Pacific Northern Academy's Language Arts program gets students to read with comprehension and sensitivity; write with clarity and purpose; and discuss with a point of view and open mind.
Beginning in the earliest grades, students are given opportunities to explore books and participate in read-aloud sessions. Daily Guided Reading sessions allow for each lower school student to be challenged in reading individually. Words Their Way provides foundational activities for decoding and vocabulary skills. Literature appreciation and genre and author studies occur at all grade levels. Students read a book in common for group discussion, and also select books at their reading level in the genre or historical period they are studying.
A mix of literature, non-fiction, and, in the higher grades, primary sources provides students with a reading is a source of information,
Pacific Northern Academy utilizes a blend of proven language arts programs and strategies to help students become exceptional readers and writers.
Students at Pacific Northern Academy are taught the 6+1 Traits for Writing Skills and participate in Writer’s Workshop to develop comfort with the writing process: pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing. A strong focus is placed on writing mechanics and grammar. Students utilize D’Nealian Manuscript and Cursive for handwriting.
In order to improve, a writer needs time to write, and they need valuable feedback.
Daily, every PNA classroom, from our three-year-olds to our 8th graders, has Writer's Workshop, where students spend uninterrupted time writing - simply writing. At first this time may seem like a never-ending black hole to a student, but as he develops confidence, this black hole becomes a place to explore one's thoughts, shares one's ideas, and create one's own world.
Valuable feedback is the second requirement for a writer. Whether this feedback comes from a peer or a teacher, a common language is vital. This is where the 6 + 1 traits fit in. The 6 +1 traits of writing - ideas, organization, sentence fluency, word choice, voice, conventions and presentation - provide a shared framework in which to revise writing. Feedback can be specific to a trait which makes revision much more focused and valuable. For example, a common practice of many novice writers is to begin all sentences with the subject - poor sentence fluency. However, a revisor can easily point this out to a writer and provide ways to fix the problem (maybe begin with a preposition or connect sentences with a conjunction). Our students learn the 6 + 1 traits, and more importantly, how to use these to improve their own and others' writing. Using this shared language, become better.
At PNA we value writing so we provide time to write, a common language in which to provide feedback and the final joy of publication. Through publishing our students' writing, we teach them that what they say matters, that their voices are important, that their stories have worth, and finally, that they are true authors/communicators.
WRITING your first opinion is not always the best one. (Good) writing forces you to think through every step of your thoughts (does this make sense?), requires honest analysis (does this say what I mean?), creativity (is this interesting?), imagination (am I just repeating what she said?), and an awful lot of hard work and perseverance (is this as good as it can be?).
The laborious work of writing is a process whose benefits ripple through every other endeavor we undertake. And that is why we work on it. A lot.