Schools and Community | EL Education Curriculum

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Schools and Community

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In this module, students build their literacy and citizenship skills as they engage in a study of schools. Students begin the module by participating in a series of focused read-alouds to explore the module guiding question, "What is school, and why are schools important?" In Unit 2, students build on this understanding by engaging in close read-alouds of the text Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World by Susan Hughes. Through this text, students learn about schools around the world and the challenges some communities face in sending their students to school and how they solve these challenges. To support their understanding of this text, students take notes on and write in response to their reading.

In Unit 3, students revisit sections from Off to Class as they engage in whole class research to learn about the similarities and differences between their own school and three schools from the text. Students extend their research in small groups by focusing on one school in particular and producing an informational book about it tilted "The Most Important Thing about Schools." Throughout the unit, students participate in collaborative conversations with their peers to process and extend their understandings of the similarities and differences between their own school and the school they have researched. This performance task centers on CCSS ELA W.2.2, W.2.5, and L.2.2.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • What is school, and why are schools important?
    • A school is a place designed for students to build knowledge and skills, foster character and relationships, and create high-quality work.
  • Why is it hard for some children to go to school in their communities?
    • Things like weather and location can make it difficult for children to go to school.
  • How do communities solve these problems so their children can go to school?
    • Communities think of solutions to make sure students have a place to go to school.
  • How are schools around the world different? How are they similar?
    • Schools around the world may be different or they may be similar, but they are all places designed for learning.

The Four Ts

  • Topic: Schools and Community
  • Task: Informative Writing: "The Most Important Thing about Schools" Book
  • Targets (CCSS explicitly taught and assessed): W.2.2, W.2.5, L.2.2
  • Text: The Dot; The Invisible Boy; Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World; The Important Book

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the integrated literacy block of the school day. This module also intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in second grade. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies standards during other parts of the school day.)

C3 Framework for Social Studies:

  • D2.Geo.4.K-2. Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people's lives in a place or region.
  • D2.Civ.6.K-2. Describe how communities work to accomplish common tasks, establish responsibilities, and fulfill roles of authority.
  • D2.Civ.9.K-2. Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions while responding attentively to others when addressing ideas and making decisions as a group.

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education's curriculum is a focus on "habits of character" and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students work to become effective learners and work to become ethical people by developing the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life, and treating others well.


Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Performance Task

Informative Writing: "The Most Important Thing about Schools" Book

In this performance task, students create an informational book titled "The Most Important Thing about Schools." Using information from whole class and small group research, they write and compile a book that compares and contrasts their own school with a school from Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World by Susan Hughes. Using The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown as inspiration, students' books conclude with a reflection statement on what they think is the most important thing about schools. This is a scaffolded writing task in which students learn about the steps in the writing process and complete this book over several lessons. Students' books are presented orally to kindergarteners at a Celebration of Learning at the end of the module. This task addresses CCSS ELA W.2.2, W.2.5, and L.2.2.


See each Unit Overview for a list of any unusual physical materials required (such as puppets or props) for module lessons.

Note: Accountable independent reading begins as a formal homework routine in grade 3. Based on your school's stance on homework, you may consider starting this in grade 2. See the Tools page for Independent Reading: Sample Plans and Grade 3: Module 1: Unit 2: Lesson 2 for recommendations on how to more formally launch independent reading. Refer to the K-5 Recommended Texts list for appropriate titles aligned to the module topic. 

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
The Important Book
by Margaret Wise Brown
1 per classroom
ISBN: 9780064432276
The Dot
by Peter H. Reynolds
6 per classroom
ISBN: 9780763619619
The Invisible Boy
by Trudy Ludwig
6 per classroom
ISBN: 9781582464503
Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools around the World
by Susan Hughes
6 per classroom
ISBN: 9781926818863


Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.


Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day. They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages: Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials).

Connections to the Labs

Released along with this module is a separate package called Labs. This 60-minute block of daily instruction provides primary students with the opportunity to apply and enhance their module content, habits of character, and literacy skills through arts, dramatic play, building, and other hands-on experiences. There are four Labs for the first module: Create, Explore, Imagine, and Engineer. The labs are directly connected to the content of the module and should be implemented alongside the integrated lessons.

Labs for this module focus on having students:

  • Learn to take care of classroom materials
  • Build social-emotional skills through playing and collaborating with classmates

Connections to the Reading Foundations Skills Block

The Reading Foundations Skills Block is an hour of instruction that teaches students how to crack the alphabetic code. This block supports reading and writing conventions necessary for student success in the Integrated Reading block, covering all Reading Foundations Standards and the Language Standards associated with spelling. Research and Standards-based instructional practices are designed to support teachers as they teach students how to read, write, and analyze words. Built-in instructional supports and resources provide teacher guidance for differentiation in both the whole and small group settings based on each student's Phase of Reading and Spelling Development. The Skills Block includes one hour of instruction: 15-20 minutes of whole group and 45 minutes of differentiated small group instruction.

Skills Block lessons for this module focus on having students:

  • Review spelling patterns, skills, and knowledge from first grade, such as analyzing, decoding (read), and encoding (spell) one- and two-syllable words containing long vowel spelling patterns such as "ai," "ie," and "igh," and with inflectional endings -s, -ed, -es, and -ing.
  • Review the important understanding that every syllable in a spoken word contains a vowel sound (either long or short) and that the vowel sound can be "shown" in print by a letter or a particular pattern of letters.
  • Review most syllable types (closed, open, CVCe, vowel team, and vowel-r) taught in first grade.
  • Finally, as a result of a sharpened focus on fluency, students become more aware of the elements of fluency as they read aloud, including rate, phrasing, and expression.

Refer to each unit overview for more detailed information regarding that unit, including information about what to prepare in advance and extension opportunities.


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