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The Slingerland® Approach

At Assumption-St. Bridget School, we believe in fostering success for all of our students. Our teachers utilize curriculum and instructional approaches that maximize student potential for all learners and are considered best practice in education. This is especially true in the areas of reading and writing, which are considered to be core life skills, facilitating deep and genuine learning, engagement and connection with others, creativity and curiosity, civic participation, and achievement of all future goals.

To cultivate a love of reading and writing from a young age, we want all of our students to experience the best in curriculum and instructional approaches in the area of literacy, and to feel and experience success in their early attempts at reading and writing. To accomplish these goals and best serve all our students, our staff have collaborated to provide a progression of instruction using the Slingerland® Approach in grades kindergarten through fourth grades. The Slingerland® Approach is a structured, sequential, and multisensory teaching approach that addresses foundational skills and knowledge in speaking, reading, writing, and spelling. The approach is described as

“… a supportive instructional program that encourages academic competence, effective work habits, and self-discipline. Students gain self-confidence and enthusiasm for learning as they experience success in school.” 1

Although the Slingerland® Approach is often used in providing intervention and support for students who struggle with reading and writing, using Slingerland® in the general education classroom provides an elevated educational experience for all of our students, in addition to providing the very best in instruction for students with language-based disabilities.

The Slingerland® Approach at Assumption-St. Bridget School begins in kindergarten.  Here the students experience the foundational skills necessary for reading and writing: oral language,  phonemic awareness, phonemic segmentation, sound/ symbol relations of the alphabetic principles. This explicit instruction guides the students towards handwriting and reading as their kindergarten year unfolds.

Students in first through third grades engage heavily in Slingerland®-based activities in the areas of handwriting, encoding/spelling, decoding, preparation for reading, and structured reading across content areas. In third grade, students are also instructed in both print and cursive handwriting, which continues to be an enriching and exciting experience for all our students.

The use of the Slingerland® Approach continues in fourth grade as reading comprehension strategies are incorporated into diverse subject areas, including Science and Social Studies. Using students’ foundation in Slingerland® skills and knowledge in writing, fourth grade students continue to develop their capacity as independent writers, honing their writing skills through the review of past concepts and the learning of new, advanced language skills.

Our students utilize this quality foundation of knowledge and skills in language to continue to grow their oral and written communication skills and reading comprehension in fifth through eighth grades, and graduate exceptionally prepared for the reading and writing demands of high school and beyond.

In addition, Slingerland® is used as a Tier 2, small-group intervention with students who demonstrate a need for additional support in the areas of literacy in grades K-5th. This intervention is provided by the Assumption-St. Bridget School Learning Specialist, who is available to pull students out of their general education classes to receive additional instruction, feedback, and skill practice in a small-group setting. Students who receive these services are progress monitored, using an assessment and reporting tool known as DIBELS. When students demonstrate grade-level knowledge, skills, and abilities, they graduate from this support resource. Have additional questions? See below. 


What is the DIBELS Assessment/Acadience Reading Assessment?

The DIBELS/Acadience Reading assessment is used to determine student progress toward six literacy skills students need to master in order to become a proficient reader. Students in Kindergarten through 6th grade are assessed three times a year and student performance is tracked over time.  These scores help drive our responsive education to ensure students receive high-quality instruction that meets their individual needs. For more information, please visit Acadience Reading.

How are students selected to work with the Learning Specialist?

Every child is unique, but typically a student’s classroom teacher and the Learning Specialist will collectively decide to include a student in additional support programming based on the following factors:
  1. The student scores below benchmark on the DIBELS/Acadience Reading assessment;
  2. The student’s classroom performance is reflective of those scores; and
  3. The classroom teacher and Learning Specialist believe the student will benefit from additional reading intervention.
After the completion of the DIBELS/Acadience Reading assessment, parents are notified of their child’s performance, and their scores in relation to what is expected at their child’s age and grade level. If there are any concerns about the assessment performance for a specific child, classroom teachers are proactive in communicating these concerns to parents. Although the classroom teacher and Learning Specialist may recommend that a student receives additional support through working with the Learning Specialist, this additional service is only provided after parents have agreed that the support should be provided.

What will my child work on with the Learning Specialist?

The Learning Specialist uses the Slingerland® Method of instruction to reinforce the learning currently taking place in your child’s classroom.  The Learning Specialist will meet weekly with your child’s classroom teacher in order to ensure instruction and practice are consistent. As occurs in the classroom, your child may spend time working on reading, spelling, and writing. The support that your child receives with the Learning Specialist is in addition to the support that your child receives in the general education classroom with their teacher, so these children essentially benefit from “double doses” of instruction and practice in reading, spelling, and writing. The support from the Learning Specialist is also provided in a small-group format, with anywhere from 2-8 students receiving practice and support at a time.

How long will my child receive support from the Learning Specialist?

Although every child progress and develops at their own pace, typically a student will continue to receive support from the Learning Specialist until the following criteria have been met:
  1. Your child meets or exceeds the DIBELS/Acadience Reading assessment benchmarks for three progress monitoring assessments in a row;
  2. Your child’s classroom performance consistently reflects those improved scores; and
  3. Your child’s team believes he or she will continue to make progress when the support has been removed.
The decision to graduate a student from this support is made with collaboration between the Learning Specialist, classroom teacher, and parents.

How will I know my child is progressing in his or her work with the Learning Specialist?

When your child works with the Learning Specialist, he or she will be monitored for improvement in scores at least once every two weeks of time. In addition, the Learning Specialist and classroom teacher will be closely monitoring evidence of improvement within the classroom work samples that your child produces as part of his or her education. To learn more about your child’s progress, you can contact your child’s homeroom teacher or the Learning Specialist at any time. In addition, you are encouraged to sign up for a conference with the Learning Specialist during October and March conference times.  If you have a question for or would like to meet with the Learning Specialist at any point, please email her at

What if my child is working with his or her homeroom teacher and the Learning Specialist, and still isn't catching up to their classmates?

Students do often present with challenges and needs that cause them to perform significantly behind their peers in the areas of reading, writing, and spelling. Although Assumption-St. Bridget School can provide much support in the area of literacy, this may not be enough support for all learners. Many of our families secure additional support in the form of tutors or summer programming to facilitate continued growth and development in their struggling reader or writer. For students who would benefit from additional Slingerland® Approach work outside of school, Assumption-St. Bridget School maintains a list of tutors, learning specialists, and programs, including summer programs, to support parents in connecting with these resources.


For more information on the Slingerland® Approach, please check out the The Slingerland® Institute for Literacy, which provides more detailed descriptions of Slingerland®, its use in the classroom, and its effectiveness as supported by research.

If you feel that you need more information regarding our use of the Slingerland®  Approach or would like additional Slingerland® resources for your child, please contact the Assumption-St. Bridget School Learning Specialist, Christina Dougherty, at, or the Assumption-St. Bridget School Principal, Kathleen Conklin, at

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Tier 1: All Students

Assumption-St. Bridget School provides a rigorous academic program that encourages students to think deeply, question, reflect, problem-solve, express curiosity, develop motivation, and innovate on their way to developing competency across academic areas. Assumption-St. Bridget School maintains best instructional practices and curriculums to ensure that students have the information, tools, resources, and support they need to understand and learn competency in literacy, math, social studies, science, and religion. To reach these standards, we provide students with an expanse of opportunities to learn through various programs, including the strategies of Slingerland® Approach in reading, writing, and spelling, and Math for Love program out of the University of Washington.

Each grade-level provides the information and strategy development for students to encourage a strong academic foundation that will serve our students well in the future. In addition to a focus on academics, all students in the general education classroom also receive enrichment through various opportunitites. Our extensive and comprehensive arts program serves as a fantastic opportunity for enrichment throughout our Kindergarten-8th grades. Students at Assumption-St. Bridget School receive programming in Drama, Music, Art, Library, Technology, and Physical Education. These programs allow our students an opportunity to learn skills that support a well-rounded development, in addition to providing opportunities to apply their knowledge in hands-on, interactive activities that require collaboration with others. Students create using their bodies and voices and consistently have opportunitites to grow and develop their curiosity, creativity, and innovative thinking.

Students also receive enrichment in foreign language acquisition starting in 5th grade with our Spanish Language program. The goal of our Spanish program is to graduate students with basical conversational and written Spanish skills and knowledge. Using the Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling method, students are expected to speak aloud and participate in oral and written activities as they come to know and understand the Spanish language. Beyond providing content knowledge in Spanish, this program also provides all of our students with valuable opportunitites to take risks and build confidence in themselves as learners and community members. Although we do not expect all of our students to study Spanish beyond their education at Assumption-St. Bridget School, this program also enriches students’ understanding of the importance and value in learning another language, and prepares them for selecting their own foreign language course of study in high school, be it in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Chinese, or Sign Language.

Finally, all of our students’ educational experience is exceptionally enriched by our commitment to service as a community. At Assumption-St. Bridget School, we consider service to be a hallmark of the education that we provide to all of our students, and believe that it greatly enriches their educational experience. Students come to learn more about their world, both local and global, as well as the circumstances and situations that lead to marginalization in a society. Students learn that they can be change-makers, and that their efforts to support communities in need make a positive difference in the world. Some of the many Service Projects in which students participate include…

  • Pennies for Patients
  • Big Climb Fundraiser
  • Whale of a Sale
  • Cereal Drive
  • Free Dress Food Drive (Monthly)
  • Ida Culver Visits

For more information about the Tier 1 academic programming in each grade level, see the links below.



Academic Enrichment and Support Programming

Tier 2: Programming for Students Who Benefit from Something Extra

Tier 3: Programming for Students Who Need Significant Support or Enrichment

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Meet the Student Success Team

The Assumption-St. Bridget Student Success Team is comprised of members of the school administration team, specialists, and teachers, and meets on to discuss student academic, social, emotional and physical needs. Strong communication and partnership with parents, students and faculty, enables the SST to direct their work to meet the needs of ASB’s diverse learners. We also oversee student Service Plans (Seattle Public School services), Student Support Plans (ASB documentation of accommodations and interventions), and student IEPs (for those who are dually enrolled in ASB and Seattle Public Schools). See below to meet ASB’s Student Success Team!

staff-v2 Kathleen Conklin

Kathleen Conklin – Principal

As the Principal of Assumption-St. Bridget School, Kathleen brings vast knowledge of effective teaching practices for all learners. Kathleen earned a BA in English and Elementary Teaching Certification, endorsement in Reading from Gonzaga University, professional certification in Focus on Literacy, and MA in Curriculum and Reading Instruction, all of which she used to successfully teach first grade for 12 years. Most recently, Kathleen also received her Educational Administration certificate. Kathleen is certified as a Slingerland Director, and presents nationally to support other educators’ knowledge and skills in working with diversified learners. Kathleen is the Vice-President for the Washington State Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and the Chair of the Executive Committee for the Slingerland Institute’s Faculty Senate. Kathleen’s work with diversified learners and educational administration lead to her role as Director of Student Success at Assumption-St. Bridget School. In this role, she provided services to parents, staff, and worked directly with students to lead ASB’s new R.A.D. Program (Reinventing Achievement and Development) for middle school students. As the Assumption-St. Bridget School Principal, Kathleen continues to bring her long-standing expertise in instruction for diversified learners to our Student Success Team and the entire ASB Community.


Steve Dougherty – Vice Principal of Academics and Math Coach

Steve began his career at Assumption St. Bridget School (ASB) in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Seattle University and a Master’s Degree in Education from Antioch University. Steve has taught K-8 PE and Technology, middle school Science, Math, Social Studies, Language Arts and Literature. The unique opportunity of working in a variety of roles has allowed him to get to know students at every point of their education and understand their development as human beings. Beginning in 2016, Steve became the K-8 Math Coach at ASB, along with continuing to teach middle school Math and joining the Student Support Team.  In 2017, he became Vice-Principal of Academics, in addition to his continuing position as the Assumption-St. Bridget K-8 Math Coach.


Elee McCarthy – Director of Student Success

Elee has BA in Communication as well as her Masters in Teaching with endorsements in Special Education and ELA. Elee’s passion for working with students with unique learning needs stems from her personal background with such individuals. She has supported students of all abilities providing differentiated group instruction, individualized interventions, and push-in support in the classroom. In addition to teaching RAD (Reinventing Achievement and Development), Elee oversees the support of all students with support plans and various learning needs. She enjoys bringing her expertise to ASB and fostering a community of dedicated students with a commitment to strengthening their growth-mindset, skills, and knowledge.  


 staff-v2 Jennifer Riggle

Jennifer Riggle – School Psychologist and Counselor

Jennifer has a BA in Psychology, with a child/youth care emphasis,  along with a MS in Counseling Psychology, and an EdS in School Psychology. She is certified and licensed as both a School Counselor and School Psychologist in Washington state. She has worked as a full-time school counselor for 10 years in both public and private schools. Her training in both Counseling Psychology and School Psychology prepares her to work with a wide range of student concerns – from the typical, developmental concerns that happen for all students, to more substantial concerns that require additional planning and collaboration. Graduate work intensely focused on supporting students with disabilities (in assessment and intervention services) and supporting adults who work closely with those students. Her assessment focus is not only on diagnosis of disabilities, but also on understanding specific cognitive student strengths and deficits to help parents and teachers move forward with effective interventions.


Christina Dougherty – K-5 Learning Specialist

The 2018-2019 school year is Christina Dougherty’s 11th year at ASB, and 13th year as an educator.  She has taught 2nd and 3rd grade, and this is her third year as the K-5 Learning Specialist.  She completed her Bachelor of Arts in English and K-8 Teaching Certificate from Western Washington University, and her Professional Certification from Seattle University.  Christina has been trained in all three years of the Slingerland Approach, and completed her Reading Endorsement and MA E.d. from Antioch University.  She organizes and runs small pull-out groups of students who need extra support with reading skills, as well as provides push-in support to classrooms to facilitate teacher differentiation of instruction to better meet the needs of all our diverse learners at ASB.


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1st Grade Resources

Keep Your Math Skills Strong

Go Online with your First Grader and practice Math Skills at the following websites.

Counting Skills

Basic Addition Skills

Subtraction Skills

Stretch your Math Brains

Print out and work with your first grader the December Math Calendar at the following website

Work with your first grader through some Challenging Math Logic problems at the following website


Other Resources

In first grade we use the FOSS investigation system in our science units.  Check out their website at

Try some creative activities at

Want to read a little more?  Check out

First grade reading, writing, speaking, and listening are developed through the Slingerland® Approach.  Learn more on The Slingerland Institute’s website.


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1st Grade Curriculum

First Grade Curriculum

Assumption-St. Bridget


Reading,Writing, and Spelling

The first grade uses the Slingerland® Approach. This is a simultaneous, multi-sensory approach to speaking, reading, writing and spelling. It incorporates the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic motor channels of learning.

We use a variety of poetry and texts, including the Reading A-Z program.  This provides opportunities to tailor the program to fit individual needs, and for students to develop their reading/language skills.

We work on multiple skills including:

  • High frequency and sight word vocabulary (words that do not sound out)
  • Decoding/phonics
  • Vowels and their different sounds/combinations
  • Using context and picture clues
  • Parts of a story
  • Sequencing
  • Comprehension strategies

Writing is an integral part of the reading process.  In addition to guided reading groups, we work on guided writing.  We focus on writing for a variety of purposes: to tell a story, making lists, letters, expository writing, and writing in the content area. We address writing ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.  Our goal is that all of the pieces begin to come together by the end of the year.

It is exciting to watch first graders develop their reading and writing skills.  Sometimes the strides they make are so small, yet even these small steps are essential for a solid foundation. Patience, understanding, and support are crucial to your child’s success.  At times a first grade day can be compared to Goldilock’s search through the three bears’ house: too hard, too easy, just right!

Spelling begins in mid-September.  Each week the students will have eight spelling words.


First grade uses the FOSS Science program.  This program provides hands-on learning of a variety of scientific concepts through themes.  The first grade themes are:

  • Air and Weather
  • Sound and Light
  • Plants and Animals

Social Studies

In social studies we focus on several topics including:

  • Communities
  • Schools
  • Families
  • Black History Month
  • National holidays
  • Important people in history
  • Transportation

Social studies is integrated throughout the curriculum. This year we will use Social Studies Weekly, which is an educational classroom magazine focusing on topics in history, government, and civics.


First grade uses the Sadlier “We Believe” religion series.  It focuses on our individual uniqueness, God’s love for us, the gifts God has given us including Jesus and our faith. It covers the student learning expectations from the Seattle Archdiocese for first grade religion curriculum.  We will also focus on the important religious celebrations of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter.  Students have multiple opportunities for prayer in the classroom. We also learn traditional Catholic prayers: The Sign of the Cross, The Our Father, Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.


The Self-Regulation Curriculum will be integrated throughout the school year.  The weekly lessons will include:

  • Metacognition
  • Executive Function
  • Emotional Regulation
  • Sensory Processing
  • Social Awareness


This year our math series is Envisionmath 2.0. “Content is developed with focus, coherence, and rigor. This attention to rigor reflects the balance of conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and applications in the Common Core Standards” (Envisionmath, Scott Foresman and Addison Wesley). We focus on major curriculum guidelines for math including:

  • whole number relationships
  • addition and subtraction
  • geometric attributes
  • concepts of measurement
  • representing data including: tallies, graphing, tables and pictures
  • reasoning, problem-solving and communicating




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Kindergarten Curriculum


Kindergarten uses the We Believe religion text & follows the Archdiocese of Seattle Religion Standards.  This series focuses on the Catholic faith, including traditional prayers, scripture readings and the lives of the saints.  The students participate in Zones of Regulation, which helps children navigate their emotions and making positive, healthy choices towards themselves and others.  Through their religion classes, prayer and their experiences in this strong faith community, students have the opportunity to develop their relationships with God.


Students are immersed in a language and print-rich environment, emphasizing phonics and phonemic awareness, letter recognition, sounds, sight words and emergent readers’ text. Students read developmentally appropriate reading books and add to their skillset as their reading progresses.  They are encouraged to use phonetic, or invented spelling to communicate ideas in journals and responses to literature.  The Slingerland method, a multi-sensory approach, is the basis for printing and early literacy instruction.


Kindergarten math is a hands-on program based on Common Core State Standards, emphasizing math vocabulary and problem solving.  Students learn sorting and classifying, patterns, shapes, exploration of numbers to twenty, measurement, and introductory addition and subtraction. The program is enhanced with a comprehensive calendar corner, graphs, chant charts and math-related literature.


The science program is an inquiry-based approach that introduces the stduents to the steps of the scientific method: observation, hypothesis-formation, prediction, data gathering, and experimentation.  FOSS science kits are used to teach these science skills.  Many of the classroom themes integrate science topics as well.

Social Studies

The context for social studies learning in kindergarten is the student’s interaction with classroom and school.  The classroom serves as an environment in which decisions are made with respect to rights, rules and responsibilities.  They begin to learn the basic concepts of fairness and respect for the rights and opinions of others.   Units of study also focus on culture, geography, literature and music of specific countries.  Activities include games, art, cooking, music and holidays.


The goal of the Kindergarten drama program is to give students a positive artistic experience. Most drama classes with a multi-cultural story. The stories are connected to activities and creative play that enhance learning. We also focus on specific performance skills with various games, projects and activities.


In Kindergarten music, the focus is on exploring each element of music with an emphasis on rhythm and melody.  Student explore music through movement and rhythmic instruments, as they develop skills to read music. Discovering the joy of music is the primary objective.

Physical Education

In Kindergarten physical education instruction is focused on the fundamental concepts of loco-motor movements, body and spatial awareness, and safe play.  These concepts are taught through warm-up activities and group play. Kindergartners have P.E. twice a week.

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Christina Dougherty


  • Bachelor of Arts in English and K-8 Teaching Certificate completed in 2006 from Western Washington University
  • Professional Certification completed in 2010 from Seattle University
  • Completed all three years of Slingerland training
  • Reading Endorsement completed in June 2013 and MA E.d. completed in June 2014 from Antioch University.

At ASB Since


Why I Became An Educator

I love learning. When I was in school I could never bring myself to focus on only one subject. I decided to become an educator so I could continue to learn and experience all areas of study as well as help my students gain the knowledge I always sought after.

Why I Like Working at ASB

The community! The faculty, staff, parents and students are all so wonderful. I feel privileged to work in such a warm, supportive environment and do what I love each day.

Favorite Quote

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Outside Interests

I love spending time with my family and friends! I enjoy being outdoors and reading.

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Kathleen Conklin


  • Bachelor of Arts, English, Teacher Certification, Endorsement in Reading, Gonzaga University
  • Masters of Education, Curriculum and Instruction in Reading, Grand Canyon University
  • Director for the Slingerland Institute for Literacy
  • Principal Certification, Seattle Pacific University

Why I Became An Educator

I love working with children. I was raised in a family of educators and have always highly valued learning. As a teacher, every day is different and every day you learn something new.

Why I Like Working at ASB

I am a proud ASB alum and it feels like home to me.

Favorite Book

Changes all the time!  Reading is the window to the world!

Favorite Quote

Work hard and be nice!

- Unknown

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Annie Hawksford


I have a degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Elementary Education. I am Slingerland trained and have completed my professional certification through Seattle University. I have completed Schools Attuned and recently finished a workshop sponsored by Gesell Institute of Human Development.

At ASB Since


Why I Became An Educator

I knew I wanted to be a teacher in First grade! I loved school and loved my teachers. I had fun learning knew ideas and that inspired me to work with young children.

Why I Like Working at ASB

The community at ASB is so supportive and full of positive energy. I live my faith everyday at school.

Favorite Quote

Be yourself…everyone else is already taken!
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