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Balanced Literacy Handbook - Introduction - DOC by yes35498




This Kindergarten Handbook has been developed as a supplement to the Tucson Unified School
District’s Balanced Literacy Handbook, Grades 1-5. Because Kindergarten is uniquely
important in a child’s early literacy development and attitude towards school and learning,
teachers need to keep the distinctive characteristics of Early Childhood Education principles
clearly in mind when setting up and implementing Kindergarten programs.

Research is abundant in the area of early childhood literacy programs. The National Association
for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the International Reading Association (IRA)
worked collaboratively to develop a sixteen page position statement titled: Learning to Read and
Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children. In the introduction it states:

       Collaboration between IRA and NAEYC is symbolic of the coming together of the two
       essential bodies of knowledge necessary to support literacy development of young
       children: knowledge about the processes of reading and writing and knowledge of child
       development and learning. Developmentally appropriate practices (Bredekamp and
       Copple, 1997) in reading and writing are ways of teaching that consider

       1. what is generally known about children’s development and learning to set achievable
       but challenging goals for literacy learning and to plan learning experiences and teaching
       strategies that vary with the age and experience of the learners;

       2. results of ongoing assessment of individual children’s progress in reading and writing
       to plan next steps or to adapt instruction when children fail to make expected progress or
       are at advanced levels; and

       3. social and cultural contexts in which children live so as to help them make sense of
       their learning experiences in relation to what they already know and are able to do.

In addition to this position statement, information from many other sources has been included in
this Handbook. The major source of information is the book Guided Reading: Good First
Teaching for All Students by Fountas and Pinnell, who describe the components of a balanced
literacy program. These components are explained in Section III of this Handbook.

The information in Section II of this Handbook, Foundations for Literacy Learning, is essential
as a starting point. These foundations must be in place for a solid balanced literacy program to be
implemented. The Foundations for Literacy Learning include:
    The role of oral language development in an effective literacy program.
    The role of play in literacy development.
    The role of the environment in supporting literacy learning.
    The importance of understanding the process for building community as a supportive
       aspect of a literacy program.

Watching Kindergarten children acquire reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills is one of
the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of being a Kindergarten teacher. By attending to the
foundational aspects of literacy programs and implementing the components of balanced literacy
in that context, teachers and children will look forward to each exciting and happy day together.
Teachers do not just want children to learn to read; they want them to grow to be literate adults
who smile with understanding when they read Henry Ward Beecher’s statement, “Where is
human nature so weak as in a bookstore.”

Tucson Unified School District is fortunate to be a district rich in diverse cultures and languages.
Our Kindergarten classes are the entry point of formal schooling for children of varied
educational, cultural, and family experiences. The role of Kindergarten in the lives of the
children and families is critical, and teachers who take on this important role make a lasting
impression on the child’s social and personal development, academic skills, and attitude toward
school and learning.

This Handbook does not attempt to give detailed information about the topics covered. Rather, it
is a summary of the main ideas on enhancing literacy instruction. TUSD’s Balanced/Interactive
Literacy Department offers workshops on the different aspects of literacy instruction.

Balanced Literacy is an approach built on sound research. Knowledge of the reading process and
the writing process guides a teacher’s instructional decision making in balanced literacy It
offers teachers flexibility, rather than restriction, in choosing strategies and materials for
instruction based on the needs of individual children. Teachers use a Balanced Literacy approach
to help children achieve the CORE Curriculum Standards established by TUSD.


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