Literacy, also referred to as English Language Arts (ELA), can be broken down into four primary areas: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking. FACTS utilizes a Readers and Writers workshop model as the basic program for literacy instruction.
What are the parts of the Readers Workshop?
1. Mini-lesson: The teacher delivers a short, ten-fifteen minute interactive lesson, with a focus on the development of reading strategies.
2. Independent Reading Time: During the independent reading portion of the workshop, students read “Just Right Books”, which are books they select that can be read without help. During this time, the teacher engages in reading conferences on an individual basis, or in a small “Strategy Group.” Teachers may also engage in Guided Reading with small groups of students who are at the same level.
3. Sharing: Students are given the opportunity to share something about their book or a strategy they used, with a partner or small group. The teacher may share an example of student work connected to the mini-lesson taught that day. Students may keep a Reader’s Notebook and respond to the literature about what they are reading in terms of what they think or how they feel about it. Some units are “Book Clubs”, which provide students a chance to read the same book and discuss it.
Why use Readers Workshop?
Readers Workshop emphasizes the interaction between readers and text, across a variety of genres. Students learn to ask questions, make connections, and ask questions to clarify faulty comprehension they recognize has occurred. The program includes partner discussions and teacher conferences with students, but emphasizes students’ independence with the goal of becoming successful readers outside of the classroom. In addition to their in-class reading, students are required to read at home every night and parents are asked to support students by signing their reading log.
What is Writers Workshop?
Writers Workshop has a similar format to Readers Workshop. It begins with a brief mini- lesson with the whole class, followed by time for students to write, and ending with a sharing time. Students think about writing, talk about writing, and read about writing, but mostly, engage in the writing process during this time. Writing Workshop also includes instruction in spelling and grammar. Students write across a variety of genres, including narrative, fiction, informational, persuasive, and poetry.
How are other essential literacy skills taught?
Phonics and Spelling: The Fundations program is used for teaching basic phonics and phonemic awareness skills in grades K-2. For more information, go to http://www.fundations.com. The Sitton Spelling and Word Skills program is utilized in grades 3-6 to teach spelling and word study skills.
Vocabulary: New vocabulary is taught during class read-alouds. Students are also taught to identify unknown words and apply strategies to help them understand the word, or use a dictionary to find the meaning. There is also a school-wide Word-of-the-Week program to help students to develop their vocabulary.
Listening: In addition to having regular opportunities to listen to partners and small groups in the classroom, students practice listening skills during mini-lessons and whole class read-alouds. Students are taught strategies for effective listening and note-taking.
Speaking: In addition to having regular opportunities to speak with partners and small groups in the class, there are times when students may be expected to perform or present information in front of the class. Students are taught strategies for speaking loudly, clearly, and fluently.