The following questions have been selected from the Achieve the Core Instructional Materials Evaluation Tool for the CCSS alignment.
Complexity of Text
Are texts aligned to the CCSS grade level bands?
Read aloud materials align to the grade level band for which they have been selected, and also include titles above the grade level band in order to stretch students’ listening comprehension. Texts are aligned to the quantitative, qualitative, and reader and task demands of the CCSS. Note: qualitative demands trump quantitative demands according to CCSS.
Are shorter, challenging text for close reading provided?
Included in each unit you will find diverse media (maps, timelines, primary documents, charts, diagrams, videos, and diaries), fiction (short stories, poetry), and nonfiction (articles). Additional short texts are suggested to incorporate social studies, science, and health standards.
Do all students have an opportunity to read and comprehend grade level text?
All students participate in shared reading of grade level and above texts.
Range of Texts
Is there a balance of literature and informational texts?
Each grade level scope and sequence includes fiction as well as narrative non-fiction. Each fiction and narrative non-fiction unit of study also includes multiple informational non-fiction texts.
Additionally, we recognize historical fiction as presenting both nonfiction information and literary interpretation. There is a historical fiction title at each grade level.
Because our materials are topic/theme focused, teachers can easily extend nonfiction into other content areas including Math, Science, Social Studies, and the arts (extended texts are recommended throughout the units of study). The extension of nonfiction from the literary classroom into the content areas is the intention of the CCSS, and helps bring the balance of literary/informational text to a balance of 50-50 across the school day at grades 3-5 and increasingly at 6th.
Do the materials follow a sequence that builds knowledge systemically through reading, writing, listening and speaking?
Every lesson incorporates reading, listening and speaking, and language standards. Every unit incorporates writing in response to reading. All standards are modeled and practiced within a single unit of study. Rigor is increased as texts and genres become increasingly more challenging across the year.
Do the titles have to be taught in the specified order?
Because of the sequential design, it is highly recommended that the units of study be taught in the order provided. Academic vocabulary and background knowledge introduced in one unit scaffold’s each students’ ability to move into gradually more complex text across the year.
Do the materials increase the opportunity for independent reading of texts that appeal to students’ interests?
Because our materials are topic/genre/theme focused, students are motivated to select a variety of texts for independent reading that connect to the texts read aloud; students often follow a genre study, author study, or topic study in their independent reading as a result of the read aloud and book club experiences. In this way, students’ reading interests are broadened across the school year. Students move from self-selecting easy picture books and series books, to self-selecting longer, more complex books.
Quality of Texts
Are 100% of texts are worth reading? Are they content rich and well crafted?
9 of the titles are Newberry winning books. 6 of the authors are Newberry honored authors. All of the titles are content rich, providing students with domain knowledge and academic vocabulary.
Text Dependent Questions/Tasks
Do the materials focus on text dependent questions and tasks that require text evidence, including support for valid inferences?
All questions and tasks in both the read aloud and book club curriculum require textual evidence to support valid inferences. This outcome is measured formatively in both oral discussion and in writing.
Scaffolding and Support
Do reading strategies support comprehension and focus on building knowledge and insight?
All reading strategies and skills presented support comprehension of complex tests. Lessons focus on building knowledge of genre, text structure, language, author’s craft, and topic/theme. Strategies and skills are not taught in isolation, but are used as tools to get to deeper thinking.
Do the materials show innovation by moving away from teaching discrete skills?
Strategies and skills are applied in the text authentically to increase the likelihood of transfer into independent reading, across the school day and beyond the classroom. Students develop reading habits that extend beyond the CIA classroom.
Do the materials include work on Foundational Skills for grades 3-5?
CIA is not a comprehensive program and therefore does not explicitly teach a sequence of foundational skills at 3-5. However, the foundational skills at this level include advanced decoding or word analysis through syllabication, morphology, and fluency, all of which have a place within the C.I.A. units. Students decode multisyllabic words when they read their own text during book club, students practice identifying and connecting meaning to morphemes during the C.I.A. vocabulary routine and fluency is modeled in read aloud and practiced during book club and independent reading.
Writing to Sources
What modes of writing are included in the writing portion of the materials?
The C. I. A. units of study do not teach writing explicitly, but they do include opportunities for students to practice writing. Expository writing and opinion writing are woven equally throughout the units of study.
Do students practice writing to sources?
Writing assignments throughout the units require students to use texts as sources for writing. Short writing assignments embedded within the units focus on the read aloud or book club text while formal writing at the end of the unit requires the analysis and synthesis of multiple sources. Additionally, extended research projects are given as recommendations in several of the units of study, with a greater focus on research writing in 5th and 6th grades.
Speaking and Listening
Do the materials require students to engage effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations?
Students practice academic oral language within the read aloud through turn and talk. This reciprocal dialogue is then transferred into small groups and independent reading where students are given the opportunity to discuss with a partner, a group, and one-on-one with the teacher. Students prepare for conversations by taking notes. Turn and talk stems encourage the use of academic language and higher level thinking.
To look at how the CIA materials align to the Publisher’s Criteria, please view the feature video found at https://readsidebyside.com/videos/cia-units-of-study.html.