Saturday, February 6, 2010

Balanced Literacy Instruction

After reading the article "Balanced Reading Instruction," it really opened my eyes up to the methods and instruction techniques that are needed to create a quality classroom learning environment. Instruction is one of the single most important parts of teaching, because the approach that a teacher takes to forwarding knowledge and information is crucial to each student's development. Pressley stresses the importance of this by saying, "balanced instruction requires knowledge of how to carry out effective skills instruction as well as high awareness of how to teach holistic reading and writing." Balanced Instruction for literacy is not just a one step process to perfect, rather an ongoing process that includes using proper literacy processes (comprehension strategies, phonics, vocabulary, etc) along with authentic literacy processes. Having the students work with holistic readings or writings is vital to their understanding of working with literacy that is meaningful and applicable to their own lives and experiences. Pressley also states, "the balanced instructional model is particularly appropriate and beneficial for students who have initial difficulties in learning to read and write." Being able to intervene early on for students with minor difficulties is important to their later development in literacy, because if teacher's do not have a proper plan for instruction to help these struggling students, then they will continue to be behind throughout their education.

One of the main points that was discussed in the article was balancing various elements of literacy instruction. Some of these elements included following up on literacy development and using unique approaches to literacy instruction that allowed teachers to reach each and every one of their students. After reviewing a survey of a group of teachers, Pressley stated that "teachers offer[ed] frequent skills instruction, both in the context of actual reading and writing and in lessons in which the skills were isolated and presented in a decontextualized situation." Many of the instruction strategies were quite 'eclectic' and gave each student a chance to benefit to their full potential by receiving them individually. Not each and every strategy works for every student in regards to literacy, so it is important that we learn our students strengths and weaknesses, and learn to play to their strengths, and come up with activities that will help improve their weaknesses.

Along with talking about the various comprehension strategies, understanding of the alphabetic principle, and phonemic awareness strategies, the article also talked about the important aspect of motivation in regards to a balanced literacy instruction approach. Pressley explains motivation in this balanced learning approach by saying, "Teachers balance skills teaching and holistic experiences while flooding their classrooms with motivation." Without providing students with an opportunity to be excited about learning, and see a meaningful purpose to their learning, they will not be encouraged to learn literacy. "Encourag[ing] students' to learn, to encourage their engagement in literacy-development tasks, especially real reading and writing, [is crucial to their learning]." This balanced instruction in literacy is extremely important not only for teachers when planning their lesson for the classroom, but also for the students as their learning and development in literacy is dependent upon the teachers instruction methods and approaches to literacy.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you did a really good job reading this article! There was so much information given about successful literacy instruction, it was pretty overwhelming! I've always known how important it is to integrate reading and writing into every aspect of schooling and how important it is to have a balanced approach to literacy instruction, but after reading this article, the amount of work that goes into being prepared, as a teacher, to do all of that, really hit home!

    I found the section of the article that talked about motivation to be one of the most important aspects. I mean, it has to be the foundation. If students aren't excited and motivated to read and write then the amount of effort you put into creating a balanced teaching approach doesn't even matter. Though, I do think that offering students a wide variety of instructional methods will create a different and exciting environment surrounding literacy. So thats a great way to motivate right there.