Self expression & acting
At WLPS, teachers create print-rich classroom environments which support and nurture their community of readers. Students’ enjoyment of reading is fostered, and they are encouraged to regularly explore and interact with print and to take risks when reading. Our teachers implement a comprehensive approach to reading instruction, which is largely reflective of the First Steps Literacy materials. They:
- Plan for the use of a range of reading procedures. These include: reading to students, modelled reading, language experience, shared reading, guided reading, book discussion groups and independent reading. The use of these reading procedures reflects the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. Modelled reading, reading to students and language experience reflect the ‘I Do’ phase, where teachers lead instruction and students observe. The shared reading and guided reading procedures reflect the ‘We Do’ phase, where teachers guide instruction and students participate. Book discussion groups and independent reading allow students to practise reading strategies, collaboratively or independently. This represents the ‘You Do’ phase.
- Vary student group structures.
- Use a range of assessment tools.
- Use a range of age-appropriate and levelled texts. At WLPS, students are exposed to a vast range of texts, including print, visual and multimodal. This provides them with the opportunity to experience different organisational features, text structures and language features. Texts are chosen for instructional, functional or recreational purposes. For example:
- decodable readers are used in the early years to provide explicit and systematic instruction when students are learning to read and spell
- levelled guided reading texts, of varying text types and genres, are used in a range of year levels to practise reading strategies. These are often integrated with other learning areas.
- novels with increasingly complex themes are analysed by upper primary students. These may also be integrated with other learning areas.
- Informational texts of varying levels are used across the school when students are taught to access and use information.
- Explicitly teach reading strategies. These include: predicting, connecting, comparing, inferring, synthesising, creating images, self-questioning, skimming, scanning, determining importance, summarising and paraphrasing, re-reading, reading on, adjusting reading rate, sounding out, chunking, using analogy and consulting a reference.
- Promote the development of students’ semantic, graphophonic and syntactic understandings. In order to comprehend texts, students need to simultaneously draw on each of the cueing systems.
- Semantic cues are associated with overall meaning and the ability to make connections with a text. These cues include the students’ cultural and world knowledge, their knowledge of the topic and their knowledge of vocabulary.
- Graphophonic cues refer to the relationship between sounds and symbols and word structures. Students use this understanding to identify unknown words.
- Syntactic cues involve the structure of language. Focussing on grammar, the order of words in sentences, and the organisation and structure of whole texts, help students to determine if what they are reading ‘sounds right’.
- Integrate reading across different learning areas
In additional to the whole school strategies outline above, within the different phases of learning unique techniques are used that are appropriate to the students’ developmental age and curriculum requirements. Some of these additional strategies include, but are not limited to, Novel Studies, Author Studies, Readers’ Theatre and Co-operative Reading.
- Novel Studies
Novel studies is a form of reading instruction where students learn and apply strategies to comprehend, see things differently and/or understand that others have different points of view. Students all read the same novel which is selected because it focuses on a ‘big idea, theme or topic. The positive reading experiences gained from reading the novel together, which may include many of these elements – drama, art, music, dance, research and discussion, allow the readers to become truly engaged in the story.
- Author Studies
The students study various authors and their work. The students make connections, such as text-to-self, and text-to world. They may make connections between an author’s life and his/her work and between the author’s work and the reader’s own life and experiences. Students respond using a range of techniques including written responses that can help them build confidence in their writing and can even inspire them to become authors themselves. Author studies are an entertaining way to spark students’ life-long interest in reading, a particularly important factor for new readers and reluctant readers.
- Readers’ Theatre
Readers’ Theatre is a strategy for developing reading fluency. It involves students reading orally through scripts. In using this strategy, students do not need to memorise their part: they reread to familiarize themselves with the script whilst gaining confidence and fluency. Readers’ Theatre gives students a real purpose to read aloud to an audience.
- Co-operative Reading
Co-operative reading is based on Palincsar and Brown’s (1986) research into reciprocal teaching.
Reciprocal teaching is an effective comprehension-building strategy that involves team effort and dialogue among teacher and students using four skills necessary to comprehend text: predicting, questioning, clarifying and summarising. The purpose of reciprocal teaching is to bring meaning to the text by implementing reading strategies that successful readers should consistently use.
Students work in groups of four. Each student is given a different strategy that they are responsible for leading/answering during the discussion time which follows the reading of the text. These roles are summarising, question generating, clarifying, and predicting.
Reciprocal teaching aids students to construct meaning from text as well as providing a means of monitoring their reading to ensure that they are, in fact, understanding what they read. It also scaffolds their use of the reading strategies.
The school has a whole-school home reading program to promote the importance of recreational reading. The program is co-ordinated by the Year 6 student leaders. Students from Pre-primary to Year 6 are encouraged to read at home daily and record their reading in their student diaries. They strive to achieve reading milestones and receive certificates and small prizes to recognise their efforts.
Research strongly indicates that access to reading materials through libraries are critical for literacy development. WLPS has an effective school library that supports, encourages and enhances students’ reading experiences. Our school library provides a stimulating teaching and learning environment and is a vibrant hub for reading promotion.