English Language Arts

The elementary school uses Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA) as the ELA curriculum. CKLA is a comprehensive program for teaching reading, writing, listening and speaking while also building students’ vocabulary and knowledge across essential subjects in literature, world and American history and the sciences. This interdisciplinary approach not only gives students a strong foundation for reading and writing, but also builds on that knowledge for greater understanding and analysis. The curriculum has a dual-strand approach for both skills and knowledge.

 

The skills strand provides comprehensive instruction in foundational reading skills, such as phonological awareness, phonics, and word recognition; language skills, including conventions of English, spelling, and grammar; reading comprehension; and writing instruction.

 

The knowledge strand is centered around narrative and informational read-aloud texts. The Knowledge Strand focuses on background knowledge and vocabulary acquisition, analysis of complex text, and speaking and listening.

 

For students in Grades 1 and 2, CKLA provides strong foundational skills and language instruction, along with background knowledge, vocabulary, and analytical skills. By Grade 3, when students encounter increasingly complex texts and are asked to grapple with those texts in more challenging ways, they will have received the base of content knowledge and foundational skills they need.

 

Principles of CKLA Instruction for Grades 1-2

  1. Explicit foundational skills and language instruction
  2. Maximizing vocabulary acquisition through contextualized, content-based and constant exposure
  3. Building background knowledge for strong comprehension
  4. Fostering “wonderful conversationalists”
  5. Building analysis and expression in reading and writing

 

In Grades 3–5, students move fluidly between reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language activities. Through these activities students continue to build background knowledge, with an increasing emphasis on individual and small group interaction with complex text.

 

Principles of CKLA Instruction for Grades 3-5

  1. Analysis and expression in reading and writing
  2. Fostering “wonderful conversationalists”
  3. Explicit language instruction
  4. Rich variety of texts and contexts
  5. Maximizing vocabulary acquisition through contextualized, content-based and constant exposure
  6. Continuing to build background knowledge for strong comprehension

Additionally, this content-rich approach is not only suitable for students with English as a first language, but also for English language learners (ELLs) who need content-based instruction to maximize the speed of second language learning.