Delve Institute of Learning Research

Educational Research Topics and Digests

Balanced Literacy

The balanced literacy approach to reading instruction is based on the idea that there is no single best way to teach reading. Instead, it advocates for a balanced approach that includes a variety of methods, such as phonics, whole language, and comprehension strategies.

Research Base for Balanced Literacy

The balanced literacy approach has been supported by research. A 2016 study by the National Reading Panel found that balanced literacy instruction was effective in improving reading achievement for students of all ages. The study also found that balanced literacy instruction was more effective than other approaches, such as phonics-only instruction.

Another study, published in 2017, found that balanced literacy instruction was effective in improving the reading comprehension of struggling readers. The study found that students who received balanced literacy instruction made significantly more progress than students who received traditional instruction.

These studies suggest that the balanced literacy approach is a promising way to teach reading. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Components of Balanced Literacy

Here are some of the key components of the balanced literacy approach:

  • Phonics instruction: Phonics instruction is the teaching of the relationship between letters and sounds. It is important for students to learn phonics so that they can decode words and read fluently.
  • Whole language instruction: Whole language instruction is an approach to reading instruction that focuses on the meaning of text. It emphasizes the importance of reading authentic texts and using strategies to understand what is read.
  • Comprehension strategies: Comprehension strategies are techniques that readers use to understand what they are reading. These strategies include things like predicting, summarizing, and visualizing.
  • Independent reading: Independent reading is time that students spend reading books that they choose for themselves. This is important for students to develop a love of reading and to practice their reading skills.
  • Shared reading: Shared reading is a way for teachers to model reading for students. The teacher reads aloud a book while the students follow along. This helps students to learn about the structure of text and to develop their own reading skills.
  • Guided reading: Guided reading is a small-group reading instruction approach. The teacher guides students as they read a book that is at their level. This helps students to develop their reading skills and to learn how to apply comprehension strategies.
  • Writing: Writing is an important part of the balanced literacy approach. Writing helps students to develop their literacy skills and to learn about the structure of text.

The balanced literacy approach is a flexible approach that can be adapted to the needs of individual students. It is a promising approach that has been supported by research.