English Language Arts

ReadingThe cornerstone for a child’s education lies in literacy. In order to successfully access the curriculum, a student’s ability to read and write is essential. With this in mind, Willard has constructed a comprehensive balanced literacy approach to provide a solid foundation in reading. Our program includes the five components of reading: phonemic awareness, phonics, reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

• In kindergarten, phonemic awareness and phonics are taught using the Telian Lively Letters Program. In order to promote a lifelong love for reading, our kindergarten program uses “Read Alouds” which allows for the further development of a child’s vocabulary and teacher modeling of solid comprehension strategies when engaging with a text.

• In first and second grade, our phonics instruction is delivered through the Project Read Program. Our reading instruction is provided in small groups with a Guided Reading Approach. Students read appropriately leveled text to develop their decoding, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

• In third, fourth, and fifth grade, teachers and support staff deliver reading instruction in small groups implementing a Guided Reading or Literature Circle model using a variety of appropriate trade books. The focus changes from specific phonic skills to word study, which includes prefixes, suffixes and roots. Comprehension, fluency and vocabulary are taught using a variety of texts both in language arts, science and social studies. The importance of building reading endurance while sustaining concentration and understanding is specifically taught using a variety of strategies.

In all grade levels, we use “Close Reading” strategies to help unlock the author’s intent or purpose, character motivation, cause and effect, and a deeper understanding of the text leading to greater intellectual development.

WritingThe District’s formal writing program follows a Writer’s Workshop model using curriculum developed at Columbia University’s Teacher College Reading and Writing Project. Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study focuses on narrative, persuasive and informational writing. In addition, some teachers also supplement the writing program using materials from Empower and Empowering Writers. Students consistently apply their newly learned writing skills throughout all areas of the curriculum.