Every reader is unique and our faculty supports each child in developing his or her reading and comprehension skills in a variety of ways. Teachers engage in ongoing assessments to determine independent and instructional reading levels. Children choose books from their classroom libraries as well as the school library, at their appropriate independent reading level, to read during frequent “Drop Everything And Read” (DEAR) periods. During daily reading periods, our teachers form small groups of children based on instructional level, and work on specific skills in “guided reading” (based on a Columbia University, Teachers College program) sessions. In addition to these sessions, our children read short passages, both fiction and non-fiction, and answer specific comprehension questions about those passages. This directly supports developing comprehension skills to use when reading longer texts, and strengthens children’s test-taking skills.
Writing and Vocabulary
At all levels, our children engage in the recursive writing process of brainstorming, drafting, revising, and editing. At the early levels, the children work closely with a teacher to put their thoughts on paper, with the focus on developing and communicating ideas. As children study grammar, spelling, and vocabulary, their teachers support them in applying the lessons to their writing through small group and individual conferences. Children learn to be constructive critics of their own work, as well as that of their peers, and become skilled at communicating their understanding of a topic, or their vision of a fictional place or event. During each year children explore and experiment with writing in a full array of genres, including fiction, poetry, and memoir. At the higher levels children learn to write research and analytical essays. Older students study the etymology of vocabulary words, so that they can dismantle a word into meaningful parts (root, pre-fix, suffix) and discover the reasons behind its definition as well as its position in a network of related words. For Third, Fourth and Fifth graders, Latin classes provide an important forum for the exploration of English etymology. The students’ knowledge of Latin enhances their studies of the English vocabulary.
Speaking and Listening
At Caedmon, we are conscious of the power of language. Throughout their career at the school, students work to refine the clarity of their expression. Our classrooms are interactive, responsive environments in which collaboration and dialogue are highly valued. Throughout each class day, students enjoy a myriad of forums for the development of their speaking and listening skills. During daily morning meetings, students and teachers greet one another and discuss their plans for the school day. Classwork is cooperative and project-driven, and there are many opportunities to present work products to classmates, teachers, and other members of the Caedmon community. Students engage in dialogue about the published texts that they experience together, including read-alouds and reading group books. As well, they often are asked to read aloud themselves, and their teachers work closely with them as they decode challenging language and continue to develop fluency in their oral expression. Frequent public speaking provides the opportunity for students to develop their confidence and poise.