Middle School 137’s English Language Arts Department

M.S. 137 English Language Arts Department Middle School 137’s English Language Arts department is comprised of approximately forty dedicated educators. Our overarching departmental goal is for all students to graduate from M.S. 137 not only with the literacy skills necessary to succeed in high school, but also to become lifelong learners with the foundation needed to prepare them for college and careers. As we transitioned to the Common Core Learning Standards, we have made shifts in instructional practices to support students in meeting these rigorous standards. This includes engaging students in accountable talk and writing activities that are grounded in authentic texts, as well as engaging in word study so that students are able to read and comprehend more challenging books, articles, and stories.

To help the students meet the challenges the Common Core Learning Standards present, the ELA department has been implementing Scholastic Code X in its curriculum for the past three years. This is a city-approved program that stresses the importance of multiple readings of texts to boost students’ reading levels and critical thinking skills. In each unit, students read texts, engage in word study, respond to close reading questions, collaborate with other students to plan presentations, and complete performance assessments that ask them to apply what they have learned. Teachers use the results of these and other assessments to plan instruction designed to meet the needs of our diverse student population.

In addition to Scholastic Code X, teachers also have access to a wide variety of digital resources. These include NBC Learn, Discovery, and BrainPop. As most classrooms have been equipped with a SMART Board, teachers are able to integrate these resources to build background knowledge and engage learners in analysis of digital media, an important 21st century skill.

This year, our instructional focus is assessment. In order to provide students with the tools necessary to be successful students, teachers create meaningful opportunities for students to peer and self-assess in order for a thoughtful reflection process to occur. The ELA department engages in frequent professional development to share best practices and learn new strategies to support academic success for all students. Teachers also collaborate with each other during teacher team meetings to examine lessons, plan assessments, and identify resources that will help students to meet instructional goals. Our ELA department is constantly exploring new practices and resources to support student achievement in literacy and ensure that all students graduate well on their way to college and career readiness.  

Click here to see the ELA Curriculum Maps