English Language Arts
To promote rigorous and relevant literacy instruction in every classroom across the District, we have carefully curated a collection of programming and resources. These materials support teaching and learning in the four English Language Arts (ELA) strands outlined in the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework. Those strands are Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language.
Our Approach to Literacy Instruction
In the Fall of 2018, Falmouth Public Schools began its implementation of Journeys, a core reading program selected by the district’s Literacy Leadership Team, which was advised by representatives from the Hill for Literacy. As we continued our use of Journeys, we also followed developments in The Science of Reading. The Science of Reading includes insights from a range of disciplines, including literacy, developmental psychology, educational psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience. Together, the evidence in this comprehensive body of research is
clear about what matters most in early literacy instruction:
phonics and word recognition
oral language comprehension
In the fall of 2020, the Falmouth Public Schools adopted Fundations®, a word study program for Kindergarten through Grade 3. Fundations systematically, explicitly, and comprehensively instructs students in phonemic awareness and word study and contributes greatly to fluency, vocabulary development, and the applications of strategies for understanding text. Fundations® utilizes a structured literacy approach grounded in The Science of Reading to make learning to read fun while laying the groundwork for lifelong literacy.
In Kindergarten and Grade 1, in addition to Fundations®, we use the Journeys skills progression to inform the scope and sequence of theme-based units that incorporate social studies and science content. These studies allow students to develop foundational literacy skills while addressing essential grade-level content. These units are complemented by use of decodable readers through the Geodes readable texts (in Grade 1) and resources within RAZ-Plus.
In Grades 2 and 3, in addition to Fundations®, Journeys remains the instructional tool our teachers use to teach vocabulary, oral language comprehension, and text comprehension. We utilize Journeys to organize the scope and sequence of lessons in which specific skills are taught. Grade 2 reading instruction is also complemented by use of Geodes readable texts.
In Grades 4, 5, and 6, we have developed novel studies, which are units centered on a novel to support student learning of vocabulary and comprehension of both oral language and text. The novel studies are designed to build reading endurance as students engage with longer texts that span multiple weeks of learning. These studies are also used to make comparisons to other texts of various genres and lengths and allow students to build reading endurance as they prepare to transition to junior high school.
In grades 7-12, every grade offers an English course taught by certified English teachers. English teachers have received training in differentiation, co-teaching, and use of digital tools to provide targeted feedback to students.
In 2019, the 7-12 English Department engaged in the DESE pilot text inventory to study the extent to which the texts our students encounter represent diverse cultures and perspectives. In response to our findings and through continuous professional learning, English teachers have developed companion text units for many of our core texts. The focus of the department’s professional development since 2020 has been to expand student choice in the curriculum and increase opportunities for students to develop their unique voices as writers and communicators.
In grades 9 - 12, courses are grouped under the following designations: College Preparatory (CP), Honors (H), and Advanced Placement (AP). Grades 6-12 English Language Arts teachers incorporate rigorous lessons and materials that prepare all students for advanced courses including honors and AP courses at the high school level.