In a balanced-literacy approach, students will have authentic opportunities to use strategies and skills in reading and writing.
“Reading aloud to students is another way to demonstrate how much you value reading, and it also becomes an opportunity to teach students about the rewards that reading brings” (Graves, 59). Readalouds occur throughout the day within a balanced literacy program. During read aloud time, the students gather on the whole group carpet area while a text is read aloud. Read alouds provide time for new genres, cultures, themes, and social issues to be introduced. If read alouds are thoughtfully selected, they can be used to teach reading strategies and vocabulary. According to Teaching Reading in the 21st Century, “What you choose to read aloud can serve to entice students to broaden the scope of their reading interests” (Graves, 59). During read alouds, the students are granted a glimpse inside the teacher’s head when think alouds are used. During the reading, the teacher may pause and share what she is thinking. This serves as a model for the students so that they are aware that real readers have a constant conversation running in their heads. Read alouds are also beneficial in providing a model of quality writing. During writer’s workshop, we often refer to mentor texts to help us improve our writing. By having some trusty texts, students will be able to model their writing after their favorite authors. Lastly, read alouds create a sense of community. “The social nature of reading in the company of others can become a powerful motivating force, encouraging students to read, to read with understanding, and to share their ideas with others. When students have the opportunity to talk with one another about what they read, they come to realize that there are many ways to understand and respond to a text, and they also have the opportunity to enlarge their understanding and repertoire of responses by listening to the responses of others.” (Graves, 60)
We rely heavily on this instructional approach in kdg and first grade, when students are emergent readers and are learning how texts work and stories go.
Having time to actually read for pleasure is essential if a child is to become a real reader. During independent reading time, students read texts of their own choosing. The teacher should be knowledgeable about current literature and should be able to assist the students in selecting “good fit” books. At the beginning of the school year, and as needed throughout the year), students need to be taught how to select “good fit” books. During independent reading, the classroom teacher may conference with individual readers. During a reading conference, the teacher checks in to see how the student is doing, teaches a strategy, and a praise point. The teacher may listen to the student’s reading and then give one strategy that the student may use. Or perhaps the teacher will help the student select a “good fit” book. After the teacher shares a strategy, she should give a praise point and then move on to another student. These conferences allow for the teacher to assess the students reading progress and to see which students need help with what. By providing time for the students to actually read, the teacher is showing the student that she values reading. “Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1998) discovered that among the fifth-grade students they studies, 50 percent read 4 minutes a day or less; 30 percent, 2 minutes a day or less, and 10 percent not at all” (Graves, 59). If students are to become better readers, they need to be given time to actually read!
We all know the importance of modeling reading. It is just as important to model for the students the qualities of good writers. Modeled writing generally occurs more often in the primary classrooms as the students are beginning to develop as writers. In upper grade classrooms, the teacher may choose to model specific craft or convention lessons. All students may not need the modeled writing lesson, so the teacher may pull just a small group for the writing lesson. Modeled writing generally occurs within Writer’s Workshop time, but it may also occur in content areas also.
Guided writing generally occurs during Writer’s Workshop. When the rest of the class is working independently on their pieces, the teacher may pull a small needs-based group and teach them a specific writing strategy. The teacher informally assesses the students during the writing conference and then uses that information to guide the guided writing group. Interactive writing can take many forms with the classroom. Within the classroom, the students are expected to journal. Often the teacher responds to the child in the journal. If a piece is too personal, the student may choose not to share the piece with the teacher. Interactive writing also occurs when the class writes a piece of writing together. The students and the teacher may “share the pen” and contribute sections of the text. If journals are being used, it is important for the teacher to, “Read and comment on the journal as often as possible” (Graves, 375).
Within the balanced literacy approach, independent writing takes up the majority of the Writer’s Workshop approach. Students are expected
The Fountas and Pinnell word study is a collection of minilessons that enable teachers to help children attend to and learn about how words work. The lessons are to be connected with word solving in reading and writing across the curriculum. Children learn to solve words on the run, while reading for meaning and writing to communicate. This is a comprehensive word study program that focuses on letter/sound relationships, spelling patterns, High frequency words, word meaning, word structure, and word solving actions.
Students are often informally assessed on their reading and writing development. The informal assessments allow for the teacher to quickly decide which students need remediation, more practice or enrichment with specific skills and strategies. Teachers may informally assess their students by simply listening in as the students are talking with their peers. High level questioning should be used to guide student conversations. Teachers may informally assess the students reading and writing development by utilizing journals. The journals allow a quick peek into the students’ heads and show the students’ strengths and weaknesses. Formal assessment are also used within the classroom. Many of the formal assessments are mandated by the school district or state. The formal assessments are used to guide my instruction. Students will earn their grades by earning points. Many of the scores will come from rubrics. Rubrics are sent home on a biweekly basis so you know how your child is doing in the classroom. Students will be evaluated on the quality and quality of reading journals, reading logs, written responses, active participation during discussions, published pieces of writing, comprehension tests, and quantity of writing produced during Writer’s Workshop.
This is just a model of what a normal day may look like. However, when doing a class novel, the timing may change.
Literacy development consumes a large portion of the school day. In order for students to grow into real readers and writers, they need to be provided with ample time to hone their skills. Reading and writing elements are employed in every subject area throughout the day. For example, while the students are in gym class, they may read the rules to a new game or match terms to the correct lines on the basketball court (Free Throw Line card would be placed on the actual free throw line).
I will use different groupings throughout the day in order to meet the students’ needs.
Balanced literacy evans crull 2013
Assistant Director ELA
St. Clair County RESA
WHAT IS BALANCED LITERACY?
Work with a partner and develop a list of
what you believe balanced literacy is.
WHAT IS A BALANCED-LITERACY PROGRAM?
An approach for teaching literacy that is widely used in classrooms.
A comprehensive, differentiated approach to reading and writing
A Balanced-Literacy Program “combines explicit instruction, guided
practice, collaborative learning, and independent reading and writing”
(Tompkins, 2010) on a daily basis.
Teachers differentiate instruction based on student needs.
Balanced literacy incorporates all reading approaches realizing students
need to use multiple strategies to become proficient readers.
COMPONENTS OF A BALANCED LITERACY
Mini-lessons – Modeled
Small Group Instruction (guided
The teacher reads with the students when a book may be
at a too difficult reading level or comprehension level.
Students will have a chance to read books at their
comfort level during this time.
Read-alouds are a great means to model good reading—
fluency and use of strategies. Grand conversations can
occur during this time.
The teacher will guide small groups of students using
leveled readers during this time. Specific strategies and
skills will be taught.
THE COMPONENTS OF BALANCED LITERACY
Teacher reads selections
aloud to students.
•Students are introduced to a
variety of texts
•Students hear fluent reading
•Teacher shares her thinking
•Students are provided with
quality writing models
•Creates a sense of community
What it Looks Like:
All Eyes on One Text
Repeated Readings of
New, Familiar and
Fluency and Phrasing
Love for reading
Teacher works with small, flexible groups of
children who have similar reading strengths &
Small groups at the same
Prepares students for the
next reading level
Teach the skills within
their instructional level
Books match their
instructional reading level
SMALL GROUP STRATEGY LESSONS
Small groups that are skill
Students may or may not
be at the same reading
Books match their
independent reading level
COMPARISON OF TRADITIONAL AND
GUIDED READING GROUPS
Traditional Reading Groups
Groups remain stable in composition.
Students progress through a specific
sequence of stories and skills.
Introductions focus on new vocabulary.
Skills practice follows reading.
Focus is on the lesson, not the student.
Teacher follows prepared "script" from the
Questions are generally limited to factual
Teacher is interpreter and checker of
Students take turn reading orally.
Focus is on decoding words.
Students respond to story in workbooks
or on prepared worksheets.
Readers are dependent on teacher
direction and support.
Students are tested on skills and literal
recall at the end of each story/unit.
Guided Reading Groups
Groups are dynamic, flexible, and change
on a regular basis.
Stories are chosen at appropriate level for
each group; there is no prescribed
Introductions focus on meaning with
some attention to new and interesting
Skills practice is embedded in shared
Focus is on the student, not the lesson.
Teacher and students actively interact with
Questions develop higher order thinking
skills and strategic reading. Teacher and
students interact with text to construct
Students read entire text silently or with a
Focus is on understanding meaning.
Students respond to story through
personal and authentic activities. Students
read independently and confidently.
Assessment is ongoing and embedded in
“JUST RIGHT” BOOKS
96%- 100% Accuracy
Students can read with
teacher support and
< 90% Accuracy
Students read texts that
they have chosen.
Books should be ―Good
Meet their need (to
inform, entertain, or
Match their interests
At an appropriate reading
Students are given time
to actually read.
Students are encouraged
to get comfortable.
Individual Instruction for Readers and Writers
Take place between the teacher and student
Differentiation at its Best!
RULES AND PROCEDURES ARE CLEARLY
RELEVANT TASKS ARE PREPARED AT EACH
The teacher writes in
front of the students
demonstrating a writing
strategy, skill or
convention of written
Teacher often shares
her thinking as she
goes through the writing
Teacher & students
collaborate to write text
Teacher works with a
group of students with
similar strengths &
During interactive writing, the
teacher and the students may
―share the pen.‖ The class may
share ideas and write a piece
together. Or, the students and
teacher may write back and forth
with one another, possibly in
journals, on charts or sticky notes.
Students are expected
to choose their own
Students go through
the writing process at
their own pace.
Published pieces are
assessed using a
Mini-lesson : Teacher explicitly teaches a skill in
phonics, spelling, vocabulary, reading, or writing
Practice: Students practice the skill independently or
with a partner
Sharing: Students share what was learned and how
it will help us in everyday reading and writing
COMPONENTS OF LANGUAGE/WORD STUDY
Turn and Talk
Notes From Small Group
On Demand Writing
Rubrics are often used to
evaluate students’ academic
achievement and growth.
90 MINUTE READING BLOCK EXAMPLE
Amount of Time
Types of Activities
Literacy Centers or
Read and response
8:40 – 9:00
9:00 – 10:00
Balanced Literacy Element
Morning Procedures Independent Writing – Journaling
Independent Reading Book Selection
Modeled Writing, Interactive Writing, Independent
Writing, Guided Writing, & Read Aloud
Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Literature
Circles, Work Stations, Independent Reading, Read
Aloud & Word Study
Spelling & Word Study
12:45 – 1:05
Self-Selected Reading & Reading Conferences
1:05 – 1:35
Special Area Class
1:20 – 1:50
1:50 – 2:50
2:50 – 3:20
Shared Reading, Read Aloud & Word Study
Reading Interventions & Enrichment
Shared Reading & Independent Writing
Dependent upon the lesson
TYPES OF GROUPS
Modeled reading and writing
Independent reading and
The teacher's role is:
to guide and model literacy behavior for children to emulate.
to meet the needs of all the children in the classroom which
include physical, emotional and intellectual growth.
to create an environment filled with meaningful, inviting and
authentic activities, employing developmentally appropriate
to engage students in experiences that make literacy events
meaningful and help the students make connections and
build on their prior knowledge.
to maintain an environment that places an emphasis on
meaningful dialogue, negotiated meaning, and understanding
facilitates authentic literacy experiences.
to create a classroom environment that supports emerging
readers and writers through
modeling, scaffolding, monitoring, and facilitating classroom
to encourage students to develop their own unique interest
to create an accepting and inviting atmosphere for learning.