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Language Arts

Lower School

Reading Methodology

The language arts program in all Lower School grades uses a literature-based approach. The students read a variety of trade books that are selected to meet the needs of the individual child in first through third grade reading groups. Reading for meaning is the main approach utilized, and it focuses on literal comprehension, beginning inference skills in first and second grades which continue to build into critical thinking skills into third through fifth grades, as well as predicting outcomes, and drawing conclusions. Throughout the year, trade books are often read which connect to the social studies curriculum in all Lower School grades. Students explore historical fiction giving students a unique perspective of another culture and/or time period.

Fundations

Prekindergarten through second grade teachers follow a systematized plan using the Wilson Language program called Fundations. Fundations is a structured program that builds and improves students’ decoding skills in reading and encoding skills for spelling. The program emphasizes phonemic awareness, phonics, high frequency words, fluency, vocabulary, handwriting, and spelling.

Junior Great Books Program

Currently, grades 3-8 use the series to engage readers in interpretive discussion and activities with outstanding literature. Students and teachers use the shared inquiry approach to connect critical thinking, comprehension, discussion, vocabulary, and writing while being exposed to a variety of literature genres. Comprehension skills are a key component to being a successful learner. Junior Great Books gives us the opportunity to focus on these skills while promoting the essential elements of reading, writing, listening, thinking, and speaking. A typical unit involves pre-reading, first reading, sharing questions, second reading with directed notes, vocabulary, shared inquiry discussion, as well as expository and creative writing. These multiple experiences with the text provide for a deeper learning experience while building comprehension and critical thinking skills.

Six Traits Writing

The program fosters a common language, consistency of writing, and assessment for students and is designed to teach both the craft and quality of writing. The model is comprised of ideas and content, word choice, conventions, voice, sentence fluency, and organization. These traits are taught through literature, teacher modeling, and student examples. The strength of the model is the opportunity to give feedback and individualize instruction in writing. Students compile a writing portfolio that follows them through their years at Montgomery to track growth in writing over time. Common rubrics are used to assess these writing pieces so teachers will be able to focus on individual strengths and needs in writing instruction. This measurable and consistent scoring system and writing model will develop skilled writers who have a clear understanding of writing genre, process, and reflection of their own work.

6TH GRADE LANGUAGE ARTS

Students in sixth grade Language Arts will focus on the foundation skills for writing, speaking, and reading comprehension. The content will be connected to an overall theme of communities, using a variety of literature, and through personal reflection. In addition, the essential question, “What is compassion?” will be explored in literature through a study of utopian/dystopian literature, stories of Apartheid, various writings of Shakespeare, and in various genres including reader’s theater, poems, and short stories. Weekly vocabulary and spelling tests are vital aspects to the curriculum as well as daily grammar and editing activities. The writing program will focus on improving ideas and content, word choice, conventions, voice, sentence fluency, and organization. These traits will be taught through literature, teacher modeling, and student examples including persuasive essays, creative writing, and student created reader’s theater scripts. Students will also write a personal reflection related to a weekly “Big Question,” which is also used to make connections to the Social Studies curriculum. Grammar and sentence construction will be explored, as will a variety of writing skills, as students begin to create an e-portfolio, build a wiki, and share reflections through blog entries.

6TH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES

The Sixth Grade Global Studies program is designed to give students opportunities to explore and understand different cultures. We begin the year with a unit on world geography and geography skills. Students apply knowledge through variety of projects, including a room map to scale and an imaginary island. We then continue on a sort of “world tour” with stops in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Canada. As we make our way around the globe, students begin to gain an awareness and appreciation for cultural differences and the importance of preserving cultural identity. Projects and activities such as craft making, field trips, wiki work, media presentations, and research projects are designed to make the learning process more interesting and relevant.

The StrataLogica interactive program is introduced this year in order to incorporate technology, geography, and current events into our existing social studies curriculum. This innovative technology enables students and teachers to interact and collaborate through a multi-layered world format powered by Google Earth API. In addition, this classroom experience will allow students to think globally and be able to comprehend world and historical impact through interactive digital reference maps, history maps, charts and atlases.

7TH GRADE LANGUAGE ARTS

In Language Arts, students cover a variety of skills in reading, writing, thinking, listening, and speaking. The essential question for the year is: What is right? Using the theme of tolerance and acceptance, this question is explored through power and control, belonging and cultural identity, as well as lessons learned from the Holocaust. Students also write a personal reflections related to a “Big Question,” which is also used to make connections to the Social Studies curriculum. The goal is to help students make connections between subject areas while broadening their global perspective of the world. Our novels and short stories are used to discuss literary elements as well as the themes of culture, growing up, and perseverance. Weekly vocabulary tests are vital aspects to the curriculum as well as daily grammar and editing activities. Using Google Docs has become an integral part of the curriculum as children learn to think about their reading, write about their reading, and discuss their reading online and in class. The seventh grade writing includes poetry, personal narratives, essays,letters,compare/contrast, speeches, creative writing, and digital storytelling. The writing program focuses on improving ideas, content, word choice, conventions, voice, sentence fluency, and organization. These traits are taught through literature, teacher modeling, and student examples.

7TH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES

As a continuation of the Global Studies program begun in the sixth grade year, the seventh grade curriculum begins with an introductory unit on Culture. The students will explore the elements of culture common to all societies through a variety of mediums and assessments. The course covers units on Asian Studies, Islam and the Middle East, Russia and India with an examination of historical and contemporary issues. The year ends with a unit on Diplomacy and the United Nations, culminating in a classroom Model UN with each student representing a member nation of the United Nations to debate issues and draft resolutions.

The StrataLogica interactive program is introduced this year in order to incorporate technology, geography, and current events into our existing social studies curriculum. This innovative technology enables students and teachers to interact and collaborate through a multi-layered world format powered by Google Earth API. In addition, this classroom experience will allow students to think globally and be able to comprehend world and historical impact through interactive digital reference maps, history maps, charts and atlases.


8TH GRADE LANGUAGE ARTS

In Language Arts, students cover a variety of skills in reading, writing, thinking, listening, and speaking. The essential question for the year is: Who am I? Using the theme of identity, this question is explored through forgiveness and justice, forming identity, and the search for self. This question also is used to explore Social Studies themes of forming an American identity, immigration, and what it means to be a global citizen in the 21st century. Using Google Docs has become an integral part of the curriculum as children learn to think about their reading, write about their reading, and discuss their reading online and in class. Weekly vocabulary tests are vital aspects to the curriculum as are daily grammar and editing activities. The eighth grade writing includes narrative essays, personal narratives, essays, speeches, letter writing, short stories, creative writing, and book review writing.The writing program focuses on the Six Traits: ideas, word choice, conventions, voice, sentence fluency, and organization. These traits will be taught through literature, teacher modeling, and student examples. Also included is a year long humanities project called Make a Difference in which students choose a person or organization who has made a positive impact on humanity. The project focuses on the essential question, “How does the individual or organization contribute positively to the service of humanity?” All of these “mini-subjects” are put in place to help the students succeed in all aspects of the English language.

8TH GRADE SOCIAL STUDIES

The eighth grade in American Studies centers on the American identity and the essential question “Who are ‘We The People?’” Beginning with the origins of the American “City on the Hill,” the course studies the principles contained within the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as well as other important documents and speeches. Interactive activities enable the students to examine the American identity from numerous points of view and through a variety of mediums. Additional units consider the role of immigration in establishing the American identity as well as the changing role of America in a 21st global society.

The StrataLogica interactive program is introduced this year in order to incorporate technology, geography, and current events into our existing social studies curriculum. This innovative technology enables students and teachers to interact and collaborate through a multi-layered world format powered by Google Earth API. In addition, this classroom experience will allow students to think globally and be able to comprehend world and historical impact through interactive digital reference maps, history maps, charts and atlases.

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