Upper Perkiomen School District proudly offers students in our elementary classrooms the instructional approach known as the Balanced Literacy to ensure student mastery of the standards. To view the PreK-5th English Language Arts PA Core Standards, click here.
A Balanced literacy program uses both whole language and phonics. The goal of a balanced literacy program is to include the strongest elements of each. The components of a 'balanced literacy' approach are as follows: The read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, interactive writing, shared writing, Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop and Word study.
In Reading Workshops, skills are explicitly modeled during mini lessons. The mini lesson has four parts- the connection, the teach (demonstration), the active engagement and the link. The teacher chooses a skill and strategy that she believes her class needs based on assessments she has conducted in her classroom. During the connection she connects prior learning to the current skill she is teaching that day. She then states the teaching point or the skill and strategy she is going to teach. She then shows kids how to do the skill by modeling the strategy in a book the students are familiar with. She often uses a "think aloud" to show students what she is thinking. Students then try that work out in their own books or in her book during the active engagement. During the link she reminds students of all the strategies they can do while they are independently reading.
Writing Workshop follows the same flow. Students are explicitly taught skills and strategies for writing during a mini lesson. Then they go off and write independently. They choose the skills they are trying out that day. The teacher comes around and confers with students to help them with their goals.
Shared reading is when the students read from a shared text. Often this is a big book, a book on screen using a website or documents camera. If possible students should have their own copies also. Students and the teacher read aloud and share their thinking about the text. During mini lessons, interactive read alouds and shared reading the class will create anchor charts. These anchor charts remind students how and when to use different skills and strategies.
Guided reading is a small group activity where more of the responsibility belongs to the student. Students read from leveled text. They use the skills directly taught during mini lessons, interactive read alouds and shared reading to increase their comprehension and fluency. The teacher is there to provide prompting and ask questions. Guided reading allows for great differentiation in the classroom. Groups are created around reading levels, and students move up when they note that the entire group is ready. During guided reading time the other students are engaged in reading workstations that reinforce various skills. They often work in pairs during this time. Stations can include library, big book, writing, drama, puppets, word study, poetry, computer, listening, puzzles, buddy reading, projector/white board, creation station, science, social studies.
Independent reading is exactly what it sounds like: students reading self-selected text independently. Students choose books based on interest and independent reading level.
More information on the balanced literacy approach can be found by clicking here.
To support this instructional model, the district adopted Benchmark Literacy resources to ensure that our students a meeting the PA Core Standards in English Language Arts.
Benchmark is a Comprehensive Literacy Program Enables Students to Access Complex Text. It is a research-proven solution aligned to new PA Standards and empowers both experienced teachers and beginning teachers with:
- Explicit comprehension-focused lessons for the whole class, small groups, and intervention
- Assessment-driven instruction that is differentiated and includes responding to text
- Gradual release and built-in choice that support student progress and teacher creativity
- Precisely leveled texts for your full range of students, including ELs and striving readers
- Leveled Reader's Theater and diverse genres that engage students and extend learning
- Research-based resources and professional development that have been proven effective
- Interactive technology that motivates student learning, involvement, and excellence
- 10 comprehension-focused units of instruction for each grade
- 3 weeks of explicit instruction and extension activities for each unit
- Gradual-release model incorporates spiral review of previously taught strategies
- Each unit supports students from modeling to guided practice, application, and strategy transfer
To learn more about Benchmark Literacy feel free to use the links below:
3-5 Benchmark Literacy