The academic core of Streeton Primary School’s curriculum is the development of English and Mathematics skills in students across all year levels. Here is a bit of an insight into what we do in relation to English in the areas of reading and comprehension, writing and handwriting, grammar and punctuation and speaking and listening.
We work to instill a genuine love of the English language through explicit and integrated teaching and learning of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. The ability to read and write as well as receive and communicate ideas verbally underpins all learning.
Throughout the school, the children are involved in activities that help them to gain knowledge about how to improve their writing. As well as focusing on the writing features of different text types, they are encouraged to always focus on four core elements – Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation (VCOP) – as a way of improving their writing.
VCOP and Big Write are teaching approaches based on the research of Ros Wilson, an expert based in the UK. VCOP teaches children the skills to improve their own writing through self-assessment. There are mascots that represent each section of VCOP.
V is for Vocabulary: Vinnie Vocabulary is our vocabulary mascot. He as- sists
students in the use of ‘WOW words’ (ambitious vocabulary) in their writing.
C is for Connectives: Connie Connectives is our connectives’ mascot. She supports students in using connectives (joining words) to change their simple sentences into complex sentences.
O is for Openers: Ollie Opener is our openers’ mascot. Ollie encourages students to use varied openers to ensure their writing is interesting to the reader.
P is for Punctuation: Penny Punctuation is our princess of punctuation. Penny is displayed with her punctuation pyramid showing the levels of punctuation.
Big Write is a celebration of students’ learning, as students get the opportunity to showcase their author’s voice and use of VCOP skills by writing a piece of text inspired by a writing prompt. Prior to most Big Write sessions, ‘Talk Homework’ is sent home to allow the students opportunities to talk about their writing.
We are dedicated to helping students develop strong reading and viewing skills, and to making quality literature a central and vital part of their lives, this includes digital texts. Teachers foster enjoyment and pleasure in reading, alongside explicit teaching of key strategies, some of which include – comprehension, accuracy, fluency, expand vocabulary, predicting, clarifying, questions and questioning, summarising, text - structure knowledge and thinking aloud. In Foundation, Year 1 and Year 2, the teaching of English follows the Early Years Literacy Model. In Year 3 and 4 this model is also used in conjunction with The Daily 5 and CAFE to teach reading.
The Year 5 and 6 classes use The Daily 5 and CAFE. The Daily 5 consists of five key elements: Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing and Word Work. Each of these foundations are introduced and students work at building stamina, by practising each skill over a period of time, until they become independent. The CAFE Reading Program was designed by the same creators as The Daily 5. CAFE stands for Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency and Expanding Vocabulary. These are four areas of reading skills that our students work on throughout the year. During CAFE time, teachers teach whole class lessons, small group lessons and lessons with individuals to work on these reading skills.
The students will also use their knowledge of Digital Technologies to write, edit and publish their own story books.
CAFE Reading is an effective teaching process that provides students with strategies to develop greater comprehension. In years 3 through to 6, the focus on the literacy program shifts towards individual text selection and reflection while making links to the world in which they live.
Within spelling and word attack we use the program Sound Waves is used. The Sound Waves phonemic approach uses a sound-to-letter strategy which acknowledges that sounds can be represented more than one way in written form. This syn- thetic phonics approach focuses first on the basic units of sound in our language – phonemes. It then explores the letters that represent these sounds and how they can be put together to form written words. Structured lessons will focus on spelling strategies, dictionary meanings, common usage and context. Students will complete activities in class and are ex- pected to practise spelling each night as part of their homework. There will be an emphasis on learning new vocabulary and developing phonetic awareness. The Sound Waves program teaches students to examine words to discover the regularities, patterns and conventions of the English language in order to read, write and spell. Weekly spelling words are based on de- veloping spelling, phonics and vocabulary. Students practise learning the spelling and meaning of words and complete activi- ties that encourage them to apply their word knowledge. Daily sorting activities encourage students to compare and contrast features in words, make generalisations about words and transfer this knowledge to new words. Throughout the year, there will be an emphasis on learning new vocabulary and developing phonetic awareness.
Speaking and Listening is integrated throughout the curriculum and is modelled explicitly within the context of ‘share time’, project presentations, and many forums for students to share their writing, self-assess and give and receive meaningful feed- back to and from peers.
Each day, two one hour sessions with a focus on Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening are conducted. Students work on developing their understanding and skills through a variety of group and individual tasks. Across the school students often work in ability and strategy groups to develop their Reading, Writing and Speaking and Listening skills, which in turn will help them become proficient learners in the core area of English.