Dr. Cottingham was appointed Interim Upper School Director in July 2021, and her Pingry experience includes three years as Upper School Academic Dean and a semester as Interim English Department Chair.
The goal of our balanced literacy program is to foster self-directed readers and writers who are equipped with the skills necessary to navigate, create, and discuss text for both personal and academic purposes. Our instructional approach throughout the reading, writing, and word study curriculum invites students to notice, evaluate, share ideas, and apply their understanding. This emphasis ensures our focus on higher level thinking and application, rather than memorization or formulaic repetition.
The reading and writing curriculum at each grade level balances work in narrative, informational, and persuasive texts. Within each genre, engagement is high as students bring their passions, their ideas, and their questions to their learning. Through modeling and investigation, students explore the specific skills, strategies, and features that underpin each text type and are given opportunities to incorporate their learning into their own work. Frequent feedback leads students to individualized next steps and is a cornerstone of our program. While teachers regularly conference with students about their progress, students are also taught how to offer and receive purposeful peer-to-peer suggestions, and how to independently reflect, self-evaluate, and goal set.
Beginning in Kindergarten the reading curriculum challenges students to go beyond literal comprehension and also consider an author’s craft and intentions. Our students realize that authors are driven by purpose and audience, and thus they make intentional decisions for their own writing pieces with these in mind. Rich conversation abounds as our students learn to generate ideas, share and clarify their thinking, explore various possibilities, and appreciate multiple perspectives. With an early start, continued practice, and targeted feedback, our students excel in their keen observation, thoughtful insight, evidence-based analysis, and nuanced thinking. They develop the skills to share ideas with confidence, experience, purposeful word choice, and clarity of thought in written and oral communication.
Pingry’s literacy curriculum not only prepares students for the increasing demands of their academic future, but inspires a life enriched by critical thinking, respectful communication, and engaged participation as citizens and change agents in the world at large.