Journey to Proficient
School Context, 2020
During 2020, I completed a 12-month contract with a year 6/7 mainstream class at a complex site that required EALD, ATSI and trauma informed practice. It is a category 3 school (Department for Education, 2020), located 11 kilometres from Adelaide’s CBD. Most students come from a mid to low socio-economic background. It is a culturally rich school incorporating 11 mainstream classes (Reception to Year 7), 3 Intensive English Language Centre classes (IELC), 3 specialist classes (Science, Performing Arts, Health and Physical Education) and an International Education Program. The school community is made up of over 300 students and there are approximately 57 different nationalities represented. The students, staff, families and the community embrace the diversity within the school. Therefore, there are many students for which English is their second language. There is a strong commitment to ensuring that everybody belongs, and this is supported by a whole school approach, using Play is the Way and the Zones of Regulation. There is a strong literacy and numeracy focus across the school, including the integration of the Big 6. These embedded classroom practices enhance student learning outcomes and improve teacher practice.
Managing a Complex Classroom
Integrating the Big 6 of Reading
This evidence set describes my participation in professional development sessions to assist me in successfully integrating the Big 6 of Reading (6.4) into my classroom teaching and learning during 2020. It also demonstrates how this allowed me to design and implement teaching strategies that were responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds and address identified student literacy learning needs in the area of EALD, ATSI and students with low literacy achievement (6.4), (1.3).
The Bix 6 of Reading was a whole school literacy approach in 2020 and linked to the sites SIP. This literacy approach was led by the school Literacy coach, Jenny Bartold. I participated in the following literacy professional development sessions:
- Jolly Grammar, 4 sessions throughout the year (6.4)
- Guided Reading Video Assessment and Feedback (6.4)
- Guided Reading Training, 6 sessions throughout the year (6.4)
In this video, I briefly explain my professional development journey through 2020, updating knowledge and practice, targeted to professional needs and school and/or system priorities (6.2). Furthermore, this video describes how I used student assessment data to analyse and evaluate student reading ability and identified targeted interventions and modified teaching practice to improve my students’ reading achievement (5.4).
Moreover, this video describes how I improved practice and measured student literacy achievement growth. Initially, I tested student’s phonemic awareness and used the diagnostic data to differentiate students into flexible ability groups for the classes guided reading sessions. The artefact below is an example of the data set that was used.
Hence, I also used targeted intervention teaching and learning strategies to improve students’ reading ability, setting explicit challenging and achievable learning goals for all students (3.1). For example, I used 1st, 2nd and 3rd wave strategies to impact my students and enhance their learning growth in phonemic awareness. The most effective strategy that I used for this was the 1-minute phonemic awareness activities that improved student’s word recognition (Kilpatrick, 2018).
The impact of this targeted strategy was that my students were able to decode more effectively and had greater language comprehension. Therefore, all students benefited from my practice and improved their reading level, comprehension and literacy skills. This demonstrates my ability to develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific needs of students across the full range of abilities (1.5). Furthermore, this video artefact demonstrates that I applied knowledge and understanding of effective teaching strategies to support students’ literacy achievement (2.5).
The teaching and literacy strategies that I used to support students’ literacy achievement included carefully selected texts, guided reading, spelling and grammar activities, a class novel study and writing comprehension activities. This further demonstrates that I structured teaching and integrated teaching and learning programs using research and collegial advice about how students learn (1.2) to become skilled readers (Scarborough, 2001).
Another example of the professional development I participated in as part of integrating the Big 6 of Reading was a guided reading observation that was video and assessed. This provided me with an assessment and a constructive feedback discussion with the site’s Literacy Coach. Therefore, improving my professional growth and knowledge (6.3).
Using this knowledge, I implemented the feedback I had received to improve my practice. For example, I extended the pre-teaching of unfamiliar Tier 2 vocabulary during my guided reading sessions. Students wrote 1-2 words on a mini whiteboard, pronounced the word and then found and underlined the base word. I asked, “What does this mean?” I would then ask students to add a prefix and a suffix to the base word. Then I would ask the question “What other words do we know that are like..?”
Underline the base word – popul
What does this mean? Related to people
Prefix – re – meaning again
Suffix – tion – noun of populate
What other words do we know that are like repopulate?
The impact of this strategy was that it enhanced student engagement and student literacy development and was an informal way of formatively assessing student learning (6.3), (5.1).
A further example of professional development that I participated in as part of integrating the Big 6 of Reading was several guided reading sessions with the site’s Guided Reading Coach and Literacy Coach. This helped me to develop guided reading strategies to enhance student literacy achievement. During these guided reading sessions, I integrated selected texts that related to the unit the students were learning. This was designed to enhance students’ skills in the specific writing genre they were learning. For example, during our newspaper report unit, I selected relevant texts (based on interest) from the local newspapers so that students had real-life examples of what a newspaper report looked like. I would unpack the article over several guided reading sessions. Some the strategies I used to unpack the text were, activate prior knowledge, the use picture cues, the unpacking of the structure, vocabulary, and what the author could be saying.
Further to this, I used word-investigations to deepen students vocabulary and used vocabulary that also linked to our HASS, maths and science topics (2.5), (3.3).
This strategy led to some powerful incidental teachable moments. For instance, during a discussion of Photosynthesis in a science lesson, shown below in the artefact.
This is another example of an effective teaching strategy that applies knowledge and understanding to support students’ literacy achievement (2.5), (3.3).
During one of my final professional development sessions with the site’s Literacy Coach, I was asked to choose a text that I was planning on teaching and discuss how I would teach it. The site’s Literacy Coach introduced me to a comprehension planning document and identified my professional learning needs regarding classroom guided reading and comprehension strategies which are linked to The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (2.5), (3.3), (6.1).
The site’s Literacy Coach suggested that I look at Margaret McKeown’s co-authored text, “Questioning the Author” and directed me to Ollie Lovel’s Education Reading Room (ERR) podcasts to further enhance my teaching and learning strategies in Literacy (2.5). Therefore, I used the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers and advice from colleagues to identify professional learning needs (6.1).
On December the 18th 2020, I listened to the ERR podcast featuring Margaret McKeown’s ‘Questioning the Author’ techniques as recommended by Alexi Boardman. This demonstrates that I participated in professional networks and forums to broaden knowledge and improve practice (7.4).
This evidence post demonstrates my ability to meet codes of ethics and conduct established by regulatory authorities, systems and schools because of the professional learning that I participated in and I contributed to the sites SIP (7.1).
Beck, I. L., McKeown, M. G., Sandora, C., Kucan, L., & Worthy, J. (1996). Questioning the author: A yearlong classroom implementation to engage students with text. The Elementary School Journal, 96(4), 385-414.
Kilpatrick, D. A. (2018). Equipped for reading success: A comprehensive, step-by-step program for developing phoneme awareness and fluent word recognition. Casey & Kirsch Publishers.
Ollie Lovell. Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn. (2020). Author Reading Comprehension. Retrieved from https://www.ollielovell.com/errr/errr-047-margaret-mckeown-on-questioning-the-author-reading-comprehension/
Scarborough, H. S. (2001). Connecting early language and literacy to later reading (dis) abilities: Evidence, theory, and practice. Handbook of early literacy research (pp. 97–110). NY: Guilford Press.