English Language Arts
The English Language Arts program at Marion Cross School seeks to create a community of learners immersed in reading, writing, speaking and listening throughout the curriculum. Through engagement with a variety of developmentally appropriate literature, students develop fluency, exercise analytical skills, build vocabulary, practice comprehension strategies, and make meaning. Across grade levels, ongoing writing instruction and practice provides opportunities for students to develop confidence and skills as they generate ideas, draft, revise, and edit original works in a wide range of genres. Discussion-based classrooms, project based learning, and presentation opportunities, within and beyond the classroom, encourage students to develop and hone communication skills, promoting active participation in the school community and larger society.
The kindergarten English/Language Arts program uses an interdisciplinary approach to literacy. The process involves communicating a sense of wonder through students’ senses. It’s about drawing children’s attention to language. Linking their ears, their eyes and their hands with their mind. Reading, writing, speaking and listening are incorporated into all aspects of the kindergarten day. Storytelling, songs, poetry, read aloud, and dramatic play are used to demonstrate literacy and encourage its acquisition. Kindergarten literacy is about recognizing and writing letters, hearing letter sounds, putting sounds together, and discovering new words. It’s about rhyming and clapping syllables and celebrating language with joy. The program allows time for students to grow and learn at their own pace through exploration, routine, support and guidance.
The first grade English/Language Arts program uses a balanced literacy approach. Foundational skills are taught directly using the Fundations Program which enables children to spell and read using a phonics based approach. Students begin reading in small groups using phonetic readers. After reaching competency, groups read a variety of leveled trade books across many genres. Students develop writing skills by writing daily. Writing is integrated into the curriculum through science journals, research reports, thank you letters, poetry and fiction. Students write narratively to practice retelling a personal story. In addition, children are challenged to write to a prompt. Once a piece is finished children revise and edit with adult support. Reading comprehension skills are addressed during reading groups as well as during read aloud times. Both fiction and non-fiction books complement our units of study. First graders enjoy many books including the works of Kevin Henkes and Bill Peet and Vermont Red Clover Books.
The second grade English/Language Arts program uses a balanced literacy approach. Foundational skills are taught directly using the Fundations Program that enables children to both read and spell and internalize the rules for our language using sight words and decoding skills. Students begin reading in small groups using some controlled readers, but move at a steady, individual pace to reading literature and trade texts across many genres. Students develop writing skills by writing daily. Writing is integrated into the curriculum through science journals, research reports, use writing skills to address social studies topics, write fables, poetry and fiction. Students write narratively to retell personal stories. Once a writing piece is finished, children revise and edit with adult guidance. In addition, children are challenged to independently write to a prompt. Reading comprehension skills are addressed during reading groups as well as during read aloud times. Both fiction and non-fiction books complement our units of study. Second graders enjoy many books including the works of Cynthia Rylant, David Adler, Arnold Lobel, many classic fables, and Caldecott books.
Third Graders read the very best of children's fiction from a variety of genres and non-fiction associated with our units of study. They read to develop fluency and build vocabulary and comprehension skills. They listen to and learn poetry by heart, and in doing so develop an appreciation of the power of imagery and words They write regularly, developing stamina and skills while gaining confidence in their ability to convey their ideas. Discrete skills, such as paragraph structure, topic sentences and conclusions and the use of descriptive language are addressed in either whole class or small group settings. Students are taught the conventions of language in the context of their writing tasks and spelling through the Primary Spelling by Pattern Program. During daily read aloud periods teachers lead student discussion into the author’s craft and use of descriptive language; students examine plot and character, notice the change over time in the characters and make connections to other texts and to their life experiences. In addition to learning poetry, third graders develop speaking skills by retelling Folktales and Native American myths to younger students, as well as in the oral presentations of their work. During these presentations students practice active listening for specific details such as the use of a simile, descriptive language, or specific information in fact-based writing, as well as the developmentally appropriate skills associated with speaking in front of groups.
The fourth grade English/Language Arts program takes a balanced approach to the teaching of literacy. In this way reading and writing skills are taught intentionally and in combination and across the curriculum to support student learning comprehensively. Students read and write fiction and non-fiction that encompasses and enhances all the content areas. Instruction occurs in whole class, small group, and independent settings. Reading instruction includes fluency practice, vocabulary development, and specific comprehension strategies. Writing instruction includes a focus on rhetorical effectiveness as well as grammar, spelling, usage and mechanics skill practice. Across a variety of genres, students solidify their understanding of both narrative and expository structure, and are introduced to multi-paragraph essays. In both single paragraphs and longer essays, students work to develop a thesis and to support that thesis with evidence, working towards writing with greater detail and elaboration. And through the cyclical writing/revision/publication process, students develop the habits and mindset of “real world” writers.
The fifth grade English/Language Arts curriculum is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop and apply skills, find relevance and meaning, explore various genres, express themselves thoughtfully, and find enjoyment in reading and writing. 5th graders read, discuss, think critically about, and respond in writing to literature from a variety of genres during small and whole group literature circles. Literature units focus on Classics, Greek Mythology, and Medieval Legends that align with the fifth grade Social Studies content. Written expression is developed through composition skills, revision strategies, and stamina as students regularly engage in creative and analytical writing opportunities in writing workshop. Genres include narrative, literary essay, and persuasive writing. Students build vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics through authentic exposure and direct instruction.
The sixth grade English/Language Arts curriculum is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop and apply skills, find relevance and meaning, explore various genres, express themselves thoughtfully, and find enjoyment in reading and writing. During sixth grade ELA, students will read, discuss, think critically about, and respond to literature from a variety of genres; develop written expression, composition skills, revision strategies, and stamina as they regularly engage in creative and formal writing opportunities. Students discover, practice, and build vocabulary, grammar, and mechanics through authentic exposure and in context during literature circles, writing workshop, and interactive word studies.