Here at Octorara Elementary School, we strive toward a BALANCED LITERACY approach in our ELA curriculum, which has several components:

  • READING WORKSHOP consists of a teacher-led mini-lesson, student independent strategic reading (ISR) time, and partner/teaching share time.  During ISR time, teachers progress monitor individual student fluency and comprehension.  Teachers also confer with individual students about their independent reading.

  • GUIDED READING GROUPS/SMALL GROUP INSTRUCTION during which teachers work with small groups of students using text at the groups’ instructional reading levels.  This small group instructional time is when our Title I Reading Assistants and Specialists push in to the classrooms to work with our Title I readers.

  • WORD STUDY is our phonics, spelling, and vocabulary study that is differentiated based on students’ developmental spelling stage.  Our word study involves word sorting and other activities that incorporate individual, partner, and whole group instruction.

  • INTERACTIVE READ ALOUD is an opportunity for the teacher to read aloud text to students to model not only fluent reading, but to also demonstrate how good readers use strategies to comprehend text.  During this time, teachers model and provide opportunities for students to ‘turn and talk’ about the text with one another.  Oftentimes, the interactive read aloud is incorporated into the Reading Workshop mini-lesson.

  • WRITING WORKSHOP generally follows the same model as Reading Workshop.  It begins with a mini-lesson, includes independent writing time with individual student/teacher conference, and ends with a teaching share time.

One of THE MOST IMPORTANT things parents can do to help support their student’s reading and writing fluency and comprehension is to ensure their student is reading lots and lots of books at their independent reading level daily.  A text on a student’s  independent reading level is a text that can be read with 96% accuracy (meaning only 4 mistakes for every 100 words) and with good comprehension.  We want reading to be ‘fast and fun,’ not an exercise in frustration.  We want READING TO BECOME A HABIT!

We have several incentive programs in place here at OES in an effort to provide students with plenty of choices of text at their independent reading levels AND to encourage reading at home. 


About every 6 weeks, each classroom is given 200-300 books categorized by genre at various reading levels.  Students may choose from these books for their independent reading time.  Classrooms that have 100% return of the books have the opportunity to earn the “Golden Bookmark” award as well as individual dog tag awards.


Teachers in each class are on the lookout for students who are becoming Ravenous in their reading.  These students are honored once a month in a building announcement and special celebration song.


In an effort to build our oral reading fluency this year, we have weekly poems for each grade that are distributed to each classroom.  Students practice these or other short passages in class and at home.  Every Friday morning, we have “Fluency Friday” where alternating grades send out 1-2 readers into the hall to find “Lucky Listeners” that will listen to their reading.  These Lucky Listeners are faculty and staff from the entire building and they always make sure the readers walk away with a poem for their pocket.


Title I Reading students have been invited this year to be part of a monthly Breakfast Book Club.  If they are chosen to participate, they all receive the same book to read and are invited to come talk about the book with the other club members over breakfast.