Lyn Stone will be running a workshop on high impact literacy teaching theory and strategies at St Joseph’s Primary School in Elsternwick on Saturday May 30th, 2020.
The theme is “The pen is mightier than the sword” – and is the idea that like any high-precision tool, writing needs to be taught explicitly and practised well.
Drawing from her three flagship programs, Spelling for Life, Language for Life and Reading for Life, the day will consist of background information on the process of writing, what can go wrong, and research-informed strategies to help teachers deliver even higher quality literacy instruction in their classrooms right away.
SESSION 1 Let’s get our heads round grammar
A way to look at the parts of speech that follows logic. We will cover nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions that goes beyond “A noun is a naming word…a verb is a doing word…” and still makes complete sense.
SESSION 2 The Survival List
At Lifelong Literacy, our goal is to teach all of our students to read and write fluently. To do this, we have a list of words they need to learn as a priority. It’s called The Survival List and it constitutes some of the most common words in the English language, as well as subject-specific words for that particular student.
There are plenty of word lists readily available, such as the Dolch or Fry or Magic 100 lists, but they contain a mixture of simple and complex patterns. For instance, in the Dolch list, the word big (a simple 1:1 CVC pattern) is right there with away (a two-syllable word containing a digraph) and said (an unusual pronunciation of the digraph <ai>, which only really occurs in this word and in some accents in the word again, but which follows the grammatical/etymological pattern of lay and pay).
The amount of times we see children being given homework requiring them to learn this mishmash of random patterns is astonishing. It is simply not viable for many children.
As a solution, we have extracted the words that don’t have a transparent code structure and have placed them in families containing similar patterns. We use a simple marking system that is taught to students so that they become aware of the words’ morphological and etymological structure and kinships.
The Survival List therefore is a template to teach any words for automatic recall when writing.
This list is called the Survival List for two reasons:
- Because knowing how to read and spell the words on their list will help them become fluent readers and writers as quickly as possible and
- Because the techniques used to learn these words can extend to other words with complex patterns that students can teach themselves, thus helping them to survive the onslaught of increasing complexity and expectation as their academic career unfolds.
SESSION 3 What about writing?
With high quality initial instruction, the majority of children can learn to read, regardless of diagnosis. But what about writing? Achievement of accurate, fluent written expression requires instruction and practice far beyond that needed for reading. Partly as a result of this, the value of high quality, early writing instruction can be neglected or downplayed in primary school, thus leading to large populations who fail to develop appropriate levels of written expression.
Teaching all children to write is hard, but worth the effort. In this presentation, Lyn lists the components of fluent writing and offers insights on how to maximize a child’s chances of achieving this lofty goal. Lyn also looks into ways in which current practice in schools can be geared towards getting all children to improve their writing skills, as well as where to draw the line and get the most out of technology.