“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark” – Victor Hugo
At Canada Hill, we integrate key language and literacy skills from the National Curriculum in into our curriculum planning, ensuring purposeful learning which links to our main themes. By using the statutory and non-statutory guidance and appendices and the principles that underpin Talk for Writing, we aim to give our children the following skills as they progress through the school.
Our children are encouraged to:
- Be interested in and enjoy books;
- Develop their powers of imagination and creativity;
- Read and write with enjoyment, confidence, fluency and understanding;
- Use a range of strategies in reading to correct their mistakes;
- Understand the sound and spelling system and use this to read and spell accurately;
- Have fluent and legible handwriting;
- Have an interest in words and their meanings and develop a growing vocabulary;
- Plan, draft, revise and edit their writing.
Literacy unites the important skills of speaking and listening, reading and writing.
We aim to foster a love of books, and enthusiasm and enjoyment for reading.
We encourage children to see books as a source of pleasure and information. We use a wide variety of scheme and ‘real’ books in our book banding in order to extend their reading skills and enjoyment.
Initially, children are familiarised with and encouraged to ‘share’ books. The teaching of phonics is introduced gradually through a systematic phonics programme called ‘Letters and Sounds’. This uses structured classroom activities, songs and games. As the children become more independent readers, they are encouraged to choose from a selection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and plays to broaden their reading experiences.
All children form Year 2 upwards access the Accelerated Reader program for 20 minutes each day, either reading their chosen book, or taking an reading test on the program itself. We use this to ensure that they are always reading at an appropriate level of challenge and to help teachers closely monitor their class. We also find that the AR program really enthuses children and they want to rise to the challenge and reach their next reading goal.
In KS1 all children are heard read once a week in a guided reading group where good reading strategies are modelled.
In Year 3/4 there is a reading lesson once a week where key reading skills are taught explicitly to the whole class. As well as this, children who need extra support are targeted through reciprocal reading groups with their teacher.
Throughout the school we encourage parent helpers to come in and hear children read, and our Year 6 Reading Buddies also hear Year 3/4 children read every morning before school.
Parents play a vital role in helping their child read. Teachers suggest ideas and strategies for helping children with reading at home. We have a reading diary that provides further suggestions as to how to hear children read at home. This also offers a means by which parents and teachers can communicate.
In order to develop the children's enjoyment of reading and books further, we hold a whole school 'Book Week' every year. Amongst the many activities we hold during the week, we have visits from children's authors, story tellers and travelling theatre companies and everyone dresses up as their favourite book character!
Dyslexia friendly writing
We base our teaching of writing on the Talk for Writing approach and, at the time of writing, we are working towards becoming a Dyslexia Friendly School. We learn whole or parts of texts that we have either sourced or written ourselves so that children learn the inherent patterns of the English language and can start to identify different styles of writing. We then devote a lot of time to guided/modelled writing, and innovation through which children are taught how to magpie great vocabulary and sentence structures and also taught how to evaluate and improve their own writing. At the end of each unit children will be given the opportunity to invent their own text unaided. Those who show early on that they have a secure understanding of the text type will be allowed to start their invention earlier and will be challenged to take their writing further or in a different direction.
Prior to any unit of writing we ensure that we have given the children an unaided elicitation task so that we can mark in prior to planning the relevant unit of work so that we can tailor the content to the children’s needs and also set relevant targets in each child’s English book. Throughout the unit of work we give the pupils feedback on their targets and opportunities to edit their work in order to meet the targets. If a pupil meets all their targets they will be set new challenges.
We reward progress in spelling
Children are taught to write clearly and legibly, using a cursive style from the beginning of their school life. Once children have mastered their phonics, the use of spelling rules and word families is developed and sets of spellings are learned for tests where appropriate. Spelling tests are elicitated before being handed out. Children who can already spell words from the list are then offered challenge words to add to their list. The following week all 20 words are tested and children are graded by the progress they make from the first score, so that everyone can make progress as long as they work hard. As their skills develop, the children are encouraged to use their knowledge of common words and familiar spelling patterns in their writing with increasing accuracy. We teach the children to take pride al in their written work.
Speaking and Listening
"Reading and writing float on a sea of talk” – Sue Palmer
It is important for children to experience a range of speaking situations to develop their confidence and awareness. They need to be able to adjust their language to suit different audiences and purposes. We help children to develop their speaking and listening skills and deepen their vocabulary so they can express themselves accurately and fluently. Children should feel comfortable when asking and answering questions. These skills are developed throughout the school through various activities, subjects and situations. Children are encouraged to listen and respond to other children and adults in an appropriate way, including a range of drama activities.