Students in elementary school are emergent readers and writers who are challenged in every subject using a Balanced Literacy Approach. Each Elementary building in the North Tonawanda City School District uses a balanced literacy approach at all grade levels (K through Grade 6).
Balanced Literacy is a framework designed to help all students learn to read and write effectively. We believe that all students can learn to read and write effectively. Balanced Literacy provides many opportunities for reading and writing experiences in a child-centered classroom. Children read and write each day independently and in group settings, both large and small. Balanced literacy classrooms focus on four different types of reading experiences:
- Reading aloud to children
Shared reading – whole class
Guided reading – small group
Students also participate in shared and individual writing activities each day.
Our balanced literacy framework takes place during a 90-minute block which includes writing and spelling and the use of fiction and nonfiction literature across all subject areas. The focus is on integration of skills and strategies in meaningful context as well as reading for comprehension. Flexible grouping of students within a classroom allows teachers to cluster groups of students at their instructional level.
The language arts curriculum in the general classroom is supported by a Book Room stocked and leveled with books spanning the range of reading levels and instructional levels for Pre-K through grade 6.
Finally, our Elementary Language Arts program incorporatesreading, writing, listening, and speaking as based on the NYSED Core Curriculum and focuses on the literacy competencies of phonemic awareness, decoding, print awareness, fluency, vocabulary development, comprehension strategies, spelling, handwriting, and composition as well as effective communication and skills. In addition, we use the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System to identify individual student reading levels, instruct in identified needed skills, and move toward using a guided reading model as children progress along the continuum. This system helps teachers to pinpoint specific areas of need for individual students that can then be addressed in small groups or through other strategic literacy instruction. In addition, literacy coaches aid teachers in designing prescriptive services for students through the Literacy Collaborative Framework as well as provide Reading Recovery services to students in need.