Literacy Curriculum

Based on our experiences as teachers in elementary classrooms along with current research in literacy, we are planning to create and implement our own balanced literacy curriculum. Our literacy curriculum will be based on the Common Core State Standards and we will use several current, evidence-based resources to guide the planning of our robust model. Our philosophy of teaching reading and writing aligns closely with the work of Lucy Calkins and her colleagues at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and we plan to use many of their published resources in our literacy framework. We will also use the work of Richard Allington, Ellin Oliver Keene, Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell, Carl Anderson, and Katie Wood Ray to guide the creation and implementation of our balanced literacy framework.

Balanced Literacy Framework

Teachers will use the components of a balanced literacy framework along with the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS to plan units of study and differentiated lessons to meet the needs of the students in their classrooms. To successfully incorporate a balanced literacy model, the following components will have time and space within the daily and weekly schedule.

Read Aloud

Students will engage in an Interactive Read Aloud a minimum of one time per day. During this time, a teacher will model comprehension strategies and offer time for students to try out new or reviewed reading strategies. Classes will work together to create open dialogue that is not completely dependent on teacher direction. Teachers will use the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS to plan scaffolded lessons for high-level discussion of a variety of texts. Children with limited language exposure will be provided with conversation prompts, visuals, and time for partner rather than whole group conversation.

Word Study

Students will have a 30-minute differentiated word study session each day, which will include instruction in phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, grammar and word use. These lessons will be planned using resources including Words Their Way, Sounds In Motion, Preventing Academic Failure (PAF), Fountas and Pinnell Phonics, Spelling K-8 by Diane Snowball and Faye Bolton, and The Power of Grammar By Mary Ehrenworth and Vicki Vinton. Students will be grouped flexibly based on interim assessment data from Fox in a Box Developmental Literacy Assessment (decoding) and the Words Their Way Spelling Inventory (encoding). and  Small groups of students will participate in small, teacher-led groups to ensure access to a word study program that meets their current language needs. Children who are performing at or above grade level are placed in groups that are larger in size and have more independent work such as sorting individually or with a partner, word hunts, word and word pattern games, and writing extension activities. Children who are not yet able to decode and encode at grade level, will be placed in very small groups of 4-6 children and will use a direct instruction approach to word study such as Preventing Academic Failure or Sounds in Motion. Word Study Instruction for all children does not solely focus on phonics, but also additional important Language Standards and Foundational Skills outlined in the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS.

Guided Reading

Guided Reading will be included within the daily Reading Workshop. All students will be part of flexible, small, guided reading groups that will convene with a teacher throughout the week. These lessons will provide an opportunity for students to learn a new reading strategy or revisit a previously taught reading strategy. Teachers will use data from the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Reading Assessment, weekly running records, reading conference notes, along with the guidance of the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS to plan these differentiated small groups. All children will receive instructional at their current instructional level.



Reading Workshop

Reading workshop will occur daily for 60 minutes. This time will primarily be used for students to read independently and authentically use the reading skills and strategies they are learning. Teachers will work with small groups of readers and confer with readers individually to support their growth. A short, whole-group mini-lesson will be included as well as a brief teaching share on most days[1]. Teachers will plan these lessons based on the needs of their students and the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS. Instruction will be differentiated to meet the needs of the diverse group of learners in each class. Children will receive reading instruction at their instructional reading level through small, guided reading groups, book clubs, and individual conferences with a teacher.

Writing Workshop

Writing workshop will occur in isolation on 2 days a week for a 60-minute period and will be included within the 3.5 hours of Project Time in our weekly schedule to allow for authentic and content-based writing experiences that reflect the

[1] Calkins, L. (2001). The Art of Teaching Reading. New York: Longman.

With an emphasis on informational and opinion-based writing included in the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS[1]. Writing Workshop will primarily be used for students to write independently and for teachers to confer with individual students as well as meet with small strategy groups. A short, whole-group mini lesson will be included as well as a brief teaching share. Teachers will plan daily mini lessons and strategy groups based on assessment data, anecdotal notes, and the COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS. Instruction will be differentiated to meet the needs of the diverse group of learners in each class. Children will receive writing instruction based on their needs through small, guided writing groups, writing partnerships, and individual conferences with a teacher. Teachers will utilize published resources from the following literacy organizations and authors:  Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Katie Wood Ray, Carl Anderson, and Ralph Fletcher.  Teachers in kindergarten and first grade who are teaching emergent writers will draw heavily from the work of Martha Horn and Matt Glover in addition to the resources listed above.

[1] Calkins, L., Ehrenworth, M, & Lehman, C. (2012). Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Integrated Writing Opportunities

In addition to a dedicated Writing Workshop, writing will also be integrated across the curriculum. Our Project Time will provide many opportunities for authentic writing, including informational posters, research books and papers, scripts for skits and presentations, reflective writing on the process of a research project, thematic poetry, narrative writing, and opinion writing based on a current event or issue that is being studied[1]. Teachers confer individually with students to support not only the content knowledge required for these types of writing, but also to improve each child’s writing skills.

[1] Helm, J & Beneke, S. (2003). The Power of Projects: Meeting Contemporary Challenges in Early Childhood Classrooms-Strategies & Solutions. New York: Teachers College Press.

Shared Reading

Shared Reading will be incorporated within morning meeting, reading workshop, and our integrated Project Time. Teachers will model appropriate phrasing and fluency and the class will be given many opportunities to read and reread a text together. This type of reading will often come in the form of poems, songs, and big books in the lower grades. Upper grade students will read short texts, poems, and articles together as shared reading. Shared reading will include comprehension conversations in addition to a focus on fluent oral reading. Shared Reading is also a time for all children, regardless of independent reading level or language needs to be exposed to grade level text. Children who are not exposed to grade level text often do not make as much progress as children who are exposed to grade level text along with scaffolds and supports.