Literacy Curriculum at P.S. 51


P.S. 51 utilizes a balanced literacy approach to teaching reading and writing. Literacy components include reading and writing workshops, guided reading, independent reading, shared reading, read-alouds, shared and interactive writing, and word study. We use the workshop model of teaching with a focus on reading comprehension. Literacy support is provided by the in house Literacy Coach and an outside staff developer. Reading and Writing Units are based on the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project units of study. The units complement our social studies and science curriculum and are integrated studies using project-based learning.

The units are aligned with the Common Core Standards. Students are assessed using the Fountas & Pinnell reading assessment system. The assessment results are entered on the online data management system throughout the year. Teachers are expected to assess their students and enter the results of the assessments on time. Students who are in the lower third of the class will need to be assessed more often. Teachers are also expected to analyze the assessments and to use them to inform their instruction.

Literacy performance assessments, developed by the Department of Education or Teachers College, will be administered to all students. Additional performance assessments will be created by teachers for each unit of study. We will develop pre- and post- assessments, analyze the assessments, and use the students’ performance on these assessments to guide our instruction. Writing rubrics are used to assess published pieces of writing for each writing unit in grades 1-5. Kindergarten assesses their students’ published writing with checklists that they developed for each unit. 

Word Study- a combination of phonics, spelling, and vocabulary.

Kindergarten- Fundations

Fundations is a phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling program.
Teachers incorporate a 30-minute daily
Fundations lesson into their language arts classroom instruction. Fundations lessons focus on carefully sequenced skills that include print knowledge, alphabet awareness, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, fluency, and spelling. Critical thinking, speaking and listening skills are practiced during storytime activities. Fundations is a multisensory approach that teaches students to “tap out” sounds. The program also has teachers model with “Echo” the owl puppet directing students to repeat sounds, words, and sentences. Fundations teaches skills explicitly and systematically. It also provides direction for teachers to meet individual student needs and assessments to monitor students throughout the program.

Grades 1-4- Words Their Way
Words Their Way helps students develop a general knowledge of English spelling. They learn how to examine words through active exploration using a hands-on, manipulative approach. Students also discover generalizations about spelling, instead of just spelling rules. They learn the regularities, patterns, and conventions of English orthography needed to read and spell. Words Their Way is composed of leveled workbooks (A, B, C). Students are assessed in the beginning of the school year to determine which leveled book is appropriate for them. This means that there may be three levels of students in one class. Level A is the least difficult, teaching concepts such as letter sounds, initial, ending, and middle sounds, etc. Level B is the mid-level, teaching concepts such as chunks, blends, silent e, etc. Level C is the most difficult, teaching concepts such as compound words, plural endings, open/closed syllables, etc. Words Their Way has a teacher resource guide, which will give ideas for lessons and ways to teach concepts/vocabulary found in the workbooks. The workbooks have letter/word sorts based on each concept, drawing exercises, and writing words exercises. This allows students to actively explore the concepts and teachers may use these activities for assessments.

Vocabulary Grade 4- Wordly Wise

Wordly Wise is a vocabulary program geared at improving reading comprehension. The program consists of interactive vocabulary lessons taught by teachers (see teacher resource book), student workbooks, and student assessments. Some skills and strategies that Wordly Wise teaches include, but are not limited to, vocabulary development, reading comprehension, critical thinking, dictionary skills, word usage, context clues, multi-meaning words, analogies, and word origins. Wordly Wise is taught 2-3 times per week. Free online resources, including student reinforcement activities, can be found at .

Literacy Intervention at PS51

PS51 uses 3 tiers of interventions for students who are struggling to meet grade level standards in their classrooms. Tier 1 interventions are done in the classroom by the classroom teacher, Tier 2 interventions are done outside of the classroom by an out of classroom teacher (Literacy Coach, Reading Recovery teacher, SETSS teacher), and Tier 3 is special education.

Tier 1

Tier 1 interventions are implemented in the classroom for students struggling in literacy. Examples of some Tier 1 interventions are increased guided reading groups, increased conferences, developing individual tools for the student to refer to, success charts, etc.

Tier 2

The teacher refers the student to the Academic Intervention Team (AIT). The teacher and the AIT will determine Tier 2 interventions appropriate for the student. Tier 2 interventions include, but are not limited to, Fundations and the Wilson Reading System (see below).

Tier 3

The teacher refers the child once again to the AIT. Together the teacher and the AIT will determine if the student should be evaluated to receive an IEP, which is Tier 3 intervention.

Tier 2 Literacy Intervention Kindergarten and 1st Grade

In Kindergarten and 1st Grade, PS 51 uses the Fundations program for a Tier 2 intervention. Fundations is a multisensory phonological/phonemic awareness, phonics and spelling program. Fundations lessons focus on carefully sequenced skills that include print knowledge, alphabet awareness, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, fluency, and spelling. Critical thinking, speaking and listening skills are practiced during storytime activities as well. Fundations places an emphasis on systematic phonics, the study of word structure and includes the skill development of letter formation, sound mastery, irregular (tricky) words, comprehension, and written composition.

Tier 2 Literacy Intervention Grades 2-5

The Wilson Reading System is used in grades 2-5. The Wilson Reading System (WRS) is a multisensory reading and writing program. The basic purpose of the Wilson Reading System is to teach students fluent decoding and encoding skills to the level of mastery. From the beginning steps of the program, it also includes sight word instruction, fluency, vocabulary, oral expressive language development and comprehension. Wilson directly teaches the structure of words in the English language with an organized and sequential system with 12 steps. Steps 1 and 2 emphasize phonemic segmentation skills (the ability to separate the sounds in a word) and blending the sounds together again. Initially utilizing monosyllabic words, a student learns to segment sounds within words. Beginning in Step 3, multisyllabic words are used and the student is systematically taught to segment syllables in words. Steps 4-6 teach vowel-consonant-e syllables, open syllables, suffix endings, and consonant-le syllables. The students have extensive practice with controlled vocabulary for decoding and spelling application. Comprehension is addressed with vocabulary work and through the development of visualization skills with the reading of literature to students. Mastery, including fluent application, is required for progression at each step. Instruction after Step 6 combines continued "word attack" and spelling work with comprehension and an emphasis on the application of skills with non-controlled text as well as controlled text. In steps 7-12, r-controlled syllable, vowel teams, and complex word structure is taught. 

Month To Month Reading And Writing

Cross Grade Conventions