Lower School

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Mandarin Chinese 5

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In 5th grade, students will learn to type using Pinyin to reinforce their pronunciation and literacy skill. Moreover, our 5th graders will take a field trip with 4th graders to a Chinese restaurant and supermarket to put their oral communication into practice and have fun. As the last year in LS, the 5th graders will put out a skit/play from a classical Chinese tale as their graduation performance. 

Mandarin Chinese 4

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In 4th grade, our Chinese students will explore the topics they learned with more complex sentences to talk about themselves or describe their environment. They will also experience calligraphy as part of their cultural competence, which facilitate the better understanding of the structures of Chinese characters. During the field trip, 4th graders will get to put their oral skill of ordering food in a Chinese restaurant.  

Mandarin Chinese 3

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In third grade, students will be officially introduced to both simplified and traditional Chinese characters about their structures and meanings as an introduction to literacy. In third grade, students also start practicing asking and answering yes/no and WH questions to form short conversations. Students will be expected to recall vocabulary learned in the past through regular quizzes, individual projects, games, etc. They will participate in authentic conversation about ordering food at a Chinese restaurant during their field trip in May. 

 

Mandarin Chinese 2

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In the second year of the Lower School Chinese program, students are expected to extend the number of vocabulary for topics they learned in the first year. They will also learn to understand and respond to short dialogues. 

Mandarin Chinese 1

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In the first grade, we are expecting our Chinese learners to take advantage of their precious period of second language learning for Chinese Mandarin, which is a tonal language. The first graders will be exposed to simple and short vocabulary that are more concrete and tangible for them in their prior knowledge of the world. They will be able to distinguish the four tones of the Mandarin Chinese, and pronounce basic characters and simple sentences with correct tones. They will be recognize and write 50 - 100 basic characters. Singing and acting out are two major elements in first grade Chinese. There are also holiday celebrations through food and folk tales to familiarize themselves with Chinese cultural practices. 

Writing Continuum

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Literacy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum. As such, our instruction is guided by regular formal and informal writing assessments.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings. The following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

Writing 3

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Writer's Workshop

Writer's workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in writing. Writer's Workshop focuses on the teaching of writing strategies. The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to foster a love of writing. Students develop an ability to write confidently in many forms for a variety of audiences and purposes. 

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of writing, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently.

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

Writing Mini-Lessons

The writing mini-lessons provide opportunities to demonstrate specific writing tools, concepts and techniques for the whole class. Examples of writing or modeling of writing may be used for the students to see how writer's make decisions and work towards specific goals or ideas. Different types of writing may be modeled, such as expository, narrative, poetry, etc. or a lesson on a skill such as adding supporting details, using editing marks, using quotation marks, or writing a paragraph. Mini-lessons are intended to be brief (5-10 minutes) and be applicable for all the writers in the classroom. Students then have the opportunity to use the information in their own writing during independent writing time.

Guided Writing

Guided writing goups can be used to help develop a specific area of writing for a small group or writers who are working on the same skill or strategy. Students who would benefit from some additional time working on some aspect of writing would be invited to join a teacher to practice the writing tool or technique they need. Guided writing groups are often short term and the groups are flexible and changing, forming with whatever individuals need the same specific support at a given time.

Independent Writing

Independent writing is the heart of the writing workhshop, and is a time when the students apply what they have learned in the mini-lesson or guided writing group. The students work on self-selected writing topics, or topics related to a specific project. During this time, some students may be working quietly on a draft with headphones to focus their thoughts on their writing, some students may be conferring with partners or a teacher, some may be meeting in a guided reading group, some may be revising an almost finished piece, and some may be preparing a piece for publication. This part of the writing workshop is the longest, as it is the time when the students are practicing their skills as writers.

Writer's Circles

Writer's circles vary in size and purpose. The whole class may meet together for a large writer's circle, or they may be made up of a few students. During these times, the students may be sharing a draft in progress to get feedback and ideas on where to go next with it. At other times, students may be sharing their published pieces with one another and share compliments and specific aspects of the writing they enjoyed.

Writing Conferences

Writing conferences happen during the independent writing time. A student and teacher will meet one-to-one to discuss a work in progress, or look over a piece that's ready to publish. This is an opportunity for the teacher to talk with the student about the writing process, ask questions, and provide feedback, not only about the conventions (spelling, punctuation, etc.) but the elements of writing taught in the mini-lesson such as developing and organizing ideas,story elements, etc. It is also a chance to assess the writer's strengths and develop goals for the next steps in developing as a writer.

Writing 4

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Writer's Workshop

Writer's workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in writing. Writer's Workshop focuses on the teaching of writing strategies. The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to foster a love of writing. Students develop an ability to write confidently in many forms for a variety of audiences and purposes. 

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of writing, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently.

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

Writing Mini-Lessons

The mini-lesson is where we can make a suggestion to the whole class...raise a concern, explore an issue, model a technique, reinforce a strategy. First our students are engaged in their own important work. Mini lessons are developed from here. A mini-lesson generally lasts 5-10 minutes. We try to choose a teaching point that we feel would benefit many members of the class.

Examples of mini lessons might include a content focus such as using descriptive language or writing a powerful lead. When teaching a conventions mini lesson, we might work on capitalization, end marks, or quotation mark usage. Often times, we lead lessons on genre studies integrated with our reading workshop on topics such as biography, poetry, letter writing, or informational text.

Independent Writing 

After the mini lesson, students work in their Writer's Notebook to collect entries that may later become published pieces of writing.  The total writing time lasts for about 35-40 minutes, but during that time some students may be involved in conferences with the teacher or with their peers.

Students choose entries in their notebooks to take into "draft form."  It is these carefully selected pieces of writing that will be taken through the process of editing and revising so that they can be published and shared with others.  All entries in the Writer's Notebook do not become published prices of writing. 

Writing Conferences

While students are involved in independent writing, we use this time to confer with our writers.  We take notes during conferences to document students' progress and to plan future mini-lessons.  During this time we may: listen to students read their entries aloud, help students decide what they want to say, provide feedback, re-teach skills taught during mini lessons, teach necessary new skills, reinforce a writer's strengths, or give writers new ways of thinking.

 Sharing

At the end of writing workshop everyday, students are brought back together for a 5-10 minute group share and reflection. Sometimes a writer might come to sharing session to ask for help or receive feedback from his or her classmates ("I like my story, but I can't think of a good title.") Students share a piece with a partner in revision or editing a piece.  The author might also want to share part of an entry of which he or she is especially proud. The 'Author's Chair' is used when students share published piece.

 

Literacy Philosophy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum.  Rather, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, the following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

Writing 5

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Literacy Philosophy Statement

An effective literacy program offers a balance of challenge and support while building children’s confidence in their emerging abilities as readers and writers.  Our goal is to develop fluent, capable readers who enjoy the process and learn from it, drawing from a diverse array of literature.  Helping students become writers who can express their ideas cogently, clearly, and creatively is another important goal.  We view reading and writing as a developmental process and understand that a child’s progress is seldom even or linear. It is common, for example, that a student’s leap ahead in learning is followed by a consolidating phase or an apparent plateau. We also find that students cannot be easily placed in a single category along the learning continuum.  Rather, students often exhibit a range of skills and understandings.

While no two developmental journeys are identical, the following reading/writing continuum describes the basic path to literacy in the Beginning and Lower Schools.

 

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in writing. Writing Workshop focuses on the teaching of writing strategies. The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to foster a love of writing. Students develop an ability to write confidently in many forms for a variety of audiences and purposes.  

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of writing, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently. 

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

 

Writing 1

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Writer's Workshop

Writer's workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in writing. Writer's Workshop focuses on the teaching of writing strategies. The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to foster a love of writing. Students develop an ability to write confidently in many forms for a variety of audiences and purposes.  

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of writing, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently. 

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

Writing Mini-Lessons

During writing minilessons, teacher's highlight a teaching-point regarding writing conventions (punctuation, spelling, spaces between words, etc.) or  writing craft (writing process, story elements, character development, word choice, voice, etc.). They use mentor texts, teacher-written texts, or shared-writing texts to model the teaching point and then give students opportunities to discuss how they can make use of the minilesson within their own writing. Teachers follow-up on writing mini-lessons with "mid-workshop" interruptions in which they highlight student work that exempflies the application of the minilesson.

Word Study

Students work as a whole-group, small-group, and individually on phonemic awareness (hearing sounds in words), sight words, and patterns within words.

Shared Writing

Shared writing is a time when students engage in a small or large group writing experience that is actively guided by the teacher. Shared writing may be focused on any of the mini-lesson topics (please see above).

Independent Writing

During independent writing time, children work on self-selected topics within the given writing unit. For example, during our personal narrative unit one student may be writing a story about her family’s trip to the beach while her neighbor is focusing on a story about his skateboarding adventures. Each day, children apply skills, strategies and concepts learned in the day’s mini-lesson to their independent writing projects, often coaching and drawing upon their writing partners for feedback, assistance and praise.

Writer's Circles

Writer's Circles occur throughout the writing process.  At times, a Writer's Circle may be an opportunity for a student to share a polished piece of writing with an audience.  At other times, students bring pieces of writing that are in process to share with the writing community for the purpose of soliciting feedback and assistance.  Writer's Circles may include the entire class community or they may include a small group of children who are asking for help from or offering help to their fellow writers.

Writing Conferences

Individual writing conferences are a time when students sit one-on-one with teachers to discuss their writing process. Teachers work closely with students to identify personal goals around writing conventions (punctuation, spelling, spaces between words, etc.) and writing craft (writing process, story elements, character development, word choice, voice and application of other concepts learned in minilessons).

 

 

 

 

Writing 2

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Writer's Workshop

Writer's workshop emphasizes the importance of student engagement and the interaction between readers and text. It provides differentiated instruction in writing. Writer's Workshop focuses on the teaching of writing strategies. The purpose of Writer's Workshop is to foster a love of writing. Students develop an ability to write confidently in many forms for a variety of audiences and purposes. 

In the classroom this looks like a mini lesson devoted to one aspect of writing, followed by guided practice where the teacher works with groups of kids, and time for students to practice the skills independently.

Specific components of this grade level are described below.

 

Writing Mini-Lessons

During mini-lessons, the whole class meets and shares mentor texts written in a specific genre in order to tease out strategies and techniques specific to the genre, and work through the writing process to produce their own writing.  Through the study of these mentor texts, we are charting the writing techniques that we notice in the mentor author's work.  This documentation of our thinking guides our writing study.  

 

Shared Writing

Shared writing allows us to co-write a single peice as a small group or whole class.  It shares the responsibility for the pen between teacher and students alike.  We use this to practice specific writing strategies, revision techniques, and editing skills.  This shared responsibility allows us to live the idea that writing is never done, but an ongoing process of improving one's craft.  

 

Independent Writing

In second grade, we have placed an emphasis on students' ability to generate writing from within themselves and from their own experiences.  Students practice developing writing ideas, planning stories, creating drafts, revising, editing, and publishing. As we are encouraging students to concentrate on getting their ideas onto paper, we emphasize the use of “sound-stretching” where students try their best to sound out the spelling of words. Second graders are in the process of learning simple proofreading skills to help them spell unknown words accurately and use capitalization and punctuation correctly. Second graders are able to do specific work on editing such as punctuation, capitalization, spelling, looking at the content of their work and learning how to choose interesting and descriptive words.

 

Peer Conferencing

Peer conferencing is an integral part of the writing process.  Students meet with writing partners to share ideas and feedback on content.  The primary question asked of both the reader and writer in these confernces is, 'Does this peice of writing make sense?'  Students work with one another to practice how to give postive and constructive feedback.  Asking questions is an essential skill for both readers and writers and peer conferencing is a perfect venue in which to practice.  Feedback recieved during peer conferencing facilitates the author's revision.

Writing Conferences

Throughout the writing process, students meet one-on-one with a teacher multiple times.  This pracitce is meant to hone the writer's initial development of ideas, the writing craft, and the revision and editing processes.  Throughout the year we are engaged in publishing the work of student authors after students have gone through the entire wrting process.  Conferences in this form are always a final step before publication.