The building blocks of the English Language Arts—phonics, reading, writing, speaking, listening and grammar—are the means through which people learn to communicate with one another and, indeed, the world at large. These facets of communication allow us to receive information, to respond to it by applying both logical and creative thought, and to express our ideas in many varied formats, including verbal, nonverbal, and written forms. Literacy, as defined by the State of New Jersey Department of Education, is “. . . a way to acquire knowledge for thinking and communicating; it is more than the acquisition of a specific, predetermined set of skills in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing. Literacy is also recognizing and understanding one’s own purposes for thinking and communicating (through print or non-print, verbal or nonverbal means) and being able to use one’s own resources to achieve those purposes.”
Within our curriculum documents, the areas of reading, writing, foundational skills, speaking, listening, and grammar are addressed at each grade level, meeting the standards set forth by the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. Because the English Language Arts are so highly integrated and interdependent, a balanced approach to instruction is therefore required. Characteristically, the development of literacy skills requires a spiraled curriculum where concepts are introduced, developed, and reinforced. Once introduced, most skills are repeatedly revisited within that grade level. They are reinforced in successive grade levels with increasing rigor and in greater depth.
To function effectively as citizens and consumers, all students need to learn to enjoy and appreciate the value of mathematics and develop the mathematical skills they must have for varied educational and career options. Strong foundations in number sense and numerical operations form a basis for the successful use of mathematics.
Students best acquire mathematics skills when they are engaged in activities that enable them to discover, understand, and apply mathematical concepts. When students are challenged to use mathematics in meaningful ways, they develop their reasoning and problem-solving skills and come to realize the usefulness of mathematics in their lives.
Students preparing for careers in the information-based economy of the twenty-first century must be able to solve real problems, reason effectively, and make logical connections. To enable all students to gain the necessary mathematical skills, understandings and attitudes, instruction needs to focus on the “whys” and “hows” of mathematical learning:
1. Pose and solve real world problems.
2. Effectively communicate mathematical ideas.
3. Make connections within mathematics and
between mathematics and other areas.
4. Provide opportunities for active student
5. Use of technology.
When math is taught in a problem-solving spirit, students are interested in what they are doing and are more likely to understand the material. Instructional strategies that allow students to talk and write about math helps to clarify and solidify their thinking and develop confidence in themselves as mathematical thinkers.
Mathematics learning is not dependent on special abilities but can be achieved by all students by using organizational strategies such flexible grouping, cooperative learning, individualized and whole class instruction, differentiating instructional strategies, and by developing achievable high-level expectations.
Students will develop positive attitudes toward mathematics when they are taught in a supportive, developmentally appropriate environment, when all students’ mathematical learning embodies the notion that engagement in mathematics is essential, and where decision-making, risk-taking, perseverance, self-assessment, and self-confidence are frequently the keys to success.
Common Core Roadmaps
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