English Language Arts (K-8)
The Cranbury School District utilizes a structured literacy approach in grades K-2 that integrates the newest science of reading (SOR) practices with the best of balanced literacy. We believe in the importance of providing the best possible start through a foundational skills program (K-2) that addresses the many threads of Scarborough's reading rope.
Students in K-2 receive whole group instruction with Sadlier's Phonics to Reading program, as well as targeted, explicit skill based, small group instruction based on Walpole & McKenna's Differentiated Reading Instruction research. We believe a strong foundation and a research based method in letter formation through an aligned SOF program, Handwriting without Tears supports all learners. Additionally, elements of balanced literacy are infused through aspects of the Teachers College Reading Writing Project's Units of Study. Our K-2 classroom libraries are also rich in high interest decodable texts, as well as leveled ( F&P) books to support literacy instruction.
The Teachers College Reading and Writing (TCRWP) Units of Study curriculum serves as the one of the core aspects of the 3-5 reading/writing program. We believe that workshop pedagogy produces “joyful engagement with literacy” for our students. Reading Writing workshop instructional methods are founded on the principles of student agency and independent choice. One of the most recognizable features of any workshop classroom is the emphasis on providing long stretches of independent reading and writing time to children, and through productive struggle, become discerning readers and writers, as well as “expert, critical thinkers.” In addition, students in grades 2-4 spend part of the literacy block engaged in focused word study activities through the Words Their Way (Pearson) program elements.
The TCRWP, as it is commonly known, is a think tank, field-based research team, and provider of literacy curriculum and professional development for teachers. The mission of the TCRWP “is to support young people, teachers, and families in order to develop future generations of expert, passionate, and critical thinkers— young people who use literacy to speak out and to live as engaged, curious, justice-seeking citizens in the world. We aim to create and support teaching that is anti-racist and anti-oppressive, teaching that fosters democratic engagement, empathy, and inclusivity.”
To demonstrate authentic support of these goals, in 2018, our District purchased (and continuously updates), diverse, leveled/unleveled, genre and interest based K-8 classroom libraries, curated by a team of literacy experts and librarians from TCRWP. The books in our classroom libraries are designed to both support the classroom independent reading routines, and to travel home weekly with students in their personal book baggie. During the foundational years (K-2), the classroom libraries also include the most up-to-date engaging decodable texts, picture books, and leveled readers. We encourage students to read at least twenty minutes per day. Bedtime is the perfect time for the entire family to unplug, and to close the day with a print based book.
In 2018, the District became a Partnership School with the Teachers College Reading Writing Project (TCRWP) at Columbia University, reinforcing our belief in continuous professional development for teachers. As a partnership school, we have access to the newest research in the field of reading and writing, additional resources not available to the public, as well as the unique benefit of developing relationships with staff developers who visit our school to coach our teaching staff in all aspects of literacy instruction.
In grades six through eight, our curriculum relies on a traditional approach to the study of major works of literature and nonfiction that represent the best foundation for secondary level literature and writing instruction. Writing instruction is based on the process approach. We believe in building background knowledge, comprehension strategies, and vocabulary through the study of challenging core texts. Students take part in authentic research, performance based assessments, and personalized learning modules of study and have both formal and informal opportunities to write in all modes. Additionally, all students self-select a full length fiction/nonfiction text during one unit of study each year, reading at their just right level and engaging in workshop activities with their peers. The middle school curriculum is further enhanced through the addition of Study Sync, a digital ELA platform that offers highly engaging, multi-media digital access to differentiated, targeted skills instruction in all aspects of literacy.
K-5 TCRWP Units of Study Curriculum Maps
Grades 6-8: Pacing Guides
EdReports on the efficacy of Wiley Blevins' (K-2) Sadlier Phonics to Reading
EdReports on the efficacy of (6-8) Study Sync
The Value of Productive Struggle with Lucy Calkins...learn more about how to step back in order to accelerate your child's development
How to Grow your Child's Executive Functioning Skills ....with Shanna Schwartz, Senior Staff Developer with TCRWP... learn more about how to support your child's self-management and study skills
If you have questions about the ELA curriculum at the Cranbury School, you are invited to contact Elizabeth Grimaldi, Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction (Literacy) at [email protected]