The Core Knowledge English Language Arts Curriculum for grades K-2 is made up of three components: the Listening and Learning strand, Skills strand, & Guided Reading and Accountable Independent Reading.
The Listening and Learning strand lessons, comprised of teacher read-alouds, class discussion, vocabulary work, and extension activities, built on the research finding that students’ listening comprehension outpaces their reading comprehension throughout elementary school. These read-alouds and exercises are organized in 11 to 12 domains (units) per grade. Each domain is dedicated to a particular topic, and the class stays focused on that topic or theme for 10 to 15 days of instruction. The domains build on each other within and across grades.
The Skills strand teaches reading and writing. Children practice blending (reading) and segmenting (spelling) using the sound spellings they have learned through a synthetic phonics approach. Handwriting, spelling, and the writing process are also presented in the Skills strand.
Guided Reading and Accountable Independent Reading (GRAIR) is additional literacy time within the school day where teachers can work with students in developmentally appropriate groupings to meet their individual needs. This is an opportunity for the favorite traditional read aloud work, literacy based centers, and immersion in text, where teachers can facilitate student choice from existing leveled libraries based on interest, availability, and readability. The purpose of this time is to build independent, interested, and capable readers.
The Expeditionary Learning grades 3–8 English Language Arts curriculum modules are designed to address Common Core State Standards ELA outcomes during a one-hour English Language Arts block. The overarching focus for all modules is on building students’ literacy skills as they develop knowledge about the world. Taken as a whole, these modules are designed to give teachers concrete strategies to address the “instructional shifts” required by the Common Core State Standards.
Each module provides eight weeks of instruction, broken into three shorter units. Each module includes seven assessments:
– Six unit-level assessments that almost always are on-demand: students’ independent work on a reading, writing, speaking, or listening task.
– One final performance task that is a more supported project, often involving research.
A year of instruction is designed like this:
- There are six modules per grade level.
- Of these six modules, teachers would teach four: Module 1, followed by either Module 2A or 2B, then either 3A or 3B, then Module 4.
- Teachers begin the year with Module 1, which lays the foundation for both teachers and students regarding instructional routines.
- For Modules 2 and 3, option B formally assesses all standards formally assessed in Option A (and possibly some additional standards as well).
- Option 2B specifically includes supplemental lessons with explicit writing instruction aligned with Common Core State Standards Reading Foundations Standards. These lessons are intended as models of the type of robust instruction that teachers need to incorporate in their literacy time beyond the bounded “one-hour per day” of the modules.
Each of the Modules has a final performance task. This is a culminating project, which takes place during Unit 3 of every module. Performance tasks are designed to help students synthesize and apply their learning from the module in an engaging and authentic way. Performance tasks are developed using the writing process, are scaffolded, and almost always include peer critique and revision. Performance tasks are not “on-demand” assessments.