As a foundation subject for all other academic areas, DeSales takes a very aggressive approach to childhood literacy. Students begin experiencing the power of books in the classroom in our pre-kindergarten programs through audio recordings, teacher “read alouds” and, with practice, choral reading exercises where students read together. As a student's progress and improve over time, developing readers are challenged with more age-appropriate texts where vocabulary and comprehension are expanded and broadened. These developing skills are then applied in a cross-curricular fashion so that literacy becomes a foundation for critical thinking and problem solving in all areas: Social Studies, Science, Religion and Mathematics.
DeSales believes that all students are able to learn and should be challenged at their own pace to insure success. A variety of different tools are in place to help us determine this pace for each individual student. Key among these tools are our Response to Intervention (RtI) and Academic Intervention Services (AIS) programs.
Students in grades Kindergarten through Five are assessed three times per year (fall, winter and spring) through the use of a universal screening tool designed to check their progress as compared to national averages. Data that is obtained from these assessments are then shared with the child’s parents, classroom teacher(s) and our Co-Directors of Literacy, Mrs. Pellicano and Ms. Deegan in order to help chart the best literacy path each student should follow. Children that demonstrate specific needs are provided with interventions at increasing levels of intensity, specifically tailored to their needs in order to accelerate their rate of learning.
AIS - Similar to RtI, AIS is a program which has as a central tenant the individualization of learning to help students overcome specific challenges they may face within the classroom. Students in grades three through eight are seen individually, or in small groups, to allow for greater focus and acceleration of learning.
Finally, our literacy programs have woven extra time into each student’s schedule to reinforce strategies that they have learned in class. All students in grades Kindergarten through three have daily 90-minute literacy blocks, and grades four and five have 60-minute blocks in their schedules. Additionally, all middle school students (grades 6 - 8) attend weekly literacy labs to help them polish the different writing exercises they are working on in their classrooms.