Standards for Teachers of English Language and Literacy in Australia
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2.3 Teachers assess and review student learning and plan for future learning

3.2 Teachers continue to learn

How do the teacher's assessment and reporting strategies contribute to students' learning?

How does the teacher evaluate the success of her/his own teaching? What steps are taken to ensure his/her teaching continues to improve?

  Teaching reading in an infant class
Year 2
Trudi Gofton

I share my room with 20 highly active, very capable and purely delightful Year 2 girls and boys. We have worked together since their first day in Year 1. Over the past 18 months we have become readers and writers!! We are indeed proud of our successes and read everything we can get our hands on. We share in each other's successes and know that we are all at different points on the continuum of learning, in everything we do.

My teaching practice in the teaching of reading reflects my belief that every child in this class will become a successful, fluent and critical reader, but this will happen at different times, in different ways and at different speeds. My teaching approach to reading is broad, but one strategy that has proven highly effective, not only addresses the individual and developmental nature of early learning, but also ensures the development of independent responsibility towards learning tasks in reading.

All reading texts (reading schemes) in our room are reading recovery levelled and each child has been assessed using both a running record and miscue analysis in order to assign them to a reading level. These levels determine the three reading groups in our room. The level in which the child is operating is used for guided reading episodes. I guide this group through a text (the focus is on expressive vocabulary development, critical literacy, reading strategies, expression and fluency), while the other two groups work independently on either silent reading or paired reading, using texts that are one level lower than their instructional text level. This ensures that success and independence coincide during independent reading. Group reading includes plays, listening post, chorus reading and reading games.

The groups rotate during a week and this ensures that each group completes each activity. The duration of each lesson is 40 minutes. I spend 30 minutes working with the guided reading group, and 10 minutes doing a running record and miscue analysis on a child. Whilst I do this, children in the guided reading group undertake a retell of what has been read. This can be done orally with a partner, written, drawn or dramatised. The process allows each child to operate at their current level of development. Success in reading is reinforced during independent activities as the students access texts that they can read with accuracy, fluency and understanding.

During guided reading, children receive individualised attention taking them from their current level of understanding to what they are next capable of (as in Vygotsky's 'Zone Of Proximal Development'). Children remain on the level they are assigned to until they reach 90% accuracy on the next level, as assessed by the running record and miscue analysis. All children will be assessed every four weeks. A class profile is also kept graphing the individual growth of each child through the levels.

This has been a great success. Most importantly each child views themselves as a successful reader and works very hard towards moving to the next level. This is due largely to the fact that they anticipate the whole new range of texts awaiting them. Comparison between children and competitiveness? I hear you question. Our climate, both at school and in class celebrates personal success and growth. A broad extra-curricular program allows children to excel in different ways and staff and students share a philosophy of appreciating individual strengths in diverse areas.

Our skills, gifts, abilities, ideas, thoughts and styles of learning are unique, special. They are, and always will be, different from every other person we know! Sharing, celebrating and attaining individualised goals is a theme in Year 2. The profiling of individual children's development shows a steady growth for each child. Plateaus are evident and these are shared with parents, an opportunity to address the needs of each student and share with parents' knowledge relating to how children learn.

The reading program is indeed the most structured I have ever implemented. I had enormous internal conflict about this issue before its introduction, but now the results, and the delight the children take in celebrating their reading development, are so clearly evident that it is one I am proud to use.

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Australian Association for the Teaching of English A L E A ~ Australian Literacy Educators' Assoication
Department of Education & Training (Victoria) Education Department of Western Australia