How to Create the PERFECT Language Arts Action Plan

ELA Action Plan with Shurley English.jpg

If you follow the Shurley English blog, you already know that our main goal is to give students the knowledge, skills, and practice they need to become competent, confident communicators.  Our plan of action consists of applying the following equation during language arts instruction:   

(Knowledge + Skills) x Practice = Competence and Confidence.


An important addition to the equation is consistency.  As students learn the umpteen language arts skills necessary to use language with competence and confidence, it’s important for teachers to use consistent terminology and some consistent processes with fidelity.   Why?


“A student is more likely to learn, retain, and transfer information with a greater depth of knowledge when consistent, accurate, instructional language and processes are used.”


In the 1990s, a scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research by the name of Norman L. Webb developed the concept of depth of knowledge.  Depth of Knowledge—also referred to as DoK— refers to the depth of understanding required to answer or explain an assessment-related item or a classroom activity.  There are four levels, and each level describes how extensively students are expected to transfer and use what they have learned in different academic and real world contexts.  The levels of DoK are:


Level 1: Recall and Reproduction

Tasks at this level require recall of facts or rote application of simple procedures. The task does not require any cognitive effort beyond remembering the right response or formula. Copying, computing, defining, and recognizing are typical Level 1 tasks.


Level 2: Skills and Concepts

At this level, a student must make some decisions about his or her approach. Tasks with more than one mental step such as comparing, organizing, summarizing, predicting, and estimating are usually Level 2.


Level 3: Strategic Thinking

At this level of complexity, students must use planning and evidence, and thinking is more abstract.  A task with multiple valid responses where students must justify their choices would be Level 3.  Examples include solving non-routine problems, designing an experiment, or analyzing characteristics of a genre.


Level 4: Extended Thinking

Level 4 tasks require the most complex cognitive effort.  Students synthesize information from multiple sources, often over an extended period of time, or transfer knowledge from one domain to solve problems in another.  Designing a survey and interpreting the results, analyzing multiple texts by to extract themes, or writing an original myth in an ancient style would all be examples of Level 4.


When you first gain knowledge and skills in a certain area, the depth of understanding is like a shallow pool as illustrated in DoK Level 1.  Then, the more you repeat the knowledge and skills, through practice, the deeper the pool becomes as illustrated in DoK Levels 2-4.  So, in a way, DoK describes the various levels of our plan of action: 


(Knowledge + Skills) x Practice = Competence and Confidence.


The beauty of Shurley English curriculum is that you don’t have to worry about how to merge proven models of thinking and learning.  We’ve already done the hard part for you.  All you have to do is follow the step-by-step lessons to achieve the optimum results for your students!

I encourage you to join the Shurley English Language Arts Revolution!