Mark Day School
39 Trellis Drive
San Rafael, CA 94903

language arts

In kindergarten, children develop skills and phonemic awareness through songs, games, and daily exposure to language in its many forms. First graders develop their comprehension skills while engaged in guided reading lessons and literacy stations. Writing is integrated across all subject areas as the students build their skills within the context of what they are learning. The essentials of opening sentence, supporting details, and closing sentence are given life in writing about personal experiences, animals, nature, and people. Building confident, thinking readers is the focus of the 2nd grade year. To this end, students are grouped based on instructional needs. In 3rd grade, students first experience the thrill of choice: Within the language arts cafe, students choose from a weekly menu of activities to work on different skills. 

The first year of Upper School develops both the expository and descriptive writing skills that students will take with them throughout Upper School. Writing is also integrated throughout all subjects, so they apply what they learn in different contexts. Students come from 3rd grade with the ability to construct a paragraph. They will grow their skills in expository writing from the paragraph into the five-part essay. Books are selected for their relationship to both the history and SEL curricula. The goal of the writing curriculum in 5th grade is to broaden students' facility with different genres, perspectives, and audiences. Writing is integrated throughout 6th grade subject areas, with an eye toward creating writers who can express ideas and demonstrate knowledge clearly and engagingly. The 6th grade literature curriculum develops sophisticated readers who can analyze text and draw connections between ideas. 

Upper Division English is designed to be an engaging, active class that frequently calls upon student creativity. Writing across genres all year, students not only develop their skills, but also find their voice as writers. Students engage critically with a range of challenging texts to further develop their literary and linguistic skills while enhancing their awareness of the critical role their literacy can play in their ability to contribute to their local community and global society. Students engage in sophisticated discussions sparked from analyzing and relating to literature and learn to recognize, enjoy, and employ the power of the language to communicate and impact the world around them.

Featured Project: 8th Grade Graduation Speeches

Eighth graders culminate their year through developing a personal speech to be delivered at the graduation ceremony, in which each 8th grader speaks. Students reflect on their years at Mark Day School and the many memorable experiences that have shaped their identities and beliefs as young adults. Drawing inspiration from these reflections, students learn more about public speaking techniques and speechcraft and hone their speeches into unique, powerful and poignant statements that uniquely reflect each student's individuality, depth, and personality while also acknowledging the impact their community has had on their paths in life.

Students will independently use their learning to:

  • Read a variety of texts to gain insight and understanding about oneself and the world, to gather information, and for personal enjoyment.
  • Read critically and analyze texts, taking into consideration author, audience, purpose, format, and genre.
  • Write a thoughtful, authentic, and articulate manner for a variety of audiences and purposes.
  • Apply the writing process, including prewriting and revision, to produce a final written product.
  • Communicate complex ideas orally and in writing with clarity, accuracy, and purpose.
  • Engage in discussions that promote analysis and the thoughtful exchange of ideas.