Elementary Language Arts Program

  • Standards / Courses of Study: The RELA courses of study meet the Pennsylvania standards. They are a direct link between the standards and the grade specific curriculum. Staff development related to meeting these standards is an ongoing training process for our teachers. Principals, curriculum supervisors, and master teachers direct this training.  
  • Writing: The elementary language arts program emphasizes purposeful writing: to tell stories, to present information, to persuade, and to entertain. Students begin writing in kindergarten, even before they can read, by drawing and using phonetic spelling. In elementary school, students are expected to write every day. They write frequently in writing workshops, practice all types of writing, receive feedback from their classmates, conference with their teachers, and learn editing skills.

    Students often publish their pieces in bound book form, and computers are becoming increasingly important as a publishing tool, given the keyboarding and word processing instruction started in grades 4, 5, and 6. In addition, students also use writing as a tool for learning content in all subject areas: to respond to literature, to analyze scientific information, to problem solve in mathematics, and to support a point of view in social studies.

    The Being a Writer program is a yearlong writing curriculum for grades K–6 that combines two decades of research in the areas of writing, motivation, and learning theory with social and ethical development. The program has two goals: to develop the creativity and skills of a writer and to develop the social and ethical values of a responsible person. Teachers use trade books for genre immersion and author studies. In addition, teachers integrate writing instruction with regular community-building elements and guided partner work that develops in students a sense of autonomy, belonging, and competence.

    Information Skills:

    Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Students will be able to use the library and its available resources to

    • Determine the extent of information needed
    • Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
    • Evaluate information and its sources critically
    • Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base
    • Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
    • Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
    Language Use: Instruction in the other language arts skills is embedded in application. Speaking and listening skills are taught and then applied in both informal group discussion and public speaking situations. Our district scope and sequence of language skills introduces students to the formal structure of English and highlights grammatical skills to be emphasized each year.

    Spelling: First and second grade teachers use the Words Their Way program for spelling instruction. All classrooms teachers in grades three through six use the Zaner Bloser Spelling Connections spelling program. Finally, systematic handwriting instruction rounds out the language arts program.

    Assessment: Assessment in the language arts includes a variety of instruments: writing pieces and activities, end-of-year skills tests, PSSA tests, portfolio prompts, and performance assessments. The culminating sixth grade performance assessment task also targets the language arts program. It requires that students develop a research question, conduct research, write a report, word process the report, deliver it orally to an assessment panel, and self-evaluate their performance.