English Language Arts 1st Nine Weeks

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English Language Arts

1st Nine Weeks

Grade 3


In 2014, the Shelby County Schools Board of Education adopted a set of ambitious, yet attainable goals for school and student performance. The District is committed to these goals, as further described in our strategic plan, Destination 2025.

By 2025,

  • 80% of our students will graduate from high school college or career ready

  • 90% of students will graduate on time

  • 100% of our students who graduate college or career ready will enroll in a post-secondary opportunity.

In order to achieve these ambitious goals, we must collectively work to provide our students with high-quality, College and Career Ready standards-aligned instruction. Acknowledging the need to develop competence in literacy and language as the foundations for all learning, Shelby County Schools developed the Comprehensive Literacy Improvement Plan (CLIP). The plan ensures a quality balanced literacy approach to instruction that results in high levels of literacy learning for all students and across content areas. Destination 2025, the Comprehensive Literacy Improvement Plan, and TN State Standards establish common goals and expectations for student learning across schools and are the underpinning for the development of the curriculum maps.

Purpose - This curriculum map is meant to help teachers and their support providers (e.g., coaches, leaders) on their path to effective, college and career ready (CCR) aligned instruction and our pursuit of Destination 2025. It is a resource for organizing instruction around the TN State Standards, which define what to teach and what students need to learn at each grade level. The map is designed to reinforce the grade/course-specific standards and content—the major work of the grade (scope)—and provides a suggested sequencing and pacing and time frames, aligned resources—including complex texts, sample questions and tasks, and other planning tools. Our hope is that by curating and organizing a variety of standards-aligned resources, teachers will be able to spend less time wondering what to teach and searching for quality materials (though they may both select from and/or supplement those included here) and have more time to plan, teach, assess, and reflect with colleagues to continuously improve practice and best meet the needs of their students.

The map is meant to support effective planning and instruction to rigorous standards; it is not meant to replace teacher planning or prescribe pacing or instructional practice. In fact, our goal is not to merely “cover the curriculum,” but rather to “uncover” it by developing students’ deep understanding of the content and mastery of the standards. Teachers who are knowledgeable about and intentionally align the learning target (standards and objectives), topic, text(s), task, and needs (and assessment) of the learners are best-positioned to make decisions about how to support student learning toward such mastery. Teachers are therefore expected--with the support of their colleagues, coaches, leaders, and other support providers--to exercise their professional judgement aligned to our shared vision of effective instruction, the Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM) and related best practices. However, while the framework allows for flexibility and encourages each teacher/teacher team to make it their own, our expectations for student learning are non-negotiable. We must ensure all of our children have access to rigor—high-quality teaching and learning to grade level specific standards, including purposeful support of literacy and language learning across the content areas.

A standards-based curriculum, performance-based learning and assessments, and high quality instruction are at the heart of the ELA Curriculum maps. Educators will use this map and the standards as a road map for curriculum and instruction. Carefully crafted curricular sequences and quality instructional resources enable teachers to devote more time and energy in delivering instruction and assessing the effectiveness of instruction for all learners in their classrooms, including those with special learning needs.
To support literacy and language learning across the content areas and support deeper knowledge building in the content area, throughout this curriculum map, you will see high-quality texts from both the textbook(s) and external/supplemental texts to ensure students are reading appropriately complex, worthwhile material. These texts have been evaluated by district staff to ensure that they meet criteria for text complexity--Quantitative, Qualitative, and Reader & Task Factors.  Lexile Levels are listed on the Curriculum Maps, and additional information is cited, where available.
In order to plan effective lessons that allow students to do the majority of the thinking, teachers should employ the CLIP instructional model in their daily lesson planning, including:

  • Whole-Group Instruction (20-25 minutes)-This time is for grade-level instruction. Regardless of a student’s reading level, exposure to complex texts supports language and comprehension development which is necessary for continual reading growth.
  • Small-Group Instruction (45-60 minutes)-This time is for supporting student needs that cannot be met during whole-class instruction. Teachers might provide: 1. instruction for students learning to read based on their specific needs and using texts at their reading level; 2. instruction for different learners using grade-level texts to support whole-class instruction; 3. extension for proficient readers using challenging texts, and 4. practice with and applying skills.

  • Whole-Group Closure (5-10 minutes)-This time is for closure of the day’s lesson and a time for a quick assessment of the students.

How to Use the Literacy Curriculum Maps

Our collective goal is to ensure our students graduate ready for college and career. This will require a comprehensive, integrated approach to literacy instruction that ensures that students become college and career ready readers, writers, and communicators. To achieve this, students must receive literacy instruction aligned to each of the elements of effective literacy program seen in the figure to the right.

This curriculum map is designed to help teachers make effective decisions about what literacy content to teach and how to teach it so that, ultimately, our students can reach Destination 2025. To reach our collective student achievement goals, we know that teachers must change their instructional practice in alignment the with the three College and Career Ready shifts in instruction for ELA/Literacy. We should see these three shifts in all SCS literacy classrooms:

(1) Regular practice with complex text and its academic language.

(2) Reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from text, both literary and informational.

(3) Building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction.

Throughout this curriculum map, you will see high-quality texts that students should be reading, as well as some resources and tasks to support you in ensuring that students are able to reach the demands of the standards in your classroom. In addition to the resources embedded in the map, there are some high-leverage resources around each of the three shifts that teachers should consistently access:

The Tennessee State Literacy Standards

The Tennessee State ELA Standards (also known as the College and Career Ready Literacy Standards):


Teachers can access the Tennessee State Standards, which are featured throughout this curriculum map and represent college and career ready student learning at each respective grade level.

Shift 1: Regular Practice with Complex Text and its Academic Language

Student Achievement Partners Text Complexity Collection:


Teachers can learn more about how to select complex texts (using quantitative, qualitative, and reader/task measures) using the resources in this collection.

Student Achievement Partners Academic Word Finder: http://achievethecore.org/page/1027/academic-word-finder

Teachers can copy and paste a text into this tool, which then generates the most significant Tier 2 academic vocabulary contained within the text.

Shift 2: Reading, Writing and Speaking Grounded in Evidence from the Text

Student Achievement Partners Text-Dependent Questions Resources:


Teachers can use the resources in this set of resources to craft their own text-dependent questions based on their qualitative and reader/task measures text complexity analysis.

Shift 3: Building Knowledge through Content-Rich Non-fiction

Student Achievement Partners Text Set Projects Sequenced:


Teachers can use this resource to learn about how to sequence texts into “expert packs” to build student knowledge of the world.

Read Alouds, Shared Reading, Guiding Reading


Teachers can use this resource to learn about the components of a Balanced Literacy Program.

Literacy Work Stations



Teachers can learn about why literacy work stations are important for Balanced Literacy, and gain tips for setting up literacy work stations.

Using the Curriculum Maps, Grades 3-5

  • Begin by examining the text(s) selected for the week. Read the text carefully and consider what topic or content students should learn from reading the text. Then, review the aligned essential question and culminating task your topic focus for the week.

  • Locate the TDOE Standards in the left column and the aligned evidence statements. Analyze the language of the standards, and match each standard to a learning target in the center column. Analyze the language of the standards and consider how the text supports the listed reading standards. Note that Reading Anchor Standard 1 and Reading Anchor Standard 10 are not included in the curriculum maps, but should be addressed every week, as students should consistently be reading rigorous grade-level texts and citing evidence when writing or speaking about the text:
    • CCR Reading Anchor Standard 1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

    • CCR Reading Anchor Standard 10: Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

  • Consult your Journeys Teachers’ Edition (TE) and other cited references to map out your week(s) of instruction.

  • Plan your weekly and daily objectives, using the evidence statements and sample objectives as a guide. Be sure to plan your own objectives to meet the needs of your students. As a reminder, while lesson and unit objectives should be aligned to grade-level standards, standards and objectives are not synonymous and standards mastery develops over time (not in a single lesson). Consistent with Teach 1-4 of the TEM, teachers/teams are expected to carefully develop literacy learning objectives that carefully consider the text, target (standard, objective), task, and learner (including assessment of/for learning).

  • Study the suggested performance assessments in the right-hand column, and match them to your objectives. Consider which tasks best target the essential question and content for the week, as well as alignment to standards.

  • When planning for the reading of a text, plan the questions you will ask each day using these three types of questions: those that derive general understanding, those that address craft and structure, and those that elicit an overall meaning of the text. Be sure that the questions you ask will lead students to better understand the text and lead to success on your selected performance assessments. They should also build toward your essential question.
  • Examine the other standards and skills you will need to address—writing, reading foundational skills, language skills, and speaking and listening skills. Review the suggested vocabulary for explicit instruction as listed in the map in addition to the words listed in the TE.

  • Consider how you will support building student knowledge through supplemental reading, content, research, and/or writing around the topic for the week. If a TWAG (Two-Weeks at a Glance) outline is available, review how the two weeks work together to build knowledge.

  • Remember to include differentiated activities for small group instruction and literacy stations.

Two-Weeks at a Glance (TWAG) Outlines

Beginning in the 2016-17 school year the SCS curriculum maps will include six or more “TWAG outlines” throughout the year in each grade. These outlines demonstrate how to spend two weeks digging deeply into a high-quality, complex anchor text from the Journeys series in order to build student knowledge around the topic of the story. By studying a high-leverage topic over two weeks, students will have more opportunities to grow their knowledge and vocabulary, while simultaneously building their literacy skills. The curriculum map will align to the TWAG outline, but the full outline will be found in the Appendix to the map. It is important to note that while the map will skip some stories in Journeys to build in time for the TWAG outlines, teachers should continue with the foundational skills strand as outlined in the text and the maps. The foundational skills strand follows a systematic, research based progression, and it is highly recommended that teachers use that progression to guide their instruction. TWAG outlines were developed by SCS teachers and coaches in partnership with Student Achievement Partners and other districts across the country.

Using the WIDA MPIs

WIDA English Language Development (ELD) standards and example Model Performance Indicator (MPI) strands appear within this document to provide teachers with appropriate scaffolding examples for ELLs and struggling readers. Strands of MPIs related to the domain of Reading are provided and linked to the corresponding set of CCR standards. By referencing the provided MPIs and those MPIs within the given links, teachers can craft "I can" statements that are appropriately leveled for ELLs (and struggling readers) in their classrooms. Additionally, MPIs can be referenced for designing new and/or modifying existing assessments.

Key Terms:

  • Fluency: The ability to read a text accurately and quickly. When fluent readers read silently, they recognize words automatically. They group words quickly to help them gain meaning form what they read. Fluent readers read aloud effortlessly and with expression. Their reading sounds natural, as if they are speaking.

  • Academic Language or Vocabulary: The language of schools and books – language that is used across many domains and topics. Students do not learn academic language in everyday social situations. As students read extensively over time, they develop academic language. This language helps them to read more complex texts.

  • Foundational Skills: The basic skills that need to be taught and developed first. These are the foundations that hold our learning ability together. Foundational Skills include: concentration; visual and auditory processing; short and long term memory; decoding; reasoning; sensory motor integration; fine and gross motor coordination. These skills may not seem important at first, but are often times the reason why some children battle to learn and grasp new concepts.

  • Text Complexity: Is used in evaluating student readiness for college and careers. There are three equally important components of text complexity: qualitative, quantitative, and reader and task.
  • Evidence Statements: Are taken directly from the standards. The standards contain multiple skills. Because the evidence statements usually divide each standard into individual skills, the statements can be used to craft objectives, which directly align to TEACH 1 of TEM. TEACH 1 says to “engage students in objective-driven lessons based on content standards.” If teachers design their objectives by using the evidence statements, then TEACH 1 is achieved because the objective comes directly from the standard. It is important to note that although sample objectives are embedded in the map, teachers must still craft their own objectives based on the needs of their individual classes.

  • Essential Questions: Are specific to the text(s) and often summarize the “big understanding” of what students should receive from the text or texts for the lesson. They are open-ended questions that do not have a single, final correct answer, and often call for higher-order thinking and are not answered by recall. Answers to the essential question will require support and justification from the text.

Gradual Release of Responsibility Example Behaviors: Teacher


I do it

Modeled Instruction

  • Provides direct instruction

  • Establishes goals and purpose

  • Models the expectation

  • Think aloud

  • Actively listens

  • Takes notes

  • Asks for clarification

We do it

Guided Instruction /

Guided Practice

  • Interactive instruction

  • Works with students

  • Checks, prompts, clues

  • Provides additional modeling

  • Meets with needs-based groups

  • Asks and responds to questions

  • Works with teacher and classmates

  • Completes process alongside others

They do it


Collaborative Practice

  • Provides feedback

  • Moves among groups

  • Clarifies confusion

  • Provides support

  • Works with classmates, shares outcome

  • Collaborates on authentic task

  • Consolidates learning

  • Completes process in small group

  • Looks to peers for clarification

You do it


Independent Practice

  • Provides feedback

  • Evaluates progress toward the learning expectation

  • Works alone

  • Relies on notes, activities, classroom learning to complete assignment

  • Takes full responsibility for outcome

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