In Fairfax County Public Schools, a balanced literacy approach is used for reading instruction. All students at Graham Road Elementary, regardless of their designation, receive core instruction based upon this approach. Balanced literacy is based upon the implementation of a reading workshop model in which students have multiple opportunities to engage deeply with authentic literacy tasks. Inherent in its design is a structure that allows teachers to meet all students’ needs. There is focus on direct instruction, guided practice and independent practice with the whole group, small group and individual instruction. The teacher responds to students’ strengths and needs by demonstrating, guiding and reinforcing literacy behaviors. The key elements of reading are comprehension, fluency, phonics and word study, phonemic awareness, print concepts, and vocabulary.
Graham Road uses Benchmark Literacy as a part of the balanced literacy program. Benchmark Literacy is a Comprehensive Literacy Program that enables students to access complex text. Benchmark Literacy is a research-proven solution aligned to Standards. It includes thirty weeks of explicit comprehension-focused lessons for the whole class, small groups, and intervention. Assessment-driven differentiated instruction that includes opportunities to respond to the text. The program includes a gradual release of responsibility that supports choice and student progress. There is a variety of leveled texts for all students. Benchmark Literacy also includes leveled reader's theater and diverse genres that engage students and extend learning.