PLC Charter Schools at Estrella Mountain is implementing a research-based reading program (Harcourt Journeys) that provides a comprehensive approach in five areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.
The elementary language arts program emphasizes purposeful writing: to tell stories, to present information, to persuade, and to entertain. Students begin writing in kindergarten, even before they can read, by drawing and using phonetic spelling. In elementary school, students are expected to write every day. They write frequently in writing workshops, practice all types of writing, receive feedback from their classmates, conference with their teachers, and learn editing skills.
Language Arts is a broad area which includes the following components:
- Phonics and Fluency - Understanding sounds through letter recognition, blending, and decoding is the foundation for rereading and reading, which leads to fluency. Fluency is the ability to sound out familiar and unfamiliar words in text while reading.
- Grammar and Conventions - Developing skills in spelling, punctuation, parts of speech, verb tenses and sentence types leads to better reading writing, listening and speaking.
- Reading Comprehension Strategies - Building critical thinking skills through pre-reading, reading comprehension, making inferences, asking questions, summarizing, comparing and contrasting, analyzing characters, and identifying cause and effect creates an understanding of literature.
- Vocabulary - Learning multiple meanings, synonyms, antonyms, prefixes, suffixes, parts of speech, and using context clues help students broaden their oral expression, writing, and speaking skills.
- Writing - Beginning with prewriting, applying the writing process, sentence and paragraph structure, sequencing, conventions, and various genres of composition, response, analysis and creative thinking structures students' writing.