To be successfully literate, students need to master three key areas of reading and writing: learning the code, making meaning, and thinking critically.
Learning the code: This means developing the ability to decode and encode written forms of language. The focus is on the conventions of written language and the skills required to read and write letters, words, and text. “Cracking the code” is an exciting intellectual challenge for learners.
Making meaning: This involves developing and using knowledge, strategies, and awareness in order to get and convey meaning when reading or writing. It also involves understanding the forms and purposes of different texts and becoming aware that texts are intended for an audience.
Thinking critically: Becoming literate involves reading and writing beyond a literal, factual level. It involves analysing meanings, responding critically to text when reading, and being critically aware when composing texts. It also involves responding to texts at a personal level, reflecting on them, and finding reward in being a reader and a writer.
What we know about teaching reading and writing in years 1–4What we know about teaching reading and writing in Y1-4
Approaches to teaching readingApproaches to teaching reading
Deliberate acts of teachingDeliberate acts of teaching
Building comprehensionBuilding comprehension
Text processing strategiesText processing strategies
Creating textsCreating texts
Approaches to teaching writingApproaches to teaching writing
Writing hubWriting hub
This diagram links to information from Effective Literacy Practice Y1-4 that outlines approaches and examples for teaching reading and writing.
The relationship between oral language and literacy learning is reciprocal. Children draw on their oral (or signed) language when they learn to read and write and in turn their progress in literacy learning enriches and expands their oral language.
Through focused discussion we can support students to:
Learning Through Talk: Oral Language in Years 1–3, and 4–8: available from Down the Back of the Chair. Resources to help teachers understand the central role of oral language in supporting students’ learning.
Classroom conversations (pp 94–95) and Conferences, interviews and conversations (pp 55–58) from Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8: available from Down the Back of the Chair. It provides guidance on how to engage students in focused discussion around text.
The New Zealand Curriculum Exemplars - Visual Language
There are 40 visual language exemplars, covering the functions of static images and moving images as set out in English in the New Zealand Curriculum.
Sounds and Words
Support for teaching phonological awareness and spelling in years 1–8. This resource outlines what teachers need to know and what children need to learn at each of the different year bands.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1 to 4
Technical skills for writing: Spelling: this section provides information on the knowledge strategies and awareness students require in year 1–4 as they move towards accurate spelling. This includes knowledge and use of: phonemic awareness, letter sound relationships, orthographic patterns and the morphological structure of written English.
Effective Literacy Practice in Years 5 to 8
Technical skills for writing: Spelling: this section provides information on the knowledge strategies and awareness students require in year 5–8 to develop spelling expertise. This includes knowledge and use of: phonemic awareness, the relationship between sounds and spelling patterns, the morphological structure of written English, spelling rules and conventions, and spelling strategies for writing and proof reading.
Allcock, J. (2002). Spelling Under Scrutiny
This resource provides an in-depth guide to the teaching of spelling including a critical look at the teaching of spelling and how spelling skills are acquired.
Literacy Learning Progressions: Meeting the Reading and Writing Demands of the Curriculum
This resource identifies the cumulative nature of literacy learning and describes the word level knowledge expected of students at particular points in their schooling.
Exploring Language: The word
This section of the resource provides information on: morphemes, how new words are created and how words have been derived from Latin and Greek. This information supports teachers to help students understand how words work.
Exploring Language: Words and meanings
This section of the resource provides information on word meanings and the relationships among these meanings. This knowledge will help provide instruction for developing students’ vocabulary and spelling.