A Balanced Approach to Literacy Instruction and Support for Diverse Learners
Keywords: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.