the Language of Balanced Literacy Arlyne
If you are a new teacher in New York City, you are
most likely immersed in Reading Workshop and Writing Workshop as
your primary tool in teaching students to read. If you were teaching
before the city instituted the uniform curriculum and your school
was doing something called "balanced literacy," you'll
recognize some of the terminology since it has carried over into
the current workshop models. If you don't recognize the terms you
will find this article helpful in providing some background on the
language of balanced literacy.
The first element in balanced literacy is "Reading Aloud."
The model we're using now also includes "read alouds"
accompanied by instances where the students "turn and talk"
to each other about various story-related subjects. In the balanced
literacy model, the teacher reads aloud to the whole class or small
groups. The texts are carefully selected from children's literature
and a variety of genres are represented. Favorite texts may be reread
several times. This may remind you of the "Star Books"
in the Kindergarten Units of Study.
Here the teacher uses an enlarged text that all the children can
see. The teacher involves the students in reading together, perhaps
using a pointer. Big books, poems, songs or the classes own interactive
writing may be used for this activity.
In Guided Reading the teacher works with small groups who have similar
reading processes. The teacher selects and introduces new books
and supports the children who are reading the text to themselves.
The teacher makes teaching points before, during and after the reading
of the text. You might do this during independent reading time.
When you use guided reading during a conference you allow the children
nearby to benefit from the teaching point you’re giving to
The children read on their own or with partners from a wide range
of materials. Most important is that some of the reading is exactly
at their reading level. If a student is going to learn to read by
reading, then the books have to be "just right.”
Balanced literacy also includes writing.
The teacher and children work together to compose messages and stories;
the teacher supports the process as scribe.
As with shared writing the teacher and children work together to
compose messages and stories, but these are written with a "shared
pen" involving the students in the physical act of writing.
Guided Writing or Writing Workshop
Children engage in writing a variety of texts with the teacher guiding
the process through mini-lessons and conferences.
Children write their own pieces including stories, informational
pieces, labels and lists, etc.
Next month I'll write about the value of each of these elements.
If you have comments or questions, please contact me at email@example.com.