US Department of Education Blue Ribbon School Program

Language Arts Literacy

Pre K - Grade 4

The Academy elementary schools subscribe to a balanced literacy approach to the teaching of language arts literacy. The program strives to foster skilled readers, writers, listeners, and speakers. Aligned with the Diocesan Curriculum and Common Core Standards, the school uses the Reading Street Program published by Pearson as a framework. Assessments include the Terra Nova’s, benchmark assessments, running records, and fluency passages. Annually, in the fall, and spring, all students are assessed individually using the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA). This information enables the teacher to differentiate instruction and to group students by instructional level.

Academy teachers recognize that learning how to read is a complex process, more than just decoding or building rote skill. Beginning readers need a strong foundation in phonics as well. Leading the children to connect with the text by using their personal schema and prior knowledge enables the students to engage and access the material at a deeper level.

Literacy instruction begins in PreK-3 with environmental print, letter and number recognition, acting out stories, rhyming and finger plays. As students progress, reading comprehension strategies include predicting, questioning, visualizing, connecting, inferring, monitoring, summarizing, synthesizing and evaluating. These strategies are first modeled and then practiced and applied during guided reading groups, mini lessons, conferencing, and authentic reading at the student’s individual level.

Daily reading and writing include journaling, buddy reading, read-aloud and silent reading. In addition, teacher-guided word work includes instruction in phonics, phonemic awareness, and structural analysis. All facets of the language arts program including reading, writing, listening, spelling and speaking are taught within thematically based units.

Additionally, reading the morning announcements or leading in song or prayer are among the opportunities offered to students, allowing them to express individual interests and strengths while gaining real-world experiences with literacy. On a school-wide level, the librarian organizes a Book Fair and a reading challenge for students, such as this year’s Reading Olympics. Working together, teachers and the librarian seek to match students with books that will spark their interest and promote a lifelong love of reading.

Students who are identified in need of additional help in the areas of reading and writing receive either supplemental in-class assistance or basic skills instruction with a push-in model. The instruction is coordinated with the classroom teacher and is based on the student’s Individual Service Plan.

Above all, the goal of the Academy language arts program is to develop not only skillful readers and writers, but students who love to read and write.