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
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).