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The First Emperor

Student Achievement Partners/Westside District

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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: 10/7/2013.

Background from OER Project Review Team
Student Achievement Partners was founded by the lead writers of the Common Core State Standards. Student Achievement Partners reserves no right to intellectual property and all the content available on their site is assembled by and for educators and is freely available to everyone to use, modify and share. This is a lesson NOT unit level resource and that should be taken into account when looking at the review results.

EQuIP (Learn more)

Revision needed (3.3)
Chart with scale of 'meets criteria' from 0 (None) to 3 (All). Alignment: 1.0, Key Shifts in the CCSS: 1.25, Instructional Supports: 0.75, Assessment: 0.25.

Achieve OER (Learn more)

Chart with scale from 0 (Weak) to 3 (Superior). Explanation: 0.75, Interactivity: , Exercises: 1.0, Deeper Learning: 1.25.

See standard error chart for the review scoring

Reviewer Comments (Learn more)

Moderate (2.5)

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This is really a social studies topic. I think with the appropriate scaffolds any teacher could teach it, however, the text complexity is very high.


  • The exact CCSS for writing is not specifically stated. There is an argumentative piece and an explanatory piece. For the length and complexity of the text, two different writing forms are very difficult to accomplish.
  • The text complexity is extremely high. There are 28 academic vocabulary terms that need to be front loaded or require specific learning opportunities.


  • Choose one. Argumentative---students can use a graphic organizer to gather claims and evidence as they read the text.
  • Frontload the following words before reading the text, as these are in the TDQs: preservation, immortality, denounced, sacred, excavated.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

This resource is most appropriate for Social Studies teachers to help students build a knowledge-base they can carry over into an ELA class, where they can receive writing instruction and complete the writing assignment. The unit covers an engaging topic and includes dozens of text-dependent questions, running the range of depths of knowledge.


  • The resource is Social Studies content-based, but provides no instruction for students toward ELA standards - generally referring students to a website to learn about thesis statements, prompting students to write an entire explanatory text with no instruction about organization, content or mechanics, aside from a very brief, isolate mention of sentence structure.


  • Consider ELA as an entire content. Rather than assigning work, provide instruction on how to complete smaller portions of the task, ample opportunities to practice and self-evaluate, and extensive feedback throughout. In addition to using text-dependent questions, provide instruction on close reading strategies that are transferable.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

As the text for this unit is about ancient China it would be ideal in a humanities type class where one teacher teaches both ELA and Social Studies together. Students would thus get practice with some of the CCSS while using a text for Social Studies. Teachers with limited knowledge or resources available on ancient China would find use from this resource. Ideally, if a teacher had a strong writing background and had taught students writing from the CCSS he/she could make some adaptions to include more writing instruction in this unit. There are also some good text dependent questions teachers could use to help students practice answering those type of questions.

This unit would be good for 6th grade Social Studies teachers too as it provides ways for students to practice using the CCSS, but in an historical context. The unit is about ancient China, which is often taught at the sixth grade level. The extension activities are worth looking at for every student and could help students work toward argumentative writing.


  • Examples of text based questions
  • Student writing example
  • Extension activities


  • The instructions call for the students to compose a rough draft and complete a final copy with no mention of how it is graded.
  • There are no links provided to the reading passage.
  • There are not any instructions with the writing process portion of the unit.


  • Provide a unit or a link to such sites as SBAC or PARCC on which teachers could use ideas on how to grade.
  • Provide a link to the text in which the unit is based.
  • The unit could include instructions relating to W.6.2 for teachers to use as students write multiple drafts of their essays.
  • A teacher may want to complete the reading and text dependent questions and either disregard the writing portion of the unit, or change it to a short write. This would significantly shorten the unit if a teacher did not have enough time to complete the entire unit, which is suggested at seven 45 minute class periods.

Strengths/Ideal Use:

The unit provides opportunities for multiple readings of the anchor text (independently, whole class, and small group). It also provides some text dependent questions and tier II vocabulary to support student learning. The text provides an example essay that is useful to support student learning and can be used whole class or as a scaffold/differentiation for students of varying abilities.

The resource would be best used by experienced teachers to see example text dependent questions and tier II vocabulary. To facilitate student learning in this unit would require that the teacher understands the progression of student learning and adds instruction to scaffold that learning. Also, an experienced teacher would need to embed the grammar and writing into the unit.


  • The only writing instruction resource in the unit is two hyperlinks to college level thesis statement resources. How to organize, develop, revise, use evidence in writing is absent.
  • Two graphic organizers, no direction on how to address vocabulary list that is provided.
  • Balance of nonfiction and literary text absent.


  • Provide multiple opportunities for short writing in varying text types so students can practice and receive feedback on using evidence, introducing a topic, etc. for the culminating activity.
  • Create a rubric so students and teacher can formatively assess learning prior to the culminating activity.
  • Provide opportunities to include literary text to create a blended and balanced literacy unit.

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