Our ELA curriculum uses the Balanced Literacy Model which incorporates Reading, Writing, and Language Workshops. Reading assessment is based on oral reading, comprehension, individual written work such as answering story questions, completing Reading and Writing Workshop tasks and vocabulary lessons.
Language Workshop is a whole-group learning experience, involving two components. The first component is an interactive read aloud—a read aloud in which the teacher and students interact, talking about the text. Interactive read aloud conversations address learning goals related to listening, speaking, and comprehension. If the text that is read aloud relates to science or social studies, learning goals in those areas can be addressed as well. After the interactive read, explicit teaching occurs around an ELA concept or skill (e.g., phonics, Greek and Latin affixes and roots words, sentence structure, parts of speech, topic sentences in paragraphs, and other grammar concepts).
Reading Workshop typically involves three components: a mini-lesson, work time, and sharing. Work time during Reading Workshop involves students working independently while the teacher provides small-group differentiated instruction via guided reading lessons. During their independent work time, students read self-chosen books at their level; write about what they’re reading in journals; complete assignments related to the ELA concept or skill addressed in Language Workshop; and depending on the classroom, work in various ELA-related stations. Sharing brings valuable closure to Reading Workshop. It holds students accountable, and as students share, they learn from another. Sharing also allows the teacher to informally assess students’ understanding, providing clarifications and extensions as necessary.
Writing Workshop is similar to Reading Workshop, typically involving a mini-lesson, work time, and sharing. At each grade level, students will learn how to effectively share a story through writing (narrative pieces), effectively share and explain information through writing (expository pieces), and effectively defend an opinion through writing (persuasive/argumentative pieces). Poetry will also be addressed. Sometimes these writing pieces may be linked to efforts in science or social studies.
Second graders will be tested each week on 15 spelling words from our phonics lesson for the week. The lessons come from our new program by Pinnell and Fountas called Phonics Lessons: Letters, Words and How They Work. The words will follow a spelling or phonics pattern that we will practice throughout the week. In addition, the students will be tested on five words not included on the spelling list that also use the pattern from the week. These five will not be graded, but allow for a more thorough assessment the students’ overall understanding of the phonemic patterns and spelling rules.