Language Arts Lessons

reading • writing • listening • speaking

Language Arts includes the individually graded subjects:
  • reading (includes Wordly Wise, or WW)
  • grammar/writing (English)
  • spelling
Our weekly Language Arts lessons include classroom- or video-based direct instruction, classroom practice work and discussions; and a weekly quiz or test in certain subjects. The weekly routine includes the following:

Friday Assignment (Homework)
  • the following week's assignments are posted on our Assignment Calendar for Wordly Wise (vocabulary as part of Reading) and Spelling (SP)
  • both WW and SP assignments are due the following Wednesday morning
Tuesday through Friday Lesson Flow & Assessment Schedule
  • classroom- or video-based direct instruction of the week's Grammar and Reading lessons (grammar, reading comprehension and vocabulary skills)
  • Grammar practice work done in class on Tuesday and Wednesday, with graded work on Thursday and Friday.
  • Tuesdays the weekly basal reader story selection is given as an assignment to read the story at home
  • Wednesdays we discuss the basal reader selection as a class together
  • Thursdays the Selection TEST is given; covers vocabulary and comprehension skills based on the weekly story selection
  • Thursdays the Spelling TEST is given on a 20-word list for the week
  • Fridays the Wordly Wise TEST is given which assesses knowledge of word definition and usage in various contexts
  • in our class schedule we do not have Language Arts lessons on Mondays
We usually only have homework in Language Arts when we're working on writing projects or when an instructional video is assigned; plus, the weekly WW and SP assignment, which can be completed any time between Friday afternoon and Tuesday evening. We suspend the usual WW and SP lessons and assignments when we're working on special writing projects or reading a novel together. We read two novels each year (Island of the Blue Dolphins and Tuck Everlasting). 

Some students may find it helpful to spend some time at home reviewing lessons when they feel less comfortable with the content. I post instructional videos on this website to help with that, and these can assist students in their review of the Language Arts concepts.

We write two mini-research papers each year in Fall and Winter, and one larger research paper in the Spring called Back in the Day. In addition, we are constantly writing for a variety of purposes, both for practice and to publish and share our best work. For this, we use a variety of distribution channels.

    C.U.P.S. for Revising & Proofreading

    posted Sep 14, 2014, 3:47 PM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Sep 14, 2014, 3:50 PM ]

    The C.U.P.S. technique is a simple and effective way to revise and proofread your written work. Use it for research papers, stories, essays, and any kind of writing. I've created some simple videos to review each part.
    Proofreading Steps:

    Mini Research 1 - An Indian Tribe

    posted Sep 3, 2014, 3:08 AM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Sep 3, 2014, 3:11 AM ]

    Back in the Day Writer's Workshop: Peer Editing

    posted Apr 8, 2014, 5:59 AM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 6:00 AM ]

    When you read another student's Back in the Day paper, use these guidelines:


    posted Apr 6, 2014, 1:55 PM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Apr 6, 2014, 1:57 PM ]

    Back In the Day: It's a Cinch by the Inch!

    posted Mar 27, 2014, 4:18 PM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 10:42 AM ]

    How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! How do you travel a mile? One inch at a time! Our Back in the Day research project can seem overwhelming at times:
    • 30 cards in 3 weeks? How about 10 cards per week? Or, even better, 2 cards per day? (It's a cinch by the inch; but, hard by the yard!)
    • 3 pages in 7 days? How about one-half page per day?
    That's what we calculated today when we started planning our writing process so that we can reach our goal of finishing our 3-page paper by the due date on Friday, April 4.

    Just like we're doing in AR reading, we will do a check every couple of days to make sure we're writing about one-half page per day. So, beginning Friday (3/28) we'll do our first check, then again on Tuesday (4/1) and finally on Thursday (4/3). That means we still have Friday to finish our final conclusion paragraph and still finish on time! We modified the rubric for writing the final draft to reflect this extra effort at staying on schedule. It's a cinch by the inch....!

    AR Point Fridays: Reaching Our Reading Goals

    posted Mar 27, 2014, 4:05 PM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 10:44 AM ]

    Now that Quarter 4 is beginning we want to set some goals and finish the year with a bang! In AR (Accelerated Reader) this means weekly progress checks. We want everyone in our class to meet their AR goal and to earn a full 100% on AR Reading for the final quarter. To do that, we broke down the remaining weeks of school that are available for meeting this objective, and we came up with the following weekly goals:

    • Each Friday we'll check the Reading Log to make sure there are 5 entries (one per day, Monday through Friday). Approximately 1.4 points will be credited toward the 10 points for the quarterly Reading Log. 
    • In addition, we'll check to make sure each student has read slightly over one-half book each week. This amount is negotiable when a student is reading a longer-than-usual book. Then, we'll look at pages read as compared to the average book length from the weeks prior. The idea is to move toward our 4-books-per-quarter minimum, the standard for 100% in AR Reading. 
    • Finally, we'll keep track of progress toward the 85% minimum average AR test score, and make sure students are reading and taking AR tests early in the quarter so everyone can reach their 85% minimum goal. Students must take at least 2 AR tests each quarter, and most take many more than that. With this weekly progress check we should all make our goals and end the year with a bang!
    A Success Story
    I've watched one student who hardly read anything in the beginning of the year but who started to read in Q2. Slowly and steadily, he picked up speed and fluency as the quarters went along. By now, he's a fluent reader, growing by the week as he "reads to learn". It just goes to show that practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to reading!

    Note: I've left this student's name out of the article to protect his privacy. He knows who he is: we gave him public praise in class today!

    Back in the Day Research Paper

    posted Feb 27, 2014, 12:26 PM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Feb 27, 2014, 12:27 PM ]

    Use the article Introducing Back in the Day to guide you in this project. The first step is picking a parent and finding out when they graduated from high school (or when they were 18 years old if they didn't graduate).

    Making Generalizations

    posted Feb 23, 2014, 12:40 PM by Paul Schwan

    • To generalize is to make a broad statement or rule that applies to several examples. 
    • Active readers pay close attention to what authors tell them about story characters and make generalizations about those characters as they read.
    • Be careful, though, and be sure your generalizations are based on the details in what you are reading.
    Making Hasty Generalizations

    Indefinite and Reflexive Pronouns

    posted Feb 21, 2014, 11:35 AM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Feb 21, 2014, 12:39 PM ]

    Indefinite pronouns may not refer to specific words. They do not always 
    have definite antecedents: 

    Has anyone met the new kid? 

    Some common indefinite pronouns are listed below.

    Singular Indefinite Pronouns
    someone, somebody, anyone
    anybody, everyone, everybody
    something, no one, either, each

    Plural Indefinite Pronouns
    few, several, both, others, 
    many, all, some

    Use singular verb forms with singular indefinite pronouns and plural 
    verb forms with plural indefinite pronouns: 

    Everyone gets a cookie. (singular)
    Few turn it down. (plural)

    Now, watch these videos. Take notes if you like.

    Indefinite Pronouns Song

    Indefinite Pronouns Explained

    Reflexive pronouns reflect the action of the verb back on the subject. 
    Reflexive pronouns end in -self or -selves: We introduced ourselves to her.
    Singular Reflexive Pronouns 
    myself, himself, herself, itself, yourself 

    Plural Reflexive Pronouns
    ourselves, yourselves, themselves
    • There are no such words as hisself, theirself, theirselves, or ourself

    Now, watch these videos. Take notes if you like.

    Reflexive Pronouns Song

    Reflexive Pronouns Explained


    Take this little exam to see how well you understand Indefinite and Reflexive Pronouns. (required as part of this assignment)

    Mini-Research Paper #2

    posted Jan 14, 2014, 2:17 AM by Paul Schwan   [ updated Jan 14, 2014, 2:21 AM ]

    Please complete this form. Share your space-related mini-research topic.

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