Students develop literacy skills through targeted instruction that includes mini-lesson instruction, guided practice, and independent reading time with focused small group and individual teaching.
- Students learn reading through a balanced literacy form of reading instruction. Each classroom has a library to support the students in the class. The libraries are continually supplemented and refined. Students read authentic literature and nonfiction books (instead of reading textbooks).
- In middle school, students also will be instructed with materials (stories, novels, excerpts) read by the whole class, with appropriate supports for students at varying levels of reading proficiency. This prepares students for the work they will encounter in High School.
- Reading instruction is individualized and tailored to each student’s reading strengths and deficits. Reading abilities are assessed regularly throughout the year through the iReady program, and students are matched to books that are appropriate to their skill levels. All students participate in daily reading workshops where reading skills are taught through targeted lessons, and students are then given time to read independently. During independent reading time, teachers focus on individual needs through small group strategy lessons and individual reading conferences.
- Through targeted instruction, students progress through levels of reading difficulty. Lessons are taught in “Units of Study” which generally focus on a specific reading genre (realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, non-fiction, etc.).
- Instruction is informed and guided by the principles of balanced literacy (using trade books rather than text books). The curriculum directly addresses the Common Core State Standards.
- Students who require remedial reading instruction receive services from a Reading Intervention Specialist in addition to specialized attention from their classroom teachers.
Students improve their writing skills in writer’s workshops that include targeted mini-lesson instruction, guided practice, and independent writing time with focused small group and individual teaching.
- Writing is taught in writing workshop, with students receiving writing instruction and having time to write independently each day.
- Students learn to view themselves seriously as writers. They write pieces that are often intended for a particular audience: their teachers, classmates, the school community, and at times, a larger audience. Students publish their work in various forms and share it with classmates and the greater school community.
- Students are taught focused short writing lessons, and they are then coached (with small group or individual instruction) through a period of writing. In addition, students are given writing assignments to be completed at home. The students learn a process of writing beginning with collecting ideas, planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing.
- Classes work through “Units of Study” which encompass various forms of writing (e.g. personal narrative stories, informational books, fantasy stories, historical fiction, personal essays, literary essays, memoirs) depending upon the grade. The writing curriculum addresses the Common Core State Standards.
In each grade, 6th, 7th, and 8th, teachers collaborate to create cross-curricular units, with students focusing on a topic with lessons supporting the topic across subject areas. Although these may change from year-to-year, they have included: Egypt and weather in 6th grade, colonial times, and road trip projects in 7th grade, and the progressive era and the 1920s in 8th grade.
Spelling, Grammar and Conventions
Students receive vocabulary and grammar instruction during their ELA classes, and teachers collaborate across each grade to have students learn and use academic vocabulary and grade appropriate grammar conventions in social studies, science and math classes.