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English Language Arts

Conant's English Language Arts Program

Instructional Emphasis Conant's Instructional Emphasis document incorporates the objectives of the school's language arts (e.g., reading, writing, and oral language) program and provides grade-level content and specific instructional information to assist teachers in planning instruction.

Teachers use ongoing formal and informal assessment to determine the needs of their students and to plan instruction, which includes introductory lessons, practice, reteaching, remediation, and enrichment. They refer to the Instructional Emphasis document to obtain an overview of the school's kindergarten through grade six language arts program. This process aids in both short- and long-range planning and helps to ensure continuous student progress in reading, writing, and oral language.

Our primary assumptions ...
  • all students are learners
  • student learning is cumulative
  • earlier skills are foundational and requisite for later, more complex, higher-level skills and knowledge
We explicitly teach topics and skills for several grade levels. Students continue to study the topics and skills at higher levels with increasingly more challenging literature, textbooks, and materials. For example, under the topic of writing, beginning in grade one, students are introduced to the concept that a sentence should express a complete thought and that sentences have two parts. As they progress through the grades, they learn about subjects and predicates and to vary the sentence structure, length, and word order in their writing. They also are taught to use appropriate transitional words to introduce sentences and to provide unity in their written work.

In addition to the Instructional Emphasis document that follows, Conant has a scope and sequence of skill development for reading and a separate one for the other areas in the field of language arts. These documents are designed to provide a balanced curriculum which meets the needs of all students. They indicate what curriculum content and essential skills should be taught at each grade level and assist teachers in determining when topics and skills should be introduced, refined, and maintained. The Reading: Scope and Sequence is organized into eight broad strands (e.g., emergent literacy, word analysis, vocabulary, comprehension, literary appreciation, thinking skills, study skills, and listening and speaking skills); while the Language Arts: Scope and Sequence is organized into nine strands (e.g., grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, composition, vocabulary, reference and study skills, thinking skills and strategies, and listening and speaking skills). These documents are available for review by contacting Conant's Literacy Specialist.

Conant's Instructional Emphasis document and the scope and sequence for both reading and language arts follows the standards set by the Massachusetts English Language Arts Framework. This enables the staff to ensure parents that their children will be prepared for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System(MCAS).
Instructional Emphasis
K-2
The focus of the curriculum for students in grades K-2 is the acquisition and development of language abilities that are essential in building a strong literacy foundation. At this stage, students are learning how to learn. Therefore, the language arts curriculum includes objectives that foster the students' development of strategies and skills in the areas of reading, writing, and oral language. These strategies and skills are developed through direct instruction, modeling by the teachers, and guided practice. Teachers plan a balance of learning experiences that meet the developmental needs of all students, build upon oral language, and include phonemic awareness, phonics, and the use of a variety of fiction and nonfiction materials.
Kindergarten

Reading

Students:
  • engage in word play
  • recognize and predict rhyming patterns
  • recognize upper and lower case letters of the alphabet
  • begin to understand the concept of letter and word
  • begin to develop concepts about print
  • attend to some phonics (sound/letter) cues
  • begin to make predictions using meaning and language structure cues
  • listen to a variety of literature (e.g., fiction, nonfiction, poetry)
  • discuss basic story elements (e.g., characters, setting, important events, beginning, middle, and ending)
  • become aware of printed informational sources (e.g., trade books, picture dictionaries, charts)
  • select and share books
  • learn new vocabulary related to literature and content area study

Writing

Students:
  • form and use manuscript letters to communicate a message
  • develop an awareness of the need for spaces between words
  • demonstrate a developing knowledge of letter-sound relationships when writing
  • draw pictures with letters and words to communicate a messagE
  • select a topic for writing
  • begin to write about topics of personal interest or topics of general interest
  • use a variety of writing materials (e.g., different types of paper, a wide assortment of writing instruments)
  • write own name

Oral Language

Students:
  • follow agreed-upon rules for discussion (e.g., raising one's hand, waiting for one's turn, speaking one at a time)
  • stay on topic in classroom discussions
  • verbalize their own ideas
  • retell a favorite story or a favorite part of a story
  • recall a few story elements, with assistance
  • ask questions to clarify understanding
  • follow simple oral directions
  • recognize and make rhyming words
  • recognize words that start with the same or different sound
  • develop phonemic awareness (e.g., identify and manipulate phonemes) through shared reading, poetry, songs, rhymes, and chants)
  • participate in dramatic activities
  • report results of a group activity
  • share information about a specific topic with classmates, using clear enunciation and adequate volume
Grade 1

Reading

Students:
  • continue to develop concepts about print
  • begin to use phonics (visual), language structure, and meaning cues to decode unfamiliar words
  • apply phonetic principles by using consonant and vowel sounds in the beginning, middle, and ending positions when decoding words
  • recognize and self-correct errors while reading
  • begin to use a variety of strategies to solve problems encountered when reading orally and silently
  • discus basic story elements (e.g., characters, setting, important events, plot) and use them to aid comprehension
  • demonstrate understanding of punctuation when reading aloud
  • read a wide variety of materials
  • retell a story's beginning, middle, and end
  • begin to read a wide variety of literature, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry
  • relate reading to personal knowledge and experience
  • learn new vocabulary related to literature and content area study

Writing

Students:
  • write in response to reading
  • write daily, using a wide variety of materials
  • begin to plan, draft, confer, revise, edit, and publish stories and information
  • organize writing to include a beginning, middle, and end
  • write sentences with two parts
  • demonstrate functional use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns
  • apply capitalization rules at the beginning of sentences, for the pronoun I, and for the names of people and pets
  • apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships to spelling when writing

Oral Language

Students:
  • hear, say, and understand sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
  • follow agreed-upon rules for class and small group discussion
  • develop ability to use words correctly during conversation and discussion
  • share information with classmates using clear enunciation and adequate volume
  • demonstrate functional use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns
  • participate in dramatization, role-playing, shared reading, and storytelling
  • develop vocabulary as they listen to teachers read aloud and during class discussions
  • incorporate learned vocabulary into conversation and discussion
  • retell a story, recount information, or follow oral directions
Grade 2

Reading

Students:
  • use a balance of phonics (visual), language structure, and meaning cues to decode unfamiliar words
  • apply knowledge of structural analysis of words, including word endings, contractions, and compound words
  • apply knowledge of phonetic principles when reading
  • use a variety of strategies to self-correct for comprehension
  • use story structure and sequence to aid comprehension
  • compare basic story elements (e.g., characters, setting, important events, plot)
  • begin to distinguish between the structural features of narrative text
  • demonstrate understanding of punctuation when reading aloud
  • read a wide variety of materials and literature, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry

Writing

Students:
  • write interrogative, declarative, and exclamatory sentences
  • demonstrate functional use of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and pronouns
  • use correct spelling of frequently used words
  • use past and present tense while writing
  • use end punctuation marks appropriately
  • apply capitalization rules and spelling generalizations in their daily work
  • plan, draft, confer, revise, edit, and publish a variety of genres
  • organize writing to include a beginning, middle, and end
  • begin to revise writing for content and organization
  • edit their work for capitalization, end punctuation, commas in a series, and spelling
  • begin to form and practice cursive letters

Oral Language

Students:
  • follow agreed-upon rules for class and small group discussions
  • share information with classmates using a logical sequence, clear enunciation and adequate volume
  • demonstrate functional use of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
  • participate in shared reading and dramatic interpretations of literature
  • develop vocabulary during read-aloud sessions and classroom discussion of topics
  • gather information while listening to others
  • participate in classroom activities by following directions, asking for clarification, posing questions, and reporting on individual and group work
Instructional Emphasis
3-6
The language arts curriculum in grades 3-6 is designed to sustain and to expand the growth of the foundational skills students acquired in K-2, as well as to promote the development of new strategies, skills, and conceptual understandings. It includes objectives that support the students' acquisition of skills in the areas of reading, writing, and oral language. These skills are developed through direct instruction, modeling by the teachers, and guided practice. Teachers plan a balance of learning experiences that meet the needs of all students, build upon oral language, and include a variety of fiction and nonfiction materials, informational text, and the integration of language arts skills in other content areas.
Grade 3

Reading

Students:
  • apply knowledge of phonics and structural analysis of words, including word endings, contractions, and compound words
  • read a wide variety of genres with fluency and comprehension
  • cross-check and use a variety of strategies to self-correct for comprehension, including rereading
  • use the structure of a variety of informational texts and fiction to aid comprehension
  • develop an understanding of author's craft (e.g., fact and fantasy, mystery, figurative language, humor, poetry elements, and dialogue) to aid comprehension
  • make, confirm, and revise predictions
  • relate reading to personal knowledge and experience
  • compare basic story elements (e.g., characters, setting, important events, plot, theme)
  • distinguish between the structural features of narrative text
  • apply strategies for recognizing words and learning new vocabulary related to literature and content area study
  • use context and resources to verify the meaning of new vocabulary
  • use antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms to extend understanding
  • locate information using features of nonfiction and technology resources
  • share ideas, reactions, and opinions about literature and the study of content area material
  • support opinions with statements from the text

Writing

Students:
  • write interrogative, declarative, and exclamatory sentences
  • demonstrate functional use of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs
  • demonstrate knowledge of paragraph development
  • develop and use knowledge of spelling conventions in daily work
  • plan, draft, confer, revise, edit, and publish for a variety of purposes and in a variety of genres
  • begin to organize and revise writing for content and logical sequence of ideas around a main idea
  • revise work for sentence variety and overused or unclear words
  • edit work for grammar, capitalization, end punctuation, commas in a series, and spelling
  • use cursive
  • begin to learn keyboarding skills

Oral Language

Students:
  • share information with classmates using logical sequence, eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation
  • demonstrate functional use of parts of speech during class discussions
  • dramatize stories or poems
  • develop vocabulary and concepts during read-aloud sessions and the discussion of topics
  • gather information while listening to others
  • discuss content of reading, including opinions, comparisons, and inferences
  • participate in classroom activities by following directions, asking for clarification, posing questions, sharing ideas, and reporting on individual and group work
Grade 4

Reading

Students:
  • apply reading strategies and skills (e.g., rereading, adjusting reading rate, stopping to review, and using prior knowledge) automatically, flexibly, and strategically to solve problems while reading
  • use characteristics and structure of a variety of literary genres and informational texts to aid comprehension
  • read for literary experience, to gain information, and to perform a task
  • use prior knowledge to interpret explicit and inferred information while reading
  • refer to context and resources to verify the meaning of new vocabulary related to literature and area of study
  • extend understanding of related words (e.g., synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, metaphors, similes, and idioms)
  • apply knowledge of structural analysis to extend understanding of vocabulary
  • locate information using features of nonfiction text and technology resources
  • evaluate and analyze interrelationships among story elements, cause-and-effect relationships, sequences, comparisons, contrasts, and main ideas in various genres
  • support opinions with statements from text or return to text to verify information
  • make decisions about relevant and less important information
  • ask why, if, and how questions to understand an author's message
  • recognize the poetic sound devices of alliteration and onomatopoeia

Writing

Students:
  • apply a Variety of strategies and writing process elements to compose and respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama
  • use elements of author's craft (e.g., dialogue, poetic devices, and leads)
  • organize and revise writing for logical sequence around a main idea for specific audiences
  • use increasingly sophisticated knowledge of grammar and language conventions in written products
  • combine sentences to form compound and complex sentences and to develop paragraphs
  • demonstrate functional use of parts of speech, including subject-verb agreement and pronoun referents
  • revise to capture reader's interest, use vivid and specific language, and find synonyms for overused words
  • revise for logical sequence of ideas, sentence variety, supporting details, rich/content area vocabulary, and transitional words
  • edit for complete sentences ... varied in word choice and length ... subject-verb and pronoun referent agreement, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling
  • develop and use knowledge of conventional spelling, including word derivations
  • use media and technological resources for research and as tools for learning
  • compile information from several sources and organize informational writing

Oral Language

Students:
  • participate in choral reading and dramatic interpretations of literature
  • discuss vocabulary, content of reading, and topics of study in groups of various sizes
  • participate in classroom activities by asking questions, retelling, giving directions, reporting ideas discussed as a class or in small groups, and persuading others
  • present information effectively using eye contact, voice intonation, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation
  • generate questions to be used as part of a research or class project
Grade 5

Reading

Students:
  • expand and deepen concepts, skills, and strategies learned in earlier grades
  • discuss and apply reading strategies and skills (e.g., rereading, adjusting reading rate, stopping to review, and using prior knowledge) automatically, flexibly, and strategically to solve problems while reading
  • read a variety of genres with greater depth and to analyze and evaluate information and ideas
  • use understanding of author's craft, development of plot and characters, and structure of a variety of literary genres and informational texts to aid comprehension
  • discuss and apply knowledge of structural analysis and author's word choice to extend understanding
  • respond to literary genres that reflect varying cultures and historical periods
  • use context and resources to learn and verify meaning of new vocabulary related to literature and content area study, including figurative language
  • locate information from several sources using features of nonfiction, including graphics, and search strategies from technology resources
  • evaluate and analyze main idea, cause-and-effect, and logical order
  • support opinions with statements from text or return to text to verify information
  • discuss main idea, supporting details, comparisons, and conclusions
  • ask why, if, and how questions to understand an author's message, moral, or theme

Writing

Students:
  • apply a variety of strategies and writing process elements to compose and respond to fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama
  • discuss and apply knowledge of author's craft (e.g., dialogue, poetic devices, and figurative language)
  • vary sentence structure, length, and word order when developing paragraphs
  • demonstrate functional use of parts of speech, including subject-verb agreement and pronoun referents
  • organize and revise writing for logical sequence around a main idea for specific audiences
  • revise to capture reader's interest, use vivid and specific language, and find synonyms for overused words
  • edit for complete sentences ... varied in word choice and length ... subject-verb, verb tense, and pronoun referent agreement, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling
  • apply knowledge of spelling generalizations, including word study and the nature of the English language
  • use media and technology as resources for extended research and as tools for learning
  • compile information from several sources to deepen understanding and integrate information and ideas across varied sources and content areas

Oral Language

Students:
  • create and participate in choral reading and dramatic interpretations of literature
  • incorporate new vocabulary learned during reading and content-area discussions
  • gather information from interviews when completing research
  • ask for justification, retell, and present information, support opinions with personal experience or fact, and persuade others in various classroom settings
  • present information with expression and fluency and demonstrating an awareness of volume, pace, audience, and purpose
Grade 6

Reading

Students:
  • adjust reading rate for various literary genres and purposes
  • use structure of a variety of literary genres and informational texts to aid comprehension
  • use interrelationships of story elements to understand explicit and inferred information
  • interpret and evaluate a wide range of literature
  • respond to author's craft (e.g., flashbacks, leads, and point of view)
  • respond to literary genres that reflect varying cultures and historical periods
  • discuss and apply knowledge of structural analysis, figurative language, analogies, and imagery to extend understanding of vocabulary
  • locate information using features of nonfiction and search strategies of technology
  • discuss and understand an author's underlying message, moral, or theme
  • evaluate and analyze main idea, supporting details, cause-and-effect, and historical events in fiction and nonfiction
  • support opinions with statements from text or return to text to verify information
  • determine relevant, less important, and irrelevant information
  • use related knowledge and experiences, context, and print and electronic resources to learn and verify meaning of new vocabulary and concepts

Writing

Students:
  • develop generalizations for parts of speech used in writing
  • apply knowledge of spelling generalizations, including word study and the nature of the English language
  • write in and respond to a variety of literary genres
  • discuss and apply elements of author's craft when drafting and revising
  • use appropriate sentence and paragraph structure when writing
  • vary sentence structure, length, and word order when forming paragraphs
  • organize and revise writing for content and logical sequence around a main idea and consistent point of view
  • revise to capture reader's interest, use vivid and specific language, and find synonyms for overused words
  • edit for effective sentence construction and for improvements in sentence formation, usage, mechanics, and spelling
  • use word processing and multimedia software and integrate databases, spreadsheets, and graphics into word processing documents
  • take notes from several sources and organize information according to a plan
  • discuss and use conventions for citing references
  • become aware of the elements of essay/persuasive writing

Oral Language

Students:
  • create and participate in dramatics, choral reading, and role-playing
  • summarize information, persuade others, support opinions, and ask for justification
  • clarify thoughts, infer and hypothesize in conversation
  • discuss and incorporate vocabulary and concepts learned in a variety of classroom settings
  • present information effectively using eye contact, voice intonation, adequate volume, pace, timing, and visual aids