Balanced Literacy

Balanced Literacy


Lucy Caulkins’ Writers Workshop is an approach and curriculum designed to give students ample time and space to become creative, focused and fluent writers. The workshop model allows for students to be independent writers, writing about topics that are meaningful and personal to them. The start of every Writer’s Workshop block begins with a mini-lesson in which the teacher directly models writing strategies, techniques, and craft moves. After the direct instruction, students write independently and try out those new skills, keeping a collection of their writing in a journal or folder. At the end of each unit, students choose a piece to take through the publishing process. The publishing process can range from revising by adding on to editing for clarity and grammar.


At CWC Mar Vista, we teach our children to read through scheduled Reader’s Workshop lessons, Shared Reading and Guided Reading sessions.

Reader’s Workshop Lessons:

Lucy Calkins’ Reader’s Workshop provides children with a supportive environment that involves them in authentic reading experiences that focus on the strengths and needs of each individual child. Reader’s Workshop lessons help children develop strong reading skills through the use of a mini-lesson, shared reading, read aloud, conferencing, independent reading, paired reading, literature response, and Reader’s Chair.  The basic philosophy behind the Reader’s Workshop is to allow children to spend an extended amount of time reading authentic texts that interest them on a daily basis and to provide opportunities to talk about literature. The ultimate goal of a Reader’s Workshop lesson is always to develop life-long passionate readers.  The workshop model allows teachers to differentiate and meet the needs of all their students.  Reader’s Workshop lessons help to foster a love of reading and give children chances to practice reading strategies independently and with guidance.  This workshop model is similar to the Writer’s Workshop model.

Shared Reading:

Every week, each class will read and study a Big Book. The teacher will select a fiction, non-fiction or poetry text. Throughout the week, the children will take part in various activities related to the book, designed to promote reading and reading skills. These activities might include:

  • the teacher modeling reading aloud with expression, while the children follow the words on the page
  • the children taking it in turns to read aloud, practicing reading with expression, fluency and accuracy in front of an audience
  • locating the punctuation and carrying out punctuation kung-fu (carrying out an action when you see a piece of punctuation)
  • discussing the storyline and asking questions to ensure comprehension and deepen understanding
  • predicting what might happen next
  • discussing the characters, setting and story structure

Guided Reading:

Guided Reading is teacher-led, small-group, reading instruction. The children are placed in small, ability groups of around four to six children. The teacher selects a text which is slightly higher than the children’s reading level, this extending them. The children will receive their own copy of the text. Together, they will look at the front cover and back cover, predicting what the story is about. Then, they will read the book independently or as a group, depending on their ability. The teacher will discuss any new language which arises throughout the story. At the end , the children will discuss the text and answer any questions relating to comprehension.