A Balanced Literacy Framework

Ways to Structure your Literacy Block for Effective Literacy Instruction


Many school districts have adopted a 90 minute balanced literacy framework as a model to implement literacy instruction in the classrooms. 
This page describes a balanced literacy framework that is being used in many urban districts, particularly those who are part of the Reading First Grant.  It has many elements that would work in any classroom, especially if you want to use a differentiated approach to teaching.

This is not the same as some balanced literacy programs found on the internet, such as Four Blocks but has many of the components found in most balanced literacy programs.  The typical balanced literacy framework consists of Read Aloud, Shared Reading, Independent Reading & Word Work -- these can be found in this model.
Another alternative is the Reading Workshop Model

It would be best to have a 90 minute literacy block for reading. 

Time: Component:
10 minutes Read Aloud
15 - 20 minutes Mini-lesson
45  - 60 minutes Literacy Stations
15 - 20 minutes each group Guided Reading
5 minutes Share Time
15 - 20 minutes Word Work


Read Aloud: Mini-lessons:
A read-aloud is an activity in which the teacher reads a book aloud to the whole group.  The purpose of the read-aloud is to model appropriate reading behaviors and reading strategies.  It is also a time to expose children to a variety of genres and literary styles.  The teacher has an opportunity to show students the joys of reading and teach them how to think and discuss text. Teachers should have a set purpose for each read-aloud and should read with the proper fluency, rhythm, and intonation.

Students do not have a copy of the book.  Their job is to listen how the teacher models fluency or a strategy for reading.

A short and pointed lesson that is under 20 minutes.  Look at this site
http://non-sequitur.tripod.com/id13.html for the structure of a mini-lesson.

Some mini-lessons include:
  • comprehension skills
  • word attack skills
  • reading strategies
  • fluency
  • literary styles/content of text
  • word work skills
  • grammar or mechanics
  • phonics
Literacy Centers/Stations: Guided Reading:
Literacy stations have two purposes: (1) to engage students while the teacher works with small reading groups, and (2) to reinforce literacy skills (vocabulary, reading, phonics, word study, mechanics).  Students are grouped heterogeneously and rotate to 3 centers.  They remain at each center for approximately 15 - 20 minutes. For more on literacy stations, please go to the Literacy Stations page. Guided reading is when the teacher works with a small group of students that are on the same reading level. Each student usually has their own text and the teacher works with the students on skills depending on their needs, whether it is phonemic awareness, work attack skills, fluency, or reading comprehension. Guided reading is done during the literacy stations time.   For more on guided reading, go to the Guided Reading page.
Share Time: Word Work:
The class regroups to discuss what they learned or did in their groups, such as which strategies they employed for reading, or projects they worked on. Share time is VERY IMPORTANT and should not be skipped.  It is a great way to assess what students have and have not learned. OPTIONAL: Word Work, usually referred to as spelling or phonics, is the time when the teacher works with the whole class on phonics skills and spelling strategies.  This is important in the primary grades because it helps children learn the decoding skills needed to read. Word work can take the place of share time or can be done after the 90 minute block.


More Sites & Resources:
Read Alouds Why Read Aloud? List of Read Alouds Recommended Titles for Read Alouds
Reading Strategies Mini-Lessons Lots of resources on Reading Mini-lessons Procedural Mini-lessons Literary Mini-lessons
Strategies/Skills Mini-lessons Balanced Literacy Framework (90 minute block) Components of a Balanced Literacy Program Balanced Literacy
Books to Read
These are some of my favorite books and have been invaluable to me in helping implement the components of Balanced Literacy.
A classic! I've used this book in conjuction with their 2nd book (see next column).   A must have!!!  Many teachers use this for intervention work as well!
A must have!!!  This if for the upper grades. I love Debbie Diller's books! I have used the 3 mentioned here extensively with my teachers and have gotten some fantastic ideas!