Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

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3. Middle School » Language Arts

Language Arts

Bridges Curriculum
Each level of Bridges provides on-level instruction in reading comprehension, literature, and vocabulary skills through selections that include a mix of classic and contemporary stories, poetry, drama, and nonfiction. The stories in the Bridges series are generally shorter in length. This provides an opportunity for the students to practice and apply skills they have learned through direct instruction and guided practice through a variety of genres. The literature books are the text books we use for on grade reading levels. This textbook is traditional and would parallel the public school's type of textbook.

The students are taught in 2 hour language arts blocks, with one hour focused on reading and one hour focused on writing/language skills.

For writing/language, some materials from the McDougal Littell curriculum are used in addition to the integration Kansas Learning Strategy (KLS) to help students understand and apply the basic parts of language. Included is at least one research paper per year that includes using note cards, writing an outline, and the process of writing/editing. The rest of the language/writing time is focused on individual goals on student's IEPs. Students keep a journal where they practice applying different skills they have learned in class. There are mini units on different skills as needed throughout the year as well as cover the skills from the Minnesota State Standards for language arts.

Kansas Learning Strategies (KLS)
KLS helps students learn parts of speech and apply those parts in a sequential order to create sentences. With smaller groups due to a rotation schedule, students are placed in groups of 4-6 students at a time working at their own pace. It has allowed the focus to be on the individual needs of each student and they really understand the program. Students have binders to show their progress.

Not only do they progress at their own pace, but they record their information independently as well. Corrected papers are returned and the students mark their charts and average each skill set. It is fabulous. We also practice irregular verbs. It is amazing to see the student's progress and self-esteem develop! Two students even asked if they could bring KLS home for homework this week. It was amazing.

Accelerated Reading
In addition to teaching reading through text books, students are required to read books of their own interest. MSAD participates in a program called accelerated reading. When students read stories of their own interest, they are able to take comprehension tests for these books online. Students earn points for how well they do on their comprehension tests. They can choose books from their home library, MSAD's library, or any books they have at home, as long as there is a test created in the program. There are thousands of books that have tests already generated with teacher created tests for any book a student wants to read that isn't already in the system. Each student has to earn a specific amount of points (depending on their age and reading level) and that is part of their grade.

Additional Curriculum Information
Weekly spelling tests for each grade level are included in the curriculum. There may be modified spelling tests for students so they have fewer words as well as creating entirely new lists depending on the student's needs. Most students are using the same spelling list and have between 10 and 20 words per week. The student signs and spells the words each week. There are many opportunities to practice the words during the week through games, flashcards, and partner practices.

The computer lab is reserved once a week to practice keyboarding with each block. We spend an hour a week working on keyboarding skills. We have Mavis Beacon, Type to Learn, and online games in order to promote a faster and more accurate typing level.

The 8th graders write a weekly newsletter taking turns writing different articles each week. They are completely responsible for the production.

In large groups, ASL is primarily used to present information and teach comprehension skills. Signed English is used when representing parts of English grammar or trying to emphasize the word order of a sentence; however, the sentence is always presented in ASL for meaning after a grammatically correct sentence is constructed. Voice may be used in a small group setting or individually with students who require auditory support for learning. Voice may also be used when presenting vocabulary words.