“Literacy includes the capacity to read, understand and critically appreciate various forms of communication, including spoken language, printed text, broadcast media and digital media”.
The following are many literacy programmes that are in place and working successfully in our school.
The Jolly Phonics Programme
- Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, who can see their students achieve. The letter sounds are split into seven groups as shown below. The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.
- S, a, t, i, p, n
- Ck, e, h, r, m, d
- o, u, l, f, b
- Ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or
- Z, w, ng, v, oo, oo (long)
- Y, x, ch, sh, th, th
- Qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar
- Children are taught four basic skills in the Jolly Phonics Programme. They:
- Learn the letter sounds
- Learn letter formation
- Learn to blend
- Identify sounds in words
- Jolly Grammar is the next stage, after a first year with Jolly Phonics. It is an active and multi-sensory programme, with emphasis on consolidating the children’s knowledge from Jolly Phonics and helping them develop an understanding of how grammar works. By teaching key essential grammar rules, it helps children bring diversity to their writing and improve their spelling in a structured way. Jolly Grammar teaches a wide range of language forms including the parts of speech, plurals, punctuation, and the tenses past, present, and future. It also teaches a wide range of spelling rules, including defining aspects such as the short vowels.
- This is an intensive programme of reading and writing for a period of six weeks lasting for an hour each day. It is based on the principle that, children learn to read and write by reading and writing. The aim of this programme is to give the children lots of opportunities to read books at their own level of competency and gradually lift the complexity of what they can do in both reading and writing.
- Support teachers and classroom teachers implement the Literacy Lift-Off Programme in Senior Infants and First Class each year; the support teachers having received training in the programme prior to commencing support.
- Staff overseeing the programme complete a running record on every child in each participating class to ascertain what level each child is reading at. Children are then given books geared to their instructional reading level.
- The children move between five stations: a familiar reading station, a new book station, a word work station, a silent reading station, a writing station and a letter formation and phonological awareness station.
- All the children are assessed by the support staff before and after this programme. Senior Infant parents are also surveyed after completion of the programme to elicit their views and experiences of the programme.
- At the end of the programme, each class is brought on a visit to the local library to encourage an interest in books and reading in the pupils
Paired Reading Programme
- Paired reading is a research-based fluency strategy used with readers who need to develop fluency. In this strategy, senior pupils read aloud to and with junior pupils following a set of guidelines:
- The more experienced reader reads along with her junior partner
- She adjusts her speed to suit her reading buddy
- She repeats each misread word until the reader reads it correctly
- She looks for a prearranged signal to indicate that the learner wants to read an easier section alone
- She stops reading along when the learner gives the signal
- If the learner makes an error, his/her reading buddy says the word correctly, and reads along again until the learner gives the signal for them to stop
- The more experienced reader praises the learner frequently for correct reading
Sharing stories over School Intercom
- The use of the school intercom to promote literacy in our school is an on-going project as we find different ways to utilise this resource each year
- The intercom facility is available for children who would like to make announcements to the school community or alternatively share a poem/story or song with the school.
- Different age-groups chose different times to read their compositions out loud over the intercom to similar age groups. The intercom can be operated in such a way as to only address chosen classes so material is suitable and relevant to classes
- Similarly, pupils also given regular opportunities to share their compositions with the wider student body at morning assembly
DEAR – Drop everything and read
- This is a process by which pupils are given the chance to read a book of their choice at different spontaneous intervals during the week
- It is a silent reading time, the length of which varies from class to class
Spellings Bee Competition
- The Eason Spelling Bee is part of an overall Eason literacy and reading initiative that aims to inspire children to develop a greater appreciation of words in a fun and educational way and to encourage them to perfect their spelling and pronunciation skills.
- competition starts out with registered schools holding their own in- school competition to find their school champion who then goes on to the County Finals and possibly the provincial final and All-Ireland Final.
- The senior classes in our school participate in the Spelling Bee each year
- As part of our drive to improve literacy standards in our school, various classes take part in the local Community Games handwriting competitions each year
- Children are required to submit a piece of handwriting to showcase their writing style and letter formation
- There are 7 writing genres which are explicitly taught by teachers in our school. These are:
- Writing to Socialise
- Each genre is taught by using/referencing a frame which contains the features of each genre.
SCN Building Bridges Comprehension Programme
Building Bridges of Understanding is a whole school approach to the teaching of reading. Its primary focus is the teaching of comprehension, with the ultimate aim of enabling children to become self-regulated strategic readers. This comprehension programme is currently implemented in our school from Junior Infants right through to Sixth Class. The nine key strategies of the programme are:
By learning about these strategies, children can become more involved in the text they are reading and deepen their understanding of the text. Each strategy is explicitly modelled through a think aloud process using high quality fiction and non-fiction picture books which were purchased with the programme in mind.The strategies with an asterix involve higher order thinking and consequently are only taught in the senior classes (refer to the Building Bridges page under School Planning for a more detailed outline of the programme).
SCN Oral Language Station Teaching
This programme takes place in Junior and Senior Infants and consists of four stations; these being: expressive language, receptive language, phonological awareness and fine motor skills.
- Expressive language is the use of words, sentences, gestures and writing to convey meaning and messages to others. Expressive language skills include being able to label objects in the environment, describe actions and events, put words together in sentences, use grammar correctly, retell a story, answer questions and write a story.
- The activities at the expressive language station include a variety of games such as What am I?, Silly Sentences, explaining the relationship between two words such as chair and stool, rapidly naming things in different categories and finishing sentences by adding a rhyming word.
- Receptive language is the ability to understand words and language. It involves gaining information and meaning from routine, visual information within the environment, sounds and words, concepts such as size, shape, colours and time, grammar and written information.
- The activities at the receptive language station include a variety of games such as following directions when facts about oneself are mentioned, following directions that require the substitution of the name of a body part for a rhyming word, in a series of three words, naming the one that is different, unscrambling jumbled sentences, identifying the word in a series that does not belong and telling why.
- Phonological awareness is a broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language – parts such as words, syllables, and onsets and rimes.
- Rhyming lends itself to better phonemic awareness; the ability to break words into smaller parts and recognise smaller parts in words.
- At the phonological awareness station, the children use the Sounds Abound rhyming programme which explicitly draws their attention to the sounds of rhyming words.
Fine Motor Skills:
- Fine motor skills are achieved when children learn to use their smaller muscles, like muscles in the hands, fingers and wrists.
- At the fine motor skills station, the children use their hands to thread beads, pop bubble wrap, make objects out of play dough, pick up and sort small items with tweezers and open and close buttons.