Balanced Literacy: Everything You Need to Know

Refers to a reading program, where a lot of distinct reading tactics are utilized to provide robust reading learning. This approach is characterized by explicit skill instruction and the use of authentic texts to guide students towards proficient and lifelong reading.

A typical balanced literacy framework consists of five components, which are as follows:

Read aloud: This facilitates an interactive experience where readers are engaged in discussing a text throughout the reading. Read aloud provides an opportunity to deepen comprehension through discourse and high-level thinking. Teachers may use cognitive resources for reading aloud to engage students actively.

Shared reading: This involves reading a common text with teacher support. Students re-read the text over the course of several days with different teaching points in mind. The key goal of this component is the reader’s fluency, where he’s ultimately propelled to higher levels of comprehension.

Independent reading: At this stage, the readers read a book of their choice that’s just right and apply reading strategies and skills they have already learned.

Guided reading: This component provides a scaffolded approach to instructions for a small group of students with the same needs and at a similar instructional reading level based on different formal and informal assessments. The goal is to help the group members learn how to process a range of increasingly challenging texts with fluency and understanding.

Word study: This involves building on a foundation of word knowledge by emphasizing vocabulary and word structure. Readers expand their vocabulary to apply it in the context of reading.

The teachers need to play a crucial role in a balanced literacy approach. Skillful teachers use their know-how of literacy processes and development to decide where to go next and when to intervene or not. They also understand when they should draw the reader’s attention to particular features of the text and how to model and clarify strategies so that readers can make their own connections.

Thus, in a balanced literacy approach, the teacher’s role is to scaffold literacy learning through explicit skill instructions in multiple environments. This way, they can actively involve the readers and enhance their understanding with proper guidance. To apply this approach, teachers should plan their balanced literacy framework. For instance, they can map out the entire language classroom where students are taught the meaning of words and texts instead of focusing merely on sounding words out and other lessons related to phonics.

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