AISJ uses the American Education Reaches Out (AERO) literacy Standards and Benchmarks K-12. Our pedagogical approaches are derived out of researched best practices from around the world, in consultation with leading consultants in the field of literacy. Authors and literacy coaches such as; Matt Glover, Maggie Moon, Stephanie Harvey, Debbie Miller, and Kathy Collins have been instrumental in helping us shape our beliefs and practices in literacy. We strive to develop a culture of consistency in our approach to teaching literacy throughout the elementary school and are committed to providing ongoing professional development and training for our faculty. Student success is measured against developmentally appropriate outcomes for students within each grade. These can be seen through the PK-5 Scope and Sequence documents.
INTERACTIVE READ-ALOUD WITH ACCOUNTABLE TALK
The teacher reads aloud to the whole class or small groups. As the teacher reads, they stop to model reading strategies and their thinking. Students are asked to practice the reading strategies independently and by turning and talking with a partner to reinforce the concept or skill being taught. The goal is to promote a love of reading, stimulate thinking, and help students develop vocabulary and structure of language in print.Students are immersed in Reader’s Workshop through units of study that last for approximately 4-6 weeks. During this time, students receive direct instruction in decoding strategies, comprehension strategies, and ways to respond to their reading. They are given opportunities to practice strategies that proficient readers use while developing reading habits and behaviors that will remain with them for life. Although decoding strategies are emphasized in the early years, our reading program requires students to demonstrate comprehension in increasingly complex ways as they progress through the grades. We believe through using a strong Reader’s Workshop model, students will learn to know themselves as readers, take risks, make appropriate choices about the books they read and build independence and stamina for reading. Most importantly, we want to promote a love of reading and engagement with high-interest texts in both literary and informational genres. Therefore, all elementary students have access to extensive classroom libraries, which house a range of leveled, high-interest texts across a variety of genres.
Students are immersed in Reader’s Workshop through units of study that last for approximately 4-6 weeks. During this time, students receive direct instruction in decoding strategies, comprehension strategies, and ways to respond to their reading. They are given opportunities to practice strategies that proficient readers use, while developing reading habits and behaviors that will remain with them for life. Although decoding strategies are emphasized in the early years, our reading program requires students to demonstrate comprehension in increasingly complex ways as they progress through the grades. We believe through using a strong Reader’s Workshop model, students will learn to know themselves as readers, take risks, make appropriate choices about the books they read and build independence and stamina for reading. Most importantly, we want to promote a love of reading and engagement with high interest texts in both literary and informational genres. Therefore, all elementary students have access to extensive classroom libraries, which house a range of levelled, high interest texts across a variety of genres.
Mini-lessons are used at the beginning of each workshop lesson and are taught to the whole class. Students are taught a specific strategy or skill related to the current unit of study or concept. They are given time to practice the strategy/skill, or talk with a partner before being given independent time to practice.
SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION
Within the workshop model, students will be grouped by the teacher in a variety of ways. They might be learning about specific strategies that have been identified as an area of growth, working on a book at a particular level, or being pushed in their thinking around a topic that is of similar interest to them. Grouping in this way is highly effective for differentiating instruction within a heterogeneous classroom.
Like Reader’s Workshop, students are immersed in‘’units of study’ which last for approximately 4-6 weeks. Students receive direct and explicit instruction in a variety of genres and strategies. Our units are focused on both genre specific and non-genre specific topics, and predominantly allow for student choice in writing. Students learn the importance of developing ideas for writing and study the various techniques authors use by looking deeply at mentor texts and what authors do. In each unit, students experience the process of writing through planning, revising, editing and publishing their work. At the end of each unit, writing celebrations are held to celebrate the published work of our students and parents are often invited to come and celebrate in the growth of their children’s writing.
Within Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, large amounts of time are devoted to independent practice. During this time, students are practicing the strategies/skills that have been taught through mini-lessons, conferring, or small group instruction. This is a vital component of the workshop approach and as students move through the grades of our school, they are expected to work independently for increased amounts of time.
Teachers spend time conferring with students during Reader’s and Writers workshop and aim to confer with all students throughout a week. This is a time for teachers to research and compliment a child’s current level of performance, but more importantly an opportunity to teach them specific strategies to nudge them in their development as a reader or a writer.
Workshop lessons typically end with time to share the learning that has taken place. Teachers will use this time to reinforce concepts, celebrate new learning, and set up goals for future areas of work. This is an intentional teaching time and one that brings closure to the learning within the lesson.
INTERACTIVE READ-ALOUD WITH ACCOUNTABLE TALK
With targeted instruction and explicit learning outcomes, it is our belief that students will be more likely to achieve success. Therefore, students are immersed into ‘units of study’ in both reading and writing. Through using a workshop approach, teachers use a variety of instructional strategies including whole class mini-lessons, independent time, individual conferences and small group lessons to differentiate instruction based on the individual needs of students. A Balanced Approach to literacy includes: Interactive Read Alouds, Guided Reading, Shared Reading, Interactive Writing, Shared Writing, Reader’s Workshop, Writer’s Workshop and Word Study.
The teacher introduces a selection at the student’s instructional level using appropriately leveled text. This helps the teacher to monitor individual students’ progress and allows them to work with students at their instructional reading level. The teacher may need to prompt students to apply their knowledge of reading strategies when difficulties arise, provide further support, or regroup students according to their needs.
Students need explicit instruction to develop functional handwriting. The development of gross and fine motor skills are essential in helping to build successful writers within an elementary school context. Students in PK- Grade 2 receive targeted handwriting instruction using a developmental program called ‘Handwriting without Tears’.
Shared reading helps build a students’ awareness of text, improves fluency, and increases comprehension. It helps students to see themselves as readers as they feel comfortable experiencing fluency when joining in the reading of familiar texts with others. Shared reading typically involves a ‘Big Book’ using enlarged text. The class read the text in unison with the classroom teacher. This allows the teacher an opportunity to model reading strategies and provides students with explicit ways of how reading works and what readers do to construct meaning.
The teacher and students collaborate to write the text; the teacher acts as the scribe. Modeled/Shared Writing develops concepts of print, supports reading development, provides a model for a variety of writing styles, models the connection among and between sounds, letters, and words, produces text that students can read independently, necessitates communicating in a clear and specific manner.
The teacher and students compose together using a “shared pen” technique in which students do some of the writing. Interactive writing provides opportunities to plan and construct texts, increases spelling knowledge, produces written language resources in the classroom, creates opportunities to apply what has been learned.
Word study is the understanding of phonics and spelling patterns, high-frequency word recognition, decoding strategies, and insight into word meanings. Proficiency in these areas helps students become fluent and flexible readers and writers. Word Study is a developmentally driven approach, providing an integrated way to teach phonics, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and high-frequency words. The investigation and understanding of word patterns build upon each student’s current understanding of how words work.
The Importance of Conventions Within each grade level, there is a strong emphasis placed on the conventional aspects of written and spoken language. We have articulated grade level expectations that are embedded into our units of study.