English Language Arts

English Language Arts

Elementary:

As children learn to read and grapple with textual complexity, we guide them to a balanced approach to literacy that incorporates a blend of phonics and the “whole language” approach, depending on an individual child’s strengths at any given moment. Children gain reading fluency at highly variable and individualized steps and rates. They make huge leaps in a week, then practice for months. Critical to lifelong literacy and fluency is early and continued exposure to print and books.

To this end, teachers in early grades use authentic texts to build both comprehension and phonetic skills, while the Teachers College Writers Workshop structure allows students to generate stories and books based on their own experiences. Each child is regularly assessed to determine his or her own reading level, using the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark System, and students work in groups as well as independently to read texts that are challenging enough to encourage both a sense of mastery and growth.

As part of helping children build persistence, self-regulation, and independent reading strategies, TECCS uses a literacy structure  called The Daily Five. The Daily Five design allows for student choice and teacher flexibility within a clear and predictable structure.  In the reading block, children choose to Read to Self, Read to Someone, Work on Writing, Work on Word Work, or Listen to Reading. While students are engaged in these activities, the teacher meets with small groups or individual pupils. Taken together, these components offer a balanced framework that allows for individually targeted instruction and shared comprehension-building experiences.

Middle School:

As students mature, they are able to come to terms with, discuss, and debate the complex ethical dilemmas and choices presented in literature and history.  Teachers have autonomy to drive units of study toward student interests and select novels and texts that present challenging, complex questions about the world, society, and our place in it. In the middle school, disciplines overlap and intersect in student-driven projects, from the construction of medieval villages, including exploration and dissection of the elaborate social structures of the time, to debates over the role of museums in remembrance. In this way, we focus on our mission to help students become "individuals of integrity, insight, and autonomy."

TECCS continues to incorporate differentiated instruction throughout the Middle School. Students work in guided reading groups and literacy circles, while teachers continue to select materials suitable for each learner. Through this process our students continue to receive targeted instruction while being exposed to higher level texts to build comprehension skills.