Reviewed OER Library

<< Return to resource list

Module 1 Unit 1 - War Coming Close to Home

EngageNY/Expeditionary Learning

View Resource


This resource was reviewed by OSPI in Spring 2015. Learn more about the review process and the data analysis approach.

The version reviewed was last updated: 2/1/2013.

Background from OER Project Review Team is developed and maintained by the New York State Education Department. In order to assist schools and districts with the implementation of the Common Core, they have provided curricular modules and units in P-12 ELA and math that can be adopted or adapted for local purposes. Grade 6 ELA consists of a high-level outline (curriculum map and module overview) for instruction and protocols, graphic organizers, resource guides with scaffolding instruction, and other materials. This is one unit from the grade 8 curriculum.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar (11.5)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 3.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 3.0, Instructional Supports: 2.5, Assessment: 3.0.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 2.75, Interactivity: , Exercises: 2.75, Deeper Learning: 2.75.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

None (0.75)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This unit could be a unit replacement or supplement material for 8th ELA classes that can utilize the reading material to align with their Social Studies partners. If this lesson fit with what my building's Social Studies department focused on, I would enjoy using this as a supplement unit.

Strengths include the variety of text included — list of text provided in overview. There are opportunities for students to research and relate to experiences refugees may have had and lesson prompts that connect to the reading.


  • The amount instruction can be overwhelming — each lesson's graphic organizer is packed with writing. Although very important information, having so much in one organizer can be overwhelming.
  • The Social Studies Connections focuses on refugees. Washington State Districts have curriculum based on U.S History in 8th grade.


  • Break up the information in the organizer so teachers interested in using one or two lessons can utilize the module without having to spend a lot of time searching through the lessons.
  • None needed. I think it is a great unit, but does not fit in my district.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This resource is so well developed that even inexperienced teachers could use it well. It provides substantial support throughout that any teacher could implement easily. Beautiful work!

Unit is tightly aligned with standards and clearly addressed shifts throughout. Content is engaging and compelling, which helps middle school students grapple with complex texts. Work encourages meaningful, collegial discourse.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Teachers of all experience levels should find the unit easy to follow and beginning teachers may build their repertoire of engagement strategies and/or protocols that they could use in future units. Within the lesson plan there is a section titled "Meeting Students' Needs," which is helpful to teachers as it explains why certain padagoical decisions could be made. The mid-unit assessment and final assessment calls for students to write two paragraphs. Teachers could extend this assignment as each paragraph for the final is assessment is about how an author treats the fall of Saigon. The resource suggests 14 45-minute lessons. This unit could be taught as an ELA class, a Social Studies class, or a humanities style class where both subjects are taught together. It would be ideal to use this when teaching a unit about the Vietnam War.

The strongest connection to the standards are when students determine word choice and word meaning from context (RL.8.4 and RI.8.4). The final assessment is to examine word choice and how it contributes to meaning and tone in both informational and literary texts. This unit could be used in a Social Studies class as well, or a class that is integrated. The literary pieces relate well to ELA classrooms and the focus on the Vietnam war would be suitable for a Social Studies class. The protocols listed in the appendix could be used as ideas for other units a teacher uses throughout the year. Under the "Meeting Students' Needs" section there are rationales and ideas for the teaching strategies. This can be helpful for teachers and they may learn some new strategies in the process of teaching this unit. Teachers who need ideas to engage students would find the ideas helpful.

Strengths include:

  • Pairing literary and informational texts throughout the unit — students read the novel "Inside Out & Back Again" as they read informational articles about the Vietnam War. The integration of the two reading sources help students develop the Common Core Standards in both Literary and Informational texts.
  • All items the teacher needs to teach the unit are found within the website. The teacher may find many helpful protocols and/or supporting materials that could be used in other units too.
  • The unit has both a unit at a glance and the specific steps to complete each lesson — the specific steps are very helpful to complete each section. The unit at a glance is a nice overview to see how each lesson fits together.


  • Lack of student anchor papers for mid-unit and final assessment — there are student examples for the short writes, but not examples for the mid-unit or final assessment.
  • Could provide more ideas for working with ELL students —there are differentiation strategies in the unit, but it could call out specific strategies for ELL students.
  • Provide links to the informational texts.This might help navigate the unit easier as they can be found with each lesson they are used.


  • Provide student example papers, along with an annotation on why they would receive a given score.
  • Call out specific strategies when completing close reading and writing for ELL students.
  • Included a link to the informational texts. This might help a teacher move around the unit easier.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This unit would be good for an experienced teacher within a team/PLC. The sheer volume of resources might overwhelm new teachers or teachers working in silos. If a team of teachers with knowledge of best practice of use of instructional materials could meet, analyze, deliver, and reflect on this unit students will experience a comprehensive and focused unit.

The unit resides with in a larger module that is comprehensive in breadth and integration of CCSS. Multiple standards are focused on several times in each of the 14 lessons within the unit and build toward the module performance assessment. Support for teachers is thorough. Not only are assessments, lessons, texts options, and targeted standards provided, but also text complexity analyses, TDQ's, and target "I Can..." statements.


  • The unit is limited in balance of writing — CCSS W.8.9 is the only writing standard targeted in the unit (although many more will be targeted in the overall module).
  • The unit is very aligned to CCSS, but a different concern might be its sheer volume — one unit, within one module, for one grade, in ELA is 244 pages.


  • Extend several of the text dependent questions and/or exit slips to include text type specific responses.
  • Simplify.

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