A balanced literacy program offers a variety of meaningful, functional ways children can be engaged in learning to read and write using books and poems of all kinds. It involves children in using all modes of communication: reading, writing, listening, speaking, observing, illustrating, experiencing, doing, and creating. The following elements will be seen in balanced literacy classrooms:
Reading Aloud To Children
- This is the single most influential factor in young children's success in learning to read. It provides a good role model of oral reading and motivates young children to learn to read. A sense of story, knowledge of written language, how texts are structured, and increased vocabulary are a few of the benefits.
- Shared reading is any reading situation in which the student can see the enlarged text, observe an expert reading it with fluency and expression, and is invited to read along. It provides a relaxed, enjoyable situation during which early strategies and the process of reading are demonstrated. It provides the young reader a chance to participate and behave like a reader!
- Guided reading takes place in small groups or individually with teacher and student. It is the time for coaching the development of strategies that lead to independence in reading. Guided reading provides the opportunity for the student to "problem-solve" with reading for meaning. The teacher selects the text and provides guidance, demonstration, and explanations as needed.
- Independent reading provides the opportunity for the student to read self-selected books - just right books - and work through the challenges of the text. It is the time for the student to develop fluency in reading and to build confidence and independence.
- Modeled writing parallels Reading Aloud in that it is the time for the teacher to model and demonstrate the process of writing. Writing format, spacing, handwriting, spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary are some of the skills included.
- Shared writing parallels Shared Reading in that the students are involved in constructing the text in some way. The teacher may ask the students to "share the pen" (interactive writing) and help in the actual writing of the piece. Shared writing provides the perfect opportunity to work on phonics and spelling.
- Guided writing usually takes place during Writing Workshop when the students are writing under the guidance and direction of the teacher. This is often achieved through student-teacher conferences when attention is given to improving writing that was done by the student.
- Students are allowed time to build confidence, independence, and fluency in writing by having opportunities for writing without intervention or evaluation by the teacher. It provides the chance to write for different purposes and time to practice skills learned during other writing times.