3rd - 5th Grade Curriculum
AACPS embraces a balanced approach to literacy instruction at the elementary level; whole language and phonics instruction are both valued. A compilation of learning blocks work in tandem to address the variety of needs of developing readers and writers. These include:
- Writer’s Workshop
Writer’s Workshop is an innovative approach to teaching writing that is built around student choice and ownership. Writer’s Workshop follows the gradual release of responsibility, or mini-lesson model. During Writer’s Workshop, the teacher begins with explicit instruction on the writing standards and then gives students an opportunity to “try out” the skill or strategy under the teacher’s supervision. As students write independently, the teacher works with small groups of students or individual students to provide differentiated instruction around a skill or strategy that students apply to their own writing.
- Guided Reading
Teachers work with small, homogenously grouped groups of students on the same instructional level as defined by the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment. The grade level standards used to drive instruction correspond to the instructional level of the students. This differentiated instructional time provides teachers an opportunity to target students’ precise strengths and needs as developing readers.
- Interactive Read Aloud
During Interactive Read Aloud, texts are typically on or above the average level of the students in the class. The teacher reads the text to the students, which allows students an opportunity to engage in concepts and ideas presented in texts that they would not be able to access independently. The teacher models authentic thinking through “think alouds” and serves as the facilitator by posing a series of scaffolded questions to students who engage in “turn and talks” throughout the read aloud. The students play an active and significant role in processing the text.
- Explicit Comprehension
The primary goal of the Explicit Comprehension is to provide students with tools, skills, and strategies to enhance their understanding, or comprehension, of texts. In this ten to fifteen minute block, teachers use previously visited texts to teach skills and strategies that support student mastery of on-grade level standards. Through the mini-lesson model, the teacher explicitly models for students and invites students to actively engage in the process while the teacher formatively assesses their understanding of the task. At the conclusion of the mini-lesson, students independently apply the learned skill or strategy to a new text.