Our language arts curriculum is guided by developmentally appropriate, grade level benchmarks and implemented using a variety of resources, including Lindamood-Bell Phoneme Sequencing, Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading, and Handwriting Without Tears. We offer a balanced approach to literacy that combines reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

List of 5 items.

  • Kindergarten

    Reading instruction begins with phonemic awareness (the manipulation of sounds) and letter recognition. Like all of our instruction, reading instruction is differentiated to meet the needs of and challenge each individual student. Writing instruction begins with fine motor strength and letter formation and includes creative writing projects. Language arts activities occur in a variety of contexts throughout the day and often tie into classroom themes.
  • First Grade

    First-grade reading instruction incorporates several approaches to the teaching of beginning reading in order to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles and readiness levels. We include phonemic and phonics instruction, leveled readers, skill development, whole language experiences, and individualized independent reading. The Fountas and Pinnell approach is used in whole and small group sessions, which include phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, silent and oral reading, and discussion and analysis of the material. Our balanced literacy program involves listening, oral, and choral reading and interpreting stories through creative writing, drama, art projects, and games.

    Written Expression: As reading skills develop, creative writing becomes an increasingly important aspect of the first grade curriculum. Various forms of writing are integrated into our program, including simple stories, letters, poems, and expository writing. Emphasis is placed on creativity, fluency, mechanics of writing, and developmental spelling.

    Handwriting: We use the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. Current research supports this approach to handwriting instruction, which focuses on consistent letter formation to establish automaticity, thus enabling students to concentrate on expression of thought instead of letter formation. This program has an important kinesthetic component that links the eyes, hands, and brain together to establish the building blocks for consistent and comfortable letter formation.
  • Second Grade

    The second-grade language arts program concentrates on guiding each girl to develop herself as a reader and writer who has preferences and makes thoughtful decisions. We work in small groups and as a class to support each student's development. During this time, we implement and practice word attack skills and comprehension strategies. We strive to develop confidence and fluency in each student's reading.

    The word study component of the language arts curriculum has its foundation in children's developmental spelling stages. We work with the girls to recognize patterns in the English language through dictation, sorting, letter/sound manipulation activities, and games.

    The writer's workshop occurs several times a week in second grade. Each girl is encouraged to express her thoughts and ideas through the writer's process. During writing lessons and in literature study, we place special emphasis on the traits of organization, ideas, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and conventions. Our goal during writer's workshop is for each girl to see herself as a writer who is able to clearly and confidently convey herself through her writing. 
  • Third Grade

    In third grade, we present a balanced approach to literacy that integrates reading, writing, word study, and listening and speaking. Guided by developmentally appropriate grade level benchmarks, the language arts program encourages and empowers each girl to discover herself as a reader and writer who has preferences and makes thoughtful decisions about her learning. Concepts, skills and strategies are explicitly taught, and then students are given opportunities to practice and apply them, both independently and collaboratively. Third grade reading strategies and skills include: solving words, reading with fluency and expression, building reading stamina, developing comprehension, thinking critically about texts, and using context to determine the meaning of unfamiliar vocabulary. This year, writing projects may include: personal narrative (memoir), non-fiction essay, fiction, poetry, research project, as well as shorter journal entries, free writes, and literature response. Word study builds spelling skills and vocabulary while also strengthening students’ abilities to decode words. In third grade, this includes identifying and working with spelling patterns in the English language, as well as distinguishing the meanings of words and their parts (e.g., bi-cycle). Language Arts instruction is differentiated to meet individual needs as identified through ongoing assessment of each child. Language Arts activities occur in a variety of contexts throughout the day and often tie into social studies.
  • Fourth Grade

    Writing: The emphasis of this class is to create situations wherein the student will write frequently and with enthusiasm. We use the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing program as our foundation in teaching writing. The traits are: ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions and presentation. Our goals are to increase fluency and clarity in the student's writing and provide the student with many opportunities to develop confidence as a writer.

    The writing process approach provides the student with time to develop her ideas. Writing well involves selecting an appropriate topic, using convincing details, arriving at a strong and integrated voice, and polishing for publication. Students are encouraged to discuss their work, offer one another constructive suggestions, and remind one another of solutions to editing problems. In addition, students will frequently be introduced to or reminded of a particular technique in writing. They will be provided with many published pieces modeling examples of the traits.

    Word Study: In addition to the word study curriculum that is derived from Words Their Way by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton and Johnston, we teach orthography, the correct sequences of letters in the writing system, and vocabulary as well as dictionary, thesaurus, and study skills. Word study activities call for active problem solving. Students are encouraged to look for spelling patterns, form hypotheses, predict outcomes, and test them. These activities require students to continually ask themselves, "What do I know about this new word, and how is it similar to words that I already know?”

    Reading: Our Reader’s Workshop includes independent reading, guided reading and literature study. The focus is on Reading is Thinking: introduction to and practice with essential active reading skills such as questioning, predicting, connecting, visualizing, inferring and sequencing.

    Literature: Students are asked to read selected books that are representative of diverse literary genres. The theme of identity threads throughout the literary and history units. While reading actively and practicing comprehension skills, students engage in literature discussions. Discussion skills and strategies are expanded upon as the year progresses. After completing their reading, each student completes a response project that measures her basic understanding of character, setting, plot, theme, conflict, and resolution. These projects are designed to meet the strengths of various learning styles. Students will have the opportunity, for example, to write book reports, design dioramas and make captions for important scenes, construct graphic representations of character and plot, and give dramatic presentations of their favorite passages.

Lead Teachers

List of 11 members.

  • Dynelle Chan 

    Kindergarten Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 318
    University of California, Santa Cruz - B.A.
  • Valerie Hansel 

    Kindergarten Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 313
    University of Pennsylvania - B.A.
    Dominican University - M.A.
  • Zach Swan 

    Kindergarten Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 330
    University of California, Santa Cruz - B.A.
    University of San Francisco - M.A. Ed.
  • Seneca Gupta 

    First-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 339
    Gonzaga University - B.A.
  • Anjali Ramisetti 

    First-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 304
    University of California, Irvine - B.A.
    University of San Francisco
  • Linda Chiao 

    Second-Grade Teacher
  • Kelley Vauk 

    Second-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 271
    University of Oregon - B.A.
  • Joelle Auberson 

    Third-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 368
    New College of California - B.A.
  • Emily Banks 

    Third-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 300
    Columbia University - B.A.
    Teachers College, Columbia University - M.A.
  • Tammi Abad 

    Fourth-Grade Teacher, Teaching Institute Coordinator
    415.751.0187, ext. 327
  • Nayo Brooks 

    Fourth-Grade Teacher
    415.751.0187, ext. 360
    University of California, Davis - B.A.
    University of San Francisco - M.A.
Burke's mission is to educate, encourage and empower girls. Our school combines academic excellence with an appreciation for childhood so that students thrive as learners, develop a strong sense of self, contribute to community, and fulfill their potential, now and throughout life.

Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: 415.751.0177 Fax: 415.666.0535
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