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American Literature - Unit 1 America's Religious Heritage

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2013 review period. The resource may or may not have been updated since the review. Check with the content creator to see if there is a more recent version available.


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2013. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Saylor is a non-profit foundation that hires teachers and professors to create course blueprints, locate, vet, and organize OER into a structured course format. This American Literature resource is intended as a self-directed online course. It is also useful for the homeschool community and alternative classroom programs. The reviewed resource was still under development during our review. This should factor into the viewer's analysis of the review results.

Publishers' Criteria (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Strongly Disagree) to 3 (Strongly Agree). Quality of Text: 1.58, Quality of Questions and Tasks: 2.13, Writing: 1.75.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Needs Revision (1.3)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 1.75, Instructional Supports: 1.5, Assessment: 1.0.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.75, Interactivity: 1.25, Exercises: 1.25, Deeper Learning: 2.0.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (1.25)

I would use this unit in my classroom as a planning piece, but not as it stands. There needs to be some major added support for below level learners, and more focus on deeper thinking. There are strong informational texts about the literary pieces and some good visual/auditory supports for the longer texts (such as “The Crucible”) but there is not a lot of support for The Scarlet Letter which could be daunting for many students. There would need to be a great deal of support for this reading, which is lacking in this current state of the unit.

Scaffolding is lacking or nonexistent. Advanced students would benefit from the pace and college like complexity of the texts and activities.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This American Literature unit focuses on four authors, Anne Bradstreet, Jonathan Edwards, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Arthur Miller, who all wrote in a different century. The unit is divided into four parts – the four authors, and a culminating assignment. Teachers should not feel they must use the unit in its entirety to get some of the benefits from this site.

If teachers solely use this material they will have to do some moderate work to align the materials to CCSS. A better suggestion would be for teachers to consider using materials from different portions of the unit to supplement what they currently do in the classroom. For example, if a teacher was required to cover the Scarlet Letter he/she may want to use the materials on Hawthorn to help students build background information and use the support material to help students as the read the novel. Motivated students with a computer and internet access could work through some of the materials on their own as an extension. Conversely, the teacher could provide scaffolding for reading by using the ideas and worksheets in the unit to help struggling students with vocabulary and comprehension. There are lectures with questions and explanations on YouTube that students can listen to help them understand the reading. All the links are in the unit and the site’s resource center with the exception for one reading exercise and an explanation on background information to Arthur Miller and The Crucible.

While the unit shows connections to the CCSS, the connections do not align with student assessment. There is a rubric for the final assessment, but it is not aligned to CCSS and instead draws on some materials from Advanced Placement. Students are instructed to do some research, but there is no support for teachers and students to help focus the research. Teachers will need to create more text based questions too.

How I would use this material in my classroom is by using resources from various parts of the unit. For example, if I taught the Crucible I would use the materials from the corresponding portion of the unit, but I wouldn’t solely rely on that material for my students as the materials need to be more explicitly aligned to CCSS.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

This unit of instruction is intended to be used strictly as an online course. It is a 53 day unit with a variety of supporting materials; however, I found and reported six broken links. It claims to address the following common core standards: RL.11-12.1, RL.11-12.3, RL.11-12.4, RL.11-12.5, RL.11-12.6. RL.11-12.7, RL.11-12.10, L.11-12.1, L.11-12.2, L.11-12.4a, L.11-12.5a, L.11-12.6, W.11-12.1, W.11-12.2, W.11-12.4, and W.11-12.10.

Many of the fiction and non-fiction pieces as well as the supporting materials are excellent, and a teacher could certainly incorporate them into their own instructional unit. The unit directs students to online resources on reading strategies, building vocabulary, and writing instruction. Each lesson includes activities that are aligned with the common core. What is lacking, in my opinion, are self-assessments and teacher assessments that would help guide students in their learning. I was especially concerned with the lesson that asked students to read the Scarlet Letter in 8 days. I was unable to locate any scaffolding that would assist struggling learners.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Disagree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

There were a number of things I liked about this unit:

  • I liked the image of the filter that the unit used to introduce the ideas.
  • I liked the use of audio lectures.
  • I liked the many references to the CCSS for students to see how what they are doing connects with the standards.
  • I liked the fact that the sites noted that if the reader saw a broken link to let them know.
  • I liked for focus on the unit: Religious Heritage. It was a very interesting jumping off point.
  • I thought there were many practical lessons such as the one on paraphrasing, or inversion.
  • I liked the fact that Wikipedia was referenced in the unit. Very realistic.
  • I liked the use of EdSite and Sophia. They were very easy to use.
  • I also liked the vocabulary building exercises.
  • I thought it was good to do a lesson on vocabulary in context.
  • I thought the PowerPoint for story elements was good and helpful to all students.
  • I liked the use of the Statue of Liberty link for symbol analysis but am not sure if this ties directly to the unit.
  • I also liked the character traits chart but again I wasn’t clear what to do with it. I think my students would have been confused too.

I did not like:

  • The fact that that questioning around Jonathan Edwards and others only asked for 3 facts about him instead of any type of analysis.
  • I also did not like the graphic organizer questions. I didn’t feel they got to analysis, only concrete info.
  • I felt the unit fell short in literary analysis on a deeper level.
  • I am not sure of the value of trying to imagine personality of Hawthorne from “The Minister’s Black Veil.” I wanted to see more support for deeper analysis.

In terms of writing the literary analysis I thought it was interesting to have the assignment on line. The unit referenced ‘four hours’ to complete this assignment. I wasn’t’ exactly clear about how the 4 hours are spent. Could take longer but what exactly are they doing?

I liked the video about Arthur Miller’s life and the analysis of The Crucible. I thought it was interesting to study individual character and what you could learn about them. I also liked the added information about the Truth behind the Salem Witch trials. Of course the Web Witch Scavenger Hunt was clever but I couldn’t open it.

I did not think there was enough support to compare history to the play.

Many things were done well in this unit. It would work well as independent learning where students go through the material without deeper analysis.

I could see my students being lost with some of it, especially the sermon. Still, I thought it was ambitious and with some more assessment tools and ways to ensure learning it would be good.

I would use these materials in my classroom: Agree
(On a 4 point scale: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, or Strongly Agree)

Creative Commons License
This work by the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.