The AERO (American Education Reaches Out) English Language Arts Curriculum Framework, including standards and performance indicators, is the basis for our instruction. The language arts program in the Elementary School is taught through a balanced literacy approach that integrates reading, writing, listening and speaking. Literacy expectations include the use of oral and written language to make sense of the world and to communicate, problem solve, and participate in decision-making. The foundation for these literacy skills is language and an understanding of how language works. Language arts teaching in the Elementary School is both integrated and cross-curricular. A variety of programs and resources are in implementation to support this curriculum framework. In addition, extensive classroom libraries, a leveled book room, our Elementary School Library as well as a variety of online reading programs support our balanced approach to literacy instruction.
Reading instruction at the Elementary School is aimed at encouraging children to read for pleasure and to satisfy their natural curiosity in the world around them.
This is fostered by:
- ensuring that children are presented with material at their own level of ability;
- guiding children to pick “just right” books depending on their fluency, decoding skills, vocabulary understanding and comprehension ability;
- teaching children how to reflect on what is read, ask questions, make connections and determine an author’s purpose;
- providing a print rich environment;
- instilling the basic phonic and word-attack skills to enable the child to successfully decode the written word;
- teaching key strategies to help solve any comprehension problems that may be encountered;
- carefully assessing children's progress through a variety of assessments that inform future instruction;
- encouraging pupils to select books in the Elementary School Library either for their personal enjoyment or for research;
- instructing students on how to interpret fiction and informational text and how to effectively research and present what is learned.
As expounded in the AERO English Language Arts framework, the enduring understandings are for readers to use strategies to construct meaning and to use language structure and context clues to identify the intended meaning of words and phrases as they are used in text. Strategic readers develop, select, and apply strategies to enhance their comprehension and recognize the power of words to affect meaning.
Writing in the Elementary School is stimulated by the pupils' interests, experiences and events taking place in the world around them. They have the opportunity to gain experience in many types of written communication, from creative prose and poetry, to factual reports and literary appreciation. The National Council of Teachers of English Commission on Composition noted that writing is a powerful instrument of thought. In the act of composing, writers learn about themselves and their world and communicate their insights to others. Writing fosters the power to grow personally and to influence change in the world.
The school helps the child communicate in a coherent, effective manner by:
- providing them with an atmosphere of encouragement, praise and meaningful practice, which allows them to build confidence in their ability in this area;
- teaching the necessary spelling, grammar and punctuation skills;
- encouraging students to revise and edit their work;
- writing in a variety of genres.
The 6 +1 Traits writing framework provides a common structure and language that define what proficient writing looks like. Ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation are aspects of the assessment of student work.
In regards to oral communication, from Kindergarten onwards, pupils are encouraged to express their experiences, ideas and opinions through:
- "show-and-tell" sessions, where the child presents to the class objects of personal interest, or connected to an area of study;
- presentation of creative writing, or individual projects or reports;
- discussions emanating from all curricular areas, public speaking and the presentation of plays.