair well with the text in other columns.
The texts range from Lexiles 660L to 1460L. Each text is also labeled with the publisher’s difficulty descriptor. The majority of the texts included in each unit are labeled Moderate. Also included in each unit are texts labeled Easy and Challenging.
In Unit 1, two texts are labeled Easy, ten are labeled Moderate, and two are labeled Challenging. The Lexiles range from 660L to 1360L. The anchor text, “A Day’s Wait,” by Ernest Hemingway, has a Lexile of 805L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Considerations listed as dialogue, and Ease Factor listed as length.
In Unit 4, three texts are labeled Easy, two Moderate, and four Challenging. The scientific essay, “The Size of Things,” by Robert Jastrow, has a Lexile of 1210L, Text-Complexity rating of Challenging, Difficulty Considerations listed as concepts and vocabulary, and Ease Factor listed as the reading model. The visual media, “The Sibley Guide to Birds,” by David Allen Sibley, has a Lexile of 1280L and a Text-Complexity rating of Easy. The historical essay, “The Face of the Deep is Frozen,” by Jennifer Armstrong, has a Lexile of 1150L, Text-Complexity rating of Challenging, Difficulty Considerations listed as concepts and vocabulary, and Ease Factor listed as gripping content.
The Unit 4 anchor text, “Ships in the Desert,” by Al Gore, has a Lexile of 1460L, Text-Complexity rating of Challenging, Difficulty Considerations listed as concepts, vocabulary, and sentence length, and Ease Factors listed as vivid imagery.
In Unit 8, eight texts are labeled Easy, eight texts are labeled Moderate, and one text is labeled Challenging. The Greek myth, “Persephone and Demeter,” retold by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’ Aulaire, has a Lexile of 1020L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factor listed as length. The Yoruban folktale, “Eshu,” retold by Judith Gleason, has a Lexile of 840L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Considerations listed as content and confusing ending, and Ease Factor listed as dialogue. The oral history, “Tsali of the Cherokees,” retold by Alice Lee Marriot, has a Lexile of 820L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factors listed as sympathetic narrator and plot. The Chinese folktale “We Are All One” by Lawrence Yep has a Lexile of 730L, Text-Complexity rating of Easy, Difficulty Consideration listed as setting, and Ease Factors listed as manageable segments and dialogue.
The Unit 8 anchor text, “Tsali of the Cherokees,” by Norah Roper and Alice Lee Marriot, has a Lexile of 820L, Text-Complexity rating of Moderate, Difficulty Consideration listed as vocabulary, and Ease Factors listed as sympathetic narrator and plot.
The materials contain questions and tasks that support students in analyzing and integrating knowledge, ideas, topics, themes, and connections within and across texts. Most questions and tasks build conceptual knowledge, are text-specific/dependent, target complex elements of the texts, and integrate multiple TEKS. Questions and tasks require students to connect to personal experiences, other texts, and the world around them and identify and discuss important big ideas, themes, and details.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Program Overview,” the resource outlines its “Developing Critical Thinking Skills with Text-Dependent Questions.” It outlines how it uses Bloom’s and Anderson’s taxonomies to develop the questions. The Program Overview outlines how texts are grouped for students to make text-to-text connections. The resource outlines how an anchor text, a primary source connection, an informational text connection, and a literary connection are set up to scaffold students in making text-to-text connections.
In Unit 1, while reading “A Day’s Wait” by Ernest Hemingway, the resource provides teachers questions to assist with close reading. For example, one set of questions asks students to conclude with questions such as “what this interaction might reveal about the boys’ emotions.” Teachers also ask questions that help students connect to the subject matter of the short story, including “What is it like to stay in bed with an illness or injury?” Later in Unit 1, while reading “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry, students answer “Close Reading” questions such as “What do the setting details suggest about possible conflicts in the story?” and “In what way did the setting affect the resolution?” These questions ask students to analyze literary elements and make inferences about their interactions.
In Unit 4, students compare texts and make connections between The Sibley Guide to Birds by David Allen Sibley and the essay “Wild Turkey” by John James Audubon. They then identify how Sibley’s “Wild Turkey” entry helps readers visualize the turkey Audubon describes. Also, In Unit 4, after reading the anchor text “Ships in the Desert” by Al Gore, students answer text-dependent questions in the “Find Meaning” and “Make Judgments” sections following the text. Students answer questions such as “What does this evidence suggest about air pollution?”
In Unit 6, students compare two poems, “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. Students recall love stories previously read and analyze the stories’ elements.
In Unit 8, while reading the anchor text “Tsali of the Cherokees” by Norah Roper and Alice Lee Marriott, the teacher asks students to answer questions about making inferences and the author’s purpose. The questions, found in the Close Reading section of the Teacher Edition, include “Why would Cherokees say hope is the cruelest curse of mankind?” and “Discuss the author’s purpose and the shifting point of view.” Teachers also prompt students to make both science and social studies connections—including how the story relates to Indian removal and panning for gold.
The materials include questions and tasks that support students’ analysis of the literary/textual elements of texts by asking students to analyze, make inferences, and draw conclusions about the author's purpose. Students also compare and contrast the author’s purposes and analyze the author’s choices and how they influence and communicate meaning. The materials also ask students to study the language within texts to support their understanding.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, students are asked to analyze two works, “The 11:59” by Patricia McKissack and “The Information Text Connection, A Long Hard Journey” by Patricia and Frederick McKissack. These are both Close Reading models in which students read a piece three times and examine different aspects each time. Students write a creative dialogue in a narrative paragraph. By creating a timeline of the events in the piece, and a chart to organize the details, students must make inferences about the authors’ purpose. The contrast between a narrative story and an informative piece further supports understanding while the students differentiate between the literary types.
Students identify the author's purpose and infer the author's perspective while reading the short story “Amigo Brothers” by Piri Thomas in Unit 2. Teachers remind students what the author’s purpose is. Teachers explain that to figure out Piri Thomas's purpose, students must look at details that describe characters and events and ask, “What is Thomas's reason for using these details?” Students also identify what a wave between two characters suggests about the author’s perspective on true friendship.
In Unit 4, after reading the anchor text “Ships in the Desert” by Al Gore, students answer the following question: “Why do you think the author provides statistics of how many species are lost each year?” In Unit 4, while reading “The Five ‘Wanderers’ of the Ancient Skies” by Dennis Brindell Fradin, students answer questions such as “Based on the word concocted, what is the author’s opinion of Ptolemy’s explanation?” The resource also provides the “Find Meaning” and “Make Judgments” questions, such as “How do the five wanderers differ from constellations?” and “Are our modern explanations of the solar systems primarily cultural or primarily scientific?”
In Unit 5, after reading the poem “Under the Apple Tree” by Diana Rivera, students respond to the following question: “How does the poet use this image to help conclude the poem?” The students must analyze the literary element used here and determine the author’s purpose. Students then read an excerpt from the essay “The Botany of Desire” by Michael Pollan and compare how both the poet and the essay writer address nature’s topic.
In Unit 6, two narrative poems are provided for comparison. These are “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe and “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes. Students find the elements of conflict, the climax, and resolution in the literary form of narrative poetry. The steps of analysis, making inferences, and drawing conclusions are all practiced within these pieces.
During the reading of the Unit 7 drama, “A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley” by Israel Horovitz, students analyze the plot and use Close Reading strategies by concluding. While reading scene 1, the teacher asks students to explain what role Marley plays in the plot’s exposition. In the same scene, the teacher asks students if they know what the expression “keep your nose to the grindstone” means and has students use their knowledge of that expression, as well as what they learn about Scrooge in this speech, to determine what Marley means when he calls Scrooge “England's most tightfisted hand at the grindstone.”
The materials include a year-long plan for building academic vocabulary, including ways to apply words in appropriate contexts. The materials also include scaffolds and supports for teachers to differentiate vocabulary development for all learners.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The additional materials include a resource for teachers titled “Vocabulary and Spelling.” This resource is available as an electronic resource and a printed book. The resource contains 32 lessons designed to be used each week by teachers in their language arts classroom. These lessons can be used alone, or they can also be used as a supplement to the “Vocabulary and Spelling Workshops” included in the student and teacher materials. Each unit in the Vocabulary and Spelling resource includes a “Word of the Week,” “Try it Yourself,” “Just for Fun,” “Tip” boxes, “Academic Vocabulary,” and “Time Out for Test Practice.” The Word of the Week includes a word from the student textbook’s corresponding unit to highlight interesting or meaningful topics. The Try it Yourself section of the weekly lesson follows a grammar study of one or more topics and includes ways for students to practice the study topics independently. The Just for Fun section of the weekly lesson has activities to encourage students to play around with words and language. Several Tip boxes are embedded in the margins of the teacher resource to help teachers by giving clear definitions, additional information, and helpful suggestions. The Academic Vocabulary activities in the lessons’ margins help teachers review academic vocabulary words in each unit. In the Time Out for Test Practice section of the lesson, students can practice what they learned in the lesson in a multiple-choice, test-format question.
At the beginning of each unit, the resource includes a “Building Vocabulary” section, which contains a list of “Words in Use” with the sub-categories “Preview Vocabulary,” “Selection Words,” and “Academic Vocabulary.” There is also a list labeled “Key Terms.” The words on these lists are found throughout the unit within the selections and instructional material.
In Unit 1, students set up their notebooks to collect words they learn as they progress through the year. Students practice locating words to enter into their notebooks. The highlighted word of the week is ravenous. The Time Out for Test Practice for Unit 1 provides students with ten multiple-choice questions in a test format to check their understanding of the unit’s lessons. In Unit 1, the Tip boxes provide additional information about why someone would set up a word study notebook and places that students may find words to add to their notebook.
Unit 4 of the Vocabulary and Spelling resource begins with a lesson about context clues. In this lesson, students read excerpts from the essay “Ships in the Desert” by Al Gore and practice using context clues to derive unknown words’ meaning. The highlighted word from the unit for the week is obscure. The Time Out for Test Practice for Unit 4 includes text selections and nine multiple-choice, test-formatted questions for students to demonstrate their understanding of the unit lessons’ concepts. In Unit 4, the teacher Tip boxes provide teachers with additional information about signal words they can share with students.
Unit 8 of the Vocabulary and Spelling resource includes a lesson about figurative language. Students read definitions of figurative language and idioms and practice defining various idioms. The highlighted term for the week is manifestation. The Time Out for Test Practice included at the end of the Unit 8 Vocabulary and Spelling resource lessons is a twenty-question, test-formatted, multiple-choice assessment. The teacher Tip boxes in Unit 8 provide information about telling when writers are using figurative language and providing additional details about Latin roots.
The materials include procedures and protocols, along with limited support for teachers, to foster independent reading. Materials provide a plan for students to self-select texts and read independently for a sustained period of time but lack structured accountability for achieving independent reading goals. Students have limited choices for self-selection outside of listed titles within each unit.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the materials titled “Program Planning Guide,” there is a “Reading Log” graphic organizer. The log includes a place for students to write the date, the title of the book they are reading, the author of the book they are reading, the page they started on, the page they stopped on, and summaries or reactions.
At the end of each unit, the materials present a list of suggested texts for independent reading. This list is titled “For Your Reading List” and encourages students to select from the list and read for blocks of time over the next few days or weeks. There is also guidance for students to consider as they read.
The “Story Share Library” is a digital library targeted at students who read below grade level. The teacher can assign selections and give the students choices to select what they are interested in reading. These selections are designed for the reader who is older but reading below grade level. Students can search by topic or by grade level so that independent reading is accessible to all students. The teacher can track progress with the resources available in the materials’ platform.
In Unit 2, some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg, Holes by Louis Sachar, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, and Romiette and Julio by Sharon Draper. The teacher helps students link their reading to the unit theme, Learning Values. The teacher asks how citation can teach human values and model a response.
In Unit 6, some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are Poetry for Young People: William Carlos Williams by Christopher MacGowan, Laughing Out Loud, I Fly: Poems in English and Spanish by Juan Felipe Herrera, I Am Wings: Poems About Love by Ralph Fletcher, and Poetry for Young People: Walt Whitman by Jonathan Levin.
In Unit 8, the materials suggest that students consider their purpose as they read to help them gain a deeper understanding of the text. Some of the suggested texts for students to select from for their independent reading are Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folk Tales by Neil Philip, The Four Corners of the Sky by Steve Zeitlin, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle, and The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico by John M. D. Pohl.
The materials provide students opportunities to write literary, informational, and argumentative texts and correspondence.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Language Arts Handbook” supports students in writing various genres, including adventure, autobiography, brochure, comedy, eulogy, history, and itinerary. Student instruction continues with steps to “Gather Ideas” to “Organize Your Ideas” and tips on performing these tasks. Two examples are given to students for an argumentative essay and an informative essay. Writing skills are detailed, giving students a general plan to develop their writing. Short instructions are given to consider when composing writing pieces. General writing plans that include prewriting, drafting, revising, and presenting, followed by reflecting, are detailed for students to guide them while carrying out other assignments. Differences in narrative, argumentative, descriptive, and informative writing are given to students to help decide which fits their purpose for any given assignment. General instructions are given regarding writing a series of drafts through stages of developing an essay, ending with “evaluating your draft.” Students are given suggestions to use peer review in coming to a final revision, and the product is complete.
In the Language Arts Handbook, “Research Skills” instructions guide students to use search engines and include needed elements for an informative research paper. In the “Research and Documentation” section, students receive pointers to write an informative research paper. Details for writing citations for various sources are given. Basic instructions for footnotes and endnotes are provided. Within the Language Art Handbook, a section called “Applied English” gives students instructions in composing a business letter. Tips for a business letter in its format and tone are given. How to address the letter and the salutation to use are given to students in several short paragraphs in a general form. Students are given guidelines such as to make an outline for the main points and to use the standard format used for business letters. Pointers are given to students for the opening and ending of the letter. Students are instructed to use a formal tone, but no examples are provided.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “The 11:59” by Patricia McKissack, and the “Creative Writing” task found in the “Extend Understanding” portion of the materials has students write dialogue from the perspective of the character Lester, detailing how he was able to outsmart Death in the story. Students should try to mimic the storytelling style O. Henry uses for Lester in his story. In the “Narrative Writing” task in the Extend Understanding portion of the materials, students write a paragraph sharing details about Lester’s life and personality that could be read at his funeral. Later in the unit, students read the short story “The Inn of Lost Time” by Lensey Namioka. In the Creative Writing task, students write a descriptive paragraph from the point of view of the character Tokubei to aid the police with identifying the innkeepers. To ensure their piece is accurate, students must use textual evidence to support their description. In the “Critical Literacy” task for the same short story, students write questions they would ask the character Tokubei to get him to reveal his side of the story. To craft these questions, students must understand the details missing from the story that Tokubei could effectively fill in.
After reading the short story “The War of the Wall” by Toni Cade Bambara in Unit 1, the “Informative Writing” task in the Extend Understanding section has students write a research paper. Students must write to an audience of teenagers from another country and explain the Civil Rights movement contextualized in the story. Students must include their sources with this essay.
In Unit 3, students read an argumentative essay by Arthur Ashe titled “A Black Athlete Looks at Education.” In the resource supplement “Writing And Grammar,” students receive detailed instruction for writing an argumentative essay. They begin the process by studying the essay by Ashe and identifying parts to develop the argument. The students then develop ideas to present their essays. The process continues to write drafts, revise, and publish a finished work.
In Unit 7, after reading the first act of A Christmas Carol by Israel Horowitz and an essay “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew” by Daniel Pool, in the “Writing Options” section, students write a business letter to Scrooge asking for a donation.
The materials provide opportunities for students to use evidence from texts to support their opinions and claims. The materials also provide opportunities for students to demonstrate in writing what they have learned through reading and listening to texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In Unit 1, after reading the short story “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry, students write an essay analyzing the causes and effects that ended up bringing the character Bob to justice in the story. As they read, students collect information on a cause-and-effect graphic organizer and use it to communicate their ideas in the essay clearly.
In Unit 3, students read an editorial essay by Arthur Ashe, “A Black Athlete Looks at Education,” and answer questions about discrimination and the athlete’s experiences. Students state opinions and make claims using text evidence to consider the factors that shaped people of color’s lives. At the end of the reading, students answer questions about what they learned in the essay about Ashe’s hometown at the time. Students identify a conflict between characters and explain how it was resolved. In “Extend Understanding,” students write a biographical sketch of Arthur Ashe, using information from research conducted and the pieces read, making sure not to plagiarize any of the sources while using text evidence to complete their biographical sketch.
In Unit 4, after reading the essay “Ships in the Desert” by Al Gore, students engage in an informative writing activity. The teacher explains that Al Gore provides a variety of vivid images that “signal the distress of our global environment.” Students write a problem-solution essay in which they offer a solution to one of the essay’s problems. The teacher suggests an essay structure with the problem in the introductory paragraph, changes people can make to ease or resolve the problem in the body paragraphs, and suggestions of what could happen if such changes are not made in the conclusion paragraph. Students must use text evidence to support their ideas.
In Unit 7, after reading “A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley Act I” by Israel Horovitz, students pretend they are members of the school drama club and write a review of the play for their next meeting. The teacher explains that students begin by providing a summary of the story and characters and then evaluating the setting, characterization, mood, dialogue, and stage directions. Students use evidence from the play to support their evaluations and conclude by giving their opinion of the play, telling why they think the drama club should or should not put on this play for the school.
In Unit 8, after reading the Greek myth “Persephone and Demeter” retold by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, students write their retelling of the myth, using modern characterizations, imagery, and language. Students must comprehend what is happening in the version of the myth they read and translate it into modern ideas.
After reading the Yoruban folktale “Eshu” in Unit 8, retold by Judith Gleason, students write a critical analysis of the tale’s problem-solving. The piece must begin with a clearly stated opinion of the actions, then describe and discuss the problems the characters faced and share how they think the problems should have been solved.
The materials facilitate students’ coherent use of the writing process elements to compose multiple texts and provide opportunities for practice and application of the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Grammar, punctuation, and usage are taught systematically. The materials provide editing practice in students’ own writing as the year continues.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Grammar & Style” section of the “Writing and Grammar” workbook provides in-depth language arts instruction to enrich students’ skills development beyond the level of meeting the standards. The resource offers a comprehensive developmental curriculum, using each unit’s textbook selections as examples and exercises. This resource is a supplemental guide, in addition to the Grammar and Style workshops present throughout the textbook. The Writing and Grammar workbook provides lessons to accompany each unit. Unit 1 contains lessons for subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, and nominative and objective pronouns. Unit 2 teaches comma use, independent and dependent clauses, and consistent verb tense. In Unit 3, students learn phrases, sentence types, fragments, and run-on sentences. Unit 4 lessons contain adjective and adverb clauses and simple and compound subjects. Unit 5 teaches personal and possessive pronouns, nouns (proper, plural, possessive, collective), and reflexive and intensive pronouns. Unit 6 contains lessons for simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences and simple, complete, and compound predicates. In Unit 7, students learn participles, gerunds, infinitives, and punctuation (dashes, semicolons, and colons). Unit 8 contains lessons for misplaced modifiers and dangling modifiers.
While reading the Unit 1 short story “The Inn of Lost Time” by Lensey Namioka, students learn about using commas with introductory phrases. The teacher asks a volunteer to read aloud this sentence from the story: “As you know, wealthy merchants are relatively new in our country.” The teacher explains that a comma indicates the natural pause that a speaker makes after using an introductory phrase and reads the sentence without the pause. The students then decide where to place the comma in three additional sentences.
While reading the biography “Elizabeth I” by Milton Meltzer in Unit 3, the “Grammar Skills” teacher note provides guidance on interrupters. The teacher reminds students that interrupters are words or phrases that break the flow of thought in a sentence to insert new information, explaining that punctuation indicates how dramatic the break should be: “commas set off interrupters that blend fairly smoothly into the sentence; dashes and parentheses emphasize the new information more.” The teacher encourages students to find examples of interrupters in the selection.
Students learn how to compose descriptive essays in Unit 4, “Writing Workshop.” By participating in this lesson, students learn to write a descriptive essay that “conveys a personal impression in its introduction, has a clear organizational pattern, uses figurative language and sensory details that create a picture, includes appropriate personal thoughts and feelings, and has a conclusion that summarizes and conveys a new insight.” Throughout Unit 4, students read essays on nature and the natural world. Teachers explain that a descriptive essay aims to present a piece of writing that creates a picture for the reader. In this lesson, students engage in prewriting activities, including choosing a topic, gathering details, deciding on their purpose, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their essays. A student model or exemplar is included to help students identify the essay’s major parts, including the introduction, body, and conclusion.
In Unit 7, the “Writing to Sources” activities include a descriptive task in which students write a scene, an informative task in which students write a literary analysis, a creative task in which students compose a business letter, an argumentative task in which students write a review, a creative task in which students write a diary entry, an informative task in which students write an informative essay, a creative task in which students write a journal entry, an informative task in which students write a critical analysis, a narrative task in which students compose a narrative poem, an informative task in which students write an informative paragraph, and an informative task in which students write a literary analysis.
The Unit 8 Writing Workshop provides instruction on writing research reports. The teacher explains that a writer uses multiple sources to find out information about a topic in a research report. Students learn the process of writing an effective research report on a topic of their choosing by thoroughly researching the topic and writing an interesting report that answers questions about the topic. By participating in this lesson, students learn to write a research report that “clearly introduces a purpose and thesis, uses a clear organizational pattern and effective transitions supports the thesis with quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information from multiple sources, effectively summarizes main points in a conclusion, and lists all sources cited.” Students engage in prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their research reports. A student model or exemplar is included to identify important aspects of the essay, such as title and author’s name, the one-paragraph introduction, the section titles, the Works Cited section, and side notes that identify paraphrasing citations.
The materials include speaking and listening opportunities focused on the texts being studied in class and allow students to demonstrate comprehension. Most oral tasks require students to use clear and concise information and well-defended text-supported claims to demonstrate the knowledge gained through analysis and synthesis of texts.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Language Arts Handbook Grade 7” contains a section titled “Speaking and Listening in the additional resources located online.” In this section, verbal and nonverbal communication is defined, and guidelines for each are provided. Active and passive listening is defined, and the differences between listening for comprehension, listening critically, listening for new vocabulary, and listening for appreciation are defined.
While reading the Unit 1 short story “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry, a “Teaching Note” offers guidance to conduct a “Reader’s Theater” with the students. The materials suggest that teachers invite students to select scenes from the story to act out as skits and have groups of students gather props required for their scene. Students may read aloud or ad-lib the dialogues from the story. The teacher encourages students to use gestures, facial expressions, and movements to convey the characters’ feelings, motivations, and emotions. Additionally, the “Reading Proficiency Differentiated Instruction” Teaching Note in the margin offers guidance for checking student comprehension. The teacher reads aloud the first two paragraphs and questions students to understand the setting. Student pairs continue reading the selection, pausing after every few paragraphs to check their comprehension by asking each other questions. Following the reading, students have the opportunity to complete group research projects. In the “Differentiated Instruction Enrichment” Teaching Note, the teacher encourages students to find out more about the period in which the story is set, posing several questions, such as “What was the economic and social situation of the West in the late 1800s? What might Silky Bob have done to make his ‘pile’?” Students research topics in small groups and present their brief oral reports on their findings.
In Unit 2, the “Speaking and Listening Workshop,” students give and actively listen to literary presentations. The students must select a short story or a piece of literature, either one they have read already or written themselves, and read it aloud to their class. In this presentation, the goal is for students to give the text a dramatic reading to bring it to life for the audience. The students must also be prepared to summarize the plot for their classmates. The workshop materials offer guidance for planning and presenting the literary presentations and include both a speaking and a listening rubric so that students know what it takes to successfully deliver and listen to literary presentations of text.
In Unit 4, students read the scientific essay “The Size of Things” by Robert Jastrow. The teacher edition notes guide teachers to stop students along the way and complete various tasks. One such note has teachers work together with the students to locate the copyright dates of a book, a magazine article, an Internet document, and a newspaper article. Then students locate the copyright dates for selections from the textbook and magazine articles. Teachers and students discuss the credibility of sources and information within them. Simultaneously, they complete these searches as the teacher helps students understand that the validity of scientific articles deals with many factors.
In Unit 5, the Teaching Note associated with the Lyric Poem “Blackberry Eating” by Galway Kinnell identifies read-aloud strategies for this poem. The teacher invites students to read the poem aloud, having several volunteers read it through. The teacher asks students to read aloud to explore some of Kinnell’s choices about punctuation, for example, in line 2 with emphasis on the comma, having a volunteer read it with and without using the comma.
In Unit 6, the Speaking and Listening Workshop has students deliver a narrative presentation by telling a story about an experience that happened to them. The workshop offers guidance for how best to share an event from one’s life with others. There is also a rubric for speaking and a rubric for listening. Students know what they must do to demonstrate proficiency at presenting or listening to a life experience narrative.
In Unit 8, students read the Yoruban folktale “Eshu,” retold by Judith Gleason. Before reading, students are asked to consider who their best friends are and why. Students then discuss the various reasons to call someone a best friend. This activity creates context and activates students’ background knowledge as they read the folktale. Later, in small groups, students discuss why Eshu behaves the way he does. They also discuss his motivations and compare him to tricksters in other myths.
The materials provide guidance and practice with grade-level protocols for discussion to help students express their own thinking. The materials also provide opportunities for students to give organized presentations and performances while speaking clearly and concisely and using the conventions of language.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the additional resources located online, there is a resource titled “Language Arts Handbook Grade 7.” Within this resource, there is a section titled “Collaborative Learning and Communication” that defines collaboration for students and provides guidelines for group discussions and projects. Examples of such guidelines include assigning roles when having discussions, listening actively, participating in the discussion, and sticking to the topic. Guidelines for projects direct students to choose a group leader, set goals for the project, schedule the project, and distribute the work equally amongst members while tracking the assignments on a sheet.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry. After reading, students work in discussion groups, or the teacher leads a whole-class discussion about the following questions: “What circumstances might cause you to do what Jimmy Wells did? What are the limits of loyalty?” In the “Collaborative Learning” task, students work with a partner to research how detective work has evolved over the last century. Together partners create a chart to list the top five changes they discover.
In Unit 2, “Speaking and Listening Workshop,” students give and actively listen to literary presentations. The students must select a short story or a piece of literature, either one they have read already or one they have written, and read it aloud to their class. In this presentation, the goal is for students to give the text a dramatic reading to bring it to life for the audience. The students must also be prepared to summarize the plot for their classmates. The workshop materials offer guidance for how to plan and present the literary presentations and include both a speaking and a listening rubric so that students know what it takes to be successful at delivering and listening to literary presentations of text.
In Unit 4, students read the scientific essay “The Size of Things” by Robert Jastrow. In the Collaborative Learning task, students work with a partner and take turns giving one another oral instructions. Students discuss the quality of the instructions and provide feedback to one another while also focusing on analyzing a selection from the literature with the tasks they are giving instructions for.
The Unit 5 “Independent Reading Activity” offers the opportunity for student-led discussion. The teacher assigns students to groups of four, giving each group eight minutes to share information on their favorite poems or poets in a discussion format. Following the discussion, each group is given two minutes to compose a list of key qualities a person should look for in a poem.
In the Unit 7 Speaking and Listening Workshop, students deliver and listen to a persuasive speech. In this speech, the goal is for students to convince others to believe, think, or do something. The students select their own topic and must research and present information about their topic to back their reasoning. The materials give information about different persuasive techniques and include a rubric for speaking and a rubric for listening so that students know what they must do to demonstrate success at delivering and listening to persuasive speeches.
The materials support the identification and summary of high-quality primary and secondary sources. The materials also support student practice in organizing and presenting their ideas and information in accordance with the purpose of the research and the appropriate grade level audience.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Program Overview,” the materials advise there are opportunities to connect to a variety of primary sources and informational readings. Additionally, the materials offer “Primary Source Connections” for students throughout the text, and the “Enrichment Projects & Activities” workbook provides multiple “Primary Source Projects.” The Program Overview states that “after-reading material for each selection offers extensive opportunities for students to respond to the literature and to extend their learning through writing and extension activities,” including writing prompts that cover creative, argumentative, informative, narrative, and descriptive writing, which provide opportunities for research and writing to sources. In the “Apply Learning with End-of-Unit Workshops and Performance Tasks” section of the Program Overview, the materials provide “Writing to Sources” activities. The resource outlines how it includes “in-depth research paper writing assignments in each level to provide practice in research and writing to sources.”
After reading the Unit 1 short story “The 11:59” by Patricia McKissack and the essay from “A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter” by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack, students learn how to generate research questions in small groups. The teacher explains that they will eventually identify a single topic for further research, allowing them to brainstorm questions about railroad porters and the service they provided. Groups choose one of their questions to explore further, with a goal of finding a specific topic that is neither too broad nor too narrow for a reasonable research project. Finally, each group articulates their research topic based on the questioning process.
While reading the Unit 2 short story “Hollywood and the Pits” by Cherylene Lee, students are reminded that they can use primary and secondary sources when conducting research. The teacher has students identify four different resources as either primary or secondary sources of information about fossils.
In Unit 3, after reading “Elizabeth 1,” a biography by Milton Meltzer, students read the primary source “Writings from Elizabeth 1,” an excerpt from one of her speeches. They use the primary source to help evaluate the biography.
While reading the essay from “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew” by Daniel Pool following the reading of “A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley” in Unit 7, the materials guide about primary sources in the form of a “Teaching Note.” The teacher points out that the author’s descriptions, facts, and examples to support his ideas come from other Pool paraphrased resources. Students research to find at least two primary sources for one of the descriptions, facts, or examples in the text, writing each source, including the title, author’s name, and publication date in a list. Students then share their research findings with the class.
In Unit 8, while reading the Egyptian myth “The Secret Name of Ra” retold by Geraldine Harris, the materials guide interested students in a “Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment” teacher note. The teacher guides students to explore stories about one of the many gods and goddesses in the selection. Students use library or Internet resources to research the deity and prepare a poster featuring the god or goddess.
In the “Writing Workshop” for Unit 8, students write a research report on a specific, narrowed subject. Students can pick the subject they are researching, and there is a rubric accompanying the workshop so students know what they must do to be successful at the task. Students must have a clear thesis; organize their ideas logically; include quoted, paraphrased, and summarized information from multiple sources that maintain the meaning and logical order of information. They must include correct documentation for their sources—including a Works Cited page—and offer their insights and explanations. To accomplish this task, students must know how to identify high-quality primary and secondary sources and summarize information from them effectively.
The materials include questions and tasks designed to help students build and apply knowledge and skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking, and language. The materials contain a coherently sequenced set of high-quality, text-dependent questions and tasks that require students to analyze the integration of knowledge and ideas. The literacy tasks provided integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The resource is organized by genre with a guiding question for each unit. There is also a theme and quotation to start each unit. These elements unite the selections within the unit. In Unit 1, students read the short story “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry. Before reading, students are introduced to the definitions of several key vocabulary words used in the story and draw a cause-and-effect graphic organizer. Students gather notes as they read—what caused the events in the story and the effect of these events. In the “Extend Understanding” section, students work in partners to research how detective work has evolved over the last century. The partnerships prepare a poster that lists the five things they feel are the most significant changes and share their posters with the class. The student edition includes questions in the margins, such as what the details of the setting suggest about the possible conflict the story will contain and what the details about a character suggest about who he may be. In the “Find Meaning” section of the teacher edition, text-dependent questions ask students things such as what the most important details of the setting in the story are and why, or why the man in the doorway felt that he had to explain his presence to the policeman. In the “Reader’s Theater” activity, students work in groups and act out scenes from the story to convey the characters’ feelings, thoughts, and emotions with their acting. In the “Creative Writing” task, students imagine they are the character Jimmy writing a letter to Bob after being put in jail. Students explain how they feel about what they had to do in the letter. In the “Critical Literacy” task, students work with partners to conduct interviews as if one is a reporter and the other is Bob’s character. The partners come up with a list of questions to ask, and then each partner takes turns being the reporter and Bob.
Upon completion of reading the Unit 3 memoir from “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard, students will write and record their memoir. The students will learn about the importance of this specific type of autobiography by writing a 3–4 page memoir about a significant place when they were younger. Students also record and share their memoirs with the class.
In Unit 4, students read a personal essay by Chief Dan George, “I Am a Native of North America.” Students work in groups of four to summarize a series of questions about the thoughts and values of Chief Dan George. The groups present these ideas to their peers and practice vocabulary, syntax, and fluency. Al Gore’s essay, “Ships in the Desert,” serves as a compare and contrast essay to Chief Dan George’s essay. Students are asked to find common themes and ideas between the two essays.
In Unit 8, students read the Greek myth “Persephone and Demeter,” retold by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire. Before reading, students are introduced to the definitions for key terms that will be found in the myth and draw a graphic organizer with three columns labeled “What I Know,” “What I Want to Know,” and “What I Learned.” Students are told to pose questions as they read and use this graphic organizer to collect details, write questions, and add new information as they read. Students describe what supernatural elements are contained within this myth and use text evidence to showcase these elements. In the “Argumentative Writing” task, students put themselves in place of Demeter to write a persuasive speech to deliver to Zeus, requesting help retrieving Persephone from Hades. Questions are embedded along the way in the student edition. Some of these questions ask students directly about events in the text, such as why they think Hades decided to kidnap Persephone, how Persephone feels about the riches Hades had, or how they would feel if they were Persephone. Students are also encouraged to ask their own questions as they read. Other questions posed ask students to draw conclusions about events that take place within the myth. In the “Extend Understanding” section, students locate a myth from another culture that explains one of the same aspects of nature as “Persephone and Demeter,” and name the similarities and differences between the two myths and share their findings in the class. In the “Critical Literacy” task, students choose another Greek myth with something in common with “Persephone and Demeter” and prepare a presentation about this myth to present to their class. Students share which myth they prefer, along with the similarities between the two myths. In the “Narrative Writing” task, students write their own retelling of the myth using modern characterization, language, and elements and then present their version of the myth to the class.
The materials support distributed practice over the year, and the design includes scaffolds for students to demonstrate the integration of literacy skills that spiral over the school year.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
Most reading skills are spiraled through the year. In the scope and sequence guide for almost every unit, the reading skills drawing conclusions, author’s purpose, sequence of events, and cause and effect are taught. Other skills are addressed throughout the materials; however, these skills may only be specific to certain units, such as rhyme and repetition, which are covered in Units 5 and 6. The introduction to the materials states that scaffolded instruction with the gradual release of responsibility model is applied within each unit and across the grades. This approach is based on research that supports the practice of leading students from guided to directed to independent reading.
The Unit 2 “Writing a Short Story with a Narrative Writing” workshop follows the short story selections. After reading multiple short stories and practicing literary skills aligned with each, students then write their own short stories. They are given the scaffolding to begin the assignment, with a goal and a writing rubric to follow. Students are shown a “Story Map” and use this tool to organize characters, settings, and conflicts in their stories. Next, students are given steps to follow to write their first draft, a checklist, and a sample to use as a guide when making revisions. “Steps to Edit and Proofread, and then Publish and Present” gives the students guidelines to build skills in the final steps to a completed project. A student sample story is provided to support and illustrate a story’s flow from beginning to middle to end and show the features of a story, such as a plot and conflict.
In Unit 4, before viewing the visual media from “The Sibley Guide to Birds,” teachers remind students about drawing conclusions. The teacher explains that details from the entry can be used to draw conclusions about what traits can be used to distinguish the wild turkey from other birds. As students study the entry, they record details with a web, putting details about the wild turkey in the outer ovals. While viewing the guide, there are multiple “Close Reading: Drawing Conclusions” questions, such as “What does the word ‘incongruously’ suggest about these birds?” Additionally, the teacher reminds students to fill in their detailed webs about the turkey, encouraging students to use large pieces of paper and record as many details as they can find on the page from the field guide.
In Unit 4, while reading “The Size of Things” by Robert Jastrow, the teacher previews key vocabulary and launches the lesson by having students discuss the smallest things they can think of. Students practice the stressed and unstressed syllables in vocabulary words and practice identifying prepositional phrases during the reading. After reading, students respond to text-dependent questions in the “Find Meaning” and “Make Judgments” sections. Students then read and connect to the poem “Achieving Perspective” by Pattiann Rogers. While reading the poem, students look up unknown words in the dictionary. After reading both selections, students write a creative or explanatory piece. In the “Collaborative Learning” section, students practice giving each other instructions for a complex task. Students look up unknown words’ meanings in the “Lifelong Learning” section.
Additionally, in Unit 7, the materials provide guidance for analyzing cause and effect in drama. Before reading the drama “A Defenseless Creature” by Neil Simon, based on Anton Chekhov’s story, the teacher explains that as you read a dramatic script, the cause and effect relationship can be identified by stage directions, dialogue, and characters’ actions. While reading the dramatic script, students record causes and effects in a T-chart.
In Unit 8, while reading “Persephone and Demeter” retold by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire, teachers preview key vocabulary and launch the lesson by asking students to think about how they sometimes react to things with strong emotions. Students respond to text-dependent questions using the close reading protocol as they read. After reading, students respond to text-dependent questions in the Find Meaning and Make Judgments sections. Students write a narrative or argumentative piece. Students find a myth from another culture in the Lifelong Learning section that says something similar to one they just read. Students share what they found with the class. In the “Critical Literacy” section, students prepare and deliver a presentation about another Greek myth.
The materials include supports for students who demonstrate proficiency above grade level. Planning and learning opportunities are provided for students who demonstrate above expected level literacy skills. The teacher is provided with activities and must decide which activity is most suitable for students above the expected grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include enrichment and extension activities embedded in each lesson. These activities are presented as a “Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment” note within the lessons and as “After Reading: Extend Understanding.” The Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment Projects & Activities ancillary provides additional learning opportunities for advanced students for selections in each unit, as well as unit-level projects and activities. Each unit and lesson offers an enrichment activity, presented primarily as research and project-based learning assignments. These activities are often recommended for “students who are interested” and with teacher discretion may be used for students who perform above grade level. For example, in Unit 1’s reading of “After Twenty Years,” a differentiated instruction enrichment activity is presented where students answer questions and research topics in small groups. The students then present oral reports on their findings and include props and visual aids that can later be used to provide English learners a better understanding of the topics discussed in the lesson.
In Unit 3, students learn about nonfiction. “An American Childhood” is a memoir with a challenging reading level. To recognize the elements present in a memoir or autobiography is the class goal. Students use criteria found in the passage to make judgments about whether something can be called good or bad. They go on to analyze the selection to find the author’s voice while describing it in “a brief one-page critical analysis.” Students are given the task to make inferences using the descriptions given in the text and then further analyze their conclusions. The author offers the students extended metaphors and sustained metaphors to add to the analysis of the work.
In Unit 4, there are three reading selections labeled challenging. In the selection “The Face of the Deep in Frozen,” in Differentiation: Enrichment, students take on journalists’ role for a newspaper. After the reading selection, teachers choose to assign up to four extension activities.
In Unit 8, in “Visual Planning,” the resource labels one reading selection as challenging. In the selection “Persephone and Demeter,” for enrichment, teachers encourage students to choose a Greek deity and find additional myths about them. After the reading selection, teachers can choose from four extension activities. Students write a retelling of the myth, write a persuasive speech, compare myths from different traditions, or present commonalities from myths from different traditions.
In Unit 8, students read the short story “Such Perfection.” In the enrichment activity included in the materials, interested students find and read another short story by the same author that includes people from Malgudi. Students create a presentation about the story and deliver it to their classmates. After reading another short story, “The Instruction of Indra,” the materials include an Extend Understanding activity in which they write an informative paragraph comparing and contrasting the symbols in both “Such Perfection” and “The Instruction of Indra.” Students share what they wrote with their classmates.
The materials provide planning and learning opportunities for students who demonstrate literacy skills below that expected at the grade level.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The following program resources are available to the teacher to enhance the learning of below-grade-level students: “Program Planning Guide,” which includes lesson plans and assessments; “Passport Tools,” a visual, audio, and media library and a multiplatform student eBook; “Guided Reading” and “Close Reading” models; and “Differentiating Instruction for English Language Learning Support.”
The “Story Shares Library” provides “Relevant Reads” with different reading levels to engage students who read below grade level. It includes features such as “read aloud” and “word look-up” to add accessibility to each selection. The teacher can assign material and track the progress of the individual students. Just Like That by Jannette LaRoche is one of the Story Shares selection. The interest level is listed as High School with a Lexile of 570L and a Grade Level of 2.4. Common Sense by Jamie Todd is another Story Shares selection available for struggling readers. This story is Middle School/High School interest with a Lexile of 801L and a reading equivalency of 4.7.
The materials provide support for struggling readers and students who may be receiving services of some sort. These supports are primarily located in the differentiation “Reading Proficiency” notes in the “Teacher’s Edition.” In Unit 1 short story “The War of the Wall” by Toni Cade Bambara, the materials offer support for teachers to help struggling readers who stumble over the dialect in the story read more fluently by having students read along. In contrast, the teacher and a confident reader read the story aloud.
Nonfiction is introduced in Unit 3 with an excerpt from Annie Dillard’s An American Childhood. This work is presented as a “Close Reading Model” for the teacher to guide the students carefully through the process. The teacher receives detailed instructions to prompt students to become more active readers using the model’s strategies. Teachers direct students to ask questions, make inferences, recall details, interpret the meaning, and conduct further analysis. This aids the student in deciphering a piece more closely and helps when reading texts that may not be at grade level. Students having difficulty with Dillard’s long sentences read the selection aloud and pause at each comma to improve comprehension.
The supports include a variety of different activities. For example, while students are reading the essay “Ships in the Desert” by Al Gore in Unit 4, less-able readers may feel overwhelmed by the multiple locations Gore describes. The teacher provides a globe or world map for the class and encourages students to stop and find the places Gore visits.
A focus on vocabulary is used in the development of literacy skills as well. During the reading of the Unit 6 narrative poem “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes, struggling readers preview the poem’s footnotes to become familiar with the definitions before reading to make the reading experience smoother.
In Unit 7, there is one selection labeled “Easy.” Under the Reading Proficiency notes, teachers give students a summary of the speech before they read it. The resource offers this to support student comprehension.
The materials include some linguistics accommodations and some scaffolds for English Learners (ELs) to meet grade-level learning expectations. While EL strategies are listed throughout the text, they vary greatly or change in complexity. There is little reliance on the first language strength and only general support of vocabulary building.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials include a resource titled, “Differentiated Instruction—English Language Learning Support.” This resource includes sections titled “English Language Development” in which activities are provided for students who are “Beginning/Emerging,” “Intermediate/Expanding,” or “Advanced/Bridging.” These labels correlate with the English Language Proficiency Standards’ (ELPS) labels of “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced,” and “Advanced High.” This resource has places where students can press a sound icon and hear someone read aloud to them, even the selection text. The eResource has several areas where words are defined in a glossary style.
In the “Teacher Edition,” English learners’ supports are labeled “Differentiated Instruction—English Language Learners.” The margins of the Teacher’s Edition include activities for “Advanced High” English learners. Activities for ELs who are “Beginner,” “Intermediate,” or “Advanced” can be found in Differentiated Instruction—English Language Learning.
The “Teacher Edition” outlines correlations with the ELPS. The chart labeled “Correlation to ELPS Standards” lists page numbers that correspond to each ELPS. The ELPS addressed in each unit are also outlined in the “Unit Scope and Sequence Guide.”
Teachers are provided a supplemental text, “Differentiated Instruction: English Language Learning Support.” This text provides lessons in “Literacy & Reading Skills,” where students learn strategies to apply to the textbook’s selections. There is also “English Language Development,” divided into three proficiency levels aligned with selections from the textbook. Also, “Foundation Literacy Skills” provide audio pronunciations and Spanish selection summaries in text and audio. Throughout this text, the teacher is provided with supports in vocabulary development and reading fluency lessons. Spanish-speaking ELs have access to reading selections and novels for extended reading in the native language online.
There are opportunities for students to access Spanish novels and other reading selections online. The native language is used strategically for English language development in the “Literary Terms Handbook.” Here a Native Spanish speaker can find Literary Terms defined in Spanish, such as refrain, sonnet, or rhyme. In the Differentiated Instruction: Literacy & Reading Skills resource, Culture Notes are included. For example, in the During Reading section of After Twenty Years, A Short Story by O. Henry, the margins include a Culture Note that states, “At this time in history, many Americans have moved west in search of a better life. Single people and families moved to buy land to farm, to search for gold, or to work building railroads. Of course, there were also people who moved west for less honest reasons, like gambling or robbing trains and banks.” Students can connect to the content of the text, based on their cultural note, but native language support is not provided.
Students’ limited opportunities to use their first language are included in the materials. In Unit 1, while reading “The Portrait” by Tomas Rivera, students with Spanish knowledge as their first language explain the Spanish words in the short story. In the Differentiated Instruction: English Language Learning Support eResource/consumable workbook, there are “Build Vocabulary” questions and activities embedded along the side of the texts included in the resource. In Unit 1, students read the short story “After Twenty Years” by O. Henry. Included in the eResource for this text is a “Build Vocabulary” activity that reminds students that two friends lost track of each other in the story, and students write about a time they lost track of something.
There are “Vocabulary Skills” lessons in each unit aligned with one of the reading selections given to the students. These lessons are connected to the piece’s content and additional skills the students have an opportunity to learn. For example, in Unit 3, the selection “The Face of the Deep is Frozen,” the teacher is guided in a Vocabulary Skills lesson, and jargon is the primary topic.
In Unit 6, students read the poem “Annabel Lee” by Edgar Allan Poe. Additional assistance is provided for ELs, specifically for students with Advanced High proficiency. The materials state that to provide additional help with language and sentence structure, teachers read the poem aloud or play the recording from the “Audio Library,” stopping at the end of each stanza to paraphrase details. The goal is to help students remember what they have read and give them additional language practice.
The materials include formative and summative assessments aligned in purpose, intended use, and TEKS emphasis. The assessments and scoring information provide sufficient guidance for interpreting and responding to student performance. Assessments are also connected to the regular content to support student learning.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Assessment Guide” provides a variety of assessments and guidance for teachers on using these assessments. Two formative assessment surveys are included to be given at the beginning of the year to provide the teacher with a baseline for each student, as well as midway through the year to help realign instruction or at the end to provide a summative measure of progress. The formative assessment surveys also measure students’ performance on key College and Career Readiness standards. The Assessment Guide includes “Lesson Tests” and “Unit Exams,” which contain questions for the most commonly taught selections in the unit and questions about the unit’s literary elements and the genre covered. Guidance is provided to teachers to combine questions from the Lesson Tests and the Unit Exams to create end-of-course exams. The Assessment Guide’s overview states that “the lesson tests align with the lessons in the student edition.” Also included are two reading fluency assessments per unit. These instruments present text selections from the unit that may be read aloud multiple times to practice and track reading fluency progress. The Assessment Guide includes answers to the multiple-choice and matching questions from the Lesson Tests and Unit Exams, but there are no rubrics for scoring the essay questions. Additionally, there are “Remediation Rubrics” included for the formative assessment surveys. These rubrics include the test’s questions, the College and Career Readiness Standard addressed by each question, the textbook pages where the material is taught, and supplemental material for review and practice.
Within the Assessment Guide, there is a section titled “Alternative Assessment Options,” which begins by explaining that “teachers can assess students’ learning by evaluating the work they do.” The text explains that alternative assessments are often referred to as “authentic assessment or performance-based assessment,” including oral presentations, multimedia presentations, process demonstrations, oral fluency readings, and interpretive readings. The materials list checklists, rating scales, and rubrics as assessment instruments; however, there are only rubrics for writing workshops provided within the materials. The guide states that “all of these scoring instruments can be created and used successfully by students and teachers.”
The formative assessments, lesson tests, and unit exams in the “Assessment Guide” can be administered online, with questions from an online testing bank that have been correlated to ELA College and Career Readiness Standards. The online test bank questions are customizable and provide instant data for teachers, students, and administrators to measure growth and achievement and adjust instruction. Teachers can select from already-created exams or create their own from multiple-choice, short answer, or essay questions. The test items have been assigned a difficulty level of easy, moderate, or challenging and can be sorted to create modified or alternative assessments. As students complete the assessments, teachers can individualize instruction for students who have difficulty mastering a particular standard or choose to re-teach a standard to an entire class. The tests can also be downloaded and printed.
In the “Teacher Edition,” the “Unit and Selection” resources provide a selection quiz for almost every selection found in the student text. The selection quizzes measure recall and comprehension and help teachers and students check for a basic understanding of the readings. In the “Speaking and Listening” workshops and the “Writing Workshops” found at the end of each unit, students are encouraged to assess their work using rubrics. The “Literacy and Language Skills” and “Differentiated Instruction” resource lessons offer various informal assessments, including rubrics, checklists, projects, presentations, and self-quizzes.
Formal assessment is offered in the “Test Practice Workshops,” which ask students to apply specific test-taking skills in reading, writing, revising, and editing. The “Test Practice Supplement” resource offers formal assessment, a test-taking skills study guide, and practice tests in various standardized forms, including the SAT and the ACT.
The materials provide a year-long plan for teachers to engage students in multiple grouping (and other) structures. The teacher edition materials include annotations and support for engaging students in the materials, ancillary and resource materials, and student progress components. The annotations and ancillary materials provide support for student learning and assistance for teachers.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The “Visual Planning Guide” at the beginning of each unit guides the planning and assessment tools needed for each unit and includes a “Lesson-by-Lesson” resource that lists each selection, the reading level, the additional resources other than the textbook, and how many days should be spent on each selection. Additionally, the “Scope and Sequence Guide” for each unit includes extension activities. Three additional teacher resources are provided that focus on differentiated instruction. These are titled “Differentiated Instruction: English Language Learning Support,” “Differentiated Instruction: Reading Strategies and Skills,” and “Differentiated Instruction: Enrichment Projects and Activities.” These resources align with the text selections in the “Student Edition.” There are notes embedded in the “Teacher Edition” margins that prompt teachers when one of these additional activities is available. Several other ancillary materials include a resource guide for each unit, an assessment guide, a vocabulary and spelling guide, and a writing and grammar guide.
In Unit 1, students read the short story “The 11:59” by Patricia McKissack. In the Teacher Edition, there are annotations in the margins that give information about text complexity, the text’s Lexile level, and what factors may need more teacher support. For this story, the notes suggest that students might need support to understand the occurring foreshadowing. There is also a list of vocabulary terms in the text, page numbers for where they are located, notes about the lesson objectives, and a section called “Launch the Lesson,” which gives teachers suggestions for ways to engage their students with the text before reading it. For this particular short story, the notes prompt the teachers to ask students if they have heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy and to have students share about times when this phenomenon seemed to occur in their lives.
Each lesson included in the Teacher Edition includes “Differentiated Instruction,” “Analyze Literature,” “Literary connection,” “Reading Skills,” and several other annotations and teacher’s notes. The lesson previews also include the resources that will be used throughout the lesson. For example, in the margins of the Unit 6 narrative poem, “For My Father” by Janice Mirikitani, the program resources list the selection lesson plan in the “Program Planning Guide,” the lesson test in the “Assessment Guide,” directed reading in the “Poetry Connections: Unit 6” workbook and a character analysis study in the “Enrichment Projects and Activities” supplemental workbook.
A TEKS-aligned scope and sequence accompany the materials. The materials include additional supports to help teachers and administrators implement the materials as intended. The materials also include a school years’ worth of literacy instruction for both 180-day and 220-day schedules.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
In the “Teacher Edition,” there is a series of pages titled “Mirrors & Windows Correlation to Texas Educational Knowledge Expectations for English Language Arts and Reading.” In this series, each of the Grade 7 English Language Arts and Reading Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills is listed, along with the pages in the “Student Edition” and Teacher Edition where these skills are explicitly taught. Additionally, the unit Scope and Sequence Guide located at the end of each unit lists each student expectation taught in the unit. Also in the Teacher Edition is the “Mirrors and Windows Correlation to the Texas English Language Proficiency Standards (ELPS) for ELA and Reading—Grade 7.” This series of pages list each of the Grade 7 English Language Proficiency Standards and the page numbers where each standard is explicitly taught.
There are numerous supplemental resources included to support implementation. The unit “Planning Guide” at the beginning of each unit identifies the additional text resources used throughout the unit and specifically what tasks and assignments, including page numbers, to be covered. Each lesson also includes the program resources with the specific supplemental text, assignment, and page number.
The Teacher Edition includes a “Program Overview” that outlines the resource’s approach to meaningful language arts instruction for teachers. This section explains the “Program Philosophy and Instructional Design,” where it explains its approach to scaffolded instruction and blended learning. This overview also provides a visual of how gradual release of responsibility works and is designed to work in the resource. Also, the overview explains how the resource can be used to help students connect to multiple texts, develop critical thinking skills, and write to sources and research. The next section overviews the online and supplemental resources that are available for use. The Program Overview also walks teachers through the Student Edition, emphasizing how the units are organized. This overview includes elements to open and introduce the unit, the use of the close reading model, how to teach using the gradual release of responsibility, how to support independent learning, how to compare texts and extend learning, how to make text-to-text connections, how to integrate other disciplines, how to use the embedded language skills lessons, and how to use the end-of-unit workshops and performance tasks. After walking teachers through the Student Edition, the resource also walks teachers through the Teacher Edition tools. These resources include the unit and lesson-based resources, including the scope and sequence guide, the vocabulary guide, and the other SE resources. While there are no specific administrator supports, administrators could use the teacher resources to support teachers’ implementation.
In the “Program & Planning Guide - Grade 7,” ancillary resource, the introduction states, “To help you meet the diverse needs of your students, the Mirrors & Windows program offers a wealth of material—much more than you can teach in one school year. As a result, one challenge you will face is identifying the resources that are best suited to your particular situation.” The introduction explains that the resource itself is a support for helping teachers select which instructional materials they will use in their classrooms. There are 106 days of instruction with the text selections alone, not including assessments or other lessons provided in the supplemental resources. The “College and Career Readiness Curriculum Guide” provides pacing for approximately 150 days, including the unit opener, most of the selections, and the workshops. That 150 days does not include assessments, an additional guided reading selection, or independent reading selections. It also does not include any of the vocabulary or grammar lessons. All-inclusive, this would be enough content for 180 days. The extra guided reading selection and the independent reading selections would add approximately 40 days of instruction. This additional material would support a 220-day school calendar.
The materials include appropriate use of white space and design that supports student learning. The pictures and graphics are supportive of student learning and engagement without being visually distracting.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
There is an appropriate use of white space on most pages of the “Student Edition.” Some pages include text and pictures with roughly an inch white margin at the top of each page and on either side. Story title pages feature the title, author, a picture and generally lack white space. The pages where the story text is written have a much larger margin along the sides and the button where “Close Read” questions are posted, along with vocabulary terms from the selection. This design is consistent across the units. There is ample white space provided in the workshops and grammar lessons, but not as much as in the Student Edition.
Each unit in the Student Edition begins with a full-page spread that includes an illustration and a quote and indicates what the unit covers. The pictures and graphics included within the unit are not distracting but rather add to the text’s understanding. In Unit 1, the spread includes the title “Unit 1, Meeting the Unexpected, Fiction Connections.” There is a half-page, black-and-white photograph of a train, a half-page, black-and-white photograph of a Pullman Porter, a color photo of a pocket watch, a quote from author Ray Bradbury, and the guidance, “As you read the short stories in this unit, imagine how you might feel if confronted with the unusual, unexplainable, or surprising events that they describe.”
Each text selection presents a small photograph of the author on the “Before Reading” pages. They also include a small drawing of the graphic organizer the text recommends students use to collect information as they read and then embeds graphics/images along the way. In Unit 4, students read the scientific essay “The Size of Things” by Robert Jastrow. The Before Reading pages include a small color photograph of the author, Robert Jastrow, and a drawing of a T-chart graphic organizer that students are encouraged to collect information with as they read the text. The title page of the essay is a half-page image of a planet with the title, and the other half is the start of the text. There is a quote pulled from the text on the next two pages of text, placed in colorful larger letters in the right-hand margin of the text. The following two pages of text have a small, color photograph of Palomar Observatory in the left margin of the left page. The pages without images have mainly text, with white space surrounding the text and a small amount of in-text questions embedded in the white space alongside the text. These questions and images are not distracting, and the white space is not overtaking the page.
In Unit 8, the title page spread has the title “Unit 8, Seeking Wisdom, Folk Literature Connections,” an almost full-page illustration of Egyptian hieroglyphics and art, a small color photograph of a snowy mountain top, a quote from author Olivia Coolidge, and the guidance, “As you read the tales, fables, and myths in this unit, try to determine what wisdom each story offers.”
The materials include technology that supports and enhances student learning as appropriate and includes appropriate teacher guidance.
Evidence includes but is not limited to:
The materials explain that the “Teacher’s Edition” and “Enhanced eBook” provide the instructional tools necessary to enhance students’ learning experience. The interactive eWorkbook activities are available online to allow students to practice and apply strategies and skills for college and career readiness. The Interactive Student eBook allows students to access a complete digital version of their textbook anytime they are online. Within the eBook, students have access to audio for every selection in addition to the ability to highlight text, bookmark sections of interest, and take notes. Students also have access to eSelections, “a collection of additional online independent readings accompanied by the full programmatic instruction.” The digital tools allow teachers to assign homework and tasks, track student progress with graphs and charts, provide feedback, access all program resources and content from all grade levels, and incorporate blended learning. It also allows the students to access materials anytime, anywhere, complete assignments and practice activities interactively, work on project-based tasks, submit work, receive immediate feedback, and track progress.
“Edulastic Online Assessments” provides digital versions of assessments. There is an electronic testing bank that teachers can pull from and some premade assessments within. Included is a teacher guide to explain all of the types of assessments offered. Teachers are provided with ample guidance to implement the use of the technology, including digital assessment. There is also a technical support resource for any problems that may occur.