Our Language Arts program consists of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Every day, teachers create opportunities for students to express themselves and practice their developing skills. Student projects, including book reports, biographies, science fair exhibits, and research papers are on display, and classes are alive with oral reports, Readers’ Theater, and lively conversation. Literacy Day, with our Vocabulary Parade, is a popular annual event that showcases language arts.
‘Ohi’a K/1st Multiage
Reading is the most important skill developed in ‘Ohi’a. Students begin with reading readiness and move on to extend their phonemic awareness, decoding skills, sight word recognition, and fluency.
The focus of reading readiness is building a foundation in these three key areas:
- Phonemic Awareness ~ distinguishing the different sounds in a spoken word
- Letter recognition ~ knowing different letter shapes and the correct name for each letter
- Phonics ~ understanding the relationship between letters and the sounds they stand for
Over the course of the two-year ‘Ohi’a program, students move from developing the fine motor skills needed to manipulate a pencil to writing multiple sentences about a single topic.
Students write daily through various activities, including journaling. Teachers model writing and take dictation. Specific writing skills are taught in whole group and individual instruction, including with kinesthetic techniques by using manipulatives such as clay, rice, sand, and so forth. Language mechanics—spelling, grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and usage—are emphasized and taught directly; however, students also have the opportunity to free write in order to learn to express themselves creatively.
‘Ohi’a students are learning to articulate ideas and concepts and to differentiate between making statements and asking questions. Through consistent direction and teacher intervention, students learn to take turns when speaking, respect other speakers, listen to directions, and follow instruction. Students practice listening for information in presentations, videos, and CDs. They develop oral presentation skills by sharing writing pieces, group reading, and at “share time.”
Koai’a 2nd/3rd Multiage
Language instruction in Koai’a is center-based, with students engaged in a variety of activities each day that focus on reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
Students read chapter books in small groups. As they read, they engage in activities to improve reading skills. Some groups may work on fluency, decoding and phonics, while other groups practice identifying literary themes and using inference. All of these skills have been proven to help students reach meta-cognition, or a high level of critical thinking about what they have read and how they understood it. What’s more, by reading novels in small groups, students gain conversation skills and confidence in reading and responding aloud.
Additionally, a wide range of fiction and non-fiction literature is read aloud and discussed with the entire class. These novels expose students to higher level vocabulary, model practices for reading and understanding novels, and relate to our value education program.
Students regularly engage in Writers’ Workshop, understanding writing as a process that moves through the stages of pre-writing, drafting, revising, peer editing, conferencing, final drafting and publishing. Students are encouraged to use illustrations and invented spelling in the pre-writing and drafting stages to help express ideas and expand stories.
Correct spelling and the ability to understand a wide variety of words and use them well are essential skills. To help students develop these skills, we offer instruction in spelling as well as in Greek and Latin word roots.
Language instruction (writing conventions, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar rules) is embedded in the writing curriculum and taught in the context of the students’ writing.
With handwriting, students move from standardizing print to slant and hook printed letters to cursive writing. Handwriting is practiced throughout the week, utilizing the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.
Koa 4th/5th Multiage
Students at this level are moving beyond decoding towards independent reading; the emphasis shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. Students read a variety of fiction and nonfiction materials throughout the year, including novels, short stories, informational articles, and poetry. Specific reading strategies and skills are taught on an ongoing basis.
Students work on specific writing skills; a major focus is ensuring that students can plan and write effective paragraphs. Journaling, creative writing, and poetry are also regular parts of the writing program. Spelling word work and vocabulary building through Greek & Latin study are also key parts of the curriculum.
Students practice listening on a daily basis for information and for interest. Students listen to reading aloud by the teacher and other students. Students also practice being active and respectful listeners.
Students have many opportunities to develop and practice public speaking skills. Oral reports and presentations are used regularly as a means for students to demonstrate learning and practice speaking skills.