A comprehensive balanced literacy program based on strong research and effective classroom practices is used in the Kindergarten through second grade classrooms. Our literacy program aligns with the Common Core State Standards and serves as an Integrated Model of Literacy where listening, speaking, reading, writing, and language standards are integrated across all subjects. Learning outcomes for this literacy model emphasize depth of knowledge, problem solving and higher order thinking skills. This is a rigorous literacy model designed to create literate students for the 21st century who are fluent readers, critical thinkers, informative writers, effective speakers, and engaged listeners. Students are also expected to use technology as a source of information, research, and a means of communication.
Develop a strong understanding and working knowledge of concepts of print, the alphabetic principle, and other basic conventions of the English writing system.
Read increasingly difficult text, including a balance of literature and informational text.
Interact with rich read-alouds, high quality text, and related activities to build the background knowledge and vocabulary critical to listening and reading comprehension.
Engage in research and inquiry to investigate topics, analyze and develop arguments grounded in evidence from text, and present ideas through speaking, writing and technology.
Compose narrative, informative/explanatory, and opinion pieces of writing.
Determine and clarify meaning of new vocabulary to use in reading, writing, media, and collaborative conversations about grade level topics and text.
Gain control over many conventions of English grammar, usage, and mechanics as well as learn other ways to use language to convey meaning.
Journeys Common Core (Houghton Mifflin): Is a comprehensive reading program that integrates common core-based instruction into seven units. A balance of informational text and rich literature is used to target skill instruction for comprehension, sight word recognition, letter sound relationships and phonemic awareness. Strong differentiated components including guided reading and literacy centers are a part of everyday instruction to meet the individual needs of all students.
Welcome to Kindergarten
- Show and Tell
- Outside My Door
- Let’s Find Out
- Growing and Changing
- Look At Us
A careful selection and balance of high quality literature and informational text are the core instructional materials for the first and second grade reading programs. Based on the Integrated Model of Literacy, reading materials are in the form of big books, leveled readers, trade books, and picture books. Each form of text offers high quality instruction that provides rich experiences for integrating reading, writing, listening, speaking and language across all subject areas, including science and social studies. The first and second grade literacy programs are based on the rigorous literacy learning standards of the Common Core and are designed to meet the needs of all learners.
Aligns with the Common Core State Standards is used during writer’s workshop at South School. Students utilize the standard manuscript print that incorporates four basic strokes. This is sometimes named traditional manuscript or simplified manuscript. It coincides with most text our students encounter. Students are provided direct instruction in each grade level.
Students learn that marks on the paper have the power to convey meaning. Some children begin to convey meaning through drawing, dictating, and writing. Children will use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose opinion pieces, informative/explanatory texts, and to narrate a single event. Frameworks for writing are introduced at this level, based on Dr. Michael Heggerty’s approach.
To extend what children can do, teachers provide the motivation, time, material, and structure for writing, talking, reading, listening.
Writing begins with the child using invented or brave spelling with less focus on handwriting. Through practice and modeling, the child gains more awareness of spelling and when brave spelling has progressed through the phonetic stages and moved into the transitional stage, the child is able to focus more on other aspects of writing. The child begins to internalize the skills of punctuation, sentence structure, spelling patterns and accurate letter formation.
Eventually, the child is free to focus on expressing ideas through opinion pieces, informative/explanatory texts, and narratives. Children will also participate in shared research and writing projects such as exploring a number of how-to books on a given topic and use them to write a sequence of instructions. With adult support and peer feedback, the child learns to edit, revise and publish work ready for sharing.
Children generate their own topics, which enable them to be committed and excited about the writing process. Students are taught how to develop characters, how to write clear and complete sentences, and how to add more supporting details. Expectations for final products increase, with time devoted to the writing process.
Children are encouraged to experiment with a variety of styles that are encountered through mentor texts that they have read and that have been read to them. Second graders are introduced to revision of content and editing for mechanics. Students continue to expand on their knowledge of opinion pieces, informative/explanatory texts, and narratives. Second grade students also learn to read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report or presentation.
A comprehensive balanced literacy program based on strong research and effective classroom practices is used in the third and fourth grade classrooms. Our literacy program aligns with the Common Core State Standards and serves as an Integrated Model of Literacy where listening, speaking, reading, writing, and language standards are integrated across all subjects. Learning outcomes for this literacy model emphasize depth of knowledge, problem solving and higher order thinking skills. This is a rigorous literacy model designed to create literate students for the 21st century who are fluent readers, critical thinkers, informative writers, effective speakers, and engaged listeners. Students are also expected to use technology as a source of information, research, and a means of communication. The third and fourth grade literacy programs are based on the rigorous literacy learning standards of the Common Core and are designed to meet the needs of all learners.
Comprehend and evaluate complex texts across a wide range of types and disciplines.
- Cite and evaluate specific evidence when offering an oral, written, or graphic interpretation of a text.
- Communicate effectively through writing by generating, organizing, and making sense of and deeply understanding information in order to produce new ideas and insights.
- Analyze and act on understandings of audiences, purposes, and contexts in creating and comprehending texts.
- Use inquiry and critical thinking to gather, synthesize, and evaluate information from multiple texts, media, and other non-print materials.
- Present their research orally, building on the ideas of others through collaboration and explorations of diverse perspectives.
- Gain control over many conventions of English grammar, usage, and mechanics as well as learn other ways to use language to convey meaning.
A careful selection and balance of high quality literature and informational text are the core instructional materials for the third and fourth grade reading programs. Based on the integrated model of literacy, students are exposed to a variety of grade-appropriate complex literature and informational text where they can ask and answer questions by referring explicitly to a text. Through close reading instruction students learn to uncover both the central message and supporting details, and identify connections between sentences and paragraphs in a text. A strong emphasis is placed on comparing and contrasting two or more works with the same topic, author, or character, describing the traits, motivations, and feelings of characters or how ideas relate to one another. Students are taught to tackle multi-syllabic words, increasing their fluency and ability to read new and more difficult text. Students develop a strong academic vocabulary that they use in their writing and speaking. The literacy program teaches students to ask questions of a speaker to deepen their own understanding of material and build on ideas of their classmates.
At West School, students learn cursive writing. Third and fourth grade teachers provide direct instruction and reinforcement to develop and maintain legible handwriting.
A writing program that aligns with the Common Core State Standards is used in both third and fourth grade. Each year, students demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and syntax to the development and organization of ideas. Students learn to write opinion pieces, informative/explanatory texts, and narratives based on purpose and audience.
Students learn to develop and organize their writing in a manner appropriate to the task and purpose and to write routinely for a range of time-frames and contexts. Students gain expertise at writing narratives where they accurately describe what happened and learn to recognize and select the most relevant information. Reading a variety of non-fiction texts provide models of connecting and sequencing ideas when writing to inform/explain or to express an opinion.
Third and fourth grade students develop their speaking and listening skills by making connections across the reading, writing, speaking, and listening domains. Students learn to listen critically to speakers and summarize what they have heard, ask and answer questions with appropriate elaboration, and recognize structures used in making oral presentations. Students learn how a central idea or theme is supported by facts, descriptive details, or observations similar to their own writing and correctly use conventions of standard English when speaking and writing.
GRAMMAR, VOCABULARY AND WORD STUDY
In both writing and speech, students are expected to demonstrate a command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Each grade level focuses on specific grammar rules, usage and understanding of academic language and domain-specific vocabulary in order to comprehend grade-level literature and informational texts across the content areas.
Developmental phases of spelling instruction are included at each grade. Third graders learn “within word patterns” and begin “syllables and affixes.” Fourth graders continue “syllables and affixes” throughout the school year. Students are learning vowel patterns, consonant blends, complex consonants, compound words, homophones, syllable patterns, homographs, vowel patterns in accented and unaccented syllables, and base words with common prefixes and suffixes.
“We begin to focus on the meaning connection among words: ‘I wonder what parts obstruct, construct, and destruct have in common?’ This question is a great beginning for a discussion about the meaning of struct. Clearly, this type of word study structures our thinking.” - Shane Templeton and Donald Bear
Following the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts, students are provided a variety of opportunities to develop skills in reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language, through experience with print and digital resources. During an eighty-four minute literacy block of instruction, a substantial amount of time is devoted to students reading a wide range of text, varying in levels of sophistication and purpose. Through print and non-print text, they develop comprehension strategies, vocabulary, as well as high order thinking skills. They read a balance of short and long fiction, drama, poetry, and informational text such as memoirs, articles, and essays and apply skills such as citing evidence, determining theme, and analyzing how parts of the text affect the whole.
During the literacy block, students learn about the reading-writing connection by drawing upon and writing about evidence from literary and informational texts. Writing skills, such as the ability to plan, revise, edit, and publish, develop as students practice skills of specific writing types such as arguments, informative/explanatory texts, and narratives. Students write for a variety of purposes and audiences.
Throughout reading and writing experiences during the literacy block, students develop skills of flexible communication and collaboration as they learn to work together, express and listen carefully to ideas, integrate information and use media and visual displays to help communicate their ideas.
Students learn language conventions and vocabulary to help them understand and analyze words and phrases, relationships among words, and shades of meaning that affect the text they read, write, and hear.
Word Study and Vocabulary
The focus of vocabulary study in 5th through 8th grade is on the words, their meanings, their ranges of application, and their uses in context. The vocabulary workshop approach is systematic as it begins with and builds upon a word list drawn from vocabulary that students will encounter in their reading. It provides students with the vocabulary skills they will need to achieve higher-level reading and writing proficiency.
Across Central School, we have selected core academic words to focus on across content areas. The AWL is a list of words which appear with high frequency in English-language academic texts. The list was compiled by Averil Coxhead at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Teachers have been trained to provide explicit instruction utilizing a multi-modal approach. The foundation for our academic word lessons was based on literacy research and best practice for ensuring a stronger vocabulary foundation.
Each grade is responsible for the instruction of grade level academic words. Our goal is to increase student mastery as they read, write and use in verbal communication.
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