Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.
Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? We have answers. Check out the following FAQ.
What is the underlying philosophy of Amplify CKLA?
- Amplify CKLA is based on research showing that closing the background knowledge gap is necessary for closing the reading gap and ensuring equity for all students. To that end, Amplify CKLA teaches literacy through the lens of cross-curricular domains in science, history, literature, and culture. It was developed in response to research that shows the critical impact of background knowledge on reading comprehension and college- and career-readiness.
- The program also reflects the latest early reading research showing the importance of explicit foundational skills instruction. The program develops students’ foundational literacy skills through a systematic scope and sequence with a focus on phonics.
What is the research basis behind Amplify CKLA?
The curriculum is built on research showing that higher-level reading comprehension depends on both automatic, fluent decoding and background knowledge. Combining well-established findings from the field of early literacy research with classroom-based feedback, Amplify CKLA ensures that children will learn to listen, speak, read, and write confidently and proficiently. For more information, view the Amplify CKLA Research Guide.
What grade levels are covered and how is Amplify CKLA structured?
Amplify CKLA is a PreK–5 program. While the PreK and K–2 materials respect the important differences between early childhood education and formal schooling, the Grades 3–5 materials ensure a smooth transition to the academic rigors of middle school.
The focus in PreK is to maintain a developmentally appropriate early childhood setting; the structures, routines, and activities are engaging and children receive a solid foundation for future language arts instruction.
The focus in K–2 is developing fluent reading and writing skills, and enhancing language comprehension by building background knowledge and vocabulary. This is accomplished through two strands: the Skills Strand and the Knowledge Strand.
The Skills Strand focuses on decoding, encoding, grammar, handwriting, and the writing process, and it contains decodable chapter books for students to practice just-learned sound-spellings.
The Knowledge Strand builds background knowledge and vocabulary through carefully sequenced read-alouds and complex texts. Teachers read aloud stories that are more complex than the text students can decode on their own, enabling children to engage with complex texts and build background knowledge of a variety of connected topics in history, science, literature, and the arts.
In Grades 3–5, students are still focused on building reading and writing skills as well as knowledge and vocabulary, but the program no longer has two strands. The various lessons in each unit include read-alouds; whole-group, small-group, and partner reading; close reading; literal, inferential, and evaluative comprehension questions; vocabulary; grammar; writing; morphology and spelling (10–15 words per week); and unit assessments.
Why are there two strands of materials in K-2? How do the two strands work together?
The Skills strand provides intentional and systematic support in building decoding skills. The lessons support learning related to phonemic awareness, sound-letter patterns (or spelling patterns), decoding (both in explicit lessons and with engaging decodable texts), writing mechanics, and writing structure and processes, for 60 minutes daily.
The Knowledge Strand develops young children’s language and background knowledge. By exposing children to rich and complex texts through daily read-alouds, engaging in text-based and analytic discussions of the text and content, and building connections from the text to the work of the classroom through extension activities, the Knowledge Strand provides daily, extensive (60 minutes) broadening and deepening of children’s oral language and comprehension.
Teaching the Skills Strand and Knowledge Strand in parallel helps students avoid cognitive overload and acquire advanced, complex vocabulary in the Knowledge Strand—in essence, reading to learn from day one—while becoming expert decoders in the Skills Strand. The program is designed to bring these two strands together in grades 3–5, as foundational skills and higher-level comprehension and meaning-making gradually intertwine.
What is the rationale underlying the K-2 Skills Strand of materials?
The CKLA program takes a comprehensive approach to teaching the code of the English language in the Skills strand. While the English language has only 26 letters, these letters combine to create 150 spelling patterns that represent 44 sounds of language. In most reading programs, children are explicitly taught only a fraction of this information and must glean the rest from ad hoc and incidental exposure to these spelling patterns through text. CKLA focuses on explicitly teaching each of the 44 sounds and the 150 ways that these sounds are represented (via letters and letter combinations). This comprehensive approach assures educators that children have the knowledge they need to address any text and any word.
What is the rationale underlying the K-2 Knowledge Strand of materials?
The Knowledge Strand reflects the fact that knowledge, comprehension, and vocabulary are intimately related. The materials are designed to provide children sustained time on a variety of domains (bodies of knowledge) through shared read-alouds and discussions. This coherent organization of content is critical to building knowledge, inferring new vocabulary, and enabling comprehension. The content-rich, intentionally sequenced nature of the read-alouds within the Knowledge Strand creates the optimal context for incidental and explicit vocabulary-learning opportunities. After the read-aloud, children analyze the text through interactive discussion questions, engage in activities that foster their comprehension of complex sentences and ideas, and extend the ideas of the read-aloud into other activities in the classroom. In this way, the lessons create rich, academically oriented, oral language experiences that promote both receptive and expressive language skills.
Are there assessments?
Amplify CKLA embeds a variety of diagnostic and classroom assessments into the program materials.
There are curriculum-based assessments of both foundational skills and content knowledge, placement assessments in Grades 1 and 2 for the Skills Strand, and end-of-year Skills Strand assessments in Grades K–3. These assessments are built into the units of instruction/domains within the Teacher Guides. In Grades 4–5, there are beginning-of-year assessments, frequent spelling assessments, and comprehensive unit assessments.
Formative Assessments are integrated into every lesson, allowing teachers to understand exactly how students are doing on meeting lesson goals and standards-based objectives.
How is writing taught in Amplify CKLA?
Writing in multiple genres is taught through a process that builds from three highly scaffolded steps to seven flexible steps.
In addition to explicit lessons in handwriting, spelling, and grammar, writing is taught throughout K–5. Instruction begins with a three-step writing process: plan, draft, and edit. The process is reinforced as each new writing genre is addressed. Each genre is taught through a gradual reduction in scaffolding over a set of six lessons that includes teacher modeling, group practice, independent practice, and independent application. This systematic approach allows for continued support and predictable learning as children progress in their knowledge of text types and complexity of writing. By Grade 3, students have worked their way up to a five-step writing process: planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. Beginning in Grade 4, the writing process expands to seven components: planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, and editing (and the optional component of publishing). An important change between the writing process in Grades 3–5 is that the writing process is no longer conceptualized as a series of scaffolded, linear steps that students follow in a set sequence. Rather, students move back and forth between components of the writing process in a flexible manner, similar to the process that mature and experienced writers follow. In addition to specific writing lessons, there are numerous writing opportunities for students throughout the curriculum.
Alignment to the CCSS
How does the program support the instructional shifts that are critical to CCSS alignment?
Fully implementing the Common Core Standards requires some shifts in prevailing instructional approaches. For early grades language arts, these shifts can be summarized as (1) balancing fiction and nonfiction text, (2) building knowledge, (3) supporting students’ capacity to learn from increasingly complex texts, (4) giving text-based answers, (5) writing from sources, and (6) explicitly supporting the acquisition of academic vocabulary. The following sections document the primary ways that Amplify CKLA meets the demands of these shifts.
- The amount of nonfiction gradually increases, reaching the 50-50 balance of fiction and nonfiction by grade 3.
- Read-alouds in the Knowledge Strand are designed according to the latest research to build knowledge and vocabulary in history, science, the arts, and more.
- The texts in both the Knowledge Strand and the Skills strand increase in complexity as the program progresses within and across grades.
- In the Skills Strand, the language and knowledge demands of the texts increase, but remain decodable based on the aspects of the code that have been taught to date.
- Both strands engage students in appropriate means of providing text-based answers—orally, pictorially, and eventually in writing.
- Together, the Skills and Knowledge Strands enable students to read and digest various sources and then write by drawing on those sources.
- In both strands of the program, Amplify CKLA teaches children the process of using the text as a springboard for understanding.
- The Knowledge Strand offers repeated exposures to academic vocabulary through authentic texts and explicit word instruction.
What are the components of the Amplify CKLA program?
- Teacher Guides, Student Activity Pages, 3–4 Trade Books per domain, Flip Books, Image Cards, Transition and Center Cards, Nursery Rhymes and Songs Posters, and a Big Book (Classic Tales)
- Knowledge Strand: Teacher Guides, Flip Books, Student Activity Books, Image Cards, and online resources including supplemental lessons
- Skills Strand: Teacher Guides, Activity Books, Student Readers, Big Books, Letter Cards, Spelling Cards, Individual Code Sheets, Code and Chaining Resources (Vowel/Consonant Code Flip Books, Student Chaining Folders), Blending Cards, and online resources including differentiation and remediation guides
- Teacher Guides, Student Readers, Activity Books, Poet’s Journal, Writer’s Journal, Core Quests (The Viking Age in Grade 3, Eureka: Student Inventor in Grade 4 and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in grade 5) and Writing Quests (The Contraption in Grade 4, The Robot in Grade 5)