Inside the Classroom: K – 5 Literacy

Through Punahou’s Teacher’s College Reading Workshop curriculum, students in kindergarten through fifth grade are building a passion for reading and writing from a young age. Choosing books of interest that are at a reading level just right for them is the heart of the curriculum. 

Through the workshop-style of teaching, students start off with a brief reading lesson from their teacher, then find a comfortable place to read on their own. They also meet in small “book club” groups or with their teacher, prompting discussions and a deeper dive into each lesson. Student also write about what they’ve read, delving into historical fiction, literary essays, personal narratives and more.

During a recent first grade reading lesson, Stacey Olson went over bad reading habits and some solutions. Instead of skipping over a word they don’t know, she told students to use clues from pictures or try sounding out the word. Students then read from a stack of books they had selected. 

“There’s a lot of choice with this method,” Olson said. “Students get to spend a lot of time picking their books and planning their writing based on what they’re interested in. The kids get to know themselves as readers and writers and take ownership, and as a result, they keep themselves stocked up with books.” 

The workshop setup continues through the grades as students progress in their skills. In a recent fourth grade literacy lesson, Erin Nelson ’99 Koshiba’s students had time to read after a mini lesson about characters and story arcs, then worked with a partner to write about the deeper meaning behind the story.

“What makes this curriculum unique is that the kids are reading different books and so it’s more personalized,” Koshiba said. “You’re going at your own pace, and it’s normal to be on different levels.”

As a result, she has seen “tremendous growth” in students and confidence grow. “It’s rewarding at the end of the year when the students who say they don’t like reading have found a genre they enjoy and are passionate about.”

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