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Most Effective Literacy Practices for Primary Teachers

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Stuck in a rut thinking about what class activity to have for your next lesson? Based on our teachers’ experiences, lack of time to instruct and create output assessments with children is the number one concern. We understand here in Cassidy Education. It is stressful to teach, give instructions and correct mistakes when you know there is not enough time. 

Although we can’t stop time, we can make things work by making our lessons time-efficient and go away from “time wasting activities”.  In this post, we list down literacy practices that are worthy of your time, and at the same time deliver the best results. 

1. Teaching Morphology. Morphemes are the smallest “meaning-carrying” units of language. For example, in the word reabsorbed, there are three morphemes: re, meaning “again”, absorb, meaning “to take in and make part of an existent whole”, and -ed, signalling the past. 

Studies show that teaching morphology boosts advanced development of language-learning skills like: spelling, vocabulary development, and decoding. 

Teaching affixes, root words and their meanings is a common practice in classrooms. Teaching morphology isn’t yet it provides more foundation for the learner. With morphology instruction, learners are taught to compose or decompose words using its existing structures. Figuring out how a word forms using specific structures is a more robust way of teaching them how a language forms and thus, can be learned. Over time, students can move on to more sophisticated words, deriving meanings from composing or decomposing them. According to a research by Bauman, et al., PQRST strategy is recommended:

P (prefix): identifying the prefix and its meaning
QR (queen root): identifying the root word (queen of the word) and its meaning
S (suffix): identifying the suffix and its meaning
T (total): putting together the meanings of the units to get the word’s meaning

2. Motivating Children to Read. Fostering a love for racing is important. Designing lessons and instructions that include specific motivational practices is key to improve and influence a student’s motivation to read. 

The Concept-Oriented Reading Instruction (CORI) approach is designed to include motivational practices that bolster the love of reading. The five motivational practices are the following:

a. Relevance: Students have an opportunity to connect a current activity to their previous experiences, in or out of the classroom. This can be anything such as science investigations in class and connecting it outside of the classroom, which can motivate them to read more about the science investigation.

b. Choice: You give students the choices and options within the curriculum itself. For example, reading about an animal habitat that they need to study on, identifying which relevant kinds of texts they are eager to read, and how they present their learning (reports, presentations, etc).

c. Collaboration: Collaborative projects among peers always work, and providing opportunities to work together. It can be a simple exercise such as partner reading, or bigger activities like developing a dramatic skit or holding a study group. 

d. Self-Efficacy Support: This is when students are encouraged to share their expectations about the lessons, or themselves; or share their set goals for their work. This can be as simple as reading a specific book. Then their goals are discussed to make it realistic, and then the students are guided to associate their failures and successes to the amount of effort they put in, not just entirely innate ability.

e. Thematic Units: Students develop knowledge through a structured set of experiences determined by a theme. This means that their ideas cohere with a Big Idea, and subconcepts, points and cases within the Big Idea. 

It is important to note that CORI motivational supports are to be used with other cognitively-oriented practices and comprehension strategies as well. It is also important to use CORI in social studies or science content. 

3. Interactive Writing. Interactive writing usually involves the teacher and young students (Pre-Nursery to Reception) writing together. The teacher leads the activity and the learner contributes with the writing based on their skill and developmental level

The first step is thinking of something to write that is rooted with an authentic purpose, for example writing a letter to parents about a recent field trip, or thanking the school nurse for her care, or even teaching another class with some new skills that they have learned. 

The second step is writing! The teacher and the learner compose the text together, taking turns. The teacher should take note the student’s individual strengths and needs when the activity is ongoing. For example, a student might be invited to write the beginning letter of a word when he is in the early stages of learning, whereas a more advanced learner would be asked to spell out whole words – or even sentences.

Also, while writing, the teacher can use it to engage the student in explicit teaching and modelling  literacy skills like the concept of print, phonemic awareness and spelling. It can be as simple as telling the student where on the page he can start to write, or listening and matching sounds in the words. Studies indicate that phonological awareness, knowledge of the alphabet, and early reading contribute to writing development. 

We may have said that these activities are designed for Primary students but adjusting them based on developmental levels of your student – whatever the year level is – will surely help foster a good attitude towards reading and writing, which would produce better students across the board.