Introducing and Implementing All the Components of a Comprehensive Literacy Program
September 2011 • Sue Jackson

With this Teaching Tip of the Month we have introduced a new format that will concentrate on a broader spectrum of tips and ideas for teaching. For the first tip of the year, I thought it would be helpful to provide a step-by-step outline for those of you asking, how do I introduce and implement all the components of a comprehensive literacy program?

At the beginning of the school year, it is imperative to set procedures, routines, and expectations so that your literacy program runs smoothly and effectively. Introduce the components of your literacy program slowly and gradually. Lessons will take longer initially because you are modelling practises and developing expectations.

Effective literacy instruction occurs in an extended block so students have ample time to practice skills and strategies being learned. The key to scheduling is to include time every day for all the major literacy components. You may want to create a Reader's Workshop and a Writer's Workshop block in your schedule. In Reader's Workshop, you will have time to explore comprehension strategies, word solving strategies, vocabulary acquisition, and fluency through the gradual release of support. During Writer's Workshop, a balance between teacher-directed writing (text-type studies and reader responses) and student-selected writing is essential. Both are important for the development of skills, knowledge, confidence, and proficiency in writing. You may decide to conduct a text-type study for a few weeks and then provide a block of time for self-selected writing.

The charts below outline how to gradually add new components to your program. This will help you get started and transition from whole group sessions to small group instruction.

Week 1:
Reader's Workshop: Writer's Workshop:
Week 2:
Reader's Workshop Writer's Workshop
Week 3:
Reader's Workshop Writer's Workshop