MLS International Elementary Program: Reading and Writing
MLS teachers who have been trained in the Lucy Calkin’s workshop method, begin each school year by assessing their students to comprehend the level of text complexity that each child can handle (on a A-Z or 1-70 scale based on the Developmental Reading Assessment) then channeling children towards texts they can read. Students maintain book bags so they can progress from one book to another. Reading is conducted in school and continued at home with the help of these book bags. Upper Elementary students keep reading logs to record data of their progress through books and the time spend reading. They study this data alongside with teachers to ascertain patterns in their reading.
MLS Reader’s Workshop
MLS Reading Workshop has quickly become students’ favourite part of the day. Since the format gives students tools for selecting and comprehending literature, students who were once reluctant to read now find themselves with the skills needed to be successful readers. Over the course of the year, students read many books and are encouraged to do so as good readers explore different genres, authors and texts. The MLS program emphasizes the interaction between readers and texts. Students learn to ask questions, make connections with prior knowledge, previously read text and clarify comprehension.
The program includes peer conferences and teacher conferences with students to emphasizes students’ independence and allows them to become successful readers outside of the classroom. There are several consistent components to the workshop but variations are implemented at different grade levels. Components of the workshop include mini-lessons on some aspect of literature or a reading strategy; Independent Reading Time, where students keeps a journal and respond to the literature in terms of what they think or how they feel about what they are reading; Sharing Time, where students share with another person their journal entries and the other person gives feedback.
During Independent Reading Time, the teacher engages in student conferences on an individual or group basis. Teachers can also engage in guided reading with groups of students who need additional support.
MLS Writer’s Workshop
Writing Workshop is designed for use in all grade levels. Each grade level has specific units of study tailored to meet developmental and curricular needs. Students are given choices in their topic and style of writing. The teacher acts a mentor and author by modeling writing techniques and conferring with students as they move through the writing process.
Direct writing instruction takes place in the form of mini-lesson at the beginning of each workshop and is followed by a minimum of 45 minute of active writing time then ends with a sharing of students work. An extensive leveled reading library that provides students with a wide variety of texts at all reading levels supports MLS’s literacy program. The library is also supported by a subscription to an online library where thousands of books based on students level and interests can be printed to be used both inside and outside of school.
During the writing workshop, students are invited to live, work and learn as writers. They learn to observe their lives and the world around them while collecting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing well-crafted narrative and expository texts. Students receive direct instruction in the form of a mini lessons and a mid-workshop teaching point. The teacher explicitly names a skill that proficient writers use that is within reach for most of the class, then demonstrates the skill and provides students with a brief interval of guided practice using it. Students are also given time to write, applying the skills and strategies they’ve learnt to their own writing projects. As students write, the teacher provides feedback that is designed to move students along trajectories of development. The feedback is given through one-on-one conferences and small group instruction, which includes instructional compliments and teaching. The teacher helps a writer imagine what the next challenge is, and equips that writer with the skills and strategies necessary to begin tackling that new frontier.
MLS International’s Portfolio Day at the end of the year is a chance for students to celebrate their achievements as authors of a wide range of genres from personal narratives to persuasive texts.