ICS offers a balanced literacy program to students in kindergarten to grade 5. Students learn many of the traditional components of reading and writing along with handwriting, spelling, and grammar.
The approach to reading that is employed in the elementary school is widely known and respected as one of the most effective ways to teach reading. Students receive balanced instruction in reading that encompasses phonics instruction (K-2), shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading time. Classrooms at ICS are richly endowed with a variety of books to encourage reading, and students receive explicit instruction in reading strategies through interactive read-alouds performed by the teacher. At ICS Addis students learn to love reading across a variety of genres and ultimately they adopt the habits of lifelong readers.
The writing program that is employed in the elementary school is built upon the foundation of the Teachers College Reading and Writing program at Columbia University. At ICS we want our students to believe that they are authors and we encourage them to publish their writing frequently in both public and private settings. Teachers and students begin working in a variety of writing genres as early as Kindergarten. KG – grade 2 students begin by developing a sense of story and then go on to write narratives of their life experiences. Although they are young, these students go on to learn informational writing and poetry, as they explore ways to express what they know to others.
In grades 3-5 students study several writing genres that are spiraled throughout the curriculum over a three-year period. Students learn to write personal narratives, personal essay, realistic fiction, literary essay, and memoir. Each of these genres of writing is explored in greater and greater depth as the student progresses from grade 3 to grade 5.
In order to meet the needs of individual students, teachers are able to choose from a variety of approaches to teaching spelling. Some of the spelling programs that are available to teachers are Real Spelling, Words Their Way, and Month-by-Month Phonics. Spelling programs in each class may vary, but the basic understanding that all students should be taught how to spell explicitly prevails throughout the school.
At ICS, we use Handwriting without Tears as the basis for teaching students how to write the letters of the English language. In kindergarten to grade 2, students learn basic print. In grades 3-5 students begin to learn and perfect cursive. As students progress from writing letters to words, and words to sentences, their handwriting becomes more and more legible and their confidence in writing increases as well.