English Language Arts Curriculum Overview
A comprehensive English Language Arts experience allows students to effectively integrate knowledge of literature, grammar, vocabulary, and writing to produce high levels of synthesized work (Levande). Indeed, the application of high levels of skill in English Language Arts has the ability to transform the world. Whether written or spoken, words have the potential to inform and inspire. In his I Have A Dream speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was able to address the concepts of freedom and equality that continue to influence our society today. Comprised of approximately 250 words, The Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, was one of the most important speeches in United States History and still serves to inform, inspire, and direct. Writers such as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, Richard Wright, and John Steinbeck have had just as profound an impact. A rich English Language Arts experience provides students with the foundation to influence their world in the same manner.
“To read is to empower
To empower is to write
To write is to influence
To influence is to change
To change is to live.”
- Jane Evershed
In the North Allegheny School District Strategic Plan, Strategy Two states, “We will deliver and continuously improve a comprehensive, sequential, and challenging curriculum that meets the needs of all students enhanced by a full range of co-curricular and extra curricular activities.” As the largest Department in the North Allegheny School District, more than 225 teachers deliver the English Language Arts curriculum. In the primary grades, students learn to read through the use of systematic research-based reading instruction focused on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. As students progress through the grade levels, they further develop the skills to become capable writers and strategic readers of both classic and contemporary literature. Though proficiency on high stakes standardized tests is essential, it serves as the beginning of a meaningful education, not the end. Therefore, the rich development of English Language Arts skills does much more than prepare for a test; it connects students to the past, engages them in the present, and enables them to have a positive impact in the future.
“No skill is more crucial to the future of a child, or to a democratic and prosperous society, than literacy.”
- W.B. Yeats
The demands of a digital environment require students to process and distill an overwhelming amount of information. Not only must students possess the knowledge and skill to successfully engage in formal communication such as letters, essays, speeches, and resumes, but also in a variety of digital mediums such as email, text messaging, electronic discussion boards, and blogs. The competencies obtained in English Language Arts allow students to access and evaluate the infinite knowledge readily available in the digital world. At the most fundamental level, delivery of the English Language Arts curriculum provides instruction in the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening which serve as the foundation for effective oral and written communication. At the highest level, the extension and integration of these basic skills allow students to analyze, synthesize, inform, persuade, and successfully interact within a global community.
“Surviving and thriving as a professional today demands two new approaches to the written word. First, it requires a new approach to orchestrating information, by skillfully choosing what to read and what to ignore. Second, it requires a new approach to integrating information, by reading faster and with greater comprehension.”
- Jimmy Calano