English Language Arts (ELA)


    The English Language Arts curriculum at South Buffalo Charter School is aligned to the New York State Next Generation English Language Arts Learning Standards and is delivered with a variety of resources and engaging instruction.


    Lucy Calkins’s Phonic Workshop (Kindergarten through grade 2) 

    Units of Study in Phonics, Grades K-2 provide a lean and concise instructional pathway in phonics that is realistic and doable, and that taps into kids’ skills and energy for tackling the fabulous challenge of learning to read and write. Students are introduced to high-leverage phonics concepts and strategies in a way that keeps pace with students' reading and writing and helps them understand when, how, and why they can use phonics to read and write. It offers delightfully fun and engaging storylines, classroom mascots, songs, chants, rhymes, and games to help students fall head over heels in love with phonics and to create a joyous community of learners. Lastly, it aligns with state-of-the-art reading and writing workshops for a coherent approach in which terminology, tools, rituals, and methods are shared in ways that benefit both teachers and children.


    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 provides 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.  Teachers provide 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 when 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 written by the teacher's 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 teacher is also scored with the same rubric. Analyzing these results shows 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 K-8) 

    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 includes performance assessments to be used before and after each unit of study. Each performance assessment includes 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.