Readers and Writers Workshop

Throughout WT’s Lower School, you’ll find readers soaring to new heights through our Readers and Writers Workshop. This pedagogical approach provides each child with a personalized reading program. And as they develop and strengthen their literacy skills, lower school students are granted increasing independence and the freedom to deepen their learning on a variety of self-selected subjects. It’s a powerful combination that not only tailors each student’s literacy learning, but also differentiates each student’s educational experience.

At the beginning of first grade, David was an eager reader who longed to read a “chapter book.” But his skills were emerging; it would take time and practice for his abilities to match his desire. Through tailored instruction with just enough difficulty to provide reachable challenges, he steadily acquired phonics skills and developed word recognition, fluency, and comprehension. Motivated by his success and his growing love of literature, he quickly jumped from one reading level to the next. By mid-year, he had exceeded end-of-year expectations. By year end, he was one of the strongest readers in his class.

A Student-Teacher Ratio of 5:1

Whether a child comes to Kindergarten reading chapter books or just beginning to sound out words, the faculty identifies what each child needs and takes him or her to the next level. And the program cultivates and enriches each child’s special talents and passions.

That’s because WT’s program boasts three or four teachers in each classroom during instructional reading periods—a student-teacher ratio of roughly 5:1. Through close observation, teachers quickly identify a student’s readiness to move ahead, so students can be advanced as soon as they are ready, rather than waiting for peers to “catch up.”

A Differentiated Learning Experience

As they advance, students at our private elementary school use their burgeoning skills to explore the things they want to learn about. Rather than basal readers, they are encouraged to select books that inspire them and challenge them to a new level of reading proficiency.

After second grade, the focus shifts from learning to read to reading to learn. Students in third, fourth, and fifth grade explore and extend literary structures, including figurative language, imagery, simile, metaphor, and complex themes and plotlines in individual and small group settings.

They read and discuss books together, moving conversations beyond comprehension to thoughts about characters and connections to their own lives. Through Readers and Writers Workshop, WT students develop the ability to analyze, synthesize, and engage in reflective discourse that deepens their learning and builds critical thinking skills.