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Introduction

An Introduction to the "Georgia Instructional Frameworks in English Language Arts - Grades K-8": How to Use These Documents

These instructional frameworks are designed to support teachers in the implementation of the Georgia Performance Standards (GPS). Specifically, they are designed for use by Needs Improvement (NI) schools throughout the state as well as school staffs who may wish to utilize them as resources to guide and inform the process of “unpacking” standards and as exemplars for instructional design.

These instructional frameworks in English/Language Arts are intended to be a model for articulating desired results, assessment processes, and teaching-learning activities that can maximize student achievement relative to the Georgia Performance Standards. Educators in the State of Georgia should view these draft documents as tools for review and for professional development related to the process of implementing the Georgia Performance Standards and preparing students for any related assessments associated with them.

The reading, writing, and listening/speaking/viewing standards articulated in these documents are especially critical for reinforcing students’ literacy development at all grade levels. In particular, all instructors should view themselves as teachers of reading in the content area and related communication skills. Standards are to be viewed as recursive, revisited in a spiraling fashion with growing levels of competency by students. For example, while “Conventions” may not appear in all sections of the documents, teachers should address this standard and its related elements throughout their year-long work with students in all aspects of English/Language Arts.

Primary-level Instructional Frameworks in English Language Arts are organized by quarters and are designed around the Standards and Elements, presenting a recommended quarterly sequence in addition to enduring understandings, essential questions, formative and summative assessments, and teaching-learning activities. Document users are encouraged to understand the following design elements and principles:

  1. Each grade level begins with a summary of the strand and quarter at a glance.
  2. The document then presents examples of enduring understandings and essential questions instructors may wish to use with their students to reinforce understanding.
  3. Next, the document presents recommended formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are suggested ways in which teachers can diagnose students’ strengths and needs at the beginning of each quarter. They also allow careful and ongoing monitoring of student progress relative to growing proficiency in use and understanding of the standards. In contrast, summative assessments can be used as benchmark tools to ensure that students are making satisfactory and continuous progress toward achieving proficiency for their grade level.
  4. The suggested teaching-learning activities presented in the next section of each grade level are not intended to be prescriptive or a complete delineation of instructional interventions for a particular quarter. Instead, teachers and administrators are encouraged to view them as suggestions and possible exemplars that should be complemented by additional strategies, processes, and learning activities specifically designed for the students being taught.
  5. Finally, educators are encouraged to use these frameworks as a planning tool to reinforce their work with differentiated instruction. Specifically, by having these articulated enduring understandings, essential questions, suggested assessments, and exemplary teaching-learning activities, educators can work together to diagnose students’ individual readiness levels, learning profiles, and individual interests. Through this process, they can design a viable instructional delivery process that will maximize the opportunity for success of every learner as well as motivating and engaging their interests and sense of personal efficacy.

Intermediate and Middle School-level Instructional Frameworks in English/Language Arts are organized by units. Although these units are presented in a coherent, sequential pattern, school-based staffs may elect to reorganize this sequence to accommodate available resources (e.g., texts, technology, and educational media services) and schedules. These units include recommended enduring understandings, essential questions, evidence of learning (i.e., suggested formative and summative assessments), as well as recommended teaching-learning activities. The intermediate and middle school versions of these documents reflect the following design principles:

  1. These documents are designed according to multi-week units. The units are presented in such a way that they form nine-week segments, allowing for quarterly benchmark assessment of student achievement.
  2. The document then presents examples of enduring understandings and essential questions instructors may wish to use with their students to reinforce understanding.
  3. Next, the document presents recommended formative and summative assessments. Formative assessments are suggested ways in which teachers can diagnose students’ strengths and needs at the beginning of each quarter. They also allow careful and ongoing monitoring of student progress relative to growing proficiency in use and understanding of the standards. In contrast, summative assessments can be used as benchmark tools to ensure that students are making satisfactory and continuous progress toward achieving proficiency for their grade level.
  4. The suggested teaching-learning activities presented in the next section of each grade level are not intended to be prescriptive or a complete delineation of instructional interventions for a particular quarter. Instead, teachers and administrators are encouraged to view them as suggestions and possible exemplars that should be complemented by additional strategies, processes, and learning activities specifically designed for the students being taught.
  5. In implementing the intermediate and middle school units presented in this section of the frameworks, educators have the option of organizing their presentation of these units according to their own design. Variations in instructional sequencing may vary depending upon availability of resources such as texts, software, and other materials. However, the units can be presented according to the sequence articulated in the document. This sequence represents a purposeful, carefully-designed set of learning experiences that allow students to build upon subsequent learning and enhance their mastery of standards with growing levels of competency.
  6. Finally, educators are encouraged to use these frameworks as a planning tool to reinforce their work with differentiated instruction. Specifically, by having these articulated enduring understandings, essential questions, suggested assessments, and exemplary teaching-learning activities, educators can work together to diagnose students’ individual readiness levels, learning profiles, and individual interests. Through this process, educators can design a viable instructional delivery process that will maximize the opportunity for success of every learner as well as motivating and engaging their interests and sense of personal efficacy.

In summary, educators in the State of Georgia using these Instructional Frameworks are encouraged to revisit the following enduring understandings:

  1. Standards are intended to be met by the end of each academic year. Just because an element is designated for one particular unit or quarter, that does not negate the need to address that element throughout the academic year. Although a particular element may receive particular emphasis in a specific quarter, that does not preclude the need to revisit it with learners at appropriate instructional junctures throughout the year.
  2. Some units within the frameworks place special emphasis upon specific Georgia assessments. For example, a fifth-grade unit explicitly focuses upon the preparation of students for the 2006 Georgia Writing Assessment. All of these frameworks are based upon units or learning activities. Assessments, however, are built on the standards. In effect, it is not the unit that will be tested — it is the standard that will be assessed. The units themselves, therefore, represent possible instructional scenarios and interventions for meeting the standards.
  3. Teachers are encouraged to draw on other resources to design collaboratively additional instructional activities. Ideally, these Instructional Frameworks are to be seen as “works in progress,” materials that will grow and develop as educators work together to understand the Georgia Performance Standards and their assessment and instructional implications. As educators gain increasing proficiency with their students in mastering these standards, we will strive to share these success stories and integrate effective strategies and practices into future iterations of these materials.
  4. Finally, we remind educators that school improvement and continuous improvement are complex processes that require consensus building, ongoing and effective professional development, peer and administrative coaching, and standards-driven accountability. Therefore, these Instructional Frameworks can serve as a valuable resource—but not a complete set of resources—to support a standards-based curriculum and complement the school improvement planning process.
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