Curriculum Q & A Blog, Question 9
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Question: How Do I Plan When the Planning Has Been Done for Me? Part 5: Orienting to a Skills Block Year and Assessments
This is part five of a six-part series on preparing to teach the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum. In the first 4 entries, we focused on the content-based literacy components of the curriculum (K-5 Module Lessons and ALL Block and Labs). Now, we will help you prepare for the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block (Skills Block). We will begin by focusing on the steps you can take to prepare for a year. Next week, we will offer some guidance around planning for a module and a cycle of lessons in the Skills Block.
As we mentioned in previous entries, preparing to teach a curriculum that has already been written requires a different kind of planning than writing lessons from scratch. But just because the curriculum is already written, doesn’t mean you don’t have to plan! It’s just a different kind of planning that requires you to think about how to make the curriculum your own and how to make it the best it can be for your students.
Understanding the Big Picture
With our commitment to equity and accelerating literacy learning for all students as our driving force, we designed a structured phonics program (the Skills Block) to ensure that by the end of second grade, students learn the skills they need to read complex texts fluently and with understanding.
If you are new to the Skills Block and/or a structured phonics, consider reading the the following to better understand the importance of structured phonics in primary grades and a bit about our unique approach:
Understand why structured phonics is an effective way to teach students how to read:
- Chapter 4 of Your Curriculum Companion: The Essential Guide to Teaching the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum
- Article: “Why a Structured Phonics Program is Effective” by David Liben
Understand the research: Dr. Dr. Linnea Ehri’s Phase Theory
- Phases and Microphases (found in the page 53 of the K-2 Skills Block Resource Manual)
Orienting to a Year
Remember that the Skills Block is hour of instruction that includes whole group, on grade level instruction, and a larger chunk of time devoted to differentiated small group instruction.
The Scope and Sequence: Year at a Glance (see an example below from Grade 1), offers a big-picture overview of the skills to be taught throughout each module during the 15-20 minutes of whole group instruction and the microphases that align with each.
Grade 1 Scope and Sequence: Year at a Glance
The grade level Scopes and Sequence: Year at a Glance can be found In Module 1, Part 1 book (or downloadable materials if accessing online) of each grade level. You can also download each of them here:
There are 3 types of assessment in the Skills Block:
- (optional) Daily Assessment
- Cycle Assessment
- Benchmark Assessments
To learn more, you can read the Assessment Overview, found on page 37 of K-2 Skills Block Resource Manual).
Here we will focus on the last on the list, Benchmark Assessments, as we recommend that these be administered at the beginning of the year. The results of these assessments will help you to begin grouping your students for differentiated small group instruction.
In preparation administration of the Benchmark Assessments, you can download this planning document (beginning at the heading: Preparing to Administer and Score and the Skills Block Assessments), which will help you think through the steps of creating and organizing materials all the way to grouping students based on assessment results.
Next week, we’ll dig into planning for a module and a cycle. If you’re looking for more information, check out our website or our book Your Curriculum Companion: The Essential Guide to Teaching the EL Education K–5 Language Arts Curriculum. If you have questions related to this blog, please email us at: ELcurriculumblog@eleducation.org.