K-8 Curriculum Overview | EL Education Curriculum

K-8 Curriculum Overview

The EL Education K-5 Language Arts curriculum is a comprehensive, standards-based 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.

We promote a three-dimensional view of student achievement--mastery of knowledge and skills, character, and high-quality work--that offers a vision for education we would want for every child and provides the "north star" for all of our work.

What Principles Underline the K-8 Curriculum?

  • Equity Matters: EL Education is fiercely focused on equity for all children.  All children deserve schools that foster their unique abilities, give them real opportunities to achieve high academic standards, and help them take their full place in a society for which they are well prepared when they leave school. Equity is the foundation upon which the entire curriculum rests. 

  • Backward Design Means Planning With the End in Mind and Assessing Along the Way:  The guiding principle of backward design is straightforward.  Designers must consider three questions:

    • At the end of a sequence of instruction, what will students know and be able to do?
    • What will proficiency look like and sound like?
    • How will we know when students are proficient?
  • Students Excel in Diverse and Inclusive Settings:  The EL Education curriculum recognizes that students learn from one another--and learn to respect one another--when they learn together in the same classroom.  At the same time, students sometimes have needs that require differentiation.  Curriculum materials provide tools and scaffolding to support and engage all learners.

  • Protocols and Conversation Cues Promote Student Thinking, Collaboration and Respect:  Clear and simple protocols make collaborative conversation rich and purposeful to students. Through collaborative conversations, students deepen their learning and come to appreciate the value of one another as individuals with diverse perspectives.  Conversation Cues (questions that teachers can as, such as "Can you say more about that?) encourage productive and equitable conversation.

  • Students Own Their Own Learning: Students using EL Education's curriculum learn to see themselves as active learners with agency in their own education.  With teachers' guidance, they articulate specific learning targets ("I can. . . ") for every lesson.  They learn to set goals, assess their own learning, and use feedback from peers, themselves and their teachers to make progress. 

  • Emphasis on Habits of Character: Character is one of EL Education's three Dimensions of Student Achievement. Collaboration, perseverance, a growth mindset, and being able to set goals and reflect on them are all key aspects of strong social-emotional learning.

  • Families and Guardians are Partners:  EL Education's curriculum welcomes students' families and guardians as partners in education.   Students learn best when families have the opportunity to be part of the educational journey. 

  • Curriculum as Powerful Professional Development:  This curriculum helps teachers build on their existing expertise and continue to improve their ability to make strong instructional decisions during planning and while teaching.  

For a birds-eye view of the curriculum, watch this video below:

Curriculum Structure and Key Features

Module Lessons

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.

Each module has a consistent structure of three units. In K-2, each unit includes one formal assessment. In grades 3-8, each unit includes two assessments--mid- and end of unit. The curriculum was built using the principle of backward design started by identifying what we wanted students to know and be able to do at the end of each module and then built each unit to intentionally get them there. The last unit of each module, Unit 3, culminates with a performance task. What students learn in Units 1 and 2 helps them prepare for this performance task.

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: 

Watch Part 1 

Watch Part 2

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