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Strategies for students with low literacy

How can I incorporate literacy strategies into my teaching that improve the achievement of students with lower levels of literacy?

The issue

The issue
The issue
The issue
The issue
Why is this important? Reading and writing are the primary means through which learning and information
Why is this important?
Reading and writing are the primary means through which learning and information is
communicated, accessed and assessed.
Cross-curriculum barriers to success
In all subject areas, secondary school students encounter increasing expectations of
the complexity of literacy required (Ministry of Education, 2004).
Limiting potential
A strong foundation of literacy skills gives students the means to formulate new
knowledge and express their knowledge and ideas.
NCEA Assessment
Written assessment is the predominant means of formal assessment in NZ.
Today’s information heavy world
It is crucial that we are enabling students to engage with and independently critique
information

What does the literature say?

‘All learning strategies need to be deliberately taught… the teacher will need to explain the purpose of each strategy and model it several times. The students will need multiple opportunities to practise…’ (Ministry of Education, 2004, p. 11).

Plethora of literacy strategies - have to identify specific issue you want to address

Different subjects use language in very different ways - important to teach subject-specific literacy strategies (Wilson, 2013).

Maori, Pasifika and students from low socio-economic areas are less likely to be exposed to complex texts and higher levels of critical thinking (Wilson, Madjar, & Mcnaughton, S,

2016).

Inquiry Outline

Cycle One Cycle Three Identified issue Mindmaps, writing frames and formative assessment Cycle Two Final assessment
Cycle One
Cycle Three
Identified issue
Mindmaps, writing frames
and formative assessment
Cycle Two
Final assessment
Subject-specific vocabulary
strategies
Summative assessment and
reflection
Baseline Data For both Year 10 classes, I marked their paragraphs for their end of unit
Baseline Data
For both Year 10 classes, I marked their paragraphs for their end of unit assessments. This gave me a
baseline and identified issues to work on. I also identified three priority students to work with: Elijah and
Ben.

First focus: subject-specific vocabulary

People need to know words and terms in order to develop language and in-depth thinking.

A learner’s vocabulary knowledge strongly influences their ability to comprehend what they read and to write effectively (Ministry of Education, 2004).

Students need to learn new, subject-specific terms for every subject that they study at secondary school (Wilson, 2013).

First need to establish what vocabulary expertise the students bring with them.

What I did?

Predicting, defining and drawing new words. This strategy raises students’ awareness of key words and encourages them to think about their understanding of what these words mean.

Impact?

Students recall and use of these words increased, as reflected in their book work.

Next steps?

Students now need to learn how to put these words into practice in their writing.

What I did? Predicting, defining and drawing new words. This strategy raises students’ awareness of key
Also did revision activities for Do Nows over 2 weeks
Also did revision
activities for Do
Nows over 2 weeks
 

Mindmaps

 

Students have more knowledge than is reflected in their writing.

 
 

Why?

Students need a way to organise information so they know how to include it in their writing.

What the literature says?

Helps students to understand key words and ideas; enables them to identify relationships between these words and ideas (Ministry of Education, 2004)

How?

First focused on what are and locating ‘hard facts’; modelled mindmapping; structured activity growing mindmap in pairs using newspaper articles

Mindmaps Students have more knowledge than is reflected in their writing. ➔ Why? Students need a
Mindmaps Students have more knowledge than is reflected in their writing. ➔ Why? Students need a

Impact?

Increased use of hard facts and detail in writing.

Impact? Increased use of hard facts and detail in writing. Next steps?

Next steps?

Students still struggling with how to structure a paragraph and how to organise these hard facts within their writing. Next step is therefore to develop paragraph structure.

Writing Frames

Gave struggling students somewhere to start and build their paragraphs from. Those who didn’t need it used their own sentence starters.

Using their mindmaps, had them write a paragraph using the writing frame if needed.

To scaffold paragraph writing for students, modelling how to structure a paragraph and giving a starting point for students who ‘get stuck’ (Ministry of Education, 2004).

How I used them?

Impact?

Why?

Writing Frames Gave struggling students somewhere to start and build their paragraphs from. Those who didn’t
Writing Frames Gave struggling students somewhere to start and build their paragraphs from. Those who didn’t
Summative Assessment Ben and Elijah both improved their writing by incorporating more specific information and improving
Summative Assessment
Ben and Elijah both improved their writing by incorporating more specific information and improving the structure of
their writing.
Data Same task (different question) and same marking criteria, however students had more time and preparation
Data
Same task (different question) and same marking criteria, however students had more time
and preparation for Summative Assessment.
 

Previous Unit

Summative

Assessment

Assessment

Ben

20%

80%

Elijah

40%

86%

Class average

67.6%

81.3%

Reflections

Students need multiple times to practice strategies (Ministry of Education, 2004). I had time restrictions in implementing my inquiry - students had 2-3 times per strategy only.

Needed more time to practice. The paragraph on tropical cyclones was by far the strongest because they had already wrote on in class previously.

Needed to explicitly teach and model paragraph writing - assumed they would already be very familiar with this but they were not.

Needed clearer success criteria.

Next Steps?

 

Explicitly teaching paragraph writing

Functional language analysis (Fang & Schleppegrell,

 

2010)

Bibilography

Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography
Bibilography