English Language Arts

The English Language Arts Curriculum teaches reading in the context of character formation and social studies themes.

Voices in Reading

Saint Columbkille Partnership School grades K2 through six use the Zaner-Bloser Voices Reading program. English language arts skills are taught in the context of character formation. Voices in Reading is a spiral curriculum. This enables the school as a whole to address character formation themes at the same time. This program is structured into six themes that frame the learning over the course of the year: Identity Awareness, Perspective Taking, Conflict Resolution, Social Awareness, Love and Friendship and Freedom and Democracy.

These themes integrate fluidly with the Catholic mission of Saint Columbkille Partnership School. Students apply character development concepts in a variety of ways including community outreach, cultural sharing, and intentional service learning. This thematic approach also enables teachers to make connections to social studies. Readings often connect to important historical events, people, and locations.

Voices Reading incorporates three main areas of study: reading, word study, and language arts. Beginning K2 and spiraling through grade six, students are exposed to texts specific to the current theme. These include a variety of genres such as fiction, realistic fiction, fables, biographies, informational texts, and poetry. The texts encourage students’ development of comprehension skills such as text connections, creating images, making inferences, asking questions, and synthesizing information to deepen their understanding, make their voices heard, and prepare to become responsible global citizens. Strategies for comprehension are introduced in a whole group, and are applied and reinforced in small groups, centers, and independent reading.

The Voices Reading curriculum provides a wide variety of opportunities to orally communicate mastery of these comprehension skills, including Think-Pair-Share, Role-Play, and teacher-led discussions. Students demonstrate their understanding through writing activities such as journal writing, worksheets, and projects.

The reading program enhances phonics skills in order to improve decoding skills. The phonetic component begins in kindergarten and continues through fifth grade. In the early grades, there is a strong focus on phonics and decoding high frequency words. As the program progresses, there is less of a focus on phonics and decoding and more on vocabulary and word analysis. However, it was determined that our reading program did not adequately address phonics. To compensate for this deficit, differentiated instruction is provided using the Lexia software program and individualized pull-out/push-in instruction.

Lexia Reading is used for instruction and assessment of phonological awareness, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. During small group center time, students utilize the Lexia Reading program. Each student in grades K2 through five has an individualized account. Students are directed through learning activities. A record is kept of each student’s progress and time spent on the program. Students can access this program from their home computers. Teachers can view student progress, and learning plans are generated for each student that enables teacher to individualize instruction and concentrate on each student’s area of need. Lexia Reading Program aligns with the three-tier Response to Intervention (RTI) model.