Core Literacy Instruction


Lucy Calkins’ 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.

What’s 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..Lucy Calkins


Word Study


Jan Richardson Guided Reading