The Reading, Writing, and Communicating content area of the Colorado Academic Standards include Oral Expression and Listening, Reading for All Purposes, Writing and Composition, and Research Inquiry and Design. This section provides a broad overview of the requirements of each standard for children in kindergarten through third grade and explains how the content in these Guidelines at earlier ages prepares children for meeting these standards in their formal schooling.
Oral Expression and Listening
The first standard in the Reading, Writing, and Communicating content area focuses on children’s growing ability to communicate in speech and understand the spoken language that surrounds them. Toddlers and preschoolers develop these skills at a rapid pace, and then continue to increase their ability to understand and use oral language as described within the Language Development domain for ages 3–5 years. As they enter kindergarten, children continue to build their oral vocabulary and are able to use new words when expressing their ideas, participating in conversations, and following directions. In first grade, children may also produce complete sentences orally, ask questions to clear up confusion, and include details when providing descriptions. In second grade, children also link their ideas to the remarks of others, and by third grade children can prepare for conversation by studying a topic or reading material. Children in kindergarten through third grade are also developing phonetic awareness as they are increasingly able to hear and differentiate various sounds in words, a skill that is critical to early reading.
Reading for All Purposes
The second standard describes students’ ability to read a wide variety of materials, which is also the primary focus of the Literacy Knowledge and Skills domain in the Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years. Preschool and kindergarten children are heavily engaged in learning the most fundamental processes of reading, including basic concepts of print, letter knowledge, and phonics. Children in first through third grade continue to increase their understanding of reading fundamentals, but they also begin to read independently with accuracy and fluency. They are able to apply word analysis skills to decode and determine the meaning of unknown words and continue to gain vocabulary. At the same time that children are learning to read, they develop an appreciation and understanding of books and the ability to reflect on a text’s meaning. The Book Appreciation and Knowledge subdomain in the Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years describes how preschool children develop an interest in books and the ability to look, listen, and ask questions about books. In kindergarten through third grade, the Reading for All Purposes standard describes how children continue to develop book appreciation by engaging with a wide variety of materials. Children in kindergarten through third grade comprehend increasingly complex books and are able to identify and reflect on their key features.
Writing and Composition
The third standard includes content related to writing for a variety of purposes. Precursor skills in the Guidelines for children ages 3–5 years are found primarily in Literacy Knowledge and Skills: Writing. As described in that section, preschool children are learning how writing conveys meaning and creating messages using dictation, scribbles, shapes, pictures, and letters. Children’s writing becomes more refined in kindergarten as students begin to conform to conventions, such as printing upper- and lower-case letters and spacing between words. Kindergarten children use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to express an opinion, explain information, and tell stories. In first through third grade, children learn to use the writing process and their writing becomes more structured. In first grade, children begin to provide a sense of closure at the end of a piece, in second grade they use linking words, and in third grade they group related ideas in an organizational structure.
Research Inquiry and Design
The final standard focuses on children’s ability to gather information, apply reasoning and logic, and summarize information. The basis for these skills is found in the Guidelines for ages 3–5 years in the Literacy Knowledge Skills: Comprehension and Text Structure subdomain and in the Logic and Reasoning: Reasoning and Problem-Solving subdomain. These subdomains describe how preschoolers develop the ability to retell information from books and apply reasoning, such as using past knowledge to build new knowledge and seeking multiple solutions to a question or task. Older children in kindergarten through third grade continue to build these skills. Kindergarteners learn to ask appropriate questions and gather information to answer their questions. As children progress from first through third grade, they build on these skills by expanding the types of resources and references that they use to answer increasingly complex questions. By third grade, children are able to evaluate information and recognize that different sources may have different points of view.