At present ACT school's curriculum is guided by the Curriculum framework for ACT schools Preschool to year 10 document – Every Chance to Learn.
At Isabella Plains Early Childhood School our staff use Pearson & Gallagher's (1983) Gradual Release of Responsibility Model as a guiding framework for teaching literacy. This model guides children gradually from looking at 'exemplar' models of reading or writing demonstrated by the teacher and gradually hands over more responsibility to the child as time goes on. This is done in order to help the child to independently implement and apply the skills and strategies successfully. It is the teacher's role to incorporate Modelled, Shared, Guided and Independent Reading and Writing into their weekly program. Below is a brief description of what happens in the classroom at these times.
The essential learning achievement for reading as set out in the Curriculum framework for ACT schools Preschool to year 10 document – Every Chance to Learn is:
#9 The student reads effectively
The purpose of Modelled Reading sessions is for the teacher to explicitly model and demonstrate carefully selected reading behaviours and strategies to the children. In the early years of school this is often done using a big book. The role of the teacher is to share with the children the thinking that goes on in their head when trying to comprehend text and attempting to read new and unknown words. The role of the children in this session is to listen and observe the teacher. Modelling sessions usually last for between 5-15 minutes.
Shared Reading is a supportive and interactive session between the teacher and either the class or a small group of children. The children watch and hear a 'good model' (usually the teacher) read aloud and are invited to join in and read along at different times in the story. The text is usually a big book that has been read previously by the teacher. Often whole class shared reading experiences act as a springboard to further literacy activities within the class.
During Guided Reading the children work in small groups with children of similar ability to read a common text. The teacher begins the session with a strong orientation to the book, children are asked to look at the pictures in detail and discuss what they think is happening. At this time the teacher will introduce any 'tricky' words, repetitive words or names to the children in order to set them up for success. The children are then asked to read the book independently and the teacher listens and provides support to each child in turn. It is during Guided Reading that the teacher can see and hear what reading behaviours and strategies the children are using and teach explicit skills as needed by the individual child. The reading may be followed by some word work or an activity related to the book. Guided Reading sessions are held every day and the teachers work with one or two groups each day.
Independent Reading is a time for children to enjoy books. In the classroom children are encouraged to read books that are familiar to them (often pre-read Guided Reading books) in order for the child to practise their fluency and expression. Young children love sharing books and this is often done with a friend in the early years. Sharing books encourages language skills as well as specific reading skills.
Home Reading Program
Home reading is a time for the child to 'show off' their developing reading skills. The home reading book is meant to be easy! It is a time to practise fluency and expression and share a literacy moment with a loved one. Please encourage your child to look at the pictures and talk about them together. Discuss the story at the end of the book – What did the child like or dislike? Who was their favourite character why/why not? Is it like any other book they have read before? etc.
Every child at Isabella Plains Early Childhood School is given the opportunity to visit the library once a week to borrow two books. Sometimes staff will assist children to find a book they think they might like but at other times children are given free choice as to which books they would like to borrow. Young children love to feel like 'big people' sometimes and borrow information books or chapter books. This is an opportunity for an adult to share the book with the child at home. We ask that children bring a library bag to borrow books in to help protect the books in their journey to and from school. If your child needs a library bag they are available for purchase from Reception for $2.
The essential learning achievements for writing as set out in the Curriculum framework for ACT schools Preschool to year 10 document – Every Chance to Learn are:
#10 The student writes effectively
#11 The student critically interprets and creates texts
The purpose of Modelled Writing sessions is for the teacher to explicitly model and demonstrate carefully selected writing behaviours, processes and strategies to the children. The role of the teacher is to demonstrate to the children writing behaviours and verbalise the thinking processes involved in writing a range of text types. During this time the teacher will hold the pen to compose and write a text, explaining their thinking as they go. The role of the children in this session is to listen and observe the teacher. Modelling sessions usually last for between 5-15 minutes.
Shared Writing is a supportive and interactive session between the teacher and either the class or a small group of children. The teacher and children collaboratively construct text, children are invited to join in and hold the pen to contribute their words or ideas to the text. The teacher will comment and question children's ideas in order to shape the written text. You may often see text that has been jointly constructed during Shared Writing sessions on display in your child's learning environment.
During Guided Writing the children work in small groups with children of similar ability to develop writing behaviours and understandings. The teacher's role during this time is to guide and support children through the process of writing, providing explicit instruction and feedback. It is during Guided Writing that the teacher can see and hear what writing behaviours and strategies the children are using and teach explicit skills as needed by the individual child.
Children are provided the opportunity to write independently in a range of ways throughout the day. This may be during investigation time when the child building a zoo from blocks decides to 'write' tickets for people to enter the zoo or it may be during more formal 'journal writing' time. The children are always encouraged to 'have-a-go' at writing independently. All attempts are encouraged and praised as this is a critical step to becoming a 'writer'. The children are also encouraged to find and use words from the word wall in the classroom. Teachers provide support and encouragement at every step of the way. In the early years the focus of independent writing is on the content and ideas expressed in the writing more so than on the neatness of the writing. Young children are continually building their fine motor skills and letter formation and neatness will improve with time. Handwriting is explicitly taught in the curriculum but is not the primary focus of writing time.
Young children often think writing is just done at school in their writing book for the teacher. It is important for children to see adults engage in writing in real life situations. You can assist this by talking to your child and involving them in the writing you do at home. For example involve your child in writing the shopping list – they could sit beside you and help tell you what you need to buy, write an email together to someone, make and write birthday cards and letters to loved ones, give them extra copies of bank slips or forms you fill in from the bank, the doctor etc. Children need to see that writing is an everyday task.