One of the most exciting aspects of the primary years is the journey children take as they learn to read, growing from emergent readers into confident, powerful, reflective readers and thinkers. We foster this journey through a personalized model of instruction called Reading Workshop, supporting each child as they discover the joys of reading and gain the foundational skills to dive into increasingly complex and engaging texts. This approach is critical to the implementation of our strategic plan which calls for a commitment to Common Core Standards as well as engaging, personalized learning for each child.
Teacher Collaboration – Lesson Demonstrations at White Oaks
Over the last several years, our teachers have collaborated with each other and attended trainings with The Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University to deepen their practice. This school year, we’re continuing this collaboration with a series of coaching sessions. This fall, teachers across the district met with grade level colleagues at White Oaks to observe a lesson in action and share methods for supporting each child’s unique development. Our second session together is occurring this week and next week at Arundel School, and we’ll have one more coaching session later this school year.
The Life of an Avid Reader
Our goal is to guide each student to live the life of an avid reader, opening doors to big thinking. These skills translate not only to enjoyment, but also to essential learning. We know that how frequently a child reads self-selected books is a key predictor of academic success.
- Set aside a time and place each day for reading
- Have a set of self-selected books “ready to go” so one book is followed by the next
- Know how to choose a “right fit” book across genres, and push themselves to read broadly across fiction and nonfiction
- Think as they read, and talk with others to grow big ideas
- Grow their stamina as readers, learning to attend to a text for increasing periods of time
- Embrace journeys through text, following sparks and questions into new books
Reading workshop blends direct teaching and carefully selected read alouds with time for children to read and think about self-selected books. Children confer one-to-one and in small groups with the teacher to monitor progress, growing their skills one step at a time. Benchmark goals are set for each trimester, and each child’s reading journey is nurtured along the way. In every class at any given moment, individual students are stretching beyond the grade level goals in some areas and shoring up their skills to reach proficiency in others. Children learn in a variety of ways together and on their own during:
- Whole class lessons to introduce strategies
- Small group practice with others who are working on similar goals
- Individual reading time where kids dig into “just right” books and build stamina to read and think over sustained periods of time
- Partner time to reflect on goals and share strategies
- One-on-one coaching from the teacher to support self-assessment and goal setting
Reading workshop is part of a framework of balanced literacy where students develop a range of literacy skills, and many of these components have been in place for many years at White Oaks. Balanced literacy includes:
- Reading to children, with children, and by children
- A focus on comprehension, word study, and fluency
- Teaching and practicing skills in isolation and also in context
- Reading across genres to inspire new thinking, including a 50/50 balance between fiction and nonfiction
Helping at Home
A child’s reading life is richest when it spans home and school. Here are some ways you can help.
- Set up a place for books that your child can access.
- Develop reading routines and places where your child feels cozy reading every day.
- Ensure that a “next” book is always waiting! Discover little free libraries in your neighborhood, or trade books with friends. Get your child a library card and make regular visits. Visit local bookstores and our school Book Fair. Watch for the classroom book orders.
- Model reading so that your child sees you as a reader.
- Read together: Even when children become proficient readers, enjoy books as a family. As children grow, enjoy a family novel together. Talk and wonder together!
- Look for communications from your classroom teacher about how to support next steps.
- Ensure that your child reads every day. Watch for your child’s classroom book bag or folder, and talk with your child about his/her reading goals.
Looking for a family read-aloud? Check this list.
Common Core Standards Parent Roadmaps by Grade here.
Key Shifts – Common Core Standards in English Language Arts
Thank you for your partnership. We look forward to supporting your child’s growing success as a reader and thinker!