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3.2 This week`s focus
This week we examine several important aspects of literacy development related to reading (comprehension), and also consider how we learn to write, and why this process might be particularly difficult and challenging for learners. As well as exploring writing development in broad terms, we will consider the development of spelling skills and knowledge specifically.
By the end of this week you should be able to:
• define comprehension and the processes involved in oral language development
• identify the key stages of writing development
• describe the reader and text factors that influence comprehension and writing development
• outline strategies for teaching and assessing reading comprehension.
As you are no doubt aware, while reading is partly an act of translating symbols to sound, there is more involved than this. Put simply, reading is an act of meaning-making, and it is the reader who must engage actively in this process.
3.4 Learning to write
Having explored the processes involved in oral language development (learning to hear and to speak), and some of the key aspects of learning to read, the final aspect of our literacy development relates to our capacity to create our own texts – learning to write. For many, learning to write can be a daunting and challenging process, as writing involves more than simply learning to form letters on a page. Rather, writing represents a fundamental means through which we make meaning of our experiences, both for others and for ourselves.
One aspect of writing that remains important in contemporary society is learning to spell. For teachers, knowledge of spelling is essential, and Spelling,
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as an aspect of writing, is addressed at all primary year levels (Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority [ACARA], 2014; Adoniou, 2013). It is important that, as developing teachers, you understand that there are a range of pedagogies for the teaching of spelling that go beyond, and are more successful than, `look say cover write check` and weekly spelling tests.
Chapter 4 Looking closely at spelling (Wray & Medwell, 2008, pp. 40-51) analyses and unpacks a range of words which are considered to be difficult to spell in English, as a way of highlighting some of the issues related to the way English is constructed. Take the mini-quiz at the start of the chapter, which provides an opportunity to reflect on your own knowledge as you read!
Also, find and read news stories about the possibility of the Federal government introducing strict literacy tests for aspiring teachers. Here is One story
from January 2015 (Hosking). If these tests had been introduced before you were accepted into this course, would you be studying to be a teacher right now? Post your thoughts on this week`s discussion thread and then engage in a conversation with others.
Here is an article from The Conversation titled `Good grammar and spelling – are they enough to guarantee good teaching?
` (Adoniou, 2015). When you`ve read this article, post your thoughts in this week`s discussion thread.
3.9 Assignment support
Assignment 1: Persuasive essay
This week is the end of theme 1, which is specifically aligned to Assignment 1: Persuasive essay. This assignment is not due until week 5 but by the end of this week you should have a good idea of what you are going to cover in this essay and which reading model you will be focusing on.
Now is a good time to go back over weeks 1 to 3 and ensure you have a good understanding of the reading models you can choose from for the essay. You may want to re-read Chapter 4 Theories of literacy development
from your eText for definitions and descriptions of the four key reading models (skills-based, whole language, reader response, four resources) relevant to this topic.