English Language Arts
West Fargo Public Schools values instruction in English Language Arts and believes it is foundational to all other areas of learning.
At the elementary level, we have a scope and sequence to guide classroom instruction in the key comprehension strategies of visualizing, questioning, text connections, inference, analyzing, and synthesizing. These skills are reinforced in both fiction and non-fiction text, the non-fiction text is most often based on standards for social studies in K-5, and standards for social studies and science in K-2. Students are exposed to a wide variety of genres to help build their knowledge and to encourage a love of reading. We have an explicit instruction program for phonics in grades K-2, continuing in grade 3 and building to word study. We believe that students need the foundational skills provided in phonics to master putting together letters and sounds to make words, followed by the study of using word parts to create meaning in grades 3-5. We have fully trained elementary teachers in an explicit instruction program for writing. A scope and sequence is laid out to teach students to write personal narratives, imaginary narratives, opinions, citing evidence, compare/contrast, research and descriptive writing pieces. Writing instruction is infused with our progressing scope and sequence in grammar as well as vocabulary. Elementary teachers have a wide-variety of resources to support their instruction, including the district pacing-guide, proficiency scales, Writer’s Workshop manual, reading training handouts and notes, Daily 5 guidebook, guided reading library books, Phonics and Word Study kits, model/mentor texts for instruction, resources for current events, and small group books for differentiated student instruction – providing both student and teacher choice and appropriate instructional levels.
At the middle level, the key comprehension strategies are reviewed and reinforced as students continue reading books at their appropriate instructional level with choice for interest and encouragement to explore new themes and genres to further develop their love of reading. Students continue to build their skills in writing by learning to utilize the skills they have acquired at the elementary level in compare/contrast, opinion, citing evidence, and research to write in argumentative research-based pieces. Students build further skills in vocabulary and grammar throughout middle school with instructional mini-lessons, meaningful feedback, and various authentic learning experiences. Middle school teachers have student books in their classrooms, a course scope and sequence, quarterly proficiency scales, and unit guides to help implement an instructional plan, along with teacher resources from Steve Dunn, Nancy Atwell, Donalyn Miller, Stephanie Harvey, Kylene Beers, Penny Kittle, and Harvey Daniels.
At the high school level, students are required to complete four core credits in English Language Arts, with the option of additional electives based on interest and rigor. Students can select both Honors/ AP courses as well as Dual Credit, beginning in the sophomore year, and course offerings in theater, creative writing, debate and speech, and journalism allow students to pursue advanced interests in multiple fields. The purpose of the ELA curriculum at all levels is to improve a student’s ability to read, write, speak, listen, and use language effectively. In each ELA course, students will acquire the close reading skills necessary to understand and enjoy complex texts, engage in collaborative discussions and projects, write and speak for a variety of purposes and audiences, and gain an appreciation for the power of language and intellect. Successful completion of this curriculum ensures students develop a literacy level that achieves college and career readiness while emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, creative development, and analytical skills.