General Studies Curriculum

Language Arts

Lower School

Our goal is to help students understand and critically analyze what they read and to communicate clearly, creatively, and effectively when writing. Through reading and writing, students learn about and make meaning of the world around them. Through the Balanced Literacy Approach, children are immersed in a literate environment where they constantly talk about literature, phonics, reading strategies and writing techniques.

Balanced Literacy
Each component is designed to help students practice skills they have learned in the optimal environment and challenge them to acquire new skills and strategies to take their learning to the next level. Each component scaffolds on the next which enables students to become more and more accountable as they practice each type of learning. This process guides students towards becoming independent thinkers and learners.

Large Group Exercises:

Shared Reading: Students gather together to read a shared, enlarged text. The teacher selects a strategy to focus on and a text that helps to illustrate or practice that strategy.

Shared Writing: Students work together to compose a written group text. They work through strategies that the best authors use in composing meaningful texts.

Read Aloud: Students enjoy literature as a group, engage in discussions about the craft of writing and learn about techniques the best authors use to make their texts engaging and interesting.

Small Group Exercises:

Guided Reading: Students work in small groups. Each group reads a text that is geared toward their reading level or based on a skill the particular group needs to practice. The teacher guides the group through the reading of the text and helps them to practice skills and strategies utilized by good readers.

Individual Student:

Students are assessed throughout the year to determine their reading level at each stage.

Independent Reading: Students select books on their individual reading level and practice reading independently. The teacher circulates throughout the room and conferences with individual students about their reading. S/he helps students develop strategies to use when they encounter a difficult reading challenge.

Writer’s Workshop: Students become authors by writing a first draft, revising and editing it until it is a published work of writing. Throughout the process, they conference with their teacher and with peers to discuss and analyze their writing to improve their story.

Middle School:

Students begin to read the same texts together as a class. Each grade progresses through a series of carefully selected modern and classic novels, short stories, essays and poetry, centered around a common theme. Students continue to build their reading skills, begin to think critically about texts and are able to compare and contrast texts and authors. They are able to apply what they learn about authors to their own creative writing.


Students discuss vocabulary encountered throughout all subjects and study common vocabulary for each grade to enhance their reading and comprehension skills. Grammar and spelling are taught within a meaningful context to improve student understanding.

Writing skills are developed through various styles of writing, including creative, expository, persuasive and responsive writing. Students are also assigned research topics and taught the mechanics of writing a research paper.