English Language Arts K–12

The Pearson System of Courses for English language arts provides an innovative, engaging curriculum beginning in kindergarten and extending through Grade 12—a system designed from the ground up to help students achieve the goals of the Common Core State Standards for English language arts.

Each course provides a full school year of instruction, comprising a series of related units. Each unit is composed of a series of related lessons. Lessons, in turn, fit together to make longer, thematic “episodes,” which provide sustained investigation of related texts and themes.

Unit Overview

Each English language arts unit is organized around a theme introduced at the outset of the unit.

The central concepts of the unit drive a deeper exploration of the theme through careful study of the unit’s texts. Students encounter a variety of texts in each unit and explore thematic connections between them and their own experiences by reading and working independently, sharing ideas with a partner, and extending their understanding in a Whole Group Discussion.

In this example of an English language arts seventh grade unit, “Call to Action,” students study speakers and speeches that have inspired audiences.


Guiding Questions

Guiding Questions challenge students to explore key unit themes.

Each unit begins with a series of provocative Guiding Questions that frame the activity of the unit and provide context for close reading and rereading of texts.

Students have the chance to explore and compare contemporary narrative and informational texts in a variety of formats—including poems, novels, and short stories, as well as historical documents and videos.

Each unit also begins with a brief introductory video so that students understand the unit’s main themes and their own learning objectives.

For example, students beginning the unit “Call to Action” have the chance to review the Guiding Questions and introductory video for this unit in the left column of the screen. 



Each English language arts unit comprises a series of connected lessons.

Together, connected lessons form “episodes”—thematic learning experiences that span a series of related lessons. For example, students exploring the unit “Call to Action” can move from one episode to another—in this example, to the episode “Studying Inspiring Speeches”—to get immediate access to the related lessons within it.

Every lesson contains specific learning routines that help students develop academic behaviors that provide the foundation for career- and college-readiness.

By design, students and teachers return to these routines repeatedly throughout the academic year. During the process, once-new behaviors become familiar classroom habits.


The English Language Arts Lesson

The lesson is the fundamental structure for learning and instruction within the Pearson System of Courses for English language arts.

Lessons within each unit focus on developing skills and knowledge that deliberately build upon previously learned skills and practices. Within each unit, carefully sequenced sets of lessons fully address the Common Core State Standards within the unit.

From kindergarten onward, students’ learning is organized around proven activities and routines presented consistently within the Pearson System of Courses. These experiences include Guided Reading, Whole Group Discussion, Whole Group Share, Whole Class Review, Read Aloud, Think Aloud, Turn and Talk, Partner Reading, Partner Share, Peer Conference, and Quick Write. Students also complete assessments, such as Cold Reads and Cold Writes.

These routines shape the core of the lesson structure in the Pearson System of Courses. As they become habits for students, teachers have the chance to spend less time on managing the classroom and more time on teaching.

Follow the tabs below to review representative routines from the seventh grade unit “Call to Action.” The accompanying screen shots illustrate Episode 2 of this unit, “Studying Inspiring Speeches.” 


English Language Arts 2–12 Lesson


Each lesson in the Pearson System of Courses for English language arts begins with an Opening that sets the stage for the lesson.

The Opening may pose a question or ask students to make a prediction about a task. It may define a new concept or revisit a concept from a previous lesson. The Opening might ask students to consider a video, review a text, explore a digital interactive, or get ready for a teacher demonstration or discussion that announces the lesson objectives. 


In this lesson, students read and watch a speech by Aung San Suu Kyi and watch Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. They compare the two speeches and discuss how the speeches and the speakers’ delivery affect their audiences.

Work Time

Once the challenges of the lesson have been framed by the Opening, students are asked to respond to questions and/or writing prompts, usually by working independently first, and then with a partner or small group.

This routine, called Work Time, is composed of a series of repeated subroutines that help students develop their reading and writing skills.

These subroutines—which include activities such as Quick Write, Partner Share, Whole Group Discussion, and Small Group Discussion—typically are presented in sequence within a lesson. This sequence encourages students first to develop their own ideas and responses, next to refine their understanding by working with a partner, and then to share what they know and learn from others in their class. 


In this Work Time routine, students are asked to write a response to questions as they consider all the work they have done on Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech over the last few lessons.

Quick Write

Work Time generally begins with a Quick Write. During a Quick Write, students are prompted to write on a topic in their digital Notebook for a short period of time—usually no more than 5 minutes. The purpose of the Quick Write is for students to record their thinking on a topic without self-editing.

Quick Writes occur in almost every lesson. Sometimes they are presented in the Opening to focus students on the lesson. Most often, they are presented during Work Time to help students capture initial thinking about a task, access prior knowledge about a topic, or prepare ideas to contribute to a discussion.

Quick Writes also take place at the lesson Closing to help students quickly and consistently reflect on the learning of the day.


During this Quick Write, students take 5 minutes to write about their reaction to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Partner Share

Partner Share involves two students talking quietly with each other to share their writing or their thinking about a topic. Doing so helps establish an important expectation at the heart of the Pearson System of Courses: “In this classroom we learn with—and from—each other.”

Frequently, Partner Share follows a Quick Write when partners share their writing with each other. Partner Share may also occur in preparation for a Whole Group or Small Group Discussion so that students can try out their ideas with one person before offering them to the larger group. After annotating a text, for example, students might be asked to compare their annotations with a partner’s to see if they both have the same understanding of a text.


After writing about their reactions to Dr. King’s speech, students discuss their thinking with another student during Partner Share.

Whole Group Discussion

After working with a partner, students typically are asked to share their ideas with the larger class.

During Whole Group Discussion, students talk to one another about an issue or topic suggested by their reading, viewing, or writing. Discussions often occur after reading a text, because talking about a text and listening to one another discuss a text enhances comprehension.

Discussions may occur during Opening, Work Time, or Closing. Most discussions are oral and occur during class, but students can also share their ideas—and comment on others’—by exchanging ideas and comments written in their Notebooks using the Sharing tool.


During this Whole Class Discussion, students discuss how these two speeches are the same and how they are different, citing specific examples in the text to illustrate their ideas.

Small Group Work

Small groups consist of three or more students working collaboratively on a task. Each member of the group is typically held accountable for his or her own contribution to the work. Group Work usually occurs during Work Time.

Small Group Work helps students meet important Speaking and Listening Standards while at the same time developing key teamwork and collaboration skills.


In this Small Group Work, students are asked to collaborate in a small group to study and analyze another speech, using all the skills acquired while working on Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Text Annotation

Annotating texts—underlining, highlighting, and making margin notes—helps students better comprehend texts they encounter. At key moments in each lesson, students are asked to make use of the Pearson System of Courses integrated Annotation tool to encourage close reading.

Student annotations can be saved and even shared among students—right inside the Pearson System of Courses application. This collaboration makes it possible for students to easily share what they know with others and to learn from their classmates as they’re reading key texts.

For more information on the many ways students can use annotation, refer to the System Overview—Using Annotation Tools.



Here the student has highlighted key passages (yellow), posed a question (blue), and noted key words to learn (orange).


The Closing routine finishes a lesson.

Often, this routine includes a group discussion led by the teacher, who quotes student work and helps students make sense of what they’ve learned by representing the purpose of the lesson in light of what has transpired during the various routines of Work Time. 

During Closing, students are prompted to reflect on their learning. In addition to consolidating their learning, this routine of self-reflection and sharing provides the teacher with an informal assessment of the students’ level of understanding and a sense of the types of questions students still have.

Once finished with the lesson, students can go to More to Explore for further readings, research, and games—each correlated to the unit they’re currently studying.


During Closing, students list any problems they are having and prepare their group to share with the class.

More to Explore

More to Explore makes it possible for teachers and students to explore additional, supplemental learning materials that correlate with work presented within an ELA unit.

For each ELA unit, More to Explore collects and presents:

Topic Readings, which provide historical context and at the same time help students explore why and how their classwork is relevant today.

Independent Readings, which compile classic and contemporary books and book excerpts—texts recommended by educators and curated by grade level.

Claims & Quests, which invite students to respond directly to provocative statements or theses related to the unit work. Students are asked to prove or disprove a specific claim based on their own knowledge and understanding, or—in response to a Quest—to create something original of their own.

Games & Challenges, which encourage word play and—in higher grades—combine dynamic vocabulary games with a careful examination of grammatical concepts.

Beyond the Classroom, which connects students to an ever-growing array of hand-curated educational resources, productivity tools, games, and other apps available to them outside the Pearson System of Courses, via the web.