Elementary School

Balanced Literacy

To ensure that each child learns to read, write and spell successfully, our teachers employ the research-based, instructional strategies of Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop and Word Study. Teachers incorporate these strategies in developmentally appropriate ways to ensure that each student makes progress toward the benchmarks for their grade level.

Workshop teaching was pioneered by Lucy Calkins of Columbia University and has been used in classrooms around the world for more than twenty years. As this is a literature-based teaching model, you won’t see reading textbooks in any of our classrooms.

Reading Workshop

Reading Aloud

The teacher reads aloud to the whole class or small groups from a carefully selected body of children’s literature; the collection contains a variety of genres and is representative of the diversity of our society. Favorite texts, selected for special features, are reread many times.

Guided Reading or Strategy Lesson

The teacher works with small groups who have similar reading processes. In guided reading the teacher selects and introduces new books, then supports children reading the text, making teaching points during and after the reading. In strategy lessons, the teacher pulls together flexible groups of students with similar reading processes and teaches targeted skills and strategies based on individual needs.

Independent Reading

Children read on their own or with partners from a wide range of materials, including a special collection at their independent reading level.

Shared Reading

Shared reading builds reading fluency. Using an enlarged text so that all children can see, the teacher involves children in reading together. The process often includes reading big books, poems, songs and student writing. In the upper elementary grades, shared reading can take the form of a reader’s theater or poetry reading.

Word Study

Spelling and Grammar

Woven throughout the activities in this framework, teachers have opportunities to help children notice and use letters and words; knowledge is further fostered through the use of alphabet centers and word walls. Time is dedicated to both spelling and developmentally appropriate grammar instruction. Research-based word study activities help children to internalize spelling patterns as opposed to rote memorization of words.

Writing Workshop

Guided and Independent Writing

Children engage in writing a variety of texts in a variety of genres. The teacher guides the process and provides instruction through mini-lessons and individualized conferences. Writing units cover several areas including fiction, narrative, informational writing, persuasive writing and letter writing.

Shared Writing

Teacher and students work together to compose messages and stories. The teacher supports the process as a scribe.

Interactive Writing

As in shared writing, the teacher and the children compose messages and stories that are written using a “shared pen” technique that involves children in the writing.


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