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To be literate means to find meaning, to understand, to comprehend, to make sense of, to symbolically represent, to articulate, to represent, to speak, to enjoy conversation and communication.

These important skills will ensure active and effective participation in society today.

All students entering St Columba’s at Prep are already literate beings. At our school we have high expectations for our students to demonstrate competency and achieve success in all areas of the English curriculum: Reading and Viewing, Writing and Speaking and Listening. Teaching in these areas is interrelated and does not occur in isolation.

The focus in the junior grades of Prep-Year 2 is:

  • learn how sounds in English are represented alphabetically
  • learn to read to obtain meaning from print
  • practise reading different kinds of texts to achieve fluency and gain control over strategies for comprehension and repairing misunderstandings
  • begin to gain control over the process of writing through creating their own texts
  • develop an appreciation of the ways language provides opportunities to acquire knowledge, explore ideas, express opinions and listen to the opinions of others

Each morning in Years Prep-2, we have a two hour uninterrupted literacy block, with one hour each of Reading and Writing. The Reading hour is devoted to phonemic awareness, phonic activities, word work and teaching and practising reading skills and strategies.There is a big emphasis on reading to self and reading to others. This gives children the opportunity to develop fluency and expression and appreciate the richness of language. The writing hour introduces the children to the different aspects of each writing genre and focuses on the teaching of writing skills and strategies. Spelling and Grammar are incorporated into this hour. Teachers structure the class into smaller flexible groups to focus their instruction on the individual and/or group’s learning needs. This allows the students to gain literacy skills through explicit teaching at a personal level.

The focus in Years 3-6 builds upon the foundations established in the earlier years. We consolidate and build on the children’s knowledge and skills as independent readers and writers who are ready to take more responsibility for their learning.

  • learn how to use informal and formal language appropriately in a range of social contexts and for a range of purposes
  • develop grammar to talk about and describe structures and features of language
  • read, view, write, speak and listen to a range of texts that present challenging ideas and issues
  • compose, comprehend and respond to literary, everyday and media texts in thoughtful and critical ways
  • present their own ideas and arguments in spoken and written language and through other modes

Comprehension – from Literal to Critical and Evaluative – is a major focus in these years, with children being challenged to infer, to “read between the lines” and to become critical readers. Whilst our literacy focus in these years is strongly aligned to our Inquiry units of work we retain a strong focus on literature and author studies. Teachers focus their instruction on the individual and use flexible groupings to provide specific, explicit, targeted teaching as required.

Literacy Assessment and Reporting

Formal and informal assessments are key to assisting students make progress with their learning.

Extra teachers (DSTs) also work in all classrooms in the Literacy and Maths times to provide targeted small group instruction.

In Prep to Year 2 the Catholic Education Office require Literacy Advance tests at the beginning and end of the year to assess letter knowledge, concepts about print, reading progress, comprehension and word knowledge. Teachers also engage in regular ongoing assessment of reading and word knowledge throughout each term.

At Years 3-6 teachers use formal reading comprehension assessments, and continually observe and collect samples of work to build up a picture of students’ achievements. Also, the NAPLAN (National tests) at Year 3 and Year 5 provide further data. This information is reported to parents through informal chats, formal parent/teacher interviews and the written report.

Literacy Intervention

Regular monitoring of each student allows small group intervention to occur where necessary. This encompasses extra support where needed or extension work if warranted. These groups are fluid and organic, based on regular record keeping and close observation of the child’s performance in groupwork and individual independent work.

Extra teachers (DSTs) also work in all classrooms in the Literacy and Maths times to provide targeted small group instruction.