English & Language Arts

The English/Language Arts program develops critical readers and excellent writers. Students develop a strong foundation for clear and concise writing in different genres and for different audiences, the skills to read and interpret texts critically and imaginatively, and the judgment to differentiate among sources and analyze their content.

[Click on a Grade below to read the description]

List of 13 items.

  • Early Childhood (PK-K)

    Pre-kindergarten’s focus is on emerging intellectual and social skills in students. Oral and written communication is introduced and expressive language skills are encouraged and developed. 

    Building on the skills introduced in Pre-K, Kindergarten students gain more experience with phonemic skills and deepen their comfort level with the technical processes of pre-reading and writing.
  • Grade 1

    In Grade 1, the three interrelated focuses are reading, writing/spelling, and penmanship. The objective is to foster strong decoding skills, progress toward reading fluency, develop listening and speaking skills, introduce the principles of spelling, and begin the practice of good penmanship.
  • Grade 2

    Challenging thinking skills in reading and writing are introduced, including word recognition and analysis as well as understanding word meaning and ideas. The writing process is taught, and literature is increasingly used as a model to develop proper creative writing techniques. Penmanship continues to be practiced and emphasized. By the end of Grade 2, children will have sharpened reading and writing skills.
  • Grade 3

    The program encourages students to read on their own outside of class and further emphasizes fluency, expression, and oral reading. Children read and discuss longer, more complex texts in class. They become more independent readers and practice new skills such as word recognition through the use of a dictionary. The writing process is used to write longer, more complex pieces for different audiences. A major focus is on learning and practicing critical thinking skills introduced in Grade 2.
  • Grade 4

    The reading program is literature-based, drawing from a variety of short stories, poems, novels and non-fiction resources. Literature is selected to complement and enhance the themes and topics of the Grade 4 academic program, creating an interdisciplinary platform for the relationship among literature, history, social development, science, and community. Independent reading is encouraged. Students are expected to engage in large and small group discussions, write and answer open ended questions, and keep reading journals.
    The writing program focuses on detailed, accurate writing that shows an awareness of the rules of the English language. Specific skills include phonics, spelling, vocabulary development, grammar and syntax, speaking and listening skills, handwriting and reference skills. The writing process is followed: first draft, revision, editing, proofreading, and final copy. Word choice, organization, presentation, sentence fluency, voice, ideas, and conventions are discussed and practiced.
  • Grade 5

    Reading instruction in the Grade 5 continues the process of creating critical thinkers. Class lessons build upon established reading strategies (connecting, predicting, questioning, visualizing, and summarizing) as students read with a deeper understanding. Socratic discussions, small group work, as well as independent projects, provide opportunities for students to be more engaged in the reading process as they gain a deeper understanding of the text.
    The Grade 5 writing program provides experiences writing in various genres. Students continue to write informal narratives as well as expository texts using a variety of text styles. Creating thesis statements and justifying arguments through opinion and persuasive writing formats is a focus. During the course of the year, students will practice proofreading, editing and revising text. An ongoing review of spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills is taught in a formal setting as well as through each student’s written work.
  • Grade 6

    As students embark on their journey as readers in Middle School, the Grade 6 English curriculum challenges them to examine how authors purposefully craft stories to convey specific messages. A rich variety of texts allows students to explore multiple perspectives and provides a focus for class discussions. In addition, students learn the skills needed to appropriately choose their own novels and to reflect on which comprehension strategies they find most effective. With a focus on analyzing, critiquing, and reflecting on literature, the curriculum teaches students to use text evidence to support their arguments, both in writing and during discussions. In addition, students are taught to enhance their writing through careful revision.
  • Grade 7

    Students in Grade 7 English continue to explore author’s craft as a way to deepen their understandings as readers. Building on their developing ability to think critically, students engage in close reading and identify the use and purpose of literary techniques. Students also explore how the perspective of various authors and narrators affects the tone and content of a story. Through exposure to and analysis of various genres of literature, students deepen their understanding of the tools readers use to approach various text structures. As writers, Grade 7 students strive to develop interpretations of literature that clearly and completely reflect their thinking and are well supported by relevant text evidence.
  • Grade 8

    In Grade 8 English, students work to understand how authors use framing structures, allegory, and other literary devices to enhance a text’s meaning. In addition, the study of literary criticism allows students to consider how an additional or alternate lens can change the reader’s experience. An interdisciplinary project involving English and Civics provides students with the opportunity to evaluate how literature impacts society. Writing in Grade 8 emphasizes rhetorical structure, contextualizing an argument, and establishing a formal academic voice.
  • Grade 9

    The Grade 9 curriculum develops a strong foundation in writing, interpreting literature, and research. Students study different genres throughout the year, including memoir, fiction, poetry, and drama. A great deal of writing is required in various expository modes, including literary analysis. A short research paper is required. Texts may include such titles as: A Boy’s LifeEverymanOedipus RexJoy Luck Club, at least one Shakespeare play, and selected poetry.
  • Grade 10

    Grade 10 English builds on the skills developed and solidified in Grade 9: close and critical reading of texts, composing sustained written arguments that develop and support a clearly-written thesis, researching and synthesizing a diverse body of materials, and expressing oneself persuasively in oral communication. Students read representative classics and become firmly grounded in textual analysis while also developing a shared cultural frame of reference essential for participation in the intellectual life of an educated community. Texts include such titles as: The Odyssey,Sophocles’ Antigone, Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as contemporary novels from different cultures, such as The Farming of Bones.
  • Grade 11

    Students re-focus on advanced expository writing by engaging in writing projects for different audiences and of different lengths. Emphasis is on writing as a process and product approached through the four phases of discovery, drafting, revising, and editing. In addition, students choose English courses from clusters of American and world literature offerings. Courses that focus on close reading of classic American texts, such as The Scarlet LetterThe Great GatsbyInvisible Man, and Death of Salesman are typical for Grade 11 students.
  • Grade 12

    Seniors have the opportunity to take the Senior Seminar, where they read great works of literature not studied in other English courses. Using the Library of Congress recommended reading list as well as the Advanced Placement in Literature reading list, teachers guide students to select texts that they would like to read. In addition, courses include Myth in Literature and Film, where students read SiddharthaSir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Heart of Darkness; Romantic Writers, such as Coleridge, Bronte, and Joyce; and Hero/Anti-Hero, where students read The IliadLe Morte D’ArthurThe Autobiography of Malcolm X, as well as other works. All English courses are taught at the Advanced Placement level; teachers provide brief guidelines about the AP exam, and many students choose to sit for the AP English Literature examination.

List of 7 members.

  • Ann Russell 

    Chair, English Department; Senior School English Teacher
    Nebraska Wesleyan University - B.A.
    University of Nebraska - M.A.
  • Anna Barry 

    Senior School English Teacher
    University of Pittsburgh - B.A.
    University of South Carolina - M.F.A.
  • Lawrence Connolly 

    Senior School English Teacher
    Duquesne University - B.A.
    Duquesne University - M.A.
  • Joan Cucinotta 

    Senior School English Teacher
    Duquesne University - B.A.
    Duquesne University - M.A.
    Duquesne University - Ph.D.
  • Anna Foust 

    Chair, Middle School English Department, Middle School English Teacher
    Harvard University - B.A
    Fordham University - M.S.T.
  • Deborah Golden 

    Middle School English Teacher
    Sarah Lawrence College - B.S.
    University of Pittsburgh - M.F.A.
  • Jessica Hecht 

    Middle School English Teacher
    University of Delaware - B.A.

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Sewickley Academy
315 Academy Avenue
Sewickley, PA 15143
Sewickley Academy is a nationally recognized Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in Pre-K through Grade 12 on a single campus.