A Framework for Understanding and Teaching Literacy
Supporting the Development of Gourmet Literacy Chefs!
~ Special Feature: Virtual Tours ~An innovative and exciting feature of this website is that it includes “virtual classroom visits” through the power of virtual tour technology.
Below are examples from across the elementary grades. Click on the images to visit the classrooms. Explore others by clicking the Virtual Tours tab.
At the earliest stages of literacy development it is important to introduce young children to the wonders and power of the printed word – sharing the delights of books and showing how language can be written down with letters so that others can read what we have written.
Sample 1st/2nd Grade
The next stage provides many opportunities for students to learn more about the conventions of print by seeing these modeled and applying them – reading books and writing daily. Providing engaging activities motivates students to practice their skills in meaningful contexts.
Sample 3rd/4th Grade
Once they become more fluent in their skills students begin to think more deeply about how various types of texts are structured and what authors intend. They become more thoughtful and effective authors, learning to express complex ideas and attitudes through what they write.
Sample 5th/6th Grade
When students are confident in their abilities, they explore their own thinking and understanding of the world through literacy. They use reading and writing as a means of acquiring new information, conducting research, reflecting on issues and communicating deeper thoughts and feelings.
Fresh ingredients with a little spice!
The Essential Food Groups
Know your ingredients!
The "recipe sampler" above presents one "literacy recipe" (lesson plan) for each of the key "food groups" required for elementary students to grow and flourish in literacy. Browse the Recipe Finder tab (search) to explore the hundreds of literacy recipes available on this website. Below is a brief explanation of each of the food groups. For more in-depth understanding, go to the Food Groups tab and learn what it is, how to teach it, and how to assess it.
Motivation for Literacy
Activities that stimulate enjoyment of books and appreciation for the usefulness of reading and writing motivate students to become engaged with the magic of the written word.
Understanding and speaking in oral language are fundamental to the development of reading and writing, so teachers need to provide rich opportunities for students to communicate in the classroom.
New learning builds upon what students already know, so exposing them to novel concepts and encouraging inquiry and exploration enhances their school success.
Concepts of Print
Explicitly showing students the features of written language, including how books "work", how letters and words are used, and how text is organized serves as an important introduction to literacy.
To communicate effectively in writing students need to be explicitly taught the "mechanics" such as handwriting and when and how to use capitalization and punctuation.
Young children need to be taught that the words they say can be broken into parts, based on individual speech sounds, known as phonemes, and this phonemic awareness plays an essential role in sounding out and spelling words.
Letter-Sounds & Phonics
Understanding the relationships between spoken sounds and written letters is also essential for the development of reading and writing, particularly in the early elementary years, and students best learn these letter-sound connections through systematic and explicit teaching.
Spelling & Word Study
To be successful readers and spellers students need to learn spelling patterns that are the building blocks of most words, through word analysis and useful spelling strategies, but they also need to read and spell automatically those tricky, irregularly spelled words (such as: the, two, laugh) that they encounter frequently.
An understanding of word meanings is essential to high levels of reading comprehension and written expression, so students need to have many opportunities in the classroom to hear and use words in ways that promote vocabulary growth.
Reading Fluency & Expression
It is not enough for students to identify the words to understand the meaning in text, they also need to recognize them effortlessly in order to focus their attention on the ideas, thus teachers need to use effective strategies to promote the growth of fluency and expression.
Reading Comprehension Strategies
Students have to be aware when they do not understand what they are reading and problem-solve to figure out the meaning of the text, so teachers need to model and promote the use of effective comprehension strategies.
Writing Processes & Strategies
Learning to write is a complex process involving sub-processes such as word choice, organization of ideas, as well as the foundational skills like spelling and handwriting, so teachers must provide many engaging opportunities in for students to learn to plan, organize, edit and revise written compositions.
Text Structures & Genres
Exploring genres and structures in fiction and non-fiction texts develops students’ understanding of the importance of purpose, audience and message, so teachers must provide opportunities for them to write for authentic purposes and teach them structures and genres to support those purposes.
Classroom Organization & Time Management
A positive and well-organized classroom environment is fundamental for student productivity and success in all subject areas, so teachers need to prepare activities and plan instructional time to build an engaging learning community where students feel confident and are motivated to learn.
Assessment for Instruction
Assessing students' skills and understanding and providing them with formative feedback on a regular basis is essential to the promotion of student growth and learning. As well as guiding the students, assessment provides direction to the teacher for whole class and small group instruction.
The Melissa Institute
The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment is a non-profit organization dedicated to the study and prevention of violence through education, community service, research support and consultation.
Learn more about the Melissa Institute.
Did you know that 85% of youth in trouble with the law have reading difficulties?
The Institute’s mission is to prevent violence and promote safer communities through education and application of research-based knowledge.
What is the connection between violence prevention and a literacy website?
Evidence shows that students who do not learn to read on level by 3rd grade are much more likely to develop low self-esteem, drop out of school, and engage in antisocial and aggressive behavior. To help prevent this spiral of failure The Melissa Institute has introduced The Balanced Literacy Diet website to support educators in developing effective and engaging literacy programs across the elementary grades.
The good news is that literacy failure is preventable!
With the support of The Melissa Institute this website was developed by university-based literacy experts and school-based practitioners – literacy specialists, classroom teachers as well as district and school administrators. The Balanced Literacy Diet framework is designed to provide a comprehensive multifaceted internet resource to support the development of research-informed reading and writing instruction in schools. It is a free website for use by educators everywhere.
We want to thank all of the generous contributors who have made the development of this website possible.
We also want to express a particular debt of gratitude to the many educators who have opened their hearts to this project and shared their time and expertise so that others can benefit from their wisdom.
We hope to continue to add to the website, so if you find it a useful resource we hope you will support us in our efforts to make it even better.
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