The language arts curriculum develops the cornerstones of all learning: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students use these skills in every discipline at school as well as in everyday life outside of ACDS. In addition to acquiring these basic skills, we want our students to have broader experiences that will foster depth in their growth as lifelong learners and contributors to society.
The language arts program is designed to achieve a variety of goals: appreciation of literature and the human experience; reading fiction or non-fiction in order to learn; writing clearly and succinctly; ability to express oneself orally and via writing; thinking deeply and critically; valuing the role process plays in achieving product; utilizing creativity. The language arts program balances the need for rich literary content, both fiction and nonfiction, with the need to develop the discrete foundational skills to become an effective reader and writer.
In Lower School, we have adopted the "Daily 5" organizational framework to ensure students engage in meaningful experiences in each domain of language arts. We use a developmental model to teach reading which incorporates elements of both a phonics-based program as well as a holistic approach. We use the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop approach and our students have numerous opportunities to practice both formal and informal speaking and listening.
In Sixth through Eighth Grades, the reading focus progresses to a more in-depth analysis of both fiction and nonfiction texts. Students develop their ability to read for inference and make purposeful connections beyond the text, either to their own experience or the broader world. Students also cultivate their ability to lead their own discussion, and by Eighth Grade most literature discussions are facilitated by students in small groups to encourage more independent (not teacher-led) inquiry. Students dissect literature by progressing from the literal to the abstract by systematically asking three questions: What happens? Why does it happen? What does it mean?