East Moline District #37 believes that children who are good readers and writers will be more successful students. We have made a commitment to do all that we can to ensure that our students become better readers and writers. Because we recognize that all children learn differently, we know that we must find ways to reach children no matter what their strengths and weaknesses might be.
There are different ways that students have always learned to read. Usually, a school or teacher would choose one of those methods in hopes of reaching most of the students. The Balanced Literacy model, however, allows us to reach all students by using various methods every day.
The Balanced Literacy model has proven to be quite effective for the schools that implement it, and our teachers have worked hard to learn to use this approach. Following is a brief description of what you might expect to see in the classroom during each block of language arts time.
Balanced Literacy Model
Guided Reading Block
During this block of time, we focus on reading comprehension skills (those strategies that help readers make sense out of the print on the page). We also work on our reading fluency (the smoothness with which we read text). The teacher directs a lesson about a particular story or text with students. Afterward, our students might practice reading in pairs or small groups. Then, the teacher may work with groups of students to discuss what they have learned. Students receive a great deal of support from their teacher and classmates as they work toward becoming independent readers.
Self-selected Reading Block
During this block, students have an opportunity to see themselves as readers and build their interest, knowledge and fluency. This block includes the teacher reading aloud an enjoyable story or text to the students. Students select a book to read independently for a specific amount of time. While everyone is reading, the teacher may have individual conferences with designated students. Together, they will discuss the book, and the teacher will be able to evaluate the student’s growth in reading. At the end of the block, several students may share what they read and whether they liked the book, much like the way adults share information with their friends about the books they’re reading.
Writing and Language Block
During this block, students write in various forms (stories, journals, letters, etc.). Along with applying spelling, students have an opportunity to practice penmanship, to learn about the writing process, grammar, and the mechanics of good writing. On certain days, students will work individually with the teacher to learn how to correct their errors, and will publish their work. At the end of the writing time each day, a few students may share their work with the class. It’s truly surprising what an impact this block has on reading! Sometimes, the first text a child learns to read is his own.
Word Study & Spelling Block
This block allows students to explore word families (patterns), spelling, phonics, and word meaning. They see how they can use what they learn about words in their reading and writing. This block includes the study of words form the Word Wall. These words will be displayed on the classroom wall all year for students to use as a resource. They are high-frequency, words (grade-level words used frequently in reading and writing) that we expect students to spell correctly in their writing. We sometimes use movement, such as clapping, snapping, and cheering, to learn to spell the words. There are a number of other activities to interest children during this word exploration time
How You Can Help Your Child
- Talk about books with your child. Ask what he/she’s read in school. Look for books to come home with him/her, and read to him/her, read with him/her, or simply listen as he/she reads. (The teacher will let you know which way is appropriate for your child).
- Share often something that you’re reading with your child (books, newspapers, recipes, magazines, etc.) to let him/her know that you value reading. Do the same with writing. When you write a note or letter, share it and talk about it with your child. Seeing their parents as readers and writers really makes an impression on children.
- Get a library card for your child at the public library and visit on a regular basis.
- Consider giving your child a choice at bedtime: “Would you like for me to turn out the light, or would you like to read a book for 10 minutes?”
- Keep reading and writing materials available for your child.
- Read aloud to your child, even after he/she learns to read. Reading aloud should continue at least through elementary school.
- Try to attend school events, such as Open House and conferences with your child’s teacher. Be a partner in your child’s education.