New ELA Curriculum Looks to Build Better Readers and Writers
Posted on 01/22/2023
Teacher Vanessa McKnight

English Language Arts (ELA) is taking on a different look across the Union Elementary School District (UESD) this year, with everyone optimistic about engaging students with exciting new resources and materials.

The district adopted this new ELA curriculum last year, after an extensive teacher-led process, and kicked off the start of the current school year with the new adoption. CKLA is used with PreK through second grade students, while Wit and Wisdom are used with students in grades three through eight. It is the first new ELA curriculum adoption since the state restored funding for curricular materials, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. A committee of teachers from each grade level and school and district administrators participated in the selection of both curricula. The community was invited to review the materials for 90 days before the Governing Board approved the adoption.

“Both curricula are thoughtfully developed and proven to help students learn to read and master State standards. Our teachers no longer have to go out and find materials to fill gaps,” said UESD Director of Academic Services Melanie Block. “The intent is to ensure everyone has access to the same grade level materials so that students are learning the appropriate grade level material across the district.”

The resources are aligned and transition students easily from one grade level to the next, and, according to Block, engage students more fully in literacy (reading, writing, speaking and listening). The PreK through second grade curriculum includes both reading skill and comprehension lessons that allow students to pick up both more quickly. Meanwhile, the third grade through eighth grade curriculum provides high-interest materials, and instructional strategies to engage students. Additionally, students are introduced to a wide variety of authors and genres. “Diversity in authorship, genre, and type of literature was critical,” Block said. “Our children get to see themselves in books, in characters and as authors.”

Both programs are research-based and connect the lessons teachers deliver with what students have to produce or create. “The new adoption is better for students because it ensures student engagement,” said Hurley Ranch eighth-grade Teacher Vanessa McKnight. “However, what I admire most about this curriculum is that it provides students with engaging activities that apply that day's learning.”

The new curriculum not only helps students but also supports teachers, providing them with examples of what content and instructional strategies they are expected to deliver, allowing for more precise planning before they provide lessons.

“Also, it provides teachers with descriptive instruction on what is expected throughout the lesson and questions on how to engage student thinking,” said McKnight. “It provides students with a new form of thinking and how to organize their thoughts.”

UESD believes the updated curriculum will help students be better readers, writers and speakers.

“My greatest hope for this new adoption is strong student engagement and connections,” McKnight said. “Meaning, students enjoy the curriculum because they are able to connect their learning to themselves, real life, and other novels they may have read.” 

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