A Balanced Approach to Literacy Instruction and Support for Diverse Learners


  • Bonnie Mondesir University of West Georgia
  • Dr. Robert A. Griffin University of West Georgia




literacy theory, balanced literacy, diverse learners, striving readers


In this article, the authors explore various theories to inform educators and educational leaders who are looking for ways to better meet the literacy needs of all of their diverse students, including striving readers, culturally and linguistically diverse readers, and proficient and excelling readers. They call on educators to embrace a balanced approach that is informed by multiple bottom-up and top-down theories to better meet the needs of all their students. Focus is first given to Gough’s and LaBerge and Samuels’ information processing models (bottom-up models) followed by the psycholinguistic, schema, and transactional reader response top-down theories. Discussion of both the bottom-up and top-down theoretical approaches includes background information on notable theorists and explanations of specific theories that are instrumental in enriching the teaching of reading in a variety of classroom settings to a variety of students. Literature relevant to these theories is reviewed, and practical classroom implications of implementing these theories are explored to provide educators with hands-on tools and suggestions they can use to improve and enrich literacy instruction for all their students. Finally, a case is made for why educators should call upon multiple theories when making instructional decisions. 

Author Biographies

  • Bonnie Mondesir , University of West Georgia

    Bonnie Mondesir ([email protected]) is a doctoral student in the Ed.D. in School Improvement program with a concentration in Reading Education at the University of West Georgia.

  • Dr. Robert A. Griffin, University of West Georgia

    Dr. Robert A. Griffin ([email protected]) is an assistant professor in the Department of Literacy and Special Education at the University of West Georgia, where he teaches graduate-level courses in literacy, TESOL, and diversity/inclusive education. Before moving into higher education full time, he served as a secondary English and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher for 13 years in rural south and urban north Georgia public schools. Dr. Griffin’s primary research interests involve exploring reading motivation and achievement for bi/multilingual students and “at-promise” student groups and challenging deficit-oriented paradigms among some educators related to the skills and talents of diverse learners. Dr. Griffin serves on editorial review boards for several journals in the fields of TESOL and literacy, including GATESOL in Action, the Georgia Journal of Literacy, and the Texas Journal of Literacy Education, and has published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. He also serves as the editor of Focus, the quarterly newsletter of the Georgia Association of Literacy Advocates (GALA). For leisure, Dr. Griffin enjoys reading, traveling, visiting family, and spending time with his spouse, Mandi, and their two children, Miriam and Sarah Ruth. 

Balanced Approach for Diverse Learners (Mondesir & Griffin, 2020)






Research and Practitioner Articles

How to Cite

Mondesir , B., & Griffin, R. A. (2020). A Balanced Approach to Literacy Instruction and Support for Diverse Learners. Georgia Journal of Literacy, 43(1), 30-48. https://doi.org/10.56887/galiteracy.17

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