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Elementary Language Arts
Writing: 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.
Students may publish their pieces in bound book form, and computers are becoming increasingly important as a publishing tool, given the keyboarding and word processing instruction started in grades 4, 5, and 6. In addition, students also use writing as a tool for learning content in all subject areas: to respond to literature, to analyze scientific information, to problem solve in mathematics, and to support a point of view in social studies.
The Being a Writer program is a yearlong writing curriculum for grades K–6 that combines two decades of research in the areas of writing, motivation, and learning theory with social and ethical development. The program has two goals: to develop the creativity and skills of a writer and to develop the social and ethical values of a responsible person. Teachers use trade books for genre immersion and author studies. In addition, teachers integrate writing instruction with regular community-building elements and guided partner work that develops in students a sense of autonomy, belonging, and competence.
Information Skills: Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information. Students will be able to use the library and its available resources to
- Determine the extent of information needed
- Access the needed information effectively and efficiently
- Evaluate information and its sources critically
- Incorporate selected information into one's knowledge base
- Use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose
- Understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally
Language Use: Instruction in the other language arts skills is embedded in application. Speaking and listening skills are taught and then applied in both informal group discussion and public speaking situations. Our district scope and sequence of language skills introduces students to the formal structure of English and highlights grammatical skills to be emphasized each year.
Spelling: First and second grade teachers use the Words Their Way program to teach spelling. All classrooms teachers in third through sixth grade use the Zaner Bloser Spelling Connections program. Finally, systematic handwriting instruction rounds out the language arts program.
Assessment: Assessment in the language arts includes a variety of instruments: written pieces, end-of-year skills tests, PSSA tests, portfolio prompts, and performance assessments. The culminating sixth grade performance assessment task also targets the language arts program. It requires that students develop a research question, conduct research, write a report, word process the report, deliver it orally to an assessment panel, and self-evaluate their performance.
Secondary Language Arts
The secondary language arts program in Central Bucks integrates reading, literature study, writing, speaking, and research skills at each grade level. Our program goal is to have students achieve high academic standards in the language arts: reading independently, reading critically, analyzing and responding to literature and nonfiction text, writing in various forms for a variety of audiences, producing compositions of high quality, speaking proficiently, and using research skills. Students read and respond to literature (classic as well as contemporary novels) in discussions called literature circles. They respond to their reading in blogs and journals and also learn to analyze the craft of literature. They write personal narratives, informative pieces, argument pieces, and creative stories, poems, or plays. They learn to respond to each other's writing and to revise and edit their own work during writing workshops. They learn research skills and present their findings in speeches, media presentations, and papers.
In middle level, students engage in thematic units. The textbook Language and Literature (McDougal-Littell) supports the curriculum, and additional novels, plays, and nonfiction works are required each year. In grade 7, students have a double block of English Language Arts. Some students are identified for honors English each year. In grade 9, a double block of reading and writing is also provided for students who need extra support to reach the standards.
In senior high, students take core English courses in grades 10, 11, and 12. Central Bucks uses block scheduling, so all students have ninety minute classes for one semester each year: English 10 (using McDougal-Littell's The Language of Literature and Bedford St. Martin's Models for Writers), English 11 (using Bedford St. Martin's 40 Model Essays), and English 12 (using Bedford St. Martin's Language and Composition). All three years of study are offered at different challenge levels (honors and academic). In addition, AP English is offered to qualified juniors and seniors.
The high school also offers a varied elective program, including offerings such as Journalism, Becoming a Better Writer, Debate, Creative Writing, Theater, Shakespeare, SAT/ACT Preparation, Media Production, and Introduction to Film Studies.