The reading curriculum supports the process by which readers actively construct meaning and relate prior knowledge to written text. Proficient readers use a variety of strategies to adapt to increasing levels of complexity and respond to text in a critical manner.
The writing curriculum is designed to develop effective communication skills that may be incorporated into a variety of writing styles and genres. Writing techniques and concepts are introduced and expanded over a three year period. Students apply concepts on an increasingly independent level and begin to develop a personal writing style. Student writing will evolve and progress in length, sentence complexity, level of vocabulary and organization. Students are taught the mechanics and elements of writing as they practice with creative writing, letter writing, tall tales, memoirs, news writing, fairy tales, essays, reports and poetry.
Students build upon the research skills practiced in Lower Elementary to learn about topics of study in greater depth. With their developing reading and writing skills, students use classroom library and Internet resources to gather information and prepare reports of a depth and length that is appropriate for the developmental skills of each learner. Sixth year students conduct extensive research on a topic they select to pursue during the course of the school year. A variety of sources are used in preparation for writing their in-depth research paper.
The grammar curriculum is designed to strengthen language skills as they apply to reading and writing. Students learn the complex structure of language and draw finer distinctions between the functions of words. Sentence analysis study provides the tools for understanding and developing awareness of the structure of language.
The development and use of vocabulary is essential to effective spoken and written communication. The Montessori classroom is rich in opportunities to study multiple word meanings, etymology and development of a rich foundation of words.
The Instructional Level Spelling Program meets the needs of a variety of learners and fosters the development of standard spelling. Students are introduced to one specific spelling pattern per week and learn words that fit that specific rule.
Oral Presentations and Performances
Speaking formally and informally and listening to others are all essential components of the learning process. Students engage in discourse and dialogue about literature, nonfiction and other topics on a daily basis. They are presented with opportunities to prepare and participate in presentations to small and large audiences. The Sixth Year Expert Project Presentation represents a very important right of passage for Upper Elementary level students who are moving on to Middle School, as they present their research before a full auditorium of students, parents and teachers. The confidence that our students display in speaking before such a large audience is an outgrowth of having many opportunities throughout their years in Lower and Upper Elementary to practice and develop essential oral speaking skills.
Students rehearse and perform a yearly play before the entire school community. All students are actors in these performances, which usually involve literature or cultural themes.