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English/Language Arts Department (ELA)

English/Language Arts Department Information


The English/Language Arts program has been established with a balanced literacy framework. Each component is essential and must be implemented on a regular basis.


Teacher Directed Reading

Read Aloud (Reading to Children)

The teacher reads aloud daily to the whole class or small groups modeling directionality and/or phrasing, expression and vocabulary. Literature to be read aloud is a part of the core reading program or is selected by the teacher because of its appeal and rich language; the collection contains a variety of genres and represents our diverse society. Children can comprehend books read aloud on a higher level than they can read for themselves. Therefore, the read aloud time sets the stage for literacy acquisition at higher levels as well as serving as a model for reading behavior. Favorite texts selected for special features may be reread many times. Interactive read aloud may also be used as the teacher responds to the text aloud as a model for children.


Shared Reading (Reading with Children)

Using an enlarged text that all children can see or multiple copies on which older children follow the print, the teacher involves children in reading together following a pointer or pointing with their eyes. The process includes: reading and/or re-reading passages, big books, retellings, alternative texts, and products of interactive writing.


Guided Reading

Guided Reading (Reading by Children)

The teacher works with a small group of children with the same instructional need. The core reading program provides leveled readers. The teacher may also select additional books at the children’s instructional reading level. Support is provided for reading the whole text orally or silently, making teaching points during and after the reading based upon the reading behaviors observed. The children’s level of concern is increased as they accept more responsibility for getting meaning from print. The teacher serves as a guide or coach making suggestions to help each child in the group toward independence.


Independent Reading

Independent Reading (Reading by Children)

Children read on their own or with partners from a wide range of materials. Choices are made by the children at their independent reading levels. Children may choose to read for themselves books that the teacher or the whole group has read previously.


Word Study

Working with sounds, letters, and words is addressed systematically and explicitly within the balanced literacy framework. Phonics, phonemic awareness, and word study include strategies for developing a sight vocabulary and an understanding of how words work. The study begins with letters and sounds, rhyming and alliteration, word parts (onsets and rimes), phoneme position, phoneme counting, blending, segmenting, syllabication, sound separation, and sound manipulation. Vocabulary development is also included.



Shared Writing (Writing to/for Children)

Teacher and children work together to compose messages and stories. The teacher may support the process as a scribe using Peterson Handwriting for vertical print and cursive.


Interactive Writing (Writing with Children)

As in shared writing, teachers and children compose messages and stories which are written using a “shared pen” technique that involves children in their own writing. Teacher scaffolds the writing process for the children as they accept responsibility for parts they are able to write themselves. This is an appropriate technique K-2. During interactive writing, the teacher continually edits so that the model is correct. Students begin to learn cursive letters during the second half of grade 2. Cursive instruction continues through grade 5 as needed.


Guided Writing (Writing by Children)

Children engage in writing a variety of texts. The teacher guides the process and provides instruction through mini-lessons for the whole class or small groups of students with the same instructional need. Mini-lesson content is guided by the core program and the planned instruction documents. Teachers provide instruction and experience with narrative, informative and persuasive writing.


Independent Writing (Writing by Children)

Children write, on their own, a variety of forms of writing.


Readers as Learners in the Elementary Setting

Primary Classrooms – Grades K-2

A primary classroom focuses on letters and numbers. Children are learning to read and do limited mathematical reasoning. To prepare for the information rich society in which these children will live as adults, they should be reading non-fiction books as well as fiction books. Leveled fiction and non-fiction books are available to readers at their level of instruction. The model for the primary classroom is the balanced literacy framework.


Grade 3

According to the Pennsylvania Standards, the end of grade three is noted as the appropriate time to learn to read developmentally. Learning to read is still a major focus for third graders. For much of the year the teaching focus should be based upon using texts at each learner’s instructional level. 


Intermediate Classrooms – Grades 4-6

The Pennsylvania Standards expect children in grades four through six to continue to learn comprehension strategies and more sophisticated skills to get meaning from increasingly difficult texts in varied genre and subject areas. Teachers need to be aware of students’ instructional and independent reading levels, as well as the readability of the texts used with whole groups. The model for the intermediate classroom is the balanced literacy framework. Guided reading continues to be necessary for teaching students to expand their comprehension of text.


Research has determined that children need books they can read. If understanding of content is the goal, the text must be at the child’s independent reading level, often a grade below the grade placement, or the text must be handled as guided reading where students work with teacher direction. When students are frequently asked to read texts they do not understand, reading becomes a meaningless task that carries little value for the student.


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