At St. Therese School we believe that Literacy gives our children skills for lifelong learning in the 21st century.
At St Therese we believe in providing effective Literacy instruction to ensure all students become skilled readers. We follow a Structured Literacy approach with explicit and systematic teaching as our core focus.
Our Structured Literacy approach is supported by researched and evidence-based practices in line with the Science of Language and Reading. - a body of research which provides us with the information needed to gain a deeper understanding of how children learn to read, what skills are involved, how they work together, and which parts of the brain are responsible for reading development.
Our Structured Literacy instruction addresses the foundational elements that are critical for reading comprehension, known as The Big 6:
Our students are taught the alphabetic code through a systematic synthetic phonics approach from Prep to Year 6.
Decodable readers are used to support the students in putting this phonics knowledge into practise, followed by a wide range of non-fiction and fiction texts once the students have mastered the alphabetic code.
We engage all students in Foundation to Year 2 with daily Phonological & Phonemic Awareness lessons and use the InitiaLit Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) program from F-2, Spell Ex in Years 3 & 4 and Spell it in Years 5 &6. Our Literacy Assessments are DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) in F-6, Pat R in Years 1-6 and the InitiaLit Progress Monitoring/Cumulative Review Assessments in F-2. These assessments track student growth, achievement and determine how they are responding to classroom instruction. This data guides our decision making around our intervention programs: MiniLit for Yr 1/2, MacqLit for Yrs 3-6 and MSL (Multisensory Structured Language) as our Tier 3 Intervention for those students who may still require further support.
At St Therese we use the instructional approaches of Big Write & VCOP to improve students’ writing skills. VCOP stands for Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation. VCOP encourages students to expand their vocabulary, use appropriate connectives to link ideas, employ varied sentence openers, and demonstrate accurate punctuation.
Big Write is a specific writing lesson that implements the VCOP approach. It provides a structured and engaging environment for students to apply their writing skills. During a Big Write session, students are given a prompt or topic, and they are encouraged to write creatively and independently, applying the VCOP techniques they have been taught.
VCOP and Big Write enhance student writing abilities by emphasising important aspects of language and providing opportunities for meaningful practice. As part of our Assessment Plan, the students’ writing is assessed termly using Cold Writes. These assessments provide valuable insights into the students' writing proficiency and their ability to apply the VCOP framework independently. Teachers use these results to provide targeted feedback and tailor their instruction to address specific areas of improvement in students' writing skills.