English Language Arts | Facing History & Ourselves
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English Language Arts

Our ELA teaching resources and approach are designed to help you create classrooms where students know that they belong and their voices matter.

Download an overview of our program to learn more about our classroom-ready resources and on-demand professional learning.

Facing History’s approach to teaching English Language Arts centers students' identities and lived experiences, creating space for students to explore complex ideas about self, society, and human behavior. 

Our Approach to ELA

For nearly 50 years, Facing History’s approach to humanities education has balanced the mind, heart, and conscience. Applied to the study of literature and writing, our ELA materials integrate literacy skills development with social-emotional learning and civic education practices.

In Facing History ELA classrooms, students explore the complexity of identity, process texts through a critical and ethical lens, and develop a sense of civic agency.

Facing History’s ELA collections seize on opportunities in classrooms that aren’t always fully realized.

Our ELA resources:

  • Diversify the range of stories students read. Central to our work is the conviction that students should read literature as “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors”; their reading should affirm their identities and transport them to worlds that they wouldn’t otherwise experience or understand.
  • Are rooted in the ethical, social, and emotional concerns of adolescence. The themes and activities of our ELA resources center adolescents’ urgent questions about justice, support their desire for respect and belonging, and nurture their capacity for reflection.
  • Invite students to connect literature to history, the contemporary world, and their lives. Through literature, writing, and discussion, students connect the moral choices, systems of power, and issues of equity represented in a text to issues in the real world.
  • Nurture the development of reading and writing identities. Students engage with multimodal and multi-genre texts and make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. Frequent writing opportunities boost retention, deepen students’ understanding of complex concepts, and prepare them to be creative participants in the world.
  • Prioritize student voice and agency. Materials support teachers to develop classrooms where students grapple with complex ideas in small and large groups, prioritizing dialogue as a community-building and meaning-making activity.

Aligned Professional Learning for ELA Educators

Facing History offers a wide variety of professional development experiences that support making the most of our English Language Arts curriculum. These offerings also develop educator competencies that are foundational to our approach, including: nurturing student-centered classrooms; promoting inquiry-based learning and deliberative skills; and fostering empathy and ethical reflection.

This is the most useful, inspiring, and empowering workshop I have ever taken. The positive energy and support of the facilitators empowered me to use my voice.
— Participant in Coming of Age in a Complex World Seminar
Woman place her arms on her lap and open book to read

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Leading an ELA department at your school or district? Use our ELA Unit Planning Guide to introduce our approach to your colleagues.

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