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Saylor ELA 10 Unit 5: Up from Slavery

The Saylor Foundation/Karen Breazeale

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Note that this resource was reviewed during the Spring 2014 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 2014. 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 resource is one unit from a 6-unit course of study. It is intended as a self-directed online course or to be used by teachers as a supplement. It is also useful for the homeschool community and alternative classroom programs. This should factor into the viewer’s analysis of the review results.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Revision needed (6.0)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 1.75, Instructional Supports: 1.25, Assessment: 1.0.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.0, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 1.0, Deeper Learning: 1.5.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (2.0)

Comments/Ideal Use:

This unit provides many resources while students work to understand Booker T. Washington's "Up from Slavery." Teachers may find useful the many links to various websites to support student learning and the text is available in audio version as well.

I would use some of the material provided to supplement a unit, but I would need to make some adjustments to better align the materials to the CCSS. The ideal scenario would be to use the materials provided as a way to supplement a unit on Up from Slavery or about Booker T. Washington. The unit could be used in a general education 10th grade class. Teachers of all experience levels should be able to understand the explanation of the materials.


  • There is not a rubric and little guidelines for assessments.
  • The unit provides a number of targeted CCSS, but the tasks do not necessarily align with the stated standards.
  • Not enough text based questions. The unit provides too many questions that ask students of their opinion, but does not require them to use the text in their answers.
  • The summative assessment is a five paragraph writing assignment, but it does not mention either Argumentative or Expository writing skills the standards ask students to address.
  • Although the course outcomes state the connection to the CCSS for each lesson, there does not appear to be explicit connections to the standards. For example, the author of a lesson states that it meets the Reading Literature standard #1 (RL1) but upon closer examination of the questions students are not required to use the text to answer.


  • Give a rubric that is aligned to the CCSS and give guidelines to help students understand how the assessment meets the requirements of the standards.
  • Make stronger connections between the tasks and the CCSS.
  • Provide questions that require students to use the text to answer and provide sample answers for teachers to use.
  • The unit mentions previous learning about rhetoric and studying specific examples from historic speeches thus a teacher will have to make adjustments what he/she has covered in his/her class as those were most likely taught in an earlier unit of Saylor 10.

Comments/Ideal Use:

The ideal scenario for this resource would be to augment a unit on slavery or the writings of Booker T. Washington or Frederick Douglass. It needs far too many adaptations to make it a stand-alone unit. The primary resources from Cornell University and the National Park Service are of value for their subject matter, rigor, and archaic language.


  • There is some guided reading in the Activity but it looks to be only six pages worth of elements and not as detailed as text-dependent questions throughout the book.
  • Lack of formative reading and comprehension assessments and close reading activities throughout the unit, especially for struggling readers or ELL students. The mentioning of chunking, re-reading, summarizing and annotation is important to reading instruction but there were no lesson plans connected to the novel and no student answer guides or rubrics.
  • No real scaffolding for the book Up from Slavery and no text-based questions. The novel study and analytical essay seemed like an afterthought with all of the emphasis on transportation, manifest destiny, abolition and Trail of Tears.
  • An emphasis on formulaic and incorrect writing instruction and the five paragraph essay. Almost every writing assignment asked for a one to two paragraph student response, often opinion-based and not expository or academic.
  • Few authentic opportunities for advanced students with critical thinking activities and connections to the Washington novel. The activities of the Maya Angelou poem and the Declaration of Human Rights or reading the two other suggest novels did not call for critical thinking.
  • The unit claims to analyze seminal documents, and it does provide articles from Cornell and the National Park Service that are primary documents by and about Booker T. Washington. These seem to have the most text-complexity next to the book Up from Slavery.
  • The summative paper is supposed to take 1 hour and 30 minutes to write and there is no mention of peer edits, revision, or rubrics.


  • Lesson plans with reading strategies for the novel complete with student answer guides and rubrics would vastly improve this unit.
  • This resource needs more text-based questions that correspond to Washington's purpose for writing; student answers guides would help too.
  • This would entail teaching writing during the students' reading and making sure that they understood the value of formulating their own thesis, finding their own evidence and connecting it an authentic writing process complete with drafting, revision, editing and publishing, along with authentic voice and no formulaic crafting.
  • Provide real connections to the issue of slavery and opportunity--connect it to a modern day read about such conditions like "Half the Sky."

Comments/Ideal Use:

The Saylor ELA 10 Unit 5: Up from Slavery curriculum is best suited for credit retrieval in the grade 9-10 grade band.


  • While Washington’s text provides grade level appropriate rigor, the linked supporting documents and tutorials do not possess the same level of complexity.
  • Rubrics and methods of assessment are missing.
  • Washington’s text can be dynamic, but the linked videos and tutorials with which it’s paired are unengaging and lessen student interest.
  • Tasks are limited to paragraphs, packets, and essays. In order to meet the authenticity implied in CCSS, there needs to be greater variety of activity / audience / purpose in the tasks.


  • Greater variety of text with rigor.
  • Need standards reference rubrics for all tasks.
  • Need more engaging videos, etc.
  • Develop authentic tasks with standards referenced scoring criteria.

Comments/Ideal Use:

This is a huge resource and if it is not being used for individualized learning, could get messy to navigate through with larger groups of untrained learners. Overall, I consider this unit to be very engaging and easy for most learners at grade level to explore. It does a good job of providing rich opportunities through a very navigational approach to find extensions to support the reading and writing process in the content area. It is well organized / packaged / presented. It has a very professional quality or feel to it. It seems that the object is not a LEGACY item, instead created after or for CCSS. That makes it very easy to imagine building off of it and utilizing it for multiple purposes in the classroom. It can be very versatile. Again, this was an overall good object for CCSS and literature / social studies / history for High School. It could be adjusted to use as a supplemental very easily by just one person or a group of people. It could be utilized as an extension, stand-alone or supplemental.

Assessment for this unit seemed overall adequate. It is making the presumption that the learner will be self-motivated and truly at grade level when starting the unit. The unit uses formative types of assessment as it segments learning activities out.


  • More attention could be paid to providing exemplar or different examples for levels of work.
  • The unit is intuitive to use to find generated and aligned activities and assessments, however some of the supports seem out of order with the readings / learning activities.
  • I found the material to be extremely engaging; however, it lacked it at an adequate component that addressed learned opportunities to share about reading and writing through the process of speaking.


  • Create rubrics and more focused and aligned assessments for a variety of targeted outcomes.
  • More vocabulary development would be ideal.
  • There could be more explicit rubrics to measure and guide the work that is expected from the learner and vocabulary development could be more defined into Tiers.
  • The unit could benefit from including specific rubrics / guidelines to provide the novice teacher or beginning student with a more comprehensive approach towards the quality of work that could be developed within the standards given the media that is provided for studied learning.

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