Balanced Literacy is a framework for literacy instruction that assumes reading and writing achievement are developed through instruction and support in multiple environments using various approaches that differ by level of teacher support and child control (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). Balanced Literacy assumes that children construct their own understanding of literacy learning while immersed in literacy. A successful balanced literacy program must combine a balance of teacher directed instruction (including teacher modeling of skills, strategies and processes) and student-centred activities (Au, Caroll & Scheu, 1997; Freppon & Dahl, 1998; Pressley, Rankin & Yokoi, 1996; Snow, Burns & Griffen, 1998). In addition, recent research suggests that essential components of literacy should mirror principles of effective learning and teaching. Thus, well-implemented balanced literacy programs must include elements of community, authenticity, integration, optimism, modeling and student control and connectedness (Asselin, 1999; Pearson, 1999). To best achieve this goal, research suggests that teachers need to:
emphasize reading, writing and literature by providing long, uninterrupted periods of successful reading every day
create a positive, reinforcing, cooperative environment in the classroom,
set high but achievable expectations for all students,
thoroughly integrate reading and writing across the curriculum (Asselin, 1999; Pressley & Allington, 1998).