Overview | EL Education Curriculum


The EL Education K-5 Language Arts curriculum is a comprehensive, standards-based core literacy program that engages teachers and students through compelling, real world content. Created by teachers for teachers, our highly-acclaimed curriculum draws on EL Education’s 25 years of experience in engaging teachers and students in active and meaningful learning.

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Curriculum Highlights

EL Education welcomed feedback from the field since the launch of our first edition curriculum in 2012 and has worked diligently to respond to the needs of teachers and students to enhance and streamline our K-5 Language Arts curriculum. Highlights of the new K-5 Language Arts curriculum include:

  • A second hour of small group instruction. For grades K-2, Labs allow for additional practice and exploration of the topics from the module lessons. For grades 3-5, the Additional Language and Literacy (ALL) Block allots time for differentiated practice and, in conjunction with Module Lessons, explicit instruction related to grammar, usage, mechanics, punctuation, and spelling.
  • A newly designed phonics program, the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block.
  • Supports for both English language learners (ELLs) and for Universal Design for Learning (UDL). For ELLs, there are Levels of Support that include suggestions for providing differentiated instruction for students at varying stages of language proficiency. UDL supports address flexibility in the ways information is presented, the ways students respond, and the ways students are engaged.

  • How the Curriculum is Structured

    Our K-5 curriculum offers either two or three hours of literacy instruction per day, depending on the grade level. At the heart of the curriculum, at all grade levels, are the hour-long module lessons. Each grade level includes four modules, which span a full school year. The four modules allow students to build important content knowledge based on a compelling topic related to science, social studies, or literature. Each module uses rich, authentic texts throughout.

    Yearlong Schedule

    K-2 Language Arts

    The last unit of each module, Unit 3, culminates with a performance task. This is where students have created their “magnificent thing” and are writing about it, bringing together what they know about tools, collaboration, and perseverance (and magnificent things!).:

    What students learn in Units 1 and 2 helps them prepare for this performance task. (This is the principle of “backward design” in action.)

    In Unit 1 students read, sing, discuss, dramatize, draw, and write to acquire strong content knowledge as well as the literacy skills that they need to do so. Students informational texts, learn how to ask and answer questions about the many texts they work with, and they learn to collaborate and converse with one another, capturing their thinking in pictures and words.

    In Unit 2, they begin work with “close reading” of a complex text. In primary grades, this close reading happens through hearing the text read aloud (i.e., a close read-aloud). Teachers use a close read-aloud guide to conduct a series of sessions (across multiple lessons) that invite students to analyze and discuss this rich literary text. During the module lessons in this unit, students also do a series of design challenges that give them hands-on experience with collaborative problem solving.

    As the lessons in each unit progress, teachers regularly check in on students’ progress. Each unit has a standards-based assessment built in. Here, students read, write, or speak with increasing independence about the texts they have been working with. These assessments help you in two ways: They allow you to have a clear sense of what your students can do and cannot yet do, and they give you valuable information about how best to use the time in the K-2 Labs for her students’ benefit.

    Almost every day, K-2 students share songs and poems. These serve many functions: They give students cues about transitions from activity to activity, help build a positive classroom community, build fluency, give students opportunities to practice specific language standards, and give students a deep schema for rhythm and syntax. And, they are joyful.

    This unfolding of the three units means that by Unit 3, when the performance task is introduced students are fully equipped to create their “magnificent things” and to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

    The curriculum offers either two or three hours of literacy instruction per day, depending on the grade level. The Grades K-2 curriculum offers two hours per day of content-based literacy (Module Lessons and K-2 Labs) plus one hour of structured phonics (the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block). Together, these three hours of curriculum are considered comprehensive, meaning that they explicitly teach and formally assess all strands and standards of the Common Core English language arts (ELA) standards for each grade level.

    3-5 Language Arts

    The last unit of each module, Unit 3, includes the performance task: an extended, supported writing task or presentation where students need to successfully bring together what they know about this topic. This is where students are writing choose-your-own-adventure narratives, bringing together what they know about the armadillo and what defenses it has to help it survive (and what they know about writing).

    In Unit 1, students read, discuss, dramatize, draw, and write so that they acquire strong and specific content and background knowledge, as well as the literacy skills that they need to do so. Ms. Henderson’s fourth graders learn what “natural defenses” are, they learn what predators do, and they learn about the many kinds of defenses that animals have depending on their habitat. In the process, the students learn to read closely, reread carefully for meaning, gather evidence, and develop a paragraph.

    In Unit 2, they take this basic understanding to a deeper level. They do more research and discuss with one another what defenses specific animals might have. With close support, they respond to a prompting question to write a full multi-paragraph essay about animal defenses.

    Throughout, for homework, students are reading independently at their own level. They are using research texts to gather deeper and deeper knowledge about how animals use natural defenses to survive and thrive.

    As the lessons in each unit progress, you have the opportunity to carefully check in on her students’ progress. Each unit has two built-in assessments: a mid-unit assessment (usually reading) and an end of unit assessment (usually writing). These assessments help you as the teacher in two ways: They allow you to have a clear sense of what her students can and cannot yet do, and they give you valuable information about how best to use the time in the ALL Block for your students’ benefit.

    The Grades 3-5 curriculum offers two hours of content-based literacy instruction per day (Module Lessons and the Additional Language and Literacy [ALL] Block), with an additional optional companion Life Science module, which accompanies Module 2 for a third hour of instruction lasting eight to nine weeks. With or without the Life Science module, the two hours of content-based literacy are considered comprehensive.

    Key Resources for Navigating the Website

    We have designed an extensive array of documents to support you as you plan and implement the curriculum. You can find these documents and more resources on our Tools page.

    For an overview to assist you in navigating our website and available materials, take a few minutes to watch our short screencasts: For more in-depth information on accessing and downloading resources on the website, please visit our Getting Started Suggestions page.

    On the Tools page, start with the Curriculum Plans and Curriculum Maps to better understand the overarching topics and themes across and within a module.

    Using our first edition, ELA Grades 3-5 and looking to transition? Review a list of enhancements across the modules in our Second Edition curriculum.

    Review the materials lists. The K-5 Required Trade Book List contains all of the book titles and quantities you need to implement the curriculum. Also explore the Recommended Texts and Other Resources List and the materials lists for K-2 Labs and 3-5 Life Science.

    Our guidance documents describe each curriculum component and how they relate to one another. We've designed these documents as an introduction to the curriculum, the K-2 Labs, the Additional Language and Literacy Block, the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block, and Supporting English Language Learners.

    Read the Language Dives and Conversation Cues for a closer look at how they support your students,.

    Get updates about our new K-5 curriculum as new materials and tools debut.

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