English Language Arts Information

Phonemic Awareness

The two best predictors of early reading success are alphabet recognition and phonemic awareness. (Adams, 1990) Phonemic awareness is the understanding that spoken words are made up of individual sounds, which are called phonemes. A child who is phonemically aware is able to isolate sounds, manipulate the sounds, blend and segment the sounds into spoken and written words. All students in Kindergarten and 1st grade now begin their ELA lesson each day with a 10 minute lesson phonemic awareness. Students participate in letter and sound recognition, as well as word play—rhyming and making new words by changing sounds in the initial, medial, and final positions, etc. Teachers are using Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum for their daily lessons. Students were recently screened to determine their current baseline skills. Instruction and interventions will be tailored to fit the needs of the class and individual students. 

Independent Reading

 Practicing the skills they are learning during instruction is very necessary for readers. Thirty minutes per day is set aside for all K-5 students to apply their skills to reading books chosen by them or with their teacher. Each student has their own book box with a variety of books. Picture books, chapter books, magazines and a variety of genres are used during independent reading time as students gain stamina and skills as readers. 

What do teachers do during independent reading time?

Our teachers are maximizing their time when their class has daily independent reading time. While conferring individually with students, teachers are able to observe students and informally assess comprehension skills through questioning, check a student’s reading fluency, decoding skills and their ability to use context clues to determine unknown words, etc. Through these individual conversations, teachers are able to learn more about each individual student as a reader. The purposes of the teacher conferring with an individual student are to:  
*Address individual student questions regarding their reading.
*Observe an individual student’s application of a wealth of reading strategies and provide individual support to boost        skills which are emerging.  
*Build a student’s reading ability and confidence.
*Support a student as they begin a new level of text.
As students continue to practice their reading with texts of their choice, they will further develop their ability to apply skills and develop stamina while increasing comprehension of what they read.


Why I can't skip reading?

Using Text Evidence

 As teachers we are continually working to build strong readers. At every level, readers are asked to prove their answers to questions by finding evidence to support their answer. Readers are asked to look into the text to find the words that support their answer. As students progress throughout the grade levels, using text to support answers becomes a more integral part of the reading process. For questions that are more inferential in nature, a reader's goal is to find the words that helped the reader form their answer. 

According to Robert Marzano, an educational researcher, being able to make an inference is a pre-requisite skill for higher order thinking. Marzano suggests posing four questions as you read with your child to assist in developing inferencing skills.
1. What is my inference?
2. What information did I use to make this inference? - Students learn to understand the information they use to make the inference.
3. How good was my thinking? - Students examine if their thinking is valid.
4. Do I need to change my thinking? - Students learn to continually update their thinking based on new information they gather.