At St Patrick's Catholic Primary School, we not only value the teaching of English but believe that it is paramount in providing students with the skills and understandings to fully access the curriculum and develop as divergent, critical thinkers.
Through the integration of the three strands: Reading & Viewing, Writing & Spelling and Speaking & Listening, the students are provided with learning experiences that enable them to develop skills and strategies to be competent and confident users of the English language. Literacy skills are best taught through modelled, guided and independent learning experiences, based on explicit teaching. Therefore we provide a differentiated curriculum that caters for the diverse needs of the learner through effective, relevant and challenging learning and teaching opportunities.
The English curriculum aims to ensure that students:
learn to listen to, read, view, speak, write, create and reflect on increasingly complex and sophisticated spoken, written and multimodal texts across a growing range of contexts with accuracy, fluency and purpose
appreciate, enjoy and use the English language in all its variations and develop a sense of its richness and power to evoke feelings, convey information, form ideas, facilitate interaction with others, entertain, persuade and argue
understand how Standard Australian English works in its spoken and written forms and in combination with non-linguistic forms of communication to create meaning
develop interest and skills in inquiring into the aesthetic aspects of texts, and develop an informed appreciation of literature.
Reading and Viewing - CAFE, Daily Five and InitiaLit
At St. Patrick’s, we are committed to 10 hours of Literacy per week. In Years 3-6 we follow the CAFÉ Model which includes the “Daily Five”. The Daily Five is a literacy structure that teaches independence and gives children the skills needed to create a lifetime love of reading and writing. It consists of five tasks that are introduced individually.
During this time, every child will participate in a guided reading group with their teacher once per week. During this session students will be explicitly taught reading skills appropriate for their ability level.
For more information on CAFE and Daily 5, please go to the program website here.
InitiaLit is an evidence-based whole-class literacy program providing all children with the essential core knowledge and strong foundations to become successful readers and writers. InitiaLit is a three-year program, covering the first three years of school (Prep to Year 2).
InitiaLit–Prep incorporates the key components necessary for early reading instruction – phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
InitiaLit–1 continues on from InitiaLit–Prep in providing an explicit and effective model for teaching reading, spelling and related skills to children in their second year of schooling. The program incorporates daily lessons in reading and spelling, as well as rich language instruction using children’s literature. As with InitiaLit–Prep, a set of decodable InitiaLit Readers (Levels 10-16), have been developed to align with the InitiaLit–1 instructional sequence. These readers, used alongside the program, will help students generalise and consolidate their skills.
By Year 2, most children will be well on their way to reading independence. The program builds on the skills taught in InitiaLit–Prep and InitiaLit–1, with the focus shifting now to consolidating children’s reading and spelling skills, working specifically on reading comprehension, fluency, spelling and vocabulary.
MiniLit and MacqLit
The MiniLit and MacqLit programs are literacy intervention programs. MiniLit is aimed at Prep to Year 2 and comprises 80 lessons, delivered 4 times per week, for one hour per lesson. A placement test will indicate the ideal starting point on the program for each student, with criteria provided for grouping students according to instructional level. Regular assessments administered throughout the program will monitor progress. Each lesson comprises three main components:
Sounds and Words Activities
Story Book Reading
MacqLit is aimed at Years 3-6 and is an explicit and systematic reading intervention program for small groups of older low-progress readers. It is a comprehensive sequence of lessons that includes all the key components necessary for effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.
Writing and Spelling - SMART Spelling
At St Patrick’s students create a range of imaginative, informative and persuasive types of texts including narratives, procedures, performances, reports, reviews, explanations, poetry and discussions. Students practise, consolidate and extend what they have learned. They develop an increasingly sophisticated understanding of grammar and language, and they are increasingly able to articulate this knowledge. Gradually, more complex punctuation, clause and sentence structures and textual purposes and patterns are introduced. Student work is marked against a rubric that links directly to the Victorian Curriculum and is referred to regularly to ensure students know what to include in their piece of writing. We use the Seven Steps program to guide our teaching, which is fabulous for generating ideas and teaching students how to engage their reader.
In 2017, St. Patrick’s introduced SMART Spelling in Years 3 to 6. SMART Spelling is designed to support teachers in the explicit and systematic teaching of spelling. The program is based on whole words with an emphasis on meaning and vocabulary development. Students must be able to read their spelling words, understand what they mean and how to use them. SMART Spelling is an acronym for the sequence teachers follow to teach words to students. It stands for:
The spelling program runs through a weekly routine. Part of this routine is to have a weekly list of words which has a common sound. The students choose 6-8 words they want to focus on and highlight them. This list is then sent home and becomes the spelling homework for the week.
For more information on the developer of the SMART Spelling program, please go to her website here.
Speaking and Listening
At St. Patrick’s we seek to develop the oral language competence of students across the school. Teachers plan and implement strategies which specifically target the development of oral language skills.
Language and the ability to communicate effectively is a key foundation to students’ capacity to learn in most general ways. A better developed knowledge of language and how it is used means a greater capacity to learn and to manage and to direct one’s activity as a learner (Munro, 2005)
Students participate in Show and Tell, 1 minute talks, debates and oral presentations of their work. Oral language permeates throughout