NSD focus on ELA Common Core State Standards
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) form the basis for the Newhall School District English-language arts program. The standards are rigorous and are to be taught in a way that helps students “connect” their learning across multiple subjects. By making connections, students are able to apply what they are learning to real-world situations. With application comes greater preparation for college and career readiness.
In our curriculum, reading and writing are presented as complementary subjects. Our goal is to help students learn and appreciate what good readers and writers do and to view themselves as good readers and writers. The CCSS clearly define the skills students are expected to master. Required assessments at key junctures ensure common rigor toward mastery of all standards by the end of each grade. The District’s data management system, Educator’s Assessment Data Management System (EADMS), enables teachers and administrators to track progress over the year with careful attention given to learning “gaps” that can be quickly closed through provision of additional learning time.
Full implementation of the CCSS in grades K-6 began in the 2014-15 school year. A CCSS Transition Team of sixty-seven grades TK-6 teachers and administrators worked in the summer months (2015) to revise grade-by-grade instructional units (the curriculum teachers follow) aligned to what the CCSS refer to as “claims.” These include:
- Claim 1: Students can read analytically to comprehend a range of increasingly complex literary and informational texts.
- Claim 2: Students can produce effective writing for a range of purposes and audiences.
1A: Students can revise brief text
1B: Students can write brief text
- Claim 3: Students can employ effective speaking and listening skills for a range of purposes and audiences.
- Claim 4: Students can engage in research/inquiry to investigate topics, and to analyze, integrate, and present information.
The District’s English language arts units integrate Depth and Complexity Icons, Thinking Maps, ELD standards, GLAD strategies, and 21st century thinking skills (collaboration, critical thinking/problem solving, creativity, and communication). In kindergarten students master the building blocks of reading. These include learning the letters and the sounds the letters make, identifying letter sounds in various positions of words (phonemic awareness) and then beginning to “blend” letter sounds to read words (phonics). Students also learn “site” words, frequently appearing key words that they commit to memory. In first grade, students practice to read “fluently;” that is, they learn to blend sounds at sufficient speed to make meaning (reading comprehension). The District’s first grade target fluency rate is 70 words per minute. From second grade on up, students apply their fluency skills to read a variety of narrative and informational texts, with a grade-to-grade increase in the sophistication (e.g., vocabulary, overall reading content) of the reading selections.
Link to California Common Core Standards Website http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/