ELA/Literacy Curriculum Overview

How Has Literacy Instruction Changed?
The MA Literacy Guide highlights 4 key shifts from outdated to evidence-based practices for early literacy. In the fall of 2022, CPS adopted these shifts to practice across all classrooms and grade-levels. View our Priority Literacy Practices here.

How Is CPS Literacy Curriculum & Instruction Changing?

  •  Last September(2022), Kindergarten classrooms adopted the Focus on K curriculum. This curriculum incorporates educational principles that enhance the overall growth and autonomy of young learners, integrating research-backed instructional methodologies while aligning to the Massachusetts and Common Core Curriculum Frameworks. The Focus curriculum's activities are designed to nurture students' emerging independence as both learners and responsible members of society, fostering connection, communication and collaboration skills. The framework was crafted to ensure synergy among its components, promoting students' proficiency in literacy and language, science and engineering, social studies, the arts, and social-emotional development. Literary and informational texts take center stage in each unit, serving as catalysts for conceptual learning, vocabulary enrichment, and the cultivation of critical thinking skills. Each unit incorporates dedicated Writing, in addition to integrating Social Studies and Science standards that are complemented by the CPS Science and S.S. units. Beyond this enriching curriculum, all elementary students participate in explicit, daily, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness and phonics, ensuring their mastery of foundational literacy skills and domains.
  • This September (2023), all Upper School ELA classrooms adopted the Fishtank curriculum. The Fishtank ELA curriculum guides students in acquiring knowledge, nurtures social-emotional skills, and builds pertinent vocabulary from carefully chosen texts that gradually increase in complexity. Each unit encourages students to expand their understanding of themselves, the surrounding world, and their capacity to instigate change. The selected texts facilitate discussions and writing activities that contribute to the development of students' agency, empathy, and ability to connect with diverse experiences. Essential Questions within each unit challenge students to think critically about the world from various perspectives, grapple with and explore pertinent social justice issues, learn about experiences different from their own, and reflect on their beliefs about the world. Fishtank's methodology aligns with the Science of Reading, emphasizing the gradual enhancement of students' knowledge and vocabulary through texts rather than focusing on isolated skill-based instruction. As students accumulate knowledge from the core texts and supplementary materials, they gain the capacity to independently engage and respond (both orally and in writing), with diverse and intricate media and literature. The Fishtank curriculum is rigorous, research-based and culturally responsive, and was designed around the following principles:

    • Build knowledge to nurture critical thinking
    • Center diverse, relevant, and rigorous texts
    • Prioritizing student voices and ideas to build agency
    • Learn to write, and write to learn
    • Intellectual Preparation of Teachers

  • This winter (2024), more than two-dozen educators and administrators representing each school (and interdisciplinary departments) will complete an elementary curriculum review process that results in a new, rigorous, research-based and culturally responsive elementary literacy curriculum beginning in September, 2024. In Spring of 2024, CPS held an information session for all Elementary school families to learn more about the CKLA curriculum.

Access additional resources and information for caregivers here.

Related Links
ELA/Literacy Educator Coaching
ELA Content by Grade
ELA Curriculum Site (For Staff)
CPS Literacy Curriculum Review [Process Overview]
i-Ready Personalized Learning [Overview]
Fishtank Learning
Literacy Intervention
Academic Resources
Literacy Testing / Assessment
CKLA Curriculum [Information Session]

Contact Us

135 Berkshire Street 
Cambridge, MA 02141
Fax: 617.349.6517

Emily Bryan, English Language Arts/Literacy Department Director
Allice Wong TuckerDistrict Instructional Lead Teacher, Literacy, Grades PK-2
Maria MarroquinDistrict Instructional Lead: ELA/Math, Grades PK-2

Katherine Simpson, District Instructional Lead: Literacy, Grades 3 - 5
Katie GribbenDistrict Instructional Lead: Literacy, Grades 6-8+ Transitions
Kelley Leary, ELA & Math Clerk
Jennifer Hamilton
, Dean of Curriculum & Program, English (Learning Community C) CRLS

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