LANGUAGE ARTS

Classic and contemporary children’s literature, as well as literature connected to our Global Cultural History curriculum, is used throughout the language arts program. We believe in a developmental approach to reading instruction and align our views with current brain research, which suggests most children learn to read between the ages of five and seven. We combine a developmental philosophy with a traditional approach to reading instruction and language acquisition.
In addition to the ELA content standards set forth by the state of California, Seven Arrows’ goals for the lower school (kindergarten through grade 3) reading and language arts program include:

• Fostering reading and writing independence
• Building upon fundamental reading skills
• Developing new comprehension strategies
• Recognizing literature as a rich source of enjoyment and knowledge
• Developing and strengthening phonics and spelling skills

Lower school culminating writing projects include publishing books of fables, writing autobiographies, and scripting dramatic monologues for the Masquerade Festival. Beginning in kindergarten, our students are exposed to print-rich literacy environments and receive explicit instruction in phonics. By the end of kindergarten, most students have moved beyond the emergent reader stage to simple primer level chapter books.
Throughout the lower school, students learn about features of literature such as authors, illustrators, title pages, and book dedications — all of which they apply in their own writing (through text and pictures). In reading, students also work on beginning to develop “good reader” strategies, such as using pictures and contextual clues to identify unknown words and phrases. In alignment with our individualized goals, students who have developed solid reading skills are introduced to texts designed to reinforce and build upon those skills, as well as to expand their growing vocabularies and comprehension. As students enter third grade, the final level of the lower school, they are increasingly asked to work on developing their ability to understand texts both literally and interpretively.

As students transition into the upper school (grades 4 through 6), they are challenged to read and think critically about more complex materials, such as short stories, novels, excerpts, plays, non-fiction, expository, and persuasive texts. Through established grammar, skill building, and vocabulary programs, students continue to deepen their understanding of language structure, grammar, and conventions, while practicing reading strategies, and engaging in intensive vocabulary building.
One of the goals of the writing program in the fourth and fifth grades is to help students gain clarity in expressing their ideas. Students learn about and experience writing in a variety of genres, including personal narrative, response to literature, expository, research paper, and persuasion. In sixth grade, students delve deeply into the elements of literature, including studies of universal and recurring themes, as well as exposure to diverse genres and authors. Literature studies in grade six are often integrated with the drama program, as students read and analyze selections by Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Winter’s Tale to name a few past studies), and culminate their study with a performance of the work.
Throughout their time at Seven Arrows, students are able to develop a keen interest in reading and writing, and the critical thinking skills necessary to successfully compete in the 21st century. Some of the standard curriculum resources used by Seven Arrows include:

Lower school language arts resources:

• Explode the Code
• D’Nealian Handwriting
• Units of Study for Primary Writing (Calkins et al.)
• Harcourt Brace, Excursions
• Harcourt Brace, Phonics and Grammar
• Core Literature and Sacred Books
• Phonics My Way
• Pioneer Valley Readers
• Leveled Readers
• Teacher Created Resources
• Words Their Way
• Raz Kids
• Reading Plus
• Wordly Wise

Upper school language arts resources:

• Core Literature (to include Sacred Books)
• Leveled Readers
• Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5 (Calkins et al.)
• Specific Skill Series
• Wordly Wise
• Daily Oral Language
• Classical Roots
• Reading Daybooks
• Reading Plus
• Wordly Wise