Balanced literacy is not merely a philosophy but rather a cohesive approach to teaching literacy . The Hudson Public Schools has chosen to incorporate the Balanced Literacy Philosophy to meet the growing educational needs of students in a changing society. As part of this philosophy, teachers provide instruction at the students' reading level. As students continually progress, the materials are adjusted to meet students' needs.
A balanced approach to literacy instruction combines language and literature-rich activities associated with holistic reading instruction with the explicit teaching of skills as needed to develop the fluency and comprehension that proficient readers possess. Such instruction stresses the love of language, gaining meaning from print, and instruction of phonics in context. Balanced literacy cultivates the skills of reading, writing, thinking, speaking, and listening for all students. Balanced literacy allows for flexibility within the classroom. It allows the teacher to meet each child where he is and move him forward in the manner and time best suited to the individual.
To develop phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling proficiency
Some examples of word study activities include:
- Introduction of the 43+ phonemic sounds used in the English language
- The Word Wall—high frequency vocabulary is introduced using a variety of activities and then prominently displayed in the classroom
- Spelling activities and word games related to the words on the wall
- “Making Words” activities designed to develop an understanding of word patterns
- Use of charts, rhymes, songs and sound play.
Shared Reading—to provide an opportunity for children to participate with the teacher in reading big books, charts, etc.
Some examples of shared reading activities include:
- Choral reading and chiming in
- Large group instruction about reading strategies and print conventions
Guided Reading—to work with the teacher in a small group setting in order to develop a full range of reading strategies that will allow the student to become an independent reader.
Some examples of guided reading activities include:
- Direct reading instruction in a small group
- Reading material that has been especially selected for the children in the group
- Within this group the students will also be engaged in a variety of additional reading activities designed to strengthen their literacy skills at their individual instructional level.
To produce independent readers who are excited by reading and see it as a valued, worthwhile activity.
Includes the following types of activities:
- A wide variety of materials at various levels for the children to read
- Opportunities to re-read favorite stories
- Book talks given by children to the class, a group or a friend
- Teacher conferencing with individual students about the books they have read
- Running record assessment.
To enable students to view writing as a real and purposeful means of communication
Includes the following types of activities:
- Teacher modeling of writing
- Time for daily writing
- A writing center
- Shared writing experiences
- Teacher and/or peer conferencing.
Balanced Literacy the Home-School Connection
Some Helpful Suggestions
- Read to your child as often as you can.
- Encourage your child to join in and “read”. Point to the words as you read.
- Draw attention to print that is in the environment. (labels, signs, etc.)
- Read and write birthday cards, messages, grocery lists and letters together.
- Encourage your child to find words that begin with the same letters as his/her name.
- Ask questions before, during and after reading. (eg. “What do you think will happen next?”) Occasionally ask some “why” questions about the story.
- When reading aloud, if your child makes a mistake, allow time for self-correction. If the mistake makes sense, ignore it.
- Ask your child what word would make sense when she/he becomes “stuck” on a word. Encourage your child to “have-a-go”, to use the pictures, to re-read, or to sound it out. More fluent readers can “read-on”, to get the overall meaning.
Above all, be positive and have fun!
"Why Can't I Skip My Twenty Minutes of Reading Tonight?"
Let's figure it out -- mathematically!
- Student A reads 20 minutes five nights of every week.
- Student B reads only 4 minutes a night...or not at all!
Step 1: Multiply minutes a night x 5 times each week.
- Student A reads 20 min. x 5 times a week = 100 min./week.
- Student B reads 4 minutes x 5 times a week = 20 minutes.
Step 2: Multiply minutes a week x 4 weeks each month.
- Student A reads 400 minutes a month.
- Student B reads 80 minutes a month.
Step 3: Multiply minutes a month x 9 months/school year.
- Student A reads 3600 min. in a school year.
- Student B reads 720 min. in a school year.
Student A practices reading the equivalent of ten whole school days a year.
Student B gets the equivalent of only two school days of reading practice.
By the end of 6th grade if Student A and Student B maintain these same reading habits, Student A will have read the equivalent of 60 whole school days Student B will have read the equivalent of only 12 school days. One would expect the gap of information retained will have widened considerably and so, undoubtedly, will school performance. How do you think Student B will feel about him/herself as a student?
Some questions to ponder:
- Which student would you expect to read better?
- Which student would you expect to know more?
- Which student would you expect to write better?
- Which student would you expect to have a better vocabulary?
- Which student would you expect to be more successful in school....and in life?