Reading and Writing

Ms. Hailstone –

Ms. Leahey –

Ms. Moller –

Reading and Writing Workshop

One of the primary goals of Abingdon Elementary is helping each child develop a love for reading and writing. Whether your child is already an avid reader or reluctant to pick up a book, we have wonderful resources to enhance his or her understanding of language arts. Our curriculum is based on The Columbia University Teacher’s College Reading & Writing Project (TCRWP) curriculum merged with Virginia’s Standards of Learning. The Reading & Writing Project allows us to tailor our work to meet each student’s individual needs. Teachers team with TCRWP staff developers from New York City to strengthen their skills in teaching literacy. This on-site training enables our teachers to gain insights and strategies, watch demonstrations, and apply these methods with Abingdon students.

Workshop Model

Lucy Calkins’ workshop model offers components of balanced literacy instruction, taking the best of what real readers and writers do and explicitly teaching these processes to students. Small group instruction is tailored to students’ individual needs. Typically, a reading or writing workshop lesson can includes the following:

  • Mini-lesson: students gather together and the teacher demonstrates an explicit reading or writing strategy.
  • Independent Work: students practice the strategy independently or with a partner.
  • Share: one or more students share their work with the class.

An essential part of reading workshop is small group reading and one-on-one conferences.  Extensive time is provided for independent reading. Students are able to chose their own books during reading time. During writing workshop, children also work independently; from kindergarten onward, children are encouraged to express themselves with paper and pencil.  While students work independently, teachers pull small groups or conference with individuals.

From the Teacher’s College website:

“The mission of the Reading and Writing Project is to help young people become avid and skilled readers, writers, and inquirers. We accomplish this goal through research, curriculum development, and through working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, principals and superintendents. The organization has developed state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching of reading and writing, for using performance assessments and learning progressions to accelerate progress, and for literacy-rich content-area instruction.”

What Is Word Study?

If you’re new to Arlington County schools, you will be wondering why your child brings home little slips of paper, puts them into columns, and calls this his or her “word study” homework. Why is it helpful for students to sort these words? Word study is a research-based, developmentally appropriate way to learn spelling. Instead of giving students lists of words to memorize, word study lets students figure out how to make sense of spelling — and reading — by figuring out letter patterns and sounds. Instead of making every student in a class study the same set of spelling words, our students progress at their own rate, learning what they need to know when they need to know it. Children do this by sorting words into groups, explaining why they go in that group,  writing the words in sentences, hunting for the spelling feature in books, and playing games with the words.

It can also seem odd to parents that we let students misspell some words when they write. We hold children accountable for spelling a word only after they understand the spelling features in that word through their word study. And we learn a lot about what our students know and don’t know by how they misspell their words – what we call “using but confusing” a spelling feature. That helps us decide when they’re ready to move on to a new spelling feature.