Language Arts Curriculum

A curriculum describes what students should be learning through the grades. It should give clear statements of goals and objectives and should leave to teachers the decisions about how to realize them. Our faculty is high professional, knowledgeable, caring and committed to the individualized development of the whole child, therefore each teacher must decide how best to deliver the academic concepts in his/her curriculum. A good curriculum should be organized clearly and structured logically within and between subjects and from grade to grade. It must be standards based, student focused, and goal oriented to build the foundation for future learning. It should gradually become more complex and difficult in terms of skills and objectives. While IAS is structured to assure that all students who attend can, go on to higher education, its primary aim is to develop all aspects of the individual student. We want our students to know and respect themselves and others, and to develop their individual strengths. IAS seeks to stimulate and develop intellectual curiosity, critical and analytical thinking, as well as develop a foundation for information processing at higher levels. It is our goal that our students would be life long learners and constructively question the world around them. We want them gain the ability to analyze critically and objectively. We encourage them to seek to change, to challenge themselves to make a difference IAS expects its students to work hard and to meet these challenges. It is only through continued maintenance of its standards and of the full partnership of the IAS learning community that our students can fulfill these goals.


The program emphasizes the relationship between reading and writing and the developmental nature of each. Read-aloud, picture books, rhymes, big books, emergent readers, leveled readers, nonfiction books, poetry, novels, literature, and textbooks are used to teach the basic skills of reading. Students learn to understand the material they read, to explain why events happen and characters perform as they do, and to see why each part of a story is important to the whole. Written communication is valued from Kindergarten onward. Students are inducted into the structures and expectations of writing, fostering independence and decision-making skills. They learn to write clearly and logically, and as they become more adept at using the symbols of the language they focus on the acquisition of spelling, grammar, and editing skills. A Core Curriculum in spelling of high-frequency words and the accountability of priority words is taught in Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. Students are immersed in different forms of writing such as personal narrative, memoir, poetry, nonfiction, essays, and reports. Writing offers them a marvelous opportunity to use their imagination, creativity, and knowledge in putting themselves on the page.


The goals of instruction in beginning reading and writing include phonemic awareness, vocabulary development, fluency, clarity of expression, appreciation and understanding of good literature, and a love of reading and writing. To attain these goals, kindergarteners use multisensory, multileveled activities for learning sound-symbol relationships and phonetic principles. Reading aloud by the teacher, rhymes, songs, morning message, poetry, big books, and guided reading are used as means of developing phonemic awareness and beginning reading skills. Journal writing begins in the earliest days of Kindergarten, using drawings, labels, and developmental spelling to express complex ideas.


In Grade One, picture books, leveled readers, emergent readers, non-fiction books, poetry, and author studies are used to teach vocabulary and comprehension skills; both trade books and basal readers are used. The introduction of poetry teaches students to learn how to express their feelings as listeners and as writers. Basal readers are used to teach and reinforce the phonetic principles and word families in first grade. Guided reading, individual book baskets, and book clubs enhance the reading program. Student journals, daily writing, word walls, and writer’s workshop reinforce reading and writing in the first grade. The writing process is taught through mini-lessons, and children share, publish, and celebrate their works throughout the year. The teaching of poetry encourages students to express their feelings as listeners and writers. 


In second grade there is an emphasis on self-selected books and reading for meaning. They develop a love of literature and reading while learning, using, and mastering the basic skills necessary for reading and writing. More writing is assigned: students keep journals and use reading response books as a means of making connections between reading and writing. They learn to proofread alone and with partners. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening continue to be developed in Grade Two. There is an emphasis on self-selected books and reading for meaning. Students develop a love of literature and reading while learning, using, and mastering basic strategies necessary for reading and writing. Teacher-selected trade books are used for thematic studies, often integrated with social studies or science. Reading and writing poetry and beginning research skills provide opportunities for second graders to make presentations to small and large groups. Process writing is done in a workshop setting. Students begin to peer-edit and proofread their work. They respond to reading as well as do free-writing and journal-writing exercises. 


Reading instruction in Grades Three and Four assumes new dimensions, resulting from the increasing maturity of students and the increasingly more complex and varied reading materials to which they are exposed. The program stresses the skills that lead to early independence in reading. For example, more detailed and broader discussion questions involving inferential thinking give students greater opportunity to expand their comprehension and vocabulary. Direct instruction in a variety of specific skills such as sequencing, noting details, drawing conclusions, and following directions gives students further opportunities to improve their level of comprehension. Making inferences, understanding literal and implied meanings, thinking critically, and evaluating meanings are important comprehension skills taught in these middle elementary grades. Theme, symbol, and character development are explored. In addition, students learn to use reference and informational materials as they expand their knowledge in various curriculum areas. Special emphasis is given to using a dictionary for word meaning and pronunciation. Important study skills which will receive continued refinement are introduced, such as skimming and scanning for information. Teachers integrate both trade books and independent reading that focus on the higher level skills required at this time. Book selections develop values and the understanding of cultural differences, which are explored through written and oral responses. Students keep reading journals and writing folders. 


In Grade Five, the traditional English/Reading/Study Skills courses are combined. Basic language arts skills are incorporated into the program through extensive writing and the reading of literature. Examples of contemporary and classical literature are studied through the use of novels. Each child records feelings, experiences, and ideas in a journal, which is not an end product but a means for collecting and expressing thoughts. Students begin an invaluable study skills course. Organizational skills and study habits are stressed. Mastering and continually using good study skills gives students an edge in achieving success. 


The language arts curriculum in Grade Six places an emphasis on analysis of literature that goes beyond plot understanding. In the reading program, which is based on a series of short stories and novels, students are introduced to themes and symbols, irony, metaphorical meanings, and character development. They become aware of the craft of writing and of the distinctive style of each author. Three historical novels are integrated with the Social Studies curriculum. Vocabulary words are derived from the stories to provide examples of proper use. Three additional novels are required for free reading. The Study Skills curriculum is put into practice in English class. The art of class discussion and the skill of note-taking are modeled and refined. Students write guided analytical essays and learn to provide evidence for their assertions. Through examination of adult persuasive essays, they learn effective ways of stating opinions. In addition, they write personal journal pieces which are revised in conference in the computer room. They learn to harness the power of image and “voice” to strengthen impact. They experiment with personal style and different genres, including poetry. At the end of the year the students write their own short stories, incorporating the knowledge gained from their literature examination and creative writing. Grammar and mechanics are presented in sequential mini-lessons, but emphasis is on accountability in actual written work.