The St. Thomas curriculum is built around the philosophy of interdisciplinary study with an emphasis on 21st century skills. Our new language arts series, Reading Wonders by McGraw Hill, has provided a fresh look at balanced literacy and is being implemented in kindergarten through 5th grade in conjunction with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards providing both a national and global purview. The use of broad themes and essential questions enables students to connect their learning across the disciplines through curiosity and inquiry. Digital components enhance traditional texts and put a modern twist on research-based best practice. Reading Wonders is designed as a comprehensive series that includes various components which work together to provide a complete language arts program.
An emphasis on foundational literacy creates the building blocks for successful readers and writers. From phonemic awareness to phonics and vocabulary, all skills are interwoven throughout instruction to ensure students are able to apply what they learn when reading and writing independently. Explicit instruction in comprehension strategies, vocabulary acquisition, and daily fluency practice are integrated in whole group and small group lessons. Research and inquiry at all grade levels extends language arts to social studies, science, and math. Writing about and reflecting on their learning allows students to make connections and see the big picture.
Providing students with the opportunity to experience rich literature on many different levels is a goal of our program. Individual reading conferences, small group guided reading lessons, and whole class novel studies are some of the ways our teachers provide targeted instruction. Throughout the week students read a variety of genres, including informational text, while making the connection back to the big idea and essential question. New learning is scaffolded as skills and concepts are routinely discussed at a deeper level with each new unit of inquiry.
Public speaking is another important aspect of our language arts curriculum. The St. Thomas tradition of a class “publishing party” allows our students to showcase their learning through multi-faceted presentations and student-created publications (both print and digital). Publishing parties continue to evolve as our teachers and students learn more about project-based learning and the importance of sharing our learning with an authentic audience.