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Building Confident Readers: Innovations in Literacy for Young Students

By Communications Team Primary 6/06/2023

Exciting literacy developments in Junior Primary

By Lara Aldridge

Significant, meaningful change takes research, planning and time, and we are excited to share about the changes that have been happening in our Junior Primary classes over the past few years in the area of literacy!

Whilst we have been using a popular and successful systematic synthetic phonics program for many years, as a Junior Primary team, we have become increasingly aware of improved and more relevant programs and approaches in the area of literacy for the early years.

The Science of Reading: Shaping Primary Literacy

Incorporating insights from the Science of Reading, an extensive body of research focused on reading and writing, we have ushered in a new era of literacy instruction. By embracing evidence-based strategies, we have not only transformed reading but also integrated these advancements into spelling and writing.

Empowering Junior Primary Teachers

Our Junior Primary teachers have been actively engaged in ongoing professional development, fostering a collaborative environment where they share best practices, refine their skills, and expand their knowledge. Together, we ensure our classroom practices encompass the five essential components of an effective reading program: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension.

Growing Primary Literacy Resources and Assessments

In our quest to provide meaningful and engaging reading and writing experiences, we have adopted the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness program and embraced resources from Decodable Readers Australia, an esteemed Australian company. These resources, including take-home practice readers, an online library, Sounds of Reading Toolkits, and the SPARKLE reading evaluation kit, work harmoniously at school and home, facilitating skill development, practice, and consolidation.

Nurturing Confident Readers, Writers, and Spellers

The transformative approach we have taken has instilled confidence in our students, propelling them toward success as they grow and consolidate their reading, writing, and spelling skills at each year level. Through a refined focus on skill development and a holistic approach, our students are flourishing.

Expanding Horizons: A Staged Approach

Beginning in Reception and gradually extending to Year 1 and Year 2, our intentional and staged approach has yielded remarkable results. This year, each year level has actively utilized the Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Program, and every classroom has been equipped with decodable texts for take-home practice.

We are seeing our students grow in confidence and succeed as they develop and consolidate their reading, writing and spelling skills at each year level.

Evaluating Progress: The SPARKLE Kit

The SPARKLE kit has become an invaluable tool throughout Junior Primary, helping us assess students’ reading skills. SPARKLE, which stands for Systematic Phonics and Reading Knowledge Levelled Evaluation, evaluates crucial aspects such as phonics knowledge, decoding skills, text comprehension, and fluency. The data collected from these evaluations enables informed instructional planning and targeted intervention strategies for students who require additional support.

Celebrating Success: Reception’s Pioneering Journey

Our Reception teachers enthusiastically adopted the comprehensive Decodable Readers Australia online program this year. This interactive program features explicit teaching modules, online library access, Sounds of Reading Toolkits for engaging manipulative resources, decodable take-home readers, and the SPARKLE kit. Witnessing the children’s growing confidence and emerging independent reading and writing skills has been truly inspiring.

Future Endeavors: Extending the Impact

Building on the early success in Reception, our ultimate goal is to expand the program’s reach to Year 1 and Year 2 in the near future. We eagerly anticipate witnessing continued growth and success as our children progress along the path to becoming proficient readers, writers, and spellers.

Should you have any questions about decodable readers, early literacy skills, or wish to explore the exciting developments in Junior Primary literacy further, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at lara.aldridge@tvcs.sa.edu.au.

We are here to support your child’s educational journey.

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