Curriculum Coordinator for English Language Arts

Maryann McGillivray

Our mission in the Killingly Public Schools Public Schools is to create a community in which reading, writing, speaking, listening, and thinking serve as the foundation for life-long learning.

We Believe…

•    All children should view themselves as readers and writers.

•    Children need to be engaged in authentic daily reading and writing activities.

•    Children learn best when affirmed and celebrated in a supportive and caring environment.

•    Placing appropriate demands and expectations on each child builds self-esteem and results in greater personal success.

•   Literacy means not only to read, write, speak, and listen, but also to use language to learn, think, and communicate effectively.

•    Classrooms need to be print-rich and to contain a wide variety of reading materials, resources, and technology to support a child’s literacy development.  

Children need to enjoy reading and writing and develop life-long literacy habits.


Our Approach… The Workshop Model 

·      The goal of the Reading and Writing Workshop Model is to personalize instruction in order to accommodate the learning needs of all students while fostering a love for reading and writing. Students are involved in authentic reading experiences that continually focus on the strengths and needs of individuals.  

Structure of the Workshop Model… 

·      Mini Lesson that includes explicit modeling and guided practice. 

·      Interactive Read –Aloud.  

 ·     Independent Reading and Writing Time  

·      Conferences

·      Group Sharing

Components of Reader's Workshop

Small Group Instruction

This portion of the workshop is designed to help students learn how to problem solve increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency. The teacher works with small groups of students reading at similar levels, selects and introduces texts to readers, supports individual students as they read instructional level texts , and engages the readers in a discussion after reading. These groups are flexible and students are grouped and regrouped according to ongoing observation and assessment by the teacher. The teacher helps students learn to use reading strategies, such as context clues, letter and sound knowledge, and syntax or word structure, as they read a text or book that is unfamiliar to them. The goal of small group instruction in reading is for students to use these strategies independently on their way to becoming fluent, skilled readers.

Shared Reading

Shared reading allows students to participate in reading material that may be beyond their reading levels (frustration level). All children can easily see the text and illustrations, and the teacher and students together read and think about the story or poem. Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience. Children join in the reading of a big book or other enlarged text as guided by a teacher. Student interactivity is the distinguishing feature of Shared Reading versus Reading Aloud. Shared reading models the reading process and strategies used by readers. The teacher deliberately draws attention to the print and models early reading behaviors such as moving from left to right and word-by-word matching. Shared Reading creates a risk-free environment, allowing children to focus on the enjoyment of the story.

Strategy Groups

The teacher works with a small group of students on a particular skill, such as fluency or summarizing. The students in the group may be reading at the same level, or different levels. The teacher begins by explaining the strategy they will be working on and then "coaching" each student as they practice the skill with their own book. Like Guided Reading groups, these groups are flexible and students are regrouped according to need.

Book Clubs

Students work in small groups or "clubs" to study a certain genre, such as mystery, fantasy, historical fiction, or books with strong social issues. Each club reads the same book, writes about the story, and has discussions to share their ideas. Students must work cooperatively to set goals for their reading, and for their discussions.

To read more about Reader's Workshop visit the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, located at Teachers College, Columbia University website

Components of Writer's Workshop

Mini Lesson

The mini-lesson offers students direct instruction on an explicit strategy for writing. The specific strategies for each day are selected by teachers based upon what their assessments have revealed about their students. During the mini-lesson, students are asked first to observe a demonstration of the strategy, and then they are asked to try a bit of that strategy right there during the lesson. This is a quick, guided practice for students in which they can receive immediate feedback from both their classmates and their teacher. The mini-lesson is short, usually around ten minutes long. There are fundamental traits of all good writing and students write well when they learn to apply these traits.

Independent  Writing

Students then move into their independent writing time which constitutes the bulk of time in the writing workshop.
Students independently practice the strategies for writing they have learned in writing workshop. During this time, the teacher meets individually with students for a writing conference or meets with three to four students for small group work. Conferences and small group work provide students with individualized instruction based upon each student’s need. Students receive both direct instruction and guided practice time during these sessions. To write well, writers need ample time to write about meaningful topics every day.

Share Session

The share session at the end of the workshop provides students with an opportunity to share and support work in progress. Students may share their writing with a partner or small group and get feedback on a question or technique. The teacher may use some of the share time to teach an additional lesson that further develops the strategy introduced during the mini-lesson. The class may come together to look at a piece of writing from a professional writer and read it together to gather ideas for what they themselves might try in their own pieces. The share session is a time for writers to come together to share their work, explore possibilities, and make plans for what they will do next with their writing.
Writing and reading are joined processes, and students learn best when writing and reading instruction are coordinated. Ongoing, built-in book study provides exemplary texts on which students model their own writing. In reading, students learn to make meaning from published authors’ writing; in writing, students learn to write so as to convey meaning to their readers.