Reading: From “Learning to Read” to “Reading to Learn”
Early in the primary years, students learn to read. Students in the primary grades work on decoding (what some may call “sounding it out”), fluency (the ability to read at an appropriate pace) and comprehension, and students in these early primary grades typically achieve rapid growth in their reading skills.
Primary grade students gradually make the shift and begin to read to learn. Moving from the comprehension of basic texts to the deep analysis of highly complex pieces will be the focus of their academic reading for the remainder of their educational career. From this type of reading, within non-fiction, they’ll learn about historical events, scientific phenomena, how to analyze arguments of differing opinions, to name a few. In their more advanced fictional reading, in addition to enjoying compelling stories, they’ll learn about human nature, how conflicts develop and are resolved, and how authors can use imagery and figurative language.
Throughout grades 1-8, students move from learning their letters, word spacing, and basic punctuation all the way through writing complex literary essays, argumentative and editorial essays, personal narratives, and fictional stories.
Teachers guide students through this exciting development of skills through direct (teacher-led) instruction, small group skills-specific learning, and individual, student-driven learning. Students have frequent opportunities to develop their writing skill within the context of ideas and subject matter that is of interest to them, which promotes individual student engagement while simultaneously learning grade-appropriate writing technique.
Speaking and Listening: Learning how to listen to one another and be heard
While reading and writing are the two most evident areas within language arts instruction, speaking and listening are also extremely important skills that are learned in language arts. The collaborative learning that takes place in our classrooms provide natural environments for students to increase their abilities to communicate ideas and opinions verbally. Students also become skilled at critically listening and responding (and sometimes disagreeing) through discourse that is appropriate and moves ideas forward.