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English Language Arts

DCPS supports highly effective English Language Arts (reading, writing, speaking and listening) instruction through a research-based approach that aligns between schools and grade levels through standardized and Common Core State Standard (CCSS) aligned curriculum, district-wide teacher professional development, reading interventions and assessments.

Elementary Literacy

To support DCPS’ goal of improving achievement rates in literacy, one of the largest instructional blocks of the school day in elementary schools is dedicated to ELA. The literacy block is 120 minutes and provides students with rich experiences to texts, with the 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. The block provides all students 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 2017-2018 are:

Kindergartners learn about:

  • Friendship and citizenship
  • Weather
  • Conservation
  • Community workers

First graders learn about:

  • The history of flight and how airplanes work
  • The sun, moon, and stars
  • Money and making choices
  • The human body

Second graders learn about:

  • Plant life cycles
  • Geology
  • Activists and activism
  • Our neighbors: Canada and Mexico

Third graders learn about:

  • Animal habitats
  • Forces and magnetism
  • People and characters who have overcome adversity
  • Our city: Washington DC

Fourth graders learn about:

  • Early America
  • The Revolution and independence
  • Rocks and minerals
  • Heroic Adventures

Fifth graders learn about:

  • The solar system
  • The Civil Rights movement
  • Inventions and discoveries
  • Westward expansion in the United States

Secondary Literacy

DCPS students Grades 6-12 participate in daily classroom instruction focused on the mastery of the Common Core State Standards, which require students to engage in rigorous reading, writing, speaking and listening. Students experience a curriculum comprised of texts by diverse authors that address a wide variety of topics with the goal of fostering critical thinking, communication and collaboration, and preparing students for college and career.

Contact Information

Corinne Colgan, Deputy Chief, Literacy and Humanities
Jennifer Jump, Director, Elementary Literacy
Raymond Cummings Jr., Ed.D., Director, Secondary Literacy