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    Throughout their time at Whittier, students are exposed to a wide variety of children’s literature and non-fiction texts. Reading comprehension and higher-level thinking are built into all subjects at each grade level. We are dedicated to ensuring that students master their reading and writing skills. A Literacy Specialist is available four days a week to provide targeted support to students who need an extra boost in reading and writing. 

    Whittier employs the Center for the Collaborative Classroom curriculum which our district adopted in 2017. This curriculum has three components, Being A Reader, Making Meaning and Being A Writer. Being A Reader is taught in grades K-3 and focuses on building decoding skills in our young readers. Making Meaning is our K-5 comprehension curriculum and Being A Writer teaches writing skills across every grade level.

    Being A Reader is taught to small groups so teachers can help each child build their decoding skills starting with what they know. Phonological awareness (understanding and putting together sounds to construct words) is another essential piece of this curriculum and helps our most vulnerable readers. The systematic approach of the Being A Reader program ensures that students practice and generalize the phonics rules of the English language in order to be successful readers as texts become increasingly complex. Regular assessments are a part of this program, allowing teachers to develop an understanding of student progress and adjust their instruction to ensure student growth.
     
    Making Meaning is a K-5, whole class curriculum which focuses on comprehension strategies in group conversations, in partner discussions and individually.  Students are provided ready access to level-appropriate books in their classroom, and are given time daily to read and practice reading and comprehension strategies independently.
    Instruction blends whole-group, small needs-based groups, and individual conferring to guide readers through the application of decoding skills and five basic comprehension strategies:
        - determining what is important;
        - drawing inferences;
        - using prior knowledge;
        - asking questions;
        - creating mental images.
     
    Making Meaning gives students tools for selecting and comprehending literature and encourages them to explore different genres, authors, and texts. The program emphasizes the interaction between readers and text. Students learn to make connections with prior knowledge and previously-read texts, and ask clarifying questions when they recognize faulty comprehension.
     
    Being a Writer provides a full year of research-based whole-class writing instruction for grades K–6. Using a workshop model, the Being a Writer program teaches the writing process while developing intrinsic motivation for the craft of writing through immersion in the narrative, informational, and opinion/argumentative writing genres. Instruction encourages students to write regularly with passion and intent as it builds an understanding of and appreciation for the skills and conventions of writing. Like Making Meaning, social skills instruction in embedded in this curriculum as students learn to listen, give feedback and work with partners and teams to accomplish shared goals.
    In the Being A Writer program, students are exposed to a variety of writing styles (e.g., narrative, expository, persuasive, creative, and fiction), and learn to incorporate the 6 traits of writing:
        - content;
        - organization;
        - voice;
        - fluency;
        - word choice; and
        - conventions.
     
    Students are invited to live, work, and learn as writers; to observe their lives and the world around them as inspiration for their writing. Students receive direct instruction in mini-lessons—the teacher models a writing strategy and students follow up by practicing the strategy independently. They confer with their teacher and collaborate with other students to revise, edit, publish, and celebrate their work.
     
    Thanks to a generous gift from the PTA in early 2017, we have provided each classroom with its own F&P assessment kit, so teachers no longer need to share sets and coordinate testing. This makes it easier for teachers to assess their students whenever they want (at least three times a year), to track growth and adjust reading goals.