English Language Arts

  • English Language Arts, K-5

    Reading and writing well are skills we learn, not abilities that come automatically. Teaching literacy deeply requires much purposeful effort. The purpose of our curriculum is to provide a common guide for all teachers in their journey of implementing a balanced literacy program within the context of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards. Balanced literacy is a framework that provides components of instruction that will develop students’ abilities to read, write, listen, and speak effectively with expectations outlined in the state standards. Within our daily English Language Arts block, we embed purposeful Science of Reading components such as our Heggerty Phonemic Awareness instruction and the Fundations program. Effective teaching results from skillful weaving of curriculum, implementation of best instructional practices, and effective responses to students’ reading and writing activities. 

    According to the National Reading Panel's Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and its Implication for Reading Instruction, literacy growth is based on the five essential components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. Writing is an equal partner to reading. Writing is the vehicle through which reading work and assessment occur. The writing process (prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing) provides the foundation for the teaching of the three types of writing (narrative, informational/explanatory, opinion/argumentative). Through the use of complex texts combined with researched based strategy instruction using a gradual release of responsibility model from the teacher to student, students will be able to attain high levels of literacy achievement. 

    Our curriculum provides opportunities for students to engage in multiple forms of genres of reading and writing. Providing students with a choice will allow us to find ways for them to connect with texts they can read, and motivate them to want to both read and write more. Most importantly, our students will learn to love and use their reading and writing skills to enable them to be successful literate citizens at both college and career levels. 

    All K-12 English courses are aligned to the New Jersey Learning Standards for English Language Arts.

    K-5 English Language Arts Components:

    Heggerty Phonemic Awareness instruction is delivered 10 minutes daily within the kindergarten and first grade classrooms. Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds (called phonemes). A child who has phoneme proficiency is able to isolate sounds, blend sounds into words, segment a word into sounds, and manipulate sounds in words. Phonemic awareness instruction provides the foundation on which phonics instruction is built.

    Fundations phonics instruction is delivered 30 minutes daily in all kindergarten through second grade classrooms to teach students early literacy foundational skills. Fundations teaches reading, fluency, spelling, and handwriting skills through a multisensory,systematic based approach. Through Fundations students learn how to read and write sight words known as Trick Words. These words are typically part of the phonic code, but they are “tricky.” This might be because they have unusual spellings, contain new sounds and graphemes or don't follow ordinary phonemic rules. These words are “tricky words” to be decoded, not words to be memorized.    

    Word study instruction is weaved into the ELA instructional block in third grade through fifth grade classrooms. Word Study is a conceptual way of thinking about how to read, understand, and spell words. It is a rich and rigorous way of thinking about words, how we use them and demonstrates how exploration of orthographic knowledge can lead to the strengthening of reading, oral language, vocabulary, and writing. Morphology is the knowledge of how word parts including prefixes, suffixes, root/base words work together. 

    Reader’s and Writer’s Workshops are taught daily within the kindergarten through fifth grade classrooms. The workshop is deliberately designed to allow students to learn skills and strategies while reading and composing using authentic texts. These experiences provide students opportunities to observe teacher modeling, practice through guided practice, and the transfer of skills through application. During this model the teacher will teach an explicit lesson for the class based on the state standards. While students are independently practicing the skill or strategy, the teacher is working with small groups of students in either guided reading groups, strategy groups, or individualized conferences. This time allows the teacher to provide differentiated instruction to meet the needs of each student whether they are below, on, or above grade level. 

    During small group instruction students are instructed using both decodable and leveled texts depending on the skills being taught and the student needs. The purpose of decodable readers is to develop phonological decoding skills, and this is the focus of the text construction. Leveled texts combine specific phonetic patterns, sentence fluency, and vocabulary in a particular text. One of the main purposes of leveled readers is that they help target reading skills at different levels. This means that teachers can use leveled readers to provide targeted instruction for students learning at different reading levels.

    In addition to the above literacy components, instruction also includes the following shared learning experiences weaved throughout the curricular units:

    Interactive Read Aloud
    Shared Reading
    Shared Writing
    Interactive Writing

    English Language Arts, 6-12

    The secondary English Language Arts program challenges students to think critically and analytically when reading and writing. Students practice comprehension strategies and text analysis by engaging in close, careful reading of literary and informational material. Students engage in whole class reads, book clubs and independent reading in which they apply critical reading strategies to comprehend complex text, develop content knowledge, and explore topics and ideas of interest.  Throughout the year, students write routinely by examining the author's craft and engaging in all stages of the writing process to develop written work patterned after real-world narrative, informative/ explanatory, and argumentative writing. Oral presentations and classroom debates require students to prepare and present logical, well- developed arguments while practicing grade level speaking and listening skills. Unit performance tasks challenge students to demonstrate analytical thinking in reading and writing as well as a strong command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage.

    The English Language Arts Program is designed to meet the needs of students at all ability levels and prepare them for college and career readiness. Advanced and Honor level courses are available to students possessing above grade level skills. High expectations are maintained for all students at every ability level. 
    As a diverse community of practitioners and learners, we are confident and committed to the continued success of all of our students. Our goal is and always has been to be up to date with best educational practices in order to continue to support the families of the West Orange School District. 

Contact Us

  • Beatrice Hanratty
    Beatrice Hanratty
    Supervisor of English Language Arts,
    Grades K-5
    West Orange Public Schools
    179 Eagle Rock Ave.
    West Orange, NJ 07052
    Phone: 973-669-5400 x. 20572
    Fax: 973-325-7483
  • Elizabeth Veneziano
    Supervisor of English Language Arts,
    Grades 6-12
    West Orange High School
    51 Conforti Ave.
    West Orange, NJ 07052
    Phone: 973-669-5301 x. 31545
Last Modified on July 24, 2023