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Reading-Language Arts

Reading-Language Arts

Sun Valley’s Language Arts program is based on a Balanced Literacy model that is aligned to CCSS.  Since 2011, Sun Valley has written Common Core thematic units collaboratively with our Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) partner schools, integrated small group leveled reading instruction, participated in rigorous on-going professional development, and developed a differentiation model to support all learners.  It is our goal to develop college and career ready learners who are proficient in reading, writing, listening and speaking.


The SEAL model was developed to provide classroom teachers the instructional strategies and skills to develop and implement a balanced literacy program that supports all students.  The SEAL program strongly supports English language learners acquiring English language reading and writing skills, significantly reducing the percentage of Long Term English Language Learners. The model combines research-based, high-leverage pedagogical practices; a classroom environment that affirms and enriches its learners; grade level and school-wide articulation; and strong partnerships between families and school.  K-3 SEAL teachers participate in 12 days of professional development to write units that are aligned with the California History Social-Science Standards, the Next Generation Science Standards, and Common Core state standards.  SEAL instructional strategies are also incorporated into the units.  Some examples of practices include: teaching oral interaction and academic discourse through “Collaborative Conversations;” songs, chants, and well-planned learning centers; purposeful-interactive Read-Alouds to build vocabulary and expressive language; exposure to high level informational text through “just right” leveled books, to build comprehension and prediction; and multiple opportunities to engage with a print-rich environment filled with student created charts. One of the highlights of our SEAL classrooms is the signature gallery walk at the end of a unit, where students take ownership of and pride in their learning, guiding their families around the classroom describing what they have learned about the unit’s essential question and enduring understandings.


Our K-5 Balanced Literacy Model includes the SEAL strategies described above, GLAD (Guided Language Acquisition and Design) strategies in fourth and fifth grades, and a strong, leveled reading program.  Since we have a range of readers, we use our PLC time to analyze data to level students based on reading ability, align reading texts to social studies/science themes, and specifically target skills and strategies.  For example, when a teacher introduces the use of author’s craft in leveled reading groups, students practice the strategy during “Read-to-self” and then confer with the teacher to ensure understanding.  Struggling readers also receive 30 minutes of aligned strategies and content in our intervention program.


At Sun Valley, our writing program is designed to have students demonstrate their understanding, convey their thinking clearly, and use writing to communicate and collaborate with others.  All types of writing (narrative, informational, and opinion) are embedded in our units.  We use Step-Up-To-Writing to teach foundational skills and the writing process to have students develop and strengthen their writing.  Each grade level conducts research projects and integrates technology on a regular basis.  Individual teachers PLCs analyze writing samples to provide small group differentiation and align lessons in designated ELD program.  Writing is shared with families at conferences, gallery walks and at Open House.