Phonics and Phonemic Awareness
In Years F-2, the explicit teaching of phonics occurs on a daily basis. Students practise strategies through targeted teaching in whole class mini lessons and in small group sessions, using a synthetic phonics approach. In this method of teaching, words are broken up into the smallest units of sound. We use Smart Spelling and online platforms such as Fast Phonics, Reading Eggs and RAZ Kids.
Each reading session includes a whole class or shared read with a specific focus on decoding text, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Current studies show that when students experience explicit instruction in comprehension strategies, it improves their comprehension in new topics and texts (Duke and Pearson, 2002). Comprehension is based on strategies such as Making Connections, Inferring, Summarising and Making Predictions. The teaching of comprehension requires explicit instruction in explaining, demonstrating, guiding, practicing and reflecting (Gradual Release Model).
Each class attends a weekly library lesson and each classroom has a library for independent reading time. During independent reading, students also have the opportunity to read online books such as RAZ levelled texts, Epic and from Reading Eggs.
All classes use the SMART spelling sequence which is explicitly modelled and taught, following a Scope and Sequence. Classes follow a weekly structured routine which provides a spelling list for homework and daily activities within the classroom for students to practise the new spelling pattern and rule. At the end of the week all students participate in a spelling test and a dictation session, to consolidate learning.
At St Finbar’s we follow the VCOP and Big Write approach, in conjunction with the Seven Steps Online Writing Program, as a supportive resource. Writing sessions incorporate explicit teaching and modelling of:
Speaking and listening - oral language skills
Big talks about Big Writes
Explicit teaching of vocabulary
Our regular Big Writes are an opportunity for students to showcase how they have progressed with their individual writing goals. Following on, a new writing goal is set.
Speaking and listening
Oral language is to be used to support writing and enrich vocabulary across the school, from Foundation to Year 6: Opportunities for speaking and listening include:
Big talk discussions
Topic /theme based discussions
Topic based presentations
Speaking with Power