English Language Arts Curriculum
All areas of the curriculum are developed and implemented in accordance with the Common Core State Standards and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
Independent Reading is the cornerstone of our ELA program. Students apply reading skills and strategies, explore themes, and develop critical thinking skills. Wide independent reading supports vocabulary development and reading growth and also provides many opportunities for students to engage in conversation. Students use their read aloud and independent reading books as mentors for writing as well as spelling and grammar.
Scott Foresman’s comprehensive and research based Reading Street program serves as a valuable resource to our English Language Arts skills and strategy instruction. Its units are arranged into themes, and students explore these themes through carefully arranged fiction and nonfiction selections. As units progress, the text level increases so that students are exposed to more complex text throughout the year. Students build skills and strategies for reading as well as develop vocabulary, word analysis and grammar skills. Small group learning is differentiated with leveled readers that accompany each week’s main selection. Students are encouraged to use their skills and strategies from Reading Street in their own independent reading.
We use The Empowering Writers Program for writing instruction in the genres of narrative, expository and opinion writing. Through a spiraling of instruction, students build on their previous knowledge of the narrative writing diamond and the expository pillar to produce well developed narratives and expository essays in accordance with the common core state standards. This program highlights the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing. Teachers use the Empowering Writers summarizing frameworks to strengthen both reading and writing instruction.
In third grade students finish their study of Fundations, a multisensory and systematic phonic program that is now in place from K-3. Students learn the sound symbol relationships and apply them to reading and spelling. In fourth grade, word study further develops to include vocabulary development . Words Their Way is a primary resource for words study in Grades 4-5. Words their Way provides a developmental approach to spelling and word study. Students are assessed and grouped according to their developmental stage. Teachers determine a starting point for instruction along the continuum. Students sort words purposefully into categories so that they can discover similarities and differences among them which leads them to make generalizations and identify predictable rules about spelling patterns. Teachers supplement this pattern study with practice with high frequency and sight word instruction as well.