SECTION 4: STRATEGIC INTENTIONS FOR LITERACY
4.4 TRANSFORMING TEACHING AND LEARNING
4.4.2 Using a shared model or framework to inform planning for literacy and learning
group work and through texts matched to students’ needs and interests, and yet providing guided instruction in relation to the reading.
Though the introduction of literature or reading circles in these schools was mainly through the English key learning area, where it led to large-scale revision of the English curriculum for students in the junior secondary years, it is important to note that the strategy can be adapted for use with newspaper articles and selected factual texts, either in English or other key learning areas.
In School G, the focus was on using knowledge of students’ literacy performance (using the DART and other assessment strategies) to group students for literacy and learning activities tailored to their needs and abilities. Students were working on common projects in three broad groups with activities designed to extend their literacy knowledge and skills.
FIGURE 2 : The Four Resources model, Luke & Freebody, 1990
The model can provide teachers with a planning framework for meeting the needs of the diversity of learners in the middle years by making aspects of language and literacy more explicit, and in increasing their effectiveness as ‘mediators’ of meaning between the student and the text.
This is important for all students, but particularly for ESL students and Indigenous students who may be at different stages of developing English language literacy, or literacy in standard Australian English. For these students the model is suggested as a useful springboard for an exploration of the interface that exists between language learning and literacy development (McKay 2000).
The text codebreaker aspect highlights the need for expanding students’ language resources in the codes and conventions of spoken and written English This includes knowledge of phonics, knowledge of words and subject-specific terminology or technical language, and knowledge about texts). The text meaning-maker aspect highlights the need for this knowledge to be embedded in meaningful learning contexts that both build on existing knowledge as a basis for new learning, or provide scaffolding if the text, or task, relies on assumed knowledge students may not have. The text user aspect highlights the need for learners to develop understanding and knowledge of the ways language and texts are shaped and used to meet particular purposes within various social and cultural contexts in order to use these processes independently. The text analyst or critic aspect highlights the importance of critical literacy and the need for students to have both the knowledge to confidently analyse and critique texts, and a language for talking about the ways language and texts work to shape particular meanings and serve particular interests.
It is important that the four literacy resources not be viewed as involving a linear or lock- step sequence but rather a group of textual practices that operate simultaneously in ongoing, dynamic relationship with one another. An additional strength in the way the model characterises literacy is that it does not suggest a hierarchy of literacy resources but is
inclusive of both psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. As other writers have shown, the four resources can be seen as bringing together a number of theoretical perspectives on literacy development, often considered to be incompatible with one another.
The text codebreaker reflects an emphasis on decoding which includes phonological and phonemic awareness, text meaning-maker has some connections with whole language, language experience and process writing approaches, text user draws on the body of knowledge offered by genre theory and functional grammar, while the text analyst or critic can be seen as critical literacy.
An additional strength of this model is that it includes critical literacy as an integral part of literate practice rather than seeing it as an add-on, as a separate entity or as a higher-order skill for more able students. The ability to engage critically with texts, and to see that texts are constructed to serve particular interests and ideological purposes, is widely acknowledged as fundamental to the literacy development of students in the middle years.
The four resources model provides a basis for discussion among teachers of the different literacy teaching and learning strategies that can be used to develop the different literacy resources required for effective literacy and learning (see Figure 3). This equips both literacy educators and key learning area teachers with a shared language and a common conceptual framework for thinking about texts and textual practices, for auditing their current practice, and for planning more systematically to engage and support students in developing independent literacy resources.
Though it is important to emphasise that the four resources do not reflect a linear, developmental sequence, and that effective literacy strategies simultaneously address many, if not all, of the four resources, nevertheless teachers may find they need to focus more on one aspect than others at different times according to the demands of the learning task, context or purpose.
Figure 3 below, details the key knowledge, questions and strategies and approaches associated with each of the four resources in the model.
How do I crack this code?
letter/sound combinations word/sentence structure
grammar and syntax
spelling, punctation and handwriting/keyboard skills conventions of language vocabulary and specialised
language/terminology text type/genre academic discourse text design and layout Focus Questions for Teachers
What knowledge of written language do students bring to this text?
What explicit teaching will support students in understanding the language and structure of this text?
Possible Practices and Strategies
using headings, titles & illustrations to make predictions pre-teaching vocabulary and specialised terminology glossaries and taxonomies
skimming and scanning the text graphic outline/text preview think aloud/read aloud
focusing on phonics and word knowledge in context focusing on literate language and writers’ linguistic choices
What does this mean to me?
background/prior knowledge personal/life experience cultural and linguistic experience general/world knowledge commonsense understandings specific field/topic knowledge
ways knowledge and texts are constructed Focus Questions for Teachers
What knowledge do students bring of the meaning of this text?
What explicit teaching will support students in understanding and interacting with the meaning of this text?
Possible Practices and Strategies literature/reading circles concept maps/mind maps read and retell
guided reading three level guide four corners reciprocal teaching co-operative cloze information gap
What do I do with this text?
understanding the shaping influence of social/cultural factors and contexts
recognition of different school and life purposes and audiences for texts and language
changes in text and language use from one social context to another
Focus Questions for Teachers
What knowledge do students bring of the social purposes and uses of this kind of text?
What explicit teaching will support students in using this text for particular purposes?
Possible Practices and Strategies modelling and joint construction of texts summarising a text
data charts cognitive organisers gathering grid
grids for extracting and organising information
What does this text do to me?
recognition of the ways texts positions authors and readers attention to what is included, what is excluded from the
text and why
writer’s linguistic choices/critical language awareness relationship between this text and other similar
alternative readings/writings and responses to text Focus Questions for Teachers
What knowledge do students bring of the ways this text is designed to represent particular views and interests?
What explicit teaching will support students in developing critical language awareness of the ways language works to create particular meanings?
Possible Practices and Strategies writing on reading
four corners multiple perspectives resistant reading
problematising/interrogating the text
Culican, with material from Edwards (1998).
FIGURE 3: Using the Four Resources model to support literacy teaching and learning in the key learning areas.
Research Snapshot #4.4.2
One case study school, School F, which has a culturally and linguistically diverse population, used the four resources model to develop a checklist of developmental descriptors of reading and writing achievement that could be used by teachers and students alike (see case study in this report). While the starting point was to list the skills students were expected to develop in Years 5 and 6, the four resources – text codebreaker, text meaning-maker, text user and text analyst – were used to ensure that reading was represented not as a set of discrete skills but as an interactive process (Luke & Freebody 1990).
Descriptors were written in language that could be understood by students to encourage them to use the profile for self-assessment. Students were invited to fill in the profile by marking the skills they believed they had already developed. One high-achieving student commented that the profile helped her to set goals, adding that, while the teachers expected her to achieve the Level 3 outcome, she herself expected to achieve at Level 4 but aimed to achieve in all areas of reading at Level 5. Another student found that the profile helped him recognise skills he had not previously considered as part of ‘reading’, such as using the computer. He had spent some time on a website reading the instructions for an electronic game, obtaining information about new products and reading about ‘cheats’. By going to the section of the profile related to
‘text meaning-maker’, he located the appropriate descriptor: ‘I use a range of resources for research including newspapers, internet, encyclopaedia, magazines, CD Rom.
The use of this model has facilitated a more purposeful approach to the teaching of literacy at this school, which reiterates the importance for middle years professional learning teams to have access to shared professional development and planning time in order to develop common approaches and resources for literacy.
4.4.3 Using core teaching practices and strategies to support literacy and learning in