The Literacy Plan has been presented to Departments and was well received. The focus for the plan is the Term 4 Jump Start programme which offers Year 10 an opportunity to complete their first unit in Achievement Standards. Staff across the school have indicated a willingness to develop their understanding of student literacy needs.
The plan responded to the examiners’ NCEA reports and used the PAT reading data analysis to highlight student learning needs. The examiners repeatedly stated that in the assessment tasks, students often seem unable to comprehend the questions and we know our students often have lower than average vocabulary levels. We also know our students need to strengthen their clarification skills when their understanding or comprehension breaks down. As a result teachers will expand their use of targeted vocabulary teaching exercises. They will also help students develop their clarification skills so they can repair a breakdown in comprehension when it occurs.
Term 4 is a short term and each Department is working on a single Achievement Standard so there is the opportunity to look at using a generic reading strategy. It is up to each Department but, there will be a focus on the use of information transferes as a generic aid to improving comprehension. By using this strategy students develop the habit of rereading the the text, they develop awareness of text structure and at the same time set a goal for each reading task. Lastly, teachers will be asked to teach students how to recognize a few aspects of subject specific language features. This will be done to improve student writing skills but this will also help student comprehension. For example, developing awareness of model adjuncts can help students distinguish fact from opinion and it also aids student writing by showing them how to express their ideas in a formal manner.
A major challenge involved working out what to leave out of the plan. The Term 4 plan needed to be manageable so the intention is to extend this initiative into 2018. Alongside the teaching of vocabulary learning skills the plan also asks teachers to develop the ability to use reciprocal teaching strategies to improve student comprehension. In writing, the aim is to expand teacher use of functional grammar strategies as a way to improve the quality of student written work. The plan also requires class observations before and after the initiative. This will be done in order to assess staff professional development needs and also to guage student use of literacy strategies and the uptake of literacy skills.