Balanced Literacy For All
What it is and how you can implement it in your classroom
What is Balanced Literacy
The balanced literacy program uses 4 elements together to promote the best chances for all students in the diverse classrooms to learn literacy!
Why does it work?
How do the 4 elements work to reach all students?
The whole program should be done daily. Learning how to pull meaning from text happens all day in all areas of studying. Providing students with a time every day when they can learn and practice those skills is very important to ensure every student, regardless of level, can become better readers!
Literacy is everywhere! Our classrooms should not be any different! Have anchor charts and word walls up for students to read and check! Provide students with a classroom library and comfortable area to read. Make reading a fun and relaxing activity!
For more ways to include literacy around your room, check out http://bit.ly/1meRjJW a PDF with lists of examples on different ways to turn your classroom from a room into a literacy learning zone!
The 4 Elements
When reading to them, we want to be the best reader we can be! We want to show them what a fluent reader sounds and looks like. We want to share what we are thinking at different times during the story (I wonder what will happen next? I think.... because...). This is the time when we can model for the students what they will become with practice!
Read alouds can happen every day for around 10 minutes. The students should be comfortable and ready to listen! If they are listening to a picture book, they should be close enough and comfortable to see the pictures too! Many times, this is done with students sitting on the carpet in front of a teacher with a story book. This is also important to do with older students, but they will probably be more comfortable sitting at their desks than on the floor!
Make the text really big! A giant print of a book, or re writing a poem on chart paper, make it big so that everyone can see the text! Provide students with the opportunity to join in with the reading too!
This is the time to pick an area or skill to focus on. In the YouTube video clip below (http://bit.ly/1p3CtJ7) you see how a teacher is focusing on letter knowledge. She reads to the students and then they echo her. She then asks them questions about the book.
This seems great in a primary classroom, but what about in a junior classroom? Here is another clip about an important skill when reading, checking for understanding. When ever we read, we need to know what we are reading. This is a skill that is still taught well into the junior years. The clip, found at http://bit.ly/1oF7Atd, shows you how a poem is used to demonstrate how students check for understanding. Modifying it for junior years might involve asking what the strategy is, have them provide the definition, before going through the text together.
How often should this be done? Any time you want to demonstrate, or review, a skill used for understanding text, this should be done. You can even use the same text over again if demonstrating a different strategy! This helps reach all of the students and gives them a chance to start taking responsibility over their learning!
Why group them? To make every student feel that they are being listened to while reading
How many in each group? The groups should be 3 to 6 students. Too many and you might not get to work with each student as much as you want
How long and how often? Anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes 2 to 3 times a week. This will provide you with the chance to meet with all of your students!
This is the time when they read together or on their own to you with your support and guidance to help them use the tools and skills you showed them! This provides them with the amazing chance to practice how to gather meaning from texts that they will soon be doing on their own!
A short PDF to help you learn more about what guided reading is - http://bit.ly/1tNIFvs
This is the time when students apply the tools you've provided them on their own. Students have now accepted responsibility of their reading! Now they are picking their own books! At the beginning, they will need a reminder on how to pick a book that is just right for them. Now, all that's left is for the students to find a comfortable space to sit, or lie down, and read for around 20 minutes a day!
Wait a second. How do I ensure they're using any of the strategies you've taught them? How do I know if they are reading at all! Very good question. Asking students to write something about the story they read, or asking students to tell you a bit about the story is a great way to check that they are gathering meaning from the books.