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Balanced Literacy

Philosophy Statement: Reading, Writing, Listening, and Speaking help children to think more, to question more, to feel more, to notice more. The more children know, the more children can learn. Language Arts is a complex intellectual/social language-based process of making meaning.

This process of constructing meaning is a way of thinking, a way of teaching, and a way of learning in a social community. Learners are continually supported to purposefully use language across all venues in order to inquire, to construct, and to evaluate their own understanding of texts and real-life issues.

Together as learners, teachers and children, we weave a tapestry of who we have been and who we will be.

Literacy Framework

An effective balanced literacy program incorporates the aspects of instruction shown by research to help students become successful readers. Students need data-driven, differentiated reading instruction that systematically and explicitly provides them with the foundational skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, and word study. Along with these skills, students must receive instruction in fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. 

A balanced approach to literacy instruction combines language and literature-rich activities with the explicit teaching of skills as needed to develop the fluency and comprehension that proficient readers possess. Such instruction stresses the love of language, gaining meaning from print, and instruction of phonics in context. 

A balanced literacy approach to reading instruction incorporates many reading strategies in order to meet the varying needs of all students. Reading instruction within a balanced literacy approach includes phonemic awareness and phonics instruction, interactive read-alouds, mini-lessons, independent work, guided reading, shared reading, small group and individual conferencing, and literacy centers for independent practice. Instruction takes place within the structure of the reading workshop. 

A balanced literacy program for older students must include attention to developmental, functional, social and recreational literacy. Students need continued instruction in skills and processes as learning expectations and requirements increase with each additional grade. 


Merrick ELA Curriculum Map 2023-2024

Our teachers use Teachers College Reading and Writing Units of Study.

Writing Units

Built on the best practices and proven frameworks developed over decades of work in thousands of classrooms across the country and around the world, the Units of Study for Teaching Writing, K–8, offer grade-by-grade plans for teaching state-of-the-art writing workshops that help students meet and exceed rigorous global standards. The Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing, K–8 will:

  • Help teachers teach opinion/argument, information, and narrative writing with increasing complexity and sophistication
  • unpack standards as you guide students to attain and exceed those expectations
  • foster high-level thinking, including regular chances to synthesize, analyze, and critique
  • develop and refine strategies for writing across the curriculum
  • support greater independence and fluency through intensive writing opportunities
  • include strategic performance assessments to help monitor mastery and differentiate instruction
  • provide a ladder of exemplar texts that model writing progressions across grade levels, K–8
  • give teachers opportunities to teach and to learn teaching while receiving strong scaffolding and on-the-job guidance.


Reading Units

Drawing on learning gleaned from decades of research, curriculum development, and working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, and school leaders, this reading series is rooted in the Project’s best practices and newest thinking. The Units of Study for Teaching Reading, K-5:

  • provide state-of-the-art tools and methods to help students move up the ladder of text complexity
  • build foundational reading skills and strategies
  • support the teaching of interpretation, synthesis, and main idea
  • offer classroom structures to support inquiry and collaboration
  • provide all the teaching points, minilessons, conferences, and small-group work needed to teach a comprehensive workshop curriculum
  • include resources to help teachers build and evolve anchor charts across each unit
  • help teachers use learning progressions to assess students’ reading work, develop their use of self-monitoring strategies, and set students on trajectories of growth
  • give teachers opportunities to teach and to learn teaching while receiving strong scaffolding and on-the-job guidance.