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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

6th Grade English Language Arts focuses on the foundational skills for reading, writing, thinking, listening, and speaking. The theme of Values and Beliefs is addressed through the essential questions "What do I believe?" and "How do beliefs and values affect individuals and societies?" Students read poetry, short stories, articles, and novels across various genres in an attempt to both improve comprehension and increase their interest in reading. Students also learn how to generate and maintain meaningful discussions related to a text. We use the 6 Traits writing program school-wide, and there is a heavy emphasis on self and peer editing. Students write for multiple audiences and various purposes. Our public speaking unit focuses on the four main types of speeches. Grammar and vocabulary are taught both as stand-alone lessons and within the context of reading and writing The vocabulary unit emphasizes word parts.

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

Students in 7th grade English Language Arts focus on a variety of skills in reading, writing, thinking, listening, and speaking. Using the themes of Tolerance and Acceptance, we explore the essential question, "What is right?" This question is examined through different genres and styles of literature. Students practice reading a text more than once to actively look for answers to questions, to support analysis, and to deepen comprehension. Poetry, novels, and short stories are used to discuss literary elements and to practice annotating and taking directed notes for later use in class discussions and essay writing. 7th graders practice writing for multiple audiences and for various purposes, with a strong emphasis on writing persuasively. We use the 6 Traits writing program school-wide, and there is a heavy emphasis on self and peer editing. Grammar and vocabulary are taught both as stand-alone lessons and within the context of reading and writing. Our public speaking unit focuses on applying effective body language and vocal delivery.

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 8th grade English Language Arts, students cover skills in reading, writing, speaking, thinking, and listening, with an emphasis on storytelling. We use the 6 Traits writing program school-wide, and there is a heavy emphasis on self and peer editing. The theme for the 8th grade year is Identity, and the essential question, “Who am I?” is explored through reading, journal writing, public speaking, class discussions, projects, and essays. Grammar and vocabulary are taught both as stand-alone lessons and within the context of reading and writing. Students also complete an intensive, year-long project in which they become problem finders in an attempt to make an impact and a contribution as active citizens. Students focus on a local or global issue or cause about which they are passionate. The project involves researching reliable information, creative problem solving, logical thinking, self-management, and mental flexibility. Requirements include report writing, persuasive writing, public speaking, self-reflection, community service, technology, and the arts. The project culminates with a visual and oral presentation to the school community. The ultimate goal is to inspire students to action and to help them realize how one person can make a difference.

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.