The development of literacy is foundational to all instructional subjects. A literacy enriched environment in which students are engaged in sustained reading and writing activities over time and across the curriculum, and where they are responsible for sharing their work, allows students to extend, enrich, and evaluate their learning. Ongoing teacher assessment of students’ reading and writing skills during this type of literacy experience allows for differentiation and individual attention. At New City School, we use the following structures to created a balanced literacy approach.
Children receive reading instruction in small groups. They read high quality children’s literature that is at their instructional level (text can be read and understood with 90% accuracy). Teachers begin a guided reading session with a mini-lesson that will help children with a particular skill or concept needed to read and to understand the book. Then, students work individually on reading the book. The teacher assesses readers as they work through the material. The session closes with reflection on the days reading.
This type of reading can take the form of reading with a partner, chorally reading a morning message, doing reader’s theater or sharing poetry selections.
Students read on their own. They make their own selections and keep track of their progress through reading logs and/or journals.
Teacher or student reads aloud to the class. Material selected for reading aloud is outstanding children’s literature that engages children in the joy of reading and discussing good stories, excellent writing and interesting word choices.
Shared and Interactive Writing
In a whole or small group setting, children and teacher collaborate on writing while the teacher emphasizes a particular learning goal. For example, the learning goal may be to revise writing by adding adjectives that add detail and specificity. The group will share the task of looking for places to add such words and discussing reasons for adjective placement.
Writer’s Workshop is the format in which students engage in guided writing. During writer’s workshop, children take a piece of writing through the writing process. Gathering ideas, drafting, revising, editing and publishing. Writer’s workshop begins with a mini-lesson that may focus on a particular style of writing, word usage, punctuation, use of editing, symbols, etc.
Students have the opportunity to write in whatever format they choose. As this type of writing is intended to give students a sense of the power of writing for self-expression, independent writing is often kept private and seen only by the students/writer unless s/he gives permission for others to read it.