Balanced Literacy Program
What components are featured in our classrooms to develop and foster the reading skills of our students here at Thoreau?
- Read Aloud Books = The classroom teacher devotes time each day to read a high-quality text to students as a whole group. This text may be beyond the independent reading level of students in the classroom – this then gives them exposure to higher-level text structures, language patterns, and vocabulary. Books are discussed, lessons are learned, characters are talked about, illustrations are enjoyed. It’s a wonderful time of the day for both students and teachers alike!
- Shared Reading = With Shared Reading, the classroom teacher presents and reads a common text aloud together WITH the children in unison. A Shared Reading passage could be a “Big Book,” or an enlarged copy of a song, poem, quote, or chant. With all voices reading and re-reading the text together, children can grow and feel more confident in their reading ability. It’s a highly communal way of teaching reading that’s also very enjoyable for students.
- Guided Reading = Perhaps one of the most important components of reading development is the Guided Reading portion of the day. During Guided Reading, the teacher meets with small groups of students (3-6 children). These students are working at the same instructional reading level, so the teacher chooses an appropriate book to introduce each day. Once introduced, the students are invited to read this book quietly to self while the teacher checks in on their progress. After reading, the teacher engages students in a conversation about the book, to work on reading comprehension strategies. Finally, the teacher ends with some specific teaching ( for example a word solving strategy, vocabulary review, phonic-based lesson, reading fluency work) to lift the students as they move along in their reading journey. Guided Reading groups rotate over the course of the Guided Reading block (a 30-60 minute period, depending on grade level).
- Independent Reading = Children are invited to select books (given their individual interests/independent reading level) to read quietly on their own. This builds reading stamina in our youngest readers as well as their personal enjoyment of reading! Students can keep a log of the books they have read, or can write about the books they are reading. This is the ultimate goal of reading instruction – for students to read, understand, and talk about the books they are reading.
- Word Study and Phonics = Using the FUNdations reading program (currently grades K-2) students are taught the skills necessary to become strong word solvers. Students learn how to segment the sounds in words, move and change the sounds in words to make new words, state the letter names and sounds for vowels, consonants, and many various letter combinations, as well as read and spell high-frequency sight words. Some lessons are taught in the whole-group setting, some are reviewed in a smaller group setting. Children are then given practice with these skills during the ELA block.