What is balanced literacy?

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Balanced literacy refers to a method of teaching wherein phonics is combined with whole language learning to help students acquire proficiency in reading and understanding concepts. Through balanced literacy, students will be guided in various study components that typically starts with read-aloud sessions to reading independently. The basic concept of balanced learning is to give guidance to students as they are starting to read and eventually make them more independent when it comes to understanding words and learning concepts. The progression of the various components of this teaching method is gradually passed on to the students from the teachers until such time that the former are able to master reading or become very proficient in it.

Through reading and writing workshops, students start off by learning through interactive classes and read-aloud sessions. In these sessions, teachers will read part of a story and oftentimes stop at some point to allow the students to follow through. These sessions will then be progressed to shared reading sessions wherein students will literally share and read the same material. The next component taught to students is called guided reading and in this part students will be able to apply what they have learned from previous components through group reading activities. At this time, some responsibility is given to the students as they interact with their small group. With increasing proficiency, students will progress to independent reading sessions and after which they will be encouraged to discuss various points of learning. The writing component is also progressed in the same way as the reading sessions.

Through gradual progression of the components and increasing level of responsibility that is given out to students, balanced literacy is considered a very effective method for teaching reading and writing proficiency. Proponents of this technique emphasize that balanced literacy not only helps with the technical aspects of reading and writing but also improves comprehension and understanding of learning concepts.

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