At Hillsmeade Primary School we believe that language is the means by which we communicate with the world around us. It enables us to express our thoughts, ideas and feelings as we interact with others. English language learning is a continuous, lifelong process. All areas of Literacy Learning – Speaking and Listening, Reading, Writing, Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling – are covered during a daily two-hour Literacy teaching session. In our literacy program, students are taught explicitly as a whole class, in small groups and one on one.
In reading sessions, a specific reading strategy or skill will be introduced through a text or big book, interactive whiteboard activity or game. Following this, students are grouped based on their specific learning needs. Each small group is scaffolded by the teacher and taught strategies to read and make meaning from text. While the teacher is working with a small group, the other learning groups are working independently to consolidate skills and strategies. At the end of the session, reflection on learning is shared with peers.
Our students reading ability is regularly assessed using the Fountas and Pinnell system which monitors both decoding, comprehension skills and strategies, fluency and pace.
Reading at home is strongly encouraged, not only because it assists in the reading development, but also as it helps to build confidence and provides time for a child to share their learning with their parents or guardians.
Various genres are explored to give students a broad and varied understanding of different methods in which to communicate their ideas. A writing strategy is taught and modelled. This aspect may include some shared or interactive writing as a class or demonstration and practise of a skill. The students then complete an activity in which they can practise that writing skill or strategy. Students may work independently, in small groups or with the teacher. Learning is shared to promote consolidation, confidence and achievement. In addition to daily Literacy lessons, every week we will hold a 1 ½ hour session dedicated purely to writing in which children will develop 4 main aspects of their writing – Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation. These are four important elements of writing which children can learn and develop their skills in, in order to become more confident and competent writers.
As part of the preparation for this session, which is known as Big Write and VCOP, pupils will be given ‘Talk Homework’. The idea of Big Write is; ‘if the children can’t say it, they can’t write it’. We need to encourage the development of language and listening skills in order to develop children’s writing ability. Talk Homework is an approach developed through Big Write that promotes the development of such conversations. Your child will come home with a new topic most weeks, which may arrive home on different days depending on when Big Write is going to take place that week. This will inform you of the topic to discuss with your child in order to help them with the content of their writing the following day. The Big Write is a celebration time. It is their chance to ‘show off’ how much they have learnt during the week in Literacy, it is not and should not be seen as a test.
Spelling strategies are also explicitly taught. Spelling, or Word Work, may relate to the reading and or writing focus and thus may form part of those particular lessons. Or, the spelling focus may be taught as part of a guided reading session.
Speaking and Listening
Students are encouraged to speak clearly and confidently in a variety of situations. They learn to listen attentively to their peers and teachers. Skills such as maintaining eye contact, voice projection, using notes or palm cards, will be developed through oral presentations and class and group discussions.