Aligning to Standards

New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Reading Texas

New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Reading Texas

Learning List recently reviewed Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Reading Texas, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for K-8 English language arts and reading (ELAR) products aligned to the new ELAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Into Reading is a comprehensive product that supports ELAR instruction in grades K-6. Content is available in print and digital formats. Learning List reviewed online resources for grades K-5. Instruction develops students’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills using authentic texts from a variety of genres.

Across grades, Into Reading is organized in multi-week modules that provide access to a variety of authentic texts at varying levels of complexity. Modules are thematic and include cross-curricular topics, such as a “Global Guardians” module at grade 4 that integrates content from conservation science. Modules are organized around an essential question (e.g., “What does it take to meet a challenge?”). Reading selections include a variety of authentic, age-appropriate literary and informational texts related to the essential question. Selections include a variety of genres (e.g., historical fiction, narrative non-fiction) and representations of diverse cultures and characters. Each text has vivid illustrations that support comprehension and engage student interest. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Into Literature Texas

New Product Review: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Into Literature Texas

Learning List recently reviewed Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Into Literature Texas, which was submitted for state adoption in Texas in response the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for K-8 English language arts and reading (ELAR) products aligned to the new ELAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Into Literature is a comprehensive product that supports ELAR instruction in grades 6-8. Content is available in print and digital formats. Learning List reviewed online resources. Instruction develops students’ reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills using authentic texts from a variety of genres.

At each grade level, Into Literature is presented in six units that center on an Essential Question that links reading selections, frames the unit’s theme, and connects to students’ experiences. For example, a grade 7 unit titled “Change Agents” considers the question: “What inspires you to make a difference?” Units address cross-curricular topics such as the Civil War in an eighth-grade unit titled “The Fight for Freedom” and space science in a sixth-grade unit titled “The Terror and Wonder of Space.” Units include literary and informational texts and a set of “Studios” (e.g., “Reading Studio”) that integrate activities in the domains of literacy (i.e., reading, writing, listening, and speaking) as well as vocabulary and grammar.  [Read more…]

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New Product Review: The College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts and Language Workshop

New Product Review: The College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts and Language Workshop

Learning List recently reviewed the College Board’s SpringBoard English Language Arts and Language Workshop middle school resources (i.e., grades 6-8), which were submitted for state adoption in Texas in response the Texas Education Agency’s Proclamation 2019 call for K-8 English language arts and reading (ELAR) products aligned to the new ELAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Both resources focus on developing English language arts skills through active learning. At each grade level, instruction emphasizes the development of the knowledge and skills needed for rigorous coursework, including Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

Core content is presented in SpringBoard’s English Language Arts resource. Content at each grade is organized in four thematic units. For example, at grade 6, reading selections address the theme of change. Students explore the concepts of change and growth in their own lives and in the lives of real and imagined characters. Each unit includes a balance of literary and informational texts and opportunities for students to respond to non-print texts, such as photographs and clips from audio recordings and films. For the most part, units incorporate reading selections that present the experiences of diverse individuals and cultures. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: ECS Learning Systems STAAR Master Math and STAAR Master Reading

ECS Learning Systems’ STAAR Master Math and STAAR Master Reading are test preparation products designed to prepare Texas students in grades 1-8 for the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) mathematics and reading exams. Content is available in print format. Instruction focuses on problem sets (math) and questions (reading) that address specific Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS). Problems and questions are formatted to reflect what students will see on the STAAR exam. Learning List recently reviewed “Student Practice Book” resources for grades 3-5.

Student Practice Books in math are organized in four sections that address each of the TEKS Reporting Categories for mathematics (e.g., Geometry and Measurement, Data Analysis and Personal Financial Literacy). Each section begins with the full text of the TEKS for the Category and whether the standard is a Readiness or Supporting Standard. Subsequent content is made up of practice exercises formatted to reflect what students will see on the STAAR exam (i.e., multiple-choice responses).  Each exercise includes the text of the TEKS addressed by the problem set and each problem in the set references the specific TEKS it addresses. [Read more…]

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New Product Review: EMC Mirrors & Windows: Connecting with Literature

New Product Review: EMC Mirrors & Windows: Connecting with Literature

EMC’s Mirrors & Windows: Connecting with Literature is a comprehensive resource to support English language arts instruction in grades 6-12. The program includes print and web-based resources. In the middle school grades (grades 6-8), instruction uses the theme of “mirrors and windows” to help students use literature to reflect on their own lives and to connect with people from different cultures and times.

Across middle school grades, Mirrors & Windows units are organized in terms of a theme linked to a literary genre. For example, a grade 6 unit that introduces poetry is centered on the theme of “Expressing Yourself.” Each unit is made up of a set of reading selections related to the theme. [Read more…]

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Defining Roles: Standards vs. Curricula vs. Instructional Materials

FocusEducators and publishers often use the terms “standards,” “curriculum” and/or “instructional materials” interchangeably. Moreover, many educators consider their instructional materials to be their curriculum. However, each of these terms represents a distinct component of an educational program. In the sections that follow, we provide explanations of each of these terms to differentiate their meanings in the context of PreK-12 education.

Standards set out what students are expected to know and be able to do at the end of each school year. Standards are generally established at the state level. In fact, ESSA requires that each state create learning standards for public schools in three subjects—English language arts/reading, mathematics, and science—and many states go beyond ESSA’s minimum to set standards in social studies, career and technical education, languages other than English, and other subjects.

In contrast, the curriculum is developed at the district level, the product of local policy making. While the standards tell you what is expected, the curriculum provides the road map to get there. Often described in documents such as “scope and sequence” and “units of instruction,” a curriculum includes goals, instructional practices and pedagogical guidance, suggested resources and instructional materials, and methods of measuring student progress. [Read more…]

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