K-5 students in the Melrose Public Schools follow the Massachusetts English Language Arts Curriculum Frameworks.
The English Language Arts program consists of a daily literacy block and a writer’s workshop. The literacy block consists of both whole group and small group instruction. Whole group instruction focuses on core lessons in comprehension and vocabulary. The teacher then meets with students in small groups that target students’ individual needs. While the teacher meets with small groups, students work independently and collaboratively on reading and writing tasks that relate to reading skills and strategies. Students might read a text with a partner or write in response to a text they have read.
The core text employed by students is Pearson’s Reading Street program, which is a comprehensive English Language Arts (ELA) Program. Some key components of Reading Street include:
- Student knowledge is built around engaging topics with content-specific vocabulary, building science and social studies content knowledge as students learn.
- The program nurtures the love of reading through the use of award-winning, authentic literature from many different genres, including biographies, poems, folktales, and technical writing.
- The literature features an appropriate balance of 50% fiction and 50% nonfiction in the primary grades. As students become more familiar with informational text, that ratio shifts to 40% fiction and 60% nonfiction.
- Students will be guided through complex texts by using close reading routines in an on-level text, called Sleuth that encourages students to read like detectives.
- The program also helps to build foundations reading skills from listening to blending to decoding, and then using letter sounds to spell words. This solid base allows students to attack more complex texts and reading tasks.
In ELA, students build confidence and learn to read and write in new and challenging ways. Students learn to write in various forms in response to text and other sources. Students also write narratives, informational and explanatory text, along with completing written research.
The following is a list of the units of study, which provide a quick synopsis of concepts to be explored this year. Please feel free to contact your child’s teacher for additional information about ELA Curriculum.
Units of Study
|Essential Question||Foundational Skills||Comprehension Skills||Comprehension Strategies|
Unit 1: Living and Learning
Genres: Narrative poem, fable, tall tale, expository text, realistic fiction
|Which skills help us make our way in the world?||Rhythm and cadence, point of view, exaggeration and hyperbole, sensory details, simile||Literary elements, sequence, compare and contrast, author’s purpose||Background knowledge, summarize, visualize, story structure|
Unit 2: Smart Solutions
Genres: Expository text, realistic fiction, fantasy, animal fantasy
|What are smart ways that problems are solved?||Author’s craft, humor, onomatopoeia, dialogue and narration, imagery||Main idea and details, compare and contrast, draw conclusions, author’s purpose||Monitor and clarify, visualize, questioning, predict and set purpose, text structures|
Unit 3: People and Nature
Genres: Expository text, drama, fiction, narrative nonfiction
|How are people and nature connected?||Imagery, structural elements of a play, simile and metaphor, word choice, rhyme||Draw conclusions; literary elements: character, setting, plot; graphic sources, generalize, cause and effect||Important ideas, inferring, text structure, story structure, predict and set purpose|
Unit 4: One of a Kind
Genres: Biography, expository text, folk tale
|What does it mean to be unique?||Point of view, author’s craft, idioms, word choice, sensory details||Generalize, fact and opinion, graphic sources, cause and effect||Summarize, important ideas, inferring, questioning, monitor and clarify|
Unit 5: Cultures
Genres: Realistic fiction, historical fiction
|What happens when two ways of life come together?||Word choice, point of view, mood, dialogue and narration, onomatopoeia||Compare and contrast, main idea and details, sequence, draw conclusions, author’s purpose||Visualize, monitor and clarify, inferring, summarize, background knowledge|
Unit 6: Freedom
Genres: Narrative nonfiction, realistic fiction, photo essay, animal fantasy, legend
|What does it mean to be free?||Word choice, metaphor, personification, imagery, foreshadowing||Fact and opinion, cause and effect, graphic sources, literary elements: plot and theme, generalize||Questioning, inferring, important ideas, story structure, inferring|
The Components of Reading
In 1999, the National Reading Panel identified five critical areas of explicit reading instruction necessary for children to become successful readers. They are phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension.
Phonemic Awareness: Before children can read, they need to know that sentences are made up of words and words are made up of a sequence of letters, most of which make distinct sounds. This is called phonemic awareness. Students learn about letter-sound relationships for all of the consonant sounds and the short vowel sounds.
Phonics: Direct explicit instruction in phonics is the next step on the journey to read. Phonics is the blending of sounds to decode words. The instruction of phonics is directly connected to the instruction of spelling.
Fluency: Once students have learned the letter-sound relationships, they must know how to apply their knowledge to reading the text. They begin to read text that allows them to apply their letter-sound knowledge. Fluency is the ability to read text accurately and quickly. Fluent readers also read with expression. They do not focus their attention on the decoding of words as they read, but rather recognize the word and comprehend the meaning simultaneously.
Vocabulary: Children learn vocabulary indirectly through their everyday experiences as well as through explicit vocabulary instruction. Students are introduced to “Amazing Words” in their songs and read aloud selections. In most cases, these words are above their reading level therefore the focus is oral. In the upper grades, the expectation is that students will see and use the words in their readings, writings and discussions.
Text Comprehension: Comprehension of the text is greatly improved when students have received direct instruction in activating their prior knowledge, making predictions, understanding story structure, using graphic organizers, visualizing and using mental imagery and summarizing. There are ten core comprehension skills taught at each grade level.
Writing: The reading-writing connection is a critical component of the ELA curriculum. Students apply elements of reading when they write in different forms. They use their knowledge of phonemic awareness and phonics to spell and write words. Their written language is enhanced with rich vocabulary. They demonstrate comprehension of text by drawing upon and writing about evidence from literary and informational texts.
In grades K-5, students write everyday during a period called “writer’s workshop.” In writer’s workshop, the teacher begins with a short lesson where they focus on an element of good writing. This is called the “mini-lesson;” “mini” because it focuses on just one teaching point.
Students then move to writing independently. The teacher circulates from student to student providing feedback to help students improve their writing. It is through this individual or group conferencing with students that teachers can meet the varied needs of writers in their classroom.
At the end of the workshop, the teacher asks students to share their writing with partners or asks a few students to share their writing with the class. The sharing at the end of the writing time helps students develop a sense of audience. Students begin to understand that the purpose of writing is for others to hear their ideas and thoughts. Students are also given an opportunity to talk about their writing.
Different Types of Writing
Students write in different genres or types of writing throughout the school year, including, personal narratives, informational, research, and persuasive writing. In Kindergarten, students mostly write personal narratives. In the spring, they write poems. While most of their writing time is spent writing about personal experiences, students are introduced to persuasive writing in appropriate ways, for example, they may write about their favorite part of a book. They also begin to learn to write to tell others about topics they are learning about in school.
In grades 1-5, students focus on the following four genres of writing:
- Narrative writing tells a personal or fictional experience.
- Expository or informational writing informs, instructs, explains, defines, or clarifies. Students may also research a topic to learn more about what they are writing.
- Persuasive writing persuades readers about an opinion or belief.
- Poetry writing creatively tells stories and describes objects or ideas.
Students in grades K-5 also write in response to what they have read. By writing about their ideas and what they have read, teachers are helping students develop their thinking and reading comprehension. Students might write a narrative, informational article or persuasive letter about a text that they have read.