On a rainy day last fall, Grade 2 students gathered around a paper 'campfire' huddled on the floor in sleeping bags, as each student read aloud a story they had written.
Reading & Writing
A Skills-Based Approach to Reading, Writing, Thinking and Speaking
King fosters creative and intellectual development through a skills-based content-embedded approach to teaching reading, writing, thinking, and speaking, PreK-Grade 12, in a sequence that strengthens student expertise and allows for personalized instruction. Elementary, middle, and high school students learn how to read carefully, write clearly, think critically, and communicate their ideas with peers. Students tackle challenging texts in English, History, Science, Social Sciences, and World Languages, and learn how to conduct thoughtful research in order to develop a claim (thesis) and support an argument. We emphasize the importance of cultural, contextual, and technical aspects of written expression, and we equip students with a set of tools enabling them to read, think, write, and speak about a text on personal, communal, and global levels.
King students explore literary composition and nonfiction writing outside of the classroom. Students attend The Dodge Poetry Festival and submit creative work to competitions, including The Stamford Literary Competition. We are a community of writers and all students can publish their work. Students submit poems to the Lower School’s poetry anthology; short stories to the Upper School creative magazine, Ink; and articles to the Yearbook.
We encourage students to become lifelong readers. Carefully selected texts that offer a range of voices and genres form the backbone of our curriculum, while our independent reading program encourages students to read books they choose.
- Lower School: A consistent focus on early reading skills helps young, emerging readers develop a love of reading. Students move from learning decoding through studying phonics, to multisyllabic word attack skills and vocabulary word study. Reading comprehension is developed from the literal understanding to more inferential and critical understanding.
- Middle School: Students pursue an independent reading program. In English and History classes, students continue to develop their inferential skills, learning to see a text from multiple perspectives. They broaden their interpretive reading skills, taking into consideration historical contexts. Students gain a deeper understanding of primary and secondary source analysis.
- Upper School: Students use literary analysis to examine and explore a wide variety of texts that are thematically linked. Students read texts at a number of levels of difficulty, preparing students for their future experience in college. Students present their understanding in formal and informal presentations.
Our process-oriented writing program allows students at all grade levels to draft, revise, and reflect upon their creative and analytical work.
- Lower School: Our dynamic, multisensory writers' workshop program gives our growing writers the tools they need to draft, edit, and produce thoughtful works. Letters become words, expanding into complete sentences and complex paragraphs.
- Middle School: Writing instruction classroom workshops allow teachers to provide models in a variety of genres, structure creative and analytical writing, provide immediate feedback, and help students set writing goals. Students deepen their ability to write in the narrative, opinion, and informational genres. Students develop interpretive historical essays that take a strong, individual stance on issues discussed, and strengthen their writing by contextualizing and synthesizing historical evidence to extend their arguments.
- Upper School: Students regularly conference with their teachers, set goals, and peer edit as part of deeply developing their written expression and clearly communicating their ideas.
Students open their minds to consider a variety of perspectives and understandings.
- Lower School: Assimilating new information from the world around them in developmentally appropriate stages, students learn to interpret information in more complex ways.
- Middle School: Students embrace a more abstract understanding of texts and actively draw connections between and among the various disciplines. Students trace historical themes using primary source documents, carefully considering authors' intent in complex texts.
- Upper School: Continuing to develop critical thinking skills by using a variety of texts to build and support arguments, students challenge assumptions and establish relevance. Students engage in lab-based experiences in which they must draw conclusions or derive central themes from data. Students are encouraged to question each work presented and to examine the quality of the data used as support.
Students find their voices, sharing their ideas constructively, and listening respectfully in large and small group settings.
- Lower School: Oral language is the precursor for reading skills, and strong language skills begin the basis for our language arts program in PreK. Interwoven into all areas of our curriculum, expressive language and speaking skills range from language experience opportunities with our younger students to structured oral presentations in the intermediate grades.
- Middle School: Students hold discussions through a variety of modes, striving for engaged, active classroom participation and lively intellectual discourse and debate. Public speaking and presentation skills are strengthened through classroom debates, oral presentations, and historical simulations.
- Upper School: Students use seminar-style discussions as opportunities to ask questions, engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas, and arrive at a series of understandings. Students hone their public speaking skills further by presenting at King Talks, in Debate Club tournaments and at Model UN Club conferences.
Last fall, Mr. Lewis conducted "backchannel chats" during each debate, which provided an educational and fun forum for the students.
The State Fair is the culminating project for students' state research unit. Students serve as tour guides and display fun facts and details about their state in their "booth", which includes a poster board, custom delicacies, costumes, and speeches they've rehearsed about their state.
The exercise – in all senses of the term – really got going when students began to experiment with Twitter, Instagram, camera phones, electronic notepads, or dictation software as they walked along. Some even tried pen and paper and found themselves reevaluating their approach to composition as a result.
King School is committed to developing students' ability to read carefully, write clearly, think critically, and communicate their individual perspective.