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The Balanced Literacy Diet

Motivation for Literacy Play

Motivation for Literacy refers to activities that promote enjoyment of books and appreciation for the usefulness of reading and writing. Providing explicit motivation for literacy is especially important in the early stages of literacy development, when it may not be obvious to new readers and writers why they should care about literacy. However, at every grade level it is important for teachers to strive to make ALL literacy activities engaging for students! Videos in this playlist present a variety of highly motivating approaches teachers use to engage their students in reading and writing.

Knowledge Building Play

Students' knowledge and understanding -- their schemas -- provide the foundation for their learning in all areas. Extending students' experience and their exposure to new concepts, and encouraging inquiry and exploration all enhance their thinking skills and their development of knowledge. Videos in this playlist show how teachers can encourage their students to reflect on ideas, experiences, and information and, in the process, expand their schemas, their store of information and their repertoire of problem solving strategies. Higher level processes in reading and writing are dependent on such knowledge building.

Concepts of Print Play

Explicitly showing students the features of written language, including what books are, how text is organized, and how letters and words work is especially important in the early years of literacy development. Concepts of print include book handling skills, text directionality, spacing, function of letters, and punctuation. Videos in this playlist show how teachers provide opportunities for their students to explore how books are organized, where to start reading, what the symbols on the page mean, and how to tell what is a word and what is not.

Writing Conventions Play

Providing explicit instruction and practice in various aspects of writing mechanics, such as when and how to use punctuation or capitalization is an important literacy concept for students at all grade levels. Teaching handwriting and appropriate letter-formation as well as providing opportunities to practice these skills is essential for students to effectively communicate their ideas in writing. Videos in this playlist show how teachers incorporate a variety of strategies and techniques into their literacy program in order to help their students effectively communicate their ideas through written expression.

Phonemic Awareness Play

Phonemic Awareness is a sub-skill of phonological awareness, which refers to students' sensitivity to the sound structure of spoken words at different levels (like rhymes, syllables, and sounds). Phonemic awareness specifically refers to students' ability to identify and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words. Phonemic awareness skills such as blending and segmenting are essential to spelling, reading and writing. Videos in this playlist show teachers engaging students in various activities that play with sounds in spoken words, helping students to lead up to and build their Phonemic Awareness. Such activities include comparing words to see if the first sound matches, breaking words into their individual sounds for spelling, and blending sounds to make words.

Letter-Sounds & Phonics Play

Understanding the relationships between spoken sounds and written letters is essential for the development of skills in reading and writing, particularly in the early elementary years. Students learn these relationships most effectively through the systematic and explicit teaching of the approximately 42 letter-sound correspondences in English.
These letter-sound correspondences can be one-to-one (like "b") or may involve multiple letters for a single sound (like "ch"). Videos in this playlist show teachers explicitly modeling and teaching engaging letter-sound activities. The integration of music, drama, and actions make these activities especially motivating for students!

Classroom Tips Play

Creating an organized, positive, and productive classroom environment is a skill that teachers continue to build on throughout their teaching careers. Along with classroom preparation it is essential to establish routines and create an engaging learning community. These aspects of classroom management all contribute to success in student learning and are best initiated early in the school year. Videos in this playlist provide teachers with classroom tips and management strategies and include ideas to help establish regular classroom routines and positive student behaviors.

Assessment Play

Assessing student understanding and providing students with formative feedback on a regular basis is essential to the promotion of student growth and learning. Providing students with accurate feedback also enables them to take responsibility and be accountable for their learning. Videos in this playlist present a variety of ways to incorporate assessment for learning into your literacy program and include teacher conferences, effective recording strategies and assessment techniques.
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