Introduction The purpose of this report was to collect and collate information from a teacher in relation to how reading is taught in a classroom structure. This was based on how the teacher taught reading, what they taught and in particular why these aspects of reading were taught. Through the interview and questions I asked of the teacher, it has come quite clear that reading that is taught to students is embedded in everything we do, but overall teaching children to learn to read is fundamental in a practical sense and also for enjoyment.
This document provides: An overview on the targeted teaching group What beliefs in relation to teaching literacy Who selects the curriculum content What instructional procedures are used How grouping strategies are used What and why assessment tools are used The classroom environment 1. Overview on targeted teaching group. The following documentation and conclusion were questions asked of a Year 2 teacher situated within the Early Years team consisted of 23 students within a school (CDPS) in the Southern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia.
This teacher had been teaching mainly in the Early Years for 6 years and has come to CDPS as a new contract teacher. CDPS is a Category 2 school set in a low social economic setting. This school has 252 students attending at present, 155 of these are main stream with the remaining 97 students attending the Disability Unit that is incorporated within the school. There is a high ratio of Multicultural students as well as Aboriginal students needing extra support with their education due to English being their second language.
This school also has a high focus on Literacy through an Intervention Team that is made up of teachers that specialise in different areas such as a Reading Support Teacher Years Reception to 2, a Literacy Intervention Teacher Years 3 -7, Aboriginal Education Teacher (AET) and a English as a Language and Dialect Teacher (EALD) and Negotiated Education Plan Teacher (NEP). Also at CDPS there is speech support for students through Undergraduate Speech Pathologists, as the school supports a Flinders University Speech Pathology program.
This program support is across both sites of the school by Third and Fourth year Undergraduate students that work with the guidance of the class teachers and University Speech Pathologist on different elements of literacy to further develop student’s phonological awareness and knowledge. 2. Beliefs in relation to teaching literacy Through the question put forward to the 2/3 teacher, ‘What are your beliefs and philosophies in literacy in relations to students learning to read and you teaching reading’, the teacher explained that they believed that literacy was embedded in everything that we do.
This could be from the simplest tasks of looking at a milk carton to looking at a traffic light going red. With this cultural awareness, we as adults have the understanding and prior knowledge that encases these objects in our ever day life. As explained by Harris, Turbill, Fitzsimmons and McKenzie (pg17, 2006), ‘Literacy is the ability to read and use written information and to write appropriately in a range of context. It is also used to develop knowledge and understanding, to achieve personal growth and to function effectively in our society.
’ For students to understand and have knowledge of such objects and items they must be exposed socially and culturally. For teachers who provide context for learning can enable students to develop control over their written language, so they can network successfully in a literate culture. Also based on the teachers belief, teaching children to learn to read is and can be fundamental, in a practical sense and needs to be also for enjoyment.
As the main feature of language is listening, speaking, reading and writing, it is explained by Makin, Diaz & McLachlan (2007) beginning readers and writers usually require explicit teaching about such language knowledge as the alphabetic principal, print conventions, spelling and reading strategies. As explicit instruction in reading is essential for most children, through surrounding them with language and literature is vital but not the whole picture. This could be done by exploring how language works, playing with language, and learning about genre structure.
Through an immense amount of discussions surrounding these concepts, it can provide a child with a rich foundation from which they can continue to build their knowledge and apply these new skills. From a whole school perspective at CDPS, various programmes and philosophies are to be followed. These programmes and philosophies have been put in place for teachers to unite as a community for learners. For example, Accelerated Literacy, the scaffolds of Stephen Graham; David Hornsby’s Guided reading; Anne Bayetto’s Spell, Record, Respond; strategies from “Reading Comprehension: taking the learning deeper”, and the Oxford word list.
CDPS also has an English Genre Map and a Spelling genre Map in which they are expected to follow to encourage learning that can be continually built upon and can also avoid learning gaps. 3. Selection of Curriculum Content CDPS curriculum content is decided upon as a whole school through both English and Spelling genre maps. The English genre map indicates that teachers will use: The explicit teaching pedagogies of Accelerated literacy, The scaffolds of Stephen Graham, David Hornsby’s Guided Reading, Anne Bayetto’s Spelling, Record, Respond, and Strategies from “Reading Comprehension:
Taking the Learning Deeper” research project. These are the foundations for the implementation for the teaching of reading, writing, comprehension, visual literacy, spelling, grammar and punctuation. This map specifies the text types that will be taught during each term and through the order of these text types, it ensures that each focus expands a student’s repertoire and prepares them for the next text type. As explained by Harris, Turbill, Fitzsimmons and McKenzie (2006) when encountering texts, readers not only consider the kind of text they have at hand, but what the text is about.
For example, students that are studying factual recounts before they move into biography or autobiography will study literary description before they move into narrative and factual description before they move into information report writing. CDPS’s spelling continuum is underpinned by pedagogy as outlined in Anne Bayetto’s Spell, Record, and Respond. As explained by Bayetto (2011), Listening, speaking, reading, writing, and spelling are intertwined and nourish each other.
To communicate through writing, students must apply both oral language skills, for example, knowledge of syntax and semantics, and reading skills, for example, sounds of letters in words. In addition students must be able to think about and organise a topic, spell words, and legibly produce letters. CDPS spelling programmes are based on spelling lessons each day.
Every student receives a differentiated spelling programme based on spelling needs determined by Oxford Wordlist assessments, Monster Spelling assessments, or words taken from independent writing and theme words. Also at CDPS they use a flow lists of words not fixed lists of words.
This means that each student’s words stays on a student’s list until they can spell, read and put the words into an understandable context. This is observed through each student only given three words at a time based on the approach of less words and more learning activities. These activities allow children to complete the activities with their spelling words through multiple intelligent activities, giving all children the opportunity to work in their preferred learning style and creating the understanding and knowledge of the words that they are learning.
A phonics programme has also been strongly recommended and supported by the school-based Speech Pathologist from Flinders University and has proven to be highly effective in improving reading amongst Junior Primary classes. This is achieved by teachers following the implementation of the phonics programme and through this programme teachers are continually bringing back a focus of literacy to apply this knowledge whilst reading together as a whole class or as independent readers.
As explained by Dymock (2007), teachers play an important role in assisting students to develop a good understanding of text structure awareness. Through teachers using good instructional guidance, it can be the most powerful means of promoting the development of proficient reading comprehension and developing reading problems. 4. Instructional Procedure, Grouping and Differentiation Strategies At CDPS, students practice through explicit team orientation in the classroom and draw on various cooperative learning strategies.
These can be seen by the teacher as supportive ways for group work, ability levelling, shared learning, and to create a fully collaborative approach to each student’s learning. Through these practices it can also enable the teacher to become facilitators rather than indoctrinators. As explained by the teacher, students share reading as a whole class. This enables the teacher to introduce a new text, giving students time to discuss as a whole group about the text and their ideas enabling the teacher to further identify where students needs for further clarification of the new text.
Guided reading groups are differentiated to provide an explicit teaching and learning session. This gives students a targeted focus specifically to the level of what the group is working at. Through guided reading it allows the students to focus on reading and comprehension strategies. Also peer reading session are set up with Year 7 students to support the students with their reading. These sessions give the students time to observe strategies that other students use and time for them to discuss the different strategies that they use whilst reading.
Levelled readers are also sent home with students for the practice of independent reading and a vocabulary wall is displayed with specific text that the students have discovered through Accelerated Literacy lessons. These lessons are through explicit teaching ways of talking, viewing, thinking, reading, writing and spelling. As outlined by Cooper, Roth, Speece, & Schatschneider,(2002) children progress through a period of emergent literacy during which they develop the rudimentary skills, knowledge, and attitudes that prepare them for the acquisition of conventional literacy.
There is also a word wall displayed for the students to look at and to encourage them to write and read independently. Also throughout the week students have times for silent reading and may chose a book of their choice to read giving them further time for independent reading session. Within the early years at CDPS, shared reading and writing is an effective literacy teaching strategy. This can be seen by the teachers through the holding of student’s attention as they are involved in the joint production of the text or whilst at the same time allowing the teacher to model the different aspects of the reading and writing processes.
As outlined by Lane, Pullen, Paige, Eisele, and Jordan (2002), reading is a foundation skill for school learning and life learning – the ability to read is critical for success in modern society. Learning to read is one of the most important events in a child’s school career. At CDPS, teachers attend fortnightly meetings at Professional Learning Committee’s (PLC’s). In these committees, teachers discuss what aspects of the curriculum they are teaching and share ideas and resources to support the genres and
philosophies they are to follow within the school’s curriculum structure. As explained by the teacher differentiation at the present is made quite easy through Cooperative learning systems. At the moment, table groups are based on behaviours and cohesion. As the students have settled, it has become possible to group student’s base on their ability and to pair up high and low functioning students. 6. Assessment Tools At CDPS assessment tools are whole-school based and has been written into the school’s curriculum genre mapping.
These assessments include: Running Records; Oxford Word Lists in both Writing and Reading; Screen for Phonological Awareness test (SPA); Language Concepts; Text Orientation and Name Writing. As stated by Harris, Turbill, Fitzsimmons and McKenzie (2006), assessment and evaluation is a vital part of the teaching and learning cycle that forms the basis for a range of decisions that impact within the learning culture. Once this data is collected it is then analysed by the Intervention Team and student’s needs are planned for.
All students data is kept on computerised spread sheets and hard copies are also placed into student’s portfolio folders, which stay with the student for the time they are at the school. These portfolio folders are forwarded onto the next class teacher at the end of each year to assist the teacher with planning appropriately for individual students. Student learning and understanding is also assessed both in the midst of lessons verbally as well as after by using a rubric. As explained by the teacher, though these types of assessments, it can give the best feedback to the students on what they need to work on and what their strengths are.
As explained by Campbell & Green (2006) teachers that primarily assess and monitor the literacy development of their students in a professional manner can reflect the complexities of their literacy. Assessments should also be used to help students take ownership and control over their learning.
This gives students the empowerment that is necessary to establish their own purpose for reading and learning. 6. Classroom Resources and Learning Environment Resources are planned during Professional Learning Committee’s (PLC’s) in conjunction with a team of teachers at a similar teaching level, for example Junior Primary, whereby the aim of these meetings is to discuss planning, share resources and where alignment amongst teaching is made.
Generally as a rule, all of the resources that are made by the teachers stay with the teachers, unless they are specifically made resources to target a particular curriculum area. Then these items would be catalogued through the library system for anyone to borrow and use. If a teacher is making their own resources they would generally display these for children to use at specific times of teaching.
For example, if students are learning the Alphabet teachers would have picture cards made up for student to look at, order and read. They would also have the Alphabet displays throughout the classroom for visual aids and reminders of what it looks like. As outlined by Harris, Turbill, Fitzsimmons and McKenzie (2006), resources are what learners are immersed in and the source of most of the demonstrations of how language is used and structured. Also as explained by the teacher books for a classroom library would be selected by all students of the class. This was done as a theme based approach at the beginning of the term.
For example books that would be about bears had to be found and they all had to find 2 books each. These books then were brought back to the classroom and placed in the library corner on the shelving at student’s height. The teacher also explained that the positioning of word walls and text posters within the classroom were placed at student’s eye height so students could look at, see and read. The reading corner or quiet area that was created was an area where students could go and look at books without the constant interruptions of other students at their desks.
There was also a common ruling in this area that voices where to be kept at a whisper. This enabled students to either read for enjoyment or just to browse and relax. 8. Evaluation With all of this in mind I believe literacy is more than an individual act of mean making and language used, it is a social act as well. When students read or write, they bring not only their own personal experiences, but also the experiences of the various social groups in which they hold membership too. As students learn to read or write, they often cannot focus on everything they have to do at the same time.
For example, a certain text that they are reading they can read but not comprehend. I believe that the programmes and genre mapping that teacher’s use at CDPS supports Literacy and Phonological awareness amongst their students. It provides and exposes the students to structured Literacy lessons that would be most effective to their reading and writing learning. The support from the teaching staff at CDPS is of high standards and the Speech Pathology program running from the school is one of high standards. It has the best interests of student across both sites.
Appendix The following questions were for a teacher that was asked of them during a one to one interview in relation to how does a teacher teach reading. 1. Beliefs in relation to teaching literacy: What are your beliefs and philosophies in literacy in relations to students learning to read and you teaching reading? 2. Selection of Curriculum Content: How do you as a teacher decide what content of the curriculum you teach within literacy? What areas are you focusing on with your students at present and why? 3. Instructional Procedures: As a teacher what strategies do you choose to teach your students to read and why?
What areas of literacy do you currently focus on and how are these displayed with/for your students? 4. Grouping Strategies: How do you as a teacher decided on literacy groups for your students and what diversity strategies do you employ with your students during these times? 5. Assessment Tools: How do you decide on what assessment strategies you use, what methods you use or would be used to assess your students for literacy learning? How do you keep students records once assessments are finished? 6. Classroom Environment: What is the theory behind setting up your classroom literacy resources for your students as displayed?
Diagram of the classroom References Bayetto. A. , (2011), Spell, Record, Respond. Moving from assessment to instruction. South Melbourne, Vic. : Oxford University Press Campbell, R. & Green, D. (Eds. ) (2006). Literacies and learners: Current perspectives. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Education Australia. Cooper, D. H. , Roth, F. P. , Speece, D. L. , & Schatschneider, C. (2002). The contribution of oral language skills to the development of phonological awareness. Applied Psycholinguistics, 23, 399-416. Dymock, S. (2007). Comprehension strategy instruction: Teaching narrative text structure awareness.
The Reading Teacher, 61(2), pp. 161–167. Harris, P. , Turbill, J. , Fitzsimmons, P. , & McKenzie, B. (2006). Reading in the primary years (2nd ed. ). South Melbourne, Vic. : Cengage Learning Australia. Lane, H. B. , Pullen, P. C. , Eisele, M. R. , & Jordan, L. (2002). Preventing reading failure: Phonological awareness assessment and instruction. Preventing School Failure, 46(3), 101. Makin, L. , Diaz, C. & McLachlan, C. (Ed. ). (2007). Literacies in childhood: changing views, challenging practice. Marrickville, NSW: Elsevier Australia.
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