ELA benchmark scores up 99 points

I am extremely happy. It makes me think, ‘This works!’ I can see how they’ve grown throughout the year.

Enolar Callands
Beecher Hills Elementary
ELA Scores Up 99 Points


Enolar Callands needed a quality ELA resource to inspire and motivate her classroom of diverse third-graders. Eighty percent of Ms. Callands’ students—an inclusion classroom consisting of four groups, two lower levels and two higher levels—were “below pathway” at the beginning of the 2016–2017 school year for the Georgia Milestones pre-assessment. All students at Beecher Hills Elementary in Atlanta Public Schools are on a free/reduced lunch program. They also learn Spanish as a second language and participate in a daily social and emotional learning curriculum called Second Step.

Prior to using Total Motivation ELA as her basal curriculum, Ms. Callands had to track down quality stories to support the standard she was teaching—a constant and time-consuming challenge. “Trying to find a story to match to the particular standard I’m covering could take forever in some cases,” she explains. The selections she cobbled together from other sources were “just okay . . . mundane,” and drained students’ enthusiasm for reading.

Ms. Callands and several of her 3rd-grade students at Beecher Hills Elementary School.


Neal Christian, Beecher Hills’ academic coach, elected to use Total Motivation ELA because of its close alignment to the standards, as well as its online component, rigor, and critical thinking emphasis. For implementation, Ms. Callands begins each week by introducing the lesson to the whole group using the online version of the Student Edition (SE) projected on an interactive whiteboard to read through the Selection and identify vocabulary. She displays the Reading Selection “so they can see me model and do it along with me,” she explains. Higher-level learners start the week in their books, completing the Journal activity to practice writing skills. These higher learners “go straight to the computer” mid-week to independently read the Selection and answer the questions. “They already know what they need to do,” she explains of the easy-to-use format of the SE.

Total Motivation ELA also provides interventions to meet the needs of her less independent learners needing more guidance. She follows the suggested Intervention activities outlined in the Teacher Edition (TE) to reach diverse groups of students, including children with special needs. Ms. Callands uses the print SE exclusively with lower learners, teaching them to highlight parts of the story and to number the paragraphs. The exercises in the SE deepen their understanding of what they are reading.

I don’t have to spoon feed them anymore.

Ms. Callands reserves Thursdays to evaluate her students’ understanding of the standards by using the Assessment provided in each unit of Total Motivation ELA. The online Standards Mastery Report is one of her favorite features because the robust data enables her to see at a glance “who has mastered the standards and who is struggling” at the end of the week.

Two of Ms. Callands’ 3rd-grade students practice identifying text elements in the week’s reading selection.


Increased Scores

Eighty percent of students were “below pathway” at the start of the school year. After using Total Motivation ELA three hours each week during the 2016–2017 school year, Ms. Callands’ class scores spiked 99 points on the STAR Reading Level 3 Benchmark in Atlanta PSD, and 86 percent were reading above grade level.

Greater Enthusiasm for All Learners

Mr. Christian relies on Total Motivation ELA to provide “all students access to quality curriculum.” He notes, for example, how the TE provides a flexible grid of Lexile levels and passages from which to choose. “Teachers can start there and teach main ideas and supporting details to specific levels of students.” In fact, one autistic student read the story online, using his mouse as he read each word aloud. “He was more focused, following along. He was so excited,” Ms. Callands says.

Students Take Charge of Learning

As she sees increased independence and confidence among the higher learning groups, Ms. Callands can monitor them less to give more time to lower learners. “I don’t have to spoon feed them anymore. They know the routine.” Students can also hold themselves accountable to their own progress using the Chart Your Success feature in the back of their books.

Options for Assessment and Differentiation

The Standards Mastery Report groups students by colors for Ms. Callands to show her which students are ready for the next lesson and which need more attention. This makes it easier for her “to see where the breakdown is.” The TE also gives her ideas and strategies at every turn to differentiate and close the learning gaps. These ideas give her “freedom and opportunity to pick different ways to be creative,” she explains.

Less Time Prepping, More Time Teaching

Ms. Callands and Mr. Christian both appreciate the time saved by using Total Motivation ELA because it is so closely aligned to the GSE and unpacks each standard. “Having all that information on the standard without me having to locate a story to match the standard takes out all of that legwork for me. I’ve come to rely on it,” says Ms. Callands.

As an example, Mr. Christian explains, “Instead of my teachers having to search for how to teach ‘point of view,’ they can look at the TE and find stories and passages to get that done.” And with all content in both print and online, they have even more flexibility. Ms. Callands notes, “I can go online anytime, no matter what time of the day or over the weekend.”

A Week in the Classroom with Total Motivation ELA

Ms. Callands utilizes the wealth of instructional activities in Total Motivation ELA to differentiate learning in her inclusion classroom, which has four groups at varying levels, including students with special needs.

Instructional Plans

Lower-Level GroupsHigher-Level Groups
Introduce Reading Selection (SE) and unit vocabulary to whole class using the interactive whiteboard feature; have students follow along in their book as teacher models.
Work directly with small groups or one-on-one, using ideas in TE to model strategies for reading comprehension and provide interventions.Assign Journal activity (SE) for students to practice writing skills.

Assign online Independent Practice.
Evaluate mastery of standard using online Assessment, automatic grading, and reports. Use data to plan future lessons and plan for interventions.