2. Context for the study of effective literacy teaching practices in the early school years.Literacy teaching in the early years of school continues to be a contentious and intensively-researched subject, at least since the publication of Learning to Read: The Great Debate (Chall, 1967). Opinion on teaching methods has been highly polarised, particularly in terms of whether and how to teach children to 'crack' the alphabetic code of written English. Despite the plethora of early literacy teaching programs that have appeared over the years, the goal of success for all literacy learners remains elusive.
The political and social significance of early literacy teaching is shown by the high levels of government and school system intervention in the area. Phonetically pho·net·ic
1. Of or relating to phonetics.
2. Representing the sounds of speech with a set of distinct symbols, each designating a single sound: phonetic spelling.
3. explicit reading programs, for example, are mandated for beginning readers in some parts of the United States of America UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. The name of this country. The United States, now thirty-one in number, are Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, . In the United Kingdom, the widely implemented National Literacy Strategy contains explicit guidelines for beginning (as well as more advanced) literacy learners. Within the Australian context, there is also intense activity in terms of the development and implementation of particular methods of teaching literacy in the early years of school, as evidenced for example by the Victorian Early Years Literacy Program and the New South Wales New South Wales, state (1991 pop. 5,164,549), 309,443 sq mi (801,457 sq km), SE Australia. It is bounded on the E by the Pacific Ocean. Sydney is the capital. The other principal urban centers are Newcastle, Wagga Wagga, Lismore, Wollongong, and Broken Hill. State Literacy Strategy.
Against this background of intense activity, there continues to be a diversity of opinion--sometimes characterised as the 'reading wars'-between advocates of a whole language meaning-oriented approach to teaching beginning reading and advocates of a phonics or word level approach. In addition to the controversy surrounding the teaching of early literacy, the definition of literacy itself is also open to debate. In some contexts it is seen as being confined to reading, in some as confined to reading and writing and in other contexts it has a much broader definition. The Australian Government has defined literacy broadly as:
the ability to read and use written information, to write appropriately, in a wide range of contexts, for many different purposes, and to communicate with a variety of audiences. Literacy is integrally related to learning in all areas of the curriculum, and enables all individuals to develop knowledge and understanding. Reading and writing, when integrated with speaking, listening, viewing and critical thinking, constitute valued aspects of literacy in modern life. (DEETYA, 1998, p. 7)
This is the definition that we adopted for the study, although as became apparent in the course of the project, in most of our early years classrooms it was defined operationally in somewhat narrower terms.
The literature on literacy teaching is well-travelled territory, characterised by a multitude of empirical studies Empirical studies in social sciences are when the research ends are based on evidence and not just theory. This is done to comply with the scientific method that asserts the objective discovery of knowledge based on verifiable facts of evidence. and a series of recent and comprehensive reviews (Farstrup & Samuels, 2002; Morrow, Gambrell & Pressley, 2003; National Reading Panel, 2000; Neuman & Dickinson, 2001; Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998). The focus of the literature review for our study was on identifying teaching practices thought likely to lead to improved literacy outcomes in the early years of school. Therefore effectiveness was understood as success in producing student achievement gains, although we are mindful that some definitions of teaching effectiveness include 'success in socialising students and promoting their affective affective /af·fec·tive/ (ah-fek´tiv) pertaining to affect.
1. Concerned with or arousing feelings or emotions; emotional.
2. and personal development in addition to success in fostering their mastery of formal curricula' (Brophy & Good, 1986, p. 328).
Three bodies of research were examined in the literature review: research on effective teachers; literacy research with an emphasis on the teaching and learning of reading; and research on effective teachers of literacy, with particular reference to effective teachers of literacy in the early years of school. Since there are large established bodies of knowledge in the areas of effective teaching in general and literacy teaching in particular, the literature review for this study had a strong focus on recent international large-scale analyses of existing research.
The teacher effectiveness research indicated the crucial importance of the individual teacher in producing effective learning outcomes (Darling-Hammond, 2000). It also indicated that effective teachers have a wide repertoire of teaching practices, which they are able to skilfully Adv. 1. skilfully - with skill; "fragments of a nearly complete jug, skillfully restored at the institute of archaeology"
skilfully (US), skillfully adv → habilement employ to suit the classroom context, their purposes and the needs of their students. The ways in which effective teachers are able to manage the many competing demands of the classroom have been likened to the skills of a juggler juggler
Entertainer who keeps several plates, knives, balls, or other objects in the air at once by tossing and catching them. The art of juggling has been practiced since antiquity. or to the conductor of a large orchestra. They individualise v. t. 1. Same as individualize.
Verb 1. individualise - make or mark or treat as individual; "The sounds were individualized by sharpness and tone"
individualize instruction in order to support and challenge students and they motivate students to participate in classroom activities, at the same time as they gain the respect of their students and skilfully structure activities and instruction (Brophy & Good, 1986; DfEE, 2000; Doyle, 1986; Hattie, 2003). The literacy research indicated that a balanced literacy curriculum that is explicitly taught and which includes word and text level knowledge and skills, particularly phonemic awareness Phonemic Awareness is a subset of phonological awareness in which listeners are able to distinguish phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can differentiate meaning. For example, a listener with phonemic awareness can break the word "Cat" into three separate phonemes: /k/, /a/, , phonics, fluency, comprehension and oral language in addition to varied classroom practice, leads to improved literacy outcomes (National Reading Panel, 2000; Snow et al., 1998). And the research into effective teachers of literacy, including beginning literacy, indicated that effective literacy teachers have a strong literacy knowledge base that they make explicit to their students, in addition to creating and making use of a rich literacy environment (Mazzoli & Gambrell, 2003; Taylor, Pearson, Clark & Walpole, 1999; Wray, Medwell, Fox & Poulson, 2000; Wray, Medwell, Poulson & Fox, 2002).