Teachers still have genres in Minnesota

Schools have decided to adopt Balanced Literacy in District 719, Prior Lake-Savage, Minnesota.

But it’s not all bleak. Teachers will still be able to assign some books. According to the Savage Pacer,

Every reading class – which includes all K-5 classrooms and grade six through eight reading and English classes – will receive a “classroom library” consisting of around 250 age-appropriate fiction and nonfiction books from a variety of genres, said Greene. But despite the new approach to give students an array of reading options, teachers still will be able to assign some texts to entire classes.

“There’s going to be a balance,” the coordinator said. “It’s not going to be always that free-for-all reading. Teachers still have genres and they still have to introduce students to different things.”

What’s wrong with the existing curriculum? It’s “one size fits all,” says Greene.

Well, so is Balanced Literacy, but in a different way. Balanced Literacy focuses on reading strategies. Dan Willingham argues–and I agree–that content knowledge affects reading comprehension more profoundly than reading strategies do. But teachers under BL must focus on strategies nonetheless.

The phrase “one size fits all” is another example of the “witchery of words.” Anything can be called “one size fits all.” We must ask, one size of what? And all of whom?


  1. If I understand it correctly, “Balanced Literacy” is a way to track within the classroom.

  2. Diana Senechal says:

    Balanced Literacy is mostly about process. The teacher teaches a “minilesson” (usually on a strategy) and then circulates while the children work in groups. There is no curriculum in BL.