Language Arts


Kindergarten Language Arts

READING FOCUS: Exploring language through experience, children’s literature, and student writing.

READING SKILLS: Building on previous knowledge of sounds, letters, and words; understanding the elements of story (main idea, character, beginning, middle, end); gaining confidence in reading through decoding, context, and memory; enjoying books at various levels independently.

WRITING FOCUS: Developing a variety of ways to explore and express ideas.

WRITING SKILLS: Using pictures and dictations to write stories with beginning, middle, and end; using symbols, letters, sight words, and environmental print to convey meaning; participating in shared writing experiences of poems, books, and letters.

LISTENING & SPEAKING FOCUS: Gaining confidence and comfort being a member of a group, as well as a leader.

LISTENING & SPEAKING SKILLS: Listening to others for meaning; following directions; identifying words that rhyme and create rhyming pairs; comparing and contrasting initial and ending sounds in words; speaking clearly to convey ideas and stories, and to describe events sequentially; speaking with adults and peers in appropriate ways; developing comfort in speaking to a group.


First Grade Language Arts

READING FOCUS & SKILLS: Concepts of print and parts of books; decoding strategies; context and picture cues; phonemic awareness; word study; sight words; just right books; fiction and nonfiction texts.

WRITING FOCUS & SKILLS: Writing notebooks, letters, lists and stories; rules of capitalization and punctuation; generating ideas, revising and editing in the writing process.

LISTENING & SPEAKING SKILLS: Following multi-step directions; listening to the ideas and opinions of others; determining the difference between comments and questions; speaking clearly in conversation; using descriptive language to tell stories in sequence; asking questions, offering explanations and sharing information and opinions; speaking in front of a small group; monitoring volume and tone of voice appropriately.

HIGHLIGHT: Publishing Fractured Fairy Tales.


Second Grade Language Arts

READING CONCEPTS: Develop a rich reading life, deepen comprehension through discussion and writing about reading, reading identities.

READING SKILLS: Make book choices that support independent thinking and personal interest, read independently for extended periods of time, identify and study story elements, use text in discussions to ask thoughtful questions or support theories, make inferences and predictions that reflect deep comprehension, apply appropriate strategies for understanding informational texts. Decode multisyllabic words, analyze the structure of words, new vocabulary acquisition, read aloud fluently and expressively.

WRITING CONCEPTS: Develop rich writing life, personal narratives, poetry, nonfiction writing.

WRITING SKILLS: Brainstorm and develop ideas, plan before writing, move through the writing process, consider audience, revision strategies, include details that help develop meaning, edit for spelling and punctuation, illustrate to delight an audience, conduct research, mastery of print handwriting.

LISTENING + SPEAKING SKILLS: Listen to gain information and for pleasure, follow multi-step directions, stay on topic in conversation and contribute relevant information, speak with detail and in complex sentences, use of formal and informal language for appropriate purpose – to inform, give directions, or entertain.

HIGHLIGHTS: Publishing parties, book clubs, poetry assembly.


Third Grade Language Arts

READING FOCUS: Reader’s Workshop framework, nonfiction reading, character study, comprehension skills, book clubs.

READING SKILLS: Self-monitor for meaning and self-correct while reading; analyze parts of words, structure of words, and context to read unfamiliar words; read fluently with expression; analyzing story/text; writing about reading; nonfiction reading for information and note taking; digging deep into a character to understand his/her motivations; discuss literature with peers.

WRITING FOCUS: Who Are We As Writers?; creative writing and nonfiction; using authors as mentors; using perspective and culture to enhance stories; and paragraph writing.

WRITING SKILLS: Independently manage the writing process, focusing on developing ideas, revising and editing own work, responding to revisions; organizing writing for clarity using complex sentences and paragraphing; using punctuation including quotation marks, commas, and apostrophes; adjusting writing style for different purposes; using strong and creative leads in writing; using descriptive language to enhance writing; spelling previously-studied words and words that follow regular patterns; applying knowledge of root words and word parts, representing each sound, to spell unfamiliar words; following a structure to gather and organize information into a research report; begin use of cursive handwriting.

LISTENING & SPEAKING SKILLS: Listen attentively focusing on speaker; follow multi-step directions; analyze and interpret what is heard; ask specific questions to clarify understanding; use precise language and vocabulary to express ideas.


Fourth Grade Language Arts

READING FOCUS: Reader’s Workshop framework, literature circles, class read aloud books, independent reading, social studies research.

READING SKILLS: Reading grade-level narrative and expository text independently and fluently, understanding and learning from texts, discussing texts by making connections with experience and other texts; recognizing and identifying story components and making inferences; expanding ideas, knowledge, and vocabulary by reading; summarizing and explaining what has been read.

WRITING FOCUS: Writing notebook, personal narratives, poetry, personal essays, research writing.

WRITING SKILLS: Identify and implement the steps of the writing process to write fiction and non-fiction that focuses on a central idea or message in appropriate style and voice; use and understand sentences and paragraphs; use capitalization, punctuation, parts of speech, agreement, and complex sentences in writing; spell previously-studied words and words that follow regular patterns; use resources to spell unknown words accurately; evaluate and revise writing to enhance clarity, detail and organization; use description, comparisons and details to create imagery; gather and organize information for research writing; use of cursive handwriting.

LISTENING & SPEAKING SKILLS: Listen attentively, retell components of stories in sequence, highlight main ideas; differentiate between fact and opinion; use presentation to influence listener; lead whole class and small group discussions; organize ideas before speaking; choose appropriate vocabulary for audience.

HIGHLIGHT: Fort Ross Animal Research Project, 1969 Historical Digest.


Fifth Grade Language Arts

READING FOCUS: Reader’s Workshop framework for delving deeply and comprehending diverse informational, historical, and fantasy texts.

READING SKILLS: Independently apply reading strategies; develop vocabulary through wide reading; analyze and interpret fiction and nonfiction; respond creatively to show understanding of text; select literary forms and genres for appropriate purpose, including research.

WRITING FOCUS: Short stories; expository writing; speeches.

WRITING SKILLS: Effectively communicate, learn, teach, document, and create through various verbal forms; use multi-step writing process for fiction and non-fiction projects; develop writing traits (ideas and content, organization, word choice, fluency, language conventions, voice, presentation); explore purpose of English language spelling and grammatical conventions; apply conventions in context; evaluate and revise writing for meaning, focus and organization.

LISTENING & SPEAKING SKILLS: Share and develop ideas during class discussions; synthesize multiple points of view; actively listen and share in small group meetings; organize ideas before speaking.

HIGHLIGHT: Write and deliver a 5th grade graduation speech to the lower school.


Sixth Grade Language Arts

Integrated with social studies in a humanities course.


FOCUS: Concepts of self and group identity; empathy; loyalty; belonging and community membership; grammar study.

ROUTINES: Reading journals; critical thinking activities; fishbowls and other literature discussions; vocabulary building; thinking routines; literary responses and reviews; reading strategy notes; student-guided book clubs; building personal reading routines; read-aloud; reading informational texts, fiction and poetry.

LITERATURE: myriad sources/texts/novels including “The Crossover,” “The Giver,” “The Outsiders,” independent choice books, and book clubs.

PROJECTS: Book reviews; poetry writing and performing; persuasive letters and advertisements; summarizing and responding to current events; headlines; creative writing with NaNoWriMo; watercolor and illustrated reflections.


Seventh Grade Language Arts

Course content is interdisciplinary with Social Studies.


FOCUS: Writing workshop, reading from myriad sources/texts/novels, vocabulary study, grammar workshop.

ROUTINES: Literary analysis, class novels, independent reading, thinking routines, literature discussions, vocabulary, spelling quizzes, grammar/conventions quizzes, read aloud, and reading response activity.

LITERATURE: “City of Saints and Thieves,” “Akata Witch,” “A Single Shard,” “Year of Impossible Goodbyes,” “Abina and the Important Men,” “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!,” “Lord of the Flies,” “Once,” and other novels. PROJECTS: Literary response essays, perspective writing, folktales, creative writing, and historic fiction.


Eighth Grade Language Arts

Integrated with social studies in middle school humanities program.


FOCUS: U.S. Constitution, Slavery, Civil War, Reconstruction, Migration, Civil Rights Movement.

ROUTINES: Journal writing, literature discussions, independent reading, read aloud, group work, visible thinking.

LITERATURE: A variety of books united by theme in book clubs

PROJECTS: book reviews, literary essays, oral history projects, original constitutions, Civil Rights research papers.