Each student will ascend

English Language Arts

Program Overview

Our English Language Arts (ELA) teachers instruct through a student-centered approach--which means that we meet the student where they are in their learning and help them develop the deep-level skills and strategies that will enable them to ascend. Our students are equipped with learning experiences to know both what and how to learn in our classrooms. If you had a window into the MSD ELA classroom, you would find . . .
  • Passionate, caring, knowledgeable, and inspirational teachers
  • Instruction tailored to how each student learns and progresses
  • Students learning together as a class and in small groups
  • Blended learning that unites the best of face-to-face instruction with the best of technology
  • Trusting relationships between teachers and students, solidified during face-to-face writing and reading conferences
  • Students equipped with the strategies to achieve their goals while building their competence and confidence

What is Standards-Based Instruction?

Here in the Morris School District, our curriculum is anchored in the NJ Department of Education’s Student Learning Standards. Planning, teaching and assessment in all of our ELA classrooms are aligned to a set of cross-disciplinary expectations that ensure each student has access to rigorous, relevant instruction. The ELA standards focus on five areas of literacy: reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language. Students develop important skills in each area throughout their educational pathway, building on and refining what they learned in previous grades, engaging with increasingly complex material, and working steadily toward readiness for college and career. Below is an example of how student learning progresses along a continuum in English Language Arts:

Instructional Philosophy

To become college and career ready, students must grapple with works of exceptional craft and thought whose range extends across genres, cultures, and centuries. Such works offer profound insights into the human condition and serve as models for students' own thinking and writing. . . (NJSLS)English Language Arts empowers students to use spoken and written language to access multiple pathways. We believe each student must be able to clearly and effectively communicate with impact in order to participate as active citizens in a democratic society, build and strengthen relationships with others through dialogue and inquiry, and reflect on and articulate their own goals, aspirations, thoughts, and experiences.
In our ELA classrooms, students learn to:
  • Engage in a range of collaborative discussions to build on the ideas of others and to persuasively express their own ideas.
  • Read widely across genres, cultures, and time.
  • Experience a range of texts, including works that span the classics to the contemporary classics, high quality nonfiction texts, and other works of exceptional craft.
  • Reflect on the human condition and use literature as a tool to build empathy.
  • Increase their depth of knowledge and skills by grappling with complex text and responding with sophistication in writing.

We believe that fostering a lifelong love of reading is essential. We offer rich classroom libraries, small-group activities in book clubs, and independent reading within the genres students find most interesting. Our goal is for students to identify as confident readers and writers.

balanced literacy infographic

Basics of Balanced Literacy

Grade Level Program Expectations

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

Morristown High School
50 Early Street
Morristown, NJ 07960

973.292.2000 ext. 2282