• Resource Overview
  • Topic Overview
  • Component Overview

Resource Overview

Resource Overview

Introduction

REMIX is a new and compelling series of informational texts designed for students in grades 7-8 who are reading at a grade 1-3 level. Recognizing the lack of appropriate resources for these students, REMIX sets out to fill this need by offering age-appropriate yet accessible resources.

REMIX offers a collection of resources organized around eight exciting topics that were carefully chosen for their connection to subject areas in the curriculum and their appeal to student interests and background:

  • Explore: Where in the world can we find the extraordinary?
  • Medical Horrors and Marvels: How are we hurting or healing ourselves?
  • Sports: What drives athletes beyond their reach?
  • Unsolved Mysteries: Why do we search for answers?
  • Living Well: What should we live for—today or tomorrow?
  • Brave New World: What is the price of progress?
  • Outside the Box: Where will the human imagination take us next?
  • Change: How do challenges shape society?

REMIX resources are grouped in sets of three. Each set is built around related topics under the umbrella of a main essential question. The books/eTexts are designed in three visually and textually distinctive formats, each targeting a specific reading level:

  • Level 1: Minimum text with high visual support and corresponds to a grade 1 reading level
  • Level 2: A more equal visual-text split and corresponds to a grade 2 reading level
  • Level 3: A higher-text and lower-visual ratio and corresponds to a grade 3 reading level

The first text provides background and frontloading that will assist readers as they read the next texts, allowing students to develop vocabulary, knowledge, and strategies text by text.

Each topic is supported by REMIX Online, a website offering digital, interactive, and Web applications to enable students to further explore the topic.

REMIX offers support to teachers through a comprehensive Teacher’s Guide, complete with instructional strategies and teaching suggestions to support reading fluency, speaking and writing skills, vocabulary development, and intervention in an environment of respect where teachers model and students learn in small and large groups through dialogue and collaboration.

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Levelling Criteria

REMIX offers students informational texts that are grouped in sets of three books, each set built around a related topic. The books are designed in three visually and textually distinctive formats, each targeting a specific reading level. The visual format and the interest level of each book in the set are highly engaging and will offer even the struggling readers an incentive to read the next text, thus building knowledge and reading skills text by text.

The books were developed using criteria from various guided reading and ELL/ELD guidelines. REMIX applies the following criteria to ensure a smooth progression in reading level from book to book:

  • Word count
  • Text-to-image ratio
  • Sentence length and structure 
  • Paragraph length and structure 
  • Vocabulary development
  • Visual cues
 

Level 1: For Beginning Readers

 

Level 2: For Early Readers

 

Level 3: For Independent Readers


Grade Level

Level 1 offers minimum text with high visual support and corresponds to Grade 1 reading levels.

Level 2 moves toward a more equal visual-text split and corresponds to Grade 2 reading levels.

Level 3 has a higher-text and lower-visual ratio. It corresponds to Grade 3 reading levels.

Text Features

  • 30-50 words per two-page spread
  • No paragraph structure
  • Sentences separated with clear spacing
  • Repetitive phrases for text prediction
  • Heads and subheads guide reading
  • 50-100 words per two-page spread
  • Short paragraphs (3-4 sentences)
  • Increased text-to-image ratio from level 1
  • Decreased use of repetitive text
  • Heads and subheads guide reading
  • 100-150 words per two-page spread
  • Longer paragraphs (5-7 sentences)
  • Increased text-to-image ratio from level 2
  • Heads and subheads guide reading

Vocabulary

  • Support in context for challenging vocabulary
  • Some use of simple linking words
  • Short, simple sentences
  • Challenging words highlighted in magenta and defined in glossary
  • Builds upon vocabulary in level 1
  • Introduces content-specific vocabulary
  • Simple compound sentences
  • Increased use of simple linking words
  • Challenging words highlighted in magenta and defined in glossary
  • Builds upon vocabulary from both levels 1 and 2
  • Introduces more content-specific vocabulary
  • Simple compound and complex sentences
  • Increased use of linking words
  • Challenging words highlighted in magenta and defined in glossary

Strategies


  • Visual cues to support understanding
  • Scaffolding questions to aid comprehension and encourage critical inquiry
  • Pronunciation guides
  • Captions and FYI texts at a higher reading level to challenge readers
  • Clear visual cues to support understanding
  • Scaffolding questions to aid comprehension and encourage critical inquiry
  • Pronunciation guides
  • Captions and FYI texts at a higher reading level to challenge readers
  • Clear visual cues to support understanding
  • Scaffolding questions to aid comprehension and encourage critical inquiry
  • Pronunciation guides
  • Captions and FYI texts at a higher reading level to challenge readers


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Inquiry

Most teachers are well aware that their primary challenge is motivating students. This is particularly true for students whose first language is not English, as well as for students who are reluctant learners, students with a history of struggling or failing in school, and students who might have what could be called a “damaged learner identity.” Inquiry is a particularly democratic form of teaching and learning (Wilhelm, 2007), and as such, privileges pre-existing interests, unique perspectives, and the various strengths of students who may typically be marginalized in school.

The foundation of REMIX is inquiry. Inquiry meets the needs of striving students because it foregrounds learning as purposeful, provides the assistance that is needed to be successful, gives opportunities to make and do things with what is learned, helps students stake their identity, and explicitly apprentices and assists students over time to achieve visible signs of competence, deep understanding, and actual accomplishment (Smith and Wilhelm, 2006).

REMIX highlights the purpose, energy, and passion behind knowledge construction by using what are known as “essential questions” (Jacobs, 1989; Wilhelm, 2007). Asking essential questions has the benefit of inviting students as participants to engage in ongoing conversations and social construction of knowledge.

One way to help students read more complex texts is to start with their current capacities and the texts they can read, and then up the ante. This is done by providing motivating reasons to read more complex texts in the students’ zone of proximal development, and providing support through various interventions that will help students continually outgrow themselves as readers. The inquiry environments upon which REMIX is developed provide these kinds of support.

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Intervention

Intervention is proactive versus reactive teaching. It means teaching differently from traditional practices due to students’ needs. It means providing the kinds of assistance students need when they are faced with a challenge.

Vygotsky (1978) argued that learning occurs in the “zone of proximal development,” which can be defined as that cognitive zone in which students cannot do something on their own that they can successfully accomplish with help. The assistance they get that helps them to do what they cannot yet do on their own is what Vygotsky would define as teaching. This means that effective teachers are always teaching—or intervening, we might say, at the point of need—pitching instruction just beyond the students’ present capacities and helping them to outgrow their current selves and thereby achieve a new zone of actual development.

When faced with a challenge, students require an intervention, and this provides a sense of competence and control, which leads to a continuing impulse to learn. So intervening is essential to support learning and motivation.

To consider what most matters and what we should feel most responsible to teach, it is very useful to consider Paris’s (2008) notion of “constrained” versus “unconstrained” skills. Constrained skills are those that are learned quickly and completely—fundamental building blocks such as learning letter names and sounds, decoding, and fluency. The domain of a constrained skill is bounded. There is no payoff for continued practice after a modicum of mastery is achieved.

Constrained skills stand in stark contrast to unconstrained skills such as vocabulary growth, comprehension, knowledge of language conventions and text structures, and how this knowledge works to achieve certain effects and meanings. Unconstrained skills can be conceived as comprising learning how to learn through literacy. All of these skills are consolidated and extended over a lifetime of reading and composing. These are the skills that lead to the big payoffs of responsible problem solving, creativity, self-development, democratic citizenship, and much more. These skills are the primary focus of REMIX.

The best contexts in which to teach unconstrained skills would clearly be inquiry contexts where students are reading and writing to explore issues and address problems, just like real readers in the real world outside of school. REMIX allows students to practise these skills with materials appropriate to their development as readers and human beings. It’s all about timing. Students need the right help with the right strategies in the right context and with the right books at the right time.

REMIX includes many ways to both intervene and to provide layered, or differentiated, instruction for students:

  • Motivation/Framing: Essential questions to connect students personally to the text and to highlight the social significance of what is to be learned.
  • Materials: Texts with more visuals that striving students can read with accuracy and comprehension and/or reading interventions that will develop their reading proficiencies.
  • Methods: Drama/action strategies, visual and think-aloud strategies, and many other strategies that have been shown to be powerful ways to intervene with groups and individuals (Wilhelm, 2001; 2004; 2012).
  • Modalities: Teaching suggestions in multiple modalities such as kinesthetic (through drama and dance/movement), interrelational (through group work and collaborative structures), and visual (through visualization strategies) to deepen understanding and assist students to transfer strength in one modality to the development of a new modality.
  • Multiple Measures: Different and more performance-based measures to promote and celebrate learning.
  • Level of Assistance/Time/Reinforcement: Providing more support, more time, more reinforcement, and more follow-up are all ways to differentiate instruction to intervene with particular students until they reach mastery of a particular repertoire of strategies.
  • Group Structures: Students can learn more easily in groups, then in pairs, both with teachers and with other students, before proceeding to independent work. Attempting a task in a group makes the zone of proximal development more accessible. Group and individual tasks are also differentiated by dividing the task into components or levels based on challenge, complexity, resources provided or type of resource required, by outcome, by process required, or by product.

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Questioning

Knowing that engaged readers first comprehend what is literally stated in the text, we need to have questions on the literal level. But we also know that competent readers use the literal to do much more significant and exciting meaning making. So the literal questions need to build directly to inferential questions and then to critical/evaluative and applicative questions.

REMIX provides a wide range of appropriate text-dependent questions that allow students to think about what they’ve read, reread to find evidence, and then share their thinking with others. Below are examples of more robust text-dependent questions (Fisher & Frey, 2012):

  • General understanding questions draw on the overall view of the text, especially the main ideas and the key learning or message.
  • Key detail questions (who/what/when/where/why/how questions) are essential to understanding the meaning of the passage. They are often focused on specific aspects of the text that are necessary in ensuring understanding.
  • Vocabulary and text structure questions link explicit with implicit meanings, especially in focusing on words and phrases, as well as on the way the author has organized the information. Text structure questions may include text features (e.g., context clues for vocabulary or maps, graphs, charts) and discourse structures (problem/solution, cause/effect, compare/contrast, etc.).
  • Author’s purpose questions draw the reader’s attention to genre, point of view, multiple perspectives, and critical literacies, such as speculating on alternative accounts of the same event.
  • Inferential questions challenge students to examine the implicitly stated ideas, arguments, or key details in the text.
  • Opinion and intertextual questions allow students to use their foundational knowledge of one text to assert their opinions or to make connections to other texts, using the target text to support their claims.

For a given text, not all question types will be appropriate. However, students should be asked some appropriate text-dependent questions. In this way, students gain valuable practice in an important skill. Rather than simply stating their claim or opinion, they learn to support their ideas with evidence.

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Vocabulary

Vocabulary remains one of the most significant predictors of comprehension. When readers understand the words in a text, they are more likely to understand the text. Learning words is not as easy as assigning hard words, asking students to define those words, and then testing their knowledge. REMIX employs a purposeful approach to vocabulary learning that begins with choosing the right words for instruction.

Selecting which vocabulary will need direct teaching, and which can be learned through multiple readings of the text, can be challenging. It is useful to have the following selection criteria (Frey & Fisher, 2009).

  • Representative: Is it critical to understanding?
  • Repeatability: Will it be used again?
  • Transportable: Is it needed for discussions or writing?

The next two questions narrow the list further, identifying words that students can figure out:

  • Contextual analysis: Can students use context to figure it out?
  • Structural analysis: Can they use structure (affixes, root, base) to figure it out?

Once these words are eliminated, what remain are the general academic and content-specific words and phrases that require direct instruction. The final question concerns the number:

  • Cognitive load: Have I exceeded the number that students can learn?

The words identified from this process are ones that likely require instruction. It’s hard to identify these words in advance, as classes differ and students’ background knowledge differs. In any given piece of text, there are words that likely deserve instruction irrespective of the class, and there are words that individual teachers will likely select based on their students’ needs.

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English Language Learners

Students who are learning English as an additional language are a diverse group. Some students are recent immigrants; others were born and raised in Canada. Some have parents who are bilingual. What ELLs have in common is that school is double work: they have to learn content and language simultaneously.

“ELLs also need focused development of oral reading fluency, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing in addition to enriched literacy instruction that targets complex sets of skill and concepts” (Coleman & Goldenberg). Each of these aspects is addressed in the REMIX Teacher’s Guides.

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Formative Assessment

Formative assessment involves the following process:

  • Gathering evidence about students’ skills, concepts, and attitudes relevant to the goals of learning
  • Interpreting this evidence in terms of progress toward articulated goals
  • Using these interpretations to decide on the next instructional steps
  • Getting students involved in all parts of the process

All learning begins with formative assessment, and the REMIX Teacher’s Guides provide tips and suggestions throughout each lesson plan. At the beginning of an inquiry, teachers must solicit from students what they already know about the topic. This is to pitch teaching, in terms of materials, challenges, methods, time, or grouping, in the students’ zone of proximal development.

Formative assessment can be used for any before reading/composing/learning activity that activates students’ prior interests and background knowledge, and makes these visible and available so that these interests and background can be built upon. The frontloading, as our first formative assessment move, can also frame ongoing formative assessments, in which the students keep track of their learning and their progress toward ultimate goals of understanding and the production of culminating projects and compositions.

During the learning process, formative assessment is the ongoing activity that provides concrete feedback, which is then used to monitor learning progress. It raises these questions for the teacher: Are my plans moving too quickly or too slowly for the students? Am I differentiating through the appropriate use of varied materials, time, methods, levels of assistance, and grouping structures? Do I need to regroup students to meet specific needs vs. assuming all students move at the same pace? Are there prerequisite skills needed before students can succeed on this task?

And after the learning, formative assessment can measure a student’s ability to use newly acquired information, strategies, and skills, allowing students to demonstrate their understanding by applying the new learning in a new situation that mirrors the real world (authentic assessment).

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Topic Overview

Topic Overview

REMIX offers a collection of books, eTexts, and online material organized around eight exciting topics carefully chosen for their appeal to student interests and background.

Click on the covers to view an overview of the topic.

Component Overview

Component Overview

REMIX Books

REMIX offers striving readers a progressive selection of reading material in three visually and textually distinctive formats:

  • Level 1: Minimum text with high visual support and corresponds to a grade 1 reading level
  • Level 2: A more equal visual-text split and corresponds to a grade 2 reading level
  • Level 3: A higher-text and lower-visual ratio and corresponds to a grade 3 reading level

REMIX offers students the opportunity to progressively read books on a topic by grouping around a central inquiry question. The first text provides background and frontloading that will assist readers as they read the next texts, allowing students to develop vocabulary, knowledge, and strategies text by text.

View Virtual Samples

 

REMIX eTexts

Each REMIX title is available in digital format. Students can access the eTexts from any computer, iPad, or Android tablet. These eTexts provide a fluent audio recording of the text with words highlighted as they are read. There is also an interactive glossary.

Each Remix Book provides an access code on the inside front cover. Teachers register for the eText using this access code and record the login information in the book. Once registered, all students use that login information to access the eText. One student can be logged into the eText at a time and once they log out, the eText is available for other students.

To access a preview copy of a REMIX eText use the following login information:

Username: remix_etext_preview
Password: ActionSports1

Preview eText


Note:  To turn on the audio function, click on the speaker icon in the top right corner. Play buttons will appear beside each chunk of text. Click on a play button to begin the audio. The reading will automatically continue to the next chunk of text. At any point you can click on a play button or word and it will begin reading from that point.

REMIX Online

REMIX Online is a companion website that uses digital, interactive, and Web applications to enable students to further explore the topics that are presented in the Student Books/eTexts. The site also offers opportunities for teachers to assess student learning.

The home page of each topic includes a video that introduces and explains the topic and essential question.

The EXPLORE section of the website provides students with options for further exploration: Video Links, RSS Feeds and Word Fun activities.

The CREATE section offers students how-to guides (written within the reading level of the REMIX series) for creating their own products. Students can input text and images into the templates, and then print off their final product for assessment.

Preview REMIX Online

 

REMIX Teacher’s Guide

The REMIX Teacher’s Guide provides comprehensive lesson plans for each title. Teaching suggestions focus on comprehension strategies, critical thinking, and vocabulary development. A variety of response activities provide opportunities for students to get practice with the vocabulary and ideas from the books, pushing their thinking deeper. Assessment suggestions are embedded throughout to provide insights into students’ development and instructional needs.