First grade language arts is divided into four parts to create a “Balanced Literacy” approach. The first part is, of course, Reading. We teach the children to use decoding strategies to “attack” troublesome words when reading. These strategies are taught in small groups (Guided Reading and Literacy Stations) and are based on the students DRA level. We ask for small group parent volunteers during this time.
We teach comprehension strategies as well. These strategies help students understand their reading. These are taught in a whole group setting (Shared Reading) and practiced in their small groups.
The second part is the Word Wall. Each week we will introduce 5 new Word Wall Words. These words are displayed in the classroom for the students to use in their writing. The students are encouraged to use “chunks” of these words to help spell new words too. The children should be able to QUICKLY recall these words in their reading and their writing. While these Word Wall Words are reviewed weekly in class, it is very important that they are practiced at home, too.
The third part is Word Study. The students are given a “Spelling Inventory” in which we are able to determine what “word patterns” each child can apply successfully and which patterns they could use to practice with. The students are then sorted into appropriate groups. Once this is established, the students will bring home a sheet of words each week that follow a given word pattern. These patterns should become quite familiar to the child throughout the week.
The final part is Writing! The students are taught to use their Word Wall and environmental text to help write a story with a Bold Beginning, Mighty Middle (details) and an Excellent Ending. Writing skills are modeled and practice each day.
In summary, the students will be immersed in a print-rich environment to develop oral language skills, phonetic skills, vocabulary, comprehension, and an awareness of print materials as sources of information and enjoyment. The students should also develop a love for reading!