Balanced Literacy: Activities & Examples Video

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  • 0:02 Teaching Reading
  • 0:50 Balanced Literacy
  • 2:25 Five Elements
  • 5:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

With all the different ways to teach reading and writing, things can feel overwhelming. In this lesson, we'll look at one way to combine disparate ideas about literacy instruction and how to apply it in the classroom.

Teaching Reading

Kelly is a new teacher and he's really excited to start the school year. He has his classroom organized and can't wait to teach his students how to read.

There are many different ways to teach reading. One teacher in Kelly's school says that the best way to teach reading is with good old-fashioned phonics instruction. Another counters that that's outdated; whole language is the way to go.

Kelly's a little confused. He knows that whole language and phonics are two different ways of teaching reading and that people have different ideas about which is better. But what, exactly, is involved in each type of reading instruction? And could Kelly do both?

To help Kelly explore his teaching options, let's look closer at balanced literacy and how it combines phonics and whole language.

Balanced Literacy

One of the teachers at Kelly's school says that phonics are the better way to teach reading, while another teacher counters that whole language instruction is better. Kelly doesn't know what to think!

Phonics involves explicit instruction on the parts of language. It is a way of teaching reading and writing that focuses on teaching the parts of language first. In phonics instruction, children learn their letters, and then letter blends (like 'sh'), and then learn words.

In contrast, whole language instruction involves teaching reading through the act of reading. Instead of spending time focusing on sounding words out and other phonics-related lessons, children in a whole language classroom are surrounded by lots of different types of written language, and they choose the books and texts that they want to read.

Both phonics and whole language have strengths and limitations, and Kelly wonders if there's a way to combine them so that his students can get the best of both worlds.

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