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Balanced Literacy. Cathy Mrla Jen Mahan-Deitte. Reading is the cornerstone of all learning . In every subject area , the ability to read and comprehend written material is of the highest importance.

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balanced literacy

Balanced Literacy

Cathy Mrla

Jen Mahan-Deitte

why the emphasis on reading well

Reading is the cornerstone of all learning.

In every subject area, the ability to read and comprehend written material is of the highest importance.

Supporting the development of capable readers at every level is our goal as educators, parents, and as a community.

Why the emphasis on Reading Well?
why the emphasis on reading well1

Early intervention is critical to ensuring all students are developing successfully as readers. Beyond 3rd grade, it becomes increasingly more difficult to ‘catch-up’ with their peers.

Why the emphasis on Reading Well?
Literacy refers to the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about the written word.

Literacy defined

read aloud you do they watch


  • read aloud to children – allowing them to hear and discuss complex vocabulary and story structure in literature and non-fiction
  • explicitly model strategies


  • listen actively to stories, strategies, and skills presented/modeled
  • discuss elements of the story using vocabulary from the text
  • pose questions to teacher when confused or curious
Read Aloud(you do/they watch)
shared reading you do they do


  • read to students aloud and students follow with eyes and join in with voice at appropriate places


  • listen actively to stories and skills presented/modeled
  • read aloud portions of the text, either along with the teacher or independently
  • Identify, orally, main elements of the story (character, plot, setting, conflict, and resolution)
  • discuss elements of the story using vocabulary from the text
  • pose questions to teacher when confused or curious
Shared Reading(you do/they do)
guided reading they do you help


  • listen to children read a book independently within a small group, after teacher gives a supportive book introduction. Teacher moves among the children to coach as they read – instructional level text


  • read aloud leveled text at his/her instructional level independently while teacher coaches student at appropriate times
  • identify, orally or in writing, main elements of the story (character, plot, setting, conflict, and resolution)
  • discuss elements of the story using vocabulary from the text
  • pose questions to teacher when confused or curious
  • respond, orally or in writing, to prompts from the teacher – demonstrating comprehension of the strategy or skill being taught
Guided Reading(they do/you help)
independent reading they do you watch


  • observe children reading at their independent levelfor sustained amounts of time


  • read in whisper voice, or silently, for sustained amounts of time – books that are either familiar or cold reads that are at their independent level
Independent Reading(they do/you watch)
writing aloud you do they watch


  • Explicit Instruction – show students how to write
  • Be metacognitive – thinking aloud – as you model writing for students every stage of the writing process
    • Prewrite/brainstorming
    • Draft
    • Revise
    • Edit
    • Publish
  • Listen in as you explain your thinking and planning before you write and while you write
  • Get ideas for writing and composing
Writing Aloud(you do/they watch)
shared writing you do they do


  • Compose collaboratively
  • Demonstrate, guide, and negotiate the creation of meaningful text, focusing on the craft of writing as well as the conventions.
  • transcribe
  • Focus on meaningful message making
  • Offer ideas without the pressure of having to write them down
  • Hear your and peers’ thinking and ideas
  • Observe the parts of the whole
  • Reinforce and rethink content or concepts
  • Receive needed support
Shared Writing(you do/they do)
guided writing they do you help


  • Meet with table groups, rotate to tables as students work
  • Meet with targeted skill groups (i.e. lead sentence or summarizing)
  • Explore and try out ideas with support
  • Receive coaching and appropriate materials to ensure success
Guided Writing(they do/you help)
independent writing they do you watch


  • Observe
  • Confer with individual students
  • Write independently in a particular form or genre
  • Have the skills and confidence to be successful
Independent Writing(they do/you watch)
writing requires a d aily c ommitment

Strong research link between reading and writing

  • At least 45 min/4 days a week
  • Double the amount of writing time at every grade level – some at home
Writing requires a Daily Commitment
scaffolded instruction

Scaffolded Instruction

Scaffolding is the gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to the student…sometimes teachers make the mistake of not spending enough time on a concept so the students truly understand and move from describing the content to asking students to independently use the information.

Marzano cited 24 as the number of times students must be meaningfully exposed to information before they can move to a level of independent mastery. Independent mastery is understanding 80% of the text being read.

core elements of curriculum

Core Elements of Curriculum

Phonemic Awareness,



Vocabulary, and


phonemic awareness

Can help students learn to read and spell

  • The relationship between phonemic awareness and learning to read and spell is reciprocal
  • The most important forms of phonemic awareness to teach are blending and segmentation
Phonemic awareness

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction is more effective

  • Phonics instruction significantly improves kindergarten and first grade student’s word recognition, spelling, and comprehension
  • “The best way to get children to refine and extend their knowledge of letter-sound correspondences is through repeated opportunities to read.” – Becoming a Nation of Readers

Fluency rates depend on decoding strategies, text structure, difficulty of text, and reader’s attentiveness to the text

  • Fluency is more than reading fast
  • More fluent readers focus their attention on making connections among the ideas in the text and between these ideas and their background knowledge

Children use words in their oral vocabulary to make sense of the words they see in print

  • Students need to have 80,000 words in their vocabulary by the time they graduate from high school
  • Vocabulary is important in reading comprehension. Readers cannot understand what they are reading unless they know what most of the words mean.

The reason for reading

  • If readers can read the words but do not understand, they are not really reading
  • Instruction in comprehension can help students understand what they read, remember what they read, and communicate with others about what they read
what is reading
What is reading?

Reading doesn’t occur until there is comprehension.

balanced literacy1
  • Involves the use of observation and assessment to make instructional decisions
  • Conducted in an environment that is productive and organized – well managed classroom!
  • Includes a belief that all students can learn to read and write
  • Has clearly aligned instructional goals and assessments
  • Uses a variety of instructional tools, resources, and strategies

POSSIBLE SUPPORT NEEDED:Parent EngagementPeer CoachingSmall Group InstructionData Analysis & ApplicationAssessmentUnpacking the StandardsLiteracy BlockTechnology IntegrationStudent EngagementGrade-Level CollaborationOther

next meeting

Day 2: October 26 (Marshall Coop)

‘Quality Core Instruction’

Next Meeting