Language Arts/Literacy Program
A Comprehensive approach to literacy development
District 65’s core beliefs about literacy acquisition are built on the foundation that reading, writing, speaking and listening to learn and to communicate are simultaneous and continuous processes throughout a student’s school experience.
Literacy, whether in English and/or Spanish is acquired through connected instruction of discrete skills that are built from authentic, academically and culturally relevant experiences. Students develop confidence in asking questions, taking risks, and setting their own goals in a cohesive, text-rich learning environment so that they can flourish in their journey of becoming literate, or biliterate. With these goals in mind, District 65 implements a coherent and systematic approach to literacy instruction in kindergarten through eighth grade that is grounded on the Common Core State Standards, Spanish Language Arts Standards (TWI classrooms), WIDA English Language Development Standards as well as research-based and evidence-based practices for teaching literacy.
- Fisher, Frey, & Akhavan, 2020; August & Shanahan, 2006
Core Literacy Components and Practices
Teaching and learning in District 65’s literacy program revolve around a workshop approach for the distinct literacy components below:
- Reading, Writing, and Language instruction incorporates an extended block of time when teachers implement instruction in whole and small group, guided and independent practice that allow for student self-reflection and assessment of the learning process.
- Language Development (Phonics & Phonological Awareness) skills are taught explicitly and in the context of reading and writing as a tool readers and writers develop to communicate their thoughts effectively.
- Word Study / Word Solving focuses on sight words, spelling development, and word patterns throughout the developmental stages of word learning. Readers and writers learn to look for context clues and analyze them for their usefulness making meaning of the texts they read and write. Developing word solving skills helps students learn that many words in English and Spanish contain affixes, bases, or roots, are part of word families, or cognates.
- Reading Fluency involves the ability to read smoothly and with accuracy and it is an essential foundational skill that students acquire by using various reading strategies, or techniques. Students build reading fluency through shared reading, repeated readings and independent reading practices.
- Comprehension is the ability to use cognitive routines and strategies to make meaning of texts. Students learn to use a range of comprehension strategies, such as predicting, visualizing, monitoring, making connections, inference, and summarizing to make meaning of texts. These strategies are taught and practiced throughout the school year and across grade levels through interactive read alouds, shared readings, and close readings of complex texts that align with the students’ thinking and knowledge base.