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Motivating and engaging students to improve their reading and writing skills

The Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education is partnering with the State Schools Division (Queensland Department of Education), in hosting a series of four panels leading to a Think Tank in November 2018 on school improvement related to the teaching and monitoring of Years 5-9 students’ reading and writing skills. The overarching question of the series is: How do we know what we know about using data for reading and writing improvement in Years 5-9?

Facilitated by Professor Jim Nyland, Associate Vice-Chancellor (Qld), Australian Catholic University

Motivating and engaging students to improve their reading and writing skills

This panel presentation consists of three speakers who represent relevant aspects of research, policy and practice related to the topic.

Speaker 1: Associate Professor Clarence Ng, Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education
Voice-in-context pedagogical designs for improving literacy engagement and performance among disadvantaged students (45 mins)

Students from culturally, linguistically, and economically disadvantaged backgrounds in Australia have persistently performed at relatively low levels in national and international tests on reading and writing. Research attention and actions are required to develop new classroom practices to promote disadvantaged students’ literacy engagement, given its positive relationship with literacy learning and achievement. This presentation discusses the development, implementation and verification of two pedagogical designs for promoting literacy engagement and performance of disadvantaged students developed through researcher-teacher collaboration over an academic year. The design of these engaging practices was guided by a voice-in-context framework that highlights the significance of students’ views and participation for establishing meaningful focus and context to develop new reading practices. The participants in this year-long study were eight teachers and their Year 3 and Year 4 students in a school situated in a disadvantaged suburb in Queensland. Two voice-in-context designs were produced through partnership and collaboration between teachers and the research team. The first design promotes the learning of emotive vocabulary for reading and writing among Year 3 students and the second one improves Year 4 students’ reading comprehension using mastery focused dialogue and reciprocal reading procedures during reading. Qualitative evidence derived from interview and observation showed that both designs utilised students’ views, collaboration and dialogical opportunities to motivate and sustain disadvantaged students to read with interest, confidence and a sense of purpose. Pre- and post-intervention test results showed that these voice-in-context designs improved students’ literacy achievement. The reported research was funded by Education Queensland’s inaugural Education Horizon Grant Scheme (2016-2017).

Speaker 2: Mr Garry Molloy, Principal, Woodridge State School
A Shared, Engagement Approach to Leading Literacy Learning (30 mins)

This work is within a National, State and local Low Socio-Economic community context of Literacy Learning improvement. “Every Student Succeeding” is our focus with a framework of collaborative empowerment, successful learners, teaching quality, principal leadership and performance, school performance and local decision-making with regional support. The school’s leadership is aware of this context, focused on the individual student and supportive of teaching and support staff capability development. This presentation will discuss the way the principal works through a shared, distributive leadership model so that the leadership team, the teaching team and support staff are well positioned with the guidance of research and experience to engage and challenge students in literacy learning across the Australian Curriculum’s Learning Areas.

Speaker 3: Ms Megan Pyne, Teacher, Woodridge State School
Woodridge State School Creating Confident Readers – Applying ‘Learning- focused Reciprocal Teaching’ Strategies within the Year 3 classroom (15 mins)

The Reciprocal Teaching collaboration, in its second year at Woodridge State School, is currently being implemented with Year 3 students during Guided Reading groups. This address answers six questions.

– Attitudes and Aptitudes. What are the back-stories of the readers in the group?
– A Fly on the Wall. What does a typical Reciprocal Teaching session look like?
– Emergent Effects. What is the impact so far?
– Student Impressions. How are students feeling about their reading now?
– Teacher Reflections. What are my thoughts?
– Ideation for the Future. What is the potential of “Learning- focused Reciprocal Teaching”?

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