The goal of our reading program is develop close reading habits and to instill a love of reading for a variety of texts including fiction, nonfiction, periodicals, poetry and plays. In a literature-rich environment, children are exposed not only to different types of texts but also to different writing styles through author studies and small group reading instruction. Emphasis is placed on both analytic thinking and comprehension strategies which are developed through reading many different genres of texts and rich group discussions.
Our reading curriculum is informed by literature units and comprehension strategies developed by the William and Mary School of Education Center for Gifted Education. These materials are designed specifically for gifted students to help them move from lower order, concrete thinking skills to higher order, critical thinking skills. Through small group work and challenging but age-appropriate reading materials, we ensure that lessons are targeted to each student’s needs so that their learning can continue no matter what stage they are at. Students engage with the Daily 5 reading centers which include: working with the teachers in small groups; digging deeper into comprehension by writing about their reading; listening to reading; reading aloud to peers; and discovering the patterns which govern spelling. In addition, students participate in Literature Circles to work on independence and comprehension skills and practice fluency through participation in Reader’s Theater.
The goal of the writing program is to provide a supportive, authentic environment that encourages students to take risks and write from a variety of perspectives and for a variety of purposes: to entertain, to inform and to persuade. As a springboard, Feynman School uses both the Writer’s Workshop program developed by Columbia University Teacher’s College and the literature units developed by the William and Mary School of Education Center for Gifted Education.
As part of our Writer’s Workshop, students work as professional authors do, cycling through the stages of the writing process and receiving feedback that is essential to growth. Students are given the autonomy to choose their writing topics which enables them to take ownership of their learning. They observe their lives and the world around them while collecting, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing well-crafted narrative and expository texts. Emphasis is placed on the importance of multiple drafts and revisions and students are encouraged to listen to each other’s ideas and offer suggestions to help improve their own as well as their peers’ writing. Through mini-lessons, small group discussion, and one-on-one conferences, students build their repertoire of writing skills in a supportive and authentic environment. Writing is always celebrated through our Author’s Chair when students read aloud their finished pieces to an audience of their peers.