Kindergarten is a fun and exciting year when children begin to gain the foundations of both reading and writing. There is a small window of opportunity in which to get children off to a strong start for their academic career. Research1 shows that foundational reading and writing skills is strongly correlated to later academic success and these can often be predicted by the end of first grade. This finding is significant because research2 indicates that there is close to a 90 percent probability that children struggling with reading (and often writing) at the end of Grade 1 will remain poor readers (and often writers) by the end of Grade 4. All children deserve a strong start and that is why New Life Academy uses a balanced literacy program starting in Kindergarten.
Literacy development is the overall scope of reading, writing, listening, speaking, and vocabulary skills. Emergent literacy skills include phonological awareness (e.g., recognizing rhymes, beginning sounds), phoneme blending (the ability to hear individual sounds in a word, put the sounds together, and say the word that is made), segmenting skills (the ability to break words down into individual sounds), and knowledge of print concepts (e.g., left to right, letters make up words).
The balanced literacy program that our Kindergarten classes implement is researched based and strikes a balance between whole language and phonics. The strongest elements of each are incorporated into a literacy program that aims to guide students toward proficient and lifelong reading. Discover all the ways we are developing the emergent reader.
Students participate in Reader’s Workshop which includes; Modeled Reading (read alouds), Guided Reading (small flexible groups), Shared Reading (working collaboratively through the use of reading strategies), Independent Reading (students read at their independent reading levels), and Word study (sight words).
They also engage in Modeled Writing (verbalizing thoughts while demonstrating the process of writing), Shared Writing (includes Interactive writing), Guided Writing (mini lessons and direction to small groups) and Independent Writing during Writer’s Workshop. Spelling and word study are integrated throughout all aspects of balanced literacy.
The Daily 5 framework
Daily 5 is a structure used at NLA, within Reader’s Workshop, that allows for differentiation and gradual student independence. The Daily 5 framework stands out from traditional literacy methods in that it eliminates busywork, develops student independence, increases engagement, and accelerates growth.
Students work to build stamina and are able to engage in word work study, small group guided reading, independent writing, technology, and independent reading each day, through a series of small group rotations in each area.
This model allows us to use flexible grouping to work with students in a smaller setting and tailor their instruction and “work” to meet their individual needs. We believe that highly effective classrooms are student driven. One of the most important outcomes is developing and enhancing students’ love of reading. The Daily 5 framework leads to this outcome while providing student choices and increasing engagement.
1National Institute of Literacy issued its report, Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel, 2008
2Allington, R.L., & Woodside-Jiron, H. (1998). Decodable texts in beginning reading: Are mandates based on research? ERS Spectrum, 16 (2), 3–11