English Language Arts Guiding Principles

The West Irondequoit Central School District
English Language Arts Guiding Principles


1. A standards-based English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum must ensure equity and excellence for all students and must foster the thoughtful, fluent and responsible use of language that is required by informed citizens to reach carefully reasoned decisions and communicate effectively within and beyond the context of the school community.

2. The NYS ELA Learning Standards must be the foundation of what is essential for students to know and be able to do at each grade level; and the ELA curriculum must reflect an awareness of the developmental nature of how reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking skills are acquired. The standards-based outcomes specified for each grade level must be explicit, specific and measurable.

3. While the study of language and literature comprise the content of an ELA curriculum, reading, writing, speaking, listening and thinking skills comprise the processes, which are essential to all disciplines. Although distinct, the content and processes of an ELA curriculum must be balanced and integrated; and formal and informal assessments must reflect this commitment.

4. The essential skills and knowledge to be mastered by students at each grade level must be measured using reliable and valid assessments, and the student performance data generated by these formal and informal assessments must be used to focus instructional strategies to meet the diverse needs of individual learners.

5. The ELA curriculum must provide exemplary standards-based instructional units constructed around clearly identified outcomes and competencies, as well as models of student performance to ensure consistently high levels of achievement throughout the K-12 continuum. Both the instructional units and the student performances must be accompanied by teacher commentary that makes clear the essential skills embedded in each task and the criteria for a successful performance or product.

6. The ELA curriculum must facilitate the development of learning skills and strategies that engage students in frequent opportunities to reflect on their learning through metacognition, goal setting and self-assessment. The integration of learning skills as an important component to an ELA curriculum will ensure that students develop a conscious awareness of the strategies and resources that they employ as effective and independent learners.

7. The ELA curriculum must develop the language skills (i.e., grammar and syntax, vocabulary and word identification, spelling, punctuation and handwriting) that are essential for effective communication given different purposes, audiences and contexts. The instruction of these skills must be developmentally sequenced with a clear indication of the levels at which they are to be introduced, practiced, and mastered and must be taught in authentic contexts.

8. The ELA curriculum must reflect a commitment to the comprehension, interpretation and evaluation of various texts. These texts must include classic and contemporary literature, multi-cultural literature, nonfiction texts, electronic texts, speeches, films, plays and non-print media. The study of these texts must develop an understanding and appreciation of their cultural and aesthetic components, as well as the literary elements and techniques employed by authors to create meaning and achieve specific rhetorical effects.

9. The ELA curriculum must utilize the study of language and literature as a means of explicitly teaching the higher-order thinking skills that are integral to all disciplines and modes of inquiry. These cognitive skills must include, but are not limited to, interpreting, analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing, applying and creating as learners actively construct their understanding.

10. The ELA curriculum must be responsive to the demands of the 21st century and must foster a discerning understanding of how technology can be utilized to enhance and enrich communication. The ELA curriculum must, therefore, require students to activate a variety of technological and informational resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, the Internet, etc.) as a means of evaluating, synthesizing, creating and communicating information and knowledge.

11. The ELA curriculum must foster the interpersonal skills that are essential for productive participation within and beyond the classroom. These interpersonal skills must, therefore, facilitate students' participation in dialogue with others to develop understanding and insight that reflects sensitivity to, and respect for, the perspectives of others. The ELA curriculum must also develop the skills required for effective social interaction given different audiences and purposes.

12. The ELA curriculum must provide learning opportunities that establish a connection between the communication skills students are developing and the real-world application of those skills in authentic contexts. Moreover, the curriculum must reflect a commitment to the relevance and personal significance that spoken, written and visual language holds for students as a means accomplishing their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, creative expression and the exchange of information).

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