We are constantly striving to listen, learn, and adapt our curriculum to help teachers meet the needs of all students. We are excited to share our latest additions to the Fishtank ELA curriculum across grades K–8. Many of these additions came directly from Fishtank user feedback in our latest surveys so keep an eye out for future opportunities to share the enhancements you hope to see!
Additions to K–5 Curriculum
Cold Reading Assessments
At Fishtank, we trust our teachers to make the best decisions for their students. To support you in doing that, we have expanded our offering of assessments available to K-2 teachers. Now, all units in the K-2 ELA curriculum have Cold Reading Assessments alongside the vocabulary and comprehension based Content Assessments we have always provided. With this new addition, you have the opportunity to measure students’ ability to apply the skills developed within the unit to a text that they are seeing for the first time. While we don’t expect students to complete all assessments for all units, we wanted to provide options so that individual teachers could select which data points they want to collect over the course of the year and make the decisions that best align with their students’ needs.
For our Kindergarten through 5th grade ELA teachers, we are significantly expanding our offering of process-based writing projects. Not only are we adding additional writing projects to each unit, but we are diversifying the writing genres covered within and across units. You will now be able to tackle more informational/research, opinion, and narrative writing projects with your students. Currently, these additional writing projects are live for 1st and 2nd grade. Kindergarten, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade are being updated with new writing projects on a rolling basis.
1st grade students explore narrative and opinion writing in unit 2 as they work to address the following prompt as part of the Folktales Around the World unit. Students spend three days moving from discussions, to brainstorming, to finally writing their own responses.
2nd grade students tackle informative writing as they address the following prompt in the Awesome Insects unit. Students conduct research and utilize unit vocabulary to inform their responses.
Additions to 6–8 Curriculum
Enhanced Vocabulary Package
For our middle school teachers, we have provided an expanded vocabulary package to support all students in deepening their understanding of academic and content specific language. Our Enhanced Lesson Plans (available with a Fishtank Plus subscription) now include a new Comprehensive Review and Vocabulary section to support the introduction of new words with guidance on setting up vocabulary logs and word walls. Throughout the lesson, there are additional review activities and targeted close reading moments to reinforce the vocabulary.
7th grade students begin their study of American Born Chinese with the following Comprehension Review and Vocabulary. Teachers employ the Explicit Instruction of Vocabulary Teacher Tool for the selected terms.
Independent and Close Reading Guidance
To help make independent reading a more effective homework assignment, lessons now include targeted comprehension questions for students to focus on while reading at home. Additionally, there is dedicated time in each lesson for Comprehension Review to make sure students understand the literal meaning of the text before diving into the lesson’s close reading questions.
6th grade students analyze characters’ and their motivations for homework as part of their study of The Giver.
Each Enhanced Lesson Plan (available with a Fishtank Plus subscription) now includes additional guidance on running the close reading with scaffolding questions, language supports, and key moments to analyze. These additions help teachers ensure all students are able to access the close reading questions.
In the Defining America unit, 7th grade students complete a close read of The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus. Teachers have the following guiding prompts and questions to support students.
Supports for All Students
To further support all students in accessing the ELA material, we have added a new “Supporting All Students” section at the unit level to emphasize the importance of intellectually preparing the unit and lessons with all students in mind. Throughout the Enhanced Lesson Plan, there are sections dedicated to Language and Additional Supports to engage Multilingual Learners and students reading below grade level. These supports include scaffolding questions and sentence stems for written responses or partner discussions. To learn more about each support, teachers can hover over the question mark for information and links to specific Teacher Tools.
To support 6th grade students as they dive into The Outsiders, the Enhanced Lesson Plans provide a Building Background and Accessing Prior Knowledge section with numerous supports including the Language Supports shown here.
Ready to give these new features a try? Upgrade to Fishtank Plus for access to the Enhanced Lesson Plans for Fishtank ELA. Stay up to date with all the exciting new additions to Fishtank Learning by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Have ideas on how we can improve? Let us know.