Sunday, June 23, 2013

Balanced Literacy: What They Didn't Teach Us in College....


A week ago, I went to a two-day Balanced Literacy training all thanks to Melissa!

I remember hearing Balanced Literacy in college, but I didn't remember learning THIS!

Now that I think about it, I thought I was so prepared for my first year of teaching-fresh out of college.  Little did I know, I had no clue what I was doing!

After three years of teaching, I am humbled to say, I still have no clue what I am doing!

But I am willing and able to learn.

Here's the scoop from the conference that I'm still pondering, mulling over, and working into my classroom.

Balanced Literacy consists of Shared Reading, Independent Reading, Word Study, Writing, and Guided Reading.

Let me break it down for you:

Shared Reading

1. The first time you read a book should be for enjoyment.  After all, isn't that how adults read?
2. The second time you read a book to your students, they have a purpose for reading, such as finding the author's purpose.

In shared reading, students should be able to have their eyes on the text.

That means our weekly Imagine It stories can be incorporated into Shared Reading each week!  I have been doing double work teaching mini lessons for Daily Five and teaching the weekly stories.  Why didn't I think of that?

During this reading, the teacher reads aloud, thinks out loud, and teaches one specific thing that readers do.

Students also practice and participate in the reading.  Hence the eyes on text idea.

Brilliant.  I am so excited to incorporate shared reading with our weekly stories.

Shared reading is what I will consider my Mini Lessons for Readers Workshop (You could say Mini Lessons for Daily Five as well.)

Independent Reading

This is Read to Self.  If you are not familiar with the Daily Five you should go buy the book and read it you might know about DEAR time or SSR.

It's all the same.

Students are reading independently, but the kicker is with direct, explicit instruction!

I imagine it being the same as Writer's Workshop.  The teacher gives them the invitation during the Mini Lesson, and hopes they will accept the invitation during independent reading time.


I consider this time Writer's Workshop.  I am was trained well my second year of teaching.  The biggest things to remember are time (students should be writing more often than not...most days...for 20 minutes) and choice (students should be writing on topics of their own choosing within a specific genre).

One thing that I want to do a better job of next year is including more variety in my student's Writer's Notebook.  We fill our notebooks with ideas, or seeds for writing, but we will now add brainstorms, quick writes, and experiment with writing techniques.

Word Study

This is the investigation of words.  I learned about the possibility of keeping a Word Study Notebook.  In second grade, I plan to put this in the back of their Writer's Notebook.

We also threw around the idea of buddy study- a better way to conduct spelling tests!

I'm curious, do you use buddy study in your classroom?  I need to pick your brain (and your classroom) if you do!

Guided Reading

At the heart of your literacy block is guided reading.

Let's just say I thought I was conducting guided reading in my class.

I have never been more wrong.

This was probably the biggest piece of information I gained at the training.  I am still processing it.  I have checked out SEVEN books from our local library in order to figure it all out.

Did you know that guided reading is NOT the time to shove your super-duper lessons down their throats teach teach teach your little heart out?

It's actually a time for the teacher to "guide their thinking" by having students reading text on their own level independently in a quiet voice.


I know!

Don't get me wrong, teachers are helping at the guided reading table.  But it's meant to be much different than teaching a lesson.

We also learned all about practical ways to run your Reader's Workshop along with ideas for a Reader's Notebook!


After writing this post, my head is spinning just thinking about how to implement all of this!

Good thing I've got a great group of bloggers to help me along in this process!

What's the biggest HELP when planning your reading block?
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  1. Sounds like I have many of the same WRONG ideas as you. Thanks for sharing. Hope to learn more.

    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  2. Frizz-
    You were really paying attention eh? I thought for sure you would be bored and already know everything! Guess not huh? :) I'm so glad you were able to make it. See you in November at the 1st/2nd grade conference at ESC12? I'll rock your world with technology then! :)