At the GreenMount School, we develop readers who can think critically and thinkers who can read fluently. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are integrated throughout the curriculum to produce active listeners and engaging speakers who choose their words with confidence and care.
At all grade levels, we use story as an important teaching tool. Our focus on narrative involves questioning who is telling the story, the environment in which the story is being told, and the larger context of any written piece.
Students begin answering the question, “How can you tell whose story is being told?” as early as kindergarten when they are asked to empathize with different characters in a simple story.
As they listen to and discuss a multitude of stories told by diverse authors from home and around the world, students develop a love of reading and an appreciation of different perspectives. The kindergarten classroom is in a literacy-rich environment, filled with books, artwork, and manipulatives that provide opportunities to engage with language. An emphasis on the alphabet and sound-symbol correlation provides a solid foundation for first grade and beyond.
Structured literacy, including explicit phonics and fluency instruction, is an important part of the language arts curriculum at the GreenMount School. Using principles grounded in the science of how the brain learns to read, children are guided through developmentally appropriate activities to gain skills and increase fluency. An emphasis on hands-on and experiential learning engages students with diverse learning styles and makes learning fun for both teachers and students.
First through third graders continue to practice age and grade-appropriate phonics skills to become more proficient readers and explore written text as a means to learn about the world around them. With the support of teachers, peers, and buddies in older grades, they critically examine what they read, learning to make predictions and develop inferences. Through thoughtful, intriguing, and playful prompts, students explore their own writing ability and learn to use tools for creative expression.
Thematic learning plays an increasingly essential role in our language arts curriculum as students progress from elementary to middle school. As students read, analyze, discuss, and debate ideas in both fiction and nonfiction texts, they grow in their ability to understand others and draw connections between concepts and time periods. Continued explicit instruction in writing, grammar, vocabulary, and spelling provides a concrete pathway for students to fully discover and learn to express their own unique voices.
Experiences such as field trips to local theaters, discussions with visiting authors, and student-led letter-writing campaigns provide authentic contexts for students to discover the power of different forms of expression.