Literacy is an important part of children’s education. Put simply, literacy is a person’s ability to read and write. Literacy is a general capability in the Australian Curriculum, which states students develop a good level of literacy “as they develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions to interpret and use language confidently for learning and communicating in and out of school”. Students can develop their literacy skills by “listening to, reading viewing, speaking, writing and creating oral, print, visual and digital texts”.
Literacy is an area that can always be built upon, regardless of what level your students are at. Ensuring your students are effectively developing their literacy skills can be a bit daunting at times, particularly if your cherubs show little interest in it. So, we’ve got six tips for improving students’ literacy.
Have your students participate in a literacy challenge
Literacy challenges are a fun activity for your cherubs to participate in but they also act as a way for you to either formally or informally assess their level of literacy. These challenges involve your students looking at some visual cues and writing as much as possible about them. These challenges can give you an idea of the students who are confident with reading and writing, and those who may need a bit more assistance. Teacher PD has literacy challenges for a range of subject areas, so take a look at the website to see what’s available for your cherubs.
Encourage students to read regularly
Reading is a great way of exposing students to new words, concepts and literary devices and can help to give them some inspiration when it comes time for them to write. Encourage your students to read by having them read out loud in class. They could take turns reading passages from the textbook, their workbooks or even read out samples of their own work. We love encouraging students to do ‘tag reading’ where they read a passage and then tag a classmate to read the next paragraph. It is also a great idea to encourage your students to read at home in their spare time. You could come up with a list of young adult novels they might like to try reading at home to continue developing their literacy skills.
Kindly enlighten your students when they make mistakes
Make sure you gently let your students know when they are making mistakes when it comes to their literacy. If you let their mistakes slide, how else will they know they are making a mistake? If they read or write something incorrectly, kindly let them know the right way to use a word or a better way to construct their sentence. This will help them improve for next time. It may also be wise to explain to them the importance of constructive feedback and why you helping them now is in their best interests.
Encourage them to ask questions
Make it known to your students that if they don’t understand what a word means or are unsure of spelling or punctuation, they should ask you. Reassure them there is no reason to be embarrassed by letting them know they are growing their brain cells by asking you and learning rather than skipping past the word. When your cherubs ask you questions about the meaning of words, spelling, punctuation or grammar, not only will you be able to tell them what it means, you can try using it wherever possible in class to reinforce their new knowledge.
Include literacy in your learning intentions and success criteria
Learning intentions and success criteria gives your students a good indication of what you expect from them in class, so make sure your students know what you expect from them in terms of their literacy. Encourage them to use full sentences, correct spelling and punctuation and the terminology associated with your subject area. Doing this regularly in class goes a long way in improving students’ literacy. It also puts your cherubs in a good position with their literacy as they progress through their schooling and into the HSC.
Ensure your students understand key words
Understanding the NESA key words is particularly important to ensure students understand the syllabus requirements for your subject. Knowing what the key words mean and how to break down the process of writing an accurate answer can help students to construct a highly logical and a cohesive response in their assessments, class activities and exams.
If your students struggle to understand key words, never fear! Teacher PD will soon be releasing a Key Word Success program for all year groups. You can register your interest here to have your school take part upon release.
Implementing these six tips can help in improving students’ literacy. Getting your cherubs into good habits in the early years can set them up with excellent literacy skills through high school and beyond.