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Secondary Level (Gr. 7-10) Balanced Literacy Approach

At the Secondary Level (Gr. 7-10), teachers continue to use the structures of Balanced Literacy above, but the focus is on building a culture of literacy within and across the content areas. Similar to the primary grades, the focus is on creating a community of learners where staff and student learning occur in a print-rich environment characterized by high expectations for student literacy practices. Students are supported as they engage in an array of reading, writing, speaking, and listening tasks requiring higher-level thinking.These tasks reflect the diverse texts encountered in the content areas where there is a greater emphasis on non-fiction or informational reading and writing. Instruction focuses on addressing the needs of adolescent learners and assisting them in acquiring the processing strategies required to independently access increasingly complex texts, as outlined in the following tenets (http://www.wested.org/cs/ra/print/docs/ra/approach.htm):

  • Literacy is a Social Process: Students’ interests guide instruction and students read and write texts based on these interests. They interact with their peers in discussions, book clubs, and group projects to grapple with their confusion and difficulties with texts and to recognize their diverse knowledge and point of view.
  • Literacy is a Personal Process: Adolescence is characterized by explorations of one’s identities. Instruction therefore engages student’s interest in exploring new aspects of their own identities and budding self-awareness as readers and writers; their purposes for reading and writing, and their goals for improvement.
  • Literacy is a Cognitive Process:  Instruction is inquiry-based to develop student’s mental processes, including their repertoire of specific comprehension and problem-solving strategies. These processes are made explicit to students through teacher think-alouds, mini-lessons, and class discussions.
  • Literacy is a Knowledge-Building Process: Students bring an array of knowledge to their literacy work. Instruction therefore focuses on identifying and expanding this knowledge, further developing it through personal and social interaction with an array of texts. Student knowledge about word construction, vocabulary, text structure, genre, language, topics, and content embedded in the text are highlighted and expanded.

Commands