Literacy is the Key to Learning

For most students with learning challenges, difficulty with literacy -- reading, writing, listening and speaking -- is a recurring obstacle to learning. Eton Academy places the highest importance on literacy skills. We believe that literacy is the foundation for learning.

Through a dedicated Literacy Director, a team of literacy teachers, a media librarian, and in conjunction with the entire faculty, the Eton Academy Literacy Department provides structured and formal literacy instruction to students in every grade.

Common Problem, Uncommon Solutions

Challenges with reading and language are the most commonly faced by Eton Academy students. In response to this continuing need, Eton's Literacy Department provides enhanced literacy instruction across all grades and all subjects.

Literacy instruction is among the most technical educational skills to teach. Eton Academy employs research-based methods that allow for the most progress in the shortest amount of time.

The focus of literacy instruction is to teach students the "how" behind reading and comprehension. We teach strategies that help students become aware of how they think while they learn. This helps students not only learn, but to know how they learn best.

  • Teachers work with students one-on-one in their classrooms and have the flexibility to assess and teach according to the individual need of our diverse student population.
  • The curriculum is developed to promote literacy achievement.
  • Teachers receive specialized training for literacy instruction, including Step-Up-to-Writing, a school wide and cross curricular program for consistent literacy instruction.
  • Eton's Literacy Resource Room is filled with books and instruction resources that aid in teaching literacy to students with learning challenges.
  • Eton's Literacy Lab is the only one of its kind in the state of Michigan. Software such as Kurzweil and Dragon NaturallySpeaking are among the state-of-the-art assistive technologies housed in this facility.

Building Literacy Skills in All Grades and All Classes

Lower School

In the Lower School, literacy is taught to mastery, rather than teaching a concept and moving on. Eton provides a balanced literacy program that includes structured, systematic phonics, authentic literature and writing. In the early primary grades, Oral Language is taught two to three times each week. The relationship between the spoken word and written language is the emphasis. Students listen to at least one story read aloud by the teacher, and strategies used by good readers, such as using expression when reading and making predictions, are directly taught and modeled. Books are carefully selected so various strategies are reinforced.

Middle School

In the Middle School, further development of a student's reading comprehension is emphasized. Gaining mastery in the use of tools such as comprehension strategies, using graphic organizers and metacognition (thinking about and being able to explain one's thinking), gives students a strong basis for tackling increasingly challenging texts.

In addition, composition classes allow students to learn to write in a variety of genres, including informational text and fiction, throughout the year. Whenever possible, this writing will connect directly with the genres the students are studying in their reading comprehension or literature class. Projects include: short stories, formal essays, letters, music/movie reviews, speeches and news articles.

Activities promoting literacy in the Middle School include shared reading, independent reading, book reports done independently or in class using story maps, nightly reading, journaling in both composition and literature classes, weekly readers, spelling drills and games.

Upper School

Literacy takes on three unique roles in the Upper School: literacy and language instruction, composition and literature.

Literacy and language instruction -- This helps students become more effective and engaged readers. Courses include reading comprehension and readings in literature, and teach reading comprehension skills and then explore how the skills are used in the reading process through classic literature. In addition, teachers incorporate a number of literacy activities into the daily routine including readers' theater, role play, research projects, small group literature circles and literature and film study based on the social-studies theme.

Composition -- The goals of the composition curriculum are to develop strategies to be able to express oneself competently in writing through the use of self-evaluation and revision, to collect information from a variety of sources, and to use technology as an aid in editing, revising and presenting information in a sophisticated manner. Teachers review individual strengths, weaknesses and goals to gear class activities toward preparedness to succeed after Eton.

Literature -- The focus is to introduce pertinent, age-appropriate and reading level-appropriate literature to students with the purpose of instilling an enjoyment and appreciation of literature. Eton's teachers use the written page as well as multi-media, to address individual learning styles. In addition, the Upper School shares an annual theme, across all curricular areas. That theme is followed in the selection of literature studied.