Our teachers recognise that students must be communicators and thinkers before they can be effective readers and writers. They also understand that oral language is the foundation for the development of literacy skills.
The oral language program at Deer Park North P.S., incorporates opportunities for students to use both expressive (speaking) and receptive (listening) language. This is achieved through experiences such as “Read Aloud”, audio texts, shared reading/writing, interactive writing, following instructions, morning meetings, share time and explicit vocabulary lessons. Students are involved in both formal and informal discussions both about their learning.
Children write best about the things that are important to them and what they are interested in. It is writing that comes from what they know and what they have experienced.
At Deer Park North P.S., our students are encouraged to view themselves as authors and to use writing as a way to express their thoughts, feelings, interests and creativity. We also create an environment where our students work as part of a writing community, offering feedback to peers throughout the writing process.
We use the workshop model to deliver a writing program which is a student-centred approach, designed to foster a love of writing and to provide students opportunities to learn the writing process and develop their own unique adaptation of this process.
All students have their own Writer’s Notebook where they practise the craft of writing. These notebooks are used to develop ideas, extend and elaborate their thinking and experiment with the craft of writing.
We use the connection between reading and writing to support students in creating their own texts. Our students learn to view authors as mentors. They use the skills and craft noticed in a text to help develop their own skills as writers. Our students are also explicitly taught the traits of effective writing to help them to revise and edit their work to ensure their message is clear to their intended audience.
Fostering a lifelong love of reading is central to our purpose at Deer Park North P.S. We immerse our children in the wonder of books through well resources classroom libraries and our varied teaching approaches. Our students are taught to think and understand what they read and how the books they read relate to their own experiences, other texts they have read and what they know of the wider world.
Our workshop model is a time where students are explicitly taught reading strategies whilst also allowing time for students to engage in authentic and individualised practice. Teachers work with students in small groups and conferences during this time, focusing on individual student’s current reading goals and planning for their next stretch as a reader.
As readers, our students are also taught reading strategies through read aloud, shared reading and guided reading. Teachers will model reading through a ‘think aloud’ where they show children what they expect them to do as a reader.
Handwriting does matter and is closely related to academic achievement.
The physical act of handwriting benefits early literacy learners because the kinaesthetic action contributes to greater recognition and memorisation of letters.
At Deer Park North P.S., handwriting is the dominant recording skill used by students from Foundation to Year 2. Keyboarding skills are introduced in Year 3-6.
Handwriting skills are taught so that children become fluent writers to free up working memory. By children learning to form letters by hand this contributes to a stronger knowledge of words and assists with spelling. When words are written in a continuous flow rather than typed as separate letters, spelling memory is enhanced.
Spelling is a complex skill and an important part of writing. Good spelling is also a social expectation and contributes to clear communication of a written message.
At Deer Park North P.S., the teaching of spelling is based on the student’s stage of spelling development and spelling needs. In the early years, Foundation to Year 2, the focus is on teaching phonic knowledge, phonemic awareness and visual strategies as this is what young writers try to use as they invent spelling at this stage. As students move through the middle and upper levels of primary school, the focus changes to the teaching and exploration of morphemic and etymological knowledge. This said, attention can be given to all the types of knowledge and the teaching of high frequency words, at each stage, depending on each of the students’ needs.