Finding One’s Way About

Wittgenstein stated that every philosophical problem is founded on the phrase, “I don’t know my way about.” Consequently, philosophical activity is engaged in the unravelling of perceptual and epistemological conundrums, but I don’t want to occupy myself with such conundrums today.

Instead, I’d like to apply that same phrase - “I don’t know my way about” - to learning.

 All learning should begin with the humility and awareness to acknowledge an initial ineptitude (e.g. an inability to do something or see something or know something) along with the willingness for one to find his or her way about in some shape or form.

In other words, an individual may start out “blind” to certain “aspects” or “(meaningful) patterns” in a certain phenomenon but the individual comes to “notice these aspects or patterns” through carefully arranged activities and repeated practice … often guided by others who are more skilled, perceptive, and experienced in the phenomenon.

 In this case, “aspects” refers to “salient features” in some phenomenon, such as the features of language, or of an alphabet or even the rules of engagement in particular social situations. In the case of each phenomenon, an individual must learn to recognise and decipher these patterns. At the beginning, the learner may stumble along, but - through guided practice and experience - the learner navigates the phenomenon with increasing fluency and thoughtfulness.

“Understanding comes in degrees.”

Perhaps the following quote from Philosophical Grammar can go further to illustrate how our learning can lead us to read the world in ways which come to be increasingly more meaningful through practice.

"Does it make sense to point to a clump of trees and ask ‘do you understand what this clump of trees says?’ In normal circumstances, no; but couldn’t one express a sense by an arrangement of trees? Couldn’t it be a code?”

Couldn’t such a clump of trees reveal something about the local ecology to one who is trained to discern patterns in a particular way? The answer is clearly “yes”. There is nothing outlandish in Wittgenstein’s proposition.

Whilst the above example does shed some light on aspect seeing, it also allows me to make another point about learning. Let’s imagine that two individuals pass by the same forest on a regular basis. Even though both individuals may experience the forest regularly, it may be the case that only one of the two individuals has been initiated into the ways of seeing such that he or she notices something particularly meaningful in “a particular clump of trees.” In other words, one person has been initiated into a certain form of aspect seeing, whilst the other individual hasn’t, even though they may both have some experience with the same phenomenon.

 This has particular applications to literacy. As an obvious one, you may have two learners who both have experienced print but one of the two learners may have benefitted from better instruction in exploring the intricacies of the alphabetic principle than the other. Similarly, we may have two learners who have both experienced ample amounts of shared book reading, but only one of two learners has engaged in the types of sustained conversations around characters, setting, sequencing, and artistry that will benefit him or her later on (e.g. in school-based conversations).

 Ultimately, the learner is a novice and the teacher is the expert who attempts to draw the learner’s attention to significant elements in order to manipulate them and interact with a phenomenon with dexterity. We - as teachers - are initiating learners into ways of “finding one’s way about.” As a result, the teacher’s role is to make “unsurveyable wholes” surveyable, if I use the words of Hans Sluga (see definitions at the end of this blog entry).

I must acknowledge that there are intrapersonal, interpersonal and context factors that have a bearing how and what an individual learns. In other words, individuals will differ in their cognitive abilities, in the learning relationships that have they have formed and in the environments in which they live. All of this will impact what/how one processes.

 With that in mind, I’d like to end (or near the end) with another example raised by Wittgenstein. He asks us to imagine an alien learning the game of chess. In this example, he want us to ask ourselves, “can this alien intuit the rules and purpose of chess merely by observing the game being played? No explanations. No demonstration.” The answer would be “no”. If possibly “yes”, it would a painful, lengthy and error-ridden process of trial and error which could be alleviated by at least some stages of instruction and explanation, though, even this would be impacted by the lack of a common language between the alien and the chess players. Beyond the rules, the alien would also need to be brought into the whole purpose/context of the playing of chess and the playing of games in general, for that matter. Consequently, the whole process of initiating one into ways of seeing and doing is a lengthy process which grows over time through both skill acquisition and conception development.

That’s it for today, and I know that this is the first update to The Literacy Bug in quite some time, and it’s good to be back. I’ll leave you with a number of terms and definitions below that explore elements of “aspect seeing” and “finding one’s way about”. Thanks for your time. I’d be interested to know your thought. How would you apply the ideas above? What relevance (if any) do they have for you? In the meantime, please explore and enjoy!


RELEVANT TERMS & DEFINITIONS


ASPECT SEEING - (also known as noticing/seeing aspects) To see and interpret aspects (or phenomena) as meaningful, or as imbued with meaning. To discern aspects (or patterns) in a whole and to organise how these aspects fit into a system.

ASPECT BLINDNESS - Refers to the inability to discern or detect aspects. Arises as a result of two possible circumstances. First, an individual does not see (or notice) aspects as meaningful or does not turns one's attention to certain aspects in one's environment. The person has not been brought into discerning and interpreting the aspects in a particular way.

NOTICING ASPECTS - To notice salient features when one is making observations. This requires more than merely seeing. This requires the ability to distinguish features and to see features as significant. For instance, an air traffic controller comes to be able to assess and interpret the instruments before him or her.

SEEING AN ASPECT - Wittgenstein refers to two ways of seeing. The first being "I see x", which refers to the physical act of seeing something. The second being "I see x as (meaning) something". For instance, the written script may appear as either assorted lines on a page or meaningful language with significance. In addition, one may notice a tree in a particular position next to a house. An individual may also see it as fitting into a series of consequences, and so imagine it as possibly falling onto the house. A further example would relate to an artwork's ability to conjure associations with - let's say - peace or freedom. The viewer would need to be able to notice one or more salient features that would move one to interpret or react in a particular way.

SEEING CONNECTIONS - Wittgenstein emphasises that a thinker must piece together elements of experience or of knowledge so as to gain a command of how a system works. In Philosophical Grammar, Wittgenstein writes, "A puzzle picture. What does it amount to to say that after the solution the picture means something to us, whereas it meant nothing before?" And Ray Monk (2005) observes, “An Ubersicht produces the ‘understanding which consists in “seeing connections’” (p 66). In this case, building knowledge and engaging in practices requires an individual to see how the knowledge fits together and how a practice is connected with a form of living.

UNSURVEYABLE WHOLES - It is Hans Sluga (2011) - not Wittgenstein - who uses this term, though it is consistent with Wittgenstein's philosophy. Sluga emphasises that phenomena - such as language, the environment, history - are by nature complicated, immense and unsurveyable. Humankind, nevertheless, develops systems of analysis, fields of knowledge, and ways of seeing that act as tools to make sense and to "survey" or organise what would otherwise be unsurveyable. William Gaddis provides an illustration of this in his novel JR. A history teacher stops a Year 7 lesson to inform his class that history is a lot more complex than the neat historical narratives seem to indicate. He stresses that generations of historians work to preserve order in history so that events do not eventuate as tangled and insignificant.

SURVEYABLE REPRESENTATIONS - A surveyable representation involves an attempt to develop a way of looking at a set of phenomena that allows an individual and /or community to make sense of and - in many cases - to manipulate particular phenomena. Similarly, a system (of culture, of language, of life) may be substantially complex, which would require one to develop a method of analysis, a way of thinking, or a manner of living that would make the 'unsuveyable whole' increasingly 'surveyable'. Consider - for instance - the principles of a religion, or the rules of grammar, or a Marxist explanation of socio-political relationships. Each are ways of representing phenomena. It is important to remember that the representation is a way of perceiving the phenomena, rather than being the only possible description (or rendering) of the phenomena.

WAYS OF SEEING - Wittgenstein uses two metaphorical examples to illustrates how perceptions are subject to the way that an individual arranges experiences into meaningful patterns. The most famous metaphor applies to the rabbit-duck image. From one perspective, the drawing appears as a duck. From another perspective it is rabbit. Regardless of the interpretation, the actual image does not change. The only thing that changes is how one comes to see it. The second metaphor applies to the image of a cube. One arrangement presents the cube as jutting out of the page and at the reader. The other sees the cube recede into the depths of the page. To be able to see both images, one needs to shift one's gaze and reconceptualise that which is under investigation. However, one who is aspect blind may be unaware or resistant to any alternative manner of arranging and interpreting the facts of the case. One who continuously sees in a certain manner may be unaware of other possibilities. One must - then - ask, “how does one come into a certain way of seeing?”

STAGE SETTING - Stage setting refers to all the preliminary activities that prepare one to make meaning or to establish a practice. For instance, Wittgenstein is quick to remind his audience that a substantial amount of preliminary experiences must be in place for one to acquire language, or make sense of algebra, or to become a mechanic. We must ask ourselves, "what are the prerequisite experiences, expectations, role models and understandings that will lay down the tracks on which the learning will occur?" And "do we have the resources, models and opportunities to carry on with the learning so it becomes practiced and relevant and useful?"

SCAFFOLDING  - We come to learn methods of activity and systems of knowledge. These methods and systems become reinforced as they are shaped through our interactions with the notion of learning presented to us in a circle of influence. Deep grooves are set in our thinking and our behaviour. In this sense, education proceeded first as a form of training in ways of doing and seeing, which become prototypes for our thinking and decision in future events. Our methods, our experiences, our expectations, our schemas are initially scaffolded for us in the learning process. In turn, these habits, beliefs, rituals and methods become the scaffolding for our engagement with the world in the future. When one is brought into knowledge, one should be brought into content and method at the same time.

COGNITIVE APPRENTICESHIP - A cognitive apprenticeship brings people into different ways of thinking, problem solving and processing. Cognitive apprenticeship is a model of instruction that works to make thinking visible. The practices of problem solving, reading comprehension, and writing are not at all obvious- they are not necessarily observable to the student. In apprenticeship, the processes of the activities are made visible as the processes of thinking are modelled, jointly constructed and guided.

BOOTSTRAPPING - Bootstrapping occurs when an individual becomes aware of the patterns and rules governing a phenomenon, such as in language or in a practice. The learner develops an appreciation of and a template for meaningful/permittable combinations or actions. By becoming aware of allowable patterns, one can direct one's attention more efficiently since one is better able to anticipate what to expect or how to act. For instance, the first encounter of a new social situation may give one trepidation. However, regular practice allows one to accumulate the experience to be more confident in what to expect and how to act (to play the game). On the other hand, the experience may also limit creativity since one may develop a familiarity that limits (bootstraps) one's ability to imagine other possible ways of seeing or acting. In relation to language, experience teaches one the patterns of spelling, grammar, and discourse.  Therefore, one becomes more efficient at predicting or discriminating correct form and use.

CONTINUOUSLY SEEING AS - Refers to the penultimate stage of the learning process (if we take critical reflection as the final stage). At this stage, one does not struggle to notice aspects or to interpret observations. At this stage, the individual has acquired a way of seeing or of interpreting that becomes automatic. To "continually see as" is to commit to or to acquire a certain way of seeing, whether we are referring to perceiving language, to moral practices, to aesthetic judgement or to spiritual beliefs. In all such cases, a certain way of seeing has been incorporated into one's world picture.

STRUCTURING STRUCTURES WHICH STRUCTURE STRUCTURE - Refers to those aspects within one's environment that gives shape to practices, influences what practices one is part of, and comes to sustain practices. The concept is closely related to Bourdieu's concept of habitus, and it refers to the background to practices and knowledge which is often taken for granted or assumed. For instance, an actor must be aware that the ability to attain a career in acting is built on the premise that a culture values the concept of acting and drama, and the culture can allow/afford for members of its community to embody the role of actors. It can be the case that one feels entitled to a form of living without admitting that this form of life is reliant on certain capital, practices, methods of production and division of labour to be in place for the practice to be sustained.

HABITUS - This is a concept used by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, who cites Wittgenstein as a key contributor to his thinking. Habitus refers to the lived conditions (or context) that serve as the foundation for certain practices, knowledge, tastes and values. It most closely aligns with Wittgenstein's use of the "form of life" concept. Bourdieu would argue that whilst habitus is key to understanding a practice or a way of thinking, it is often poorly analysed or entirely ignored when people consider social, cultural or learning event.

CULTURE - Stanley Cavell claimed that Wittgenstein was a philosopher of culture. That is, Cacell asserts that Wittgenstein claims that our knowledge, our practices and our values are derived from the interactions of a community. There is considerable evidence to suggest that this is the case. In the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein stipulates that meaning is derived from the form of life to which our language and practices occur. In addition, On Certainty emphasises how one's knowledge and world pictures are arrived at through one's "upbringing"

Applying Our Understanding to Real-World Case Studies

It is with the greatest of pleasures that we share our latest presentation - Applying Our Understanding to Real-World Case Studies.

This presentation is the culmination of recent work, and it is an important next step in putting one’s growing knowledge of literacy development to use. We may know certain things intellectually - such as the stages of literacy development or the components of literacy - but the true test lies in putting this knowledge into practice.

For the purposes of this presentation, viewers will be asked to reflect upon the needs and circumstances of individual learners, and to use this information as the basis of instructional planning.

We all know that literacy instruction cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. For best practice, we need to know where a learner is placed along the literacy journey, so we can provide those experiences that will help the learner continue along in his or her journey.

We must see the enormous potential for profound growth in each learner, and we must commit ourselves to providing learners with the right type and amount of sustained practice to make literacy acquisition a reality.

Ultimately, what is it that we want? We want learners to be able explore, learn and express - fluently and intelligently. We want learners to be able to take control of the script, so they are able use literacy actively and critically for a range of purposes.

Without further ado, we invite you to explore the presentation above. Within the presentation, you will meet Maria, Jonathan, Dakota and David. In the future, we plan to introduce you to a whole cast of others with a focus on providing further opportunities for you to critically reflect and respond to the needs and circumstances of a diverse range of learners.

Please explore the video and download the related slides, which can be found above and on YouTube at https://youtu.be/u7eP9nBFG-U. The presentation slides can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2-Apply-Case-Studies. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since they contain the case studies as well as suggested activities.

I wish I could be delivering this presentation in a face-to-face seminar to The Literacy Bug audience. I’d be very curious to know the personal perspectives that you’d bring to the content and the case studies. In the abscence of this opportunity, I encourage you to email your ideas to us at ebrace@theliteracybug.com, or leave a comment below or on YouTube. Please explore and enjoy!


To recap, the following are links to the other presentations in the series:

An Overview of Literacy Development
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/yMGU7UIJ4RU
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Overview-Literacy-v2

Planning and Monitoring for Effective Instruction
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/cZrtB8dTZEg
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Planning-Monitoring-2

Teaching According to the Stages of Development
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/D7vUhqVXLWg
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Teaching-Routines-Stages-2

Additional Resources for the Planning and Monitoring for Effective Instruction
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/R71j5_kegzk
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Planning-Monitoring-Resources-2

Mastering the Alphabetic Principle
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/dA4nt3rxTYM
Slideshttp://bit.ly/Mastering-the-Code

Analysing Spoken Words
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/8DVPbK0HSyY
Blog Entryhttps://www.theliteracybug.com/journal/2018/9/3/analysing-spoken-words-a-new-activity

Words Sorts
YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/HCvYgHk6ODc
Blog Entryhttps://www.theliteracybug.com/journal/2018/9/3/word-sorts

Sentence: Types, Features and Structures
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-The-Sentence

Eight New Resources Available on The Literacy Bug

In this entry, we are proud to present a range of resources that have been in development for quite some time.

These include:

Please note that the “Elements” Checklist includes information on each of the above (phonemes, graphemes, morphemes, etc), as well as additional notes on reading multisyllabic words and vocabulary development.

All together, the resources are designed to provide reference materials that help one better understand the elements that contribute to word and sentence construction in English. They do NOT describe the activities that a learner can engage in to master these elements, though. As a result, these resources are not particularly helpful on their own, but they can be helpful when planning and reflecting upon the linguistic features that leaners need to master over time.

So ... please explore and enjoy! And remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Even if a learner is making progress with mastering the structural aspects of literacy - such as learning to decode words, spell words and write grammatical sentences - there is still a lot of work involved in making meaning from and with the printed word.

Mastering the Alphabetic Code

Today, we share "Mastering the Alphabetic Code" which is available below as well as on YouTube at https://youtu.be/dA4nt3rxTYM

This video is a presentation that outlines the key elements involved in learning to “master the alphabetic code”, such as phonemic awareness, phonemic knowledge, letter-sound correspondence, orthographic patterns, morphological patterns and automatic word recognition and construction skills.

It emphasises the need for teachers to develop scaffolded activities that provide learners with the skills to succeed.

The presentation slides can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/Mastering-the-Code. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since they contain many resources mentioned in the video. Please be patient during download. It's a large file, at least in PDF terms (20MB).

Please explore and enjoy! And send us a message if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

The Sentence: Features, Types and Structures

After the previous update, you'd definitely be correct to believe that the last video presentation was the final in a series. And it was. Yet, today, we share a new print presentation that stands on its own. Today, we share "The Sentence: Features, Types and Structures" and the slides for the presentation are available from http://bit.ly/2-The-Sentence

This most recent presentation is - in fact - an older presentation that we chose to revisit and update. The topic - grammar - may not spark excitement in the general audience, yet for me it is something of a secret passion. 

As a follower of linguistic philosophy, I am fascinated by the logical structure of the sentence. It is fascinating to know that a sentence is able to convey any meaning at all. I am fascinated that a sentence can be a "statement about the world ...  that one can contemplate, admire, reject or refine.” (Fish, 2011, p. 2)

As a writer, I appreciate balance and economy. I appreciate it when a sentence is able to deliver its message with style and grace.

As a teacher of English language learners, I know that teachers need to provide plenty of practice for their students to scan and understand a variety of sentences. This requires gradually helping learners handle sentences of increasing complexity in structure and content.

We welcome you to this presentation. One day it may become a video presentation, but for now it is a print one. As mentioned above, the slides are available for download at http://bit.ly/2-The-Sentence. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since the slides serve as a mini-textbook on the topic. When downloading, please be patient. It's a large file, at least in PDF terms (15MBs).

I must acknowledge something before I finish, though. This presentation does not address Halliday's functional grammar. Whilst we have become very familiar of this work since drafting the original presentation, we refrained from incorporating functional grammar into the updated version. We'll leave any exposition of Halliday's work to another day.

Please explore and enjoy! We hope we have done the topic justice. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to send us a message.

 

Reference
Fish, S. (2011). How to write a sentence: and how to read one. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Resources for Planning and Monitoring for Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning

After the previous update, you'd be correct to believe that the last video presentation was the final in a series. Even I was convinced of this. Alas, there is one more ... I swear ... or believe.

Today, we share "Resources for Planning and Monitoring for Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning" which is available below as well as on YouTube at https://youtu.be/R71j5_kegzk

The video is a presentation that summarises a range of resources that can help teachers better plan and monitor for effective literacy teaching and learning. In many ways, it's simply an extension of the previous presentations (listed below).

The presentation slides can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/2-Planning-Monitoring-Resources. We highly recommend that you download the slides, since they contain many resources mentioned in the video. Please be patient during download. It's a large file, at least in PDF terms (20MB).

To recap, the following are links to the other presentations in the series:

An Overview of Literacy Development
Video: https://youtu.be/yMGU7UIJ4RU
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Literacy-Overview

Planning and Monitoring for Effective Instruction
Video: https://youtu.be/cZrtB8dTZEg
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Planning-Monitoring

Teaching According to the Stages of Development
Video: https://youtu.be/D7vUhqVXLWg
Slideshttp://bit.ly/2-Teaching-Routines-Stages

Last but not least, below is the podcast episode in which we talk about the latest presentation.

Please explore and enjoy! And send us a message if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development

Today, we have added yet another new presentation to The Literacy Bug's YouTube channel. The presentation is entitled Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Developmentand it can be found below or at the following link: https://youtu.be/D7vUhqVXLWg.

Like its predecessors,  Teaching According to the Stages of Literacy Development clocks in at just about one hour long. So grab your popcorn, sit back, watch/listen and enjoy. The presentation slides are available, so download them here.

This presentation explores the changing nature of literacy across the various stages of literacy development. In so doing, we discuss how instruction must change as learners consolidate core skills and prepare for new skills and expectations. Teaching routines for the various stages of literacy development are also discussed. Please explore and enjoy!. 

To be exact, the presentation sets out to meet the following objectives:

  • to emphasise the developmental nature of literacy;

  • to emphasise how literacy instruction and learning changes across the lifespan, particularly as certain skills are consolidated and new skills and expectations arise;

  • to outline literacy as both a cognitive and social achievement that involves both the mastery of skills and the exploration of content; and

  • to outline the various texts and routines that are applicable to Chall’s Stages of Literacy Development.

(If you are new to The Literacy Bug, feel free to visit our popular page on the Stages of Literacy Development.)

Let us know what you think. It's another longer presentation. We hope to produce some shorter ones in the future.

Below is the audio from the presentation. Whilst it includes references to the visuals, the audio may well make sense on its own. If you would prefer to listen, feel free to play online or download for offline use. Also, it might help to download the slides, and you can follow along as you listen.

We hope the presentation is useful and thought-provoking. Please explore and enjoy!

How to plan and monitor effective teaching and learning - a video presentation

Today, we have added a new presentation to The Literacy Bug's YouTube channel. The presentation is entitled How to plan and monitor effective teaching and learning, and it can be found at the following link: https://youtu.be/cZrtB8dTZEg.

Like its predecessor,  How to plan and monitor effective teaching and learning clocks in at just about one hour long. So grab your popcorn, sit back, watch/listen and enjoy. The presentation slides are available for download here.

Please note that the presentation does NOT explore what to teach or how to teach in detail. Instead, the presentation provides advice on general planning, monitoring and reflection principles. To be exact, the presentation sets out to meet the following objectives:

  • to encourage informed, intentional, evidence-based teaching, which takes into consideration the learners’ currents skills, knowledge and intentions;

  • to emphasise the importance of gradual, progressive, sequenced practice that allows learners to become proficient, confident and knowledgable;

  • to reinforce how instruction may need to include both “intensive” and “extensive” activities; and

  • to reinforce why it is important to reflect regularly on teaching and learning activities.

Let us know what you think. It's another longer presentation. We hope to produce some shorter ones in the future.

Below is the audio from the presentation. Whilst it includes references to the visuals, the audio may well make sense on its own. If you would prefer to listen, feel free to play online or download for offline use.

We hope the presentation is useful and thought-provoking. Please explore and enjoy!

An Overview of Literacy Development Now on YouTube

Today, a new string is added to the bow of The Literacy Bug ... we are now on YouTube. We've added our first video presentation to the public domain, which you can find below and at the following link: https://youtu.be/yMGU7UIJ4RU.

The presentation is entitled An Overview of Literacy Development, and it clocks in at one hour long. So grab your popcorn, sit back, watch/listen and enjoy. The presentation slides are available for download here.

In the presentation, there is discussion of the many components of literacy development, the stages of literacy development, and the dual-demands of "code-based" and "meaning-based" practices. To be exact, the presentation sets out to meet the following objectives:

  • To explore the components of literacy development (e.g. oral language development, phonemic awareness, etc);
  • To explore the stages of literacy development (i.e. the gradual, cumulative nature of literacy development);
  • To understand the difference between code-based skills and meaning-based skills;
  • To understand the four levels of processing texts / reading text; and
  • To appreciate how learners are active participants as the makers of meaning, the constructors of knowledge and members of communities.

Let us know what you think. It's an experiment, and we plan for more presentations in the future.

Below is the audio from the presentation. Whilst it includes references to the visuals, the audio may well make sense on its own. If you would prefer to listen, feel free to play online or download for offline use.

Welcome to this new step in the journey. We hope the presentation is useful and thought-provoking. Please explore and enjoy!

Ensuring Equity in Opportunity to Learn

The following are elements that contribute to equality in the opportunity to learn. In an equitable system, all students would have access to:

  • Engaged time;
  • Quality teaching, resources and environments;
  • Safe environments which students are free from harm and discrimination and that their basic needs are met;
  • The material, cultural and economic means to achieve;
  • Opportunities to practice and to extend practices;
  • High expectations that are shared between the school and the home contexts;
  • Suitable collaboration between the home and school contexts as well as with the broader community context;
  • Schools and communities which are sensitive to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the student population, particularly when a minority of learners come to classrooms with a home language that is not used as the language of instruction;
  • Instruction which is suitable to the learners’ stages of development, and learners have been given strategic skills that help them engage in the current and subsequent stages of learning;
  • Learning environment which facilitate high challenge/high support instruction so that diverse students can make suitable and competitive progress;
  • Special accommodations that have been made to meet the specific learning needs of all students;
  • Content which is engaging, relevant, purposeful and that will build on prior knowledge and that will be consistent with current ways of knowing and be applicable to everyday problem-solving.
  • An education that responds to individual affinities/talents so learners are able to capitalise on these interests and learning trajectories;
  • Effective support in managing transitions between schooling/learning contexts;.
  • Every opportunity to achieve, so that children's resilience is being developed and their motivation is fostered;
  • Institutions and society that seek to minimise and mitigate the impacts of social and economic disadvantage; and
  • People and institutions who keep “a finger on the pulse” of all students at all times. Progress is monitored, opportunities are made available, and extra support is facilitated, where required.

Major Updates Made to the Literacy Glossary and Reading Lists

Some may downplay this announcement as merely routine site maintenance. In actual fact, an update to the site's glossaries and reading lists is news that significant progress has been made to the very foundations of the online resource. 

Firstly, progress is finally being made to the Literacy Glossary. This resource is a work-in-progress. A core list of 70 terms/concepts will be part of the initial list. These terms/concepts will be added over the coming weeks. A further announcement will be made once the Literacy Glossary is fully drafted.

Secondly, there is a range of additions that have been made to the Literacy-Related Reading Lists. In the Contexts of Literacy Instruction section, I have added readings related to the Language Experience Approach (LEA). LEA is an pedagogy whereby shared experiences (e.g. gardening, going out bush, cooking, etc) become the basis for interactive writing exercises which - in turn - produce texts that serve as sources of further reading practice. Teachers and students can use digital photography and information scaffolds to document experiences, and this documentation can be used to recreate, recount and extend upon the shared experiences. Teachers are also encourage to focus on particular words for word study and vocabulary exercises. LEA is an effective teaching technique for younger students and beginning English language learners. More about the Language Experience Approach will be written in the near future. In the meantime, please explore the readings

Two reading lists have also been added to the Elements of Instruction section of the readings: Supporting Fluency and Assessment Tools. This rounds out the Elements section. The lists mirror the five pillars of effective reading instruction (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000), whilst also including an emphasis on writing and oral language development. Effective instruction must foster the development of phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence (including spelling), vocabulary, oral language, reading fluency, reading comprehension and writing/composing. The Supporting Fluency reading list provides a brief yet comprehensive list of references, whilst the Assessment Tools reading list will grow over time.

Last but not least, word clouds have been added to each of the reading lists in the Elements of Instruction section. The logic of the word clouds will be revealed in a future resource. In the meantime, the following is a gallery of the collected clouds. Please enjoy and explore!

Reference

  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction (NIH Publication No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.