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As they continue learning to use the code, make meaning, and think critically, young readers and writers develop their knowledge and strategies and increase their awareness of how to use them. Knowledge, strategies, and awareness may be described as the core components of literacy development.
Learners need a continually increasing body of knowledge as they develop their literacy learning. This knowledge is of two kinds:
Learners need a continually increasing repertoire of strategies for literacy development. Readers and writers use various strategies in combination with their knowledge in order to use the code, make meaning, and think critically. For example, they use reading processing strategies (see pages 139–140), reading comprehension strategies (see pages 141–152), and writing processes and strategies (see pages 153–160).
Learners need to continually increase their awareness of what they know and can do and of where their knowledge or strategies may be limited. They need to be aware of how to deliberately apply and control their knowledge and strategies. This concept of awareness, which is inherent in the theory of literacy development, is outlined on pages 39–42.
Closely related to the concept of awareness is that of metacognition. This term is often used to describe the processes that learners use to think and talk about their learning and about how they can adapt what they have learned to new contexts. Articulating what they know and can do as readers and writers enables literacy learners to set themselves new goals and meet new challenges.
A metacognitive awareness also helps students to understand the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing. When we read, we construct meaning by making connections between the text we read and what we already know and can do. The reader integrates prior knowledge with sources of information in the text to decode and gain meaning. The writer starts with a communicative intent and integrates prior knowledge with an understanding of how language works to encode and create meaning for a purpose that relates to an intended audience.
Proficient readers and writers use learned knowledge and familiar strategies automatically, but they have to be aware of how they learned to do this so that they can select and use them consciously when the meaning-making or text-creating process breaks down. Refer to pages 39–42, 152, and 160.
Students need to be able to use their knowledge and their metacognitive awareness to decide which strategies will help them solve particular kinds of problems. An effective teacher finds out which strategies their students need to acquire or apply and helps them to select and use appropriate strategies as they read and write.
Students extend the knowledge, strategies, and awareness that they use for literacy learning in an integrated way, not sequentially. They do so during literacy sessions and also in other contexts. Learning occurs, and should be planned for, across all areas of the curriculum.