On Monday the 16th of February, the staff of OLC attended a full day of Professional Development with Diana Rigg from PLD (Promoting Literacy Development). Diana Rigg is an experienced teacher and a qualified Speech Therapist. She has an Occupational Therapist in her planning team. Diana presented a structured approach to the implementation of a Whole School Spelling Plan. The decision to adopt PLD on a whole school basis was made after observing the strong progress of children using this programme over the last two years in Years One and Two.
Below are extracts from the PLD home page which explain the underlying philosophy of this approach.
It outlines not only the importance of the school curriculum but stresses the vital role that parents have in the development of a child’s oral language which in turn effects their overall literacy development.
Literacy involves more than just recognising words on a page. To be truly literate - and to have the capability of excelling in every part of life - students must be able to speak well, interpret what they're hearing and transfer all of this to the written language. It's this three pronged focus that sets PLD Learning Resources apart. Importantly, it's a strategic approach guaranteeing the best results for the children in your care. Only when skills in all three skill set areas have been sufficiently acquired, will a student's literacy-learning based outcomes be maximised.
The three components of the PLD Learning Resources Skills Set Approach to Literacy are:
Skill Set 1 – Oral Language
Oral language refers to the act of speaking and listening. The main components for the oral language skill set include:
· Word knowledge - vocabulary
· Sentence structure – grammar
· Language understanding – semantic and comprehension ability
· Structured thinking – elaborate, organise and sequence thoughts
The way people speak forms the basis for their written language ability. Limited vocabulary and short, basic sentences are indicators of literacy problems. A student's written language is only as strong as their oral language ability. To maximise literacy potential, oral language skills must be addressed.
Comprehension and narrative skills are critical to the Oral Language skill set. When a student possesses sufficient narrative ability they are able to hear a story, describe what was heard, and retell the story with sufficient detail. In addition, the instruction of narrative ability facilitates children's transition from conversational language to the formal academic form of language required for writing and educational success.
Facts about the importance of oral language skills and literacy
An incredibly strong link between oral language and literacy has been established. Some interesting facts both parents and educators should know:
1. Children will have difficulty with written tasks if they have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. RESULT: Under performance or, possibly, a learning difficulty
2. Children will have reduced reading comprehension if they have difficulty following instructions and understanding the deeper themes contained in picture books or stories. RESULT: Under performance, inefficient coping strategies like rereading in order to comprehend a text, or, possibly, a learning difficulty.
While poor oral language skills do not prevent children from reading, the long-term impact is disturbing. By middle primary school, when both the curriculum and reading material increase in difficulty, a significant number of students fail to keep up with the demands of the curriculum because they have poorly developed language skills.
Skill Set 2 – Motor and Movement
Perceptual motor refers to a person's ability to hear something, interpret the meaning, and form an appropriate response. Importantly, the way a child organises their body and uses their muscles to respond to what they hear is a big part of overall literacy. The term perceptual motor has two parts:
· Perceptual – input or receiving
· Motor – output or responding
Often the required response is a physical output. A classic example is the ability to take a written test where all the questions are posed verbally by the teacher. Perceptual motor focuses on the physical skills which form the foundation for many classroom activities including:
· Proper grip on a pencil
· using scissors properly
· letter formation
Signs of problems
1. A poor pencil grip, handwriting fatigue along with difficulties forming letters, drawing, cutting and pasting are all signs of poor fine motor skills. CLUE: Slow and reduced work output
2. Difficulty sitting in a chair properly, trouble with activities involving a ball, and balance problems indicate poor gross motor skills. CLUE: General clumsiness, stumbling, tripping, awkwardness in sporting activities, and limited attention in the classroom
3. Poor formation of letters, difficulty with spacing of words, reversing letters, or trouble copying words from the board point to perceptual difficulties. CLUE: Difficulty remembering or completing a series of tasks even if they seem to understand the verbal instructions
It may not seem obvious but how a child moves and organises his physical body is an important part of literacy. Young students with adequate perceptual motor skills have improved coordination, increased body awareness, stronger intellectual skills and a more positive self-image.
Skill Set 3 – Spelling & Decoding or Literacy
The ability to read and write is the hallmark of any literacy program. With respect to PLD Learning Resources, literacy is the 3rd dimension involved in achieving this goal.
By addressing oral language and perceptual motor skills first, all obstacles are removed so your child has the greatest chance of success.
Literacy involves skills related to reading, spelling, phonics and rhyming words.
Why a Skill Set Approach?
Literacy involves more than just recognising words on a page. To be truly literate - and to have the capability of excelling in every part of life - students must be able to speak well, interpret what they're hearing and transfer all of this to the written language. It's this three pronged focus that sets PLD Learning Resources apart. Importantly, it's a strategic approach guaranteeing the best results for the children in your care. Only when all three skill sets are mastered is true academic success achieved.
Advantages to a Skills Set approach to literacy
Sometimes the best way to explain a concept is to give examples. When the three skill sets are viewed in relationship with each other, the strategy becomes clear.
1. A 5-year-old girl is happy to set at a table and carefully colour-in (Skill Set 2 – Perceptual Motor). She is able to read (Skill Set 3) but she is shy, reluctant to speak up at school and has trouble following instructions. PREDICTION: Even though she read at an early age, she will likely under-perform as she gets older unless her oral language skills are boosted otherwise. Her reading comprehension will suffer and her written output will be average, at best.
2. A 5-year-old boy speaks very well (Skill Set 1 – Oral Language) but has poor motor skills (Skill Set 2 – Perceptual Motor). PREDICTION: He will have trouble sitting, listening, and with the fine motor demands of learning, particularly in the area of handwriting. Even though he is fully aware of what he would like to write, the motor skills weakness mean his ideas and thoughts will translate poorly into writing.
3. A student in Year 1 can read (Skill Set 3 – Literacy) and speaks very well (Skill Set 1 – Oral Language) but her letter formation is poor and laboured. She is unable to read back her own attempts at writing. PREDICTION: The student becomes frustrated, resists writing, and produces a reduced quantity of writing in comparison to her peers.
4. An 8-year-old student has adequate handwriting (Skill Set 2 – Perceptual Motor) and is able to spell (Skill Set 3 – Literacy) but has poor language skills. PREDICTION: He is unable to independently follow instructions, participate in class discussions or organise his ideas for written tasks. The underdeveloped oral language skills result in overall reduced curriculum performance in most subjects.
Trying to develop literacy skills without the necessary oral language and perceptual motor skills will result in frustration for the child, parents and educators. Early reading is not an indicator of future success in the classroom. As a child matures, more and more skills are required to work in unison. By adopting an integrated Skills Set approach to literacy, not only will the student achieve maximum literacy potential, but everyone involved will have a more positive and productive experience.