We understand that letters and numbers are the symbol systems we use to communicate and learn about our world. This is why we believe in teaching literacy and numeracy in context, within our units of inquiry. This makes literacy and numeracy lessons engaging and purposeful.
Our literacy program in the primary years at Boronia K-12 College, is based on the philosophy that students need a rich vocabulary, developed through experience and exposure to literature, in order to access instruction, independently gain understanding from texts and effectively communicate in writing.
Oral language is the foundation for student learning. It is essential for literacy learning, and successful use of language is critical for students’ wellbeing. Almost all classroom-based learning relies on oral language. At Boronia K-12 College, we recognise that it is essential to build students’ vocabulary and oral language skills in the early years of primary, in order for students experience success in all areas of learning. In 2017, the college engaged the support of an expert speech pathologist in order for us to develop a unique plan that ensures we are providing opportunities both in the classroom and through targeted intervention programs, for all students to form a strong foundation for future learning. In 2019, we employed a private speech pathologist to work within the Junior School to further support students and build capacity in staff. This service is available free to students who we identify as needing extra assistance.
After the foundations a built, our students’ ability to decode and comprehend text are expanded. Student growth is tracked from primary through to secondary using Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking system. The Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment System accurately and reliably identifies the instructional and independent reading levels of students in order to:
- document the progression of students through one-on-one formative and summative assessments
- use precise tools and texts to observe and quantify specific reading behaviours
- work with assessment data to plan meaningful, responsive instruction
We know that in order for students to improve their reading ability, they need shared experiences with teachers, peers and parents. In the classroom, assessment data is used to create fluid groupings of students based on identified reading strategies.
As students progress with their reading, we utilise the Fountus and Pinnell Network of Processing Systems to explore texts on a deeper level. They think about what is happening within the text, make connections and infer, as well as talk about the author/illustrator’s craft.
Students across the college engage in Independent Reading. This allows students to practise strategies that they learned during the other instructional contexts along the gradual release of responsibility. During independent reading, students read from texts on their independent reading level or texts that are easy enough for them to decode and understand without a lot of effort. The goals of independent reading are to practise a smoothly operating reading process, to exercise choice, and develop reading interests. For independent reading, students are supported to pick ‘Good Fit’ books, opposed to the instructional-levelled books used in guided reading sessions.
Reading and writing are closely linked. As students develop their understanding of the structures that relate to each text type through reading, they are able to replicate specialised vocabulary, grammatical conventions and sentence structures in their own writing. Students are provided with explicit instruction on the writing process, a toolbox of strategies to use when spelling and examples of exemplary writing to help them become competent in communicating their thoughts and ideas in writing. We utilise the popular 6+1 Writing Traits to provide a framework for teaching writing across all genres and a language for students to analyse and critique their own and others’ work.
Our unique setting allows our literacy teachers from the primary and secondary to collaborate. This ensures our students are always prepared for their next stage of learning. It also allows us to work with teachers and students at higher levels, to engage in meaningful extension tasks and activities.
Numeracy is a highly valued component of the curriculum taught at Boronia K-12 College. Our goal is to set students up for success by providing them with the skills and strategies needed to prepare them for real-life situations and problems.
Mathematics lessons are taught daily utilising a variety of approaches, programs, technologies and hands-on materials to cater for all learning styles. Essential Assessment, an online tool, allows us to identify each student’s point of need within a particular concept, so that teaching and learning sequences are developed based on student need rather than just their age or year level.
The Victorian Curriculum for Mathematics (Number and Algebra, Measurement, Geometry, Statistics and Probability) is integrated and developed through problem-solving tasks, open-ended questioning, investigations and a variety of engaging games and activities. Tasks are differentiated to meet the individual needs of all students.
During 2019 and 2020, the college has engaged a Mathematics consultant to work with students and staff across the college. His work has broadened teachers’ ability to engage students in fun and purposeful teaching and learning in Mathematics. We have put a particular focus on nurturing students with a natural passion and/or talent in Mathematics to excel and continue their enthusiasm as they move through the school. Last year we held a hugely successful Mathematics Day for local primary schools. We hosted over 100 students from nearby schools for a day of mathematical games, collaboration and competition.
Through our commitment to the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme framework, both literacy and numeracy are taught within our transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning.
For more information on our approach and philosophy, contact the college for an appointment with a member of our leadership team.