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Balanced Literacy in an Urban School District

Bruce B. Frey, Steve W. Lee, Nona Tollefson, Lisa Pass and Donita Massengill
The Journal of Educational Research
Vol. 98, No. 5 (May - Jun., 2005), pp. 272-280
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27548089
Page Count: 9
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Balanced Literacy in an Urban School District
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Abstract

Balanced literacy is a philosophical orientation that assumes that reading and writing achievement are developed through instruction and support in multiple environments in which teachers use various approaches that differ by level of teacher support and child control. The authors describe 1 urban school district's real-world attempt to create a balance between reading and writing, between teacher-directed and student-centered activities, and between skills-based and meaning-based approaches to literacy instruction. To measure balanced literacy components, the authors used a triangulation strategy with multiple methods of data collection that included classroom observations, inventories of physical environments of classrooms and school buildings, teacher surveys, and student interviews. Results suggest that teacher-directed instruction, a fundamental aspect of balanced literacy, was implemented less often than either independent reading or writing activities. Teachers appeared to allocate instructional time as directed by district administrators, and they implemented components of a balanced literacy program. In addition, most school buildings had a physical environment that supported balanced literacy. However, the amount of time devoted to instruction and modeling effective reading and writing strategies seemed too limited for a group of students with poorly developed reading and writing skills.

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