ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

The Vashon Island School District is dedicated to providing a comprehensive, rigorous English language arts program for all of our students. To this end, we are committed to providing our students with classroom experiences focused on developing deep understanding through rich questions and discussion. Guided by the Common Core State Standards for English language arts, our program is the result of ongoing, focused efforts by all teachers of reading and writing within the Vashon Island School District and includes developmentally appropriate, process-oriented instruction that teaches students to read critically and to express themselves clearly and effectively in their writing and their speech. Through our ongoing and extensive research and professional development in teaching English language arts,  we believe all students will be served best in a differentiated classroom.

Elementary

The elementary writing mission of the Vashon Island School District is to provide foundational writing skills through creative and expository writing while nurturing enthusiasm and excitement about reading and writing. Chautauqua students are immersed in a language-rich environment where they have daily opportunities to write.

Language arts instruction and practice is process-based and is integrated across the curriculum in all grades. It provides students with experience and skill writing in a variety of forms and for a variety of reasons. From Kindergarten through Fifth grade, students develop mastery of grade-appropriate conventions and improve their vocabularies while becoming confident, self-motivated writers comfortable with a variety of genres.

The core program K-5 uses the Center for the Collaborative Classroom . “Collaborative Classroom is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to providing continuous professional learning for teachers through curricula that supports the academic, ethical, and social development of children.” This curriculum is research-based.

Middle School

The middle school English language arts mission is to solidify and expand on the foundation provided at the elementary level. In Humanities classes, writing instruction is integrated with literature and social studies curricular components. Writing instruction at the middle school level remains integrated across the curriculum as students compose discipline-specific writing pieces in all core classes and many electives.

Students in sixth through eighth grade use writing, collaboration and research skills throughout their studies of cultures and interpretation of literature. Sixth-grade focuses on developing essay-writing skills, synthesizing information to create research-based projects, writing about literature, and creative writing assignments including myths and short stories. In the seventh grade, student focus on expository and persuasive writing, short fiction and poetry. Eighth-graders emphasize skills of summary, use and understanding of figurative language and complete an extensive research paper based on US history. In all grades, lessons on writing conventions are integrated into writing tasks.

The middle school core program is Units of Study by Lucy Calkins and published by Heinemann. This curriculum is a research-based program that was developed at Teachers College, Columbia University, NY. They also use informational texts and novel sets in their studies.

High School

The English language arts mission of Vashon Island High School is to continue to expand on the foundational skills developed K through 8 and to create writers who can clearly communicate their ideas and knowledge using the appropriate mode and correctly using accepted writing conventions.

Our goal is to develop exceptional writers through a variety of experiences offered through a series of core classes followed by choice electives for 11th and 12th graders. The core sequence includes Freshman English, Sophomore English and American Literature (fall semester of the junior year).  Our current choice electives include: Science Fiction, Creative Writing, Telling Tales, Literature and the Elusive Now, Women’s Voices, Grammar Craft, American Literature Odyssey and University of Washington Writing.