Literacy: Reading, Writing, and Speaking

An effective Literacy program is the cornerstone of every student's education. Without the basic skills of reading, writing, and communicating, students cannot fully participate in the educational process. Vanguard Classical School utilizes a Balanced Literacy approach.

At Vanguard, we believe that all students benefit from a keen understanding of Phonics.  Our Riggs program provides this foundation.  Additionally, reading strategies, as well as specific skills, are taught through explicit instruction.   Often lessons are grounded in the content areas of History, Geography, and Science.  Teachers’ model reading and thinking through sharing quality texts from a wide variety of genres. Guided practice before, during, and after reading and writing will direct students through tests or tasks using small group instruction, mini or focused lessons, conferences with the teacher, and student discussion groups. If you observe our classrooms you will see frequent and on-going activities to practice learned skills including written responses, not fill-in-the-blank worksheets that are at an appropriate development level. We offer consistent opportunities for students to read self-selected texts while the teacher offers guidance and feedback as the student develops the skill of advanced reading ability. Skills learned are used throughout the student’s education in all content specific areas.

We utilize continuous assessment model where teachers use assessment to plan their instruction. The assessment is on-going in the classroom and will help to form a body of evidence for each student’s abilities.  Teachers also track student growth through a variety of assessments which includes DIBLES, MAPPS, Reading inventories, and other appropriate assessments.  Learning Plans are developed for all students.


Because different students learn differently, multi-sensory instructional approaches are provided throughout the day.  The Riggs: Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, an explicit phonics program, incorporates multi-sensory techniques into each lesson and supports all students as they use learning tools that maximize their own learning.  The Riggs approach to English literacy fully integrates auditory, visual, verbal and motor skills simultaneously, and uses both direct and Socratic instructional techniques. To accommodate differing skill levels and learning (comprehensions/rates), Vanguard Classical School uses ability grouping of all students for language arts and mathematics instruction.
The skills of learning (namely reading, writing, speaking, listening, calculating, problem solving, and exercising critical judgment) are best taught through the content of a body of organized knowledge. The development of literacy will be one of the primary aims and focuses of effort at Vanguard. This will include a great deal of reading from a variety of both fiction and non-fiction literature.  All students will receive explicit, systematic, phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. Rigg’s: Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking will be taught.  Children will be provided deliberate, coherent, direct instruction in letter sound correspondences. Practices that teach children to rely on word-memorization (the look-say method) and guessing (through illustration and/or context) will not be used. Students will be taught to write and speak through example and practice. Grammar, logic and real spelling learned from real literature will be part of these skills.
A foundation for our language arts instruction will be Riggs: Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking (Riggs), an explicit phonics program published by The Riggs Institute.  The Riggs program provides explicit phonics instruction, incorporates multi-sensory techniques in each lesson and supports all students as they use learning tools that maximize their own learning.  This approach will help students achieve optimal academic and developmental growth.
Riggs has been produced through 120 collective years of research and experience begun by Dr. Samuel T. Orton.  Riggs teaches the following language arts “strands” and cognitive development: explicit phonics with dictated initial letter formation; the Alphabetic Principle; phonemic and graphemic awareness; correct spelling with 47 rules; fluent oral and silent reading; oral and print comprehension; vocabulary; pronunciation and speech; creative and organizational composition; grammar, syntax, punctuation, and capitalization; analytical and inferential thinking; auditory/visual/verbal/motor cognitive development of: attention, discrimination, association and memory. The Riggs program will enable all students, especially English language learners, to develop their language skills at a much faster rate as experienced by Myrna McCulloch, the Institute’s Founder, and Director who states,  “After implementing a simple, but complete multi-sensory, ‘explicit’ phonetic, and integrated language arts program, our African-American, Hispanic, and students of other ethnic backgrounds finished grade 1 reading from the World Book, spelling at 3rd to 7th grade levels, mastering the parts of speech, and writing with proper grammar, syntax, capitalization, punctuation, and legible handwriting.