Children learn to read and write by reading and writing. Yet, in typical classrooms only 10% of a
90-minute literacy block is spent actually reading or writing. At Thrive, we spend quality time reading and writing real texts for real purposes. Because we are not overwhelmed by curriculum or test prep, we don't need to rush out of reading or writing a great story. Another reason we can make the best use of time? WE NEVER HAVE MORE THAN 6 CHILDREN IN A CLASS!
High-Quality Children's Books
Good books are at the core of what we do at Thrive. Simply put, teaching children to read and write using the best children's books gives you the "biggest bang for your buck." Not only are children learning reading and writing strategies within a meaningful context, but they are each taking something different from a good book- a life lesson, exposure to different cultures, an awakening to an experience that is different from their own. The book matters. Children need to be able to choose books based on interest and ability. Teachers need to choose the best book for the strategy they are trying to teach. Bottom line...children need to love to read, to learn to read.
Repetoire of Strategies
Reading and writing are complex processes. It is important that we clearly express these processes to our students. We need to name the strategies that effective readers and writers utilize, model and guide them in how to use these strategies, and then provide practice at their level. At Thrive, we ask the children to think about the process & use their critical thinking skills, using questions like...
"What do strong and careful readers do when they are struggling to figure out words?"
"What do strong and careful readers do when they think about their reading?"
"What do strong and careful readers do when they get confused?"
"What do real authors do well in their writing?"
"How do we use patterns to spell words?"
...is not only about teaching students on the basis of what they need, it's about teaching them on the basis of how they learn. At Thrive, we engage in a formative assessment process, one in which our constant observation and reflection is informing and adjusting our instruction. With only four to six children in a class whose strengths and needs are constantly being monitored, we spend more time on what individuals are interested in and need, and less time on what they don't. You can't do this with prescribed reading programs. At Thrive, we know that reading programs don't teach students to read and write, teachers do.
You'd be amazed at how many children come to us without a voice of their own. They can't speak to what books they like to read or what their goals are to get to the next level. As writers, they can't identify their strengths and challenges or add "voice" to their own writing. In classrooms today, we don't hear student's voices as much as we should. Children should be taught how to have thoughtful conversations about books, every day. In our small group of four to six, everyone's voices are heard. At Thrive, we prioritize voice. Finding it, and using it.
It's purposeful that we capitalize this one... it's the leg on which all others stand. Environment is the foundation to all of the successful teaching and learning at Thrive. We strive to build a physical environment that looks and feels like home, with cozy spaces, walls that talk, and a warm, nurturing teacher to encourage and inspire. We know that when kids are comfortable, engaged, motivated, and have access to the best books and tools...they will learn.