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Balanced Literacy

Balanced Literacy at PUSD

As we prepare our kids to leave our schools and graduate, we need to prepare them to be thinkers.   The Balanced Literacy program at PUSD trains and supports our teachers to help our students to think critically so they are prepared for the future. It is an effort to present students with a menu of engaging, balanced literacy instruction. Balanced Literacy includes both reading as well as writing instruction, each in a variety of settings within the elementary classroom.

Our ultimate goal for our Balanced Literacy program is that all students will have access to the right books at the right time and will be taught by highly trained teachers who will ensure that all students develop a love for reading along with the skills necessary to be successful.  In addition, it gives our students voice and choice to decide what they want and need in the classroom. 



What Are the Components of Balanced Literacy?

Reading Assessment:  Informal Reading Inventories (IRIs) are assessments designed to evaluate each students' reading performance.  Scores from this comprehensive assessment enable teachers to determine each student's independent and instructional reading levels. 

Read Aloud:  During the read aloud, a teacher reads aloud to students in order to model and demonstrate the orchestration of strategies that characterize proficient reading. The read aloud is also a time when students receive instruction that helps them talk well about books.

Reading Workshop:  We provide our students with 60 minute reading workshops throughout the year.  This innovative program allows students to read privately, share collaboratively, and receive individual feedback from the teachers.  

Small Group Instruction:  A guided reading group is generally comprised of students who are reading books at a similar level of difficulty. The teacher chooses a text that is at a students' instructional reading level. That is, with support from a few minutes long introduction, students will be able to read the text with approximately 90-95% accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

Workstations - Daily Five:  Literacy Workstations provide a block of time for the teacher to work with small reading groups through structures such as guided reading or strategy groups. The Daily 5™ is a framework for structuring this block of literacy time so students develop lifelong habits of reading, writing, and working independently.

Phonics / Word Study:  Teachers in grades K-1 provide mini-lessons to help children learn more about how letters and words work. Children work with letters and words in a letter/word study center or workstation and share their learning. Teachers help children notice letters and words throughout the language and literacy framework. In grades 2-5 children engage in differentiated word study in small groups, typically within a center or workstation structure. In all grades, phonics and word study is also differentiated within guided reading based on students’ individual needs.

Writing Workshop:  Writing Workshop follows the same structure as Reading Workshop.  The teacher uses her own writing to demonstrate her process and thinking as a writer, students write independently as the teacher moves around the room and provides differentiated instruction through individual conferences and small groups, and last, the teacher also provides a mid-workshop teaching point in the midst of the writing workshop and closes the workshop with a teaching share.

Classroom Libraries:  The classroom libraries are a selection of 375 books per classroom that to offer a variety interesting and engaging topics for children.  They will be housed in each classroom so that they are accessible to all children.  Each child will be able to understand what genres and levels of books they can successfully read to differentiate each child’s learning and growth.


Writing Institutes at PUSD

We need teachers that are highly skilled and trained to teach our students how to think critically so they are prepared for their future.  We need our teachers to recognize that readers need a variety of different opportunities to learn and adapt their lessons accordingly.  We train our teachers through our Writing Institutes (link to video).  Our Writing Institutes aim to:

·         ENERGIZE and INSPIRE teachers to grow as writers

·         EXPERIENCE the process their students go through as writers

·         Provide ongoing COACHING for teachers to serve as thought partners.  Learn more about our PUSD coaching staff 

Watch our Writing Institute Video for a detailed explanation, testimonials, and more.