In reading, with help from teachers, 7/8s children continue to choose “just right” challenges for their growing comprehension skills. As the year continues, they improve in making these choices on their own. They build their reading stamina, and review and practice decoding skills and strategies for understanding longer words. Word work includes “trick words” they need to recognize by sight. Throughout the year, students meet in book groups to develop comprehension using skills such as making connections, predicting what may happen, and asking questions.
In writing, 7/8s increase their ability to use writing to express their ideas and to communicate with others. They explore genres such as the personal narrative and the fairy tale and learn that a story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. They explore literary devices including dialogue, metaphor, and simile. They write captions to describe their own paintings and discover that “juicy” language can create a picture in the reader’s mind. In the 7/8 year, children are held responsible for accurate spelling of a list of reference words, which grows throughout the year, and move toward greater proficiency in proofing and correcting their work, including punctuation and capitalization.
Building on their Lower School Library experiences, 7/8s continue to become adept and independent library users. Midway through the year, they create Library Manuals that capture the strategies they have gained for making the most out of their library visits. Students also have an opportunity to hone their critical reading skills by voting on picture books for the Irma S. and James H. Black Book Award, which is presented by Bank Street’s Center for Children’s Literature. For this annual award, children in the 8/9s and 9/10s select four finalists after evaluating 16 current picture books, guided by the librarian and their classroom teachers. The 6/7s and the 7/8s read the four finalists and vote, along with students from hundreds of schools around the world, on the winning book.
Spanish in the 7/8s is mainly concerned with exposing students to the language in meaningful ways. They learn Spanish vocabulary that is practical and useful and have plenty of opportunities for listening and speaking. The focus is on social language that students can use freely inside and out of the classroom, with a goal of building a vocabulary that allows students to be active participants in a class taught completely in Spanish. The 7/8s meet with the Spanish teacher once a week for 45 minutes in their classroom.