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ELA (English Language Arts)

We believe that literacy learning flourishes in an environment where the skills of speaking, listening, reading, and writing  are embedded in meaningful, varied, and developmentally appropriate experiences for all students. We have high expectations for the achievement of all students and provide a supportive learning environment specifically designed to meet students' needs.  Within the framework of the 'Gradual Release of Responsibility' (commonly referred to as 'To, With, By') we model learning strategies for students, provide opportunities and activities for guided learning, and ensure that students have sufficient time to work independently in their 'struggle zone', practicing and consolidating their learning.  Consequently, students at PS 62 may be seen actively engaged in whole class lessons, working with teacher support in collaborative, small groups and engrossed in individual learning time.  To ensure that all students maximize their potential in reaching or exceeding State standards at each grade level,  students' progress is regularly screened by the class teacher and, if necessary, additional small group support is provided by a teacher or trained para professional.

The literacy curriculum is soundly based within integrated units which address studies of literature, social studies, and science.  Students acquire relevant, topical, content knowledge and understanding of essential themes during each unit, which lasts approximately six weeks.  Embedded within each of these units are appropriate reading and writing skills including a specific focus on the academic vocabulary needed to communicate their thoughts, ideas and learning.

The use of technology is evident in all classrooms as a medium for self-paced learning, creative design of projects, and the collaborative presentation of students' ideas to a wide variety of audiences.

Current research identifies five components of successful reading programs: instruction in phonics, phonemic awareness, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension strategies.  Here, at PS 62, we ensure that students are provided with a range of interesting and appropriate learning experiences in all of these areas to ensure that they acquire the skills to become competent, confident, critical readers.

In grades K-2 the main focus is on 'learning to read'.  However this shifts to an emphasis on 'reading to learn' as students progress through grades 3-5. The 'To, With, and By' framework is used to ensure a balanced literacy program offering students whole class experiences, through Read Aloud and Shared Reading, small group Guided Reading and independent reading time.  Students' reading levels and comprehension are monitored regularly by the class teacher and students are taught how to select books at their 'Just Right' reading level. 

A wide variety of reading books is available in each classroom, as well as in the Library Media Center, and students are expected to read regularly at home each evening.  Additionally, students are taught to read, on sight, a number of High Frequency words and these are also practiced at home and assessed by the class teacher.  Teachers also take advantage of the increasing quantity of motivating, challenging 'on line' reading options to provide relevant reading experiences for their students, consequently students frequently make use of interactive reading programs or research sites to practice their skills.
In June each year, the whole school celebrates students' achievement in writing with a Publishing Day.  During the year, as part of their integrated Literacy Curriculum units, students draft, revise and edit a number of written pieces, demonstrating skills in a range of writing styles - as outlined in the State standards.  Teachers connect their reading and writing instruction so that students understand how different writing pieces are structured and the language features used.  Teachers model the writing process for and with students, provide guided practice for small groups, and confer with students during individual writing time. Teachers also take advantage of practical activities, field trips and attendance at performances to provide students with real contexts for writing to foster clear, lively, written expression.

Whilst creativity in the writing process is encouraged, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation are also taught.  Students in grades 3-5 are also expected to become more independent in self-assessing their own writing, with the support of a checklist, so that they can be more independent in editing their own work ready for publication.

As June approaches, teachers work with students to collate and bind their work so that it can be taken home and shared with family and friends.  During Publishing Day parents are invited to visit the classrooms and celebrate with us as students read aloud a selection from their portfolio and share their year's learning. 
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