Literacy at West Beechboro Primary School
We believe that Literacy at West Beechboro Primary School and effective reading instruction is based on six critical components:
- Phonological Awareness.
- Sight Words.
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 the 12 comprehension strategies (CARS & STARS).
- Explicit teaching of 6 comprehension questioning techniques (Literal, Reorganisation, Inferential, Vocabulary, Evaluation, Reaction).
The reading process begins in kindergarten, at the commencement of Term 1 with the introduction of phonological awareness activities including rhyme, syllables, long and short words, beginning and ending sounds. The Jolly Phonics program is introduced in Term 2 and students learn the single sounds of the alphabet single. Shared reading is used to explicitly teach students about the concepts of print.
In Pre-primary, shared reading is used to explicitly teach reading fluency, punctuation, sight words and comprehension questioning. Guided reading is introduced in Term 2; students are placed in groups according to their benchmark level and read with the teacher once per week focussing on oral comprehension.
In Years 1-3, whole class shared reading is used to consolidate CARS strategies and six levels of questioning. Guided reading is continued with students being grouped according to their benchmark levels. These groups are fluid and students may change groups frequently as they develop reading skills and confidence and move through the levels. An explicit STARS lesson is scheduled once per week along with 3 guided reading sessions.
Whole class novel studies are introduced from Year 3. Shared reading of novels develops knowledge of characterisation, settings, themes, plots, vocabulary and develops critical thinking skills.
- Each class timetables 5 x 30 minute spelling lessons per week.
- Friday is generally testing day.
- Weekly lessons are focused on the whole school Phonemic Spelling Overview.
- Students in Years P-2 use Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar resources.
- Students in Year 3-6 use Sound Waves
- Spelling lessons over the week should consist of :
- I Do
- Explicit teaching using segmenting of graphemes, digraphs etc.
- Using the word in context and any rules associated with the word.
- We Do
- practise skill taught in pairs, group or whole class
- You Do
- student completes a spelling activity independently
Spelling activities involve students spelling, blending and segmenting words. Spelling activities are not: Alphabetical order, finding words in word sleuths, writing out sentences. These types of activities are grammar or writing activities. Word meanings and orally putting words in context is a vocabulary lesson. A spelling lesson is generally not any longer than 30 minutes.
High frequency (Magic Words) words and a variety of phonetically based spelling words from previous lists are included in literacy warm ups each morning. High Frequency (Sight words) are spelt using the letter names. Phonetic words are sounded out during warm up activities.
Early Childhood K-2
Emphasis are placed on strategies so that students can:
- Write every letter of the alphabet
- Recognise and write graphemes and digraphs, initial and final blends
- Use knowledge of sound symbol relationships and phonological patterns
- Recognise and use simple spelling patterns
- Orally spell common/high frequency words
- Check their spelling using word banks and environmental print
- Use knowledge of word families.
- Orally blend and segment words and nonsense words (This is a critical element)
Students are taught to use strategies for spelling unfamiliar words by:
- Sounding out phonemes, digraphs, trigraphs, quadgraphs, initial and final blends.
- Using their knowledge of graphemes and visual patterns.
- Breaking words into syllables.
- Use word banks and dictionaries.
- Use and spell common prefixes and suffixes.
- Understand the relevance of word families, root and origins of words.
- Use appropriate terminology (vowels, consonants, homographs, and syllable).
- Orally blend and segment words and nonsense words (This is a critical element).
Spelling in Context
Students are expected to be able to spell correctly in context not just in spelling.
Teachers highlight errors in student’s writing if:
- The spelling grapheme/phoneme has been recently taught.
- The word is a common / high frequency word which the students should know.
- The same mistake has been repeated.
- Have-a-go pads are encouraged during the editing phase of writing. (NOT DRAFTING).
About Spelling Mastery
In just 15-20 minutes a day, Spelling Mastery can help teach students the strategies they need to become successful, life-long spellers. Using a combined approach of phonemic, morphemic and whole-word strategies, Spelling Mastery helps students to understand the relationship between sounds, word parts and spelling patterns. Students are taught in small steps, using sufficient practice, so that they comprehend how spelling works and can become proficient writers.
Spelling Mastery is the resource we use in spelling intervention classes for students who have not made the spelling benchmarks for their year level. This resource is also be used by teachers in their classrooms as an addition to their spelling program.
Our aim is to create an environment that allows students to use grammatical knowledge and understandings in order to make appropriate choices in getting their message across in both written texts and in speaking and listening. An explicit, whole school approach to grammar has been adopted, so that our students gain essential knowledge and understandings of the functional use of grammar in Standard Australian English.
Systematic Teaching of Grammar
Students need a solid general framework of grammatical understanding and skills to support their learning across the curriculum. Grammatical elements are taught in a systemic way from early childhood through to upper primary, from word level through to text level.
Vocabulary is important because readers must have word meaning before they can comprehend what they are reading. Vocabulary is developed when students are explicitly taught individual words, synonyms and word learning strategies. A whole school approach is implemented to the teaching of academic vocabulary, as this directly affects a student’s ability to comprehend academic content. Students can only comprehend text, when applying letter-sound knowledge, if the target word is already in the learner’s oral vocabulary.
- Students are involved in explicit vocabulary activities 5 days per week, 10 minutes per day.
- Teachers follow the four key strategies to explicitly teach vocabulary – word meanings, reference skills, building new vocabulary & word play.
- Explicit teaching uses the I Do, We Do You Do model.
- Vocabulary instruction is integrated with spelling, writing and reading.
- Subject specific vocabulary is to introduced at the beginning of a new topic or theme, including mathematics, history, geography and health.
- Specialist teachers introduce subject specific vocabulary throughout the year in their subject area.