Moving Toward A Justice-Driven Curriculum In The Balanced Literacy Classroom

By Margaret Mary Policastro, Diane Mazeski, and  Noreen Wach

This material is derived from discussions that took place when 5th- through 8th-grade students were getting ready for an interactive read-aloud and being introduced to the book 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery (2016). Hearing these questions posed, we were quite curious and interested in how the students would react as the teacher asked them to write their responses on a white board. As we moved around to get a glimpse and catch the responses, the students were engaged, serious, and appropriate. The responses included a range of topics such as “Human Rights,” “Equality,” “Animal Kindness,” “Freedom,” and “World Peace” (see Figure 1).

Read More: Moving Toward a Justice Driven Curriculum

Comprehensive Literacy Basics: An Anthology By Capstone Professional

This book, compiled by experts in the filed of literacy language arts education, will provide support for educators as well as valuable knowledge in literacy development in areas such as language arts block, including whole group, small group, writing, and differentiation. Capstone publishing ensures “the quick tips and suggestions within will reinforce current practices while providing an invaluable go-to reference” (

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Comprehensive Literacy Basics Information Sheet

Living Literacy At Home: A Parent’s Guide

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Dr. Margaret Policastro gives a snapshot of what literacy looks like in today’s classroom and the support on how to make that home-to-school connection. 

How to implement:

The joy of reading continues at home — in the kitchen, doing the laundry, painting a room, wherever!

What a wonderful book to share on parent’s night, at open house, during parent teacher conferences, and in your newsletter’s home. Parents are partners in education and the tips and strategies in this book will strengthen the home-to-school alliance.

Discuss the book in a staff meeting and decide what might be included in the weekly principal’s newsletter. Ask your students to share their favorite stories that are read at home. Ask your parents to volunteer and come and read to the class. Children should view their parents as life long learners. You may need to help prepare the parent before, perhaps showing them a few techniques you use to model reading.

Have fun! Read together!
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The New Balanced Literacy School: Implementing The Common Core

This book, authored by Dr. Margaret Policastro and Dr. Becky McTague, infuses best practices of the new balanced literacy model through the lens of Common Core with support in read-alouds, independent reading and writing, language and literacy, and several other areas.

This must-read book will be the vehicle that will take you through the process of meeting the new instructional demands of the Common Core State Standards in the new balanced literacy model. This book can be used as a solo read or as a professional read for you and your colleagues. It doesn’t matter where in the process you are of looking at your practice with a new lens. Live with a chapter at a time, take notes in the margins, bring questions to your teaching partners, provide successes, and “rethinks” at your meetings. Hard to find common time to meet? You can create a web document and meet virtually. Additionally there is an educational goldmine of goodies in the appendices.

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Formative Assessment In The New Balanced Literacy Classroom

It is true that “assessment drives instruction”. This resource, authored by Dr. Margaret Policastro, Dr. Becky McTague, and Dr. Diane Mazeski, can easily be used as a professional read for teachers, staff and administrators. The seven chapters can be assigned to read for grade level meetings, grade band meetings, jigsaw activities for faculty meetings. These readings should be used to build capacity, deprivatize instruction and develop rich conversations. Nothing happens overnight in changing a culture of a school. This book will guide you through the steps. Be patient, change will come.

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