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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

The development of knowledge, strategies, and awareness

As they learn to decode and encode, to make meaning, and to think critically, learners develop knowledge, strategies, and awareness, which may be described as the core components of literacy development.

Learners need a continually increasing body of knowledge as they acquire literacy. This knowledge is of two kinds:

  • background knowledge and experience – life experiences and general knowledge;
  • knowledge about reading and writing, how texts work, and how print works. (The literacy-related knowledge that young learners need to develop is discussed in Effective Literacy Practice in Years 1-4, p.27-37).

Learners need a repertoire of strategies for literacy. Readers and writers use various strategies in combination with their knowledge in order to decode and encode, make meaning, and think critically. For example, they use processing strategies, comprehension strategies, and the strategies that are part of the writing process.

Learners need to develop awareness of what they know and can do and how to deliberately apply and control their knowledge and strategies.

Closely related to the concept of awareness is that of metacognition. This term is often used to describe the processes of thinking and talking about one’s own learning. Being able to articulate what they know and can do helps students to set themselves new goals and meet new challenges.

Students develop knowledge, strategies, and awareness for literacy learning in an integrated way, not sequentially. For example, in order to attend to word-level information (a reading strategy), they draw on their knowledge of how print works and their awareness of phonics and letter forms. At the same time, working out words in these ways adds to their knowledge of how words are formed and to their awareness of effective strategies for solving words.

The development of learners’ knowledge, strategies, and awareness does not occur during literacy sessions only. Learning occurs, and should be planned for, across all areas of the curriculum.

Published on: 08 Apr 2016