Observing a Balanced Literacy Program in Action

On March 22, in lieu of our usual Tuesday seminar, seven interns with an endorsement in elementary education participated in a professional development day at Woodstock Elementary School (WES). The purpose of the visit was to observe, critique and understand the many components of a balanced literacy program. Aimee Toth, UVEI’s Associate Director of Elementary Education, was our guide.

Aimee, who has also been leading professional education workshops for WES teachers, began with an overview of what we should expect from the day’s experience, and we reviewed the 5Ws (who?, what?, where?, when?, why?) that pertain to a balanced literacy program.  From there, our day of observation began. We watched a third grade literacy circle, guided reading in kindergarten, a small group book walk back in kindergarten, and a second grade read aloud and book shopping (students go to book buckets or book shelves and select five books (at their appropriate reading level) to read the following week.  We also watched expert teachers take running records to assess the reading levels of their students. It was especially nice to visit the classroom of a UVEI alumnus who is now teaching at WES

The benefits of watching these teachers were:

1. Experiencing literacy theory in action in real classroom settings;

2. Having the opportunity to ask teachers why they made the decisions they made to improve student literacy;

3. Seeing good literacy practice in grades K-3;

4. Sharing my observations and questions with my colleagues immediately after each lesson.

After a debrief, the professional development experience closed with lots of laughs and, of course, a group hug. It was a demanding, but incredibly rewarding day for all of us!

Story by Eric Braun

Eric Braun enrolled in the Teacher Internship Program in August 2015, after serving as Director of Student Success for the College of Graduate and Professional Studies at Franklin Pierce University.