What is Literacy/Biliteracy?
Ensuring students are literate and biliterate are among the greatest responsibilities we have as educators in EPISD. Through a balanced literacy approach with a combination of teacher-directed instruction and student-centered activities, students have daily opportunities to listen, speak, read, write, and think critically which promote a community of readers and writers. Teachers of literacy and biliteracy model reading and writing skills, strategies, and processes to provide multiple opportunities for students to practice. Students internalize the strategies and use them independently to construct meaning while engaging with varying texts.
Essential Practices of Literacy
At the elementary level, the essential practices of balanced literacy are the same for monolingual and dual language classrooms. However, dual language classrooms implement balanced literacy through the 50/50 model in English and Spanish. The essential practices of balanced literacy are: Modeled Reading & Writing, Shared Reading & Writing, Table Talk & Quick Write, Guided Reading & Writing, Workstations, Independent Reading & Writing and Word Study. As students learn to read, they progress through the Five Stages of Reading: Pre-A, Emergent, Early, Transitional, and Fluent. (Jan Richardson, The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading, 2016)
In middle school, the essential practices of balanced literacy are the same for all Language Arts classes including, English Language Arts (ELAR), Spanish Language Arts (SLAR), Languages Other than English (LOTE) and English Learner Language Arts (ELLA) classrooms. However, dual language is implemented differently in middle school than in elementary school. In middle school, dual language is implemented through various content areas throughout a student’s day. A student may have a combination of ELAR, ELLA or LOTE classes along with Math, Social Studies and Science which may alternate Spanish and English throughout the week. Because students report to several classes throughout the day, alternating days provides the students opportunities to use both languages. Whichever Language Arts class a student attends, the essential practices of balanced literacy are:
- Targeted Instruction: Teachers have a framework and time to provide targeted and appropriate instruction using varied modalities of instruction.
- Theme Based: Units of study for reading and writing are linked to themes. This allows students to make sense of the world around them and connect to global themes by reading about others and writing about themselves.
- Independent Reading Practice Time: Students have time to read self-selected text for a specified length of time and purpose.
- Collaborative Conversations: Students have various opportunities to listen and speak in both language throughout the day through small group activities.
- Student Self-Management: Students learn to plan their work, manage time, solve problems, evaluate themselves, and cooperate with one another.
- Cooperation: Students learn to respect each other’s time and space and to support each other as a community of readers, writers, and learners through small group instruction.
- Organization: Students learn to organize class resources as well as their own books, notebooks, folders, and papers.
- Student Choice: Students choose topics of personal interest to read and write, motivating them to build from their own background knowledge and experiment with new topics.