Inspiring Hearts and Minds

Exshaw School Literacy Model

Literacy is the ability, confidence and willingness to engage with language, to acquire, construct and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily living. The Exshaw School Literacy Model targets the five pillars of literacy: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. 


At all grade levels learners participate in at least 90 minutes of literacy instruction. During these 90 minutes learners are engaged in shared reading/whole group instruction, guided reading, peer and/or buddy reading, independent reading, listening to reading, phonics, spelling and word work instruction and daily writing practice.

Shared Reading / Whole Group Reading Instruction

Shared reading is an enjoyable experience for the classroom community and an important part of literacy programming. During shared reading, the teacher and learners read aloud an enlarged version of an engaging text and the teacher uses this text to introduce and model new reading strategies. Shared reading provides an opportunity to engage with more challenging texts while also beginning to notice and acquire the processes they need to read texts independently.

Independent Reading

As part of their daily literacy program, all learners participate in 20 minutes of independent reading. During independent reading time, learners read books of their choosing (at their independent reading level) for a sustained period of time. Mini lessons, teacher/student conferences, and opportunities to share thinking support learners' engagement with their independent reading books and increase their reading competencies.

Guided Reading

As part of their daily literacy program, all learners participate in guided reading. Guided reading is a small-group instructional context in which a teacher supports each reader's development and implementation of reading strategies for processing new texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty. Guided reading:


  • Supports readers in expanding their processing competencies (in-the-head systems of strategic actions)
  • Provides a context for responsive teaching – teaching that is grounded in the teacher's detailed knowledge of and respect for each student, supporting the readers' active construction of a processing system
  • Allows learners to engage with a rich variety of texts
  • Helps learners learn to think like proficient readers
  • Enables learners to read more challenging texts with support.

Partner / Buddy Reading

Reading with someone helps readers, especially developing readers, increase areas of comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and prosody.  It also increases reading involvement, attention, and collaboration. What's more, children love partner reading and readily participate with books they choose. As part of their classroom literacy program, learners have regular opportunities to engage in partner reading with their classmates, and buddy reading with learners from different grades and classes.

Listening to Reading

Listening to reading provides fluency models that are valuable to all ages, but especially to learners who are inexperienced readers, those whose listening comprehension exceeds their reading level, and those learning English. As part of their daily classroom literacy program, learners have regular opportunities to listen to audio materials and novels read aloud by their teacher.

Phonics, Spelling and Word Work

The purpose of phonics instruction is to expand and refine learners' reading and writing competencies. With knowledge of letter-sound relationships, learners add to their ability to derive meaning from print, to accurately turn sounds into their own print (i.e. spelling), and to solve increasingly longer words. Most learners acquire this knowledge and learn how to use it under the guidance of a skilled teacher who provides a wide range of learning opportunities. As part of their classroom literacy program learners have opportunities to engage in whole group, small group, and individual phonics lessons.


At all grade levels, learners engage in daily writing practice. Learners are provided with explicit writing instruction, modeling, tools, and rich content. Writing lessons focus on developing the ability of learners to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts, to inform, persuade, or entertain. Writing enhances foundational reading skills and students’ knowledge of how words and sentences work.

Social-Emotional Supports

Our school counselor provides social emotional services and support to learners, in addition to facilitating access to community resources for parents/guardians. Individual and group interventions are available to assist learners with their school-related concerns and social emotional well-being. Each classroom participates in weekly lessons that are developmentally appropriate, culturally relevant, and highlight best practices to strengthen personal and social development. Our teachers and school staff engage in professional learning around wellness and work collaboratively with Knowledge Keepers, psychologists, medical agencies, and outside community agencies to coordinate the delivery of programming to support students within the school. Crisis intervention is available to individuals, families, and the school community.

Learning Supports

Our learning support teacher (LST) provides services to support learners and teachers in Kindergarten to Grade 8 classrooms throughout the school year. Learners that are determined to need extra support may have an Individual Program Plan (IPP) developed for them. This plan ensures appropriate planning is made for learners with unique learning needs. The IPP process starts with gathering information, setting a direction, developing an IPP, implementing the IPP, and reviewing the IPP.  Individual and group intervention take place on a needs basis and may include support in literacy and/or numeracy. Educational assistants may help the teacher with supporting learners within classes in small groups or 1:1. Support may also be provided from a speech language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, psychologist and Renfrew complex needs specialists. Consent from a parent or guardian is needed to access these supports. Eye checks are also scheduled once a year for Exshaw learners.