What is Balanced Literacy?
Balanced Literacy is a framework designed to help all students learn to read and write effectively. The program stands firmly on the premise that all students can learn to read and write. This balance between reading and writing allows students to receive the teaching needed in order to reach grade level status, while allowing students to work at a level that is not frustrating for them.
We utilize the following reading experiences in our classroom:
Reading aloud to children
Shared reading - whole class
Guided reading - small group
Students also participate in shared and individual writing activities during the following writing activities:
Writer's workshop - small groups or individual
Additionally, during many daily reading and writing experiences, children are taught about letters, sounds, words and how they work. Listening and speaking are also emphasized in this integrated language approach.
In "Read Aloud" I read a story, book of fiction, news article, picture book, essay, poem, or trade book to students for the purpose of developing the enjoyment of reading, vocabulary knowledge, focused listening skills, or critical thinking skills of children
In Interactive Read Aloud I verbally interact with students before, during and after reading to help them understand and make a variety of connections with the read-aloud selection. The selection can be a non-fiction or fiction narrative, a poem or picture book.
During an interactive read-aloud I engage in a series of activities, including: previewing the book; asking students to make predictions and connections to prior knowledge; stopping at purposeful moments to emphasize story elements, ask guiding questions or focus questions; and using oral or written responses to bring closure to the selection.
Shared Reading is a link in helping students become independent readers. It allows me to model and support students using prediction and confirming skills. It focuses on the meaning, fun, enjoyment, characters and sequence of a story and allows children to relate it back to their own experiences. It promotes discussion, problem-solving and critical thinking by students.
Shared Reading is an interactive reading experience. Children join in the reading of a big book or other enlarged text such as songs, poems, charts, and lists we create as a class during Shared Reading. During the reading the I involve the children in reading together by pointing to or sliding below each word in the text. I deliberately draw attention to the print and model early reading behaviors such as moving from left to right and word-by-word matching. Shared reading models the reading process and strategies used by readers.
Guided reading is an instructional reading strategy during which I work with small groups of children who have similar reading processes and needs. I select 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. Ongoing observation and assessment help to inform instruction and grouping of students is flexible and may be changed often.
Independent Reading is a time when students independently read appropriate books.
Independent Reading provides an opportunity to apply strategies that are introduced and taught during teacher read aloud, shared reading, and guided reading.
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. English, spelling, handwriting and other mechanics can be taught within writing workshop.
Students learn the craft of writing through practice, conferring, and studying the craft of other authors. The ultimate goal of a writing workshop is always to develop life-long writers.
Writers' Workshop gives children daily opportunities to develop their unique writing processes and communicate meaning through words and pictures.
We focus on the following three traits of writing with many specific, focused lessons:
-Conventions (spelling, grammar, spacing, etc.)
During independent writing in first grade, children are encouraged to get ideas on paper by using pictures, letters, and words. Children write in journals, make their own books, and write stories,
Working with Words
We manipulate words in various manners during lessons focusing on:
- letters and their corresponding sounds.
- components of words, such as roots, prefixes, and suffixes.
- patterns of how words are spelled, such as word families.
- how parts of words often will give hints to the meaning of a word, as well
as its spelling or pronunciation.