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Weapons of the Spirit

Student Achievement Partners/Los Angeles School District

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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.

Review

This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2014. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was last updated: 7/12/2013.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Student Achievement Partners was founded by the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. All resources that Student Achievement Partners creates are open source and available at no cost.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Revision needed (7.5)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.5, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.75, Instructional Supports: 1.0, Assessment: 1.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.75, Interactivity: 0.0, Exercises: 1.75, Deeper Learning: 2.25.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (1.8)

Comments/Ideal Use:

The unit has some great ideas and it is nice to see a focus on informative writing. There are several spots where the teacher will need to use professional judgment on how to best use the materials with students. The biggest area that needs addressing is a lack of rubric to accompany the writing tasks. That being said I think it is a great unit and I would use it in my classroom.

The ideal scenario is for a team of teachers to look over the materials together and make a few adjustments as appropriate to their needs. This unit would go well to teach informative writing to a general education class. Teachers who have experience will have little problem using this resource whereas beginning teachers may want some suggestions on how to best utilize the texts and approach the writing task.

Challenges:

  • Vague about how the students go about reading the materials. The steps simply state for the teacher to either read out loud or to have students read to one another
  • No evaluation tool (rubric). The unit only provides a sample student response
  • Few differentiation ideas

Suggestions:

  • Give more ideas on areas of the text students might struggle and ideas how to help them
  • Create a rubric aligned to CCSS
  • Give ideas for teachers who work with ELL or Special Education students

Comments/Ideal Use:

The concept of Einstein's rhetorical progression regarding nuclear arm from 1922 to 1950 is highly engaging for both the student and the teacher. This unit uses text-dependent questions and an evidence chart to foster close reading and analysis. I would use it as a supplement to my curriculum and would augment it with more scaffolding for struggling readers and process writing (complete with formative assessments and rubrics). But the four Einstein pieces that are mentioned are not available on the web site and seem to be part of the Holt, Rinehart, Winston series that not all school districts have readily available.

Challenges:

  • The lack of scaffolding for ELL or struggling readers while reading the four separate pieces is of concern.
  • Not addressing advanced readers other than a quick "additional tasks" section that asks them to evaluate diction, etc. in the passages which seems to leave Honors students hanging.
  • The major weakness is not having process writing and the supports needed to help students be successful.

Suggestions:

  • More scaffolding is needed such as charts/graphs or think aloud reasoning by the teacher or annotating and explaining text in small increments. Students compose a rough draft (while using the evidence chart) . . . teacher will decide how much scaffolding they will provide during this process. Student complete final draft.
  • The advanced lessons could piggy back on Aristotle's rhetorical triangle and have students analyze the time period, the audiences and the reactions to each piece. This type of global synthesis is in keeping with college rhetoric courses.
  • This does not address the writing process of pre-writing, drafting, revision, editing, revision, publishing complete with lessons, formative assessments and rubrics along the way.

Comments/Ideal Use:

As written, this resource is ideally used by an experienced teacher in an A.P. U.S. History class. With modification, I could see this lesson being taught in a general education eleventh grade U.S. History class.

Challenges:

  • One issue/concern with lack of explicit scaffolding in two areas: 1) students with reading disabilities, ELL students, or students who are below grade level, and 2) content scaffolding.
  • The summative writing task is concerning due to a lack of clear direction with respect to the writing process.
  • Assessment in general is weak. The lesson does not adequately address how the instructor will assess how and if the students met the learning targets contained in the big ideas.

Suggestions:

  • Include the following sub-sections under During Teaching:
    • Scaffolding for ELL / SpEd students/ and students reading below grade level.
    • Include graphic organizers for struggling readers.
    • Include a mini-lesson that sets the texts in historic context.
  • Should include:
    • Who is the audience?
    • The steps of the writing process and how these should / could be completed.
    • Graphic organizers for any / all students requiring writing support.
    • Standards referenced rubric.
  • Need a variety of assessments:
    • pre-assessment – This could be a good tool for assessing how much content knowledge is required.
    • Formative assessment checks for understanding during and post lesson(s).
    • Standards-referenced rubric for not only the writing task, but also the reading standards.

Comments/Ideal Use:

With some work and some planning, this might work well as a lesson within a unit to begin identifying and developing potential groups of students and teachers who have the talent and interest who might be looking to begin a debate program at their high school. A department or group of PLC representatives could begin planning this out and taking steps towards easing into a long range plan with these types of resources.

It seems that the ideal scenario for this resource is to be used as part of a themed English unit, perhaps on Utopia / Dystopia, or on Social Justice as it relates the impact that one person can have on the fate of humanity. It can be used to assist with looking specifically at some particular skill sets in the domains / clusters of the CCSS. It would be a great resource for a class that is preparing students for argumentation and debate. It would complement a broader literary unit that might contain such novels as Night, etc. It would also be a good lesson to incorporate into an appropriate Social Studies course. To move through this material masterfully, a teacher facilitating the instruction would benefit from having a well-rounded background in logic / reasoning, argumentation and debate and logical fallacy.

Challenges:

  • There are opportunities for discussion and presentation, but makes little room for students to work on CCSS while developing independent conclusions of their own.
  • This object is primarily intended for teacher use. It provides a good key to help evaluate and locate material related to close reading and establishment of student claims with evidence based on the 'Big Ideas and Key Understandings' that are put forth initially. However, the lack of variety in the object and the limited scope of the conclusion that the authors intend to bring the learners into an amount of time specified seems largely unrealistic for any high school grade level. It is too specific, too narrow.

Suggestions:

  • Provide or develop extensions that further build context for learners.
  • Create rubrics that allow for alternate claims or related conclusions that might compliment or show minority perspectives to the reading(s) presented for study and analysis.

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