Literacy Lane
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Basic guidelines for a balanced literacy program:
To become competent in literacy, children need sustained practice in listening, speaking, reading, and writing on a daily basis. All children must view themselves as independent readers and writers by third grade. Print-rich classrooms, shared reading and writing, modeling, opportunities for every child to read and write daily, rhymes and chants to develop phonemic awareness, and the expansion of knowledge by reading expository texts are the cornerstones of successful balanced literacy programs. 
A balanced reading program provides:

Reading Aloud
Shared Reading
Guided Reading
Independent Reading
It is important to point out that in a balanced literacy program, reading and writing are reciprocal. Therefore, a balanced writing program includes:
  • Writing Aloud 
  • Shared Writing 
  • Guided Writing 
  • Independent Writing
The Four Blocks Framework, developed by Dottie Hall, Pat Cunningham, and Cheryl Sigmon is a multilevel, multi-method framework that organizes instruction to provide numerous and varied opportunities daily for all children to learn to read and write.
The framework is divided into three main subdivisions:

Building Blocks

In kindergarten classrooms children develop six critical understandings which are the "building blocks" for successful literacy.
1.Children develop the desire to learn to read and write.
2.Students learn new concepts and add words to their vocabularies.
3.Children learn print concepts.
4.Children develop phonemic awareness.
5.Children learn to read some familiar words.
6.Students learn letter names and sounds.
Kindergarten teachers provide opportunities for children by:
Reading/Writing to children
Reading/Writing with children
Providing opportunities for children to read/write by themselves

Four Blocks (Grades 1-3)

Because children learn in different ways, teachers divide their instructional time into four equal blocks. 

1.Guided Reading 

Goal: To expose students to a variety of literature, and to build comprehension, vocabulary, and reading strategies.

2.Working with Words

Goal: To read, spell, and use high frequency words correctly, and to establish decoding and spelling patterns.

3.Self-Selected Reading

Goal: To allow students to read and enjoy text on their independent reading level, and to build reading fluency and confidence.


Goal: To apply the writing process and knowledge of phonics, spelling, and grammar, and to build fluency and confidence as writers.

Modifying Four Blocks for the Upper Grades (4-8)

For additional information on balanced literacy:

A Guide for Parents: How Do I Know a Good Early Reading Program When I See One?
Four Blocks Literacy Model
Teachers.Net Four Blocks Center
The Reading Lady