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NYC Helpline: How To: Teach Literacy

The Value of the Balanced Literacy Components Arlyne LeSchack

In the last article, I defined the eight components of Balanced Literacy: Reading Aloud, Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Independent Reading, Shared Writing, Interactive Writing, Guided Writing and Independent Writing. What are the values of each of these?

Reading Aloud:

  • Involves children in reading for enjoyment
  • Demonstrates reading for a purpose
  • Models fluent reading
  • Gives students a sense of story
  • Exposes students to the syntax of written language and text structure
  • Exposes students to a more interesting vocabulary and other ways to say things
  • Creates a community in the classroom based on shared experience
  • Exposes students to more complex ideas
  • Serves as a model for the teaching of writing
  • Helps develop reading behaviors through rereading and student pretend reading

Shared reading takes this even further by:

  • Explicitly demonstrating early strategies, such as word-by-word matching
  • Building a sense of story and the ability to predict what will happen
  • Showing the process of reading an extended text
  • Involving the the students in an enjoyable and purposeful way
  • Providing support from the group
  • Providing an opportunity to participate as a reader
  • Creating a body of known texts that can be used for independent reading and as a resource for writing and word study

With the teacher's support Guided Reading adds the following:

  • The opportunity to read many texts and a wide variety of texts
  • The opportunity to problem solve while reading for meaning
  • Assistance using strategies on extended text
  • Challenges for readers while still providing the context for success
  • The opportunity to learn new words in texts
  • Teacher guidance on text selection

When students are reading independently, they get:

  • The opportunity to apply reading strategies
  • The time to practice and sustain reading behaviors
  • The challange to work on their own
  • The practice on figuring out words on their own
  • The fluency that comes from repeated readings
  • The confidence of succeeding on their own with texts
  • The opportunity to support each other through partner reading

When the teacher acts as scribe in shared writing, the student gets:

  • To see how writing works
  • The opportunity to pay close attention fo letters, words and sounds as teacher models
  • Their ideas recorded in writing
  • Written language resources in the classroom

In interactive writing, the students share the pen so:

  • There is further demonstration of the concepts of print
  • There is further opportunity to hear the sounds in words and connect them to the letters
  • There is further exposure to the writing and reading process
  • Increased spelling knowledge
  • There are examples in the classroom of writing students can read

In guided writing (writing workshop with mini-lessons and conferences):

  • Develop their own voice as writers
  • Begin to feel that they are authors
  • Write for many different purposes accross the curriculum
  • Use different formats for writing
  • Use new words and punctuation
  • Develop their creativity and their ability to compose

Finally in independent writing students have the opportunity to:

  • Produce their own pieces
  • Use writing for many different purposes
  • Increase their ability as they practice
  • Further develop their skills with words and punctuation
  • More fully develop their creativity and their ability to compose

I hope knowing these terms, their definitions and the value of each practice will help you apply the reading and writing workshop method of teaching literacy in your classroom. If you have any questions, please contact me at aleschack@aol.com.


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