Step Up and Teach – Part 4: ELA Language Standards

About Lori H Rice

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. Her students read books that are held together by tape, and because of budget cuts her school does not have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher. As a result, she says, “our schedules are limited and cannot be arranged for what is best for students.”
picture courtesy corecommonstandards.com

picture courtesy corecommonstandards.com

w’sup…

NMU…

h/w…

K TTYL…

Our students’ English has changed. They talk in IM and text. They photograph moments and ideas. They use hash tags and express themselves in ways that do not require an understanding of Standard English. We are preparing them, however, for their future; to be knowledgeable participants in society. We must equip them with an understanding of English and a working use of the language that sets them up for success beyond our classroom doors and outside of their online world. We must prepare them for society.

This month I have highlighted the anchor standards in English Language Arts. If you have not read the first three articles, go check them out. The list of the anchor standards for English Language Arts in language can be found here.  You can find your grade level specific standards there too.

Conventions of Standard English
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
• CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

Conventions of Standard English bring back memories of diagram sentences and English class with Mrs. Langston. She was strict. We learned about language though and use and conventions. This standard is about proficiency in English. Using grammar rules and writing conventions. Students can practice these skills many ways, but it is important for them to understand the rules of our crazy language so they will be able to read and write in professional and technical situations.

  • Edit peer work.
  • Look at great examples from well-known authors.
  • Read primary source documents or historical novels (Shakespeare for example) and have students select a section to memorize. Then have them rewrite the section in a current day informal dialog.
  • Use School House Rock videos and Words are Categorical books to learn about grammar.
  • Challenge students to listen for your errors during the day. They must tell you the correct usage or formal English discourse.

Knowledge of Language is application of this learning. Students need to learn and understand the basics and then be able to apply their knowledge. What writing pieces need formal English? Which situations call for informal?

  • Read different styles of writing.
  • Use poetry
  • Listen to online recordings of different writing styles. Have student compare the styles.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use is about understanding words. Students needs to increase their reading and writing vocabulary. The focus in class should be on tier two words, words that apply over many subject areas and situations that students will also see in many situations. Words that are subject or genre specific are tier three words. While these are important, emphasis should be on words that will have a broader impact on the student’s life.

  • Illustrate figurative language from a book, chapter, poem, or story.
  • Keep a list of multiple-meaning words and phrases. Illustrate each meaning of the word.
  • Play vocabulary games such as Apples to Apples and Smart Mouth.
  • Use dictionaries to find and determine the meanings of words.
  • Find synonyms and antonyms of words.

English has changed and will continue to evolve as our society changes and evolves. It is important, however, to have a mastery of our language to understand and analyze the documents of our past and to clearly communicate our thoughts and ideas not only to this generation but to future generations. Have fun looking at how words have changed. Explore the history of English. Teach your kids a love of language. Have fun!

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About the Author:

Lori Rice is a fourth-grade teacher at West Elementary in Wamego, Kansas, who has taught K-2 reading as well as kindergarten, first grade and fourth grade for the past 19 years. Her students read books that are held together by tape, and because of budget cuts her school does not have a full-time librarian, art teacher, technology teacher or music teacher. As a result, she says, “our schedules are limited and cannot be arranged for what is best for students.”

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