What is Balanced Literacy?
Balanced literacy is a model for teaching children in a child-centered classroom, providing many opportunities for real life reading and writing experience. It is based on the research of Marie Clay, Irene Fountas, and Gay Su Pennell. Children read and write each day independently and in group settings (both large and small).
Balanced literacy is a framework designed to help all students learn to read and write effectively. The program stands firmly on the premise that all students can learn to read and write. This balance between reading and writing allows students to receive the teaching needed in order to reach grade level, while allowing students to work at a level that is not frustrating for them. Through careful observation and assessment, the teacher identifies a particular strategy or skill students need to learn. The teacher then selects the most appropriate approach for teaching the skill or strategy. By including a balance of modeled, shared, guided, and independent literacy activities, teachers are able to provide appropriate instruction that meets the diverse needs of students.
Balance Literacy components includes; phonemic awareness, word work, read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, shared writing, interactive writing, writer’s workshop, independent writing, and six trait writing. All of these components are the “balance” of the program which are taught in no particular order. The use and emphasis of each component is determined by the needs of students.
Balanced literacy classrooms focus on four different types of reading experiences:
- Reading aloud to children
- Shared reading – whole class
- Guided reading – small group
- Independent reading
Children also participate in shared and individual writing activities each day. The types of writing experiences are:
- Shared writing – whole class
- Interactive writing – whole class
- Writer’s workshop – small groups or individually
- Independent writing
- Modeled writing
Additionally, during many daily reading and writing experiences, children are introduced to word work; phonemic awareness where children are taught about letters, sounds, words and how they work