Balanced Literacy incorporates all reading approaches which allows students to use multiple strategies on their road to becoming proficient readers. Balance Literacy combines phonemic awareness, phonics, word study, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It allows students to sharpen their skills in the areas of reading, writing, thinking speaking, and listening. Reading Workshop is part of our Balanced Literacy program here at Southampton Township Public Schools in grades K-5. Balanced Literacy includes modeled reading (reading aloud), shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading.
Reading Workshop is a structure of teaching that enables students to learn skills and strategies while reading books that are just right for them. With this model, students take part in a 10-15 minute mini-lesson each day, which allows the teacher to remind the children of previously learned skills and to introduce a new skill. The teacher also models the skill through a read-aloud. Children are then released to try strategies independently or with a partner with a book at his/her reading level. The teacher uses this independent reading time to have one-on-one reading conferences and/or reinforce skills and strategies with small groups. At the end of the workshop period, the class comes back together to share what they learned giving the teacher a chance to reinforce leaning objectives. The purpose of Reading Workshop is not only to build strong readers but to also help students develop a love for reading.
Writing Workshop is another component of our English Language Arts program in grades K-5. During Writer's Workshop, students write every day for real purposes about things that interest them. Students learn the craft of writing through practice, conferring, and studying mentor texts with the ultimate goal of developing lifelong writers. The structure of Writing Workshop starts with a mini-lesson where the teacher explicitly teaches one skill, strategy, or quality of writing and allows the students the opportunity to use it in their daily writing. As students move from whole class to independent writing, the teacher confers with students to attend to their individual needs, help them set goals, or reinforce previous lessons. The workshop concludes with the whole class reconvening for a brief share.
Our middle school ELA program is also designed to help our students meet the needs and demands of NJSLS-ELA. The instructional practices within each module emphasize student inquiry, critical thinking, and craftsmanship. Students engage in a variety of texts and in original research and deep interdisciplinary investigations of rich academic topics, using what they have learned to create original, high-quality academic pieces to share with their audience. Each module also calls on students to work collaboratively and openly share their ideas.