Appendix 2: Developing literacy skills using key competencies

Insightful examples of how teachers can integrate development of the key competencies in reading can be found in Twist and McDowall’s (2010) work.

In one story, the teachers significantly shifted classroom practice by changing:

  • the teacher’s role (e.g., becoming a teacher as reader rather than a teacher of reading)
  • the selection of text (e.g., sharing a story the teacher had really enjoyed)
  • the nature of the discourse (e.g., some control relinquished to students)
  • the pace of the lesson (e.g., to model the thinking involved in being a reader)
  • the tasks set (e.g., posing questions that will stimulate debate).

Twist and McDowall (2010) highlight how one teacher was able to balance responding as a reader and providing guidance as a teacher:

I could sort of … stop being the teacher, I mean sure I would say look, where does it say this about this relationship? [i.e., insisting on evidence from the text]. But I kept trying to bring it back to a more sort of informal setting. (Teacher)

Critical interactions increased, where students initiated and led discussion. Students’ discussions became more open and students were increasingly analytical when reading text. They were better able to make connections to other texts and their own life experiences.

[Taking] more time over things that you may not have even touched on before, like the prior knowledge and the discussing and relating to others … Once you start doing that … everybody starts sharing and we saw that with our kids. You know, like they were really into, they were … I can hardly keep them quiet… (Teacher)

I think that those discussions would work at every level. I think as teachers we just rush through things so quickly that we just don’t take time and how can kids enjoy books if we’re not taking time and savouring them. (Teacher)

Students became more immersed and engaged in their reading, coping with more difficult texts through the opportunity to develop the key competency of Participating and Contributing.

Other examples relate to promoting literacy through the development of Using language, symbols and texts.