Grade Level-Specific Language Arts Curriculum Information
First Grade
Second Grade
Third Grade
Fourth Grade
Fifth Grade
Instructional Interventions for Struggling Readers

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K-2 Reading Intervention

Elementary English Language Arts

Early Grades: Kindergarten - 2nd Grade

K-2 Reading Program

el_ela.jpgThe K-2 Literacy Framework consists of reading, writing, and word study.  It is based on the work of Marie Clay, Irene Fountas and Gae Su Pinnell.  Learning to read is a complex process in which the reader integrates visual information on the page with his understanding of how the English language sounds, along with all of the prior experiences he has had with the particular topic.  Children are taught to use these three systems for processing information as they process text. Children in grades K-2 are immersed in four key areas as they learn to read:

            Read-Aloud:  During the read-aloud, the children are not decoding print and so are able to focus on the meaning of the story.  The teacher models how readers respond to literature.  Specific comprehension strategies are taught.  Children learn the meanings of words and ideas that are far beyond their abilities to decode.

            Shared/Modeled Reading:  This activity differs from a read-aloud in that children have access to the printed text.  The teacher models specific decoding strategies as well as teaching concepts about print.  Children learn about one-to-one correspondence, directionality of print, high frequency words, and punctuation, to name a few.  As children mature, they learn strategies to bring meaning to the author's text through choral reading and using punctuation to interpret the author's message.

            Guided Reading:  Children are placed in flexible, fluid small group settings so that the teacher can model and teach specific strategies for interacting with print.  The teacher uses a text at the child's instructional level; that is, the text is too difficult for the child to read independently.  Through her skillful support and introduction of the text, the child is able to be successful.  The make-up of the guided reading group changes frequently as children grow and learn.

            Independent Reading:  Children need many experiences with authentic text in order to build a reading process.  In learning to read, quantity matters a great deal.  Children have daily experiences reading texts at their independent level (easy) to build fluency, to learn a large number of high frequency words, and to gain control of making meaning on the run, while decoding words.


K-2 Writing Program

         As in reading, children learn to write by writing.  Children are taught from the first day of kindergarten that writers write about what they know.  They learn that the purpose of writing is to communicate to an audience, and so all writing needs to convey meaning.  The K-2 writing program is based on the writer's workshop model.  It involves a whole group minilesson, time for children to write individually, and a time for writers to share their writing with each other.  The Ann Arbor Public Schools uses a writing curriculum for K-2 students titled:  Units of Study for Primary Writing  by Lucy Calkins and Colleagues.  Children in grades K-2 spend approximately thirty to sixty minutes of day in the writer's workshop.  Children participate in three key structures:

         Modeled Writing:  Occurring more often in kindergarten, modeled writing provides a mechanism to teach young writers how writers think and plan.  The teacher controls the pen and the writing process, and provides explicit demonstration.  Children see and learn how writers write for different purposes and are exposed to different genres of writing.

         Interactive Writing:  Interactive writing differs from modeled writing in that the teacher and students share control of both the content of the writing, and the mechanics.  Interactive writing can be done in a large or small group setting.  Children begin to take control as the teacher provides support in both creating content and in actual writing.  Children learn, for example, how writers spell words, and how editing is done during the writing process.

         Independent Writing:  Children must write a large quantity in order to understand the writing process.  The writer's workshop model provides large blocks of time for children to be actively engaged in writing.

K-2 Word Study

         Visual analysis of words is a critical aspect of the emergent reading process.  Readers must learn the code of how letters represent sounds, and how these sounds are blended together to make words.  The K-2 Word Study Curriculum, written by Irene Fountas and Gae Su Pinnell,  is called Phonics Lessons.    There are 100 lessons from nine categories of learning for each grade.  These are:    Early Literacy Concepts, Phonological Awareness, Letter Knowledge, Letter/Sound Relationships, Spelling Patterns, High Frequency Words, Word Meaning, Word Structure, and Word-Solving Actions.   Children spend about 15 minutes each day in active involvement with letters and words.  Games and other interactive activities promote use of language and social interactions to enhance understandings.

Upper Grades: 3rd-5th Grade

The Reader's Workshop

35reading.jpgStudents in grades 3-5 participate in a daily, hour-long Reader's Workshop.  The instructional period begins with a brief period of whole-class instruction known as a mini-lesson.  Students are taught strategies for word-solving, or comprehension which they then apply during a 40-45 minute independent reading session.  During this time the teacher meets with small groups for more highly differentiated teaching known as guided reading.  These small-group lessons occur at the student's instructional reading level.  The guided reading component of our literacy framework enables learning to occur at the student's point of instructional need, regardless of grade-level assignment.  Students also respond to their self-selected independent reading text in a weekly reading response letter, which they exchange with their teacher.  The workshop ends with a brief sharing about learning, which is occurring during either independent or guided reading.

Focus for Reading Instruction in the Upper Grades Includes:

  • Skilled reading across multiple genres
  • Maintaining capacity for interaction with text over extended periods of time
  • Literary analysis
  • Reading for learning within the content areas
  • Reading for critical thinking and values-clarification
  • Word solving for context and morphological understanding
  • Reading from an aesthetic stance, i.e., appreciation and enjoyment
  • Reading from an efferent stance, i.e., to obtain information

The Writer's Workshop

Students in Grades 3-5 also participate in a daily, hour-long writing workshop.  The instructional period begins with a brief period of whole-class instruction known as a mini-lesson.  An extended period of writing follows during which the teacher confers with individuals or small groups of students in order to deliver specific and "just in time" instruction.  A short period of sharing and reflection connect and articulate learning across whole-group, small-group, and individualized formats. 

In a year-long sequence of instruction students are taught general strategies for effective writing as well as specific features for the genres they are learning to write in.  Instruction is divided into units of study in which clear examples of effective writing are modeled.  Students are led through phases of pre-writing, drafting, revising, publishing, and assessment.  Each grade has a calendar of writing assignments including, personal narrative, feature article, poetry, fiction, and persuasive essay projects.  Specific genres of writing are often connected to learning within various content areas including Science, Social Studies, and the Reading Workshop.

Word Study in the Upper Grades

Word study in grades 3-5 includes spelling and vocabulary instruction as well as choral reading, responsive reading and reader's theatre.  Formal spelling instruction includes brief lessons regarding patterns and anomalies, game-like and hands-on practice, self-assessment, and a clear and consistent connection between words learned within spelling instruction and application in writing activities across the curriculum.  Rather than whole group memorization of specific words, students are led through activities which expose them to broad principles with differentiated application to each student's particular instructional need.

Vocabulary instruction includes development of an aesthetic appreciation of language through exposure to poetry and explicit instruction, content specific vocabulary instruction, word solving strategies and morphological awareness.

A more complete discussion of our literacy framework is available via the following pdf download: Balanced Literacy Manual 1.9mb PDF


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