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The approach to teaching literacy

Enhancing teaching in the middle years

The Reading to Learn program is ideally suited to classroom teaching in upper primary and secondary school, as it integrates literacy learning with teaching the curriculum, enabling teachers to systematically build skills development into their programs. Lessons are designed so that all students across the range in a class get maximum benefit. Students who were previously less successfula re enabled to participate actively in classroom activities, to independently learn from reading, and to write successfully. But all students learn to consciously recognise how accomplished authors construct texts and present information. As a result the comprehension and writing of even the highest achieving students rapidly accelerates.


Prior to the Board of Studies project, independently evaluated outcomes for the Reading to Learn program include literacy development at 2 to 4 times expected rates, with Indigenous secondary students in South Australia, as part of a national Strategic Results Project of DEST:

... the average improvement in reading and writing was 2.5 [National Literacy Profile] levels ... At the same time, teachers have noted a range of student learning outcomes that are more difficult to measure, like an increased level of student engagement in their learning. (McCrae 2000, What has worked, and will again: the IESIP Strategic Results Projects. Australian Curriculum Studies Association 2000, 24-26) www.acsa.edu.au/pages/index.asp

And with a mainstream Middle Years program involving over 1000 students in Melbourne Catholic schools:

… average literacy gains across all schools and classes, and among students from all backgrounds and ability ranges, was consistently more than … double the expected rate of literacy development. Furthermore, 20% of students made gains of… four times the expected rate of literacy development (Culican 2006, Learning to Read: Reading to Learn, A Middle Years Literacy Intervention Research Project, Final Report. Catholic Education Office Melbourne 2006). www.ceomelb.catholic.edu.au Research and Seminar Papers

These outcomes for students were replicated in the Board of Studies project, as described in the report Scaffolding the English curriculum for indigenous secondary students (Rose 2006)

But the project also produced significant outcomes for teachers practice.

What teachers said about the approach

The following are a few of the comments that teachers in the project made about the Reading to Learn approach from the Erebus Report

  • Gives substance to the concept of explicit teaching of English
  • Provides scaffolding that has applicability across a broad range of KLAs
  • Focuses on the bigger picture at the outset then moving to the finer detail
  • Moves from the bigger picture to the greater detail and is consistent with the principles of adult learning around “advance organisers”
  • Strongly emphasizes student engagement and student praise which may positively impact on student attendance at school
  • Provides an opportunity for those students who have never seen success in the previous 10 years of schooling to now experience this for the first time. A great motivator for ongoing success
  • Stakeholders agree it is different from the way they have taught reading in the past
  • Demands a different questioning style that is less confrontational
  • Provides a means for engaging the whole class, irrespective of ability level
  • Provides a structure in which all students can experience success at some stage during every lesson.
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These materials are provided for research purposes and may contain opinions that are not shared by the Board of Studies NSW.