Exploring and Developing Content Area Knowledge and Skills

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Exploring and Developing Content Area Knowledge and Skills
The English Language Arts (ELA) standards define what students should know about language and be able to do with language. The ultimate purpose of the ELA Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (CCGPS) is to ensure that all students are offered the opportunities, encouragement, and vision to develop the language skills they need to pursue life’s goals, including personal enrichment and participation as informed members of our society. Although standards are focused primarily on content, it is important to consider the acquisition of learning that is undergone by students. Therefore, as a teacher it is important that I consider the questions of why, when, and how my students grow and develop as language users. It is also important to note that ELA CCGP standards are merely guidelines that provide ample room for the innovation and creativity that are essential to teaching and learning. The organizational piece of the ELA content area is also important to consider. Each of these standards is tied to the others in both obvious and subtle ways—with overlap occurring as well.

As a teacher of the twenty first century, I think that it is important to “buy-in” the interest of student learning. The learning process is more effective when students understand why they are learning specific content and when that content is presented in a relevant manner. I have communicated to students the importance of mastering ELA content area by drawing a connection between the standards and their ability to read or write their own name or even read text presented electronically (e.g. on iPads, iPhones, television, etc.). It is important to prepare students for the literacy demands of today and tomorrow. Literacy expectations are likely to accelerate in the coming decades. To engage fully in society and the work place now and in the future, students will need powerful literacy abilities. My students will also need to develop technological competencies undreamed of as recently as ten years ago. Growing access to multimedia in both society and the classroom will continue to increase the demand for the ability to read and write using electronic media. Furthermore, reading and writing are essential skills in planning and producing nonprint media. I also take into account the relationship between literacy acquisition and spoken language when developing ELA lessons. Much of our knowledge of language and our acquisition of literacy depend on spoken language. Therefore, it is important that I help my students learn how to accomplish successfully the many functions of spoken language, such as discussing texts, making presentations, or telling stories to family and friends.

Being literate in contemporary society also means being active, critical, creative, users not only of not only print and spoken language but of visual language as well. Teaching students how to interpret and create visual texts such as illustrations, charts, graphs, and electronic displays is another essential component of the ELA content area. Although many parents and teachers worry that electronics encourage students to be passive and unreflective we cannot deny access to multimedia in the classroom if we want students to be successful in a global world. Therefore, I challenge students to analyze critically the texts they view and to integrate their visual knowledge with their knowledge of other forms of language. It was in a district wide training on implementing CCGPS that I learned my kindergarten students will be the first class required to take a computer based CCGPS high school graduation test. Therefore the use of technology in literacy lessons is imperative. I also incorporate non-fiction text and text dependent questions in my lessons to prepare my students for standardized tests.

Decisions about how I present ELA standards to my students are determined by the pre-existing organizational presentation of...
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