Students in grades K-5 will start the next school year with a new English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. Into Reading, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers, meets best practice criteria for K-5 education and strongly aligns with the district’s standards and expectations.
“The curriculum includes high quality instructional lessons based on essential skills and strategies with a range of diverse literature and reading passages,” said Christy Clausen, assistant director of curriculum and instruction who oversees K-12 ELA. “Students will see themselves reflected in the texts, activities, and lessons yet also learn about other perspectives and cultures.”
After an extensive, multi-year process to select a comprehensive core ELA curriculum, Into Reading was identified for Northshore students. Into Reading was recommended by the K-5 ELA Curriculum Review Team, the Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction Department (CAI) and the Curriculum Materials Adoption Committee (CMAC). It reached final approval by the School Board in April of 2022.
Over the years, Northshore teachers piloted a total of eight ELA curricular programs. A review was conducted along the way and the options narrowed to two resources. Over time, the review process included feedback from more than 200 teachers, classroom observations of students and teachers interacting with the materials, administrator input, student and parent feedback, and third-party review results. Ultimately, Into Reading was determined to be the best choice for Northshore’s K-5 students and teachers.
In the classrooms where Into Reading was piloted, student engagement was high, student reading scores improved, and teachers were excited about the range of assessments available.
“The robust Into Reading formative assessment system allows teachers to assess at the time of instruction,” said Obadiah Dunham, North Region Assistant Superintendent. “Quizzes, weekly assessments, oral reading review, and many other options provide the information that allows teachers to adjust instruction based on need.”
A Spanish edition of Into Reading curriculum will support Northshore’s Dual Language Program, and curriculum will also accommodate the Elementary Advanced Program (EAP) classes.
Science of Reading
“With a phonics-first stance, Into Reading moves Northshore to brain-based, evidence-based teaching methods based on the Science of Reading, which has been determined to be the most effective way to teach reading and writing,” said Dunham. “We’re moving students into a progression of skills development that starts with hearing sounds and moves to how letters and sounds make words.”
Students will learn through explicit teaching in the five essential areas of reading instruction defined by the science of reading. Each area builds on the one before it.
Phonemic awareness: learning to hear the sounds in words and language.
Phonics: using letters and sounds to decode words
Fluency: reading with smoothness and accuracy
Vocabulary: building knowledge through the meaning of words
Comprehension: understanding a variety of written material
Instruction is direct and clear with a common structure and lesson design that includes intentional teaching, guided practice, opportunities to engage and respond to texts, and application of skills and strategies. Students have multiple options for practicing what they learned.
Into Reading’s reading materials supply thoughtful texts, specifically selected to teach the five essential reading components. Each grade level includes narrative, informational, and argumentative/opinion texts that include a wide range of genres, strong vocabulary, and grade-appropriate complex ideas.
“This rigorous and rich ELA content will prompt our students to make connections and think critically about ideas and information as they interact with a variety of texts,” said Clausen.
Strong visuals such as graphic organizers, images, charts, and graphs are provided to help teachers teach and students learn.
Daily writing instruction follows a clear path to develop skills as students engage in the writing process and write about their reading. Handwriting and keyboarding are included within the curriculum.
“Into Reading scored high on teacher usability during the pilot. It has a lot of different supports for teachers, supports for students, and access to online materials,” said Dunham. “Teachers won’t need to find or create resources to support lessons. They are included.”
Student-facing online learning experiences will support, not replace, teaching and learning in the classroom. For example, students who are auditory learners will be supported in learning vocabulary and comprehension as will students who are English Language Learners (ELL).
“Everything we have in print is available online, plus more,” said Clausen. “There are digital books that students can access, assessments, lesson planning tools, and data reporting measures for educators to utilize.”
As Northshore learned in the past two years, tools for online teaching and learning can be vital. Through a virtual classroom, teachers can teach remotely to a whole class, provide 1-to-1 instruction, teach to small groups of students, or conduct video chats.
Alignment with Northshore Goals
Clear and explicit instruction with robust resources support Northshore students who are furthest from educational justice while serving every student. Daily reading and writing instruction with consistent curriculum across schools ensures that all students have access to the same high-quality education.
Into Reading also supports the use of a multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) by providing teachers with the tools to help differentiate instruction based on the learning needs of each student.
Use of the new Into Reading curriculum begins when school starts in September. Daily literacy instruction and blocks of time devoted to implementing Into Reading will be aligned across K-5 classes. This summer, new materials are being delivered to all elementary schools. Teachers will engage in a 3-hour initial professional development session offered in June, August, and September. Additional professional development will continue during the school year and in the future years.