Catholic Education South Australia



The Key learning area of English is a focus for the students at St Barbara’s Parish School. Special attention is given to basic skills in Literacy, which are fundamental learning in all other curriculum areas. The teaching and learning program in English is informed by the Australian Curriculum.

Teachers of students in the Junior Primary and Primary Years of school provide opportunities for student to engage in the literacy block. The literacy block is the core of our teaching program and provides the platform for learning experiences for all curriculum areas to be integrated and differentiated in a contextualised and meaningful way, with varying levels of support. The following information provides an overview of all the components of our literacy block (reading and writing program). All are interdependent and support each other.


Our reading block has the following structure

Reading to Children It is important that children are read to on a daily basis as reading stimulates their desire to become a reader. It involves the teacher reading aloud to the whole class or small groups. A carefully selected body of children’s literature is used; the collection contains a variety of genres and represents our diverse society. Favourite texts, selected for special features, can be re-read many times.

Shared Reading Using the enlarged text that all children can see, the teacher involves children in reading together following a pointer. By participating in a shared reading experience, children are given an opportunity to participate and behave like a ‘reader’ in an enjoyable and purposeful way. Shared reading creates a body of known texts that children can use for independent reading and as resources for writing and word study.

Reading Rotations After shared reading, the children independently participate in a reading rotation which consists of guided reading and/or reading and spelling activities. Children are grouped by ability as the learning experiences are aimed at their level.

Guided Reading Guided reading involves the teacher working with a small group who has similar reading processes. The teacher selects and introduces new books and supports children reading the whole text to themselves, making teaching points during and after the reading. The texts are carefully matched to the children so that they can apply their strategies to overcome the challenges in the text and read it independently, with success. Guided reading allows children to show how they manage a text on the first reading.

  • Reciprocal teaching is a variant on the guided reading teaching approach and empowers the reader to read, talk and think his/her way through the text more independently than in a structured guided reading session. This approach requires a lower level of teacher involvement and a higher level of student independence. Teaching comprehension is fostered and monitored as the teacher supports students in leading a discussion about a text or segment of text.

Independent Reading

Throughout the day children are given several opportunities to read on their own with partners from a wide range of materials and multimodal texts. Children are given the opportunity to apply learnt reading strategies independently by reading readers from their current reading box or other known texts. Opportunities for independent reading help children to ‘catch the habit’.


Our writing block has the following structure:

Modelled Writing

Modelled writing consists of the teacher composing and writing down a variety of messages, genres and forms of writing. The children observe, respond and question. As the teacher composes and writes the texts, she ‘thinks aloud’ to help the children understand the process.

Shared and Interactive Writing

In shared writing the children work together (whole class or groups) to compose a text. The teacher as a member of the group, may contribute to the text and help to guide the way in which the text is constructed. The teacher scribes for the children so they can focus on composing the text. Interactive writing is a form of shared writing.

Guided Writing

Guided writing can be managed in two different ways. Each approach has a different purpose.

  1. One or two sessions may be planned for small groups of children who need assistance with specific writing skills.
  2.  Many sessions, building upon shared reading and writing of a particular genre, are planned. Firstly, the children are immersed in the genre during reading. Secondly, they compose a text in that genre during shared/interactive writing. Finally, they are guided to write their own text in that genre.

Independent Writing

It is imperative that independent writing is a daily component of the writing program. Children need opportunities to choose to write for a variety of purposes and a range of audiences. Opportunities for independent writing help children ‘catch the writing habit’. The children will have access to a wide variety of writing materials, including the Ipad as a digital writing tool.


Spelling is a complex cognitive process, not a simple process of memorisation. Current research states that in order for us to improve spelling outcomes we need to spend productive time helping students to think about patterns in the English language and to become aware of the spelling strategies they use. The goal is that students will use these strategies independently as they solve questions about spelling words when they write.

Modelled and Shared Reading

  • Reading to students
  • Explicit teaching of spelling strategies
  • Locating letter patterns

Rotational Activities

  • Word study activities such as making and breaking sight words, three letter words using magnetic letters, buddy tests on weekly words,
  • Word sorts (open and closed)
  • Consolidation of sight words, 3 letter, initial and final blends, diagraph knowledge through activities such as: sorting of magnetic letters, making class members names with magnetic letters, timed writing, word searches, making letters with playdough, chalk writing, word steps, fancy writing, and reading and writing the wall (useful for locating letter patterns). Guided Reading
  • Focusing on the way words work/look, letter patterns, making and breaking words with magnetic letters.

Independent Reading

  • Using spelling knowledge to read books independently Modelling and Shared writing
  • Explicit instruction of a selected focus (letter pattern or spelling strategy) Interactive Writing
  • Teaching of spelling strategies Guided Writing
  • Using spelling Strategies and proof reading

Independent Writing

  • Putting spelling strategies into practice
  • Use of the 8 step Multisensory spelling booklet (taken home as a part of homework).

Teachers of students in the Middle Years of School provide opportunities for students to:

  • Use ICT as an important tool for communicating ideas
  • Engage is a range of text-types which challenge students to develop personal response and identify author’s intent.
  • Identify and explore the key features of text types and the opportunity to interpret them. Students move towards an understanding of how interpretations of texts can vary by comparing their responses to texts and to the responses of others.
  • Interpret texts critically, selecting evidence from texts to demonstrate different points of view, moving towards an understanding of analysing the ways that text structures can be manipulated for effect.
  • Engage in multi-modal texts
  • Engage in small group discussions which promote spoken language and provide opportunities for written language to be shared with various audiences and for different purposes.
  • Plan, Edit, proofread the production of texts, guided by the teacher
  • Provide support and direct instruction in the development of grammar, spelling and punctuation.