Balanced Literacy Program Components & Strategies

A Balanced literacy program strikes a balance between both whole language and phonics. The strongest elements of each are incorporated into a literacy program that aims to guide students toward proficient and lifelong reading. There are five different components of balanced literacy: The read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, and Word study. The articles below introduce the different balanced reading program components and outline effective strategies for success.

Balanced Literacy Instruction: A Truce For The Reading War?

Unless you’re an elementary teacher, balanced literacy instruction may be a new concept to you.  What is it, anyway?  What happened to phonics?  What about whole language?  Which is better?  Why does the pendulum continue to swing from one method to another? And why can Johnny still not read? Welcome to the reading war.  These questions have been the heart of heated controversy for … [Read more...]

Guided Reading – A Snapshot

In Mrs. Martin's classroom, five students are seated around a table. Mrs. Martin is seated with them. She appears to be simply watching them read a story. But there’s a powerful strategy at work here.  It’s called guided reading. Guided Reading is Part of a Balanced Literacy Approach Guided reading is one component of a balanced literacy program that allows teachers to meet the needs of all … [Read more...]

Independent Reading – The Foundation of Lifelong Reading

Successful independent reading is the end result of a well-executed balanced literacy program.  It allows students the chance to “practice” the strategies they’ve learned through guided reading, shared reading, and teacher read alouds – the other components of balanced literacy.  With level appropriate materials, students now have the skills they need to read on their own.  That means they can … [Read more...]

Shared Reading – A Critical Component of Balanced Literacy Instruction

In kindergarten and first grade, shared reading is the anchor of a Balanced Literacy program.  But what exactly is it?  What does shared reading look like? Here’s an illustration… In Ms. Avery’s classroom, kindergarten students are sitting on a colorful rug waiting for the “show” to begin.  It’s shared reading time, one of their favorite times of the day.  Ms. Avery is sitting in a rocking … [Read more...]

Word Study Makes Language Learning Fun

Many students find word study to be one of the most enjoyable components of balanced literacy instruction.  Teachers find it to be one of the most powerful.  That’s because reading ability dramatically improves as students use meaningful games and activities to discover: Letters and the sounds they make How to pick out root words, and how suffixes and prefixes can change the … [Read more...]

The Read Aloud Component of Balanced Literacy Instruction

For many fortunate students, the read aloud strategy was first introduced to them on their parent's knee. Long before they were developmentally capable of learning to read they experienced the joy and pleasure of reading. These students were not only given a strong foundation for becoming lifelong readers, they were also given a head start on vocabulary, thinking skills, and listening … [Read more...]