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Reading and Writing

Using a Balanced Literacy methodology for reading and writing, also known as Readers’ and Writers’ Workshop, our Lower School students experience student-centered, differentiated literacy instruction daily as we aim to produce proficient, enthusiastic, lifelong readers and writers.

Our faculty train at Teachers College through Columbia University and we follow the curriculum units of study, along with grade-level expectations and standards. We delight as students immerse themselves in “just-right” books and write stories from the heart of their own experiences and noticings.

We launch each workshop with a mini-lesson on reading strategies or the writing process with the majority of the time devoted to independent reading and writing, small groups, and conferring sessions led by two full-time teachers in every K-5 classroom.


• Workshop approach with mini-lessons on reading strategies and the writing process and independent reading and writing time
• Attention to accuracy, fluency, comprehension and conventions used by successful readers and writers
• Instruction in strategies to build and maintain an independent reading and writing life
• Attention to metacognitive thinking skills, speaking and listening skills
• Time for students to present their work and reflect on feedback from their classmates who, in turn, learn to listen attentively and ask productive questions


• Increased reading and writing appetite, stamina, fluency and comprehension
• Thoughtful self-selection of reading material from a variety of literary genres, allowing voice and choice for each individual student
• Fluency in writing for varied purposes and audiences


• We are readers: launching the Reader’s Workshop
• Emergent reading: looking closely at familiar texts
• Super powers: reading with print strategies and sight word power
• Bigger books, bigger reading muscles: thinking and talking more deeply about books
• Growing expertise in little books: reading for information
• Readers are resourceful: tackling hard words and tricky parts in books

First Grade

• Building good reading habits
• Word detectives use all they know to solve words
• Learning about the world: reading nonfiction
• Readers get to know characters by performing their books: fairy tale plays
• Readers have big jobs to do: fluency, phonics, and comprehension
• Meeting characters and other story elements
• Reading nonfiction cover to cover

Second Grade

• Second-grade reading growth spurt: comprehension strategies
• Studying characters and their stories
• Becoming experts: reading nonfiction
• Bigger books mean amping up reading power: fluency and figurative language
• Series and book clubs and author’s craft

Third Grade

• Building a reading life as an upper elementary school reader
• Reading to learn: grasping main ideas and text structures
• Character studies and making predictions
• Research Clubs: learning to learn
• Mystery: foundational skills in disguise

Fourth Grade

• Launching the Reader’s Workshop: the reader’s notebook
• Interpreting characters: the heart of the story
• Author study: reading like a fan
• Purposeful reading of nonfiction texts
• Reading history: the American Revolution
• Social issues book clubs

Fifth Grade

• Habits of a fifth-grade reader: reading with power
• Interpretation book clubs: analyzing themes
• Learning through reading: structures of nonfiction
• Tackling complexity: moving up levels of nonfiction
• Historical fiction book clubs
• Reading Shakespeare and performing his work


• Launching the Writer's Workshop
• Show and tell: from labels to patterned text
• Writing for readers: true stories and writing readable words
• How-to books: writing to teach others
• Persuasive writing of all kinds: using words to make a change
• Poetry: sharing our poems with others
• All-about books
• Crafting narrative stories

First Grade

• Small moments:  writing with focus, detail and dialogue
• How-to books
• Nonfiction chapter books
• Fairy tales
• Writing reviews and persuasive letters
• From scenes to series: writing fiction
• Writing content-area informational books

Second Grade

• Lessons from the masters: launching with small moments
• Writing about reading: crafting persuasive arguments
• Research and information writing
• Poetry: big thoughts in small packages
• Realistic Fiction

Third Grade

• Crafting true stories: personal narrative
• The art of information writing
• Literary essay
• Changing the world: persuasive speeches, petitions, and editorials
• Once upon a time: adapting and writing fairy tales

Fourth Grade

• Launching the Writer’s Workshop: personal narrative
• The arc of story: writing realistic fiction
• The literary essay: writing about fiction
• Bringing history to life: writing a biography
• Poetry
• Boxes and bullets:  personal and persuasive essays

Fifth Grade

• Launch the writerly life: writer's notebooks with rigor
• Informational nonfiction
• Narrative craft and memoir
• Research news articles
• Shakespearean sonnets


Trinity Episcopal School develops mathematicians in Kindergarten through Grade 5 using the curriculum, Math in Focus 2020, which is the U.S. edition of the highly effective Singapore Math approach. Leveraging global best practices and research the curriculum uses powerful visual models, engaging hands-on activities, and a consistent K–8 pedagogical framework. 

Lessons emphasize a concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach which allows students to gain deeper conceptual understanding. Visual models, including bar models, help students develop the ability to visualize mathematical situations, which is key to becoming a successful problem solver. The program also features an online learning platform with assessments, ebooks, videos, and games.


  • Daily 60-minute sessions featuring differentiated instruction in a whole class, small group or individual format 
  • In-depth coverage of topics with concepts that build upon each other and across grade levels 
  • Substantive work in important strands of mathematics – rational numbers, geometry, measurement, data 
  • End-of-grade benchmarks for basic number combinations and computation 
  • Classroom extension and reinforcement activities, including games, challenging problem-solving, and fluency practice 
  • Ongoing practice and assessment to monitor student growth and understanding 
  • Problems presented in a real-world context that help children make relevant connections to their own lives 
  • Emphasis on mathematical discourse by teaching and utilizing using discussion strategies that set a tone for rich classroom communication 
  • Digital tools that supplement the text and support and inform students, teachers and parents


  • Build conceptual understanding: Through the concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach and visualization, students experience math concepts concretely, with hands-on experiences that build true foundational understanding. 
  • Develop critical thinking skills: Activities that ask students to apply math concepts in different ways and create alternative solutions to a problem encourage critical and creative thinking and build mastery. 
  • Advance problem solving proficiency: Problem solving is embedded and central to all instruction and discussion in Math in Focus. Students learn to apply different strategies and are encouraged to consider the best strategies for routine and non-routine problems to build strong problem-solving skills. 
  • Build positive attitudes: The Singapore Math® approach acknowledges the role attitude plays in learning math and supports students in approaching problem solving with interest and enthusiasm, building their confidence to persevere. 
  • Data that informs instruction: Ed, the HMH learning platform, gives teachers ongoing access to actionable data and reporting tools—providing a powerful look into student progress.


  • Numbers to 5
  • Numbers to 10
  • Measurement
  • Compare numbers to 10
  • Flat and solid shapes
  • Numbers to 20
  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Numbers to 100

Grade 1

  • Numbers to 10
  • Addition and subtraction within 10
  • Shapes and patterns
  • Numbers to 20
  • Addition and subtraction within 20
  • Numbers to 40
  • Calendar and time
  • Addition and subtraction within 40
  • Length and weight
  • Numbers to 120
  • Addition and subtraction within 100
  • Graphs

Grade 2

  • Numbers to 1,000
  • Addition within 1,000
  • Subtraction within 1,000
  • Using bar models: Addition and subtraction
  • Length (custom and metric)
  • Mass (kilograms and grams)
  • Graphs and line plots
  • Multiplication
  • Multiplication tables (2, 3, 4, 5, 10)
  • Time and money
  • Shapes (2-D and 3-D)

Grade 3

  • Numbers to 10,000
  • Addition within 10,000
  • Subtraction within 10,000
  • Multiplicatioon tables (6,7,8,9,11,12)
  • Multiplication
  • Using bar models: The four operations
  • Fractions (Part of a whole and part of a set, equivalent fractions)
  • Measurement (Mass: kilograms and grams; Liquids: Liters and milliliters)
  • Area and perimeter
  • Time
  • Graphs and line plots
  • Angles, lines, and 2-Dimensional figures

Grade 4

  • Working with whole numbers to 1,000,000
  • Multiplication and division of whole numbers
  • Fractions and mixed Numbers (comparing, adding and subtracting, multiplying)
  • Decimals: Tenths and hundredths
  • Conversion of  measurements (custom and metric)
  • Area and perimeter
  • Angles and line segments
  • Polygons and symmetry
  • Tables and line graphs

Grade 5

  • Whole numbers and the four operations
  • Fractions and mixed numbers
  • Multiplying and dividing fractions and mixed numbers
  • Decimals
  • Four operations of decimals
  • Volume
  • Line plot and the coordinate plane
  • Polygons
  • Ratio
  • Percent


Trinity’s Lower School science program utilizes the Amplify Science units of study as its core curriculum with a goal to create scientific thinkers who eagerly investigate, research, explore and record information about the world around them.

Our hands-on, inquiry-based approach to learning weaves and spirals scientific content in various disciplines and grade levels allowing students to utilize the scientific method to experiment, construct, dissect and create models to prove their hypotheses.

Throughout their nine years at Trinity Episcopal School, students are introduced to earth science, physical science, life science, astronomy, physics, chemistry, microbiology, genetics, physiology and the study of our urban environment.


  • Introduction to the scientific method which requires students to form a hypothesis to prove or disprove
  • Reinforcement of the scientific method through research, documentation and communication
  • Utilization of scientific tools
  • Two fully equipped K-8 science labs
  • Hands-on learning approach to reinforce scientific principles and inquiry
  • Experience with the outdoor classroom (vegetable garden, hummingbird/butterfly garden, marshland, etc.) to discover the uniqueness in these habitats
  • Units of study that include chemistry, physics, astronomy, and geology


  • Greater understanding of our environment and the role of science in everyday life
  • Measurement and calculation abilities
  • Enhanced critical thinking skills
  • Confidence in natural curiosity and ability to investigate and analyze data to prove/ disprove hypothesis
  • Ability to observe, write and design as they interact with their environment
  • Development of ethics and empathy for others

Social Studies

In Kindergarten through 5th grade, students explore civics, economics, geography, and history through problem-based learning units and inquiry work. Many of these units, especially in the lower grades, are known as Storypaths - units in which students take on roles as characters in a story and become stakeholders in a critical situation, perhaps scientists studying an oil spill in an ocean, knights protecting a medieval castle under siege, or members of the Boston Tea Party struggling for independence during the American Revolution. This approach capitalizes on the principle that, through problem solving and constructing their own knowledge and understanding of the world, as well as having a real "stake" in the problem, students engage in more meaningful and memorable learning.

Social studies work at Trinity is often integrated with students' reading and writing, and always keeps at its core the development of deep and enduring understandings, concepts, and skills as preparation for democratic decision-making.


  • Exposure to each of the 10 strands of social studies as defined by the National Council for the Social Studies (culture; time, continuity, and change; people, places and environments; individual development and identity; individuals, groups, and institutions; power, authority, and governance; production, distribution, and consumption; science, technology, and society; global connections; civic ideals and practices)
  • Exploration of critical incidents; combining recent learning with background knowledge to resolve scenarios
  • Practice in problem-based learning
  • Opportunity for student voice and choice in research topic and learning projects 


  • Competency and ability to read, write and communicate about real places, historical events, people, groups, institutions and global issues
  • Confidence in complex problem solving that welcomes multiple approaches
  • Enhanced public speaking and presentation skills from sharing their learning with large and small group audiences
  • Development of ethics and empathy for others

Word Study

Word study at Trinity encompasses the specific and intentional instruction around phonics, spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and writing mechanics.  Some of this work happens naturally within the context of reading and writing workshops, but additional stand-alone time is devoted to both whole-class instruction and differentiated small-group or one-on-one work led by both teachers in a classroom.  

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Words Their Way, and Michael Clay Thompson's Grammar series inform much of the phonics, word study, and grammar work in the Lower School.


• Grammar, word study, vocabulary investigations and spelling instruction and practice
• Small group and individual need-based instruction
• Focus on application to authentic writing


• Competence with phonics and print sound code
• Competence in language structure/grammar, word choice, spelling, syntax, punctuation and capitalization in all genres of writing (narrative, informative, persuasive, poetry)

Assessment at Trinity

An important component of any school is the opportunity for teachers to give feedback and to assess the work of students. The word “assessment” derives from the Latin word assidere meaning “to sit beside” and conjures an image of what effective assessment looks like – a teacher sitting alongside a student to discuss his or her work, review progress and suggest next steps. Ultimately, teachers judge and give value to the student’s work as it relates to a certain standard. This is the evaluation portion of the system. As complementary processes, assessment and evaluation allow students to practice, refine, reflect on and demonstrate what they know and can do. We consider assessment critical to instructional decisions made in response to a child’s understanding of the work. In addition to feedback related to the academic program, students are also evaluated on their progress with the Scholarly and Community Habits of our School.

At Trinity we utilize a trimester calendar with interim reports going home at the mid-point and end-of-trimester reports at the end of each trimester which translates to formal evaluative reports six times a year. Our first conference of the year occurs at the first trimester interim point and allows parents and teachers to review academic and social progress and goals. Students in every grade level conduct student-led conferences at the end of the second trimester. During these sessions students present to their parents a portfolio of work highlighting their strengths and challenges along with goals for the next term. Additional time is set aside for you to confer with teachers about the progress and goals of your child. Additional time is set aside for parents and teachers to review the trimester reports and address questions.