Reading, Writing, and Literacy
St. Charles follows the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy. The School provides instruction in foundational reading skills, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency within a literature-based reading program, which provides skill continuity from grade-to-grade and emphasizes writing skills across the curriculum.
In Kindergarten through grade two, instruction emphasizes the five research-based reading essentials as identified by the National Reading Council: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. Emergent and early reading skills are practiced in context of extended texts and applied literacy. Students learn to communicate in writing, from initial expressions (pictures and invented spelling) to the foundations of correct spelling, sentence structure, and topical paragraphs.
In grades 3-5, instruction is based on integrated reading, writing, vocabulary, spelling, and applied literacy. Third-grade students move from learning to read toward reading to learn. All students in these grades develop reading in context of fiction, non-fiction, short stories, excerpted works, biography, extended texts, poetry and other genres. Students develop their writing skills in the areas of paragraph development, letters, and reports. Proper grammar, usage, and sentence structure are also areas of focus when writing narrative, opinion, and informative works.
In grades 6-8, instruction in literature expands to developing students' applied reading skills in fiction and non-fiction, including analyzing texts, close reading, understanding authors' conventions and word choice, and evaluating comparative texts. In grades 7 & 8, students are matriculated into two small groups for reading, which provides substantive time on task for all students to contribute to discussion and cite specific passages in texts to support their thinking. Vocabulary instruction includes vocabulary in context and structured lessons in new word (vocabulary) acquistion. In grades 6-8 writing classes also are organized into two small classes, so that students and teachers have optimal opportunities and sufficient time on task to assess, revise, and polish written works. Teachers develop students' writing skills in alignment with Common Core Standards, through explicit instruction, directed practice, and applied writing in narrative, argumentative, and informative genres. Conventions of English (grammar, mechanics, usage) are taught to build students' knowledge of proper written English and practice of the same in their writing.