Four Great Tips for Your Balanced Literacy Instruction

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Four Great Tips for Your Balanced Literacy Instruction

Balanced literacy instruction brings real world reading and writing to our students. Literacy skills develop in a parallel manner, where one area (such as word study) informs the others (such as sounding out words when reading or writing). But, how can we help students see the relationship among their word study, reading, and writing to strengthen their knowledge and independence in their work? Here are four great tips for getting the job done!

Work across the curriculum.

Perhaps students are working on a science unit about trees. Find a poem about trees and use it to discuss the content, genre, and rime families. Highlight the important vocabulary the poet chose.

Make word study count.

Spelling or vocabulary lists should have high utility. Students should be learning words related to each other (for example, erupt, interrupt, abrupt, rupture, corrupt—all using rupt, Latin meaning to break). It is much easier to remember words that have similarity than it is to learn ten words from a novel that have little carryover to written work.

Put those glossaries to work!

Content-area books (both textbooks and trade books) include a treasure trove of words to use in word study and writing. Students can be detectives and find glossary words that fit a pattern being studied (such as plural endings). Not only will this connect the words to your word study, but it will also teach a feature of nonfiction text.

Change up the genre for reading instruction.

Using fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for reading instruction means students learn how to read these genres under your guidance. It allows you to teach content while emphasizing comprehension.

Look for additional ways to get more out of your lessons to support balance in your literacy instruction using this resource!

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This is the first post in a series of four on Balanced Literacy. Check back soon for more tips and strategies to support your balanced literacy instruction.


teacher created materialsMary Jo Fresch, Ph.D., began as a 3rd-grade teacher in Kent, Ohio. Throughout her career, she taught adult literacy at the University of Akron, reading methods at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), and teacher education at Deakin University and The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Mary Jo also taught at The Ohio State University for 20 years prior to retiring in 2015. She is now professor emeritus and an active literacy consultant and author. Mary Jo has authored and edited many articles, books, and teacher resources. Her latest book, Strategies for Effective Balanced Literacy, shares a variety of lessons and ideas to support literacy instruction in today’s classrooms.

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