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Common Core Motivation Reading

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The impact of low reading achievement on readiness for college, careers, and life is significant. Students who graduate high school as poor readers seem to struggle to succeed. Below level reading usually indicates students should enter remedial reading courses in college. The National Center for Education Statistics (Wirt et al, 2004) reports “the need for remedial reading appears to be the most serious barrier to degree completion.”

In the United States, reading levels among the adult population appear to be low. According to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (Kutner, Greenberg, Jin, Boyle, Hsu, &  Dunleavy, 2007), statistics showed 14 percent of adults read prose texts at such a low level, indicating the most basic and concrete literacy skills are understood. It appears only 13 percent read prose at the proficient level, demonstrating complex literacy activities. Proficient readers, as reported by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, have declined 15 percent from 1992.

 The percent of adults in the United States reading literature declined from 54.0 in 1992 to 46.7 in 2002 (National Endowment for the Arts, 2004). The percent of adults reading any book also dropped 7 percentage points. Thus, a focus was placed on text complexity grade bands in the Common Core Standards (CCS) and their association with Lexile ranges. The text complexity grade bands were aligned to Lexile ranges so that the development of reading comprehension throughout the grades would lead students to read at the college and career readiness level by the time they graduated high school. This low and declining achievement rate may be connected to a general lack of independent reading.

Research from the ACT research report (ACT, 2006; CCS English Language Arts (ELA) Appendix A, 2010) confirms text complexity in reading achievement is important. Over the last fifty years, texts in K-12 grades seem to be less complex; yet higher education and the workforce have not lowered reading demands. In the last half of the century, the difficulty of college textbooks, as measured by Lexile scores, has not decreased but increased (Stenner, Koons, & Swartz, in press). College students are expected to read complex texts more independently and with little scaffolding than in their K-12 education years. Studies report that reading in the workplace varies, but some Lexile measures show the text complexity levels exceed grade 12. The vocabulary difficulty of newspapers remained stable over the 1963–1991 years (Hayes, Wolfer, & Wolfe, 1996). With a decline in complexity of texts and a lack of reading of complex texts independently, the emphasis on reading comprehension and text complexity is essential and continues to rise in importance. Thus, the need existed for the Common Core Standards in Reading to reflect emphasis on increased text complexity.

Teachers must establish an environment conducive to reading and include a variety of literature. Supplemental reading instruction that aligns to the Common Core Standards is essential in order to raise the achievement rate and address literacy skills. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is a resource for teachers and students that is aligned with the Reading Common Core Standards and contains texts that fall within the complexity ranges as specified by the Reading Common Core Standards in Appendix A of the ELA Common Core Standards.

Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is a comprehensive, rigorous, and relevant supplemental reading resource developed to provide aligned instruction and practice so that students meet the expectations as required by the English Language Arts Common Core Standards. Addressing all Reading Common Core Standards eligible for testing, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned offers multiple learning opportunities for students to achieve at high performance levels. With an emphasis on critical and creative thinking while building analytical skills and reading comprehension, students are empowered to extend and apply learning beyond the classroom. 

The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts were adopted in June 2010 as a product of a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The major goal of the Common Core Standards is to graduate students from high school prepared for success in college and careers. The intention of the K-12 standards is to ensure the goal is reached. The standards are aligned across grade levels, informed by top performing countries, and evidence-based. The standards are rigorous, requiring students to think critically using higher levels of thinking.

Many educators are concerned about how to effectively implement the Common Core Standards in English Language Arts. Teachers at every grade level must teach the standards so students do not experience gaps in learning. Students must be given opportunities to encounter complex texts and must be taught academic vocabulary necessary to comprehend these texts. Students should be taught to make inferences and to draw conclusions, citing evidence from texts. Students need to be provided opportunities to use and apply skills and strategies to make real-world applications.   Knowing and understanding the standards is of upmost importance, but locating resources that help teachers transfer the ELA Standards into classroom learning experiences is a concern.

Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned provides instructional materials that address the rigor of the newly-implemented Common Core Standards. This resource is produced in a bound paperback book format. Each grade level 2-5 has a combination of literary and informational texts integrating science, social studies/history, and technological content. Text types include literature: drama, poetry, stories, and informational: literary nonfiction, social studies/historical, scientific, and technical texts. Formats include articles, reports, journals, diaries, letters, short stories, and investigations. The Student Edition provides texts at the appropriate level of complexity and rigor. Selected- and extended-response questions that require students to think critically and creatively are an integral part of the product. The Student Edition presents twenty-five reading passages for each grade level. The texts fall within the complexity ranges as specified by the Reading Common Core State Standards, Appendix A (CCSSO and NGA, 2010). The English Language Arts Common Core Standards (CCSSO and NGA, 2010) and Karin Hess (2010) address paired selections where students conduct analyses within texts and across multiple selections. All Student Editions have paired selections that provide opportunities for students to integrate information and complete comparative analyses across multiple texts. Passages are followed by selected-response questions, critical thinking prompts, a journal entry, a creative thinking activity, extended practice, and parent activities. Each Student Edition contains a glossary of terms pertinent to the grade-specific standards. A Chart Your Success tool is featured to enable each student to chart progress. The Teacher Edition provides instructional activities that clarify the standards and enable teachers to instruct students in the skills needed to comprehend and analyze complex texts. The Teacher Edition contains Resource pages with answer keys that code items to the Reading Common Core Standards, Original/Revised Bloom’s Taxonomies, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Levels, and Hess’ Cognitive Rigor ELA Matrix. The Teacher Edition also includes strategies for effective instruction, literature connections, intervention instructional activities, and a Standards Frequency Chart. This frequency chart equips teachers with information to adjust instruction in order to target individual skill deficits and strengths.  The Teacher Edition provides educators a guide for teaching the Reading Common Core State Standards at the level required for student success on national assessments and complementing direct instruction with activities appropriate for multiple group formats. Developed by successful and experienced educators, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned provides extensive, supplemental reading practice for the Reading Common Core State Standards.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (2012) attests to the importance of principals in the successful implementation of the Common Core Standards. A Common Core Implementation Checklist was designed by this group to guide administrators in determining their strengths and assisting in the development of successful plans for implementation. One of the areas noted on the checklist was professional development. More specifically, the checklist identifies indicators from which administrators must facilitate teachers’ understanding of the curriculum changes for English Language Arts. With Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned, administrators can direct teachers to be cognizant of the wide range of information that will assist them in understanding the changes in the way the Student and Teacher Editions are designed. Unpacking the Standards is one component that will specify the meaning behind the standards addressed in the unit and aid teachers in Conceptual Understanding. Focus is addressed by identifying “what” to teach and “where” to begin and end. The Focus Standard and Anchor Standards are also identified for teachers. The arrangement of the Student Edition increases the probability of maintaining the focus so that the depth of the standards can be addressed. Reasoning is promoted through the activities, critical thinking opportunities, and journal prompts. The background information, provided for the teachers, guides the flow of instruction. Mastery of the standards is easily addressed through formative assessment. Whereas, in the past, assessment was more summative in nature, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned includes an array of instructional activities, vocabulary suggestions, interventions, and guiding questions that increase the student mastery of the Reading Standards.

Earlier in 2012, the United States Department of Education and the Federal Communications Commission announced a blueprint to invite schools to transition to digital textbooks by the end of the next five years. While not mandated, the initiative encouraged schools to make the switch from print-to-digital materials based on the projected cost-savings and the academic improvement. These benefits are due to the expense of printed textbooks and the personalization of digital content. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned Online also features a print-to-digital transition. Campuses will have digital access to all the Student and Teacher Edition pages if using Internet-connected computers. Using the same aligned content as Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned, educators have access to an interactive delivery method for their students and classrooms. This new dimension of flexibility, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned Online, offers an engaging learning environment, not only for educators, but also for students. Tools such as online progress monitoring, automatic tracking, and reporting are built into this innovative program. With the appropriate use of technology, students can develop deeper understanding of reading skills identified in the ELA CCS.

Reports from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP, 2003) indicate 38 percent of fourth graders cannot read well enough to grasp meaning from a basic children's book. With scientifically based approaches to reading, students with reading or language problems, attention or learning deficits, or those with a reading disability or with limited English speaking abilities risk their performances lagging behind those of their peers. Chall (2000) notes that research findings are not always widely accepted. Practitioners do not always readily transfer findings into classroom practices.  It is imperative that educators and others appreciate, recognize, agree upon, and implement pertinent research findings that are scientifically based. Educators must seek to optimize learning opportunities for students validated by research. Students are expected to independently read some unfamiliar texts, relying on the print and drawing meaning from it. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned seeks to provide a resource that supports the concept of "reading to learn."

Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned incorporates research-based strategies and pedagogically sound principles for teaching and learning. This product is designed to support and enhance best practices for incorporating the standards into student instruction. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is founded on the modeling of active teaching, which is teacher-directed instruction that proceeds in small steps. Active instruction includes a wide range of instructional approaches: small groups, class discussion, concrete objects, hands-on experiences, reading, and writing.  In Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned, teachers can ask students to think aloud, consider different options for responses, show evidence for the response reached, and put their thoughts in writing. All of these ways help students to organize their thinking and assist teachers in determining the level of understanding of reading concepts. Studies indicate that instruction which emphasizes active student engagement in hands-on opportunities improves attitudes toward learning and indicates a positive effect on achievement.

The National Reading Panel (2000) identified comprehension of text as critical to reading successfully. This panel pointed out a series of strategies that influence the meaning of text. The Teacher Edition of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned will delineate strategies that students can use independently as they read. Pressley & Afflerbach (1995) state that when students learn and apply such strategies, their comprehension improves. Without comprehension, teachers and students become frustrated when students can read words but only have a surface understanding of the printed word. With the absence of comprehension, reading for pleasure and knowledge appears to be nearly impossible (Vaughn & Linan-Thompson, 2004). The questions and instructional activities at the end of each unit accent specific skills and provide practice designed to challenge students and address elements of reading comprehension. Reading comprehension skills include applying one's prior knowledge and experiences to the text, understanding vocabulary and other concepts, linking ideas, recognizing the author's purpose, distinguishing between facts and opinions, and making inferences or drawing reasonable conclusions. Poor readers cannot actively process text.

Teaching students to use strategies that target the aforementioned skills or the individual difficulties they encounter can increase comprehension (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1997; Swanson, 1999; Gersten, Fuch, Williams, & Baker, 2001; Swanson, 1999). Strategy instruction seems to consistently improve the abilities of students to see relationships in reading selections and to grasp meaning while actively engaging students. Explicit and systematic instruction is linked closely with improved outcomes in reading comprehension. Thus, learning experiences must entail participation from both students and teacher, determine what students need, and should adapt to meet the needs of each learner in order to progress in reading.

Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is not a reading approach but a supplement to reading instruction. Research indicates that the active teaching approach is associated with higher levels of student achievement. Students are guided through the learning process within the Student Edition of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned and are afforded numerous classroom opportunities for success: Reading Passage, Assessment, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Extended Practice, and Parent Activities (for home completion). This product contains reading passages that reflect a variety of genres incorporating literary and informational selections. Each selection will include questions that measure or assess the comprehension of students toward the passage. Critical thinking questions, based on Bloom's Taxonomies, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK), and Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrices, are offered to allow students to derive meaning from the text using all levels of questioning. A creative thinking activity is provided to stimulate the mind by connecting an element of the passage in a productive manner. Practice that builds on selected standards is provided through a paragraph which follows each selection and parallels some aspect of each passage coupled with selected- and open-ended questions that assess the comprehension of that paragraph. All of these activities provide practice to extend the learning of each unit’s reading selection. 

Adams (1990) advocated the need for practice in reading. Furthermore, the exposure to many reading materials could reinforce vocabulary learning and provide motivating reading materials that would interest students. Chall (2000) also noted the need to provide children with the practice in reading that would provide challenging reading material in addition to texts. These supplemental materials would enable students to practice skills they had acquired. A review of literature reveals a strong correlation between children's academic engaged time and growth in achievement.

Vaughn and Linan-Thompson (2004) indicate sometimes teachers pose questions to students, and those students who respond in a reasonable manner achieve. Such students are regarded as those making adequate progress. Those who do not respond correctly or completely are then given answers or just provided cues leading these students to the specific answers sought. Students may or may not understand the text but both of these scenarios appear to satisfy some teachers.  However, the best approach to ensuring comprehension of text is to directly and explicitly teach comprehension strategies. Studies conducted during the late 70s by Durkin reveal a minimum amount of minutes dedicated toward the direct instruction of comprehension. Later studies continued to show that comprehension is not taught as often as it should (Pressley and El-Dinary, 1997; Schumm, Moody, and Vaughn, 2000). Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned provides a supplement for the teacher to apply the taught comprehension strategies and an opportunity to check progress of students toward identified standards or skills.

With the emphasis on district and state level reading assessments, the purpose for teaching comprehension strategies to students is of dire necessity. Every state is required by law to show evidence of student progress in reading. Vaughn & Linan-Thompson (2004) note that gains will surface in the assessments of students' progress if teachers will provide systematic and explicit comprehension instruction. Cunningham (1998) agrees with the importance of teaching comprehension strategies. Although she notes that teachers may ask questions after the reading of texts, modeling how to answer the questions does not occur often enough. Teachers appear to confuse question asking with teaching. Teachers also assign tasks with questions to be answered independently by the students, yet these same teachers neglect to demonstrate how to answer written questions which is also the teaching of comprehension strategies that skilled readers use.

The review of the literature, experiences, and collaborative discussions convinced the Mentoring Minds Product Development Team that quality supplemental resources for reading practice were needed. Thus, the format for a Student Edition was designed to help move reading practice and assessment forward in order to assist teachers in incorporating standards-based teaching on a higher level and to develop within students the confidence they need to succeed. The Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned Student Edition with its twenty-five standards-based units containing reading selections that reflect a variety of literary and informational genres offer teachers the resource to integrate standards into instruction.

Teachers must ensure that ample opportunities are provided for students to learn important skills in reading. A specific focus must accentuate all targeted skills on a regular basis. Therefore, time must be built into the schedule for instructional opportunities. Evidence from research demonstrates that a successful instructional program must include time for students to practice what they are learning and experiences to perform the tasks for which they are to demonstrate competence. A positive relationship between total time allocated to instruction and general student performance exists. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is an educational tool that enables students to practice what they are learning.

Assessment plays a critical role in all aspects of teaching and learning. The need for higher-quality assessments is well established.  Studies show teachers spend as much as one-third to one-half of their time involved in assessment-related activities (Stiggins and Conklin, 1992).  For instruction to be effective, classroom assessments must reflect quality. Evaluative tools, which closely align with the objectives, are usually more beneficial for diagnosing and revising instructional needs. No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001) stated, “Beginning no later than the 2005-2006 school year, each state must administer annual assessments in reading or language arts and mathematics in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once in grades 10 through 12.” Therefore, an Assessment page is included at the end of each unit from whence the teacher can gather timely student information to readily and continuously maintain accountability for academic achievement standards. 

The No Child Left Behind Act (2002), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, challenges schools to offer assessments reflecting state and/or national standards.  Furthermore, the challenge includes that students score favorably and continually reach adequate yearly progress on state assessments. Therefore, there exists a critical issue to improve reading instruction and meet the accountability outlined by the NCLB legislation. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned provides supplemental reading passages that contain a variety of multiple-choice, open-ended, and short-answer questions to provide practice and measure comprehension of literary and informational texts.

Pressure to improve test scores continues to increase. Headlines in newspapers or the breaking news on television are written or stated to grab the attention of the public. Nothing appears to capture public attention like the test scores of schools.  As the critical issue of accountability continues to move across our nation, more students are being tested. The state assessment scores are used to measure adequate yearly progress (AYP) for all public schools. All students' scores are part of the AYP measure, including students with disabilities and limited English proficiency (NCLB, 2001). Schools continue to be compared. Test scores appear to be the barometer that measures the success of the educational environment of a campus or that of a district. More than ever before, Juel (1988) states that the ability to read fluently and with comprehension is necessary for academic success. The goal is for educators to use scientifically based practices to improve their knowledge and improve their effectiveness toward reading instruction. Novice and veteran teachers can enhance their instructional delivery and lead students to become proficient lifelong readers, preparing them for success in college, in the work force, and throughout their lives. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned can provide additional practice opportunities with comprehension skills and promote critical thinking with depth and complexity.

Teachers must view assessment as an integral and natural component of the instructional process. Formative and summative assessment results should inform instruction. Formative assessments are information-gathering activities that take place during the actual teaching of concepts or skills. Summative assessments are administered to students periodically to determine what students have learned. Formative and summative assessments work together to form a complete picture of student performance and are essential in providing a balanced approach for assessing student achievement. Teachers cannot wait to assess students using summative test results. Assessments must be ongoing and skillfully used.

Teachers have to assess the subject matter accurately so relevant information can be collected about student achievement. Assessment results help make sound decisions for the purpose of improving student achievement. Most teachers are unprepared to meet the assessment challenges they face today.  Licensure does not say that teachers have to show assessment competence yet much of their time is spent in assessment-related activities (Stiggins & Conklin, 1992; Trevisan, 1999). Teachers must have help in accurate assessment. Mentoring Minds sought to develop a product to assist in the practice of reading skills and the assessment of teaching and learning. Assessment of incorrect and correct answers to questions for each reading unit will be charted by each student to maintain accurate and useful data. By using the chart, teachers and students can determine individual strengths and weaknesses. In the Teacher Edition, the Standards Frequency Chart listing the reading standards correlates to the Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned Student Edition unit selections and assessment questions. The teacher’s chart could be used to identify the specific areas where students need additional practice in mastering skills before taking an actual state assessment.  Reading data yields information to educators about their students as readers. Once data is retrieved, deciding how to organize the data is vital so that better instructional decisions can be made. A study of student data allows for individualization of instruction to meet the needs of students.

Critical thinking is an important issue in education today. Attention is focused on quality thinking as an important element of life success (Huitt, 1998; Thomas and Smoot, 1994). In the 1950s, Bloom found that 95% of the test questions developed to assess learning required students to only think at the lowest level of learning, the recall of information. Similar findings indicated an overemphasis on lower-level questions and activities with little emphasis on the development of students’ thinking skills (Risner, Skeel, and Nicholson, 1992). “Perhaps most importantly in today’s information age, thinking skills are viewed as crucial for educated persons to cope with a rapidly changing world. Many educators believe that specific knowledge will not be as important to tomorrow’s workers and citizens as the ability to learn and make sense of new information” (Gough, 1991). “Now, a considerable amount of attention is given to students’ abilities to think critically about what they do” (Hobgood, Thibault, and Walberg, 2005). It is imperative for students to communicate their thinking coherently and clearly to peers, teachers, and others.

It is crucial to invite students to explain their thought processes. If the results are inaccurate, teachers can identify the precise point at which students deviated from using critical thinking. Thus, teachers must purposely promote critical thinking as part of the learning experiences that align with the English Language Arts CCS. The literature notes that when students use their critical thinking abilities integrated with content instruction, depth of knowledge can result. Teachers are encouraged to refrain from limiting instruction to lectures, rote memorization, and other strategies that exercise only lower levels of thought as opposed to incorporating those that build conceptual understanding (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000).

The ability to engage in careful, reflective thought is viewed in education as paramount. Teaching students to become skilled thinkers is a goal of education.  Students must be able to acquire and process information since the world is changing so quickly. Some studies purport that students exhibit insufficient levels of skill in critical or creative thinking. In his review of research on critical thinking, Norris (1985) surmised that students’ critical thinking abilities are not widespread.   From this study, Norris reported that most students do not score well on tests that measure ability to recognize assumptions, evaluate controversy, and scrutinize inferences.

Thus, students’ performances on measures of higher-order thinking ability continue to reveal a critical need for students to develop the skills and attitudes of effective thinking. Furthermore, another reason that supports the need for thinking skills instruction is the fact that educators appear to be in general agreement that it is possible to increase students' creative and critical thinking capacities through instruction and practice. Presseisen (1986) asserts that the basic premise is students can learn to think better if schools teach them how to think. Adu-Febiri (2002) agrees that thinking can be learned. According to Sousa (2006), students are not actually taught to think because children are born with the brain organizational structure that originates thinking. As educators, students can be assisted in organizing the content of their thinking to facilitate complex reasoning.  Sousa supports Bloom’s Taxonomy as an organizational structure that is compatible with the manner in which the brain processes information to promote comprehension.

The models used to develop critical thinking throughout the Student and Teacher Editions of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned are: Bloom's Taxonomy (1956), Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson et al, 2001), Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (2002a; 2002b), Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix in English Language Arts (2010; 2009; Hess & Petit, 2006), and Hess’ and Hervey’s text complexity rubrics for informational and literary texts (2010). The English Language Arts’ Product Development Team employed these models to stimulate and develop students' higher order thinking skills and to make extensions to the real world. Critical thinking is integrated into each component of the unit through higher-order questions and complex problematic situations. Students are invited to shift to new levels of increased awareness when calculating, analyzing, problem solving, and evaluating. In the Student Edition, two pages are dedicated to the component Critical Thinking. This opportunity is presented to entice students to think critically and move them beyond basic comprehension and rote memorization. This component typically offers open-ended questions that are coded to all six levels of Bloom’s and Revised Bloom’s Taxonomies. While students are applying and using higher order thinking skills in real-life situations, they are also learning to question the accuracy of their responses or solutions.

Students must learn to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively in a variety of content areas. The Common Core State Standards advocate content areas supplement English Language Arts standards. Journal prompts are an important element in each unit for the purpose of incorporating writing into reading. Journal prompts are used within each unit in the Student Edition to provide authentic writing opportunities and, as promoted by research, serve as a valuable instructional learning experience for concept application to real-world settings. Prompts or questions are used to compose original responses that integrate student writing skills with reading based on upper levels of critical thinking. This writing prompt invites students to apply a concept from the text selection to the students’ own lives, thus making real-world connections. Literary concept prompts allow students to reflect and communicate their knowledge as they integrate reading and writing as required by the ELA CCS. The journal prompts in Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned serve as another formative assessment opportunity for students to express their thoughts and reasoning abilities as they transfer concepts across the disciplines and to everyday life.

Motivation Station, another unit component, is typically a creative thinking activity that is designed to develop the skills of originality, fluency, flexibility, and elaboration. This section offers students an engaging and rigorous, independent thinking opportunity with which to extend an English Language Arts skill.

A Chart Your Success chart is included at all levels and is located in the back of each Student Edition for students to visually record, observe, and monitor individual progress on an ongoing basis. The involvement of students in assessment promotes student engagement in individual learning targets and develops student accountability as they monitor and measure learning. Students need to know what learning targets they are responsible for mastering, and at what level. Marzano (2005) states, “students who can identify what they are learning significantly outscore those who cannot.” This self-assessment opportunity promotes practices that are crucial to independent learning. Research on formative assessment suggests that students should be aware of their learning target, their present status, and the next steps in reaching that goal or closing any gaps (Atkin, Black, & Coffey, 2001). Such knowledge helps students keep track of their achievements, know how close they are to their learning targets, and determine future steps to advance their learning. When students are aware of their achievement gaps and teachers motivate students with continuous feedback linked to the expected outcomes and criteria for success, students are able to surge ahead and close performance gaps in the Reading CCS. Black and Wiliam (1998) note there is evidence to support a strong relationship between interactive feedback and student achievement.

Studies support the use of a variety of measures to gauge student achievement. Due to accountability issues, Mentoring Minds encourages teachers to maintain accurate and useful data records as well as employ a variety of assessment measures to form a more valid insight on where a classroom or a student stands in mastery of reading performance standards. Following each main reading passage in the Student Edition are sections entitled Critical Thinking and Creative Thinking. Six critical thinking questions, one for each level of Bloom’s Taxonomy are provided to stimulate students to think about the passage(s) read. The Creative Thinking page contains an inspirational message. Interdisciplinary creative thinking activities are presented under the Motivation Station heading and range in variety from word puzzles, art activities, map skills, to figurative language. A writing activity in the format of a journal entry always concludes the creative thinking section. Therefore, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned reflects formative assessments mingled with interactive student/teacher conversation. Data from the Assessment page in the Student Edition used in conjunction with other measures from the Teacher and Student Editions provide crucial information for the teacher in improving performance relating to the Reading Common Core Standards. 

Research indicates that thinking skills instruction makes a positive difference in the achievement levels of students. Thinking skills involve two modes of thinking: critical and creative thinking. An essential goal in education is to assist students in learning how to think in a productive manner. Authorities in the field of thinking indicate both creative and critical thinking lead to a “well-rounded” thinker (Paul 1995; Hillis & Puccio, 1999; Cotton, 1991). Studies that reflect achievement over time show that learning gains can be accelerated. These results indicate that the teaching of thinking skills can enhance the academic achievement of participating students (Bass and Perkins, 1984; Bransford, 1986; Freseman, 1990; Kagan, 1988; Matthews, 1989; Nickerson, 1984). Critical thinking is a complex activity and we should not expect that one method of instruction would prove sufficient for developing each of its component parts. Carr (1990) acknowledges that we have learned that while it is possible to teach critical and creative thinking and its components as separate skills, they are developed and used best when learned in connection with content knowledge. To develop competency in critical thinking, students must use these skills across the disciplines or the skills could simply decline and disappear. Torrance (1972) examined the extent to which creative thinking could be taught. The culmination of his research showed that creative thinking could be enhanced. Torrance indicated that Creative Problem Solving (CPS) was a widely accepted model of teaching creative thinking. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned allows students opportunities to apply their thinking using creative and critical thinking avenues. Teachers should expect students to use thinking skills in every class and evaluate their skills accordingly. Hummel and Huitt (1994) stated, "What you measure is what you get."

Students are not likely to develop these complex skills or to improve their critical thinking abilities if educators fail to establish definite expectations and measure those expectations with some type of assessment. Assessments (e.g., tests, demonstrations, exercises, panel discussions) that target higher-level thinking skills could more than likely lead teachers to teach content at those levels, and students, according to Redfield and Rousseau (1981), to perform at those levels. Students not only need to know an enormous amount of facts, concepts, and principles, they also must be able to effectively think about this knowledge in a variety of increasingly complex ways. If test items only require lower-level thinking skills such as knowledge and comprehension, students will not develop and display their higher-order skills even if instructional methods that employ these skills are implemented. Individuals do not always do what is expected, only what is inspected.

Solving problems in the real world and making worthwhile decisions is valued in our rapidly changing environment today. Paul (1985) points out “thinking is not driven by answers but by questions.” The driving forces in the thinking process are the questions. When a student needs to think through an idea or issue or to rethink anything, questions must be asked to stimulate thought. When answers are given, sometimes thinking stops completely. When an answer generates another question then thought continues. Paul ascertains that students who ask quality questions are really thinking and learning. Multiple forms of student engagement exist when high-level thinking is fostered.  Examples of engagement include collaborative group activities, problem-solving experiences, open-ended questions that encourage divergent thinking, activities that promote the multiple intelligences and recognize learning styles, and activities in which both genders participate freely. “Brain researchers suggest that teachers employ a variety of higher-order questions in a supportive environment to strengthen the brain” (Cardellichio and Field, 1997).  “Meaningful learning requires teachers change their role from sage to guide, from giver to collaborator, from instructor to instigator” (Ó Murchú, 2003). “Since students learn from thinking about what they are doing, the teacher’s role becomes one of stimulating and supporting activities that engage learners in critical thinking” (Bhattacharya, 2002).

In each Student Edition is an Extended Practice paragraph. Typically, an informational text, this text extends practice in reading comprehension and analysis using the context of a topic introduced within the previous unit passage. This additional text practice develops integration of information and analysis across text skills as noted in the English Arts CCS. Following the practice text is a formative assessment in the form of a minimum of three selected-response questions and one extended-response question.

The section Parent Activities is located at the conclusion of each unit in the Student Edition. These activities are included to promote parent involvement with student learning which extends student learning and increases the academic success of students. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned includes activities to invite and encourage parent engagement in reading. Product developers recognize that teachers must support and encourage parent collaboration with students regarding academics. Teachers are provided activities per unit with which to cultivate parent involvement with their children by reinforcing previously introduced skills. Research concludes that productive collaboration and interaction with parents have a favorable impact on attitudes and student achievement. Parents can be significant contributors to the learning process. Opportunities for parents to be involved in their students’ learning allow parents to show an interest in the students’ work. Parent involvement helps parents become familiar with the content and the way students are learning. When parents take time to provide home encouragement, students have another opportunity to apply and practice concepts previously learned. Teachers and other educational leaders should consistently help students and parents to understand that an increased emphasis on the importance of effort is related to improved reading performance.

Research indicates that the more parents are involved and excited in the learning of their children, the more successful a child can be academically. When schools cultivate partnerships and engage families in their children’s education, author Constantino (2008) stated that student achievement can increase. In addition, Constantino noted that schools must continuously nurture relationships with parents by providing them with resources to help their children succeed in school. Constant attention in strengthening relationships lays the foundation for high-quality engagement. West (1985) and Weller (1999) indicate there are parent behaviors that can lead to effective schools. When parents show support, interest, and become involved the success rate of students can rise. Students in at-risk situations show an increase in grades, test scores, and academics when their parents become involved in instructional programs (Dolan, 1996). The activities for parents in Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned offer opportunities within each unit to reach and engage parents.

Bagin and Gallagher (2001) note regular communication with parents can promote student learning and reduce attendance problems. Weller (1999) advocates that when schools and teachers treat parents with genuine concern and make them feel important, welcome, and needed, parents are more apt to take active roles in supporting their children in academic achievement. Findings from an extensive research review on parent/family involvement programs are shared by Henderson and Mapp (2002) in the report A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement. Henderson and Mapp concur with other researchers that a favorable and substantiated relationship exists between family involvement and student success, regardless of race/ethnicity, class, or parents’ level of education. A key finding is that children of parents who are involved in home and in school settings show improved performance in school. Thus, the inclusion of Parent Activities is provided to help parents support their children with meaningful and relevant applications to the unit’s text selections or to previously taught concepts. The information given helps the parent and child build oral language through informal conversation. Simply written, the text invites parents to support Reading CCS by asking questions, making relevant comments, or setting up other home learning activities to reinforce previously introduced topics or concepts. Assignments, intended to be completed at home, enhance students' understanding, skills, and reading proficiency. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned reflects the careful planning taken by the Mentoring Minds Product Development Team so that the primary focus of Parent Activities is meaningful extensions of the skills/concepts taught in the unit.

Parents can be significant contributors to the learning process. Opportunities for parents to be involved in their students’ learning allow parents to show an interest in the students’ work. Parent involvement helps parents become familiar with the content and the way students are learning. When parents take time to provide home encouragement, students have another opportunity to apply and practice the concepts previously learned. Research indicates that the more parents are involved and excited in the learning of their children, the more successful a child can be academically.

Teachers cannot teach what they do not know. When reviewing the literature regarding the relationship between teachers’ knowledge and students’ achievement, the research indicated that teachers’ content knowledge is an important element. The Teacher Edition in Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is arranged in recognition and support of this finding. Teachers are provided the guidance they need as they prepare and deliver high-quality instruction to improve performance in reading for all students. Each Teacher Edition identifies the Common Core Standards by the Anchor Standard and the Unit Focus Standard. Other standards addressed within each unit are noted in the Assessment of Standards section and on the Standards Frequency Chart.

The Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned Teacher Edition provides instructional plans for each of the twenty-five units. Instructional strategies and activities followed by formative assessments and performance tasks support teachers as they plan effective instruction and monitor student progress. This resource also includes information on current evidence-based instructional practices, literature

suggestions, a standards frequency chart, and a glossary. Each Teacher Edition contains a wide array of helpful resources to guide a teacher in the use of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned.

Answer keys for each unit, vocabulary pertinent to each text selection and to each unit’s focus standard, and a grade appropriate glossary are included in the Teacher Edition. Answer keys include Selected Response Assessment questions coded by CCS Standard, CCR Anchor Standard, DOK Level, and Original and Revised Bloom’s Taxonomies.  Thumbnails of the Constructed-Response Assessments, Motivation Station, and Journal Prompts are also included, noting appropriate student responses.

Beyer (1991) advocates teachers activate students’ relevant prior knowledge. When teachers link new learning to everyday and academic experiences, students seem to better comprehend new information. Studies acknowledge the necessity of connecting classroom activities with topics familiar to students. Kujawa and Huske (1995) confirm the importance of prior knowledge. Therefore, students appear to best learn and remember newly presented information when the content is linked to their cultures and experiences. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned provides an array of teaching and learning opportunities within the Teacher Edition from which teachers can implement learning experiences that build on students’ prior knowledge, forming meaningful connections. For example, when activating prior learning, teachers might employ graphic organizers and small group or class discussions. Using dialogue or visualizations, teachers can determine the extent of future instruction. Necessary adjustments can be made so that incomplete or inaccurate prior knowledge or connections are corrected. High-quality research does not appear to support that instruction be either student-centered or teacher-directed. The findings seem to confirm that neither approach should be used exclusively. Thus, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is designed to incorporate both.  

The Common Core Standards stress the importance of the aural dimension of early learning by including K–3 Speaking and Listening standards and by identifying  read-aloud text exemplars appropriate for K–1 and grades 2-3 found in Appendix B. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned supports the reading-speaking-listening link. Literature is suggested for read alouds and independent reading. Students are encouraged to read texts and reflect on them in writing as well as participate in conversation by comparing, contrasting, analyzing, and synthesizing. Performance tasks also connect the reading, speaking, and listening standards.  

Suggested Unit Content Literature is a section in each unit of the Teacher Edition that offers a means through which student knowledge can continue to grow. Literature extends topical learning and supports selected reading skills and concepts. Students are led to make connections and integrate information from other sources. The use of literature extends student learning across multiple contexts, connecting texts by topic, genre, and author. The Unit Resource Pages in the Teacher Edition suggest Enrichment Literature and Skill-based Literature. CCS indicates there is also evidence that current standards, curriculum, and instructional practice have not adequately fostered the independent reading of complex texts, a crucial need for college and career readiness, particularly in the case of informational texts. The suggested literature in each unit focuses on the unit selection’s content and the performance task. The books may be used for read alouds, independent reading, and research. Enrichment literature that can be used for integrating lessons across the curriculum is noted for each individual reading unit. Recommended books may relate to the content of the story, selected reading skills, or both. Literature offers excellent resources for connecting literature to skills instruction for students. Literature makes skills in reading relevant, strengthens student motivation, and presents meaningful contexts for stimulating a variety of responses to critical and creative thinking. Higher levels of engagement increase when discussions are held to build conceptual understanding. Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading (Anderson, 1985) stresses the importance of the integration of reading. Reading is a communication tool that helps students become successful learners. Literature can stimulate a variety of creative and critical thinking responses from the students, such as performing skits based on texts. Problem-solving strategies, including acting it out, drawing a picture, and constructing a model or props materialize quite readily as a result of literature. Problems that emerge from books make learning relevant, are highly motivational, and present meaningful contexts for establishing thinking. Evidence also shows literature promotes thinking and reasoning when questions are presented on higher thinking levels.  Discussions are encouraged to communicate and build conceptual understanding, emphasizing speaking, writing, listening, and language. Thaiss (1986) advocates literature connections to strengthen student motivation and increase higher levels of engagement.

Students have to understand vocabulary to understand the academic content they encounter in school. In the Teacher Edition of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned is the section Vocabulary Focus. This section displays two categories of vocabulary: Selection-Specific Vocabulary and Standards Vocabulary. Two activities are featured in Vocabulary Activities that contain graphic organizers, games, or similar engagement opportunities. Students participate in vocabulary experiences essential for the unit and conclude with a formative vocabulary assessment. Stahl and Fairbanks (1986) revealed when specific vocabulary from academic subject areas is selected as the focus of instruction, the result was a 33 percent increase. Therefore, it appears when students are taught specific content vocabulary in each subject area at each grade level, students have an excellent opportunity to acquire the academic background knowledge they need to understand the subject area content. Teaching content vocabulary using a systematic approach appears be a powerful tool for student success (Marzano and Pickering, 2005). Furthermore, research firmly documents that academic background knowledge has an effect on academic achievement. Any intervention for the achievement of students should identify increasing students’ content vocabulary knowledge through direct instruction as a leading priority (Marzano, 2004). In earlier research, Becker (1977) concluded that the implementation of systematic vocabulary programs appeared essential in order to close gaps between students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and those who were not.

Student acquisition of vocabulary is imperative to success in reading comprehension. The significance of its relationship to comprehension was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2000). Researchers agree that vocabulary level differences among students are reasons for the varied ranges in academic achievement (Baumann and Kameenui, 1991; Stanovich, 1986). Although studies reveal the importance of vocabulary instruction, schools exist that neither have frequent or systematic vocabulary instruction (Lesaux, Kieffer, Faller, and Kelley, 2010; Scott and Nagy, 1997). Students must be given varied and repeated opportunities to comprehend meaning of words and to use them in different contexts. (Landauer, McNamara, Dennis, and Kintsch, 2007). Thus, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned acknowledged these findings and reflected the importance of vocabulary.

Exposure to vocabulary and interaction with language throughout education years, enable students to comprehend word meanings, build awareness of language, and apply their knowledge to understand as well as produce language. Within each Student Edition of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned, a glossary of key terms related to the Reading CCS is found. These words increase student comprehension of terms pertinent to the standards and successful performance. A common academic language is essential to support application of the academic vocabulary with texts and assessments. In the Teacher Edition, the same glossary is contained. Within each unit in the Teacher Edition, the vocabulary is categorized into vocabulary relating to the standards being addressed in the unit and to the displayed reading texts.

In the Teacher Edition, the Unpacking the Standards component notes the Anchor Standard and identifies the grade expectation supported by the Unit Focus Standard. The description links equips teachers with a brief explanation of the Standard and defines pertinent vocabulary linked to the Focus Standard. This information deepens the knowledge and conceptual understanding of the Focus Standard addressed in the unit.

Interventions is another section located in the Teacher Edition. The reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEIA) and No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB, 2001) advocate the use of interventions and instruction based on defensible research. When formative assessment data from Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned reveal students in need of intervention, intervention activities are given to support the Unit Focus Standard. These can be used by teachers to foster active learning, to provide additional practice, to provide the means for assessing students beyond traditional classroom methods, to reteach or reinforce concepts, or provide targeted skill intervention. Thus, if students are approaching the Focus Standard, these activities will help close the existing gap in learning.

Studies support the use of several measures from which to gauge student achievement. Constructed Response Formative Assessments appear in the form of sections, Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, and the Reading-Writing-Thinking sections. Students have the opportunity to form their responses using the selections and prior knowledge or skills to formulate responses. Extended Practice Assessment is an informational selection where cross-curricular connections are made using selected response and one open-ended response. Students who are college and career ready are students with the ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple content standards. Performance tasks appear to be the appropriate assessments to determine this readiness since it would be difficult to assess this ability through selected-response or constructed-response items. PARCC (2012) and Smarter Balanced (2012) consortia released specifications regarding the general structure of performance tasks in English Language Arts. Those specifications provided guidance from which the writers developed the performance tasks for Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned. One performance task for each unit is presented in the Teacher Edition under the section Performance Task Assessment. All tasks are relative to real-world application and use the unit’s passage as the stimulus. Sometimes the Extended Practice passage and the main passage are the stimuli. The tasks are performed independently and result in a product or a performance which will be scored using rubrics. It is recommended that students be provided an introduction to performance tasks (Stiggins and Chappuis, 2005; Khattri, Reeve, and Kane, 1998).The design for the student task includes the following descriptors: Standards Focus, Performance Task (overview), Performance Task Steps (description of steps), and Scoring Criteria (advanced knowledge of scoring). The scoring criteria are identified for inclusion into rubrics to be used for student self-assessment and for teacher scoring. Depth of understanding, research skills, provision of relevant evidence (Darling-Hammond and Pecheone, 2010) and the ability to integrate knowledge and skills across content standards or within a content area (Khattri and Sweet, 1996) are some of the expectations that will be measured  or demonstrated with performance tasks. Rubrics inform students of the established criteria for success by clarifying desired learning outcomes. Crooks (1988) shared criterion-referenced feedback provides the guidance for improving student understanding. Self-assessment and reflection are an important part of the learning process. When students monitor their work against preset criteria, they can receive immediate feedback regarding the task (Wiggins, 1993; Trammel, Schloss, and Alper, 1994). Performance tasks provide educators with an understanding of what students have internalized and what still needs support in regards to the CCS, since the performance tasks clearly connect to the specified CCS. Due to the accountability issue for schools, Mentoring Minds encourages teachers to maintain accurate and useful data as well as employ a variety of assessment opportunities in order to form a more valid insight on where students stand in reading performance. Performance tasks, formative assessments, selected-response items, and constructed-response items are some of the included assessments within Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned.

Studies show that the art of asking questions with an emphasis on higher-level thinking can advance student achievement. Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock (2001) reported how teachers can increase their effectiveness in teaching and learning by using research findings on questioning strategies. An important conclusion showed learning to increase in classrooms where teachers asked questions related to essential content rather than questions teachers gleaned would interest students (Alexander, Kulikowich, and Schulze, 1994; Risner, Nicholson, and Webb, 1994). Redfield and Rousseau (1981) reported that knowledge level questions resulted in less learning than higher-level questions that encouraged students to use their analytical thought processes. Fillippone (1998) found that teachers ask lower-level questions more times than not.

Wait-time should be acknowledged before asking a question. Usually teachers give less than one second for students to respond to a question and the results are short responses or no response at all. Student-to-student interaction and quality of responses increase when wait-time is addressed noted Fowler (1975). Rowe (1974) studied the effect of questions on elementary students that were used by their teachers. Results showed three to five seconds of wait-time led to increases in student responses, student confidence, evidence supporting the response, and student conversation. This finding is consistent at the middle and high school levels when wait-time is allowed after asking a question. A recommendation is to allow five seconds of wait-time. Students must be informed that this time is their think-time and time should also be adjusted to the cognitive level of the questions.

Organizers prepare students for learning, develop and reinforce the concept, and help clarify misunderstandings. Many researchers support the use of organizers for reading skills and vocabulary development (Brookbank, Grover, Kullberg, and Strawser, 1999; Moore and Readence, 1984). Graphic organizers allow students to use graphics, symbols, and words to present a visual display to structure learning before and during a lesson. Paivio (1986) stated students can understand information and learn more when a variety of modes are used to present content.

Suggestions are also provided to classroom teachers on how to address critical thinking using Bloom’s Taxonomy to stimulate and develop students’ higher order thinking skills. Reading questioning prompts are included on all six levels of thinking that stimulate and encourage creative thinking. Bloom (Bloom, Englehart, Furst, Hill, and Krathwohl, 1956) developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior in learning. This taxonomy contained three domains: the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective. Within the cognitive domain, Bloom identified six levels: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The taxonomy was revised by Anderson and others (2001) to focus on thinking as an active process. The original and revised taxonomies continue to be useful today in developing and categorizing the critical thinking skills of students. Hess’ Cognitive Rigor English Language Arts Matrix integrates Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. This matrix is provided in the Teacher Edition to help educators develop questions and plan learning experiences that reflect rigor, depth, and complexity of thought.

Mentoring Minds sought to understand the issues involved in teaching and reading. The National Research Council (2001) asserted that the performance of students in both reading and mathematics at the conclusion of elementary school is an important predictor of their educational success.  Students who have not acquired a quality foundation in reading skills can expect to encounter problems across the disciplines throughout their schooling and in later years. Summary statements such as these, other research findings or recommendations, a review of literature, and observations from classroom experiences yield much knowledge about what works. With this wealth of information, Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned was developed to complement reading instruction for any campus. The Mentoring Minds Product Development Team embraces the goal that all students receive quality-based opportunities from which they develop essential reading skills in order to learn for the remainder of their lives.

Kilpatrick, Swafford, and Findell (2001) share that in mathematics that all standards within the content area build understanding, rather than placing emphasis on a few standards. To ensure student success in the Reading standards, that statement can be applicable to Reading; thus, all reading standards must be addressed. Research strongly supports the importance of student acquisition of conceptual understanding in Reading. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned addresses the standards eligible for testing. As students progress from grade to grade, students should become increasingly proficient in the standards relating to Reading.  Proficiency in this area of English Language Arts will prepare students to meet challenges they may face in college, in the work force, and in life. 

The English Language Arts Product Development Team is comprised of educators who have served as administrators and teachers. In the course of developing Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned, the writers consulted many sources. They reviewed research-based evidence on how students learn, gathered input from a wide array of educators, attended conferences, collaborated with practitioners in the field, studied released documents from Smarter Balanced and PARCC, unpacked the Standards, employed individual expertise, and applied col­lective judgment as they designed a Reading resource to lead students into the 21st century.  The contents of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned focus on the Common Core Standards in Reading, ensuring that the product is appropriate, high-quality, and up-to-date. Bloom's Taxonomy, Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, and Karin Hess’ English Language Arts Cognitive Rigor Matrix, and Hess’ Text Complexity Matrices for Literary Text and Information Text are incorporated to stimulate and develop students' critical thinking skills, encouraging rigor and depth in thinking. Examples of evidence-based techniques found in Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned are many, including standards-based instruction, cooperative learning, minds-on learning activities, formative assessments, and real-world applications. The contents of Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned complement these principles for improving student performance. The literature on improving student performance concludes that effective instruction must provide specific information on individual student performance for teachers, parents, and students; peer feedback and support; direct or explicit instruction; and real-world application. Motivation Reading Common Core Aligned addresses these criteria for improving student performance.

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