English Language Arts (ELA)

    The English Language Arts curriculum at South Buffalo Charter School is aligned to the New York state Common Core Leaning Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy (CCLS) and is delivered with a variety of resources and engaging instruction.

    Fountas & Pinnell Classroom (Kindergarten through grade 2) 

    The Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ Guided Reading Collection is a small-group instructional context in which the teacher supports each reader’s processing of new challenging texts with using thousands of exquisite original texts and lessons for grades K–6. This context is implemented in a small-group setting for teachers to support each reader’s development of their systems of strategic actions for processing new texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty.


    The Fountas & Pinnell benchmark assessment system is used to determine student’s independent and instructional reading levels. Teachers are able to observe student reading behaviors one-on-one, engage in comprehension conversations that go beyond retelling, and make informed decisions that connect assessment to instruction.  The assessment system also provides the teachers with precise tools and texts to observe and quantify specific reading behaviors, and then interpret and use that data to plan meaningful instruction.


    Lucy Calkin’s Writing Workshop (Grade K-8) 

    Units of Study in Writing, Grades K-8 supports explicit instruction in opinion/argument, information, and narrative writing and provide rich opportunities for practice.  Teachers use learning progressions to observe and assess students’ writing, to develop students’ use of self-monitoring strategies, and set them on trajectories of growth.  Provides teachers crystal-clear advice and on-the-job support for teaching efficient and effective writing workshops. Provides a comprehensive, cross-grade curriculum in which skills are introduced, developed, and deepened.  Supports explicit instruction in reading skills and strategies and offers extended time for reading.  Provides strategic performance assessments to help teachers monitor progress, provide feedback, and help students set clear goals for their reading work.  Gives teachers on-the-job guidance in powerful reading workshop teaching.


    Reading and writing workshop is a method of instruction that often requires a paradigm shift, a shift from the teacher making all the choices and telling students what to learn within a text, to students making choices, and through practice and application of skills-based lessons, learning as they read and write. It is teachers conduct an on‐demand writing assessment. The purpose of this assessment is to see what kind of writing students can produce on their own. Therefore, teachers do not guide students through the process. This is not a teaching day, but a day for students to show what they know about writing a narrative piece. These writing pieces are teacher scored with a rubric. From analyzing this data, teachers will begin to develop insight into what their young writers know and can do on their own; where they need additional help; and possible next teaching moves. The same performance task is given after the unit of study has been taught. This is also teacher scored with the same rubric. Analyzing these results show areas of growth and need as students move into the next unit of study.  


    These assessment tools make progress in writing as transparent, concrete, and obtainable as possible and put ownership for this progress into the hands of learners, allowing students and teachers to work toward a very clear image of what good writing entails. 


    Lucy Calkin’s Reading workshop (Grade 3-7, beginning Grade 8 in 2020) 

    Reading Workshop is an instructional practice that will help children grow as readers, speakers, and independent thinkers.


    Through Reading Workshop, teachers will create a literary community excited about reading and engaged in the process of becoming fluent readers and thinkers. Teachers will be able to teach important lessons in all areas of reading – from book choice to building reading stamina to decoding skills to comprehension. Most importantly, teachers will be providing them with time to read and guidance in doing so, key factors in promoting successful readers.


    Reading Workshop is comprised of three components that work together to teach children skills, strategies, and behaviors that will help them grow as readers. Its structure supports children’s development because it incorporates both demonstration, guided practice, and individual practice. Here are the three components: mini lesson, work time and share.


    Reading Workshop is a powerful way to structure reading class. Using this model involves guiding students to choose their own books as well as providing significant amounts of time for them to read independently. The program contains performance assessments to be used before and after each unit of study. Each performance assessment contains an article or a story or two with questions embedded into the texts. The questions ask students to do some work on each of the four skills that are highlighted in the unit. Students self-assess, and the performance assessments cue them into skills they especially need to develop across the unit. The assessments make students extra alert when those skills are taught. The skills that are assessed tend to be the ones that are valued on high-stakes assessments and that are important in life.  






    Tips for reading with your children




    Tips for keeping your middle school child motivated