Posts Tagged "ELA"

New Reviews: Mirrors & Windows by EMC

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, digital (i.e., CD-ROM), and web-based resources. Learning List recently reviewed the print materials for Mirrors & Windows.


[Source: EMC Publishing]

Across grades, Mirrors & Windows uses the theme of “mirrors and windows” to help students use literature to reflect on their own lives and to connect with people from other cultures and times. Instruction focuses on developing reading skills using a range of literary and informational texts. Content includes engaging, age-appropriate reading selections appeal to a variety of student interests and reading levels. For each reading selection, teacher editions identify the level of difficulty (e.g., easy, moderate, challenging), factors that may make the selection challenging (e.g., vocabulary, length), and the learning objectives addressed by the selection, key vocabulary, and other program resources to support instruction.

Lessons are organized using the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model, which frames instructional activities in terms of Guided, Directed, and Independent Reading:

  • Guided Reading: Teachers model the strategies used before, during, and after reading.
  • Directed Reading: Teachers support students in using reading strategies and ensuring they understand what they read.
  • Independent Reading: Students practice skills independently.


[Source: EMC Publishing]

After reading selections, students have opportunities to practice comprehension and higher level thinking skills, write about what they have read, and participate in collaborative learning activities.

About EMC*

EMC is a division of New Mountain Learning—a diversified education company devoted to overseeing the continued development and growth of five prominent and established brands: EMC Publishing, Paradigm Publishing, JIST Publishing, RCL Benziger and Standard Publishing. Each brand provides traditional print and technology products and services for a wide range of learning needs including world language, religion education, secondary and post secondary technical/computer applications training, career counseling, life skills and job search guidance.

*The content in this section is provided by or adapted from EMC Publishing.

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New Reviews: McGraw-Hill’s SRA Imagine It!

[Source: McGraw Hill Education]

[Source: McGraw Hill Education]

McGraw-Hill’s SRA Imagine It! is a comprehensive reading and English language arts program for students in PreK-6. Resources are available in print and online formats and address to the Common Core State Standards (PK-6) and the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (K-5). Learning List recently reviewed SRA Imagine It! CCSS-aligned materials for grades K-6 and TEKS-aligned materials for grades K-5.

SRA Imagine It! provides explicit instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. At each grade, instruction is presented in units organized around themes (e.g., Risks and Consequences). Reading selections include features that familiarize students with the author and illustrator. A “Theme Connections” page asks students to consider how the unit’s theme is evident in the current reading and to make connections to other readings and their own lives. Lessons include “Write About It!” writing prompts and “Inquiry” research activities that link content to social studies and science.

Teachers have access to extensive online instructional support, including on demand professional development videos provide grade specific support for teaching reading and writing skills. Teachers in Common Core states have access to a “Common Core Literacy eHandbook” that supports the transition to the Common Core State Standards.

About McGraw-Hill Education*

[Source: McGraw Hill Education]

[Source: McGraw Hill Education]

McGraw-Hill Education (MHE) believes that their contribution to unlocking a brighter future lies within the application of their deep understanding of how learning happens and how the mind develops. It exists where the science of learning meets the art of teaching.

Educators have been and always will be at the core of the learning experience. The solutions they develop help educators impart their knowledge to students more efficiently.  MHE believes that harnessing technology can enhance learning inside and outside of the classroom and deepen the connections between students and teachers to empower greater success.

By partnering with educators around the globe, their learning engineers, content developers and pedagogical experts are developing increasingly open learning ecosystems that are proven to improve pass rates, elevate grades and increase engagement for each individual learner while improving outcomes for all.

Why? Because learning changes everything.

*The content in this section is provided by or adapted from McGraw-Hill Education.

© 2015 Learning List

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New Reviews: Voces English Language Arts

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 8.34.16 AMVoces® provides three supplemental, online courses to support English language arts instruction at grades 9 and 10. The courses are ELA Literature Digital Courseware, ELA Full-Spectrum Nonfiction Courseware, and Grammar & Writing. Resources for each course are compatible with interactive whiteboards and LCD projectors and include eBooks and printable materials. Learning List has recently completed reviews of these courses.

ELA Literature Digital Courseware includes full-text selections in short-stories, drama, poetry, novels and novellas, epics, and non-fiction. Lessons begin with a pre-reading activity that provides background on the author and genre, new vocabulary, and a set of open-ended questions to focus students’ thinking. Content includes cross-curricular readings in social studies, math, and science and vivid visual elements, such as artwork, illustrations, photographs, and historical documents. The course provides interactive writing prompts that develop students’ skills in using literary devices (e.g., setting, dialogue). Interactive prompts present a panoramic 3600-photograph and ask students to write a response to the image using the specified literary device.

[Video courtesy of Voces]

[Video courtesy of Voces]

ELA Full-Spectrum Nonfiction Courseware includes units addressing a range of informational texts, such as essays, biographies and autobiographies, speeches, film reviews, research articles, and letters. The course provides cross-curricular readings in social studies and has units addressing media literacy (e.g., documentary films and advertising). Each unit contains an introduction to the genre, several full-text readings and/or excerpts representative of the genre, related activities, and a feature summarizing students’ work and notes for the unit. Readings are accompanied by visual elements, such as artwork, illustrations, and photographs. Units addressing media include television ads and short documentaries.

Grammar & Writing presents instruction in writing, grammar, and punctuation in an engaging format that includes vivid imagery (e.g., zombies), photographs, and videos designed to appeal to high-school students. Writing Instruction addresses the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising) and writing for different purposes (e. g., personal, narrative, persuasive, research paper). Grammar units address the parts of speech, parts of the sentence, phrases, sentence structure, verb tenses and voice, subject-verb agreement, and correct usage of pronouns and modifiers. Punctuation instruction covers the range of punctuation marks used in Standard English.

About Voces: Each Voces® title is a complete array of digital resources organized to parallel the organization of the traditional textbooks that schools already use. They are called digital courseware because students and teachers access them by any type of electronic device, such as computers, tablets, laptops, and smartphones – accessible anywhere there is Internet. Voces takes full advantage of the digital potential with video, audio, interactive reinforcement games, and an abundance of illustrations to enhance a complete text. Voces Digital Courseware is created as a tool for use by classroom teachers.

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Buyer Beware (Part 3): Believing that the Alignment Percentage Is Consistent Across All Grade Levels

[Source: Griffith Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ]

[Source: Griffith Elementary School, Phoenix, AZ]

According to a recent article published on PBS Newshour, 90 percent of districts in Common Core states said that developing or identifying Common Core curricular materials has posed a challenge. Yet even when instructional materials can be identified, how do districts know what the alignment percentages may be across grade levels?

Alignment percentages can vary greatly from grade level to grade level – independent of the standard  [CCSS (Common Core State Standards), TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills),  etc.] and instructional materials subjects being reviewed [Math, ELA/R, etc.].

Here are a few examples:



Bottom line: Do not assume that the alignment percentage at one grade level is representative of the product’s alignment at all grade levels, or even at all grade levels within a single grade span. Learning List helps identify alignment percentage differences across grade levels and can assist you in selecting supplemental materials that can Fill-in-the-Gap™.

Solution: If your district is going to purchase multi-grade level material, look at the alignment of the material at each grade level. If the material is not consistently aligned, check why. Does the product not attempt to align to a particular domain/strand (i.e., it only addresses information text)? Did the product not align well to a particular domain/strand? If the answer is “yes” to either of these questions, it will be easy to supplement with another material that specializes in the non-aligned domain/strand. However, there simply may not be a logical pattern of non-alignment from grade-level to grade-level. To effectively prepare your students to master the standards, your teachers must know which standards the material is or is not aligned to in each grade level so that they can adjust their instructional strategies accordingly.

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Buyer Beware (Part 2): Believing Materials Are “Aligned to Standards” When Publishers Say They Are

First, why is alignment so important? Teachers rely on their instructional materials for 80 percent of their curriculum. They expect that the materials the district purchases will be aligned to 100% of the standards. If the material is not aligned to the depth and rigor of each standard, and the teacher is not aware of the material’s deficits, he/she will not supplement with additional products or adjust his/her instructional strategies to ensure that the students fully learn all of the standards. If students are not taught the knowledge and skills required by the state’s standards, they will not do well academically.

Here’s a snapshot of a few instructional materials that show the contrast between the “Publisher Submitted Alignment Percentage” vs. the  “Learning List Alignment Percentage” for the TEKS standards (Texas Education Knowledge and Skills) for ELA/R (English Language Arts and Reading) and Math across various grade levels:

[Source: Learning List]

[Source: Learning List]

Similarly, here’s a snapshot of a few instructional materials that show the contrast between the “Publisher Submitted Alignment Percentage” vs. the  “Learning List Alignment Percentage” for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/R and Math across various grade levels:

[Source: Learning List]

[Source: Learning List]

Bottom line: the alignment of your district’s instructional materials will inevitably impact your students’ scores, which in turn, will impact your teachers’ evaluations and campus and district accountability ratings.

Solution: Have two or three teachers carefully check the citations in the publisher’s correlation to make sure that the citations listed are aligned to the content, context and cognitive demand of each standard. Why more than one teacher? Determining alignment is an inherently subjective endeavor; having a few teachers work together to check the material’s alignment is necessary to reduce the subjectivity of alignment determinations.

At Learning List, three and sometimes four subject matter experts (experienced teachers certified in the grade and subject of the products they review) check the alignment of each instructional material. On average, we spend about 14 hours reviewing the alignment of each instructional material featured on Learning List.

Support your teachers and students’ success by ensuring that the materials you purchase (either individually or in the aggregate) are truly aligned to 100% of the standards in each grade and subject.

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