The language arts curriculum at The Bridge Academy was created for the child that learns differently, especially those that have dyslexia. It encompasses all areas of English language instruction including basic phonics, advanced morphology, reading comprehension strategies, literature appreciation and critical thinking, vocabulary development, cursive, sentence construction, paragraph and essay writing, as well as research.
Orton-Gillingham principles form the foundation of the language arts program. These guiding principles require curriculum to be individualized to meet the needs of each student. In addition, each component of the reading and writing curricula is delivered in a structured and sequential order, with learning progressing from simple to complex language concepts. Research supports the use of multisensory teaching strategies for the most effective delivery of curriculum. Continual cumulative review ensures students’ mastery of skills. While the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach directs all aspects of the language arts program, The Bridge Academy also uses O-G based curriculum such as: Project Read, SPIRE, Wilson, Lindamood-Bell, and Diana Hanbury King’s writing program.
To help address individual reading issues, students are placed in groups according to like-need using formal assessment, informal assessment, and teacher recommendation. The number of students in a group depends on the developmental skill level of the students. Those still mastering reading basic skills are group 3:1, and writing students are grouped 4:1. Experienced students who have moved beyond basic skills, such as those in a literature group, may be grouped as high as 5:1 to foster richer discussion.
In writing, lessons progress from simple to complex sentence construction. Paragraph writing moves from theme-based sentences to five sentence paragraphs with topic and concluding sentences, and onto expanded paragraphs with report writing. Advanced writing classes tackle the essay and research paper while still reviewing spelling and advanced sentence construction. Students are taught using the writing process: they make a plan, write a “rough” draft, edit and proofread, and write a final copy. Cursive handwriting is taught as part of the writing lesson; keyboarding is also taught and reinforced.
Students are encouraged to read with a variety of incentives. One school-wide incentive is called Reading Challenge. Students set individual goals with their teachers based on how many pages they can read within an allotted time. Students can read a book on their own for homework, or they can read a book using Learning Ally. Learning Ally is an on-line program in which a student can choose a book that he or she is interested in. The words are highlighted on the screen as it is read aloud. Many students enjoy this option as they can read books that are at their comprehension and interest level.