Students learn to read and write through a variety of activities, which stimulate language development such as read alouds, poetry, singing together, word charts and phonics activities. The fact that students are surrounded by words, charts and books encourages them to make reading and writing an everyday part of their life. In the upper grades, students continue to independently read novels of their own choice, as well as take part in the whole class readings and discussions. Our reading instruction focuses on reading comprehension and in-depth analysis of literature.
In both English and Spanish classes, reading is taught in reading workshop using a variety of teaching methods. Students are taught through shared reading, guided reading, literature circles and independent reading. Each classroom has its own library of reading materials from which students choose books for their independent reading. Books are available in a wide range of levels so that each child can choose books that are just right for his/her learning ability. Students read independently on a daily basis and teachers meet with them to conference on their reading. At this time, teachers evaluate students’ progress and also give individual instructions whenever necessary.
In shared reading teachers read challenging texts to the entire class and give whole group lessons. Students are involved in discussion and analysis of the text, with teacher guidance.
In guided reading, students are given books that help push them to the next level. They meet with the teacher in small groups for specific lessons on a reading strategy or skill. Older students may meet in self-directed literature circles in which they meet to discuss and analyze a novel of their choosing.
Students in the Community for Learning write everyday on topics of their own choosing. During writing workshop, children are taught the writing process which consists of brainstorming or coming up with ideas, writing rough drafts, making revisions, editing their work and finally publishing.
Teachers begin the writer’s workshop with a mini-lesson. We teach conventions (such as punctuation, grammar and spelling), genre, organizational skills, sentence structure, writer’s craft and figurative language. Students are then expected to practice newly learned skills in their own writing. Once they have published their final drafts, they share their work with others.