Lower School Curriculum
English Language Arts
Balanced Literacy Approach
What is balanced literacy approach?
Through a multitude of research of best practices, we at Columbus Torah Academy know that reading is acquired over many years of instruction.
The National Reading Plan has identified five essential components of reading that are: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Word Study, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension.
A balanced literacy approach in the classroom enables all students to work on these components. A CTA, we use research based best practices to help our students be lifelong readers and writers to prepare them be College and Career ready.
K-2 Fundations Fundations is a prevention program that provides high quality instruction that has been shown to reduce the number of students who will struggle with severe reading deficits. This program is delivered to all student within the classroom. It is an integrated approach that works on the 5 components of reading--phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies. In addition, Fundations teaches spelling and handwriting in explicit instruction. All of the components of Fundations are taught using a explicit, systematic, repetitive, and multisensory approach.
Units of Study for Teaching Reading Units of Study for teaching reading is a reading workshop model that was developed with over 20 years of research from the Teaching Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University. This program operates on the core belief that students must have access to high interest books, time to build reading stamina, the opportunity to respond to the text through writing and discussions with peers, and explicit instruction of reading skills and strategies. The program teaches using high expectations and rigor. The units are divided into 5-6 week sessions and go between units of reading fiction and nonfiction. Students are taught mini-lessons of reading skills and strategies that work closely with the Ohio Learning Standards that are no longer than 15 minutes. The lesson follows a predictable instructional pattern of having a connection activity, direct instruction, active engagement, and the link which provides closure of the lesson. Students are then released to work independently on their reading skills and strategies in grades 3-6th grade. Students are expected to build their reading stamina by being able to read for 30 minutes independently. As students practice, teachers provide small group instruction or one on one conferencing while maintaining data on the needs of each student in their classroom. At the end of each reading workshop, students are asked to share their new knowledge or reading strategies.
Units of Study by Grade:
Unit 1: Reading Growth Spurt
Unit 2: Becoming Experts: Reading Nonfiction
Units 3: Bigger Books Mean Amping Up Reading Power
Unit 4: Series Book Club
Unit 1: Building a Reading Life
Unit 2: Reading to Learn: Grasping Main Idea and Text Structures
Units 3: Character Studies
Unit 4: Research Clubs: Elephants, Penguins, Frogs, Oh My!
Unit 1: Interpreting Characters; The heart of a story
Unit 2: Reading Weather, Reading the World
Units 3: Reading History: The American Revolution
Unit 4: Historical Book Clubs
Unit 1: Interpretation Book Clubs: Analyzing Themes
Unit 2: Tackling Complexity: Moving Up Levels of Nonfiction
Units 3: Argument and Advocacy: Researching Debatable Issues
Unit 4: Fantasy Book Clubs: The magic of themes and symbols
Unit 1: A deep study of Character
Unit 2: Tapping the Power of Nonfiction
Units 3: Social Issues Book Club
Collins Writing-Writing Across the Curriculum Collins Writing Program has been proven to show student success across all subject areas. Students at Columbus Torah Academy are asked not only to write in English Language Arts but in Judaic Studies, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Collins Writing aligns with the 3 types of writing that students are expected to be able to produce based on the Ohio Learning Standards: opinion/argumentative writing, informative writing, and narrative writing. It explicitly teaches students 5 different writing:
Type 1: Capturing Ideas
Type 2: Respond Correctly to a writing prompts
Type 3: Correct Focus Correction Areas (FCAs)
Type 4: Peer Edit for Focus Correction Areas (FCAs)
Type 5: Publish
Collins writing ask teachers to create clear writing rubrics. These are called Focus Correction Areas (FCAs) and it gives students clear direction in their writing. Further, it allows teachers to focus their grading within the writing sample.