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DC Public School 120-Minute Literacy (Grades K-5)

To support the primary district goal of improving achievement rates in literacy to 70 percent, one of the largest instructional blocks of the school day in elementary schools is dedicated to English language arts (ELA). This literacy block is defined as 120 minutes and is dedicated to providing students rich experiences with texts with the ultimate goal of building knowledge and interest in a range of topics.

There are several components of the literacy block that ensure that all students have differentiated experiences that meet their specific literacy needs and provides them with access to rich, rigorous content, focused on grade level Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Although timings differ by grade level, the components of the block always afford students opportunities to strengthen foundational reading skills, read a variety of engaging and rigorous literary and informational texts, conduct research and write, and practice speaking and listening through classroom discussions and studies of texts. Learning is individualized and skills and concepts are further reinforced through small-group instruction and student-centered literacy workstation rotations.

Content of the 120-minute literacy block changes throughout the school year giving every student an opportunity to build content knowledge about the world around him/her and develop a curiosity for the unknown. Each topic is studied for several weeks. Students read a variety of articles and books, are exposed to primary sources, paired texts, and pictures and videos about each topic. Some highlights of what students will be learning in SY 2016-17 are:

Kindergartners learn about:

  • weather and the water cycle
  • conservation of natural resources
  • community workers

First graders learn about:

  • airplanes and the fundamentals of flight dynamics
  • astronomy
  • money

Second graders learn about:

  • plant life cycles
  • geology
  • activism

Third graders learn about:

  • animal habitats
  • forces and magnetism
  • overcoming adversity

Fourth graders learn about:

  • early America
  • revolution and independence
  • rocks and minerals

Fifth graders learn about: 

  • the universe
  • the Civil Rights movement
  • inventions and discoveries