District 52 Literacy (Reading, Writing, Language, Word Work)

D52 teachers and staff continue to enhance reading and writing instruction in order to help the students they teach learn to their potential. K-8 teachers follow the balanced literacy framework for reading and writing instruction. The five areas of reading are integrated into this framework, with direct instruction in specific comprehension strategies.

Components of Balanced Literacy

Reading Aloud: The teacher reads aloud a piece of literature to students.

Shared Reading: Using a text that all students can see, the teacher focuses instruction on a specific strategy or skill, while involving the students in the process.

Guided Reading: The teacher works with a small group of students who have similar reading processes. The teacher provides support through instruction for students.

Independent Reading: Students read a variety of materials on their own, some at their reading level.

Shared Writing: The teacher and students compose a message together with the teacher as a scribe.

Interactive Writing: The teacher and students “share the pen” while composing a message. The teacher’s instruction focuses on a specific skill or strategy.

Guided Writing: Students engage in writing with small groups or a partner. The teacher provides support for students through conferencing.

Independent Writing: Students generate their own writing and share with others.

These components can be seen in any subject area, such as Social Studies or Science, and are an integral part of the school day. Instruction can vary based on the age of the student.

Adapted from Guided Reading: Good First Teaching for All Children by I.C. Fountas & G.S. Pinnell, 1996.

Five Areas of Reading

Phonemic Awareness: is the ability to work with individual sounds in spoken words. Phonemes are the smallest parts of sound in a spoken word. Phonemic awareness instruction includes isolating, identifying, categorizing, blending, and segmenting individual sounds in words. Phonemes can also be deleted, added, or substituted.

Phonics: is the relationship between the letters and sounds of spoken language. The goal of systematic and explicit phonics instruction is for children to learn and use the alphabetic principle.

Fluency: is the ability to read a text accurately and at a good rate. Fluency bridges word recognition and comprehension. Fluency instruction can include repeated readings or partner reading with a fluent reader as a model.

Vocabulary: is the words we must know to communicate effectively. The four primary types include: listening, speaking, reading, and writing vocabulary. Vocabulary can increase indirectly by engaging in daily oral language, being read to, or reading a variety of texts. Direct instruction increases vocabulary by explicitly teaching individual words and word-learning strategies.

Comprehension: is the reason for reading. Comprehending texts should be a purposeful and active process. Comprehension can be developed by teaching various cognitive strategies.

These five areas all play a role in the reading process. Depending on the student, the amount of attention given to each area can differ.

Adapted from Put Reading First by the National Institute for Literacy, 3rd Edition, 2006.

Comprehension Strategies

These strategies help readers understand what they read.

Make Connections: Readers link the unknown to the new by connecting a text to their background knowledge.

Create Sensory & Emotional Images: Readers use their five senses to create pictures in their mind before, during, and after reading.

Infer: Readers combine information in the text with their own ideas to interpret and better understand the text.

Determine Importance: Readers decide what is and what is not important in a text.

Use Fix-Up Strategies: Readers use word-attack strategies to overcome difficulties when navigating the text.

Ask Questions: Readers generate their own questions to increase meaning of the text.

Synthesize: Readers use information in a text to create a new idea about what they have read.

Monitor Understanding: Readers check their understanding of the text in an ongoing fashion.

Phonics Instruction
In Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd Grade we use explicit instruction to teach developmentally appropriate phonics skills. We use a multisensory approach that includes decoding words and spelling words.

In 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade we teach Syllable Routines using the six syllable types. Students are taught to recognize and read the syllable type and then apply that understanding to read multisyllable words.

Writing Instruction

Teachers are beginning to implement a Writer's Workshop approach in their classrooms. Teachers model for students and guide them in the steps in the writing process including prewrite, draft, revise, edit, and publish. Students learn about different genres of writing such as Narrative, Informational, and Opinion/Argument. Rubrics, checklists, and continuums are used to assess students' writing. District 52 uses Lucy Calkins' Units of Study Writing Curriculum in Grades K-8 to help students' writing skills transition from one year to the next.

Lucy Calkins Units of Study


In Grades K, 1, and 2 our District has fully implemented the Handwriting Without Tears Curriculum. Students are learning letter formation (printing) in a systematic, multisensory, and fun way! In Grade 3 students are learning Cursive from the Handwriting Without Tears Curriculum.

Handwriting Without Tears


District 52 continues to implement the New Illinois Learning Standards for ELA (English Language Arts).

ELA K-12 Standards