English at Spearwood Primary School
At Spearwood Primary School, we believe that effective reading instruction is based on ‘The BIG 6’ :
- Oral Language.
- Phonemic awareness.
- Vocabulary knowledge.
Our structured reading program includes:
- Explicit teaching of phonological awareness and phonics.
- Rote learning of sight / high frequency words.
- Guided practice to improve fluency.
- Vocabulary development.
- Explicit teaching of comprehension questioning techniques (Literal, Inferential, Vocabulary, Evaluative).
Teachers in Pre-Primary to Year 2 are trained to implement the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Curriculum. This is a systematic program of daily lessons that provide a high level of explicit modelling and student engagement. Each level of the program focuses on six to eight phonemic skills, along with activities to develop letter and sound recognition, introduce phoneme – grapheme connection and extended language awareness. The Heggerty curriculum includes explicit instruction of the following phonemic skills:
- Initial phoneme isolation
- Isolating final and medial phonemes
- Adding/deleting/substituting phonemes.
Fluency is defined as the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and expression. In order to understand what they read, children must be able to read fluently whether they are reading aloud or silently. When reading aloud, fluent readers read in phrases and add intonation appropriately. Their reading is smooth and has expression.
Spelling activities involve students blending and segmenting words. The Soundwaves Spelling Program is used across all year levels from Pre-Primary (Foundation text) – 6. This program is based on the Synthetic Phonics approach which is recognised as one of the most effective ways to teach spelling and reading skills. This scaffolded program allows for a consistent approach to spelling instruction across the school.
High frequency (Sight Words) words and a variety of phonetically based spelling words from previous lists are included in the literacy warm up each morning. Sight words are taught and spelt using the letter names. Phonetic words are sounded out during warm up activities.
Students are taught to use their grammatical knowledge and understandings in order to make appropriate choices in getting their message across in both written texts and in speaking and listening.
Vocabulary is one of the five major components of reading and is linked to academic success. Vocabulary instruction provides essential background knowledge for reading and writing. When students are taught words before they read them in a text, they have a better chance of comprehending what has been read. Vocabulary will be taught explicitly with the intention of improving comprehension and writing.
Confident and successful writers need to be able to select words appropriately and construct sentences effectively. Words and sentences are the “foundations and walls” of quality writing and the more opportunity children have to explore and try out new words or sentence constructions the greater the impact on their writing.
Teachers explore the specific language features and structures with their students during shared/modelled/guided sessions and children are encouraged to use and apply this learning in their independent writing. The links between the language features/structures being explored and the impact and effect they have on the writing, as well as upon the reader are made explicit to the students.
Teachers at Spearwood PS use First Steps writing strategies alongside DET learning sequences and other resources to model and teach effective writing. Staff use Brightpath for assessment of students and evaluation of teaching programs.
Talk for Writing
All teachers at Spearwood Primary School are trained to implement the Talk for Writing teaching and learning program.
Talk for Writing is a powerful teaching and learning program based on the principles of how children learn. The process enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before they try reading and analysing it and then writing their own version over a period of weeks.
Studies on the impact of the program have found that this daily storytelling and oral repetition has a dramatic influence on progress in writing. Students from K-6 are all participating and love the process of telling the story orally, drawing a story map and then constructing their own version of the story with different characters and settings.
Talk for Writing leads to success which builds confidence and motivates learners to keep learning. Each writing unit begins with a ‘hook’ to motivate students. Students become familiar with the vocabulary and language patterns. These patterns are introduced through warm up activities modelled by the teacher and illustrated by actions. Understanding is further developed through innovation on the model text through shared reading. A toolkit of key features is co-constructed by teachers and students. Students learn and understand the ingredients needed to successfully complete a writing task.
Parents are welcome to visit their children’s classes to see the great work that is happen in the Literacy and writing lessons.
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