COMPREHENSIVE BALANCED LITERACY By Kathy Wittke Elementary Literacy Consultant for Jordan School District What is Comprehensive Balanced Literacy? Is it just another approach that will fade out and be replaced by something else when research dictates it? Comprehensive Balanced Literacy is an inclusive framework of research-based practices, that work! It is constantly growing, adjusting, and tweaking as research presents evidence indicating that aspects should be added or deleted from the framework. Thus, it is not something that will be replaced, just enhanced over time. It encompasses all good literacy-teaching practices that provide the way to improve student learning and growth. In Jordan School District, we define the Comprehensive Balanced Literacy framework as incorporating modeling and guidance with the gradual release of responsibility, providing experiences in reading TO, WITH, and BY as well as writing TO, WITH, and BY students, every day, using research-based practices. Comprehensive Balanced Literacy includes and encompasses the following: whole group instruction, small group instruction, flexible grouping guided reading, shared reading, monitored independent reading word work explicit, systematic scaffolded skill and strategy instruction comprehension strategies including text structure, summarizing, inference, etc. work with narrative and expository texts ongoing assessment to inform instruction curriculum mapping based on student data modeled writing, interactive/shared writing, guided writing, and independent writing using the Writer’s Workshop and the rubric of Six +1 Traits of Writing. gradual release of responsibility Comprehensive Balanced Literacy focuses on the Big Eight: Oral Language, Concepts of Print, Phonological and Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Spelling, Fluency, Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Writing. Comprehensive Balanced Literacy is what good teachers do. It includes teacher professional development and incorporates daily three-hour literacy blocks heavy on integration of the core content areas of the curriculum. It includes re-teaching and enrichment time as needed by students. Systematic intervention incorporated to provide additional literacy time and instruction to meet the needs of students in need at the Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III levels, is a critical piece of Comprehensive Balanced Literacy. Comprehensive Balanced Literacy should never die or be replaced. It is a growing, living, developing framework of research-based best practices in all aspects of literacy. If understood and implemented correctly, it will make it possible for all students to learn and be well educated, leading to productive lives.
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