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Literacy: Can Animals Think?

NYC Dept of Education/misc. authors

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

Background from OER Project Review Team
The New York City Department of Education has developed Common Core-aligned tasks embedded in units of study to support schools in implementing the standards. Though there is no clear licensing on the materials, there is clear instruction on the website that educators may adopt these resources in their entirety or adapt the materials to best address students' diverse needs.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Exemplar if improved (8.3)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 2.5, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 2.0, Instructional Supports: 1.25, Assessment: 2.5.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 1.5, Interactivity: , Exercises: 1.5, Deeper Learning: 1.75.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Minor (1.75)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

As is, it would require a veteran teacher to translate the Performance Task unit into an instructional unit. That being said, the building blocks are there and it would be worth the effort.


  • This is a Performance Task, not an instructional unit. As such, it is a good tool for assessing student understanding and ability to synthesize multiple CCSS standards.


  • This could be strengthened if adapted to include instructional units across the 3-4 week span of the unit.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

For a teacher who needs to support their students in understanding how to name an author's purpose and/or to determine how an author makes choices about to convey their point of view in writing, these lessons would be helpful.

The unit is not scripted, and claims to be a support for instruction, not necessarily a unit replacement. The list of suggestions for teachers in the lesson plans and activities, and the unit overview mention this. Student worksheets are included, with annotated sample student work. The unit clearly addresses the shifts in the common core. Different types of assessments were explained, the purpose for the lessons were explained, the expectations for students in the PBAs were clearly aligned to the CCSS.


  • Not enough instruction supporting teaching reading.— the lesson plan and activities section are bullet pointed lists, but not explained in detail.
  • The list of sources seem to be separate from the lesson activities.


  • Format the lesson plans into either student friendly "I can..." statements or provide an example for the teacher on how to take the bullet point ideas and turn them into a lesson.
  • Reorganize the lesson format to provide for teachers a suggested time and place to use a certain text(s).

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This could be used to remediate students struggling with RI6.2 or as part of a 6th grade unit needing resources tied to RI6.2.

Strengths include:

  • Next steps with anchors and specific guidance given on using assessment to drive instruction.
  • Research-based approach to activities. However, the sequencing and recommendations for use could be more clear.
  • This resource addresses RI6.2 (determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details) very well.
  • Builds discipline through content-rich non-fiction, including print and non-print texts.


  • Texts are not included, suggestions are made Hard to determine complexity when neither texts nor text measures are included.
  • Strange selection of vocab — proper nouns (researcher and zoo names) are included as Tier 2 and 3 vocab.
  • No sequence of instruction Mix and match from a menu of strategies? Choose one?
  • Typos- missing suffixes, punctuation Pages 16 and 41 seem out of order Missing task 3 annotations.


  • Add texts Add info on text complexity on suggestions if texts are unavailable.
  • Align vocabulary selections with Isabel Beck's work on Tier 2 and 3 vocab selection.
  • Select strategies that best match standards, texts, student need Make recommendations of the use of strategies in context.
  • Edit again Group like activities/pages together Add task 3 annotations.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

Would work well for most teachers. The unit aligns very well with CCSS.

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