How Clarkstown Teaches Reading & Writing
Our ELA Curriculum at a Glance
Clarkstown’s English Language Arts curriculum and instruction are designed to foster lifelong readers and writers and to ensure that students master New York State Next Generations English Language Arts Standards. Our program advances the district’s vision to develop well-rounded critical thinkers, lifelong learners and effective communicators, while still meeting the individual academic and social-emotional needs of all students. Success in this effort requires strong foundational literacy development, followed by the development of increasingly complex literacy skills.
What We Understand About Literacy Instruction
All meaningful learning should equip students to transfer their knowledge and skills into new contexts. Instruction that allows a gradual release of responsibility supports students to put their learning into practice. Such instruction types include explicit direct instruction, collaborative practice and individual project work.
Students need explicit and systematic instruction to grow their knowledge and skills. However, young minds also benefit from being able to choose texts and topics to read and write about. Choice fosters students’ agency and ownership of their learning. When students can choose literacy work that connects to their lives and the world around them, they more readily commit themselves to their learning and transfer what they have learned beyond a lesson or unit.
On top of the whole-class structure and content of literacy instruction, students need personalized feedback and instruction targeted to their strengths and needs. Ongoing formative assessment practices help ensure that teaching can be individualized to support each student’s growth.
In addition to student-teacher interaction, learning is socially driven. Peer interaction and collaboration grow students' communication and thinking skills and deepen their learning. Accordingly, our curriculum and instruction aim to nurture community in the classroom via common engaging anchor texts, class discussions, partnerships for peer support and the opportunity to participate in peer reading and research groups.
Structured speaking and listening opportunities are a common theme among our many literacy lessons. Celebrating student growth and accomplishments as a community of readers and writers is another priority in honoring our students’ investments in learning.
For a full breakdown on how we approach English Language Arts at the Clarkstown Central School District, please read our ELA Curriculum Overview.