"After years of conflict between whole language and phonics advocates, a consensus about what works is emerging from the research: What is needed is a balanced approach to reading instruction - an approach that combines the language and literature-rich activities associated with whole language activities aimed at enhancing meaning, understanding, and the love of language with explicit teaching skills as needed to develop fluency associated with proficient readers."
Balanced literacy is an approach for teaching literacy that is widely used in classrooms across the country. It involves several methods of teaching and learning reading and writing, whole class instruction directed by the teacher with independent work in reading, writing, and oral language. By integrating a variety of approaches, a balance is achieved in which students learning to understand text (from a whole language approach) as well as how to read text (from a phonics approach).
Balanced literacy is a framework designed to help all students learn to read and write effectively. The idea is firmly based on the premise that all students can learn to read and write. In order to achieve this balance between reading and writing, a number of components must be implemented. The seven major components of a balanced literacy program are: (1) read alouds, (2) shared reading, (3) wordy study, (4) guided reading, (5) independent reading, (6) shared writing, and (7) assessment/conferences.
To help foster a love for reading and expose students to texts that they might not become familiar with ordinarily, balanced literacy includes an important read-aloud component. Teachers read to students, normally in a full class format, from texts that they would not be able to read on their own. Teachers verbally interact with students before, during, and after reading to help them understand and make a variety of connections with the read-aloud selection. During the read-aloud the teacher engages in a series of activities including previewing the book, asking students to make predictions and connections to prior knowledge (schema), stopping at purposeful moments to emphasize story elements, ask guiding questions, and using oral or written responses to bring closure to the selection. The read-aloud component in a balanced literacy program is imperative because it helps to: provide motivation to learn to read, develop a sense of story structure, develop vocabulary concepts, build prediction skills, and provide a proficient reader model.
Shared Reading is a link in helping students become independent readers. In these lessons, students read familiar, predictable books along with the teacher. It allows the teacher to model and support students using prediction and confirming skills. It allows less confident students the chance to share stories/articles/poetry in a non-threatening situation. It focuses on the meaning, fun, enjoyment, characters and sequence of a story and allows them to relate it back to their own experiences. It promotes discussion, problem-solving and critical thinking by students. The idea of shared reading is important because it develops: comprehension skills, language-rhyming, storyline and story elements, and it reviews high frequency words and known phonics.
The field of "word study" provides students an opportunity to manipulate words (and parts of words) in meaningful and enjoyable activities and games. Reading ability can develop dramatically as word study lessons develop experience with letters and their corresponding sounds, components of words, such as roots, prefixes, and suffixes, patterns of how words are spelled, such as word families, and how parts of words often will give hints to the meaning of a word, as well as its spelling or pronunciation.
"Word study activities call for active problem solving. Students are encouraged to look for spelling patterns, form hypotheses, predict outcomes, and test them. These activities require...
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