Becoming a reader in Room 209

Our balanced literacy program

Literacy is a team effort at school and at home

Acquiring the skill set needed to process and understand information, and to extract exactly what's needed for a specific purpose doesn't happen overnight. Reading, writing and talking go hand in hand in hand. That's why in our classroom, your child will be exposed to a wide variety of reading materials, along with strategies for thinking deeply and with purpose about what we read.

From English and French language classes to Social Studies, Science and Math, literacy activities including Shared Reading, Guided Reading, Reading Aloud and Independent Reading will develop your child's potential to read and write for an intended purpose. These four processes work together toward the goal of stronger and more analytical reading and thinking.

More importantly, your child will develop the ability to think critically about the information served up to us over and over in such a wide variety of formats, in this technology-driven age.

Reflecting on one's own reading abilities takes practice and meaningful feedback together. In class, practice and feedback will take the form of small groups, or think/pair/share activities with partners, along with individual work. Feedback will come from peers, as well as from the teacher, and will involve self-evaluation.

Your child is encouraged to extend their reading strategies beyond the classroom to the world around them. As an integral part of your child's reading team, please take a few minutes every day at home to read together (in French and in English). Whether it's news, comics, magazine articles or novels, take a minute or two to talk about what you're reading.

Reading Aloud

Listening to stories being read aloud helps children process meaning because the necessary background knowledge is carefully set up for them at the outset. When stories are read to children, connections are made to the text, to the world and to themselves.

Reading a wide variety of texts at levels that challenge children to reach beyond what they're used to is engaging. Not only that - working just outside their comfort zone also assures the child that they are capable of making many different connections to new information - it's motivational!

Finally, please don't underestimate the value of that bedtime story, or having your child read to you, or even re-tell the story in their own words. Connections are made this way, and a reading coach knows that the key to an active imagination - so crucial to our future innovators - is planting the seed with a simple story.

Guided Reading

Learning to discuss text in more depth with a small peer focus group led by the teacher is the basis for Guided Reading is all about.

Based on teacher-modelled strategies for questioning and understanding, Guided Reading takes a more in-depth look at aspects of new text, while meeting the group's particular reading level and learning needs.

Reflections are shared through written response, retelling in graphic (visual) form, or a combination of writing and discussion. Guided Reading helps your child discover the opinions and ideas in fiction and non-fiction texts.

From the outset of the school year, your child will be given many opportunities to practice these reading strategies to hone his or her knowledge and higher level questioning skills in this small group setting, as he or she works on becoming an independent reader.

Independent Reading

Choosing appropriate-level reading, thinking critically about what information is being presented, and being able to extract and retain key information takes practice. Independent Reading is a final step in the balanced literacy program that puts into action the skills students learn in Read Alouds, Shared Reading and Guided Reading.

Despite its name, Independent Reading continues to be supported. While explicit teacher guidance is minimal, reading independently encourages your child to reflect on the reading strategies he or she learns along the way. The teacher may spend a few minutes introducing a strategy to practice during independent reading time, and follow that up by moderating a post-reading discussion.

In addition, while the class is reading independently for 20-30 minutes, the teacher may take aside a small group to work with, in order to focus on specific areas of need or to give the group the chance to share their thinking on a particular topic.

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We're a team!

Your child's success as a reader hinges on a number of factors, not the least of which is consistent practice of the reading activities discussed here. Equally important is ensuring your child reads outside of class time.

In addition to the weekly reading homework and reading log, please encourage your child to read every day for pleasure. Your child's engagement with a wide variety of media, reading materials and writing styles will help him or her become aware of his or her ability to synthesize information and think critically about the world around them.

For more information on our Balanced Literacy program, please log in to our class blog listed below, or contact me directly with specific questions at the following address.