The Shader Croft School

Turning Student Selected Real World Adventures into Stronger Reading, Writing, and Communication Skills.

English Language Learners

Program Details

Shader Croft provides a unique and specialized 5 week/20 day, full day intensive literacy program for middle and high school ELL students. The program is student-centered and adventure-based with a curriculum that is integrated and experiential.  A maximum group size of twelve and a student teacher ratio of 3 to 1 provides for personalized and focused instruction. Areas of instruction include: oral expression and comprehension, word recognition and knowledge, reading fluency and comprehension and written language. Our youth development curriculum focuses on  personal agency and identity, emotional and cognitive regulation. Social skills and relationships are explicitly taught and applied throughout as a key component of the program.

How the program works

Each student is asked to identify something about which he or she is curious or interested. Then, with the help and supervision of a teacher, the student plans an adventure to meet someone in the community who can teach that student and, some of his or her classmates, about that interest.

These student-organized and led adventures then become the focus around which the literacy instruction and youth development is based.

  • Oral language comprehension and expression – Students will have both formal and informal learning experiences in the oral expression program. Students participate in a daily morning meeting where every student is expected to contribute, often sharing a reflection about the previous day and will listen to information related to the current day’s activities. Students will learn how to make phone calls to organize their adventure, how to give instructions to other students as a trip leader, how to introduce him or herself to community hosts, how to express their appreciation to them and how to carry on a conversation with a peer or an adult. Students may be asked to tell a story and/or explain how to play a particular game. All students will make a concluding oral presentation.
  • Reading – In preparation for the adventure, students will read something about the topic to: build word identification and knowledge, practice word decoding and reading fluency and learn and practice a variety of reading comprehension skills such as: pre-reading KWL strategies, identification of helpful text features, determining the main idea and supporting details, making predictions, summarizing, asking questions and more.
  • Written expression – The experience of the community-based adventure is then used as the basis for the writing instruction including: note taking, prewriting organization, development of thesis statement, sentence structure, paragraph development, word choice and usage and more. The writing pieces produced by the students are published in a bound magazine that is presented to all of the students at the conclusion of the program.
  • Youth development: Students will participate in a variety of learning experiences that will focus on several areas of youth development and social and emotional learning. They include: personal agency and identity, emotional and cognitive regulation and social skills and relationships. Activities might include: identifying a personal interest around which to plan an adventure, identifying a goal in all learning areas and monitoring one’s progress towards the achievement of that goal, resolving an interpersonal conflict with another student or adult, managing one’s behavior to accomplish a task, accepting feedback from classmates and adults and much more. These learning experiences will happen in both a formal and informal learning context throughout the program.
  • Technology and visual aids are widely used to enhance instruction in all areas. Students complete the program by making a brief presentation to his or her classmates.

Daily Routine

Morning meeting of all students and staff, small group academic classes in all instructed literacy areas, lunch, and afternoon academic or recreational community-based adventures. This schedule can vary depending on the scheduling of various learning opportunities that may become available to us.

Sample community based adventures

Swimming lessons at the YMCA, figure skating, photography, nursing, community based scavenger hunts, sailing, art and design, music performance and recording, cosmetology, golfing, cooking, hip hop dancing, computer programming and game design, fishing, many different animal and nature focused adventures, many different sports adventures, biking, bowling, law enforcement, martial arts and more …


Program rationale and supporting research

This program has been carefully designed and thoughtfully implemented to maximize the learning experience for the population for whom it is designed and to ensure safety.

Additional information: All reading and writing teachers are trained educators and all staff undergo a criminal background check.