All schoolchildren are taught to read and write, and balanced literacy is the framework we use to makes sure this is as successful and productive as possible. The idea behind the concept is that all students can be literate and begin to enjoy literacy – whatever their ability or age. By finding the correct balance between work and rest, as well as the balance between reading and writing, practitioners of this teaching approach insist they can make any student fulfill their reading and writing potential. So, how can we apply balanced literacy in the classroom environment, and what does it demand?
In order to effectively educate a student on how to read and write, you must understand how to teach, and not simply the material you are teaching. Teachers must deal with all the different approaches to learning to read – of which there are many – in order to maintain a method that is well and truly ‘balanced’. Then, and only then, can pupils honestly state that they are proficient reader and writers.
Although learning to read and write are two entirely different ideas, there are some elements of each which overlap. For instance, an understanding of how phonics work and how they can be applied to help us sound out words, and write them down, is required for both skills. It is this kind of linkage between the two key areas of literacy that gives us the chance to use balanced literacy at its brilliant best.
Building up a vocabulary is an another aspect of being literate that applies to both reading and writing. It’s essential for pupils to learn words and how to spell them if they are even to begin to comprehend what they actually mean. We can see the objectives, but how then, do we go about achieving them?
In terms of reading, we can foster a range of tactics, though a combination of these is always best for the greatest effect. Reading aloud should be tackled first, before the pupil takes part in shared and group reading – with the class and with a smaller number of people of similar ability respectively. The final stage is to read independently, with parental help and support to a certain degree which becomes less overbearing as progress is made.
When it comes to writing, there is an equally broad array of activities to be explored. Shared reading takes place when the teacher and student write creatively and collaboratively. Typically, the student suggests ideas and storylines, and begins to learn how these can be formed through putting pen to paper. The child may then move on to writing on their own, and will eventually progress onto introducing descriptive and informative techniques.
It is the versatility displayed above that makes balanced reading such a profound success. It’s clear to see why the approach is so popular – it combines reading and writing together by drawing up the similarities between them; one leads to another, you could say. By addressing all of the elements in learning to read and write, it is possible for both abilities to be learned – and never forgotten.