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School Resources

SECTION 3: Creating an early literacy programme in your school

Opportunities for developing children’s literacy occur throughout the day and in a dedicated literacy programme. Literacy instruction typically will involve a combination of whole class and small group teaching. The table below shows the key components of a literacy programme and the whole class and small group situations that can be used to ensure optimum teaching and learning. 

In this section

Components of the programme

Language
Component
• Vocabulary
• Sentence structure
• Background knowledge + inference
• Phonological awareness 
Whole class or large group activities
• Shared reading and interactive read aloud
• Explicit teaching of vocabulary during interactive read aloud and shared writing
• Describing sentence structure during shared writing 
• Class discussion in relation to picture books to elicit background knowledge and to spark thinking about the story
• Phonological awareness through clapping syllables; hearing and using rhyme; identifying the first letter or words
• Opportunities to explore subject-specific vocabulary and to engage with different text types and purposes across the curriculum including in science and social studies
Small group activities
• Using the small group texts and explaining words children may not know 
• After reading a page or at the end of story, discussing characters, the narrative, or key themes.

Word recognition
Component
• Phoneme awareness: oral blending of phonemes to make words and oral segmenting a word into phonemes
• Alphabetic principle: each phoneme can be written using a letter or letters
• Reading and spelling words: blend sounds to read a word; segment a word into sounds to spell it
Whole class or large group activities
• Phoneme exercises
• Poems/rhymes
• Alphabet activities 
• Guess my word (/b//a//t/ -> bat)
• Guess my phonemes (bat -> /b//a//t/)
• Shared writing to hear sounds in words
• Letter formation and handwriting opportunities
Small group activities
• Link phonemic awareness to letter knowledge
• Use scope and sequence to focus the teaching for letter recognition and formation
• Magnetic or letter tiles to manipulate and move to sound/blend to read
• Children select the letters they need to make a word (or write it)
• Write a dictated sentence
• Ensure accuracy of decoding then automaticity to allow for later fluency of reading text
Fluency
Component
• Emerges as a result of word recognition and language comprehension
Whole class or large group activities
• Shared reading and read aloud
• Learning poems
Small group activities
• Practice reading words automatically and writing words fluently
• Practice reading 2 or 3 words as a phrase
• Put phrases together to read a whole sentence
• Practice holding a sentence in your head and then writing it down

Scope and sequence

To effectively teach children to read and write, it is essential that teachers have a good understanding of the developmental stages children go through when learning to read and write.A scope and sequence is a guide for teaching the reading and spelling of words, and it should be supported by the texts that children will read to apply the knowledge and skills at each stage. Further explanation about what a scope and sequence is as well as an example of a scope and sequence, which also details how different published book series can be used at each stage, can be found here.

Videos to watch

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Setting up an early literacy programme

Kate discusses the components that make up the literacy programme at Nayland Primary, which combine aspects from a structured literacy approach, as well as opportunities for rich oral language and free play. 

How to organise literacy lessons

Caroline Morritt discusses how schools can organise literacy lessons in ways that maximise learning opportunities through both whole class and small group teaching and a focus on explicit instruction and high quality feedback. 

Setting up a weekly programme

Carolyn Smith, a teacher at Cashmere School, discusses how she organises her weekly literacy programme, using the book she will be reading with her children as the central organising feature. 

Setting up a daily literacy sessions

Tracy Orr, a teacher at Hokowhitu School, explains how she organises her daily literacy lesson, starting with a whole class session followed by small group instruction. 

Planning and tracking progress in writing

Dr Helen Walls describes the four-staged scope and sequence she has developed for planning and sequencing the teaching of writing and how she structures teaching around specific goals the students are working towards.

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