English Language Arts

Welcome to the English Language Arts Department. We hope that this site will help you better understand our programs and course selections. For more information contact you child’s school or Counseling Center.

NYS Educational Learning Standards for English Language Arts

The New York State Education Department has established learning standards for English Language Arts denoting the skills and abilities each student should attain at various levels of his or her education—elementary, middle and high school levels.

South Colonie English Language Arts Department Curriculum

Elementary School English Language Arts Education

The Language Arts—reading, writing, listening and speaking—play a major role in the educational program of each elementary student. District goals and the New York State Learning Standards guide the Language Arts course of study.

In the elementary grades, students are expected to learn to read, write, listen and speak:

  • for information and understanding
  • for literary response and expression
  • for critical analysis and evaluation
  • for social interaction

In South Colonie, we strive to develop students’ skills in all modes of communication and to help students become proficient, enthusiastic literate individuals who will contribute to a global society. Literacy development is monitored through locally developed assessments, standardized, and state tests. The assessments developed locally provide a method for teachers to monitor ongoing progress through systematic observation. Teachers evaluate evidence of what a child already knows, understands, and is able to do. Information gathered in this manner will inform and guide instruction on increasingly difficult tasks.

Middle School English Language Arts Education

The goal of the Middle School English Language Arts program is to present students with English experiences based on National, New York State and South Colonie Standards.

High School English Education

High school students must complete 4 units in the English to complete the New York State’s requirements for earning a Regents or an Advanced Regents diploma.

English Department Literacy Philosophy

The South Colonie Central School District’s English department is devoted to its responsibility in developing and maintaining a rigorous literacy program that parallels the New York State Common Core Standards to not only guarantee its students’ achievement but also to allow students the opportunity to experience and study works that allow for an enriched intellect. We are dedicated to creating an environment that stimulates and empowers students to respectfully address, question, or debate the content presented in our classes. 

Below are the anchor standards for College and Career Readiness that outline ELA expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language. Additional department expectations may accompany these anchor standards.

College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards Overview

Reading: To become college and career-ready, students must grapple with works of exceptional craft and thought whose range extends across genres, cultures, and centuries. Such works offer profound insights into the human condition and serve as models for students’ own thinking and writing. Through wide and deep reading of literature and literary nonfiction of steadily increasing sophistication, students will accrue literary and cultural knowledge, references, and images; the ability to evaluate intricate arguments; and the capacity to surmount the challenges posed by complex texts.

In addition to the College and Career Readiness standards, our department views reading as an opportunity to meet people, debate philosophies, and experience events far beyond the narrow confines of an individual’s own existence. Materials which reflect the ideas and beliefs of religious, social, political, historical and ethnic groups and their contribution to not only America, but also world heritage will enable students to develop an intellectual integrity in forming judgments. Chosen texts might exhibit real-world scenarios as well as corresponding language that accompanies those same scenarios, which may be deemed as mature. Taught in context and with teacher guidance, students will navigate this material in a supportive and didactic environment. It is our hope to produce informed, critical, and ethical thinkers through reading that will translate beyond the high school classroom and into the real world.  

In building its relevant and diverse classroom library, the department considers the contribution each appropriate work may make to encourage growth in knowledge in its students, its aesthetic, instructional, and ethical values, its readability for a particular group of students, and its appeal to adolescents. The adoption criteria for choosing a worthwhile text to be read by a specific class is contingent upon the type of class (i.e. specialized, elective, or college-level), grade level, skill level, thematic study, and student interest.

Writing: For students, writing is a key means of asserting and defending claims, showing what they know about a subject, and conveying what they have experienced, imagined, thought, and felt. To be college and career ready writers, students must take task, purpose, and audience into careful consideration, choosing words, information, structures, and formats deliberately. They need to know how to combine elements of different kinds of writing – for example, to use narrative strategies within argument and explanation within narrative – to produce complex and nuanced writing. They need to be able to use technology strategically when creating, refining, and collaborating on writing. They have to become adept at gathering information, evaluating sources, and citing material accurately, reporting findings from their research and analysis of sources in a clear and cogent manner. They must have the flexibility, concentration, and fluency to produce high-quality first-draft text under a tight deadline as well as the capacity to revisit and make improvements to a piece of writing over multiple drafts when circumstances encourage or require it. 

Speaking and Listening: To become college and career ready, students must have ample opportunities to take part in rich, structured conversations – as part of a whole class, in small groups, and with a partner – built around important content in various domains. They must be able to contribute appropriately to conversations, to make comparisons and contrasts, and to analyze and synthesize a multitude of ideas in accordance with the standards of evidence appropriate to a particular assignment. Whatever their intended major or profession, high school graduates will depend heavily on their ability to listen attentively to others so that they are able to build on others’ meritorious ideas while clearly and persuasively expressing their own.  New technologies have broadened and expanded the role that speaking and listening play in acquiring and sharing knowledge and have tightened their link to other forms of communication. 

The Internet has accelerated the speed at which connections between speaking, listening, reading, and writing can be made, which requires that students must be ready to use these modalities simultaneously. Technology itself is changing quickly, creating a new urgency for students to be adaptable in response to change. 

Language Use: To be college and career ready in language, students must have firm control over the conventions of standard English. At the same time, they must come to appreciate that language is at least as much a matter of craft as it is of rules and be able to choose words, syntax, and punctuation to express themselves and achieve particular functions and rhetorical effects. They must also have extensive vocabularies, built through reading and study, enabling them to comprehend complex texts and engage in purposeful writing about and conversations around content. They need to become skilled in determining or clarifying the meaning of words and phrases they encounter, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies to aid them. They must learn to see an individual word as part of a network of other words that have similar denotations but different connotations. The inclusion of language standards in their own strand should not be taken as an indication that skills related to conventions, effective language use, and vocabulary are unimportant to reading, writing, speaking, and listening; indeed, they are inseparable from such contexts.