ELA/Literacy Curriculum Overview

How Is CPS Literacy Curriculum & Instruction Changing?

In September 2024, early childhood classrooms throughout CPS will fully implement the Focus on 4s (CPP) and Focus on K (Kindergarten) curriculum.
The Focus curricula, from the Boston Public Schools Early Childhood Department, 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. Focus 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. In addition, all elementary students participate in explicit, daily, research-based phonemic awareness and phonics instruction, ensuring their proficiency of foundational literacy skills.

In September 2024, all 1st-5th grade classrooms will fully implement the Amplify CKLA (2nd Edition) Curriculum.
This rigorous, research-based, knowledge-building curriculum was reviewed and revised by an interdisciplinary team of educators and district leaders to ensure all students have access to high quality, culturally responsive materials and practices. Amplify CKLA is a top-rated literacy program that offers explicit, systematic instruction in reading, writing, speaking and listening (Skills blocks) alongside knowledge-building content (Knowledge blocks) that deepen students' vocabulary, world knowledge and comprehension skills through units focused on world history, science, literature, and the arts. CKLA provides educators with the tools necessary to ensure all students, especially those furthest from justice, achieve and maintain strong academic outcomes.

In 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.

Fishtank is rigorous, research-based, culturally responsive, and 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
Learn more about 6-8 Fishtank here >>

English/Literacy courses in grades 9-12 encourage students to explore the critical role language and literature play in the shaping of culture and the human experience.
Department courses strengthen students' knowledge, skills and academic independence, preparing them for lifelong success through an emphasis on critical thinking, reading, writing and discussion. All courses emphasize:

  • Reading, understanding, interpreting, and appreciating a variety of complex, contemporary and classic text and media that represent diverse cultures, eras, and perspectives.
  • Effective oral and written communication, for a variety of purposes and audiences.
  • Engagement in research to acquire, organize, analyze, evaluate, and communicate information.
  • Collaboration and discourse to effectively and persuasively build on and express ideas, opinions and arguments.
Learn more about 9-12 ELA/Literacy here >>

Access additional resources and information for caregivers here.

Curriculum & Instruction

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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, Preschool - Grade 2
Maria MarroquinDistrict Instructional Lead: ELA/Math, Preschool - Grade 2

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

Meet our School-Based Literacy Interventionists >>
Meet our School-Based Literacy Coaches >>

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