The study of English is central to the learning and development of all young Australians. It helps create confident communicators, imaginative thinkers and informed citizens. It is through the study of English that individuals learn to analyse, understand, communicate and build relationships with others and with the world around them. The study of English plays a key role in the development of reading and literacy skills which help young people develop the knowledge and skills needed for education, training and the workplace. It helps them become ethical, thoughtful, informed and active members of society. In this light, it is clear in the Australian Curriculum: English plays an important part in developing the understanding, attitudes and capabilities of those who will take responsibility for Australia’s future.
The Australian Curriculum: English aims to ensure that students:
- Learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
- Appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
- Understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
- Develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.
In Northern Territory schools the teaching of English is organised by three interrelated strands:
- Language: knowing about the English language
- Literature: understanding, appreciating, responding to, analysing and creating literary texts
- Literacy: expanding the repertoire of English usage.
All teaching teams plan and program together to ensure that all children receive high quality learning experiences. Reading instruction is targeted to the needs of the students based on data provided by ongoing in-class assessments and a selection of Australian standardised assessments. Student data is regularly analysed to inform teaching and learning programs.
Teachers use assessments to break down how both comprehension and decoding (the ability to decipher words) skills. Using this information, teachers apply this data, along with their knowledge of the students, to program lessons designed to support and progress students’ reading ability.
Students have access to Reading Eggs and Reading Express which are online reading support programs that the children really love.
Writing consists of grammar, punctuation, spelling, ideas and text structure. Teachers at Wanguri employ a range of assessments to determine the needs of individual students. These include:
- Brightpath – a researched-based national spelling assessment which provides teaching points whilst also giving an indication of student growth
- Effective Spelling assessments (see Spelling for more information)
- Ongoing classroom assessments including Author’s Chair, Roving Conferences and student products
Teachers at Wanguri employ a range of instructional procedures strategically to create a strong foundation for a comprehensive approach to teaching writing. Each procedure involves varying degrees of responsibility for both teacher and student (Gradual Release of Responsibility Model – see diagram below):
A consistent progression of activities can be observed in lessons where the responsibility for knowing and doing is gradually transferred from teacher to student. “I do, we do, you do” can also be termed as direct instruction, guided practice, independent practice.
- “I” refers to delivering key information or modelling and explaining the process you want students to learn
- “We” is where students are gradually allowed to complete examples with less and less assistance
- “You” is where students are given the opportunity to practice on their own with multiple opportunities and situations of increasing complexity
MiniLit is a teaching program designed for young children who would further benefit from extra support in their reading. Based on assessments, the program is offered in small groups to help them develop their reading strategies. The support offered varies depending on the student’s level of reading ability, as a result students enter the program at different stages so the length of time spent in the program varies.
At Wanguri Primary School, we follow the Effective Spelling approach. This approach is an inquiry-based model which is designed to establish a word conscious, curious learner. It moves away from the spelling list approach, to an inquiry model which supports students to become ‘word curious’ and learn, practice and communicate their understanding of spelling structure, rules and meanings in the very complex language which is English.
At Wanguri Primary School, spelling lessons aim to:
- Develop spelling as a thinking process – requiring learners to notice patterns and make connections
- Keep the focus on why we learn to spell, apply what students are learning and link spelling with reading and writing
- Develop a curiosity about words – a word-conscious culture:
- Where do they come from?
- How are they constructed?
- What do they mean?
- How are they connected to other words?
- Teachers model curiosity and create a rich word-learning environment – wondering, noticing and investigating words
- Energise a verbal environment – build on a ‘sea of talk’ where teachers facilitate learning conversations by posing questions and encourage students to wonder, question and explain
- Develop a ‘Growth Mindset’ where students believe that becoming an effective speller is achievable
- Develop a community of spellers where students work collaboratively, expanding their own understanding through listening and reflecting on the understandings of others. They develop self-efficacy through working individually and collaboratively to learn about, research, reflect, talk about and use words
- Create an integrated approach to spelling using ‘Big Ideas’ which means that words are explored in context with the focus reaching across the curriculum areas