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English Language Arts: Grade 2

PA Core Standards

The 2020–21 school year presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges due to the disruption to instruction in spring 2020 as well as the uncertainty as the school year unfolds. Educators know that every school year there are students who require support in addressing unfinished learning from prior grades, a challenge that will be felt more prominently in the 2020–21 school year. It is vitally important that educators are supported to make deliberate instructional choices that allow all students to effectively engage with grade-level work.

The most effective and equitable way to support students in their learning is to ensure that the vast majority of time is spent engaging with grade-level content, remediating with precision and accelerating as needed. It is entirely possible to hold high expectations for all students while addressing unfinished learning in the context of grade-level work. Since time is a scarce commodity in classrooms — made more limited by anticipated closures and remote or hybrid learning models in the fall of 2020 — strategic instructional choices about which content to prioritize must be made.1

Assessing students at the start of the year will identify learning gaps and provide data to inform grade level instruction — as well as incorporating both remediation and acceleration along the way. Diagnostic Assessments determine student strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills. Administering diagnostic assessments permits the instructor to intervene at the point where students begin to struggle or when they are performing below grade level expectations (running record, informal reading assessments, surveys, initial writing prompts, Classroom Diagnostic Tests [CDT]). Diagnostic assessments allow teachers to adjust the curriculum to meet the unique needs of all students. While some concepts have greater emphasis in a particular year, all standards deserve a defined level of instruction. Neglecting concepts may result in learning gaps in student skill and understanding and may leave students unprepared for the challenges of a later grade.

This guidance document is designed to identify and define areas of high-level focus in English Language Arts instruction supported by key PA Academic Standards. Note that while all standards deserve a defined level of instruction, neglecting key concepts may result in learning gaps in student skill and understanding and may leave students unprepared for the challenges of a later grade.

The focus areas detailed in each grade level, as stated in the Pennsylvania State Literacy Plan (PaSLP), offer guidance as to where instruction should occur to meet 2020-2021 critical grade level expectations of the standards:

  • Reading at the secondary level is characterized by increasing text complexity and focusing on informational text.
  • Strategic writers create writing appropriate to task, i.e., on-demand, drafting or redrafting over time.
  • Students must become effective speakers and listeners.
  • Key concepts for the knowledge of language include understanding how language functions, making effective choices for meaning, and comprehending more completely when reading or listening.

1Adapted from 2020–21 Priority Instructional Content in English Language Arts/literacy and Mathematics, Student Achievement Partners/Achieve the Core. May 2020

Roadmap for Education Leaders: Focus on Instruction (2020-2021)

This guidance document is designed to identify and define areas of high-level focus in English Language Arts instruction supported by key PA Academic Standards. While all standards deserve a defined level of instruction, neglecting key concepts may result in learning gaps in student skill and understanding and may leave students unprepared for the challenges of a later grade. Note: Refer to complete standard where ellipses appear.

​Focus Areas of Instruction​PA Academic Standards


  • Focusing on foundational skills (book handling, print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics/word recognition, and fluency).
  • Continuing the development of word recognition skills, vocabulary, and comprehension skills/strategies.
  • Practicing fluency daily focusing on repeated readings and continued opportunities to practice reading.
  • Engaging in direct, explicit, systematic, differentiated instruction and interventions.
  • Participating in daily structured language and literacy learning task opportunities and collaborative learning.


  • Writing for different purposes and audiences.
  • Engaging in systematic and explicit instruction in basic writing skills including handwriting, spelling, and grammar.
  • Writing daily with guidance for a variety of purposes.
  • Focusing on the writing process as a means of improving writing.

Speaking & Listening

  • Engaging daily in one-to-one, small group, and whole class conversations including discussions and collaborative communication.
  • Establishing skills of collaborating, being a good listener, taking turns, and supporting ideas with facts.
  • Developing and asking questions about topics being studied and text being read.


  • Gaining control over many conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics, as well as learning other ways to use language to convey meaning effectively.
  • Determining or clarifying the meaning of grade-appropriate words encountered through listening and reading.
  • Developing an understanding of new words within context with prompting and support.
  • Acquiring new words with explanations that make understanding more concrete.
  • Encountering new words with high frequency.

CC.1.1.2.D Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words…

CC.1.1.2.E Read with accuracy and fluency to support comprehension...

CC.1.2.2.A / CC.1.3.2.A Identify the main idea of a multi-paragraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text / Recount stories and determine their central message, lesson, or moral.

CC.1.2.2.B / CC.1.3.2.BAsk and answer questions about such as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.

CC.1.2.2.C / CC.1.3.2.C Describe the connection between a series of events, concepts, or steps in a procedure within a text… / Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

CC.1.3.2.D Acknowledge differences in the points of views of characters…

CC.1.2.2.E / CC.1.3.2.E Use various text features…to locate key facts or information… / Describe the overall structure of a story…beginning introduces the story…ending concludes the action.

CC.1.2.2.G / CC.1.3.2.G Explain how graphic representations contribute to and clarify a text / Use information from illustrations and words…to demonstrate understanding of characters, setting, or plot.

CC.1.2.2.H / CC.1.3.2.H Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text / Compare and contrast two or more versions of the same story by different authors or different cultures.

CC.1.2.2.J / CC.1.3.2.J Acquire and use…conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words…

CC.1.2.2.K / CC.1.3.2.I Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown or multiple-meaning words and phrases…choosing flexibly from a range of strategies and tools.

CC.1.2.2.L / CC.1.3.2.K Read and comprehend literary nonfiction and informational text on grade level, reading independently and proficiently / Read and comprehend literature on grade level, reading...

CC.1.4.2.B / CC.1.4.2.H / CC.1.4.2.N Identify and introduce the topic / Identify the topic and state an opinion / Establish a situation and introduce a narrator and/or character.

CC.1.4.2.C / CC.1.4.2.I / CC1.4.2.O Develop the topic with facts and/or definitions… / Support the opinion with reasons that include details… / Include thoughts and feelings to describe experiences and events…

CC.1.4.2.D / CC.1.4.2.J / CC.1.4.2.P Group information and provide a concluding statement… / Create an organizational structure that includes reasons… / Organize a short sequence of events…

CC.1.4.2.E / CC.1.4.2.K / CC.1.4.2.Q Choose words and phrases for effect / Use a variety of words and phrases to appeal to the audience.

CC.1.4.2.F / CC.1.4.2.L / CC.1.4.2.R Demonstrate a grade-appropriate command of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling…

CC.1.4.2.X Write routinely over extended time…for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes....

CC.1.5.2.A Participate in collaborative conversations with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

CC.1.5.2.B Recount or describe key ideas or details…read aloud or information presented orally…

CC.1.5.2.C Ask and answer questions…to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.

CC.1.5.2.D Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.

CC.1.5.2.E Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation…

CC.1.5.2.G Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English…