999 West Dundee Road
Wheeling, Illinois 60090

Phone: 847-537-8270

Superintendent: Dr. Michael Connolly

School Board & Administration



CCSD21 is a school district comprised of 13 schools across 6 different communities in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.



School District 21 prides itself on its Professional Learning Community and its rich tradition of professional collaboration, high levels of professional development, and family-like atmosphere. If you see the opportunity to work with colleagues in making a difference in the lives of students and families in a truly diverse setting, School District 21 seeks your application.

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Language Arts

Writing & Language

Critical Content

Power Standards

  • Write concise, research-based arguments analyzing and supporting claims about authentic topics recognizing alternate claims about the topics, citing reliable sources and using precise language. (W 8.1, L8.3, 8.4, 8.6)
  • Write cohesive, research-based explanatory texts about authentic topics using demonstrating appropriate use of academic vocabulary and citing reliable primary and secondary resources. (W 8.2, L 8.3, 8.4, 8.6)
  • Write narratives to reflect significant authentic experiences or events using purposeful verb-choice and including the analysis of the causal relationship between events. (W 8.3, L 8.3, 8.4, 8.6)

*See student writing examples on Appendix C of the Common Core document


Power Standards Critical Content

In the language of instruction, students will…

  • Write routinely over extended time frames and shorter time frames for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences
  • Write 3 or more long-form writing pieces to final draft
  • In all types of writing:
    • Plan, develop, and organize writing according to task, purpose, and audience (e.g., formal)
    • Use appropriate transition words and phrases to link ideas
    • Use precise and/or academic language and vocabulary specific to the topic
    • Determine the credibility of a source (who wrote it, when it was written, and why it was written)
    • Include explicit text support/evidence in non-fiction writing pieces
    • Vary sentence patterns to communicate effectively and for stylistic purposes
    • Maintain consistency in style and tone in speaking and writing
    • Edit writing independently, by reading aloud, or wit hthe help of others to check for errors in capitalization, punctuation, grammar, spelling, and vocabulary
  • Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
    • Use logical and relevant evidence
    • Cite credible sources using internal citation for direct quotes and paraphrasing
    • Identify and use salient academic vocabulary according to the idea/concept/topic
    • Use precise words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationship among claim(s), reasons, evidence, and counterclaims
    • Provide a concluding statement or section that supports the argument
  • Write informational/explanatory texts that examine and convey ideas, concepts, and other information.
    • Select and analyze a focused idea, concept, and/or topic
    • Organize salient supporting information/details about focused topic into deeper categories
    • Cite credible primary and secondary sources using internal citation and paraphrasing
    • Incorporate meaningful formatting, graphics, and multimedia into written text
    • Introduce a topic clearly and develop it with relevant facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, and/or examples
    • Identify and use salient academic vocabulary according to the idea/concept/topic
    • Use varied transitional language to create cohesion and clarify the relationships between complex ideas and concepts
    • Create a concluding statement or section that supports the information or explanation presented
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events
    • Engage and orient a reader by establishing a context and point of view and introducing a narrator and/or characters
    • Use narrative techniques to:
      • provide descriptive details
      • Develop appropriate event sequences and structures
      • Develop experiences events, and/or characters through dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection of casual relationships between events
    • Use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language
    • Use verbs in the active and passive voice to emphasize the actor/character or action
    • Use verbs in the conditional and subjunctive mood to express uncertainty or describe a state that’s contrary to fact
    • Provide a conclusion that reflects on the narrated experiences or events
  • Gather and use in one’s own writing and citations new academic, technical, and content-specific vocabulary (words and phrases):
    • Define and use common Greek and Latin roots and affixes
    • Use reference materials to clarify word meaning, part of speech, and pronunciation and use new words in text


Additional Critical Content

  • Use the writing process to create powerful writing by:
    • Use organizational/formatting structures (graphic organizers/brainstorming/lists) to plan and develop writing.
    • Form and use verbs in the indicative, imperative, interrogative, conditional, and subjunctive mood
    • Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice.
    • Use figures of speech such as verbal irony and puns.
    • Use the relationship between words to enhance the message.
    • Apply revision strategies (e.g., reading aloud, checking for misunderstandings, adding and deleting details, creating new drafts) with the help of peers, other experts, and/or technology to correct issues with passive and active voice, mood
    • Edit writing by checking for errors in capitalization, punctuation, grammar, spelling, and verb tense.
  • Use effective research techniques to:
    • Conduct short, focused research projects to answer a central question
    • Use search terms effectively when gathering relevant information from multiple print and digital sources
    • Determine credible sources which contain relevant textual evidence to answer the central research question
    • Draw on several sources when conducting research and formulate new questions as needed
    • Analyze the information found in the sources and determine if it provides enough support to answer the questions
    • Avoid plagiarism by correctly citing textual evidence such as quotes (“word for word” support) and paraphrases
    • Use a standard citation format to create a bibliography for the sources


Concept-Based Connections

Essential Understandings

  • Effective writing, which communicates clearly to the intended audience and fulfills its specific purpose, provides a means of discovery, of communication, of argument, and of creative expression.
  • Effective writing is the result of multi-stage, collaborative and reflective processes.
  • Research-based ideas and arguments can influence an audience’s understanding and beliefs.
  • Text structures allow writers to communicate with an audience in appropriate and meaningful ways in order to achieve the intended purpose.


Factual Guiding Questions

  • What do good writers do?
  • What’s my purpose and how do I develop it?
  • What elements are necessary for a published piece?
  • What do good researchers do?
  • What is the difference between plagiarism, paraphrasing, quotations, and citations?
  • How do good writers use new vocabulary?
  • What makes evidence/support more salient?


Conceptual Guiding Questions

  • What is the purpose of an argument?
  • How does a writer use what is know to help determine what is yet unknown?
  • How does author’s word choice influence an audience?
  • Why do we need to know/understand both sides of an argument?


Engaging/Debatable Guiding Questions

  • What makes different writing techniques attractive to readers?
  • Why write?
  • How does context affect meaning?


Language Considerations

Language General Transfer-Students must draw upon the following…

Common features in writing systems

  • Capitalization
  • Punctuation
  • Lines or other spatial constraints of the writing


Non-cognitive transfer

  • Attention
  • Listening
  • Concentration
  • Persistence
  • Task Completion


Self-esteem transfer

  • Being literate
  • Feeling Capable
  • Possessing specific competencies
  • Achieving
  • Believing in one’s ability to learn


Common among all languages

  • Develop Oral Language
  • Match speech to print
  • Contextualized literacy instruction
  • Meaningful
  • Active
  • Comparative
  • Recurrent


English language specific

  • See above critical content and additional critical content
  • English in the U.S. develops discourse that is deductive and linear: thesis/topic sentence, main idea, support, conclusion.
  • Linear sequence patterns: use a variety of transition words, phrases, and clauses to convey sequences and signal time and setting shifts
  • Accurately use a comma, ellipsis, or dash to indicate a pause or break.


Spanish language specific

  • Verb conjugation and inflection
  • Verb and adjective gender and number agreement
  • Irregular verbs
  • Code-switching
  • Spanglish
  • El/La (articles that reflect number and gender)
  • Word order patterns
  • Cognates
  • Dialects (regional dialects)
  • Tildes
  • Dieresis
  • Circular/Spiral
  • Spanish specific capitalization and punctuation
  • Distinguish between formal and informal style of speaking according to audience and purpose (TĂș vs. Usted).
  • Digression or tangential discourse patterns
  • Romance languages (Spanish) develops discourse by digression
    • Takes lots of time; begin with topic, go off on tangent, contradict tangent, conclude with main idea
    • Flowery, fancy, formal intensifiers
    • Reiteration, say it up to 7 times (average is 3 times) each time gets bigger, better, more flowery than before
  • Respect, honor and teach dialectical differences within culture and regions
  • Compare language and writing traditions that reflect customs, regions and cultures
  • At grade appropriate level, write to reflect customs and cultures of Spanish-speaking countries and communities, including personal experiences and references


English language development

  • Teach students with discourse pattern of American English explicitly along with subject area content.
  • Skills and strategies according to proficiency level of student


Russian language specific

  • Discourse pattern: Situational, always changes; sometimes one way, next time rearrange story and give different version; may appear to others to be inconsistent because of changes in discourse pattern


Polish language specific

  • Discourse pattern reflective of Polish culture



Informal Assessments are used during the process of brainstorming, drafting, revision and editing or class discussions.

In the language of instruction students will…

  • Write for a variety of reasons and for different lengths of time (e.g., to inform, to describe, to persuade, to entertain/convey an experience)
  • Collect evidence of student understanding and growth throughout the writing process
  • Argument
    • Choose a side of an argument and identify salient reasons that support the choice
    • Determine the credibility of a source (who wrote it, when it was written, why it was written) and the accuracy of the details presented in the source
    • Support a research-based argument with explicit textual evidence (“word for word” support) found in credible sources
  • Explanatory/Informational
    • Select a focused topic, identify and gather relevant information (e.g., well-chosen facts, academic vocabulary, details, quotations, examples) to include in writing
    • Include explicit textual evidence to strengthen analysis, reflection, and/or research
    • Analyze the information, identify vocabulary specific to the topic, and organize information into deeper categories using an appropriate structure
    • Choose several sources (e.g., biographies, non-fiction texts, online encyclopedia) and gather information to answer the research question
    • Create additional focused questions that relate to the original topic and allow for further investigation
  • Narrative
    • Use the appropriate parts of plot when writing a story (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution)
    • Engage the reader by introducing the narrator (first, second or third person point of view), characters, setting (set the scene), and/or the event that starts the story in motion
    • Use narrative techniques (dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection) to develop characters and the storyline
    • Use descriptive words and phrases that appeal to the senses, capture the action, and help the reader understand the events an the experiences of the characters
  • Observe/Collect evidence of student’s use of the writing process
    • Pre-write/Brainstorm
    • Peer-peer and teacher-student conferences
    • Multiple peer and self-revisions
    • Peer edits


Formal Assessments are used as a measure of student achievement towards master of a skill and Power Standard. Often a formal assessment will result in a grade.

In the language of instruction students will…

  • Write 3 or more long-form writing pieces to final draft
  • Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence
  • Write informational/explanatory texts that examine and convey ideas, concepts, and other information
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events.