At A One-Room Schoolhouse, our day is divided into different learning blocks. Language arts is the first block of the day. The curriculum used during this time is The Good and the Beautiful language arts.
The language arts block is a rich and diverse learning time. Students participate in a variety of language-rich activities for the development of well-rounded literacy. These activities include:
- Phonics and reading instruction
- Grammar, usage, and punctuation
- Oral narration
- Listening comprehension
- Art appreciation
- Geography (Starting at level 2)
- Art production (Starting at level 4)
- Art history (Starting at level 4)
- Typing (Starting at level 2)
How do the levels work?
The summer before each student starts with A One-Room Schoolhouse they take a language arts placement test. The Good and the Beautiful language arts levels are not titled by grade nor do the levels correspond to public school grade levels. Levels range from Pre-K to Level 7, book studies, and high school course work.
Since The Good and the Beautiful levels are advanced, many students’ placement will not coincide with their age-determined grade level. For example, most students will start their Kindergarten year in the Pre-K or Primer level. The following chart is a helpful guide to understanding the language arts levels and grade level equivalencies.
|Pre-K: Preschool/Young Kindergarten |
Level K Primer: Kindergarten
Level K: Advanced Kindergarten
Level 1: Advanced 1st grade
Level 2: Advanced 2nd grade
Level 3: 3rd Grade/4th Grade
Level 4: 4th Grade/5th Grade
Level 5: 5th Grade/6th Grade
Level 6: 7th Grade/8th Grade
Level 7: Advanced 8th Grade/9th Grade
Upon completion of level 7, a student will be ready for high school level course work, usually at the honors level. If level 7 is completed before high school age, they will complete book study units from The Good and the Beautiful.
Some students will initially place at a lower level than might be expected for their age. This is because other curriculums have many gaps in the instruction and sequence of materials. They will likely catch up as they can move quickly and fill in those gaps. Also, when a student has reached high school age, they can jump to the high school courses as soon as they have completed level 5.
Furthermore, students can move through the levels at their own pace. Many students, especially at the lower levels, may complete more than one level per school year. If a student needs to move at a slower pace, that is fine too. The goal is mastery of language arts content through consistent, high-quality practice.
How does the language arts block work?
During the language arts block, students move through their lessons guided by their level checklist. A One-Room Schoolhouse has developed student checklists to help guide each learner through the morning block. These checklists are slightly modified from the basic suggestion from The Good and the Beautiful. The modifications are to help the flow of the day at A One-Room Schoolhouse by using our three-center model: one teacher, one parent, and one independent practice and exploration station.
At the end of our morning meeting (the opening period right before the language arts block) each student reviews their checklist and is instructed on where on the checklist they will start the day. The teacher, aware of each child’s needs and progress, will make this decision to help optimize learning.
The daily flow
To manage the flow of students and to ensure each student gets high-quality individualized instruction, students rotate through their checklists starting in different places than their peers. Some students start with the teacher, others with the parent volunteer and others with their independent work. Regardless of where on the checklist each student starts, every student will complete their entire checklist during the language arts block.
Each checklist has items to be completed with the teacher, with the parent volunteer and independently. Items in red are done with the teacher, items in blue are done with the volunteer, and items in green are done independently. The lower levels have bonus items in purple for fast finishers.
The Level 8 book studies and high school levels do not have checklists as these curriculums are completely self-inclusive and student-directed. The students are prompted when to seek teacher support in the course of the lessons. Of course, these students will be monitored closely to ensure timely progress and accurate learning.
How do the levels develop?
At the lower levels, more emphasis is given to play-based activities with frequent teacher support. Play-based activities include open-ended projects from the spelling box and reading box. (Look for a future post that will give more details about these learning centers!) In short, these are hands-on, play-based learning experiences that will enhance the student’s basic course book instruction.
As the levels move upward, students are slowly given more responsibility for their own learning. At level four and above, students no longer complete the lesson with the teacher but are guided through the coursebook with very clear instructions. Students in these upper levels check-in daily for activities like shared reading, dictation, and spelling. At the end of each lesson, coursebook materials are checked by the teacher.
Each level has both individual elements and continuing elements to ensure both interest and consistency. Here are some examples of the variation:
- Level 4 and above include art production instruction.
- The phonics cards and sight word ladders are mastered in levels K through 2.
- Challenging words are practiced in levels 3 and 4.
- Grammar and geography cards are memorized in level 4 and above.
- Levels 5 and 7 include poetry memorization in contrast to level 6 which has one long memorization.
- The games and flipbooks in the Pre-k level engage new learners with fun, interactive learning.
The diversity brings so much fun to the learning process. I can’t wait to see what element each student likes the best!
If you downloaded the checklist we use at each level, you might have a question about the lower levels. At the lower levels, the student will not be able to read the checklist given. The checklist we use at school at levels Pre-K, Primer, and Kindergarten has picture supports that correspond to the words. I would suggest that you add in your own pictures to help support the young learners in your home.
One last idea you might consider is that an older student could be used as your “parent volunteer” to help complete the blue items on the checklist if you are using it in your home. What do you think of our system? Would it work in your home or co-op?