Reading critically. Speaking clearly. Writing effectively. These skills are crucial in today's world. And these skills are what Language Arts class is all about.
During reading workshop, the focus is on critical reading skills including reading comprehension, vocabulary development and response to text. The only way students improve their reading is to read more often and widely. In order to encourage reading, students are given lots of time in class to read widely and select books from a range of genres. For independent reading, they can choose from books in the classroom or from books at home. For this part of the program, we ask that students choose books they enjoy.
Another way to promote reading is through classroom book clubs. Book clubs are formed based on student interests and they choose from a group of books that are of interest to them. Book clubs are often arranged by genre. One set of books might allow students to choose from several memoirs. Another book club might focus on mystery stories. In this part of the program, students are trained to read, discuss and respond to what they are reading, much the way adults do when they participate in book clubs.
Students also encounter whole-class texts that consist of quality literature that is read and discussed as a whole group. These books tend to be more difficult and require teacher intervention. Skills and strategies that students have learned with easier works are transferred to these literary selections as well.
Writing workshop is another staple of our Language Arts classroom. Students are exposed to real-world genres like memoirs, feature stories, and editorials. After immersing students with model texts written in the same genre, they begin to notice key attributes of each genre. They are given time to write and revise and edit their work before submitting it for a final grade. Another part of the writing program focuses on test-taking writing skills where students are given practice writing open-ended responses and essays similar to what they will have to do for the NJ ASK. Vocabulary and grammar, usage, and sentence composing skills are also infused into our language arts program.