King George County Schools English Curriculum Resources

King George County Schools literacy instruction is aligned to the Virginia Standards of Learning. As stated in the English Introduction:

“The goals of the English Standards of Learning are to teach students to read, write, research, and communicate. Students should be prepared to participate in society as literate citizens, equipped with the ability to think analytically, solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate with diverse groups in their communities, workplace, and postsecondary education… Students become competent readers of a variety of texts and are encouraged to acquire a lifelong love of reading.” (VDOE, 2017)

Review the complete 2017 English Standards of Learning and Curriculum Framework for your grade range. For instance, if you teach Grade 4, it is important to study the Communication, Reading, and Writing Standards for Grades 3-5.


Balanced Literacy

A balanced literacy approach provides students with regular opportunities to engage in productive work that advances literacy development in reading, writing, research, and communication. Instruction is delivered in the context of quality literature through direct whole group instruction, small group guided practice, and independent application of strategies in text.

The term balanced literacy also describes an intentional focus on developing readers and writers that are strategic in navigating both print and meaning. Across instructional contexts and grades, teachers are mindful of developing accurate, smooth word reading and text comprehension. Teachers also provide balanced instruction in writing that develops both effective communication of ideas and correct use of writing mechanics.

Effective Literacy Instruction

The vision of high-quality reading instruction promoted in KGCS can be considered using Richard Allington’s Six Ts of Effective Elementary Literacy Instruction. (http://www.readingrockets.org/article/six-ts-effective-elementary-literacy-instruction)

  • Time: Effective teachers insure that most of the instructional day is spent in meaningful reading and writing tasks. Skill practice in isolation, worksheets, and test preparation are minimized in favor of text-embedded literacy instruction.
  • Text: Effective teachers provide students with text in which they can successfully practice the reading process. They gather instructional materials and develop classroom collections to support the reading interests and levels of their students. Students engage in practice using text that they can read at a proficient level of decoding, fluency, and comprehension.
  • Teach: Effective teachers are active and intentional. Expert teachers provide explicit, direct, purposeful instruction and modeling of decoding and comprehension strategies. They teach for independence by fostering transfer of these strategies to authentic reading tasks.
  • Talk: Effective teachers facilitate a large amount of meaningful student talk that is purposeful, thoughtful, conversational, and problem solving.
  • Tasks: Effective teachers engage students in challenging and authentic tasks, such as reading whole chapter books, researching topics of interest, and writing for extended periods. There is often an element of “controlled choice” to sustain motivation for these more demanding literacy activities.
  • Test: Effective teachers offer many opportunities for students to demonstrate growth and improvement, and they involve students in evaluating their learning. They engage in minimal test preparation, but prepare students for success with meaningful, challenging, engaging literacy tasks.

Teaching for Independence and Agency

Peter Johnston describes agency in this way: “If nothing else, children should leave school with a sense that if they act, and act strategically, they can accomplish their goals.” (Choice Words, pg. 29) Effective literacy instruction empowers students to tackle reading and writing tasks with independence and agency. Consider that we can intentionally choose our responses and language to foster an active, problem-solving, growth mindset in students.

    • What do you notice?
    • I noticed that when you ___, then ___.
    • That’s what readers (or authors) do.
    • You must be proud of yourself.
    • Is that correct? How do you know?
    • How can you check?
    • Wow! How did you do that?
    • Try something.
    • Which part is tricky?
    • What can you try? What else can you try?
    • Partially correct: Which part do you know? How can you figure out the tricky part?
    • I notice that you’ve figured out something is wrong. Find the problem.
    • Here’s what you read: ___. Which part did not match? Where’s the problem?

These prompts work well in the context of explicit instruction and modeling of reading and writing strategies. Students can not develop independence without a toolbox of strategies. These prompts help students transfer instruction from passively knowing to actively doing.