Hampton-Dumont Balanced Literacy

K-8 Core Beliefs and Non-Negotiables

Excellence Every Day!

Literacy Non-Negotiables

  • All children should view themselves as readers and writers, becoming life-long readers and writers.

  • Classrooms will be print-rich and include a wide variety of reading materials (fiction and non-fiction texts), resources, and technology to support a child’s literacy development.

  • Literacy (reading & writing) will be taught every day.

  • Classroom libraries will consist of many high quality reading materials at students’ independent reading levels to meet the needs of our diverse population.

  • Each school will have a book room with high quality reading materials to be used for small group instruction.

  • Observation and assessment information will guide instruction.

  • Classroom framework will be established using a Workshop Model (independent reading, whole group instruction, small group instruction).

    • The Daily Five will be the classroom framework to deliver instruction.

    • C.A.F.E. will be used to guide instruction for specific student need.

  • The gradual release model (explicit teaching, modeling, guided practice, independent practice) will be used in all areas of literacy.


  • K-8 students will have explicit instruction in the seven thinking/comprehension strategies each year (schema, inferring, questioning, determining importance, visualization, summarizing & synthesizing) using both narrative and expository text.

  • The seven comprehension strategies will be utilized and reinforced in all subject areas.

  • The ultimate goal in reading will be for the reader to comprehend text.

  • Teachers will use a variety of formative assessment tools to assess comprehension. (graphic organizers, exit slips, observation, conferencing)

  • Students will be taught to monitor their comprehension using self correcting strategies as they read independently.

  • Students will be given opportunities to respond and share their thinking about texts in a variety of ways in a supportive environment that values reading & thinking.

Phonemic Awareness / Phonics / Spelling

  • Phonics skills will be integrated with real or authentic reading and writing activities. Examples: children’s names, word wall, charts, shared reading, rhyming, poetry, chants, songs, just right books.

  • Phonemic Awareness will be taught in K-1. It is the best predictor of future reading difficulties.

  • Teachers will assess students to guide the development of appropriate lessons. An over emphasis on phonics can lead to reading problems.

  • Spelling is not the rote memorization of words.

  • Grade K-8 teachers will know the stages of regular word reading, irregular word reading and advanced word analysis.

  • Grade 2-8 teachers will use spelling instruction to help students learn and apply common language patterns carefully selecting words to capitalize on the underlying structure of words.

Fluency / Accuracy

  • Teachers will use daily read-alouds to model and teach reading strategies.

  • Teachers will provide instruction to help students meet oral reading fluency goals: words per minute and accuracy goals.

  • The Benchmark Assessment Leveling Kit will be used to establish accuracy goals and student reading levels.

-Independent Level: 95%-100% accuracy with excellent or satisfactory comprehension

-Instructional Level: 90-94% accuracy with limited comprehension

-Hard Level (frustration): 89% & below

  • The Benchmark Assessment Leveling Kit will be used to establish fluency goals for grades K-8.

  • Teachers will use the following techniques to teach fluency and accuracy: assisted readings, timed readings, repeated readings, choral reading, cloze reading, partner reading, Reader’s Theatre, and poetry.

  • Teachers will provide instruction on different aspects of fluency: rate, emphasis, punctuation, inflection, and phrasing.

  • Teachers will help students build reading stamina through independent reading activities using read to self, partner reading, listening to reading and integrated content reading. (Kindergarten Reading Stamina Goal: 25 minutes throughout the day & 1st-8th Grade Reading Stamina Goal: 45 minutes throughout the day)

  • Teachers will teach word recognition and provide practice with sight words or vocabulary words.


  • Explicit teaching of writing skills is needed to lay the foundation that can be developed and strengthened each year. The gradual release model will be used.

  • Writers’ Workshop will be a daily activity. Teachers will provide effective mini-lessons, for large and small groups. Children will have time to implement the mini-lesson strategy.

  • The editing process teaches the conventions (punctuation, grammar, spelling) that writers are using.

  • Conferencing (peer or teacher) will be used as a tool for instruction and assessment.

  • Sharing will be used to validate writers’ work, build community and develop speaking and listening skills.


  • Direct vocabulary instruction can help close the gap for students with a limited vocabulary or lack of exposure to vocabulary learning outside of school. (i.e. ELL, low SES, etc.)

  • Students will be taught words that are useful and interesting and that students can find uses for in their reading, writing, and oral language. (Tier 2 words)

  • Students will be taught the use of dictionaries, glossaries, thesauruses, how to use word parts, and context clues.

  • Students will be taught vocabulary that coordinates with or expands on the text when a text does not have rich vocabulary (i.e. beginning level texts).

  • Students will be given opportunities to be actively engaged in building rich representations of words and their connections to other words and concepts (antonyms, synonyms, examples, non-examples).


The following types of assessments will be used in our comprehensive balanced literacy program in order to inform instruction and drive intervention work:

  • Screening assessments

  • Formative assessments

  • Progress monitoring assessments

  • Diagnostic assessments

  • Summative assessments

The mission of Hampton-Dumont Schools is to provide a safe, caring culture of high expectations where all reach their greatest potential.