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Balanced Literacy ELA

Balanced Literacy at Ormondale

At Ormondale, we take a balanced and integrated approach to teaching literacy. The key components of balanced literacy are reading workshop, writing workshop, shared reading, interactive read-aloud, small group work, word study, and interactive writing.  The staff works with the components of balanced literacy and integrates this work with additional content and real world problem solving through project based learning. 

  Reading Workshop

The reading workshop is a block of time during balanced literacy instruction that contains many structures for teaching and learning: a mini-lesson, work time for student independent reading/discussion, teacher led small group/individual instruction, mid-workshop teaching point, and closure/share.  Through focused daily instruction organized around units of study and time spent reading “just-right” books that are appropriately supportive and challenging, children learn to read with accuracy, fluency and comprehension.  These units of study may be focused on creating reading and writing “lives” or they might be focused on literacy skills, integrating with core content and helping children to look at and solve real world problems in project based learning.

Reading Workshop




Assessment in Reading Workshop - A to Z Reading Levels


One key component of balanced literacy is assessment.  We know that understanding where our students are as readers, helps us to help our students pick leveled books that are “just right” for their independent reading and helps us to pick instructional level books for their targeted lessons or book clubs.  Research tells us that children will grow the most as readers, when they are reading “just right” books during their independent time (school and home) and receiving small group/individual instruction using books that are at their instructional level.  The challenge in all of this (numbered levels, letter levels, color levels) is that we want students, teachers, and parents to know the level, so we can best support the reader, but not feel the pressure of trying to move levels.  The goal is for the students to know themselves as readers, believe in themselves as readers, and for staff to provide all of the differentiated supports to help students grow as readers. 

Writing Workshop Writing workshop is a block of time during balanced literacy instruction that provides an extended period of time where children can be engaged in the whole process of authentic writing.  The workshop is based on the processes and habits of mind of professional writers.  The units of study designed by staff, give students the chance to author authentic pieces in narrative, information, and opinion genres, while also integrating with content and real world problem solving through project based learning.     



Regular, systematic practice in spelling builds skills that students draw upon both as readers and writers. Spelling lists are individualized to the needs of the child and include high-frequency words, examples of spelling principles such as silent letters or vowel pairs, and commonly misspelled words.   Resources


Reading and Writing Worksop

Reading Levels Chart -

TC Reading and Writing Project -

"Strategies that Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement,"  by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis

"The Art of Teaching Writing,"  by Lucy Calkins