The purpose of this document is to assist teachers as a curriculum and instruction planning guide. It is designed to assist teachers in planning, monitoring, and assessing curriculum and instruction and documenting what students know and are able to do.

The English Language Arts Standard Course of Study has the same competency goals for Grades K-5. Each competency objective is listed in consecutive order under each goal. The competency goals and objectives are printed in landscape format to facilitate teacher planning.

Also included are a list of the genres emphasized in reading for Grades K-5 and the composition products emphasized in writing for Grades K-5. This planning guide also lists the North Carolina Thinking Skills which are integrated into each content area. In addition, there are question stems for each thinking skill for teachers to use in their instruction and assessment.

English Language Arts Curriculum: Grade by Grade

Competency Goal 1:
The learner will develop and apply enabling strategies and skills to read and write.


First Grade

Second Grade

1.01 Develop book and print awareness:

  • identify the parts of books and the function of each part.
  • demonstrate an understanding of directionality and voice-print match by following print word for word when listening to familiar text read aloud.
  • demonstrate an understanding of letters, words, sentence and story.
  • identify the title, the name of the author, and the name of the illustrator.

1.01 Develop phonemic awareness and demonstrate knowledge of alphabetic principle:

  • count the syllables in a word.
  • blend the phonemes of one-syllable words.
  • segment the phonemes of one-syllable words.
  • change the beginning, middle, and ending sounds to produce new words.
  • create and state a series of rhyming words that may include consonant blends (e.g., flag, brag).

1.01 Use phonics knowledge and structural analysis (e.g., knowledge of syllables, suffixes, prefixes, root words) to decode regular multi-syllable words when reading text.


1.02 Develop phonemic awareness and knowledge of alphabetic principle:

  • demonstrate understanding that spoken language is a sequence of identifiable speech sounds.
  • demonstrate understanding that the sequence of letters in the written word represents the sequence of sounds in the spoken word.
  • demonstrate understanding of the sounds of letters and understanding that words begin and end alike (onsets and rimes).

1.02 Demonstrate decoding and word recognition strategies and skills:

  • generate the sounds from all the letters and the appropriate letter patterns which should include consonant blends and long and short vowel patterns.
  • use phonics knowledge of sound-letter relationships to decode regular one-syllable words when reading words and text.
  • recognize many high frequency and/or common irregularly spelled words in text (e.g., have, said, where, two).
  • read compound words and contractions.
  • read inflectional forms (e.g., -s, -ed, -ing) and root words (e.g., looks, looked, looking).
  • read appropriate word families.

1.02 Read most high frequency and many irregularly spelled words accurately in text.

1.03 Demonstrate decoding and word recognition strategies and skills:

  • recognize and name upper and lower case letters of the alphabet.
  • recognize some words by sight, including a few common words, own name, and environmental print such as signs, labels, and trademarks.
  • recognize most beginning consonant letter-sound associations in one-syllable words.

1.03 Use pronunciation, sentence meaning, story meaning, and syntax to confirm accurate decoding or to self-correct errors.

1.03 Self-monitor decoding by using letter-sound knowledge of all consonants and vowels.

1.04 Read or begin to read:

  • read or attempt to read own dictated story.
  • attempt to read/reads simple patterned text, decodable text, and/or predictable texts using letter-sound knowledge and pictures to construct meaning.

1.04 Self-monitor decoding by using one or two decoding strategies (e.g., beginning letters, rimes, length of word, ending letters).


1.04 Apply knowledge of all sources of information (meaning, language, graphophonics) to read a new text silently and independently.


1.05 Interact for at least 10 minutes daily with self-selected texts that are consistent with the student's independent reading level.

1.05 Increase vocabulary, concepts, and reading stamina by reading self-selected texts independently for 15 minutes daily. Self-selected texts should be consistent with the student's independent reading level.

1.05 Use a variety of strategies and skills to read self-selected texts independently for 20 minutes daily. Self-selected texts should be consistent with the student's independent reading level.

Competency Goal 2:
The learner will develop and apply strategies and skills to comprehend text that is read, heard, and viewed.


First Grade

Second Grade

2.01 Demonstrate sense of story (e.g., beginning, middle, end, characters, details, and setting).

2.01 Read aloud independently with fluency and comprehension any text that is appropriately designed for emergent readers.


2.01 Read and comprehend text (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama) appropriate for grade two by:

  • determining the purpose (reader's and author's.
  • making predictions.
  • asking questions.
  • locating information for specific reasons/purposes.
  • recognizing and applying text structure.
  • comprehending and examining author's decisions and word choice.
  • determining fact and opinion.
  • recognizing and comprehending figurative language.
  • making inferences and drawing conclusions.

2.02 Demonstrate familiarity with a variety of types of books and selections (e.g., picture books, caption books, short informational texts, nursery rhymes, word plays/finger plays, puppet plays, reenactments of familiar stories).

2.02 Demonstrate familiarity with a variety of texts (e.g., storybooks, short chapter books, newspapers, telephone books, and everyday print such as signs and labels, poems, word plays using alliteration and rhyme, skits and short plays.

2.02 Use text for a variety of functions, including literary, informational, and practical.

2.03 Use preparation strategies to activate prior knowledge and experience before and during the reading of a text.

2.03 Read and comprehend both fiction and nonfiction text appropriate for grade one using:

  • prior knowledge.
  • summary.
  • questions.
  • graphic organizers.

2.03 Read expository materials for answers to specific questions.

2.04 Formulate questions that a text might answer before beginning to read (e.g., what will happen in this story, who might this be, where do you think this happens).

2.04 Use preparation strategies to anticipate vocabulary of a text and to connect prior knowledge and experiences to a new text.

2.04 Pose possible how, why, and what if questions to understand and/or interpret text.

2.05 Predict possible events in texts before and during reading.

2.05 Predict and explain what will happen next in stories.

2.05 Self-monitor own difficulties in comprehending independently using several strategies.

2.06 Understand and follow oralgraphic directions.

2.06 Self-monitor comprehension by using one or two strategies (e.g., questioning, retelling, summarizing).


2.06 Recall main idea, facts, and details from a text.

2.07 Demonstrate understanding of literary language (e.g., “once upon a time”) and other vocabulary specific to a genre.

2.07 Respond and elaborate in answering what, when, where, and how questions.

2.07 Discuss similarities and differences in events, characters, and concepts within and across texts.

2.08 Distinguish fantasy from reality when reading text.

2.08 Discuss and explain response to how, why, and what if questions in sharing narrative and expository texts.

2.08 Interpret information from diagrams, charts, and maps.

2.09 Identify the sequence of events in a story.

2.09 Read and understand simple written instructions.


Competency Goal 3:
The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.


First Grade

Second Grade

3.01 Connect information and events in text to experience.

3.01 Elaborate on how information and events connect to life experiences.

3.01 Use personal experiences and knowledge to interpret written and oral messages.

3.02 Discuss concepts and information in a text to clarify and extend knowledge.

3.02 Recognize and relate similar vocabulary use and concepts across experiences with texts.

3.02 Connect and compare information within and across selections (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama) to experience and knowledge.

3.03 Associate target words with prior knowledge and explore an author's choice of words.

3.03 Discuss unfamiliar oral and/or written vocabulary after listening to or reading texts.

3.03 Explain and describe new concepts and information in own words (e.g., plot, setting, major events, characters, author's message, connections, topic, key vocabulary, key concepts, text features).

3.04 Use speaking and listening skills and media to connect experiences and text by:

  • listening to and re-visiting stories.
  • discussing, illustrating, and dramatizing stories.
  • discovering relationships.

3.04 Share personal experiences and responses to experiences with text by:

  • publishing non-print texts.
  • discussing interpretations.
  • recording personal responses.

Increase oral and written vocabulary by listening, discussing, and composing texts when responding to literature that is read and heard (e.g., read aloud by teacher, literature circles, interest groups, book clubs).


3.05 Recognize how particular authors use vocabulary and language to develop an individual, recognizable voice.

3.05 Locate and discuss examples of an author's use of:

  • kinds of sentences (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory).
  • capitalization (titles, dates, days, names of countries).
  • punctuation (exclamation marks, commas in dates, and to introduce dialogue and quotations).
  • use of paragraphs in texts and their effects on the reader.
  • genre(s) and specific word choices(s).

3.06 Discuss authors'/speakers' use of different kinds of sentences to interest a reader/listener and communicate a message.

3.06Discuss the effect of an author's choices for nouns, verbs, modifiers, and specific vocabulary which help the reader comprehend a fiction or nonfiction text.


3.07 Compare authors' uses of conventions of language that aid readers including:

  • kinds of sentences.
  • capitalization of first word in a sentence and proper names.
  • punctuation to end a declarative and interrogative sentence.

Competency Goal 4:
The learner will apply strategies and skills to create oral, written, and visual texts.


First Grade

Second Grade

4.01 Use new vocabulary in own speech and writing.

4.01 Select and use new vocabulary and language structures in both speech and writing contexts (e.g., oral retelling, using exclamatory phrases to accent an idea or event).

4.01 Begin to use formal language and/or literary language in place of oral language patterns, as appropriate.

4.02 Use words that name and words that tell action in a variety of simple texts (e.g., oral retelling, written stories, lists, journal entries of personal experiences).

4.02 Use words that describe, name characters and settings (who, where), and tell action and events (what happened, what did _____ do) in simple texts.

4.02 Use expanded vocabulary to generate synonyms for commonly over used words to increase clarity of written and oral communication.

4.03Use words that describe color, size, and location in a variety of texts (e.g., oral retelling, written stories, lists, journal entries of personal experiences).

4.03 Use specific words to name and tell action in oral and written language (e.g., using words such as frog and toad when discussing a nonfiction text).

4.03 Read aloud with fluency and expression any text appropriate for early independent readers.

4.04 Maintain conversation and discussions by:

  • attending to oral presentations.
  • taking turns expressing ideas and asking questions.

4.04 Extend skills in using oral and written language by:

  • clarifying purposes for engaging in communication.
  • using clear and precise language to paraphrase messages.
  • engaging in more extended oral discussions.
  • producing written products.
  • completing graphic organizers.

4.04 Use oral communication to identify, organize, and analyze information.

4.05 Use a variety of sentence patterns such as interrogative requests (e.g., Can you go with me?) and sentence fragments that convey emotion (e.g., Me, too!).

  • write from left to right and from top to bottom.
  • write most letters and some words when dictated.

4.05 Write and/or participate in writing by using an author's model of language and extending the model (e.g., writing a different ending for a story, composing an innovation of a poem).

4.05 Respond appropriately when participating in group discourse by adapting language and communication behaviors to the situation to accomplish a specific purpose.

4.06 Write and/or participate in writing behaviors by using authors' models of language.

4.06 Compose a variety of products (e.g., stories, journal entries, letters, response logs, simple poems, oral retellings) using a writing process.

4.06 Plan and make judgments about what to include in written products (e.g., narratives of personal experiences, creative stories, skits based on familiar stories and/or experiences).


4.07 Compose first drafts using an appropriate writing process:

  • planning and drafting.
  • rereading for meaning.
  • revising to clarify and refine writing with guided discussion.

4.08 Write structured, informative presentations and narratives when given help with organization.


4.09 Use media and technology to enhance the presentation of information to an audience for a specific purpose.

Competency Goal 5:
The learner will apply grammar and language conventions to communicate effectively.


First Grade

Second Grade

5.01 Develop spelling strategies and skills by:

  • representing spoken language with temporary and/or conventional spelling.
  • writing most letters of the alphabet.
  • analyzing sounds in a word and writing dominant consonant letters.

5.01 Use phonic knowledge and basic patterns (e.g., an, ee, ake) to spell correctly three-and fourletter words.

5.01 Spell correctly using:

  • previously studied words.
  • spelling patterns.
  • analysis of sounds to represent all the sounds in a word in one's own writing.

5.02 Use capital letters to write the word I and the first letter in own name.

5.02 Apply phonics to write independently, using temporary and/or conventional spelling.

5.02 Attend to spelling, mechanics, and format for final products in one's own writing.

5.03 Use legible manuscript handwriting.

5.03 Write all upper and lower case letters of the alphabet, using correct letter formation.

5.03 Use capitalization, punctuation, and paragraphs in own writing.


5.04 Use complete sentences to write simple texts.

5.04 Use the following parts of the sentence:

  • subject.
  • predicate.
  • modifier.

5.05 Use basic capitalization and punctuation:

  • first word in a sentence.
  • proper names.
  • period to end declarative sentence.
  • question mark to end interrogative sentence.

5.05 Use editing to check and confirm correct use of conventions:

  • complete sentences.
  • correct word order in sentences.

5.06 Self-monitor composition by using one or two strategies (e.g., rereading, peer conferences).

5.06 Use correctly in written products:

  • letter formation, lines, and spaces to create readable documents.
  • plural forms of commonly used nouns.
  • common, age-appropriate contractions.
  5.07 Use legible manuscript handwriting. 5.07 Use legible manuscript handwriting.

North Carolina Thinking Skills

The North Carolina Thinking Skills represent different ways of processing information, ideas, and text. By engaging students in thinking about and interacting with text(s) at the different levels, teachers help students build a foundation for continued growth in critical analysis and comprehension of text.

The sample question stems included are intended as a starting point for assisting teachers as they guide students in engaging with texts. Use these question stems as appropriate for your students or to develop your own list of questions. The question stems represent a range of thinking levels. Depending on the selection(s), a question stem may be assigned to a different thinking skill level.




Defining problems: clarifying needs, discrepancies, or puzzling situations

Setting goals: establishing direction and purpose

Observing: obtaining information through one or more senses

Formulating questions: seeking new information through inquiry

Encoding: storing information in long-term memory

Recalling: retrieving information from long-term memory

Useful Verbs: list, name, label, recall, identify, match, choose

When was _____?

Identify the _____ in the _____.

Define the word _____.

Who did _____?

Who is the narrator of the story?

Tell about _____ .

List (facts, details, attributes).

Which picture shows _____?

Match _____ .

What is the purpose of _____?

Describe _____ .


Arranging information so it can be used effectively

Comparing: noting similarities and differences between or among entities

Classifying: grouping and labeling entities on the basis of their attributes

Ordering: sequencing entities according to a given criterion

Representing: changing the form but not the substance of information

Useful Verbs: categorize, group, classify, compare, contrast

How else might you say _____?

Describe _____ . Tell how _____ . Compare _____ .

What is the purpose of _____?

Sequence/Put _____ in order of _____ .

Is _____ greater than _____?

Why is it called _____?

Explain why _____. What caused _____?

Find the _____ that _____ .

Make a diagram/chart/graphic organizer that _____ .

Sort the_____.

Categorize the_____ of _____.


Demonstrating prior knowledge within a new situation. The task is to bring together the appropriate information, generalizations or principles that are required to solve a problem.

Useful Verbs: apply, make, show, record, construct, demonstrate, illustrate

Give some instance in which _____ .

Which of these would best demonstrate _____?

Dramatize/Pantomime/Act out _____ .

Show how _____.

Use _____ to _____.

Illustrate _____ .


Clarifying existing information by examining parts and relationships

Identifying attributes and components: determining characteristics or parts of something

Identifying relationships and patterns: recognizing ways in which elements are related

Identifying main ideas: identifying the central element; for example, the hierarchy of key ideas in a message or line of reasoning

Identifying errors: recognizing logical fallacies and other mistakes and where possible, correcting them

Useful Verbs: outline, diagram, differentiate, analyze

What part of this could be real? Make believe?

What would be a good title for _____?

How are _____ related?

Compare _____ to _____.

How are they alike? Different?

Explain the main idea.

Which words best describe _____?

Outline the important _____ .


Producing new information, meaning, or ideas

Inferring: going beyond available information to identify what reasonably may be true

Predicting: anticipating next events, or the outcome of a situation

Elaborating: explaining by adding details, examples, or other relevant information

Useful Verbs: conclude, predict, explain, elaborate, infer

If you had been _____ , what would you have done differently?

How many ways can you think of to _____?

What would happen if _____?

Predict what would be true if _____?

How can you explain _____?

Pretend/Make-believe/Imagine _____ .

Now that we have studied this, what can be concluded _____?

Create _____ .

Tell me about _____ .

Can you tell me more _____? (Elaborate)


Connecting and combining information

Summarizing: combining information efficiently into a cohesive statement

Restructuring: changing existing knowledge structures to incorporate new information

Useful Verbs: combine, summarize, design, imagine, generalize

How may ways can you think of _____?

Summarize the story in your own words _____ .

Make a plan to _____ .

What if _____?

How would you change _____?

Can you make/produce _____?

Tell/Show me how _____ .

What lesson was learned?

How can it apply to new situations?


Assessing the reasonableness and quality of ideas

Establishing criteria: setting standards for making judgments

Verifying: confirming the accuracy of claims

Useful Verbs: judge, evaluate, rate, verify, assess, define criteria

What would you do?

Should_____ be permitted to _____?

Why or why not?

Was it right or wrong for _____? Explain.

How well did _____?

What is the most important? Why?

What could have been different?

Select/Choose the best _____ .

What helped you to decide _____? Why?

Based on_____from the text, tell why_____ . (Justify)

Which would you choose/select _____? Tell why.

Which picture best represents the data?

Evaluate the effectiveness of _____ .

What evidence is there that _____? (Verify)


Grade Levels





Grade K

Picture books
Caption books

Short inofrmational

Nursery rhymes
Word plays & Finger plays

Puppet plays
Reenactments of
familiar stories

Grades 1-2

Short chapter

Telephone books

Short poems
Word plays

Short plays

Grade 3

Short stories
Fairy tales & Fables

Letters & Articles

Simple poems


Grade 4

Folklore & Science fiction

Informational books
Diaries & Journals

Concrete poems


Grade 5

Tall tales

True experiences
Newspapers & Magazines




These composition products represent a basic list of text types. Teachers may want to focus instruction on these text types, but are encouraged to expose students to additional types of writing.

Participate in writing behaviors by using authors' models of language. Write by using models.

Stories, journal entries, letters, response logs, simple poems, oral retellings

Personal narratives, creative stories, skits (familiar stories/experiences), structured, informative presentations and narratives

Simple narratives, short reports, friendly letters, directions, instructions, poems, learning logs, notes

Personal narratives, imaginative narratives, research reports, logs, diaries, journals, rules, instructions, letters-of-request, letters-of-complaint

Research reports, news articles, business letters, letters-to-the-editor, poetry, essays, feature stories

For additional information, contact:

Claudia L. Sikes at 919.807.3830 or csikes@dpi.state.nc.us
Mary R. Rose at 919.807.3829 or mrose@dpi.state.nc.us


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