Balanced Literacy

A Perfect Balance

Our Language Arts curriculum is designed around a balanced literacy approach.  All students develop their literacy skills at different rates. Whether a student is a proficient or developing reader/writer, they need to have a variety of experiences. A Balanced Literacy approach consists of reading and writing that support one other. This approach allows the teacher to develop instruction that meets the various needs of the students. 

Components of Balanced Literacy

  • Reading Aloud- Teacher reads aloud to the whole class or small groups modeling how various skills and strategies deepen comprehension of a text.
  • Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience. An integral component of Shared Reading is an enlarged text that all children can see. Children join in the reading of a big book or other enlarged text such as songs, poems, charts, and lists created by the teacher or developed with the class through Shared and Interactive Writing.
  • Independent Reading-students read independently
  • Guided Reading is an instructional reading strategy during which a teacher works with small groups of children who have similar reading processes and needs. The teacher selects and introduces new books carefully chosen to match the instructional levels of students and supports whole text reading. Readers are carefully prepared when being introduced to a new text and various teaching points are made during and after reading.  Guided reading fosters comprehension skills and strategies, develops background knowledge and oral language skills, and provides as much instructional-level reading as possible.  During guided reading, students are given exposure to a wide variety of texts and are challenged to select from a growing repertoire of strategies that allow them to tackle new texts more independently.
  • Small Group Instruction - consists of guided reading, strategy lessons and small group component lessons.
  • Strategy Lesson - Focus on a common need among a group of students that may be at a range of reading/writing levels.
  • Modeled Writing-teacher models writing by writing aloud (modeling thinking, planning, questioning, drafting and revising)
  • Shared Writing-students compose story and the teacher acts as a scribe
  • Guided Writing-teacher guides the students in the creation of their own writing
  • Interactive Writing-teacher and students share the pen to compose a story
  • Independent Writing-students write independently
  • Writing Workshop - The basic philosophy behind writing workshop is to allow students to daily spend time writing for real purposes about things that interest them. Students can experiment with a variety of genres. Students learn the craft of writing through practice, conferring and studying the craft of other authors. The ultimate goal of Writing Workshop is always to develop life-long writers.
  • Word Study -students are taught how to attack words and analyze patterns and sounds to help them decode and construct words on their own.
  • Reader's Workshop - follows the same structure of Writing Workshop. It is made up of a mini-lesson, independent and partner reading time/conferring and/or small group instruction, mid-workshop teaching and a share.  During the mini-lesson teachers teach by demonstrating a reading skill or strategy that will support students as readers. Students are then given the opportunity to practice the strategy during the active engagement part of the mini-lesson and during their independent/partner reading.