Hello and Welcome!
My name is Ms. Rachel Bartkowiak, and I am the 4th/5th Grade Language Arts teacher. Explore this page for more information about the 4th/5th English Language Arts program at St. Mary's.
A large portion of the Language Arts block is spent building important reading skills like making connections, summarizing a text, making inferences, and predicting what will happen next. We put these skills into practice by following a Literature Circles format. Students read fiction and nonfiction texts in small groups, interact with the text through various "jobs" for the week, and share their ideas in a book-club discussion.
- Fiction Literature Circles: We have read and discussed novels including Holes by Louis Sachar, The Illuminated Adventures of Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, and Rules by Cynthia Lord.
- Nonfiction Literature Circles: Students have loved studying the lives of many important historical figures (some of whom are Catholic!) using the Who Is/Who Was New York Times Best-Selling biography series to prompt analysis and discussion.
Another main goal of the Language Arts block is to build stronger writing skills. We follow the 5-paragraph-essay format, learning how to introduce a topic clearly, state our main points in an organized and detailed manner, and conclude with a logical closing paragraph. We focus on each step of the writing process (brainstorming, drafting, editing, revising, and publishing). Students frequently conference with one another to give and receive feedback on their work. Students get the chance to publish their work by hand and using technology. Our study of writing includes narrative essays, research writing, persuasive essays, compare/contrast essays, and poetry.
The Language Arts block also targets important grammar concepts, including parts of speech, sentence structure, and punctuation rules. This often takes the format of a grammar mini lesson followed by quizzes and writing assignments that use the specific skill for that unit. We frequently use technology to enhance our study of grammar by listening to catchy Flocabulary songs on the parts of speech or watching sentences get picked apart and diagrammed on Khan Academy.
Our Language Arts instruction also covers spelling and vocabulary to enhance our reading and writing skills. This year, we are using the "Everyday Spelling" spelling curriculum, which focuses on studying frequently-misspelled words that students encounter on a daily basis. Students are tested on a weekly list of words, and they are expected to know and spell these words correctly in their writing throughout the year.
A final topic covered during the Language Arts block is cursive. We follow the "Handwriting Without Tears" curriculum to practice neat and legible cursive writing. Students are expected to write in cursive across all subject areas in 4th and 5th grade.