Lower School Reading

Lower school students spend more than 2.5 hours each day focused on reading. Our goal is to provide students with a literature-rich environment, and we offer students many opportunities to learn and practice reading skills and strategies. 

Through our reading program, we seek to build confidence, independence, and a foundation for long-term academic success.

  • Word study (40 minutes/day): Grades 1 and 2 focus on grammar, phonics, and vocabulary development using the Words Their Way curriculum. Grades 3 and 4 focus on grammar using the Shurley grammar curriculum.
  • Non-fiction reading groups (40 minutes/day): Each student is placed in a reading group based on ability for a highly differentiated non-fiction reading block. Students follow a five-day cycle that includes two opportunities to read a text, instruction around a reading skill, practice of the reading skill, summary paragraph writing, and an enrichment opportunity. We use a Benchmark Education assessment for comprehension that includes pre- and post-testing to ensure teachers have the information they need to challenge each student.
  • Read aloud and literature study (1 hour/day): Our novel study program is aligned to the Common Core standards most critical for students’ development. Students are exposed to a variety of genres such as folktales, fables, mysteries, historical fiction, realistic fiction, and fantasy. They learn strategies for monitoring comprehension, develop vocabulary, and practice reasoning skills by making inferences and using the text to support their opinions. Speaking and listening skills are supported by literature circles, class discussions, and celebrations of learning where children recite stories, poems, and speeches. A Fountas and Pinnell assessment at the beginning of each year gauges fluency, accuracy and comprehension, helping teachers to differentiate instruction.
  • Independent reading (30 minutes/day, with an additional 45 minutes depending upon arrival): Our independent reading program is driven by Accelerated Reader, which helps students select appropriate texts. After completing an assessment at the beginning of the year, students are assigned a reading level. Students take computerized quizzes to demonstrate their comprehension of books they have independently chosen and read, working toward consistent 90% achievement before advancing to the next level.