Balanced Literacy in the Middle School
Historical Perspective Phonics Instruction • Significant benefits for students in kindergarten through 6th grade and for children having difficulty learning to read. • First graders who were taught phonics systematically were better able to decode and spell, and they showed significant improvement in their ability to comprehend • Older children receiving phonics instruction were better able to decode and spell words and to read text orally, but their comprehension of text was not significantly improved. • Across all grade levels, systematic phonics instruction improved the ability of good readers to spell. • Strong rote skills
Whole Language Instruction • Focus on making meaning in reading and expressing meaning in writing • Focus on motivational aspects of literacy, emphasizing the love of books and level-appropriate student materials • Reduced emphasis on other skills, besides phonics, that are usually not linked directly to developing meaning, such as grammar, spelling, capitalization and punctuation. • Reading is a natural process, much like learning to speak. Children exposed to a great deal of authentic, connected text will become literate without much explicit instruction in the rules and conventions of printed text • Learners who see the big picture
Balanced Literacy • Combines phonics instruction with whole language approaches • Also combines elements of reading and writing instruction into one program. Reading skills affect the development of writing skills and vice versa. • Includes elements of word study, guided reading, silent sustained reading, interactive writing, and grammar and spelling
Components of the Reading Portion • Reading aloud - often ignored at the middle school level • Shared reading • Guided reading • Mini-lessons related to reading skills or strategies with small groups • Reading workshop which centers around silent sustained reading of self-selected materials
Reading Elements Clarified • Reading AloudRanging from 10-20 minutes per day. Material is above the grade level of the students. Students can hear advanced syntax and vocabulary. Teacher think aloud, modeling voice and fluency in writing, is part of reading aloud. • Shared ReadingThe students and the teacher read text aloud together. At the middle school level this should occur 2-3 times weekly. All students need a copy of the text or need to be able to read an enlarged version of the text. It promotes sentence fluency. Choral reading, readers' theater, oral interpretation, chants and songs are examples of shared reading. • Guided ReadingSmall group instruction with four to eight students grouped according to their instructional reading level, lasting for 20-45 minutes. The groups change frequently based on student growth. The teacher introduces the text, activating students' prior knowledge. The students read the text. Teacher modeled, shared, partner, silent, popcorn reading strategies may be used. Inquiry studies, writing activities, graphic organizers often accompany guided reading lessons
Reading, cont. • Literature CirclesA small group of students (4-8) select a book (fiction/nonfiction) to read and share through discussion. Each student is assigned a literature circle jobs or role. The teacher promotes a higher order thinking that builds context, interpreting, synthesizing and evaluating skills through questioning and prompting collaborative discussion. • Readers' WorkshopReaders' Workshop is a philosophy and a classroom structure. Readers' Workshop should be practiced at least weekly. A Readers' Workshop has four components: Time, Ownership, Sharing and Community . Students must have consistent time, must be able to select some of their own work and be committed to it, must share aloud using the curricular standards of speaking and listening, and must feel a part of a safe classroom environment. Readers' Workshop begins with a minilesson where the teacher models what effective readers do when they read .Then students go into a USSR structure, practicing the lesson individually and independently.
Reading, cont. • SSR • Sustained Silent Reading is a daily scheduled block of time (10-30 minutes) when students read self-selected material. A proficient reader reads about 45-60 minutes daily and 2 million words yearly. • HomeworkSSR extends into homework by assigning 15 - 45 minutes of accountable reading as regular homework. Students who read at home are more successful in spelling, grammar, vocabulary growth, reading fluency and content knowledge.
Intermediate Reading Workshop Writing Workshop Independent Reading Guided Reading Literature Study Independent Writing Guided Writing Investigations Language / Word Study Interactive Read Aloud Word Study Modeled or Shared Reading/Writing Readers’ Theater/Process Drama Choral Reading Poetry Sharing/Response Interactive Edit/Vocabulary Test Reading & Writing Skills and Strategies Taught During Reading and Writing Phonemic Awareness/Phonics Word Analysis / Spelling Handwriting Comprehension Fluency Vocabulary Skills Embedded in Balanced Literacy Instruction
Components of the Writing Portion • Shared writing where the teacher and students work together to compose a piece • Interactive writing • Guided writing • Independent writing. • Allows students choice in format and theme for independent writing
Writing Elements Clarified • Interactive Writing or Guided WritingThe teacher models the minilesson or focus skill. Mini lessons might include the Six Traits of Writing (idea, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice and conventions) and are practiced during interactive writing. Interactive writing is teacher directed with a focus lesson.. • Writers' Workshop The Writers' Workshop allows students to use the writing process- drafting, revising, editing -which matches the Six Traits of Writing. The teacher models a short lesson showing students what effective writers do when they write . The teacher offers a prompt/idea. Students go into a SSW structure, practicing the lesson individually and independently. Student work is collected in a portfolio. A Writers' Workshop classroom has a publishing center that contains appropriate tools and supplies- paper, card stock, word processors. Students are given a variety of avenues to publish their work. The writer himself edits, seeks peer editing, and finally the teacher edits, before the student creates the final draft. • SSWSustained Silent Writing (or independent writing) is a daily opportunity to practice the skills introduced in minilessons ,. To allow students more ownership and commitment, students choose their own topics and audiences within teacher-assigned modes. The writing process is practiced during SSW with students writing rough drafts, editing and publishing some pieces.
Writing, cont. • Modeled WritingTeachers demonstrate strategies as proficient adult writers. Teachers model the writing process to add, revise, ask questions, clarify, and edit..Shared WritingShared Writing provides an opportunity for all students to successfully participate in the writing process. The students and teachers share the task of writing. The writing comes from the students' thoughts and ideas. Teachers identify and discuss with students the conventions, structures, and language features of written text. This allows a student to access writing beyond what he/she may be able to do independently while providing models of different genres.Guided WritingAfter determining through observation of student behavior and work, the teacher works with a group or an individual student on appropriate effective writing strategies. These strategies and skills are demonstrated within authentic writing tasks that allow students to develop independence and to increase their skills in self-monitoring or writing.