Houghton Mifflin Harcourt®Journeys is a core reading program for Grades K–6. In the program, students develop reading comprehension skills as well as skills with critical thinking, writing, speaking, listening, and research. Journeys uses digital tools and results-driven instruction to build better readers, and to scaffold and differentiate to meet all students’ needs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys has long been a leader with demonstrated efficacy. Increased research into how learning occurs and how technology supports learning has revealed new understandings of how students learn and how teachers can support learning. For Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this deeper understanding presented a call and a challenge to build upon the strengths and the efficacy of Journeys, and create an even more effective program. Journeys © 2017 is designed to provide universal access to rigorous, standards-based learning.
The purpose of this document is to demonstrate clearly and explicitly the scientific research base for Journeys © 2017. The program is built around what we know about effective instruction for elementary readers—how to support students in learning to comprehend and communicate orally and in writing—and what we know about how best to meet the needs of all learners through differentiation, ongoing assessment, and 21st-century learning, including the use of technology. This report is organized around the key elements of effective and research-based instruction in reading and English language arts. Journeys integrates each of these key themes and approaches into a comprehensive program that research suggests will support students as they progress to higher academic levels.
To help readers of this document understand the research and how it connects to Journeys, this report is organized as follows for each strand:
The combination of the major research recommendations and the related features of Journeys will help readers better understand how the program incorporates research into its instructional design.
A reference list of works cited is provided at the end of this document.
This research base outlines the foundational research upon which the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys © 2017 program was developed. The scientifically-based research cited in this document provides evidence that Journeys was designed using the latest academic and scholarly work about what constitutes good reading and English language arts instruction. The evidence-based practices outlined here were incorporated into the program to provide educators with the most effective tools and strategies, shown by previous research, to help children become confident, skilled readers.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys 2017 program’s content and pedagogy were not only informed by academic research but also direct efficacy research. Since the first version of Journeys was created, over 25 research studies have been performed to evaluate the program’s effectiveness, and findings of this research have been used to improve and refine the instruction and structure of this program.
The overwhelming results of these studies indicates that usage of Journeys leads to improved student outcome’s that are often greater than would be expected if students were exposed to other programs.
For example, early evidence of Journeys’ impact on students’ reading performance was provided in a statewide-comparative study including a total of 106 schools and over 18,000 students. This research evaluated statewide student reading performance for schools using an early version of the Journeys program, to similar schools using alternative programs over the period of three years. The results of this quasi-experimental, “silver-standard” efficacy study clearly indicated student reading performance was improved for students using Journeys when compared to other students in the state using alternative reading programs.
Students using Journeys also witness significant increases in multiple reading skill domains, including reading comprehension, language, vocabulary, and word analysis. [2,3] Such improvements, as measured by percentile gains, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year, have been larger than expected as students have improved their relative standing on national tests after only using Journeys for one academic year.
Proof of Journeys’ effectiveness has also been demonstrated using randomized control trials, the “gold standard” research design for product evaluation. A total of 46 classrooms and over 700 students participated in this two-year, experimental study of Journeys. Tracking students over the study period, statistical analysis indicated that using Journeys caused students to perform better on tests of reading achievement than similar students using other programs. These effects were meaningful and conclusive, as this study design is the only research design that meets the What Works Clearinghouse’s standards for program evaluation.
The culmination of this research demonstrates that Journeys is an effective reading program that leads to better student outcomes. Research is ongoing as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is committed to helping districts harness the power of Journeys in the classroom.
For more information on the efficacy research for Journeys, contact email@example.com
How is reading complex text like lifting weights? Just as it’s impossible to build muscle without weight or resistance, it’s impossible to build robust reading skills without reading challenging text. —Shanahan, Fisher, & Frey, 2012, p. 58
In the past, teachers may have adjusted the complexity of texts, to provide students with texts at their reading level, rather than expected all students to wrestle with complex texts. Teachers may have prompted personal connections with texts, rather than focused on textual analysis and synthesis. With a new focus nationwide on close reading and complex texts, teachers and students are now focusing their energies on building understandings and analyses of complex texts and engaging in repeated readings to explore multiple levels of meaning. Decoding and basic comprehension are the building blocks, but they are not enough. In today’s rigorous classrooms, coherent and incisive spoken and written analytic responses are the ultimate means through which students demonstrate their proficiency in reading.
When selecting texts for instruction, Jones, Chang, Heritage, and Tobiason (2014) remind educators that many factors must be considered:
It is important to make sure that there is sufficient richness and complexity in a selected text to stimulate close reading. Students should read a variety of texts, but not every text can be, or needs to be, analyzed and examined in the deep manner required for close reading. Texts not selected for close reading can be used for other reading purposes...Texts used specifically for close reading should enable students to gain new insight into the text each time they read it... (p. 6).
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Journeys © 2017 engages students with rich and varied texts. The program includes high-quality texts that are rich and complex, and worthy of reading and thoughtfully responding through high-quality, collaborative discussions and varied written responses. Different genres offer opportunities for students to build content knowledge and better understand genre structures.
Complex and High-Quality Texts
Students read and write in Reading/Language Arts classes at every grade level—what changes is the complexity of the texts that they encounter and produce. This vision of text complexity is central to the progression of rigorous student standards which “hinge on students encountering appropriately complex texts at each grade level to develop the mature language skills and the conceptual knowledge they need for success in school and life” (Coleman & Pimentel, 2012, p. 3).
Elements of Text Complexity: In its research on reading and college readiness, ACT (2006) identified the following elements as central to making texts complex:
Measures of Text Complexity: The complexity of a text depends on more than a simple calculation of the length of words and sentences. One model of measuring a text’s complexity involves three factors—qualitative; quantitative; and in consideration of reader, text, and task:
Importance of Complexity: Complexity matters. In its 2006 report, Reading Between the Lines, ACT®, Inc. concluded that the main difference between students who reached the benchmark score level in their performance and those who did not was whether or not students could answer questions based on complex texts. Alarmingly, while the level of texts that students will encounter—in textbooks, journals, and the workplace—has increased over time, few students have been prepared to read, understand, and analyze these complex texts (ACT, 2009).
The Quality of Text: Texts selected for instruction must meet the criteria for appropriate text complexity (described above) as well as criteria for quality. Educators must ask the question: “Are these texts worth teaching?” In their qualitative study that examined the implementation of close reading instruction at the elementary level, Fisher and Frey (2012) found that the quality of texts mattered; teachers agreed that not all texts were worthy of a close reading. In their study of research-based factors to improve reading comprehension in kindergarten through 3rd grade, Shanahan and colleagues (2010) found text selection to be a key factor, concluding that:
...early exposure to different types of text builds the capacity to understand the large variety of reading material that students will encounter as they move from grade to grade. Not only should teachers introduce students to a variety of texts, but teachers should also ensure that a selected text (1) is rich in depth of ideas and information, (2) has a level of difficulty commensurate with the students’ word-reading and comprehension skills, and (3) supports the purpose of the lesson... Stories with strong literary merit and informational texts that are accurate, well-written, and engaging are consistently a good choice for teaching reading comprehension. (p. 30–31)
Supporting Students in Reading Complex and High-Quality Texts: To support students in reading complex and high-quality texts, a close reading approach can be effective (Coleman & Pimentel, 2012). According to Cummins (2013), close reading is a word-, phrase-, paragraph- and sentence-level analysis of text by which the reader can determine “which details are most important and how these fit together logically to convey the author’s central idea(s) or theme(s)” and then can begin “to critically evaluate these ideas or themes” (p. 1). In a qualitative study in which they looked at close reading instruction at the elementary level, Fisher and Frey (2012) found that students were able to approach complex texts with greater skill when they engaged in rereading and close reading procedures.
Teachers can also provide support for students by focusing on the various elements of text complexity and designing instruction accordingly. To identify which elements are likely to pose the most difficulty for students, educators must pre-read texts and map language features, identify new content and unknown vocabulary, and consider the students’ purpose for reading and tasks related to the reading. For example, texts that pose knowledge demands for students can be made more accessible with a content preview. Unknown vocabulary can be pretaught. Text structures can be made explicit, so that students can use the organization to monitor comprehension and predict what will come next.
For some students, leveled texts can act as a scaffold, helping to prepare students to read more complex texts. Leveling assists students in learning to read (Clay, 1991). Matching the instructional activity with the learner’s level has sometimes been referred to as the Goldilocks principle—activities should be not too hard or not too easy, but just right for learning to occur (VanLehn, Graesser, Jackson, Jordan, Olney, & Rose, 2007; Metcalfe & Kornell, 2005; Calkins, 2001; Wolfe, Schreiner, Rehder, Laham, Foltz, Kintsch, & Landauer, 1998; Morris, Blanton, Blanton, Nowacek, & Perney, 1995). Leveled texts can offer needed support for struggling readers and ELL students (Short & Fitzsimmons, 2007). According to Snow, Burns, and Griffin (1998) “regardless of a child’s reading ability, if too many of the words of a text are problematic, both comprehension and reading growth itself are impeded” (p. 213). Finely leveled texts can provide scaffolding and build confidence.
For English learners, teachers must pay particular attention instructionally to the third factor of text complexity: the match between the text and the reader. For English learners, if what is most “complex” about the text is the content for the reader, the task the reader must perform, and the context, then teachers must keep these in mind as they plan instructional responses for these students (Bunch, Walqui, & Pearson, 2014).
High-quality, complex texts should not be made available for only certain populations of students. In their study on discussion-based approaches in middle and high school English classrooms, Applebee, Langer, Nystrand, and Gamoran (2003) found that “upper-track classes read more traditional literature and essays; lower-track classes read more young adult literature and poetry” (p. 714). These kinds of differences put students on a permanent track, with struggling learners never having the exposure to canonical texts that they need. For this reason, it is essential to provide complex, high-quality texts to all students.
A Balance of Literary and Informational Texts
Exposure to both literary and informational texts is important. Literature texts are the content of the English language arts classroom and play an essential role, but informational texts, too, are important for preparing students for success in school and work. Most of the content students will encounter in school, in work, on the Internet and elsewhere is informational. As Duke (2004) asserts: “We are surrounded by text whose primary purpose is to convey information about the natural or social world. Success in schooling, the workplace, and society depends on our ability to comprehend this material” (p. 40). Informational texts are those that are written to convey information to readers about the natural or social world, and are one way that most of us come to understand the world around us. In an effective literacy program, students need exposure to high-quality literary and informational texts.
Distribution of Text Types: Increasingly, states and districts recognize the importance of offering a balance of literary and informational genres in instruction in the reading and English language arts classroom.
In recognition that:
The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) includes literary texts (fiction; literary nonfiction, such as essays, speeches, autobiographies, and biographies; and poetry) and informational texts (exposition, argumentation and persuasive texts, and procedural text and documents). The Reading Framework for the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) specifies the percentage balance of literary and informational texts required as students progress through the grade levels; in NAEP, the proportion of informational texts is high and increasing over time.
The Relationship of Text and Content: Teaching varied text types is crucial for student learning. Through reading, students build background knowledge and understanding. Informational texts are particularly important for study because it is through these texts that students build their understandings of the world around them. Including instruction in arguments has also been shown to be beneficial. As part of a research study on teaching argument to young children, Riley and Reedy (2005) found that instruction in argument led to improved critical thinking.
Reading and content-building share a recursive relationship. Reading helps students build content knowledge; content knowledge helps students better comprehend new and complex texts. Numerous studies have shown that deepening students’ knowledge of a topic improves their comprehension (Graves, Cooke, & LaBerge, 1983; McKeown, Beck, & Blake, 2009).
In a study with students in Grade 3, Best, Floyd, and McNamara (2008) found that while students’ comprehension of narrative text was most influenced by decoding skills, their comprehension of expository texts was most influenced by their knowledge base. From their research, “we can conclude that children with less prior knowledge will struggle to form a coherent situation model when reading expository texts because they are not able to generate the necessary inferences” (p. 153). Similarly, to teach argument writing, Ferretti, Andrews-Weckerly, and Lewis (2007) recommend that teachers build students’ content knowledge.
In addition to building content knowledge of the content of texts, as they read students build knowledge of genres and structures of texts. This content helps them become better readers and writers. In Writing Next, Graham and Perin (2007) conducted a meta-analysis of research on the impact of specific types of writing instruction, resulting in the identification of 11 elements of effective writing instruction for adolescents. Among their findings? Adolescents benefit from “opportunities to read, analyze, and emulate models of good writing” and from the use of “writing as a tool for learning content material” (p. 5).
Teaching across Text Types: Research suggests that the approaches students take to reading and comprehending fiction and informational texts differ (Klingner, Vaughn, & Boardman, 2007). Because comprehension strategies do not necessarily transfer from one type of text to another, students need to be supported in learning how to read across multiple texts (Ogle & Blachowicz, 2002, p. 270). Williams (2005) conducted a series of studies and found that at-risk students were able to transfer what they learned to new texts when they were given explicit instruction with a focus on text structure. Readers need specific, advanced skills to comprehend content-area texts (Shanahan & Shanahan, 2008). Strategies instruction has been shown to be effective for content-area readers (see Cantrell, Almasi, Carter, Rintamaa, & Madden, 2010; Duke, 2004; National Institute for Literacy, 2007; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000; Hollingsworth & Woodward, 1993; Nokes & Dole, 2004; Snow, 2002; Underwood & Pearson, 2004).
Engaging Content, Topics, and Themes
When selecting texts for the classroom, educators must pay attention to elements discussed previously in this report—complexity, quality, and genre. Yet another element to consider is whether the text is of interest to students. Texts used in the classroom should engage students’ interest and motivate them to continue reading.
Characteristics of Engaging Texts: Well-written nonfiction texts on topics of interest and fiction with interesting characters, exciting plots, and familiar themes will engage readers. Other properties of texts that have been shown to increase student interest include interesting topics (Schiefele, 1999; Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, 2001, 2006)), appealing format (Schraw, Bruning, & Svobada, 1995), relevance (Schraw & Dennison, 1994), and appropriate language and complexity (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, 2001, 2006). Particularly for those students who prefer to read nonfiction or who are interested in the topics of the texts, informational texts purposefully selected have been shown to engage and motivate readers (Caswell & Duke, 1998; Jobe & Dayton-Sakari, 2002).
Instructional Benefits of Engaging Texts: Studies have shown a high correlation between personal interest and text learning—and these findings hold up “for both short and long text, narratives and expository text, younger and older students, and students with high or low reading ability” (Schiefele, 1999, p. 265). Students who are interested in what they are reading are mentally engaged (Hidi & Boscolo, 2006). Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, Humenick, and Littles (2007) studied the connection between motivation and comprehension among elementary students and found that “interest and positive affect for reading invariably were associated with high cognitive recall and comprehension of text” (p. 306). Selecting texts of interest to students appears to increase their generalized motivation for learning (Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, & Perencevich, 2006) and their persistence in reading and completing text-related tasks (Ainley, 2012). Using students’ interests to guide text selection is particularly important with nonfiction texts; this as a starting point, followed by the teacher reading aloud while modeling strategy use is effective at developing non-fiction comprehension skills (Calkins, 2001).
Complex and High-Quality Texts in Journeys
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Journeys © 2017 includes complex texts, appropriate for each grade level, with engaging themes, rich language, and elements of style. In Journeys, the texts offered at each grade level are appropriately complex, as based on:
With each text, teachers are provided with the detailed information about complexity that will allow them to tailor instruction in focused ways to support readers in successful comprehension.
At the opening of each lesson, teachers are provided with a Text Complexity Rubric that visually identifies and describes the text-specific elements of text complexity for the Anchor Text and Paired Selection.
Additionally, in the Teacher’s Edition teachers are reminded of Reader and Task Considerations so that they can determine how much support their students will need to be successful in comprehending and analyzing the lesson’s text.
The varied supports and resources in Journeys help students prepare for reading, engage in multiple close reads for deep comprehension, and communicate their analysis of complex texts:
During multiple reads of the text, teachers are supported with appropriate scaffolds that prompt students to use text evidence to support their claims and conclusions, and to deeply analyze the text based on the target outcomes that frame the CA CCSS. In terms of responding, after the First Read, students engage in a Collaborative Discussion. After the Second Read, they Dig Deeper to analyze the text at high depth-of-knowledge levels, such as in the prompts and Performance Task. And, finally, students’ third, independent read takes them to the Reader’s Notebook to respond to the text.
Appropriate scaffolds are built into the reading process to support readers. Scaffolds include:·
To help teachers support all students in developing their reading skills, the program offers Leveled Readers in addition to the core program texts. These texts offer leveled support that aligns with the core instruction for small groups, including:
Each of these Leveled Readers is offered along with instructional suggestions in the Teacher’s Edition for:
The Balance of Literacy and Informational Texts in Journeys
High-quality literary and informational texts are at the center of Journeys © 2017. The Journeys texts offer engaging narratives and expository texts about interesting topics and offer an expanded focus on literary and informational texts across the grade levels.
At Grade 4, for example, students read from a wide range of text genres including:
Every text in Journeys © 2017 is introduced with a clear identification of its genre, and the features of that genre.
Engaging Content, Topics, and Themes in Journeys
The Journeys © 2017 program recognizes the reciprocal relationship between literacy and content knowledge. The more that students know about a topic the more easily they can comprehend texts about the content; the most students read about a topic, the more they build their knowledge of that topic. Through reading complex and high-quality literary and informational texts throughout Journeys © 2017, students strengthen their content knowledge and encounter engaging themes and texts. By building their content knowledge, students are better prepared to comprehend increasingly complex texts as they continue through school.
In Journeys, the content of lessons is carefully designed around themes and topics that support the essential building of students’ knowledge of different domains.
Lessons are organized around specific Topics, such as in Grade 4:
In Journeys, Unit Openers describe the unit topic or theme, offer a hook to the content with a video or media connection that gives additional background or context, link to the FYI Site and Channel 1, and preview the Unit Performance Task.
The FYI Site for Grades K through 5 is tied to unit topics and extends students’ knowledge of new content and ideas. These links to vetted nonfiction articles connect to each unit’s topic and provide opportunities for students to expand their understanding of the topic and use the articles as a source for research and writing. The FYI Site is continually updated with new content to support students’ increased domain knowledge.
Interactive Lessons in Listening, Speaking, and Writing offer contemporary and engaging tutorials along with activities on topics of interest to students.
HMH’s partnership with Channel One News® enables users of Journeys to access video clips related to social studies and science topics via links in the Student eBook. With these resources, students will build additional background and content-area knowledge.
For hundreds of years the primary vehicle for instruction has been words, such as lectures or textbooks. Advances in computer and communication technologies now allow instructors to supplement verbal modes of instruction with visual modes of instruction, including dazzling graphics that students can interact with. Research on multimedia learning provides encouraging evidence that under appropriate circumstances, students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone…—Mayer, 2013, p. 396
Numerous studies have attested to the effectiveness of technology to facilitate student learning and increase achievement in the classroom (see syntheses and meta-analyses conducted by Cheung & Slavin, 2012a, 2012b; Goldberg, Russell, & Cook, 2003; Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2010; Waxman, Lin, & Michko, 2003; Tamim, Bernard, Borokhosvski, Abrami, & Schmid, 2011; and Teh & Fraser, 1994).
By using technology in and out of the classroom, teachers use a medium that meets the expectations and interests of 21st century students. In studying technology use by young people, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that “media are among the most powerful forces in young people’s lives today” (Rideout, Foehr, & Roberts, 2010, p. 1). Young people today have grown up with technology, leading to Prensky (2001) to use the term “digital natives” to describe them. Media has expanded our concept of literacy, redefining how we communicate and locate information (International Reading Association, 2009; Rhodes & Robnolt, 2009). Today’s instruction must reflect these changes.
While studies attest to the positive impact of technology in the classroom, technology alone does not improve student learning. To be effective, technology must be used purposefully and meet specific design requirements (Mayer, 2001, 2005, 2013). In Journeys, technology is used intentionally to foster increased learning. Technology supports data-drive instruction with the program’s numerous computer-based assessment tools. Multimedia presentations engage learners and enhance access to grade-level content. Easy-to-use interfaces, customizable options, and 24/7 access all mean that users can learn how they want whenever they want.
Engagement via Technology
Researchers and educators recognize the important link between student engagement—their interest, enjoyment, and time on task—and student learning. In the English language arts classroom, student engagement is a “powerful determinant of the effectiveness of any given literacy approach” (Strangman & Dalton, 2006, p. 559). By identifying tools and strategies that promote engagement, teachers can increase motivation and improve learning and performance. An increasing body of evidence supports the idea that technology use in the classroom increases student engagement.
In their synthesis of research on improving student engagement, Taylor and Parsons (2011) found multimedia and technology use to be a key, shared element in engaging classroom environments. Chen, Lambert, and Guidry (2010) found that Web-based learning led to increased student engagement and learning outcomes in their study.
What is the nature of technology’s engagement? Reinking (2001) attributes greater engagement in multimedia environments to the following factors:
Game-based learning in the classroom has particular implications for student engagement because engagement is intrinsic in game-playing. Computer-based games are powerful tools for learning that impact student engagement and motivation (Prensky, 2000).
Instructional Responsiveness via Technology
Technology has been shown to have particular benefits in English language arts, writing, and reading. “Computers help shorten the work of composing and revising...Technology also opens new opportunities for helping children learn the rudiments of grammar and composition, while encouraging them to share their work with one another” (National Commission on Writing, 2006, p. 60). Their review of research on technology-supported learning led Reimann and Aditomo (2013) to conclude that computer-assisted instruction had the highest impact on students’ writing. Goldberg, Russell, and Cook (2003) conducted a meta-analysis of 26 studies that examined the performance of K-12 students who were taught writing with computers compared with those taught in paper-and-pencil conditions. The “results of the meta-analysis suggest that on average students who use computers when learning to write are not only more engaged and motivated in their writing, but they produce written work that is of greater length and higher quality” (online). Students in Grade 8 “whose teachers more frequently asked them to use the computer to draft and revise their writing scored higher [on NAEP] than those whose teachers did so less frequently. Students whose teachers never asked them to draft and revise their writing on a computer scored the lowest” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012b, p. 17).
Technology provides the means for teachers to increase their instructional responsiveness. With improvements in computer-based assessment practices and data collection and analysis, teachers can have up-to-the-minute data about student learning and performance enabling them to offer feedback and redirect instruction accordingly. “Technology can also analyze and provide immediate feedback on performance, and can suggest modifications in instruction where necessary to improve student achievement.” (CEO Forum on Education & Technology, 2001). Computer-based assessments can support teachers and students with frequent, consistent, timely, diplomatic, and evaluative feedback (Bischoff, 2000).
Research shows the benefits of technology for many student populations:
Benefits to Lower Performing Students: Online learning approaches have been shown to be effective across types of learners, including lower-performing students, (Cheung & Slavin, 2012a, 2012b; Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2010) perhaps, in part, because of the power of technology to embed scaffolds at the point of use. In the 2011 computer-based administration of the NAEP writing assessment, students who took advantage of online tools and scaffolds outperformed those who did not. Those “who used the [online] thesaurus [tool] scored higher, on average, than students who did not use it, and students who used it two or more times scored higher than students who used it only once...” (p. 18). Similarly, the highest performers also used the backspace key and the spell-check tool more frequently than the lowest performers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012b). As MacArthur (2009) discusses, outlining programs, word processing, spell checkers, and other applications can help struggling writers with all stages of the writing process—from drafting to revising.
Benefits to English Learners: Macaruso and Rodman (2011) found that computer-assisted instruction benefited young English learners, with a treatment group outperforming a control group across foundational reading skills. Similarly, Lopez (2010) found technology to have specific benefits for English learners. Cheng (2007) found that language learners who used simulation-based approaches in genre analysis improved their writing ability and enhanced their awareness of features of different genres. Hegelheimer and Fisher (2006) found that English language learners benefited from explicit grammar instruction and interactivity when using an online writing tool.
Benefits to Students with Different Learning Styles: Mayer (2001, 2005), a leading researcher in the field of multimedia learning, argues that student learning is increased in multimedia environments because information can be presented in multiple formats—including words, audio, and pictures. Students are able to learn more and retain information when they can access information using these different pathways. Multimedia learning environments reach students who learn in different ways—visual learners, auditory learners, kinesthetic learners.
Benefits to Advanced Learners: For advanced learners, technology offers the opportunity to increase the pace of learning, to access additional resources and information, and to collaborate with others.
Finally, technology is important in classroom assessment in order to prepare students for the next-generation assessments they will encounter as they continue through school.
According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), “... employing new technologies will allow the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium to:
According to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC®), the PARCC assessments will be much more interactive and engaging than traditional, on-demand assessments; “PARCC state know that in the 21st century students need to have access to technology in the classroom throughout the year, not just at testing time. Devices used for tests should also be used for instructional purposes” (PARCC, 2013). With the benefits of technology “PARCC will give students a chance to solve real problems...[and] they’ll not only have to solve complex problems, but show how they solved them” (PARCC, 2013).
Fundamentally, blended learning is defined as the combination of face-to-face instruction with computer-enhanced instruction (Osguthorpe & Graham, 2003). The definition is both simple (physical + virtual learning) and complex—complex because of the myriad of design possibilities (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004). Whatever the specifics of the design, the advantages of blended learning formats is that they can join the best features of classroom teaching, while at the same time promoting active, flexible, self-directed learning online. Perhaps in part because blended learning teaches students through mediums and modes that engage them and fit with their daily practices and experiences, Uğur, Akkoyunlu, and Kurbanoğlu (2011) found students to have very positive views on their experiences with blended learning.
Advantages of Blended Learning: Research points to numerous benefits for teachers and students using a blended learning environment.
A Community of Learners: “What makes blended learning particularly effective is its ability to facilitate a community of inquiry” (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004, p. 97). Computer-based collaborative tools allow for online interactions that can create and strengthen a community of learners. In a study of one classroom teacher’s experience, Tucker (2012) found that blended learning fostered students’ communication and collaboration skills.
Personalized Learning: Blended learning allows for a personalized learning experience for students (Imbriale, 2013; Tucker, 2012), with learners driving the path and the pace of learning (Public Impact, 2013).
Active Learning: Tucker (2012) a classroom teacher who adopted a blended learning model, found that it engaged students as active participants.
Reflective Learning: Cooner (2010) found that blended learning can be designed to foster self-reflection on learning and can, thus, enhance the learning experience for students.
Increased Learning: According to the findings of Public Impact, “blended learning that combines digital instruction with live, accountable teachers holds unique promise to improve student outcomes dramatically” (2013, p. 1).
Engagement via Technology in Journeys
In Journeys © 2017, engagement via technology is a primary focus.
Program resources use technology smartly, for learning purposes. Research shows that when students are engaged in learning, they are motivated to persist. When they are motivated to persist, they learn more. So engagement is key to the ultimate goal of increased learning.
With the Journeys © 2017 enhanced Student eBook, new tools make access even easier. Students can access myNotebook and myWriteSmart at the point of use with links embedded in the eBook. The myNotebook feature allows students to personalize their learning, engaging them in learning.
Interactive Lessons tailored to instructional content are embedded at the point of use, and engage students in actively learning new content and skills.
The Journeys Interactive Lessons in Listening, Speaking, and Writing provide students with engaging tutorials on contemporary topics of interest to students—using an interactive, multimedia presentation that is designed to engage and motivate students.
Additional resources like the HMH Decoding Power: Intensive Reading Instruction resource purposefully employ techniques to engage students. This tool is built on gaming principles to engage students in building skills with phonemic awareness, phonics and word study, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing.
The HMH Player® app offers offline access and functionality and collaboration, with easy-to-use interfaces and customizable options. Teachers can customize California Journeys lessons with simple drag and drop functions that enable them to combine their own created lessons, open source content, and Journeys lessons into customized plans.
Instructional Responsiveness via Technology in Journeys
In Journeys © 2017, technology is used to meet the needs of 21st century learners and teachers.
For students, the program’s design offers multiple, varied options that support learning and allow for a personalized, adaptive learning experience.
Students can engage with content in different ways and express their understanding in varied modes. The technological tools in Journeys © 2017 provide multiple representations of information and content to students, differentiated ways for students to engage with the content, and varied ways for them to express what they learned. These dynamic interactions with the content lead to enhanced success and therefore, motivation to learn.
For teachers, the program supports professional learning and practice in varied ways.
Blended Learning in Journeys
When offering blended learning opportunities, the challenge lies in determining the optimal blend for greatest learning. In Journeys © 2017, HMH integrates digital and print-based resources, offering connections at point of use, so that the blend becomes seamless and resources optimally enhance grade-level content for all learners.
The Journeys © 2017 program offers specific features, tools, and resources that extend the research-proven benefits of blended learning.
A Community of Learners: In Journeys © 2017, enhancements to myWriteSmart enable peer-to-peer and peer-to-teacher collaboration.
Personalized Learning: The program’s Assessment Hub supports personalizing students’ learning through data-driven instruction. Progress monitoring assessments provide ongoing information about student learning and performance.
Active Learning: Digital components of Journeys support interactive learning. The myNotebook component offers a place for students to record notes, annotate, and respond to readings—which they can then use in myWriteSmart when developing writing and performance tasks.
Reflective Learning: Ongoing assessments foster reflection on performance.
Increased Learning: The program’s Interactive Lessons in Listening, Speaking, and Writing provide learners with rigorous, standards-aligned tutorials for additional practice and reinforcement.
...students who develop strong writing skills at an early age acquire a valuable tool for learning, communication, and self-expression. Such skills can be developed through effective writing instruction practices that provide adequate time for students to write.—Graham, et al., 2012, p. 6
Along with teaching students to comprehend complex texts and explore a rich body of literary and informational texts, developing students’ ability to communicate their thinking in writing is another important goal of the English classroom. Receptive processes—reading and listening—are only part of communication. Also crucial are the expressive processes of speaking and writing. Unless students communicate their understandings, we cannot know whether students understand. New assessments being used nationwide from SBAC and PARCC rely on writing to evaluate how much students have comprehended from texts. Moreover, there is synergy between receptive and expressive processes. When they are taught and applied together, growth in one area supports growth in the other. Finally, vocabulary and language structures that students have heard and read are only partly learned; to demonstrate full learning students must employ these in their own communication.
The ability to write well is crucial for students’ social, academic, and professional advancement, in the 21st century (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2009). Helping students “to write clearly, logically, and coherently about ideas, knowledge, and views will expand their access to higher education, give them an edge for advancement in the workforce, and increase the likelihood that they will actively participate as citizens of a literate society” (Graham & Perin, 2007, p. 28).
Research suggests that supporting students’ written language development is particularly crucial in the later elementary grades (Brisk, 2012). How best can teachers support students as writers? Time, effective models, and explicit instruction in skills and processes across varied genres are all needed and effective in improving students’ communication.
Throughout Journeys, students have ample opportunities to write formally and informally, in varied contexts and for varied purposes. The program integrates literacy skills, emphasizing students’ development across literacy skills and communicative processes. Performance-Based Tasks in Journeys provide opportunities for performance. Tools such as myWriteSmart support students through every stage of the writing process.
Varied Purposes and Forms
For students to develop the writing skills they will need in their future academic and work experiences, they must learn to write for varied meaningful and useful purposes (Kiuhara, Graham, & Hawken, 2009; Applebee & Langer, 2006). Students must learn that:
...writing is used for a variety of purposes, such as conveying information, making an argument, providing a means for self-reflection, sharing an experience, enhancing understanding of reading, or providing entertainment....Teachers should begin by teaching students the different purposes for writing and how specific genres, or forms of writing defined by specific features, can help students achieve their writing goals. When students understand the connection between different genres and writing purposes, they may be more likely to use different genres and think more critically about how to structure their writing. Students must also learn to adjust their writing to be most effective for their intended readers. (Graham et al., 2012, p. 12)
Varied Genres of Writing: Researchers have identified writing to persuade, to inform, to describe, and to convey research findings as essential purposes for writing for success in school and work (ACT, 2005; National Commission on Writing, 2004, 2005). The 2011 NAEP framework (National Assessment Governing Board, 2010) highlights the need for students to produce texts for varied purposes. In NAEP, at the elementary level, students are asked to write to persuade, to explain, and to convey experience.
Why Writing Across Genres Is Important: The ability to think and write across disciplines is needed (Atwell, 1989) to meet 21st century demands that require that students become proficient writers able to flexibly adapt their writing to varied genres and contexts. As students learn to write, and produce increasingly complex texts, they move from writing simple narrative sequences and explanations, to writing more in-depth, evidence-based informative essays and arguments. Involving students in varied, meaningful writing activities has been found to improve their writing skills. Applebee and Langer (2006) analyzed NAEP results and found a correlation between the quality of student writing and the types of writing they had been assigned to do in school. Arguments specifically have been found to benefit students. Literacy in producing arguments has been shown to develop students’ critical thinking skills (Riley & Reedy, 2005) and to be essential to success in higher education (ACT, 2009). In their research on deeper learning and 21st century competencies, Pellegrino, Hilton, and colleagues on the committee found substantial support for the importance of students’ “ability to construct and evaluate arguments in relation to evidence” (National Research Council, 2012, p. 139).
How to Teach Writing Across Genres:
Models:There is strong evidence that “examples of good writing and techniques for writing in specific genres can help students write more effectively for different purposes and audiences” (Graham et al., 2012, p. 12). Students are not equally familiar with all genres of writing (Downing, 1995; Lenski & Johns, 2000). Students who are exposed to different genres in reading and as models are able to analyze these examples and “to emulate the critical elements, patterns, and forms embodied in the models in their own writing” (Graham & Perin, 2007, p. 20). Teachers can help students learn the features and structures of different genres by “directing attention to textual features...to help children develop ‘genre awareness’...” (Chapman, 2006, p. 39). Research findings suggest that rereading a book supports students use of similar genre features in their own writing (for example, see Pappas, 1991) and that greater exposure to reading from a specific genre will lead to greater ability with those elements of writing (Duke & Kays, 1998 in Donovan & Smolkin, 2006). Crowhurst (1991) conducted an experimental study and found that the treatment group who read persuasive texts prior to producing their own outperformed students who were given other kinds of texts to read or structures for writing without text models.
Text Structures: “Genre knowledge develops, in part, from experience with text structures...” (De La Paz & McCutchen, 2011, p. 45) and, as such, exposing students to varied genres is important. To teach students to produce effective arguments, Ferretti, Andrews-Weckerly, and Lewis (2007) recommend that teachers provide clear guidelines for structure and questions to scaffold students in their production of their own texts. Taylor and Beach (1984) conducted an experimental study in which they compared students who received instruction and practice in analyzing text structure with students who answered and discussed questions after reading and with a control group who received no special instruction. They found that students who examined text structure produced higher-quality expository writing than students in the other groups.
Writing Process: In a synthesis of research on effective instructional strategies for teaching writing in the elementary grades, Chapman (2006) concluded that an emphasis on both process and product is essential for developing writers with the skills and flexibility to produce varied genres.
Connected Reading and Writing
Reading and writing together form the heart of the English Language Arts classroom. “We have long known that the amount of reading and writing children do is directly related to how well they read and write. Classrooms in which all the students learned to read and write are classrooms in which the teachers gave more than ‘lip service’ to the importance of actually engaging in reading and writing. They planned their time so that children did a lot of reading and writing throughout the day—not just in the 100 minutes set aside for reading and language arts” (Cunningham & Allington, 2007, p. 7).
The Connections between Reading and Writing: Reading and writing are connected—at the word level (word recognition, spelling) and at the text level (comprehension, composition) (Berninger, Abbott, Abbott, Graham, & Richards, 2002). Reading and writing share a bidirectional relationship—writing instruction improves reading comprehension and reading instruction improves composition (Shanahan, 2006). To be effective readers and writers, students must employ similar strategies—setting a purpose, activating relevant prior knowledge, constructing meaning, and revising hypotheses or understandings (Pearson & Tierney, 1984). Fitzgerald and Shanahan (2000) identified four types of knowledge essential to success in both reading and writing: (1) Metaknowledge about the processes involved in reading and writing; (2) Domain knowledge, or prior knowledge of a topic and vocabulary; (3) Knowledge of text attributes, from the word level to the larger genre or format level; and (4) Procedural knowledge and skill to negotiate reading and writing, or the ability to apply knowledge to practice.
The Benefits of Connecting Reading and Writing in the Classroom: Students who write about what they read show more evidence of critical thinking, and students who read show improved composition (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006). Integrating reading and writing has been shown to increase word learning (Baker, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 1995b; Klesius & Searls, 1991); support English learners (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006a); improve revision (MacArthur, 2007); and positively impact students’ independent writing quality (Corden, 2007). Engaging in deep reading and research builds students’ content knowledge. In his research with students in Grades 4, 6, and 8, McCutchen (1986) found that students with greater content knowledge of the subject of the writing produced more clearly organized and better-supported essays than did those with lower content knowledge. Reading and writing together improves achievement, enhances communication skills, and builds critical-thinking ability (Cooper, 2000). Tierney, Soter, O’Flahavan, and McGinley (1989) found that students who both read and wrote significantly outperformed those in read-only or write-only groups and concluded that “the present data support the view that reading and writing in combination have the potential to contribute in powerful ways to thinking” (p. 166).
In Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading, Graham and Hebert (2010) describe the findings of a meta-analysis of research on reading and writing. They conclude that “the evidence is clear: writing can be a vehicle for improving reading. In particular, having students write about a text they are reading enhances how well they comprehend it” (p. 6).
Connecting Reading and Writing in the Classroom: Teachers can connect reading and writing in the classroom in multiple ways.
Writing to Sources: Students should be expected to support their oral and written communications with clear textual evidence. A body of research looks into the ways that students respond to texts and use evidence from texts to support those responses. In their study on students composing from sources, Spivey and King (1989) examined students in Grades 6, 8, and 10 as they wrote informational reports from source texts. They found that “general reading ability and success at synthesizing overlap to a great extent” (p. 7). In her study that looked at how college students wrote from sources, Kennedy (1985) found that more fluent readers engaged in more rereading, notetaking, and planning prior to writing than did less-fluent readers—who planned mostly at the sentence level and referred back to the text during writing. Her findings suggest that less-fluent writers will be served by explicit instruction in thinking about and extracting information from source texts. To develop students’ skills with using textual evidence, technology has been shown to improve students’ ability to use source information. Britt and Aglinskas (2002) found that students who used the computer-based tutorial referenced more text-based evidence than did the group who engaged in more regular classroom activity.
Writing to Learn: Studies on the connection between reading and writing suggest that writing helps students more deeply understand what they read. In fact, “writing about a text proved to be better than just reading it, reading and rereading it, reading and studying it, reading and discussing it, and receiving reading instruction” (Graham & Hebert, 2010, p. 22). For their Carnegie report entitled Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading, Graham and Hebert (2010) conducted a meta-analysis of existing research on the relationship between writing and reading and concluded that teachers should “have students write about the texts they read.” Research support for this is clear; “Students’ comprehension of science, social studies, and language arts texts is improved when they write about what they read, specifically when they respond to a text in writing..., write summaries of a text, write notes about a text, [and] answer questions about a text in writing or create and answer written questions about a text” (p. 5).
Research: Students learn best when they are actively engaged in learning—investigating topics and analyzing their findings. By researching, students become actively engaged in learning and build content knowledge—both of which have been shown to improve writing.
Performance-Based Assessments: Employing performance-based assessments, like those in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium’s end-of-year summative assessments (Smarter Balanced, n.d.), or the PARCC assessments, is another way teachers can connect reading and writing in the classroom—and gain valuable insights into students’ learning and skills.
Research suggests that the time spent writing is important and that beginning in kindergarten, students benefit from short and frequent practice with specific writing skills (Graham et al., 2012; Puranik, Al Otaiba, Sidler, & Greulich, 2014). Instruction in the writing process has a strong level of research evidence supporting its use (Graham et al., 2012).
“Teacher-student and peer conferences are at the heart of teaching writing. Through them students learn to interact with their own writing” (Calkins, 1994, p. 223). Learning together in cooperative learning group was one of the nine most effective instruction strategies identified by Marzano in his meta-analysis (2003). Research and cognitive theory suggest that when students work in groups toward a common goal, they support one another, model strategies, and provide context-appropriate explanations and immediate feedback (Slavin, 2002). Research has shown benefits to applying collaborative and cooperative learning practices to the writing process.
Collaborative Writing: According to Graham and colleagues (2012), after a review of research on how best to improve students’ writing skills in the elementary grades, there is evidence to suggest that creating an engaged community of writers will improve students writing outcomes.
Students and teachers also should have regular and structured opportunities to interact through giving and receiving feedback as well as collaborating on writing activities. Collaboration can increase the sense of community in a classroom, as well as encourage students to become engaged in the writing process with their peers. When students feel connected to one another and to the teacher, they may feel safe participating in the writing process and sharing their writing with peers. (p. 34)
Teachers can encourage students to collaborate throughout the writing process by brainstorming ideas about a topic, responding to drafts in a writing group, or helping peers edit or revise their work. Collaboration also can take the form of collaborative writing, whereby students jointly develop a single text. (p. 37)
In a study conducted by MacArthur, Schwartz, and Graham (1991) elementary school students with learning disabilities worked in pairs to support each other during the editing and revising stages of writing. Students in the experimental, collaborative-writing pairs made more revisions and demonstrated higher-quality writing performances than those in the control group. In their research, Yarrow and Topping (2001) employed a system of Paired Writing to examine whether more skilled writers could effectively tutor their less-skilled peers. Students in the paired groups showed greater gains from pre-testing to post-testing than did those who worked individually. Saddler and Graham (2005) looked at whether peer-assisted strategies would enhance instruction on sentence-combining techniques and found that 4th-grade students who participated in the experimental, peer-assisted group demonstrated (1) improved story writing and (2) improved use of grammatical structures as a result of sentence combining.
While regular writing improves overall writing ability (Ball, 2006), instruction in the varied elements of quality writing, including grammar, must take place if students are going to be competent and effective communicators. Such instruction is most beneficial and effective when presented as part of writing assignments and activities that are meaningful to students (Fearn & Farnan, 2005; Hillocks, 1986; Polette, 2008; Weaver, 1997). According to Graham and colleagues (2012), who reviewed research on how best to develop students as writers in the elementary grades:
When basic writing skills become relatively effortless for students, they can focus less on these basic writing skills and more on developing and communicating their ideas. However, younger writers must typically devote considerable attention to acquiring and polishing these skills before they become proficient…(p. 27).
Basic Writing Skills: As writers develop, they work to convey increasingly complex ideas, employ different genres and structures, and meet the needs of their purposes and audiences more attentively. At the beginning, though, writers need a foundation of basic skills.
Handwriting, spelling, and sentence construction are all basic writing skills that students must draw upon to translate their thoughts and ideas into writing. Students also draw on typing and word processing skills when composing electronically (Graham, et al., 2012, p. 27).
Students who understand grammar understand the varied ways that they can combine words to make meaningful, effective sentences. Grammar and other basic skills of writing are important. When they follow conventions and rules of language and mechanics, writers “ensure understanding and avoid distractions...allowing the reader to focus on the writer’s thoughts and ideas” (ACT, 2007, p. 46-47).
The Benefits of Instruction in Basic Writing Skills: In their review of research, Graham and colleagues (2012) found that explicit instruction in basic skills has positive effects on the student outcomes, including improved spelling, handwriting, sentence structures, quantity of writing, and overall quality.
Grammar is the structure of language and the rules for making meaning in a language, but perhaps more importantly is a resource for meaning making; when students have skills with and knowledge of grammar, they can better communicate their ideas.
Teaching Basic Writing Skills: For all of these basic skills, teachers should connect explicit instruction into meaningful contexts of writing and communicating.
Spelling: Explicit instruction in spelling—through instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, and morphology—benefits students (Troia & Graham, 2003), as does teaching spelling in the context of writing, teaching directly the spelling of common words, and teaching students to use resources, such as dictionaries (Graham et al., 2012, p. 29-30).
Grammar: Teaching students to “construct sentences for fluency, meaning, and style” improves their grammar (Graham et al., 2012, p. 30). In Writing Next, Graham and Perin (2007) identified sentence combining as one of the 11 effective, research-based elements or strategies. The sentence-combining approach has been shown to be effective with elementary school students (Saddler & Graham, 2005) and English learners (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006b).
Grammar and language instruction is most beneficial and effective when it is presented in relevant and meaningful contexts (Fearn & Farnan, 2005; Hillocks, 1986; Polette, 2008; Weaver, 1997). Students who are taught grammar when working on a specific piece of writing show a greater application than do those students taught grammar as a separate activity (Calkins, 1994; Spandel, 2001).
Grammar is important but should not be the primary focus of writing instruction. Several studies have found that grammar instruction is less effective in improving writing than other writing interventions (see, for example, Graham, McKeown, Kiuhara, & Harris, 2012). Teachers’ primary focus should always remain on language as a way to make meaning and achieve specific and powerful purposes.
Varied Purposes and Forms in Journeys
In Journeys © 2017, students learn to write for varied purposes and in varied writing forms. Carefully selected models provide exemplars for students, so that they can focus on the specific elements that help to make writing effective in specific genres.
In Journeys, students study the elements that create high-quality texts in different genres. They use this knowledge to create their own products across varied genres.
The program’s Interactive Lessons include lessons specific to different writing genres, presented at the point of use.
Across each Unit, students develop their written products using a process approach that is fully supported with instruction, culminating in the development of a final product that implements all steps in the process: pre-writing/planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
Research and Media Performance Tasks at the start of each unit in the Teacher’s Edition provide multiple opportunities to develop and publish both short and long research projects.
Collaborative Projects three times per year provide groups of students the opportunity to research a topic over time, and develop, publish, and present their results.
Connected Reading and Writing in Journeys
Students gain skill and practice in using textual evidence to support their ideas in writing through Journeys. In Journeys, students learn to write to sources.
In Journeys reading and writing are presented as interconnected literacy processes.
As students read through texts for their First Read and Second Read, they are given text-dependent questions to answer or specific prompts to focus their reading and evidence collection.
When they study model texts, students are reminded of the connection between reading and writing with the Reading as a Writer reminders.
The Journeys Performance Tasks require students to write about what they read and use texts as models for writing. With each Performance Task, students must synthesize information from texts and cite textual evidence.
Digital tools, such as myNotebook, enable students to capture their annotations and textual evidence, as well as their oral and written responses to prompts in the Student eBooks. Afterward, students can import their responses as needed, to their online Performance Tasks, which they can develop using myWriteSmart.
Text annotation teaching routines in Journeys teach students how and why to mark complex texts during reading—and allow students to capture notes and evidence that they can access later when writing about and responding to texts. When students are given the Performance Task, they are also reminded to use the source evidence they have collected.
Constant reminders to cite evidence are provided with the Cite Text Evidence icon.
Collaborative Writing in Journeys
Students have ample opportunities to collaborate throughout Journeys © 2017. Students engage in peer review for writing and collaborative conversations about texts that help them to generate evidence for writing about texts.
When students complete their Performance Tasks, they are guided through a process of collaboration to review, revise, and improve their writing. Suggestions in the Teacher’s Edition help teachers walk students through a structured process of peer review and revision.
Finally, three times per year, California Journeys provides students the opportunity to work collaboratively on a meaningful, topic-based project tied to a full-length trade book. Through these Collaborative Projects, students develop and build 21st-century skills, applying reading, writing, speaking, listening, research, and technology skills in the process.
The project is initiated with a launch, followed by discussion and preparation, during which the project is developed. Students present their projects to an audience, are assessed with a project rubric, celebrate, and, finally, reflect on the outcome of this interactive and engaging learning experience.
Skill-Based Instructions in Journeys
Developing students’ grammar and language skills in the meaningful context of their own writing is a focus of the Journeys © 2017 program.
Each lesson has a grammar focus, presented in the context of the lesson’s writing focus.
Within the writing process, students are prompted to Connect Grammar to Writing by applying a specific grammar concept to their own writing through the revision process.
The Journeys Teacher’s Edition offers instruction in specific skills. Spelling instruction in Journeys is grounded in a focus on learning spelling patterns and word parts, rather than on rote memorization of unrelated words. This is because once students learn a spelling pattern, they can generalize and apply it to create numerous words.
Because encoding, decoding, and knowledge of word morphologies are interrelated processes, instruction in spelling also systematically connects to the decoding/word study and vocabulary strands in Journeys. In the primary grades for example, when students are learning to decode short /a/ words, short /a/ is also the spelling pattern on which they focus. As students progress, instruction and guided practice launch into increasingly challenging patterns, such as spelling common morphemes and then less common morphemes, or the spellings at syllable junctures and then multi-syllabic words. As vocabulary and spelling connections become stronger, the focus shifts to word derivations, because words related in meaning are also related in spelling.
The goal of reading instruction is to develop students’ skills so they can comprehend and analyze increasingly difficult texts. Meeting this goal is a complex task. As the National Reading Panel (2000) concluded in its seminal findings, learning to read requires developing multiple skills.
Comprehension—The primary goal of a reading program is to develop students’ abilities to comprehend texts of varied genres and increasing complexity. Focusing on textual content, and asking students to make critical responses to that content, has been shown to be particularly effective in enhancing students’ comprehension (Duffy, 2009; McKeown, Beck, & Blake, 2009).
Phonological Awareness and Phonics—Students’ ability to comprehend is dependent on their ability to quickly and automatically decode words. Without sufficient skills in phonological awareness and phonics, students cannot read. Decoding must be included in any effective early reading program (Kendeou, van den Broek, White, & Lynch, 2009) and is essential in meeting the needs of older, struggling readers (Chard, Pikulski, & McDonagh, 2006; Moats, 2001).
Fluency—“Working to develop fluent reading is important for fostering more thoughtful literacy performances” (Allington, 2001, p. 14). The ability to read fluently involves the automatic recognition of words, ease of reading, appropriate rate, and expression that demonstrates comprehension. Because they spend less energy on decoding, fluent readers focus more energy on comprehension (Allington, 2001).
Vocabulary—Vocabulary knowledge and reading comprehension are closely connected (Baumann & Kame-enui, 1991; Stahl & Fairbanks, 1986, Stahl & Nagy, 2006). Vocabulary is essential to early reading development (National Reading Panel, 2000) and in later grades, as the demands of content-area reading require high-level vocabulary skills.
Journeys develops students’ skills in each of these areas, providing students with the building blocks for success. In Journeys, effectively sequenced, systematic, coordinated instruction develops students’ foundational reading skills—in comprehension, phonological awareness and phonics, fluency, and vocabulary.
Comprehension is a complex process. While some students learn to read—and continue to comprehend texts with greater difficulty—without explicit instruction, most students benefit from instruction in reading comprehension processes and strategies.
The Importance of Comprehension: Readers must use a variety of strategies—such as making inferences, asking and answering questions, visualizing, determining main ideas and details, and so on—in order to make sense of the text. The high literacy demands placed on today’s students mean that basic comprehension is insufficient; readers must engage in higher-order thinking.
How to Teach Comprehension: As with each of these building blocks for early reading, comprehension is impacted by the other building blocks. For students to comprehend, they must possess phonological and phonemic awareness, know phonics, demonstrate fluency, and, perhaps most importantly, have knowledge of a large vocabulary and of the strategies to understand unknown words. Results of the 2009 and 2011 NAEP Reading Assessments demonstrated that “at all three grades, students who scored higher on vocabulary questions also scored higher in reading comprehension” (National Center for Education Statistics, 2012a). So improving students’ skills across the elements of early reading will improve their comprehension.
How else can students be taught to comprehend what they read? The Report of the National Reading Panel (2000) agreed with what reading teachers have known for years, offering “enthusiastic advocacy of instruction of reading strategies” (p. 4-46). Research shows that to be most effective, reading comprehension instruction must support students, directly and explicitly, with how to use the strategies needed to comprehend a text (Cantrell, Almasi, Carter, Rintamaa, & Madden, 2010; National Reading Panel, 2000; Hollingsworth & Woodward, 1993). Teaching students specific strategies provides them with tools to use when they do not comprehend. This focus on comprehension must begin with the youngest readers. According to Shanahan and colleagues (2010) this focus on making meaning must begin with the earliest readers: “students who read with understanding at an early age gain access to a broader range of texts, knowledge, and educational opportunities, making early reading comprehension particularly critical” (online).
Asking students good questions—and teaching students how to ask their own good questions—promotes deeper comprehension (Craig, Sullins, Witherspoon, & Gholson, 2006; Graesser & Person, 1994; King, 1994; Pressley et al., 1992; Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996). Writing about reading and making connections led to higher student performance than a control group in Connor-Greene’s 2000 study. Biancarosa and Snow (2006) concluded that students who write about what they read show more evidence of critical thinking.
Struggling readers often have trouble using strategies to comprehend (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991). For these students, explicit instruction is particularly important (Nelson & Manset-Williamson, 2006). However, all students benefit from explicit instruction, modeling, and practice using reading comprehension strategies—poor and high achievers alike, as well as native speakers and non-native speakers of English (Alfassi, 2004; Baumann, 1984; Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006a, 2006b; Klingner & Vaughn, 2004: Nokes & Dole, 2004; Rosenshine, Meister, & Chapman, 1996; Van Keer & Verhaeghe, 2005).
Phonological Awareness and Phonics
Phonological awareness—including phonemic awareness—and phonics together form the basic building blocks of learning to read. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear the sounds that are used in spoken language to make words. This includes the ability to recognize when two words rhyme or to decide when two words share the same beginning or ending sound. The term phonemes refers to the smallest unit of spoken language. Phonemic awareness is the ability to focus on and manipulate these sounds in words.
Possessing phonemic awareness is a precursor to decoding. Students who can isolate individual sounds in spoken words can better connect these sounds with specific letters. (The relationship is also recursive, however; phonemic awareness supports decoding, and reading helps to develop phonemic awareness.) Phonics refers to the correlation between sounds and the letters or groups of letter that represent those sounds. In phonics instruction, the focus is on printed language—initially on the correspondences between letters and sounds/phonemes, and then on applications to reading and spelling.
The Importance of Phonemic Awareness and Phonics: We know that instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics is important. After examining close to 100 studies, the National Reading Panel (2000) concluded that instruction in phonemic awareness and in phonics yields positive gains in early reading development, confirming the findings of earlier studies by Marilyn Adams (1990) and Jeanne Chall (1967).
The National Reading Panel (2000) meta-analysis found that phonemic awareness instruction was effective at improving the phonics, reading, and spelling skills of varied populations of learners at different grade levels. Results of the meta-analysis showed that teaching children to manipulate the sounds in language helps them learn to read. Phonemic awareness instruction helped all types of children improve their reading, including normally developing readers, children at risk for future reading problems, disabled readers, preschoolers, kindergartners, 1st graders, children in 2nd through 6th grades (most of whom were disabled readers), children across various SES levels, and children learning to read in English as well as in other languages (Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read, Reports of the Subgroups, 2000, p. 2-5).
How to Teach Phonemic Awareness and Phonics: What does research suggest are particularly effective strategies for teaching phonemic awareness? Activities to teach phonemic awareness should include varied tasks, such as identifying words that share the same beginning sounds (cat and car), blending sounds to make words (/f/ /u/ /n/ into fun), or isolating sounds in words (/d/-og) (Phillips, Clancy-Menchetti, & Lonigan, 2008). Studies also point to the benefits of small-group instruction. Focusing on specific skills, fewer rather than more at a time, is also effective. Teaching phonemic awareness with graphemes, or symbols such as letter cards for sounds, has also been shown to be particularly effective. Effective phonemic awareness instruction can take a short amount of time (Reading & VanDeuren, 2007), but should be presented in a meaningful context, so that students can see the application and value of the skill (Cunningham, 1989). In terms of timing, phonemic awareness instruction should be included in kindergarten and Grade 1 (National Reading Panel, 2000), and any needed intervention should be provided before students fall too far behind their peers (Schuele & Boudreau, 2008).
Research suggests that instruction in phonics is an important element in a balanced reading program. As described previously, phonics instruction involves teaching students letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns, and providing practice on applying this knowledge to reading and spelling. Because phonics is the relationship between letters and sounds, beginning readers need systematic instructional experiences with letters and sounds (Pikulski, 2012).
A systematic approach to teaching phonics involves specifying a sequence of phonics elements, teaching these explicitly, and providing students with opportunities to practice decoding words. In its examination of 38 studies on instruction in phonics, the National Reading Panel (2000) concluded that students who were explicitly and systematically taught phonics progressed more quickly and made greater achievements in reading; “The conclusion supported by these findings is that various types of systematic phonics approaches are significantly more effective than non-phonics approaches in promoting substantial growth in reading” (2-93). Numerous independent studies, too, have supported explicit phonics instruction as an essential element of an effective early reading program (see, for example, Beverly, Giles, and Bruck, 2009, on benefits of explicit phonics instruction with Grade 1 students; Foorman, Francis, Novy, and Libermann, 1991, on Grade 1 classrooms with greater letter-sound instruction; Juel and Minden-Cupp, 2000, on specific benefits of direct phonics instruction for Grade 1 students with low literacy).
Phonics instruction is most beneficial when it is provided in a systematic, sequential manner. In their 2009 study comparing systematic phonics instruction with a nonsystematic approach, de Graaff, Bosman, Hasselman, and Verhoeven found that systematic phonics instruction showed greater effects in kindergarten students’ phonemic awareness, spelling, and reading comprehension than did instruction in phonics that was nonsystematic. In terms of timing, research suggests that the teaching of phonics is most important in Grades K through 2, but instruction in these skills is also important for poor readers in the intermediate and upper grades (Moats, 2001).
When learning to read fluently, readers move from laboriously attending to each letter-sound association to decoding automatically and purposefully.
The Importance of Fluency: How well students recognize words connects to how well students understand words (Allington, 2001; Pulido, 2007) because “fast, accurate word recognition frees cognitive resources for reading comprehension” (Klauda & Guthrie, p. 23-24). The connection between fluency and comprehension is well documented (Allington, 2001). Researchers found that Grade 5 students who had the highest performances in comprehension also were able to quickly recognize isolated words, process phrases and sentences as units while reading silently, and use appropriate expression when reading text aloud (Klauda & Guthrie, 2008). In a 2002 study, researchers found a close connection between fluency and comprehension—students who read more quickly and with greater accuracy also scored higher on the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment (Daane, Campbell, Grigg, Goodman, & Oranje, 2005).
How to Teach Fluency: Research suggests that instruction in fluency should be part of a complete reading program for all readers (Shanahan, 2006; Chard, Pikulski, & McDonagh, 2006). To gain fluency, readers must “move beyond accuracy to automaticity—and automaticity is achieved only with practice” (Samuels, Schermer, & Reinking, 1992, p. 136). Thus, fluency development requires repeated practice (Keehn, 2003). Effective instruction in fluency, therefore, will likely involve increasing the amount of reading students do (Samuels, 2002) and engaging in repeated oral readings (National Research Panel, 2000; Pressley, Gaskins, & Fingeret, 2006; Samuels, 2002). Repeated reading has been shown to impact students’ word recognition, reading speed, and comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000). Repeated exposure to words leads to gains in fluency ( Jenkins, Stein, & Wysocki, 1984; Topping & Paul, 1999).
For struggling readers, particularly, explicit and systematic instruction in fluency is important. According to Chard, Pikulski, and McDonagh (2006) “...research and theory suggest ... [an] eight-step program for struggling readers [that] …
A student’s vocabulary is the body of words that the students knows and can use. When discussing vocabulary for instruction, researchers often categorize vocabulary, distinguishing between words that are frequently used in conversational language and those that are used for more specific academic or content-area purposes. Education researchers and practitioners often refer to these categories as tiers, with Tier 1 being words from everyday speech; Tier 2 academic words; and Tier 3 content-area vocabulary.
The Importance of Vocabulary: Because of the documented connection between vocabulary and comprehension, building students’ vocabularies is an important instructional goal. As Marzano and Pickering (2005) state, “given the importance of academic background knowledge and the fact that vocabulary is such an essential part of it, one of the most crucial services that teachers can provide, particularly for students who do not come from academically advantaged backgrounds, is systematic instruction in important academic terms” (p. 3).
Research has documented the disparity between the vocabularies of disadvantaged students and those of socioeconomically advantaged student populations (Chall, Jacobs, & Baldwin, 1990; Hart & Risley, 1995; Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). Without intentional and meaningful intervention, the disparity in vocabulary knowledge between these groups only increases over time (Baker, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 1995b). English language learners also benefit a great deal from explicit vocabulary instruction.
How to Teach Vocabulary: Effective instruction in vocabulary must help students acquire the depth and breadth of vocabulary knowledge required for access to the texts they will encounter and must teach students both the words themselves, as well as strategies to learn new words. Research establishes the following as essential elements of effective vocabulary instruction:
Research shows that while words can be learned incidentally, explicit instruction plays an important role in achievement (McKeown & Beck, 1988; National Reading Panel, 2000). Students benefit, too, from opportunities to use the words they have learned. Flanigan, Templeton, and Hayes (2012) suggest that generative vocabulary instruction, which focuses on word roots and affixes, can help students to use their current vocabulary base to build a more extensive academic and content-area vocabulary. Because most of the unfamiliar words students encounter are morphologically related to familiar words (Aronoff, 1994), morphology instruction helps students build vocabulary and comprehend complex texts (Carlisle, 2010; Kieffer & Lesaux, 2007). A recent meta-analysis found morphology instruction to be “particularly effective for children with reading, learning, or speech and language disabilities, English language learners, and struggling readers” (Goodwin & Ahn, 2010, p. 183).
While English learners tend to acquire social or conversational language vocabulary and skills through incidental social interactions and conversations, the acquisition of an academic vocabulary requires explicit vocabulary instruction (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006a). Struggling readers benefit from explicit instruction, making larger and faster achievement gains with the help of explicit vocabulary instruction (Sedita, 2005).
Choosing the right words is important as well. For students who struggle or who are learning English, instruction in academic vocabulary, and exposure through text reading, is important. Knowledge of these academic words open doors for students academically; As Nagy and Townsend (2012) put it, “words are tools; academic words are tools for communicating and thinking about disciplinary content” (p. 105).
Comprehension in Journeys
In Journeys © 2017, students build their comprehension skills through:
Journeys was designed to build the critical thinking skills needed for success in school and, later, in college, careers, and life. Students at work in Journeys are able to answer literal and inferential comprehension questions—who, what, where, when—as well as questions at higher-depth-of-knowledge levels that call for analysis and speculation questions—how, why, what-if.
In Journeys, students further develop their critical thinking by discussing texts and writing about what they have read, using textual evidence to support their ideas and claims.
In addition, the program provides scaffolded reading support with each lesson to support all readers in comprehending what they read. For English learners and others struggling with reading on-level or more challenging texts, the program offers scaffolds so that all students wrestle with the same high-quality texts and ultimately build comprehension skills for future independent reading.
Comprehension strategies are explicitly taught in Journeys in the context of meaningful reading situations. The program offers explicit strategy instruction and practice with comprehension strategies with the Target Strategy focus.
To facilitate students’ comprehension, readings are presented with a clear First Read / Second Read instruction design.
Before they read, students are prompted to be a Reading Detective—and find evidence, draw inferences, and ask questions.
Tools to help them are provided, with point of use links.
After their First Read, students engage in Collaborative Discussion.
During their Second Read, students Dig Deeper into the text, to study specific elements of the text.
Throughout each phase of the close reading process, the Teacher’s Edition provides suggestions for teacher Think Alouds, so that teachers can be modeling the practices of successful readers.
The Journeys Read and Comprehend feature prompts students to discuss the topic collaboratively with peers and share what they know.
For English learners, multiple program features offer explicit instruction and scaffolded support towards comprehension. The program’s English Language Support notes offer integrated support. Sentence Frames provide a scaffolded structure for students. The Text X-Ray tool gives teachers critical information about the Anchor Text’s potential language-related challenges; for example, pointing out idioms, highlighting academic language challenges, noting genre features, and identifying cultural references.
The program’s HMH Decoding Power: Intensive Reading Instruction resource provides additional, targeted instruction in comprehension and practice activities for comprehension.
Phonological Awareness and Phonics in Journeys
The Journeys © 2017 program reflects a legacy of effective pedagogy, already demonstrated by earlier versions of the program, and evidenced by efficacy reports on the program. Journeys provides systematic, sequenced instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics for early readers, and suggestions for supporting the needs of older readers as well.
New to the © 2017 program are quicker pacing for K students and a stronger foundational skills emphasis so that all students reach the outcomes needed for continued study beyond elementary.
At the early grades, students develop their foundational reading skills through activities that include:
A purposeful sequence of Phonics skills are introduced, with a five-day plan for instruction of each new skill.
As an added program resources, the Journeys HMH Decoding Power: Intensive Reading Instruction resource for struggling students provides explicit instruction and practice relevant to students’ needs in phonemic awareness, phonics, and word study.
Fluency in Journeys
Shanahan (2006a) points out that “fluency instruction works best when it is part of a more complete regimen of reading and writing instruction” (p. 35-36). In Journeys, fluency is built into a comprehensive and integrated program for literacy.
In Journeys, students’ fluency is built through instruction in decoding and word recognition, models of fluent reading, and regular opportunities for guided reading fluency practice—with support and feedback. Distributed practice for specific elements of fluency is given at each grade, and progresses in complexity as students move up the grade levels.
In the Whole Group Teacher Read Aloud sections in the Teacher’s Edition, teachers are provided with specific suggestions for how to Model Fluency.
Vocabulary in Journeys
For a reading program to be comprehensive and effective at developing students’ vocabulary skills and knowledge, it must take a systematic, purposeful, and engaging approach. Journeys focuses on three major purposes for teaching vocabulary:
To accomplish these goals, the program supports students through multiple exposures, explicit vocabulary instruction, strategies for acquiring new vocabulary, and instruction in morphology. By reading complex texts, students build academic language and domain-specific vocabulary. Through strategy and morphology instruction, students learn new strategies for unlocking unknown word meanings. By participating in collaborative conversations and text-based responses, students use new academic and domain-specific conversations in speaking and writing.
At the early grades, students develop their foundational reading skills through activities that include:
As they move up the grade levels, they take additional responsibility for their own word learning. The Journeys myNotebook feature provides a place for students to track and record new words they have learned, using myWordList.
The program’s Vocabulary in Context feature in the Student Books provides critical vocabulary and context sentences, along with activities for students to learn and apply the vocabulary that is critical to comprehending the Anchor Texts. In these activities, students are prompted to use the words for a purpose, reinforcing their meaning and use in the students’ active, working vocabulary.
In the Teacher’s Edition, this same Target Vocabulary is supported with explicit instruction that begins with the use of the words in an Instructional Read Aloud.
In addition, suggestions for instruction on Domain-Specific Vocabulary are provided, along with ideas for English Language Support and ways to Interact with the Words.
The Teacher’s Edition also includes suggested instruction around specific Vocabulary Strategies with specific suggestions and activities to:
The lessons in the Teacher’s Edition also provide corresponding, aligned suggestions for:
Further in-depth teaching support for planning, scaffolding, and supporting vocabulary instruction is found in the Text X-Ray in the Teacher’s Edition. This time-saving tool offers suggestions for how to Zoom In on...Academic Language in each Anchor Text by calling out terms that may cause difficulty for students and by providing up-front supports.
The program’s HMH Decoding Power: Intensive Reading Instruction resource provides additional instruction and practice relevant to students’ needs in vocabulary.
In addition, the Literacy and Language Guide offers additional practice related to vocabulary as well.
Researchers have identified instructional strategies that show positive, measurable effects on student achievement.—“Effective Instructional Strategies,” 2005, p. 68
Good teaching matters. Effective teachers use effective instructional approaches and techniques to support all students in learning and skill-development. Studies show that classroom teachers’ instructional strategies have a direct impact on students’ reading proficiency (Pennington Whitaker, Gambrell, & Morrow, 2004). To be effective, teachers must select strategies for instruction that accomplish their instructional goals and best meet the learning needs of their students.
A large body of research has focused on identifying the most effective instructional strategies. The research of the RAND Reading Study Group (Snow, 2002) identified elements of effective instruction in the reading classroom. Among their findings were that cooperative learning and graphic organizers were two of the instructional strategies with a solid scientific basis; that motivation is essential to reading comprehension; and that successful reading depends on students’ capacity with written and oral language. Studies like that of the RAND study group have identified a number of approaches that show positive and measurable effects on student learning and performance. Some of these approaches include use of and focus on:
An effective instructional program uses approaches that have been proven effective by research. The Journeys © 2017 program was designed to support students as they develop as readers and writers. Lessons are organized in a systematic way and suggestions are given for providing instruction to the whole group and small groups for working together collaboratively. Ideas are presented visually to support students’ connections. Throughout the program, scaffolds exist to help students solidify what they know in order to build on it. The types and topics of the texts—and the activities that students do around them—have all been designed for maximum student engagement and motivation.
Scaffolding is an instructional technique that involves providing support to students as they learn and reach competence, and gradually decreasing the amount of support provided until students are able to work independently. According to Vygotsky, scaffolding can be defined as the “role of teachers and others in supporting the learner’s development and providing support structures to get to that next stage or level” (Raymond, 2000, p. 176).
The Importance of Scaffolding: Providing embedded scaffolds is an essential part of transitioning students to independence and “has repeatedly been identified as one of the most effective instructional techniques available” (Graves & Avery, 1997, p. 138). Numerous studies have shown that scaffolding can lead to improved student outcomes—including enhanced inquiry and higher achievement (Kim & White, 2008; Simons & Klein, 2007; Fretz, Wu, Zhang, Davis, Krajcik, & Soloway, 2002; Rosenshine & Meister, 1992) and improved reading comprehension (Clark & Graves, 2008; Lutz, Guthrie, & Davis, 2006). Scaffolding students’ reading can “make the difference between a frustrating reading experience and one that is meaningful to students” (Graves & Avery, 1997, p. 138).
How to Scaffold: “Effective scaffolding aligned with the standards should result in the reader encountering the text on its own terms, with instruction providing helpful directions that focus students on the text. Follow-up support should guide the reader when encountering places in the text where he or she might struggle” (Coleman & Pimentel, 2011, p. 7-8).
Instruction that scaffolds students’ learning includes these elements: a logical structure, carefully sequenced models and examples that reveal essential characteristics, progression from easier to more difficult content and from easier to more difficult tasks, additional information/elaboration as needed, peer-mediated instruction, and materials that guide students, such as key words, think sheets, and graphic organizers (Hillocks, 1993). The final element of scaffolding is independent work—scaffolding is removed and students apply what they have learned to new situations.
Scaffolding encompasses many different instructional strategies. Varying scaffolds can be used; what is important is that they consistently provide adequate support as needed. Research (Schunk, Pintrich, & Meece, 2008; Stone, 1998) suggests that scaffolds such as the following will support student independence: activating prior knowledge; reviewing previously learned material; modeling and thinking aloud; providing models and different representations; questioning; using cues or tools; and providing useful feedback. Anderson, Mitchell, Thompson, and Trefz (2014) found that digital technologies and tools for teaching writing (including online instructional presentations for use as needed, model texts, and links to academic vocabulary) helped to scaffold student learning.
In their discussion of scaffolds for English learners, Hammond and Gibbons (2005) distinguish between scaffolding at the macro level and scaffolding at the micro level, arguing that as lessons unfold, having an intentional macro-level structure (including carefully organized participation structures, sequenced tasks, and so on) enables on-the-spot, micro-scaffolding (prompting, cueing, connecting, and so on) to occur during instruction. To plan macro-level scaffolds, educators must consider the instructional goals, the sequence of tasks, structures of grouping and collaboration, opportunities to reinforce learning and, for ELs, ongoing support of both content and language learning.
Integrating Speaking and Listening into Collaborative, Whole- and Small-Group Learning
Learning together in collaborative and cooperative groups benefits students (Cotton, 1995; Johnson & Johnson, 1990) and was one of the nine most effective instructional strategies identified by Marzano in his meta-analysis (2003). Integrating speaking and listening is particularly important in English language arts classrooms because of the interconnectedness of reading and writing, speaking and listening, and viewing. Each of these elements of literacy is more readily learned and retained when skills are integrated, allowing students to create pathways of learning and remembering in their minds.
Research suggests that a balanced literacy program will include many varied reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing activities (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998; Lyon & Moats, 1997).
General Benefits of Collaboration and Discussion: Among the benefits of collaborative learning for students are an increase in the following:
Fostering small-group discussions and collaboration have been shown to support deeper learning—and are important 21st century skills (National Research Council, 2012). How does collaborative learning increase learning? Learning is “profoundly influenced by the nature of the social relationships within which people find themselves” (Caine & Caine, 1997a, p. 105). Research and cognitive theory suggest that when students work in groups toward a common goal, they support one another, model strategies, and provide context-appropriate explanations and immediate feedback (Slavin, 2002).
Benefits of Collaborative Activities and Discussion in the Reading Classroom: Discussing ideas together in the reading classroom has been shown to deepen comprehension. “Discussion can be defined...as the open-ended collaborative exchange of ideas among a teacher and students or among students for the purpose of furthering students’ thinking, understanding, learning, or appreciation of text” (Wilkinson & Nelson, 2013, p. 299). After researching the most effective ways to improve early reading comprehension, Shanahan and colleagues (2010) recommend that:
...teachers lead their students through focused, high-quality discussions in order to help them develop a deeper understanding of what they read. Such discussions among students or between the students and the teacher go beyond simply asking and answering surface-level questions to a more thoughtful exploration of the text. Through this type of exploration, students learn how to argue for or against points raised in the discussion, resolve ambiguities in the text, and draw conclusions or inferences about the text. (p. 23)
Kamil and colleagues (2008) identified extended discussion of text and textual analysis as one of five research-based, best practices for improving adolescent literacy. Langer (1995, 2000, 2001), too, identified discussion—when used to develop students’ understandings rather than as an assessment of recall—as a particularly important element of effective English language arts classrooms. Nystrand (2006) found that “A number of studies show that reading comprehension is enhanced by the classroom interaction of students with their teachers and peers, including both small-group work and whole-class discussion” (p. 398). Murphy and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 42 studies on the effects of classroom discussion and concluded that “many of the approaches were highly effective at promoting students’ literal and inferential comprehension” (Murphy, Wilkinson, Soter, Hennessey, & Alexander, 2009, p. 759). Applebee, Langer, Nystrand, and Gamoran (2003) found that discussion-based approaches enhanced students’ understanding of complex texts, and were effective for low-and high-achieving students. Open discussion provides “spontaneous scaffolding or support for developing ideas” (Applebee, Langer, Nystrand, & Gamoran, 2003, p. 722).
In its review of the literature on effective strategies for teaching reading comprehension, the National Reading Panel found graphic organizers an important strategy for improving students’ comprehension (National Reading Panel, 2000). Numerous studies have come to this same conclusion (Dickson, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 1996; Pearson & Fielding, 1991) and have found positive effects with all students, including those with learning disabilities (Kim, Vaughn, Wanzek, & Wei, 2004).
What makes graphic organizers so effective? Combining text with visuals engages students’ multiple pathways to learning, as described in Paivio’s (1979, 1983, 1986) dual-coding theory. A number of studies have demonstrated that students learn better when both pictures and words are used, than with text alone (Mayer, 2001; Mayer & Gallini, 1990; Levin, Anglin, & Carney, 1987; Levie & Lentz, 1982). Nonlinguistic representations are one of the nine most effective instructional strategies identified by Marzano (2003) and have been shown to help students better understand informational text (Center for Improvement of Early Reading, 2003).
Graphic organizers are particularly effective at helping students to focus on the structure of text and the relationship of ideas within text (Center for the Improvement of Early Reading, 2003; Robinson & Kiewra, 1995). The use of graphic organizers to graphically depict the relationships of ideas in texts has been shown to improve both students’ comprehension of the text—and their recall of key ideas (Snow, 2002; National Reading Panel, 2000).
Predictability in well-organized, consistent classroom routines facilitates learning in a number of ways. Regular routines with consistent cues help smooth the transitions between one activity to another (Mace, Shapiro, & Mace, 1998) and reduce problem behaviors. When students can predict the routines of their school day, they develop a sense of security (Holdaway, 1984). Not only does student behavior improve, but students also show greater engagement with learning and achieve at higher levels (Kern & Clemens, 2007). Simonsen and colleagues (2008) reviewed evidence-based practices for classroom management and found well-structured, predictable routines to be a research-based best practice.
Teachers can increase predictability in their classrooms in many ways. Providing information about the content and duration of events and activities and visually displaying schedules have been shown to be effective (Kern & Clemens, 2007). Alternating the interactive settings—whole class, small group, individual—in a predictable way to best meet students’ needs has been shown to be particularly effective (Reutzel, 2003).
This type of predictability in the instructional routine has been demonstrated to be particularly effective for struggling students and those with learning disabilities (Flannery & O’Neill, 1995; Tustin, 1995). Cartledge, Singh, and Gibson (2008) found that creating an orderly classroom helped to close gaps for culturally and linguistically diverse students.
Engagement and Motivation
Learning is an active process of engagement. If students are interested in what they are learning, they will persist in spending the time and energy needed for learning to occur (Hidi & Boscolo, 2006; Guthrie & Humenick, 2004; Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998). In this way, engagement leads to motivation leads to learning.
Engagement and motivation are particularly important in teaching reading (Stipek, 2002). Student engagement is a “powerful determinant of the effectiveness of any given literacy approach” (Strangman & Dalton, 2006, p. 559). Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, Humenick, and Littles (2007) found a connection between student interest and increased comprehension and recall. Taylor, Pearson, Peterson, and Rodriguez (2003), too, found a connection between engaged learning and reading comprehension growth in low SES schools. Guthrie and Wigfield (2000) found that engaging reading instruction must:
Motivation is the process by which a student engages in a task and persists towards completion. Research in cognitive science shows that humans are innately motivated to search for meaning (Caine & Caine, 1997b). The most effective instructional approaches are those that harness this natural inclination, and are motivating and engaging to the learners.
The level of a student’s motivation to read has been shown to predict growth in reading comprehension (Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, Humenick, & Littles, 2007).
To motivate their students, reading teachers should construct lessons that are interesting, match activities to students’ abilities, and connect reading and writing and content-area learning (Bohn, Roehrig, & Pressley, 2004) In addition, the use of strategies also increases students’ motivation to learn—because successful strategy use helps students to see that they have the ability to learn (Schunk, Pintrich, & Meece, 2008).
Scaffolding in Journeys
To help all students reach independence and gain mastery of skills and content, the Journeys © 2017 program integrates scaffolding into the program design, and offers multiple, varied scaffolds as supports for student learning and mastery.
The program’s Text X-Ray feature highlights the scaffolds that teachers can use to support students’ reading of the complex texts in Journeys by breaking down the challenging structural and language features of every Anchor Text.
Suggestions in the Teacher’s Edition offer guidance for teachers in how to Teach material and then give students the opportunity to Apply new skills and knowledge.
Essential to the success of scaffolds in the classroom is that they are provided, and then gradually removed, so that students learn to work independently. In Journeys, in small-group instruction for Grades 3 through 5, suggestions are provided for this kind of a gradual release model of support through the form of activities organized by:
In the Teacher’s Edition, scaffolds for specific populations are seamlessly integrated into instruction.
Speaking and Listening in Collaborative, Whole- and Small-Groups in Journeys
In the Journeys © 2017 program, reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing, and presenting are all connected. Students read to comprehend and make meaning—and then they communicate new understandings through meaningful performances and opportunities for Collaborative Discussion.
In Journeys, talking about texts is an important, recurring activity.
A previous section of this report discussed some of the many ways that the Journeys © 2017 program supports collaborative writing and peer review and revision, with digital supports like those offered through myWriteSmart.
In further support of collaborative practices, Journeys students are continually working together to share ideas about what they read:
All of these opportunities for collaboration help students work together to better comprehend and collect and recall text.
Finally, three times per year, Journeys provides students the opportunity to work collaboratively on a meaningful, topic-based project tied to a full-length trade book. Through these Collaborative Projects, students develop and build 21st-century skills, applying reading, writing, speaking, listening, research, and technology skills in the process.
The project is initiated with a launch, followed by discussion and preparation, during which the project is developed. Students present their projects to an audience, are assessed with a project rubric, celebrate, and, finally, reflect on the outcome of this interactive and engaging learning experience.
Graphic Organizers in Journeys
Graphic organizers are used throughout Journeys to provide a framework for students’ understanding of text structures, to improve their comprehension, and to help students structure their own writing during the planning stage of writing.
In addition, in Journeys, students are provided with opportunities to analyze the graphic features they encounter in texts. Considering how model texts employ graphics can help students reflect on the value of graphical and visual presentations of information.
Teachers are provided with additional graphic organizers for use to support learning in each lesson, such as a graphic organizer used to help students Access Prior Knowledge on the Unit’s theme.
Predictable Routines in Journeys
Journeys provides the predictable structure that research shows learners need. Research has identified establishing predictable routines from the beginning of the year as one of the characteristics of highly effective teachers (Bohn, Roehrig, & Pressley, 2004), and the consistent structure of Journeys allows teachers to do just that— establish effective, predictable routines from Day 1.
The work of Rosenshine and Stevens (1986) revealed that effective teachers in well-organized classrooms tend to follow similar predictable routines, including these:
Each of these steps is clearly supported by the organization and components of Journeys.
After reading the Anchor Text in each lesson, students respond to the text through the Your Turn writing and discussion activities so that they are regularly given a chance to apply their skills, ask questions, and reflect on their learning.
The program’s well-designed, comprehensive assessment system—which includes the use of consistent rubrics for scoring students’ writing—means that the predictable routines of instruction are punctuated by detailed feedback. So students learning with Journeys know what to expect instructionally—and know how they are performing.
Engagement and Motivation in Journeys
Journeys © 2017 is designed to engage and motivate learners.
Journeys engages and motivates students by including high-interest texts on relevant topics and themes and ample supports in the form of peer collaboration and other scaffolds to ensure that students feel that they can be successful in learning with Journeys.
Research supports the fact that highly effective teachers focus on supporting students’ engagement and motivation in reading (Dolezal, Welsh, Pressley, & Vincent, 2003).
The many program features described in detail throughout this report contribute to students’ engagement and motivation. Differentiated instruction; scaffolding; explicit strategies instruction; the combination of whole- and small-group learning activities; opportunities for collaboration and discussion; and the Leveled Readers all work together to ensure that students build a sense of independence and experience success as they work through the activities in the program. This sense of confidence ensures that students have the motivation to persist in learning.
High-interest and engaging texts throughout each level of Journeys draw readers in. The organization of multiple texts around topics/themes helps students to build knowledge of a topic over time and supports their continued interest in learning.
The organization by topics/themes, which spiral across the grade levels but are filtered through grade-appropriate lesson topics, provides a continuity and a meaningful progression as students build content knowledge through engaging complex texts.
Research also suggests the benefits of active learning for engagement and motivation. Tools like those in myNotebook and myWriteSmart invite students to actively engage in their learning by taking notes, annotating, organizing ideas, and tracking new vocabulary words.
Additionally, the Journeys Interactive Lessons in Listening, Speaking, and Writing provide students with engaging tutorials on contemporary topics of interest to students—using an interactive, multimedia presentation that is designed to engage and motivate students.
Research suggests that digital-based learning offers an increased opportunity for student engagement and motivation. The digital systems used with Journeys, such as with the HMH Player App, allow HMH to provide teachers and students with 24/7 access on any device, online or offline. Students can interact with content and stay motivated with the program’s reward system.
Video clips provided through the HMH partnership with Channel One provide access to current events connections in Social Studies and Science. These kinds of multi-media, visual presentations of content will help to engage students and deepen their content knowledge. The opening pages to the unit in the Teacher’s Edition provide suggestions for teachers to use videos, questions, and other approaches to engage students in the Unit’s topic.
Effective instruction depends on sound instructional decision-making, which, in turn, depends on reliable data regarding students’ strengths, weaknesses, and progress in learning content and developing literacy.—Afflerbach, 2004, in National Institute for Literacy, 2007
To best meet the needs of all students, teachers must have a deep and clear understanding of the needs of each. In successful classrooms, teachers use effective tools to collect data about students’ knowledge and skills so that they can understand what is working instructionally—and what is not—and take precise, swift, and effective action in meeting the specific needs of students. In a data-driven system, clear and shared standards are important, so that students and teachers know the intended outcomes of instruction. Assessments aligned to the standards are essential, so that teachers can analyze how well students meet the goals for learning. Finally, aligned instruction is crucial, so that teachers have the instructional materials they need to address students’ needs.
As noted by numerous research studies, the regular use of assessment to monitor student progress can improve student learning (Fuchs, 2004). Research attests to the positive effects that formative assessment has on learning (Black & Wiliam, 1998b; Cotton, 1995; Jerald, 2001). And in early reading, assessment is especially crucial; because the early literacy skills of children in kindergarten, first, and second grade are foundational for the development of subsequent comprehension and literacy skills, accurate and reliable assessment and effective instruction and intervention are imperative. As Coyne and Harn (2006) state, “By completing the link between assessment and instruction, schools can dramatically increase the number of students who become successful readers in the primary grades.”
The Journeys © 2017 program offers varied and effective assessment tools and resources to support teaching and learning. The program’s formative assessments and performance-based tasks provide teachers with regular and complete information about student learning and performance. Journeys uses technology to support data-driven instruction. Features like the program’s Assessment Hub facilitate a cycle of regular, computer-based assessment and feedback.
The phrase formative assessment encompasses the wide variety of activities—formal and informal—that teachers employ throughout the learning process to gather instructional data to assess student understanding and to make and adapt instructional decisions. Formative assessment is not an end in itself; the goal is not to assign a grade, for example; but rather, its purpose is to guide instruction. Formative assessment moves testing from the end into the middle of instruction, to guide teaching and learning as it occurs (Heritage, 2007). Effective teachers use formal tools (such as quizzes or homework assignments) and informal tools (such as discussion and observation) to regularly monitor student learning and check student progress (Cotton, 1995; Christenson, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989). When the Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills sought to identify the central instructional approaches needed to ensure that students achieve 21st century competencies, the group identified formative assessment as one of these key elements (National Research Council, 2012). Curriculum designed and developed for 21st-century learning should use formative assessment to “(a) make learning goals clear to students; (b) continuously monitor, provide feedback, and respond to students’ learning progress; and (c) involve students in self- and peer assessment” (National Research Council, 2012, p. 182).
The Impact of Formative Assessment on Student Learning: Educators agree on the benefits of ongoing assessment in the classroom. “Well-designed assessment can have tremendous impact on students’ learning . . . if conducted regularly and used by teachers to alter and improve instruction” (National Research Council, 2007, p. 344). In a study of student learning in a multimedia environment, Johnson and Mayer (2009) found that students who took a practice test after studying multimedia material outperformed students who studied the material again (without the assessment). Stecker, Fuchs, and Fuchs (2005) examined research on curriculum-based measurement, in which teachers used outcomes-based assessments regularly to monitor student progress, and found that the use of these assessments produced significant gains—when teachers used the data to make appropriate adjustments to instruction. Research shows that regularly assessing and providing feedback to students on their performance is a highly effective tool for teachers to produce significant—and often substantial—gains in student learning and performance (Black & Wiliam, 1998a, 1998b).
Research suggests that formative assessment is especially beneficial for lower-performing students, and, as a result, helps to lower achievement gaps and reduce overall achievement (Black & Wiliam, 1998b). After reviewing the body of research on strategies most effective with students with mild learning disabilities, researchers found regular formative assessment to be a shared element of effective interventions with this population (Christenson, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989).
The Importance of Formative Assessment for Foundational Reading: Formative assessment is particularly important in early reading instruction. Regular assessment and subsequent tailored instruction is necessary for foundational skills because of the interconnected and sequential nature of learning: “Because the ability to obtain meaning from print depends so strongly on the development of word recognition accuracy and reading fluency, both of the latter should be regularly assessed in the classroom, permitting timely and effective instructional response where difficulty or delay is apparent” (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998, 7).
How Formative Assessment Helps Teachers: Formative assessment provides teachers with the information they need to make instructional decisions. “Effective instruction depends on sound instructional decision-making, which in turn, depends on reliable data regarding students’ strengths, weaknesses, and progress in learning content . . . ” (National Institute for Literacy, 2007, p. 27). An effective system of formative assessment increases teachers’ sense of self-efficacy; as Coyne and Horn (2006) argue, “Data from ongoing formative assessments reinforce teachers’ efforts as they see tangible evidence of student progress and, as a result, increase the social validity and perceived importance of systematic reading instruction and intervention” (p. 43).
Performance-based assessments connect to the important content and process skills emphasized in instruction, and offer the opportunity for students to show how well they can use what they know to classify, compare, analyze, or evaluate (Hibbard, 1996) and create a response or product. Performance-based tasks may take different forms, require different types of performances, and be used for different purposes (formative or summative) but they are typically couched in an authentic or real-life scenario and require high-level thinking. Darling-Hammond (2010) studied the characteristics of assessment systems in high-performing nations and found that “they emphasize deep knowledge of core concepts within and across the disciplines, problem solving, collaboration, analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking. As a large and increasing part of their examination systems, high-achieving nations use open-ended performance tasks ...to give students opportunities to develop and demonstrate higher order thinking skills...” (p. 3)
The Benefits of Performance-Based Assessment: Their review of classroom assessment (CA) practices in an age of high-stakes testing led Schneider, Egan, and Julian (2013) to conclude that “the value of high quality performance tasks should not be diminished and should be encouraged as an important tool in CA” (p. 66). Performance-based assessments are beneficial in that they:
Reflect Authentic, Real-World Tasks: Performance-based assessments are positive because they look like what we want students to do in the classroom (Fox, 2004)—and, as a result, can inform classroom practice in positive ways. Performance tasks allow teachers to engage students in real-world activities; they “emulate the context or conditions in which the intended knowledge or skills are actually applied” (American Educational Research Association [AERA], American Psychological Association [APA], and National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], 1999, p. 137). They model “what is important to teach and ... what is important to learn” (Lane, 2013, p. 313).
Provide a Complete Picture: As Krebs notes in his 2005 article, using too narrow an assessment data point may lead to incomplete or inaccurate conclusions about student performance. Performance-based assessment allows for a fuller picture of what students’ know and can do. Marzano, Pickering, and McTighe (1993) see performance-based assessment as providing an opportunity to assess multiple dimensions of learning. Yang and Plakans (2012) agree, finding that integrated performance tasks assess comprehension and production, as well as regulation skills for managing, interactions between reading, listening, and writing.
Align with Standards: In defining the elements of an effective student assessment system, Darling-Hammond (2010) said that such a system must “address the depth and breadth of standards as well as all areas of the curriculum, not just those that are easy to measure” (p. 1). This calls for performance on challenging tasks. According to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, “performance tasks measure a student’s ability to integrate knowledge and skills across multiple standards—a key component in college and career readiness.”
Encourage Retention: Researchers comparing student performance on assessments that include open-ended written responses with performance on multiple-choice tests found that students who wrote responses retained information better than those who responded to multiple-choice items (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; McDaniel, Roediger, & McDermott (2007).
Formative Assessment in Journeys
Journeys provides teachers and students with ongoing assessment opportunities so that learners have constant feedback about where they are and how far along they are towards meeting year-end learning goals.
In Journeys the program provides more formal, structured formative assessment options and also calls out more informal, classroom opportunities for assessment. Ongoing opportunities for Formative Assessment are called out in the Journeys Teacher’s Edition.
Technology: The Journeys Assessment Hub offers technological tools in support of data-driven instruction. The hub provides technology-enhanced assessment items, screening and diagnostic assessments, formative and progress-monitoring assessments, and summative assessments. Online interactivity allows for a direct feed to a teacher hub for ease in scoring and reporting—providing the kind of immediate, regular feedback that research suggests is such an important component of a successful formative assessment system.
In addition, the computer-based assessments offered through the Journeys Assessment Hub provide practice for students who will encounter these types of items and Performance Tasks on the assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
The Common Core Practice and Assessment App delivered via HMH Player provides additional, standards-based practice for students.
Response to Intervention: Journeys offers embedded intervention as well as supplemental intervention. Clear labeling of Response to Intervention (RtI) and a clearly defined use of the Write-In Reader means that teachers can approach intervention in a purposeful and systematic way.
The new tier 3 intervention system, HMH Decoding Power, and other enhancements from previous editions have strengthened the Journeys © 2017 Response to Intervention (RtI) tools and resources even more. Tier 3 intervention includes a stronger connection to Journeys and more support for managing delivery of the interventions in conjunction with the core program.
Differentiation: Throughout Journeys, the program provides small-group and reteaching suggestions to meet the needs of specific learners. The formative assessments throughout Journeys are presented with an If...Then... format for results, to respond with tailored instruction for learners across the spectrum, from struggling to advancing to excelling. For advanced learners, additional challenges are offered at the point-of-use in the formative assessments.
Performance-Based Assessment in Journeys
In Journeys © 2017 students will encounter the kinds of performance-based assessment tasks that will require them to process content and communicate knowledge at high levels. Performance-based tasks throughout Journeys require students to study models, connect reading and writing, and use textual evidence when writing to sources.
Throughout Journeys, students will encounter Performance Tasks. With each task, students must synthesize information from texts and cite evidence in their writing.
Unit Performance Tasks provide performance-based assessments related to the content of each Journeys unit. Each Performance Task is organized around a specific writing genre that has been the focus of modeling and instruction throughout the unit:
Performance Tasks, independent of Journeys content, are offered to provide students preparation for actual testing conditions in formats like those that included in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. These in-depth exercises that serve as demonstrations of higher-level performance skills will benefit students—giving them practice and feedback about their skills and performance.
Optimal learning takes place within students’ “zones of proximal development”—when teachers assess students’ current understanding and teach new concepts, skills, and strategies at an according level.—Vygtosky, 1978, p. 86
Huebner (2010) concurs with Voltz, Sims, & Nelson (above): “today’s classrooms are filled with diverse learners who differ not only culturally and linguistically but also in their cognitive abilities, background knowledge, and learning preferences” (p. 79).
Despite this “wide range of student differences—or perhaps because of it—there is an increased emphasis to have all students reach the same academic goals and standards...This [standards-based reform] movement holds many promises, such as:
Groups of students—English learners, struggling readers, advanced students—have specific needs. When teachers understand the needs of these groups, and tailor instruction accordingly, teachers better help these students reach high levels of achievement.
Journeys supports teachers and meets the needs of all students by providing specific suggestions for differentiation and intervention, and for meeting the needs of specific populations, including struggling readers, advanced learners, and English learners.
Intervention and Response to Intervention (RtI)
Effective intervention begins with high-quality instruction in the core program. With this strong foundation, instructional programs can offer support for differentiation and intervention that will enable teachers to help all students achieve at high levels. Curricular materials that align with rigorous standards, offer clear pathways for instruction and provide suggestions, tools, and resources for differentiation and intervention will meet the needs of all students.
The Response to Intervention (RtI) Model: Both differentiated instruction and Response to Intervention (RtI) “share a central goal: to modify instruction until it meets the needs of all learners” (Demirsky, Allan & Goddard, 2010). According to Demirsky, Allan and Goddard (2010), these two instructional approaches are complementary and share the premises that all students have different academic needs and that teachers must teach accordingly to meet these needs and to ensure student success. While differentiation is generally used to respond to the needs of diverse learners in the classroom, RtI is envisioned as a prevention system with multiple layers—a structured way to help students who are struggling before they fall behind their peers—and so it focuses on early, and ongoing, identification of needs and tiers of responses. In the elementary reading classroom, “RTI is integrally linked to the concept of providing intensive early intervention to prevent later reading failure” (Gersten & Dimino, 2006, p. 101).
Response to Intervention (RtI) is a model that integrates instruction, intervention, and assessment to create a more cohesive program of instruction that can result in higher student achievement (Mellard & Johnson, 2008). RtI is most commonly depicted as a three-tier model where:
In implementing RtI in the early reading classroom, the use of effective assessments is essential. As the International Reading Association (IRA) statement (2010) on RtI advises, “An RtI approach demands assessment that can inform language and literacy instruction meaningfully. Assessment should reflect the multidimensional nature of language and literacy. . . . ” According to Griffiths, VanDerHeyden, Parson, and Burns (2006), an effective RtI model should include three elements:
The Benefits of RtI: Burns, Appleton, and Stehouwer (2005) conducted a meta-analysis to examine the relationship between Response-to-Intervention (RtI) and students’ achievement. From the existing research on large-scale models and research-context models, twenty-four effect sizes were computed. The researchers found strong positive effectives for student achievement across studies.
In an analysis of the findings of the first-grade longitudinal reading study of the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities, Fuchs and colleagues (2008) evaluated data from a large-scale, longitudinal, experimental study of RtI in reading for elementary school students. The findings demonstrated the effectiveness of RtI.
...students in our tutoring program out-performed controls on both a progress monitoring measure and several standardized reading tests. Findings extend the extant literature...in three ways: first, because our young students were both initially low-performing and non-responsive to primary intervention; second, because their gains during spring semester of first grade maintained throughout their second year; third...our results may be seen as support of the use of a standard treatment protocol during secondary intervention. (p. 434)
Meeting the Needs of English Learners
English learners (ELs) are one of the fastest-growing groups of students in the United States (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006b). For English learners, the challenge is that they must learn the content of instruction, while simultaneously learning the language of instruction. Generally speaking, effective instruction for native English speakers is similarly effective for ELs (Fitzgerald, 1995a), but some specific approaches are particularly effective for ELs. According to Huebner:
Research shows that instruction in the key components of reading identified by the National Literacy Panel—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension—has clear benefits for ELLs as well as for other students (August & Shanahan, 2006). However, there is a growing consensus that ELLs are less likely to struggle with the basic skills—phonemic awareness and phonics—than with the last three components—fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. These are the areas that cause many students, especially ELLs, to falter in mid-elementary school when they are expected to make the transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” (Francis et al., 2006a). When working with ELLs to improve their literacy, it is important that teachers choose interventions that target the specific difficulties each student is experiencing. (p. 90)
Effective Instruction for English Learners: In reviewing the research on effective English language instruction in order to generate a set of recommendations for practitioners, Baker and his panel colleagues (2014) concluded that to enable English learners to be successful in school, educators should focus on academic vocabulary; integrate oral and written English language instruction; provide regular and structured opportunities for writing; and offer small-group, targeted interventions. These, and other specific research-based approaches for ELs are discussed here.
Vocabulary Instruction for ELs: “Many English learners lack opportunities to develop the sophisticated, abstract, academic vocabulary necessary to support reading, writing, and discussion of the academic topics covered in school” (Baker et al., 2014, p. 13). Explicit instruction in academic and content-area vocabulary may be necessary for students to succeed in school (Fitzgerald, 1995b).
Academic Language Instruction for ELs: One way we can look at conversational and academic English is with the image of a continuum: “Because conversational and academic language use can be seen as opposite ends of a continuum, from informal to formal, and from highly contextualized to highly academic, a key question...is How can we use the conversational skills of English language learners to help them build the academic skills that they will increasingly need to be successful in school?” (Walqui & van Lier, 2010, p. 49). While the development of conversational English may take place naturally, through social interactions, English learners “will need support in learning academic language” (Schleppegrell, 2012, p. 413). Academic language is like a “third” language that takes students much more time to master than social English (DeLuca, 2010). According to Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, and Rivera (2006b), “mastery of academic language is arguably the single most important determinant of academic success for individual students” (p. 5). Teachers must provide instruction in academic language through direct, varied, frequent, and systematic instruction in words and word-learning strategies (Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, & Rivera, 2006b).
Comprehension Instruction for ELs: Their synthesis of research on the specific needs of English learners led Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, and Rivera (2006b) to conclude that explicit strategy instruction, teacher modeling, and practice opportunities benefited students’ comprehension.
Genre Instruction for ELs: In studying the written products of English learners in Grades 3 through 5, Brisk found that students lacked full understanding of the expected genres and the connection of audience, voice, and genres (as seen through the use of grammatical person) (Brisk, 2012). Her findings suggest that explicit study in genre, including the focus on the purpose, audience, and voice, can particularly benefit English learners. Similarly, close reading of discipline-specific uses of language appear to support English learners in comprehending academic texts (Fang & Schleppegrell, 2010). His synthesis of EL research led Fitzgerald (1995b) to conclude that explicit instruction on informational text structures facilitates content-area learning among ELs.
Speaking and Writing Instruction for ELs: Rigorous state standards have “increased expectations for students’ oral and written academic communications...” (Baker et al., 2014, p. 31). For English learners, several instructional strategies can help to develop their speaking and writing. These include anchoring instruction with visuals and graphics to help students make sense out of content; providing regular opportunities for discussion and for writing; and including regular assessments with constructive feedback into the instructional cycle (Baker et al., 2014). Francis, Rivera, Lesaux, Kieffer, and Rivera (2006b) emphasize that ELs must receive intensive academic writing instruction through meaningful writing assignments with opportunities to see models and receive feedback.
High-Quality Interactions for ELs: Research suggests that incorporating ample opportunities for interacting supports language learning (Walqui & van Lier, 2010).
High Standards for ELs: In their research on how best to scaffold the academic success of English learners, Walqui and van Lier conclude that rather than meeting the needs of English learners with simplified instruction and lower expectations, it is imperative that educators sustain academic rigor and hold high expectations (p. 81). To enable ELs to learn in this “challenge zone” (Gibbons, 2009) teachers must provide adequate, targeted supports.
Technology for ELs: Using technology to deliver instruction to ELs can be particularly effective. In a study with 66 urban ELs, Silver and Repa (1993) found that students who used a word processor showed higher-quality writing than those who used a pen-and-paper. Lopez (2010) found benefits to using interactive whiteboard technology, finding that use helped to close the achievement gap between ELs and native speakers in the study. Another potential benefit of technology is the power to embed scaffolds at the point-of-use.
Meeting the Needs of Struggling Readers
Although students have made some gains in recent decades, results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that we still have far to go to meet the instructional needs of these students. In 2013, just 35% of students in Grade 4 performed at or above the proficient level on NAEP and 36% of students in Grade 8 performed at or above proficient (U.S. Department of Education, 2013).
Effective Instruction for Struggling Readers: Not all struggling readers struggle for the same reasons. They differ in their needs for instruction (Valencia, 2010). Some need additional instruction in phonics, decoding and word recognition. Others need instruction focused more closely on comprehension strategies (Pressley, Gaskins, & Fingeret, 2006). What these students do not need is slowed-down instruction, which will ensure that they remain behind their peers (Allington & Walmsley, 1995).
Vocabulary Instruction for Struggling Readers: As discussed in the section above, language exists on a continuum, with conversational language at one end and academic language at the other. Like ELs, struggling readers benefit from explicit instruction in academic language and academic and content-area vocabulary. Sedita (2005) found that struggling readers who received explicit vocabulary instruction made larger and faster literacy gains.
Strategy Instruction for Struggling Readers: Readers who struggle with comprehension struggle with using reading comprehension strategies, such as summarizing, making inferences, or monitoring their comprehension (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991). Explicit strategy instruction can help. For students who need to develop strategic reading, demonstrations of effective strategy use and continued opportunities to apply strategies learned are essential components of effective instruction (Cunningham & Allington, 2007; Allington, 2001; Fielding & Pearson, 1994; Armbruster, Anderson, & Ostertag, 1987; Raphael & Pearson, 1985; Baumann, 1984; Pikulski, 1994). When students become more successful at using strategies, their motivation to learn increases because they see they have the ability to learn (Schunk, Pintrich, & Meece, 2008).
Intensive Skills Instruction for Struggling Readers: Struggling readers benefit from the same instructional strategies from which all learners benefit, but also benefit from more intensive instruction on skills (Au, 2002).
Graphic Organizers for Struggling Readers: Supporting students with more visual ways of accessing content can be effective with struggling readers. Graphic organizers have been shown to be effective with struggling learners (Collins, 1998; Cunningham & Allington, 2007).
Opportunities for Interaction for Struggling Readers: Providing ample opportunities for students to interact and discuss the content being learned can also benefit struggling readers (Strickland & Alvermann, 2004; Wigfield, 2004).
Engagement and Motivation for Struggling Readers: Increasing the motivation of struggling readers is particularly important because of the close connection between motivation and reading achievement. When students are interested and engaged, they will be motivated to persist in learning (Hidi & Boscolo, 2006; Guthrie & Humenick, 2004; Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998). Engagement and motivation are particularly important in reading instruction (Stipek, 2002).Guthrie and colleagues found student interest correlated with increased comprehension and recall (Guthrie, Hoa, Wigfield, Tonks, Humeneck, & Littles, 2007). Engagement connected with increased reading comprehension with low SES students in a study by Taylor, Pearson, Peterson, and Rodriguez (2003). Increasing conceptual knowledge increases engagement (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000) as does setting authentic purposes for literacy activities (Cunningham & Allington, 2007). Finally, Wigfield (2004) argues that clear goals and expectations for performance increase motivation among this population.
Meeting the Needs of Advanced Learners
In almost any classroom, there will be a group of students who are ready to advance at an accelerated pace and face increased academic challenges.
Effective Instruction for Advanced Learners: Like English learners and struggling learners, advanced learners require differentiation in their instruction as well.
Variable Pacing for Advanced Learners: Advanced learners benefit from opportunities to move at a different pace than other learners (Tomlinson, 1995) and to work independently (Rogers, 2007). Research suggests that “gifted learners are significantly more likely to prefer independent study, independent projects, and self-instructional materials” (Rogers, 2002).
Flexible Grouping for Advanced Learners: Employing flexible grouping practices has been shown to be effective for meeting the needs of advanced learners (Tomlinson, 1995). Rogers (2007) also emphasizes the importance of providing opportunities to work with peers and to work independently.
Engagement for Advanced Learners: Differentiation in activities and delivery can help to engage advanced learners (Rogers, 2007; Tomlinson, 1995, 1997; VanTassel-Baska & Brown, 2007), as can centering activities around issues, problems, and themes that are of interest and relevant to these students (VanTassel-Baska & Brown, 2007).
The Importance of Assessment for Advanced Learners: Tomlinson (1995) argues for the importance of ongoing assessment of advanced learners. She argues that providing ongoing assessments in varied modes is most likely to give students the most opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skill.
Intervention and Response to Intervention (RtI) in Journeys
Effective intervention begins with excellent instruction. Journeys © 2017 provides a high-quality core program that is the foundation for high-quality teaching. Journeys offers teachers clear curricular pathways, rigorous expectations for all students, ongoing instructional supports, and flexible options for differentiation. In these multi-faceted ways the program ensures learning for all.
Tier 1: Core Program: The Journeys © 2017 program gives all students the opportunity to learn. The program offers varied presentations of information and content; differentiated opportunities for students; and diverse approaches designed to stimulate student interest and motivation. Throughout Journeys lessons, teachers will find scaffolds, differentiated instruction, and options for reteaching so that learners at many levels can meet with success.
Journeys is customizable. The Quick Start Pacing Guide provides teachers with guidance on how best to deliver instruction based on teaching preferences and time frames. Digital tools allow for further customization.
The program’s Small Group Planner provides guidance for differentiating instruction for Struggling Readers, On-Level readers, and Advanced students.
Tier 2: Core Program + Strategic Intervention: The program’s intervention components link to the core instruction, with Strategic Intervention activities provided at point-of-use.
Strategic Intervention activities support students who are struggling with the core content and incorporate the use of the Journeys Write-In Readers. Selections in the Write-In Readers match the topics of the Journeys lessons and help students build the foundational and strategic skills for reading more complex texts.
Stop, Think, Write activities in the Write-In Readers are designed to support and reinforce the key skill or strategy. Look Back and Respond pages offer hints that help students search the text for key information. Reading Detective pages scaffold students in reading increasingly complex text by putting students in the role of reading detectives as they ask questions, look for clues, and write to demonstrate evidence-based comprehension of the Anchor Text in the Student Book.
The program’s ongoing assessment system supports targeted intervention and is linked to intervention resources.
Tier 3: Core Program + Strategic Intervention + Intensive Intervention: Used in conjunction with Tier 1 and Tier 2 resources and tools, the Journeys Tier 3 resources offer targeted intensive intervention in specific skills.
The program’s HMH Decoding Power: Intensive Reading Instruction resource supplements the scope and sequence in Journeys © 2017, as well as functioning as a stand-along resource, offering teachers multiple options for use. This tool provides targeted intervention for students who need Reteaching and practice in one or more key foundational skills. The five “systems” of HMH Decoding Power provide explicit, sequential, and systematic instruction as well as practice and review in the critical areas of:
The systems include instruction at multiple grade levels, enabling teachers to bring struggling readers up to grade level.
Meeting the Needs of English Learners in Journeys
Journeys © 2017 supports English learners every step of the way.
The program recognizes that English learners “may require additional time, appropriate instructional support, and aligned assessments as they acquire both English language proficiency and content-area knowledge” (NGA/CCSSO, 2010, Application of the Standards for English Language Learners). To this end, the program provides:
In addition, Journeys offers a supplemental intervention program for long-term English learners, called Escalate English®, which is thematically related to core Journeys unit topics and features:
Journeys provides supports for English Learners to reach learning targets. With these supports, the program is able to hold all learners to the same high expectations.
Meeting the Needs of Struggling Readers in Journeys
Students who struggle with reading, and their teachers, will find ample support throughout Journeys © 2017.
Journeys © 2017 does not slow down instruction for these students. Instead, the program supports students in meeting the same high expectations for reading, writing, speaking, and listening as their peers, in part, by providing accessible, just-in-time scaffolds within the program’s overall design, and at point of reference in the lessons.
With Journeys, teachers know how to help students Prepare for Complex Texts.
The Text X-Ray feature offers supports that call out and scaffold the most complex and challenging key ideas and academic language in each Anchor Text, so teachers have support for all potential stumbling blocks.
For students who benefit from the use of visuals, many activities are supported by Graphic Organizers, such as Story Maps and others, that help students organize ideas using a visual as support.
The program offers explicit strategy instruction and practice with comprehension strategies with the Target Strategy focus, and with the Comprehension Strategies call-outs in the Teacher’s Edition.
Meeting the Needs of Advanced Learners in Journeys
Throughout, the Journeys © 2017 program provides suggestions to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of advanced learners.
Built-in program features offer additional opportunities for advanced learners. At the point-of-use in lessons and formative assessments, additional challenges are provided. Small-group lessons always differentiate for advanced learners.
Formative Assessment call-outs in the Teacher’s Edition provide If...Then... suggestions and recommended tools and resources for meeting the needs of specific populations, including students who excel.
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