Reading and Writing are strongly intertwined during the early years of literacy. Frequent and engaging read alouds focus on specific comprehension skills, and vocabulary acquisition. These emerging readers wrestle with the alphabetic code, phonics, and syntax in Reading Workshop as they build the foundation of a lifelong love of reading. Students learn to decode, comprehend, and compare and contrast as they read fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Small group reading allows for concentration in learning strategies and skills in genre and author studies, while partner and individual reading time allows for extended individualized instruction and personal exploration in reading. Teachers assess the growth of each student’s language competency formally three times a year, and informally on a daily basis to ensure the work is challenging and that the student is making adequate progress.
Whole class, small group and individual work continue as students mature in their reading ability and grapple with complex texts in the Middle Elementary years. Students begin to refine their abilities in writing about their reading, and in reading discussion. Students negotiate meaning with increasing independence. Complex comprehension strategies are learned and mastered as students read across a wide range of genre. Students consider large themes across multiple texts, compare and contrast characters, examine character motivations and complex plots, as well as make connections across expository texts. Students begin to support their ideas with specific evidence in the text.
In the Upper Elementary grades students begin to work in self-selected reading groups, as well as continue with independent and small group work. Discussion skills are honed as students participate in book clubs and negotiate meaning in increasingly complex text. Students examine figurative language, author’s purpose and point of view, as well as tone and mood in complex novels that often involve multiple plot lines and complicated themes. Students make connections across themes and annotate a variety of informational texts. Students support and defend their ideas with text evidence. By the end of their elementary years, students have developed a rich reading life and are confident and highly capable readers and discussants.