The curriculum for excellence is organised into eight subject areas: Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Languages, Mathematics, Religious and Moral Education, Sciences, Social Studies, and Technologies. The Scottish primary curriculum recognises the importance of each of these subjects . However, literacy is seen as fundamental as it “unlocks access to the wider curriculum” ( Curriculum for excellence: Literacy across learning principles and practice). Literacy is organised into three strands: reading , writing and talking and listening.
From my school placement experience, and personal reading I will discuss how grounding in each of these literacy strands can help facilitate children in their knowledge acquisition, and understanding of other curriculum areas. The curriculum for excellence defines literacy as a “set of skills which allows an individual to engage fully in society and in learning through the different forms of language, and the range of texts which society values and finds useful” Within the curriculum literacy is organised into three strands: reading, writing and talking and listening.
Reading is a skill which can greatly help children in all curriculum areas. However, it is essential that children foster a positive attitude towards reading from the early stages, in order for this to occur. “For the youngest children, well before the age of five, sharing and enjoying favourite books regularly with trusted adults, be they parents, carers, practitioners or teachers, is at the heart of this activity. ”(Rose, 2006).
While on placement in a nursery school I witnessed how an interest in reading can be promoted which was having a library for the children to go to. “ “library equips students with lifelong learning skills and develops their imagination, thereby enabling them to live as responsible citizens”. (Premars and Willars, 2002) Before home time the teacher would select a book to read to the children in the library, and would involve the children by asking a question like “what do you think will happen next?
” “The very hungry caterpillar” was one book the teacher read to the children, which helped the children with their knowledge of the subject Health and Well-being, as from it the children learned about the importance of eating healthily in order to grow big and strong. The children also developed their Numeracy skills from the reading, when they counted the number of fruits the caterpillar eat each day. I could see that the children were all developing an interest in reading which encouraged them to go to the reading area by themselves a pick a book to look at.
This was also helping them to establish an interest in other curriculum areas. One girl pick up a book on shapes, and she was pointing at a triangle, and she asked me “what is that? ” with great curiosity. Another boy asked me to read a book about earthquakes to him, and as I was reading the book to the boy more children came over when they heard the excitement in my voice. After the reading. I asked the students to stand up and shake as though there was an earthquake, in order to encourage physical activity among the children.
As children progress through the primary curriculum collaboration between teachers and Parents is vital for children‘s reading skills. “Children whose parents said they heard them read at home had markedly higher reading attainments at age 7 and 8 than children who did not receive this kind of help from their parents. ”. While on placement with Primary 4 the teacher assigned the book Fantastic Mr Fox for the children to read at home. The children would then go over their assigned reading with the teacher each day.
I remember one student in particular who struggled with her reading so the teacher used the strategy of two stars and a wish to ensure that her enthusiasm for reading remained high, while also tasking her with something to work on. “Look for positive things to say about a student’s work, even when pointing out problems or mistakes with the work. Some might receive praise for bigger accomplishments than others, but even the lower performers need a regular pat on the back. ” (Adams, 2000) This is essential so that no student is left with a negative association towards
reading. After the story the teacher assigned the students with a number of tasks which linked to a number of curriculum areas. The children had to work in groups of four to design a healthy for Mr. Boggis, which helped with their understanding of the subject health and well-being.. The children also improved their numeracy skills from the reading Another by having to plan a feast for a number of people, and given the cost of a variety of food the children had to work out how much of each food they would need and then how much it would cost.
Furthermore, while on placement with a primary 4 class, the children were encouraged to read up on any topic that they were confused about. I witnessed this occurring dozens of times during my time at the school. I remember one child was very confused about a particular aspect of volcanoes after a lesson on the topic, but the teacher had no time to go over it again with the boy, so she handed him a book on volcanoes. At the end of the day the teacher asked him a question on volcanoes and from his reading he was able to answer.
On another occasion the teacher divided the class up into four groups and handed each group a book on the solar system along with a question sheet relating to volcanoes. The following day the teacher asked the students what they had learned from their reading about the solar system, and I was amazed with the amount of information the students had learned from independent reading. Children’s motivation to read can significantly help to facilitate with their learning of other subject areas, because if a student enjoys something they will read it. This was the case with the solar system lesson.
In some instances students may become so engaged with a book that they are in a state of flow. Flow is a concept coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and it occurs when a person is immersed on a task, giving it their attention, energy and focus. This is essential for learning as “to pursue mental operations to any depth, a person has to learn to concentrate attention. Without focus, consciousness is in a state of chaos. … Unless one learns to concentrate, and is able to invest the effort, thoughts will scatter without reaching any conclusion. ” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998)
To help promote this From my readings, I have discovered the crucial role writing plays in helping children to learn new concepts, words and ideas. “Through writing, they organise thoughts, remember important information, solve problems and reflect. They learn how to communicate for specific purposes and audiences. ( Queensland Authority Studies). Writing is necessary in terms of assessment for most subjects. Therefore if a child, even one with an exceptional level of knowledge in the subject area, struggles to gets their meaning across, due to poor writing skills can end up with a poor assessment mark.
Therefore it is vital that students have good written English in order for them to express their subject knowledge. To help students with this issue teachers often use writing maps, these “include generic reminders to ensure that students consider issues such as: presentation; the purpose for writing; structure and paragraphing; accurate use of punctuation and spelling; and relevant subject-specific vocabulary” Literacy across the curriculum). This would prove very beneficial to all students even those who have a high writing standard as they would still be learning to organise new thoughts and ideas in an effective manner.
Teachers may also wish to apply Vygotskys scaffolding concept by pairing up a student who has poor literacy skills but good subject/ topic knowledge with a student who has good literacy skills but poor subject/ topic area, in order for them to learn from one another. Furthermore, from helping one another both children should reach their next level in their Zone of proximal development, (the difference between what a students can do by themselves and what they can do with assistance), in literacy and the given subject area.
The last stand of literacy is literacy and talking. From my school experience placement I got the opportunity to see at first-hand how listening and talking can help with the delivery of a multitude of subject area. Listening and talking occurs naturally within the classroom, and it is an essential. After the book “fantastic Mr fox” was finished the teacher had a discussion about the book with the children, but first she ensured that the children were all sitting comfortably and were all paying attention.
“To be effective, teachers have to try to minimise barriers to communication. We do this in a number of ways – for example by making sure that the room is quiet and well lit; by speaking slowly and clearly; by only using words which the students should be able to understand. However the most important way to overcome the barriers is two-way communication. This means getting regular feedback from the receivers (the students): Do they really understand what we are trying to put across? (Prozesky, 2000) The class discussion helped with the children’s knowledge of Science.
As the teacher talked about the different senses the fox used to avoid being caught, and then she asked students about the different type of senses that people have. (Warner, 2012). Another task the teacher assigned the students based on the book “ Fantastic Mr Fox” was to design a poster to show the farms, the wood and the underground tunnels that Mr fox digs. (Warner, 2012) This was assigned to promote the children’s knowledge of Geography and I. C. T. Before the children took up the task, the teacher gave the students the opportunity to ask questions.
“students asking questions is a vital part of the learning process”(Petty, 2009) From having an open question time it also gave students the opportunity to learn from one another, and understand something they may not have thought of asking. The children’s RME was facilitated from listening also. One example of this occurring was after break time and two of the children were arguing with one another. The teacher sat both of the students down and it was discovered that they were arguing because one of the boys did not get an opportunity to play football because of the other boy.
So the teacher turned to the offending boy and asked him “ how would you like it if you were left out? ” After giving the boy time to think about it, he soon realised he was in the wrong and apologised. From the above it is clear that the Scottish primary curriculum values literacy as being essential in helping to facilitate students understanding of other curriculum areas, “competence and confidence in Literacy are essential for progress in all areas of the curriculum.
” Furthermore literacy skills is essential for students after their school years as “ they will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens and conduct their professional lives” (Clark and Rumbold, 2006) References Adams, B. (2000). Helping Students Become Motivated Learners. NDT Resource Center. Online article available at: http://www. ndt-ed. org/TeachingResources/ClassroomTips/Motivating_Students. htm [Accessed on 9th March 2013] Clark, C. and Rumbold, K. (2006) Reading for.
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