THE FOUNDATION THEORY THAT SUPPORTS THE BLI APPROACH/MODEL
The foundation theory that supports the Balanced Literacy Instruction approach/model includes a number of significant elements. According to Barbara J. Guzzetti (2002), a BLI “involves a combination of instruction in literacy skills and strategies and immersion in literature and literary experiences”¯(p.43). Ā One of the most significant elements is creating curriculum. There are three kinds of curriculum products that should be developed by the literacy teachers: a curriculum guide, a course of study and a syllabus (Olivia, 2005, p.2). In addition, it is recommended to develop resource units which can be used as “minicurriculum guides for teaching particular topics and problems”¯ (Olivia, 2005, p.11). Donna Walker Tileston (2004) states that it is very important to put planning into practice (p.1). Planning instructional strategies will help to improve the quality of the learning process.
In addition, it is necessary to pay attention to the assessment of the curriculum objectives. There are eight problems of curriculum construction and organization, including “scope, relevance, balance, integration, sequence, continuity, articulation, and transferability”¯ (Olivia, 2005, p.1). Besides, it is very important for any effective literacy teacher, who acts as a curriculum developer, to specify the main objectives, to select the appropriate content, and choose the appropriate instructional strategies that will help to achieve maximum transfer of learning (Olivia, 2005, p.22).
Moreover, it is possible to use different curriculum models in the BLI. In his article, Thomas H. Hewitt describes different curriculum models, such as Franklin Bobbitt’s model, Tyler-Taba model, Decker Walker’s Deliberative model, and Freire’s Liberation model, Bruner’s spiral curriculum (p.1-5). Ā Each of the models can be effectively used in the BLI.
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAM THAT HAS A STRONG BEARING ON THE BLI APPROACH/MODEL BY AN EFFECTIVE LITERACY TEACHER
Any effective literacy teacher would implement the instructional program based on the BLI approach/model in its own way (Rief & Heimburge, 2007, p.81). It depends on the group of students who will be involved in the learning process. The comprehensive balanced literacy program for the elementary students may consist of several blocks that make up the so-called core instruction required by all students in the group. These blocks may include daily independent reading, daily independent writing, reading: learning skills and strategies, reading: application of skills and strategies, writing: learning to write, and writing: developmentally appropriate writing (Cooper et al., 2011, p.17).
The teacher should be ready to implement any block in his or her practice. It means that it is very important for the teacher to have the appropriate material and planning. For example, in the block “writing: learning to write”¯, the students are taught by the teacher how to write, either in small groups or as a whole class. In this case, it is very important to explain students spelling and grammar rules and to model different types of writing practice. In the block “writing: developmentally appropriate writing”¯, the elementary students may write their own pieces, selecting their own topics. It is possible to use pictures in the beginning of this process, and later, to writes such pieces as stories and reports (Cooper et al., 2011, p.21).
In addition, the teacher should take into consideration some significant points. First of all, an effective literacy instructional program should include phonemic awareness and phonetic instruction. Secondly, it should include fluency, vocabulary and comprehension instruction. Thirdly, it should have clear timing and purpose, good instructional choices and use of data, alignment of standards and curriculum (Cooper et al., 2011, p.23).
In conclusion, it is necessary to say that the Balanced Literacy Instruction is one of the most effective methodologies in today’s system of education. Many educators agree that a BLI approach/model places emphasis on the appropriate combination of elements each student needs in order to achieve success in literacy. It means that the elements of the effective balanced literacy program include not only direct instruction in the use of skills and strategies, but also indirect instruction through different instructional literacy experiences.