Wilson Focus School Curriculum Connections


Wilson Focus School has carefully selected curriculum that meets the Nebraska State Standards while also meeting our extra value standards of leadership, technology, and communication. Curriculum reflects research based best practices that enhance learning for all students.

Lessons are designed to teach to a targeted goal. Through engaging activities students are taught using the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model.
Assessment and effective feedback are used to help students self reflect and allow teachers to redesign lessons that help reteach concepts to insure that students understand and are successful.

Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5 offers crystal–clear advice on how to lead strong, efficient writing workshops in upper-elementary classrooms. Organized within a carefully crafted spiraling curriculum, there are six sequential units of study that help teach narrative and expository writing with increasing power and intimacy.   

Mrs. Laurich, Glenknoll Elem.

Step Up to Writing provides strategies throughout the day for all kinds of assignments and across all content areas. They learn to visualize each academic task through multisensory instruction, such as color-coding the parts of a paragraph or report or using paper folds to visually separate information on a page. Complex tasks are broken into small, easy steps that are learned individually and then put together. Students follow eight steps that guide them from brainstorming and planning to creating a final, polished composition. They learn how to follow the process when time is limited an how to use longer periods of time to create their very best work. The focus of these approaches is to promote the goal of all good writing and also one of our school focus goals: clear communication.


1.  Writing to Improve Reading and Listening Comprehension

2.  Vocabulary

3.  Sentence Mastery

4.  Information/Expository Paragraphs

5.  Accordian Essays and Reports

6.  Story and Narrative Writing

7.  Personal Narratives

8.  Speeches

9.  Specific Writing Assignments

10. Student Self-Assessment and High Standards

Personal Narrative writing is tested in 4th grade and results reported by the State of Nebraska.   A narrative is a story that is created in a constructive format that describes a sequence of events.   Students develop characters, provide vivid descriptions using strong word choice, including sensory imagery, similes, metaphors, alliteration, and other figurative language. 


Step-Up-To-Writing: This program has been adopted to improve the writing skills of all students—regardless of ability level. The following has been designed to help parents and students succeed using the Step Up To Writing Program.

Students will become familiar with the 3 main steps in writing by relating them to colors-- green, yellow and red.


Topic Sentence: The main topic of the paragraph is stated.

Reason/Detail/Fact:  Give the reader a main reason, detail or fact that relates to and supports the topic sentence. 

Use transitions (First of all..., Secondly.., Another.., The reason I think this..) to start these sentences.

Explain: Give an example for the statement made in the reason/detail/fact sentence.

Concluding Sentence: The topic is restated to remind the reader what the paragraph was about.



After I tried out for band, I learned that there were several things I needed to do for a good performanceThe most important thing is to practice. Practicing my drums allows me to be a better player. Becoming a better player makes it easier for me to be in front of people on stage. Clearly, what I have experienced by being in band has helped me to grow and be a better musician.

Home Connection

The Handwriting Without Tears® curriculum teaches the easiest skills first and then builds on prior knowledge. Letters are taught in a sequence that makes sense developmentally: in groups of similar formation. After children master the easier letters, they are ready for more difficult letters in both print and cursive. It helps children develop their writing skills through multisensory play-based instruction. Activities with hands-on materials—Wood Pieces Set, Capital Letter Cards, Mat, CDs, Slate Chalkboard, and Blackboard—address different senses to teach correct formation, spacing, sequencing, and other writing skills.

Children move, touch, feel, and manipulate real objects as they learn the habits and skills essential for writing. Other multisensory lessons in the teachers’ guides use voices, letter stories, door tracing, imaginary writing, and mystery letters to teach letter formation and placement on lines.


Houghton Mifflin's Education Place
Houghton Mifflin

Online Leveled Books at Education Place
Houghton Mifflin

Good readers use strategies whenever they read.  Different strategies are used before, during, and after reading.  As readers learn to use strategies, they must think about how each strategy will help them.    The Houghton Mifflin series is written to teach students that all of the reading strategies together are meant to be sued when they read, however one or more strategies may be presented each day, depending on the needs of the students. 

READING STRATEGIES – Good readers use these strategies to be a better reader!


Ø  Think about the title, the illustrations, and what you have read so far.

Ø  Tell what you think will happen next or what you will learn.

Ø  Try to figure out things that the author does not say directly.


Ø  Ask questions that can be answered as you read or after you finish reading.


Ø  Ask yourself if what you are reading makes sense or if you are learning what you want to learn.

Ø  If you don’t understand something, reread, read ahead, or use the illustrations.


Ø  Think about the main ideas or the important parts of the story.

Ø  Tell in your own words the important things you have read.


Ø  Ask yourself:  How do I feel about what I read?  Do I agree or disagree with it?  Am I learning what I wanted to know?  How good a job has the author done?


            When you come to a word you don’t know….

1.     Look carefully at the word.

2.     Look for word parts you know and think about the sounds for the letters.

3.     Blend the sounds to read the word.

4.     Ask yourself:  Is it a word I know?  Does it make sense in what I’m reading? 

5.     If not, ask yourself:  What else can I try?  

Ø  Accelerates vocabulary learning and retention, follows Six Step Vocabulary. 

Ø  Proven, through scientifically based research, to not only teach content-rich academic vocabulary that children retain over time, but to increase overall vocabulary knowledge

Ø  Introduces 24 vocabulary words each week that go beyond high frequency words.   

Ø  Words are chosen for their high impact for reading comprehension and written and oral expression. 

Ø  Vocabulary is cumulative, with vocabulary words repeated across lessons and weeks. 

Ø  Each vocabulary word is used in a variety of contexts.

Ø  Develops active discussion strategies.

Ø  Equitable and meaningful discussions that prompt learning, discovery, and problem solving.  

Ø  Allows all students to learn how to express themselves and listen actively to others. 

Ø  Incorporates fine art into oral vocabulary and language learning.  

Ø  Two fine art images are introduced each week, featuring artists and artworks from around the world and across time.   Students view and discuss artworks from master artists, including Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Jacob Lawrence, Mary Cassatt, and Diego Rivera.  

Ø  In addition two real world images are introduced and discussed each week.  The fine art images and real-world photos provide an interesting context for vocabulary use and meaningful expression.

Ø  Uses accelerated vocabulary learning to increase overall comprehension, and to prepare elementary students for more challenging written texts in the intermediate grades.   

Ø  Builds on research that shows the positive connection between meaningful exposure to sophisticated oral vocabulary and comprehension success across the curriculum.  

Real world photos help introduce the strategies in an oral context, while providing opportunities for all students---regardless of their decoding skills ---to increase their academic vocabulary and to experience confidence in approaching and learning new and challenging words.    

East Lansing Public Schools

Sitton Spelling and Word Skills

Instead of weekly lists of words to memorize, this program emphasizes the learning of the most frequently used words found in writing.   It focuses on a lifetime of spelling in the real world---that is, spelling correctly in writing.

This lifelong spelling ability grows over time.  It grows through skills instruction which includes (phonics, word origins, spelling rules, usage, etc.) through your child’s everyday writing, and through word study on specific words your child has not yet mastered.  You can extend this teaching into your home.

Prepare for your child’s at-home spelling experiences by identifying a special place, such as a folder or box, in which to keep the materials we’ll send home.   Some of these activities may be done within the school day with teachers and staff assisting.

To help your child learn and use essential skills: 

Ø  TAKE-HOME TASKS    These are skill-building activity sheets for you and your child to do together.  These tasks will complement the skills we’re working on at school. 

Ø  SKILL BUILDING EXERCISES are homework activities for you and your child to do to prepare for or follow up on our class lessons.

To help your child spell and use essential words:

Ø  PAPERS FOR PROOFREADING will come home often.  You see, your child will be expected to spell some words correctly all the time to meet the minimum requirement for spelling in everyday writing.  These words are called Priority Words.  They are the words that occur ost frequently in writing.  As your child proofreads for these words, they will practice the skills for proofreading any word.  You and your child will be kept informed of this list of words that will grow throughout the year.  

Ø  WORDS TO LEARN is a list of Spelling Words your child has not yet mastered.  We’ll identify these words and send them home.  Help your child study these words every other day or so to master them once and for all.  That’s our goal!