skip to main content

English Language Arts

Our Philosophy:  We want our students to choose to read and write. We want our students to view literacy as a way to raise the quality of their lives and the quality of the many communities that they belong to.
 
Our program is aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards for ELA.
Link to the Common Core ELA standards

http://www.engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/nysp12cclsela.pdf                  


Balanced Literacy Approach
The District takes a balanced literacy approach to the teaching of reading, writing, speaking and listening. Teachers use a blend of modeling, guiding and independent literacy work by students to build skills. Children are assessed and instruction is planned based on their instructional literacy levels.

Each classroom has a library of multileveled interesting fiction and nonfiction books.   The schools also have book sets to facilitate small group instruction.  Teachers use instructional planning resources such as the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking System, Writing Fundamentals, SIM, Making Meaning, anthologies, websites, magazines, etc…

We are always striving to improve on the success of our students. To support our teachers in reaching the highest level of literacy instruction, the District has had held many excellent professional development opportunities for teachers.  These expert consultants have supported our staff in teaching the many components of balanced literacy.  In addition, the District has a literacy coach that guides teachers on an ongoing basis on implementing quality literacy instruction. The District will continue to support our teachers with training and resources in order to ensure that all of our students reach their potential in reading and writing.


Valley Stream 30 Core Instructional Approach to Reading Instruction
All instruction and outcomes meet or exceed the requirements of the grade as outlined in the Common Core.  All instruction is evidence based and incorporates the findings for effective reading instruction as determined by the National Reading Panel.  Please see the standards for Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text and Reading Foundational Skills in the Common Core* as well as the National Reading Panels 2005 report**.  

In the primary grades, teachers use a balanced methodical approach to reading instruction.  Evidence-based literacy structures (shared reading, interactive read aloud, strategy groups, guided reading groups, accountable independent reading, meta-cognitive reading skill comprehension strategy instruction) are used in conjunction with daily phonics and phonemic awareness instruction.  Instruction is designed to build towards independence in reading.  Students are expected to leave grade 2 reading independently for understanding at the high end of the Lexile range for grades 2-3 (450-820.)  This is approximately a level O/P in the Fountas and Pinnell Leveling system.

Students are taught the core phonemic awareness and phonological skills through the daily use of Fundations in grades K-3.  In addition, students are instructed in Tier 1, 2 and 3 vocabulary words in the context of the content areas.  Required sight word lists are used in each grade.  Academic words, as defined in the Common Core Standards, are taught in each grade as well.

In addition, students are instructed in guided reading groups with the purpose to move students through the levels of reading as defined in the Fountas and Pinnell literacy continuum.  As students progress thorough the levels the skills required to master increasingly difficult text are taught through the guided reading approach.  Each building has an in-depth guided reading library to support this approach.  Students are instructed in guided reading groups on a weekly basis.  Text use in these settings is balanced between nonfiction and fiction text.  Guided reading supports students’ mastery in the three cueing systems for reading: meaning, visual and semantic.

In addition, students are taught reading comprehension skills and the strategies to support their acquisition of those skills by reading in fiction and nonfiction text.  These skills allow students to master the Common Core standards in literacy. Skills and strategies are modeled and students apply the skills during independent reading.  Students read independently in books of their choice that are matched to their reading level and interest.  Students are held accountable for their reading through the use of writing in response to reading, partner talk and reading logs.  Independent reading is where students combine the skills they learned in guided reading, Fundations and vocabulary work to master grade-level text and to read independently for meaning.   Students are asked to display their understanding through inferring which is supported by text-based evidence.  Students are pushed for fluency, volume and stamina and measured against District Benchmarks for Reading levels.  Students work independently or in small teacher-led groups.  The reading level benchmarks for each grade are aligned to the Common Core Lexile range expectations for each grade level.


Additional Components of our Literacy Program:
Writing Workshop-Students in all grades are instructed in writing (craft, genre, grammar, mechanics) across the school year.  Each grade uses writing units and the Strategic Intervention Model for grammar and mechanics.  Student work is measured against common core aligned writing rubrics.   Students are taught each year in how to write narrative, argumentative and informative pieces.

Close Reads-These are intensive 3-5 day units that ask students in all grades to analyze and evaluate high quality grade level text across genres independently.  Students reread the text and develop and answer critical questions.  Students also study and determine the meanings of complex vocabulary in the units. Most units include a writing assignment. 
Vocabulary Instruction-Vocabulary instruction occurs across all grade levels and content areas.  The district has a strategic academic vocabulary list as well.  In the upper grades in alignment with the common core, students learn about Latin roots and derivatives to aid in vocabulary acquisition. The district utilizes sight word lists for the primary grades that students master in support of fluent reading.  

Read Aloud – Whole class instruction during which the teacher reads aloud a book to model reading strategies, fluency and to develop a love of reading. Often students are paired together and are able to respond to the text to their partner in a structure called “Turn and Talk.”

Shared Reading – Whole-class instruction that involves a text that all can see; on a chart, overhead, big book or individual copies. This teaching strategy is used to introduce or reinforce a reading strategy or skill that the children can use when navigating text independently.

Guided Reading –  Small group instruction using leveled books at the child’s instructional level. The teacher supports the students in navigating the text and by determining and delivering instruction that will move each student to the next level.
Independent Reading – Each child reads a just-right book* by him/herself. The teacher uses this time to conference with students to determine whether or not the student has been able to utilize the strategies taught during whole class or small-group instruction when reading independently. Teachers often observe students’ strengths and weaknesses during guided reading and independent reading to plan future instruction.

Fundations (Phonics/Word Study) – Students in K-3 use a multisensory reading program called Fundations. Through engaging instructional activities, core spelling and reading skills are taught to mastery through repetition and kinesthetic learning.  It is taught daily in each classroom.

Writing Workshop-Students in all grades are instructed in writing(craft, genre, grammar, mechanics) across the school year.  Each grade uses writing units and the Strategic Intervention Model for grammar and mechanics.  Student work is measured against common core aligned writing rubrics.   Students are taught each year in how to write narrative, argumentative and informative pieces.

Vocabulary Instruction-Vocabulary instruction occurs across all grade levels and content areas.  The district has a strategic academic vocabulary list as well.  In the upper grades in alignment with the common core, students learn about Latin roots and derivatives to aid in vocabulary acquisition.