You are on page 1of 15


1st Grade Literacy Plan

By: Melissa Tourangeau
ED 325

For whom this concerns,

I am pleased that you selected me to be a part of the elite group of candidates for the first
grade position at your elementary school. During my time at Alverno I have learned many things
about literacy planning that I would be excited to apply to the classroom setting. As a part of the
final interview process I have attached my literacy plan that I have created. I thank you for this

Melissa Tourangeau

Philosophy Statement
I believe that the education experience should be a place where children are engaged in
the classroom and the material presented. By making subject matters interesting and age specific
students will be more likely to remember lessons, learn faster, and participate in the classroom.
This philosophy can be supported by Cambournes model of literacy learning (Conditions for
Learning). He presents that children need seven conditions for learning to occur. These
conditions are; immersion, demonstration, expectations, responsibility, use, approximation,
response, and engagement. I feel that engagement is one of the most important conditions that a
student needs to have to learn because the other conditions rely on the student paying attention
and being willing to work. All factors that are part of Cambournes theory are needed for true
Also part of Cambourne theory is demonstration. I believe that modeling appropriate
behaviors of reading and writing is important in the classroom. Students learn through seeing
how others do activities. When teachers show students how to read and write they give students
an example to follow when they try to read and write. This is especially important for students
who come from English as second language background because these students do not observe
the process of reading and writing in English as much as other students do. Some of their parents
might not know how to write or read the English language so they might only be exposed to it in
A good way to implement modeling in the classroom is through workshops. A teacher can
model what she/he expects students to do. Then students will go off and attempt that activity by
themselves. This is a good time to conference one on one with students that might be struggling
with reading or writing. Guided lessons could be taught to a small group or individuals that need

extra help. This is a good use of time because some students could work on reading and writing
independently while others can receive the help that they need to advance.
In literacy learning a child needs scaffolding assistance from the teacher to progress in
learning. This can be seen in Vygotskys theory of the gradual release of responsibility (Atherton
2013). Vygotsky believed that teachers should provide support for their students when they need
it the most in achieving task. Later the teacher would gradually give the responsibility of learning
and doing tasks to the student. I feel that Vygotsky does a good job in explaining how a teacher
can release the responsibility to the student. Also, I feel that it is very important for a teacher to
understand where students are at in their literacy so they can apply the best scaffolding technique
for the student.
Creating a Community of Learning
The teachers role in the classroom is very important, not only because they need to teach
children how to learn, but they also need to create a community of learners. In the beginning of
the year it is the role of the teacher to break the ice to his/her students. He/she should ask the
students their names and a little background about themselves like favorite food, games, sports,
TV, books etc. This not only helps the teacher see what interests the students have it also allows
students to hear common interests that other students have. Teachers also need to create an
inviting environment so students feel safe to participate in classroom activities. This can be done
by using encouraging language, modeling appropriate behavior, and having students be active
participants in the learning experience.
Each learner in the classroom excels in different ways. Teachers should provide multiple
types of assessments that would assess different skills that students have. Many students struggle
in school because the type of assessment is not aligned with the type of learning style that they

have. By allowing for students different types of assessments students that do not excel at tests
can show other strengths in the classroom. Vygotsky believed that providing needed support for
students that are struggling is an important role of the teacher (Atherton 2013). This would help
students grow stronger in areas that they need help in, and students can do tasks with support of
the teacher that they would not be able to do by themselves.
Students would act in a respectful manner to both the teacher and other students in a
community of learners. They would be open to others ideas. They would also be able to express
their own beliefs. Students would be able to work independently on tasks while being able to
understand what is expected of them. All students will have an opportunity to show their strength
and build on their weaknesses. Providing multiple activities would allow for diversity of voices
in the classroom. Some students would feel stronger talking about one subject more than another.
Range of Reading and Writing Behaviors
Students in the first grade have a range of different reading and writing behaviors.
Children are of ages 6-7 years old. Both of these ages have different styles that are comfortable
for them when reading and writing. This is because children of different ages have different
developmental levels of learning.
In the yardsticks book by Chip Wood it explains that children of different age groups
have different preferences on how to read and write. Children at age six like more of a communal
reading and writing experience. They enjoy partner reading, working in small or groups when
doing guided reading. At age six most students are still learning phonics, and learning about
different genres of literature (Wood 2007). On the contrary, seven year old students like more
solo reading and enjoy quiet spaces. Seven year olds are working more on phonics and reading
comprehension (Wood 2007).

Students also differ in abilities in writing. Students at age six are developing stories
based more on the pictures that are drawn rather than the written words. Also while they are
writing their handwriting can hard to read because their spacing between words can be
unpredictable. Students at seven have longer stories. These stories usually have a beginning
middle and end. The story is based more off of word content than pictures. Students at seven are
beginning to spell high frequency words correctly (Wood 2007).
Given that there are differences between the preferences in learning of different age
groups a teacher needs to diversify the classroom so that each student gets time doing an activity
that they enjoy. There can be specific segments of learning in the beginning of the year that
would be geared more to the students at six years old. As they progress through the year and
more students are turning seven there can be a transition into more independent reads, and a
focus on comprehension. All students grow in their learning development at different rates.
Teachers should be aware of this so that no student falls behind.
Assessments are important because they show teachers where a child is in their learning
development. They bring to light what the student is starting to master as well as what they need
to work on. These assessments are important because they show teachers where students optimal
learning will occur. In Tompkins textbook it talks about how students have an independent level,
instructional level, and frustration level. The role of assessments is to find each childs
instructional level. This is where the child will learn the most because the reading and writing is
not too hard but also not too easy. Assessments also show progress of a students development
throughout the year.

There are many different assessments that teachers can use to assess students learning.
These can be summative assessments and formative assessments. Summative assessments are
formal assessments that test for student achievement. For example; standardized tests, end of
chapter test, benchmark running records and more. Formative assessments are informal
assessments that are used during instruction. For example comprehension checks, observations
on student behavior (Tompkins 2014).
One assessment that I would use in the beginning of my first grade classroom is concepts
of print. This test would help me understand where my students are in the reading process and
what I need to work on with them. The concept of print test is testing for students knowledge of
how to read a book. This test asks a student to orient the book the right way, point out words and
letters, point to where they would start reading, and tell me which direction to start reading
(Tompkins 2014). I would do this at the beginning of the year because I want to make sure that
all my students have the mechanics down for reading a book. If all students pass this test then
there would be no need to go over this lesson. If some students do not pass then I would teach a
lesson on the mechanics of reading to either a small group or the whole class.
Another assessment that I will do in the beginning of the school year is letter and sound
recognition. This would test if children understand letters, and understand phonemic awareness.
This is the understanding that language is broken up into discrete sounds (Tompkins2014). This
test is important because it is a way to gauge where students are at in their phonemic awareness
as well as what letter they have exposed to. I am not expecting all students to have mastered
these skills yet. This test is for guidance to understand where my focus should be in the

An important assessment for reading is running records. In running records I would give
a student a book to read and then records errors and self corrects that he/she makes. The total is
then calculated. I then find the students reading level. If the student makes little errors then the
book is in the students independent level. They can read this book on their own. If the book is in
the childs instructional level then it is a good book to read in the classroom with occasional
teacher or student assistance. If the book is in the childs frustration level then that book is too
hard for the child to be reading. An easier book should be chosen for that student (Tompkins
2014). It is important to know these levels because each student has a different reading level.
Some students might find the same book too easy or too hard depending on their level. If I know
the level all my students are at I can pick out books that would stretch their learning without
making them frustrated. Running records would be done continuously throughout the year
because students will be advancing to higher level books. Running records should be done
monthly to record progress of the students as well as recording struggling students.
An important assessment that assesses writing is rubrics. These are leveled criteria that
the students are given when the assignment is handed out. They show what the expectations are
if the student wants to be classified as experimenting, emerging, developing, capable, or
experienced in their writing. In a rubric there are different sections that students have to work on
in order to do well on the assignment. For example, if I have my students write a paragraph about
what they did on the weekend I would have criteria about their use of mechanics, ability to
follow the prompt and sequential storytelling. I would grade their writing based on how well they
did on the criteria. This is important because students understand what is expected of them. They
know how they are being grade and can work on certain aspects of their writing. It is also a good

way for me as a teacher to tell how well they are doing in writing. Based upon the results of the
task there might be a workshop about sentence structure, spelling, and storytelling.
Lastly I would put all of these assessments in the students portfolio. This would have all
of their important work from the class. I would do this because it is way to map progress of each
student. It is also a way for me to justify grades that were given. Parents and administrators
would be welcomed to look at the progress of the student that may be struggling. Assessments
are an important way for teachers to see how their students are preforming. They also give
guidelines on what needs to be focused on in the classroom. Most of the time struggling students
need to be retaught or assisted in developing the skill that they are lacking. Taking the time to do
an assessment to figure out what the student needs is important to helping the student progress in
their development.
Concepts and Strategies
It is important to teach students many different reading and writing strategies because
they will be able to use them in the future. Many students have a different preferred learning
style, so teaching multiple different ways of learning can be helpful to reach all students. In first
grade there are a lot of concepts that students need to master to become beginner readers and
writers. Below is a chart of the important concepts of reading and writing. As a teacher I would
find appropriate materials that are differentiated by skill level, these would cover all of these
concepts throughout the year.
Phonemic Awareness/Phonics

Story development
Phonemic Awareness/Phonics
Letter formation
Sentence structure


First grade students are still in the begging stages of their reading development. There is a
large variation of reading levels in this grade level. Throughout the year the students would be
working on phonemic awareness and phonics. Some strategies to learn phonics and phonemic
awareness are learning the sounds each letter in the alphabet makes, start to put blends together,
look at ending sounds etc. This can be done with word sorts, word wall (Bear et al. 2012).
Students can read word play books, play sound matching games, and sound blending activities
(Tompkins 2014). This is important to learn because this is the recognizing the letters used in
words is fundamental to reading. Spelling is important in both reading and in writing. Students
that recognize how words are spelled can read them in the books they are reading. They are also
able to write in a concise way by using the proper spelling of a word. Retelling is where students
summarize a book or chapter in their own words. This is a way to test for comprehension. If
students can retell a story then they understand what the important parts were and remember
what happened in the story. There are many ways to do retelling. This can be done orally,
written, or in a drawing. Students can pick a format that they feel most comfortable. Another
important component to reading is self-monitoring. This is where students realize that they made
a mistake and fix it during reading. This can be modeled by the teacher first with the teacher
pointing out how to self-correct and the important. Later when the student is reading on their
own then they will be able to think about how to self-correct.
In writing there are many different concepts that are important. Story development is
important when student are writing a story. They need to make sure they have a begging that sets
up the story, middle, and an end which has the conclusion. Letter formation is also important in
writing. Beginning to form letters more concisely will allow for more accurate storytelling.
Along with letter formation sentence structure is another component to accurate storytelling.


Students need to understand where periods go, how commas work, how to use explanations
because they bring meaning to the story they are trying to tell.
These literary concepts are a foundation for learning how to read and write fluently.
These are very important concepts that students will not master in their entirety in the first grade,
but they will start to work on the mechanics that are important to be an effective reader and
writer. It is important for the teacher to guide each student through these concepts. If students
understand these concepts that should be challenged and if other are falling behind then they
need to be scaffold until they have achieved the skills they need to work independently.
Students learn in a dynamic way. All students need to be exposed to many different types
of ways to read and write. This helps students to find their preferred way of learning. There are
several ways that a teacher can present reading and writing. Teachers can do interactive, shared,
guided and independent reading and writing with their students.
In my classroom I would like to implement a balanced literacy instruction. This would
include four types of reading and writing. These types would be based off of Vygotskys gradual
release of responsibility (Atherton 2013). Students will gain more independence in reading and
writing during the year. The first type of literacy instruction is modeling the expectations for the
class. This can be done in a mini-lesson format. I would read a book or write a passage to the
students to show what good readers and writers do.
The next type of literacy instruction would be shared reading and shared writing this is
where students would participate in the instruction of reading and writing (Tompkins 2014). In
shared reading students would help read phrases in the book that is being read. In shared writing


students help create a text with my assistance. In shared reading and writing the teacher would
have more control of the writing and reading of the material.
Another type of literacy activity is interactive reading and writing. This is where the
teacher support students work on reading and writing (Tompkins 2014). The teacher and student
do equal amounts of work. The teacher is expected to reinforce participation of students and
guide the lesson. Students are expected to participate and be respectful to other students input
when they participate.
Guided reading and writing is where the teacher takes small groups based on reading
level. The teacher guides the instruction by asking students questions about what they are reading
or writing (Tompkins 2014). The teacher is expected to create the groups based on reading level.
Not all students will be on the same level as the rest of the class. It is the job of the teacher to
find a group that everyone will fit into and find the most benefits. Since students are not all being
taught at the same time, some students are working independently while the teacher is working
with the small groups. Students are expected to behave when they are not participating in the
small groups.
Independent reading and writing is where students are able to read just right books by
themselves. This can be during a guided reading session or done another time (Tompkins 2014).
Teachers are expected to support students by having just right books for each student. Students
are expected to have most responsibility for their learning. They are responsible for reading the
book independently at a pace that fits their need. Also they are responsible for comprehending
the book they are reading. This involves picking a book that is not too hard for them to
comprehend. For writing students work on journals, and short stories independently.


Designing multiple different reading and writing experiences are essential for balanced
literacy instruction. These different types of instruction are a way for teachers to differentiate the
instruction. This can help certain students that are struggling in traditional setting classrooms.
Classroom Design

I designed my classroom with the workshop model in mind. The workshop model is
where students are able to work independently while small groups work with the teacher. This
classroom set up works in many different ways to extend students learning.
The teachers desk is put in the corner so it is not a distraction for students and it is in
clear view of the entire class. As an involved teacher I would not be sitting there for very long
periods during the day but when I would be I would be able to monitor the class. The computers
are put next the desk because they are out of the view of most students. The desks are placed into
groups of four. This makes working in group or stations easier for students. The projector and
smart board are in the middle of the classroom so all students will be able to see lessons that
occur there. In the back of the room there is a square rug this is for gathering students together


for mini-lessons and read a louds. There are shelves in that area for book in the reading level of
each student. There are also book stands where books can be displayed. This can be used for
displaying the books we are reading during a unit. In the front corner of the room there is a round
table and shelves. This area is for small group discussions. I designed my classroom the way I
did because I wanted it to reflect the workshop model. This is where students are able to work
independently and still have small mini lessons to guide learning.
Self-Reflection and Goal Setting
The Wisconsin Teaching Standard that I feel I need more work on during my
development as a teacher is standard #3. This standard describes the teachers ability to
understand and adapt learning activities to diverse learners (WTS 2014). There are some factors
that I feel that I lack when it comes to this standard. Some of those factors are diagnosis of
learning styles, implementation, and creation of differentiated lessons.
During my work with students and my education at Alverno I understand that all students
have different ways of learning. The part I am struggling with, is knowing how to figure out
which student learn a specific way. This is a form of diagnosis that I have not been trained in.
Also, I have not been in one classroom for a long enough time period to diagnose students
abilities. I feel that in a daily classroom setting I will be able to work on my diagnosis skills.
Another factor that I struggle with is the creation of a differentiated lesson. A
differentiated lesson is important to reach all students. Creating a type of lesson that reaches all
students is a complex skill that I feel I need more work on. Throughout the school year I hope to
improve my skills at creating differentiated lesson plans.
Finally, implementation of differentiated lessons is something that I have not been able to
experience frequently. I have done field observation but have not completed my student teaching.


Once I work towards my final student teaching I feel like I will have more opportunities to
implement lessons that are differentiated.
Atherton, James (2013). Constructivist Theory.
Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence Professional Paper: Conditions for Learning.
Tompkins, Gail E. (2014). Literacy for the 21st Century: A Balanced Approach. 6th Ed. Pearson.
Wisconsin Teacher Standards. (2014). INTASC Standards for Teacher Development and
Wood, Chip. 2007 Yardsticks 3rd Ed. Northeast Foundation for Children, Inc. Turner Fall, MA.