student writing
Teaching Within and Beyond the Mandated Curriculum
in a Fifth Grade Language Arts Classroom

Amelia Coleman , Henry C. Lea Elementary School
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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Video Archive


Into and Through the Curriculum Preparing for Assessments Connecting Literature to Lives


Amelia Coleman teaches fifth grade at Henry C. Lea Elementary School in Philadelphia. Lea is a K-8 school in the School District of Philadelphia with an enrollment of approximately 450 students. Reflective of the West Philadelphia neighborhood in which it is situated, 90% of the students who attend Lea are African American and 85% of the student body are classified by the district as "low income." A small percentage of the students are classified as ESOL, students who receive instruction in English as a second language. AC's classroom is reflective of the larger school population.

Daily language arts is a block that happens in AC's classroom in conjunction with mathematics. AC's takes her 30 students through an hour of focused language arts instruction. When they are finished she sends her students next door to the other fifth grade teacher for focused math instruction. These students then attend their math block with the other teacher while AC takes the other fifth grade class through their language arts period. Although the content and focus is the same, both classes require support unique to the individual students. While AC points out that the students all come from the same community, she is quick to note that the differences within that community are large, and that her knowledge of her 60 students is essential to providing the contextualizing of the curriculum in a way that allows them to build on and draw from their own knowledge of the world.


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Site last updated March 15, 2006