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English Language Arts: Curriculum Project Team

The current ELA curriculum was adopted by the School Board on May 16, 2016.  The adoption process followed the procedures outlined in the Instructional Materials Selection Administrative Regulation II/IIA-AR.

student writing in workbook
students reading

Best Practices in ELA Instruction

Elementary

Reading

Purpose:

The purpose of a Daily Reading Block is:

To provide students effective reading instruction and time in text to practice strategies and construct information from the texts. Lessons and strategies are related to student need, connected to the CCSS, and clearly articulated with success criteria.

Student Engagement

In reading instruction, students:
  • Engage in high level comprehension and strategy work through read aloud, whole & small group lessons, and one-­on-­one instruction
  • Choose from a wide range of accessible texts that build on/represent students’ academic background, life experiences, and culture and language
  • Articulate and use strategies for book selection
  • Review their individual reading goals before and after reading and set new goals as appropriate
  • Independently read and build reading stamina using interesting texts that they can either read fluently or can access with supports in place
  • Engage in inquiry in order to clarify, deepen and assess their thinking
  • Participate in quality discourse about texts (using protocols with scaffolded language supports)
  • Compose written responses to text using evidence from text, the world and/or their experiences

Curriculum & Pedagogy

In reading instruction, students and teachers have access to:
  • Sufficient amount of engaging texts including, but not limited to: literature, informational text, picture books, grade level content, culturally and linguistically relevant texts, classics from multiple countries and perspectives, dual language resources
  • Multiple levels within topics and genres
  • Multiple copies of texts for whole group/small group/partner work
  • Digital texts and supports
Strategies teachers use in order to teach learning strategies and content knowledge During reading instruction, teachers:
  • Model how to read familiar and unfamiliar text
  • Implement mini‐lessons and strategies based on formative assessment
  • Use a gradual release of responsibility, especially for metacognitive strategies/skills
  • Explicitly teach expectations and protocols for student discourse and reading behaviors using language supports and scaffolds (sentence frames, register, etc.)
  • Differentiate instruction, responsively and explicitly, based on academic, cultural and linguistic needs
  • Explicitly teach strategies for comprehending new vocabulary in context
Teachers responsively and explicitly teach content in reading instruction using:
  • BSD Targets (CCSS Anchor Standards #19)
  • BSD Targets (CCSS Foundational Skills)
  • Lessons and strategies inclusive of the English Language Proficiency Standards
Strategies students use in order to access, comprehend and deepen their thinking of text During reading instruction, students:
  • Annotate text
  • Use metacognitive strategies (Questioning, Monitoring Comprehension, Inferring, Predicting, Connecting, Visualizing, Summarizing and Synthesizing,)
  • Develop habits of thinking through use of graphic organizers
  • Monitor comprehension (word, sentence and whole text level strategies)
  • Use flexible strategies to comprehend unknown vocabulary
  • Engage in oral and written discourse
Within daily reading instruction, scaffolds and structures include:
  • Ninety minutes of protected reading
  • Whole group instruction includes multiple entry points for student access
  • Small group, partner or individual reading instruction are differentiated based on individual needs
  • Conferring during independent reading and/or small group instruction
  • Strategy work is supported through gradual release of responsibility
  • Teachers use language supports and scaffolds (sentence frames, register, etc.) to engage students in high level discourse and written response.

Assessment for Student Learning

Multiple assessment opportunities inform instruction and evaluate individual student growth. Teachers:
  • Give formative assessments based on goal(s) during whole group, small group, partner or one-­‐on-­‐one conferring
  • Continually assess students’ reading interests, attitudes and strategy use
  • Use and provide opportunities for students to use rubrics/checklists to assess proficiency on grade level learning targets
  • Help students reflect regularly upon their own individual reading goals

Classroom Environment & Culture

Reading space and environment:
  • Includes classroom libraries organized to facilitate successful student choice
  • Include meeting place(s) for small group instruction
  • Encourages discourse and interactions that reflect high expectations and a culture of inclusivity, equity, and accountability for learning
  • Encourages risk-­taking, collaboration and respect for thinking and learning

 

Writing

Purpose

The purpose of the daily writing block is:

To give students clear writing instruction and time to practice the writing process across modes of writing.

Student Engagement

Students are engaged in a Writing Block when:
  • Students are explicitly taught expectations of student talk
  • Students are supported with language scaffolds (sentence frames, formal register)
  • Mentor Texts are used as instructional models of the types of writing being taught
  • Students share their writing in a variety of ways (peer, small group or whole class)
  • Students are conferring individually or in small groups with a teacher
  • Students are independently writing pieces within a common genre/ non-­genre framework
  • Students can articulate what they are working on as a writer

Curriculum and Pedagogy

Materials Needed in a Writing Block:
  • Mentor Texts, paper, pens, pencils, posters as teaching tools, rubrics, writer’s notebooks and graphic organizers
Tasks represented in a Writing Block:
  • Units are based on CCSS, ELP Standards and grade level expectations
  • Mentor texts are chosen as models of the genre to be taught
  • Mentor texts connect the daily lessons within the unit
  • Learning Targets specifically relate to the learning within the lesson or unit
  • Planning, writing, revising, editing, illustrating, storytelling, book making, sharing, reading, talking
Strategies used in a Writing Block:
  • Explicit mini-­lessons related to the unit plan
  • Mentor Texts used as instructional tools
  • Conferring among students and between teachers and student(s)
  • Strategies specific to individual student need
Habits of thinking evident in a Writing Block
  • All students have something to say
  • All students know writing carries voice
  • All students have an opportunity for choice in their writing
  • All students keep an audience in mind when writing
  • All students have a purpose for writing
Scaffolds and Structures within a Writing Block:
  • Teachers model expectations of writing
  • Students have writing goals

Assessment for Student Learning

Preassessments, Formative and SelfAssessments are established within a Writing Block:
  • Pre-­assessments determine student learning goals and lessons for the upcoming writing unit
  • Students talk about their writing
  • Students write daily
  • Students can connect the learning target to their own independent writing
  • Students confer with a teacher regularly to set goals and reflect on past goals
  • Students confer with a teacher for in-­the-moment adjustments
  • Writing skills and strategies transfer across content areas
  • Students and teachers use rubrics to assess writing growth
  • Rubrics are explicit to lessons, standards and units
  • Student share their writing with others

Classroom Environment and Culture

Physical Arrangement:
  • Floor space for gathering to share mentor texts/mini‐lessons
  • Sharing space where students who are sharing writing can be least disruptive to others
  • Easy access to materials (folders, books, paper, etc.)
Materials/ Resources and Technology:
  • Paper, pencils, mentor texts, word processing, spelling tools, booklets, revision tools, illustration tools, writing folders equipped with writing supports
Routines and Time Management in a Writing Block:
  • 45-­60 minutes of consistent daily writing
  • Mini lesson (10-­15 minutes), individual writing time (30-­40 minutes), Closure (5-­10 minutes)
  • Explicit teaching of Writing expectations (looks like/ sounds like)
  • Teachers collaborate to plan, teach and reflect

Middle

Reading

Purpose:

The Vision
  • Daily reading targets reflect the CCSS, ELP Standards, and differentiated needs.
  • Targets are communicated visually and verbally.
  • Students and teachers set and analyze success criteria based on student needs/ individual goals.
  • Whole group lessons are linked and transferable to both individual and shared reading.
  • Lessons are often transferable to other content areas.
Best Instructional Practices
  • Teachers look at year­‐long outcomes when developing lessons and units.
  • Tasks and activities are aligned with learning targets and specific desired outcomes.
  • Texts are at grade level, are developmentally appropriate, and are culturally relevant within a broader context.
  • Teachers provide daily opportunities to read from a variety of sources, with a variety of lengths including novel length text.
  • Lessons are student-­‐centered, cognitive, and interactive.
  • Develop essential questions to set purpose for reading.
  • Establish background knowledge and prior knowledge based on students’ needs, particularly in regards to vocabulary, content, and the structure and organization of the text.
  • Reading strategies are often transferable to other content areas.

Student Engagement

The Vision
  • Classroom work embodies substantive intellectual engagement (reading, thinking, writing, problem-­solving and meaning-­making).
  • Strategies are in place to facilitate students’ participation and access to learning.
  • Materials chosen and tasks given are relevant, authentic, and holistic (big picture to components/whole to part)
Best Instructional Practices
  • Reading strategies improve understanding and analysis of fiction and nonfiction text.
  • Opportunities are provided for quality discussion about text, including inquiry-­based analysis.
  • Meaningful text-­related discourse occurs in whole group, small group, or partners.
  • Classroom work, both instruction and practice, includes reading, thinking, meaning‐making, writing, problem‐solving, and interacting with texts.
  • Instruction employs a variety of practices and resources.
  • Teachers scaffold learning with a gradual release of responsibility.
  • Opportunities are provided for students to read independently and build reading stamina using interesting texts that they can either read fluently or can access with supports in place
  • Graphic organizers for synthesizing, showing thinking and partner conversation.
  • Structures allow 45-­60 minutes of silent reading per week, including responses to the reading in order to increase engagement and accountability.

Curriculum & Pedagogy

The Vision
  • Instructional materials appropriately challenge and support all students, align with learning targets and content area standards, and are culturally and academically relevant.
  • Instructional materials are distributed according to the needs of individual schools and their unique demographics (this includes materials being on-­site and easily accessible). Equity of distribution will be achieved to assure equity of instruction.
  • Instructional materials are varied and reflect not only different genres (poetry, non-‐fiction, prose, drama), but different cultures and media (traditional books, digital resources, film).
  • Lessons reflect sturdy, replicable, and transferable protocols.
Best Instructional Practices
  • Teacher models reading and thinking strategies that offer multiple entry points to the lesson.
  • Reading expectations, strategies, and behaviors are explicitly modeled from a variety of written materials.
  • A variety of reading and thinking strategies are explicitly taught.
  • Opportunities are provided for students discuss text and explain their thinking.
  • Teacher scaffolds learning and gradually releases responsibility.

Assessment for Student Learning

The Vision
  • Students assess own learning in relation to the learning targets.
  • Teachers create multiple assessment opportunities and expect all students to demonstrate learning.
Best Instructional Practices
  • Students and teachers set and analyze student needs/ individual goals.
  • Pre-­assessments are administered to gauge prior knowledge.
  • Formative assessments are integrated into whole group, small group, partner and one-­on-­one work.
  • Teachers use formative and summative assessments to inform instruction.
  • Teachers and students use rubrics to assess student work.
  • Formative and summative assessments include multiple opportunities.
  • Teachers frequently calibrate and moderate to improve assessment practices and provide consistency.

Classroom Environment & Culture

The Vision
  • The physical arrangement of the room is conducive to learning.
  • Classroom discourse and interactions reflect high expectations and belief about all students’ intellectual capabilities and create a culture of inclusivity, equity and accountability for learning.
  • Classroom norms encourage risk­‐taking, collaboration and respect for thinking.
Best Instructional Practices
  • Classroom configuration is flexible and allows for optimal engagement.
  • Students are in a literature rich environment.
  • Structures allow for frequent opportunities to check out books from school library.
  • Structures allow for 45­‐60 minutes of silent reading per week in order to increase stamina, fluency and engagement.
  • Expectations for routines and use of materials is explicitly taught.
  • Teacher strives to make the classroom a safe and comfortable place where students can take risks.

 

Writing

Purpose

The Vision
  • Students use the writing process to communicate effectively through written expression in a variety of modes: argumentative, narrative and informative.
  • Writing is thinking; students use writing to express learning, gain knowledge, demonstrate growth and communicate with the world around them.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Students are shown an explicit connection between targets and instruction.
  • Students’ life experiences and backgrounds inform teaching points.
  • Students can communicate the current learning target/objective.
  • Teacher revisits learning targets throughout the lesson/unit.
  • Complex targets are broken down and manageable for all students.
  • Students are explicitly taught why they should write.

Student Engagement Strategies

The Vision
  • Students engage in a variety of writing strategies to meet their individual academic and social needs.
  • Writing tasks are authentic and build upon previous lessons.
  • Students have opportunities to write from and about their life experiences.
  • Students are provided exemplars within all writing modes to model successful writing and promote learning about writing beyond middle school.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Students experience the entire writing process multiple times throughout a course.
  • Students are supported with scaffolds.
  • Students confer individually, in small groups, and with a teacher.
  • Students are given a variety of authentic and relevant prompts and tasks.
  • Students are given explicit instruction around, and opportunities to talk about their writing

Curriculum and Pedagogy

Materials Needed in a Writing Block:
The Vision
  • Instructional materials are appropriately challenging and supportive for all students, are aligned with the learning targets and content area standards, and are culturally and academically relevant.
  • Writing tasks are sequenced and reflect a progression of skills from 6-­8 to account for developmental and intellectual growth.
  • Teacher provides tools and techniques to encourage comprehension of the writing process and guide student understanding of themselves as writers.
Best Instructional Practices
  • Teachers focus on each step in the writing and revision process in each writing mode.
  • Students set and use writing goals to improve practice.
  • Students confer with both teacher and peers.
  • Time should be built into each class to write.
  • Structures allow for repeated practice of writing skills.
  • Teacher plans authentic prompts and tasks.
  • Conventions are explicitly taught based on current the tasks and student need(s).
  • Teachers use write-alouds and model writing in real time in front of students in order to teach metacognition in the writing process.

Assessment for Student Learning

The Vision
  • Students assess their own learning in relation to the learning targets for writing and targets that align with and promote development as writers (i.e., speaking and listening).
  • Teachers create varied, diverse assessment opportunities to provide students feedback in order to improve student writing proficiency.
  • Teachers expect all students to demonstrate learning and the ability to self assess to improve writing in all modes.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Pre‐assessments determine student learning goals and lessons for the upcoming writing unit.
  • Teachers and students use rubrics and checklists for formative and summative assessment.
  • Teacher uses formative assessment to guide instruction.
  • Students are given opportunities to speak intellectually and reflectively about their writing

Classroom Environment and Culture

The Vision
  • The physical arrangement of the room is conducive to learning.
  • Classroom discourse and interactions reflect high expectations and belief about all students’ intellectual capabilities and create a culture of inclusivity, equity and accountability for learning.
  • Classroom norms encourage risk-­taking, collaboration and respect for thinking.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Classroom configuration is flexible and allows for optimal engagement.
  • Students are in a literature rich environment.
  • There is easy access to materials (folders, books, paper, etc.).
  • Structures allow for at least 15 minutes of consistent independent daily writing.
  • Expectations for routines and use of materials are explicitly taught.
  • The writing process is embedded into the classroom culture.
  •  Teacher strives to make the classroom a safe and comfortable place where students can take risks.

High

Reading

Purpose:

The Vision
  • Daily reading targets reflect the CCSS, ELP Standards, and differentiated needs
  • Targets are communicated visually and verbally
  • Students and teachers set and analyze success criteria based on student needs/ individual goals
  • Whole group lessons are linked and transferable to both individual and shared reading
  • Lessons are often transferable to other content areas
Instructional Best Practices
  • Tasks and activities are aligned with learning targets and specific desired outcomes.
  • Texts are at grade level, are developmentally appropriate, and are culturally relevant within a broader context.
  • Teachers provide daily opportunities to read from a variety of sources.
  • Lessons are student-­centered, cognitive, and interactive.
  • Develop essential questions to set purpose for reading.
  • Establish background knowledge and prior knowledge based on students’ needs, particularly in regards to vocabulary, content, and the structure and organization of the text.

Student Engagement

The Vision
  • Classroom work embodies substantive intellectual engagement (reading, thinking, writing, problem-­solving and meaning-­making).
  • Strategies are in place to facilitate students’ participation and access to learning.
  • Materials chosen and tasks given are relevant, authentic, and holistic (big picture to components/whole to part).
Instructional Best Practices
  • Create engaging before, during, and after reading strategies
  • Give students choice in reading materials.
  • Balance complex texts with easier ones
  • Instruction is given for metacognitive activities.
  • Instructional strategies and texts employ students’ academic backgrounds, life experiences, cultures and language to support rigor and cultural dynamics.
  • Teacher models the strategies that proficient readers use.
  • Teacher utilizes read-­aloud opportunities to ensure that all students have access to learning and to engage students in the disciplinary habits of thinking, for explicit teaching of strategies, and to scaffold gradual release of responsibility.
  • Students learn through student talk activities that employ substantive and intellectual thinking.

Curriculum & Pedagogy

The Vision
  • Instructional materials appropriately challenge and support all students, align with learning targets and content area standards, and are culturally and academically relevant.
  • Instructional materials are distributed according to the needs of individual schools and their unique demographics (this includes materials being on‐site and easily accessible).
  • Instructional materials are eclectic and reflect not only different genres (poetry, non-­fiction, prose, drama), but, also different cultures and media (traditional books, digital resources, film).
  • Lessons reflect sturdy, replicable, and transferable structures
Instructional Best Practices
  • Teach reading as thinking.
  • Instruction employs a variety of instructional practices and resources to support the diverse learning styles of all students.
  • Instruction, including questioning strategies, moves students to higher level thinking skills including analysis and synthesis.
  • Teacher structures lessons with scaffolding and utilizes a gradual release of control to allow students greater independence and opportunities to show individual growth and acquisition of skills.
  • Teachers will explicitly model and teach students the reading process (including pre, during and post-­reading strategies).
  • Students engage in regular, authentic discussions about the text.
  • Texts grow progressively more complex throughout the course of study.
  • Instruction includes strategies for reading a variety of media for various purposes.

Assessment for Student Learning

The Vision
  • Students assess own learning in relation to the learning targets.
  • Teachers create multiple assessment opportunities and expect all students to demonstrate learning.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Teacher uses formative and summative assessment data to make in‐the-­moment instructional adjustments, modify future lessons, and give targeted feedback to students.
  • Multiple opportunities are provided for students to show proficiency including formative and summative assessments through a variety of products.
  • Teacher provides strategies for students to self-­assess their metacognition and their comprehension of the text.
  • Teachers will assess before, during, and after students read.
  • Assessments are authentic and foster student learning and thinking to promote the appreciation of reading.
  • Learning involves constructing ideas, expressions in a variety of forms, and opportunities for reflection.
  • Students use assessment data to set learning goals and measure individual progress.
  • Students are encouraged to “go beyond” the text to see connections between the reading, their lives and the world at large.

Classroom Environment & Culture

The Vision
  • The physical arrangement of the room is conducive to learning.
  • Classroom discourse and interactions reflect high expectations and belief about all students’ intellectual capabilities and create a culture of inclusivity, equity and accountability for learning.
  • Classroom norms encourage risk-taking, collaboration and respect for thinking.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Teacher creates a respectful environment for all students to learn.
  • Classroom environment facilitates independent and group learning and provides access to materials and routines which support independent learning.
  • Instruction includes time and protocols to encourage student collaborative talk and risk-­taking.
  • Learning is interactive, sociable, collaborative, democratic and indicative of best practices.
  • Classroom environment reflects accessible resources including a classroom/school library, displays of student work, displays of relevant information, and access to various media resources.

 

 

Writing

Purpose

The Vision
  • Students use the writing process to communicate effectively through written expression in a variety of modes: argumentative, narrative and informative.
  • Writing is thinking; students use writing to express learning, gain knowledge, demonstrate growth and communicate with the world around them.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Tasks and activities are aligned with learning targets and specific desired outcomes.
  • Clearly communicate connections to standards and past and future learning.
  • Writing tasks are grade level and intellectually appropriate and authentic to students’ experiences.

Student Engagement Strategies

The Vision
  • Students engage in a variety of writing strategies to meet their individual academic and social needs.
  • Writing tasks are authentic and build upon previous lessons.
  • Students have opportunities to write from and about their life experiences.
  • Students are provided exemplars within all writing modes to model successful writing and promote learning about writing beyond high school.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Formative and summative assessments include multiple opportunities and reflect the learning of a variety of skills based on student need.
  • Students participate in metacognitive activities to develop revision and editing skills.
  • Instructional strategies and materials capitalize on students’ academic backgrounds, life experiences, cultures and language to support rigor, reflect cultural dynamics, and encourage authentic writing.
  • Students talk one‐on-­one about their writing and engage in class‐wide discussion to develop their writing.
  • Give students choices in the majority of their writing topics.

Curriculum and Pedagogy

The Vision
  • Instructional materials are appropriately challenging and supportive for all students, are aligned with the learning targets and content area standards, and are culturally and academically relevant.
  • Writing tasks are sequenced and reflect a progression of skills from 9-­12 to account for developmental and intellectual growth.
  • Teacher provides tools and techniques to encourage comprehension of the writing process and guide student understanding of themselves as writers.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Use models to teach revision and the writing process.
  • Provide frameworks, models, and scaffolding to develop more sophisticated written expression. Models should include teacher, student, and real-­world writing samples.
  • Develop varied, authentic writing opportunities that challenge students to improve their writing skills.
  • Implement a writing workshop model, including conferencing with the teacher and with other students.

Assessment for Student Learning

The Vision
  • Students assess their own learning in relation to the learning targets for writing and targets that align with and promote development as writers (i.e., speaking and listening).
  • Teachers create varied, diverse assessment opportunities to provide students feedback in order to improve student writing proficiency.
  • Teachers expect all students to demonstrate learning and the ability to self assess to improve writing in all modes.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate proficiency across writing modes.
  • Teacher uses formative and interim assessments to make instructional adjustments, modify future lessons, and give targeted feedback to students.
  • Students use assessment data to set learning goals and measure individual progress.
  • Teachers assure the reliability of the scoring of writing via collaboration and moderation.
  • There is an established audience for student work.
  • Feedback is given at a time that is either instructionally relevant or useful for subsequent assignments.

Classroom Environment and Culture

The Vision
  • The physical arrangement of the room is conducive to learning.
  • Classroom discourse and interactions reflect high expectations and belief about all students’ intellectual capabilities and create a culture of inclusivity, equity and accountability for learning.
  • Classroom norms encourage risk-­taking, collaboration and respect for thinking.
Instructional Best Practices
  • Teacher creates a respectful, safe and supportive environment for all students to learn through facilitation.
  • Classroom environment facilitates independent and group learning.
  • Students experience clear classroom routines and rituals, especially writing every day.
  • Teachers provide instruction and support of group processes to promote student engagement and growth.

 

ELA Curriculum Project Team Materials

ELA Project Team Reports

If you need an accessible version of these reports, please call 503.356.4328

BSD ELA Learning Targets

Instructional Resources

Instructional Resources

Elementary

Grade K-5 Instructional Resources

  • Heinemann: Units of Study for Reading with Texts
  • Heinemann: Units of Study for Writing with Texts
  • American Reading Company: Foundations
  • Handwriting Without Tears
  • Nonfiction Digital (Supplemental) – January 2017
  • Word Study (Supplemental) – January 2017
  • American Reading Company IRLA/ENIL
  • Booksource
  • Heinemann Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)
  • Newsela PRO
  • Classroom Libraries
  • Leveled Libraries

Secondary

Secondary Instructional Resources

  • American Reading Company IRLA/ENIL
  • Booksource
  • Heinemann Fountas and Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI)
  • Newsela PRO
  • Classroom Libraries