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Language Arts

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Ancona’s language arts program is based largely on the workshop approach of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project of Columbia University. Workshops in both reading and writing involve mini-lessons and regular conferences between teacher and student, as well as peer-to-peer feedback. The foundation of reading workshop is daily independent reading. Lessons focus on breaking down the skills of successful readers and uncovering the elements of different literary genres. Classroom libraries stocked with engaging fiction, poetry and nonfiction provide a wealth of materials to ignite children’s interest. During whole-class discussions student practice listening, speaking and critical-thinking skills. Writing workshop instruction at all grade levels features similar structures and practices, and teachers explicitly teach each step of the writing process. Units are genre-based and focus on narrative, information, and opinion writing.In the upper grades students utilize writing and reading notebooks to investigate the processes of reading and writing.

Both self-assessment and teacher assessment are regular features of reading and writing workshop. Teachers measure and use Independent Reading Level Benchmarks to find students’ “just right” reading level in order to target reading instruction to their zone of proximal development, where the reading is neither too hard nor too easy. Spelling progress is monitored with the use of Words Their Way spelling inventories in the primary grades. In the upper grades, summative assessments are conducted with the use of rubrics. Student reflection and self-evaluations are important parts of assessing writing in writing workshop and are conducted regularly.
At Ancona, we aim to create confident, literate learners who appreciate the power of language and have rich lives as readers and writers.

To that end, teachers design balanced literacy classrooms that promote skillful, thoughtful, and enthusiastic readers and writers.

Ancona’s language arts program is built on the Reading and Writing Workshop model developed at Teachers College of Columbia University.
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