Kindergarten instruction focuses on helping students develop connections between oral and written language. Phonemic awareness activities encourage the children to become attentive to sounds through play with rhyme, alliteration, segmentation, and blending. These activities provide a strong foundation for the phonics program. Students also discover the relationships between letters, words, and sounds through experiences with Big Books, shared reading activities, and language arts centers. Kindergartners study a variety of literary genres including fairy tales, poetry, and non-fiction. Kindergarten writing is nurtured as students begin to understand the connections between oral and written language and have the desire to communicate with others. Purposeful experiences, such as composing letters and creating lists, encourage student writing to evolve from drawing pictures and labeling to writing simple sentences.
The language arts components are woven through a Reading Workshop block. Strong emphasis on phonological awareness and print concepts allow emergent readers to flourish. Poetry, non-fiction, and folk tales are utilized to teach students skills in small or whole group settings that may then be applied during independent reading. Read- alouds, guided reading, independent reading, and literacy stations provide opportunities for students to build upon previously learned skills. Reading and writing skills are constantly modeled for students in order for them to gain an understanding of the reading-writing connection. Students learn to spell sight words and pattern words based on developing knowledge of letter-sound relationships. Students learn various forms of writing such as journal writing, research, poetry, and letter writing.
Reading to learn is the major focus of the Intermediate language arts program. Students continue to solidify phonics skills while paying careful attention to decoding multi-syllabic words. Students broaden their interest and knowledge of literary genres including historical fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographies. Students maintain a reading journal to demonstrate their understanding of what they read. Students write for a purpose to conduct research for social studies and science projects to complete book reports, and to write personal narratives.
Students continue to focus on the development of critical thinking skills with an emphasis on making inferences and drawing conclusions. Genre studies include historical fiction, mystery, fantasy, and different styles of poetry. Literature circles are formed so that reading can be differentiated by interest and ability. Students discuss novels while having the opportunity to play different roles that focus on the various aspects of comprehension. Independent application of the writing process is experienced through journal entries, persuasive writing, scripts, and poems. Students respond in writing to multi-part questions and learn to develop several paragraphs on a given topic. Grammar skills and vocabulary are practiced daily through direct instruction, writing activities, and games.
As part of Trinity’s goal to integrate subjects whenever possible, the disciplines of language arts and social studies unite to form the humanities classes for students in grades six through eight. While classes occur separately, units of study are coordinated. This forms a natural union and a practical opportunity for students to develop skills and concepts to give and gain meaning from both written and oral language, while also developing an understanding of geography, history, cultures, and contributions of various ancient and current communities of people. Students in all grades use a variety of primary and secondary documents, non-fiction texts, biographies, autobiographies, cultural and historical fiction, newspapers, and periodicals.
A main theme of the year is the idea of heroes and their impact on a culture. Students study various heroes through ancient folktales, fairytales, legends, and myths. Students are also expected to read a variety of novels, short stories, and biographies that examine this theme. Independent reading is also required for the second half of the year and tied into the curriculum through weekly creative writing assignments.
The language arts curriculum for sixth grade students is designed to expand vocabulary, strengthen writing skills, develop proper grammar and mechanics used in written communication, and help expand ideas used in writing. Research skills, creative writing, persuasive writing through letters, literature responses, poetry, and essay writing are developed through the course of the year. Writing focuses on breaking apart an essay and developing strong introductions, adding textual support to body paragraphs, and formulating comprehensive conclusions. Students develop narrative writing through creative writing that is presented in various formats such as picture books, plays, and stories.
A central theme studied in novels is the importance of the individual. Novels read relate to the idea that differences should be celebrated, and that individuals in a culture or society carve out a distinct identity for themselves, differentiating themselves from their parents and peers. The text directly relates to social studies topics and includes historical fiction, narrative poems, short stories, and autobiographies that examine this theme. Students also study the idea of the evolution of language and its impact on literature, beginning with Old English and ending with Modern English, preparing them for Shakespeare in eighth grade.
Language arts skills for seventh grade students focus on creating strong essays and research papers, becoming accomplished editors while writing for a variety of audiences, and expanding and improving their vocabulary and grammar skills. Students examine epic poetry, characteristics of stock characters/stereotypes, short story structure, and voice in literature. They focus on expository writing through a series of active reading topics during their novel studies. Students also develop critical thinking skills through short answer tests. They continue to master narrative writing by composing stories based on literature selections. Students also study interview skills and article writing. They conduct a life-changing event interview and then write a “Slice of Life” news article based on their interview.
The theme of survival pervades eighth grade language arts. Literature selections tend to focus on the creation of utopias and dystopias and how these societies relate to our American history. Reading selections include novels that probe the students’ understanding of United States government. Students also examine ethical/moral choices through short stories and coming of age novels. There is a focus on realism in short stories. Students study a variety of poetry, short stories, plays, and informational texts that deal with the struggles in forming this country, creating rules and laws, upholding morals, and examining its ever-changing values.
Students develop skills and concepts of both written and oral language as they pose questions, find answers, make connections, master new vocabulary, and effectively interpret and relate information in a meaningful way to themselves and others. The eighth grade language arts skills are developed in the form of written and oral presentations that include the integration of technology but also include poems, plays, and short stories that interpret and relate students’ findings. They continue to develop their critical thinking skills through active reading, essays, and impromptu short answer tests. Students study news article writing and prepare an anti-utopian newspaper that focuses on point of view and satire. Students complete a historical fiction research project that allows students to study a time period in America, research the events of the time, and analyze a novel based on their research. The project culminates in a living timeline that showcases the students’ research and literary connections. Eighth grade students learn poetic devices, structure and organization of poetry, and theme by studying American poets throughout the year.