Each student will ascend

English Language Arts

Program Overview

The Board of Education approved English Language Arts curriculum of the Morris School District adheres to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards as the foundational core. Instruction is based on the NJ Student Learning Standards. Standards based instruction drives planning, implementation and assessment of student learning. The use of the standards to streamline instruction ensures that teaching practices deliberately focus on agreed upon learning targets. Expectations for student learning are mapped out with each prescribed standard across the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language. 

The English Language Arts program embodies a student-centered approach. Whole class instruction is brief and targeted. Teachers develop trusting relationships with students through personalized instruction in the form of frequent conferences and small group work. Blended Learning, the MSD signature model, is used to maximize the best in face-to-face and quality online instruction. District approved online programs individualize instruction via personalized student feedback and feedback that informs the teacher as they prepare for instruction. Another significant aspect of our program is an emphasis on the balanced literacy model (see infographic below) which provides a framework that allows teachers to instruct students in a range of skills across reading, writing, listening, speaking, and word study. Thus, an array of instructional strategies, techniques, and resources combine to form the English Language Arts program. Inherent in this design is learning that allows students to grow their independence as they solidify their identities as readers and writers. Such instructional practices ensure students have the tools and experiences they need to achieve the standards and increasingly take ownership over their learning. 

Throughout the K-12 experience, the English Language Arts program emphasizes skills that are complementary and spiral over the years in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, listening and language.  We believe that fostering a lifelong love of reading is essential thus we offer rich classroom libraries, selections of titles through the use of book clubs, and experiences with independent reading as students read within the genres they find most interesting. The English Language Arts program provides the conditions for students to identify as readers and writers in life. 

Instructional Philosophy

English Language Arts empowers students to use spoken and written language to access multiple pathways. We believe, as James Britton wrote, that "reading and writing float on a sea of talk." We believe each student has a responsibility to discover what makes them unique and to clearly communicate their value to others. As readers, students read widely across genres, cultures, and time. Experience with a range of  texts include works that span from the classics to the contemporary classics, high quality nonfiction texts, documents of literary significance, and other works of  exceptional craft.  Students choose to read as writers in order to discover techniques to advance their writing, to masterfully determine the use of rhetorical devices thus the power of language, and to artfully incorporate new thinking into their own writing. English Language Arts challenges students to reflect on the human condition and use literature as a tool to build empathy. In this program, students acquire a significant depth of knowledge and the necessary skills to overcome challenging verbal arguments, respond with sophistication in writing, and grapple with complex text. The English Language Arts program ensures students are college and career ready in our complex 21st century world. 

Balanced literacy K-8 infographic

Basics of Balanced Literacy

Grade Level Program Expectations

K-2

The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) for English Language Arts (ELA) define literacy expectations per grade level. In grades K-2, students read literature and informational text while learning foundational skills including phonics, word recognition and fluency. Students explore writing opinions, informative, and narrative texts. The standards engage students in expectations surrounding vocabulary acquisition, speaking, listening, and conventions of Standard English. 

As our foundation, the NJ SLS for ELA is the basis of our curriculum. The curriculum includes Units of Study for both reading and writing. Teachers utilize the resources from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Units of Study series published by Heinemann to prepare lessons. Throughout the year, our literacy consultant from Gravity Goldberg, LLC provides instructional coaching to reinforce balanced literacy practices. 

Daily classroom practices utilize the components of the balanced literacy model of instruction that allows teachers to instruct students in a range of skills across reading, writing, listening and speaking, and word study. Teachers use data to make instructional decisions to meet student needs via direct and indirect instruction. Students engage daily in Reading and Writing Workshops, small group work, individual conferences, shared writing, guided reading, among other components. 

3-5

The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) for English Language Arts (ELA) define literacy expectations per grade level. In grades 3-5, students read literature and informational text while learning foundation skills including phonics, word recognition and fluency. Students write opinions/ argumentative, informative, and narrative texts. The standards engage students in expectations surrounding vocabulary acquisition, speaking, listening, and conventions of Standard English. 

As our foundation, the NJ SLS for ELA is the basis of our curriculum. The curriculum includes Units of Study for both reading and writing. Teachers utilize the resources from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Units of Study series published by Heinemann to prepare lessons. Throughout the year, our literacy consultant from Gravity Goldberg, LLC provides instructional coaching to reinforce balanced literacy practices. 

Daily classroom practices utilize the components of the balanced literacy model of instruction that allows teachers to instruct students in a range of skills across reading, writing, listening and speaking, and word study. Teachers use data to make instructional decisions to meet student needs via direct and indirect instruction. Students engage daily in reading/ writing workshops, small group work, individual conferences, shared writing, guided reading, among other components. 

6-8

The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) for English Language Arts (ELA) define literacy expectations per grade level. In grades 6-8, students will read literature and informational text. Students will explore writing argumentative, informative, and narrative texts. The standards engage students in expectations surrounding vocabulary acquisition, speaking, listening, and conventions of Standard English. 

As our foundation, the NJ SLS for ELA is the basis of our curriculum. The curriculum includes Units of Study for both reading and writing. Teachers utilize the resources from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Units of Study series published by Heinemann to prepare lessons. Throughout the year, our literacy consultant from Gravity Goldberg, LLC provides instructional coaching to reinforce balanced literacy practices. 

Daily classroom practices utilize the components of the balanced literacy model of instruction that allows teachers to instruct students in a range of skills across reading, writing, listening and speaking, and word study. Teachers use data to make instructional decisions to meet student needs via direct and indirect instruction. Students engage daily in reading/ writing workshops, small group work, individual conferences, shared writing, guided reading, among other components. 

9-12

The New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS) for English Language Arts (ELA) define literacy expectations per grade level. In grades 9-12, students read literature and informational text. Students write argumentative, informative, and narrative texts. The standards engage students in expectations surrounding vocabulary acquisition, speaking, listening, and conventions of Standard English. As per the NJ Student Learning Standards, in grades 9-12, students engage in the "wide and deep reading of literature and literary nonfiction of steadily increasing sophistication, students gain a reservoir of literary and cultural knowledge, references, and images; the ability to evaluate intricate arguments; and the capacity to surmount the challenges posed by complex texts."

As our foundation, the NJ SLS for ELA is the basis of our curriculum. The curriculum includes Units of Study that systematically emphasize the standards. Throughout the year, our 9-12 English department consults with Drew University consultants through DREW Teach to provide professional development in the area of curriculum and instruction. 

A range of daily classroom practices allow teachers to instruct students in a variety of skills across reading, writing, listening and speaking, grammar and mechanics, and vocabulary. Teachers use data to make instructional decisions to meet student needs via direct and indirect instruction. Students engage in whole class texts, independent reading, small group work, individual conferences, among other components. Blended Learning allows teachers to further individualize instruction and target instructional planning.

Resources

The resources below are supporting documents for our English Language Arts program. Parents/ Guardians may find these resources valuable. 

New Jersey Student Learning Standards in English Language Arts, K-12Morris School District CurriculumArticle- Parent Strategies for Improving Their Child's Reading and Writing

Writers routinely progress through a cycle to arrive at a published piece. View the writing cycle below. Credit for the graphic and text is given to our literacy consultants at the Gravity Goldberg Group, LLC.

Writing Cycle, Gravity Goldberg LLC

 

 

Dr. Kara B. Douma
PK-12 Supervisor of English Language Arts

Office:
Morristown High School
50 Early Street
Morristown, NJ 07960

973.292.2000 ext. 2282
kara.douma@msdk12.net