Writing: The emphasis of this class is to create situations wherein the student will write frequently and with enthusiasm. We use the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing program as our foundation in teaching writing. The traits are: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation. Our goals are to increase fluency and clarity in the student's writing and provide the student with many opportunities to develop confidence as a writer.
The writing process approach provides the student with time to develop her ideas. Writing well involves selecting an appropriate topic, using convincing details, arriving at a strong and integrated voice, and polishing for publication. Students are encouraged to discuss their work, offer one another constructive suggestions, and remind one another of solutions to editing problems. In addition, students will frequently be introduced to or reminded of a particular technique in writing. They will be provided with many published pieces modeling examples of the traits.
Word Study: In addition to the word study curriculum that is derived from Words Their Way by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston, we teach orthography, the correct sequences of letters in the writing system, and vocabulary as well as dictionary, thesaurus, and study skills. Word study activities call for active problem solving. Students are encouraged to look for spelling patterns, form hypotheses, predict outcomes, and test them. These activities require students to continually ask themselves, "What do I know about this new word, and how is it similar to words that I already know?”
Reading: Our Reader’s Workshop includes independent reading, guided reading and literature study. The focus is on Reading is Thinking: introduction to and practice with essential active reading skills such as questioning, predicting, connecting, visualizing, inferring and sequencing.
Literature: Students are asked to read selected books that are representative of diverse literary genres. The theme of identity threads throughout the literary and history units. While reading actively and practicing comprehension skills, students engage in literature discussions. Discussion skills and strategies are expanded upon as the year progresses. After completing their reading, each student completes a response project that measures her basic understanding of character, setting, plot, theme, conflict, and resolution. These projects are designed to meet the strengths of various learning styles. Students will have the opportunity, for example, to write book reports, design dioramas and make captions for important scenes, construct graphic representations of character and plot, and give dramatic presentations of their favorite passages.