At The New York Public Library's Adult Learning Centers, where adults work on basic English and literacy skills, we're often asked for recommendations of websites for adults to practice English at home. Below you'll find eleven sites, some with a focus on listening, some on vocabulary, others on grammar, and some with a range of activities. Happy learning!
Easy World of English
An attractive, user-friendly website including grammar, pronunciation, reading and listening practice and an interactive picture dictionary.
This website includes matching quizzes, word games, word puzzles, proverbs, slang expressions, anagrams, a random-sentence generator and other computer-assisted language learning activities. The site also includes a special page on pronunciation, including practice with minimal pairs. Not the fanciest or most beautiful website, but with lots to see and use and no advertising.
Dave's ESL Cafe
A forum for both ESL teachers and students around the world. Includes quizzes, grammar explanations, and discussion forums for students. For teachers, includes classroom ideas on all subjects as well as discussion forums.
The California Distance Learning Project
Read and listen to a news stories on topics including working, housing, money and health, then work on activities based on the stories including matching pairs, vocabulary, and quiz questions. Some stories also include videos.
BBC Learning English
An array of wonderful activities for practice, some relating to current events. Includes videos, quizzes, vocabulary practice, idioms, crosswords, and much more, though all with British accents.
Activities for ESL Students
Grammar and vocabulary practice for all levels, including many bilingual quizzes for beginners. Also includes a link for teachers, with conversation questions, games, and many other ideas to put to use in the classroom.
This is a website for kids, but who says adults can't use it, too? The site includes educational games organized by grade level, from 1st to 5th, and is particularly good for spelling and phonics. There are games to practice vowels, uppercase and lowercase letters, Dolch sight words, synonyms and antonyms and more.
This site includes videos with native speakers explaining key reading concepts like critical reading, summarizing and scanning, and key life skills like signing a lease and reading a medicine label. Following each video is a comprehension quiz. Click on the blue tabs across the top lead for lessons on reading, writing, vocabulary and finance.
GCF Learn Free
A well-designed site with interactive tutorials for everything from operating an ATM machine to reading food labels. If you click on the main page icon and then click on reading, the site has resources for English language learners as well, including stories to listen to and read along, and picture dictionaries.
This is an online picture dictionary, with everything from the alphabet to parts of the body to farm animals.
Oxford University Press
This site from Oxford University Press has activities to practice spelling, grammar, pronunciation, and listening. A bit difficult to navigate, so more suitable for advanced learners and savvy internet users.
Also, remember that Mango Languages is available to you through the Library! It features ESL lessons for Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese speakers. (First time users must create a profile in order to access Mango Languages.)
And don't forget YouTube. Whatever you'd like to learn — an explanation of a grammar term, idioms, a set of vocabulary — enter it in the search field and an array of videos are sure to come up. I hope some of these sites prove useful. Enjoy! And please add your own favorite sites in the comments.
The Grade 5 instructional materials meet expectations for alignment. The materials include include texts that are worthy of students' time and attention and provide many opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills. Students have opportunities to build skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and they integrate language work throughout. Texts include a balance of genres and are appropriately rigorous and complex for Grade 5 students. Most tasks and questions are grounded in evidence. Materials address foundational skills where appropriate to support students' building their reading abilities to comprehend increasingly complex texts over the course of the school year. The instructional materials support the building of knowledge through repeated practice with appropriate grade-level complex text organized around a topic. Vocabulary is addressed in each module, though academic vocabulary is not built across multiple texts. Culminating tasks require students to read, discuss, analyze, and write about texts while students participate in a volume of reading to build knowledge. Writing instruction includes a year-long plan to support students' skills in on-demand and process writing. Modules are developed to support and build knowledge, integrating reading, writing, speaking, listening to demonstrate grade-level literacy proficiency at the end of the school year.
The Grade 5 instructional materials meet the expectations for text quality and complexity and alignment to the standards. Most tasks and questions are grounded in evidence. The instructional materials include texts that are worthy of students' time and attention and provide many opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.Materials address foundational skills to build comprehension and provide questions and tasks that guide students to read with purpose and understanding, making connections between acquisition of foundationalskills and making meaning during reading. Materials also provide opportunity to increase oral and silent reading fluency across the grade level.Overall, appropriately complex grade-level texts are are accompanied by quality tasks aligned to the standards of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language to build foundational skills and strengthen literacy skills.
Texts are worthy of students' time and attention: texts are of quality and are rigorous, meeting the text complexity criteria for each grade. Materials support students' advancing toward independent reading.
The instructional materials meet expectations for text quality and complexity. Central texts are of publishable quality and address topics of interests to Grade 5 students. Texts are at an appropriate level of rigor and complexity and include a balance of types to support Grade 5 students. The instructional materials include a text complexity analysis with rubrics and rationales for their purposes and placement.The materials support students increasing literacy skills over the year and provide students with many opportunities to engage in a range and volume of reading throughout each unit and module through anchor texts, supporting texts, and leveled libraries.
Anchor texts are of publishable quality and worthy of especially careful reading and consider a range of student interests.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the expectations for anchor texts being of publishable quality and worth of careful reading and consider a range of interests.
Anchor texts and text sets encompass multiple themes and integrate content areas such as Social Studies and Science. Texts are examined multiple times for multiple purposes and are used to expand big ideas, build academic vocabulary, and facilitate access to future similar texts. Most texts are engaging, build knowledge, and facilitate access to future text while building towards independent grade-level reading.
Unit 1 Theme: Science Integration: Depending on Each Other
- Unit 1, Module A: Night of the Spadefoot Toads by Bill Harley engages students with characters that are in the same grade. This realistic fiction book builds knowledge and understanding of analyzing characters and their traits to help better understand a text. This knowledge helps students to access other text in the module’s text set.
- Unit 1, Module B: Washed Up by award winning author Payal Kapadia engages students with a book about a reality show. Students examine characters in the text and how the author describes the characters and their surroundings. Students use this text in connection with other texts to discover how different but related texts develop the big idea of the interactions between living things.
Unit 2 Theme: Social Studies Integration: Finding Courage
- Unit 2, Module A: The Road to Freedom by Lesa Cline-Ransome has students examine the theme of finding courage with a text about the historical Underground Railroad. Students read the text for multiple purposes and gain knowledge to access other texts with similar themes.
- Unit 2, Module B: Real-Life Superheroes by Alison Howes addresses the civil rights movement and historical events such as World War II. Students build academic vocabulary as well as domain-specific vocabulary to help access other texts in the module. Students determine main ideas and explain how they are supported by key details.
Unit 3 Topic: Science Integration: Understanding the Universe
- Unit 3, Module A: Best seller George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy and Stephen Hawking is a science fiction text in which students are asked to compare and contrast characters while drawing on specific details in the text. This text is used to expand on the big idea of asking and answering questions to better understand the world around you. Students gain knowledge in order to access future similar texts in the module.
- Unit 3, Module B: Jess and Layla’s Astronomical Assignment by Lucy Courtenay builds knowledge about how scientists continue to study and reveal new information about the universe. Both academic and domain vocabulary introduced in this text help students build knowledge and access future texts. Students also use this text to continue to analyze characters and how an author describes the characters, setting, and events.
Unit 4 Topic: Social Studies Integration: Exploring New Worlds
- Unit 4, Module A: Explorers: Triumphs and Troubles by Paul Mason is an informational text about world explorers and their journeys. The text includes academic vocabulary while introducing multiple topics that relate to explorers. The text includes illustrations, maps, captions and photos that aid in students building knowledge on topics including, but not limited to, Columbus, Vikings, European traders in China, John Cabot, Vespucci, and Cortes. Students use this knowledge to access other texts in the module’s text set.
- Unit 4, Module B: Beyond the Horizon by Paul B. Mason is a narrative story about a girl sneaking onto an explorer ship and her journey. Students use knowledge about explorers gained in the first module of the unit to help better understand the characters and setting of this text. This text has a chronological story structure with multiple levels of meaning, including a challenging theme. Students build knowledge about the big idea about the benefits of studying the exploration of new places.
Supplementary texts included in each module’s text set also encompass the Unit themes and help to integrate content areas while expanding big ideas and academic vocabulary.
Materials reflect the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards at each grade level.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the expectations for reflecting the distribution of text types and genres required by the standards. There is an overall balance of informational and literary texts within the anchor texts and supporting texts. Of the 8 anchor texts, two are informational, and the rest are literary. The two informational texts focus on social studies topics (real life heroes and explorers). Other genres within the anchor texts and the supporting texts include historical fiction, poetry, and science fiction.
Below are some examples that represent the balance of text types and genres including anchor texts and supporting texts.
- Anchor Text - Night of the Spadefoot Toads (Literary, Realistic Fiction)
- Supporting Text - "Shells" fromEvery Living Thing (Literary, Realistic Fiction)
- Supporting Text - Hatchet (Literary, Realistic Fiction)
- Anchor Text - Washed Up! (Literary, Realistic Fiction)
- Supporting Text - Pale Male (Informational)
- Supporting Text - Rain Forest Food Chains (Informational)
- Anchor Text - The Road to Freedom (Literary, Realistic Fiction)
- Supporting Text - Operation Clean Sweep (Literary)
- Supporting Text - Cesar Chavez (Informational)
- Anchor Text - Real Life Superheroes (Informational)
- Supporting Text - Angel Island (Informational)
- Supporting Text - The Great Migration (Informational)
Drama is included in Unit 4, Lesson 18.
Texts have the appropriate level of complexity for the grade according to quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and relationship to their associated student task.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet expectations for text complexity, according to quantitative and qualitative analysis and relationship to their associated student task(s).
The materials include quantitative, qualitative, and reader and task information in the Teacher Resources section. Most texts are aligned to the complexity requirements outlined in the Common Core Standards with text complexity rubrics appearing at the back of each ReadyGEN Teacher’s Guide.
- Unit 1 Module B Washed Up! by Payal Kapadia 910L (Literary): This text contains chronological chapters with several storylines and conversational dialogue with a combination of simple, compound, and complex sentences. There is some challenging vocabulary.
- Unit 2 Module A The Road to Freedom by Lesa Cline Ransome 780L (Literary): This text has a challenging concept with challenging vocabulary. There is a combination of simple, compound, and complex sentences.
- Unit 3 Module A George’s Secret Key to the Universe by Lucy & Stephen Hawking 850L (Literary): This text contains an accessible concept with advanced vocabulary. There are a series of chapters with occasional text boxes of related facts.
- Unit 3 Module B Jess and Layla’s Astronomical Assignment 910L (Literary): This text contains an accessible concept with scientific vocabulary. There are a series of scenes with artwork, captions, and supplemental information.
- Unit 4 Module A Explorers: Triumphs and Troubles by Paul Mason 1000L (Informational): This text contains an accessible concept with a somewhat challenging topic. There is specific and academic vocabulary as well as a combination of compound and complex sentences. There are many text features.
- Unit 4 Module B Beyond the Horizon 890L (Literary): This text is a narrative with chronological story structure. There are multiple levels of meaning as well as cultural vocabulary, figurative language, and a dialect.
Of the anchor texts that are not within the grade-level stretch band, a qualitative feature analysis provided gives additional insight as to the appropriateness of their placement in the curriculum. The following texts have Lexile levels below or above the grade level stretch band.
- Unit 1 Module A Night of the Spadefoot Toads by Bill Harley 610L (Literary): This text is an accessible concept with general vocabulary. There are compound and complex sentence structures. The text complexity of this text is below Grade 5.
- Unit 2 Module B Real-Life Superheroes by Alison Hawes 1030L (Informational): This text contains information about three real-life superheroes that students most likely have not learned about previously. The vocabulary is challenging with academic and domain-specific words. Students would need background knowledge about World War II and the Civil Rights Movement. The teacher would need to pre-teach background knowledge and vocabulary. The text complexity is above Grade 5.
Every text in the close reading materials (Sleuth) is within the Lexile band outlined in the standards.
The Leveled Text Library includes readers for each unit. The books in the library begin at the Lexile band at 450L (Egg Watching and The Best Community Service Project Ever) and go slightly above the Lexile band to 1200L (Greetings for the Four Corners! and The Mysteries of Space).
Materials support students' increasing literacy skills over the course of the school year. (Series of texts should be at a variety of complexity levels appropriate for the grade band.)
The materials for Grade 5 partially meet the expectations for this indicator in that the complexity of the text does not increase throughout the course of the year when quantitative and qualitative measures are reviewed. As seen in the quantitative and qualitative analyses of the included texts, there is not clear, defined scaffolding of the texts to ensure that students are supported to access and comprehend grade-level texts at the end of the year. Students will engage with texts at varying levels Unit to Unit and quarter to quarter in a structure that may not provide support for accelerating their literacy growth.
Teachers are directed to use the text complexity rubrics to determine the support students will need to overcome challenges in the text as well as how to support accelerated learners. However, in the first and second units, the texts suggested for use are towards the end of the band. Three of the stories are in the very highest Lexile bands for fifth grade in the first and third quarters of the school year. Unit 4's supporting text seems to go back toward the beginning of the band which would provide students a less rigorous text instead of increasing the rigor.
The literacy skills required for students to access these texts are not consistently challenged across these selections; rather, the text placement moves from more rigorous to less and back again over the course of the year. Examples include (but are not limited to) the following:
- In Unit 1, Module A, students read Night of the Spadefoot Toads. This literary text has a quantitative measure of 610 Lexile, an average sentence length of 9.57 words, and a page count of 220. In Unit 1, Module B, students read Washed Up! This literary text has a quantitative measure of 910 Lexile, and average sentence length of 12.31, and a page count of 56.
- In Unit 2 Module A, students read The Road to Freedom. This literary text has a quantitative measure of 780 Lexile, an average sentence length of 13 words, and a page count of 56. This text also has a challenging concept and some challenging vocabulary. Students are challenged with a more rigorous text in Unit 2, Module B with the informational Real-Life Superheroes, which has a quantitative measure of 1030, an average sentence length of 15.10 words, and a page count of 32. This text includes challenging domain-specific and academic vocabulary, and students must understand historical events such as the Civil Right movement and World War II.
- In Unit 3, Module A, students read the literary text George’s Secret Key. This text has a quantitative measure of 850, an average sentence length of 13.27 words, and is 336 pages long.
- In Unit 4, Module A, students read the informational text Explorer’s: Triumphs and Troubles, which has a quantitative measure of 1000, an average sentence length of 15.17 words, and is 32 pages. This text has an accessible concept and some challenging topic-specific and academic vocabulary. It is notable that while this is an appropriate text for 5th graders, the level of rigor with this text is similar to Real-Life Superheroes in Unit 2. Also in Unit 4, Module B is the literary text Beyond the Horizon, which has a quantitative measure of 890, an average sentence length-13.67 words, and is 64 pages long.
Overall, there are many appropriately rigorous texts for students to engage with and learn from over the course of the year, but the complexity of texts do not consistently increase over the course of the four units. The teacher will have to attend to this variation in complexity to support students' literacy growth.
Anchor texts and series of texts connected to them are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for purpose and placement in the grade level.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the expectation that anchor texts and series of connected texts are accompanied by a text complexity analysis and rationale for educational purpose and placement in the grade level.
The anchor texts and supporting texts have a "Text Complexity Rubric" page in the Teacher Resources section that covers quantitative, qualitative, and reader and task measures.
Quantitative metrics are provided for each anchor text in four categories: Lexile Level, Average Sentence Length, Word Frequency and Page or Word Count. Qualitative measures are provided for each anchor text and supporting text in four categories: levels of meaning, structure, language conventionality and clarity, and theme and knowledge demands. Metrics provided for qualitative measures are in list form. Reader and Task Suggestions are in narrative form and provide teachers with suggestions for preparing all students to read the text as well as leveled tasks. For example, the following contains the Text Complexity Rubric for the supporting text The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon (Unit 2, Module A):
- Quantitative Measures- Lexile: 810L; Average Sentence Length: 13.18; Word Frequency: 3.26; Page Count: 12
- Qualitative Measures- Levels of Meaning: accessible concept (a story of an astronaut who flew a space capsule while others walked on the moon); Structure: series of scenes with artwork, captions, and supplemental information; Language Conventionality and Clarity: basic scientific vocabulary; Theme and Knowledge Demands: a basic knowledge of space exploration and travel
- Reader and Task Suggestions: Preparing to Read the Text: Provide an overview of the 1960s American space program; Leveled Tasks: Discuss astronauts’ duties and living habits during space missions
At the beginning of each Module, teachers are provided with a Lexile and genre reminder about the upcoming text set. Lexiles and genres are listed for the anchor text and supporting texts. Lexiles are provided for the Sleuth texts and the Leveled Text Library. Following the Text Set information, teachers are also provided with more information about vocabulary in a section called Vocabulary to Unlock Text. This provides the teacher with Benchmark Vocabulary and Tier II and Tier III Words for the anchor text and supporting texts.
Within each unit and module, the texts are focused on a theme, which provides some rationale as to why the text was chosen.
Anchor text(s), including support materials, provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading to achieve grade level reading.
The instructional materials for Grade 5 meet the expectations of indicator 1f. The instructional materials provide opportunities for students to engage in a range and volume of reading, and there are supports to build students’ comprehension of grade level texts in oral and silent reading.
Resources are provided to offer students texts to engage in a range and volume of reading. The eText Library includes leveled readers. The database is searchable by Lexile, Guided Reading, DRA, and Reading Maturity Matrix for initial search. Then, as a secondary search, texts can be chosen by grade level, language, comprehension skill, text feature, genre, and content area. Each unit has trade books which are authentic literary and informational texts. These trade books are available in digital format. In addition to texts, there are independent reading activities that students can access online.
Structures are built within the day to provide students with opportunities to practice silent and oral reading. Each day students engage in independent reading with a specific focus including building stamina and becoming independent readers. In addition, small group instruction each day either focuses on vocabulary, fluency, critical thinking or comprehension (Implementation Guide). Comprehension and vocabulary instruction dominates the small group instruction, but the few fluency lessons focus on a specific aspect of fluency such as phrasing, expression, and pacing. Students hear and see the teacher model reading the text and then practice using the same text.
A scaffolded strategies handbook is also provided, which gives teachers additional ways to teach the concepts to struggling learners and English language learners. In addition, throughout the teacher’s guide there are "if/then" sections which provide the teachers with concrete things to do when students do not understand the concept.
Materials provide opportunities for rich and rigorous evidence-based discussions and writing about texts to build strong literacy skills.
The Grade 5 instructional materials meet expectations for alignment to the standards with tasks and questions grounded in evidence. Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent and build towards a culminating tasks to integrates skills. The instructional materials provide multiple opportunities for evidence-based discussion that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and support student listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching. The materials include frequent opportunities for different genres and modes of writing. Materials meet the expectations for materials including explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context. Materials reviewed provide many tasks and opportunities for evidence-based discussions and writing using evidence from texts to build strong literacy skills.
Most questions, tasks, and assignments are text-dependent, requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the expectations of most questions, tasks, and assignments being text-specific and requiring students to engage with the text directly (drawing on textual evidence to support both what is explicit as well as valid inferences from the text).
Some explicit question examples include:
- "What is the difference between how Ben feels when he is alone and how Ben feels when he is with people?” (Unit 1, Module A, Lesson 2)
- What are the main events in this part of the story?” (Unit 3, Module B, Lesson 5)
Some implicit question examples include:
- "What does the picture add to your understanding of the Liu family?” (Unit 1, Module B, Lesson 1)
- "Michael Collins is ‘the man’ in this text’s title. What can you infer about why he did not land on the moon?” (Unit 3, Module A, Lesson 13)
Many lessons have a Reading Analysis section where students are working toward a specific standard and engaging in either independent work or small group work to complete a task involving the text. The majority of lessons have a turn and talk after the students read, which requires the students to discuss something from the text. Some of the questions are about the text itself while some are questions that focus on author’s craft, but the majority of them require students to be engaging with the text.
- For example, In Unit 2, Module A, Lesson 1, students complete a graphic organizer using evidence from the text to support the narrator's point of view. “Ask students to reread Chapter 1 (The Road to Freedom) and provide the Web B graphic organizer on p. TR45.”
Each lesson has small group options, which include several options for students to answer text-dependent questions.
- For example, some options are extensions of the Close Reading or Reading Analysis sections. Students will: read pieces of text, find evidence in order to answer specific questions, ask questions related to what they have read, and prove their case with evidence from the text. Depending on students’ readiness, questions are modified to meet students’ needs still addressing the standards.
- For example in Unit 1, Module A, Lesson 17, it is suggested that students who are adept or excel at close reading, they can continue to have an evidence-based discussion on an additional passage in the Sleuth text. Students first have to gather evidence to answer the question “How do trees make a home for other living things”. Then they have to address, “What question might Mei Li ask about the smells and signs in a rain forest?” Then they have to make their case by answering “how do humans change their environment?”
All lessons have a Close Reading section that includes 3 - 4 text-dependent questions.
- For example, “On page 13, the author says that the Tlaxcalan leaders joined the Spanish conquistadors. What does this suggest about the relationship between the Tlaxcalans and the Aztecs? On page 14, what evidence does the author provide to support the heading ‘Badly Behaved Guests’?” (Unit 4 Module A Lesson 3)
Additional materials that support students engaging with the text include:
- In the Sleuth materials (close reading texts), there is a gather evidence section for each close read which requires students to find evidence from the text.
- The Reader's and Writer's Notebook provides evidence-based questions.
- The Baseline Assessment also includes evidence-based questions.
There is the Reader/Writer Journal which asks students to answer text-dependent questions in writing for each lesson.
Sets of high-quality sequences of text-dependent questions and tasks build to a culminating task that integrates skills (may be writing, speaking, or a combination).
The Grade 5 materials partially meet the expectations for this indicator. The end- of- unit culminating assessments include text dependent questions from new texts. The text dependent questions in the close reading section as well as some of the reading analysis sections should help students in completing the end of unit assessment successfully. However, not all Performance Based Assessments (PBAs) or end- of- unit assessments require text evidence. In addition, not all of the lessons leading up to the PBA will support the student's ability to successfully complete it.
Representative culminating tasks that meet the expectations of this indicator include (but are not limited to) the following examples:
- Unit 1 Module B students are writing about the courage exhibited by one of the people in the text. Questions in the Building Understanding section for the first read are more broad (e.g., “By the end of Chapter 2”) and allow for turn and talk, while the questions as a part of the Close Read section are more specific (e.g., “on page 24-25”) (Unit 4 Module B Lesson 3). Many questions follow a sequence that builds to student comprehension, such as having students identify emotion based on evidence in the text, infer what the characters’ situation tells the reader, and explain how the mood changes in the final pages of the selection (Unit 4 Module B Lesson 6).
- In Unit 2 Module B, students write about the courage of one of the people in Real Life Super Heroes. There are text based questions throughout the unit to support this task. For example, in Lesson 1, students are identifying details to support why Richard Martin had inner strengths that made him a superhero, or in Lesson 3 students are asked why Thomas Barnardo's work was dangerous.
- Unit 3 Module A's PBA is not evidence based as students are required to write a narrative science-fiction piece using the texts from the unit as anchor texts. However, there are text dependent questions and activities throughout the unit that will support the students successfully completing the PBA. For example, in Lesson 1, students are comparing and contrasting characters using evidence, which can help students develop their own characters. In Lesson 2, students are identifying the point of view of the main character. In lesson 6, students are working with dialogue and using dialogue from the anchor text to analyze the story.
Representative examples of culminating tasks that do not meet the expectations of this indicator include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Unit 1 Module A, students are writing speeches about inequalities. They can choose to use the text to help them select the inequality, or they can use their own lives or the world around them to choose the inequality, making the task less text-dependent.
- In Unit 3 Module B, students are writing a science journal based on research they will conduct. In this Unit, many of the reading lessons and text dependent questions support understanding fiction, which does not prepare students to complete this PBA. However, many of the writing lessons are focused on supporting the student's understanding of and ability to conduct research.
- In Unit 4 Module A, students are writing an opinion piece for the PBA, though students are not required to use text evidence. However, there are some text dependent tasks throughout the reading lessons that will prepare students for this task. For instance, in Lesson 5, students are gathering details from the text to analyze and determine the author's point of view. This will be important for students to be able to do this in their own writing. There are other similar lessons in this module, including Lessons 1, 9, and 15.
Materials provide frequent opportunities and protocols for evidencebased discussions that encourage the modeling and use of academic vocabulary and syntax. (May be small group and all-class.)
The Grade 5 materials meet the expectations for this indicator. There are structures throughout the course of the year to support students' growing their speaking and listening skills as they learn new academic vocabulary.
- Every lesson contains a close reading structures which include 3 - 4 evidence based questions where teachers have discussions with students regarding the answers (Implementation Guide p. 41).
- Many of the lessons contain a Turn and Talk. Some of the questions to be discussed are evidence based such as "What problems or challenges are helped or solved in this chapter" (Unit 2, Module A, Lesson 4). Some questions state that students should use text evidence, but the student could answer the question without reading the text such as "If you had lived at the time the author describes, would talking about the Great Migration have made you want to go north" (Unit 2, Module B, Lesson 9). Some questions are more focused on language and the author's writing style such as "Why do you think the writer chose a conversational tone for this text" (Unit 2, Module A, Lesson 1).
- At the beginning of the units there are a list of academic benchmark vocabulary. There are several words for each text, and the Teacher’s Manual states that the "students should demonstrate a deep understanding of vocabulary by using those words and words generated from them in conversation, writing practice, and the Performance - Based Assessments."
- In the whole group lessons, there is often a reading analysis section. In these sections, it is suggested that students either engage in independent or small group work. There is a Small Group Discussion Protocol to help facilitate this discussion.
- Structures are included for students to gather evidence, ask questions regarding the text, use evidence to make a case, and prove their case to other students within their team, with all team members having a voice (Sleuth).
- Students complete Performance Based Assessments where students writing using evidence from the text and their notes and share that writing with the class. They respond to questions and constructive comments from peers during the presentation portion of the Performance Based Assessment (Unit 1 Module A and Module B).
- In the think–pair–share routine, teachers are expected to model how to respond to a partner with sentence starters such as “I agree with you and would like to add _____ or I disagree with you because the text states.
- There is a small group language analysis support section during small group time. For example in Unit 2 Module A Lesson 15, students analyze the transition words in the text and are asked questions such as “What other transition words and phrases did you find on page 85”.
Materials support students' listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching (including presentation opportunities) with relevant follow-up questions and supports.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet indicator 1j for supporting students listening and speaking about what they are reading and researching with relevant follow-up questions and evidence.
The materials reviewed provide opportunities for speaking and listening that include whole group discussions and small group discussions. There are protocols in the Teacher's Guide that explain how to implement all of these discussions and how to model best practices for speaking and listening.
- For example, the Small Group Discussion Routine includes referring to the text or topic in the discussion and posing and responding to questions to check and clarify understanding.
- Text Club routines for independent reading with student roles and group discussion structures are included.
In Sleuth (Close Reading materials), structures are included for students to gather evidence, ask questions regarding the text, use evidence to make a case, and prove their case to other students within their team, with all team members having a voice.
In the writing workshop component, students are asked to share their writings. There are directions for both the speaker and the listener.
The Performance Based Assessments at the end of each module, provide an opportunity for students to share their writing.
- In Unit 1 Module A and Module B, students complete Performance Based Assessments requiring students to write using evidence from the text and their notes and share that writing with the class. They respond to questions and constructive comments from peers during the presentation portion of the Performance Based Assessment.
Materials include a mix of on-demand and process writing (e.g. multiple drafts, revisions over time) and short, focused projects, incorporating digital resources where appropriate.
The instructional materials for Grade 5 meet the expectations for this indicator. There is a mix of both on demand and process writing, but there is limited support for implementing and supporting teaching of the whole writing process.
On-demand writing occurs throughout the materials consistently. On-demand writing occurs each day and varies from short answers to paragraph instruction. On-demand writing occurs in high stakes environments (e.g. assessments) as well as frequently in low-stakes writing (e.g. Lessons have been structured so that by the end of the module students have addressed all components of the writing process).
Performance Based Assessments include writing projects where students use the anchor text and the major writing skill from the module in order to respond to questions to synthesize learning. The end-of-unit assessments involve a writing assignment that aligns to the writing focus of the module. For example, in Unit 2, Module A, students write an opinion piece on an injustice that they have read about throughout the unit and/or an injustice they have experienced in their own Iives.
Students get scaffolded lessons and practice with the writing process over the course of the year. Students apply the writing process to research projects and culminating writing tasks. There may be lessons during the year where the teacher will need to differentiate the writing process work to accommodate for time constraints, but there are supported resources included to do so. Each lesson includes some guidance on how to incorporate digital resources including opportunities to edit/revise with a peer.
The process writing includes days of brainstorming, drafting, and direct instruction of revising and editing. There are also specific days for publishing and sharing in each unit. However, the structured nature of the lessons may require modification for some students.
Process writing examples include, but are not limited the following examples:
- In Unit 3, Module B, students draft and then revise an informative journal article. After this, they get instruction on editing and apply editing skills to their article. Then they write or type an updated version by incorporating the suggested edits and revisions and publish their work. While there are opportunities for two drafts, students do not have explicit opportunities to work through multiple edits and revisions and create multiple drafts; the teacher will have to differentiate to support any needed extra revisions.
- In Unit 4, Modules A and B, students conducting research projects using multiple sources on a historical topic, engaging in learned protocols for conducting research, synthesizing research, drafting an opinion essay, revising an opinion essay, editing an opinion essay, and publishing/presenting an argument.
Materials provide opportunities for students to address different text types of writing that reflect the distribution required by the standards.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the criteria for indicator 1l. Materials provide opportunities for students to address different genres/modes of writing that reflect the distribution by the standards. Students are given opportunities for instruction and practice in a variety of genres addressed in the standards over the course of the school year. Examples of text types practiced include short story, informative essay, opinion speech, explanation essay, science-fiction story, journal article, and opinion essay. Students get practice repeated throughout the year to strengthen skills in each genre.
Examples of different writing types and genres include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Unit 1, Module A- Narrative writing and opinion writing
- Unit 1, Module B- Informative writing about the relationship between a habitat and the organisms that live there
- Unit 2, Module A- Opinion writing about inequality or injustice in students' own lives
- Unit 3, Module A- Narrative science fiction writing
- Unit 4, Module A Lessons 10-16- Opinion writing
Writing tasks are teacher supported and offer multiple opportunities for students to revisit previous writing tasks and edit as their skills develop. Writing Rubrics are provided for all types of writing (aligned to the standards) in the Teacher's Edition.
Materials include frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the expectations for the materials including frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing to support careful analyses, well-defended claims, and clear information.
Students are taught each day to carefully analyze and synthesize sources, write to sources, and defend claims as part of Whole Group Writing instruction. Students are given frequent opportunities for evidence-based writing instruction where they are required to connect what they are offered opportunities to write, edit, or present information referencing the text.
The Reading and Writing Journal (RWJ) frequently provides “Write in Response to Reading” prompts. Students are required to gather and use evidence from the text to support their responses.
Some examples of opportunities for evidence-based writing in the instructional materials include:
- In Unit 1, Module A, lesson 1, students compare and contrast two characters in Night of the Spadefoot Toads. Students must support each paragraph by including descriptions of character traits, thoughts, feelings, words and actions.
- In Unit 2, Module A, Lesson 10, students are expected to write about an important historical milestone in The Road to Freedom using text evidence.
- In Unit 4, Module A, Lessons 10-16 and Unit 4, Module B, lessons 10-17, students work on conducting research projects using multiple sources on a historical topic with protocols for conducting research, synthesizing research, drafting an opinion essay, revising an opinion essay, editing an opinion essay, and publishing/presenting an argument.
Performance-Based Assessments (PBA) are assigned at the end of each module. These include writing projects where students use the anchor text and the major writing skill from the module in order to respond to questions to synthesize learning. These projects lead students to analyze and synthesize the texts they have read.
- For example, in Unit 2 Module A Performance-Based Assessment, students use evidence from sources to support an opinion.
Materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context.
The Grade 5 materials include explicit instruction of the grammar and conventions standards for grade level as applied in increasingly sophisticated contexts, with opportunities for application both in and out of context, and therefore meet the expectations of this indicator. Grammar and conventions lessons are included throughout each Unit with opportunities for students to learn grade-appropriate skills that build in difficulty throughout the course of the year.
- Conventions are included in the writing rubrics within each Unit (Unit 1 Module A Narrative Writing Rubric)
- Each lesson contains a conventions section where most of the lessons focus on conventions appropriate for the grade-level Standards (nouns, verbs, subject-verb agreements, capitalization, punctuation, fragments, etc). Overall, the complexity of the convention skills are increasing in difficulty, beginning with convention skills that are below grade level.
- Lessons on conventions incorporate the text for that day. For example, students go through specific pages of the anchor text, Night of the Spadefoot Toads, to find proper and common nouns (Unit 1 Module A Lesson 1).
- Each module has one specific lesson dedicated to editing writing. Some of the edits students are expected to look for are connected to the lessons in the unit and others are not. (Unit 1 Module B Lesson 15, Unit 4 Module A Lesson 15).
- In Unit 1 Module A Lesson 6, the lesson focuses on possessive pronouns. Students are instructed to check their own narratives for the use of possessive pronouns (in context). Then they are given additional practice in their Reader’s and Writer’s Journal on page 18 (out of context).
- Another example is in Unit 3, Module B, Lesson 2. Students work in pairs to practice simple tenses by writing three paragraphs, each of which uses a different simple tense (in context). There is additional out of context practice in their Reader’s and Writer’s Journal on page 264.
Materials in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language targeted to support foundational reading development are aligned to the standards.
The materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks addressing grade-level CCSS for foundational skills to build comprehension by providing instruction in phonics, word recognition, morphology, vocabulary, syntax, and reading fluency in a research-based and transparent progression. Materials provide questions and tasks that guide students to read with purpose and understanding and to make frequent connections between acquisition of foundation skills and making meaning from reading while providing students ample opportunity to increase oral and silent reading fluency across the grade level.
Materials, questions, and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills by providing explicit instruction and assessment in phonics and word recognition that demonstrate a research-based progression.
The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 5 meet expectations that materials, questions and tasks address grade-level CCSS for foundational skills that build comprehension by providing instruction in phonics, word recognition, morphology, vocabulary, and reading fluency in a research-based and transparent progression.
The materials meet the expectations for this indicator in that each daily lesson has a foundational skills mini–lesson. There are lessons directly in the Teachers’ Guide, as well as additional explicit instruction in the Foundational Skills section. Word analysis mini lessons within each whole-group lesson include an introduction to an isolated foundational skill, practice with the skill, and application of the skill with specific words/sentences/phrases.
- A scope and sequence of Reading Foundation Skills and alignment to Common Core Standards are included in the Implementation Guide (p.67).
- Lessons include the teaching of words from other languages, including Spanish and Russian (Unit 2 Module A Lessons 1-3 and Unit 4 Module A Lessons 16-18).
- Lessons focus on teaching word analysis skills to help students define words, but include limited explicit instruction on how to read the words. Explicitly teaching students how to read words shows up in Unit 4, Module B, Lesson 9.
- Word Work Center (Options) are included for daily lessons (Implementation Guide).
- There is no set time within the daily schedule for foundational skills lessons (Implementation Guide p. 19).
- There is not a clear cohesive sequence to build towards application. Some skills are repeated in multiple units and others are not.
For the lessons that use words found within the text, students are given opportunities to practice.
- Unit 1 Module A Lesson 6, students are taught the Latin root geo which is on page 117 of the text and then they are asked to define the word geography;
- Unit 1 Module A, students are taught a mini-lesson on –ly and students find words within the Anchor Text and describe how adding the suffix previously taught changes the meaning of the words;
- Unit 3 Lesson 7, students are taught a skills mini-lesson on the suffix -ize and asked to use context to define the word organize;
- Unit 4 Module B Lesson 6, students using context clues to define the word.
Lessons that do not include words from the text have no relationship to the text. For instance Unit 4, Module A, Lesson 16 teaches students about words in Russian, and many have to do with cold climate (tundra, taiga, beluga). The text for the lesson is “Secrets of the Canyon Cave,” which has nothing to do with the foundational skills lesson of the day.
Some lessons provide students limited time and opportunities to engage with words. For instance, Unit 2, Module A Lesson 2, teaches students about words that come from Spanish and asks students to identify one word in the text that is close to norte. No other opportunities are suggested.
Foundational skill tasks include partner work to discuss words used to complete sentences, matching word roots, reading in Practice Readers, worksheets, leveled readers with words in context, and online games.
Suggested center work is a word work center that includes opportunities to identify words with similar prefixes and suffixes from their independent reading and to add to classroom lists and creating word families of related vocabulary and domain specific words.
Materials, lessons, and questions provide instruction in and practice of word analysis skills in a research-based progression in connected text and tasks.
The materials reviewed for Grade 5 partially meet the criteria for materials, questions, and tasks guiding students to read with purpose and understanding and to make frequent connections between acquisition of foundation skills and making meaning from reading. There are limited opportunities for students to apply what they are learning in the context of their reading.
Materials include Language Analysis mini lessons as a part of some lessons. Language Analysis mini lessons are sometimes about word analysis, and Language Analysis lessons are not in every lesson.
The following Language Analysis mini lesson topics are about practicing word analysis: Unfamiliar Words and Domain-Specific Words. For example, in Unit 3, Module B, Lesson 12 of the small group options, the teacher’s edition instructs the teacher to model the relationship of two words and their meanings. “If I want to understand the relationship between a red giant and a white dwarf, I first need to know the meaning of both these terms.” In Unit 3, Module B, Lesson 6 of small group options, the teacher’s edition instructs the teacher to tell the students that readers can use context clues and prior knowledge to find the meaning of unfamiliar words. The teacher provides a Word Web graphic organizer to model squabbling.
During Close Reading instruction, the teacher’s edition contains Scaffolded Instruction to help students use context clues. For example in Unit 4, Module B, Lesson 7, the instructional materials suggest reminding students of identifying and defining military terms such as arms (p. 56), order (p. 56).
In the Teacher Materials for helping students with Benchmark Vocabulary in Close Reading, the teacher is reminded to use the Benchmark Vocabulary Routine for Literary or Informational Text. This protocol lists steps to help students pronounce unknown words, read the paragraph in which the word is found, discuss the meaning of the word in context, use the word in a sentence, and discuss synonyms and antonyms. A Tips and Tools section suggests helping students recognize context clues and make word webs (Unit 2, TR30).
Students are given opportunities to apply word analysis learned in the foundational skills lessons by participating in Foundational Skills lessons or reading Practice Readers. For example in Unit 4, Module A, Lesson 1 of Foundational Skills, students learn complex spelling patterns (-ious). Students learn the meaning of -ious and practice identifying suffixes. Student apply the suffix to words such as ridicule. Students practice the skill in the Reader’s and Writer’s Journal on p. 310. Other lessons have students practice word analysis skills with Practice Readers. However, the content of the Practice Readers are not connected to the anchor texts.
Instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.
Instructional opportunities are frequently built into the materials for students to practice and achieve reading fluency in oral and silent reading, that is, to read on-level prose and poetry with accuracy, rate appropriate to the text, and expression.
The materials meet the expectations for this indicator. Opportunities for fluency practice during small group instructional time is included in almost all lessons.
- Teacher reads text from whole group lesson as the model. Student practice is a mix of an on level reader or the whole group text. For example, in Unit 3 Fluency p, 187, Students choose a passage from a level-appropriate text, and draw students' attention to the length of the sentences.
- Fluency checks are included as a “quick check” for the teacher, which provides the teacher with If/Then scenarios to improve fluency.
- The fluency lessons address different skills including rate, accuracy, phrasing, and expression.
- Fluency practice is included in the foundational skills sections in lessons for days 3 – 5 of the skill. Students are given words that match the skill and an isolated passage to practice.
- Assessments are included in the form of daily reading logs, baseline assessments, end of unit assessments, Oral Ready Fluency Quick Checks, Independent Reading Rubrics, and Running Records.
The instructional materials for Grade 5 meet expectations for Gateway 2, as they do support building students' knowledge with texts, vocabulary, and tasks. The instructional materials support the building of knowledge through repeated practice with appropriate grade-level complex text organized around a topic. Vocabulary is addressed in each module, though academic vocabulary is not built across multiple texts. There is evidence of the materials providing coherently sequenced questions and tasks to support students in developing literacy skills. Culminating tasks require students to read, discuss, analyze, and write about texts while students participate in a volume of reading to build knowledge. Modules are developed to support and build knowledge, integrating reading, writing, speaking, listening to demonstrate grade-level literacy proficiency at the end of the school year.