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Marj Kirkland: A Whole School Literacy Plan


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Presented at the Hands On Literacy conference, 15 Nov 2008, Singapore

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Marj Kirkland: A Whole School Literacy Plan

  1. 1. Whole School Literacy –Whole School Literacy – Aquinas CollegeAquinas College Presentation byPresentation by Marj KirklandMarj Kirkland Teacher-LibrarianTeacher-Librarian Aquinas CollegeAquinas College
  2. 2. What is ‘literacy’? • “The ability to read and write.” Australian Oxford Dictionary, Penguin English Dictionary, Macquarie Dictionary • “Skill in or knowledge of a particular subject.” Penguin English Dictionary • “The ability to use language effectively.” Macquarie Dictionary • (Implicit in the above definitions is a level of understanding of context, audience, etc…)
  3. 3. New definitions of literacy… Shaping and making meaning of text in a corporate controlled media environment… •Exposing •Employing •Expressing •Ethics Dr Allan Luke – Critical literacy – Stresses the importance of teaching students not just to read, but to understand their world, to be constructive sceptics.
  4. 4. Personal Reflection: Why is literacy important? How would your life be different if you had poor literacy skills?
  5. 5. Literacy – A life raft!
  6. 6. Aquinas College •Co-educational Catholic school •Situated on the Gold Coast, Queensland •650 students •Mixed socio-economic population •Mission statement: We offer “…a dynamic, challenging, rich and diverse range of learning experiences.” We value “a process of constant curriculum renewal.” Community of learning
  7. 7. A little Background…. • There were already many literacy initiatives in place at Aquinas; - Research into Boys and Reading - Reading programs – Literature Circles (Years 8 & 9); Readers’ Cup (Year 8) - Romero Centre learning support - literacy activities taking place in individual subject areas . • Staff survey in 2004 identified written literacy as our greatest area of need. • Literacy Committee established 2005. • Identified need for a systematic gathering and analysis of data. What is the correlation between the literacy of our Year 8 intake and our Year 12 exit literacy performance indicators? What improvements could be made in teaching literacy in our school?
  8. 8. Why a Whole School Literacy Plan?… • To outline ‘where we are’ with literacy; • To establish our goals and priorities; • To state how we are going to meet these goals, including specific actions and timelines; • To place what we are presently doing in a philosophical framework. (Hill & Crevola, Characteristics of an effective literacy strategy, Unicorn 24,2, August 1998, p.74-85.)
  9. 9. Who are key people to involve in your consultation process? • Staff – they’d set written literacy as priority; • BCE Literacy consultant; • Key changemakers/stakeholders (3 – 4); • Delineate roles for committee; • Consultation with HODs; • Keep Principal in loop; • Feedback to staff and parent/community.
  10. 10. What would you include in a Whole School Literacy Plan for your school? 5 – 10 points
  11. 11. Aquinas’ Literacy Planning Matrix: 8 Components of the Whole School Literacy Strategy Focus Community Profile Shared Vision Strategic Community Partnerships Goal: (2 years) •         The school's literacy plan provides a flexible approach to a wide range of issues relating to student diversity based individual needs. •         The community profile contains information on community literacy practices and expectations and is recognised in the school literacy plan. •         The school's literacy plan meets the needs of the diverse range of students identified in the community … •         A clear, consistent, professional language is used in discussing and planning literacy programs. •         Literacy is included in school programs for all KLAs. •         The school's literacy plan includes oral, print and multimedia. •         School documents use a consistent, professional language to describe a repertoire of literacy practices. •         The school has provided written information to parents about existing literacy programs in the school. •         Families are involved in and are encouraged to support students' literacy development. •         Individual literacy programs developed. •         The whole school literacy program is enriched by the planned integration of productive partnerships with parents and community. Present: •         The community profile contains some information about community literacy backgrounds which may influence literacy programs. Some special programs. •         Some readily identifiable aspects of student diversity are included in the community profile. •         The community profile is a description of the school and its community. •         Information on students is mostly statistical data not related to literacy teaching and learning. •         The school's literacy plan is confined to a repertoire of literacy practices in the English program. •         Some common language and sharing of literacy practices occurs when teachers plan co-operatively. •         Individual teachers decide upon the literacy practices in their classrooms. •         Sharing of literacy practices occurs informally and infrequently. •         The school has provided some written information to parents about existing literacy programs in the school. •         Parents are not involved in class literacy programs. •         Some community expertise in literacy is used in an ad hoc manner in individual classrooms. Evidence of present profile: •       Mission/vision statement, educational brief & staff handbook etc. detail cohort, define expectations of staff & responsibilities in relation to literacy, teaching & learning. •       Some statistical analysis has been conducted on present literacy initiatives, cohort etc. •       Romero & McAuley Centres’ students ascertained; some understanding of literacy strengths/weaknesses translated into strategies and scaffolding. •         Some common language about literacy. •         Some discussion/sharing of tasks in some subjects and across some subject areas but complete isolation of some staff members from this process. •         Teachers/HODs have an understanding of need for literacy across KLAs but action/planning does not always reflect this. •         Lack of common language/knowledge because of lack of knowledge management. •         Parent involvement in planning is minimal. Parents are rarely consulted. •         Some written information about current literacy programs and encouragement of parent involvement in literacy practices at home is communicated from school. •         Guest authors used in some classrooms/class levels. •         IEPs. •         Parents not involved in classrooms. Needed to attain goal: •          Development of a literacy plan – goals & suggested initiatives; needs of range of students addressed. •          Ownership by HODs. •          Range of options available to staff to implement plan; Flexibility but responsibility in approach to teachers. •          Analysis and reporting of data. •          IEPs – Understanding of student needs in terms of outcomes & levels; detailed literacy profiling of •         Development of literacy plan following extensive preparation – incl. data analysis, consultation with HODs/staff. •         Greater understanding/knowledge of syllabus and its language/literacy requirements. •         Professional dialogue leading to practice across KLAs. •         Common curriculum elements identified & recognised across KLAs. •         Consistent, ongoing language used. •         Have clearer idea of where we are going and communicate this vision. •         Launch & publish literacy plan. •         Parent information nights to provide information, understanding and discussion of programs. •         Use community expertise where appropriate/necessary.
  12. 12. What does our WSLP include? • The Whole School Literacy Plan document, • Action Plan 2006 – 2008, including: Shared Vision Standards and targets, Assessment and monitoring, Classroom organisation and pedagogy, Intervention and Special Needs, Leadership and professional learning.
  13. 13. Literacy – an Overview Our Whole School Literacy Plan promotes a multi-faceted approach to literacy: • Developing a workable whole school literacy plan, with an associated action plan; • Scaffolding and modelling written assignments across the key curriculum areas; • Teaching research and referencing skills in each key curriculum area; • Creating a reading culture through programs such as Literature Circles, Readers’ Cup and Australian Readers’ Challenge; • Using data collection to assess and improve literacy programs.
  14. 14. What effective literacy programs are currently in place at your school?
  15. 15. WSLP at Aquinas Our Whole School Literacy Plan promotes a multi-faceted approach to literacy: • Developing a workable whole school literacy plan, with an associated action plan; • Scaffolding and modelling written assignments across the key curriculum areas; • Teaching research and referencing skills in each key curriculum area; • Creating a reading culture through programs such as Literature Circles, Readers’ Cup and Australian Readers’ Challenge; • Using data collection to assess and improve literacy programs.
  16. 16. Scaffolding Assignments “All writing for boys, up to the end of their compulsory school years, should be done within teacher-prepared templates or scaffolds.” National Senate Inquiry Recommendations “The School Reforms Required to Engage Boys in Schooling”, Ian Lillico (2000) Scaffolds and/or templates break down tasks so that students can readily engage with the task at their own levels. Scaffolds provide shorter, closed, clearly defined entry points that ease students into tasks.
  17. 17. Survey all Year 8 assignments Extended writing assignments in Year 8 fell into 6 genres: • Expository/Argumentative Essay • Film Review • Biography (2 KLAs) • Creative/Narrative • Information Report (2 KLAs) • Scientific Report. Preparation for the tasks varied greatly!
  18. 18. Pretest Year 8 Expository Essay
  19. 19. How much would scaffolding help? • Decided to focus on one genre – Expository/Argumentative. • We prepared a scaffold for an expository/argumentative essay, in collaboration with the HOD and other teachers involved. • Our focus genre was specifically team-taught to all Year 8 classes by the classroom teacher and a member of the research team for consistency of approach. • This teaching used a scaffold for writing the genre, modelling and deconstruction of the genre. • The action research was embedded into an existing unit of English; the post-test formed one of the assessment items for the unit. • Post-test was a modified DART writing test. A blank Expository scaffold was included with the test.
  20. 20. Post-test results: The post-test showed a significant improvement in results for most students, with the average pretest score of 9.27 moving to 10.65 in the post-test. This represented a 15.33% change in results. DART Expository Pretest & Post-test Comparison 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11 Expository Pretest Expository Post-test Scorerange6-15
  21. 21. Scaffolds on Aquinas Website Scaffolds have been prepared for all Year 8 & 9 assignments and placed on the ‘Online Learning’ section of the college website. • Biography • Narrative • Information Report • Scientific Report • Film Review (2 documents) • Book Review • Expository and Argumentative Essay • Newspaper Headline Article • Formal Report (2 documents) • Letter to the Editor • Analytical Exposition – Comparative Essay (Music & Drama) • Language of essays (3 documents)
  22. 22. Assignment work forms a major facet of school library service. Ensure that the Library is user friendly for teachers too!
  23. 23. What effective reading programs do you have in your school? What elements make a reading program effective?
  24. 24. Where does reading fit in our students’ lives? Mobile phones & IPods Hobbies Sport Internet Computer Games Part-time work Social life Television Our students
  25. 25. ‘Reading at Risk’ report… 1982 1992 2002 % of U.S. Population Reading Literature 56.9 54.0 46.7 •The percentage of adult Americans reading literature has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years. •The decline in literary reading parallels a decline in total book reading. •The rate of decline in literary reading is accelerating. •The decline in reading is significant across gender, race, education levels and age groups. •The steepest decline in literary reading is in the youngest age groups.
  26. 26. • Name______________________ English Teacher____________________ •   •   • 1. WHAT do you read? (can circle more than one) •   • Magazines Newspaper Novels True stories Internet •   • 2. HOW OFTEN do you read books? (circle one) • • Every day Every week Once a month Never •   • 3. Where do you borrow your books from? (can circle more than one) •   • School Library Friends Home Gold Coast Library I Buy them •   • 4. How do you find new books to read? (can circle more than one) • • Friends Teachers Teacher-Librarian Displays TV • • 5. Do you enjoy reading? (circle one) • • Not at all Not much It’s OK A fair bit I love it •   • 6. How many hours do you spend reading books each week? •   • 7. How many hours do you spend watching TV each week? •   • 8. How many hours do you spend on the computer each week? •   • 9. Give two reasons why you do/do not enjoy reading. •   • _________________________ ___________________________ •   • 10. What books did you read at school in Years 6 & 7? •   • _________________________ ___________________________ •   • 11. Name three favourite books you have read. •  
  27. 27. Profiling our Incoming Year 8s’ Reading Habits Hours spent per week 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 Reading TV Computer Reading – 3.5 hours per week Watching TV – 11.5 hours Computer – 7.1 hours
  28. 28. Year 8s - How often do you read? 50.4% students say they read once a month or less. How do we entice reluctant and/or ‘non-readers’ to read? How often do you read? 2007 & 2008 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Daily Weekly Monthly Never Series1 Series2
  29. 29. Why aren’t they reading? 1. Associate with failure 2. Time and energy 3. Negative peer pressure 4. Not stimulated by ideas 5. No encouragement to read 6. Not their priority – rather DO than read 7. Negative perception - Think it’s solitary/anti-social 8. Can’t find a good book Patrick Jones, 2007
  30. 30. Reading alternatives
  31. 31. Reading improves academic performance Creating a reading culture through programs such as Literature Circles, Readers’ Cup and Australian Readers’ Challenge • Literature Circles – all Years 8 & 9 • Readers’ Cup – all Year 8, leading to the regional and state competitions. • Australian Readers’ Challenge was offered to all students, parents and staff. • Reading lists prepared for KLA enrichment. • Male teacher role models. • Request book helps selection.
  32. 32. Literature Circles books: high interest, varied reading age, student choice
  33. 33. Literature Circles provide an excellent way of encouraging reading within the classroom, differentiated to individual students’ reading age and interests. It involves group work, self and peer assessment and the display of their work to other students. Teachers use test results to choose Year 8 groups. Activities are completed for homework.
  34. 34. How do Literature Circles work? • Teachers chose groups (use Torch Test). • Groups chose books – choice is important! • Groups set pages to read. • Students chose roles for next week. • Roles were completed for homework. • Next lesson involved discussion, evaluation, journal writing, group feedback to class, role swapping for next week, continuation of reading.
  35. 35. Literature Circles Roles…egs Songwriter: Turn the theme and/or plot of your book into a song. You may use the tune of a song you already know. Present the song to your group e.g. on tape. Detective: Make a police identikit of one of the characters from your book/novel. Which passages of the book gave hints about your character’s appearance? Publisher: Make a new cover for your book, including a blurb for the back cover, which you have written yourself. Family Member: Imagine that you are a relative of one of the main characters in your book. Bring a piece of realia (an object) and tell how it relates to your character in some way. This explanation needs to also be written into your book. Designer: Make a two-sided CD cover for an album of four songs related to your book. The front cover should feature a piece of artwork and the album title, and the back should list the songs. Separately, write down an explanation of why you chose those song titles and how they relate to the themes of your book. Year 8 : 6 roles Year 9 : 19 roles
  36. 36. Extensions for gifted students: •Author study – biography, themes, life experience •Reading several books by the same author •Extended reading by genre •Exploring topic by reading novels with other points of view •In-depth non-fiction study of interest area •‘Series’ reading •IT extensions in response – Adobe Photoshop, Flash, Inspiration, Crossword Maker.
  37. 37. Display student work.
  38. 38. Literature Circles has encouraged me to read because… “…it gets you interested in books and you find great ones.” “I found that if you pick a good book it can be quite enjoyable.” “…you have to read to be part of the activity.” “You have to read because your group is relying on you.” “I never knew that books are that good.” “I never read at home unless I have to for school.” “I didn’t really get into books but I do now.” “Having a home run experience appears to typically lead to greater reading interest…” Stephen Krashen
  39. 39. Success depends on: • Students’ perception of how much choice they had in which book to be read. The greater the level of choice and the more democratic the decision about group reading, the higher the level of ownership of the task. • The suitability of the text to students’ reading ability. Used pre- testing reading levels of ascertained students to determine texts used. Where teachers pre-read books and chose books which they thought were most suitable for their students, the better the match of book to reader. Teacher help with group work was also enhanced. NOTE: Books MUST be high interest NOT text! • Composition and dynamics of the group. Groups of similar reading age worked best; teachers were divided in their preference for same/mixed sex groups. Ascertained student groups were accompanied by full-time learning support teacher/aide. (Parent?) • Group reporting back to the class, self and peer assessment improved group responsibility. An eagerly anticipated focus time at the end of the lesson gave each group the opportunity to showcase their best work. • Enthusiasm of the teaching team!! Teachers pre-read books and pre-choose books suitable for their class. Teacher reading of adolescent novels increased.
  40. 40. CREATE A READING CULTURE! Encourage recreational reading of all sorts – alone, in groups discussing what they read, Fiction and Non - Fiction. Provide a specialist reading area.
  41. 41. Writing Workshops with Archie Fusillo & James Roy Author Talk - Markus Zusak
  42. 42. Enjoy the fun and challenge of Readers’ Cup
  43. 43. Data Collection & Analysis • Torch Test – all Year 8 • English Competition – Years 8 & 12 • Maths Competition – Years 8 & 12 • QCS results • OP scores • Test scores used to inform group formation for reading programmes
  44. 44. Literacy, whose business? • EVERYONE is responsible. • Don’t assume pre-existing skills. • Why do we teach? Because we believe that we can make a difference. This is supported by research: “Highly effective teachers and their professional learning do make a difference in the classroom.” Rowe Report, 2005 • The PROCESS is more important than the PRODUCT!
  45. 45. Keys to Success • Needs defined by staff; • Up-to-date with current research; • Key players on the team; • Support from Principal and BCE; • Feedback to stakeholders. • CONSULTATION, CONSULTATION, CONSULTATION!
  46. 46. Where to from here? • Whole School Numeracy Plan – established 2007. • Other ‘whole year level’ units e.g. ‘Schoolies Fully Sik’ – financial literacy unit for Years 11 & 12.
  47. 47. Become an integral and integrated part of the curriculum • Part of The Whole School Literacy Plan • Integrated into planning • Reading across curriculum areas
  48. 48. Joke of the Day The shopkeeper was dismayed when a brand new business much like his own opened next door and erected a huge sign which read BEST DEALS. He was horrified when another competitor opened up on his right, and announced its arrival with an even larger sign, reading LOWEST PRICES.
  49. 49. The shopkeeper panicked, until he got an idea. He put the biggest sign of all over his own shop. It read: MAIN ENTRANCE MAIN ENTRANCE TO LEARNING!