Using Writer's Workshop* as framework, the primary focus of our language arts program is to take the emerging reader and build a confident, fluent, independent reader. Our reading program places a strong emphasis on phonics as a fundamental skill and promotes comprehension for reading mastery. Students work in small reading groups to focus on reading comprehension skills such as summarizing, interpreting and analyzing text, comparing and contrasting, cause and effect, and literal and inferential comprehension. The joy of reading as a lifelong activity is emphasized.
In writing, students learn to form letters correctly, as well as learn to write in complete sentences. We begin our writing journey by creating simple short sentences and end by writing wonderful stories and publishing individual research. Students progress through the stages of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions, and publishing). Students are taught to read and write in different genres: Expository, Persuasive, Descriptive, Narrative, and Creative Writing. Students are assessed regularly through classroom observations and benchmark assessments to ensure that grade level expectations and individual needs are being met.
Writer's Workshop* and Readers Workshop* provide the basis for the grades 4 and 5 language arts curriculum. Students work to develop clear, organized, and creative writing pieces. The students expand their writing skills in the areas of paragraph development, letter, report, essay, and creative writing. Much of our class time is spent on the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising, editing successive versions, and publishing). Ongoing development of capitalization, punctuation, grammar usage, and sentence structure are also areas of focus. Continued work is done on expanding vocabulary, increasing accuracy in spelling, and improving proofreading skills.
Students continue work on oral reading skills, reading comprehension and reasoning skills, reading rate, and fluency through a wide variety of literature. Language Arts units are built around novel sets and other strong literature selections. Balanced literacy experiences are provided for all students. Reading comprehension strategies are emphasized and students are encouraged to look at literature critically. Vocabulary development is also a key component of our program. Students are encouraged to continue to increase their volume of independent reading, their appreciation for fine literature, and their enjoyment of reading.
*Writers Workshop and Readers Workshop are curriculum developed through the Teachers College Program at Columbia University.