English/Language Arts curriculum revised

Our teachers, curriculum directors, and administrators have been working hard to revise the curriculum for the English/Language Arts (ELA) program for all grades.  This curriculum has not been evaluated for years; combine that with new standards from the Common Core implementation, and Milford was more than due for an ELA overhaul.

As with the math and social studies revisions in the last few years, different grade levels will use different programs and approaches.  However, all focus on integrating and building skills as students progress, using a balance of fiction and non-fiction texts, a variety of genres (novels, articles, poems, short stories, essays, original documents, even artwork), rigorous reading, writing and vocabulary development, and the ability to understand and apply what is being read.

Dr. Jill Chin, Director of Elementary Curriculum, says the goal is to build content knowledge across all grades in a progressively more challenging staircase of complexity. She explains we require a structured plan to make sure all knowledge demands are met at every grade level.  Nancy House, Director of Secondary Curriculum agrees, explaining there will be more grammar, writing and research, with research skills incorporated in formal and informal writing as well as media presentations.

Both also stressed that the curriculum is fully aligned to the new ELA Common Core standards, which outline what students should know and be able to do at each grade level.  However, Mrs. House also stressed that, while the standards come from the Core, the curriculum is ours.  “Our teachers wrote the units, chose the pieces, and developed the writing assignments,” she says.

In addition, a new focus is to collaborate between disciplines so students are gaining a holistic perspective of the information.  English, social studies, art, etc, can all be focused on the same topics at the same time.

At the high school level, new blended classes and credit flex options are rounding out ELA opportunities for students.  For next year, the high school will offer:

  • Creative writing 1 & 2 (2 is added course)
  • Science fiction
  • Best sellers
  • Mysteries
  • Shakespeare
  • Senior read with second graders
  • Blogging senior year

A blended class will meet several days a week with a teacher, and the other days meet online.  This provides a lot of flexibility for students, and also allows teachers to work with at-risk students on off days.

Credit flex, such as Senior read with second graders, are nice options for students with specific skills and interests.  In this class, seniors who are good at, and interested in, helping younger students who are struggling are directed in helping those second graders with their reading.  They also write and do research during class periods.

The new programs are comprehensive, challenging and exciting.  If you would like more details, feel free to contact me or our curriculum directors.


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