Balanced Literacy & the Continuum of Literacy Learning

As educators, we strive to provide the most exemplary instructional practices designed to guide students in becoming literate readers, writers, and oral communicators. Literacy acquisition is a complex process that requires the strategic design of teaching and learning experiences to support the development of proficient reading, writing, listening, and speaking. As students develop their proficiency in literacy, they are encouraged to become critical thinkers and independent problem-solvers.  They develop the ability to self-monitor their own learning by evaluating their achievement and setting new goals continually to reach their highest level of potential (Routman, 1994). Self-initiated learning requires the full support of knowledgeable teachers, according to Routman, who make instructional decisions that are based on student needs, interests, and experiences by offering just the right amount of guidance. Teachers must remain knowledgeable about their students’ individualized progress, ensuring all teaching and learning practices are designed as authentic and engaging experiences that utilize a balance between direct and indirect instruction to personalize based on student needs. The delivery format for instruction should vary throughout the day to include whole group, small group, and one-on-one conferring settings.

Balanced Literacy Approach

A balanced literacy approach is the foundation for providing all reading and writing instruction, through scaffolded support that guides students as needed toward their independence through the following structured delivery models:

  • modeled reading and writing
  • shared reading and writing
  • guided reading and writing
  • independent reading and writing