Literacy

Teachers College Readers Writers Workshops

Olivet Academy utilizes Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshops (RWWS) curriculum. The focus is on enabling young people to become avid readers, writers, and inquirers through workshop instruction. RWWS curriculum is specifically designed for varying abilities. The design allows the faculty to teach a diverse range of students in an inclusive classroom. The Readers Workshop focuses on the important goal of children reading independently, reinforced by daily, facilitated reading time. Daily, children will receive direct and explicit instruction through a brief mini-lesson in class. Class teachers will then provide children with time to read emergent storybooks, shared reading texts, interactive and shared writing texts, and just-right books. As the school year progresses and children gain reading skills, the length of time per class devoted to reading alone or with a partner grows.

Presented with a variety of genres of literature and explicit genre studies, students will gain an early appreciation for fiction, non- fiction, and poetry. The Readers Workshop highlights reading aloud by the educator in order to create a sense of community and to model for children a love of reading. Through read-aloud, educators are able to integrate science, social studies, science, SEL and Bible studies disciplines into the literacy lessons, increase student vocabulary and higher-level comprehension skills, and encourage children to engage in accountable talk.

The Reading Workshop contemplates the need for highly individualized study for each student’s reading abilities. While a child is transitioning between reading levels, educators create a “transitional book baggie” for the student, which provides the student with titles at his/her reading level and a few at the next level in order to scaffold readers between levels. Additionally, educators provide students with highly individualized assessment-based conferences and coaching.

Lucy Calkins’ Writers Workshops Units of Study will be used for writing curriculum. Similar to the Readers Workshop, the Writers Workshop will focus on teaching children at a variety of writing and language levels through whole-class instruction, small groups and mini-lessons, and individualized instruction. The Writing Workshop teaches students throughout the year to write in personal narrative, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry styles, which integrates with the students’ Reading Workshop learning about the elements of storytelling and other essential literacy skills. The RWWS program offers significant professional development for educators with hands-on professional development workshops in order to become highly skilled educators in the Lucy Calkins method.

For Phonics instruction, OA will be using Word Matters.

Word Matters presents essential information on designing and implementing a high-quality, systematic literacy program to help children learn about letters, sounds, and words. The central goal is to teach children to become “word solvers”: readers who can take words apart while reading for meaning, and writers who can construct words while writing to communicate. Where similar books are narrow in focus, Word Matters presents the theoretical underpinnings and practical wherewithal of word study in three contexts:

  • word study that includes systematically planned and applied experiences focusing on the elements of letters and words
  • writing, including how children use phoneme-grapheme relationships, word patterns, and principles to develop spelling ability
  • reading, including teaching children how to solve words with the use of phonics and visual-analysis skills as they read for meaning.

Each topic is supported with a variety of practical tools: reproducible sheets for a word study system and for writing workshop; lists of spelling minilessons; and extensive word lists, including frequently used words, antonyms, synonyms, and more. Armed with these tools—and the practice of Gay Su Pinnell and Irene Fountas—teachers can help students develop not just the “essential skills,” but also a joyful appreciation of their own literacy. Explicit professional development is also available in this curriculum.