Literacy & Numeracy
The programs adopted to support literacy development in Catholic schools are underpinned by the theoretical principles of ‘scaffolded literacy’. Scaffolded literacy approaches are based on the major ideas of students working at their cognitive level and being supported (scaffolded) to experience success at this level to build confidence and literacy skills. Such approaches use a number of routines, so the students can develop speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in a systematic way.
Some common elements of such approaches are:
- the four roles of the reader: code breaker, text user, text participant and text analyst
- the use of the 3 cueing systems – graphophonic, semantic, syntactic
- developing students’ oral language and phonological awareness
- vocabulary building – in both oral and written forms
- the teaching of phonics embedded in meaningful texts and contexts
- the use of guided reading strategies
- oral re-telling of narratives and other genres - extending to written work
- three stages of interaction with text - literal, inferential and predictive understandings.
Effective whole of school approaches depend on strong instructional leadership from coordinators and members of the school leadership team, an understanding of the importance of using data to monitor and inform student literacy and learning outcomes, and a cohort of teachers who are uniformly committed to improving student outcomes in language and literacy and who are prepared to engage in reflective teaching practices.
CEO Education Officers work with staff in schools to enhance the effective implementation of schools’ programs through joint planning with teachers, lesson observations and feedback and conducting demonstration lessons. On-site professional development is also conducted in relation to different aspects of program delivery. The overarching focus of these PD events is on building up a body of shared knowledge, skills and understandings about the particular program adopted by a school.
Teachers are encouraged and supported to investigate innovative approaches such as Count Me in Too and First Steps Mathematics as ways of developing students’ numeracy skills and assisting teachers to broaden their knowledge of how children learn mathematics. Teachers are also encouraged and supported to focus on the strategies students use to solve arithmetic tasks.
Related professional development activities aim to increase teachers' understanding of how children develop increasingly sophisticated ways of solving arithmetical problems. CEO Education Officers assist with planning and work 'shoulder-to-shoulder' with teachers in their classrooms. Research based learning frameworks used in such approaches provide direction for teaching and learning and provide a performance-based model of assessment. Teachers are provided with an explicit framework of students' problem solving strategies, showing increasing levels of sophistication.
By observing students' strategies, teachers are able to develop a richer understanding of students' thinking. Teachers are also able to see clear directions for programming students' learning and planning appropriate teaching activities to assist students' number development.