Webster Groves School District: Balanced Literacy in grades K-5
Guided Reading - Word Work - Writing - Independent Reading
In accordance with the Webster Groves School Board's goal of implementing differentiated instruction, we have adopted a research based reading program that emphasizes a balanced approach to learning to read and write. This balanced approach incorporates four major components within literacy instruction-guided reading, word work, writing, and independent reading. Our teachers have attended workshops and discussion groups and are receiving on-going support in order to implement this program. Let's look at each of the components, or "blocks":
"Guided Reading-Guided reading is a small group activity during which several children read a book with their teacher. These books are at the group's instructional level. (The level at which the student can read 90-94% of the words in a text with good comprehension.) The teacher concentrates on developing the students' strategies for decoding and comprehending new text. These groups are dynamic-meaning that as a student progresses, she is allowed to move into higher levels of books.
"Word Work-During this block of time, the students are engaged in multi-sensory activities that build their ability to decode and write new words. Employing a variety of research-proven methods, teachers work on developing their students' phonics skills; sight word vocabularies; spelling abilities; and word analysis skills.
"Writing-Writing is essential in any literacy program. Through writing, students are given the opportunity to practice what they are learning as they read excellent literature. They are encouraged and expected to apply the skills they are learning during word work. Writing is incorporated into many facets of the school day-from 'sharing the pen' with the teacher to journal entries in response to a completed chapter to working on publishing a piece of writing. Students are actively involved in learning how to plan, write, and edit a piece of writing.
"Independent Reading-During this period of time, students read self-selected books and re-read familiar materials. Teachers may also read at this time in order to provide a good role model, or they may confer with individual students. At some point during each day, teachers will also read aloud excellent literature to the entire group. This provides a perfect opportunity to practice comprehension strategies with the group while modeling fluent reading, all while listening to excellent literature!
HOW DOES A BALANCED LITERACY APPROACH MEET THE NEEDS OF ALL STUDENTS?
All students in Webster Groves deserve the opportunity to succeed. The balanced literacy approach provides our struggling students with highly effective, small group reading instruction at their instructional level. Using this model, each student receives individual attention and assessment. The teacher will be fully aware of each student's strengths, as well as their needs-and will plan instruction accordingly.
If your child is a fluent reader, they will have the opportunity to participate in literature circles, as well as guided reading groups. Students in literature circles may get to vote on the book they want to read. In literature circles, students meet and discuss assigned chapters. Students are held accountable for completing the reading and follow-up activities, which will help them practice key comprehension strategies. The teacher will monitor each literature circle-each in his or her own way. At all times, the goal is for students to read and comprehend text. Ideally, the ultimate goal is to develop life-long readers who can successfully read all types of materials.
Teachers in Webster Groves have many resources available for use in their classrooms, including anthologies; fiction and non-fiction book sets; magazines; and weekly newsletters such as Time for Kids. You will see teachers employ a wide variety of materials in order to meet the needs of every student.
Teachers use a variety of assessment tools, such as checklists, anecdotal records, writing samples, and purchased materials for evaluations. Our teachers have also been trained to complete running records and informal miscue analysis. This involves listening to a student read aloud in a leveled text, while recording miscues (mistakes), self-corrections, and cues used to decode and comprehend. Fluency and comprehension are also noted. These assessments are analyzed and used to place students in materials that are 'just right'. There is considerable overlap between levels. The teacher will guide your student toward interesting books at appropriate levels. Comprehension is always our focus.
Your child's current guided reading level will be recorded quarterly on their report card. Please remember that all children progress at different rates. Our goal is to ensure that each student reads fluently with excellent comprehension at the most appropriate level. Your child may read above or below the 'grade level'-these are simply approximated guidelines.
Approximate Guided Reading Levels:
May 22, 2013