Language Arts

Innovative and Interactive Language Arts Learning in Princeton, NJ


Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by a difficulty in learning both written and oral language. Students with dyslexia sometimes experience letters that appear “mixed up.” The condition may also manifest in delayed speech, difficulty with pronunciation, trouble learning nursery rhymes and songs, problems with processing and understanding instructions, difficulty with spelling, and other challenges with both spoken and written language. The Laurel School of Princeton offers an integrative, engaging curriculum that helps students overcome these and other language issues.

Language Arts Curriculum

The Laurel School language arts curriculum provides instruction in all language areas including reading, writing, and oral language.

Reading

Reading instruction at our school in Princeton, NJ, focuses on decoding and comprehension. To improve the student’s ability to process words, teachers emphasize phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, encoding, morphology and other word attack skills. Standardized and curriculum-based assessments are used to measure student’s baseline skills and monitor growth. Instruction is provided by master teachers with in-depth Orton-Gillingham/Wilson Reading© training. The lessons in our program are diagnostic, prescriptive, and designed to meet individual learning needs. Students build accuracy, automaticity, and fluency as they progress from rudimentary to complex language patterns.

Teachers increase student achievement in reading comprehension through direct instruction using evidence-based multisensory programs and methodology, including:

Developing Metacognitive Skills® (Neuhaus). This system is for teachers of students in grades 3 – 12, including teachers of content areas. It provides educators with strategies to help students improve reading comprehension and vocabulary by training them to think before, during and after they read.

Language Circle -Project Read®

Story Form® Literature Connection is designed to help students improve their reading comprehension of narrative text through analysis, synthesis and evaluative thinking strategies.

Report Form® is designed to teach students a process to analyze the underlying structure of expository text to improve reading comprehension.

Lindamood-Bell®. Visualizing and Verbalizing®. The Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking® (V/V®) program, created by Nanci Bell, helps struggling readers develop the sensory-cognitive function of concept imagery. Unlike most reading and comprehension programs, V/V instruction directly applies concept imagery to the comprehension and expression of both oral and written language, as well as the development of critical thinking skills.

Through these systems, students build knowledge of language and story structure in order to improve reading comprehension. They become more proficient in understanding advanced vocabulary and they build techniques for summarizing information. They learn to answer concrete and inferential questions about what they have read and become independent readers.

LETRS®. This training provides teachers with a core understanding of the language structures they will teach to their students. LETRS® print modules provide teachers with a strong reading instruction reference at their fingertips.

Our students are exposed to all genres of literature. Teachers use selections ranging from published anthologies to classic/contemporary chapter books. Literature is often chosen to link with a current area of study in either science or social studies. This cross-curricular piece of our program is a powerful teaching strategy.

Reading instruction complies with Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading – as developed by experts at the International Dyslexia Association (2010). These standards ensure that our teachers understand:

  • Foundational concepts about oral and written language learning
  • Knowledge of the structure of language
  • Knowledge about dyslexia and other learning disorders
  • Interpretation and administration of assessments for planning instruction
  • Structured language teaching: Phonology, Phonic and Word Study, Vocabulary, Text Comprehension. Handwriting, Spelling and Written Expression

Written Expression

Writing instruction at Laurel School ensures that students are meeting grade and developmental expectations in writing mechanics and the conventions of writing composition and editing. Written expression instruction focuses on the structure of the elements of the basic sentence, paragraph, and essay. All lessons in our program are taught in a direct, systematic and multisensory way. Students first master the rudiments of sentence design, in order to have a clear understanding of how various types of words function. Teachers then instruct students in advanced grammar elements to build longer, more complex sentences, paragraphs, and essays.

Project Read Framing Your Thoughts®. This program builds knowledge, understanding & analysis of sentence structure increasing reading comprehension, fluency and decoding text through context clues. This process leads students from understanding the function of sentence parts to standard labels of parts of speech.

It is critical that students also understand the need to write for an intended audience and use various schemas for creating, including reports, narratives, and arguments. They need to learn and practice various strategies for proofreading and editing their work. The writing process is coordinated with content area learning. Students also learn to use technology to write more effectively when spelling is a challenge. Students learn strategies for planning and editing documents.

Handwriting is directly taught and reinforced in order to assist in written expression. Handwriting also solidifies the sound-symbol relationship. The Fundations Handwriting programs are used to ensure that students learn the appropriate development of letter formation in both print and cursive forms.