The purpose of this site is to offer transparency for our Leander ISD community regarding the instructional materials utilized in Secondary ELA classrooms.
What Grows Readers?
Reading Wellness: The act of building the dispositions, attitudes and skills of reading so that we are all our best reading selves, empowered to think, act, and find joy in our reading lives.
- Explore a variety of genres and topics.
- Engage with a wide range of ideas that ignite their curiosity and expand their understanding of the world around them.
- Expand their cultural knowledge of people and places different than their own.
- Find time and space to get into the reading flow.
- Interact with texts to deepen comprehension.
- Set reading goals and make decisions independently.
- Develop a plan for what they are going to read next
- Talk about their reading with others.
- Recommend books to their friends and family.
- Reflect on how a book has affected their head and their heart.
- Revel in their reading risks and growth.
Types of Reading Experiences in Secondary ELA Classrooms
Students self-select texts, read, and monitor comprehension. Students can expect to write about and discuss their independent reading texts with their teacher and classmates. Teachers provide independent reading time in class and confer with students about their reading. Students continue their self-selected, independent reading outside of school as well. Students engage in independent reading all year during every unit of study. Ideally, students always have an independent reading book (or two) that they are reading during class as well as outside of class. “The goal of independent reading as an instructional practice is to build habitual readers with conscious reading identities.” (NCTE, 2019)
Student-led book clubs are an instructional strategy that allows students to select books to read with a group of peers. During book clubs, students meet in small groups at scheduled times to discuss a book that they have all read or listened to. Through sharing their thinking, they build a richer understanding than any one student could gain from independent reading alone. Using the district-provided book club selections and existing campus collections, teachers determine the books that students can choose from for book clubs. Students preview titles, participate in book tastings (ex. preview the book, table of contents, inside cover, back cover, chapters, and read a paragraph or page near the beginning), and review the Awards and Reviews document with parents or guardians prior to choosing their top choices. Teachers match students with their choice books and create book groups. Students read their book club books, practice and apply skills using their book club books, and discuss with peers.
All students read the same core work together to analyze and practice skills utilizing the same text for discussion. A core work may vary in length from shorter pieces (ex. excerpt, poem, scene, short story, essay, article) to longer pieces (ex. play, novel, memoir, nonfiction). These works may come from textbooks, instructional materials, or the whole-class text-approved list.
Secondary ELA Instructional Materials
- McGraw Hill Texas StudySync (online access) Grades 6-12
- Units of Study Reading & Writing (gr. 6-9) by Lucy Calkins and TCRWP
- The Language of Composition, 3rd Edition (AP Language)
- Literature & Composition, 2nd Edition (AP Literature)InThinking (IB)
- Scholastic Scope (gr. 6, 7, 10)
- Scholastic Upfront (gr. 8, 11, 12)
- Scholastic Choices (gr. 9)
- Lapham’s Quarterly (AP Language, AP Literature, IB)
- Book Clubs (approved list below*)
- Whole Class Text Study (approved list below)
- Classroom Libraries & School Libraries
Lexile Levels & Literacy
Graphic Novel Research
Definition: a graphic novel is a “full-length” (esp. science fiction or fantasy) story published in a comic-strip format. –The Oxford English Dictionary
Independent Reading and Young Adult Literature Research
Independent reading is a routine, protected instructional practice that occurs across all grade levels. Effective independent reading practices include time for students to read, access to books that represent a wide range of characters and experiences, and support within a reading community that includes teachers and students. Student choice in text is essential because it motivates, engages, and reaches a wide variety of readers. The goal of independent reading as an instructional practice is to build habitual readers with conscious reading identities. (NCTE, 2019)
Young Adult Literature is targeted to an age 12-18 audience and serves as a transition from children’s novels to adult literature. Young adult literature gives youth the opportunity to see their lived experiences reflected in literature. Common themes related to YA include friendship, first love, relationships, and identity.
- Independent Reading from the National Council of Teachers of English
- The Value of Young Adult Literature
- Embracing Diverse Perspectives in Young Adult Literature
Interview with Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University, on the importance of students seeing themselves reflected in books as well as the importance of learning about those who have had different experiences than your own.
Ted Talk presented by children’s book author/ illustrator, Grace Lin.
Parent Communication & Resources
Sample Book Club Parent/Guardian Communication
Additional Parent/Guardian Resources
- As a parent, how can I engage with my child about their reading?
- If you want your learner to be a reader, emphasize and model the importance of reading by …
- Surrounding yourself with books
- Drawing attention to what you read
- Bringing something to read everywhere you go
- Reading together often
Book Clubs Awards & Reviews
Student-led book clubs is an instructional strategy that allows students choice, voice, and motivation in reading. Students select books they wish to read with a group of peers. Students prepare for group meetings by reading agreed-upon pages. (Literacy Learner) Through discussion and sharing thinking, students build a richer understanding than any one student could gain from independent reading alone. (Fountas & Pinnell Literacy Blog)
In English Language Arts, students have the opportunity to participate in book clubs. The Awards and Reviews provide a preview of the district provided book club selections including a book summary, industry awards, professional reviews from organizations such as Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Horn Book Guide, and Library Media Connection, and a summary of the commentary from participants in the Leander ISD CCAC Comprehensive Literature Review for each title.
In order to support the implementation of new TEKS and new curriculum, these titles were purchased to utilize for book clubs and to add to the existing collections already available on campuses. Campuses have the discretion to include additional titles from the campus book room that are highly matched to the intent of the unit of study.
Middle School (Grades 6–8) Book Club Lists, Awards & Reviews
High School (Grades 9-12) Book Club Lists, Awards & Reviews
Additional Book Club Resources
- What are Book Clubs? Though this article’s audience is elementary teachers, the authors’ points apply to middle and high school book clubs as well.
- What is the difference between Literature Circles and Student-Led Book Clubs?
- The Nuts and Bolts of Book Clubs from A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Secondary Grades by Lucy Calkins & Mary Ehrenworth (chapter 13, page 142)
- Leander ISD Counselor Process to Support Secondary ELA Students During Book Clubs: If a student is impacted by reading material, counselors can provide additional supports.
- As a parent, what if I do not want my child to read a specific title during book clubs? Prior to launching book clubs, teachers communicate with parents and guardians the book club choices and share the Awards and Reviews. Teachers establish a process for parents to opt out of a title.
Community Curriculum Advisory Committee (CCAC)
The Community Curriculum Advisory Committee (CCAC) is a group of LISD parents, teachers, principals, students, business and community members who gather with the primary function to advise on the written, taught, and tested curriculum, related instructional resources, and potential new programs and courses. During the 2020-21 school year, the CCAC convened a subcommittee, the High School ELA Comprehensive Literature Review, to review HS ELA student book club reading choices and advise about appropriate course placement.
Reviewing Instructional Resources
If you are concerned after you review this material, please complete the Request for Reconsideration form. Once received, one of our employees will review your request and reach out about next steps in the reconsideration process.
If we have not heard back within two weeks, we will assume you no longer wish to file a formal complaint.
Community Questions & Public Interest
2020 Technology & Instructional Materials Adoption (TIMA): English Language Arts Grades 9–12
Approximately every 10 years, the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Agency review and revise the state standards – the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – that are taught in Texas public schools. As part of that process, the State of Texas undergoes the adoption of new instructional materials in cycles called proclamations.
In Spring 2020, we adopted new instructional materials for secondary English Language Arts (ELA) according to Proclamation 2020 as outlined below:
- State Adoption, Fall 2019
- Board Approved Framework for the Materials, March 2020
- Materials Ordered, Spring 2020
- Implementation, 2020–21 School Year
- English Language Arts and Reading, English I–IV
- ELA Electives
- English for Speakers of Other Languages I and II
- English Learners Language Arts, 7–8
What is the Board of Trustees’ role in the selection of instructional materials?
A board shall select instructional materials in an open meeting as required by the Texas Open Meetings Act, including public notice. 19 TAC 66.104(a)
The Board of Trustees was presented with the framework for selecting ELA instructional materials along with the recommended resources for adoption during the March 12, 2020 Board meeting and was approved at the March 26, 2020 Board meeting.
How did we select these books?
Leander ISD developed a new English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum aligning to the new state standards and provides guidance for teachers. As a part of the new curriculum for our students, we created two book club reading opportunities for each high school ELA course, and 15 titles for each book club unit were selected and vetted by the Curriculum Design Team: a group of curriculum specialists, general education teachers, special education teachers, ESL teachers, instructional coaches, and librarians. The 15 titles include a wide range of reading levels and topics.
Unfortunately, the Spring 2020 review process occurred during the time we closed our buildings, staff was working virtually, and we were not allowing non-essential employees in the buildings due to COVID. As a result of this unprecedented time, we chose not to purchase and mail copies of every book title to each teacher to read and review. We recognize this was an important piece of the process we missed. By over-relying on written professional reviews from publishers, common sense media, library journals, etc. and not utilizing the trusted LISD lens to make these decisions, we failed our community. We acknowledge some books containing passages that raised concerns from students, teachers, parents, and community members made it through this flawed vetting process and for this we apologize to our students, families and community for this breakdown in trust and the process.
What are Student Choice Book Clubs?
Students select their book from the book club list. Teachers may suggest titles based on a student’s interests and reading level, but ultimately the student owns the choice. Parents are also offered an opportunity to review books prior to students selecting titles. This process has been tightened through the CCAC work this Fall/Spring. With approximately 15 book club titles in each unit, the titles represent a variety of reading levels to facilitate independent reading, as well as a variety of topics, voices, and cultures. Supported by the teacher and a “book club” of peers reading the same title, students will read, respond to, analyze, and critique the title they have selected. This work takes place in book club discussions, student-teacher conferences, writers’ notebook entries, and written analyses. Students participate in one student choice book club each semester, running approximately ten to fourteen class sessions each.
Do the TEKS require Graphic novels to be taught?
The TEKS call for multiple genres and analyzing graphic features, however, Graphic novels are not specifically mentioned in the TEKS:
- Multiple genres: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts‐‐genres. The student recognizes and analyzes genre‐specific characteristics, structures, and purposes within and across increasingly complex traditional, contemporary, classical, and diverse texts. The student is expected to analyze characteristics of multimodal and digital texts.
- Author’s purpose and craft: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking using multiple texts. The student uses critical inquiry to analyze the authors’ choices and how they influence and communicate meaning within a variety of texts. The student analyzes and applies the author’s craft purposefully in order to develop his or her own products and performances. The student is expected to evaluate the author’s use of print and graphic features to achieve specific purposes.
The CCAC book review teams reviewed several resources to gain a better understanding of the intent and purpose of using graphic novels in high school:
- Graphic novel unit of study designed to help CCAC members understand the learning outcomes in the English II graphic novel unit of study.
- Graphic novel hyperdoc created to support CCAC members evaluating the graphic novels to understand the role graphic novels play in reading and writing.
What are we currently doing to address this situation?
We asked the Community Curriculum Advisory Committee (CCAC) to vet all high school English Language Arts student choice book club selections. Our teachers are not using book club titles until they have been thoroughly reviewed through the rigorous CCAC process.
We have assigned a team of Continuous Improvement Facilitators from various departments (outside of language arts) trained specifically for this type of activity, to lead the work in the CCAC meetings. Currently, more than 200 parents, community members, educators, and additional campus representatives including counselors, librarians, instructional coaches, principals/APs are engaged in the vetting process. Each volunteer chose whether or not to participate with each review cycle resulting in a different group of volunteers for each review cycle. The committee is vetting all 140 book club titles added to our existing collections, by grade level and unit of study, throughout the fall and spring semester. The vetting process encompasses reading each title, discussing in small groups, assessing each book based on specific criteria, and making recommendations to keep, remove, or pull a title pending further review.
The CCAC page has a detailed set of review cycle summaries and recommendations. We have completed seven cycles and are currently working through the eighth. We have completed the review of 105 book titles through this process. Those details are posted on our CCAC webpage, as will the results of additional review cycles.
What is the process of assigning volunteers books to review?
Each CCAC volunteer was randomly assigned one or two titles to read per cycle. Random selections were based on when volunteers signed up to participate in the CCAC process. For example, the first person to sign up read book 1, the second person to sign up read book 2, and so on. After the random assignments were made, the groups were checked to ensure no singular book club group was made up of only volunteers from one feeder pattern or had volunteers who were all in the same role (parent, librarian, teacher, etc.).
What is the criteria used to vet the books?
- Vetting and Review Criteria (established by CCAC Continuous Improvement Cycle #4 March 2021):
- Diversity: Exposes students to new ideas, perspectives, and experiences; students see themselves in the books
- Student Appeal: Variety of reading levels and topics
- Literary Merit: Awards, positive professional reviews, compelling characters, exemplary author’s craft, and storytelling
- Alignment to Curricular Goals: The text matches the unit focus and can be used to teach the English Language Arts skills specific to the unit of study
- Student Navigation of Text, Topics, and Themes: Is the content sensitive? Is the content age-appropriate? Can the book stand on its own without needing a lot of supplemental adult support? Will students understand what is going on?
- Based on the criteria listed above, the volunteer assigns the book one of the following ratings and has an opportunity to comment if there are concerns or further advisement is needed
- Keep as Selection: Adequately Meets Criteria (listed above)
- Keep, but may require advisement (commenting available)
- Concerns in this area sufficient to consider removal from the book club list (commenting available)
The results of each review cycle for the Board and community will be posted on the CCAC web page under the Review Cycles Summary & Recommendations section
What are the next steps?
The Board formed a policy committee as part of a comprehensive review of the district’s policies. Policy concerning curriculum adoption is included in this districtwide review. The administration will bring policy proposals through this subcommittee of the Board before a recommendation is brought to the entire Board. After listening to the concerns from our community, our administrators are currently working on drafting verbiage for board policy providing additional guidance for the selection of instructional resources including books for the assigned courses. As part of this policy review process, the district will continue to meet with stakeholder groups to shape possible revisions. In the case of curriculum adoption, this will include the CCAC.
What is the district doing as a result of concerning discourse amongst community members and this issue of books and instructional materials?
Our district administration balances the private and individual rights of our community members with the operation of our schools and programs. We hear and see the discourse and discussion in our community about the high school English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. The actions of individuals in our community targeting others on social media and with the delivery of inappropriate mail are totally unacceptable. As a community, we owe it to each other to treat one another with respect and dignity.
We want everyone to feel included in the discussions around their schools and our students’ learning. We appreciate you sharing your concerns and share your concern about parents feeling welcomed to speak in our public board meetings and other public forums.
All volunteers in Leander ISD agree to our Volunteer Guidelines when registering for service each year. The registration process allows us to do a national background check on our volunteers and the guidelines provide rules and procedures for supporting our schools. If a volunteer violates our guidelines, the action and possible removal of the volunteer or adjustment to their volunteer role will be determined by the leadership in place in the roles where they serve. For example, a volunteer who serves on a committee may be removed from a role at the decision of the committee’s membership and district or school leaders facilitating the committee.
Volunteers have first amendment rights and their involvement with the district does not prevent them from exercising free speech. While we hope a person would use their free speech to continue a productive dialogue, we do not have the authority to infringe upon that right.
Thank you for partnering with LISD as we strive to continuously improve our systems and processes. We pledge to continue listening to community feedback and making necessary adjustments.
Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Parents and community members raised a concern regarding a book titled Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison.
- This text is not a part of the high school book club collection.
- This text is not referenced in our written curriculum.
- One copy of this text may currently be present in each of LISD’s English III and IV classroom libraries as a part of the 250-plus books provided to teachers to augment their classroom libraries.
- With the revision of EF (Local), we are in the process of designing a training and a process involving teachers in identifying instructional resources that merit additional review and scrutiny.