September 8, 2016

Friends’ Publishes New Curriculum Update – on Literacy


Language Arts teacher Diane
Bramble "visually representing" as
Roald Dahl's BFG
In the past few evenings, I have had the pleasure of attending Back To School Nights in our middle school, elementary school, and preschool. While I always appreciate the opportunity to connect with parents and to welcome you all to these important events, it is Friends’ teachers and program directors who are at the heart of Back To School Nights.

It is a privilege to listen to our teachers, and to Shelby Pawlina, Mandy Stepanovsky, and Caroline Holland, while they share their dreams and passions for their craft and for your children. I love hearing about each class’s plans for the year and seeing parents and teachers connect meaningfully with each other.

At our middle school event on Wednesday of this week, language arts teacher Diane Bramble beautifully explained her goals of supporting students to be not only better and inspired readers and writers, but also speakers and listeners, and, in her words “visual representers”.

Language arts and literacy, or ‘English’ as it used to be called when Diane and I were in school, is at the core of a Friends’ School education.  We are lucky to have masterful teachers in each of our programs who light a literacy spark under the children here every day.

deana as Mr Twit from
Dahl's classic The Twits
On Tuesday this week, Diane and librarian deana harragarra waters dressed up as their favorite Roald Dahl characters, to inspire our elementary kids.  They visited classrooms and encouraged students and teachers (and heads of schools!) to come to school next week dressed as their favorite Roald Dahl character. These faces certainly inspire me to get reading!

Each year, Friends’ publishes a new Curriculum Update. We have just published our latest Update, on Literacy, that you can find here.  The principal author on this is Friends’ elementary literacy specialist teacher Tricia Callahan.  She wrote the article in conjunction with several of her teaching colleagues. Tricia explains in great detail the philosophical underpinnings of our literacy curriculum through both the preschool and elementary years. And she discusses many of the concrete ways we teach kids to read and write (and speak and listen and visually represent) as well as the ways we differentiate instruction for different learners.

This is a short excerpt from the Update:

Friends' Literacy
Specialist Teacher
Tricia Callahan
“At Friends’, we teach children not only to read and write but also to be joyful about literacy. In each grade, children are given the essential elements needed to enable them to become readers and writers. Those elements include time, choice, response, community, and structure. In each grade there is a balance of choice and teacher-directed experiences. Children learn about craft, procedures, and the conventions of reading and writing to develop their skills over time. Because of our individual approach, each child progresses at his or her own pace but is continually challenged to work to his or her potential. We work to empower the children by giving them a strong language arts foundation so that their voices may be heard – on paper, aloud, and through technology.”

For more information, please click here.

For our other Curriculum Updates, you can visit these links




Please note that these updates do not contain curricular information on our new middle school, but there is plenty of great information on the middle school section of our website and in information packets that were given to 6th grade parents at Back To School Night.

Please take a few minutes to read our Literacy Curriculum Update, feel free to share with others.  As always, we welcome your feedback and questions. 

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