Vision

We believe that literacy skills are the foundation for all learning and that all teachers are literacy teachers. Through careful data analysis, instructional strategies, and cultural awareness, all students will make continual improvement and growth in the areas of reading and writing.

We set certain goals across all years of literacy instruction at The Laboratory School of Finance and Technology. Across the years, we continue to expand reading stamina, track ourselves on reading logs, write on demand, complete performance based tasks, and real world field trip experiences tied to the curriculum.

Goals


● All teachers will incorporate Common Core Learning Standards for Reading and Writing into their lessons on a daily basis.
● All courses will include at least one writing intensive Performance Based Assessment Task aligned to the New York Performance Standards Consortium Rubric.
● All students will increase at least 1.5 grades levels in reading (as measured by Fountas and Pinnell Running Records and DRP Scores).
● All students will be exposed to 120 new words through Word Generation.
● All teachers will engage in inquiry looking at student work at least twice per month in grade and department teams.
● Select students across grades will be invited to Principal’s Book Club, which offers the opportunity to discuss a curated selection of novels with the principal, Dr. Gonzalez.

6th Grade

Reading:
In 6th grade reading, we begin the year tuning into our reading. Students read with volume and practice setting and reflecting on goals, as well as participating in a community of readers. Sixth graders develop self monitoring skills for determining meaning, envisioning, and inferencing, and continue self-monitoring our growth as readers through reading logs, goals sheets, reflection sheets. Later on in the fall, students start to analyze character values. Sixth gradersconnect with characters in stories by growing ideas about them, their traits, motivations, relationships and changes. Sixth graders think critically by evaluating character values and choices. By December, we form Social Issues Book Clubs. Students have the opportunity to select books for book club that are appropriate for their level and suit their interest. Students are grouped by level and set expectations for how their club will function. In this unit, student explore social justice issues with their peers, encountering texts that speak to the choices they make, the kind person they want to be, and the issues they care about. In January and February, students transition into nonfiction text sets. In this unit, students will synthesize and evaluate expository and narrative informational texts for big ideas, meaning, and message, as well as bias. In March, 6th grade reading will focus on the skills and strategies necessary to be successful on multiple choice, short response, and extended response reading assessments. In Mid-Spring, students enter Fantasy Book Clubs. Following a similar model to the winter Social Issues Book Clubs, students will continue growing in their independence and self-monitoring skills as readers of fantasy literature. Finally, the last sixth grade unit explores Historical Fiction. Students will work collaboratively to read, discuss, and analyze texts through a historical and narrative lens.

Writing:
In 6th grade writing, students begin the year writing persuasive essays. Students select an issue that matter to them that they wish to advocate for. Sixth graders work on organizing their claims and evidence, and take into consideration their audience. In mid-fall, students begin writing realistic fiction stories. Students will generate story ideas and then pick one that best fits the genre and is closest to the writer’s life. Students will develop their characters with internal and external traits and plan their story using a story mountain. Students will learn the components of a scene and will draft their stories by leaning on a mentor text “Tied to Zelda” by David Rice. As they revise, students will think about resolutions, using a small action or dialogue to bring forth the meaning. Editing will focus on verb tense, subject verb agreement, and proper use of pronouns. In December, students will begin focusing on writing literary essays. Students will write three rounds of essays: character based, theme based, and compare contrast.

Students will learn to read texts more closely and with greater focus on the details. Students will think big about the text by creating their own theories, evaluate the strength of evidence they choose, to write it with voice and clarity, to incorporate quotes with context and precision, and to clarify and elaborate on their thinking. In the early spring, sixth grade writers will engage in a project based
assessment (PreBAT). In March, writing will match reading as students focus on strategies and skills needed to be successful on short and extended response reading assessments. In April and May, students will write their own fantasy stories, basing their own works on the texts
featured in their Fantasy Book Clubs. Finally, the last sixth grade unit will tie itself directly to the study of historical fictional in reading. In the last unit of the year, sixth grade writers will craft a research report through a historical lens.

7th Grade

Reading:
In 7th grade, students build upon independent literacy skills that were built upon in 6th grade. Across the year, students will collaborate in book clubs, set goals, craft claims, cite text evidence, and analyze literary elements like structure, theme, and symbolism.In September, 7th grade readers engage with books they can read at their levels, either fiction or nonfiction depending on interest. Students will read with partners, engage in read alouds, and develop their independent reading with emphasis on selfmonitoring using reading logs and ongoing goal setting. In October and November, 7th grade readers will deepen understandings of the way authors develop characters and theme, particularly through the setting. 7th grade readers will explore universal themes in order to come to deeper insights about literature and what literature suggests about the world and humanity.

Writing:
In September and October, 7th grade writers will write a realistic fiction story that has an underlying theme. Students will use character details, setting, and narrative formats to enhance the story that they choose to tell. Students will be able to produce a new story about a character that they are reading about. They will also write a collection of journal entries written from the perspective of a character. In November and December, students will be able to write an essay comparing the theme of two texts and the implications on each text. They will cite evidence from multiple sources to make connections across texts. In January and February, students will develop and craft argument essays about an urgent issue that affects them and the world around them. Students will learn to gather, weigh, and evaluate evidence in order to logically support their argument. In March, students will practice a variety of essay structures to prepare for the test. This will include a review of compare/contrast, literary essays, and argument essays in order to fully succeed on the ELA state exams. Students will also practice writing responses to short answer questions. In April and May, students will complete a project-based assessment (PreBAT) be able to think and write critically about stereotypes and how they reinforced or broken by popular culture. Students will use this to find out how popular culture shapes our thinking about gender. In June, students will hone their skills as storytellers. Students will be able to create a personal story, which will be written out as a narrative and drafted two or more times to revise. When publishing, students may choose the medium of the story that they wish to present to the class.

8th Grade

Reading:
In September and October, 8th grade readers begin the year exploring archetype, allusion, and theme. Students raise the bar by reading with an eye for craft immediately. Students read closely for evidence based analysis and read across texts to broaden theme. Student deepen understanding by recognizing and researching archetypes and allusions.

Writing:
In 8th grade, students will focus on their development as authors of nonfiction and fairy tales, literary critiques, and advocates of argumentative position papers. In September and October, 8th grade students write short journalistic articles noticing the drama
around them. Students will craft narrative nonfiction to illuminate social issues and stir their readers to shared concerns. Students will extend investigative research to include interviews, surveys, and research through print and digital texts. In November and December students will
write literary essays, and in doing so write critically and identify themes that run through multiple texts. Students will use short stories and historical fiction book clubs texts to anchor their writing that will support a theme and how it is “tucked in” by the authors’ craft choices. In January and February, students will take on stand on their “position” around video games, and write an argument essay defending their position and acknowledging the opposing perspective. Students will then raise the stakes by taking a stand with a second paper on the reallife
issue of child soldiers, and argue for or against the amnesty being given these youths. In March, students will write to annotate texts, and practice responding to prompt based short response questions and extended response essays. In April, students will write an “updated” version of a classic fairy tale, having compared the text and video versions. Students will collaborate to change the script to their liking, keeping the the theme of the tale in tact. In May and June, students will write a prePBAT literary essay that forwards a student selected thesis. Students will use the “whole class text” as an anchor, and supplemental texts will be chosen by students to elaborate on their theses. Students will analyze for theme, craft and meaning across texts.

9th Grade

As new high school students, 9th grade English hopes to capitalize on the skills that continuing students developed in readers and writers workshop in middle school and quickly bring new students up to speed.  The course seeks to answer the questions: What is identity?  How are identities formed?  How do identities define who we are and where we belong?  How do we have strong, meaningful discussions about reading and our ideas?  Students move from reading mostly texts of their choice and on their independent reading level to a combination of leveled and whole class texts.  The course focuses on short text and full length novels, with a mix of fiction and nonfiction within each unit.  The main goals of the course involve helping students write a strong argument, including drafting a claim, identifying relevant and powerful evidence and providing appropriate analysis of the evidence.  Students complete both argument writing, as well as informational writing, with additional opportunities for more personal writing in narrative and argument.

10th Grade

As sophomores, students have two major goals: to be College and Career Ready on the Common Core English Regents, which all students take for the first time in June of tenth grade, and to build the skills they will need to score a competent or higher on the commencement level PBAT rubric in eleventh grade.  The course seeks to answer the overarching essential questions: How do power, gender, and love intersect?  How is power gained, used, and justified?  How does gender affect one’s societal experiences and personal identity? What are the roles of love and jealousy in our lives?  Students read and then write about grade level appropriate whole class texts and book club books at their instructional level.  The Common Core English Regents requires students to have strong reading comprehension skills, with a specific focus on identifying author’s purpose.  As a result, the curriculum is designed to allow students to practice with both multiple choice and short response questions on grade level appropriate texts throughout the year.  Students are also prepared by this course to be able to complete both the writing from sources task, an argument essay that asks students to make a claim based on a range of nonfiction texts and a text analysis response which requires students to identify literary elements that support a central idea in an unfamiliar text.

11th Grade

Students are able to select between English 11 and AP Language and Composition, with AP Language and Composition comprised mostly of students who have already demonstrated that they can perform at the College Ready benchmark on the NYC Common Core English Regents Exam.  Both courses culminate in the commencement level PBAT, which includes a literary analysis essay on at least two texts and an oral presentation and defense, a requirement for graduation for all students.  The PBAT rubric emphasizes students ability to develops and argument thoughtfully and persuasively, use relevant, convincing evidence and quotations that thoroughly support argument, and provide deep insight and create meaningful interpretation of texts.  The PBAT this year seeks to answer the questions: What drives individuals to succeed?  What are the benefits and risks of ambition?  What are some conditions that lead to rebellion against the status quo?  When is violence ever justified?  How can speeches inspire people to act for change?  Students will seek answers to these questions in both fiction and nonfiction texts and spend extensive time writing short and long responses to texts as they build their own claim.

12th Grade

In 12th grade, students have the option of selecting from four different English courses: AP Literature, AP Language and Composition, Ethnic Studies, and African Diasporic Literature.  All four courses focus on ensuring that students can read texts at the College and Career Readiness benchmark and that students are writers of both literary analysis and argument essays.  The same English department goals persist, however students must now act more independently as readers and writers and with fewer scaffolds.