"How do I engage every child in literacy learning?"
With literacy learning, what do teachers want? They want their kids to be engaged. They want to cater for all abilities and motivations. We are aiming for students to own their learning, to develop their three selves – being self-motivated, self-regulated, self-directed.
Our approaches to literacy learning
It's not about a blanket program that works for all. Not every child is the same. Some approaches are better than others, however Sharon has discovered over years of teaching that there are some overall timeless principles that seem to work in every classroom, in every learning situation, for Every Child, Every Day: She calls them the 7 Timeless T's.
Getting started with 7 Timeless T’s of Literacy Instruction
TOGETHER: All the children are on the same task, together, but individually progessing within it. This builds a community of learners who learn from each other as well as the teacher. Learning together means that as the teacher we need to know our students well enough to provide an entry point for every child and no ceiling, allowing everyone a chance to grow.
TIME: Allow plenty of time for students to independently read or write what they choose to read or write. Without this time they don’t have an opportunity to really demonstrate what they can do. It should be for the majority of the lesson.
TANTALISING TEXTS: There is a central role literature takes in the Australian Curriculum and other curriculums. Building a tantalising library of books the students can choose from is key. It is this choice that research tells us is the most critical aspect to engaging readers. Tools: Easy to find and appealing books in attractive baskets is the first step in creating a great classroom library. Teachers find out what is wanted by students.
THINKER’S TALKING: Always make a time in literacy sessions – in the beginning, middle or end - for students to share with others. This could be students who have gained a particular insights or discoveries that will benefit the rest of the group. Or give everyone a chance to talk every day through Turn and Tell or a Turn and Talk to a partner. Have them focus on the strategy you taught them in the Mini Lesson and that they have been practising in their independent practice time.
TRANSFORMATIVE TEACHING: It's important to pick up on what you are noticing in observations and conferring and then aligning the next steps in your teaching with the curriculum (Responsive teaching). So in each part of a workshop style lesson (Mini Lesson, Independent Practice, Share) you're honing in on where the needs of the students are – as individuals, in groups or as a whole class. You're looking for opportunities to take individuals or a small flexible focus group aside and teach them a new skill, as they need it, in that moment.
TRUE TASKS: If tasks are meaningful they are more likely to engage the students. How do you make them more meaningful? This occurs when connections can be made across reading and writing, and when rich literature is chosen for modelling, and when you truly know your students. Shared Reading or Read Aloud are excellent tools to model explicit strategies in reading, and Modelled Writing, Interactive Writing, Shared Writing etc are powerful tools for modelling writing lessons, especially when using rich literature as examples.
TRANSFORMATIVE TRACKING: When you track the learning closely it’s more powerful than a standardised test in showing the teacher and the student where they are in their learning. We call it collecting 'real time' data, it's what is happening in that lesson, with those students as you are teaching them.
Listen to our podcast on the 7 Timeless T's here: